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“Watermarks” at CONNERSMITH

Posted: February 5th, 2013

February 9 – March 30, recipe 2013

CONNERSMITH. is pleased to present Coble/Riley Projects’ second exhibition with the gallery. Since 2009, treatment Mary Coble (USA/DK) and Blithe Riley (USA) have collaborated on performance-based videos that explore tensions between site-specificity, gesture, narrative, and endurance. In February 2012, Coble/Riley Projects was invited to participate in a month-long Iaspis Residency in Umeå, Sweden. Working on a frozen stretch of sea, Coble and Riley fused video, performance and land art to create “Watermarks.” Dense snow conceals the frozen seascape underneath, acting as a canvas on which the artists make marks and draw. Opaqueness and transparency arise from the simple actions of an unknown figure, who repeatedly uncovers layers of snow, ice, and water to reveal surfaces with varied properties of reflection.

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“Moving Pictures”: March 24th at PS122

Posted: March 17th, 2012

We’re pleased to announce our involvment in “Moving Pictures” a video screening taking place at PS122 Gallery.

We will be screening our video “Corridor”.

Moving Picture, a video screening at PS122 Gallery

March 24, 2012

We are pleased to present Moving Picture at PS122 Gallery, a one-night only screening of fourteen works of contemporary video art. The selected artists explore a broad spectrum of content while exercising parallellisms in tone and approach. Each video uses a unique multi-dimensional language, simultaneously evoking sensation while guiding the viewer through a sequence of imagery and inquiry. As the genre is deconstructed, character, narrative, sound and setting reconfigure and synchronize as complex textures. The resulting works find affinity through visual and musical rhythm, a beat set to all things noncrystalline.

Moving Picture is organized by Lisa Iglesias, Jeffrey Kurosaki and Tara Pelletier. PS122 Gallery, Saturday, March 24th, 6:00pm-8:00pm at 150 1st Ave (entrance is on 9th street between 1st Ave and Ave A). For more information or to RSVP, please follow this link. Participating artists: Megan Biddle, Ben Bigelow & Terry Powers, Audra Brandt, Mary Coble & Blithe Riley, Madeline Djerejian, Lisa Iglesias, Avi Krispin, Jeffrey Kurosaki & Tara Pelletier, Sujin Lee, Jason Mitcham, Rosemarie Padovano, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Ann Oren, Nathaniel Sullivan, and Richard Walker.

This screening is made possible by the PS122 Short-term Gallery Residency program, partially funded by members of Painting Space 122, located at 150 1st Avenue, ground floor entrance on 9th st.

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The Finale! Last day together in Umeå

Posted: February 28th, 2012

Last night we had a feedback session for the close-to-final edit of our new video at the artist-run space Verkligheten here in Umeå. We used this opportunity to reflect and contextualize this trip, and how we came to make our new video. We showed the map of the places we have we walked, and used all of the photographs we have taken over the past month as a way to talk about process.


The room was filled, and everyone seemed eager to share their thoughts. Many of our new friends came to support us, and we were also excited to see new faces in the room.

Overall the feedback was positive. While we felt like we had a very strong piece, we were eager to show it to people in Umeå who live with this landscape everyday. We were told it reflected the spirit of this place, many people said that it was poetic- one artist said that he felt like we were drawing the sky out of the water. That made us very excited.

There was a lot of discussion about our opening shot, and whether or not we were providing too much information too quickly in the piece. There was also talk of pacing and repetition and if the piece should be longer or shorter. We took a lot of notes, and are taking all of the comments to heart, although we feel quite confident that we will keep the structure of the piece intact. It just feels right.

We ended the evening with a delicious dinner with our Verkligheten friends (and a visiting curator from Riga). Mary taunted Blithe by ordering reindeer (Rudolph!) and Gerd informed us that this was a very sustainable meat. Blithe ended up taking a taste (eating Rudolph!). Among many topics of conversation, were the different cultural methods of picking mushrooms.

Blithe is getting on a plane and heading to Stockholm tomorrow where she will see old friends and meet with Iaspis in Stockholm. She heads back to New York on Friday. Mary will be enjoying Umeå until Monday.

As we close our time together, we want to make sure to give a shout out to the people who generously donated to the creation of this project, before we even knew what we were going to make! This showed a vote of confidence in us that made us feel extremely supported. You are the best. We can’t wait to show you the piece!

We also cannot thank our Swedish Iaspis hosts enough- espeically Helena Wikström, Micael Norberg, and Brita Täljedal. We are so grateful to have met so many incredible people during our stay. We are look forward to keeping in touch. We’ve debated a lot over this past month, but we have consensus on the fact that Umeå is a very special place.

Now that we are heading back to our separate lives, we will be ending the frequency of our posts to the blog. We will continue to post updates about what we are up to, but the purpose of this site will shift. We are still reflecting, we are looking forward to sharing thoughts and notes in the next few months, and we will post those here as well.

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Cut, Splice, Fade!

Posted: February 25th, 2012

The editing continues! We are working towards finishing up our piece as close as we can by Monday, when we will show an in progress screening at Verkligheten. We are so close! We are sticking with the single channel format after all, and we were happily surprised the the audio quality from our sound recorder. So far, we are pleased with the work. We still have a few technical tweaks to make (despite our best efforts out on the ice the wind still shifted the camera occasionally). We are hoping there is an image stabilization tool out there for this.

* Here is the announcement for Monday’s event.

Coble/Riley Projects Video Screening and Discussion
Monday February 27th
Pilgatan 16, Umeå
Mary Coble och Blithe Riley är Iaspis-stipendiater i Umeå under februari månad. Tillsammans arbetar de med platsspecifika performancebaserade videos. När de kom till Umeå tidigt i februari tog de långa promenader i vilka de undersökte staden, älvsområdet och de små öarna i Umeälven. De blev hänförda av de frusna vattenvägarna. Deras utforskning kom så långt som till Holmsund vid Umeälvens utlopp, där de hittade en plats där de kunde ta sig ut på isen.
Deras arbete reflekterar over deras erfarenheter av att vara på isen – känslor av fara kontra säkerhet, att göra markeringar i snön, utmaningen i att gå till fots i ett vinterklimat och den ständigt pågående transformationen av landskapet i olika temperaturer, väderlekar och ljus.Mary och Blithe kommer att berätta om sitt på pågående arbete, visa delar ur videon samt prata om arbetet i en öppen diskussion

Mary Coble and Blithe Riley are the current Iaspis artists-in residents in Umeå. Together they make site-specific, performance-based videos. Upon their arrival to Umeå in the beginning of February, they began exploring the area through a series of long walks. Trekking all over the city, to surrounding islands and along the Ume River, they became captivated by the frozen waterways in the area. Their exploration ended in Holmsund, at the mouth of the Ume River, where they found a spot they could walk onto the frozen water.

Their latest video piece reflects on their experiences of being on the ice— feelings of danger and safety, the act of mark making in the snow, the challenge of travel by foot in this climate, and the constant transformation of the landscape through temperature and light.
Please join Mary and Blithe for a work-in progress screening and discussion of the work they have made in Holmsund, during their Iaspis Residency
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Editing the Hole Day

Posted: February 22nd, 2012

The last few days have been labor intensive to say the least. Yesterday we shot from morning until night, only taking a short break to refuel. It is a fact, the ice is melting. At the bottom of Helena’s inlet water is settling on the surface, making it difficult to travel further out. We have felt like we only have a few days left to complete our shots.

Today we were torn between going out on the ice again, and staying home to start editing. These days have not only been physically intense, but also mentally exhausting. We are working with and against time (melting) and it feels stressful to take a break to get the mental space we need in order to make decisions. Today we decided not to go out and instead review what we’ve done, and start hashing out some rough edits. This was the right move.

This piece has been so different from others we have worked on, the editing process is far more key. We think this is because the site we are working in is vast and open ended. This location hasn’t framed the structure of the piece in the same way as other sites we’ve worked in— where specific architecture (and the meaning it brings with it) has played such a distinctive role. This piece is about revealing what is in (and under) this blank space. It is about making connections between different forms of travel and markers in the landscape. These connections will be made through the editing process.

Today we edited together for the first time. Initially it was a little rocky because Blithe started by hopping on her computer and doing her thing without much discussion. Mary pulled the process back, opening it up for more dialog and collaboration.  Soon she was hopping on the computer making edits herself (a rarity in this dynamic duo).

11 am


6:30 pm

Today we went through many incarnations of the piece. We threw many shots out. Currently this piece is single channel (This gives Blithe anxiety because she is a multi-channel kind of gal. Mary on the other hand, is happy that she will not have to deal with more than one screen). This might change. This piece is slow and detailed. It reflects the nature of the action we are doing and the kind of observation we have experienced on the ice.

Sound is a question mark for us. The wind on the ice has been steady. We find it to be distracting and unpleasant on our recordings. Today we borrowed wireless microphones from Michael (thank you!) and will try to get a day out on the ice where we can focus on the audio. If not, we will have to work on another solution. More on that soon…

We have a deadline! We will show a work-in-progress version of the piece, and hold a discussion/feedback session next Monday at Verkligheten, the artist-run gallery in Umeå. We hope to see all of our new Swedish friends there. Everyone is invited!

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“I Love That Ice-It Feels Like a Gift!”…

Posted: February 20th, 2012

Is what Blithe exclaimed after our 5 hrs on the ice today in Holmsund.  We’re fighting against time; both the melting of the ice and our residency ending but we’re both very excited about the video we’re working on.

Here are some images and thoughts from today:

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A Different Kind of Work: Ice Fishing Competition

Posted: February 19th, 2012

We took a break from shooting to go to an ice fishing competition in Holmsund today, no rx hosted by our new friends at Blixt Sports.  Mary fished while Blithe documented the event. The kuling (gale force winds) and snow unexpectedly joined in as well to add a higher degree of difficulty to the entire process.

There were around 50 or more people who made their way onto the ice.  The designated area spanned quite a large distance so many people walked over 30 minutes to choose a spot.  We were told the “big fish” were further away but Mary chose a spot close to the entrance of the inlet hoping to win with quantity over size.  The competition was judged by the weight of all the fish caught over the 2 hr time limit.

As the gun signaled the start everyone drilled their holes and began fishing.  The snow covered ice was littered with little dots of people sitting hunched over their freshly drilled ice holes.  The wind was blowing so hard it was difficult to see through the snow but most people seemed to remain resolute.

Mary is proud to report that she felt a fish nibble at her maggot (the bait used) yet she was unable to actually catch that or any fish.  With frozen fingers and wind burned cheeks she eventually made it back inside excited to have at least tried (and to get a hot cup of coffee).

As the other fishermen and women filed  from the ice they gathered inside to  weigh their catch.  Some coming in with a small bag of minnows while others brought in a surprisingly large amount.  It was really nice to see how after the fishing ended people stay around talking having coffee, lunch and of course waiting to see who had won.   The sport has the potential to be social while on the ice with two or more fishermen/women sitting together although it seemed to be mostly a solitary endeavor.  The social aspects mostly takes place before and after the actual fishing.  We got to experience a  very special community today.

Most people did not take the fish they caught home instead throwing it in a large bag for disposal.  To our relief, occasion someone would ask to take that bag home to cook or freeze the fish.  We snagged two large fish that became a great dinner after a cold day out on the ice.

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Excited but Dead Tired

Posted: February 17th, 2012

Today was a stark contrast from yesterday, the sun was shining and the weather was warm.

After a long day of shooting on the Holmsund ice we very excited but dead tired.

We did our first set of real shots, mostly of drilling  holes in the ice— that then fill with water and become pools, as well as markers along the horizon. As we were shooting some unexpected and thrilling moments happened on the boat lanes in the distance. We are very excited by what we have to work with, but will reveal more soon as we are more sure which shots we will actually choose to include in the piece.

We have a new challenge to our collaborative process with this project. In our previous work we have had many more visual limitations in the site we are working with. In the past, the site has helped determine the structure of the piece. Working on the ice and in this landscape is much more open ended, we are having to create the rules and parameters for the duration and framing of the work on our own. It hasn’t been easy to make these decisions. Today we created some rules to structure our shooting, but as soon as we created those rules, new options opened up. Decisions will be key here. This piece could go in so many directions, single-shot performance action, narrative, single-channel, multi-channel… regardless, it will be these decisions that make the art, not the lack of visual stimulation. This landscape is so alluring.

Tomorrow we will have a little break (sort of). We will be spending the day in a different part of Holmusund ice (closer to where the river meets the sea) for the ice fishing competition! Wish Mary luck!

More soon….

Holmsund Shoot, 2/17/12, Coble/Riley Projects

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Conquered by the Kuling!

Posted: February 16th, 2012

The day started off with yet another example of how generous people in Umeå have been to us.  We needed to find an isborr (ice drill) before we could continue test shooting.  Our first thought to was visit Blixt Sport , cialis sale where we went a few days ago to ask about the ice fishing competition.  When we presented the problem of being artists who were working on an “art project” and were in need of an isborr to rent or buy they immediately said no problem that we could just borrow one.  A huge shout out to Olaf and Søren for supporting us like this.

We headed out to Holmsund with the sun shining and upon our arrival we got a sms from Helena who said that it was a bit windy by the water today.  It seemed mild as we got off the bus but as we moved closer to the water we could tell we were in for a day like we had yet to experience.


Today we had the new element of intense wind.

Helena told us that in Swedish there are different words for variations of wind and this one could be considered a “Kuling”, viagra which we think can be translated into gale force winds.

Along with the wind it started to snow.  This all converged into snow being blowing sideways by a wind that could almost knock you over.  The horizon line was barely visably most of the time we were out and by the time we made it inside there was a full white out on the ice.

Before deciding we had to get inside we tried to record a few shots that we test yesterday without having the isborr including one from Helena’s porch which overlooks the bay and provides the opportinity of a much higher camer position.  Mary’s job was to transverse the ice while stopping to sweep clear three large spots in the snow and then to drill a hole in each spot.  The snow was blowing so hard that none of the actions read the way we had anticipated.  Meanwhile Blithe is freezing while trying to stand quietly and keep the camera from being blown over.


It was a quite unique and special experience being in such extreme conditions but we finally had to admit to being conquered by the kuling and dragged ourselves inside for a warm cup of tea.

Tomorrow is a new day and if kuling free we will pick up where we left off.

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Day 2 of Test Shots (Swept Away)

Posted: February 15th, 2012

Today we woke up to a foot of freshly fallen snow. If there is one thing that we are realizing, consistency is nearly impossible with shooting in this climate and season. The light can change drastically in 5 minutes, and the appearance of a river can turn into a field with a fresh snowfall.

Our day of tests shots was not what we had planned. We had expected to be drilling into the ice and making pools of water along the inlet. Instead we realized that in order to do this, we had to first uncover the snow to reveal that the ice was even there for the camera. This act of clearing proved to be more interesting than expected.

sweeping action 1

There is something strange about walking on the ice in the snow. The snow gives a confidence- mentally the ice becomes more like land, and you are willing to travel further than you would otherwise. At the same time, the snow adds an insecurity, there is no way to see what is under your feet. There is a constant negotiation between these two states.

We grabbed a broom off of Helena’s porch to sweep the snow off the ice in the spots we were planning to drill. Intuitively Mary started using it to poke at the surface, to listen for the density of the ice.

Sweeping the Floor

When we went to drill the holes we found that our ice drill (isborr) was not working properly. It just wouldn’t cut in the ice. We can’t understand why, it was working fine 2 days ago. The only thing that has changed is that there is much more snow on the ice.

For the first time today we also saw a ship passing by on the horizon. Further out on the ice, (closer to the open sea) there are carved shipping lanes for the ships to travel back and forth from the harbor. We realized that we could get the schedule of the ships crossing, and also potentially incorporate that into our piece. Tomorrow we will talk to the Harbor Master!

So we weren’t able to drill today, but we did discover a new component to the action that we didn’t expect. The act of clearing snow is also a kind of mark making- it is also a kind of investigation of the surface, and claiming a space for action.

Making Paths

Tomorrow we are going to try to locate another isborr from a local fishing shop, to see if it is the tool that is the problem. We feel like it is necessary to see the water come to the surface for us to make a plan. Overall though, today we found shots we like and a direction that we are excited about.

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