Archive for March, 2012

30
Mar
12

Exhibition: ‘Hijacked III: Contemporary Photography from Australia and the UK’ at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA)

Exhibition dates:  18th February – 8th April 2012

 

 

Hijacked III Interview with writer Anthony Luvera

 

 

The photographs in this posting highlight the conceptual diversity in contemporary art practice and emphasise the talent of the practitioners working today. Just an observation: how serious are the portraits – it’s as if no’body’ is allowed to laugh or smile anymore. Perhaps this is a reflection of the times in which we live, full of malaise, anxiety and little wonder. Fear of being replaced, fear of discrimination, fear of growing up, fear of dying. Or dressed up in a women’s dress and pink hat, having the “courage” or ignorance (the opposite of fear?) to look like a stunned mullet with a blank expression on the face (deadpan photography that I really can’t stand). Or, perhaps, simple effacement: defiance as body becomes mannequin, body hidden behind a mask or completely cloaked from view. These grand photographs have the intensity, perhaps not a lightness of being.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to PICA for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. defiance, make her eerily akin to her pet

 

Trish Morrissey. 'Hayley Coles, June 17th, 2006' 2006

 

Trish Morrissey (Irish, b, 1967)
Hayley Coles, June 17th, 2006
2006
Courtesy of the artist and Elaine Levy Project, commissioned by Impressions Gallery

Review of Trish Morrissey on Art Blart

 

 

Front deals with the notion of borders, boundaries and the edge; using the family group and the beach setting as metaphors. For this work, the artist travelled to beaches in the UK and around Melbourne. There, she approached families and groups of friends who had made temporary encampments, or marked out territories and asked if she could be part of their family temporarily. Morrissey took over the role or position of a woman within that group – usually the mother figure. The artist asked to take the place of the mother figure, and to borrow her clothes. The mother figure then took over the artist’s role and photographed her family using a 4×5 camera (which Morrissey had already carefully set up) under the artist’s instruction. While Morrissey, a stranger on the beach, nestled in with the mother figure’s loved ones.

These highly performative photographs are shaped by chance encounters with strangers, and by what happens when physical and psychological boundaries are crossed. Ideas around the mythological creature the ‘shape shifter’ and the cuckoo are evoked. Each piece within the series is titled by the name of the woman who the artist replaced within the group.

Text from the PICA website

 

Bindi Cole. 'Ajay' 2009

 

Bindi Cole (Australian, b. 1975)
Ajay
2009
From the series Sistagirls
Courtesy of Nellie Castan Gallery

Review of Sistagirls on Art Blart

 

 

The term ‘Sistagirl’ is used to describe a transgender person in Tiwi Island culture. Traditionally, the term was ‘Yimpininni’. The very existence of the word provides some indication of the inclusive attitudes historically extended towards Aboriginal sexual minorities. Colonisation not only wiped out many Indigenous people, it also had an impact on Aboriginal culture and understanding of sexual and gender expression.

As many traditions were lost, this term became a thing of the past. Yimpininni were once held in high regard as the nurturers within the family unit and tribe much like the Faafafine from Samoa. As the usage of the term vanished, tribes’ attitudes toward queer Indigenous people began to resemble that of the western world and the religious right. Even today many Sistagirls are excluded from their own tribes and suffer at the hands of others.

Text from the PICA website

 

Maciej Dakowicz. 'Pink Hat, 23:42. Cardiff' 2006

 

Maciej Dakowicz (Polish, b. 1976)
Pink Hat, 23:42. Cardiff
2006
Courtesy of the artist and Third Floor Gallery

 

 

St Mary Street is one of the main streets in central Cardiff, the capital city of Wales; a city as any other in the UK. Unassuming during the day, on weekend nights it becomes the main scene of the city night life, fuelled by alcohol and emotions. Some of Cardiff’s most popular clubs and pubs are located there or in its vicinity. The very popular Chippy Lane, with its numerous chip and kebab shops, is just a stone’s throw away. Sooner or later most party-goers end up in that area, whether looking for another drink, some food or in search of another dance floor.

Everything takes place in this public arena – from drinking, fighting, kissing to crying and sleeping. Supermen chat up Playboy Bunnies, somebody lies on the pavement taking a nap, the hungry ones finish their portions of chips and the policemen stop another argument before it turns into a fight. Nobody seems to worry about tomorrow, what matters is here and now, punctuated by another week at work, until the next weekend rolls around again.

Text from the PICA website

 

Laura Pannack. 'Shay' 2010

 

Laura Pannack (British, b. 1985)
Shay
2010
Courtesy of the artist
Represented by Lisa Pritchard Agency

 

 

What’s so special about this picture are the details. The tattoo – not just what it says but the way it mimics the Nike Swoosh on her shirt – and the cigarette, that although it is not in focus, one imagines has a large line of ash on it, as if time has stopped. This is echoed in the expression on her face, deep intensity and focused on something ahead although the car is obviously stationary. From a distance one could be mistaken that this is an American photograph from the 70s but on closer inspection – the piercing, the Nike Swoosh, the car door handles – one realises that this is contemporary and British. And yet of course that stare is timeless.

Hardie, Harry on the Foto8 website [Online] Cited 22/03/2012 no longer available online

 

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin. 'Culture3/Sheet72/Frame3' 2011

 

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin
Culture3/Sheet72/Frame3
2011
Courtesy of the artists & Paradise Row, London

 

 

 

… Artists are notorious for their ability to hijack; meaning to stop and hold up, to seize control by use of force in order to divert or appropriate, a deliberate attempt to action a change of direction.

Hijacked III: Contemporary Photography from Australia the UK draws on the success and unique energy of Hijacked I (Australia and USA) and Hijacked II (Australia and Germany), to once again bring together two geographically distant but historically connected communities through a range of diverse photographic practices.

This exhibition will be simultaneously presented across two sites: PICA in Perth, Western Australia and QUAD Gallery in Derby, United Kingdom, and has been timed to coincide with the launch of the luscious, full colour and 420 page Hijacked III compendium, published by Big City Press. Utilising portraiture, digital collage, archival images, documentary snap shots, internet grabs and refined photographic tableaux, the 24 artists and over 120 works in this exhibition explore themes as diverse as curious weekend leisure pursuits, gender politics and displaced Indigenous culture.

Artists: Tony Albert, Warwick Baker, Broomberg & Chanarin, Natasha Caruana, Bindi Cole, Maciej Dakowicz, Christopher Day, Melinda Gibson, Toni Greaves, Petrina Hicks, Alin Huma, Seba Kurtis, David Manley, Tracey Moffatt, Trish Morrissey, Laura Pannack, Sarah Pickering, Zhao Renhui, Simon Roberts, Helen Sear, Justin Spiers, Luke Stephenson, Christian Thompson, Tereza Zelenkova, Michael Ziebarth.

Press release from PICA website

 

Sarah Pickering. 'Land mine' 2005

 

Sarah Pickering (British, b. 1972)
Land mine
2005
Courtesy of the artist and Meessen De Clercq, Brussels

 

 

The Explosion pictures document the literal theatre of war – the detailed level of artifice used to prepare men and women for combat on the front lines. They also reveal the minutiae of packaging war as entertainment. The beauty of the pictures lies in their perverse seductiveness, and this attraction underscores the distance most of us have from real combat.

Pickering’s Explosion images, by distilling an aspect of the war that is a fiction, question the reliability of seemingly objective historical accounts, such as news reports and photographs that influence how war is communicated and remembered. By extension they question how we come to know what we know about it. We learn about war from a variety of sources, from history books, first-hand accounts, news media, and movies, all of which can get confused and merged in our minds as memory.

The dual purpose of the explosives – training and re-enacting – forms a fitting parallel to how we cope with trauma, a process of both anticipation and reconciliation.”

Sarah Pickering website

 

Simon Roberts. 'We English No. 56' 2007

 

Simon Roberts (British, b. 1974)
We English No. 56
2007

More Simon Roberts We English on Art Blart

 

 

Simon Roberts travelled across England in a motorhome between 2007 and 2008 for this portfolio of large-format tableaux photographs of the English at leisure. We English builds on his first major body of work, Motherland (2005), with the same themes of identity, memory and belonging resonating throughout. Photographing ordinary people engaged in diverse pastimes, Roberts aims to show a populace with a profound attachment to its local environment and homeland. He explores the notion that nationhood – that what it means to be English – is to be found on the surface of contemporary life, encapsulated by banal pastimes and everyday leisure activities. The resulting images are an intentionally lyrical rendering of a pastoral England, where Roberts finds beauty in the mundane and in the exploration of the relationship between people and place, and of our connections to the landscapes around us.

Text from the Simon Roberts website

 

Tony Albert. 'No Place' 2009

 

Tony Albert (Australian, b. 1981)
No Place
2009
Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Tony Albert is a Girramay rainforest man from the Cardwell area… The No Place series references The Wizard of Oz ‘there’s no place like home’. For No Place Tony returns to his tropical paradise home with a group of Lucho Libre wrestling masks from Mexico. His family adorn these masks and again become warriors protecting their paradise. These seemingly playful masks share much with Aboriginal and particularly rainforest culture. Body and shield designs from this area represent animal gods or spirit beings. The use of these masks brings a prescient new layer of armour for a new generation of warrior.

The colour scheme of solid blocks of red, black and yellow also speak to traditional rainforest aesthetics. There are strong elements of the sublime and the fantastical within these works. Viewing Aboriginal people in iconic north Queensland locations masked in Mexican wrestling paraphernalia carries more than a hint of the surreal and absurd.

Anon. “Tony Albert and No Place,” on the Big Art website, 2010 [Online] Cited 22/03/2012 no longer available online

 

Christian Thompson. 'Untitled #7 from the King Billy Series' 2010

 

Christian Thompson (Australian, Bidjara b. 1978)
Untitled #7 from the King Billy series
2010
Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi

 

 

King Billy, is an ode to his great great grandfather, King Billy of Bonnie Doon Lorne. The initial inspiration was a photograph of King Billy, standing alone wearing his ‘name plate’. Despite its colonial overtones, for Thompson, this image of the senior tribesman exudes wisdom and kindness and reminds him of his father. In much of Thompson’s work his processes are intuitive, he delves into a rich dream world and draws out fabulous images. He manifests his own mythological world. In this series his figures are clad in fabrics patterned with Indigenous motifs, mainly cheap hoodies in lurid colours; a modern/ ancient skin for a magic youth culture. He has made a triptych, three views of a pink hooded figure spewing cascading pearl stands from the face; opulent, decadent, excessive and sensual.

Another image shows a crowned figure swathed in fabrics bearing the markings of various clans, perhaps indicating the domain of this regal form. In the hands a (poisoned?) chalice – the sawn off plastic bottle a warning about petrol sniffing? His self-portrait as psychedelic godhead/Carnaby Street dandy / flower child is spectacular and arresting. He is wearing a tailored suit, patterned with more Indigenous motifs and he cradles a bouquet. His skin is green and his eyes are purple flowers. What can this otherworldly creature tell us?

Thompson seems to emphasise a theme of disparity in this work; the ‘hoodie’ with the cascading pearls, the crown with the plastic bottle, the opulence with the desperate. These works are both beautiful and confronting.

Text from the PICA website

 

 

Petrina Hicks. 'Emily the Strange' 2011

 

Petrina Hicks (Australian, b. 1972)
Emily the Strange
2011
Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery

 

 

Petrina Hicks’ Beautiful Creatures appeals to our senses. Immediately alluring, the large-scale, hyper-real photographs, are all rendered so clearly and with such control they are reminiscent of advertisements. But with a series of little ruptures, within images and between them, Hicks disrupts our usually beguiled response to such artistry. For her, photography’s capability to both create and corrupt the process of seduction and consumption is of endless interest.

Hicks loads her images with history and associations but denies us a clear message. Along with the ambiguity, there is a visceral quality in these new works; her depiction of flesh, hair and veins stops the viewer short of being lulled into consumption. Hicks engages a playful yet confronting approach to confound our expectations. A cat, naked without fur, in the image Sphynx, contrasts a beautiful blonde with a face full of it in Comfort. In Emily the Strange the hairless creature reappears with a young girl whose piercing green eyes, skin-pink dress, and latent defiance, make her eerily akin to her pet. Alluded to, in the title of the exhibition, this duality is present in much of the work. Her subjects are not simply beautiful or simply creatures.

Text from the PICA website

 

 

Tereza Zelenkova. 'Cadaver' 2011

 

Tereza Zelenkova (Czech, b. 1985)
Cadaver
2011
Courtesy of the artist

 

Luke Stephenson. 'Diamond Sparrow #1' 2009

 

Luke Stephenson (British, b. 1983)
Diamond Sparrow #1
2009
Courtesy of the artist

 

 

Stephenson finds birds and the world surrounding them wonderfully fascinating. The birds he has photographed all belong to avid bird breeders who on the whole have been keeping birds their whole lives. It’s a hobby people generally don’t come into contact with, unless you are active within it. The artist does not keep birds but finds them beautiful in all their variations and colours, so has set out capture these birds in a way that would show them at their best.

There are many criteria to breeding a prize-winning bird, from shape and form to its pattern, and this is something Stephenson has tried to convey whilst also attempting to show some of their personalities. He set out to photograph every breed of bird within the ‘hobby’ of keeping birds but soon realised there were thousands of variations, so decided to keep this as an ongoing project; realising instalments every couple of years which people can collect and, hopefully one day, the dictionary will be complete.

Luke Stephenson website

 

 

Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA)
Perth Cultural Centre
James Street Northbridge
Phone: + 61 (0) 8 9228 6300

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm

PICA website

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28
Mar
12

Exhibition: ‘Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story’ at Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Exhibition dates:  29th October 2011 – 7th April 2012

 

Teenie Harris. 'Construction site with bulldozer, two men, including one in front holding child, large tank with hose, and car on right, possibly in construction site of Belmar Gardens' c. 1954

 

Teenie Harris (American, 1908-1998)
Construction site with bulldozer, two men, including one in front holding child, large tank with hose, and car on right, possibly in construction site of Belmar Gardens
c. 1954
Gelatin silver print
© Carnegie Museum of Art

 

 

What an astonishing photographer this man was. These photographs are a revelation. African American artist Charles “Teenie” Harris, captured “the essence of daily African-American life in the 20th century. For more than 40 years, Harris – as lead photographer of the influential Pittsburgh Courier newspaper – took almost 80,000 pictures of people from all walks: presidents, housewives, sports stars, babies, civil rights leaders and even cross-dressing drag queens.”

While Harris is most famous for depicting an innovative and thriving black urban community – daily life in Pittsburgh’s Hill District – it is the less figurative, more abstract urban landscape work that I am interested in here. Hence I have put four outstanding photographs that I picked out from the Archive at the top of the posting.

Earlier photographs of the city from the 1940s, such as Large two story home with attic, porch, double entryway, and yard, with young child on steps alone, next to smaller two story home with porches on both stories (c. 1940-45, below) have a touch of Walker Evans about them. Note how in this photograph the eve of the large two story home roof touches the top of the negative (allowing an exit for the eye at the top of the image), beautifully balanced on the left-hand side by the intrusion of the roof of another out of frame building and its shadow cast on the ground. The spatial separation between this roof and the porch of the smaller two story home is critical, as is the punctum of the child standing on the stoop. There are beautiful spaces in this photograph, as the eye plays across its surface, taking in form and detail, light and shade, eventually escaping down the right hand side of the building to the sky beyond.

It is only when we get to the 1950s that Harris really seems to hit his straps in these photographs of the urban landscape. Personally, I can’t remember any other photographs like them. By this time he has developed his own signature, his own voice. And what a voice it is!

In the three remaining photographs at the top of the posting there is a conciseness to his vision of the world, a spatial spareness, even sparseness that is very eloquent. In Construction site with bulldozer (c. 1954, below), possibly a photograph of the site of Belmar Gardens, Pittsburgh’s first black-owned housing cooperative, the landscape is shot from below up a slight incline, bookended with raised bank at left and car at right framing the image plane and holding it together. But it is the space around the central figures as they look off into the distance that is so magical – the blackened, textural ground playing off the cloudless sky with single tree at left. That space in the foreground, between the bottom of the image and the figures is tensioned so well with the distance between the figures and the top edge of the negative: Harris has an intimate understanding of what he wants to achieve in this image – spatially and narratively. The hope of the future.

The same can be said for Three story brick row houses with mansard roofs (c. 1958, below). Again, there is a spareness to his rendition of space and a complexity to his imaging of tone. It is almost like there is a dividing line between night and day, between the city in snow and the city in darkness, the ying yang of existence. Observe the light car is in darkness and the dark car in light; the dark trees, the light telegraph post; the space between the cars which no car could ever fit through; and the smallness of the child walking down the street. Incredible. Again, there is a openness to Harris’ rendition of space in Young men playing sandlot baseball with steel mill in background (c. 1955, below). Let your eyes soak in the open sky; the verticals of dark chimneys, left and light chimneys, right; the building at left perched atop the embankment; the composition of the figures across the middle of the image, reminiscent of a piece of music; the open space of the baseball sandlot at the bottom of the photograph with faint white line delineation and figure at right holding up the edge of the image. This is a master at work.

In this mature style, Harris has no need to fill space with an urban mass or congeries. These are spaces that matter, spaces of matter but these spaces are not empty, negative spaces, but active, fluid spaces, the space of possibilities. He understands what he wants to say so well, he is so confident of his previsualisation of the urban spaces of the city they become uniquely his own – open, engaging, optimistic. This is his voice, his gift, his legacy to the world – for me, not so much the portraits of Afro-American culture, but the spaces of the city as a metaphor for change within that culture. His reading of the landscape is his unique field of vision: in the stillness of these photographs time no longer passes, for the author and for the viewer. His images transcend place and, as such, like Atget before him, he deserves to be recognised as an artist who captured a changing world. Further research on this aspect of his art would seem appropriate.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Download the Book: Teenie Harris Photographer: Image, Memory, History (15.44Mb pdf) by Cheryl Finley, Laurence Glasco, and Joe Trotter with an introduction by Deborah Willis. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011.

I am most grateful to Tey Stiteler for allowing me to pick the photographs I wanted for this posting. This help was crucial as I wanted to talk about the less figurative work in the Teenie Harris Archive. Many thankx to the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Teenie Harris Archive for allowing me to publish the photographs and book pdf in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Teenie Harris. 'Three story brick row houses with mansard roofs, and small child on sidewalk of tree lined street with automobiles' c. 1958

 

Teenie Harris (American, 1908-1998)
Three story brick row houses with mansard roofs, and small child on sidewalk of tree lined street with automobiles
c. 1958
Gelatin silver print
© Carnegie Museum of Art

 

Teenie Harris. 'Young men playing sandlot baseball with steel mill in background' c. 1955

 

Teenie Harris (American, 1908-1998)
Young men playing sandlot baseball with steel mill in background
c. 1955
Gelatin silver print
© Carnegie Museum of Art

 

Teenie Harris. 'Large two story home with attic, porch, double entryway, and yard, with young child on steps alone, next to smaller two story home with porches on both stories' c. 1940-1945

 

Teenie Harris (American, 1908-1998)
Large two story home with attic, porch, double entryway, and yard, with young child on steps alone, next to smaller two story home with porches on both stories
c. 1940-1945
Gelatin silver print
© Carnegie Museum of Art

 

 

Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story, the first major retrospective exhibition of the work and legacy of African American artist Charles “Teenie” Harris, will be on view at Carnegie Museum of Art from October 29, 2011, to April 7, 2012.

The groundbreaking exhibition will celebrate the artist/photographer whose work is considered one of the most complete portraits anywhere of 20th-century African American experience. Large-scale, themed photographic projections of nearly 1,000 of Teenie Harris’s greatest images accompanied by an original jazz soundtrack will generate an immersive experience in the exhibition’s opening gallery. Subsequent galleries will present a chronological display of these photographs at a conventional scale, and give visitor access to the more than 73,000 catalogued and digitised images in the museum’s Teenie Harris Archive. The exhibition will offer an examination of Harris’s working process and artistry, and audio commentary on the man and his work by the people who knew him. In addition, the photographs and many of these materials will be accessible on Carnegie Museum of Art’s website.

“Since 2001, our museum has been the repository of the Teenie Harris Archive. This exhibition marks the culmination of a long effort to preserve and document an extensive collection of historically and artistically important images,” says Lynn Zelevansky, The Henry J. Heinz II Director of Carnegie Museum of Art. “We are honoured to present this retrospective of a photographer whose body of work gives so much to us.”

During his 40-year career as freelance and staff photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s most influential black newspapers, Teenie Harris (1908-1998) produced more than 80,000 images of Pittsburgh’s African American community. The photographs, taken from the 1930s to the 1970s, capture a period of momentous change for black Americans. His subjects ranged from the everyday lives of ordinary people to visits by powerful and glamorous national figures to Pittsburgh, the nation’s industrial centre. From birthday celebrations to civil rights boycotts, the distinctive vision of Harris’s photographs folds into the larger narrative of American history, art, and culture.

 

Charles “Teenie” Harris

Teenie Harris grew up in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, a neighbourhood once called “the crossroads of the world.” A serious photographer from the age of 18, he started his professional photographic career in 1937 when he opened a studio and began to take on freelance assignments. In 1941, Harris was appointed staff photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier, the nation’s preeminent black newsweekly. His images were disseminated nationally through the Courier, and played a key role in how African Americans visualised themselves.

Like the Scurlock Studio in Washington, DC, James Van Der Zee in New York, and P. H. Polk in Alabama, Harris depicted an innovative and thriving black urban community, in spite of the segregationist policies and attitudes of mid-century America. His images captured daily life in the Hill – weddings, funerals, family portraits, parades, church events, street scenes, graduations – as well as of the great men and women who visited the neighbourhood, including Martin Luther King Jr., Paul Robeson, John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lena Horne, and Muhammad Ali. Some of the country’s finest jazz musicians – Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Ahmad Jamal, Sarah Vaughan, and Duke Ellington – were photographed by Harris alongside bartenders, waitresses, and dancing crowds.

The longevity of Harris’s career offers an outlook on historic shifts that took place in the lives of African Americans everywhere. In the era of segregated baseball, for example, Harris photographed two legendary Negro League baseball teams, the Pittsburgh Crawfords (which Harris cofounded in the mid-1920s) and Homestead Grays. Later, when baseball’s color barrier was broken, he photographed African American major league baseball players like Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente along with their teammates. The pride and optimism evident in Harris’s photos of the Double V campaign from the World War II era (victory abroad, victory for racial equality at home), turned to growing moods of frustration and anger evident in images of militant protests in the late 1950s and 1960s. These photographs provide important insights to issues that are still pertinent today.

“Teenie Harris had great empathy with his subjects and a talent for storytelling,” says Lippincott. “His images transcend place. Powerful and personal, they connect today’s viewers with a proud past and a vibrant artistic and cultural heritage. We hope that through this retrospective and traveling exhibition, Harris will be established in the canons of art, history, and photography.”

 

About the Exhibition

Nearly 1,000 of Harris’s most striking and iconic photographs will be digitally projected as life-sized images in the opening gallery. The images, organised into seven sections – “Crossroads,” “Gatherings,” “Urban Landscapes,” “Style,” “At Home,” “The Rise and Fall of the Crawford Grill,” and “Words and Signs” – will be synchronised with an original jazz score produced by MCG Jazz, one of the nation’s top organisations dedicated to the preservation, presentation, and promotion of jazz music. A second gallery will feature a chronological installation of small prints of the projected images that will include a referencing system for in-depth exploration of each photograph through a bank of computers and books also located in the gallery. In addition, the computers will provide access to the interactive website that has been created for the show.

At the entrance to the third gallery, a mini exhibition of 12 fine-art-quality 16 x 20″ prints selected by 12 experts will be accompanied by their personal analyses of the meaning, significance, and beauty of the chosen images. This gallery will also feature a large-scale map showing the places Harris lived, worked, and photographed and a multimedia presentation called “Artist at Work” that demonstrates Harris’s technical skill and artistic vision, and shows how newspapers and publishers cropped and edited his work in order to tell a particular story. “Artist at Work” marries audio recordings of the stories and memories of Teenie Harris, as told by his family, friends, colleagues, and models, with a montage of projected images relating to their tales.

In addition to an exhibition-specific website, the museum is collaborating with the University of Pittsburgh Press on an illustrated book offering new and unpublished scholarship about Harris, his work, and his times that will impact the fields of American and African American art, culture, and history.

 

About the Teenie Harris Archive

In 2001, Carnegie Museum of Art acquired the Teenie Harris archive from the Harris family and began a multiyear project to preserve, catalogue, digitise, and make the images available on the museum’s website for public view. Few of Harris’s negatives were titled and dated; since the acquisition of the archive, the museum has invited the public to help in the identification of the people, places, and activities in the photographs through a series of museum-based displays of his work, outreach presentations, meetings with oral historians, and online response forms that accompany the continually growing display of images on the museum’s website.

The Teenie Harris Archive Project is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which designated the archive a “We the People” project in the spring of 2007. “We the People” is an initiative to encourage and strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture. Initial support for the Teenie Harris Archive Project was provided by the Heinz Endowments.

Press release from the Carnegie Museum of Art website

Teenie Harris Archive website

 

Teenie Harris. 'Man lying with arms crossed and ferns on his lap, in cabin of truck' c. 1940-1945

 

Teenie Harris (American, 1908-1998)
Man lying with arms crossed and ferns on his lap, in cabin of truck
c. 1940-1945
Gelatin silver print
© Carnegie Museum of Art

 

Teenie Harris. 'Wooden roller coaster, possibly at Rock Springs Park, Chester, West Virginia' c. 1941

 

Teenie Harris (American, 1908-1998)
Wooden roller coaster, possibly at Rock Springs Park, Chester, West Virginia
c. 1941
Gelatin silver print
© Carnegie Museum of Art

 

Teenie Harris. 'Deserted Alley' 1946-1970

 

Teenie Harris (American, 1908-1998)
Deserted Alley
1946-1970
Gelatin silver print
© Carnegie Museum of Art

 

 

Charles “Teenie” Harris had a photographic mission: going beyond the obvious or sensational to capture the essence of daily African-American life in the 20th century. For more than 40 years, Harris – as lead photographer of the influential Pittsburgh Courier newspaper – took almost 80,000 pictures of people from all walks: presidents, housewives, sports stars, babies, civil rights leaders and even cross-dressing drag queens. Now, a new exhibit and online catalog is showing the depth of Harris’ work, an archive showing a major artistic achievement that influenced people around the country.

“His shots of everyday people are amazing. People seem to kind of jump off the page,” said Stanley Nelson, an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and MacArthur genius grant winner who has made a number of acclaimed films on African-American artists, business people, and workers. “They don’t have the sense of somebody kind of looking in and spying on the community. For me his pictures are very unique,” Nelson said.

Harris was a gifted basketball player as a young man, and helped start a Negro League baseball team, too. His brother was Pittsburgh’s biggest bookie, and that gave him access to people throughout the city. But he found his mission at the Pittsburgh Courier, which was distributed all over the country via a network of Pullman train porters. Through the paper Harris had endless opportunities to chronicle daily life and to meet the rich, famous, and powerful. Harris photographed Richard Nixon, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and many musical greats, such as Nat King Cole and Duke Ellington. “That was the black national paper of record at the time,” said Laurence Glasco, a professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh.

Many people stopped by the Courier offices because of its clout with African-Americans, Glasco said. Yet Harris neither pandered to nor looked down on celebrities, he added. “He really didn’t have a cult of celebrity. He wouldn’t cross a street to shake a celebrity’s hand. He was interested in them, but he really saw them as just people. And that really comes out in his photographs,” Glasco said. A young Muhammad Ali, for example, is shown picking up his mother and holding her in his arms. “He had an equal opportunity lens,” recalled Teenie’s son, Charles Harris. “He just liked people.”

The partnership with the Courier was a perfect match, since its reporters and editors were also pushing for equal rights. And true to Pittsburgh traditions, Teenie Harris was a hard worker, on call virtually 24-hours a day. “No matter what time it was, they could call. A lot of times he didn’t sleep,” his son said.

Louise Lippincott, the Carnegie Museum of Art Curator, worked closely with Harris in the last years of his life. “He had a very strong personal desire to complete a positive view of African-Americans and counter the negative stereotypes in the white press. On the other hand, there’s nothing sugarcoated,” said Lippincott. Glasco adds that Harris took pictures of very poor people without exaggerating their situation. “You can look at them and say, ‘These are real people; they happen to be very poor.’ They’re more than those clothes they’re wearing. They were first and foremost a person.” One picture shows a little girl with a big smile sitting on the floor of a newsstand, reading a comic book with a small dog on her lap. A key piece of history that Harris and the Courier covered heavily was African-Americans who served in World War II and returned home demanding that they be accorded rights equal to white soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

“The drive for civil rights really began in World War II,” Lippincott said, far earlier than many imagine. Yet the photographs are more than just a rich trove of mid-century American history. They emerge as art because Harris became a master of composition and for decades took each picture with a large-format camera that had to be hand-loaded with a single piece of film for each shot. “I remember being just shocked and amazed at what an incredible photographer he was. He just had this incredible eye,” said Nelson, who noted that Harris earned the nickname “One Shot” for his ability to deliver an assignment with one photograph.

Many of the pictures show a successful – and happy – black middle class. One young woman is depicted posing on the hood of a 1950s car, with steel mills in the background, while another simply kneels while playing with two small dogs. And even before the civil rights movement, there are many pictures showing black and white children and adults together. Glasco notes that even some controversial pictures seem to defy current expectations of what the past was like. In one, a man in a car has a cross-dressing male companion on each side.

“They’re happy, they’re proud, they’re smiling. It’s a joyful thing,” Glasco said of the men openly dressing as women. At an annual parade in Pittsburgh’s Hill district, one car was often filled with cross-dressers who waved at crowds, he added. Glasco once saw a Harris picture of cross-dressers next to contemporary pictures with the same subject, and was struck by the anger and hostility of the people in the new pictures, and the openness of the people in the older ones.

The Carnegie Museum of Art purchased Harris’ entire collection in 2001, through the Heinz Family Fund. The exhibit at the museum includes almost 1000 photographs, slide shows, and a jazz soundtrack commissioned especially for the show, which is up until next April. It’s also scheduled to travel to Chicago, Birmingham, Alabama, and Atlanta in the future. People who can’t get to one of those museums can view almost 60,000 Harris images that have been scanned and put online along with audio interviews of people who knew him.”

By Kevin Begos, Associated Press, November 27, 2011 on Boston.com [Online] Cited 21/03/2012

 

Teenie Harris. 'Woman wearing one-piece skirted bathing suit reclining on swimming pool diving board' c. 1940-1945

 

Teenie Harris (American, 1908-1998)
Woman wearing one-piece skirted bathing suit reclining on swimming pool diving board
c. 1940-1945
Gelatin silver print
© Carnegie Museum of Art

 

Teenie Harris. 'Group portrait of two women and two men, woman on right wearing dark dress with wide brimmed hat, in interior with wainscoting and pictures on wall' c. 1940-1945

 

Teenie Harris (American, 1908-1998)
Group portrait of two women and two men, woman on right wearing dark dress with wide brimmed hat, in interior with wainscoting and pictures on wall
c. 1940-1945
Gelatin silver print
© Carnegie Museum of Art

 

Teenie Harris. 'Group portrait of eight male boxers, possibly Golden Gloves contenders, lined up in boxing ring' c. 1955

 

Teenie Harris (American, 1908-1998)
Group portrait of eight male boxers, possibly Golden Gloves contenders, lined up in boxing ring
c. 1955
Gelatin silver print
© Carnegie Museum of Art

 

Teenie Harris. 'Group portrait of women wearing church choir robes, posed outside in yard, with other houses, garage, and woman in background, seen from above' c. 1938-1945

 

Teenie Harris (American, 1908-1998)
Group portrait of women wearing church choir robes, posed outside in yard, with other houses, garage, and woman in background, seen from above
c. 1938-1945
Gelatin silver print
© Carnegie Museum of Art

 

Anonymous photographer. 'Charles "Teenie" Harris holding camera and standing in front of Flash Circulation office, 2132 Centre Avenue, Hill District' c. 1937

 

Anonymous photographer
Charles “Teenie” Harris holding camera and standing in front of Flash Circulation office, 2132 Centre Avenue, Hill District
c. 1937
Gelatin silver print
© Carnegie Museum of Art

 

 

Carnegie Museum of Art
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-4080
Phone: 412.622.3131

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 5pm
Thursday: 10am – 8pm
Sunday: noon – 5pm

Carnegie Museum of Art website

Teenie Harris Archive website

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25
Mar
12

Sculpture: ‘Metropolis II’ (2010) by Chris Burden at LACMA, Los Angeles

Installation dates: 14th January 2012 –

 

Poetic, historic, amazing, fantastic, incredible, indescribable (the words of an eight year old, comment on the website). Great video as well. Take your ear plugs!

Marcus

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

 

 

 

Chris Burden (American, 1946-2015)
Metropolis II
2010
Courtesy of the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Foundation
© Chris Burden

Dimensions: 9’9″ (H) x 28’3” (W) x 19’2” (D) (297 cm x 862 cm x 584 cm)

Media: 
3 1/2 hp DC motors with motor controllers
1,100 custom-manufactured die-cast cars
13 HO-scale train sets with controllers and tracks
Steel, aluminium, shielded copper wire, copper sheet, brass, various plastics, assorted woods and manufactured wood products, Legos, Lincoln Logs, Dado Cubes, glass, ceramic and natural stone tiles, acrylic and oil-based paints, rubber, sundry adhesives

 

Chris Burden. 'Metropolis II' 2010

 

Chris Burden (American, 1946-2015)
Metropolis II
2010
Courtesy of the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Foundation
© Chris Burden

 

 

Created by artist Chris Burden, Metropolis II (2010) is a complex, large-scale kinetic sculpture modelled after a fast-paced modern city. The armature of the piece is constructed of steel beams, forming an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of eighteen roadways, including a six-lane freeway, train tracks, and hundreds of buildings. 1,100 miniature toy cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour on the specially designed plastic roadways. Every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulates through the sculpture. “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars, produces in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st Century city.”

Situated in the centre of the grid are three electrically powered conveyor belts, each studded with magnets at regular intervals. The magnets on the conveyor belt and those on the toy cars attract, enabling the cars to travel to the top of the sculpture without physical contact between the belt and cars. At the top, the cars are released one at a time and race down the roadways, weaving in and out of the structure, simulating rapid traffic and congestion.

Metropolis II is on long-term loan to LACMA, thanks to the generosity of LACMA Trustee Nicolas Berggruen. Beginning January 14, 2012, the work will be on view on the first floor of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM) and run on weekends during the scheduled times below.

  • The cars are attached by a small magnet to the conveyor belt that brings them to the crest
  • The only motorisation of the cars is the conveyor belt to the top
  • Once the cars cross over the crest and head downward, their entire movement is by gravity
  • They travel at a scale speed of 240 mph, plus or minus
  • The tracks they take are Teflon coated to reduce friction
  • The tracks are beveled at 7 degrees to give added torque for speed when they come through corners and curves

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Beginning Saturday, January 14, to see Metropolis II in action, please visit the gallery at these times:
Fridays: 12.30 – 2pm; 3 – 4.30pm; 5 – 6.30pm; 7 – 8.30pm
Weekends: 11.30 – 1.00pm; 2 – 3.30pm; 4 – 5.30pm; 6 – 7.30pm
Weekdays: not operational”

Press release from LACMA

 

Chris Burden. 'Metropolis II' 2010

 

Chris Burden. 'Metropolis II' 2010

 

Chris Burden (American, 1946-2015)
Metropolis II
2010
Courtesy of the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Foundation
© Chris Burden

 

Chris Burden. 'Metropolis II' 2010 (detail)

 

Chris Burden (American, 1946-2015)
Metropolis II (detail)
2010
Courtesy of the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Foundation
© Chris Burden

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Operator Alison Walker watches miniature cars move along the roads in Chris Burden’s latest kinetic sculpture, Metropolis II, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. The sculpture does more than just imitate life. The colorful display of roads, cars, trains and buildings is art imitating what the artist foresees life being like in five or 10 years.

 

 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard (at Fairfax Avenue)
Los Angeles, CA, 90036
Phone: 323 857-6000

Opening hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 11am – 5pm
Friday: 11am – 8pm
Saturday, Sunday: 10am – 7pm
Closed Wednesday

LACMA website

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23
Mar
12

Review: ‘Martin Parr: In Focus’ at Niagara Galleries, Richmond, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 6th March – 31st March 2012

 

Martin Parr. 'England. New Brighton' 1983-1985

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
England. New Brighton.
From the series Last Resort
1983-1985
Pigment print
Edition of 5
102 x 127 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

 

This is a fine exhibition of the work of celebrated English photographer Martin Parr at Niagara Galleries, Richmond, albeit with one proviso. The mainly large colour prints are handsomely displayed in plain white frames within the gallery space and are taken from his well known series: Last Resort, Luxury, New British and British Food. Parr’s work is at its best when he concentrates on the volume of space within the image plane and the details that emerge from such a concentrated visualisation – whether it be the tension points within the image, assemblage of colour, incongruity of dress, messiness of childhood or philistine nature of luxury.

The best photographs have a wonderful frisson about them, a genuine love of and resonance with the things he is imaging. This frisson can be seen in all of the photographs in this posting but most notably in :

  • The incursion of the surreal red colour to left in England. New Brighton (above) and Parr’s masterful use of vertical and horizontal lines within the image. Note the verticality: of the child’s toy, the two children themselves, the pillars of the pavilion and the lighthouse holding the whole image together at right. If this lighthouse were not there the eye would fall out of the image. As it is it is contained, forcing the viewer to look closely at the absurdity of the melting ice cream and the splashes that have fallen on the ground.
    .
  • The complexity of the photograph England. New Brighton (below) where the eye does not know what to rest upon, constantly jumping from object to object. Do you look at the women on the ground, the shoes to right, the piece of fabric to left, the screaming baby, the sunlit pink umbrella, the women in blue bikini up the ramp, the long elongated shadowed wall with peek-a-boo heads leading to the outlined figures at the vanishing point of image – the top of the ramp. The understanding of light (with the use of flash) and the construction of the image is superlative. Wow!
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  • The incongruity evidenced in the photograph England, Ascot. 2003: the over tight pink sateen dress with unfortunate stain (which the eye is irrevocably drawn to), applique bow linked through to hideous flower embossed handbag which then contrasts with the seated women behind in hat and purple floral dress. In the large print in the gallery the background is more out of focus than in the small reproduction here, allowing the viewer’s eye an avenue of escape via the grass and deck chair beyond.
    .
  • The delicious, choreographed mise-en-scène of Australia, The Melbourne Cup. 2008 – the suits, ties and glasses, the teezed hair, the alcohol – where none of the participants is looking at the camera, where only the ladies hand clutches at the back of the man’s shoulder. They look down, they look left, they look right, they look away, they never engage with each other or the viewer. The critical space in this assemblage is the distance between the man and the woman’s noses, that vitally small space of separation that is a synonym for the interactions occurring in the rest of the image. The blindness of Lux’ry, its crassness, its stain.

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And so it goes. The dirt under the fingernails of the child eating a doughnut, the lurid colours of the popsicle and jacket of the kid with dribble on his face, all fantastic. There are moments of stasis, for example in the contemplative photograph Australia. South Hedland. Blackrock Tourist Park. 2011 (below) taken from Parr’s new series Australia, where Parr has photographed Australian life in three Western Australian port cities, Fremantle, Broome and Port Hedland. See the video at the bottom of the posting and listen to Parr talk about his work.

This is all fine and dandy, dressed up in polka dots and a lurid bow tie, but when the photographs become too reductive, as in the large photograph in the exhibition England. Dorset. West Bay. 1997 (see first column, fourth down) there is really not enough to hang your hat on. This feeling of over simplification, as though the photographer has said to himself “here’s something I have seen that you haven’t recognised, and I think it is important for you to recognise it” – the perceived essentialness of the object – can become a bit strained. I know that these type of images are part of the series about British or Scottish food or about objects from a specific place but do they really have this grand an importance in the scheme of things? This feeling is reinforced in the exhibition, and this is my proviso to show, when the images such as Scotland. Glasgow. Fairy cakes. 1999, England. Blackpool. 1995 (bread and butter on a plate on red check cloth) are presented at A4 size surrounded by heavy white frames. These photographs have to be large to have any chance of working at all and at the small size they fall flat.

The size of a photograph raises interesting questions about the display of contemporary photography. The giant light boxes of Jeff Wall, the huge group portraits of Thomas Struth, the huge portraits of Thomas Ruff, the huge environments of Candida Hofer and the huge panoramas of Andreas Gursky (to name but a few) are all points in case. Would they work at a smaller size? No. They rely on scale and detail, visual impact for their effect: the same with Martin Parr. What is really ‘In Focus’ is the visualisation of the artist, his ability to envisage the final print at this large size. The A4 prints in this exhibition simply do not work at that size, for these photographs.

Think of Ansel Adams’ famous Monolith, The Face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, Calif., (circa 1926). Originally printed as a contact 8″ x 10″ from the negative, Adams gradually increased the size of this image till it became a huge print as tall as a man in his later life. The image works at multiple sizes, it spoke to him (and the viewer) at all these sizes: the small contact is intense and gem-like, the larger imitating the monolithic structure of the Face itself. I feel that some large contemporary photographs are quite vacuous at this large size, that there is no reason for them to be at this size. In other words it is not appropriate for the image. Conversely it would seem that artists previsualise for this size in the end print, which is fine, but that the print cannot exist, cannot breathe in the world at a smaller size. Is this a problem? Does this matter? I believe it does, especially when a photograph is displayed at a size that simply doesn’t work. I was always taught to print a photograph at an appropriate size for the image, whatever size(s) that may be (and there can be multiples), as long as it has resonance for that particular image.

As evidenced in this exhibition, if the photograph cannot “work” at the size that it is to be exhibited then it should not be displayed at all – it is a diminution not just of the artists vision but of the resonance of the photograph, in this case going from large to small. In an upcoming posting about the retrospective of the work of American photographer Fransceca Woodman, there is an installation photograph of the exhibition at The Guggenheim, New York (see above). Her vintage prints (seen in the background) – small, intense visions – have been printed at a huge scale (with her permission) and they simply do not work at this floor to ceiling height. They have lost all of their intimacy, which is one of the strengths of her photography. Again, I believe it is a diminution of the artists vision and the integrity of the photograph, this time from small to large. Artists are not always right. The same can be said of the retrospective of Cartier-Bresson that I saw at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh in 2005. One room out of four had very small, intense vintage prints in brown hues and the other three galleries had large 20″ x 24″ grainy prints with strong contrast that really ruined any response I had to the work as evidenced by the vintage prints. They were almost reproductions, a simulacra of the real thing. I had a feeling that they weren’t even by the artist himself. The same could be said here.

To conclude I would say this is a fine exhibition of large photographs by Martin Parr that would have been even more focused without the small A4 prints. They are joyous paeans to the quirky, incongruous worlds in which we live and circulate. They evidence life itself in all its orthogonal absurdity. I love ’em!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the artist and Niagara Galleries for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Francesca Woodman installation photograph at The Guggenheim Museum, New York

 

Francesca Woodman installation photograph at The Guggenheim Museum, New York. Note the small, vintage prints on the far wall.

 

Martin Parr. 'England. New Brighton' 1983-1985

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
England. New Brighton.
From the series Last Resort
1983-1985
Pigment print
Edition of 5
102 x 127 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

Martin Parr. 'Australia. South Hedland. Blackrock Tourist Park. 2011'

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
Australia. South Hedland. Blackrock Tourist Park. 2011.
From the series Australia
2011
Pigment print
Edition of 5
101.6 x 152.4 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

Martin Parr. 'England, Ascot 2003'

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
England, Ascot. 2003.
From the series Luxury
1995-2009
Traditional C-type print
Edition of 5
101.6 x 152.4 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

Martin Parr. 'Australia, The Melbourne Cup 2008'

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
Australia, The Melbourne Cup. 2008.
From the series Luxury
1995-2009
Pigment print
Edition of 5
101.6 x 152.4 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

Martin Parr. 'England. Ramsgate. 1996'

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
England. Ramsgate. 1996.
From the series New British
1994-1996
Traditional C-type print
Edition of 5
105.5 x 157.5 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

Martin Parr. 'England. Bristol. Car boot sale. 1995'

 

Martin Parr (British, b. 1952)
England. Bristol. Car boot sale. 1995.
From the series British Food
1994-1995
Traditional C-type print
Edition of 33
18 x 25.5 cm
Image courtesy of the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne

 

 

No Worries: Martin Parr – FotoFreo 2012

Magnum photographer Martin Parr was asked by FotoFreo Festival Director Bob Hewitt to photograph three Western Australian port cities, Fremantle, Broome and Port Hedland. Photographer David Dare Parker was assigned to document the project, the work titled No Worries.

© David Dare Parker

 

 

Niagara Galleries
245 Punt Road
Richmond, Melbourne
Victoria, 3121
Australia
Phone: +61 3 9429 3666

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 11am – 6pm
Saturday 12pm – 5pm

Niagara Galleries website

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20
Mar
12

Exhibition: ‘Made in America 1900-1950. Photographs from the National Gallery of Canada’, Ottawa, Ontario

Exhibition dates: 9th December 2011 – 1st April 2012

 

Edward Steichen.
 'Nocturne - Orangery Staircase, Versailles' 1908


 

Edward Steichen
 (American, 1879-1973)
Nocturne – Orangery Staircase, Versailles
1908
Purchased 1976
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

 

 

Stunning photographs in this posting: Steichen’s
 Nocturne – Orangery Staircase, Versailles (1908) is just sublime; Sheeler’s Side of a White Barn (1917) is early Modernist perfection, rivalling Paul Strand’s The White Fence, Port Kent (1916); Barbara Morgan’s photograph of dancer Martha Graham (1940) portraying, radiantly, her divine dissatisfaction; and the most beautiful portrait by Imogen Cunningham of Frida Kahlo (1931). Every time I see this portrait I nearly burst into tears – the light falling from the right and from the left onto the boards behind her, the texture of her cloak, the languorous nature of her hands, her absolute poise and beauty – looking straight into the camera, looking straight into your soul. What a beautiful women, such strength and vulnerability. A stunning photograph of an amazing women. The photograph just takes your breath away…

Marcus

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

 

Arthur Leipzig
 (American, 1918-2014) 'Opening Night at the Opera, New York' 1945

 

Arthur Leipzig
 (American, 1918-2014)
Opening Night at the Opera, New York
1945
Gelatin silver print
27 x 34.1 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
© Arthur Leipzig/Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery

 

Charles Sheeler (American, 1883-1965) 'Side of a White Barn, Pennsylvania' 1917

 

Charles Sheeler (American, 1883-1965)
Side of a White Barn, Pennsylvania
1917
Gelatin silver print
7 5/8 x 9 5/8 in.
The J. Paul Getty Museum

 

 

“Lines and texture define this view of the side of a white barn. In the photographic rendering, the white barn is a soft gray, punctuated by knots in the wood and shadows cast by the uneven boards. In the lower right corner of the image, a small window, a fence, and a chicken standing atop a pile of hay add visual weight yet surrender to the repetitive, vertical domination of the structure. Like every other line, the horizontal line dividing the areas of wood and plaster is drawn without a straight edge.” Text from the Getty Museum website

 

Alfred Stiegitz (American, 1864-1946) 'The Steerage' 1907

 

Alfred Steiglitz (American, 1864-1946)
The Steerage
1907
Gelatin silver print

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)  'Corner of State and Randolph Streets, Chicago' c. 1946-1947

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Corner of State and Randolph Streets, Chicago
c. 1946-1947
Gelatin silver print
Image: 26.1 x 25 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Gift of Benjamin Greenberg, Ottawa, 1981
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Barbara Morgan.
 'Martha Graham, Letter to the World, "Kick"' 1940, printed c. 1945


 

Barbara Morgan
 (American, 1900-1992)
Martha Graham, Letter to the World, “Kick”
1940, printed c. 1945
Gelatin silver print
38.6 x 48.2 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

 

 

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU. Keep the channel open… No artist is pleased… There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

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Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille

 

 

In the first five decades of the 20th century photography came into its own – both as an art form and as a tool to document social and political change. American photographers were exploring both the poetic and transformative expressiveness of the medium, as well as recording the growth and change of the country in its various phases of industrial development. On view until April 1, 2012, Made in America 1900-1950: Photographs from the National Gallery of Canada looks at both approaches, and the divisions between the two, as they are necessarily porous and somewhat arbitrary.

“The Gallery’s collection is so rich in 20th century American photographs that it needs an exhibition in two parts and a catalogue in two volumes. This first presentation focuses on the period between 1900 and 1950,” noted NGC director Marc Mayer. “This comprehensive collection has been amassed in large part through the generosity of brilliant collectors.”

“Each of [the decades] is characterised by tremendous growth, change, and creative thought about the medium and its reception in the United States,” noted curator Ann Thomas in the catalogue, American Photographs 1900-1950.

It was a period of great technical and technological change: such as the introduction of the personal 35mm camera in the early 1920s, following the German model developed by Leica, and Ansel Adams’ and Fred Archer’s creation of the zone system to determine optimal film exposure and development.

Composed of over 130 photographs, two issues of Camera Work, one issue of Manuscripts, and several period cameras, the exhibition Made in America celebrates the exceptional contribution that American photographers made to the history of art in the 20th century. Made been 1900-1950, these photographs represent an extraordinarily fertile period in the evolution of photography. They include stunning works by Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Clarence White, Paul Strand, Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, Berenice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Lisette Model, Weegee, and members of New York’s Photo League.

Made in America is the fourth in a series of exhibitions and catalogues presenting the Gallery’s outstanding collection of international photographs. It follows Modernist Photographs (2007), 19th Century French Photographs (2010), and 19th Century British Photographs (2011).

Made in America 1900-1950: Photographs from the National Gallery of Canada explores a dynamic period in the history of photography when the medium was emerging as both an art form and a tool for documenting social change. Presenting 134 works from the National Gallery’s extraordinary collection of American photographs, this exhibition chronicles the evolution of the medium, beginning with Pictorialism and moving through modernism, straight photography and documentary work. On the walls are some truly magnificent, iconic works by the most influential photographers, among them Alfred Stieglitz’s The Steerage, Edward Steichen’s Nocturne – Orangerie Staircase, Versailles, Ansel Adams’ Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico and Barbara Morgan’s Martha Graham, Letter to the World (Kick).

At the turn of the 20th century, American photographers were fully engaged in the Pictorialist aesthetic, creating pastoral landscapes, foggy street scenes and idealised portraits of women and children. With their soft focus and gentle lighting, the images convey a romantic moodiness. Pictorialist photographers often manipulated their negatives and prints to achieve painterly effects. Gertrude Käsebier’s Serbonne, for instance, is reminiscent of an Impressionist painting.

Around the mid-teens, artists such as Stieglitz, Paul Strand and Walker Evans came to reject the notion of photography imitating painting, and instead sought to take advantage of the medium’s inherent, unique characteristics, especially its ability to achieve sharp definition, even lighting and smooth surfaces. The result was ground-breaking modernist work such as Stieglitz’s Equivalent series, Alvin Langdon Coburn’s Vortograph and Charles Sheeler’s Side of White Barn.

Out on the west coast in the early 1930s, Group f.64 was committed to the ideal of pure, un-manipulated, or “straight” photography. Edward Weston’s nudes and juniper trees, and Imogen Cunningham’s portrait of Frida Kahlo demonstrate the hallmarks of f.64: crisp detail, sharp focus, and often a sensual minimalism.

The first decades of the 20th century also provided rich subject matter for documentary photographers, as social and economic changes dramatically transformed daily life. Lewis Hine’s photographs of immigrants and child labourers tell fascinating stories, as do images of the Depression by Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans. The Photo League sent its members out into New York’s streets to capture ordinary people on film. Helen Levitt, Jerome Liebling and Sol Libsohn chronicled small dramas unfolding on sidewalks.

Visitors familiar with Ansel Adams’ grand, sublime landscapes might be surprised by his more contemplative series of foaming Pacific waves, titled Surf Sequence. Sharing the gallery space is Minor White’s poetic series Song Without Words, made along the same coast. Both demonstrate an almost cinematic approach to photograph-making and plunge the viewer into seaside reverie.

Press release from the National Gallery of Canada website

 

Alvin Coburn (American, 1882-1966) 'Vortograph' 1917

 

Alvin Coburn (American, 1882-1966)
Vortograph
1917
Gelatin silver print
11 1/8 × 8 3/8″ (28.2 × 21.2 cm)
Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film

 

 

The intricate patterns of light and line in this photograph, and the cascading tiers of crystalline shapes, were generated through the use of a kaleidoscopic contraption invented by the American / British photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn, a member of London’s Vorticist group. To refute the idea that photography, in its helplessly accurate capture of scenes in the real world, was antithetical to abstraction, Coburn devised for his camera lens an attachment made up of three mirrors, clamped together in a triangle, through which he photographed a variety of surfaces to produce the results in these images. The poet and Vorticist Ezra Pound coined the term “vortographs” to describe Coburn’s experiments. Although Pound went on to criticise these images as lesser expressions than Vorticist paintings, Coburn’s work would remain influential.

Gallery label from Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925, December 23, 2012 – April 15, 2013.

 

Gertrude Kasebier (American, 1852-1934) 'Serbonne' 1902, printed 1903

 

Gertrude Kasebier (American, 1852-1934)
Serbonne
1902, printed 1903
from Camera Work, January 1903
Gum bichromate, halftone
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

 

Imogen Cunningham. 'Frida Kahlo' 1931

 

Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883-1976)
Frida Kahlo
1931
Gelatin silver print
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

 

Ralph Steiner.
 'Model T' 1929

 

Ralph Steiner
 (American, 1899-1986)
Model T
1929, printed later
Gelatin silver print
Image: 24.2 x 19.7 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

 

Walker Evans.
 'Citizen in Downtown Havana' 1933

 

Walker Evans (American, 1903-1975)
Citizen in Downtown Havana
1933
Gelatin silver print
25.1 x 20.1 cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Gift of Phyllis Lambert, Montreal, 1982
© Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

National Gallery of Canada
380 Sussex Drive
P.O. Box 427, Station A
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada 
K1N 9N4

Opening hours:
Daily 10am – 5pm
Thursday 10am – 8pm

1 October – 30 April
Monday closed
Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm
Thursday 10am – 8pm

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17
Mar
12

Review: The work of Robyn Hosking, ‘AT_SALON’ at Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond

Exhibition dates: 6th March – 24th March 2012

 

Robyn Hosking. 'Dodgem Discourse' 2011

 

Robyn Hosking
Dodgem Discourse
2011
Mixed media

 

 

Although not the first to promote the concept, Anita Traverso Gallery must be congratulated for exhibiting nine unrepresented emerging and mid-career artists in the AT_SALON exhibition program. This inaugural exhibition features hand-picked artists practicing over a variety of media including ceramics, textiles, drawing, painting and photography allowing them to exhibit in a professional gallery environment which bridges the gap between artist-run spaces and full gallery representation.

Out of the nine artists it was the hilarious work of Robyn Hosking that was the standout for me. While guffaw inducing one couldn’t help but be entranced by these waggish, chimerical creations and wonder at their technical brilliance. Every detail, every nuance is meticulously observed and the sculptures are beautifully made (mostly using glazed ceramics). Every observation on contemporary politics, war and beauty regimes is concisely conceptualised and executed with panache and humour. For example, in the work Dodgem Discourse (2011) Senator Bob Brown, leader of the Australian Greens, is the only diver figure not to be in his dodgem car while everyone else is bashing into each other, having got out to push his car because the solar power has failed. What you cannot see in the photograph is that the lights atop the dodgem poles flash on and off on every other car except his! While Julia Gillard’s car is emblazoned with the number 1 on its side, another gem is that the number plates say “Question Time” referring to question time in Parliament, but also a double entendre as the viewer questions the supposed wisdom of our elected officials.

HMAS Ineptitude (2011) assiduously comments on the white elephant that is the North South pipeline while the slowly revolving HMAS Obfuscation (2011) – how I love that word: the hiding of intended meaning in communication, making communication confusing, wilfully ambiguous – spins the SPIN, spelt out on the wing-like form at the top of the sculpture, on the machinations of our politicians who are mounted on rearing ceramic kangaroos with the large, gold lettered word PARLIAMENT on the base. Profound, amusing and beautifully made.

My favourite has to be The Wing Walker (2011) as an irate Julia Gillard tries to get rid of Kevin Rudd once and for all, even poking him with a stick to push him off the edge of the biplane. Balanced on a slowly revolving turntable with the world at its centre, this political merry-go round is panacea for the soul for people sick of politicians. This is brilliant political satire. The planes are all ends up and even when Julia thinks she has got rid of Kevin there he is, hanging on for dear life from the undercarriage of one of the planes. Priceless…

Reminding me of the fantasy creatures of Tom Moore, these whimsical manifestations deal with serious, life changing and challenging issues with purpose, feeling and a wicked sense of humour. I really enjoyed this art (and joy is the correct word) because it takes real world issues, melds fantasy and pointed observation and reflects it back, as the artist observes, in a funfair’s distorted mirror. Magic!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

Robyn Hosking. 'Dodgem Discourse' 2011 (detail)

 

Robyn Hosking
Dodgem Discourse (detail)
2011
Mixed media

 

Robyn Hosking. 'The Wing Walker' 2011

 

Robyn Hosking. 'The Wing Walker' 2011

 

Robyn Hosking
The Wing Walker
2011
Mixed media

 

Robyn Hosking. 'The Wing Walker' 2011 (detail)

 

Robyn Hosking. 'The Wing Walker' 2011 (detail)

 

Robyn Hosking
The Wing Walker (detail)
2011
Mixed media

 

 

Robyn Hosking Artist Statement

My work launches a humorous, freewheeling attack on our desensitisation to the white noise and emptiness surrounding us. Looking like a hybrid between art, machine and toy, my sculptures maintain a circus-like sense of amusement and curiosity for the viewer, all the while sending up societal norms and politics.

I like to celebrate the lavishly eccentric design of past eras and the sense of possibility it embodied. As hackneyed as it sounds, a Brave New World is upon us, stranger perhaps than our imaginations can conceive of. While my work casts a disparaging eye at the use of technology for inane and selfish reasons – from Botox to weaponry – it retains a playful, humorous edge. I am not interested in producing depressingly macabre images. Every work becomes a caricature or parody, as though the world is being viewed in a funfair’s distorted mirror.

 

Robyn Hosking. 'HMAS Ineptitude' 2011

 

Robyn Hosking. 'HMAS Ineptitude' 2011

 

Robyn Hosking
HMAS Ineptitude
2011
Mixed media

 

Robyn Hosking. 'HMAS Ineptitude' 2011 (detail)

 

Robyn Hosking. 'HMAS Ineptitude' 2011 (detail)

 

Robyn Hosking
HMAS Ineptitude (detail)
2011
Mixed media

 

Robyn Hosking. 'HMAS Obfuscation' 2011

 

Robyn Hosking
HMAS Obfuscation
2011
Mixed media

 

Robyn Hosking. 'HMAS Obfuscation' 2011 (detail)

 

Robyn Hosking. 'HMAS Obfuscation' 2011 (detail)

 

Robyn Hosking
HMAS Obfuscation (detail)
2011
Mixed media

 

 

Anita Traverso Gallery

Anita Traverso Gallery website

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15
Mar
12

Exhibition: ‘The Photographs of Brett Weston’ at the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

Exhibition dates: 23rd November 2011 – 25th March 25 2012

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993) 'Botanical' c. 1975

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993)
Botanical
c. 1975
Gelatin silver print
Unframed: 11 x 14 inches (27.94 x 35.56 cm)
Gift from the Christian K. Keesee Collection
© The Brett Weston Archive

 

 

Brett Weston’s pictures are ageing well – the decorative aesthetic seems to have more currency today than previously when the values of his father were predominant. Perhaps this has to do with the continuing influence of the Bechers and the exhibition New Topographics: Photographs of a Man Altered Landscape (1975). Although Weston photographs nature there is a beautiful, reductive minimalism to his photographs, an enticing simplicity of light and form that could be seen as decorative but today has taken on more symbolic weight; man and nature under threat, with hints of Atget and Wynn Bullock in the mix as well. Under that seeming simplicity are sophisticated photographs that take a good eye to capture and bring to life – what seems simple isn’t by any means. The light is beautiful, the sensitivity to subject present beyond doubt. His photographs will only gain greater currency in the future.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993) 'Lava, Hawaii' c. 1985

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993)
Lava, Hawaii
c. 1985
Gelatin silver print
Unframed: 16 x 20 inches (40.64 x 50.8 cm)
Gift from the Christian K. Keesee Collection
© The Brett Weston Archive

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993) 'Water' 1970

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993)
Water
1970
Gelatin silver print
Unframed: 11 x 14 inches (27.94 x 35.56 cm)
Gift from the Christian K. Keesee Collection
© The Brett Weston Archive

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993) 'Water Reflection, Logging, Alaska' 1973

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993)
Water Reflection, Logging, Alaska
1973
Gelatin silver print
Unframed: 11 x 14 inches (27.94 x 35.56 cm)
Gift from the Christian K. Keesee Collection
© The Brett Weston Archive

 

 

Over his long and prolific career, photographer Brett Weston (1911-1993) exemplified the modernist aesthetic. The son of famed photographer Edward Weston (1886-1958), Brett Weston was a “natural” with the camera: he was still a teenager when he first received high-level, international recognition as a creative artist.

The Photographs of Brett Weston, Nov. 23, 2011, through April 1, 2012, at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, presents a condensed 40-print survey of his long and prolific career. While rare works from the Museum’s Hallmark Photographic Collection are also included, this exhibition celebrates a gift of 260 Weston prints from Christian K. Keesee, owner of the Brett Weston Archive in Oklahoma City.

“This generous gift from Mr. Keesee exemplifies the deep interest in our program on the part of leading collectors and estates across the nation,” said Keith F. Davis, senior curator of photography. “There is also a wonderful symmetry here: this gift of Brett Weston’s work compliments one of the earliest photography gifts to the Museum, when Mr. and Mrs. Milton McGreevy donated 60 Edward Weston prints in 1958.”

Brett Weston was one of photography’s greatest prodigies. After serving as his father’s apprentice, he achieved international recognition at the age of 17 through inclusion in a landmark exhibition in Stuttgart, Germany in 1929.

“Weston’s images are beautifully modulated, unmanipulated black-and-white prints,” said Davis. “He loved sharp lenses and precision cameras, and he applied this “purist” approach to a sustained exploration of the idea of abstraction.”

Weston always sought an energising balance between fact and form, the objective reality of the world and the purely graphic logic of pictorial shape and structure. In exploring the graphic language of form, Weston aimed to suggest the deeper possibilities, and mysteries, of familiar things.

Press release from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art website

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993) 'Botanical' c. 1985

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993)
Botanical
c. 1985
Gelatin silver print
Unframed: 14 x 11 inches (35.56 x 27.94 cm)
Gift from the Christian K. Keesee Collection
© The Brett Weston Archive

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993) 'Building, Ivy, Tree, Sutton Place, New York' 1945

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993)
Building, Ivy, Tree, Sutton Place, New York
1945
Gelatin silver print
Unframed: 10 x 8 inches (25.4 x 20.32 cm)
Gift from the Christian K. Keesee Collection
© The Brett Weston Archive

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993) 'Broken Window' c. 1970

 

Brett Weston (American, 1911-1993)
Broken Window
c. 1970
Gelatin silver print
Unframed: 11 x 14 inches (27.94 x 35.56 cm)
Gift from the Christian K. Keesee Collection
© The Brett Weston Archive

 

 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

Opening hours:
Wednesday 10am – 5pm
Thursday – Friday 10am – 9pm
Saturday – Monday 10am – 5pm
Closed Tuesdays

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art website

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11
Mar
12

Opening: ‘Traverse’ by Kim Percy at Stockroom, Kyneton

Exhibition dates: 10th March – 8th April 2012

 

Installation of 'Traverse' by Kim Percy at Stockroom, Kyneton

 

Installation of Traverse by Kim Percy at Stockroom, Kyneton
Installation photograph by Marcus Bunyan © Kim Percy

 

 

Many thanx to Jason, Magali and Kent for inviting me to the gallery, and Kim for asking me to open the exhibition – it was fun!

I have known Kim since the early 1990s when we both did our Bachelor of Arts in photography at RMIT University so it was wonderful to have opened her show yesterday. Reprinted below is the speech I gave at the opening with its musings on the (in)visibility of asylum seekers arriving by boat in Australia. I hope you enjoy reading the text. Marcus.

 

Opening speech by Dr Marcus Bunyan, 10th March 2012

Out of Sight, Out of Mind _______________

“What I am about to say, my musings if you like, are inspired by Kim’s wonderful installation. The work before you is the basis of my inquiry. The issues involved are difficult and not to be dealt with lightly but I hope you will follow my drift, my traverse if you like.

I would like to take you on a journey – physical, metaphorical and maybe even philosophical. I want to ask questions of the world, questions about the journey we all take as human beings. These questions are prompted by my personal response to two elements of Kim’s work – water and the journey, specifically the image of asylum seekers arriving here in Australia. Imagine being an asylum seeker making that journey.

Imagine living in an (in)between space, living in a refugee camp over there. Marc Augé coined the phrase “non-place” to refer to places of transience that do not hold enough significance to be regarded as “places.”1 These camps are such places. Put yourself in that predicament, seeking a better life, seeking to escape persecution, war (of which we as a nation are often part), prejudice and death, deliberately placing yourself and your family in a fragile boat, like a seed pod floating upon the waters, taking the dangerous journey to reach Australia. Imagine the emotional and intellectual turmoil that must surround such a decision, the decision to place your life in the hands of the ocean. Important decisions affecting the entire course of one’s life are rarely made without some form of mental distress.

Nurtured in water, some baptised in it, water is the life-blood of the world and the asylum seeker must trust to its benevolence. Marc Augé “argues that we are in transit through non-place for more and more of our time, as if between immense parentheses.”2 This is the journey that the asylum seeker takes over water, a journey through an interstitial space that has no beginning and no end caught between a set of parentheses [insert life here / or not].

Now let us move our line of sight. What about a visual parentheses?

.
Asylum seekers are almost invisible from Australia living over there. They are over the horizon, out of sight and out of mind. When they journey across the sea – an open ended journey passing through a liminal space, a forgotten space – they suddenly appear as if by magic washed up on the shore, unseen despite surveillance planes, ships and other forms of tracking and reconnaissance. Think, for example, of the sudden and surprising arrival of the boat SIEV-221 when it was washed onto the rocks of Christmas Island in December 2010. The invisible made visible caught in a non-place.

This (in)visibility can be evidenced in other ways. The specks of humanity waving from the deck of the Tampa, the asylum seekers being escorted from arriving boats, seen for a few brief seconds on the evening news and then disappearing from view, almost like being sucked into the depths of the sea. Here and not here; here and there. Halfway between nothingness and being: they walk between one state and another, forward and backward, backward and forward.

.
Displacement
Diaspora
Disruption

.
The spectacle of the asylum seekers is despectacularised by and for the viewer. We remove ourselves from the emotion of these people, the presence of these images. They become ordinary as if seen from far away – glimpsed every so often as though viewing the world of another. They become Other.

The movement of the ship, the movement of the sky, the movement of vision is a constant decentering through a push / pull with something else – some other order of the world. Their journey into the unknown is a journey to submit to the ordering of another: the socially constructed system of classification: “refugee,” “asylum seeker.” The axis of visibility3 that operates in relation to subject, object, and space is not interrogated as to the representations that are constructed. This is what I am interested in here. These vital, alive human beings come from one taxonomic system (of ordered death, persecution, injustice), become visible from a brief instance, and are then fed into another taxonomic system of order – that of the detention centre.

Taking the metaphor of the horizon line further, I would argue that detention centres are like an inverted Panopticon. The Panopticon “is a type of institutional building, a prison, designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late eighteenth century. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe all inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether or not they are being watched.”4 The guard sits in a central tower and can observe and inspect all prisoners on the outer 360 degree circle, while the prisoners cannot see the guard and can only presume he is there (an omnipresent God) and hence they behave.

Let us invert this concept.

Now the asylum seekers sit in the tower looking outwards, seeing the promised land but unable to touch it and the guards (prison officers, government, the Australian people) are all around but most are blind. They look inwards but cannot see / they look outwards and most go about their daily business. The perimeter fence of the detention centre becomes the horizon line of the sea. As in Kim’s red lined horizons, over the horizon is out of sight, out of mind _________________

.
What Kim’s eloquent, minimal, brooding installation does is hold our attention and ask certain questions of us as human beings. If photography is a mode of visually addressing a certain order in the world – be it horror, war, peace, human tragedy, public, private – and then destabilising it, then Kim destabilises the binary sea / sky through fragmentation and isolation. She redlines our experience and asks us to inhabit the non-space, the non-place of the gallery, allowing us to hover between boat and image, between sea and sky, between seeing and feeling. Through her work she asks us to become more aware. She asks us to see things more clearly. Above all she asks us to have faith in the compassion of human beings.

The asylum seekers have faith: faith to get into a fragile boat to venture upon the sea in search of a better life. If we had more faith in ourselves then we would have less need to rely on the images of the past, a white colonial past.

I will finish with a quote from Jeff Brown.

“Sometimes we have to surrender to the not knowing. At other times, it is helpful to adventure outward and explore new possibilities. Like swashbucklers of the spirit, we bravely seek out any experience that might inform our path. When we are afraid of something, we live it fully and see what floats to the surface in the doing. We participate in our own revealing. We have faith in the shaping of what we cannot see.”5

.
The seekers surrender to the not knowing and have faith in the shaping of what they cannot see. These risk takers are the strong ones that are going to make a difference in a new society by the very fact of their strength and determination to survive and live in a free society, for the very fact of the risks undertaken. This exhibition informs their path as it informs our path. Be aware of the doing, be bold and forthright in the being. Enjoy.

Thank you

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

Footnotes

  1. Augé, Marc (trans. John Howe). Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity. London: Verso, 1995
  2. Ibid.,
  3. Hooper-Grenhill, Eilean. Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge. London: Routledge, 2000, p. 7
  4. Anon. “Panopticon,” on Wikipedia [Online] Cited 09/03/2012
  5. Brown, Jeff. Soulshaping. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2009, np quoted on Stroud, Jeff. The reluctant blogger website. [Online] Cited 09/03/2012

 

 

Installation of 'Traverse' by Kim Percy at Stockroom, Kyneton

 

Installation of 'Traverse' by Kim Percy at Stockroom, Kyneton

 

Installation of Traverse by Kim Percy at Stockroom, Kyneton
Installation photographs by Marcus Bunyan © Kim Percy

 

Kim Percy. 'Pale Sea' 2012

 

Kim Percy
Pale Sea
2012
Digital photograph

 

Kim Percy. 'Where' 2012

 

Kim Percy
Where
2012
Digital photograph

 

Kim Percy. 'Rough Water' 2012

 

Kim Percy
Rough Water
2012
Digital photograph

 

Kim Percy. 'Traverse' 2012

 

Kim Percy
Traverse
2012
Digital photograph

 

Kim Percy. 'Red Horizon No.1' 2012

 

Kim Percy
Red Horizon No.1
2012
Digital photograph

 

Kim Percy. 'Red Horizon No.2' 2012

 

Kim Percy
Red Horizon No.2
2012
Digital photograph

 

 

Stockroom
98 Piper street, Kyneton
Phone: 03 5422 3215

Opening hours:
Monday, Thursday, Friday 10.30am – 5pm
Saturday 11am – 6pm
Sunday 11am – 5pm

Stockroom website

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09
Mar
12

Notes from the lecture ‘Anti-Entropy: A natural History of the Studio’ by William Kentridge at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Melbourne

Date: 8th March 2012

 

Edward Francis Burney. 'A view of Philip James de Loutherbourg's Eidophusikon' c. 1782

 

Edward Francis Burney (English, 1760-1848)
A view of Philip James de Loutherbourg’s Eidophusikon
c. 1782
At left a man bowing to a woman, to right figures seated on a bench in the foreground, watching a scene titled ‘Satan Arraying his Troops on the Banks of a Fiery Lake, with the Raising of the Palace of Pandemonium’ during a performance of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” on a stage labelled EIDOPHUSIKON in a cartouche above
Pen and grey ink and grey wash, with watercolour
© The Trustees of the British Museum

 

 

A munificence of Minor White and the revelation of the object through contemplation could be found in the lecture by William Kentridge. As an artist you must keep repeating and constructively playing and something else, some new idea, some new way of looking at the world may emerge. As a glimpse into the working methodology of one of the worlds great artists the lecture was fascinating stuff!

Images in this posting are used under fair use for commentary and illustration of the lecture notes. No copyright breach is intended. © All rights remain with the copyright holder. My additions to the text can be found in [ ] brackets.

 

 

On self-doubt as an artist

“At four in the morning there are no lack of branches for the crow of doubt to land upon.”

.
On Memory

“Memory – both memory and the forgetting of memory. For example, the building of monuments [monuments to the Holocaust, to wars] takes the responsibility of remembering away.”

.
On Play

“We absolutely want to make sense of the world in that way. That’s one of the principles of play – that however much you distort and break things apart, in the end we will try to reconstruct them in some way to make sense of the world. I think that every child does it. It’s fundamental.”
.
On Looking

“It’s the capacity for recognition that makes a difference between order and disorder in looking at visual images. And it’s the vocabulary of recognisable images that we have inside us, which is completely vital to what it is to see. I don’t really buy the idea that order and disorder are the same.”

.
William Kentridge

 

 

First History of the Cinema

Performances of Transformation

  • Cinema
  • Shadow dancing
  • Eidophusikon (The Eidophusikon was a piece of art, no longer extant, created by 18th century English painter Philip James de Loutherbourg. It opened in Leicester Square in February 1781.Described by the media of his day as “Moving Pictures, representing Phenomena of Nature,” the Eidophusikon can be considered an early form of movie making. The effect was achieved by mirrors and pulleys.
  • Quick change artist
  • Stage magicians

.
All work against the time of the audience e.g. the quick change artist may take 3 seconds, the sunset in a Georges Méliès film may take 2 minutes instead of 2 hours. The technology / scrims / screens happen at different speeds but the different times become one in the finished film. There is an elision of time: appearances / disappearances. Stopping time [changing a scene, changing clothing etc…], starting time again.

 

Méliès starring in 'The Living Playing Cards' 1904

 

George Méliès starring in The Living Playing Cards (1904)

 

 

Second History of the Cinema

The sedimented gaze of the early camera. The slow chemicals meant that the object had to wait under the camera’s gaze for minutes. People were held in place by stiff neck braces to capture the trace of their likeness. Congealed time.

On the other hand, in cinema, a tear forward becomes a repair in reverse.

By rolling the film in reverse there is a REVERSAL of time, a REMAKING of the world – the power to be more than you are – by reversing to perfection. You throw a book or smash a plate: in reverse they become perfect again, a utopian world.

YOU MUST GIVE YOURSELF OVER TO PLAY!

Giving yourself over to what the medium suggests, you follow the metaphor back to the surface. Following the activity [of play] back to its root. Projecting forwards, projecting backwards. There is endless rehearsal, constant repetition, then discovering the nature of the final shot or drawing to be made. New ideas get thrown around: leaning into the experience, the experiment, the repetition, the rehearsal.

 

Four elements

  1. something to be seen
  2. the utopian perfection: perfectibility
  3. the grammar of learning that action
  4. Greater ideas, further ideas and thoughts; potentiality and its LOSS
    Further meanings arise

.
How is this achieved?
Rehearsal, repetition

New thoughts will arise being led by the body in the studio NOT in the mind. Not conceptual but the feeling of the body walking in the studio.

The physical action as the starting point not the concept.

 

Six different degrees of tension

  1. Least tension in the body possible: slumped
  2. Relaxed
  3. Neutral
  4. Purpose: an impulse to make things happen – desire
  5. Insistence: listen to me, this is very important
  6. Manic: Noh theatre with its rictus of the body

.
What the body suggests is the construction of an image.

There are different degrees of tension in these performances. What do they suggest? This reverse osmosis from one state to another?

 

Third History of Cinema

Technologies of Looking

Pre-cinematic devices – a process of seeing in the world, of looking. Produces a reconfigured seeing, the invisible made [moving] visible.

 

Stereoscope

3D world made into a 2D image put back into 3D by our brains. The nature of binocularity, of depth perception. We see an illusion of depth, a construction by the eyes. Our brain is a muscle combining the two images. Depth of Field (DOF): focusing at different distances, we are inside the field of the image. Peripheral vision is blanked off; we look through a magnifying glass. A machine for demonstrating seeing. Text from the Wikipedia website

 

William Kentridge. Drawing for the film 'Stereoscope' 1998-99

 

William Kentridge (South African, b. 1955)
Drawing for the film Stereoscope
1998-99
Charcoal, pastel, and coloured pencil on paper
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2008 William Kentridge

 

Zoetrope by William George Horner, 1834

 

Zoetrope by William George Horner, 1834

 

Zoetrope

An illusion of movement not depth. Double revelation:

A/ the brain constructed illusion of movement
B/ Caught in time [as the action goes around and around] and wanting to get out of it!

THIS IS CRITICAL – THE ACTION OF REPETITION IS IMPORTANT!

In the reordering, in the crack, something else may emerge, some new idea may eventuate. The tearing of time. 

[Marcus: the cleft in time]

Text from the Wikipedia website

 

The Etching Press

There are erotics built into the language of the etching, but there is also a logic built into the machine used for etching. The Proof print, arriving at the first state. Going on the journey from artist as maker to artist as viewer through the mechanism of the etching press.

 

Claude Glass

“A Claude glass (or black mirror) is a small mirror, slightly convex in shape, with its surface tinted a dark colour. Bound up like a pocket-book or in a carrying case, black mirrors were used by artists, travellers and connoisseurs of landscape and landscape painting. Black Mirrors have the effect of abstracting the subject reflected in it from its surroundings, reducing and simplifying the colour and tonal range of scenes and scenery to give them a painterly quality).” From Wikipedia.

“The Claude glass was standard equipment for Picturesque tourists, producing instant tonal images that supposedly resembled works by Claude. “The person using it ought always to turn his back to the object that he views,” Thomas West explained in his Guide to the Lakes. “It should be suspended by the upper part of the case… holding it a little to the right or the left (as the position of the parts to be viewed require) and the face screened from the sun.”” From the V & A website

 

Claude Glass, manufactured in England, 18th century

 

Claude Glass, manufactured in England, 18th century
V & A

 

Anamorphic Mirror

A counter intuitive way of drawing; turning 2D into 3D. The landscape has no edge, like a carrousel.

A LINK TO THE ENDLESS CIRCLING AND WALKING AROUND THE STUDIO!

 

Anamorphic drawing and cone shaped mirror

 

Anamorphic drawing and cone shaped mirror

 

William Kentridge studio

 

William Kentridge studio
Photo by John Hodgkiss
Art Tatler

 

 

The Studio

In the studio you gather the pieces together like a kind of Zoetrope. You may arrive at a new idea, a new starting point. Repetition, going around and around your head (at four in the morning!). There must be a truce between the artist as maker and the artist as viewer. As in earlier times, you walk the cloisters, you promenade.

You find the walk that is the prehistory of the drawing, that is the prehistory to the work.

A multiple, fragmented, layered performance of walking. You are trying to find the grammar of the studio – the necessary stupidity. Making a space for uncertainty. The conscious suppression of rationality. At some point, emerging, escaping the Zoetrope, from the physical making, something will be revealed. The spaces open up by the stupidities. Something new emerges.

THIS IS THE SPACE OF THE STUDIO.

 

 

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia

William Kentridge: Five Themes

Thursday 8 March – Sunday 27 May 2012
Exhibition open daily 10am – 6pm

ACMI website

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07
Mar
12

Exhibition: ‘Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964-1977’ at the Art Institute of Chicago

Exhibition dates: 13th December 2011 – 11th March 2012

 

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

 

 

John Baldessari (American, born 1931). 'The California Map Project Part I: California', 1969, exhibition copy 2011

 

John Baldessari (American, born 1931)
The California Map Project Part I: California
1969, exhibition copy 2011
Twelve inkjet prints of images and a typewritten sheet
Each image, 20.3 x 25.4 cm (8 x 10 in.); sheet, 21.6 x 27.9 cm (8 1/2 x 11 in.)
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris
© John Baldessari

 

Eleanor Antin (American, born 1935) '100 Boots' 1971-73

 

Eleanor Antin (American, born 1935)
100 Boots
1971-73
Fifty-one photolithographic postcards
Each 11.1 x 17.8 cm (4 3/8 x 7 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Margaret Fisher Endowment, 2000.106.1-51
© Eleanore Antin. Courtesy Ronald Fedlman Fine Arts, New York, NY

 

Eleanor Antin (American, born 1935) '100 Boots' 1971-73

 

Eleanor Antin (American, born 1935)
100 Boots
1971-73
Fifty-one photolithographic postcards
Each 11.1 x 17.8 cm (4 3/8 x 7 in.)
The Art Institute of Chicago, Margaret Fisher Endowment, 2000.106.1-51
© Eleanore Antin. Courtesy Ronald Fedlman Fine Arts, New York, NY

 

John Baldessari (American, born 1931) 'Throwing Three Balls in the Air to Get a Straight Line (Best of Thirty-Six Attempts)' 1973

 

John Baldessari (American, born 1931)
Throwing Three Balls in the Air to Get a Straight Line (Best of Thirty-Six Attempts)
1973
Portfolio of fourteen photolithographs
Each 24.7 x 32.7 cm (9 11/16 x 12 7/8 in.)
Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago
© John Baldessari

 

 

The 1960s and 1970s are recognised as the defining era of the Conceptual Art movement, a period in which centuries held assumptions about the nature of art itself were questioned and dissolved. Until now, the pivotal role that photography played in this movement has never been fully examined. The Art Institute of Chicago has organised the first major survey of influential artists of this period who used photography in ways that went far beyond its traditional definitions as a medium – and succeeded thereby in breaking down the boundaries of all mediums in contemporary art. Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph, 1964-1977  on view December 13, 2011 through March 11, 2012 – is the first exhibition to explore how artists of this era used photography as a hybrid image field that navigated among painting and sculpture, film, and book arts as well as between fine art and the mass media. More than 140 works by 57 artists will fill the Art Institute’s Regenstein Hall in this major exhibition that will be seen only in Chicago.

Bringing to the fore work from the Italian group Arte Povera as well as artists from Eastern Europe who are rarely shown in the United States, Light Years also includes many pieces that have not been on public display in decades by such major artists as Mel Bochner, Tony Conrad, Michael Heizer, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Emilio Prini. To open the exhibition, the Art Institute has arranged a special outdoor screening of Andy Warhol’s Empire, an eight-hour film of the Empire State Building. In a first for the United States, Warhol’s Empire will be projected from the Modern Wing’s third floor to be seen on the exterior of the Aon Center on Friday, December 9.

The acceptance of photography as fine art was an evolutionary process. Early 20th-century avant-garde movements such as Dada, Surrealism, and Constructivism articulated a new set of standards for art in which photography played a major role. By the 1930s, modernist photography found a small but influential niche in museum exhibitions and the art market, and vernacular forms such as photojournalism and amateur snapshots became a source of artistic inspiration. Engagement with mass media, exemplified in Pop Art, became prominent in the 1950s. Yet only with the advent of Conceptual Art did artists with training in painting, sculpture, and the graphic arts begin to make and exhibit their own photographs or photographic works as fine art.

Some Conceptual artists, such as Bruce Nauman, Ed Ruscha, and Valie Export took up photography seriously only for a few key months or years; others, like Eleanor Antin, John Baldessari, Jan Dibbets, and Annette Messager have worked in photography their entire careers. Photography showed the way forward from Minimal Art, Pop Art, and other movements in painting and sculpture. But it came with its own set of questions that these artists addressed with tremendous innovation. Questions of perspective, sequence, scale, and captioning which have a rich history in photography, were answered in entirely new ways and made into central concerns for art in general.

Photography in these artists’ hands was the antithesis of a separate and definable “medium.” It became instead “unfixed”: photobooks, photolithographs, photo canvases, photo grids, slide and film pieces, and even single prints all counted as valid creative forms. The variety of work showcased in Light Years is crucial to conveying the greatest contribution of the Conceptual era: to turn contemporary art into a field without a medium.

Light Years showcases a great number of works that have not been seen together – or at all – since the years around 1970. Victor Burgin’s Photopath, a life-size print of a 60-foot stretch of flooring placed directly on top of the floor that it records, has not been shown in more than 20 years and never in the United States. Likewise being shown for the first time in the U.S. are pieces by Italian artists Gilberto Zorio, Emilio Prini, Giulio Paolini, and others associated with the classic postwar movement Arte Povera. Paolini’s early photo-canvas Young Man Looking At Lorenzo Lotto (1967), an icon of European conceptualism, has only rarely been shown at all after entering a private collection in the early 1970s. Mel Bochner’s Surface Dis/Tension: Blowup (1969) has not been seen since its presentation at Marian Goodman Gallery in the now legendary 1970 exhibition Artists and Photographs, from which no visual documentation survives. Equally rare and important early works by Laurie Anderson, Marcel Broodthaers, Francesco Clemente, Tony Conrad, Gilbert & George, Dan Graham, Michael Heizer, and many others make the show a revelation for those interested in key figures of new art in the 1960s and ’70s. A special emphasis is placed on artists from Hungary, a center for photoconceptual activity that has long been overlooked in Western Europe and the United States.

Press release from the Art Institute of Chicago

 

Alighiero Boetti (Italian, 1940-1994) 'AW:AB =L:MD (Andy Warhol: Alighiero Boetti = Leonardo: Marcel Duchamp)' 1967

 

Alighiero Boetti (Italian, 1940-1994)
AW:AB =L:MD (Andy Warhol: Alighiero Boetti = Leonardo: Marcel Duchamp)
1967
Silk screen print with graphite on paper
58.8 x 58.8 cm (23 5/16 x 23 5/16 in.)
Colombo Collection, Milan. © Artists Rights Society (ARS)

 

Alighiero Boetti (Italian, 1940–1994) 'Twins (Gemelli)' September 1968

 

Alighiero Boetti (Italian, 1940-1994)
Twins (Gemelli)
September 1968
Gelatin silver postcard
15.2 x 11.2 cm (6 x 4 3/8 in.)
Private Collection © Artists Rights Society (ARS)

 

Bruce Nauman (American, born 1941) 'Light Trap for Henry Moore No. 1' 1967

 

Bruce Nauman (American, born 1941)
Light Trap for Henry Moore No. 1
1967
Gelatin silver print
157.5 x 105.7 cm (62 x 41 5/8 in.)
Glenstone. © Artists Rights Society (ARS).

 

Dennis Oppenheim (American, 1938-2011) 'Stage 1 and 2. Reading Position for 2nd Degree Burn Long Island. N.Y. Material... Solar Energy. Skin Exposure Time. 5 Hours June 1970' 1970

 

Dennis Oppenheim (American, 1938-2011)
Stage 1 and 2. Reading Position for 2nd Degree Burn Long Island. N.Y. Material… Solar Energy.  Skin Exposure Time. 5 Hours June 1970
1970
Two chromogenic photographic prints, plastic labelling tape, mounted together on green board with graphite annotations
Overall: 81 x 66 cm (31 7/8 x 26 in.)
Top photo: 20.1 x 25.8 cm
Bottom photo: 20.2 x 25.5 cm
Image/text area: 41.8 x 25.8 cm
Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection
© Dennis Oppenheim Estate

 

 

The Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404
Phone: (312) 443-3600

Opening hours:
Monday – Wednesday, 10.30 – 5.00
Thursday, 10.30 – 8.00 (Free Admission 5.00 – 8.00, member-only access to Matisse)
Friday, 10.30 – 8.00
Saturday – Sunday, 10.00 – 5.00
The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days.

The Art Institute of Chicago 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: ‘Sleep/Wound’ 1995-96


Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: 'Sleep/Wound' 1995-96 *PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS PHOTOGRAPHS OF MALE NUDITY - IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

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