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Saturday, 25 June 2011

Review: The Diversity of Berlin's International Art Scene, Based in Berlin, Various Venues.



Review by Katerina Valdivia Bruch

Initiated by the mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, the exhibition Based in Berlin caused some controversy before its opening on 7 June, 2011. The mayor’s decision to hold a Leistungsschau junger Kunst aus Berlin (Showcase Exhibition of Young Berlin Art) so close to elections in Berlin firstly raised a few eyebrows. Other contentious issues included the long-standing calls from art practitioners for a permanent Kunsthalle in the city and the selection of the curatorial team. More than 2,300 people signed a petition letter to the mayor asking for a revision of the project. Nevertheless, the opening was a huge success overall, with hordes of art lovers, curators, art critics, artists and other art practitioners waiting in line to enter the main venue at Atelierhaus Monbijou, temporarily in use before its demolition.

At €1.4 million, the cost of holding the exhibition was extraordinarily high considering it was a single show featuring mostly unknown artists. The decision to invest this kind of money is even more questionable in light of Berlin’s dire financial situation and unemployment rate, which is one of the highest in Germany. In spite of the unique opportunity to create a platform for emerging artists, most of the works in the exhibition are fairly unremarkable and do nothing to challenge the viewer. Several artists, however, used the mayor's charismatic flair as a motif in their works and humorously portrayed the losers of the last election campaign, as can be seen in the photographs of the artist duo Jay Chung & Q Takeki Maeda at Atelierhaus Monbijou, or the homage-like portrait to Berlin's mayor, Allegory of Government, in an empty room at KW-Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin by Clegg & Guttmann.

Organised by a team of five young curators, Angelique Campens, Fredi Fischli, Magdalena Magiera, Jakob Schillinger and Scott Cameron Weaver, with the support of three renowned advisors, Klaus Biesenbach, Director of PS1 and Chief Curator of MoMa in New York, Christine Macel, Chief Curator of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and Hans Ulricht Obrist, Co-Director of Serpentine Gallery in London, the exhibition showcases the work of 80 artists from 26 different countries, who have chosen Berlin as their base. The process of selecting the work involved an open call with 1,250 artists submitting portfolios and around 500 studio visits.

The majority of the works demonstrate the diversity of Berlin's international art scene, featuring current shooting-stars, such as Israeli Keren Cytter, who was shortlisted for the Prize for Young Art at the Neue Nationalgalerie in 2009, Cyprien Gaillard from France, who recently had a solo show at KW-Berlin and Singaporean Ming Wong, whose work was showcased at the last Venice, Gwangju and Singapore Biennales. We also had another chance to see work by artists who were part of the last Berlin Biennale, such as Danish-Vietnamese artist Danh Vo and Petrit Halilaj from Kosovo.

Based in Berlin also includes the presentation of artist-run spaces or project rooms. It features a number of parallel activities with film screenings, talks, conferences, workshops, open-air concerts and performances, in which visitors are encouraged to discuss and exchange their ideas with artists, members of the project rooms, art critics and curators.

With more than 400 art galleries, Berlin attracts many artists, drawn by its affordable living conditions and its ample space for art production. Artists rent huge studios in different areas all over the city, something inconceivable in other European capital cities. There is a tendency to compare Berlin with the New York of the seventies, although I believe that the quality of work produced in New York during that period was more cutting-edge in contrast to a fair number of rather laid-back Berlin-based artists. Berlin is a cheap city with galleries springing up everywhere and collectors frequently coming to town, so why bother to go the extra mile, as it were? In fact, the closed artist community does not even need to integrate and artists tend to communicate in English rather than in German. Berlin is more a place of transit, an inspiring place for creation, but not for earning money. And, because Berlin is “poor, but sexy” – to quote Mr. Wowereit – the artists produce work in Berlin, but usually sell it abroad or in other German cities. So who are the winners at the end of the day? The artists, the mayor or the city?

Based in Berlin continues until 24 July
Various venues: Atelierhaus Monbijou, KW-Berlin, Berlinische Galerie, NBK and Hamburger Bahnhof Museum

basedinberlin.com

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoying reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. In the spirit of celebration, Issue 41 includes a piece on Guggenheimn Bilbao where the Luminous Interval features internationally acclaimed artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Damien Hirst, ArtAngel's new commission at MIF, Bruce Nauman's retrospective at The Kunsthalle Mannheim and Cory Arcangel's Pro Tools at the Whitney in NYC. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Video:
Sunah Choi
Composition T
Courtesy the artist

Friday, 24 June 2011

Love Is What You Want: Tracey Emin, Hayward Gallery, London.

Tracey Emin Knowing My Enemy 2002, Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London

Review by Jareh Das

Tracey Emin's extensive solo presentation at London's Hayward Gallery is an exhibition which may conjure some scepticism. Emin is an artist infamous for her sexual provocation and YBA status and at times this is with little consideration made for her diverse and expansive oeuvre. Born in Croydon, Emin's is synonymous with the seaside town of Margate due to her continual reference to her childhood and teenage years, in the town which arguably gave her so much, but at the same time took away so much from the young artist.

This survey of her life's work is vast and multi-layered. It presents video, sculpture, drawings, blankets, archival material and site specific interventions spilling out onto the Gallery's outdoor terrace. One wonders what happens to these outdoor sculptures when the heaven's open? My guess is they remain, deteriorate and decay for the duration of the exhibition. This idea of decay is one that runs through a lot of Emin's works presented in Love Is What You Want - loss of child hood, loss of a child, loss of innocence, losing one's mind, loss of love and so forth. This enduring loss seems to span every period of the artists' life, and manifests itself through the art which is presented as fragments of an autobiographical and continually evolving story.

The exhibition is categorised into eight main rooms: Blankets, Neons, Films, Memorabilia, Drawing, Paintings, Sculpture and Writing and the work occupies every possible space in the Hayward. Writing plays such an integral part in her works and this can be seen in Neons, Blankets, Paintings, Drawings. One of her blanket pieces Hotel International (1993), for example, has poignant statements such as 'You're good in bed', 'Hotel International: The Perfect Place to Grow'. Taking its name from a hotel owned by Emin’s farther in Margate, the work comments on her childhood by piecing memories in a patch-work quilt manner. There are words all over the blanket; notes, cryptic messages which read like diary entries which transforms the piece into a quilt of memories for the viewer to decipher and interpret as they feel fit. It also alludes to general characteristics of hotels, a place that can often be associated with dangerous liaisons, sex and secrecy. Love is What You Want by Tracey Emin, 2011, the neon title piece for the exhibition is simple and direct. We all want love whether we admit it or not. Love manifested in different forms as well as human obsession with this phenomenon.

A large-scale sculpture sits alongside the wall of blankets titled Knowing My Enemy (2002). This dilapidated pier with a beach hut on its end is an ode to Tracey's father who she refers to as constantly coming in and out of her life. It is fragile looking piece, seemingly about to collapse. This recurring autobiography is present through all of Emin's works, her life becomes art and vice versa. There is angst juxtaposed with trauma, evident in Exploration of the Soul (1994), a text revealing her rape at the age of thirteen. The highlight of the exhibition, however, is the drawing room in which intricate drawings of the female form fill the third floor gallery. Some sketches on fabric embroidered on sheets, pillow cases and cloth, drawings in blue ink, with the centre piece being an animated drawing projected on a screen, a focal point of this room, showing off Emin's approach to drawing and technique used. Sometimes the dress is worth more than the money (2001) a four minute film originally commissioned by Beck's Future 2, sees Emin in a traditional Cypriot wedding dress, with money pinned all over it. Dancing nonchalantly across an arid Mediterranean landscape, Emin based this film on a childhood fantasy about a wedding dress she had once seen in a shop window and with a film score from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Emin’s appreciation of Western Movies is evident.

Why I never became a dancer (1995) is quite a humorous piece with a 1990s dance rave soundtrack. Here Emin is in a dance studio with a short curtain hairstyle, dressed in denim cut-off, dancing fervently while narrating how dancing became a means of escape for her troubled teenage years in Margate. This image is testimony to the fact that Tracey Emin is a fighter, her fierce ambition and resistance are what liberate her work from being merely provocative. She wants no sympathy and although it’s easy to be sceptical about her intentionality, Emin talent is one that should not be dismissed, her practice is so expansive mid-career and we should all look forward to the next stages of this talented artist's career.

Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want is on until 20 August.

southbankcentre.co.uk

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoying reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. In the spirit of celebration, Issue 41 includes a piece on Guggenheimn Bilbao where the Luminous Interval features internationally acclaimed artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Damien Hirst, ArtAngel's new commission at MIF, Bruce Nauman's retrospective at The Kunsthalle Mannheim and Cory Arcangel's Pro Tools at the Whitney in NYC. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Image:
Knowing My Enemy (2002)
Copyright the artist
Photo: Stephen White
Courtesy White Cube

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Last Chance to See: Hubert Dalwood, Mead Gallery, Warwick Arts Centre.

Review by David Levesley

‘What we can and must reinstate is the primacy of the imagination’ said Dalwood, a sculptor who’s impressive credentials do not seem to match up to the quiet arrival of the new exhibit of his work at the Mead Gallery; considered one of the leading post-war British sculptors after his work was displayed at the Venice Biennale in 1962 and winner of the John Moore’s price twice in 1959, since his death in 1976 Dalwood seems to have faded partially from public consciousness. Yet his art has the strange, ethereal ability to tap into the mind and remind the viewer, the ‘layman’ as he liked to say, of something one can not quite remember but seems oddly familiar. There is something of the prehistoric, of the antique, and of the elemental about Dalwood’s sculptures gathered together for this exhibition which feel like artefacts from an archaeological dig. The exhibit of his work at the Mead Gallery at Warwick Arts Centre comprises a selection of Dalwood’s many metal creations, which display fantastical but architecturally sturdy landscapes. There is the air of an avant-garde set designer about much of what he does; sparse landscapes of columns and strange shapes protruding from slick, reflective metal surfaces.

Stood towards the front of the exhibit and making an imposing figure is the Standing Figure (1957). However, it is a figure of a woman that is not altogether as Valkyrian as first impressions may seem. Her legs are close together and she is armless –signifying a position of timidity, unable to make any sort of gesture. Standing Figure is almost like a whittled figure of an ancient deity with a hint of Degas to the structural design - the figure is subservient to gravity and shows its subjugation to its own weight. Dalwood’s Woman Washing Arm (1956) however is beautifully mundane, the entire sculpture having no aims of seeming as powerful or gargantuan as the former but instead all features either cover the body or are pointed towards the simple task of washing oneself. The entire figure seems to ripple like the skin of an aged woman and it is this lack of smoothness that is so clear in Dalwood’s more architectural sculptures that gives it a real humanity. These statues look all the more startling when they are stood between pieces like the sleek Venusberg (1966), almost Orwellian in its dour silver portrayal of a mythological German utopia as columns and sleek, reflective surfaces; yet one could, optimistically, see these smooth reflective surfaces in a place named after the legendary mountain as a way of seeing oneself as one’s own paradise.

Floating over all these however, like an ancient lithograph dredged up from some ancient tomb, is The Beginning. The piece looks like any number of things; a plant cell, or an aerial plotting of a dig of some ancient locale, or of some antique tablet. Yet it is alive with lines (almost like runes) textures and odd shapes like the nebula of the universe itself although contained in a very rough rectangle. It is both aged and yet very much a modern piece in its ability to throw us into an ambiguous place and time. Dalwood, whilst maybe not as recognisable a name as some other post-war sculptors, manages to use abstract designs to capture something powerful with just as much, if not more, skill than his contemporaries.

Hubert Dalwood is on until 25 June.

warwickartscentre.co.uk

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoying reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. In the spirit of celebration, Issue 41 includes a piece on Guggenheimn Bilbao where the Luminous Interval features internationally acclaimed artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Damien Hirst, ArtAngel's new commission at MIF, Bruce Nauman's retrospective at The Kunsthalle Mannheim and Cory Arcangel's Pro Tools at the Whitney in NYC. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Image:
Hubert Dalwood
Growing (1957)
Courtesy the artist and Mead Gallery

Review: Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane.

Review by Amelia Groom

In 1942 André Breton staged an exhibition in New York at the Whitelaw Reid Mansion called First Papers of Surrealism, the title referring to the immigration forms the exiled European Surrealists had been forced to complete upon arrival in the US. Having by this time ostensibly given up art for chess, Marcel Duchamp acted as art director, designing the catalogue and the exhibition space where paintings were conventionally hung in partitions, but access to them was hindered by the elaborate webs of string that were constructed around them, and by the young children he arranged to be playing ball games in the room.

There are no such obstacles standing between viewers and the carefully placed and beautifully lit Surrealist artworks on loan from the Centre Pompidou, Paris that are currently on show at GoMA in Brisbane. Indeed, for a presentation of a movement that was so bent on making the familiar strange, Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams somehow makes what was supposed to be strange, a little too familiar. But the works stand up, and there is welcome inclusion of many very good, lesser-known, examples amongst the iconic crowd pleasers.

In the first room of the exhibition’s labyrinthine procession, a section dedicated to Surrealism’s genesis in Dada, there is for example a very small, easily missed, Man Ray photograph titled Élevage de poussières or Dust Breeding (1920). The image was published in Breton’s journal Littérature in 1922 with the caption “view taken from an airplane”, though astute eyes will recognize the lines as belonging not to an aerial landscape but to Duchamp’s enigmatic artwork The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even, also known as The Large Glass (1915-23). In the disorienting extreme close-up of the surface, dust, great marker of time and neglect, denies the glass its essential feature of transparency.

This work is later mirrored by another artist’s representation of The Large Glass more than half a century later, at the very end the exhibition. The Chilean Surrealist painter Roberto Matta’s seven metre-long Trans-appearance of Language (1977-80) recalls the lines of Duchamp’s work, and plays on the resemblance in the French title (Trans-apparence du Verbe) to trans-apparence du verre or ‘transparent glass’, though again transparency of the surface is denied, this time by the material basis of paint on canvas. As it happens, in 1945 Matta had, with the wealthy patron and then-owner of the The Large Glass, Katherine S. Dreier, written an English monograph on the work, in which Duchamp is valued for the priority he placed on the viewer’s participation in the act of seeing, and on the idea that objective things exist only through subjective perception of them: “The essential principles of human consciousness cannot be grasped until we abandon the psychological attitude of conceiving the image as a petrified thing or object […] The image is not a thing. It is an act which must be completed by the spectator.”

The idea of dynamic perception runs throughout the Surrealist movement and throughout this exhibition. A famous painting about painting by Victor Brauner, Painted from nature (1937), for example, equates eyes with paintbrushes and the act of seeing with the act of creating. Nearby is a 1929 Max Ernst painting from his Interior Sight series (after Breton had established his ‘pure interior model’ for art) where an egg is analogous for sight, the eye being treated not as a portal for unmediated perception but as the organ of vision from which the world is actively generated.

Eyes being the most external parts of the brain, they are equated with windows because they are liminal zones bridging inside and outside worlds. The Surrealists’ fascination with objects and how we see them meant that this organ of vision, the eye, was itself to be abstracted as an object. Right throughout Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams eyeballs float around all on their own. Herbert Bayer’s uncanny photograph of a felt-lined box of prosthetic eyes, Glass Eyes (1928), for example, is echoed in Henri Stork’s film For Your Beautiful Eyes (1929-30), which features another box of glass eyes lined up next to each other with fixed, blind stares. Artificial eyes like these of course proliferate after WWI as a practical response to the needs of maimed soldiers, and the Surrealists’ morbid fascination with prosthesis and fragmented bodies (think also of their collages and Exquisite Corpses, and their long-running love affair with masks) runs parallel with the horrors of this historic context.

Another reason disembodied eyes are repeated so obsessively in Surrealist photography and film is because the camera is itself considered a prosthetic eye, where images are cast on a surface via transmission of light. The notion of the internal mind meeting the external world without the mediation of though (the basis of the early automatist drawing and writing) was also well aligned with the directness and immediacy that the camera was seen to offer. One of the most famous images in the history of cinema and easily read as a visual analogy for cinematic operation and experience, the slicing of the eyeball in the Buñuel-Dalí collaboration An Andalusian Dog (1929) evokes physically the discontinuity of dream images. The notion of getting behind the surface of the window of eye by slicing it with a blade is cleverly carried into the exhibition design here where the film’s projection penetrates a translucent screen that viewers can navigate both sides of.

The curators are to be commended for the exhibition’s highly considered weaving of ready-mades, ethnographic objects, painting, sculpture, collage, photography, film and writing. In particular, the importance of cinema in getting ‘beyond the real’ is more than adequately acknowledged, with many shorts included throughout the exhibition and a major survey of Surrealist film showing at the gallery’s cinémathèque over the next three months. The movement’s early basis in and continued emphasis on the written form is also well documented in a special exhibition of all the Surrealist journals, where every issue of the Minotaur has been scanned and is pursuable (for those who read French) on slightly clumsy touch screens. Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams is also accompanied by an excellent and enormous catalogue, which is the first English-language publication on the Centre Pompidou’s Surrealism collection, and includes many English translations of original Surrealist texts.

Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams continues until 2 October.

qag.qld.gov.au

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoying reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. In the spirit of celebration, Issue 41 includes a piece on Guggenheimn Bilbao where the Luminous Interval features internationally acclaimed artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Damien Hirst, ArtAngel's new commission at MIF, Bruce Nauman's retrospective at The Kunsthalle Mannheim and Cory Arcangel's Pro Tools at the Whitney in NYC. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Image:
Max Ernst
L'immaculée conception manquée (1929)
© Max Ernst/ADAGP. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney, 2011

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Q&A with Marcus Jansen: Artwork Winner, Creative Works Competition 2010


The Aesthetica Creative Works Competition is open for entries! Now in its fourth year, the competition is dedicated to celebrating and championing creative talent across the disciplines and welcomes entries from artists working in any medium including sculpture, textiles, photography, ceramics, digital art and more, as well as poetry and short fiction.

The competition has three categories for entry: Artwork; Poetry and Short Fiction. One winner from each category will receive £500 and winners and finalists will be published in the Aesthetica Creative Works Annual, available throughout select galleries and online.

The Artwork Winner for 2010’s competition, Marcus Jansen, describes his artwork below:

E Pluribus Unum is about freedom of expression and a resistance to traditional norms in painting. It is about finding order in chaos and creating an experimental platform while inviting viewers to have an open mind to the unseen and unknown. The work centres on contemporary reality and a transforming world order. Jansen’s work shows an aggressive battle or war among colours, textures and emotions that are delivered instinctively.”

The Artwork section is judged by Aesthetica editor, Cherie Federico, and last year's other winners were Carol Parikh (Fiction, Judge, Rachel Hazelwood) and William Doreski (Poetry, Judge, Kate North). The Aesthetica Creative Works Annual is available here.

We caught up with Marcus to see what he’s been up to since winning the Artwork Category in 2010. For more information about the competition and to enter visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/creativeworks

Q&A with Marcus Jansen

What is it that motivates you to make art?

I guess my naturally given infinite creative nature, which is in every human being. It is not something I try to do, but rather something that I acknowledge as a gift and task.

How would you define your style and how has it developed? Have you been influenced by any particular artists?

I would rather not define it, although many labels can be placed on it for identification purposes perhaps. It's an emotional and spontaneous style. I've been influenced by many artists, from graffiti works on murals to great contemporary masters and children's work.

You were a member of the US army for seven years. How do you think your experiences in the military have shaped your art?

I believe it was quite significant. The experience of great fear and encountering life threatening scenarios changes a person and more importantly his or her outlook on life and ones self perhaps. It may have given me a hyper awareness about my surroundings. Yes, maybe it has actually, which could explain my sense of details in my works.

What advice would you give to other aspiring artists? Any tips on how to enter creative competitions?

Just do your work and do it well. When you find yourself in your work, it becomes the best there is because there is nothing to compare it to. That's where you want to be.

Can you give us any insight into the projects that you are working on at the moment?

I just completed a project for ABSOLUT VODKA, who commissioned me just recently and am getting works ready for at Art Basel Miami Beach 2011 and The Armory Show in NYC 2012.

Image:
Courtesy the artist

Last Chance to See: Marcel Odenbach's Probeliegen, Freud Museum, London.


Review by Sarah Richter, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

The current exhibition at Freud Museum in London is by German video artist Marcel Odenbach. Included in the exhibition are a video and a large-scale paper collage of Sigmund Freud’s original couch. Perhaps one of the most iconic pieces of furniture known the world over, Odenbach has used the couch as the focal point of his exhibition. An artist who deals with the history of humanity through photographs, he rifles through the pictorial documentation and then employs them in a way that is artistic, painterly and subtly moving. This examination of society through art and photos creates an interesting juxtaposition which in the instance of Freud’s chair, a simple object that is in reality and in life imbued with an intense meaning which is highlighted by the presence of the photographs composing them. Built upon the foundation of Europe, Oldenbach consistently examines the brutality of humanity as it actual happened in relation to the romantic imagery we often paint of Europe. Humanity is cruel and he examines it through something that brings everyone together and possesses innate beauty: a painting.

Probeliegen, which in German means to ‘test it out,’ seems the most fitting title to this exhibition devoted to Freud’s iconic couch. The couch was the site of the development of the most influential theories and ideas concerning the human psyche which would serve as the foundations for psychotherapy for centuries and are still relevant today. The couch is covered with a large Oriental rug, chenille pillows and posses an exotic quality and also a comforting aspect that is strangely inviting. The couch is still located in the front room of 20 Maresfield Gardens that served as the home of Sigmund Freud for the last year of his life from 1938-39. The room served a dual purpose as his office and his study: he received patients, read and wrote books, as well as conducted extensive research. The office was created to appear exactly as it was in Austria before he had to escape due to Nazi annexation of the country. His wife and daughter, Anna Freud, took great pains to recreate the study exactly as it was in Austria and also to maintain its truthfulness and integrity upon Sigmund’s death. The inviting quality of the room, the glasses placed carefully on the desk, the notes, the open books etc. give the illusion that someone is there, just stepped out of the room to have a cup of tea, or go for a walk. This essence of timelessness is essential to the house, particularly as it surrounds the couch.

The museum itself is hard to find, blending in with the other houses on the street, it is tucked away behind a garden of beautiful roses. Upon walking in, heading to the back towards the conservatory, there is the dining room. Located there, hanging on the wall is a work of art that seems as if it has been a part of the house for its entire existence. From far away, Odenbach’s work of paper mastery looks like a painting that imitates the folds, the colours, the shadows and the magnetic appeal of Freud’s couch. Although appearing as a painting, the piece is made of paper with images dealing with 19th and 20th German and Jewish history and also the history of the Freud family. When examining the piece closely, faces and events emerge and what once was seen as a crease in the rug covering the couch. There is a smoothness and a painterly quality, the roughness of the paper only emerging after inspection.

Located upstairs in the front room is where the main exhibition space is located. In here, there is a small screen with a video by Odenbach that examines history, culture and its effects on humanity. Lining the walls of the room are the preparatory sketches for the collage of Freud’s couch. What really makes the exhibition space interesting is that also located in the room is the presence of precious family heirlooms from Freud’s ancestral collection. Most notably, Sigmund’s signature hunter green overcoat, umbrella and boots that he was seen wearing in almost every photograph. In a way, the presence of his most treasured item almost garners the sense that Freud is indeed there, watching the events taking place in the front room of his London home and perhaps psychoanalyzing the effects of the art upon the people who experience them.

Marcel Odenbach's Probeliegen is on until 26 June.

freud.org.uk

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoying reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. In the spirit of celebration, Issue 41 includes a piece on Guggenheimn Bilbao where the Luminous Interval features internationally acclaimed artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Damien Hirst, ArtAngel's new commission at MIF, Bruce Nauman's retrospective at The Kunsthalle Mannheim and Cory Arcangel's Pro Tools at the Whitney in NYC. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Caption:
Marcel Odenbach, Probeliegen
Collage
© Marcel Odenbach

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Pioneers of Sound Art: Gone with the Wind, Raven Row, London.

Review by Alex Gibson

The building was beautiful and it was light. The rooms are impeccably restored so that visiting the Raven Row gallery would be worth it, irrespective of an exhibition. The gallery is based on Artillery Lane, a street that could easily be missed unless you know where to find it, just off to the right halfway down Bishopsgate. Upon entry, it’s easy to overlook the labyrinth of rooms the place holds, as it takes a little exploration to realise there were other doors to open. Gone with the Wind is an exhibition that has been eagerly anticipated. What is so suddenly evident is how sparse the space feels. It’s performance after all, so the fact that the theme was bringing together three of the most influential pioneers of sound art meant you have quickly realise the immateriality is just as, if not more, important than the presence of any objects.

Some of Max Eastley’s (b.1944) work was on show in the entrance, and also what was called the Shopfront Gallery. He is a musician at heart. Starting as a folk singer he had what can only be described as quite a severe swerve away from conventional music production to working with kinetics and sound objects while collaborating with other art students he met at Hornsey College of Art. The literature is proud to announce that an experimental album he made with his troupe was produced by Brian Eno in 1975. What is on show here are numerous sketch pads and notebooks, laid out under brilliantly polished glass cases that depict his past ideas and experiments. They are, by in large, scientific and diagrammatical but there is the unmistakable response to the importance of nature and its powers of creating sounds that can be manipulated and recorded to make entirely different things that have a life of their own. This almost modular landscape theme to the pieces gives them a feel, as if they had always been in the house, like artefacts that had been buffed for the occasion. On the first floor it’s easy to become submerged in the strange pieces that were not so much visual art, as a production of music without sound. There are Iron filings that move under their own accord beneath a fireplace holding a speaker and a magnet, and thin metal threads protruding from canvases that slowly hang and sway at their own pace to a seemingly random pattern. It is marvellous stuff and transfixes the viewer due to the sheer curiosity the pieces evoke.

Where Eastley’s work lacked the sound element that was expected, the main ground floor space, taken up by Takehisa Kosugi (b.1938) gives more of a tangible taste of what some sound art consisted of, even if that is only in photographic form. Three walls are a photo album of his travels and sessions. Surrounded by wires, handmade stringed instruments, turntables and horns it looked as if he had a great time in the 1960s. Other works on show contain wires leading into minute black diodes that are connected to concealed batteries that clicked and buzzed in what can only be assumed to be intended harmony. There are interesting abstract pieces of score sheets with no music scribed, or score sheets that were lined with colour. His piece in the back gallery is involving, as you entered a space which can only be described as the white fuzz your television emits when something is not plugged in properly projected on to the walls so you become enveloped in a blizzard. Numerous dictaphones hang on threads, giving off white noise at various frequencies creating an impression of being trapped inside a minimal hissing world. It’s enjoyable and gives an element of life back to what at times is a lifeless show that concentrates too much on the methods and materials rather than the artworks themselves.

The second floor holds work by Walter Marchetti (b.1931) which is largely performance based with the element of sound omitted. A member of a group that produced action-music-performances the work is extremely introspective and in many ways unclassifiable. Being a fan of the piano, the single work that must be seen when climbing all the way to the top of the building is the exhibition’s cover piece Musica da camera n. 182 made in 1990. A grand piano covered in lights that fill the room by not only its size but by its luminosity. It is the piece of work that sums up not only his work, but the other two artists in this show as well. You want to see what it does, sometimes you can bask in its light and simplicity, but ultimately you want someone to just play the thing.

It’s a thoughtful, engaging exhibition in one of prettiest 18th century buildings in the east end of London. After a number of laps questioning the validity of the work, and the reason so much trouble was taken to produce so little, it becomes clear that the show is not about making a sound at all, but rather the process in which sounds can be used to create something altogether higher and more all encompassing than something solely visual.

Gone with the Wind continues until 17 July. In conjunction with the exhibition, Raven Row will host a performance by artist Esther Ferrer this Saturday 25 June. To book and for more information please contact info@ravenrow.org.
ravenrow.org

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoying reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. In the spirit of celebration, Issue 41 includes a piece on Guggenheimn Bilbao where the Luminous Interval features internationally acclaimed artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Damien Hirst, ArtAngel's new commission at MIF, Bruce Nauman's retrospective at The Kunsthalle Mannheim and Cory Arcangel's Pro Tools at the Whitney in NYC. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Image:
Takehisa Kosugi
Ear Drum Event (1962/75)
Series of nine silkscreen prints
Photograph by Marcus Leith

Review:Dissipated and Isolated Neighbourhoods: Sterile Environment, Catalyst Arts, Belfast.

Review by Angela Darby

Belfast‘s reputation is one of a fractured city in which city planning was curtailed or defined by social unrest. However, over the past 10 years it has become a giant construction site, its skyline is littered with cranes and scaffolding, like many other developing international cities. Parts of the city have been cordoned off and hidden behind partitions under the pretext of regeneration and gentrification. We have learnt not to expect anything spectacular as the unveiling only uncovers another unwelcome, homogenous and uninspiring edifice. In Sterile Environment, Catalyst Arts approaches this subject in a challenging and distinctive manner. The exhibition’s theme questions: ‘What is the city becoming? Are we protecting heritage adequately?’

The gallery’s exterior wall has been appropriated by the artist, Eoin McGinn. A graphic, black and white illustration of futuristic buildings has been painted onto the red brickwork serving as a reminder that Catalyst’s building itself was once ear marked for demolition. The text Dreamed of Places accompanies the mural, imitating phrases used by estate agents to advertise their townhouses and apartments. Inside the gallery McGinn continues this theme of a utopian ideal with a large screen print entitled Urbanisation. Contained within a grid-like sphere the artist has layered a series of outlined buildings synonymous with Belfast. This tightly packed display echoes the ceaseless and repetitive nature of ubiquitous urban development.

How does urban development evolve? A starting point might be to take the template of a metropolitan city such as New York or London and attempt to impose standardised forms through so-called regeneration. Michael Pinsky evaluates this replication of one city based on another, with his engaging video The Endless High Street version 1: Pret-a-Manger. The video documents the facades of buildings accommodating a chain of coffee houses throughout London. We are shown a different city and yet it feels very similar to the one that we are in. Pinsky cleverly forces us to reflect upon the effects that multinational corporations are having on our decisions as consumers. The consequences are ultimately the sacrifice to individual choice, the conglomerate chains associated with a free market bind rather than liberate. As the video overlays speed up, the Pret-A-Manger sign stays fixed, subconsciously hypnotizing the viewer. Pinsky asks: are we simply being brainwashed by these large companies? The work affects you on a visceral level as you realise that you have been seduced by the allure of the corporation.

The collaborative group Forum For Alternative Belfast seek to effect change to Belfast’s built environment. They present a number of maps of the city dating from the 1930s to present day which reveal the transformation urban development has had on neighbourhoods, mostly dissipation and isolation. The aerial views provide a powerful visual topography by which to chart, question and confront decisions made by Belfast’s town planners. More specific areas of Belfast are identified by artists Andrew Dodds and Aideen Doran. Within Spitting Distance is a large black and white poster of a group of punks photographed in the Cornmarket area of the city centre circa 1980. Despite the town-planners attempts to dissuade public gatherings, generations of young people have habitually congregated there and still do. It is this unsanctioned act of ownership by non-consumers that Dodds finds interesting. Aideen Doran draws our attention to the once notorious Divis Flats Complex. In, Homes for Today & Tomorrow the artist projects a haunting video piece onto a make shift wooden structure mimicking an advertising hoarding. The found footage of the Divis Flats Complex has an ethereal quality to it. The images of the towers and surrounding buildings appear like water colours in alluring tones of pastel blue and faded shades of yellow. The prospect of utopia lingers in the glowing slow-motion images suggesting that time had not yet eroded the Modernist architect’s faith in progress. Doran presents her work as an unsentimental reminder that one man’s metropolitan dream can become a communal nightmare.

Positioned in the centre of the gallery is a large wooden beam structure made from building-site materials. Keith Winter‘s sculptural installation entitled balls2thewalls has an impressive quality to it. The structure stands as a testament to the endless number of hoardings and partitions that have blighted Belfast’s cityscape over the past ten years. The cardboard panels at the top of the sculpture have a geometric pattern that is similar to the facades built in the 1960s and the 1970s. Two of the panels below are covered with tarpaulin and the adjacent glass panel has been smashed, seemingly by a small geometric sculpture. The implication seems to be that the systems based underpinning of modern architecture has within it the seeds of its own destruction. The urge to revolt against imposed forms, whether social or political is a constant of human existence and this work captures the zeitgeist of capitalist collapse and regime change.

A sense of destruction is also prevalent in the work of Sinead Bhreathnach-Cashell’s performance and sculpture installation Builder Bowling. Housing market investors are parodied by the artist, as she invites the audience to bowl with a wrecking ball and strike down her small plaster sculptures that are based on townhouses and listed buildings in Belfast. This is a game with consequences for this city and others like it. Are we to lose Belfast’s built heritage to the onslaught of neo-Italian townhouses, shiny glass office blocks and conglomerate coffee bars? Sterile Environment is consistent in quality as it informs, questions, and considers an issue which could be applied to any European city at the present time.

Sterile Environment continues until 23 June.

catalystarts.org.uk

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoying reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. In the spirit of celebration, Issue 41 includes a piece on Guggenheimn Bilbao where the Luminous Interval features internationally acclaimed artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Damien Hirst, ArtAngel's new commission at MIF, Bruce Nauman's retrospective at The Kunsthalle Mannheim and Cory Arcangel's Pro Tools at the Whitney in NYC. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Image:
Michael Pinsky The Endless High Street, version one: Pret-a-Manger Courtesy the artist

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World, Tate Britain, London.

Review by Sarah Richter, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.

Vorticism was a British Avant Garde movement that occurred simultaneously with WWI and although the summer exhibition at the Tate Britain, the Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World, contains work that exhibits infusions from Cubism, Primitivism and Futurism, the Vorticists main aim was to break with and challenge the objectives of the aforementioned groups. The Vorticists were concerned with achieving the recognition that Britain deserved in the art world. Long overlooked as a centre for artistic production, London was seen as not having any sort of artistic predilection, and if any, much lower than that of heart of artistic innovation, Paris. The movement, whose name was coined by American poet Ezra Pound, was a rejection of the propriety that defined Edwardian England and embraced the radical changes of the modern world. Voritcism, was led by the British artist Wyndham Lewis and encompassed more than just art but also writers, poets and sculptors.

The exhibition is chronologically arranged with the viewer’s introduction to Vorticism being the piece that started it all: Jacob Epstein’s Rock Drill (1913-14). The sculpture is comprised of an androgynous figure that seems to be caught between a knight in armour and a human. There is something reminiscent of an insect come to life, or some science experiment gone wrong as the figure sits atop a machine gun, operating it like a drill bit. The figure straddles the machine which is situated on a tripod base and commands the attention of the viewer. The presence of the figure is eerie, overwhelming and yet one can’t look away. Prophetic for its origin as a premonition of the impending war and what the machine can do to mankind, the piece still resonates much in the same way as it did almost a century ago. The way that war and its trappings turn men into androids and simple war machines was something that fascinated the Vorticists. Machines had never engaged with life in such a way.

On the walls surrounding Epstein’s sculpture are portions of the Vorticist’s manifesto which was published in the first exhibition catalogue entitled Blast. The magazine was shocking, with bright pink cover, but instead along with poems, short stories, plays and sketches, was the manifesto. This declaration of Vorticist aims at once condemned, Blasted, and Blessed different aspects of traditional British and foreign cultures. In the third room of the exhibition, this first issue of only two Vorticist exhibition catalogues has been recreated and reprinted for the modern viewer to peruse and read at their own leisure. This was an excellent touch to the show, allowing for the words and message of the group to have the same impact on a modern audience beneath that bold pink cover.

The second and last issue of Blast included the first published works of T.S. Eliot, and also grappled with the reality of war, as one of the Voriticist members was killed on the front lines, Henri Gaudier - Brzeska. This lends a humanity and reality to what the Vorticists were attempting to contend with, the reality of man and machine. The show also includes Vorticist photographs, known as vortographs, which comprised the Camera Club. The photographer was Alvin Coburn and his patron was Ezra Pound. The pair experimented with different photographic techniques, lighting, positioning and lens to create some images ahead of their time and eerily prophetic of humanity. The show also draws connection with New York, displaying much of the work that the Vorticists exhibited at a show at the Penguin Club in New York in 1917. Not just confined to Britain, but a more global connection is a palpable current of the movement. British based, but globally relevant.

In addition to the Blast issues and Epstein’s iconic sculpture, are photographs, paintings, old letters of correspondence, sketches and unfinished works on paper that highlight the diversity and commitment of the group to the movement. More than just a program associated with painting, but with every aspect of the arts and the human condition. Influenced by the changing world and the atrocities of the dialogue between man and machine, the Vorticists attempted to artistically make sense of this in a uniquely British way that was at once foreign and familiar. We are so often concerned with the Parisian Avant-Garde that we forget about the British. This exhibition is comprehensive, informative, fascinating and simply brilliant, allowing the viewer an insight into this short-lived art movement that attempted to make sense of the rapid modernity that was sweeping through their lives.

The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World is on until 4 September.

tate.org.uk

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoying reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. In the spirit of celebration, Issue 41 includes a piece on Guggenheimn Bilbao where the Luminous Interval features internationally acclaimed artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Damien Hirst, ArtAngel's new commission at Manchester International Festival, Bruce Nauman's retrospective at The Kunsthalle Mannheim and Cory Arcangel's Pro Tools at the Whitney in NYC. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Image:
Dorothy Shakespear
Composition in Blue and Black (1914 – 15)
Emerson Art Gallery Hamilton College
Courtesy Estate of Omar S. Pound

Two Weeks, Ten Artists, One Objective: Artist of the Day 2011, Flowers Gallery, Cork Street, London.


Pioneered by Angela Flowers in 1983 Artist of the Day is an annual event whereby ten selectors choose an artist to each hold a one day solo exhibition over the course of two weeks. Running from the 27 June – 9 July, this year’s selectors include Julian Opie, Tim Head, Alison Wilding and Chantal Joffe. Each of the ten chosen artists will show at Flowers Cork Street for one day during the course of the two weeks. On Saturday 2nd and 9th July there will be a group exhibition of artists who exhibited during the week. We’ve handpicked our favourites below.

Srinivas Kuruganti
Selected by Lynette Yiadom-Baokye, Kuruganti (b.1967) documents the daily lives of manual labourers, from the ship-breaking yards of Bombay to the coal mining villages of Dhanbad. His projects have included photographing those living with industrial pollution, their ancestral lands destroyed through mining and since 2001 he has worked with Freedom Foundation HIV/Aids clinics to document the spread of the disease through the populations in Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Rebecca Griffiths
Selected by Alison Wilding, Griffiths (b.1984) studied Fine Art at University College Falmouth and will graduate this year from the Royal College of Art. Her work focuses on the everyday packaging we use such as shampoo bottles and fast food trays. Taking such objects as a starting point, her recent series of work enlarges and magnifies ubiquitous design details, painstakingly rendering them in a uniform sheet material. The forms and surface details of these sculptures refer to those inherent in plastic objects that have been industrially produced through vacuum forming or injection moulding.

An Gee Chan
Selected by Adam Dant, Chan will complete an MA in Fine Art Printmaking from the Royal College of Art this year. Her polished and accomplished, yet garish and brightly coloured prints feature the grotesque and comical imagery of dreams and imaging mythological characters. This highly narrative work is influences by her Hong Kong background, stories of the press and dreams which she expresses in books, prints, murals and installations.

Flowers Cork Street is open daily from 10 - 7.

flowersgalleries.com

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoying reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. In the spirit of celebration, Issue 41 includes a piece on Guggenheimn Bilbao where the Luminous Interval features internationally acclaimed artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Kiki Smith and Damien Hirst, ArtAngel's new commission at MIF, Bruce Nauman's retrospective at The Kunsthalle Mannheim and Cory Arcangel's Pro Tools at the Whitney in NYC. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Image:
Courtesy the artist and Flowers Cork Street

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