Posts Tagged ‘image appropriation

01
Oct
12

Exhibition: ‘Lutz Bacher / MATRIX 242’ at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), University of California, Berkeley, San Francisco

Exhibition dates: 18th July – 7th October 2012

 

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

 

 

Lutz Bacher. 'Bien Hoa' 2006-07 (detail)

Lutz Bacher. 'Bien Hoa' 2006-07 (detail)

 

Lutz Bacher (American, 1943-2019)
Bien Hoa (detail)
2006-07
inkjet print mounted on aluminum
24 x 36 in.
Courtesy of Ratio 3, San Francisco

 

Lutz Bacher. 'Bien Hoa' 2006-07 (detail)

 

Lutz Bacher (American, 1943-2019)
Bien Hoa (detail)
2006-07
inkjet print mounted on aluminum
24 x 36 in.
Courtesy of Ratio 3, San Francisco

 

 

Since Lutz Bacher’s first MATRIX exhibition in 1993, the Berkeley-based artist has become a leading figure in contemporary art; she was the subject of a retrospective at MoMA PS1 in 2009 and was included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial. MATRIX 242 presents an important but rarely seen series from 2006-07 that sheds light on the artist’s often elusive practice.

Bien Hoa is is based on a set of ten photographs Bacher discovered at a Berkeley salvage store. All of the photographs were created by an American soldier named Walter, who was stationed at Bien Hoa Air Base during the Vietnam War. Walter inscribed the backs of all but two of the pictures before mailing them home to his partner in Oakland. Bacher has enlarged and reprinted the photographs to hang above the verso of the originals, which disclose Walter’s annotations. These have a surprisingly casual tone, given what must have been the harrowing experience of being a soldier stationed in Vietnam. In some cases, Walter’s inscriptions sound almost like a tourist writing a postcard; in others, he seems to have been more concerned with the composition of the image than with the grisly content of a scene. “This is Bien Hoa looking at it from the Air Base. This is a pretty good picture. Now do you think that’s beautiful? Can you see the wire, keeping the people from attacking the Air Base? That’s what those fences are out there for.”

By strategically juxtaposing these images and texts, and placing them in a museum setting, Bacher reveals the slippery nature of perception. She prompts us to wonder, Why was Walter so concerned with the quality of his images? Why were these photographs discarded? What became of Walter?”

Text from the BAM/PFA website

 

Lutz Bacher. 'Bien Hoa' 2006-07 (detail)

Lutz Bacher. 'Bien Hoa' 2006-07 (detail)

 

Lutz Bacher (American, 1943-2019)
Bien Hoa (detail)
2006-07
inkjet print mounted on aluminum
24 x 36 in.
Courtesy of Ratio 3, San Francisco

 

 

The ten photographic sets that make up Lutz Bacher’s Bien Hoa (2006-07) are deceptively simple. Large colour inkjet images, reproductions of yellowed black-and-­white photographs, are presented above handwritten notes written on the backs of the original prints. The annotations were made by a man stationed at Vietnam’s Bien Hoa Air Force Base in 1969, identified only as Walter, who is alternately the author and the subject of the images. We see Walter posing at a military desk with his section chief, in an armed helicopter adorned with a playboy bunny, in front of sand ­bagged barracks, and at gunpoint, “surrendering” to a Vietnamese woman. Other photographs depict the bleak situation – burned-out helicopters, fire drills, and fences separating the base from the local town. Bacher found the cache of photographs, which had been mailed from Vietnam, at a Berkeley salvage store. Originally meant for an intimate audience, the photos are displaced by Bacher’s decision to remake them as her art. She channels the voice of an African American man fighting in the Vietnam War, decisively situating that voice, through her own authorship, in a new time and context.

On their own, the images are charged with America’s uneasy history of armed aggression and recall our complex legacy of racism and popular unrest; with Walter’s notes, however, that general discomfort becomes deeply personal. Referring to an image of himself seated inside a helicopter he writes: “This is a Huey Cobra, the badest [sic] Helicopter in Vietnam. Those are rockets on the side of the ship. I wish I could take off and come home. Your Man, Walter.” With his comments, Walter reveals feelings of complicity in the military apparatus of the war, as well as his desire to return home. It is hard not to wonder how Walter wound up in Vietnam and what became of him: was he drafted or enlisted by the many recruiters targeting African American neighbourhoods at the time, promising subsidies? Did he return home safely?

Presented, as they are here, in a museum setting, Walter’s self-conscious commentaries on his photographs take on new relevance. In some cases, Walter’s inscriptions sound almost like a tourist writing a postcard; in others, he seems to have been more concerned with the composition of the image than with the grisly content of a scene: “This is a practice session that the Fire Department has every now and then. They are practicing on a burning helicopter. I messed up on my border at the top of the picture.” Bacher’s enlargements invite us to hone in on these details and scrutinise the photographs aesthetically, as Walter directs: “This is Bien Hoa looking at it from the Air Base. This is a pretty good picture. Now do you think that’s beautiful? Can you see the wire, keeping the people from attacking the Air Base?” Walter’s grim interjections foil our sense of detached aesthetic judgment.

Likewise, Bacher, conspiring with Walter, complicates easy explanations of her work. Curiously, the only two photographs in the series that remain unannotated feature a gun. In the first, Walter poses solemnly in front of sandbagged barracks in full military uniform. In the second, he is dressed in Vietnamese garb, playfully surrendering at gunpoint to a local woman. This reversal, from American soldier to Vietnamese prisoner, illustrates not only the paradox of Walter’s situation, but also Bacher’s. Without captions to describe Walter’s feelings, it is unclear if he fought willingly or if, like many soldiers at that time, he was ambivalent about our presence in Vietnam, or perhaps even sympathized with the local’s desire to enact political change. Faced with these gaps in explanation, viewers are left to wonder about Walter’s intentions in setting up the photographs as he did, with this strange role reversal. The reasons for Bacher’s own reversal, exchanging her voice for Walter’s, is also left ambiguous.

Shifting between Walter, of whom nothing is known, and Bacher, Bien Hoa’s narrative refuses to be fixed in any one time or place. For that reason, the work feels contemporary, alive with the contradictions that make up our present moment. Bacher uses found images, objects, and text to confound easy understandings of authorship, gender, race, violence, and power. Despite being composed of discarded photographs, Bien Hoa resonates as a pivotal description of a fraught moment in United States history, yet this history still feels open to interpretation. Bacher, exhuming the photographs and aligning her voice with Walter’s, inverts any sense of their cohesion.”

Dena Beard
Assistant Curator
Exhibition brochure

 

Lutz Bacher. 'Bien Hoa' 2006-07 (detail)

 

Lutz Bacher (American, 1943-2019)
Bien Hoa (detail)
2006-07
inkjet print mounted on aluminum
24 x 36 in.
Courtesy of Ratio 3, San Francisco

 

Lutz Bacher. 'Bien Hoa' 2006-07 (detail)

 

Lutz Bacher (American, 1943-2019)
Bien Hoa (detail)
2006-07
inkjet print mounted on aluminum
24 x 36 in.
Courtesy of Ratio 3, San Francisco

 

 

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

BAMPFA is located at 2155 Center Street
between Oxford Street and Shattuck Avenue, in downtown Berkeley
Phone: (510) 642-0808

Opening hours:
Thursday – Sunday, 11am – 7pm
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive website

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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 65.7 cm
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 39.7 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the Photography Committee 2007.132

 

Bernd and Hilla Becher. 'Water Towers' 1980

 

Bernd and Hilla Becher
Water Towers
1980
Nine gelatin silver prints
155.6 x 125.1 cm
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 207 cm
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 55.6 cm
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 99.7 cm
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. (…)

 

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 111.1 cm 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 25.4 cm
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 0.6 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Aaron M. Tighe

 

 

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

 

James Casebere. 'Garage' 2003

 

James Casebere (American, b. 1953)
Garage
2003
Chromogenic print, face-mounted to acrylic edition 2/5
181.6 x 223.5 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Anonymous gift, 2005.1

 

Miranda Lichtenstein. 'Floater' 2004

 

Miranda Lichtenstein (American, b. 1969)
Floater
2004
Chromogenic print edition 5/5
104.1 x 127 cm
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 ½
73.7 x 79.7 cm
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 96.5 cm
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Gift, The Bohen Foundation

 

 

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

Opening hours:
Monday 10am – 5.30pm
Tuesday 10am – 8pm
Wednesday – Friday 10am – 5.30pm
Saturday 10am – 8pm
Sunday 10am – 5.30pm

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

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

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