Events > 2003

10 Jul. 2003

Opening for Passing Water

Karen Azoulay, Adam Frelin, Joel Gibb, Jonathan Monk, Mathew Sawyer, and Alex Schweder

Art Metropole hosted the opening party for Passing Water, and exhibition showcasing the works of six artists (two Brits, two Americans and two Toronto artists) who illustrate that, whether recreational or practical, urine can be sublime. Artists included in the exhibition were Karen Azoulay, Adam Frelin, Joel Gibb, Jonathan Monk, Mathew Sawyer and Alexander Schweder.

Karen Azoulay is a Brooklyn based artist who originally hails from Toronto, Canada. Solo exhibitions include CUE Art Foundation in New York, curated by Glenn Ligon; Four Gallery / The Lab in Dublin, Ireland; and Mercer Union in Toronto. Her installations and performances include commissions for institutions such as The Art Gallery of Ontario, Canadian Art Magazine and The Power Plant. Her work has been included in group shows at the Islip Art Museum, East Islip, NY; Stichting, Eindhoven, Netherlands; Hanna Gallery, Tokyo; Art & Idea, Mexico City; Galerie Kunstbuero, Vienna, as well as White Columns and Deitch Studios, New York among others. Karen Azoulay is currently a nominee for the 2012 Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant. Upcoming projects include a solo exhibition at Primetime Gallery in Brooklyn and the publication of a book with Nothing Else Press.

Adam Frelin (b.1973, Grove City, PA) divided his undergraduate education between Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA; Hunter College, New York, NY; and the Art Center of Lorenzo De’ Medici, Florence, Italy. In 2001 he received his MFA from the University of California, San Diego, CA. From 2001-2004 he was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Webster University in St. Louis, MO, and since 2006 has held the position of Assistant Professor of Art at SUNY University at Albany in Albany, NY. He has shown at such venues as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Getty Research Institute; the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Frelin has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Gateway Foundation, and College Art Association. He has attended numerous artist residencies such as Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME; MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH; Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL, and the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA. Frelin has completed projects in Japan, Finland, Austria, Ukraine, and most recently India. He has had two books of photography published, and has had several public artworks commissioned. Frelin lives and works in Troy and Brooklyn, NY.

Joel Gibb (born 28 January 1977) is a Berlin-based Canadian artist and singer-songwriter who leads the “gay church folk” group The Hidden Cameras. He was born in Kincardine, Ontario.

His first involvement with the music scene was as editor of a fanzine devoted to independent bands, Glamour Guide for Trash. He also hosted a college radio show at CFRE-FM in Mississauga, Ontario. At the same time, he was writing his own songs and, in 2001, he released some of his recordings under the name The Hidden Cameras on his own independent record label EvilEvil, a CD entitled Ecce Homo.

He then gathered together a group of musicians to perform his work, playing everywhere from art galleries to churches to porn theatres to parks. Along the way, the band grew to include up to thirteen members, including a string section, choir and go-go dancers, its audience growing at the same time.

In 2003 the Hidden Cameras were signed to Rough Trade, a well-known British record label who released the band’s next album, The Smell of Our Own the same year. They began to tour North America and Europe extensively. In 2004, the album Mississauga Goddam was released, followed by The arms of his ‘ill’ on the California label Absolutely Kosher Records. The album Awoo came out in 2006 on Rough Trade Records, EvilEvil and Arts & Crafts. All The Hidden Cameras releases to date have been produced by Joel Gibb. In 2007, solo recordings by Gibb were released on the tribute to Arthur Russell compilation EP, Four Songs by Arthur Russell.

Gibb exhibits his artwork in various galleries and has been included in group shows in the past at the Tate Modern, among others. His work comprises drawings and banners, both of which are featured on The Hidden Cameras CDs and records. He also shows the videos he has directed for The Hidden Cameras.

In 2008, Joel Gibb made his acting debut, alongside Jena von Brücker, Mark Ewert, Calvin Johnson, Jen Smith, and Vaginal Davis, as one of the stars of the film The Lollipop Generation, directed by G.B. Jones. The film also features music by The Hidden Cameras.

Gibb contributed to R.E.M.‘s album Collapse Into Now, with backing vocals on the track “It Happened Today”

Gibb currently lives in Berlin.

Jonathan Monk was born in Leicester in 1969. Monk received a BFA from Leicester Polytechnic in 1988 and an MFA from Glasgow School of Art in 1991. In his work, Monk adopts the esthetics and practices of 1960s Conceptualism, but infuses the tradition with humor, levity, and autobiographical elements. In 1992 Monk sold paintings of low-budget travel advertisements for the price of the vacation package itself. In 1994 he mocked the artist’s gesture and persona by writing his name in urine on a beach in. And in 1995 and 1997 he took on the role of a driver awaiting various arriving passengers—Marcel Duchamp, Elizabeth Taylor, Jeff Koons, Kate Moss, Mom—in the Copenhagen airport terminal. While he was living in Los Angeles, Monk created None of the Buildings on Sunset Strip (1997–99) in reaction to Ed Ruscha’s famed photographic artist book. Monk produced two highly personal slide projections; In Search of Gregory Peck (1997) shows found photographs of the artist’s father as a tourist in Europe in the 1950s and The Gap Between My Mother and My Sister (1998) chronicles the trip between the homes of his mother and sister. Monk’s ongoing series Meetings (begun in 1999) proposes future dates and locations as hypothetical invitations to congregate, playing off of the text-based work of Lawrence Weiner and On Kawara. In 2002 Monk passed time as 50 nearly-identical photographs of the artist were developed in 50 different one-hour labs. For the ongoing project Day & Night (begun in 2002), Monk sends postcards to institutions rather than friends or family. For Keep Still (2002–04) the artist places white block letters atop the head of each figure in found group photographs spelling words or phrases like “today,” “a cube,” and “buzz. The slide show Big Ben (2003) projects postcards showing the London monument at the same time of day as the gallery. Monk mocked the display stipulations that often accompany contemporary art as well as the curatorial process in works like This painting should ideally be kept in storage (2004), This painting should ideally be hung near a Sol Lewitt (2004), and This painting should ideally be hung slightly too close to a Douglas Huebler (2005). Monk has created several works in neon; perhaps the best known are several from 2005 which display the hours that the hosting gallery is open to the public, a work that is turned on during opening hours and switched off at closing time. Also in 2005 Monk translated several of the neon innovations of his artistic predecessors into opaque painted aluminum in Corner Piece (for Bruce Nauman) and Corner Piece (for Dan Flavin). In 2009 Monk exhibited five stainless-steel sculptures that offer deflated versions of Jeff Koon’s signature balloon bunny.

Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized by Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow (1992 and 1994), Centre d’Art Contemporain in Neuchatel (1997), Museum Kunst Palast in Dusseldorf (2003), Institute of Contemporary Art in London (2005), Kunstverein Hannover (2006), Palais de Tokyo + Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris (2008), and Artpace in San Antonio (2009). His work has also been included in group exhibitions such as Taipei Biennial (2000), Berlin Biennale (2001), Venice Biennale (2003), Whitney Biennial (2006), Prague Biennale (2007), and Panama Bienniale (2008). Monk lives and works in Berlin.

Mathew Sawyer, who attended the Chelsea College of Art and studied painting at the Royal College of Art, leads a compatibly parallel life as an artist and a musician. Sawyer’s installations, performances, collages, and sculptural assemblages have paid overt homage to his musical influences: he has produced works based on the lyrics of David Bowie, Roy Orbison, and Television. Much of Sawyer’s work carries autobiographical inflections. In an ongoing series titled “Documentary Works,” Sawyer chronicles his daily activities using photographs and text. He has also created performances involving his unwitting neighbors by borrowing their shoes or depositing ping pong balls with memoire-sque text into their mailboxes. Another part of Sawyer’s practice riffs on art history and popular imagery by appropriating and modifying found objects. In addition to articulating social criticism, these pieces demonstrate Sawyer’s sly humor.

Alex Schweder works with architecture and performance art to complicate the distinction between occupying subjects and occupied objects. These projects include Practise Architecture at Tate Britain, Flatland at New York’s Sculpture Center, Its Form Follows Your Performance at Berlin’s Magnus Muller, A Sac of Rooms All Day Long at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Counterweight Roommate in Scope Basel, Roomograph at the deCordova Museum, and The Rise and fall in the Marrakech Biennial. The Pollack Krasner and Graham Foundations have funded his projects. Schweder is the author of Stalls Between Walls included in Ladies and Gents, the Gendering of Public Toilets and Performance Architecture included in Urban Interiors. He is a three-time artist in residence at the Kohler Company and was in residence at the Chinati Foundation and American Academy in Rome. Schweder has been a guest professor at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, Pratt Institute, and the Institute for Art and Architecture in Vienna.


1: Passing Water artist Karen Azoulay flanked by Power Plant Curator Xandra Eden and Jinhan Ko from Instant Coffee.
2: Joel Gibb of the Hidden Cameras (far left) prepares to take part in the Fluxus Champion contest, using Adam Frelin's golden shower machine (The Passing Water Fountain). His challengers - Will Munroe, Mike Dyment, Kelly, and Luis Jacob - look on. Jordan Sonenberg considers going for the distance prize.
3: Of the six eventual contenders, only 3 remain after the one minute mark. Joel comes in third, Mike second, and Kelly (who arrived in a yellow Water Boys shirt) clocks in the longest at 1:43 seconds.
4: Of the six eventual contenders, only 3 remain after the one minute mark. Joel comes in third, Mike second, and Kelly (who arrived in a yellow Water Boys shirt) clocks in the longest at 1:43 seconds.

  1. Opening for Passing Water
  2. Opening for Passing Water
  3. Opening for Passing Water
  4. Opening for Passing Water