Posts Tagged ‘Kodak

21
Dec
19

Exhibition: ‘In Focus: The Camera’ at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles

Exhibition dates: 30th July 2019 – 5th January 2020

Curator: Paul Martineau

 

 

Lisette Model (American, born Austria, 1901-1983) 'Weegee, New York' 1945

 

Lisette Model (American, born Austria, 1901-1983)
Weegee, New York
1945
Gelatin silver print
34.1 × 27 cm (13 7/16 × 10 5/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Estate of Lisette Model, courtesy Baudoin Lebon/Keitelman

 

 

Apologies. A filler posting from me as I am sick at the moment. Although I love the design of the old cameras – when viewed from the outside, through the media images, the exhibition seems to also be a bit of a filler from the Getty.

Where are the interesting questions?

How can a box of metal and glass, a machine, capture onto film and pixels, something that so transcends time and space that, at its best, it preserves the spirit of our existence, the condition of our becoming?

How does the camera impart its own reality, and how, through looking, do photographers understand how different cameras impart different realities? How do we intimately see what the camera sees, without looking through the machine?

How have digital cameras altered how we use the camera and how we see the world, moving us from a viewfinder and vanishing point, to looking at a flat screen on the back of the camera?

How does the physicality of the camera, from large format to iPhone, affect how we hold the machine, how we interact with it’s ontology and enact its rationale – in particular perspectives of abstraction, becoming, existence, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations: Substance, Relation, Quantity and Quality; Place, Time, Situation, Condition, Action, Passion?

Marcus

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

 

Once a simple wooden box with a primitive lens and cap for controlling light, the modern camera has undergone enormous change since its invention in the early nineteenth-century. Flexible film stocks, built-in light meters, motor drives, and megapixels are a few of the advancements that have transformed the way this ingenious device captures and preserves a moment in time. This display explores the evolution of the camera through the Museum’s collection of historic cameras and photographs.

 

 

Unknown maker (European) 'Camera Obscura' c. 1750-1800

 

Unknown maker (European)
Camera Obscura
c. 1750-1800
Wood, brass, and glass
Object: H: 7.9 × W: 10.8 × D: 23.5 cm (3 1/8 × 4 1/4 × 9 1/4 in.)
Object (Extended): H: 31.1 cm (12 1/4 in.)
Lid extended: H: 15.9 cm (6 1/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Gloria and Stanley Fishfader

 

Unknown maker (French) 'Daguerreotype/Wet-plate Camera' c. 1851

 

Unknown maker (French)
Daguerreotype/Wet-plate Camera
c. 1851
Wood, brass, and glass
Object: H: 18.1 × W: 21.6 × D: 31.1 cm (7 1/8 × 8 1/2 × 12 1/4 in.)
Lens: H: 9.2 × Diam: 7.3 cm (3 5/8 × 2 7/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Gloria and Stanley Fishfader

 

Unknown maker (British) 'Camera box' 1860

 

Unknown maker (British)
Camera box
1860
Wood, glass, metal
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Gloria and Stanley Fishfader

 

August Semmendinger (American, 1820-1885) 'Mammoth Plate Wet-Collodion Camera' 1874-1885

 

August Semmendinger (American, 1820-1885)
Mammoth Plate Wet-Collodion Camera
1874-1885
wood, metal, fabric, and glass
The J. Paul Getty Museum, gift in memory of Beaumont Newhall

 

 

August Semmendinger (1820 – August 6, 1885) was a manufacturer of photographic apparatuses and the inventor of the Excelsior Wet Plate Camera. Semmendinger first made his cameras in New York City. The second factory where he built his cameras was located in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

 

Kodak (American) 'The Kodak' 1888

 

Kodak (American, founded 1888)
The Kodak
1888
Wood, leather, brass, and glass
Object: H: 9.5 × W: 8.3 × D: 17.1 cm (3 3/4 × 3 1/4 × 6 3/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Gloria and Stanley Fishfader

 

The very first Kodak camera.

 

John F. Collins (American, 1888-1990, active 1904-1974) '[Kodak Ektra Camera]' c. 1930

 

John F. Collins (American, 1888-1990, active 1904-1974)
[Kodak Ektra Camera]
c. 1930
Gelatin silver print
38.4 × 48.1 cm (15 1/8 × 18 15/16 in.)
Gift of Nina and Leo Pircher

 

Eastman Kodak Company (American, founded 1888) 'Kodak Bantam Special' 1936

 

Eastman Kodak Company (American, founded 1888)
Kodak Bantam Special
1936
Metal, enamel, and glass
The J. Paul Getty Museum, gift of Gloria and Stanley Fishfader

 

Eastman Kodak Company (American, founded 1888) 'World War II "Matchbox" Spy Camera' 1944

 

Eastman Kodak Company (American, founded 1888)
World War II “Matchbox” Spy Camera
1944
Metal and glass
The J. Paul Getty Museum, gift of Gloria and Stanley Fishfader

 

Polaroid Corporation (American, founded 1937) 'Polaroid Land Camera Model 95' c. 1948-1949

 

Polaroid Corporation (American, founded 1937)
Polaroid Land Camera Model 95
c. 1948-1949
Leather and steel Object (Closed): L: 24.1 × W: 11.4 × D: 5.7 cm (9 1/2 × 4 1/2 × 2 1/4 in.)
Case: H: 19.1 × W: 26.7 × D: 7 cm (7 1/2 × 10 1/2 × 2 3/4 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Gloria and Stanley Fishfader

 

Steineck Kamerawerk (Tutzing, West Germany) 'Steineck ABC Wristwatch Camera' 1949

 

Steineck Kamerawerk (Tutzing, West Germany)
Steineck ABC Wristwatch Camera
1949
Metal, enamel, leather, and glass

 

 

Made in Germany by Steineck Kamerawerk. Subminiature camera for discs of film 25mm diameter, 8 exposures 7mm diameter. Steinhetl VI lens F:12.5mm f/2.8 fixed aperture, coated cobir enamel. Two-speed rotary shutter. Refelcting finder – concave mirror and ball and pin sight. Wristwatch shaped. Designed in Germany by Dr R Steineck.

Looks like a large wristwatch. Came with a 12.5mm (f2.5) fixed-focus lens. Single shutter speed. Eight round exposures with a 5.5 mm diameter are produced on a round disk of film 24mm in diameter. Disks can be cut from standard 35mm film. A cassette, with its own exposure counter, is used to hold the film. To load the camera, the cassette is pressed lightly into place in the opening in the back of the camera, and the knurled rim of the cassette is turned firmly to the right until it stops and the red dots on the camera body and cassette are aligned. Film advance is automatic – the film is readied for the next frame immediately after an exposure is made. The lens is a 12.5m f/2.5, made by Steinheil. It is fixed-focus so that everything from 4.25 ft. to infinity is sharp. The lens has a two-point aperture setting: one for bright light (red dot), the other for dim light (blue dot), set by a control knob on the face of the camera. The metal focal-plane shutter has only one speed, 1/125 sec. In making an exposure, the camera is held between the index finger and thumb, the shutter release being depressed by the thumb while the index finger serves to steady the camera by exerting a counter pressure. No separate action is required to advance the film or cock the shutter; as soon as the exposure has been made, the camera is ready to take the next picture. The A-B-C has two parallax-corrected finders: an optical hollow mirror viewfinder, which permits sighting from above when the camera, worn on the wrist, is held in picture-taking position. The other, a direct-vision viewfinder, is used at eye level, requiring that the camera be removed from the wrist. When the direct-vision finder is used, you sight through the hole in the back (cassette) with the camera close to the eye; the camera is held by the straps, both thumbs steadying the body, and the shutter release is operated by the index finger. The original accessories included filters, close-up lenses, and even a special enlarger. Steineck planned an M-sync flash for a future A-B-C, as well as a built-in filter carousel (to be put in front of the aperture control), and even a tripod-mount accessory that fits through the eye-level finder!

Text from Ebay website

 

Hasselblad AB (Swedish, founded 1841) 'Hasselblad wide angle camera' 1954-1959

 

Hasselblad AB (Swedish, founded 1841)
Hasselblad wide angle camera
1954-1959
Metal, artificial leather, glass
Object: 13 × 11 × 15 cm (5 1/8 × 4 5/16 × 5 7/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Gloria and Stanley Fishfader

 

Nippon Kogaku K.K. (Japanese, founded 1917) 'Nikon "Reporter" large load 35mm camera' after 1959

 

Nippon Kogaku K.K. (Japanese, founded 1917)
Nikon “Reporter” large load 35mm camera
after 1959
Plastic, metal, and imitation leather-covered body
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Gloria and Stanley Fishfader

 

Canon Inc. (Japanese, founded 1937) 'Canon S 35mm camera with rare F2 lens' 1946

 

Canon Inc. (Japanese, founded 1937)
Canon S 35mm camera with rare F2 lens
1946
Metal, glass
Object: 8 × 14.5 × 10 cm (3 1/8 × 5 11/16 × 3 15/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Gloria and Stanley Fishfader

 

Introduced in 1938, the Canon S is the younger sibling of the Hansa Canon. It was developed to compete in quality with the German Leica II, but at a price more accessible to the Japanese public.

 

Polaroid Corporation (American, founded 1937) 'Polaroid SX-70' 1972

 

Polaroid Corporation (American, founded 1937)
Polaroid SX-70
1972
Metal, plastic, leather, and glass
Private collection

 

 

Exhibition includes a selection of rare cameras from the 19th century to present

The camera, once a simple wooden box with a primitive lens and cap for controlling light, has undergone enormous changes since its invention, eventually becoming a tool that is in most people’s back pockets. In Focus: The Camera, on view July 30, 2019 – January 5, 2020 at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, explores the evolution of this ingenious device through a selection of historic cameras and photographs.

During the early 19th, the three essential components of photography – a dark chamber, a light-sensitive substrate, and a method of fixing the image – were used in different ways in the experiments of Nicéphore Niépce (French, 1765-1833), Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (French, 1787-1851), and William Henry Fox Talbot (British, 1800-1877). In subsequent decades, advancements such as flexible film stocks, built-in light meters, motor drives, and megapixels transformed the way the camera captures and preserves a moment in time.

On view in the exhibition will be a number of cameras manufactured in the 19th century to present day, including the simple camera obscura, a daguerreotype camera, a stereo camera, an early roll-film camera, a large portable camera, a miniature spy camera, an early colour camera, and the first digital camera marketed to the general public. The exhibition will include text that explains how photographs are created using each of these cameras and techniques. Cameras produced by well-known brands such as Kodak, Leica, Nikon, Hasselblad, and Canon will be displayed.

The gallery will also include a number of portraits, self-portraits, and images of artists at work by famed photographers such as Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883-1976), Dorothea Lange (American, 1895-1965), Lisette Model (American, born Austria, 1901-1983), Helmut Newton (German-Australian, 1920-2004), Edward Steichen (American, born Luxembourg, 1879-1973), Andy Warhol (American, 1928-1987), and Edward Weston (American, 1886-1958). These images remind the viewer of the inextricable relationship between the camera and the artist.

In Focus: The Camera is curated by Paul Martineau, associate curator of photographs for the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website [Online] Cited 21/12/2019

 

Capt. Horatio Ross (British, 1801-1886) '[Self-portrait preparing a Collodion plate]' 1856-1859

 

Capt. Horatio Ross (British, 1801-1886)
[Self-portrait preparing a Collodion plate]
1856-1859
Albumen silver print
Image: 20 × 16.2 cm (7 7/8 × 6 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

Underwood & Underwood (American, 1881-1940s) 'Photographing New York City - on a slender support 18 stories above pavement of Fifth Avenue' 1905

 

Underwood & Underwood (American, 1881-1940s)
Photographing New York City – on a slender support 18 stories above pavement of Fifth Avenue
1905
Gelatin silver print
Image (left): 8 × 7.6 cm (3 1/8 × 3 in.)
Image (right): 8 × 7.6 cm (3 1/8 × 3 in.)
Mount: 8.9 × 17.8 cm (3 1/2 × 7 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

Edward Weston (American, 1886-1958) 'Self Portrait with Camera' 1908

 

Edward Weston (American, 1886-1958)
Self Portrait with Camera
1908
Platinum print
Image: 14.6 × 8.6 cm (5 3/4 × 3 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© 1981 Arizona Board of Regents, Center for Creative Photography

 

George Watson (American, 1892-1977) '[Camera on 12-foot Tripod]' 1920s

 

George Watson (American, 1892-1977)
[Camera on 12-foot Tripod]
1920s
Gelatin silver print
Image: 11.7 × 9.1 cm (4 5/8 × 3 9/16 in.)
Sheet: 12.2 × 9.8 cm (4 13/16 × 3 7/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© The Watson Family Photo Collection

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976) '[Self-Portrait with Camera]' 1932

 

Man Ray (American, 1890-1976)
[Self-Portrait with Camera]
1932
Gelatin silver print
Image: 29.2 × 22.9 cm (11 1/2 × 9 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Man Ray Trust ARS-ADAGP

 

 

Man Ray showed himself in profile in this self-portrait, intently adjusting the focal range on his view camera as if for a portrait session. He directs the camera in the photograph at the audience, while the camera taking his picture remains invisible. The touch of Man Ray’s hand on the focusing ring serves as a reminder of the human artistry required to make photographs, a departure from his more accidental approach to creating works in other media. Man Ray solarized the print, using a process indelibly associated with him. (Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website)

 

Alma Lavenson (American, 1897-1989) '[Self-Portrait]' 1932

 

Alma Lavenson (American, 1897-1989)
[Self-Portrait]
1932
Gelatin silver print
20.3 × 25.2 cm (8 × 9 15/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© Alma Lavenson Associates

 

 

Employing the sharp focus and close vantage point that were the hallmarks of Group f/64, with which she was associated, Alma R. Lavenson presented her camera as a vital extension of herself as a photographic artist. Her hands delicately and reverently frame the lens, positioning it as her center and source of inspiration. (Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website)

 

Unknown photographer (American) '[Portrait of Dorothea Lange]' 1937

 

Unknown photographer (American)
[Portrait of Dorothea Lange]
1937
Gelatin silver print
13.7 × 16.7 cm (5 3/8 × 6 9/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Gift of the Dixon Family

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975) 'Resort Photographer at Work' 1941

 

Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Resort Photographer at Work
Negative 1941; print later
Gelatin silver print
15.9 × 22.4 cm (6 1/4 × 8 13/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

 

Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (American, born Austria, 1899-1968) 'Photographer at a Fire' 1940-1945

 

Weegee (Arthur Fellig) (American, born Austria, 1899-1968)
Photographer at a Fire
1940-1945
Gelatin silver print
Image: 34.1 × 27.1 cm (13 7/16 × 10 11/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
© International Center of Photography

 

Andreas Feininger (American, born France, 1906 - 1999) 'The Photojournalist' Negative 1951; print later

 

Andreas Feininger (American, born France, 1906-1999)
The Photojournalist
Negative 1951; print later
Gelatin silver print
Image: 32.3 × 26.3 cm (12 11/16 × 10 3/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser
© Estate of Gertrud E. Feininger

 

Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883-1976) 'Self-Portrait with Grandchildren in a Funhouse' 1955

 

Imogen Cunningham (American, 1883-1976)
Self-Portrait with Grandchildren in a Funhouse
1955
Gelatin silver print
The J. Paul Getty Museum. © Imogen Cunningham Trust

 

Anthony Friedkin (American, born 1949) 'Extras with Film Cameras' 1996

 

Anthony Friedkin (American, born 1949)
Extras with Film Cameras
1996
Gelatin silver print
Image: 16.3 × 24.3 cm (6 7/16 × 9 9/16 in.)
Sheet: 20.1 × 25.2 cm (7 15/16 × 9 15/16 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Gift of Sue and Albert Dorskind
© Anthony Friedkin

 

 

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1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, California 90049

Opening hours:
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Saturday 10 am – 9 pm
Sunday 10 am – 5.30 pm
Monday closed

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16
Oct
13

‘The War at Home: Farm Security Administration / Office of War Information Color Photographs’ by Alfred Palmer Part 1

Kodachrome sheets 1941 – 1943

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This is the first of a two-part posting on the large format Kodachrome colour transparency photographs of the American photographer Alfred Palmer taken during 1941-43. I absolutely adore these photographs. While today they might seem overly posed and almost surreal in their depiction of men and women at work in the factories of the home front during the Second World War, these are epic canvases of colour, light and form. While Eugène Atget’s photographs may well have been “Documents for artists”, I believe that Alfred Palmer’s photographs can be seen as “Documents for photographers.” They teach later generations the value of craft, of an understanding of the technical aspects of the medium (both camera and film) coupled with the imaginative use and capture of light, colour and pose. Look at the photograph Noontime rest for an assembly worker at the Long Beach (October 1942, below) – have you ever seen such use of colour in the 1940s: red socks, blue slacks, beige shirt, green lunch box and silver background. Like one of those old films in Technicolor, just so beautiful!

While these photographs are masterpieces of formalism, lighting, tone, texture and control, they also transcend their subject matter. Observe the image P-51 “Mustang” fighter plane in construction, at North American Aviation, Inc., in Los Angeles, California (c. 1942, below) for example, to comprehend how this master photographer saw this image, how he understood the potential of the subject matter to shine (on so many levels) and then was able to capture it and let it speak for itself. Considering the conditions under which he would have been working (in cramped factories) and the fact that he would have had to light everything himself, Palmer has recorded a remarkable body of work. All captured on the wonderful Kodachrome film in large format 4″x5″ sheets. What a loss to photography this film is.

These photographs deserve to be more widely known and appreciated than they are at present. Love em, love em, love them!

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Library of Congress for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. No known copyright restrictions on any of the photographs.

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Alfred Palmer. 'P-51 "Mustang" fighter plane in construction, at North American Aviation, Inc., in Los Angeles, California' c. 1942

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Alfred Palmer
P-51 “Mustang” fighter plane in construction, at North American Aviation, Inc., in Los Angeles, California
c. 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC

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Alfred Palmer. 'A view of the B-25 final assembly line at North American Aviation's Inglewood, California, plant' Photo published in 1942

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Alfred Palmer
A view of the B-25 final assembly line at North American Aviation’s Inglewood, California, plant
Photo published in 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC

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Alfred Palmer. 'B-25 bomber plane at North American Aviation being hauled along an outdoor assembly line. Kansas City, Kansas.' October 1942

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Alfred Palmer
B-25 bomber plane at North American Aviation being hauled along an outdoor assembly line. Kansas City, Kansas.

October 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI

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Alfred Palmer. 'Servicing an A-20 bomber, Langley Field, Va.' July 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Servicing an A-20 bomber, Langley Field, Va.
July 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI

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Alfred Palmer. 'P-51 "Mustang" fighter in flight' October 1942

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Alfred Palmer
P-51 “Mustang” fighter in flight, Inglewood, California, The Mustang, built by North American Aviation, Incorporated, is the only American-built fighter used by the Royal Air Force of Great Britain
October, 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
(Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC)

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Alfred Palmer. 'Sunset silhouette of a flying fortress, at Langley Field, Virginia, in July, 1942' July 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Sunset silhouette of a flying fortress, at Langley Field, Virginia, in July, 1942
July 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
(Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC)

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Alfred Palmer. 'Light tank going through water obstacle. Fort Knox, June 1942' June 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Light tank going through water obstacle. Fort Knox, June 1942
June 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI

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Alfred Palmer. 'Tank crew standing in front of M-4 tank, Ft. Knox, Kentucky, June, 1942' June, 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Tank crew standing in front of M-4 tank, Ft. Knox, Kentucky, June, 1942
June, 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
(Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC)

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Alfred Palmer. 'Army tank driver at Fort Knox , Kentucky' June 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Army tank driver at Fort Knox, Kentucky
June 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI

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Alfred Palmer. 'Lieutenant "Mike" Hunter, Army pilot assigned to Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif.' October 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Lieutenant “Mike” Hunter, Army pilot assigned to Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif.
October 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
(Alfred Palmer/LOC)

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Alfred Palmer. 'Lieutenant 'Mike' Hunter, Army test pilot assigned to Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California' October 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Lieutenant ‘Mike’ Hunter, Army test pilot assigned to Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California
October 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI

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Alfred T. Palmer 1906 – 1993

“Born in San Jose, California, Palmer was an avid photographer from an early age, meeting the young Ansel Adams in Yosemite in 1916. He was hired on as a cadet on the Dollar Lines President Monroe. He was 19 years old. This would be the first of his 23 trips around the world in the next 32 years. Palmer became the official photographer and worked aboard Dollar Line, Matson and Moore-McCormack Lines ships around the world shooting 100s of images with his Graflex camera. He would trade with other crew members for daytime shifts so he could go ashore and photograph everything he saw.

In 1938, he packed cameras and darkroom equipment into his car and set out across America documenting everything that captured his interest from cows and pigs and corn to towns, cities, people and industry. He would develop the film in the bathrooms of the tourist homes and auto courts every night. He sold the negatives for a dollar each for use in educational books. He made contact prints of each one which are included in his vast portfolio of work.

In 1939 when Hitler attacked Poland the United States ranked twentieth as a world military power. In June of 1940 President Roosevelt and Congress passed a bill for the building of a major two ocean navy. At that time Roosevelt formed the National Defense Advisory Commission of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and Palmer was chosen to head the photography department. To rally and inform citizens about the use of their tax dollars and resources, Palmer was sent out to photograph Americans building what Roosevelt termed the Arsenal of Democracy. Aware of the power of mass media, the OEM wanted to provide images which would vividly convey their story in high contrast photos for magazines and newspapers. At the OEM, Palmer’s boss, Robert Horton, would brainstorm assignments, sending him into restricted industrial and military facilities. Once in the field, Palmer worked independently. He developed a style of quickly seeing the picture and catching the essence. Through this style he was able to convey the gritty texture and geometry of industrial form combined with the strong emotion of men and women attentive to their work. His dramatic tonal ranges and sharp focus approach reflect the early influence of his mentor, Ansel Adams.

In 1941, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Palmer became official photographer for the newly formed Office of War Information (OWI). He also served as technical expert with final say on photographic equipment and processes. Now his images had to illustrate all aspects of the war effort, from industrial workers to conservation of resources and citizen participation. Palmer’s emphasis was on the typical American hard at work on the home front. His photographs were also an integral part of the “women power” campaign to change the public attitude toward women joining the work force. He showed women as patriotic, glamorous and capable, working on fighter planes as well as assembly lines. Palmer also focused on the dedication and dignity of the black labor force and worked with the chief of the News Bureau Negro Press.

In 1942, the Farm Security Administration (FSA) was added as a joint agency with the OWI. Palmer and Roy Stryker shared creativity and conflict during those years in the dissident approaches to portraying America to herself. While Stryker’s unit showed a national self scrutiny of post depression America, Palmer sought to emphasize a moral building role through his photography. Palmer’s deep belief in promoting the spiritual strength of people permeates his entire career as photographer and filmmaker.

During his years with OWI Palmer worked with a number of significant photographers such as Esther Bubbly, Howard Leiberman, Gordon Parks, Dorothea Lang and Edward Steichen. Palmer’s artistic style was recognized by Steichen, who featured his photographs in the historic traveling exhibit “Road to Victory”, which opened at the Museum of Modern Art in 1942. Alfred Palmer generated thousands of photographs that were widely published in the major magazines and newspapers in the United States and abroad. His works were praised for their exceptional symbolic power and striking use of intense contrasts conveying the courage and determination that Roosevelt sought to arouse in the nation. Much of the vast collection of Palmer’s photographs (including rare color transparencies) is housed in the National Archives and the Library of Congress.

Alfred Palmer passed away in 1993, leaving a legacy of life work that is unique in its very essence. This extensive collection of photographs and 16mm color film encompassing five decades of world cultures, World War II history and America’s maritime heritage becomes increasingly significant as a testimony to our humanity.”

Text from the Alfred T. Palmer website

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kodachrome-WEB

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A Kodachrome sheet film box that held 2 x half a dozen sheets of film in 2 sheet packages, from around the time Alfred Palmer would have been using the same film. Notice the ISO/ASA rating of 10. Expiry date of October 1944.

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Alfred Palmer. 'American mothers and sisters, like these women at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Long Beach , California , give important help in producing dependable planes for their men at the front' October 1942

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Alfred Palmer
American mothers and sisters, like these women at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Long Beach, California, give important help in producing dependable planes for their men at the front
October 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI

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Alfred Palmer. 'Assembling switchboxes on the firewalls of B-25 bombers at North American Aviation's Inglewood, California, factory' October 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Assembling switchboxes on the firewalls of B-25 bombers at North American Aviation’s Inglewood, California, factory
October 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI

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Alfred Palmer. 'Workers installing fixtures and assemblies in the tail section of a B-17F bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Long Beach , California' October 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Workers installing fixtures and assemblies in the tail section of a B-17F bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Long Beach, California
October 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI

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Alfred Palmer. 'Engine inspector for North American Aviation at Long Beach, California' June 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Engine inspector for North American Aviation at Long Beach, California
June 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI

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Alfred Palmer. 'Punching rivet holes in a frame member for a B-25 bomber at North American Aviation. Inglewood, California' June 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Punching rivet holes in a frame member for a B-25 bomber at North American Aviation. Inglewood, California 
June 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI

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Alfred Palmer. 'Inglewood, California. Riveting team working on the cockpit shell of a C-47 heavy transport at North American Aviation' 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Inglewood, California. Riveting team working on the cockpit shell of a C-47 heavy transport at North American Aviation.
“The versatile C-47 performs many important tasks for the Army. It ferries men and cargo across the oceans and mountains, tows gliders and brings paratroopers and their equipment to scenes of action.”
1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI

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Alfred Palmer. 'Noontime rest for an assembly worker at the Long Beach, Calif., plant of Douglas Aircraft Company. Nacelle parts for a heavy bomber form the background' October 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Noontime rest for an assembly worker at the Long Beach, Calif., plant of Douglas Aircraft Company. Nacelle parts for a heavy bomber form the background
October 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
Alfred Palmer/OWI

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Alfred Palmer. 'Two assembly line workers at the Long Beach, Calif., plant of Douglas Aircraft Company enjoy a well-earned lunch period, Long Beach, Calif. Nacelle parts of a heavy bomber form the background' October 1942

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Alfred Palmer
Two assembly line workers at the Long Beach, Calif., plant of Douglas Aircraft Company enjoy a well-earned lunch period, Long Beach, Calif. Nacelle parts of a heavy bomber form the background
October 1942
4×5 Kodachrome transparency
(LOC)

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Alfred T. Palmer website

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20
Jul
09

Review: ‘Tacita Dean’ at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 6th June – 2nd August 2009

 

Photographs from the exhibition are in the chronological order that they appear.

 

Tacita Dean. 'Grobsteingrab (floating)' 2009

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
Grobsteingrab (floating)
2009

 

 

“The subjects are connected to the medium I use. It’s all about light and time and phenomena to some extent, like a rainbow or a gust of wind or even an eclipse or a green ray, things like that. And this is the language of light. It’s not the language of binary pixels.”

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Tacita Dean1

 

“The value of her [Dean’s] work, writes Winterson, is one of the virtues of art itself: it is an intervention into the rush of everyday life, holding up time and space for contemplation.”

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Jeanette Winterson2

 

 

This is a dense, ‘thick’ exhibition by Tacita Dean at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne that rewards repeat viewing. The theatricality of each work and the theatricality of the journey through ACCA’s dimmed galleries (an excellent installation of the work!) makes for an engrossing exhibition as Dean explores the minutiae of memory and the significance of insignificant events: a contemplation on the space, time and materiality of the everyday.

The exhibition starts with 3 very large floating rocks (Grobsteingrab (floating), Hunengrab (floating) and Riesenbelt (floating) all 2009) printed on multiple pieces of photographic paper, the surrounds of the rocks painted out with matt black blackboard paint (see image at top of this posting). The rocks look like mountain massif and are printed at different levels to each other; they move up and down, earthed in the sense that the viewer feels their heavy weight but also buoyant in their surface shininess, seeming to float into the void. The textuality of the rocks is incredible, the suspension of the rocks fragmented by the fact that they are printed on multiple pieces of photographic paper, the edges of the paper curling up to dislocate the unity of form.

Opposite is the large multi-panelled T + I (Tristan + Isolde), a tour de force of Romantic landscape meets mythological journey (see image second from top). Sunshine searing through cloud lights the 25 Turner-esque black and white gravure panels that feature an inlet, fjord and ravine. Semi-legible words dot the landscape, reflecting on the legendary story: ‘undergrowth’, ‘dispute’, ‘brightening up’, ‘BLIND FOLLY’ and ‘the union involved in a manifestation(?)’ for example. Each panel is beautifully rendered and a joy to behold – my friend and I stood transfixed, examining each panel in minute detail, trying to work out the significance and relation between the writing and image. As with most of the work in the exhibition the piece engages the viewer in a dialogue between reality, story and memory, between light, space, time and phenomena.

After the small rear projected film Totality (2000) that shows the extraordinary event of a total eclipse of the sun by the moon for a period of two minutes and six seconds the viewer takes a short darkened passage to experience the major installation in the exhibition Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’ (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films) 2007 (see images below).

The first thing you see is one image projected onto a small suspended screen, the rest of the installation blocked by a short gallery wall to the right. The dancer Merce Cunningham sits in studious calm and observes us. This in itself is magical but as we round the corner other screens of different sizes and heights come into view, all portraying Cunningham’s dance studio and him sitting in it from different angles, heights and distances (including close-ups of Cunningham himself). In the six screen projection the performances of Cunningham are sometimes in synch, sometimes not. The director Trevor Carlson, holding a stop watch, times the 3 movements of Cage’s musical piece 4’33” and directs Cunningham to change position at the end of every movement; his hands move, he crosses his legs and the performance continues.

The work is projected into the sculptural space using old 16mm film projectors and their sound mixes with the studied silence of the Cage work and white noise. The mirrors in the studio make spaces of infinite recess, showing us the director with the stop watch, the windows, the floor, the markings of the dancers hands on the mirrors surface adding another echo of past presences. As a viewer their seems to be an ‘openness’ around as you are pulled into a spatial and sound vortex, a phenomena that transcends normal spatio-temporal dimensionality. As people pass through the installation their shadows fall on the screens and become part of the work adding to the multi-layered feeling of the work. This is sensational stuff – you feel that you transcend reality itself as you observe and become immersed within this amazing work – almost as though space and time had split apart at the seams and you are left hanging, suspended in mid-air.

The next two films are my favourite pieces in the exhibition. Darmstädter Werkblock (2007) shows us the significance of insignificant markings – edges and intersections, textures, blends and bleeds, the minutiae of existence in the markings on the fabric of an internal wall (see photograph below). Here is light, wood panelling, texture and again the sound of the whirring of the film projector. Usually I am not a fan of this kind of work having seen enough ‘Dead Pan’ photography and photography of empty yet supposedly important spaces in my life, but here Dean’s film makes the experience come alive and actually mean something. Her work transcends the subject matter – and matter is at the point where these interstitial spaces have been marked by the abstract signs of human existence that constantly surround us.

In Michael Hamburger (2007) Dean reaches the empito-me of these personal narratives that inhabit everyday life. Film of an orchard with wind rustling through the trees, clouds drifting across the sky, rotting apples on the branches, fallen fruit on the ground and a clearing with a man looking up at the trees is accompanied by the industrial sounds of clicks and pops like that of an old radio (see photograph above). The swirling sound of the wind surrounds you in the darkened gallery space much as the panoramic screen of the projection seems to enfold you. The scene swaps to an interior of a house and shows the man, has face mainly in shadow, the film focusing on the different type of apples in front of him or on the aged wrinkles of his hands holding the apples. He talks intelligently and knowingly about the different types of apples and their rarity and qualities. This is Michael Hamburger (now dead which adds poignancy to the film) – poet, critic, memoirist and academic notable for his translations of the work of W. G. Sebald, one of Tacita Dean’s main influences (and also an author that I love dearly).

One can see echoes of Sebald’s work in that of Tacita Dean – the personal narratives accompanied by mythical and historical stories and pictures. The tactility of Hamburger’s voice and hands, his caressing of the apples with the summary justice of the tossing away of rotten apples to stop them ruining the rest of the crop is arresting and holds you transfixed. Old varieties and old hands mixed with the old technology of film make for a nostalgic combination. As John Matthews of ArtKritique has so insightfully observed in his review of this work Dean implicitly understands how objects can be elegies for fleeting lives.

After this work one should have a break – go to the front of the gallery and have a coffee and relax because this is an exhausting show!

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The rest of the exhibition tends to tail off slightly, with less engaging but still interesting works.

In Die Regimentstochter (2005) (the name of a Donizetti opera) Dean uses a pile of 36 found and mutilated old opera and theatre programs from the 1930s and 1940s such as Staats Theatre, Berlin, Der Tanz and Deutsche Openhaus. These programs have had portions of their front covers roughly but clinically cut to reveal the inner pages beneath (see image below) and Dean uses them to comment on the politicisation of culture in Berlin’s mid-20th century history. The top of a powdered wigged head or the face of Beethoven has been revealed when the title of the work has been neatly removed along with something else:

“Each programme gives a tantalising glimpse of a title or a face through a small window cut into the embossed cover; we recognise Beethoven, Rossini, the face of a singer perhaps. When and by whom this incision in the cover was made, very neatly one might add, even more why these disfigured programmes were kept remains a mystery. A swift search in an archive would easily show what has been removed; most likely an embossed swastika, for these performances all happened during the Third Reich. Why they were removed is left to our imaginations; perhaps an avid theatre-goer livid at the co-option of culture by the regime, perhaps someone afraid they might be misinterpreted as fascist memorabilia, while wishing to retain the memories these performances triggered.”3

High up on a wall opposite these programs is the film Palast (2004) in which Dean reflects Berlin’s divided history in the jaded façade of the once iconic Palast, the government building of the former German Democratic Republic.4 Shards of light hit glass and reflections are fractured in their gridded panes (see images below). A bird is seen flying, viewed through the window and we see the stains on that window but in this film things feel a bit forced. Unlike the earlier Darmstädter Werkblock there is little magic here.

Again the minutiae of existence is examined in the final two films Noir et Blanc (2006), made on the last 5 rolls of Dean’s black and white double-sided 16mm film stock and Kodak (2006), both made at the Kodak factory in Chalon-sur-Saône before it closed it’s film production facilities (see images below). With the demise of the medium that she feels closest to Dean sought permission to film at the factory itself and both films examine that medium by turning it on itself.

“Dean became acutely aware of the threat to her chosen medium when she was unable to obtain standard 16mm black-and-white film for her camera. Upon discovering that the Kodak factory in Chalon-sur-Saône, France, was closing its film production facility, Dean obtained permission to document the manufacture of film at the factory, where cameras have never before been invited. The resulting rear-screen projection ‘Noir et Blanc’, filmed on the final five rolls Dean acquired, turns the medium on itself. The 44-minute-long work ‘Kodak’ constitutes a contemplative elegy for the approaching demise of a medium specific to Dean’s own practice. Kodak’s narrative follows the making of celluloid as it runs through several miles of machinery and explores the abandoned corners of the factory. On the day of filming, the factory also ran a test through the system with brown paper, providing a rare opportunity to see the facilities fully illuminated, without the darkness needed to prevent exposure, and underscoring the luster of the celluloid as the dull brown strips contrast with the luminous, transparent polyester.”5

As writer Tony Lloyd has commented, “The film “Kodak” documenting the manufacturing of film was as solemn and reverent as a Catholic mass and equally as dull and inexplicable.”6 I wouldn’t go that far but by the end of the exhibition the nostalgia for old technologies, the brown paper programs and the film strip as relic were starting to wear a bit thin, like the sprockets of an old film camera failing to take up the film.

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At her best Tacita Dean is a fantastic artist whose work examines the measure of things, the vibrations of spirit in the FLUX of experience. Her work has a trance-like quality that is heavy with nostalgia and memory and reflects the machine-ations of contemporary life. In her languorous (thankyou Tony Lloyd for that word, so appropriate I had to use it!) and dense work Dean teases out the significance of insignificant actions/events and imparts meaning and life to them. This is no small achievement.

As an exhibition this is an intense and moving experience. Go, take your time and enjoy!

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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

 

  • Dean, Tacita quoted in Bunbury, Stephen.“Still Lives,” in The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax Publishing, A2 section, Saturday June 6th, 2009, p. 20
  • Winterson, Jeanette, quoted in Bunbury, Stephen.“Still Lives,” in The Age. Melbourne: Fairfax Publishing, A2 section, Saturday June 6th, 2009, p. 20
  • Anonymous. Product synopsis from Tacita Dean Die Regimentstochter [Paperback] on the Amazon website [Online] Cited 19/07/2009
  • Anonymous. Description of Tacita Dean: ‘Palast’ on the Tate St. Ives website [Online] Cited 19/07/2009 no longer available online
  • Anonymous. “The Hugo Boss Prize: Tacita Dean”, on the Guggenheim Museum website [Online] Cited 19/07/2009 no longer available online
  • Lloyd, Tony. “Opnion: Tacita Dean at ACCA,” on ArtInfo.com.au [Online] Cited 19/07/2009 no longer available online

 

 

Tacita Deam. 'T & I (Tristan & Isolde)' 2006

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
T & I (Tristan & Isolde)
2006
Photogravure on twenty-five sheets
Sheet (each): 26 3/4 x 33 7/8″ (68 x 86 cm)
Installation: 134 x 170″ (340.4 x 431.8 cm)
Niels Borch Jensen Gallery and Edition, Berlin and Copenhagen

 

 

Through drawings and films, Dean makes work that is frequently characterised by a poetic sensibility and fragmented narratives exploring past and present, fact and fiction. In this monumental printed work, she addresses themes of collective memory and lost history by combining the romantic legend of ill-fated medieval lovers Tristan and Isolde (whose initials give this piece its title) with the real-life tragedy of British sailor Donald Crowhurst. Dean often uses the sea and other maritime themes in her work, including the tale of Crowhurst, which has appeared in several of her projects.

In 1968 Crowhurst sailed from England for a solo, round-the-world yacht race and never returned. In T & I Dean connects the tale of this lost sailor to the story of Tristan and Isolde – whose tragic love story also hinges on sea voyages – through her majestic depiction of a barren, rocky coastline looking seaward. This work, based on a found postcard, includes the white, cryptic notes that Dean often scribbles on her prints and drawings. Here the musings include “start” and “stage 4,” clear theatrical directions, as well as fragments of a poem by “WSG” about an artist killed in an accident. The twenty-five-sheet composition suggests a cinematic narrative sequence, while reading it as a unified image has a breathtaking, visionary impact. The rich velvety texture of the photogravure medium contributes a nineteenth-century patina that is ideally suited to the intensity and foreboding melancholy of the subject.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 269

 

Tacita Dean. 'Banewl' 1999

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
Totality
16mm colour film
2000

 

old 16mm projector

 

16mm film projector used by Tacita Dean to project Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’

 

Tacita Dean. ‘Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’ (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films)’ 2007

Tacita Dean. ‘Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’ (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films)’ 2007

Tacita Dean. ‘Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’ (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films)’ 2007

Tacita Dean. ‘Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’ (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films)’ 2007

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
Merce Cunningham Performs ‘Stillness’ (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films) (stills)
2007

 

Tacita Dean. 'Darmstädter Werkblock' 2007 (still)

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
Darmstädter Werkblock (stills)
16mm colour film, optical sound
18 minutes, continuous loop
2007

 

 

Take one of her best pieces, Darmstädter Werkblock 2007, which looks for most of its long eighteen minutes like an exploration of an empty room, which it is. The camera pans the space, exploring the frayed fringes of its empty, textile-clad, burnt brown walls. It settles on holes, tears, seams and faded spots marking where placards used to hang. We are formally intrigued, but also curious why we should care so much about this particular empty room in what we can vaguely sense is a museum. Perhaps we are even a little bored. Only later – not in the film itself, but in the accompanying materials – are we told that these rooms usually house the “Block Beuys”, a section of the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt arranged by Beuys himself over the decade and a half between its opening and the artist’s death. The Block is mired in controversy now that the walls, which are actually left over from when the rooms showed medieval artefacts, but which evoke and mirror Beuys’s own work, are slated for renovation.

Text from Philip Tinari. “Meditations on time,” in Tate Etc. issue 23: Autumn 2011 on the Tate website 1 September 2011 [Online] Cited 18/03/2019

 

Stills taken from the 16mm film Darmstädter Werkblock (2007) filmed in the seven rooms that make up Block Beuys, Joseph Beuys’s installation in Darmstadt’s Hessisches Landesmuseum. In September 2007, the museum announced that they intended to renovate the rooms, and to remove the brown jute wall coverings and gray carpet that had become such a feature of the installation. The decision caused much upset in Germany and beyond. Unable to document the rooms for copyright reasons, Dean requested that instead she might document the walls and carpet and the details of the space that surround Beuys’s work without making any visual reference to the work itself. The resulting film concentrated on the patches and the stains and the labor of those who have been maintaining the space over the last four decades – the parallel entropy of the museum space with the ageing of the work itself.

Text from Google Books

 

Tacita Dean. 'Michael Hamburger' 2007

Tacita Dean. 'Michael Hamburger' 2007

Tacita Dean. 'Michael Hamburger' 2007

Tacita Dean. 'Michael Hamburger' 2007

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
Michael Hamburger (stills)
16mm colour anamorphic, optical sound
28 minutes
2007

 

 

Continuing her recent collection of film portraits, Tacita Dean’s Michael Hamburger is a moving portrayal of the poet and translator, a resident of Middleton in Suffolk and great friend of W.G. Sebald. It represented Dean’s first commission in Britain since 1999.

For its 28 minutes, the film quietly observes the poet in his study and among the apple trees in his garden. Sunlight dissolves the frames of the windows, the most insubstantial of thresholds between this home, only one-room-deep, and what lies outdoors; a rainbow marks its watery geometry in the sky; and the apples age upon the ground, shrunken, and yet somehow becoming more intensely themselves.

Although Hamburger is said to have despaired of reviews of his poetry which declared that he is ‘better known as a translator’, we might detect a similar deprecation of his self, by himself, in the film which shares his name. Unwilling, perhaps unable, to talk of his past and his migrations, most especially fleeing Nazism in 1933, he talks poignantly, instead, of his apple trees, of where they have come from, and of their careful cross-breeding. Purity is dismissed, and one senses with an awkward pathos that the poet is translating himself.

Text from the FVU website [Online] Cited 18/03/2019

 

Tacita Dean’s portrait of the poet and translator Michael Hamburger was filmed, at his home in rural Suffolk, in the last year of his life. Set against muted autumn colours, and with Hamburger performing an evocative, anecdotal inventory of the harvest from his apple orchard, the piece is a bittersweet reminder of time’s passing that deftly captures, and quietly honours, an exemplary 20th century literary figure.

 

Tacita Dean. 'Die Regimentstochter' 2005

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
Die Regimentstochter (The Daughter of the Regiment)
2005

 

 

Die Regimentstochter is the latest in a series of projects made from material turned up in flea markets, in this case, a series of 36 antique opera programs from the 30s and 40s found in the flea markets of Berlin. Like the found photographs in Dean’s 2001 FLOH, these souvenirs remain unexplained by text. They retain the silence of the lost object, and they share a riddle: each program gives a tantalising glimpse of a title or a face through a small window cut into the embossed cover. Readers will recognise Beethoven, Rossini, or perhaps a singer. A swift search in an archive would easily confirm what has been removed, but it seems likely that the missing piece is a swastika. These performances all happened during the Third Reich. When and by whom the incision was made, and why these programs were both worth disfiguring and worth keeping, remains a mystery.

Text from the Amazon website

 

“Things no longer visible thus enhance our view of the past, and gaps, paradoxically, become memorials that engage the beholder’s imagination more actively than a didactic demonstration could. Merely by showing what remains, Tacita Dean not only calls up in our mind’s eye a specific historical situation and its abysses, but also erects an anti-monument to the forms customarily taken by the culture of memory.”

Andreas Kaernbach

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965) 'Die Regimentstochter' 2005

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
Die Regimentstochter (The Daughter of the Regiment)
2005

 

 

They look lined up like a modern art object. The 36 opera program books are not considered as works of art. Nevertheless, the British and Berlin-based artist Tacita Dean turned them into a work of art.

“An incidental finding inspired Tacita Dean to her artwork,” tells the House of History. “At a Berlin flea market she discovered in the year 2000 36 opera program booklets from the years 1934 to 1942. Conspicuous were the title pages: from each of the booklets was a part cut out, including from the program of the eponymous opera “The Regimental Daughter” by Gaetano Donizetti (world premiere 1840). “Said part of the title pages of those notebooks was reserved for the swastika symbol. This was cut off by the previous owners. Why, that can only be speculated, continues the house of history. “Was it shame, the fear of being punishable or even a “private” act of resistance before the end of National Socialism? The program books in any case seem to have been of great cultural value to the former owner. ”

“Whatever the motives that made the owner or the owner of the program booklets of the Berlin opera from 1934 to 1942 come to shears in order to remove the Nazi swastikas from the cover pages of the booklets: The voices speak of the desire to conclude with a time that one does not want to be reminded of – a basic motive of German post-war history that stood in the way of an honest confrontation with the era of National Socialism for a long time, “said the Minister of Culture.

With her work, Tacita asks Dean questions about dealing with the Nazi past. Which motive behind it and who had heard the booklets remains open until today. Tacita Dean has created a work of art from these finds, which poses subtle questions about the examination of the Nazi past – but in a way that goes beyond purely historical reflection and awakens additional associations. What does that object, created by the artist from Canterbury, say about the relationship between art and politics? “Can the opera narratives be separated from the political environment in which they were performed and played?” asks the President of the Foundation for the History of the Federal Republic of Germany, Prof. Dr Hans Walter Hütter.

Monika Grütters continues: “The fact that the dark part of our identity does not disappear through concealment and suppression, and that it becomes visible again even where it was attempted to be eradicated, impressively shows Tacita Dean’s work Regimentstochter. That is why I very much welcome the fact that this unique work of art has a place in the collection which, in view of its significance in contemporary history, necessarily belongs to it – a place in the House of History which, unlike any other museum in Germany, presents German history from 1945 in all its facets illustrated and also devoted to the effects of National Socialism on the political and cultural life in post-war Germany.”

Text by Von Daniel Thalheim, “NS-Vergangenheit als Kunst – 36 Programmhefte aus der Nazi-Zeit im Haus der Geschichte,” on the ARTEFAKTE: Das Journal für Baukultur und Kunst website 2nd September 2015 [Online] Cited 17/03/2019 translated from the German by Google Translate.

 

Tacita Dean. 'Palast' 2004

Tacita Dean. 'Palast' 2004

Tacita Dean. 'Palast' 2004

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
Three stills from the film Palast
2004

 

 

“A major survey of work by the internationally acclaimed British artist Tacita Dean will open at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) on June 6th, 2009.

In a great coup for Melbourne, fourteen recent projects by this celebrated contemporary artist will come together in what is the largest survey of Dean’s work to ever be shown outside of Europe.

Tacita Dean is one of Britain’s most accomplished and celebrated contemporary artists. She won the New York Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss award in 2007, was a Turner Prize nominee in 1998, and has had numerous solo exhibitions in Europe – at the Schaulager in Basel, DIA Beacon in New York, the de Pont Museum in the Netherlands, the Tate Britain, UK, the Musee d’art Moderne in Paris, France and the Villa Oppenheim in Berlin, to mention just a few.

Dean was also recently given the highly prestigious title of Royal Academician, awarded sparingly to alumni’s of the revered London art school who have achieved greatness in their work.

Tacita Dean was born in Canterbury in 1965, and moved to Berlin in 2000 after being awarded a DAAD residency. Early works focused on the sea – most famously she explored the tragic maritime misadventures of amateur English sailor Donald Crowhurst. Since moving to Berlin she has devoted her attention to the architecture and cultural history of Germany, a recurring theme also being the salvaging, saving and collecting of things lost. Many of her works rest on the icons of modernism, heroic failures and forgotten utopian ideals.

Dean is best known for her work with 16mm film, although she also works with photography, print and drawing. The qualities of filmmaking itself play a central role in her works – which hauntingly capture the passing of time, space and the mysteries of the natural world.

Her work occupies a place between fact and fiction. As British author Jeanette Winterson says, “Her genius, with her slow, steady, held frames, is to allow the viewer to dream; to enter without hurry, without expectation, and to accept, as we do in a dream, a different experience of time, and a different relationship to everyday objects.”

Included in this exhibition is Dean’s revered film installation, Merce Cunningham Performs STILLNESS (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007, which was recently presented at the DIA Beacon in New York, and the 2007 work Michael Hamburger. Two new wall-based works especially created for this exclusive ACCA exhibition will also feature.

Dean is also known for creating ‘asides’ – totally absorbing texts on the subjects explored in her work. She will contribute texts on all the projects included in the exhibition for a catalogue which will be published to coincide with this unique ACCA survey.

The exhibition has been curated by ACCA’s Artistic Director, Juliana Engberg and follows an early 2002 exhibition of Dean’s work curated by Engberg for the Melbourne International Arts Festival.

“Tacita’s works continue to enthral and inspire me. Not only has she rescued relics from history and restored them with a visual dignity and affection in her wonderful film projects, but increasingly she rescues the traditional art forms of drawing, print making, painting, photography and film from a digital abyss,” says Juliana Engberg. “Her works have a truth and quiddity about them, but also a playful artifice and technical tactic to bring out the tactile and material in all she deals with. Tacita is a sublime story-teller, a narrator of odysseys and attempts. She is a true artist sojourner.

In this selection of works made since 2004 we grasp the breadth of her practice and her pursuit of the time-honoured landscape, portrait and abstract genres,” she says.”

Text from the press release from the ACCA website [Online] Cited 17/07/2009 no longer available online

 

Tacita Dean. 'Noir et Blanc [Still]' 2006

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
Noir et Blanc [Still]
16mm black-and-white Kodak film
2006

 

Tacita Dean. 'Kodak' 2006

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
Kodak (still)
16mm colour and b/w film optical sound
44 minutes loop system
2006

 

Tacita Dean. 'Kodak' 2006

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
Kodak (still)
16mm colour and b/w film optical sound
44 minutes loop system
2006

 

 

As Dean said in a Guardian article back in February: “Digital is not better than analogue, but different. What we are asking for is coexistence: that analogue film might be allowed to remain an option for those who want it, and for the ascendency of one not to have to mean the extinguishing of the other.”

In the same text, she wrote of the difference between film and digital as “not only emulsion versus pixels, or light versus electronics, but something deeper – something to do with poetry.” This poetry is exactly what she explored in one of her landmark films, Kodak (2006), a 45-minute examination of the production process of celluloid itself at a French factory fated for early closure because of a lack of demand. A film about the making of film, it hinged on the sort of super-aestheticised conceit that has become her staple. This is a tactic which allows her to turn even time itself into a structural device, as she did in 2008 with a film called Amadeus, which depicts a 50-minute crossing of the English Channel in a small fishing boat of the same name.

Text from Philip Tinari. “Meditations on time,” in Tate Etc. issue 23: Autumn 2011 on the Tate website 1 September 2011 [Online] Cited 18/03/2019

 

Tacita Dean. 'Kodak' 2006

 

Tacita Dean (English, b. 1965)
Kodak (still)
16mm colour and b/w film optical sound
44 minutes loop system
2006

 

 

Australia Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
111 Sturt Street, Southbank
Victoria 3006, Australia
Phone: 03 9697 9999

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm
Weekends & Public Holidays 11am – 5pm
Monday by appointment
Open all public holidays except Christmas Day and Good Friday

ACCA website

Tacita Dean 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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