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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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…

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 (also known as hot wax painting, involves using heated beeswax to which coloured pigments are added) 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.

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.

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 realise the relative nature of all that exists, and to enter a completely new order of things.”2

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And 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.

Dr Marcus Bunyan for Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to Sophie Gannon Gallery for allowing me to publish the art work in the posting. Please click on some of the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

  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.

 

Judith Wright video installation

 

Judith Wright. 'Desire [14]' 2009

 

Judith Wright
Desire [14]
2009
Acrylic and wax on Japanese paper
200 x 200 cm

 

Judith Wright. 'Desire [5]' 2009

 

Judith Wright
Desire [5]
2009
Acrylic and wax on Japanese paper
100 x 100 cm

 

Judith Wright. 'Desire [7]' 2009

 

Judith Wright
Desire [7]
2009
Acrylic and wax on Japanese paper
100 x 100 cm

 

Judith Wright. Desire [16]' 2009

 

Judith Wright
Desire [16]
2009
Acrylic and wax on Japanese paper
300 x 300 cm

 

Judith Wright. 'The Gift [2]' 2009

 

Judith Wright
The Gift [2]
2008
Acrylic and wax on Japanese paper

 

Judith Wright. 'The Gift [7]' 2008

 

Judith Wright
The Gift [7]
2008
Acrylic and wax on Japanese paper

 

 

Sophie Gannon Gallery
2, Albert Street, Richmond, Melbourne
Phone: +61 3 9421 0857

Opening hours:
Tues – Saturday 11 – 5pm

Sophie Gannon Gallery website

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27
May
09

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

May 2009

22nd International Sculpture Conference

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

 

 

 

Chris Burden
Flying Steamroller
2006

 

 

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.

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

 

 

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26
May
09

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

Exhibition dates: 1st May – 6th June 2009

Artists: 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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Many thankx to the ACP for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on some of the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

June Indrefjord. 'Piano' from the series Landaas 2005

 

June Indrefjord
Piano
2005
From the series Landaas

 

Aaron Seeto. 'Oblivion' 2006

 

Aaron Seeto
Oblivion
2006
From the series Oblivion
Daguerreotype

 

 

Aaron Seeto makes alternate historical positions and experiences visible through an exploration of archives, family photo albums and photographic records. In recent bodies of work Fortress and Oblivion, Seeto has utilised the daguerreotype, one of the earliest and most primitive photographic techniques, to highlight the malleability of narratives within archive records. Not only is the chemical process itself highly toxic and temperamental but the daguerreotype’s mirrored surface means the image appears as both positive and negative, depending on the angle of view. For Seeto, this mutability captures the essence of our experience of history and memory, reflecting how images degrade, how stories are formed and privileged, how knowledge and history are written. …

For his ongoing series Oblivion Seeto sourced details from images of the Cronulla riots – beachside riots around race and territory – of 2005 found on the internet. In reproducing these as daguerrotypes he seeks less to represent the incident than to look at how it was reported, understood and remembered. The instability of the virtual information found online is echoed in the photographic process.

Text from the Stills Gallery website [Online] Cited 14/02/2019

 

Tracey Moffatt. 'Useless 1974' 1994

 

Tracey Moffatt
Useless 1974
1994
From the series Scarred for Life

 

 

Useless, 1974 is a photo-lithograph by the Australian artist Tracey Moffatt. The work shows a girl stooping down to wash a car, with one hand wiping a headlight with a sponge and the other resting on the bonnet. She looks towards the camera rather than at the car, her face bearing a serious and potentially hurt or angry expression. The caption accompanying the photograph explains that ‘Her father’s nickname for her was “useless”‘. Despite this, it seems that in this picture she is being put to use, and perhaps the car she washes is her father’s. The caption, her expression and the direction of her gaze may suggest that the viewer occupies the position of the girl’s father looking down on and supervising his daughter while she carries out her chore. …

The work’s title is a reference to the cruel nickname given to the girl in the photograph, and the date in the title, 1974, suggests the year according to which the photograph has been styled by Moffatt, who employs actors and constructed scenes to create her photographs. Curator Filippo Maggia has compared Moffatt’s photographic method to that of a film director, stating that she ‘often does not take the photographs herself but directs a sort of bona fide movie set that she organises and controls after having pictured it in her mind again and again, meticulously decomposing and recomposing it’ (Maggia 2006, p.12). As the artist has stated, ‘I often use technicians when I make my pictures. I more or less direct them. I stand back and call the shots.’ (Quoted in Maggia 2006, p.12.)

Moffatt’s photographic series often deal with themes such as race, gender and the politics of identity. Drawing on memories from the artist’s childhood, the Scarred for Life series mimics photo spreads from the American magazine Life, with their explanatory captions and focus on the family environment. The captions’ terse descriptions hint at the traumatic stories behind the images. Moffatt has commented: ‘a person can make a passing comment to you when you are young and this can change you forever. You can be “scarred for life” but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The photographs can be read as both tragic and comic – there is a thin line between both.’ (Quoted in display caption, Tracey Moffatt, Birth Certificate 1994, Tate P78101, accessed 28 August 2015.) Furthermore, Maggia has argued that the Scarred for Life series ‘gives us life as it is, the harshness and aridity of human relations, adolescence with its fears of not being accepted’ (Maggia 2006, p.13).

Louise Hughes
August 2015

Filippo Maggia, Tracey Moffatt: Between Dreams and Reality, exhibition catalogue, Spazio Oberdan, Milan 2006, p. 13, reproduced p. 117.

Extract from Louise Hughes. “Useless, 1974,” on the Tate website [Online] Cited 14/02/2019

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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 [Online] Cited 20/05/2009

 

Bindi Cole Wathaurung Mob 2008

 

Bindi Cole
Wathaurung Mob
2008
From the series Not really Aboriginal
Pigment print on rag paper
1035 x 1235cm

 

 

Our Past Is Our Strength – Culture and Identity

I’ve always been told that l was Aboriginal. I never questioned it because of the colour of my skin or where I lived. My Nan, one of the Stolen Generation, was staunchly proud and strong. She made me feel the same way. My traditional land takes in Ballarat, Geelong and Werribee and extends west past Cressy to Derrinallum. I’m from Victoria and I’ve always known this. All the descendants of traditional Victorian Aboriginal people are now of mixed heritage. I’m not black. I’m not from a remote community. Does that mean I’m not really Aboriginal? Or do Aboriginal people come in all shapes, sizes and colours and live in all areas of Australia, remote and urban?

Bindi Cole Wathaurung text from the Culture Victoria website [Online] Cited 14/02/2019

 

“Wathaurung Mob is a group portrait depicting members of Cole’s family sitting in their lounge room, their faces blackened with minstrel paint, and wearing red headbands traditionally worn by indigenous elders. The controversial practice of “blackfacing” refers to the populist minstrel shows of the 19th and 20th centuries in which a white actor put on blackface, then performed a racist caricature.

As we stand before the work, Alessi says he finds it confronting and uncomfortable. “Wathaurung Mob is quite powerful because what stands out are the eyes of each sitter; they look directly at the viewer, so you can’t help but feel challenged by that,” he says.

“There is also something quite uncomfortable about the work because, in some ways, you are being implicated in Andrew Bolt’s view, as white Australians having to own up to the broader history of the relationship between white and indigenous Australia.

“And more broadly it is about coming to grips with what is still a major issue in Australia around reconciliation and the way that we treat indigenous people. In one single frame this photograph captures 200 years of history, and I think it is an area that people like Bindi Cole are really courageous to navigate through because they have been open to criticism by people like Andrew Bolt, which is completely unfounded.””

Extract from Bronwyn Watson. “Facing up to the stereotypes,” on The Australian website November 16, 2013 [Online] Cited 14/02/2019

 

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

 

Fiona Morris
Sean and Jade, Wesley Mission
2006

 

Tamara Dean. 'Alex and Maeve' 2006

 

Tamara Dean
Alex and Maeve
2006

 

 

Australian Centre for Photography
ACP Project Space Gallery,
21 Foley St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

Gallery Hours:
Tue-Fri 10.00am – 5.00pm
Sat 11.00am – 4.00pm

Australian Centre for Photography website

Lee Grant 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

 

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

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Interieur 2D (Tegernsee)
1982
Chromogenic print
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist
© VBK, Wien 2009

 

 

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 further 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, askance? with a paradoxical intent? at these unemotional images.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Kunsthalle Wien for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

  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

 

 

Thomas Ruff. 'Zycles 3048' 2008

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Zycles 3048
2008
Chromogenic print
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist
© VBK Wien, 2009

 

Thomas Ruff. 'Zycles 3045' 2008

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Zycles 3045
2008
Chromogenic print
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist
© VBK Wien, 2009

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958) 'Cassini 01' 2008

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Cassini 01
2008
Chromogenic print
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist and Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich
© Thomas Ruff

 

Thomas Ruff. 'Cassini 06' 2008

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Cassini 06
2008
Chromogenic print
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist and Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich
© Thomas Ruff

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958) 'Cassini 08' 2008

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Cassini 08
2008
Chromogenic print
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist and Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich
© Thomas Ruff

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958) 'Cassini 03' 2008

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Cassini 03
2008
Chromogenic print
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist and Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich
© Thomas Ruff

 

 

“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 [Online] Cited 24/05/2009 no longer available online

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958) 'Portrait (A. Siekmann)' 1987

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Portrait (A. Siekmann)
1987
Chromogenic print
210 x 165 cm (82 11/16 x 64 15/16 in.)
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist
© VBK, Wien 2009

 

 

During the late 1980s Ruff photographed his fellow students at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art, combining the typological mode of his teacher Bernd Becher with the serial progressions and primary structures of Minimalism. The large scale and technical perfection of Ruff’s portraits refer to both the museum and the street – to billboards and heroic painting – while elevating the anonymous sitter to the stature and visibility of a public figure. Instead of presuming to depict the transcendent, individual essence of the sitter, however, Ruff’s portraits deliberately assume the neutrality of the mug shot, physiognomic study, and identity card, and, by extension, the entire brightly lit world of surveillance in which his subjects were raised. The age and milieu of his sitters are crucial to the pictures’ meaning: these young media-savvy people are not threatened by the camera eye but adjust themselves comfortably yet firmly to its probing vision. The results are both seductive and subtly disquieting, like studying a human specimen whose every pore and hair is available for careful study, yet whose thoughts and feelings are always just out of reach.

Text from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958) 'Portrait (A. Kachold)' 1987

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Portrait (A. Kachold)
1987
Chromogenic print
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist
© VBK, Wien 2009

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958) 'Portrait (S. Weirauch)' 1988

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Portrait (S. Weirauch)
1988
Chromogenic print
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist
© VBK, Wien 2009

 

 

“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.”

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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.”

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Teilhard de Chardin, “Seeing” 1947

 

 

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.

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 revolutionised 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 [Online] Cited 24/05/2009 no longer available online

 

Thomas Ruff numbers among today’s most important photographers, his oeuvre encompassing such diverse subject areas as people, architecture, the universe, and the Internet. With its extensive solo exhibition presenting a total of about 150 works, the Kunsthalle Wien offers the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s manifold production in Austria.

Thomas Ruff strikes us as a sharp and concentrated observer rendering his motifs with a hyper-precise, chirurgic gaze. To him, the objective representation of reality is no neutral process, but something questioned with each new photograph. Running through the exhibition like a thread is the apparent pair of opposites of surface and depth and its highly variable manifestations. Next to his series of large-format portraits from the 1980s, for which Ruff received international acclaim, and his architectural photographs of buildings by Herzog & de Meuron, which are based on instructions, the show focuses on his most recent cassini and zycles series. Digitally processing images of the planet Saturn and its moons from the NASA website, the artist explores the notions of the exemplary, of reality, and of zeitgeist. Also depicting the pair of concepts surfaces/depths, the seemingly three-dimensional curves of Ruff’s zycles unfold the sensory experience of roaming virtual depths reserved to the human eye alone.

Text from the Kunsthalle Wien website

 

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

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Herzog & de Meuron, Ricola Mulhouse
1994
Chromogenic print
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist
© Thomas Ruff

 

Thomas Ruff. 'House Nr. 11 III' 1990

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
House Nr. 11 III
1990
Chromogenic print
Courtesy der Künstler / the artist
© VBK, Wien 2009

 

 

“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 of 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 [Online] Cited 24/05/2009 no longer available online

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958) 'Jpeg icbm05' 2007

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Jpeg icbm05
2007
Chromogenic print

 

Thomas Ruff. 'Jpeg rl104' 2007

 

Thomas Ruff (German, b. 1958)
Jpeg rl104
2007
Chromogenic print

 

 

Kunsthalle Wien
Museumsplatz 1
A-1070 Vienna

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11 am – 7 pm
Thursdays 11 am – 9 pm

Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich website

Kunsthalle Wien website

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21
May
09

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

Exhibition dates: 4th April – 21st June 2009

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled from the Paris series
2006-2008
Colour print
27.9 x 35.6 cm
Series of 32 works: 27 colour prints, 4 diptychs and 1 painting
Commission for the exhibition William Eggleston, Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2009
Gift of the artist 2009
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis

 

 

Perhaps it’s just me, but I seem to have become a little jaded towards the recent photographs of William Eggleston.

Other than the green reflection of lights in rainwater (above) the photographs seem to have lost their unique voice, the social insight that gave his earlier work it’s zing – provocative images that challenged how we live through a meditation on subject matter, construction of space, and tone of “colour”. How the colour that surrounds us inflects our very being.

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. Now Eggleston’s colour just feels like a party trick, performed by rote with little consequential meaning to either the colour or the image. 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.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Fondation Cartier for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting.

 

“In Eggleston’s best work, the work that made him famous, color is intrinsic to the meaning of the photograph. Its not simply a garnish to draw the eye. His best photographs are not ‘about’ the color; they are about larger issues that the color is used in the service of.  This is whats missing in his Paris pictures. The color here is pure ornament, eye candy to seduce you into forgetting that the picture has nothing to say.”

Anonymous. “William Eggleston Mails It In From Paris,” on the Leicaphilia website April 21, 2014 [Online] Cited 06/02/2019

 

 

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled from the Paris series
2006-2008
Colour print
27.9 x 35.6 cm
Series of 32 works: 27 colour prints, 4 diptychs and 1 painting
Commission for the exhibition William Eggleston, Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2009
Gift of the artist 2009
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled from the Paris series
2006-2008
Colour print
27.9 x 35.6 cm
Series of 32 works: 27 colour prints, 4 diptychs and 1 painting
Commission for the exhibition William Eggleston, Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2009
Gift of the artist 2009
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled from the Paris series
2006-2008
Colour print
27.9 x 35.6 cm
Series of 32 works: 27 colour prints, 4 diptychs and 1 painting
Commission for the exhibition William Eggleston, Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2009
Gift of the artist 2009
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled from the Paris series
2006-2008
Colour print
27.9 x 35.6 cm
Series of 32 works: 27 colour prints, 4 diptychs and 1 painting
Commission for the exhibition William Eggleston, Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2009
Gift of the artist 2009
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis

 

 

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 colour 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 (American, b. 1939)
Untitled from the Paris series
2006-2008
Colour print
35.6 cm x 27.9
Series of 32 works: 27 colour prints, 4 diptychs and 1 painting
Commission for the exhibition William Eggleston, Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2009
Gift of the artist 2009
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled from the Paris series
2006-2008
Colour print
35.6 cm x 27.9
Series of 32 works: 27 colour prints, 4 diptychs and 1 painting
Commission for the exhibition William Eggleston, Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2009
Gift of the artist 2009
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled from the Paris series
2006-2008
Colour print
35.6 cm x 27.9
Series of 32 works: 27 colour prints, 4 diptychs and 1 painting
Commission for the exhibition William Eggleston, Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2009
Gift of the artist 2009
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis

 

 

William Eggleston’s recent book Paris, published by Steidl and commissioned by Foundation Cartier, is a collective body of work that comprises his oeuvre of color drawings and recent Paris photographs. Similar to Ben Shahn, Charles Scheeler, Diego Rivera, Man Ray, Robert Rauschenberg and Ed Ruscha, Eggleston has reached out beyond photography to express his creative talents.

The photographs and drawings are intertwined throughout the book, creating an interesting visual cadence. The page spreads illustrate various layout designs, including a single image of either a photograph or drawing on a spread, pairs of drawings and photographs and pairs of drawing facing a photograph. All of the drawings and photographs are contained within the boundaries of the page. …

We know mostly of Eggleston’s photographs, but from the dating on one of the drawings included in this book, we can determine that Eggleston has been working with the drawing medium since 1968. It is interesting to speculate as to how one medium may have influenced the other for Eggleston. As an example, the earlier photographs by Shahn and Scheeler seem to have had an influence on how these two artists subsequently worked their framing, pictorial space, mass & line quality in their subsequent paintings.

The Paris photographs that Eggleston made of graffiti or his tight framing in conjunction with a longer lens to compress the pictorial space are visually similar in style to his drawings. The subjects he photographs are framed to create similar vibrant color masses and lines as his drawing, abstracting reality into basic graphic components. …

Eggleston’s photographs are constructed like spontaneous glances; partial views of what might be consider a traditional subject, creating color abstractions of lines, patterns and mass. Trees, pipes, people, walls, garbage, décor, wall paper, display windows are bisected and truncated, with edges and lines following out of the photographs borders. These images seem to be created by a restless and nervous energy.

With these drawings, paintings and photographs, Eggleston shows a interesting handling of these mediums and offers an insight as to how influential the period of Abstract Expressionism is to his photographic process.

Extract from Douglas Stockdale. “William Eggleston – Paris,” on The PhotoBook Journal website September 12, 2009 [Online] Cited 06/02/2019

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled from the Paris series
2006-2008
Colour print
35.6 cm x 27.9
Series of 32 works: 27 colour prints, 4 diptychs and 1 painting
Commission for the exhibition William Eggleston, Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2009
Gift of the artist 2009
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis

 

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

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled from the Paris series
2006-2008
Colour print
35.6 cm x 27.9
Series of 32 works: 27 colour prints, 4 diptychs and 1 painting
Commission for the exhibition William Eggleston, Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris, 2009
Gift of the artist 2009
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis

 

 

Fondation Cartier
261, Boulevard Raspail
75014 Paris, France

Opening hours:
Open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 am – 8 pm
Closed on Mondays
Late closing on Tuesday, at 10 pm

Fondation Cartier website

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20
May
09

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

Exhibition dates: 9th May – 31st August 2009

 

Diane Arbus is one of my favourite photographs – how I would love to see this show!

I have posted some photographs from the exhibition mainly from the Box of Ten 1971 that features in the show.

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the National Museum of Wales for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

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

.
Diane Arbus

 

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971) 'Tattooed Man at a Carnival, Md.' 1970

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971)
Tattooed Man at a Carnival, Md.
1970
Gelatin silver print
15 x 14 5/8 in. (38.3 x 37.3 cm)

 

 

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 [Online] Cited 18/05/2009 no longer available online

 

Diane Arbus (1923-71) 'A young man in curlers at home on West 20th St., N.Y.C. 1966' 1966

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971)
A young man with curlers at home on West 20th Street, N.Y.C.
1966
Gelatin silver print

 

Diane Arbus (1923-71) 'A Family on Their Lawn One Sunday in Westchester, New York 1968' 1968

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971)
A family on their lawn one Sunday in Westchester, N.Y.
1968
Gelatin silver print

 

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

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971)
A Jewish Giant at home with his parents in the Bronx
1967
Gelatin silver print

 

 

“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 …

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

 

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

 

Diane Arbus (1923-71) 'Mexican dwarf in his hotel room N.Y.C. 1970' 1970

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971)
Mexican Dwarf in his hotel room, N.Y.C.
1970
Gelatin silver print

 

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

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971)
Xmas tree in a living room in Levittown, L.I.
1963
Gelatin silver print

 

Diane Arbus (1923-71) 'Identical twins, Roselle, N.J., 1966' 1966

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971)
Identical twins, Roselle, N.J.
1967
Gelatin silver print

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971) 'King and Queen of a senior citizens' dance, N.Y.C.' 1970

 

Diane Arbus (American, 1923-1971)
King and Queen of a senior citizens’ dance, N.Y.C.
1970
Gelatin silver print

 

 

National Museum of Wales, Cardiff
Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday, 10 – 5pm

National Museum of Wales website

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19
May
09

Review: ‘Exotic Queensland: Recent Painting’ by Anne Marie Graham at Gallery 101, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 6th May – 30th May 2009

 

Anne Marie Graham. 'Jungle with Cassowary' 2008

 

Anne Marie Graham
Jungle with Cassowary
2008
Oil on Linen
106 x 150cm
National Museum for Women in Arts, Washington

 

 

I was walking around Anne Marie Graham’s new exhibition of painting at Gallery 101, Melbourne having read a review of her work on the gallery wall where the reviewer compared the structure of the work to the essentialness of the paintings of Giotto. A lady approached me and said, “You don’t want to believe everything that you read.”

And I said, “I don’t. I make up my own mind.”

This was the artist Anne Marie Graham.

We had a wonderful conversation about her work talking about space, colour and form. This is what Graham’s work is about. No conceptual arguments are needed. The work addresses the landscape in a magical way, drawing the viewer into the compositions like a piece of music. The viewer finds entrances and passageways, spaces through the images which open up a dialogue with the landscape.

Using repeated patterns and layered construction, from bottom to top, from front to back, the images subtly push and pull the viewer: space quietly recedes and comes towards the viewer. Complimentary bands of colours are muted except for stunning highlight colours – the red of flowers, the blue of leaves or the unexpected pink or yellow of a background. The forms and textures delight. Dr Sheridan Palmer is correct, these paintings have an almost hypnotic effect, meditative and peaceful. They make you feel good!

Their presence is undeniable. For such complex paintings, which on the surface seem very simple (a difficult task to accomplish); for such essential representations that address the heart of the matter… their affect is powerful.

Graham’s refined aesthetic allows the viewer to engage with the poetic spaces she creates, allowing them to appreciate the colour fields, plants and landscapes she orchestrates and to be subsumed into their fold. Here we come to understand the diverse empathy of an artist who lays it all ‘on the line’ and knows how to do so in a brilliant way.

A talented artist and a nice lady as well – what more can you ask for!

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

 

Anne Marie Graham 'Exotic Queensland: Recent Painting' installation view at Gallery 101, Melbourne

Anne Marie Graham 'Exotic Queensland: Recent Painting' installation view at Gallery 101, Melbourne

 

Exotic Queensland: Recent Painting installation views at Gallery 101, Melbourne

 

 

These landscapes are inspired by the areas around Noosa, the Glasshouse Mountains and the Botanic Gardens in Cairns. Look at the bromeliads, those cousins of the pineapple that store pools of water in their depths. And the helliconias – they’re also called lobster-claw plants and you can see why! Look at the massive scarlet tassels set against tropical green – and not just the one green but the subtlest of shades and tones in combination.

‘If there’s a God, it must be there’, Says Anne of the Cairns Botanical Gardens. ‘The inventiveness and colours, the lushness and tropical exuberance and shapes. I still can’t overcome this enthusiasm’. There is an analogy with Eugene von Guérard here. Like Ann, he was born in Vienna and was also a precisely scientific observer of nature, ever mindful that the world is a thing far greater than us: that the hand of God (for want of a better word) can be found in very leaf and every grain of sand.

How much further in both place and mood could Anne possibly have travelled from the order and long humanist traditions of her childhood home in Austria? In these Queensland paintings you’ll discover cockatoos, a water dragon, a fat goanna, ibises in the lotus pond, and the shy endangered cassowary almost hidden in the jungle. And look at the sky in that painting – the rosiest pink of a twilight had tells us tomorrow will be a perfect day.

Jane Clark
Senior Research Curator, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart

Extract from speech given at the opening of the exhibition Exotic Queensland, Gallery 101 Melbourne May 2009

 

Anne Marie Graham. 'Water Dragon with Banksias' 2008

 

Anne Marie Graham
Water Dragon with Banksias
2008

 

Anne Marie Graham. 'Heliconia No. 1' 2008

 

Anne Marie Graham
Heliconia No. 1
2008
Oil on Linen
106 x 150cm

 

Anne Marie Graham. 'Variations in Green and Mauve' 2008

 

Anne Marie Graham
Variations in Green and Mauve
2008
Oil on linen
106 x 150cm

 

 

“Anne Marie Graham’s painting career now spans more than six decades. Observed with a penetrating and affectionate gaze, her images are beautiful records of Australia’s vast landscape. Each work is an engagingly optimistic view, evoking the mystery and fragility of Australia’s rich environment. This survey of recent paintings concentrates on the tropical Queensland landscapes around Noosa and the Cairns Botanic Gardens.

As she casts he vision over mountains, rain forests and panoramic vistas or as she leads us into an intimate world of gardens, winding pathways and potted plants, we find ourselves amongst large succulents, variegated foliage, ferns and brilliant flowers, visually engaging at a Lilliputian level in her richly orchestrated fields and forests. In these locations she constructs marvellous labyrinthine worlds that reveal layers of muted colours, folding forms and textures that induce a most extraordinary hypnotic spell.”

Dr Sheridan Palmer, Art Curator, from the catalogue essay

 

Anne Marie Graham. 'Heliconia No. 2' 2008

 

Anne Marie Graham
Heliconia No. 2
2008

 

 

GALLERY 101

This gallery has now closed.

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18
May
09

Exhibition: ‘Light Years: Photography and Space’ at the National Gallery of Victoria International, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 8th May – 27th September 2009

 

A small but fun show at NGV International, Melbourne that is drawing in the crowds. A selection of beautiful, breathtaking images from NASA really takes you into space. I had a great time researching and finding some of the images from the exhibition on the NASA Image and Video Library website!

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the National Gallery of Victoria for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

“Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available, we shall, in an emotional sense, acquire an additional dimension … and a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.”

.
Sir Fred Hoyle, 1948

 

“Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of the imagination.”

.
John Dewey, 1859-1952, American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer

 

 

Neil Armstrong. 'Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM)' 1969

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Neil Armstrong (American 1930-2012, photographer)
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM)
1969

Note the reflection of the shadow of the astronaut, the photographer and the leg of the LM in the visor of Buzz Aldrin.

 

 

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., Lunar Module LM pilot, walks near the module as a picture is taken of him. Discoloration is visible on his boots and suit from the lunar soil adhering to them. Reflection of the LM and Astronaut Niel A. Armstrong is visible in Aldrin’s helmet visor. Image taken at Tranquility Base during the Apollo 11 Mission. Original film magazine was labeled S. Film Type: Ektachrome EF SO168 color film on a 2.7-mil Estar polyester base taken with a 60mm lens. Sun angle is Medium. Tilt direction is Northeast NE.

Text from the NASA archives website

 

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, stands on the surface of the moon near the leg of the lunar module, Eagle, during the Apollo 11 moonwalk. Astronaut Neil Armstrong, mission commander, took this photograph with a 70mm lunar surface camera. While Armstrong and Aldrin descended in the lunar module to explore the Sea of Tranquility, astronaut Michael Collins, command module pilot, remained in lunar orbit with the Command and Service Module, Columbia. This is the actual photograph [above] as exposed on the moon by Armstrong. He held the camera slightly rotated so that the camera frame did not include the top of Aldrin’s portable life support system (“backpack”). A communications antenna mounted on top of the backpack is also cut off in this picture. When the image was released to the public, it was rotated clockwise to restore the astronaut to vertical for a more harmonious composition, and a black area was added above his head to recreate the missing black lunar “sky”. The edited version [below] is the one most commonly reproduced and known to the public, but the original version, above, is the authentic exposure. A full explanation with illustrations can be seen at the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.

Text from the Wikipedia website. Image from the NASA website.

 

Neil Armstrong (American, 1930-2012 photographer) 'Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM)' 1969

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Neil Armstrong (American, 1930-2012 photographer)
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, lunar module pilot, walks on the surface of the Moon near the leg of the Lunar Module (LM)
1969
Colour transparency
50.8 × 40.6 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1980

 

 

In 1948, the British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle speculated that “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from outside, is available, we shall, in an emotional sense, acquire an additional dimension … and a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” Hoyle encapsulated the immense anticipation that was felt in the mid-twentieth century, when the idea of leaving Earth and viewing it from afar was on the verge of becoming reality.

When astronauts and spacecraft began exploring our solar system, it was the photographs from these voyages which visualised the reality of the epic feats of science, engineering and human imagination. These photographs transcended a strictly scientific purpose and depicted scenes of unexpected and sublime beauty.

This exhibition brings together works from the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Victoria that depict space travel, seen in archival images from NASA, space allegories, and altered perceptions of reality inspired by ideas of science and space. These photographs also show a fascination with light, as both the means and the subject of the image.

The exhibition focuses largely on the 1960s and 1970s – an exciting time for the artistic and scientific exploration of worlds beyond our own. These were ‘light years’, in which people looked up to the skies and beyond, in a real and an imagined sense, and through photography discovered additional dimensions.

Text from the NGV International website

 

Ronnie Van Hout (New Zealander, 1962-, worked in Australia 1998-) 'Visitation' 1992

 

Ronnie Van Hout (New Zealander, 1962-, worked in Australia 1998-)
Visitation
1992
from the Untitled series 1992
Gelatin silver photograph
31.8 × 47.3 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1996
© Ronnie van Hout

 

 

The work is from van Hout’s Untitled 1992 series. It comprises images made by photographing still life constructed from small scale models. The series is based upon B-grade 1950s and 1960s science fiction films. The photographs in the series show a single word, encapsulating an essential element of the story and constructed in 3-D text, placed within a barren / lunar model landscape.

Text from the National Gallery of Victoria website

 

In his Untitled series, 1992, Ronnie van Hout created models based on the mountains in New Zealand, shown as the sun was setting and they fell into silhouette, and placed a single word (‘rejoice’ or ‘visitation’) in the foreground. The influence of 1960s sci-fi aesthetics is clearly evident in the glowing lights, the desolate ground, and the potential for an otherworldly experience. As with much science fiction, van Hout’s photographs create ambiguous narratives that allude to alien visitation set in a mystical landscape.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

Raymond De Berquelle. 'Where do you come from? Planet Earth (Self-portrait with radio telescope)' 1968

 

Raymond De Berquelle (Australian, 1933- )
Where do you come from? Planet Earth (Self-portrait with radio telescope)
1968
Gelatin silver photograph
24.1 × 19.1 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, Victorian Foundation for Living Australian Artists, 2008
© Raymond de Berquelle

 

Raymond De Berquelle (Australian, 1933- ) 'Space man' 1963

 

Raymond De Berquelle (Australian, 1933- )
Space man
1963
Gelatin silver photograph
49.8 × 41.0 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1971
© Raymond de Berquelle

 

 

The photographs of Raymond de Berquelle reflect excitement about the possibilities of astronomy and a fascination for science fiction. The radio telescope was a particularly significant emblem of the exploration of the universe. The primary tool of astronomy, it allowed astronomers to see beyond visible light into the expansive electromagnetic spectrum. De Berquelle frequently visited observatories and radio telescopes, including the one at Parkes, outside Canberra, that was one of a network of radio antennas around the world used to receive images from the Apollo 11 Moon landing in July 1969.

To create the fantastical photograph, Space man, Raymond de Berquelle combined different negatives to construct an image that expressed both his expectations of astronomy and his vision of a man in space. De Berquelle describes the process as beginning with an unexpected vision:

[one day] a radio telescope appeared on the horizon with a human being clinging to it as if caught in its net. It was a technician [working on] the huge instrument. In the darkroom later on the negative appeared stronger than the positive image … and an earthy radio telescope technician became a space man.

.
Raymond de Berquelle in correspondence with Maggie Finch, 12 November 2008, quoted in Maggie Finch, Light Years: Photography and space (exh. cat.), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2009, p. 18.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

John Wilkins. 'Alien Icicle' c. 1970

 

John Wilkins (Australian, 1946- )
Alien Icicle
c. 1970
Gelatin silver photograph on composition board
57.6 × 46.5 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1971
© John Wilkins

 

 

The photograms of John Wilkins reveal methods of abstraction and distortion (the hallmarks of psychedelia) to produce lush, exploding, organic forms. Wilkins uses the photogram technique to record the object (in this case, liquid) directly onto film, which was later enlarged and printed. Wilkins’s photographs resemble cosmic worlds, and he has described how the chemical patterns were directly influenced by the psychedelic patterns meant to simulate LSD trips that were projected onto the walls of nightclubs in the 1960s and 1970s. They possess a mysterious quality that transcends a distinction between art and science.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

Sir George F. Pollock (born France, English 1928-2016) 'Energy bubble' 1966

 

Sir George F. Pollock (born France, English 1928-2016)
Energy bubble
1966
Cibachrome photograph
24.0 × 34.6 cm irreg. (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by the National Gallery Society of Victoria, 1972
© George F. Pollock

 

 

“Light is the energy that maintains life on earth, through the plants’ marvellous process of photosynthesis: no light, no plants; no plants, no animals, and no us. This is the secret of life, and I want to celebrate this life-giving energy in images of, about, and made by light, in other words in photographs.”

.
Sir George Pollock, 2009

 

Space exploration opened up new ways of seeing and imagining the world and created new perceptions of our place in the universe.

Parallel to the exploration of outer space taking place under the auspices of science, explorations of space in other realms were contributing to new and altered perceptions of the world, and inspiring new forms of art and artmaking.

During the second half of the twentieth century, many artists rejected the illusionistic representation of three-dimensional space and form which had dominated western art for centuries and opted for a flattened pictorial space. In contrast to the closed compositions traditionally found in western art, artists such as Jackson Pollock (American, 1912–56) worked with ‘open compositions’ which created the idea that the visual elements in an image extended beyond the confines of the picture space.

The mysterious world of ‘inner space’, including the subconscious, and the senses, was also important territory for exploration, especially within the ‘hippie’ subculture that emerged in the US in the mid-1960s. Psychedelic patterns, inspired by the hallucinations and mind-altering experiences produced by drugs such as LSD, and characterised by wild patterning and colours and dazzling light effects, had a significant effect on the art and popular culture of the period.

In 1962, English artist George Pollock commenced a conceptual photographic project comprising a series of abstract photographs that he called ‘vitrographs’. This term referred to the process of creating images by photographing pieces of glass that have been lit by a number of coloured lights. Pollock used pieces of cullet, the thick lumps of glass left in a kiln at the end of a melt.

By lighting the cullet from different angles and photographing the pieces at close range, Pollock was able to produce patterned, abstract images with an ethereal quality reminiscent of solar eruptions and the nebulae of outer space.

Pollock was influenced by scientific studies, particularly in the field of biology, as well as the literature of science fiction and the abstraction found in the art of surrealism and abstract expressionism. He was interested in using photography to reveal things that otherwise may have been overlooked.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

Sir George F. Pollock (born France, English 1928-2016) 'Galactic event' 1966

 

Sir George F. Pollock (born France, English 1928-2016)
Galactic event
1966
Cibachrome photograph
34.3 × 24.0 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by the National Gallery Society of Victoria, 1972
© George F. Pollock

 

 

A significant number of the works in Light Years: Photography and space have been acquired by the NGV from NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). The United States government established NASA on 29 July 1958 as the agency responsible for the development of the nation’s new space program.

The 1950s and 1960s were a period of intense activity in space exploration, led by the US and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The US and the Soviet Union emerged as the two most powerful forces in the world after the Second World War. During the Cold War that followed, these two superpowers competed for political, military and scientific dominance, fuelling a ‘space race’. The space race effectively began when the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth, Sputnik 1, on 4 October 1957, and reached a milestone when NASA succeeded in landing humans on the moon on 20 July 1969 (in Australia, 21 July 1969).

The Apollo missions, in particular the Apollo 11 mission of 1969 that saw Neil Armstrong become the first man to step foot on the moon, have assumed enormous importance in the popular imagination in relation to space travel.

However, since the late 1950s NASA has been involved in many different projects, involving numerous manned and unmanned missions. These projects have ranged from exploring Earth’s orbit and mapping the lunar surface to penetrating greater and greater distances into space and exploring other planets in our solar system, including Mars, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter. These missions played a critical role in extending our knowledge of the solar system.

While information and photographs of the Russian space program were closely guarded and rarely released to the public, NASA strategically managed the publication of images drawn from its vast photographic archive, and this had a very positive impact on the public reception of the space program.

Interestingly, it was not a priority in the early days of NASA to take photographs during missions. However, the importance of photography was soon recognised and, along with rigorous flight training, astronauts who piloted the various space missions were given extensive photographic training. Unmanned probes were equipped with remotely operated cameras, allowing those back on Earth to see details of these voyages. Increasingly sophisticated technology, including advanced imaging techniques such as X-ray, ultraviolet and infrared photography, has also been employed to capture different phenomena.

The photographs in this exhibition include images taken on manned and unmanned space voyages, from the Gemini space walks of 1965 to the Pioneer missions of 1979.

While these space photographs clearly serve a documentary purpose and are a tool of scientific research, they have a unique beauty and evoke something of the mystery and wonder of space.

The NGV acquired the NASA space photographs in two groups, the first in 1971 and the second in 1980. The acquisition submission of 1980, prepared by the former Curator of Photography, Jennie Boddington, noted:

Apart from the considerations of technology one cannot help but speculate on the philosophical and metaphysical questions which spring to mind when one sees so beautifully presented the form of nebulae which may be light years away from our small earth, or when we see spacemen performing strange exercises in a Skylab.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

James McDivitt (American, 1929- , photographer) 'Astronaut Edward H. White, Gemini 4, June 1965' 1965

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
James McDivitt (American, 1929- , photographer)
Astronaut Edward H. White, Gemini 4, June 1965
1965
Type C photograph laminated on aluminium
39.0 × 49.1 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by Photimport, 1971

 

 

This photograph by astronaut James McDivitt is taken from inside the spacecraft on the Gemini 4 mission as it orbited Earth. It shows astronaut Edward White in his spacesuit and golden visor, ‘floating’ high above the Pacific Ocean. White is attached to the spacecraft by a twisting eight-metre tether and holds a manoeuvring unit. Below him is the extraordinary vision of the vivid blue curvature of Earth and, beyond, the black abyss of deep space.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

Apollo 12. 'View of two U.S. spacecraft on the surface of the moon, taken during the second Apollo 12 extravehicular activity (EVA-2)' 1969

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Apollo 12 (photographer)
View of two U.S. spacecraft on the surface of the moon, taken during the second Apollo 12 extravehicular activity (EVA-2)
[Astronaut inspecting Surveyor 3, Unmanned craft resting on moon since April 1967]
1969
Gelatin silver photograph
49.0 × 39.0 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by Photimport, 1971

 

 

This unusual photograph, taken during the second Apollo 12 extravehicular activity (EVA), shows two U.S. spacecraft on the surface of the moon. The Apollo 12 Lunar Module (LM) is in the background. The unmanned Surveyor 3 spacecraft is in the foreground. The Apollo 12 LM, with astronauts Charles Conrad Jr. and Alan L. Bean aboard, landed about 600 feet from Surveyor 3 in the Ocean of Storms. The television camera and several other pieces were taken from Surveyor 3 and brought back to Earth for scientific examination. Here, Conrad examines the Surveyor’s TV camera prior to detaching it. Astronaut Richard F. Gordon Jr. remained with the Apollo 12 Command and Service Modules (CSM) in lunar orbit while Conrad and Bean descended in the LM to explore the moon. Surveyor 3 soft-landed on the moon on April 19, 1967.

Text from the NASA Image and Video Library website

 

Charles Conrad. 'Astronaut Bean, Apollo XII, November 1969, on moon' 1969

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Charles Conrad (American, photographer)
Astronaut Bean, Apollo XII, November 1969, on moon
1969
Gelatin silver photograph
49.0 x 39.0 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by Photimport, 1971

 

Apollo 8 crew (photographer) 'The Earth showing Southern Hemisphere' 1969

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Apollo 8 crew (photographer)
The Earth showing Southern Hemisphere
1969
Type C photograph
48.9 × 38.9 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented by Photimport, 1971

 

 

Project Apollo (1968-72) sent astronauts greater distances from Earth in the quest to land humans on the Moon. The further they travelled also, crucially, allowed for more complete photographic views of Earth. In this photograph, Earth is shown as a delicate, blue, cloud-covered dot hanging in infinite space.

The spectacle of Earth suspended in a black void had a profound effect on humanity. Earth was no longer seen to be our complete ‘world’ but was recognised as a small planet spinning in the solar system. As awareness of the vulnerability and limits of the planet grew, photographs such as this one formed a strong catalyst for environmental movements.

Photographs from the Apollo missions were also used to promote the inaugural Earth Day on 22 April 1970.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (manufacturer) 'Photo collage of Jupiter and its four largest moons; from early March Voyager I photos' 1979

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Voyager 1 (photographer)
Photo collage of Jupiter and its four largest moons; from early March Voyager I photos
1979
Type C photograph
51.0 x 40.5 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1980

 

While Jupiter had been studied through telescopes for centuries, the Voyager robotic probes that were launched into space in 1977 revealed new information about the planet and its moon system. In March 1979, the Voyager 1 mission took images of the four largest moons of Jupiter. These images were made into a photographic collage, so that the moons are seen in their relative positions (although not to scale). NASA’s arrangement of images in this montage (and others) essentially created an aesthetic rendering of scientific reality.

Text from the NGV Education kit

 

Pioneer 11. 'Image of Saturn and it's Moon Titan' 1979

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Pioneer 11
 (photographer)
Image of Saturn and it’s moon Titan

1979
Type C photograph
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1980

 

 

Light Years: Photography and Space will feature around 50 works drawn entirely from the NGV Collection. Focusing largely on the 1960s and ’70s, the exhibition will include photographs taken during early NASA missions. The exhibition celebrates the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of the first Moon walk.

Maggie Finch, Assistant Curator, Photography, NGV said that cameras were used to give form to both the fantasies and realities of space travel, revealing extra dimensions and animating space.

“The 1960s and ’70s were an exciting time for the artistic and scientific exploration of worlds beyond our own. They were ‘light years’ in which people looked up to the skies and beyond, in a real and an imagined sense, and through photography discovered additional dimensions. The photographs in ‘Light Years’ represent a giant leap forward in the collective journey into space. They retain the extraordinary sense of awe and wonderment that encapsulates our first encounters with a larger universe,” said Ms Finch.

A highlight of the exhibition is a collection of more than 30 NASA photographs, on display for the first time in over twenty years. Among the NASA selection are many celebrated space photographs, including the iconic image of Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin, Jr standing on the lunar surface, taken in 1969 by Neil Armstrong, the first man to step foot on the Moon.

These remarkable photographs will be on display alongside works by Sir George Pollock, John Wilkins Raymond de Berquelle, Dacre Stubbs, Val Foreman, Susan Fereday, Olive Cotton and Ronnie van Hout – artists who have been inspired by, and have responded to, the mysteries of space and science.

Frances Lindsay, Deputy Director, NGV said: “The photography from the NASA missions of the 1960s and ’70s has a fascinating yet nostalgic quality, particularly when one considers the advances in both science and photographic technology since that time. These early photographs of space changed our awareness and offered a new understanding of the Earth, the universe and our shared existence within it. Coinciding with the International Year of Astronomy and the 40th anniversary of the first Moon walk, this exhibition will delight viewers, providing a glimpse into another dimension,” said Ms Lindsay.

Text from Artdaily.org website

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (manufacturer) 'Three Skylab 2 crewmen demonstrate effects of weightlessness' 1973

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Skylab (photographer)
Three Skylab 2 crewmen demonstrate effects of weightlessness
1973
Type C photograph
40.5 x 49.9 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1980

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (manufacturer) 'Solar Flare recorded by NASA Skylab, December 1973' 1973

 

NASA, Washington, D.C. (United States est. 1958, manufacturer)
Skylab (photographer)
Solar Flare recorded by NASA Skylab, December 1973
1973
Colour transparency
50.8 × 40.6 cm (image and sheet)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 1980

 

 

This photograph of the sun, taken on Dec. 19, 1973, during the third and final manned Skylab mission (Skylab 4), shows one of the most spectacular solar flares ever recorded, spanning more than 588,000 kilometers (365,000 miles) across the solar surface. The last picture, taken some 17 hours earlier, showed this feature as a large quiescent prominence on the eastern side of the sun. The flare gives the distinct impression of a twisted sheet of gas in the process of unwinding itself. Skylab photographs such quiescent features erupt from the sun. In this photograph the solar poles are distinguished by a relative absence of supergranulation network, and a much darker tone than the central portions of the disk. Several active regions are seen on the eastern side of the disk. The photograph was taken in the light of ionised helium by the extreme ultraviolet spectroheliograph instrument of the United States Naval Research Laboratory.

Text from the NASA Image and Video Library website

 

 

National Gallery of Victoria International
180, St. Kilda Road, Melbourne

Opening hours:
10 – 5pm every day

NGV International website

All NASA images are from the NASA Image and Video Library website

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15
May
09

Review: ‘Samson and Delilah’ Australian film directed by Warwick Thornton

May 2009

 

The Players

Rowan McNamara, Marissa Gibson, Mitjili Napanangka Gibson and Scott Thornton

 

Rowan McNamara as Samson and Marissa Gibson as Delilah in 'Samson and Delilah'

 

Rowan McNamara as Samson and Marissa Gibson as Delilah

 

 

This is a tough nugget of a film, an absolute gem. It is a love story.

The deceptively simple narrative takes you into the dark side of Aboriginal life in the remote desert communities of central Australia. It pulls no punches taking the viewer on a empathetic ride into the lives of two young people struggling to find their reason for being on this earth. Here is violence, abuse, rape and addiction with the subtle hope of redemption.

Samson is addicted to petrol sniffing. Delilah tries to ignore him. She looks after her grandmother who is an artist, pushing her around in an wheelchair, feeding her medicine and taking her to the health clinic. Samson forces himself on Delilah, sleeping next to her but never with her. Then her grandmother dies and Delilah is blamed by the women elders of the community. Samson’s addiction escalates. He steals a car and with Delilah in tow they flee to Alice Springs to live under a flyover and sniff petrol, to be looked down upon by tourists in trendy cafes. Things get worse before they get (slightly) better.

That is the bare bones of the story. But I want to talk about other things.

The film is the traditional three acts but the narrative reads like an oral history only shown in images: themes are repeated over and again with subtle variations, like the arc of great music reiterating the flow of energy. There is little dialogue which intensifies the sounds of the desert, the band that plays on the verandah and the ringing of telephones. Every human seems to be alienated from the landscape. The Aborigines seem to be just floating on the surface of the land like everyone else, just struggling to survive. The landscape towers above the participants. Unlike our usual perception of Aboriginal people being in touch with the earth through the Dreamtime, here the director Warwick Thornton seems to suggest otherwise, until right at the end of the film.

Delilah is the strength in the film. It is her stoicism, her strength that helps Samson see it through. She ends up pushing Samson in the same wheelchair that she pushed her grandmother around in. His loss of strength is palpable, his addiction ongoing. You believe this story, the non-professional actors grounding you in the red dust of the desert.

There are several remarkable elements that lift this film to sublime places. Some of them are the most moving moments I have seen in a film in many a year:

The soundtrack, like a disjointed heartbeat, that accompanies their life under the flyover. The soundtrack of Samson’s rock and roll competing with Delilah’s music in her 4 wheel drive as one fades into the other.

Samson and Delilah sitting outside the health centre in white plastic chairs picking their feet off the ground so they won’t get bitten by ants.

Samson sitting in the wheelchair in the middle of the road at night, rocking back and forward on the wheels of the chair, so off his face that he is oblivious of the approaching 4 wheel drive until it is right upon him. Exceptional.

Delilah, towards the end of the film, washing the body of Samson with soap while he sits in a trough of water. More sensuality, more sexuality packed into 30 seconds than you will ever see in a full blown love scene. Amazing.

Samson, his head under a blanket under the flyover. The scene fades not to black as it does regularly in this film but to 80% of black and hovers there, just under the level of consciousness, before the sun rises again. This is masterful, poetic film making.

Samson, taking his ghetto blaster outside at night, dancing under the light of the verandah to rock and roll music watched by Delilah from her refuge in a 4 wheel drive. This scene is so beautiful, so genuine. The natural grace of Samson’s dancing opens Delilah’s eyes towards him. For the audience it is a revelatory, transcendent moment that crosses space and time as great cinema does. It grips you in an esoteric awareness: we are all human, we all live on the same earth. We all dance.

.
Go and see this film. It is one of the finest ever made in Australia. Besides a beautiful love story it will take you to places and connect with your heart like no other. It’s not perfect by any means (in terms of some improbabilities in the narrative) but this can be forgiven in the arc of the story telling. It is harrowing there is no doubt, but in the almost timeless ebb and flow of the film, in the communion with the infinite, something that defines human existence, this film stands above all else.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Township in 'Samson and Delilah'

Marissa Gibson and Mitjili Napanangka Gibson in 'Samson and Delilah'

 

Marissa Gibson and Mitjili Napanangka Gibson

 

Rowan McNamara as Samson in 'Samson and Delilah'

 

Rowan McNamara as Samson

 

Rowan McNamara as Samson in 'Samson and Delilah'

 

Rowan McNamara as Samson

 

 

Samson and Delilah website

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14
May
09

Two exhibitions by photographer John Wood: ‘On the Edge of Clear Meaning’ at Grey Art Gallery, New York and ‘Quiet Protest’ at the International Center of Photography, New York

Exhibition dates

Grey Art Gallery, 12th May – 18th July 2009
International Center of Photography, 15th May – 6th September 2009

 

Fantastic to see such a talented artist, a truly ground breaking artist, get the recognition he so richly deserves!

 

Grey Art Gallery

John Wood. 'Untitled' 1986–89

 

John Wood (American, 1922-2012)
Untitled
1986-89
Stained gelatin silver print from paper stencil

 

John Wood. 'Beach Drawing' 1983

 

John Wood (American, 1922-2012)
Beach Drawing
1983
Gelatin silver print
14 15/16 x 19 1/8″ (37.8 x 48.5 cm)

 

 

John Wood: On the Edge of Clear Meaning, on view at the Grey Art Gallery from May 12 through July 18, 2009, is the most comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work to date. Featuring the full range of his career from the 1960s to the present, the show includes over 150 photographs, mixed-media works, and artists’ books. A selection of Wood’s photomontages, Quiet Protest, will be on view concurrently at the International Center of Photography.

John Wood (born 1922) has consistently challenged traditional photography, often incorporating painting, drawing, and collage as well as cliché verre, solarisation, and offset lithography. The artist emphasises the role of drawing in his work: “Mark making, calligraphy, the kinetic motion of the movement of the hand, are very important to me; probably more important than anything else.” Transgressing the boundaries of “pure photography,” his eclectic practice has helped usher in alternative approaches to the medium. With their adroit manipulations of picture and text, his diaristic, multi-media compositions anticipate today’s digital imagery. On the Edge of Clear Meaning is Wood’s first museum retrospective, spanning his career from the early 1960s to the present.

His early childhood was marked by the Depression, and his family moved frequently. After serving in the Army Air Corps as a B-17 pilot during World War II, he enrolled at the Institute of Design in Chicago. Wood trained as a visual designer and photographer, studying with Harry Callahan and Art Sinsabaugh to hone both conceptual and formal issues in his work. He left Chicago to teach photography and printmaking at the School of Art and Design at Alfred University in Alfred, New York, where he would live for thirty-five years. He now resides in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife, Laurie Snyder, who teaches photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art. They migrate each summer to their home and studio in Ithaca, New York.

In keeping with the Grey Art Gallery’s tradition of presenting the work of under-represented artists, this exhibition introduces John Wood as a master of various multi-media processes and testifies to his insatiable curiosity about new materials and repeated use of favourite sources. Through disciplined but lively investigation of different media, the artist eroded traditional definitions of photography and produced work that is both powerful and subtle. As Lynn Gumpert, Director of the Grey, notes, “John Wood has been a life-long teacher, inspiring and training numerous students, artists, and arts professionals. We are honoured to bring the breadth of his work to New York City, home to many art schools, colleges, and universities.”

Text from the Grey Art Gallery website and press release [Online] Cited 10/05/2009 no longer available online

 

John Wood. 'Eagle Pelt' 1985

 

John Wood (American, 1922-2012)
Eagle Pelt
1985
Gelatin silver print
20 1/8 x 15 3/8″

 

John Wood (American, 1922-2012) 'Pear Tree, Cooling Tower, and Apples' 1991

 

John Wood (American, 1922-2012)
Pear Tree, Cooling Tower, and Apples
1991
Collage, gelatin silver print, Polaroid SX70, and paper
19 1/4 x 15 3/8″

 

John Wood. 'Blackbird, Some Have Hunger' 1986

 

John Wood (American, 1922-2012)
Blackbird, Some Have Hunger
1986
Collage, cyanotype, and graphite
20 x 24″

 

 

International Center of Photography

Quiet Protest is a series of photographic works by the noted mixed media artist and educator John Wood, spanning a period from the 1960s through the 1990s. Part of a larger retrospective at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery, the “Quiet Protest” series explores political and social issues of the day through thoughtful photo montage pieces that exist in marked contrast to more traditional aggressive documentary photography. Rather than offering explanations or promoting solutions, Wood’s manipulated photographs present contemplative routes into issues ranging from the Vietnam War to domestic gun violence to ecological concerns. As Wood wrote in 1970, ” …maybe the time has come for creative photography to encompass the large problems without propaganda or journalism…”

Text from the International Center of Photography website [Online] Cited 10/05/2009 no longer available online

 

John Wood. 'Rifle, Bullets and Daises' 1967

 

John Wood (American, 1922-2012)
Rifle, Bullets and Daises
1967

 

Triangle in the Landscape: Eleven Second 90 Degree Turn of a Paper Triangle, August 6, 1985 (Hiroshima Day)

 

John Wood (American, 1922-2012)
Triangle in the Landscape: Eleven Second 90 Degree Turn of a Paper Triangle
August 6, 1985 (Hiroshima Day)

 

 

John Wood (1922-2012)

John Cheney Wood (July 10, 1922 – July 20, 2012) was an American artist and educator who challenged traditional photography and often incorporated other mediums into his work. He was born in California in 1922. In 1943 he volunteered for the Army Air Corps, where he served as a B-17 pilot until 1945. At the time of his death he lived in Baltimore, Maryland, with artist Laurie Snyder.

Wood had the ability to work across a variety of artistic forms, from straight photography, collage, cliché verre, solarization, mixed media, offset lithography to drawing. Wood moved freely between conceptual and visual exploration, not adhering to a single style. Although he often raised questions about political, social and environmental issues, he avoided promoting personal solutions or adding narratives to the images. The artist instead preferred to focus on the viewer’s interpretation and the possibility for multiple meanings.

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

John Wood. 'Loon, Drawer and Bomb' 1987

 

John Wood (American, 1922-2012)
Loon, Drawer and Bomb
1987
Collage, cyanotype, and toned silver gelatin print

 

 

Grey Art Gallery
New York University
100 Washington Square East

Opening hours:
Tuesdays/Thursdays/Fridays: 11.00 am – 6.00 pm
OPEN LATE Wednesdays: 11.00 am – 8.00 pm
Saturdays: 11.00 am – 5.00 pm
Closed Sundays, Mondays, and major holidays.

Grey Art Gallery website

 

International Center of Photography
1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Wednesday: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
Thursday: 10.00 am – 9.00 pm
Friday – Sunday: 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
Closed Mondays

International Center of Photography website

 

Book

In his introductory essay to this monograph – featuring the diverse photo practice that has characterised John Wood’s nearly 50-year career – David Levi Strauss states, “In photo-historical terms, Wood is thought of as one of those renegades who went against ‘pure photography’ by incorporating drawing, painting, collage and every other technique he could get his hands on (not to mention explicit political content), into his practice, thus ushering in the multi-media of the 1960s that caused crisis in ‘straight photography.’ Long before it became the signal medium of the avant-garde, collage was a folk art, practiced by children, lovers and grandmothers.” This comprehensive volume accompanies a retrospective that begins in Rochester, New York at The George Eastman House, The Memorial Art Gallery and the Visual Studies Workshop, then travels to The International Center for Photography and The Grey Art Gallery in New York before concluding at Syracus’ Light Work gallery.

John Wood: On the Edge of Clear Meaning by David Strauss et al (Hardcover) 2008
Available from the Amazon website

 

 

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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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