Posts Tagged ‘John Bodin

12
Aug
11

Opening: ‘John Bodin: Rite of Passage’ at Anita Traverso Gallery, Richmond

Exhibition dates: 11th August – 3rd September, 2011

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Many thanx to Anita and John for asking me to speak at the opening – it was fun!

Reprinted below is the speech I gave at the opening. Beautiful work (shot mostly in Tasmania from the passenger seat of a moving car).

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Opening night speech

I want to preface what I am about to say by noting that I am interested in how these photographs, as physical objects, might speak to what is not physical, what is intangible and ineffable about the spaces they display.

I saw a fantastic documentary about the pianist Artur Rubenstein recently on SBS. When he was playing in concert he believed that he recognized in the audience a person that was more attuned to the nuances of his phrasing and performance than others and he played for them – he wanted to show them something new, insightful and challenging. This made him play better, taking more risks for greater reward, for himself and for the audience. These moments have the possibility of becoming moments in eternity (or to introduce the analogy of the road, milestones). For us it is the recognition of these moments in eternity (or to keep the analogy going, a journey), the unenclosed and apparently insignificant. The material world’s strange mixture of familiarity and otherness, ‘humanness’ and non-humanness.

Where these ideas share a quality with the photographs by John is a recognition of the fluid energy flowing through these spaces, like infinite ribbons of consciousness. For me this is not an escapement nor contentment but a point of stillness within self – an awareness and balance at that moment, at that point in time, in that line of sight when the photograph was taken. A stillness within self that acknowledges the journey taken and the journey to be taken – something that is beyond language and goes to the most intimate place of our being.

The photographs become the surface of the body, stitched together with lines, markers pointing the way – they are encounters with the things that we see before us but also the things that we carry inside of us. It is the interchange between these two things, how one modulates and informs the other. It is this engagement that holds our attention: the dappled light, ambiguity, unevenness, the winding path that floats and bobs before our eyes looking back at us, as we observe and are observed by the body of these landscapes.

One of the fundamental qualities of the photographs is that they escape our attempts to rationalize them and make them part of our understanding of the world, to quantify our existence in terms of materiality. I have an intimate feeling with regard to these sites of engagement. They are both once familiar and unfamiliar to us; they possess a sense of nowhereness. A sense of groundlessness and groundedness. A collapsing of near and far, looking down, looking along, a collapsing of the constructed world.

Why here? Why this particular angle? This section of the visible, this turn in the road. Not quite knowing where we are, we are neither here nor there, within nor without. It is an experience of being between the two – a potential space, a “between” that is formed only in the simultaneous presence of the two. As Donald Winnicott has observed in the book In/different Spaces by Victor Burgin it is “the potential space between the subjective object and the object objectively perceived” that becomes the location of cultural experience.

“Those things of which I can perceive the beginnings and the end are not my self.” Grimm says. Like the road in these photographs there is no self just an infinite time that has no beginning and no end. The time before my birth, the time after my death. We are just in the world, just being somewhere. Life is just a temporary structure on the road from order to disorder. “The road is life,” writes Jack Kerouac in On the Road.

John’s skill as a photographer is to make visible the not really seen, potential spaces that we could have not have imagined otherwise. And for that, John, I am grateful.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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John Bodin
I Was Far Away From Home
2009
Type C print on metallic paper
80 x 110cm

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John Bodin
Into the Mystic
2009
Type C print on metallic paper
80 x 110cm

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John Bodin
Into Timeless Shadows
2009
Type C print on metallic paper
80 x 110cm

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John Bodin
Remembrance of Some Lost Bliss
2009
Type C print on metallic paper
80 x 110cm

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John Bodin
So Ghostly Easy
2009
Type C print on metallic paper
80 x 110cm

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John Bodin
Somewhere Along the Line the Pearl would be Handed to Me
2009
Type C print on metallic paper
80 x 110cm

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John Bodin
The One Distinct Moment of My Life
2009
Type C print on metallic paper
80 x 110cm

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Anita Traverso Gallery
7, Albert Street
Richmond, Vic 3121

Opening hours:
Wed – Sat 11 – 5

Anita Traverso Gallery website

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07
May
09

Opening 2: ‘Urban Edge’ photographs by John Bodin at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 6th May – 30th May 2009

 

Opening night crowd for John Bodin exhibition at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne

John Bodin photographs at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne

 

Opening and installation views of John Bodin’s exhibition Urban Edge at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne

 

 

“Each one of us, then, should speak of his roads, his crossroads, his roadside benches; each one of us should make a surveyor’s map of his lost fields and meadows … Thus we cover the universe with drawings we have lived …

Space calls for action, and before action, the imagination is at work. It mows and ploughs. We should speak of the benefits of all these imaginary actions.”

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Gaston Bachelard The Poetics of Space

 

 

More interesting are the eerie contemplative photographs of John Bodin presented at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne, our second opening of the night. In a well presented show Bodin’s hyper-real photographs employ a limited colour palette to portray the constructed landscape of the urban fringe. The images work well because the artist leaves room for doubt in the mind of the viewer – what am I looking at, where is it, do I subconsciously remember these places? How do the photographs make me feel about the edges of the world, this strangeness that we inhabit? They engage the viewer in a fluid architecture of space and place.

Light and colour are important tools for Bodin and he plays with their form, darkening pavements, shooting at night, making subtle negative interpretations of roads and underground car-parks while desaturating buildings, landscapes and skies of ‘natural’ colour. Walls bleed in Witchhunt (2007) and then you work out the photograph is taken under a bridge with a pavement, graffiti providing the title of the work. Blue light emotes from behind the cloaked window of a house in Shrouded (2005) and you are left wondering by the crazed cellular like constructions of As if by Nature (2007).

Haunting and elegiac these compositions are worthy of your attention.

Lovely to meet Catherine Fogarty and John Bodin. Thank you for your help!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

John Bodin. 'Witchhunt' 2007

 

John Bodin
Witchhunt
2007

 

John Bodin. 'Shrouded' 2005

 

John Bodin
Shrouded
2005

 

John Bodin. 'As If By Nature' 2007

 

John Bodin
As If By Nature
2007

 

 

“Urban Edge continues on from the 2006 ‘Urban Abstraction’ exhibition at Anita Traverso Gallery by introducing contrasting elements and structure from the natural world alongside stark semi-abstracted urban scapes. Whilst we may at first perceive these as opposing forces, I contend that the integration is more harmonious than we think.”

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John Bodin

 

 

When John Bodin takes a risk – which indeed he seems to do aplenty – he does so with a self-assurance that would make many photographers – and artists in general – weep.

All the clichés are there in his work – the towering skyscraper, the car traversing the road at dusk, the pitted track through the woods. But when Bodin frames his image something quite magical occurs. Rather than raise an eyebrow and say – ‘seen it all before’ – instead we are seduced into the deep chiascuro, the inarguably romantic, shadowy mis en scene.

Bodin has said that his photographs “comment on the conditioning process of familiarisation.” Indeed, the strange moment of familiarity is immediately cushioned by the sensual softness of tone he employs. If anything, it is the shock of the old.

Bodin has said that his study in philosophy and meditation serve as a visual source of reflection and are integral to his image making.

Whether it is a distinctly phallic office tower or the moments of surrealism in a found structure in the rural countryside, Bodin’s work exudes a strange peacefulness, a distinctly contemplative air. Everything he grabs from reality is given Bodin’s own air of tranquility. He doesn’t eschew colour exactly, but he tones it down, blanketing his subjects in a kind of downy, nostalgic but not quite melancholic fashion that links his entire oeuvre.

A work such as Lover’s Lane – a sandy track somewhere by the coast – links his sensual eye with a not altogether comforting sense of intimacy. The shadows of the trees encroach in an almost threatening tangle of dark shapes – the ideal place to reassure a trembling lass as they wander into the dark.

In 2006, the renowned fellow-photographer Les Horvat said in an opening speech that Bodin’s “stated interests in philosophy and meditation serve as a fertile source of reflection, integral to his image making. His images cleverly explore the contrast between the form and the aesthetic of the landscape. They do this by examining the utility of urban structure, and juxtaposing it against an aesthetic emotional sensibility that is evocatively expressed through his images.

“The paradox he lays before us is that on one hand, they ingeniously remind us of our human incursions in the natural world; on the other, they suggest that the significance of the landscape is actually assigned by these incursions,” stated Horvat.

Bodin has travelled extensively and in 2003 he served a short residency in New Delhi, India. Closer to home he held a solo show in May 2006 and participated in 11 group exhibitions over the last six years. He was a finalist in the 2005 New Social Commentaries Acquisitive Prize and the acclaimed Prometheus Visual Art Award in 2007. The respect Bodin holds amongst his peers is renowned and, as this show attests, will only grow with time.

Ashley Crawford. “John Bodin,” in Photofile 86 2009, p. 14

 

John Bodin in front of his work at the opening of his exhibition 'Urban Edge' at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne

 

Artist John Bodin in front of his work Lover’s Lane (2007, left) and Object of Speculation (2008, right) at the opening of his exhibition Urban Edge at Anita Traverso Gallery, Melbourne

 

John Bodin. 'Midnight Solitude' 2005

 

John Bodin
Midnight Solitude
2005

 

John Bodin. 'Stumbling into Grace' 2008

 

John Bodin
Stumbling into Grace
2008
Type c print
120 x 80 cm

 

John Bodin. 'Mondrian in Berlin' 2005

 

John Bodin
Mondrian in Berlin
2005
Type c print
60 x 80 cm

 

John Bodin. 'Adrenalin Addiction' 2006

 

John Bodin
Adrenalin Addiction
2006
Type-C photograph
108 x 183cm

 

 

Anita Traverso Gallery
PO Box 7001, Hawthorn North 3122

Mobile: 0408 534 034

Anita Traverso Gallery website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

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