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The famous actress sweeps down the temple’s crumbling promenade in a magenta sari, past growling monkeys and smoking soldiers squatting along the edge of the polluted moat. Urine streaming down her bare leg, the outraged child screams and points at the German tourist’s shiny Nikon when he refuses to purchase her paper rose for an American dollar. Behind the headless Vishnu, decapitated by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge, the teenager huffs paint, staining purple lips with a silver metallic halo. Angkor is an amalgamation of desire and antipathy, industry and collapse, faith and futility, a 1,200 year old lost mecca consumed by strangler tree roots, rediscovered by a French naturalist, destroyed by rebels, and today laser-lit with a Cirque du Soleil extravaganza, Smile of Angkor.

Building on Ruins is a collective project investigating the multi-layered perspective from which we can conceive fabrication and collapse, thus engaging directly with the layering of history. Like the jungle growing over temples and trash, or – more aptly, like building a temple with trash and planting trees on it, the works in the exhibition explore our personal relationship with the layering of history and the impulse to build our own monuments on the problematic ground on which we stand. This willingness to acknowledge structural damage as part of the creative process can manifest resilience, indifference or cynicism. Nevertheless these works offer a sincere act of construction, an approach implying a different kind of detachment, not towards the art object but towards the energy invested in it, towards the futility of our faith in our own creation.

Organized by Nicolas Grenier , Keith Rocka Knittel , and Etienne Zack, Building on Ruins will also include a series of readings, performances, a live KCHUNG broadcast, and an expansive web-based project. As documentation and artifacts of the exhibition are accumulated as web content, the website, Obra Negra ( will accumulate 256 states of stylistic construction exhibited on a dynamically animate timeline. The construction will commence on November 1st, 2013, and conclude with the closing of the exhibition and live KCHUNG broadcast on January 18th, 2014.

Nicolas Grenier received his BFA from Concordia University and his MFA from CalArts. Recent exhibitions include A Marginal Revolution (Kuad Gallery, Istanbul), The Road (Luis De Jesus, Los Angeles), Color Consciousness (Torrance Art Museum), Have You Seen My Privacy? (Concord , Los Angeles), Corner-Thru (Choi&Lager Gallery, Cologne, and Union gallery, London), and Proximities (galerie Art Mûr). Grenier’s work can be found in the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec and the Loto-Québec Collection. He currently lives in both Montreal and Los Angeles.

Keith Rocka Knittel holds an MFA from CalArts and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and is the founding director of OCEAN ( His work has been in recent exhibits a tAngels Gate Cultural Center (Los Angeles , CA), Otras Obras (Tijuana , Mexico) and DoubleDoubleLand (Toronto , Canada). He lives and works in San Pedro, California .

Michael Ray-Von has lived primarily in Southern California, and studied at the California Institute of the Arts. He is the co-director of Otras Obras, an art space in Tijuana, BC, and currently resides in Mexico City, DF. Marcel Miranda Ackerman is a software writer focused on source code aesthetics and design automation algorithms. Originally from Tijuana, he currently resides in México City.

Vidisha Saini holds an MFA in Photography & Media and Integrated Media from CalArts and a Bachelor of Design in Communication Design from National Institute of Fashion Technology (New Delhi). Solo exhibitions include White Breading and Of El Dorado at CalArts, and Pratibimb & Showtime at Matthieu Foss Gallery in Mumbai. She currently resides in Los Angeles .

Katie Sinnott received her MFA from UCLA in 2013, and holds degrees from UC Berkeley and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She recently exhibited at Night Gallery and ACME in Los Angeles, where she currently resides.

Caroline Thomas holds a BA in Art from UC Berkeley, an MFA from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, and also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. She recently exhibited at Telles Fine Art in Los Angeles, as well as the Hammer Museum, where her work can be found in their permanent collection. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

Etienne Zack attended the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Concordia University, and Saint-Laurent College in Montréal. Recent solo exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art of Montreal, Canada (catalog), Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen, Norway, Thomas Dane Gallery, London, England, and Blackwood Gallery at the University of Toronto, Mississauga, Canada . His work can be found in a number of collections such as the National Gallery of Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art of Montreal, National Fine Arts Museum of Quebec, Montreal Fine Arts Museum, Zabludowicz Collection, and The Model in Ireland. Zack currently lives and works in Los Angeles.


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