Posts Tagged ‘Chinese photography

26
Apr
20

Exhibition: ‘Lai Fong (ca. 1839-1890): Photographer of China’ at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY

Exhibition dates: 7th February – 14th June 2020

The Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY has temporarily closed until further notice due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

#MuseumFromHome

 

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Actors]' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Actors]
1870s
Albumen print
Collection of Stephan Loewentheil, Cornell JD 1975

 

 

Such a rare commodity (and I use the word deliberately) – an Indigenous photographer – in a world educated “in the colonial view of photography’s history that has privileged Western travel photographers.” And yet, Lai Fong buys into the photographic conventions of the day, based on Western ideals of ethnographic portraiture and documentary landscape photography, to sell his impressive product range. In a photograph such as [Group portrait near Fangguangyan Monastery, Fujian] (c. 1869, below) the positioning of the European figures could have come straight out of an Édouard Manet painting, complete with their air of posed insouciance. Even in the photograph of a brothel, a Canton boat which served only wealthy Chinese clients [Flower boat, Guangzhou] (1870s, below), the West encroaches, as can be seen by the funnels and sails of a ship that lurks behind the traditional floating pleasure den.

Only rarely do we glimpse Lai Fong’s individuality as an artist… the low camera position, long vanishing point and panoramic landscape of the two magnificent images [Ming Tombs, Beijing] (1879, below); or the sublime construction of the image in photographs such as [Piled Stone Peaks in Mount Wuyi] (c. 1869, below) with its reference to Chinese brush-and-ink landscape painting known as Shan shui.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the Johnson 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.

 

 

Installation image of the exhibition 'Lai Fong (ca. 1839-1890): Photographer of China' at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

Installation image of the exhibition 'Lai Fong (ca. 1839-1890): Photographer of China' at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

Installation image of the exhibition 'Lai Fong (ca. 1839-1890): Photographer of China' at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

Installation image of the exhibition 'Lai Fong (ca. 1839-1890): Photographer of China' at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

 

Installation images of the exhibition Lai Fong (ca. 1839-1890): Photographer of China at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University
Credit: David O. Brown, Johnson Museum

 

 

This exhibition introduces viewers to the work of Lai Fong, arguably the most ambitious and successful photographer of nineteenth-century China. He began practicing under the name Afong in Hong Kong in the 1860s, and over the next twenty years built a towering reputation on his illustrious clientele, his impressive product range, and a catalogue of views of China “larger, choicer, and more complete… than any other in the Empire,” according to his advertisements. His photographs of Chinese cities, monuments, people, and land – however shaped by the desires of his cosmopolitan clientele – stand as records of places that have changed often beyond recognition, and of his own artistry, exuberance, and entrepreneurial brilliance. Managed by his son and daughter-in-law after his death, his studio persisted into the 1940s, an instance of remarkable longevity in a famously difficult field.

“Despite the historical fame of Lai’s studio and the reach of his photographs, which exist today in collections worldwide, Lai remains little known outside of specialist circles,” said Kate Addleman-Frankel, the Gary and Ellen Davis Curator of Photography at the Johnson Museum. “His work is understudied and rarely exhibited, the result in part of a colonial view of photography’s history that has privileged Western travel photographers over indigenous practitioners. Lai Fong: Photographer of China is not only the first exhibition dedicated to Lai, but to any Chinese photographer working in the initial decades of photography’s global proliferation.”

The exhibition brings together almost fifty images, many of which have never been previously published or exhibited, suggesting them as emblematic of one of the nineteenth century’s most significant, and significantly overlooked, photographic careers. They are drawn primarily from the singular collection of Stephan Loewentheil, JD ’75, who over three decades has assembled one of the world’s foremost collections of early photographs of China. Other lenders to the exhibition include the Cornell Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Getty Research Institute.

Of special note is the Ming Tombs album from Cornell Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. This album of ninety-five photographs of Beijing has been in the collection of the Cornell Library since 1940. In 2019, the photographs were attributed to Lai by Kate Addleman-Frankel, the Gary and Ellen Davis Curator of Photography at the Johnson, as part of ongoing research on the university’s collections of Asian photographs. The album is a remarkable compendium, the most complete collection of Lai’s images of the Chinese capital yet discovered. At least nineteen of them may have been entirely unknown previously; they do not appear in the only catalogue of Lai’s photographs reconstructed to date, by the historian Terry Bennett.

This exhibition was curated by Kate Addleman-Frankel, the Gary and Ellen Davis Curator of Photography at the Johnson, and Stacey Lambrow, curator of the Loewentheil Photography of China Collection, with the assistance of Yuhua Ding, curatorial assistant for Asian art at the Johnson. It is supported in part by the Helen and Robert J. Appel Exhibition Endowment.

Press release from the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Itinerant barber]' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Itinerant barber]
1870s
Albumen print
Collection of Stephan Loewentheil, Cornell JD 1975

 

 

Genre images like these, along with views of monuments, cities, and natural scenery, were central to the Chinese photography market. Lai created them both at home and on expedition, setting up makeshift studios where necessary. The photographs feature people who may or may not have actually inhabited the traditional roles they play for the camera: Lai had a talent for summoning natural postures and expressions from subjects he had costumed and arranged.

Lai’s photographs certainly appealed to Chinese buyers but, like most nineteenth-century photographs of China, they were largely produced for export. They left Hong Kong as souvenirs with the international officials, merchants, missionaries, and tourists who began to enter Chinese cities in great numbers in the 1860s, after successive incursions by the British military forced the Qing dynasty to expand foreigners’ access to the country.

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Flower boat, Guangzhou]' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Flower boat, Guangzhou]
1870s
Albumen print
Collection of Stephan Loewentheil, Cornell JD 1975

 

 

For hundreds of years, floating brothels existed on the Pearl River Delta, part of a river scene that grew alongside maritime trade between China and Europe in the eighteenth century. The boats in most harbours were open to men from any nation, but the Canton boats served only Chinese clients, primarily the wealthy elite. Called flower boats, they were places of lavish entertainment. They could be exquisitely constructed and outfitted, and were often romantically depicted in souvenir paintings.

Despite the boats’ glamorous reputation, the industry turned on slavery. The women and girls working aboard were the property of the boats’ owners, purchased as children and trained in appealing to men of high society. When age or disease rendered them no longer lucrative, they were sold or discarded. Such cruelty was increasingly reviled as the century wore on. The last boats disappeared in the 1930s.

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Beijing]' 1879

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Beijing]
1879
Albumen print
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Ming Tombs, Beijing]' 1879

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Ming Tombs, Beijing]
1879
From an album of albumen prints
Cornell University Library, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Ming Tombs, Beijing]' 1879

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Ming Tombs, Beijing]
1879
From an album of albumen prints
Cornell University Library, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections

 

 

This album of ninety-five photographs of Beijing has been in the collection of the Cornell Library since 1940. In 2019, the photographs were attributed to Lai by Kate Addleman-Frankel, the Gary and Ellen Davis Curator of Photography at the Johnson Museum, as part of ongoing research on the university’s collections of Asian photographs. The album is a remarkable compendium, the most complete collection of Lai’s images of the Chinese capital yet discovered. At least nineteen of them may have been entirely unknown previously; they do not appear in the only catalogue of Lai’s photographs reconstructed to date, by the historian Terry Bennett.

Lai traveled to what was then Peking in 1879, possibly on the invitation of the foreign diplomats whose portraits are included in the album. Alongside these portraits are views of the monuments of the ancient city, including temples, pagodas, the observatory, the Summer Palace, and the Ming Tombs. As here, many of these monuments are pictured from a distance. Lai makes the approach to the subject as central to the picture as the subject itself.

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) 'Part of the Bund, Shanghai' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
Part of the Bund, Shanghai
1870s
From an album of albumen prints
Getty Research Institute, Clark Worswick collection of photographs of China and Southeast Asia

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) 'Part of the Bund, Shanghai' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
Part of the Bund, Shanghai
1870s
From an album of albumen prints
Getty Research Institute, Clark Worswick collection of photographs of China and Southeast Asia

 

 

Contrary to accounts first propagated by its early European and American inhabitants, Shanghai had not been an inconsequential place – a “fishing village on a mudflat,” as one famous city guide put it – before it was opened to foreign settlement and trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. In fact, for centuries it had been an important point along trade routes between China and Southeast Asia, and by the 1830s it had a quarter of a million inhabitants. Nonetheless, its growth after 1842 was explosive. By the start of the new century its physical size had more than doubled, its population quadrupled, and it had become a global commercial capital.

The landmarks of the early decades of this era – the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, the Shanghai Club, many of the important mercantile hongs, or trading houses – were clustered along the Shanghai Bund. This waterfront embankment district reached the International Settlement at one end and the French Concession at the other.

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Group portrait near Fangguangyan Monastery, Fujian]' c. 1869

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Group portrait near Fangguangyan Monastery, Fujian]
c. 1869
Albumen print
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gilman Collection
Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005

 

 

Around 1869, Lai was invited by foreign residents of Fuzhou to record a private excursion by boat to the Fangguangyan Monastery, a “hanging temple” known for its spectacular location and design. Lai posed the group for photographs at several spots along the route.

The rather illustrious expedition party included Charles Sinclair, the British Consult of Fuzhou, who sits on the stool at left; Sinclair’s wife, who leans against the rock wall; Baron de Méritens, an Imperial Maritime Customs Service commissioner, who perches on a rock at center; Prosper Giquel, Director of the Fuzhou Arsenal, who stands by Sinclair’s wife; and Francis Temple, an accountant at the Shanghai branch of the Oriental Bank, who is stretched out informally in the foreground. The man adopting a similar pose in the background remains unidentified.

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890) '[Piled Stone Peaks in Mount Wuyi]' c. 1869

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, c. 1839-1890)
[Piled Stone Peaks in Mount Wuyi]
c. 1869
Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gilman Collection
Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005

 

 

Shan shui was a traditional form of Chinese brush-and-ink landscape painting that followed a complex set of compositional and conceptual rules. Lai refers to it in his images of magnificent natural forms, but photography grounded his representations in the observed, external world – a key difference from the idealism of shan shui pictures.

In his picture of Mount Wuyi, Lai monumentalises the Danxia landform that characterises the mountain, located in the southern suburb of Wuyishan, Fujian. Danxia comprise isolated hills and steep layered rocks of red sandstone that have been shaped by eons of weathering and fluvial erosion. Lai was among the first Chinese photographers to photograph Mount Wuyi’s marvellous stone peaks.

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Bridal Carriage' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Bridal Carriage
1870s
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Courtesy of the Loewentheil Collection

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Chinese Junks, Hong Kong' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Chinese Junks, Hong Kong
1870s
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Courtesy of the Loewentheil Collection

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Dragon Boat Race, Guangzhou' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Dragon Boat Race, Guangzhou
1870s
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Courtesy of the Loewentheil Collection

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Waterfall in the Dinghu Mountains' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Waterfall in the Dinghu Mountains
1870s
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Courtesy of the Loewentheil Collection

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Portrait of an Official' 1870s

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Portrait of an Official
1870s
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Courtesy of the Loewentheil Collection

 

Attributed to Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Culling Tea' c. 1869

 

Attributed to Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Culling Tea
c. 1869
Albumen silver print from glass negative
6 15/16 × 9 3/8 in. (17.6 × 23.8cm)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005
CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890) 'Portrait of a Merchant' c. 1870

 

Lai Fong (Chinese, 1839-1890)
Portrait of a Merchant
c. 1870
Albumen print
29 cm x 22cm
Loewentheil Photography of China Collection

 

 

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art
114 Central Avenue, Ithaca, NY 14853

Opening hours:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday – Wednesday: 10am – 5pm
Thursday: 10am – 7.30pm
Friday – Sunday: 10am – 5pm

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art website

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16
Aug
15

Exhibition: ‘Early Photography in Imperial China’ at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Exhibition dates: 5th June – 23rd August 2015

 

Afong. 'A Chinese Party Game' c. 1895

 

Afong (Lai Afong) (Chinese, 1838 or 1839-1890)
A Chinese Party Game
c. 1895
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

 

 

For me, the standout photographs in this posting are Mee Cheung’s rhythmic Buddhist Monks in Chefoo and the work of Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz, especially the three photographs Portrait of two Chinese Buddhist monks with rosary, bell and slit drum, Portrait of a Chinese woman and Portrait of Chinese Admiral Ting.

The latter three have a deceptively simple structure, delicate hand colouring, and a visual and metaphysical presence that is almost beyond description… as though you know the character and personality of these anonymous human beings through the rendition of their image. In a way they are humanist portraits presaging the tradition of the more scientific and archetypal portraits of August Sander.

You can see in the face of Admiral Ting that he is a prosperous and powerful man, you can see the individuality of each person in these images, the individualisation of these people, a tradition which is continued by today’s documentary photographers. But not generally by today’s art photographers looking at the portrait because, for them, the portrait is surface and detail – controlled by the photographer and not responsive to the subject.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

 

A. Chan. 'Sheung-mun-tai Street in Canton' c. 1870

 

A. Chan (YA Zhen) (Chinese)
Sheung-mun-tai Street in Canton
c. 1870
Collectie Ferry Bertholet, Amsterdam

 

A. Chan. 'Sheung-mun-tai Street in Canton' (detail) c. 1870

 

A. Chan (YA Zhen) (Chinese)
Sheung-mun-tai Street in Canton (detail)
c. 1870
Collectie Ferry Bertholet, Amsterdam

 

Mee Cheung. 'Buddhist Monks in Chefoo' c. 1880-1890

 

Mee Cheung & Co
Buddhist Monks in Chefoo
c. 1880-1890
Collection Ferry Bertholet, Amsterdam

 

Mee Cheung. 'Buddhist Monks in Chefoo' (detail) c. 1880-1890

 

Mee Cheung & Co
Buddhist Monks in Chefoo (detail)
c. 1880-1890
Collection Ferry Bertholet, Amsterdam

 

Afong. 'Studio Portrait of Courtesans in Shanghai' c. 1875-1880

 

Afong (Lai Afong) (Chinese, 1838 or 1839-1890)
Studio Portrait of Courtesans in Shanghai
c. 1875-1880
Collections Ferry Bertholet, Amsterdam

 

Afong. 'Studio Portrait of Courtesans in Shanghai' (detail) c. 1875-1880

 

Afong (Lai Afong) (Chinese, 1838 or 1839-1890)
Studio Portrait of Courtesans in Shanghai (detail)
c. 1875-1880
Collections Ferry Bertholet, Amsterdam

 

 

Rare photos, photo albums and stereo photos from the collection of China expert Ferry Bertholet, enhanced with photographs from the Rijksmuseum’s collection, show 19th century unknown China at the time of the last emperors for the very first time. From 5 June to 23 August 2015 the Rijksmuseum is presenting Early Photography in Imperial China in it’s Photo Gallery.

In the 19th century Imperial China was almost entirely hidden away from the world until the last Emperor was deposed in 1912. Access was limited to port cities such as Shanghai, Hong Kong and Canton, which were forced to be open to the West after 1842 so that Westerners could trade unimpeded. The advent of photography coincided with a rapidly growing interest in the unknown China. The photographs in the exhibition take the visitor into this exciting unknown world of ports, quays and rickshaws, but also of narrow crowded streets bustling with the multitude of shops and ‘tea houses’ and their hostesses.

The display includes important photographs by such as Felice Beato (his famous photograph of the Second Opium War 1857-1860) and the famous China photographer John Thomson. They were among the first Europeans able to record images of a country that – even at that time – was still barely accessible to the rest of the world. Furthermore, this is also the first time that the work of Chinese photographers such as Afong, Lan Wah and Sze Yuen Ming has ever been shown in the Netherlands. 
Other highlights of the exhibition include a rare Chinese family portrait from 1860 from the Bertholet collection of American photographer Milton Miller, as well as the coloured photos of ‘types of people’ by Baron Raimund Ratenitz von Stillfried.

Besides the 35 photos in the exhibition, a huge travel camera from that time is also on display, illustrating how awkward it was to photograph such material. There are also stereo photos in 3D, including a special shot of the city of Peking in 1860, and photo albums and amateur photos of travellers to China are also on display. A richly illustrated book was published recently: Ferry Bertholet & Lambert van der Aalsvoort, Among the Celestials. China in Early Photographs, Brussels 2014.

Press release from the Rijksmuseum website

 

Anonymous. 'Peking' c. 1860 - c. 1930

 

Anonymous
Peking
c. 1860 – c. 1930

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz. 'Chinese carriers' c. 1861 - c. 1880

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz (Austrian, 1839-1911)
Chinese carriers
c. 1861 – c. 1880

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz. 'Portrait of two Chinese Buddhist monks with rosary, bell and slit drum' 1875

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz (Austrian, 1839-1911)
Portrait of two Chinese Buddhist monks with rosary, bell and slit drum
1875

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz. 'Portrait of two Chinese Buddhist monks with rosary, bell and slit drum' 1875

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz (Austrian, 1839-1911)
Portrait of two Chinese Buddhist monks with rosary, bell and slit drum
1875

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz. 'Portrait of two Chinese Buddhist monks with rosary, bell and slit drum' (detail) 1875

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz (Austrian, 1839-1911)
Portrait of two Chinese Buddhist monks with rosary, bell and slit drum (detail)
1875

 

attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz. 'Portrait of a Chinese woman' 1860 - 1870

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz (Austrian, 1839-1911)
Portrait of a Chinese woman
1860 – 1870

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz. 'Portrait of Chinese Admiral Ting' c. 1861 - c. 1880

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz (Austrian, 1839-1911)
Portrait of Chinese Admiral Ting
c. 1861 – c. 1880

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz. 'Portrait of Chinese Admiral Ting' (detail) c. 1861 - c. 1880

 

Attributed to Baron Raimund von Stillfried und Ratenitz (Austrian, 1839-1911)
Portrait of Chinese Admiral Ting (detail)
c. 1861 – c. 1880

 

Attributed to Jan Adriani. 'A street with several people in Kinkiang, China' 1907

 

Attributed to Jan Adriani (Dutch, d. 1948)
A street with several people in Kinkiang, China
1907

 

 

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Jan Luijkenstraat 1, Amsterdam

Opening hours:
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20
May
13

Exhibition: ‘Yang Fudong: “Estranged Paradise. Works 1993 – 2013″‘ at Kunsthalle Zürich

Exhibition dates: 6th April – 26th May 2013

 

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

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS ART PHOTOGRAPHS OF FEMALE NUDITY – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

 

 

 

Installation views of Yang Fudong: "Estranged Paradise. Works 1993 - 2013", Kunsthalle Zürich, 2013

Installation views of Yang Fudong: "Estranged Paradise. Works 1993 - 2013", Kunsthalle Zürich, 2013

Installation views of Yang Fudong: "Estranged Paradise. Works 1993 - 2013", Kunsthalle Zürich, 2013

Installation views of Yang Fudong: "Estranged Paradise. Works 1993 - 2013", Kunsthalle Zürich, 2013

Installation views of Yang Fudong: "Estranged Paradise. Works 1993 - 2013", Kunsthalle Zürich, 2013

Installation views of Yang Fudong: "Estranged Paradise. Works 1993 - 2013", Kunsthalle Zürich, 2013

 

Installation views of Yang Fudong: “Estranged Paradise. Works 1993 – 2013”, Kunsthalle Zürich, 2013
© Stefan Altenburger Photography Zurich

 

Yang Fudong. 'East of Que Village' 2007

 

Yang Fudong (Chinese, b. 1971)
East of Que Village
2007
Six channel video installation, b&w, with sound
20 minutes 50 seconds
Installation view Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, 2009
Courtesy of the artist; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York / Paris; ShanghART gallery, Shanghai

 

 

Yang Fudong (born 1971 in Beijing, lives and works in Shanghai) is one of the most important figures of China’s contemporary art scene and independent cinema movement. His films and photographic work, often rooted in traditional Chinese painting, examine tensions between urban and rural, history and the present, worldliness and intellectualism. Their a-temporal and dreamlike quality, long and suspended sequences, dividing narratives, as well as multiple relationships and story lines reflect the conundrums of idealism and ideology of a new generation. At the same time, the works address the ideals and anxieties of young people who are struggling to find their place in the fast-paced changes of present-day China. Estranged Paradise. Works 1993 – 2013, curated by Beatrix Ruf and Philippe Pirotte, is Yang Fudong’s first major institutional survey exhibition in Europe, presenting film, installation as well as photography from the late 1990s until today, highlighting the formal aspects of the construction of cinema in the artist’s oeuvre and its resonance in Film Noir aesthetics. Following the exhibition in Zurich, the show will travel to the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (21 August – 1 December 2013).

Yang came to the attention of the Western art world in 2002, when he premiered his film An Estranged Paradise (1997-2002) at Documenta XI. Beginning with a meditation on the composition of space in Chinese painting, the film traces the spiritual instability of Zhuzi, a young intellectual in the legendary city of Hangzhou. The film reflects the artist’s fascination with international cinema, referencing such works as Jim Jarmusch’s Stranger Than Paradise (1984) and Jean-Luc Godard’s À bout de souffle (1960), as well as Shanghai films from the 1920s and 1930s, a place and time in which China was strongly influenced by the West. Using camera, lighting and cinematic space to outline the landscape of Chinese modernity, Yang reveals his love of black and white cinematography. Likewise, the contradictions and discontents raised by a progressive modernity as characteristic themes of Film Noir play a significant role in the artist’s work: an invocation of the past and anxiety about the future, and tensions between indifference and engagement, remembrance and forgetting. Films that embody Film Noir concepts include the single channel videos Backyard – Hey, Sun is Rising! (2001), in which four men engage in a series of simultaneous but isolated rituals: smoking, massage, military exercises in a park; City Light (2000), which functions as a noir detective story with elements of slapstick; Honey (2003) then again, a stylistic reference to spy films and all their clichés, invokes ambiguity of seduction and deceit as the earmark of espionage, but also a sense of heightened anxiety and alienation, reflecting paranoia, possibly a metaphor for an ambivalent situation in contemporary China. More recently, since Yang doesn’t direct his actors anymore, they seem to inhabit plot-less noirs, reflecting the genre more in stylistic ways, as low-key lighting, exaggerated contrasts, a dramatically shadowed lighting, an eroticist style and a psychologically expressive approach to visual composition, or mise-en-sène.

The protagonists of Yang’s works are mostly his contemporaries, young people between the ages of twenty and forty, who have spent most of their lives in a society in transformation. The ideals and anxieties of a new generation, the dignity of the individual in a rapidly developing society still in the process of adjusting to the material conditions of the constantly changing times, are recurring themes. This is most obvious in photographic series like Don’t worry, it will be better (2000) or Mrs. Huang at M last night (2006), both depict a fancy lady and her courtiers, in a hotel room or at a night out, seemingly enjoying the trophies of their material success. The sly glances of the protagonists, leave the audience in a state of uncertainty regarding the actual events and the storyline.

In other works some scenes and settings visually recall the literati paintings of ancient China, made by artists and intellectuals pursuing spiritual freedom living in seclusion. The Evergreen Nature of Romantic Stories (2000), a series of photographs in which young men and women stare at miniature landscapes (constructed landscapes mimicking natural scenery of rocks, hills and rivers), relocates the importance of reflection in traditional Chinese gardens as a metaphor for personal orientation and identity, in the domesticity of modern apartments. In the early video-installation Tonight Moon (2000), men in swimsuits and men in costumes mingle in an Eastern botanical garden. Multiple story lines develop and diverge on small monitors and a large screen, conveying a sense of ambiguity. International Hotel (2010), the recent series of black and white photographs of attractive women in bathing suits dipping into a pool at an Art Deco Hotel, invokes the sentimental and touches upon questions about feminine interiority, imbued with melancholy connotations taking the form of moderation and accommodation.

With the film installation East of Que Village (2007), Yang diverges from the urbanity of his other work, delivering a highly personal film that focuses on the sense of isolation and loss increasingly present in China’s contemporary society as communities are scattered, traditional rural villages dissolved, and the fight for survival takes precedence. The imagery is of a desolate and hostile landscape, the host to a group of wild dogs fighting a merciless life-and-death struggle for survival, with only a sporadic presence of human life and social values.

More and more in recent works, Yang shifts his attention toward a reflection on film production. The Fifth Night (Rehearsal) (2010) is an alternative edition of his seven-screen video installation The Fifth Night (with each screen running ten minutes and thirty-seven seconds, the exact length of a reel of film), including four full takes as well as an earlier rehearsal. The artist used different lenses for each camera, but films everything at the same moment. Yang calls this type of installation a “spatial film” or “multiple views” film, and he compares the technique to a contemporary form of the Chinese hand scroll. We see the itinerant youths who often occupy his films, with their pensive, inhibited expressions. Each screen features one solitary “absolute” protagonist; together they compose a series of distinct and mutually unbeknownst worlds. One screen’s lead character, in turn, becomes another’s extra. The sets and props are Yang’s most elaborate to date, with stages, spiral staircases, and alleyways merging into one. The enclosed courtyard in which the piece was shot comes to resemble a maze, pushing the concept of the narrative spatial possibilities of cinema. This bold experiment, which takes an open, outdoor space as an interior, breaks down a boundary that runs throughout Yang’s other films, which have been shot entirely inside or entirely outside. The “rehearsal” version captures the video output from seven monitors that were connected to seven film cameras and ends in “failure”, as one witnesses that one of the cameras breaks, leaving only six channels, assuming the notion that film is both a medium and a site. Additionally, there are three screens of photo documentation and a documentary. Yang coined it a “preview film” because of its raw-image quality, which included viewfinder frames, contradicting the very slick and refined results of the known version. In this instance, Yang transcended his traditional working process of shooting-editing-screening, and pushed further his theory that “anything which has been filmed can be shown. I found that what attracts me the most, and becomes my material, is the process of filmmaking itself.”

Press release from the Kunsthalle Zürich website

 

Yang Fudong. 'Shenjia alley. Fairy (1)' 2000

 

Yang Fudong (Chinese, b. 1971)
Shenjia alley. Fairy (1)
2000
C-print
96 x 150cm
Courtesy of the artist; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York / Paris; ShanghART gallery, Shanghai

 

Yang Fudong. 'East of Que Village' 2007

 

Yang Fudong (Chinese, b. 1971)
East of Que Village
2007
Six channel video installation, b&w, with sound
20 minutes 50 seconds
Courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York / Paris, ShanghART gallery, Shanghai

 

Yang Fudong. 'Mrs. Huang at M last Night (8)' 2006

 

Yang Fudong (Chinese, b. 1971)
Mrs. Huang at M last Night (8)
2006
C-print, b&w
120 x 180cm
Courtesy of the artist; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York / Paris; ShanghART gallery, Shanghai

 

Yang Fudong. 'An Estranged Paradise (mo sheng tian tang)' 1997-2002

 

Yang Fudong (Chinese, b. 1971)
An Estranged Paradise (mo sheng tian tang)
1997-2002
Five-channel video (35 mm b&w film transferred to DVD), music by Jin Wang
76 minutes
Courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York / Paris, ShanghART gallery, Shanghai

 

Yang Fudong. 'I love my motherland (wo ai wo de zhu guo)' 1999

 

Yang Fudong (Chinese, b. 1971)
I love my motherland (wo ai wo de zhu guo)
1999
5-channel b&w video-installation
12 minutes
Courtesy of the artist; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York / Paris; ShanghART gallery, Shanghai

 

Yang Fudong. 'City Light (Cheng shi Zhi guang)' 2000

 

Yang Fudong (Chinese, b. 1971)
City Light (Cheng shi Zhi guang)
2000
Single-channel video, color, with sound
6 minutes
Courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York / Paris, ShanghART gallery, Shanghai

 

Yang Fudong. 'International Hotel (1)' 2010

 

Yang Fudong (Chinese, b. 1971)
International Hotel (1)
2010
Inkjet print, b&w
180 x 120cm
Courtesy of the artist; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York / Paris; ShanghART gallery, Shanghai

 

Yang Fudong. 'The First Intellectual' 2000

 

Yang Fudong (Chinese, b. 1971)
The First Intellectual
2000
C-print
193 x 127cm
Courtesy of the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York / Paris, ShanghART gallery, Shanghai

 

 

Kunsthalle Zürich
Limmatstrasse 270
CH-8005 Zürich
Phone: +41 (0) 44 272 15 15

Opening hours:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 11am – 6pm
Thursday: 11am – 8pm, free admission from 5 – 8pm
Saturday, Sunday, as well as public holidays: 10am – 5pm
Monday closed

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08
Jul
11

Exhibition: ‘Ai Weiwei – Interlacing’ at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Zurich

Exhibition dates: 28th May – 21st August 2011

 

Many thankx to Fotomuseum Winterthur for allowing me to publish the text and the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for another version of the image.

 

 

Ai Weiwei. '
Dropping a Han-Dynasty Urn' 1995

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
Dropping a Han-Dynasty Urn
1995
Triptych
C-prints
150 x 166cm each
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei. '
Profile of Duchamp, Sunflower Seeds' 1983

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
Profile of Duchamp, Sunflower Seeds
1983
From New York Photographs, 1983-1993
C-print
20 x 28.5cm
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei
. 'June 1994' 1994

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
June 1994
1994
C-print
117.5 x 152cm
© Ai Weiwei

 

 

Ai Weiwei – Interlacing is the first major exhibition of photographs and videos by Ai Weiwei. It foregrounds Ai Weiwei the communicator – the documenting, analysing, interweaving artist who communicates via many channels. Ai Weiwei already used photography in his New York years, but especially since his return to Beijing, he has incessantly documented the everyday urban and social realities in China, discussing it over blogs and Twitter. Photographs of radical urban transformation, of the search for earthquake victims, and the destruction of his Shanghai studio are presented together with his art photography projects, the Documenta project Fairytale, the countless blog and cell phone photographs. A comprehensive book accompanies this exhibition.

Ai Weiwei is a generalist, a conceptual, socially critical artist dedicated to creating friction with, and forming reality. As an architect, conceptual artist, sculptor, photographer, blogger, Twitterer, interview artist, and cultural critic, he is a sensitive observer of current topics and social problems: a great communicator and networker who brings life into art and art into life.

Ai Weiwei was born in 1957, the son of the poet Ai Qing. Following his studies at the Beijing Film Academy, he cofounded in 1978 the artists’ collective The Stars, which rejected Social Realism and advocated artistic individualism and experimentation in art. In 1981 Ai Weiwei went to the USA and 1983 to New York, where he studied at Parsons School for Design in the class of the painter Sean Scully. In New York he discovered artists like Allen Ginsberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, and, above all, Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp is important for him because he understood art as part of life. At this time, Ai Weiwei produced his first ready-mades and thousands of photographs documenting his life and friends in the Chinese art community in New York. After his father fell ill, he returned to Beijing in 1993. In 1997 he cofounded the China Art Archives & Warehouse (CAAW) and began from then on to deal with architecture as well. Ai Weiwei opened his own studio in 1999 in Caochangdi and set up the architecture studio FAKE Design in 2003. In the same year, he played a major role, together with the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, in the construction of the Olympic stadium, the so-called Bird’s Nest. Following its completion, it became a new symbol of Beijing. In 2007, 1001 Chinese visitors traveled, at his instigation, to Documenta 12 in Kassel (Fairytale). In 2010 the world marvelled at his large, yet formally minimal carpet of millions of hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern.

Ai Weiwei deliberately confronts social conditions in China and in the world: Through photographically documenting the architectonic clear-cutting of Beijing in the name of progress, with provocative measurements of the world, his personal positionings in the Study of Perspective, with radical cuts in the past (made to found pieces of furniture) in order to create possibilities for the present and the future, and with his tens of thousands of blog entries, blog photographs, and cell phone photographs (along with many other artistic declarations). This first, large exhibition and book project of his photography and videos focuses on Ai Weiwei’s diversity, complexity, and connectedness, his “interlacing” and “networking” with hundreds of photographs, blogs, and explanatory essays.

The artist as network, as company, as activist, as political voice, as social container, as agent provocateur: at every moment – in the past, present, and future – every society on Earth needs outstanding unique figures like Ai Weiwei in order to stay awake, to be shaken awake, to be made to recognise their own obstinacy, and to be able to avoid tunnel vision. We are therefore deeply saddened that the completion of this book coincides with Ai Weiwei’s arrest which we deplore. We are extremely concerned about the artist. And we wish that this great thinker, designer, and fighter will remain a resistant public voice for all of us – and especially for China.

The exhibition and book were developed in close collaboration with Ai Weiwei. For reasons already mentioned, however, he was unable to be involved in completing the book. We continue to hope that he will be personally present for the installation of the exhibition.

Press release from the Fotomuseum Winterthur website [Online] Cited 06/07/2011 no longer available online

 

Ai Weiwei.
 'Provisional Landscapes' 2002-2008

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
Provisional Landscapes
2002-2008
Diptych
Inkjet prints
66 x 84cm each
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei
. '10/29/04, Hebei Carpet Factory, China'
 c. 2005-2009


 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
10/29/04, Hebei Carpet Factory, China
c. 2005-2009
From Blog Photographs
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei
. '6/1/08, Wenchuan, China'
 c. 2005-2009

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
6/1/08, Wenchuan, China
c. 2005-2009
From Blog Photographs
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei
. 'Study of Perspective - Tiananmen' 1995-2010


 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
Study of Perspective – Tiananmen
1995-2010
C-print
32.5 x 43.5cm
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei from 'Bird's Nest' 2005-2008

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
From Bird’s Nest
2005-2008
C-print
46.5 x 60cm
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957) 'Fairytale 1' 2007

 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
Fairytale 1
2007
From Fairytale
Inkjet-print
92.5 x 92.5cm
© Ai Weiwei

 

Ai Weiwei.
 'Ai Weiwei. Williamsburg, Brooklyn' 1983


 

Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957)
Ai Weiwei. Williamsburg, Brooklyn
1983
From New York Photographs 1983-1993
C-print
29.2 x 20cm
© Ai Weiwei

 

 

Fotomuseum Winterthur
Grüzenstrasse 44 + 45
CH-8400
Winterthur (Zürich)

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 6pm
Wednesday 11am – 8pm
Monday closed

Fotomuseum Winterthur website

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07
May
11

Exhibition: ‘Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960’ at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

Exhibition dates: 26th January – 9th May 2011

Curators: Roxana Marcoci, Curator, and Eva Respini, Associate Curator, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art

 

Many thank to The Museum of Modern Art, New York for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

William Wegman. 'Foamy Aftershave (L-Foamy; R-Aftershave)' 1982

 

William Wegman (American, b. 1943)
Foamy Aftershave (L-Foamy; R-Aftershave)
1982
28 1/2 x 22″ (72.4 x 55.9cm) each
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of Robert and Gayle Greenhill
© 2010 William Wegman

 

Laurel Nakadate. 'Lucky Tiger #151' 2009

 

Laurel Nakadate (American, b. 1975)
Lucky Tiger #151
2009
Chromogenic colour print with ink fingerprints
4 x 6″ (10.2 x 15.2cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Acquired through the generosity of the Peter Norton Family Foundation
© 2010 Laurel Nakadate

 

Laurel Nakadate. 'Lucky Tiger #181' 2009

 

Laurel Nakadate (American, b. 1975)
Lucky Tiger #181
2009
Chromogenic colour print with ink fingerprints
4 x 6″ (10.2 x 15.2cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Acquired through the generosity of the Peter Norton Family Foundation
© 2010 Laurel Nakadate

 

Gilbert & George. 'The Red Sculpture' 1975

 

Gilbert & George (British)
The Red Sculpture
1975
Chromogenic colour print with text
9 1/8 x 13 7/8″ (23.2 x 35.2cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Art & Project/Depot VBVR Gift
© 2010 Gilbert & George

 

Matthew Barney. 'Drawing Restraint 9: Shimenawa' 2005

 

Matthew Barney (American, b. 1967)
Drawing Restraint 9: Shimenawa
2005
Chromogenic colour print in self-lubricating plastic frame
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of Barbara Gladstone
© 2010 Matthew Barney

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960' at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

 

Installation view of the exhibition Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960 at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York showing at right, George Maciunas Performing for Self-Exposing Camera, New York 1966

 

George Maciunas (American, born Lithuania 1931-1978) 'George Maciunas Performing for Self-Exposing Camera, New York' 1966

 

George Maciunas (American born Lithuania, 1931-1978)
George Maciunas Performing for Self-Exposing Camera, New York
1966
Gelatin silver print

 

 

Focusing on a wide range of images of performances that were expressly made for the artist’s camera, Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960 draws together approximately 50 works from the Museum’s collection, and is on view from January 28 to May 9, 2011. Though performances are often intended to be experienced live, in real time, with photography playing an ancillary function in recording them, these works function as independent, expressive pictures, often staged in the absence of a public audience. At the center of these pictures is a performer (often the artist), posing or enacting an action conceived for the photographic lens. Among the works on view, approximately half are recent acquisitions by MoMA, including pieces by Laurel Nakadate, Rong Rong, Ai Weiwei, Huang Yan, and La Monte Young. Staging Action is organised by Roxana Marcoci, Curator, and Eva Respini, Associate Curator, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art.

Beginning with Fluxus artists in the 1960s, Staging Action includes the work of George Maciunas, an artist who engaged the production of the self as positional rather than fixed and often played with transvestism. According to personal reminiscences of the American poet Emmett Williams, a friend, Maciunas’s closets were full of prom dresses that he scavenged from the Salvation Army. In his 1966 cross-dressing striptease, George Maciunas Performing for Self-Exposing Camera, New York, he reinforced the active construction of identity through gender indeterminacy. The participation of the camera as accomplice to the artist’s actions was also a constant theme in Vito Acconci’s work of the early 1970s. In Conversions I: Light, Reflections, Self-Control (1970-1971), Acconci tried to feminize his male body by plucking hair from his chest and navel area, pushing his pectorals together to mimic breasts, and hiding his genitals between his legs. Performances that explored gender play were soon embraced by other artists. A few years later, Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman collaborated on a photo shoot in which they sported identical suits and red-haired wigs, each playing androgynous double to the other.

Staging Action continues with artists who experimented with the camera to test the physical and psychological limits of the body. Reacting against the post-World War II repressive sexual and political atmosphere of Austrian society, the group known as the Vienna Actionists – including Günter Brus, Otto Muehl, Herman Nitsch, and Rudolf Schwarzkogler – staged highly provocative actions that were mostly ritualistic, incorporating elements such as wine and animal blood from Dionysian rites and Christian ceremonies in an attempt to free human instincts that had been repressed by society. In the early 1990s, numerous artists living in Beijing’s East Village artist community actively engaged in endurance-based performances. On view is East Village, Beijing No. 22 (1994) by Rong Rong, an iconic picture of the now seminal performance known as 12 Square Meters, which takes its title from the size of the public urinal where the action took place. The artist Zhang Huan covered himself in fish guts and honey and sat motionless for an hour in the heat of a summer day as flies gathered on his body, while the photographer Rong Rong captured the gritty performance.

The face as a site for alteration and extreme expression is of particular interest to several artists in the exhibition. In his five-part work, Studies for Holograms (1970), Bruce Nauman poked, pulled, pinched, and kneaded his mouth, neck, and cheeks in extreme and cartoonish ways. For her 1972 work (Untitled) Facial Cosmetic Variations, Ana Mendieta used tape and make-up to mould and manipulate her face to create, at turns, disturbing and humorous results that reference the cosmetic changes women inflict upon themselves in the name of beauty. Lucas Samaras’s transformations in a series of self-portrait Polaroids from 1969-1971 suggest the plasticity or mutability of identity itself. For these works, the artist utilised an array of wigs, pancake make-up, and props to transform himself into grotesque characters for the camera.

Other performances required a sustained, emotional engagement on the part of the artist. Bas Jan Ader’s particular brand of existential-based Conceptualism is crystallised in I’m too sad to tell you (1970), in which the artist cried in front of the camera. In 1971, Adrian Piper performed a time-lapse piece titled Food for Spirit. Inspired by an assignment to write a text on Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Piper began fasting in order to isolate herself into a state of self-transcendence, and took pictures of herself in front of a mirror to insure reconnaissance of her own body. The ability of the camera to both freeze and extend a moment in time was also instrumental to the Japanese artist Mieko Shiomi. In Disappearing Music for Face (1966), Shiomi sequenced a series of film stills focusing on the mouth of Yoko Ono as her smile intermittently faded into a neutral facial expression. In Laurel Nakadate’s pictures from the Lucky Tiger series that she conceived of in 2009 during a road trip through the American West, the artist is seen riding a horse in a cropped T-shirt, doing a backbend in cowboy boots by the Grand Canyon, and striking a Playboy pose in her “lucky tiger” bikinis, rehashing photographic conventions inspired by 1950s-style “cheesecake” and camera-club pictures. Lorna Simpson’s multi-part work, May, June, July, August ’57 / ’09 (2009) also responds to the photographic conventions of posing for the camera. Simpson turned to the photographic archive as source material, combining found photographs of a young African-American woman who posed for hundreds of pin-up pictures in 1957 in Los Angeles with her own performative self-portraits, in which she replicates every outfit, pose, and setting of the original photographs. Through juxtaposition, repetition, and de-contextualization, a historical fiction arises, whereby the two women, despite the many differences that separate them, seem to be joined through a shared identity.

The exhibition includes both off-the-cuff and staged performative gestures of political dissent. Ai Weiwei’s photographic series Study of Perspective (1995-2003) reveals a spirited irreverence toward national monuments. Traveling to various landmarks – from the Eiffel Tower to Tiananmen Square to the White House – the artist photographed his own arm extended in front of the camera’s lens as he gave each marker the middle finger. Robin Rhode’s pictures, presented sequentially in storyboard format, record situations in which the artist interacts with a set of objects that he has drawn, erased and redrawn in black charcoal on dilapidated walls. Untitled, (Dream House) (2005) comprises a sequence of 28 colour photographs in which Rhode mimics the act of struggling to catch a television set, a chair, and a car that appear to have been thrown at him from above. In reality, these items are drawn in cartoonish lines on an exterior wall. Referencing the South African New Year custom of tossing out old objects, the artist identifies society’s two opposing poles: consumerism and dispossession. Rhode’s pictures, like those of the other artists in Staging Action, attest to the myriad ways in which photography constitutes – not just documents – performance as a conceptual exercise.

Press release from the MoMA website

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960' at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

 

Installation view of the exhibition Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960 at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York showing at right, Rong Rong’s East Village, Beijing, No. 81 1994

 

Rong Rong. 'East Village, Beijing, No. 81' 1994

 

Rong Rong (Chinese, b. 1968)
East Village, Beijing, No. 81
1994
Gelatin silver print
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Acquired through the generosity of Peter and Susan MacGill
© 2010 Rong Rong

 

Rong Rong. 'East Village, Beijing, No. 22' 1994

 

Rong Rong (Chinese, b. 1968)
East Village, Beijing, No. 22
1994
Gelatin silver print
21 7/16 x 14 5/8″ (54.5 x 37.2cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
The Family of Man Fund
© 2010 Rong Rong

 

Robert Gober. 'Untitled' 1992-93

 

Robert Gober (American, b. 1954)
Untitled
1992-93
Gelatin silver print
16 3/4 x 12 5/8″ (42.5 x 32.1cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of Werner and Elaine Dannheisser
© 2010 Robert Gober

 

Günter Brus. 'Self-Painting 1' 1964

 

Günter Brus (Austrian, b. 1938)
Self-Painting 1
1964
Gelatin silver print
15 7/8 x 11 15/16″ (40.4 x 30.4cm)
The Museum of Modern Art
Gift of Steven Johnson and Walter Sudol
© 2010 Günter Brus

 

Arnulf Rainer. 'Braids' 1966

 

Arnulf Rainer (Austrian, b. 1929)
Braids
1966
Photograph, oil stick, crayon, and pencil on paper
11 1/2 x 10″ (29.2 x 25.1cm)
Gift of The Cosmopolitan Arts Foundation
© 2010 Arnulf Rainer

 

Installation view of the exhibition 'Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960' at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

 

Installation view of the exhibition Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960 at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York showing at left, Ana Mendieta’s Facial Cosmetic Variations 1972, at centre the work of Rudolf Schwarzkogler, and at right the work of VALIE EXPORT

 

Ana Mendieta (American, born Cuba 1948-1985) 'Untitled (Facial Cosmetic Variations)' January-February, 1972

 

Ana Mendieta (American born Cuba, 1948-1985)
Untitled (Facial Cosmetic Variations) (detail)
January – February, 1972
Four chromogenic color prints, printed 1997
Each 19 1/4 x 12 3/4″ (48.9 x 32.4cm)
Acquired through the generosity of The Contemporary Arts
Council of The Museum of Modern Art, in honour of Barbara Foshay
© The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection Courtesy Galerie Lelong, New York

 

Bas Jan Ader (Dutch, 1942-1975) 'I'm Too Sad to Tell You' 1970

 

Bas Jan Ader (Dutch, 1942-1975)
I’m Too Sad to Tell You
1970
Gelatin silver print
Art & Project/Depot VBVR Gift
© 2019 The Estate of Bas Jan Ader

 

Lee Friedlander. 'California' 1997

 

Lee Friedlander (American, b. 1934)
California
1997
Gelatin silver print
14 15/16 x 14 13/16″ (37.7 x 37.2cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Robert and Joyce Menschel Fund
© 2010 Lee Friedlander

 

 

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 708-9400

Opening hours:
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Sat 10.30am – 7.00pm

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24
Aug
10

Exhibition: ‘Haunted: Contemporary Photography / Video / Performance’ at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Exhibition dates: 26th March – 6th September 2010

 

Looks like a great exhibition – wish I was there to see it!

.
Many thankx to Claire Laporte and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Adam Helms. 'Untitled Portrait (Santa Fe Trail)' 2007

 

Adam Helms (American, b. 1974)
Untitled Portrait (Santa Fe Trail)
2007
Double-sided screenprint on paper vellum edition 2/2
101.3 x 65.7cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee 2007.131

 

Idris Khan. 'Homage to Bernd Becher' 2007

 

Idris Khan (British, b. 1978)
Homage to Bernd Becher
2007
Bromide print edition 1/6
49.8 x 39.7cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee

 

Bernd and Hilla Becher. 'Water Towers' 1980

 

Bernd Becher (German, 1931-2007) and Hilla Becher (German, 1934-2015)
Water Towers
1980
Nine gelatin silver prints
155.6 x 125.1cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Donald Jonas

 

Andy Warhol. 'Orange Disaster #5' 1963

 

Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987)
Orange Disaster #5
1963
Acrylic and silkscreen enamel on canvas
269.2 x 207cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Gift, Harry N. Abrams Family Collection 74.2118

 

Joan Jonas. 'Mirror Piece I' 1969

 

Joan Jonas (American, b. 1936)
Mirror Piece I
1969
Chromogenic print
101 x 55.6cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee

 

Zhang Huan. '12 Square Meters' 1994

 

Zhang Huan (Chinese, b. 1965)
12 Square Meters
1994
Chromogenic print A.P. 3/5, edition of 15
149.9 x 99.7cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by Manuel de Santaren and Jennifer and David Stockman

 

 

Much of contemporary photography and video seems haunted by the past, by the history of art, by apparitions that are reanimated in reproductive mediums, live performance, and the virtual world. By using dated, passé, or quasi-extinct stylistic devices, subject matter, and technologies, such art embodies a longing for an otherwise unrecuperable past.

From March 26 to September 6, 2010, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Haunted: Contemporary Photography / Video / Performance, an exhibition that documents this obsession, examining myriad ways photographic imagery is incorporated into recent practice. Drawn largely from the Guggenheim’s extensive photography and video collections, Haunted features some 100 works by nearly 60 artists, including many recent acquisitions that will be on view at the museum for the first time. The exhibition is installed throughout the rotunda and its spiralling ramps, with two additional galleries on view from June 4 to September 1, featuring works by two pairs of artists to complete Haunted’s presentation.

The works in Haunted: Contemporary Photography / Video / Performance range from individual photographs and photographic series to sculptures and paintings that incorporate photographic elements; projected videos; films; performances; and site-specific installations, including a new sound work created by Susan Philips for the museum’s rotunda. While the show traces the extensive incorporation of photography into contemporary art since the 1960s, a significant part of the exhibition will be dedicated to work created since 2001 by younger artists.

Haunted is organised around a series of formal and conceptual threads that weave themselves through the artworks on view:

 

Appropriation and the Archive

In the early 1960s, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol began to incorporate photographic images into their paintings, establishing a new mode of visual production that relied not on the then-dominant tradition of gestural abstraction but rather on mechanical processes such as screenprinting. In so doing, they challenged the notion of art as the expression of a singular, heroic author, recasting their works as repositories for autobiographical, cultural, and historical information. This archival impulse revolutionised art production over the ensuing decades, paving the way for a conceptually driven use of photography as a means of absorbing the world at large into a new aesthetic realm. Since then, a number of artists, including Bernd and Hilla Becher, Sarah Charlesworth, Douglas Gordon, Luis Jacob, Sherrie Levine, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, and Sara VanDerBeek, have pursued this archival impulse, amassing fragments of reality either by creating new photographs or by appropriating existing ones.

 

Landscape, Architecture, and the Passage of Time

Historically, one of photography’s primary functions has been to document sites where significant, often traumatic events have taken place. During the Civil War, which erupted not long after the medium was invented, a new generation of reporters sought to photograph battles, but due to the long exposure times required by early cameras, they could only capture the aftermath of the conflicts. These landscapes, strewn with the dead, now seem doubly arresting, for they capture past spaces where something has already occurred. Their state of anteriority, witnessed at such an early stage in the medium’s development, speaks to the very nature of a photograph, which possesses physical and chemical bonds to a past that disappears as soon as it is taken. As viewers, we are left with only traces from which we hope to reconstruct the absent occurrences in the fields, forests, homes, and offices depicted in the works in the exhibition. With this condition in mind, many artists, among them James Casebere, Spencer Finch, Ori Gersht, Roni Horn, Luisa Lambri, An-My Lê, Sally Mann, and Hiroshi Sugimoto, have turned to empty spaces in landscape and architecture, creating poetic reflections on time’s inexorable passing and insisting on the importance of remembrance and memorialisation.

 

Documentation and Reiteration

Since at least the early 1970s, photographic documentation, including film and video, has served as an important complement to the art of live performance, often setting the conditions by which performances are staged and sometimes obviating the need for a live audience altogether. Through an ironic reversal, artworks that revolved around singular moments in time have often come to rely on the permanence of images to transmit their meaning and sometimes even the very fact of their existence. For many artists, these documents take on the function of relics-objects whose meaning is deeply bound to an experience that is always already lost in the past. Works by artists such as Marina Abramović, Christian Boltanski, Sophie Calle, Tacita Dean, Joan Jonas, Christian Marclay, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ana Mendieta, and Gina Pane examine various aesthetic approaches inspired by the reiterative power of the photograph. Using photography not only to restage their own (and others’) performances but to revisit the bodily experience of past events, these artists have reconsidered the document itself as an object embedded in time, closely attending to its material specificity in their works.

 

Trauma and the Uncanny

When Andy Warhol created his silkscreen paintings of Marilyn Monroe in the wake of her death, he touched on the darker side of a burgeoning media culture that, during the Vietnam War, became an integral part of everyday life. Today, with vastly expanded channels for the propagation of images, events as varied as the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the deaths of celebrities such as Princess Diana and Michael Jackson have the ability to become traumatic on a global scale. Many artists, including Adam Helms, Nate Lowman, Adam McEwen, Cady Noland, and Anri Sala, have reexamined the strategy of image appropriation Warhol pioneered, attending closely to the ways political conflict can take on global significance. At the same time, photography has altered, or as some theorists argue, completely reconfigured our sense of personal memory. From birth to death, all aspects of our lives are reconstituted as images alongside our own experience of them. This repetition, which is mirrored in the very technology of the photographic medium, effectively produces an alternate reality in representation that, especially when coping with traumatic events, can take on the force of the uncanny. Artists such as Stan Douglas, Anthony Goicolea, Sarah Anne Johnson, Jeff Wall, and Gillian Wearing exploit this effect, constructing fictional scenarios in which the pains and pleasures of personal experience return with eerie and foreboding qualities.

Press release from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum website [Online] Cited 22/08/2010 no longer available online

 

Sophie Calle. 'Father Mother (The Graves, #17)' 1990

 

Sophie Calle (French, b. 1953)
Father Mother (The Graves, #17)
1990
Two gelatin silver prints in artist’s frames edition 2/2
181.0 x 111.1cm each
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Gift, The Bohen Foundation

 

Ana Mendieta. 'Untitled (Silueta Series)' 1978

 

Ana Mendieta (Cuban American, 1948-1985)
Untitled (Silueta series)
1978
Gelatin silver print
20.3 x 25.4cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee

 

Anne Collier. 'Crying' 2005

 

Anne Collier (American, b. 1970)
Crying
2005
Chromogenic print edition 1/5
99.1 x 134 x 0.6cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Aaron M. Tighe

 

James Casebere. 'Garage' 2003

 

James Casebere (American, b. 1953)
Garage
2003
Chromogenic print, face-mounted to acrylic edition 2/5
181.6 x 223.5cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Anonymous gift

 

Miranda Lichtenstein. 'Floater' 2004

 

Miranda Lichtenstein (American, b. 1969)
Floater
2004
Chromogenic print edition 5/5
104.1 x 127cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee

 

Sarah Anne Johnson. 'Morning Meeting (from Tree Planting)' 2003

 

Sarah Anne Johnson (Canadian, b. 1976)
Morning Meeting (from Tree Planting)
2003
Chromogenic print edition
73.7 x 79.7cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by Pamela and Arthur Sanders; the Harriett Ames
Charitable Trust; Henry Buhl; the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; Ann and Mel Schaffer; Shelley Harrison; and the Photography Committee

 

Sally Mann. 'Virginia' from the 'Mother Land' series 1992

 

Sally Mann (American, b. 1951)
Virginia from the Mother Land series
1992
Gelatin silver print
76.2 x 96.5cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Gift, The Bohen Foundation

 

 

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 5th Avenue (at 89th Street)
New York

Opening hours:
Sunday – Monday, 11am – 6pm
Closed Tuesday
Wednesday – Friday 11am – 6pm
Saturday 11am – 8pm

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum website

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18
Oct
09

Exhibition: ‘The Abstracted Landscape’ at the Laurence Miller Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 24th September – 14th November 2009

Exhibition artists: Peter Bialobrzeski, Stephane Couturier, DoDo Jin Ming, Toshio Shibata

 

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

 

 

DoDo Jin Ming. 'Behind My Eyes 2nd Movement, Plate I' 2002

 

DoDo Jin Ming (Chinese, b. 1955)
Behind My Eyes 2nd Movement, Plate I
2002

 

DoDo Jin Ming. 'Behind My Eyes 2nd Movement, Plate VIII' 2003

 

DoDo Jin Ming (Chinese, b. 1955)
Behind My Eyes 2nd Movement, Plate VIII
2003

 

DoDo Jin Ming. 'Free Element, Plate XXX' 2002

 

DoDo Jin Ming (Chinese, b. 1955)
Free Element, Plate XXX
2002

 

Stephane Couturier. 'Olympic Parkway No. 1' 2001

 

Stéphane Couturier (French, b. 1957)
Olympic Parkway No. 1
2001

 

Stephane Couturier. 'Proctor Valley No. 1' 2004

 

Stéphane Couturier (French, b. 1957)
Proctor Valley No. 1
2004

 

 

Laurence Miller is pleased to present, as its opening show for the fall, The Abstracted Landscape, featuring the work of four midcareer international artists: Peter Bialobrzeski, from Hamburg; Stephane Couturier, from Paris; DoDo Jin Ming from Beijing and New York; and Toshio Shibata, from Tokyo.

These four photographers each translate the landscape into a poetic and abstract vision, utilising techniques and processes unique to photography to create scenes that remain sufficiently recognisable yet unobtainable through the naked eye. Peter Bialobrzeski, in his series Lost in Transition, photographs rapid urbanisation and industrialisation by taking very long exposures, which create other-worldly colours and lighting not visible to the naked eye. Stéphane Couturier embraces the camera’s monocularity in his series from Havana to flatten our normal reading of space and render totally ambiguous the walls of a decaying interior. DoDo Jin Ming, in her series Behind My Eyes, applies the technique of negative printing to render mysterious and foreboding fields of sunflowers. And Toshio Shibata wields his large view camera, with multiple tilts and swings, to look straight down the side of a dam, creating a vertigo-inducing viewpoint we would be unable (and perhaps unwilling) to see directly with our own eyes.

Abstraction in the landscape has a rich tradition within the history of photography. Felix Teynard’s Egyptian views from the mid-1850’s are wonderfully abstract, as are those of J.B. Greene and August Salzmann. Timothy O’Sullivan, Carlton Watkins and William Henry Jackson each made views of the American west from the 1806’s through the 1880’s, that were equally rich in detail and minimal in composition. In the 20th century there are many examples, from George Seeley to Paul Strand, through Moholy Nagy and the Bauhaus to Edward Weston’s glorious sand dunes.

Text from the Laurence Miller Gallery website [Online] Cited 12/10/2009 no longer available online

 

Toshio Shibata. 'Kashima Town, Fukushima Prefecture' 1990

 

Toshio Shibata (Japanese, b. 1949)
Kashima Town, Fukushima Prefecture
1990

 

Toshio Shibata. 'Grand Coulee Dam, Douglas County, WA' 1996

 

Toshio Shibata (Japanese, b. 1949)
Grand Coulee Dam, Douglas County, WA
1996

 

Peter Bialobzeski. 'Transition # 33' 2005

 

Peter Bialobrzeski (German, b. 1961)
Transition #33 from the series Lost in Transition
2005

 

Peter Bialobrzeski. 'Transition # 20' 2005

 

Peter Bialobrzeski (German, b. 1961)
Transition #20 from the series Lost in Transition
2005

 

Peter Bialobrzeski (German, b. 1961) 'Transition #23' 2005

 

Peter Bialobrzeski (German, b. 1961)
Transition #23 from the series Lost in Transition
2005

 

 

Laurence Miller Gallery

Laurence Miller Gallery is now operating as a private dealer and consultant.

Laurence Millery Gallery 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, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor 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.

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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