Posts Tagged ‘text

25
Aug
13

Exhibition: ‘Lorna Simpson’ at Jeu de Paume, Paris

Exhibition dates: 28th May – 1st September 2013

 

Lorna Simpson. 'Five Day Forecast [Prévisions à cinq jours]' 1988

 

Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)
Five Day Forecast [Prévisions à cinq jours]
1988
5 gelatin silver prints in a frame, 15 plates engraved plastic
24 ½ x 97 in (62.2 x 246.4cm) overall
Lillian and Billy Mauer Collection
© Lorna Simpson

 

 

A fascinating practice!

Identity, memory, gender, representation, the body, the subject, felt, text, images, video, gesture, reenactment, concept and performance, all woven together seamlessly like a good wig made of human hair…

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to Jeu de Paume for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Lorna Simpson. 'Stereo Styles [Styles stéréo]' 1988

 

Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)
Stereo Styles [Styles stéréo]
1988
10 dye-diffusion black-and-white Polaroid prints, 10 engraved plastic plaques
57 ¾ x 125 ¼ x 1 3/8 in (146.7 x 318.1 x 3.5cm) overall
Collection of Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy
© Lorna Simpson

 

Lorna Simpson. 'Wigs II' 1994-2006

 

Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)
Wigs II
1994-2006
Serigraph on 71 felt panels (images and text)
98 x 265 in (248.9 x 673.1cm) overall
Courtesy the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels
© Lorna Simpson

 

 

Lorna Simpson surprised her audiences in 1994 when she began to print her photographs on felt, inspired by its materiality after seeing an exhibition of the sculpture of Joseph Beuys in Paris “where the piano and walls were covered for a beautiful installation.” Simpson questioned whether the medium might be appropriate in a far different way for her work given the perspective afforded her by the passage of time. With the felt pieces, Simpson turned away from photography’s traditional paper support, magnified the already larger-than-life-size of the images within her large photo-text pieces to extremely large-scale multi-part works, and, most critically, absented the figure, in particular, the black woman in a white shift facing away from the camera for which she had received critical acclaim.

Ever-present, nevertheless, were her thematic concerns. The first felts offered surrogates for the body in a taxonomy of her own photographs of Wigs, with voicings “in and around gender,” and expanded upon the investigation of the role of coiffure in the construction of identity in Simpson’s photo-texts (such as Stereo Styles, Gallery 1). In the mid-1990s, such felts were succeeded by a series of photographs of interior and exterior scenes that were accompanied by long text passages printed on separate small felts. In these works the figure was replaced, as Okwui Enwezor wrote, “by the rumour of the body.”

 

Lorna Simpson. 'Please remind me of who I am' 2009 (detail)

 

Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)
Please remind me of who I am (detail)
2009
50 found photo booth portraits, 50 ink drawings on paper, 100 bronze elements
Overall installation dimensions variable
Collection of Isabelle and Charles Berkovic
© Lorna Simpson

 

 

For each multi-part photo-booth piece, Simpson sets in bronze frames these small inexpensive shots as well as her drawings of selected details of the photographs. Self-styled and performed, these photographs were used for a variety of purposes by their now anonymous sitters, ranging from sober, formal ID photos to glamorous, often theatrically playful mementos. Encompassing photo booth shots of different sizes from the 1920s to the 1970s (a few in colour), Simpson’s constellations of many images for each work offer a collective portrait of self-portraiture (Gather, 2009) and continue her ongoing explorations of identity and memory, explicitly phrased in the title of one of them: Please remind me of who I am (2009).

 

Lorna Simpson. 'Waterbearer [Porteuse d'eau]' 1986

 

Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)
Waterbearer [Porteuse d’eau]
1986
Gelatin silver print, vinyl letters
59 x 80 x 2 ½ in (149.9 x 203.2 x 5.7cm) overall
Courtesy the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris / Brussels
© Lorna Simpson

 

 

Waterbearer shows a woman from the back, pouring water from an elegant silvery metallic pitcher in one hand and from an inexpensive plastic jug in the other, echoing art historical renderings of women at wells or in the domestic settings of Dutch still-life paintings. As if balancing the scales of justice, this figure also symbolically offers disjunctions of means and class. In the accompanying text, Simpson explicitly addresses memory and the agency of speakers: “She saw him disappear by the river, they asked her to tell what happened, only to discount her memory.”

 

 

For her first European retrospective, the Jeu de Paume presents thirty years of Lorna Simpson’s work. For this Afro-American artist, born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1960, the synthesis between image and text is profound and intimate. If one were to consider Lorna Simpson as a writer, the textual element of her works could have an autonomous life as prose poems, very short stories or fragments of scripts. And yet, her texts are inseparable from her images; there is a dynamic between the two that is both fragile and energising, which links them unfailingly. Lorna Simpson became known in the 1980s and 90s for her photographs and films that shook up the conventions of gender, identity, culture and memory.

Throughout her work, the artist tackles the complicated representation of the black body, using different media, while her texts add a significance that always remains open to the spectator’s imagination. In her recent work, Lorna Simpson has integrated archive images, which she reinvents by positioning herself in them as subject. As the artist underlines: “The theme I turn to most often is memory. But beyond this subject, the underlying thread is my relationship to text and ideas about representation.” (Lorna Simpson)

This retrospective reveals the continuity in her conceptual and performative research. In her works linking photography and text, as well as in her video installations, she integrates – while continually shaking them up – the genres of fixed and moving images, using them to ask questions about identity, history, reality and fiction. She introduces complexity through her use of photography and film, in her exploitation of found objects, in the processes she develops to take on the challenges she sets herself and to spectators.

The exhibition gathers her large format photo-texts of the mid 1980s, which brought her to the attention of the critics (Gestures / Reenactments, Waterbearer, Stereo Styles), her work in screenprints on felt panels since the 1990s (Wigs, The Car, The Staircase, Day Time, Day Time (gold), Chandelier), a group of drawings (Gold Headed, 2013), and also her “Photo Booths,” ensembles of found photos and drawings (Gather, Please remind me of who I am…). The exhibition is also an opportunity to discover her video installations: multivalent narratives that question the way in which experience is created and perceived more or less falsely (Cloudscape, 2004, Momentum, 2010), among them, Playing Chess, a new video installation made especially for the occasion.

 

About the exhibition

Joan Simon

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In her critically acclaimed body of work spanning more than thirty years, Lorna Simpson questions identity and memory, gender and history, fact and fiction, playing eye and ear in tandem if not in synchrony to prompt consideration of how meaning is constructed. That she has often described herself as an observer and a listener informs an understanding of both her approach and her subjects. In her earliest black-and-white documentary street photographs (1978-80), Simpson isolated gestures that bespoke an intimacy between those framed in her viewfinder, recording what was less a decisive moment than one of coming into relation. Some of these photographs seem to capture crossed glances, pauses in an ongoing conversation. Others are glimpses of occasions, transitional events identifiable by a white confirmation or wedding dress, which convey a sense of palpable silence in exchanges between people just out of earshot.

When Simpson began to stage her own photographs in 1985 and to write accompanying texts, she came in closer. She allowed us to see a carefully framed black body, abstracted in gesture and in white clothing, yet also permitted us to read seemingly overheard comments that redirected and recomplicated the view. While her images captured gestures, her narratives imbued these images frozen in a never-changing present with memory, a past. The title of her first photo-text work, made in 1985, and of the exhibition of that year in which it was first exhibited was Gestures / Reenactments, and one can argue that all Simpson’s work is built on the juxtaposition of gestures and reenactments, creating meaning in the resonant gap between the two. It is a gap that invites the viewer / reader to enter, all the while requiring an active reckoning with some inalienable truths: seeing is not necessarily believing, and what we might see is altered not only by our individual experiences and assumptions but also, critically, by what we might hear.

 

The exhibition

Whether for still or moving picture productions, Lorna Simpson (b. 1960) uses her camera as catalyst to question identity and gender, genres and history, race and class, fact and fiction, memory and meanings. Assumptions of photographic “truth” are challenged and qualified – indeed redirected – by the images she creates that are inseparable from the texts she writes to accompany them, by the soundings she chooses  for videos, or by her pairings of vintage photographs with newly made renderings. The Jeu de Paume presents lorna Simpson’s first large-scale exhibition in Europe beginning with her earliest photo-text pieces of the 1980s through her newest video installation, Chess, 2013, which makes its debut in Paris.

Works in the exhibition show the artist drawing on traditional photo techniques such as gelatin silver prints in an intimate synthesis with speakerly texts (Gallery 1). They also show Simpson’s creation of new combines, among them serigraphs on felt with writings and images invoking film noir (Gallery 2), a video installation of three projections based on historic photographs and her own prior still photos (Gallery 3), constellations of recuperated photo-booth photos with her drawings isolating details from them as well as vintage photographs together with those re-staged by the artist (Gallery 4), and a video focusing on performance as well as time itself and its reversal (Gallery 5).

The exhibition’s parcours [route] reveals turning points in Simpson’s oeuvre as well as thematic continuities. The earliest pieces in the show are Simpson’s performative proto-cinematic photo-texts, beginning with the 1985 Gestures/ Reeactments, a title literally evocative of the work’s visual/verbal aspect while also paradigmatically descriptive of what would be her conceptual practice for the next three decades. Simpson herself makes a rare appearance in her work in two related pieces in the show: the 2009 epic still photo work 1957-2009 (Gallery 4), for which the artist re-enacted scenes from vintage photos, and Chess, 2013, (Gallery 3), which features re-enactments of some of the same photos.

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Gallery 1 introduces the artist’s signature, indeed iconic early images of the 1980s – a black figure in white clothing, face turned away from the camera or cropped out of the frame – accompanied by precisely crafted, allusive texts that recomplicate what is seen by what is heard in these voicings. The intention to deny a view of a face, as Simpson says, “was related to the idea that the one thing that people gravitate to in photography is the face and reading the expression and what that says about the person pictured, an emotional state, who they are, what they look like, deciphering and measuring. Who is being pictured, what is actually the subject? Photographing from the back was a way to get viewers’ attention as well as to consciously withdraw what they might expect to see.”

The performative photo-text works in Gallery 1 are Gestures/Reenactments, 1985 (created as part of her thesis project for her MFA at the University of California, San Diego), Waterbearer and Twenty Questions (A Sampler) (the first works that Simpson made when she moved to New York in 1986), as well as Five Day Forecast, 1988, and Stereo Styles, 1988. Beginning with Waterbearer, all of these except Gestures/Reenactments (which features a black male) show a black female in a white shift played by artist Alva Rogers, who was often mistaken for Simpson herself.

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Gallery 2 marks important changes the artist made during the ’90s, most notably Simpson’s surprising shift to printing her photographs on felt and absenting the human figure. At first she used surrogates for the body, seen in the many and various wigs she photographed and which she accompanied with texts that continued to address ideas of identity and gender (Wigs, 1994-2006). She used photographs taken during her travels for the next series of felt works, which were interior and exterior scenes (The Car, 1995, The Rock, 1995, The Staircase, 1998) that in both imagery and texts invoked film noir. These works led almost inevitably to the start of Simpson’s film and video work in 1997. (Her earliest photo-texts will be recognised by the viewer as proto-cinematic with their multiple frames and conversational voices.)

This gallery also reveals how Simpson continues to use her felt medium and returns to her own archive of images   as well as found objects. Three related works, though no longer using text, nevertheless “comment” on each other:  a video of a performance (Momentum, 2010) inspired by an early 1970s performance at Lincoln Center generated felt works based on vintage photographs of this famous New York theatre – Chandelier, 2011, Daytime, 2011, and Daytime (gold), 2011 – as well as the Gold Headed (2013) drawings, based on the dancers costumed head to foot in gold. Drawings are perhaps the least known medium in Simpson’s practice, and while they reveal the fluid gestures of her hand, visitors will recognise in these gold heads turned from the viewer an echo of the position of the figures  in Gallery 1.

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Gallery 3 is devoted to Simpson’s newest video, Chess, 2013, which is based on historic photos as well as her own earlier photographic piece, 1957-2009 (Gallery 4), in which she restaged found vintage photographs. Chess and 1957-2009 mark the rare instances in which Simpson has herself appeared in her work.

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Gallery 4 presents reenactments that use quotidian photographic genres to explore constructions of identity and that offer a collective portrait of photographic portraiture over time. All of the works in this gallery are based on found photographs Simpson purchased on eBay and each depicts anonymous subjects performing for the camera. 1957-2009 is based on photographs in a vintage album; Gather and Please remind me of who I am are constellations of bronze-framed found photo-booth images (from the 1920s to the 1970s) accompanied by Simpson’s similarly framed drawings of details from the photographs.

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Gallery 5 offers Simpson’s video installation Cloudscape, 2004, which focuses on performance itself and the soundings of a body, that of artist Terry Adkins whistling a hymn. Embodying memory (and the distortions of it) as she did in her earliest photo-works but playing also with the particularities of video, Simpson loops the video to play forward and backward. In this process a new melody is created even as the stationary figure appears same but different.

 

Lorna Simpson. 'Chess [Échecs]' 2013

 

Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)
Chess [Échecs]
2013
HD video installation with three projections, black & white, sound
10:25 minutes (loop)
Score and performance by Jason Moran
Courtesy the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels
© Lorna Simpson

 

Lorna Simpson. 'Chess [Échecs]' 2013

 

Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)
Chess [Échecs]
2013
HD video installation with three projections, black & white, sound
10:25 minutes (loop)
Score and performance by Jason Moran
Courtesy the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels
© Lorna Simpson

 

 

“Gestures” and “reenactments” could both be described as the underlying methods of Simpson’s practice for the decades to follow. Whether working with photographs she herself staged, found photographs, or archival film footage, her images captured gestures (as in her earliest documentary photographs of 1978-1980) while her series of multiple images, accompanied by texts, proposed simultaneous (if not synchronous) reenactments. This method also applied to works in which she replicated found images, whether turning images from her films into drawings, or using herself to re-play roles depicted by anonymous figures she had discovered in vintage photographs, either for staged still photographs (as in 1957-2009, 2009), or for moving pictures (as in the video Chess, 2013).

Chess, 2013, Simpson’s video installation made expressly for this exhibition, draws on images from 1957- 2009, her still photograph ensemble of 2009 (on view in Gallery 4). For both, in a departure from her earlier videos and prior staged photographs, Simpson herself performs. In 1957-2009, by reenacting scenes from found vintage prints with which they are shown, Simpson is “mirroring both the male and  the female character, in dress, pose, expression, and setting. When I would mention the idea of working with mirrors [for the Chess video] people would often mention the famous portraits of Picasso and Picabia taken at a photo studio in New York by an anonymous photographer who placed the subject   at a table in front of two mirrored panels at seventy-degree angles. The result is a five-way portrait that includes views that are not symmetrical and that offer slightly different angles: a surrealist trope of trick photography.”

Though the artist first rejected the idea of working with the mirror device used in these historic portraits, which she had seen many times, she decided to take it on fully and reconstruct it in her studio for this new video project after  art historian and sociologist Sarah Thornton sent her “a beautiful image of an unknown man of African descent in a white straw hat, which had been in an exhibition at MoMA [catalogue page 61]. It was a five-way portrait probably taken by the same photographer who had taken the portraits of Picasso and Picabia. I could no longer resist or dismiss this idea. I felt that it was demanding my attention.”

Shot in Simpson’s studio over the weekend of December 8, 2012, Chess is comprised of three video projections. For two of them Simpson again plays both female and male chess-players, and with the help of makeup and hair assistants, she now allows her characters to age. The third projection shows pianist Jason Moran performing his improvised score for this project, which was inspired by discussions between artist and composer about “mirroring in music,” especially “in the work of musician Cecil Taylor, who employs mirroring in his compositions.”

 

Lorna Simpson. 'The Car' 1995

 

Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)
The Car
1995
Serigraph on 12 felt panels with felt text panel
102 x 104 in (259.1 x 264.2cm)
Courtesy the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels
© Lorna Simpson

 

Lorna Simpson. 'The Car' (detail) 1995

 

Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)
The Car (detail)
1995
Serigraph on 12 felt panels with felt text panel
102 x 104 in (259.1 x 264.2cm)
Courtesy the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels
© Lorna Simpson

 

Lorna Simpson. '1957-2009' (detail) 2009

 

Lorna Simpson
1957-2009 (detail)
2009
299 gelatin silver prints, framed
5 x 5 in. (12.7 x 12.7cm) each (image size)
Rennie Collection, Vancouver
© Lorna Simpson

 

 

While collecting photo booth images on eBay, Simpson found the first of the vintage photographs – a woman in a tight sweater-dress leaning on a car – that would generate 19572009 (2009). The artist subsequently bought the entire album and in 2009 restaged these photographs of an anonymous black woman and sometimes a man performing for their camera between June and August 1957 in Los Angeles, which they may have done in the hope of gaining movie work in Hollywood or as an independent project of self-invention. For 1957-2009, Simpson reenacted both female and male roles, and the 299 images are comprised of both the 1957 originals and Simpson’s 2009 remakes. Simpson again reenacted a selection of these vignettes for her video installation Chess, 2013.

 

Lorna Simpson. 'Cloudscape [Paysage nuageux]' 2004

 

Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)
Cloudscape [Paysage nuageux]
2004
Video projection, black & white, sound
3:00 minutes (loop)
Centre national des arts plastiques, purchase in 2005
Photo courtesy the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels
© Lorna Simpson/Centre national des arts plastiques

 

 

Lorna Simpson’s video installation Cloudscape (2004) isolates one man, Simpson’s friend, the artist and musician Terry Adkins, in a dark room, spotlighted as he whistles a hymn and is enveloped in fog. Focusing on the ephemerality of performance, the artist employs a technique afforded by her medium to play with time as well. Simpson runs the video forward and then also backward in a continuous loop, creating new visual and oral/aural permutations of gesture and reenactment. In the reversal of the time sequence, the image remains somewhat familiar while the tune turns into something else, a different melody.

 

Lorna Simpson. 'Momentum' 2010

 

Lorna Simpson (American, b. 1960)
Momentum
2010
HD video, color, sound
6:56 minutes
Courtesy the artist; Salon 94, New York; and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels
© Lorna Simpson

 

 

As Simpson explored new mediums, such as film and video starting in 1997 or found photographs in  the late 1990s, she continued to work in parallel with her felt serigraphs. In this gallery are three related sets of works that, unlike her earlier photo-text pieces, are all based on a personal memory: performing as a youngster, age 12, in gold costume, wig, and body paint in a ballet recital at New York’s Lincoln Center. Simpson re-staged such a performance for her video Momentum (2010).

 

 

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23
Oct
11

Exhibition: ‘Raphaël Dallaporta: Observation’ at Foam, Amsterdam

Exhibition dates: 2nd September – 26th October 2011

Foam Paul Huf Award 2011

 

 

Raphaël Dallaporta. 'Fragile, Blood 1' 2010

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980)
Fragile, Blood 1
2010
© Raphaël Dallaporta

 

 

The positive pleasure of inflicting cruelty at an ambiguous physical and ethical distance. Use limited only by the imagination of the user. Detonated remotely using a laptop computer. 10 million times. US$3 each.

Marcus

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

 

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980) 'Domestic Slavery, Angha' 2006

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980)
Domestic Slavery, Angha
2006
© Raphaël Dallaporta

 

Raphaël Dallaporta 'Domestic Slavery, Henriette' 2006

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980)
Domestic Slavery, Henriette
2006
© Raphaël Dallaporta

 

 

Domestic Slavery, 2006

Cold, distant images of building facades are associated with text. The narratives are written by Ondine Millot to describe the events that took place at the exact address of the buildings in the photographs. The spectator comes to understand that the series deals with an often undocumented consequence of human trafficking: modern slavery.

The images force us to come to terms with the upsetting reality that is hidden behind the ordinary facades. Raphaël Dallaporta denounces unbearable situations where one human being reduces another to the status of thing, and gives it depth through the distance of the photographs and his refusal to sensationalise.

Text from the Musée Nicéphore Niépce website [Online] Cited 29/03/2020

 

Raphaël Dallaporta. 'Ruins (Season 1), The Balkh-AB gorges, Afghanistan' 2011

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980)
Ruins (Season 1), The Balkh-AB gorges, Afghanistan
2011
© Raphaël Dallaporta

 

 

Ruin, Season 1, 2011

In the autumn of 2010, Raphaël Dallaporta took part in an archaeological mission in the Bactriane region in Afghanistan, scene of Alexander the Great’s mythical conquest. Using a drone he designed himself, he took aerial photographs of endangered or heretofore unknown archaeological sites in a country at war. The remote controlled device was timed to take photos of unrivalled precision every five seconds. The way the images are put together with their voluntarily asymmetrical contours depict these inaccessible monuments and places at their best. The most cutting-edge technology reveals the artist’s themes – destruction, the precariousness of things. It brings to light that which was and is no longer. Is this not the very definition of all photography?

Text from the Musée Nicéphore Niépce website [Online] Cited 29/03/2020

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980) 'Fragile, "Four Moods", Black Bile'  2010

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980)
Fragile, “Four Moods”, Black Bile 
2010
© Raphaël Dallaporta

 

Raphaël Dallaporta. 'Fragile, Cardiopulmonary system' 2010

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980)
Fragile, Cardiopulmonary system
2010
© Raphaël Dallaporta

 

 

Undetermined circumstances

The body of the subject whose presumed identity is …, aged 92, was found in a ditch around 10.05am by a walker whose attention had been attracted by his dog.

The autopsy that we carried out on the body showed the presence of a state of extremely advanced putrefaction with partial skeletonisation, consistent with a death dating back one month in an outdoor environment; it is not possible to be more precise. There is no immediately detectable cause of death. No lesions suggesting recent detectable violence were observed. As for identification, the deceased is an adult male, wearing a pacemaker and an old surgical scar on the abdominal wall.

 

Fragile, 2010

Raphaël Dallaporta photographs organs, like the encyclopaedic colour plates for an anatomy class. The legend, again, explains the origins of these silent images. The organ represented is not the issue; the reason for its presence on the slab is the issue. The apparent neutrality of the shot, according to a strict protocol (frontal shot, on a black background enabling the strong lighting of the « subject »), isolates each fragment of the body as a clue that enables to determine the cause of death. These relics of flesh and bone have a real role to play. But the way they are shot lends them a metaphysical and philosophical dimension that reminds us of life’s ephemeral nature and human vulnerability.

Text from the Musée Nicéphore Niépce website [Online] Cited 29/03/2020

 

Raphaël Dallaporta. 'Fragile, Pacemaker' 2010

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980)
Fragile, Pacemaker
2010
© Raphaël Dallaporta

 

 

French photographer Raphaël Dallaporta (b. 1980) received the Foam Paul Huf Award earlier this year from an international jury. The prize is organised by Foam and is awarded annually to up and coming international photographers below the age of 35. A major aspect of the award is an exhibition. Observation appears at Foam from 2 September to 26 October. Characteristic of the show’s four series is the clinical, perceptive style of photography. Dallaporta’s photos possess an inner tension that stems from the beauty of the object and the serious tone of the subject. The photographer works intensively with specialists in fields relating to his series. Jury chair François Hébel (director of Les Rencontres d’Arles international photography festival) comments on Dallaporta’s work that ‘He combines involvement with a highly analytical approach to social perversities. His uncompromising, conceptual and extremely creative approach mark him as an authentic artist who stands out in the young generation of photographers.’

The landmines in the Antipersonnel series have an exquisite beauty: small, with pleasant colours and an attractive form. Elegantly photographed, simply framed and persuasively presented, their aesthetic quality is what first attracts attention. Until we realise the full purpose of their existence: pure cruelty.

Fragile features frontal and objective shots of organs and limbs taken from corpses. Dallaporta worked with a team of forensic surgeons for this series. While the physicians were looking for causes of death, Dallaporta recorded the body parts they examined and the instruments they used. The power of this work comes from the combination of apparently neutral images and texts relating to human pain.

Dallaporta also worked with experts when making Ruins. He travelled with a team of French archaeologists to Afghanistan. Using a drone – a small remote-controlled helicopter – he took numerous photos of the war-ravaged landscape. In combination, these form a single large aerial picture that also shows traces of ancient civilisations. Past and present come together in this series of almost scientific photos.

In Domestic Slavery, Dallaporta (pictures) and Ondine Millot (text) tackle the tragic reality of this phenomenon: people, many unregistered migrants, held against their will in places where their voice cannot be heard. While their names have been altered, the stories are true. Dallaporta’s clinical, unsentimental pictures of the buildings in which these modern-day slaves are kept testify to the banality of day-to-day inhumanity.

Text from the Foam website

 

Antipersonnel, 2004

Unknown objects seem to emerge from the darkness. The legend quickly informs us that they are anti-personnel mines. Raphaël Dallaporta deals with the object reproduced to scale and lets us imagine the consequences of its existence. There are no bloody reportage images to illustrate the mutilations caused by these devices. The photographer presents us with contemporary still life that appear inoffensive but that tend to be aestheticised by photographic techniques all the better to erase the actual use of the object.

Text from the Musée Nicéphore Niépce website [Online] Cited 29/03/2020

 

Raphaël Dallaporta. 'Antipersonnel, Blast Mine Type 72B China' 2004

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980)
Antipersonnel, Blast Mine Type 72B China
2004
© Raphaël Dallaporta

 

 

Type 72 blast mines are said to make up 100 million of China’s 110 million antipersonnel landmine stockpiles (Chinese officials claim this figure is exaggerated). Manufactured by China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO), Type-72s are reportedly priced at US$3 each. The Type-72B includes an anti-handling mechanism that makes it impossible to neutralise – if the mine is moved more than 8º from the horizontal, it will explode, amputating the limb that activated it.

 

Raphaël Dallaporta. 'Antipersonnel, Submunition BLU-­3/B USA' 2004

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980)
Antipersonnel, Submunition BLU-­3/B USA
2004
© Raphaël Dallaporta

 

 

On release from a CBU-2C.A bomb this 785 g submunition – known as the “Pineapple” – is stabilised and slowed in its descent by six fins. Each CBU-2C/A contains 409 BLU-3/Bs, of which nearly 25 percent do not explode on impact. d: 73mm W: 785g

 

Raphaël Dallaporta. 'Antipersonnel, Bounding Fragmentation Mine M-16, USA' 2004

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980)
Antipersonnel, Bounding Fragmentation Mine M-16, USA
2004
© Raphaël Dallaporta

 

 

When detonated the M-16 antipersonnel bounding fragmentation mine is shot up approximately 1.5m in the air and explodes within 0.5 seconds, creating a lethal radius of 10m. Nicknamed the “Bouncing Betty,” each mine is supplied with four tripwires (two olive-green, two sand-coloured) and a wrench. In September 2002 (the most recent statistics available) the USA had 465,330 M16s in stock.

 

Raphaël Dallaporta. 'Antipersonnel, Directional Fragmentation Mine M-18/A1, USA' 2004

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980)
Antipersonnel, Directional Fragmentation Mine M-18/A1, USA
2004
© Raphaël Dallaporta

 

 

A “Claymore” directional fragmentation mine releases 700 steel balls when detonated by a hand-turned dynamo, a tripwire or, when used with the “Matrix” system, remotely using a laptop computer. (Multiple Claymores can also be linked together using a detonator cord.) A 1996 Department of the Army filed manual states that, “the number of ways in which the Claymore may be employed is limited only by the imagination of the user.” In September 2002 (the most recent available statistics), Claymores made up 403, 096 of the 10, 404, 148 landmines stockpiled by the USA.

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980) 'Antipersonnel Bounding Fragmentation Mine, V-69, Italy' 2004

 

Raphaël Dallaporta (French, b. 1980)
Antipersonnel Bounding Fragmentation Mine, V-69, Italy
2004
© Raphaël Dallaporta

 

 

Antipersonnel Bounding Fragmentation Mine, V-69, Italy. The V-69 can be set off by footfall pressure or through a tripwire. When detonated the fuse sets off propellant gases that fire the mine’s inner body 45cm above the ground. This explodes sending out more than 1,000 pieces of chopped steel. Between 1982 and 1985, its manufacturer Valsella sold around 9 million V-69s to Iraq. The mine was given a nickname by Iraqi minelayers: the “Broom”. 120mm, 3.2kg.

 

 

Foam
Keizersgracht 609
1017 DS Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Phone: + 31 20 5516500

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22
Jul
10

Text: ‘Across’ by Peter Handke

July 2019

 

As a follow up to my posting ‘How to Understand the Light on a Landscape’ by Pablo Helguera, my friend artist Ian Lobb sent me this text from the first few pages of the novel Across by Peter Handke (1986). In the novel the narrator, Andreas Loser, knocks down a stranger in the street, takes a leave of absence from his post as teacher of ancient languages and leaves his family to move to a drab flat in a housing development.

“Handke’s novel tells the story of a quiet, organised classics teacher named Andreas Loser. One night, on the way to his regularly scheduled card game, he passes a tree that has been defaced by a swastika. Impulsively yet deliberately, he tracks down the defacer and kills him. With this act, Loser has crossed an invisible threshold, and will be stuck in this secular purgatory until he can confess his crime.”

Text from Amazon website

.
In this wonderful piece of text the first paragraph sets the scene before one of the most inspired pieces of writing, a meditation on story, on nothing, on light, joy and emptiness – a story of “Emptiness” that is fullness. Now and forever.

Marcus

 

 

 

Text from the novel Across by Peter Handke

 

 

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08
May
09

Review: ‘My Jesus Lets Me Rub His Belly’ exhibition by Martin Smith at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 21st April – 16th May 2009

 

Martin Smith. 'Hot/humid/oppressive/stifling/still' 2009

 

Martin Smith
Hot/humid/oppressive/stifling/still
2009
Pigment print and collage
90 x 130 cm

 

 

This is an interesting, well constructed exhibition of photographs, collage and sculpture by Martin Smith presented at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne that addresses issues of place and faith: memories of growing up within a religious framework. The work is well resolved, the themes explored are poignant, full of pathos, laden with sardonic humour and pull no punches.

The main body of the exhibition are contemporary personal photographs of sunsets, landscapes and urban spaces (such as the photograph of Central Park in New York, above). Incised into the surface of the photograph, actually cut into the surface, are narratives of boredom, anger and the blind injustice of devotion, memories of stories of a fifteen year old boy. In some of the photographs the lettering follows the pictorial representation of the photograph, in others it overwrites it. The cut letters fall away to the bottom of the picture and are captured by the picture frame, sitting at the bottom of each image like the leaves of autumn – half remembered stories that become jumbled in the mind, played over and over again.

These images consolidate both photographic and written texts while at the same time undermining their veracity and referentiality. Image and text are performative, playing off of each other to provide a transgressive textuality that becomes a mode of agential resistance capable of fragmenting and releasing the subject. In this engagement between image and text the work becomes intertextual, the ritual of production engaging a network of texts, a discursive multiplicity that traverses the entire scope of social, cultural, and institutional production. The childhood taboo of not criticising ‘faith’ is cross/ed in the process of re-remembering, re-inscription.

In these assemblages the surface of the photograph and the body of the text are subverted through a ritualised cutting, like the incision of the stigmata into the body of Christ. They become sites of resistance. As Deleuze and Guittari have noted of this process the site of resistance is both a productive and disruptive re-territorialization and de-territorialization of meaning:

“For them (Deleuze and Guattari), assemblages are the processes by which various configurations of linked components function in an intersection with each other, a process that can be both productive and disruptive. Any such process involves a territorialization; there is a double movement where something accumulates meanings (re-territorialization), but does so co-extensively with a de-territorialization where the same thing is disinvested of meanings. The organization of a territory is characterized by such a double movement … An assemblage is an extension of this process, and can be thought of as constituted by an intensification of these processes around a particular site through a multiplicity of intersections of such territorializations.”1

.
The particular site, the particular intersection that Smith addresses in his work is that of memory, faith and place. The lack of fixity in this intersection provides the artist with abundant opportunity to reinscribe the already inscribed ritual of faith, subverting the iteration of the norms already attributed to it, providing a loss of original meaning and the gaining of new meanings. This productive, disruptive re-inscription provides the positionality of the work and the viewer struggles with the emotional conflicts that result from this territorialization: even if you don’t know these stories they challenge what you believe, now.

Counterbalancing the colour photographs are white collages that are embossed with the answer to the celebrants greeting “The Lord be with you” to which the people respond “And also with you.” Hovering in the background of the work the words are again subverted, this time in a resurrection of cut letters – instead of being cut into the photograph the letters project outwards towards the viewer forming commodified shapes such as cars, underpants and people. The joy doesn’t stop there: the two sculptures in the exhibition add to the chaos with a wonderful sense of humour.

Through their hypertexts the work “becomes more and more layered until they are architectural in design, until their relationship to the context from which they have grown cannot be talked about through the simple models offered by referentiality, or by attributions of cause and effect.”2

Without absolute attribution the work becomes a form of transubstantiation. The flexibility of memory and the orthodoxy of religion are transformed into a spirituality of the self that the child of fifteen with blood running down his arms from his personal stigmata of boredom could never have imagined. At the end of days, when all is said and done, the funny diatribes with their ambiguous photographs are homily and heretic, and together form a more inclusive body of bliss: ‘And also with you and you and you and you’.

Whatever your faith, whoever you are.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

 

  1. Wood, Aylish. “Fresh Kill: Information technologies as sites of resistance,” in Munt, Sally (ed.,). Technospaces: Inside the New Media. London: Continuum, 2001, p. 166
  2. Burnett, Ron. Cultures of Vision: Images, Media, & the Imaginary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995, pp. 137-138

Thank you to Edwin Nicholls for his help.

 

Martin Smith. 'Hot/humid/oppressive/stifling/still' 2009 (detail)

 

Martin Smith
Hot/humid/oppressive/stifling/still (detail)
2009
Pigment print and collage
90 x 130 cm

 

Installation view of Martin Smith exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne

 

In the above installation photograph you can just see the cut letters lying at the bottom of the picture frame

 

Martin Smith. 'I still hate that man' 2009

 

Martin Smith
I still hate that man
2009
Pigment print and collage
130 x 180 cm

 

Martin Smith. 'My Frenetic, Anxiety Driven Snuffing' 2009

 

Martin Smith
My Frenetic, Anxiety Driven Snuffing
2009
Pigment print and collage
90 x 130 cm

 

 

Artist statement

I grew up in the bayside suburbs of Brisbane, Australia with a speech impediment. My teenage years were spent watching and observing, as I was too embarrassed to speak. My inability to express myself during this time left an indelible mark on my personal history and has provided the impetus for my artistic enquiries. Therefore it is no surprise that my art practice is primarily about language and the modes of representation used to express and interpret personal experience.

Among the studio methodologies that I employ are the combination of traditional story telling writing with vernacular photography. The text and the images have no literal relationship and I am very careful to avoid any obvious connection between the two. I write personal stories then hand-cut the text out of the image. The removed letters from the image are collected and captured by the picture frame, sitting at the bottom of each image like fallen leaves creating an Autumnal scene where visible change has occurred and the picture and the figure are going through a transition. The text punctures the surface of the image disrupting the way we view and read the work. We can’t fully view the image because of the text and we can’t read the text without the image creating a constant back and forth between the two. When viewing the visual and textual oscillation between the two narrative devices that have no literal connection we find balance outside the picture frame in a new discursive space. It is through this collision of narrative and languages that unique interpretations of personal experience are built. I am interested in exploring spaces of meaning that are created when two or more narrative devices are blended.

In other works the letters are also glued directly onto the wall of the gallery to form recognisable but featureless figures. These installations explore how meaning and identity are generated through language. The individual letters (the building blocks of language) combine together to form a representation of a life that exists only through the formulation of language.

Recently I performed a stand-up ‘comedy’ routine as another vehicle for exploring story-telling and personal histories. The routine titled “Hello Newmarket Hotel” was performed at an ‘open mic’ night in front of a regular comedy audience. The aim was to recreate and recontextualise a particularly painful childhood memory while incorporating known ‘comedy’ tropes. This work along with my whole practice is interested in the role that photography, and other forms of narrative, plays in the construction of our identity and how personal histories are written and interpreted.

Martin Smith 2017

 

Martin Smith. 'The Relationship Blossomed' 2009

 

Martin Smith
The Relationship Blossomed
2009
Pigment print and collage
115 x 115 cm

 

Martin Smith. 'The Relationship Blossomed' 2009 (detail)

 

Martin Smith
The Relationship Blossomed (detail)
2009
Pigment print and collage
115 x 115 cm

 

Martin Smith. 'The Homily' 2009

 

Martin Smith
The Homily
2009
Pigment print and collage
130 x 90 cm

 

Martin Smith, 'And also with you #2' 2009

 

Martin Smith
And also with you #2
2009
Collage on paper, eva
42 x 30 cm

 

Martin Smith. 'And also with you #3' 2009

 

Martin Smith
And also with you #3
2009
Collage on paper, eva
42 x 30 cm

 

Martin Smith. 'After 3 months on the road Mary started to loosen up' 2009

 

Martin Smith
After 3 months on the road Mary started to loosen up
2009
Photographic carving on marble base
18 x 10 x 10 cm

 

 

Sophie Gannon Gallery
2, Albert Street
Richmond, Vic 3121

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 5pm

Sophie Gannon Gallery 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.

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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