Posts Tagged ‘memorialisation

01
Dec
19

World AIDS Day 2019

December 2019

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'How will it be when you have changed' 1994

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England)
How will it be when you have changed
1994
Silver gelatin photograph
© Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Remembering all my lovers, friends, and everyone who has passed or been affected by this disease on World AIDS Day.

To survive the initial wave was just luck of the draw. We lost so many people. Thinking of you all.

Marcus xx

 

The titles from this period tend to be poetic, pragmatic or composed, like Japanese haiku. The two photographs How will it be when you have changed and Tell me your face before you were born (1994, above) were included in the seminal exhibition Don’t Leave Me This Way: Art in the Age of AIDS at the National Gallery of Australia in 1994. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Marcus Bunyan. 'Tell me your face before you were born' 1994

 

Marcus Bunyan (Australian, born England)
Tell me your face before you were born
1994
Silver gelatin photograph
© Marcus Bunyan

 

 

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive page

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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!

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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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12
Dec
08

Review: ‘The Art of Existence’ exhibition by Les Kossatz at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 22nd November – 8th March 2009

 

Les Kossatz. 'Digger's glory box' 1965

 

Les Kossatz
Digger’s glory box
1965
Silk, felt, canvas, cardboard, wood, brass, ink, fibre-tipped pen and synthetic polymer paint
106.0 x 76.0 x 7.0 cm
Courtesy the artist
Photographer: Viki Petherbridge
© Les Kossatz

 

 

Heide Museum of Modern Art has brought together nearly 100 pieces of work by the Australian artist Les Kossatz in an eclectic survey show, appropriately titled The Art of Existence. Featuring sculpture, painting and mixed media from the 1960s to the present the exhibition is appropriately titled because Kossatz’s work addresses certain archetypal themes that affect human existence:

His life-long fascination with the natural world and desire to understand both its human and animal inhabitants; exploration of the systems of knowledge and codes of behaviour that structure individual and communal life; and his critical and playful reflections on contemporary behaviour and the mysteries of existence.”1

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Strong symbolic paintings are the focus of the work in the 1960s, paintings that address the shocking brutality of war and its aftermath, when soldiers return home. To the observation that these are of the ‘pop-style’ school of painting suggested by the Heide website I feel these works are also influenced by the collage of Cubism, the boxes of Joseph Cornell and the dismembered bodies of Francis Bacon. They engage with the symbolism of war and remembrance: memory, myth, and the banality of heroism and sacrifice.

The key work in this series is the painting Diggers throne (1966). This is a powerful disturbing image, effervescent and unnerving at the same time. It features a disembodied arm on the hand of a throne, surrounded by a wonderful kaleidoscopic assemblage of pictorial planes, artefacts and memories – an English flag, the flag of St George, a crown, medals and the words RSL. The arm reminds me of the Francis Bacon painting Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953) as it rests, roughly drawn in pencil on the arm of the throne, drawing the eye back up into nothingness.

The Diggers throne painting also features these prophetic words:

“throne slow to rot
and twisted the memory
becomes sacred.
Bloody was the truth
And this a chair.”

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All other work in this period seems to flow through this painting – the other large paintings, the small canvases featuring individual medals and the less successful hanging banners. But it is to this work we return again and again as a viewer, trying to decipher and reconcile our inner conflicts about the painting.

As we move into the 1970s the work changes focus and direction. There emerges a concern with the desecration of the Australian landscape investigated in a series of large paintings and sculptures. In Packaged landscape 1 (1976) a steel suitcase with leather straps, slightly ajar, fulminates with artificial gum leaves trying to escape the strictures of the trap. In Caged landscape (1972) nature is again trapped behind steel wire, weighed in the balance on a set of miniature scales. The paintings feature trees that are surrounded by concrete and the rabbit becomes a powerful symbol for Kossatz – a suffering beast, strung up on fences, a plague in a pitted landscape of chopped down trees, erosion and empty holes.

Into this vernacular emerges the key symbol of the artist’s oeuvre – the sheep. In 1972 Kossatz began a series of sculptures of sheep, “initially inspired by the experience of nursing an injured ram.” For Kossatz “the sheep represent the hardship of pioneer existence, the grazing industries prosperity, environmental concerns and the sheep act as narrative devices, potent metaphors for human behaviour.”2

The first sheep presented ‘in show’ is Ram in Sling (1973, below). In this sculpture a metal bar is suspended in mid-air and from this bar heavy wire mesh drops to support the fleecy stomach and neck of the ram almost seeming to strangle it in the process, it’s metal feet just touching the ground. Again the scales of justice seem to weigh nature in the balance.

The themes life and death, order and chaos are further developed in the work Hard slide (1980, below) where a sheep emerges mid-air from a trapdoor, two more tumble down a wooden slide end over end and another disappears into the ground through a wooden trapdoor opening. Sacrifice seems to be a consistent theme with both the earlier paintings and the metallised sheep:

“The completed life cycle, down the trapdoor, down the chute, after sacrifice by shearing.” ~ Daniel Thomas 1994

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Further sculptures of sheep, both small maquettes and large sculptures follow in the next room of the exhibition. This is the artist is full flow, featuring the inventive taking of 2D things into the round, investigating the key themes of his work: the contrast between nature and artifice, or humanity.

The small maquettes of sheep feature races, gantries, sluices, pens, trapdoors and paddocks. Sheep tumble in a cataclysmic maelstrom, falling with flailing legs into the darkness of the holding pen below. These are my favourite works – small, intimate, detailed, dark bronzes of serious intensity – the sheep becoming a theatre of the absurd, suspended, weighed and balancing in the performance of ritualised acts, a cacophony of flesh at once both intricate and unsettling. Their skins lay flayed and lifeless disappearing into the ‘unearth’ of the slated wooden floor of the shearing shed. The sheep “can be viewed metaphorically as a commentary of the existential situation of the individual and collective behaviour.”3 As Kossatz himself has noted, “It is hard to bring a piece of landscape inside and give it a living animated form. The sheep somehow gives me this quality of landscape.”

But we must also remember that this strictly a white man’s view of the Australian landscape. Nowhere does this work comment on the disenfranchisement of the native people’s of this land – the destruction of native habitats that the sheep brought about, the starvation that they caused to Aboriginal people just as they bought riches to the pastoralists and the country that mined the land with this amorphous mass of flesh.

Recent work in the exhibition returns to the earlier social themes of memory, war, remembrance, religion, shrines, atomic clouds and temples but it is the work of the late 1970s – 1980s that is the most cogent. As Kossatz ponders the nature of existence on this planet he does not see a definitive answer but emphasises the journey we take, not the arrival. Here is something that we should all ponder, giving time to the nature of our personal journey in this life, on this earth.

Here also is an exhibition worthy our time and attention as part of that journey. Go visit!

Dr Marcus Bunyan

Word count: 1,074

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

 

  1. From the Heide website
  2. From wall notes to the exhibition
  3. From wall notes to the exhibition

 

Postscript 2018

The late Les Kossatz (1943-2011) was a well known Melbourne-based artist and academic whose work is represented in many regional and state galleries and the National Gallery of Australia. He studied art at the Melbourne Teachers’ College and the RMIT, and went on to teach at the RMIT and Monash University. Kossatz’s first significant commission was for the stained glass windows at the Monash University Chapel in Melbourne. Later commissions included works for the Australian War Memorial, the High Court, the Ian Potter Foundation at the National Gallery of Victoria and the Darling Harbour Authority, Sydney. His sculpture, Ainslie’s Sheep, commissioned by Arts ACT in 2000, is a popular national capital landmark in the centre of Civic. A major retrospective of Kossatz’s work was held in 2009 at the Heide Park and Art Gallery, Melbourne.

Text from the High Court of Australia website

Francis Bacon. 'Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X' 1953

 

Francis Bacon
Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X
1953

 

Les Kossatz. "Ram in sling" 1973

 

Les Kossatz
Ram in sling
1973
Cast and fabricated stainless steel and sheepskin
129.3 x 126.5 x 66.0 cm
Heide Museum of Modern Art Collection
Purchased from John and Sunday Reed 1980
© Les Kossatz

 

Les Kossatz. 'Trophy room' 1975

 

Les Kossatz
Trophy room
1975
Colour lithograph
74.0 x 76.0 cm (sheet)
Courtesy the artist
Photographer: Viki Petherbridge
© Les Kossatz

 

 

The art of existence is the first exhibition to review Les Kossatz’s contribution to Australian art in a career that spans the 1960s to today. Kossatz’s consistently experimental approach to media and techniques is revealed in works that display a lifelong fascination with humanity and the interaction of man and nature. His paintings, sculptures and works on paper stimulate a questioning and exploration of such concerns, which form the basis of this artist’s practice.

Les Kossatz’s early works of the 1960s draw on his training and ability to work across a diversity of media, including painting, drawing, printmaking and glass. Early paintings and etchings on the theme of the emptiness of memorials to the Australian ‘digger’ or soldiers were succeeded by images and objects offering impressions of the world around the artist – the rural domain and interior life of St Andrews in Victoria where Kossatz lived and worked. Such works demonstrated his determination to pursue a figurative practice at a time when abstract art had been imported to Australia and was considered the avant garde.

Remaining a staunchly independent artist, at the start of the 1970s Kossatz painted images of rabbits and sheep from St Andrews. In addition, the practice of working in three dimensions was to become more significant. Kossatz continued to develop familiar themes in the creation of installations and cast objects. Although he has produced drawings and prints across his career, working with sculpture has, since the early 1970s, been his primary mode of art-making. Large scale cast and assembled objects show Kossatz pursuing related themes of caged and packaged landscapes, shrines to the harvest and the still life.

The art of existence surveys Kossatz’s monumental life-sized sheep sculptures, which he began making in 1972 from casts of animal parts, and for which he is best known. These include Hard slide (1980), his prize-winning commission in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria. Kossatz has won numerous commissions for outdoor sculptures that employ the sheep as literal and metaphorical beings. Kossatz’s work across three decades reveals a number of ongoing engagements, such as his observations of human behaviour and at times its similar manifestation in animals; the beliefs that sustain individuals and communities (such as religion, music and politics); and the forms of the landscape and our understanding of these relationships.

Introduction to the exhibition written by Zara Stanhope, Guest Curator, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 2008

 

Les Kossatz. "Hard slide" 1980

 

Les Kossatz
Hard slide
1980
Sheepskins, aluminium, Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga sp.), leather, steel
372.0 x 100.0 x 304.0 cm (installation)

 

Les Kossatz. "Guggenheim spiral" 1983

 

Les Kossatz
Guggenheim spiral
1983

 

 

Heide Museum of Modern Art
7 Templestowe Road
Bulleen Victoria 3105 Australia
Phone: +61 3 9850 1500

Opening hours:
(Heide II and Heide III)
Tue – Fri 10.00 am – 5.00 pm
Sat/Sun/Public Holidays 12.00 noon – 5.00 pm

Heide Museum of Modern Art website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Sleep/Wound’ 1995-96


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

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