Archive for May, 2009

29
May
09

Review: ‘Desire’ paintings and video by Judith Wright at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 19th May – 13th June 2009

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Judith Wright. Installation of 'Desire' exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

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Judith Wright. Installation of 'Desire' exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

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Judith Wright
Installation of ‘Desire’ exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

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On a beautiful sunny Autumn afternoon in Melbourne I made a visit to Space Furniture on Church Street to ogle at the wondrous designs and then to the galleries of Albert Street in Richmond for three outstanding painting exhibitions: John Beard at John Buckley Gallery, McLean Edwards at Karen Woodbury Gallery and Judith Wright at Sophie Gannon Gallery. First cab off the rank is Judith Wright but reviews of the other two shows will follow.

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There is a part in Jim Jarmusch’s film ‘Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai’ (1999) where the anti-hero stares into the eyes of a dog and Jarmusch just holds the scene for what seems like an eternity. The camera observes the infinite bond between human and animal, an almost palpable connection across time and space, with an unflinching eye. The same can be said of Judith Wright’s encaustic paintings but here she pushes the relationship further – into an investigation of the animal in the human and vice versa, and their erotic charge when placed together. Here is the ‘carnivalesque’ at it most daring, most paired back, revealing in quiet Zen like compositions the dissolution of boundaries between both states of being.

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Judith Wright video installation

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Nominally based on the symbology of characters presented in two videos in the exhibition (masked figures playing with each other, a comical goats head with horns being one figure) the paintings are much more interesting than the videos. Painted on Japanese paper in wax and acrylic the biomorphic forms of babies heads, torsos and sculpted free forms and designs suggestive of living organisms address the title of the exhibition: desire!

Wright plays with scale and form, using earth tones and a luminous palette of oranges, yellows and pinks. Her shape-shifting paintings work to unhinge stagnant systems of thought that surround identity and the body. The waxed Japanese paper adds to the sensuality of the skin-like work. A baby seems to feed on a double nipple but the nipple has missed the mouth and is invading the eye. Forms intersect and the sensual shapes slip over each other: as in the Zen idea of ‘satori’ or enlightenment attained when two circles intersect here we have the intersection of an erotic enlightenment.

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Judith Wright. 'Desire [14]' 2009

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Judith Wright
‘Desire [14]’
2009

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Judith Wright. 'Desire [5]' 2009

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Judith Wright
‘Desire [5]’
2009

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Judith Wright. 'Desire [7]' 2009

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Judith Wright
‘Desire [7]’
2009

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As Russian theorist Mikhail Bakhtin notes the carnivalesque is the contravention of normal laws of behaviour, “and he proposes that the carnivalesque is also the home of the grotesque, where otherwise antithetical properties or characteristics are matched together in the same being: beast with human, youth with age, male with female.”1

“The carnival offers the chance to have a new outlook on the world, to realize the relative nature of all that exists, and to enter a completely new order of things.”2

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This is what these paintings propose: a new order of things, a chance for desires formed of new pleasures.

As Michel Foucault has observed,

“The possibility of using our bodies as a possible source of very numerous pleasures is something that is very important. For instance, if you look at the traditional construction of pleasure, you see that bodily pleasure, or pleasures of the flesh, are always drinking, eating and fucking. And that seems to be the limit of the understanding of our bodies, our pleasures …. It is very interesting to note, for instance, that for centuries people generally, as well as doctors, psychiatrists, and even liberation movements, have always spoken about desire, and never about pleasure. “We have to liberate our desire,” they say. No! We have to create new pleasure. And then maybe desire will follow.”3

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In their luminosity, in their skin-like textures, in their balance between the colour of the paper, the dark voids and the brown of babies heads we feel the sharp intake of the cold breathe of winter on the nostrils – we feel an evocation of new pleasure, of possible desires within us and the loosening of the grip of conformity. Like the perfect placement of rocks in a Japanese garden and the ripples of the gravel, of a reality that swirls around them these paintings open hearts and minds to inner states of being unexperienced before. And yes, I did enjoy the ride.

Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart blog

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Judith Wright. Desire [16]' 2009

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Judith Wright
‘Desire [16]’
2009

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Judith Wright. 'The Gift [2]' 2009

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Judith Wright
‘The Gift [2]’
2008

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Judith Wright. 'The Gift [7]' 2008

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Judith Wright
‘The Gift [7]’
2008

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Sophie Gannon Gallery

2, Albert Street, Richmond, Melbourne
Opening hours: Tues – Saturday 11 – 5pm

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1. Buchbinder, David. Masculinities and Identities. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1994, p.53. For a discussion of carnivalesque see Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and his World (trans. Hélène Iswolsky). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984, pp.196-277, 303-367.

2. Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and his World (trans. Hélène Iswolsky). Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984, p.34.

3. Gallagher, Bob and Wilson, Alexander. “Sex and the Politics of Identity: An Interview with Michel Foucault,” in Thompson, Mark. Gay Spirit: Myth and Meaning. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987, p.31.

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27
May
09

International Sculpture Conference accepting proposals: ‘What is Sculpture in the 21st Century?

22nd International Sculpture Conference

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7th – 9th April, 2010 London, United Kingdom

Submission Deadline: June 4, 2009

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Chris Burden
‘Flying Steamroller’
2006

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Call for Papers

The ISC’s 22nd International Sculpture Conference will explore and consider the potential of sculpture in the 21st century – to provide an opportunity to both celebrate its vitality and diversity, its capacity to challenge, and to examine its current position, function and production.

Individuals are invited to submit proposals for papers and panel discussions that provoke critical exchange and debate in relation to the broad thematic areas referred to below. Submissions are encouraged that support opportunities for interaction between participants and enable the conference to engage in a truly international exchange of ideas and viewpoints.

Individuals wishing to contribute panel abstract proposals for the 22nd International Sculpture Conference must submit a 200 word abstract for review by the Conference Advisory Committee. All abstracts must be submitted electronically using the online form available.

Themes include ‘The Languages of Sculpture’, ‘Public Perception and Investment’ and ‘The State of Education’.

The abstract submission deadline is June 4, 2009. Abstracts received after the submission deadline will automatically be placed on the waiting list

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For more details on the Themes of the conference, Abstract Guidelines and Calls for Paper form see the International Sculpture Center website.

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26
May
09

Exhibition: ‘Inheritance’ at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney

Exhibition dates: 1st May – 6th June 2009

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Bindi Cole, Tamara Dean, Lee Grant, June Indrefjord, Bronek Kozka, Ka-Yin Kwok, Tracey Moffatt, Fiona Morris, Aaron Seeto, Martin Smith and Toni Wilkinson

Installation photographs of the exhibition can be found on the Lee Grant – Photography blog website

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June Indrefjord. 'Piano' from the series Landaas 2005

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June Indrefjord
‘Piano’ from the series Landaas
2005

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Aaron Seeto. 'Oblivion' 2006

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Aaron Seeto
‘Oblivion’
2006

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Tracey Moffatt. 'Useless 1974' 1994

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Tracey Moffatt
‘Useless 1974’
1994

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Lee Grant. 'The Day Meg Wore a Dress' 2007

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Lee Grant
‘The Day Meg Wore a Dress’ from the series Brothers and Sisters
2007

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“You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.”

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From the tight nuclear unit to the multi-generational extended family, from refuges for the homeless to middle class suburbia, Inheritance examines the way our families shape the person we become; for better or for worse.

Taking Tracey Moffatt’s acclaimed series Scarred for Life as a starting point, the exhibition includes the work of eleven Australian artists who explore the modern family through a range of photographic disciplines, including documentary, portraiture and video. Sometimes serious and sometimes satirical, Inheritance is a family album that celebrates the skeletons and the psychodramas alongside the newborns and the nuptials.

Text from the Australian Centre for Photography website

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Bindi Cole Wathaurung Mob 2008

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Bindi Cole
‘Wathaurung Mob’
2008

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Fiona Morris. 'Sean and Jade, Wesley Mission' 2006

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Fiona Morris
‘Sean and Jade, Wesley Mission’
2006

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Tamara Dean. 'Alex and Maeve' 2006

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Tamara Dean
‘Alex and Maeve’
2006

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Australian Centre for Contemporary Photography

257 Oxford Street, Paddington NSW 2021

Gallery Hours: Tue-Fri 12.00am – 7.00pm
Sat & Sun 10.00am – 6.00pm

Australian Centre for Contemporary Photography website

Lee Grant website

June Indrefjord website

Tracey Moffatt on the Rosyln  Oxley9 Gallery website

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25
May
09

Exhibition: ‘Thomas Ruff. Surfaces, Depths’ at Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna

Exhibition dates: 21st May – 13th September, 2009

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Thomas Ruff. 'Interieur 2D (Tegernsee)' 1982

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Thomas Ruff
‘Interieur 2D (Tegernsee)’
1982
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist © VBK, Wien 2009

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Thomas Ruff. 'Zycles 3048' 2008

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Thomas Ruff
‘Zycles 3048’
2008

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An exhibition of the work of the renowned photographer Thomas Ruff that concentrates on his new ‘Cassini’ and ‘Zycles’ series. His clinical photographs with their catatonic rigidity promote stupor in the viewer. The viewer becomes complicit in a platonic relationship (of forms) with the non-reality presented by the camera, directed by Ruff’s ironic, surgical gaze. Ruff corrupts and disturbs traditional binaries of presence/absence, truth/reality, surfaces/depths to challenge the very basis of seeing, the very basis of photography’s link to indexicality and presence in a contemporary digital world, something that William Eggleston seems to have lost the art of doing (please see the previous post).

As Maurice Blanchot has observed,

“The image has nothing to do with signification, meaning, as implied by the existence of the world, the effort of truth, the law and the brightness of the day. Not only is the image of an object not the meaning of that object and of no help in comprehending it, but it tends to withdraw it from its meaning by maintaining it in the immobility of a resemblance that it has nothing to resemble.”1

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There is no single truth; there are only competing narratives and interpretations of a world that cannot be wholly, accurately described.2 In the splitting apart of image and meaning there is a crisis in control: it becomes illusory and is marked by doubt.

In Ruff’s photographs the relationship between image and context, between cause and effect becomes more and more layered until the very act of seeing is no longer framed or presupposed through relations of distance or perspective.3 Ruff’s photographs become a struggle of and for positionality in the physical, mental and emotional conflicts evidenced in the viewer as we look, paradoxically, at these unemotional images.

Marcus Bunyan

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Thomas Ruff. 'Cassini 01' 2008

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Thomas Ruff
‘Cassini 01’
2008

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Thomas Ruff. 'Cassini 06' 2008

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Thomas Ruff
‘Cassini 06’
2008

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“Yet Ruff has always treated the medium of photography with skepticism: for him, the photographic surface is a thin foil which tricks the viewer with its illusion of extreme realism and at the same time reveals the fundamental impossibility of experiencing the world in our digital age. Ruff’s images seem emphatically to deny photography’s main attribute – that is, the offer of a reliable record of reality. Instead, through his mute images devoid of all emotion, Ruff presents us with a contemporary subjectivity defined by amnesia.”

Text from the Castello di Rivoli website

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Thomas Ruff. 'Portrait (A. Siekmann)' 1987

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Thomas Ruff
‘Portrait (A. Siekmann)’
1987

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Thomas Ruff. 'Portrait (A. Kachold)' 1987

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Thomas Ruff
‘Portrait (A. Kachold)’
1987

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Thomas Ruff. 'Portrait (S. Weirauch)' 1988

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Thomas Ruff
‘Portrait (S. Weirauch)’
1988
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist © VBK, Wien 2009

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“The reality in front of the camera is reality of the first degree, the representation of the reality in front of the camera is reality of the second degree, and then come any number of possible gradations and distortions.”

Thomas Ruff

“To try to see more and better is not a matter of whim or curiosity or self-indulgence. To see or to perish is the very condition laid upon everything that makes up the universe, by reason of the mysterious gift of existence.”

Teilhard de Chardin, “Seeing” 1947

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The work of Thomas Ruff, who numbers among today’s most important photographers, focuses our attention on such diverse everyday subjects as people, architecture, the universe, and the Internet. With its extensive solo presentation with a total of about 150 exhibits from 11 groups of works, Kunsthalle Wien offers a first comprehensive survey of the artist’s manifold oeuvre in Austria.

Thomas Ruff studied at the Dusseldorf Academy of Arts, graduating as a student of Bernd and Hilla Becher besides Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hütte, and Thomas Struth, all of them celebrating an international career these days. The photographer strikes us as a sharp and concentrated observer of his motifs. To him, objectivity is nothing neutral though, but has to be redefined with each new photograph. The series of large-scale portraits which Ruff started working on in 1986 and for which he became known internationally, for example, fascinates us because of the determined detachment with which he captured his models that were mostly acquainted with him. This approach makes for a hyper-precise, chirurgic gaze reproducing everything down to the last detail as equivalent. It also demonstrates the degree of the artist’s interest in the history of photography, how critically he considers its subject, and the skeptical attitude he sometimes adopts toward the medium.

From his stereoscopic views of the urban development myth of Brasilia and his apparently anti-essayistic architectural photographs of buildings by Herzog & de Meuron, which are based on instructions, to his digital processing of images of the planet Saturn available free of charge on the NASA website, the artist explores the concepts of the exemplary, of objectivity, of reality, and of zeitgeist. Based on half of his about twenty thematic groups of works created so far, the exhibition examines the concept pair surface/depth, which seems to be quite simple at first sight, but reveals itself as strongly discursive on closer inspection, and focuses the attention on formal aspects one comes upon again and again in his entire oeuvre …

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Thomas Ruff. 'Herzog & de Meuron, Ricola Mulhouse' 1994

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Thomas Ruff
‘Herzog & de Meuron, Ricola Mulhouse’
1994
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist © Thomas Ruff

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Thomas Ruff. 'House Nr. 11 III' 1990

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Thomas Ruff
‘House Nr. 11 III’
1990
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist © VBK, Wien 2009

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Right in time for the International Year of Astronomy 2009, Thomas Ruff presents works from his most recent series Cassini – subtly manipulated pictures of Saturn and its moons taken by the Cassini spacecraft. It was the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei who opened a window to the skies with his telescope 400 years ago. He thus revolutionized man’s image of himself in regard to the universe, but also his understanding of and his way of dealing with the concepts of nearness and distance, surface and depth.

Thomas Ruff. Surfaces, Depths conveys what these concepts, translated into pictures, do to the viewer on a phenomenological level and how they challenge him. The curves of Ruff’s zycles, distorted into the three-dimensional sphere, unfold the sensory experience of roaming virtual depths only reserved to the human eye. Yet, gazing at the represented motifs also elucidates the artist’s contentual objective of providing a critical comment on the various possibilities of the photographic apparatus to depict and manipulate reality.”

Press release from the Kunsthalle Wien website

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Thomas Ruff. 'Cassini 08' 2008

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Thomas Ruff
‘Cassini 08’
2008

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04-cassini-03

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Thomas Ruff
‘Cassini 03’
2008
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist and Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich © Thomas Ruff

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Thomas Ruff. 'Zycles 3045' 2008

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Thomas Ruff
‘Zycles 3045’
2008
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist © VBK Wien, 2009

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“Thomas Ruff first became known through his portraits of houses and factory buildings, as well as the night sky, portrayed in a natural and objective manner. Ruff photographed the buildings either in strict frontality or at right angles to one another, always paying attention to regular sharpness and neutral lighting, and from the same standpoint. With his controversially discussed nudes of erotic, sometimes pornographic scenes from the Internet, which he projected onto unsharp large formats, he expanded the borders of photography in 1999. Since then, his Internet blow-ups with clearly emphasised pixel structures have been regarded as his ‘trademark’. Thomas Ruff started concerning himself with the medium of the image at the very beginning of his artistic career. In addition to self-produced analogue and digital photographs, he worked from the basis existing pictures. He liked working with unspectacular, historically typical motifs and elaborated the images on the computer, whereby he was particularly interested in the technical side of photography. Often, a new group of works would start with the choice of a specific technique, for example, the night sky pictures from 1992 to 1995 which were made with the help of a camera and a night vision enhancer. Since the night vision enhancer is a visual instrument developed for the Gulf War, this series is a subliminal play on the medial dimension created by this war.

After digitally creating the Substrat series of 2002 abstract, psychedelic colour images from Manga comics, he began his latest zycles series, in which he worked with far more complexly abstract dimensions. These consisted of large-format inkjet prints on canvas that already created a furore at this year’s Art Unlimited in Basel. It is hard to believe that these compositions, which consisted of curved lines and were spread all over the image, originated in mathematics, or more precisely, in antiquated 19th century books on electro-magnetism that portrayed magnetic fields on copperplates. Thomas Ruff was particularly interested in translating these drawings into three-dimensional space. For this he used a 3D computer programme that translated mathematic formulas into complex, three-dimensional linear structures. Ruff recorded different detailed views from these virtually produced linear structures. The weave of lines developed in front of an open space of unspecified depth, sometimes filigree, sometimes accentuated. Their dynamics are reminiscent of the lines of magnetic fields, but also of informal line drawings. Either way, they invite the viewers to play with their own perceptions.”

Text by Dominique von Burg; translation: Maureen Oberli-Turner from the Mai 36 Galerie website

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Thomas Ruff. 'jpeg icbm05' 2007

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Thomas Ruff
‘Jpeg icbm05’
2007

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Thomas Ruff. 'Jpeg rl104' 2007

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Thomas Ruff
‘Jpeg rl104’
2007

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Kunsthalle Wien

Museumsplatz 1
A-1070 Vienna

Opening hours:
Daily 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Thursday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

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1. Blanchot, Maurice. The Gaze of Orpheus. New York: Barrytown, 1981, p.85.

2. Townsend, Chris. Vile Bodies: Photography and the Crisis of Looking. Munich: Prestel, 1998, p.10.

3. Burnett, Ron. Cultures of Vision: Images, Media, & the Imaginary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995, pp.137-138.

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21
May
09

Exhibition: ‘Paris’ photographs by William Eggleston at Fondation Cartier, Paris

Exhibition dates: 4th April – 21st June, 2009

 

Perhaps it’s just me but I seem to have become a little jaded towards the recent photographs of William Eggleston. Although there are not many photographs of the exhibition online there are a few at the Fondation Cartier website under the ‘Catalogue’ section of the exhibition and they are quite mundane.

Other than the green reflection of lights in rainwater the photographs seem to have lost their unique voice, the insight that gave his earlier work it’s zing – provocative images that challenged through meditation on subject matter, construction of space and tone of colour. In these photographs it feels like there has been little development in his style over the years with a consequent lessening of their visual impact. Perhaps the way we look at the world and how we picture it has finally overtaken the director’s prescient creative vision – his auteurship, his authorship.

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled', Paris series, 2006-2008

 

William Eggleston
‘Untitled’, Paris series
2006-2008

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled', Paris series, 2006-2008

 

William Eggleston
‘Untitled’, Paris series
2006-2008

 

 

“For the last three years, American photographer William Eggleston has photographed the city of Paris as part of a commission for the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain. Taken throughout different seasons, these new images by one of the fathers of color photography portray the local and the cosmopolitan, the glamorous and the gritty, the everyday and the extraordinary.

This exhibition also provides an exceptional occasion to bring together William Eggleston’s distinctive pictures and his recent paintings, an unknown aspect of his work that has never before been presented to the public.”

Text from the Fondation Cartier website

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled', Paris series, 2006-2008

 

William Eggleston
‘Untitled‘, Paris series
2006-2008

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled', Paris series, 2006-2008

 

William Eggleston
‘Untitled’, Paris series
2006-2008

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled', Paris series, 2006-2008

 

William Eggleston
‘Untitled’, Paris series
2006-2008

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled', Paris series, 2006-2008

 

William Eggleston
‘Untitled’, Paris series
2006-2008

 

 

Fondation Cartier

261 Boulevard Raspail, Paris
Opening hours: Every day except Mondays, 11 – 8pm
Opening Tuesday evenings until 10pm

Fondation Cartier website

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20
May
09

Art Blart now providing content for new Australian website ‘Word on the Street’

 

Art Blart is now providing content for the new Australian website ‘Word on the Street’. This is a country wide website that features events, festivals and live music – fashion and art – restaurants – lifestyle – sport and news – nightlife and social scene. The website can be found at www.wordonthestreet.com.au.

 

Word on the Street with Art Blart review


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20
May
09

Exhibition: ‘Diane Arbus’ at the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff

Exhibition dates: 9th May – 31st August, 2009

 

“A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know.” 

Diane Arbus

 

Diane Arbus. 'Tattooed Man at a Carnival, Md.,' 1970

 

Diane Arbus
‘Tattooed Man at a Carnival, Md.,’
1970

 

 

I have collected some photographs from the exhibition mainly from  the ‘Box of Ten’ 1971 that features in the show.
Diane Arbus is one of my favourite photographs – how I would love to see this show!
Marcus

 

“One of National Museum Cardiff’s main art exhibitions in 2009 reveals the work of legendary New York photographer Diane Arbus (1923 -1971), who transformed the art of photography. ‘Diane Arbus’, which comprises 69 black and white photographs including the rare and important portfolio of ten vintage prints: ‘Box of Ten’, 1971, is one of the best collections of Arbus’s work in existence. A large selection of these images will be on display at the Museum from 9 May until 31 August 2009.

Capturing 1950s and 1960s America, Arbus is renowned for portraits of people who were then classed on the outskirts of society nudists, transvestites, circus performers and zealots. In one of her most famous works, ‘Identical Twins, Roselle, NJ’ of 1967, the twins are photographed as if joined at the shoulder and hip with only three arms between them.
Her powerful, sometimes controversial, images often frame the familiar as strange and the strange or exotic as familiar. This singular vision and her ability to engage in such an uncompromising way with her subjects has made Arbus one of the most important and influential photographers of the twentieth century.

This singular vision and her ability to engage in such an uncompromising way with her subjects has made Arbus one of the most important and influential photographers of the twentieth century.”

Text from the National Museum of Cardiff website

 

Diane Arbus. 'A young man with curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C.,' 1966

 

Diane Arbus
‘A young man with curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C.,’
1966

 

Diane Arbus. 'A family on their lawn one Sunday in Westchester, N.Y.,' 1968

 

Diane Arbus
‘A family on their lawn one Sunday in Westchester, N.Y.,’
1968

 

Diane Arbus. 'A Jewish Giant at home with his parents' 1967

 

Diane Arbus
‘A Jewish Giant at home with his parents’
1967

 

 

“From 1969 to 1971 Arbus was absorbed in the creation of a limited edition portfolio, A box of ten photographs. The portfolio was intended to present her work as an artist in the manner of the special print editions offered by new artists’ presses such as Crown Point and Universal Limited Art Editions (ULAE). This group of pictures and its presentation was a very conscious statement of what she stood for, and how she regarded her own photography. The pictures range from the relatively early ones of the Nudists in their summer home and Xmas tree in a living room in Levittown, L.I., both of 1963; through the now iconic Identical twins, Roselle, N.J., 1967 and Westchester Couple sunning themselves on their lawn, to the later pictures of the Jewish giant, the Mexican Dwarf in his hotel room, N.Y.C. and the King and Queen of a senior citizens’ dance, N.Y.C., all of 1970. There is clearly an attempt to be representative of the general idea, the larger plan behind her work. There is also a significant stylistic range, from the graceful daylight in the picture of the older couple in the nudist camp, to the later picture of the elderly king and queen, whom she photographed with sharp flash. She included Xmas tree, a work without human subjects. The prints for this portfolio were selected three years after the New Documents exhibition, before there was thought of another show. But the pictures constituted a kind of exhibition in and of themselves, to be examined one at a time, rather than all at once. From her letters, we know that the idea of a clear box was very important; it was to serve as both a container and a display case allowing the owner to reorder and display the pictures easily. Just as she had wanted the black border of the print to show in the New Documents exhibition, here she wished to exhibit the entire print as it appeared on the photographic paper …

 

Diane Arbus. 'Mexican Dwarf in his hotel room, N.Y.C.,' 1970

 

Diane Arbus
‘Mexican Dwarf in his hotel room, N.Y.C.,’
1970

 

Diane Arbus. 'Xmas tree in a living room in Levittown, L.I.,' 1963

 

Diane Arbus
‘Xmas tree in a living room in Levittown, L.I.,’
1963

 

 

Most of the pictures in the portfolio either depict families or refer to the family. Even the corner of the cellophane-looking room in Levittown is made by peering over the two outstretched arms of a family armchair, posed like the trousered knees of the empty chair in the picture of the Jewish giant. The idea of the family album was a private but expressive metaphor for her. As in a family album, each member is part of the larger group; they are related, perhaps even tolerated, and harmony may be rare and perhaps even uninteresting. But they are all considered with the same intelligent and human regard. She photographed the Jewish giant as a mythic figure, enclosed in a modest Bronx living room, an unconventional member of an otherwise conventional family: ‘I know a Jewish giant who lives in Washington Heights or the Bronx with his little parents. He is tragic with a curious bitter somewhat stupid wit. The parents are orthodox and repressive and classic and disapprove of his carnival career…They are truly a metaphorical family. When he stands with his arms around each he looks like he would gladly crush them. They fight terribly in an utterly typical fashion which seems only exaggerated by their tragedy… Arrogant, anguished, even silly.’

Sandra S. Phillips, senior curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from the book Diane Arbus Revelations.1

 

Diane Arbus. 'Identical twins, Roselle, N.J.,' 1967

 

Diane Arbus
‘Identical twins, Roselle, N.J.,’
1967

 

Diane Arbus. 'King and Queen of a senior citizens' dance, N.Y.C.,' 1970

 

Diane Arbus
‘King and Queen of a senior citizens’ dance, N.Y.C.,’
1970

 

 

1. Phillips, Sandra. “The Question of Belief,” in Diane Arbus Revelations. London: Random House, 2003, pp. 66-67.

 

National Museum of Wales, Cardiff

Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP
Opening hours: Tues – Sunday, 10 – 5pm

National Museum of Wales website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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