Archive for November 13th, 2008

13
Nov
08

Quotation: Susan Sontag ‘Photography: A Little Summa’

November 2008

 

“5. In a modern society, images made by cameras are the principal access to realities of which we have no direct experience. And we are expected to receive and to register an unlimited number of images of what we don’t directly experience. The camera defines for us what we allow to be “real” – and it continually pushes forward the boundary of the real. Photographers are particularly admired if they reveal hidden truths about themselves or less than fully reported social conflicts in societies both near and far from where the viewer lives.”

.
Sontag
, Susan. “Photography: A Little Summa,” in Sontag, Susan. At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches. London: Hamish Hamilton, 2007, p. 125.

 

 

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13
Nov
08

Book: Edward S. Curtis: Visions of the First Americans (with Eugene Atget and Diane Arbus)

November 2008

 

Edward S Curtis. 'Nuhlihahla-Qagyuhl' Nd

 

Edward S Curtis (American, 1868-1952)
Nuhlihahla-Qagyuhl
Nd

 

 

Following my thoughts on the series The First Australians on SBS we have this wonderful coffee table book of photographs: Edward S. Curtis: Visions of the First Americans with images taken from his seminal 20 volume work The North American Indian.

Curtis worked on the project from 1906 to 1927 hauling his large format glass plate camera across the United States much as Eugene Atget did at roughly the same time in Paris, taking photographs of the old city and its hotels, shops, parks and gardens. Atget died in 1927 with his art recognised by few whilst Curtis lived on into the 1950’s, dying in obscurity and poverty after the fame of his ground breaking work had disappeared. Both photographed a vanishing world capturing it for prosperity on fragile glass plates. Both brought to their projects a unique vision and a belief in what they were doing.

Atget’s photographs of people half seen through shop doors and windows, like shadows of the night. Curtis’s photographs of masked Yeibichei dancers wearing elaborate attire. Curtis thought he was photographing the dying races of the American Indians. Atget knew he was photographing the collapsing spaces of old Paris. Both use the space of the photograph to signify their intentions: an understanding of their subject matter, an empathy with a disappearing way of life, a need to record their vision of this world – and an intensity of insight into that condition.

No other photograph has the space and timelessness of an Atget. No other image the presence of the plains that Curtis summoned.

His masked dancers remind me of the last photographs of the great American photographer Diane Arbus in their candour and beauty, posthumously called Untitled. Finally Arbus has found a subject matter that she could return to over and over again. As did Atget and Curtis.

As Doon Arbus has commented

“These images – created out of the courage to see things as they are, the grace to permit them simply to be, and a deceptive simplicity that permits itself neither fancy nor artifice … The photographs appear to be documents of a world we’ve never seen or imagined before – one with its own rituals and icons, its own games and fashions and codes of conduct – which, for all its strangeness, is at the same time hauntingly familiar and, in the end, no more or less unfathomable than our own.”1

Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Arbus, Doon. “Afterword,” in Diane Arbus: Untitled. London: Thames and Hudson, 1995.

 

 

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13
Nov
08

Quotation: ‘The artist does not turn time into money’

November 2008

 

 

“The artist does not turn time into money, the artist turns time into energy, time into intensity, time into vision. The exchange that art offers is an exchange in kind; energy for energy, intensity for intensity, vision for vision… Can we afford to live imaginatively, contemplatively?”

.
Winterson, Jeanette. Art Objects. London: Vintage, 1996, p 139.

 

 

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13
Nov
08

Television: ‘The First Australians’ SBS TV Australia

November 2008

 

A wonderful, long overdue documentary series on SBS television about the history of ‘Terra Nullius’, the white occupation of lands through the persecutions, massacres and genocide enacted upon the Aboriginal population.

Although some of the ‘academic’ comment lacks balance this can hardly be blamed.

As an Englishman who is now an Australian I feel deep shame over the actions of my predecessors and empathy towards those whose civilisation was uprooted. And so it continues …

In episode 3 the nobleness of the Aboriginal leader Barak broke my heart:

“And may the Lord bless you sir,
and give you good knowledge.”

.
he wrote to his persecutors.

After his son had died
After the promises had been broken.

.
There is a moment in Greek tragedy when the hero realises all he knows is untrue: peripateum.

Barak must have had such a moment and he returned to his people and his cultural roots, in the last years of his life painting his memories: alive, wonderful, moving.

Vale

 

 

First Australians on SBS

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13
Nov
08

Cartoon: Michael Leunig ‘The 3 A.M. WAKE UP’ 2008

November 2008

 

leunig-3am

 

The 3 A.M. WAKE UP by Australian artist and cartoonist Michael Leunig 2008

My favourite cartoon in the world!

 

 

More Leunig images

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13
Nov
08

Quotation: ‘After Light’

November 2008

 

 

“And on the other end of the spectrum, there is the AFTER LIGHT, a light of the past, which are echoes from past experiences so intense that they sometimes appear in front of us in the form of unexpected shadows. They hide on clear days under the roofs of houses. It is believed to be the same light seen by people we knew many years ago that survives like a message in a bottle, but always in a precarious way and often vanishes into thin air.”

.
Helguera
, Pablo. “How to Understand the Light on a Landscape,” in Patt, Lise (ed.,). Searching for Sebald: Photography After W. G. Sebald. Los Angeles: The Institute of Cultural Inquiry, 2007, p. 119.

 

 

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13
Nov
08

New work: Marcus Bunyan ‘The Shape of Dreams’ 2008

November 2008

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Cologne Cathedral 2-52' 2008

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Cologne Cathedral 2-52
2008
From the series The Shape of Dreams
Silver gelatin print

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' 2008

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2008
From the series The Shape of Dreams
Silver gelatin print

 

 

A new body of work has formed in my mind and is physically taking shape through working with the images.

I purchased two black and white photo albums from the 1950s on eBay, both belonging to young soldiers, one on active duty in Korea and the other visiting Japan and Germany after the Second World War. These images are especially poignant to me as an artist and human being. These are snapshots of hope and happiness, of place and being in a time of turbulence. Glimpses of the earth through open aircraft doors, smiles that flit across faces contrast with figures wrapped in a shawl of darkness.

Their faces stare out at us across time yet their bodies are caught in the shadows.

They remind that humans still repeat the mistakes of the past, still list the war dead in columns of photographs inches long. So young and full of hope.

Marcus Bunyan

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'How dramatic!' 2008

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
How dramatic!
2008
From the series The Shape of Dreams
Silver gelatin print

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Spire of the Dome, 1-52'

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Spire of the Dome, 1-52
2008
From the series The Shape of Dreams
Silver gelatin print

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'The Shape of Dreams' 2009

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2008
From the series The Shape of Dreams
Silver gelatin print

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Untitled' from the series 'The Shape of Dreams' 2009

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
Untitled
2008
From the series The Shape of Dreams
Silver gelatin print

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'The Shape of Dreams' 2008

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, b. 1958)
“It’s really nothing fellas!”
2008
From the series The Shape of Dreams
Silver gelatin print

 

 

Marcus Bunyan website

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13
Nov
08

Quotation: Paul Newman

November 2008

 

 

“We are such spendthrifts with our lives,” Newman once told a reporter.

“The trick of living is to slip on and off the planet with the least fuss you can muster.”

.
Paul Newman

 

 

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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