Posts Tagged ‘mis en scene

30
Nov
12

Exhibition: ‘Jeff Wall Photographs’ at The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria Australia, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 30th November 2012 – 17th March 2013

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Installation shots of the new Jeff Wall exhibition at NGV Australia. Review to follow in due course.

Many thankx to Jemma Altmeier and all the media team at NGV for all their wonderful help and congratulations to the curators, Susan van Wyk and Dr Isobel Crombie, for their restrained yet contemporary installations and for getting the exhibitions to Melbourne. They look magnificent. Well done!

Many thankx to the NGV for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. All photographs © Marcus Bunyan © National Gallery of Victoria. May not be reproduced without permission.

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at right, 'The Destroyed Room' 1978

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at right, The Destroyed Room 1978

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'The Destroyed Room' (detail) 1978

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Jeff Wall
Canadian 1946-
The Destroyed Room (detail)
1978
Transparency in light box, AP
159.0 x 234.0 cm
Collection of the artist © Jeff Wall

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at left, 'The Destroyed Room' 1978, and at right, 'Double Self-Portrait' 1979

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at left, The Destroyed Room 1978, and at right, Double Self-Portrait 1979

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at right, 'Double Self-Portrait' 1979

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at right, Double Self-Portrait 1979

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at left, 'Doorpusher' 1984, and at right, 'Polishing' 1998

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at left, Doorpusher 1984, and at right, Polishing 1998

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'Polishing' (detail) 1998

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Jeff Wall
Canadian 1946-
Polishing (detail)
1998
Transparency in light box, 1/2
162.0 x 207.0 cm
State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia Purchased with assistance from the Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 1999
© Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall. 'Doorpusher' (detail) 1984

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Jeff Wall 
Doorpusher
(detail)
1984
Transparency in lightbox
2490 x 1220 mm
© Jeff Wall

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at centre, 'Doorpusher' 1984, and at right, 'Polishing' 1998

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at centre, Doorpusher 1984, and at right, Polishing 1998

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at left, 'Diagonal Composition' 1993, and at right, 'Doorpusher' 1984

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at left, Diagonal Composition 1993, and at right, Doorpusher 1984

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'Diagonal Composition' 1993

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Jeff Wall
Canadian 1946-
Diagonal Composition
1993
Transparency in light box, AP
40.0 x 46.0 cm
Collection of the artist © Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall. 'Pipe Opening' (detail) 2002

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Jeff Wall
Pipe Opening (detail)
2002
Transparency in light box, AP
40.0 x 46.0 cm
Collection of the artist © Jeff Wall

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing, at right, 'A view from an apartment' 2004-05

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing, at right, A view from an apartment 2004-05

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing 'After 'Invisible Man' by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue' 1999-2000

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing After ‘Invisible Man’ by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue 1999-2000

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'After 'Invisible Man' by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue' 1999-2000 (detail)

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Jeff Wall
Canadian 1946-
After ‘Invisible Man’ by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue (detail)
1999-2000
Transparency in light box, AP
174.0 x 250.5 cm
Collection of the artist © Jeff Wall

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Jeff Wall Canadian 1946- 'A view from an apartment' 2004-05

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Jeff Wall
Canadian 1946-
A view from an apartment (detail)
2004-05
Transparency in light box, 1/2
167.0 x 244.0 cm Tate, London Purchased with assistance from the American Fund for the Tate Gallery and Tate Members, 2006
© Jeff Wall

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Installation view of 'Jeff Wall Photographs' at NGV Australia showing 'A sudden gust of wind (after Hokusai)' 1993

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Installation view of Jeff Wall Photographs at NGV Australia showing A sudden gust of wind (after Hokusai) 1993

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The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia
Federation Square
Corner of Russell and 
Flinders Streets, Melbourne

Opening hours:
10am – 5pm
Closed Mondays

National Gallery of Victoria website

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17
Oct
10

Review: ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ by AES+F at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 7th October – 23rd October 2010

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Many thankx to The Melbourne International Arts Festival and Anna Schwartz Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Viewers: please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image as it is essential to see the freeze frame action, what is actually going on within the images. All images courtesy the artists and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne & Sydney.

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #1’
2009

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #2’
2009

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Searching for identity like mould spore taking root

In one sense these large panoramic, digitally constructed mis en scene photographs by Russian collective AES+F at Anna Schwartz Gallery, (taken from the “celebrated” video of the same name which debuted at the Venice Biennale in 2009) are mere echoes of the lyrical, dance and fugue-like structures of the moving work.

In another sense they work well as still photographs. The balance inherent within the picture frame is exemplary, the use of colour and the feeling of rhythm and flow of the figures in pictorial space, wonderful. This rhythm can be called the physiognomy of the work, its style.1 In these photographs style is hard to miss and the photographs fulfil what Susan Sontag saw as one of the main prerequisites for good art: that of emotional distance from lived reality, that allows us to the look at the work dispassionately before bringing those observations back into the real world:

“All works of art are founded on a certain distance from the lived reality which is represented. This “distance” is, by definition, inhuman or impersonal to a certain degree; for in order to appear to us as art, the work must restrict sentimental intervention and emotional participation, which are functions of “closeness.” It is the degree and manipulating of this distance, the conventions of distance, which constitute the style of the work … But the notion of distance (and of dehumanisation, as well) is misleading, unless one adds that the movement is not just away from but toward the world.”2

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In these photographs we have a pastiche of cultural attitudes and mores that allows us to reflect on the foibles, paradoxes, consumerism and stereotypes of identity formation of the contemporary world, mixed with a healthy serving of voyeurism. As Javier Panera notes, “AES+F’s work is nurtured from moral and cultural paradoxes: seduction and threat; hyperrealism and artificiality; classicism and contemporaneity; spirituality and sensuality; historicism and the end of history,”3 and they construct a new oligarchy within a dystopic, Arcadian world. Variously, we have masters and servants, oriental and neoclassical architecture, haute couture, lesbianism, adoration, a youth dressed in white falling out of a priests robes (or is a kimono?) onto an altar-like table, savages and beasts, homoerotic encounters and many more besides – all constructed in an imagined world of a temporary hotel performing rituals of leisure and pleasure, an orgiastic but chaste imagining in this world, looking back at lived reality.

And for me there is the problem. While the photographs offer this vision of temptation and delight in the end they just reinforce the basis of belief in the status quo, the power of cultural hegemony. Subversion as an act, a decorative performance imbued with titillation. As Marco Fusinato observed, using a quotation from an anarchist website in a work in his latest exhibition at Anna Schwartz Gallery (and the irony does not escape me, far from it!):

“The artist is also the mainstay of a whole social milieu – called a “scene” – which allows him to exist and which he keeps alive. A very special ecosystem: agents, press attachés, art directors, marketing agents, critics, collectors, patrons, art gallery managers, cultural mediators, consumers… birds of prey sponge off artists in the joyous horror of showbiz. A scene with its codes, norms, outcasts, favourites, ministry, exploiters and exploited, profiteers and admirers. A scene which has the monopoly on good taste, exerting aesthetic terrorism upon all that which is not profitable, or upon all that which doesn’t come from a very specific mentality within which subversion must only be superficial, of course at the risk of subverting.”4

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The subversion of these images is superficial, a surface appearance of insurrection.

Despite protestations to the contrary (an appeal on the AES+F website to the idea of the Roman saturnalia, see text below) – where the masters serve the slaves at a dinner once a year, this reversal was only ever superficial at best: “the reversal of the social order was mostly superficial; the banquet, for example, would often be prepared by the slaves, and they would prepare their masters’ dinner as well. It was license within careful boundaries; it reversed the social order without subverting it. “5

It was a license within careful boundaries.
It reversed the social order without subverting.
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The same can be said of these wonderful, colourful, rhythmic, chaste, trite, in vogue, pale imitations of subversion. The images come from a very specific mentality within which subversion must only be superficial because they are, after all, images that are searching for an identity in order to access and survive in the Western art world.

ex nihilo nihil fit (Nothing comes of nothing) and please, don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #3’
2009

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #4’
2009

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #5’
2009

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“In the ‘Satyricon’, the work of the great wit and melancholic lyric poet of Nero’s reign, Gaius Petronius Arbiter, the best preserved part is ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ (Cena Trimalchionis). Thanks to Petronius’s fantasy, Trimalchio’s name became synonymous with wealth and luxury, with gluttony and with unbridled pleasure in contrast to the brevity of human existence.

We searched for an analogue in the third millennium and Trimalchio, the former slave, the nouveau riche host of feasts lasting several days, appeared to us not so much as an individual as a collective image of a luxurious hotel, a temporary paradise which one has to pay to enter.

The hotel guests, the ‘masters’, are from the land of the Golden Billion. They’re keen to spend their time, regardless of the season, as guests of the present-day Trimalchio, who has created the most exotic and luxurious hotel possible. The hotel miraculously combines a tropical coastline with a ski resort. The ‘masters’ wear white which calls to mind the uniform of the righteous in the Garden of Eden, or traditional colonial dress, or a summer fashion collection. The ‘masters’ possess all of the characteristics of the human race – they are all ages and types and from all social backgrounds. Here is the university professor, the broker, the society beauty, the intellectual. Trimalchio’s ‘servants’ are young, attractive representatives of all continents who work in the vast hospitality industry as housekeeping staff, waiters, chefs, gardeners, security guards and masseurs. They are dressed in traditional uniforms with an ethnic twist. The ‘servants’ resemble the brightly-colored angels of a Garden of Eden to which the ‘masters’ are only temporarily admitted.

On one hand the atmosphere of ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ can be seen as bringing together the hotel rituals of leisure and pleasure (massage and golf, the pool and surfing). On the other hand the ‘servants’ are more than attentive service-providers. They are participants in an orgy, bringing to life any fantasy of the ‘masters’, from gastronomic to erotic. At times the ‘masters’ unexpectedly end up in the role of ‘servants’. Both become participants in an orgiastic gala reception, a dinner in the style of Roman saturnalia when slaves, dressed as patricians, reclined at table and their masters, dressed in slaves’ tunics, served them.

Every so often the delights of ‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ are spoiled by catastrophes which encroach on the Global Paradise…”

AES+F, 2009
Translated by Ruth Addison

Text from the AES+F website

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #6’
2009

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #7’
2009

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“Russian collective AES+F work with photography, video, sculpture and mixed media. Since 1987, they have interwoven imagery relating to modern technology, Hollywood cinema, fashion photography, advertising, death, religion, the British Royal Family, mass media, popular culture and youth obsession throughout their work.

‘The Feast of Trimalchio’ is an interpretation of the witty but melancholy fiction ‘Satyricon’ by the Roman poet Petronius. In the ancient version Trimalchio’s feast was portrayed as the ideal celebration that Trimalchio imagined for his own funeral. In the AES+F 21st Century version, an orgy of consumerism reflects on the contemporary state of Russia and indeed the world. Created from over 75,000 photographs, the complete work is a nine-channel panoramic media that made its celebrated debut at the 2009 Venice Biennale. For the Festival, Anna Schwartz Gallery features a set of three expansive photographic tableaux. These captivating images of a temporary hotel paradise portray opulence and excess overshadowed by a dark uneasiness.”

Text from the Melbourne International Arts Festival website

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #8’
2009

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AES+F
‘The Feast of Trimalchio Panorama #9’
2009

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1. Sontag, Susan. “On Style,” in Against Interpretation and Other Essays. New York: Delta Book, 1966, pp. 30-31.

2. Ibid.,

3. Panera, Panera. “AES+F’s The  Feast of Trimalchio,” on FlashArtonline.com [Online] Cited 17/10/2010.
www.flashartonline.com/interno.php?pagina=video_det&id=36&det=ok

4. Anon. “Escapism has its price The artist has his income,” on Non Fides website Wednesday 17 September 2008 [Online] Cited 28/09/2010. http://www.non-fides.fr/?Escapism-has-its-priceThe-artist

5. Anon. “Saturnalia,” on Wikipedia [Online] Cited 17/10/2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia

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Anna Schwartz Gallery
185 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 12 – 6pm, Saturday 1 – 5pm

Anna Schwartz Gallery website

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23
Sep
09

Review: ‘Scenes’ by David Noonan at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 15th August – 27th September 2009

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Installation view of 'Scenes' by David Noonan at ACCA

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Installation view of ‘Scenes’ by David Noonan at ACCA

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Thoughts

Limited colour palette of ochres, whites, browns and blacks.

Rough texture of floor covered in Jute under the feet.

Layered, collaged print media figures roughly printed on canvas – elements of abstraction, elements of figuration.

The ‘paintings’ are magnificent; stripped and striped collages. Faces missing, dark eyes. There is something almost Rembrandt-esque about the constructed images, their layering, like Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’ (1642) – but then the performance element kicks in  – the makeup, the lipstick, the tragic/comedic faces.

Mannequin, doll-like cut-out figures, flat but with some volume inhabiting the tableaux vivant.

Twelve standing figures in different attitudes – a feeling of dancing figures frozen on stage, very Japanese Noh theater. Spatially the grouping and use of space within the gallery is excellent – like frozen mime.

The figures move in waves, rising and falling both in the standing figures and within the images on the wall.

Looking into the gallery is like looking through a picture window onto a stage set (see above image).

The fracturing of identity, the distortion of the binaries of light and dark, absence/presence in spatio-temporal environments.

The performance as ritual challenging a regularized and constrained repetition of norms (Judith Butler).

Excellent, thought provoking exhibition.

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noonan-a

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Installation view of ‘Scenes’ by David Noonan at ACCA

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“Noonan often works with found photographic imagery taken from performance manuals, textile patterns and archive photographs to make densely layered montages. These works at once suggest specific moments in time and invoke disorientating a-temporal spaces in which myriad possible narratives emerge. The large-scale canvases framing this exhibition depict scenes of role-playing, gesturing characters, and masked figures set within stage-like spaces. Printed on coarsely woven jute, collaged fabric elements applied to the surface of the canvases further signal the cutting and splicing of images.

Noonan’s new suite of figurative sculptures, comprise life size wooden silhouettes faced with printed images of characters performing choreographed movements. While the figurative image suggests a body in space, the works’ two dimensional cut-out supports insist on an overriding flatness which lends them an architectural quality – as stand-ins for actual performers and as a means by which to physically navigate the exhibition space.”

Press release from the Chisenhale Gallery website

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“For the Helen Macpherson Smith Commission, he will bring the characters depicted in his signature collage works off the wall and onto an imagined ‘stage’. Several life-size, wooden cut-out figures will inhabit the ACCA exhibition gallery, frozen in choreographed movements.

Noonan’s dancing figures will be framed by several large-scale canvas works, printed photographic and film imagery gleaned from performance manuals, textile patterns and interior books. Printed on coarse woven jute, he cuts, slices and montages images together constructing compositions that hover between two and three dimensionality, positive and negative space, past and present, stasis and action.

“‘Scenes’ recalls the experimental workshops and youth-focused exuberance of a more optimistic era, coinciding with the artists own childhood in the 1970s” says curator Charlotte Day. “With these new works, Noonan re-introduces the idea of ritual, of creating a temporal space beyond reason that is filled with both danger and hope.”

David Noonan is the fifth recipient of the Helen Macpherson Smith Commission, one of the most significant and generous commissions in Australia. The partnership between ACCA and the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust offers Victorian artists the opportunity to create an ambitious new work of art, accompanied by an exhibition in ACCA’s exhibition hall.

Press release from the ACCA website

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Image from 'Scenes' by David Noonan at ACCA

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Australia Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)

111 Sturt Street
Southbank 
Victoria 3006
Australia
03 9697 9999

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Friday 10am – 5pm
Weekends & Public Holidays 11am – 6pm
Open all public holidays except Christmas Day and Good Friday

ACCA 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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