Posts Tagged ‘video installation

12
May
17

Exhibition: ‘Political Acts: Pioneers of Performance Art in Southeast Asia’ at the Arts Centre Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 11th February – 21st May 2017

Curator: Dr Steven Tonkin

 

 

Just a quick comment on this exhibition as I’m not feeling very well with my ongoing hand issues.

This is one of the best exhibitions I have seen this year in Melbourne.

All of the works, whether video or photographic, are conceptually engaging, intellectually stimulating and visually powerful. I spent a couple of hours over two visits soaking in the narratives and mise-en-scène of every performance. I was totally immersed in the stories the artists were telling. As with all good art, the works engage the viewer and challenge our point of view in the most profound and complex ways.

While the works may be “political” “acts” the performances act on the viewer at a deeper existential level: what are we doing to the world, our only planet, and the people that live on it. What is the cost of rampant capitalism and consumerism in social, political and environmental terms. Every single work in this exhibition is grounded in these concerns. Unlike a lot of contemporary art which is all about surface and as deep as a peanut, this conceptual art is based on the fundamental building blocks of humanity – our connection to earth and to one another – often expressed through aesthetically beautiful images manifested in the physical body.

Favourites are the mesmerising 12-hour performance of Melati Suryodarmo I’m a Ghost in My Own House (2012) where the artist’s “methodical grinding of charcoal briquettes to dust can be seen as a metaphor for the crushing of the human spirit by the pressures of life”; the powerful dancing and mechanical digger in Khvay Samnang’s Where is my Land? (2014); and the beautiful face pictures in Moe Satt’s F ‘n’ F (Face and Fingers) (2009). I could watch the latter over and over again, so archetypal and elemental does the androgynous face of the artist become.

But really, every piece in this exhibition is worthy of contemplation. Not to be missed.

Marcus

 

Performance art is one of the driving forces in contemporary art across Southeast Asia. It is an art form that acknowledges the cultural traditions of performance within the region, while also providing avant-garde artists with a creative means to critically explore social, political and environmental issues.

The exhibition Political Acts will present a selection of artists’ films, photographs and installations by some of the innovative pioneers of performance art in Southeast Asia.

Artists represented are Dadang Christanto (Indonesia/Australia), Lee Wen (Singapore), Liew Teck Leong (Malaysia), Khvay Samnang (Cambodia), Moe Satt (Myanmar), Melati Suryodarmo (Indonesia) and Tran Luong (Vietnam).

 

 

 

Melati Suryodarmo (Born 1969, Surakarta, Central Java, Indonesia)
I’m a Ghost in My Own House (extract)
2012
Single channel video installation
Duration: 30.30 mins

12-hour performance at Lawangwangi Foundation, Bandung, Indonesia, in 2012

 

 

Melati Suryodarmo‘s practice encompasses live art performances which are then presented through films, photography and installations. A film of her renowned 12-hour durational work of I’m a Ghost in My Own House (2012), is shown in this exhibition. In this work the artist’s methodical grinding of charcoal briquettes to dust can be seen as a metaphor for the crushing of the human spirit by the pressures of life.

The artist says that “talking about politics, society or psychology is meaningless unless it can be manifested in the physical body.” This is exemplified by Sweet Dreams Sweet, a group performance choreographed by Suryodarmo in Jakarta in 2013. It involved a group of 30 young female performers, all identically dressed to conceal their individuality. This work questions the impact of the political and cultural hegemony in Indonesian society.

 

Melati Suryodarmo. 'Sweet Dreams Sweet' 2013

 

Melati Suryodarmo
Sweet Dreams Sweet
2013
Courtesy the artist

 

Khvay Samnang. 'Rubber Man #3' 2014

 

Khvay Samnang (Born 1982, Cambodia)
Rubber Man #3
2014
Courtesy the artist and SA SA BASSAC, Phnom Penh

 

 

Since 2011 Khvay Samnang has used sand as a material for social and political commentary. In Where is my Land? (2014) he critiques the unstoppable momentum of urban development around Phnom Penh, which has resulted in the infilling of traditional lakes and the forced removal of local residents.

In his recent and widely celebrated Rubber Man series from 2014, Khvay poured pristine white rubber over his naked and partially obscured body. He draws attention to the devastating environmental impact of large-scale, foreign-owned rubber plantations on the once remote and previously pristine rainforests of northeast Cambodia.

 

 

Khvay Samnang (Born 1982, Cambodia)
Where is my Land? (extract)
2014
Single channel video installation
Duration: 13.30 mins

 

Lee Wen. 'Splash! #7' 2003

 

Lee Wen
Splash! #7
2003
Courtesy the artist and iPreciation, Singapore

 

 

A driving force in contemporary art across Southeast Asia, performance art will be the focus of a new free exhibition at Arts Centre Melbourne in Political Acts: Pioneers of Performance Art in Southeast Asia, presented as part of the inaugural Asia TOPA: Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts in Gallery 1 from 11 February 2017…

“In the last decade performance art and performative practices have taken centre stage within the global contemporary art world,” says Curator, Dr Steven Tonkin. “The seven artists in Political Acts are ground-breaking practitioners of performance art. As individuals, they offer personal viewpoints on their respective national and regional cultures. As a collective, they illustrate interesting commonalities in artistic strategies and approaches.”

“Most importantly, these provocative contemporary artists highlight the major political, social, economic and environmental issues confronted and critiqued through performance art in Southeast Asia today.”

Dadang Christanto is an internationally acclaimed artist. Born in central Java in 1957, Christanto moved to Australia in 1999. He exhibits and performs regularly in both Australia and Indonesia and has spent his artistic life commemorating the victims of political violence and crimes against humanity.

Singaporean performance artist Lee Wen explores social identity and is best known for his Yellow Man performances. Painting his own body with bright yellow poster paint, he expresses an exaggerated symbol of his ethnic identity. He received the prestigious Cultural Medallion for his contribution to visual art in Singapore.

Born in Kuala Lumpur in 1970, Liew Teck Leong studied Fine Art at the Malaysian Institute of Art in the early 1990s, initially becoming an expressionist painter. In the 2000s his practice changed direction to incorporate installation, photography and public art performances, when he became an active member of the artists’ collective Rumah Air Panas/RAP Art Society.

Born in 1982, Khvay Samnang studied painting and graduated from the Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, in 2006. He now works across performance, photography, video and installation. Khvay was one of the co-founders of the artists’ collective known as Stiev Selepak (or Art Rebels), and was involved in establishing the artist-run space Sa Sa Art Projects in Phnom Penh’s historic White Building. He is one of the leading Cambodian artists to have come to international attention over the last decade.

Born in Yangon in 1983, Moe Satt is one of the cohort of young artists who have begun to transform the contemporary art scene in Myanmar. Principally self taught, Moe Satt uses his body as the primary vehicle for his art, although his practice now also encompasses photography, film and installations. His artistic career mirrors the wider socio-political changes that have occurred in Myanmar over the last decade, from isolation under military rule to the current democratic reforms.

Born in 1969 in Surakarta (or Solo), Central Java, Indonesia, Melati Suryodarmo grew up in the creative environment provided by her father Suprapto, founder of Amerta – an exploratory free-form dance movement. Suryodarmo sees her art practice as opening the door to new perceptions, traversing traditional cultural and political boundaries ‘in an effort to find [one’s] identity’.

Born in Hanoi in 1960, Tran Luong trained as a painter at the Hanoi University of Fine Arts. He achieved recognition as a member of the ‘Gang of Five’, a group of artists whose works were a catalyst for contemporary art in Vietnam from the late 1980s. A widely respected multidisciplinary artist, curator and mentor for the next generation of contemporary Vietnamese artists, his collaborative approach to art-making involves local communities.

“The inaugural Asia TOPA: Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts is an artistic celebration of our relationship with contemporary Asia,” says Arts Centre Melbourne CEO, Claire Spencer. “Vital, fresh and always unpredictable, Asia TOPA offers a city-wide window onto the creative imaginations fuelling the many cultures of our region.”

“Cultural engagement is key to expressing who we are, where we have come from, and how we connect with each other across the Asia-Pacific region. The dazzling array of artists featured in Asia TOPA will provide new ways of understanding the deep connections that run between us all.”

Press release from the Arts Centre Melbourne

 

Dadang Christanto. 'Tooth Brushing' 1979-2015-2017

 

Dadang Christanto (Born 1957, central Java)
Tooth Brushing
1979-2015-2017
Courtesy the artist, Gallerysmith, and 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

 

 

Dadang Christanto (Born 1957, central Java)
Tooth Brushing (extract)
2017
Single channel video installation
Duration: 6.00 mins

Performance in Political Acts: Pioneers of Performance Art in Southeast Asia at the Arts Centre Melbourne on 10 February 2017

 

 

Moe Satt (Born 1983, Yangon, Myanmar)
F ‘n’ F (Face and Fingers) (extract)
2009
Single channel video
Duration: 12.00 mins

 

 

Moe Satt’s early performance piece, F ‘n’ F (Face and Fingers) from 2008-09, is simple in conception but complex in the multiple meanings that can be read into the choreographed combinations of hand and facial gestures. Among the artist’s favourites are a universal ‘Thumbs Up’ and the potent symbol of a ‘Gun’ pressed to his temples.

In his The Bicycle-Tyre-Rolling Event from Yangon the artist re-enacts a childhood game of racing discarded rubber bicycle tyres with friends. In this series of photographs the public places and monuments he rolls the tyre past present a performative narrative of his country’s history. For example, the beautiful vistas of Yangon’s two large man-made lakes belie their entwined histories of demonstrations and death.

 

Installation view of Moe Satt's 'The Bicycle-Tyre-Rolling Event from Yangon' (2013)

 

Installation view of Moe Satt’s The Bicycle-Tyre-Rolling Event from Yangon (2013)

 

 

Tran Luong (Born 1960, Hanoi)
Steam Rice Man (extract)
2001
Single channel video
Duration: 5.00 mins

Performance at the Mao Khe Coal Mine, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam in 2001

 

 

Tran Luong (Born 1960, Hanoi)
Lap Lòe (extract)
2012
Three channel video and sound installation
Duration: 5.00 mins

 

 

Tran Luong‘s collaborative approach to art-making often involves working with local communities, such as rural coal miners in northern Vietnam in 2001. During that time he created his early performance art work Steam Rice Man.

Tran Luong weaves his personal experiences with concerns for the wider socio-political situation in Vietnam. One influential moment was seeing his son arrive home from school wearing a red scarf around his neck. It reminded the artist of the communist red scarf he had to wear as a boy.

In Lap Lòe (or ‘flicker’), the three channel video installation in this exhibition, a red scarf has become aesthetically abstracted for the screen – blowing like a flag in the wind, snapping hypnotically and painfully across the artist’s body, and falling gracefully through the area. The red scarf is a powerful symbol for personal and collective memory.

 

Tran Luong (Born 1960, Hanoi) 'Coc Cach' 2013-16

 

Tran Luong (Born 1960, Hanoi)
Coc Cach
2013-16
Courtesy the artist

 

Liew Teck Leong. 'Body+Dots+Politics (Yellow)' 2016

 

Liew Teck Leong (Born 1970, Kuala Lumpur)
Body+Dots+Politics (Yellow)
2016
Courtesy the artist

 

 

Arts Centre Melbourne
Gallery 1, Theatres Building
100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC 3004

Arts Centre Melbourne website

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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).

 

 

Jeu de Paume
1, Place de la Concorde
75008 Paris
métro Concorde
Phone: 01 47 03 12 50

Opening hours:
Tuesday: 12.00 – 21.00
Wednesday – Friday: 12.00 – 19.00
Saturday and Sunday: 10.00 – 19.00
Closed Monday

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14
Aug
12

Exhibition: ‘Naoya Hatakeyama: Natural Stories’ at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA)

Exhibition dates: 28th July – 4th November 2012

 

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

 

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'Lime Hills #12801' 1986

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Lime Hills #12801
1986
Chromogenic print
11 13/16 in. x 14 15/16 in (30 cm x 38cm)
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photograph
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'Lime Hills #22916' 1988

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Lime Hills #22916
1988
Chromogenic print
11 13/16 in. x 14 15/16 in (30 cm x 38cm)
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'Lime Hills #23514' 1988

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Lime Hills #23514
1988
Chromogenic print
11 13/16 in. x 14 15/16 in (30 cm x 38cm)
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'Lime Hills #27403' 1989

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Lime Hills #27403
1989
Chromogenic print
11 13/16 in. x 14 15/16 in (30 cm x 38cm)
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'Lime Hills #29211' 1990

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Lime Hills #29211
1990
Chromogenic print
11 13/16 in. x 14 15/16 in (30 cm x 38cm)
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

 

Lime Hills (Quarry Series), 1986-1991

Each year nearly two hundred million tons of limestone – virtually the only natural resource in Japan – are cut to produce the cement necessary to build the nation’s many cities, as well as to make additives used in paper, medicine, and food products. Hatakeyama was drawn to this industrial subject from a young age; his first artistic explorations took the form of paintings of the cement factory that he passed each day as a child. For Lime Hills, his earliest photographic series, Hatakeyama returned to the area near his hometown on the northeastern coast of Japan to investigate the nearby limestone quarries and their corresponding factories. Over the next five years he broadened his scope to include mines throughout Japan, from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south. Reflecting on the physical connection between these sites and civilisation, the artist later noted: “If the concrete buildings and highways that stretch to the horizon are all made from limestone dug from the hills, and if they should all be ground to dust and this vast quantity of calcium carbonate returned to its precise points of origin, why then, with the last spoonful, the ridge lines of the hills would be restored to their original dimensions.”

These small-scale photographs offer visions of the excavated land that at first glance seem idyllic. Often shooting in the golden evening light with a large-format camera, Hatakeyama captured the sculptural contours of the processed earth, infusing it with the luminous glow seen in many Romantic landscape paintings of the nineteenth century. Yet the Romantic tradition, which highlighted the awesome terror of nature, is upended in Hatakeyama’s pictures, which instead uncover unexpected pleasures in the tamed and built environment, ultimately suggesting the artificiality of conventional notions of beauty.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'Sollac Méditerranée, Fos-sur-Mer, #06709' 2003

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Sollac Méditerranée, Fos-sur-Mer, #06709
2003
From the series Atmos
Chromogenic print
27 9/16 in. x 35 7/16 in (70 cm x 90cm)
Courtesy the artist
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'Sollac Méditerranée, Fos-sur-Mer, #06709' 2003

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Sollac Méditerranée, Fos-sur-Mer, #06709
2003
From the series Atmos
Chromogenic print
27 9/16 in. x 35 7/16 in (70 cm x 90cm)
Courtesy the artist
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

 

Atmos, 2003

In 2003 Hatakeyama was invited to the Camargue, near Fos-sur-Mer, France, to photograph the landscape surrounding a steel factory located on the eastern edge of the Rhône delta. He worked from two perspectives, shooting on the factory grounds as well as from the surrounding landscape, much of which is conserved as a nature park. His photographs contrast the idyllic serenity of the flat plains where the Rhône river meets the Mediterranean Sea with the dramatic clouds of steam – formed when the coke used in steel making is doused in cool water – that often rise above this terrain.

Upon discovering this impressive phenomenon the artist reflected: “The etymology of ‘atmosphere’ is the ancient Greek words for vapor (atmos) and sphere (sphaira). Once I learned this, the air that filled the Camargue and the steam from the factory seemed to fuse into one before my eyes. It no longer felt strange to see signs of humanity in the sky and the land, or to sense nature in the cloud of steam from the factory. And I began to feel that it would no longer be possible to draw a clear line at the border between nature and the artificial.” Through Hatakeyama’s lens, the factory seems at once tranquil and volatile, surrounded by the golden light, billowing pastel clouds, and thick atmosphere found in many early twentieth-century paintings of industrial sites. Like the Impressionists, who embraced modern life by finding their subjects in new technologies, Hatakeyama presents new landscapes that complicate the conventional boundaries between nature and industry.”

Wall text from the exhibition

 

 

From July 28 through November 4, 2012, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will present the work of one of Japan’s most important contemporary photographers in the exhibition Naoya Hatakeyama: Natural Stories. This will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in a U.S. museum and the first presentation of his work on the West Coast.

Organised by the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in association with SFMOMA, the exhibition gathers work spanning Naoya Hatakeyama’s entire career, including more than 100 photographs and two video installations, offering viewers new insight into the artist’s practice and place in the rich history of Japanese photography. The presentation at SFMOMA, the sole U.S. venue for this internationally traveling retrospective, is overseen by Lisa J. Sutcliffe, assistant curator of photography.

Hatakeyama is known for austere and beautiful large-scale color pictures that capture the extraordinary powers routinely deployed to shape nature to our will – and, in the case of his photographs made after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the equally powerful impact of natural forces on human activities. Whether photographing factories, quarries, mines, or tsunami-swept landscapes, Hatakeyama has developed a thorough and analytical method for observing the ways in which the human and natural worlds have both coexisted and clashed. “For the past 25 years Naoya Hatakeyama has made pictures that focus on the complicated relationship between man and nature,” says Sutcliffe. “Approaching his subjects from diverse perspectives and across time, he redefines the ways in which we visualize the natural world.”

Hatakeyama has long been interested in the relationship between human industry and the natural environment. His early series of photographs of limestone quarries, Lime Hills (1986-91), references the Romantic painterly tradition of the sublime, but links it to the relentless pursuit of raw materials for modern development. After observing that “the quarries and the cities are like negative and positive images of a single photograph,” Hatakeyama began to investigate urban centers built from limestone and concrete. In Underground (1999), he explores the pitch-black depths of Tokyo’s underbelly from the tunnels of the Shibuya River, revealing the ecosystems of the city’s sewer network that often go unseen. Nearly a decade later he returned to the subject, photographing the remnants of decaying limestone quarries underneath Paris in Ciel Tombé (2007).

Several of Hatakeyama’s photographic series capture scenes of destruction with calm precision. Contemplating the abandoned structures surrounding a disused coal mine, Zeche Westfalen I/II Ahlen (2003/2004) includes images of a German factory hall seemingly suspended in midair at the moment of its demolition. For the Blast series (2005), the photographer used a high-speed motor-driven camera to document explosions in an open-cast limestone mine, framing the instant of impact in a series of still photographs. The exhibition will present the U.S. debut of Twenty-Four Blasts (2011), a video installation of his still photographs from Blast that transforms these explosions into a found sculptural event.

Hatakeyama has applied his measured and unsentimental method of observation to landscapes in transition around the world. In the series Atmos (2003), his representations of tranquil French landscapes include steam clouds generated by steelworks. Also made in France, the series Terrils (2009-10) pictures the massive conical hills created by coal mining, documenting landscapes transformed by the human exploitation of natural resources. Considering a different type of human impact on the natural world, Hatakeyama observes the conquest of the Swiss Alps by tourism in Another Mountain (2005), invoking the sublime both through choice of subject matter and through the contrast in scale between man and nature.

The most recent series in the exhibition, Rikuzentakata (2011), records the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan. For Hatakeyama, the disaster struck very close to home: his hometown of Rikuzentakata in Iwate Prefecture was left in ruins, his mother was killed, and the house he grew up in was destroyed. Although these are some of the most personal photographs the artist has ever exhibited, they are remarkably unsentimental, displaying the same clarity and refinement that mark the rest of his work. The video installation Kesengawa (2002-10), named after the river that flows through Rikuzentakata, presents his personal photographs of the area made before the tsunami, creating a poignant dialogue with the 2011 series.

Press release from the SFMOMA website

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'A BIRD/Blast #130' 2006

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
A BIRD/Blast #130
2006
#7 from a series of 17 chromogenic prints
8 in. x 10 in (20.32 cm x 25.4cm)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, promised gift of Kurenboh
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'A BIRD/Blast #130' 2006

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
A BIRD/Blast #130
2006
#15 from a series of 17 chromogenic prints
8 in. x 10 in (20.32 cm x 25.4cm)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, promised gift of Kurenboh
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. Still from 'Twenty-Four Blasts' 2011

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Still from Twenty-Four Blasts
2011
HD video installation from a sequence of 35 mm film
Courtesy the artist
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

 

Blast, 1995
Zeche Westfalen I/II, Ahlen, 2003-2004

While photographing Japanese quarries and factories for Lime Hills, Hatakeyama became intrigued by the regular explosions designed to free limestone from the cliffs. He was interested in the violence and force of the blasts as well as in the engineers’ deep understanding of the “nature” of the rock. Working with these experts, he was able to calculate exactly how close he could place his remote controlled, motorised camera to the blast to capture the explosion in still frames. The striking large-scale photographs this method produced dramatise the tension between the slow geologic formation of the rocks and the split-second detonation that destroys them. Distilling his study to a series of frozen moments of intense scrutiny, Hatakeyama emphasises the volatile character of the blast, offering a perspective that cannot be seen by the naked eye. In the video projection Twenty-Four Blasts, presented in the next room, these explosions are set to motion, serving as documentation of the mining process while also reflecting an understanding of the blast as a sculptural event.

In Zeche Westfalen I/II, Ahlen, a series taken in Germany, Hatakeyama used a remote-controlled camera shutter to photograph the destruction of the Zeche Westfalen coal plant at the time of detonation. An industrial centre since the mid-nineteenth century, the area is experiencing new development as mines are destroyed to make way for commercial and residential growth. These pictures serve as a record of one such transition, trapping the building as it hovers in midair in the moments just before its destruction. Although photography is often used to capture an image of something before it is gone, these pictures reveal Hatakeyama’s interest in documenting destruction analytically and in real time, as a celebration of the future rather than an elegy to the past.

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'Underground #7109' 1999

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Underground #7109
1999
Chromogenic print
19 5/16 in. x 19 5/16 in (49 cm x 49cm)
Collection of Michael and Jeanne Klein
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'Underground #6302' 1999

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Underground #6302
1999
Chromogenic print
19 5/16 in. x 19 5/16 in (49 cm x 49cm)
Collection of Michael and Jeanne Klein
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'Underground #7001' 1999

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Underground #7001
1999
Chromogenic print
19 5/16 in. x 19 5/16 in (49 cm x 49cm)
Collection of Michael and Jeanne Klein
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

 

Underground, 1999 / Ciel Tombé, 2007

After photographing the limestone quarries around Japan, Hatakeyama realised that the urban fabric of Tokyo resembles a mirror image of the excavated earth when viewed from above. As he later wrote, “the quarries and the cities are like negative and positive images of a single photograph.” This revelation led him to photograph the city from great heights and, later, to document the tunnels snaking beneath it. The Shibuya River, diverted beneath Tokyo like a sewer, echoes the chambers Hatakeyama observed within the quarries, yet it is shrouded in darkness and mystery. His abstract and often theatrically lit pictures of the underground river, illuminated by a strobe at the centre of each composition, investigate the process of photographing complete darkness.

Long interested in exploring the subterranean landscapes of France, where limestone was quarried in the carrières below Paris beginning in the thirteenth century, Hatakeyama followed his Tokyo pictures with a Parisian series. For Ciel Tombé he photographed the tunnels beneath the Bois de Vincennes, a wooded park to the east of the city. The series title, which translates literally as “fallen sky,” is a term often used to describe the collapsed ceilings in Parisian underground tunnels. The resulting pictures, which share the dramatic lighting of his Shibuya River series, emphasise the fragility of a built environment exposed to the ravages of time. Hatakeyama has remarked that in these tunnels, “the sky has now become an ancient layer of earth permeating below the city [in which] we live.”

 

Naoya Hatakeyama. 'Noyelles-sous-Lens, #07729' 2009

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Noyelles-sous-Lens, #07729
2009
From the series Terrils
Chromogenic print
23 5/8 in. x 29 1/2 in (60 cm x 75cm)
Courtesy the artist
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958) 'Loos-en-Gohelle, #02607' 2009

 

Naoya Hatakeyama (Japan, b. 1958)
Loos-en-Gohelle, #02607
2009
From the series Terrils
Chromogenic print
23 5/8 in. x 29 1/2 in (60 cm x 75cm)
Courtesy the artist
© Naoya Hatakeyama, courtesy Taka Ishii Gallery

 

 

Terrils, 2009-2010

During 2009 and 2010 Hatakeyama was a photographer in residence in the Nord-Pas de Calais, a region in northern France along the Belgian border. A historically contested area often in the path of wars between France and its neighbours, the Nord became a major centre for industry in the nineteenth century due to its wealth of coal mines, steel mills, and textile factories. Today the landscape is marked by terrils, slag heaps composed of waste products from the mining process, which in the context of the region’s current economic troubles serve as monumental reminders of a prosperous industrial past.

Hatakeyama’s photographs explore the terrain from different perspectives, with conical towers of slag looming in nearly every picture. While some of the pictures expose the burnt orange soil just beneath the earth’s surface, others soften the mining site with a wintry, atmospheric haze. By transforming this man-made wasteland to the point that the viewer can no longer determine its contours, Hatakeyama reveals a complex natural environment that incorporates human developments. According to the artist, “history is not simply a list of events, but a human narrative which weaves together time and memory. The interweaving of passing time and the memory of events creates the fabric where History appears as a pattern from which each individual perceives his own personal story.” In these pictures Hatakeyama maps the traces of one such story on the landscape through the conical forms of the mining deposits. These “hills” not only serve as reminders of the ways in which the land has been used but also evoke the long-established cultural role of mountains as mythological symbols.

Wall text from the exhibition

 

 

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

Opening hours:
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Wednesday 10am – 5pm
Thursday 10am – 9.30pm

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art website

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16
Oct
10

Video: ‘Tristan’s Ascension’ and ‘Fire Woman’ by Bill Viola at St Carthages Church, Parkville

Installation dates: 8th October – 23rd October 2010

 

Bill Viola. 'Fire Woman' 2005 (still)

 

Bill Viola (American, b. 1951)
Fire Woman (still)
2005
Video/sound installation
Performer: Robin Bonaccorsi
Photos: Kira Perov
Courtesy Bill Viola Studio and Kaldor Public Art Projects

 

 

Anybody who reads this blog regularly will know my love of the work of Bill Viola. This installation of two immersive video and sound works at St. Carthage’s church in Parkville is no exception. What an experience. I came out of the church after an aural and visual bombardment and moments of reflection so excited by the visceral experience that I phoned a friend a babbled for a few minutes about the works and how I felt. They made me feel so exhilarated and alive!

After watching the videos through first time around I made the notes below the second time of viewing – a kind of mental sketch of what I seeing and feeling. Go see!

 

Stone

cold

man pure white

rumble, subterranean underwater sounds

small drops – float upwards

water flowing backwards, heavier, hovering like a sword of Damocles, heavier, heavier

Torrent, elemental, body arches, thrown around – TEMPEST! SOUND!

White light, raging waters, body levitating and ascending, Christ-like …. disappears

Water slows, stops to quietness, sound on a corrugated roof

empty stone, reflection

drips

splashes

drops of ascending water like stars twinkling in the night sky

 

……………………o

….o……………………………….o

……………………..o

…………..o………………o

….o……………………o

………..o……….o……………..0

………………………o

………..o

………………………….o

 

 

Fire         [ROAR]

dark angel, walks forward, camera changes angles

WALL of fire       ||||||||||||||||

hell, the sun, conflagration of the apocalypse

Opens arms, falls backwards into a pool of water —— CRASH – SHOCK – SOUND ASSAULTS YOU!

Disappears

 

Ripples of water/fire: camera closes in, distorting fire

Sounds becomes muffled

Yellow reflections ………………..almost nuclear, atomic, abstract (like a wonderful Richter!)

————————–

 

gurgling sound of water, slow ripples reflecting fire and oil, fire dying out

intense blue/black, like tadpoles in a stream or the embers of darkness

Beauty

Contemplation

feeling: of life, of place in the world, of mortality … of the ineffable.

 

Marcus

.
Many thankx to the Melbourne International Arts Festival for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image. There is a poor quality U Tube video of both works that gives you an idea of their impact.

 

Bill Viola. 'Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall)' 2005 (still)

Bill Viola. 'Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall)' 2005 (still)

Bill Viola. 'Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall)' 2005 (still)

Bill Viola. 'Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall)' 2005 (still)

 

Bill Viola (American, b. 1951)
Tristan’s Ascension (The Sound of a Mountain Under a Waterfall) (stills)
2005
Video/sound installation
Performer: John Hay
Photos: Kira Perov
Courtesy Bill Viola Studio and Kaldor Public Art Projects

 

 

Pioneering American artist Bill Viola has been instrumental in the establishment of video as a vital form of contemporary art. For over 35 years he has created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces and works for television broadcast. His video installations – total environments that envelop the viewer in image and sound – employ state-of-the-art technologies and are distinguished by their precision and direct simplicity. His next major commission is the creation of two permanent altar pieces for St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

For the 2010 Melbourne Festival, in partnership with Kaldor Public Art Projects, St Carthage’s Catholic Church in Parkville is turned into a video art shrine complete with the latest technology, surround sound and enveloping operatic narrative. Shown in a continuous loop, the two works, Fire Woman and Tristan’s Ascension, combine for a 20 minute visual and aural experience that extends Viola’s lifelong engagement with the human condition into ancient themes of life, love and death.

These two immersive installations are derived from Viola’s creation for Richard Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde directed by Peter Sellars. Now separated from the opera, the stunning installations feature mythical and mystical apparitions set to their own new soundtrack, and can be experienced in all their glory in the sacred surrounds of St Carthage’s.

Bill Viola (b.1951) is internationally recognised as one of today’s leading artists. He has been instrumental in the establishment of video as a vital form of contemporary art, and in so doing has helped to greatly expand its scope in terms of technology, content, and historical reach. For over 35 years he has created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast. Viola’s video installations – total environments that envelop the viewer in image and sound – employ state-of-the-art technologies and are distinguished by their precision and direct simplicity. They are shown in museums and galleries worldwide and are found in many distinguished collections. His single channel videotapes have been widely broadcast and presented cinematically, while his writings have been extensively published, and translated for international readers. Viola uses video to explore the phenomena of sense perception as an avenue to self-knowledge. His works focus on universal human experiences – birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness – and have roots in both Eastern and Western art as well as spiritual traditions, including Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism. Using the inner language of subjective thoughts and collective memories, his videos communicate to a wide audience, allowing viewers to experience the work directly, and in their own personal way.

Text from the Melbourne International Arts Festival website

 

Bill Viola. 'Fire Woman' 2005 (still)

Bill Viola. 'Fire Woman' 2005 (still)

Bill Viola. 'Fire Woman' 2005 (still)

Bill Viola. 'Fire Woman' 2005 (still)

 

Bill Viola (American, b. 1951)
Fire Woman (stills)
2005
Video/sound installation
Performer: Robin Bonaccorsi
Photos: Kira Perov
Courtesy Bill Viola Studio and Kaldor Public Art Projects

 

 

St Carthages, Parkville
123 Royal Parade
Parkville 3052

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12
Apr
09

Review: ‘New 09’ at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 17th March – 17th May 2009

Curator: Charlotte Day

 

ACCA’s annual commissions exhibition – this year curated by Charlotte Day with new works from eight contemporary Australian artists including Justine Khamara, Brodie Ellis, Marco Fusinato, Simon Yates, Matthew Griffin, Benjamin Armstrong and Pat Foster and Jen Berean.

 

 

Simon Yates. 'Rhabdomancy' 2009

 

Simon Yates
Rhabdomancy
Tissue paper, wood, fishing rods, tape, string, electrical components, helium balloons dimensions variable
2009

 

 

“That’s what art is, he said, the story of a life in all its particularity. It’s the only thing that really is particular and personal. It’s the expression and, at the same time, the fabric of the particular. And what do you mean by the fabric of the particular? I asked, supposing he would answer: Art. I was also thinking, indulgently, that we were pretty drunk already and that it was time to go home. But my friend said: What I mean is the secret story … The secret story is the one we’ll never know, although we’re living it from day to day, thinking we’re alive, thinking we’ve got it all under control and the stuff we overlook doesn’t matter. But every damn thing matters! It’s just that we don’t realise. We tell ourselves that art runs on one track and life, our lives, on another, we don’t even realise that’s a lie.”

.
From the story “Dentist” from the book ‘Last Evenings on Earth’ by Roberto Bolaño1

 

“A work of art reminds you of who you are now”

.
Kepesh from the film ‘Elegy’

 

 

The curator Charlotte Day has assembled an interesting selection of artists for New 09 at ACCA, Melbourne. It is an exhibition whose ‘presences’ challenge through dark and light, sound and light, contemplation and silence. The journey is one of here and now moments that transport the viewer to states of being that address the fabric of the particular: doubt, anxiety and enlightenment crowd every corner. The particularities of the experience (material, social, psychological and imaginative) impinge on the viewers interior states of being transcending the very physicality and symbolic realism of the works.2

On entering the gallery you are greeted by Simon Yates self-propelled figures that make up the work Rhabdomancy (2009, above). Suspended, tethered, floating just above the floor the figures move eerily about the entrance to the gallery, startling people who have not seen them move before. They stand silent witness, a simulation of self in tissue paper searching for meaning by using a dowsing rod. The word rhabdomancy has as one of it’s meanings ‘the art or gift of prophecy (or the pretence of prophecy) by supernatural means’. Here the figures are divining and divination rolled into one: grounded they seek release through the balloons but through augury they become an omen or portent from which the future is foretold.

“… cutting and slicing in order to see them better, willing them into three dimensions; an attempt to cheat death, or rather, to ward off forgetting of them as they are/were and as I was when the work was made.” ~ Justine Khamara

.
In the first gallery, a very minimal installation of two fractured faces stare out at you from the wall, my favourite work of the show. These are unsettling faces, protruding towards you like some topographical map, one eyes screwed shut the other beadily following you as you walk around the gallery space. Here the images of brother and sister presence anterior, already formed subjects not through memory (as photographs normally do) but through the insistence of the their multiple here and now planes of existence. Rather than ‘forgetting’ the images authenticate their identity through their ongoing presence in an ever renewing present.3 Their dissection of reality, the affirmation of their presence (not the photographic absence of a lost subject) embodies their secret story on the viewer told through psychological and imaginative processes: how do they make me feel – about my life, my death and being, here, now.

The pathos of the show is continued with the next work Noosphere (2008) by Brodie Ellis (the noosphere is best described as a sort of collective consciousness of human-beings).4 In this work a video above the clouds is projected onto a circular shape on the ceiling in a darkened room. The emotional and the imaginative impact of the message on the audience is again disorientating and immediate. The images look across the clouds to vistas of setting suns, look down on the clouds and the sea and land below. The images first move one way and then another, disorientating the viewer and changing their perspective of the earth; these are alien views of the earth accompanied by heart beat like ambient music. The perspective of the circle also changes depending on where the viewer stands like some anamorphic distortion of reality. On a stand a beaded yoke for a horse adds to the metaphorical allegory of the installation.

In the next gallery is the literal climax to the exhibition, Marco Fusinato’s Aetheric Plexus (2009). (Aether: medium through which light propagates; Plexus: in vertebrates, a plexus is an area where nerves branch and rejoin and is also a network of blood vessels).

Consisting of scaffolding that forms a cross and supports large numbers of silver spotlights with visible wiring and sound system the installation seems innocuous enough at first. Walking in front of the work produces no effect except to acknowledge the dull glow of red from the banks of dormant lights trained on the viewer. The interaction comes not in random fashion but when the viewer walks to the peripheries of the gallery corners triggering the work – suddenly you are are blasted with white light and the furious sound of white noise for about 15 seconds: I jumped half out of my skin! Totally disorientated as though one has been placed in a blast furnace or a heavenly irradiated crematorium one wonders what has just happened to you and it takes some time to reorientate oneself back in the afterlife of the here and now. Again the immediacy of the work, the particularities of the experience affect your interior states of being.

After a video installation by Matt Griffin you wander into the next gallery where two works by Benjamin Armstrong inhabit the floor of the gallery. And I do mean inhabit. Made of blown glass forms and wax coated tree branches the works have a strange affect on the psyche, to me seemingly emanations from the deep subconscious. Twin glass hemispheres of what look like a brain are surrounded by clasping synaptic nerve endings that support an egg like glass protrusion – a thought bubble? a spirit emanation? These are wonderful contemplative but slightly disturbing objects that have coalesced into shape only in another form to melt and disappear: molten glass and melted wax dissipating the very form of our existence.

Finally we come to the three part installation by Pat Foster and Jen Berean (below). On the right of the photograph you can see three aluminium and glass doors, closed, sealed leading to another gallery. What you can’t see in the photograph is the three pieces of gaffer tape stretched across the glass doors, like they do on the building sites of new homes. No entry here. Above your head is a suspended matrix of aluminium and glass with some of the glass planes smashed. Clean, clinical, safe but smashed, secure but threatening the matrix presses down on the viewer. It reminded me of the vertical standing shards of the World Trade Centre set horizontal suspended overhead. Only the steel cable seemed to ruin the illusion and seemed out of place with the work. It would have been more successful if the matrix was somehow suspended with fewer tethers to increase the sense of downward pressure. Finally you sit on the aluminium benches and contemplate in silence all that has come before and wonder what just hit you in a tidal wave of feelings, immediacies and emotions. The Doing and Undoing of Things.

An interesting journey then, one to provoke thought and emotion.
The fabric of the particular. The pathos of the art-iculate.

My only reservations are about the presence, the immediacy, the surface of it all. How persistent will these stories be? Will the work sustain pertinent inquiry above and beyond the here and now, the shock and awe. Or will it be like a meal one eats and then finds one is full but empty at the same time. A journey of smoke and mirrors.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to ACCA for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. All Images © Dr Marcus Bunyan and ACCA.

 

  1. Bolano, Robert. Last Evenings on Earth. New Directions, 2007. Available on Amazon.
  2. Blair, French. The Artist, The Body. [Online] Cited on 12/04/2009 (no longer available online)
  3. Ibid.,
  4. “For Teilhard, the noosphere is best described as a sort of ‘collective consciousness’ of human-beings. It emerges from the interaction of human minds. The noosphere has grown in step with the organisation of the human mass in relation to itself as it populates the earth. As mankind organizes itself in more complex social networks, the higher the noosphere will grow in awareness.” From the concept of Nooshpere on Wikipedia.

 

 

Justine Khamara. 'Dilated Concentrations' 2009

Justine Khamara. 'Dilated Concentrations' 2009

Justine Khamara. 'Dilated Concentrations' 2009

Justine Khamara. 'Dilated Concentrations' 2009

 

Justine Khamara
Dilated Concentrations
2009
UV print on laser cut stainless steel

 

Benjamin Armstrong. 'Hold Everything Dear I' 2008

 

Benjamin Armstrong
Hold Everything Dear I
2008

 

Pat Foster and Jen Berean. 'Untitled’ from the series ‘The Doing and Undoing of Things’ 2009

 

Pat Foster and Jen Berean
Untitled from the series The Doing and Undoing of Things
2009
Aluminium, safety glass, steel cable

 

Pat Foster and Jen Berean. 'Untitled’ from the series ‘The Doing and Undoing of Things’ 2009

 

Pat Foster and Jen Berean
Untitled from the series The Doing and Undoing of Things (detail)
2009
Aluminium, safety glass, steel cable

 

 

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA)
111 Sturt Street
Southbank
Victoria 3006
Australia

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm
Saturday – Sunday 11am – 5pm
Closed Monday

ACCA website

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06
Mar
09

Opening 1: Review: ‘Continuous Moment: Bad Infinity’ by Damiano Bertoli at The Narrows, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 5th March – 28th March

Opening Thursday March 6th 2009

 

Damiano Bertoli. 'Continuous Moment: Bad Infinity' 2009 video still

Damiano Bertoli. 'Continuous Moment: Bad Infinity' 2009 video still

 

Damiano Bertoli
Continuous Moment: Bad Infinity
2009
video stills

 

 

In a busy night of openings in Melbourne we arrive to watch, to be a spectator and voyeur at Damiano Bertoli’s new twin video installation at The Narrows on Flinders Lane, ensconced in the darkness of the gallery space. The looped installation features on the left scenes from the original Miami Vice TV series and on the right approximate scenes from the 2006 feature film of the same name. The synchronicity of the two splices of time moving in and out of register is uncanny. We have memories of these appearances, flickering signifiers embedded in our psyche which are called to presence in the space between screen and viewer as we add our own layer of temporal distortion to the unfolding events.

In an erudite catalogue note Bertoli expounds on the nature of the performative and the question of authorship by analysing Glenn Gould’s two recordings of J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations, one recorded at the beginning of his career and one in the final year of his life. Bertoli posits that Gould used counterpoint “as a formal construct for its capacity to produce ‘an explosion of simultaneous idea’s’ … as a solution for his dissatisfaction with singularity and linear definition.”

He notes that, “As an interpreter of others work, Gould occupied a position of equivalence – we are aware that we are listening to Bach and Gould – simultaneously … These co-existing yet distinct voices move in and out of synchronicity, as does the listener’s experience of Gould’s interpretation (actually an interpretation of an interpretation) as the latter version iterates and embodies the version which precedes it. We are constantly comparing the two, as is Gould.”

This is quite true but I do not think the metaphor can be so literally applied to the video installation Bertoli has constructed. Firstly Gould’s interpretations and our recognition of them requires knowledge of the authoritative voice of the author as composer and the author as performer: Bach and Gould. Conversely in the videos the directors are unknown by most and the actors anonymous except by those with specific memory of appearances. There is no contrapuntal fugue like working of the sound or images in search of the purity of musical ideas – the dialogue talks over each other and splice cuts jump the scene from one location to another – forming a fractured hypertextual narrative driven by the spectacular gaze of the viewer, a simularcrum of the ‘real’. The simultaneity of being in three worlds at once is the world of simulacra not of equivalence.

As Ron Burnett has observed

“Video creates what I will describe as a logic of the present while simultaneously producing an image-event in the past. This generates a somewhat different temporal context than we are normally accustomed to – a mixture of present and past that is both, and neither, simultaneously. The disjuncture that results is part of the attraction but also part of what makes the electronic image so puzzling. It suggests that history has already been made while one continues to make it. It is this suppleness that allowed broadcasters for example to repeat the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles over and over again, as if each showing would somehow reconstitute the event, as if to prove that this was not a dramatisation, not a fiction. In order to gain control over the many disjunctures, repetition was used … But this only validates the contradictions, proposing that the disjunctures in time and place can be controlled, that there is some way of gaining authority over the impact of the event as image.”1

.
I would argue that what Bertoli’s installation does offer is a release from inert rationalist geometries, a deterritorialization and reterritorialization of temporal time in a heterotopic space, juxtaposing in a single real place several spaces, several sites that are in themselves incompatible. These are layered images of hyper-performativity and hypermediacy, where the fragmented images become a process and a performance, where the spectator becomes the screen not the author.

As Baudrillard has said, “Today we live in the imaginary world of the screen, of the interface and the reduplication of contiguity and networks. All our machines are screens. We too have become screens, and the interactivity of men has become the interactivity of screens. Nothing that appears on the screen is meant to be deciphered in depth, but actually to be explored instantaneously, in an abreaction immediate to meaning.”2

Here is the immediacy of continuous time – the removal of psychological depth, the reduction of life to a series continuous presents and surface phenomena that repeat over and over again. Is this bad infinity? We will never know as we can never have knowledge of infinity, it is a noumenal concept, an event known only to the imagination – independent of the senses.

This is an interesting and fun installation. Well worth a visit.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

 

  1. Burnett, Ron. Cultures of Vision: Images, Media, & the Imaginary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995, p. 249
  2. Baudrillard, Jean. Xerox and Infinity (trans. Agitac). Paris: Touchepas, 1988, p. 7

 

 

 

Damiano Bertoli Continuous Moment: Bad Infinity (2009)

 

g

Damiano Bertoli. 'Continuous Moment: Bad Infinity' 2009 video still

Damiano Bertoli. 'Continuous Moment: Bad Infinity' 2009 video still

 

Damiano Bertoli
Continuous Moment: Bad Infinity
2009
video stills

 

Damiano Bertoli. 'Continuous Moment: Bad Infinity' 2009 video still

Damiano Bertoli. 'Continuous Moment: Bad Infinity' 2009 video still

 

Damiano Bertoli
Continuous Moment: Bad Infinity
2009
video stills

 

 

The Narrows

This gallery is now closed.

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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