As part of the opening celebration for Stone Soup: Santa Rosa, everyone
is encouraged to bring a vegan ingredient for a Stone Soup, which will
be made and served. Weather permitting, Vadim will host Firebar Vadim,
a story-telling performance around Labor is a Medium's very small fire pit.
Visitors are invited to bring a piece of wood-with-a-story to burn.
The roadways from Santa Rosa to San Francisco were once lined with basalt pavers and blocks. Mined from local quarries around the Sonoma Mountains and Annadel State Park—primarily relying on the labor of Chinese and, later, Italian immigrants—this basalt was also used in construction of historic Santa Rosa structures such as the St. Rose Catholic Church, the Western Hotel, the La Rose Hotel, the Carnegie Library, and the Railway Express Office. This stone geologists classify as the "Sonoma Volcanics" laid a template for modern infrastructure and trade. Lichen and mosses have since reclaimed these mines, and the andesite that used to line streets and buildings from Santa Rosa to San Francisco has been replaced by concrete and asphalt.
Stone Soup: Santa Rosa, [Basaltic] Andesite conjures the ghosts of this volcanic landscape, reconstructing Labor is a Medium's exhibition wall out of images of basalt extracted from local mines. The project extends a line of questioning Annie began with the first iteration of Stone Soup in Chisinau, (aka "The White City"), Moldova, prodding the links between human labor, landscape, and urban environments; the ways in which natural histories resurface in the materials of commerce and capital; and how we might begin to reach into Deep Time from the present.
Annie Albagli's work pays particular attention to our entanglements with landscapes molded by power—be it government, military, or industry. Through archival and field research, play, and community-engaged projects, she offers new ways to witness landscapes and their relationship to human and nonhuman worlds, examining the cultural contexts from which they are born and the layers of manipulation that shape them.
Her work has been shown nationally at such venues including the Headlands Center for the Arts, YBCA, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and the Art Museum of the Americas, and internationally at Muzeul Zemstvei in Chisinau, Moldova; Art Prospect in St. Petersburg, Russia; The Trash 3 Festival in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; and Beita Gallery in Jerusalem. Her videos have been screened as part of the Imagined Biennials Project at the Tate Modern in London, UK; the Bavarian Film Festival, ZWICKL in Schwandorf, Germany; and Artist Television Access in San Francisco, CA. She has participated in residencies throughout the U.S. and internationally including Fondazione Antonio Ratti in Como, Italy; Oberpfälzer Künstlerhaus in Schwandorf, Germany; Art East in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; and The Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, CA. She has contributed to various artists' land project s such as AZ West, Mildred's Lane, and Salmon Creek Farm. Between 2017-18, Albagli was a YBCA Truth Fellow. She is a co-founder and editor of the publication, WHIZ WORLD, and former Co-Director of the Royal Nonesuch Gallery. She teaches at the University of Nevada MFA-IA program.
Labor is a Medium (LiaM) sprouted from several seeds, among them a simple thing my wife Emily and I referred to as "Pizza Club." Pizza Club was us making pizza for our friends, many of whom never knew they were being indoctrinated into our own secret society. LiaM took shape out of a desire to create a space for us—Emily and I—to connect to and build community here in Santa Rosa, a city we left for a decade and returned to in 2019. To do that, we offer up what we have: a little bit of space, a little bit of time, and food. The pizza is always free.
Launched in 2022, LiaM presents exhibitions by three artists per year. Each is invited to exhibit one work on a roughly 6'x7' free-standing wall in our garage. In inviting artists I try to make clear the limits and possibilities of this experiment, and I articulate that the definition of "a work" is, well, undefined. It might be in progress; plans and ideas; instructions; an empty space; a string tied to a katydid; something half-finished and abandoned. Primarily, I'm interested in exhibiting work that in some way demonstrates the process of its making; work that is concerned with the political through oblique pathways, through poetics, through speculation and association; and work that challenges capital in some way. Labor, itself, is a medium.
In inviting artists, I'm striving for a balance of artists local and from elsewhere, hoping to generate new connections among people and practices. I invite artists whose work I like and who I like as people, and who I think might, with luck, go along with this thing I'm trying to do, even if it is ill-defined—friends, in short. In any case, space, time, and food with friends seems like a good place to start.
In 2023, support for Labor is a Medium is provided by Southern Exposure's Alternative Exposure Grant Program.