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Friday, 30 March 2012

Tate Britain Commission 2012: Patrick Keiller | Tate Britain | London





















Text by Emily Sack

It may seem that a fictional institution created to further the research of a fictional scholar and his fictional endeavours would be too abstract and absurd to have any real artistic clout, but Patrick Keiller’s most recent project brings the imaginary to life in a very real and concrete way. Robinson, the enigmatic scholar, seeks to explain the current economic and social condition based on historical events and their remnant markings on the landscape.

The exhibition in the beautiful and spacious Duveen Galleries of Tate Britain resembles a cabinet of curiousities filled with works from the Tate collection as well as other artifacts and objects spanning diverse concentrations from art to geology in equally diverse media. Patrick Keiller undertook the monumental task of browsing the Tate collection for works to include in The Robinson Institute. These works represent historical prints, drawings, and paintings from JMW Turner and James Ward grouped seamlessly with some of the biggest names in 20th-century art including Joseph Beuys, Eduardo Paolozzi, and Andreas Gursky. The incongruousness of time, media, and styles represented highlight Robinson’s thesis: that events and sentiments in history reoccur throughout time and this results in the present status quo. To Robinson nothing is random; even the falling of a meteor relates to contemporaneous events.

The exhibition begins with a diagram of Robinson’s journey through the English landscape, and this route determines the arrangement and chronology of the exhibition. Visitors are confronted with depictions of travelers and wanderers, as though to legitimise Robinson’s method of research. Robinson relies of textual sources, of course, as any good scholar would (and a number of these are on display), but it is important to note that the most poignant of discoveries are made outside the library, in the environment being studied.

The journey sets about the chart the development of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism. This begins, in Robinson’s research, with the 1795 Settlement Act that allows rural works to migrate more easily to cities and industrial centres in search for work and a better life. The actual act in scrolling 18th century penmanship has been lent by the Parliamentary Archives and is displayed alongside a larger-than-average meteorite that fell in the same year. The juxtaposition of a large piece of rock from space with the seemingly closer migration of man bridges the phenomenological with the concrete.

Circling around the galleries, the visitor is soon confronted with images of nuclear anxiety. The jump from 1795 to mid-20th century and present day is a bit drastic, but it emphasises a cause and effect relationship. Scientific development has provided civilization with countless advantages over the preceding generations and a greater understanding of the world, but it has also caused terrible destruction and augmented existing conflicts. Science and industry, since the beginning have inspired both awe and fear, but the development of nuclear warfare, postulates Robinson, has encouraged a more pessimistic worldview. 

The octagon space of the Duveen Galleries is used to screen an hour of re-edited footage accumulated by Keiller for the 2010 film Robinson in Ruins. The scenes included allow visitors to see the world from Robinson’s point of view, almost as a bird-watcher – patiently observing the landscape and hoping for a revelation. The footage focuses on the natural landscape and highlights Robinson’s belief that history has left physical and tangible markings that help present-day scholars interpret the past. An exhibition text notes that “Robinson inclined to ‘biophilia’, the love of life and living systems, having learnt that symbiotic relationships between organisms are a primary force in evolution.” The faceless scholar sees mankind and its relationship to with time as a "living system" that requires the past to create the future.

The Robinson Institute is certainly interesting as an exhibition and creates a genre of its own. While several of the photographs in the exhibition, as well as the film footage, are shot by Patrick Keiller himself, the majority of the exhibition includes work by other artists, and objects that are not art at all. It becomes apparent that in this case the exhibition becomes single work of art; that all the varied parts create one whole, and this blurs the boundary between artist and curator to an extent.

Simultaneously educational and whimsical, thought provoking and humourous, Patrick Keiller takes visitors on a journey throughout the country and throughout time. Robinson believed that “if he looked at the landscape hard enough, it would reveal to him the ‘molecular basis’ of historical events,” and perhaps if more people took the time to study in this way, there would be a greater understanding of the present world.

Tate Britain Commission 2012: Patrick Keiller, 27/03/2012 - 14/10/2012, Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1P 4RG. www.tate.org.uk/britain

Aesthetica in Print
If you only read Aesthetica online, you are missing out. The April/May issue of Aesthetica is out now and includes a diverse range of features from Bauhaus: Art as Life, a comprehensive survey of one of the most influential schools of thought from the 20th century, Growing Up: The Young British Artists at 50, which centres on Jeremy Cooper's examination of the illustrious career, and the phenomenon that was the YBAs and Behind Closed Doors, an intimate portrait of family life in Cuba from photographer David Creedon.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can find your nearest stockist here. Better yet, subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine. To subscribe visit the website or call us on +44 (0) 1904 629 137.

Caption:
Patrick Keiller
Robinson in Ruins (2010)
Film Still
© Patrick Keiller

I Myself Have Seen It: Photography and Kiki Smith | Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art | Arizona























I Myself Have Seen It: Photography and Kiki Smith is the product of a decade-long conversation between independent Curator Elizabeth Brown and the artist, examining a little-known body of work to provide important new insights into Smith's extraordinary career. Aesthetica spoke to Claire Carter, Assistant Curator at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) to learn more.

A: First of all, I just wanted to ask about what you see as the importance or influence of photography in Kiki Smith's wider oeuvre, including the sculptures for which she's probably best known?

CC: Introducing the exhibition, Elizabeth Brown outlines Smith’s use of photography: “Over three decades she has experimented with its use in many ways: as a tool, as a means of personal expression, as a way to construct meanings. She sees it as a flexible medium in which she can explore space, composition, colour and texture, free of the material constraints of sculpture or printmaking.” The primary goal of the exhibition is to describe both the formal variety of the work and its conceptual extent—the ways Smith thinks and articulates her ideas visually, using the camera.

A: Many of the photographs in the show appear consciously posed or staged. They don't come across as snapshots but much more as tableaux or orchestrated mini-scenes. Do you see this as an important aspect of Smith's photographic style?

CC: Smith constantly carries a traditional 35mm camera—she photographs constantly. Many of the photographs represented on a larger scale are made of motionless scenes, inert sculptures, still landscapes, taxidermy animals. I think this adds to the feeling of orchestration. However, the diminutive 4 x 6 inch photographs that line the floorboards of the museum walls reveal a much more improvisational or extemporaneous tone.

A: There are both large scale and small scale photographic works in the show. How does scale function in the photographs? Is their a distinction in the approach she takes to the larger works from that in the smaller works?

CC: That is an interesting question. All of the photographs in the exhibition were made with a 35mm, handheld single lens reflex camera and shot with traditional colour film. Of course the size differentiation emphasises the works’ importance, but each image is capable of being any size at any time. However, the photographs Smith chooses to enlarge have a sense of quietude, solemnity. There is a sense that the photograph is a complete thought with a beginning and an end. This is in contrast to the installation of 1,300 small 4 x 6 inch photographs that line the floorboards of the museum walls. These images are exquisite and beautiful in their own ways but they are also a kind of linear brainstorming, almost a film reel that transports you through the galleries and through Smith’s world.

A: Reproduction, in every sense, has been an important theme for Smith in many of her works. Do you see reproduction as important in Smiths photography, given that it is an essentially reproducible medium?

CC: The emphasis on Smith’s process is a good way to contextualise this question. Really all of the work in the exhibition is an example of Smith’s process—her engagement with the world, her inspirations and muses, the process of documenting the various states of her drawings, carvings, sculptures. Photography is the perfect co‐author in observation.

A: The exhibition features some of Smith's experiments with time-based media. Could you tell us a little about these works and how they relate to Smith's other photographic works?

I would advocate first considering that all of Smith’s work is essentially time‐based. Although photography and her videos are explicitly time‐based, Smith presents the passing of time by tracking the many transformations and changes a sculpture takes on during its lifetime. In the exhibition catalogue of the same name, curator Elizabeth Brown states: “Smith is drawn to the way such repeated, incrementally changing views conjure up the experience of being with the subject….what Smith describes as ‘movement through stillness.’” It’s interesting to know that when studying at Hartford Art School, Smith’s focus was on filmmaking.

A: One of the most interesting aspects of the show seems to be the inclusion of some of the photographs Smith takes as part of her sculptural process. How does her approach in these works relate to works where the photograph is the finished work in itself?

CC: I think Smith's observation in the catalogue explains this approach perfectly: “I don’t think my work is particularly about art. It’s really about me, being her in this life, in this kin. I’m cannibalising my own experience, my surroundings.” Curator Elizabeth Brown contextualises this quote stating: “This holds especially true in the photographs, most of which originate with projects in other
mediums. Extending the cannibal metaphor, Smith’s photographs can be seen as devouring and reprocessing her sculpture. But the relationship is reciprocal: they also nourish her works in other mediums in multiple ways, contributing to their invention, their development, their process, and their interpretations.”

A: The exhibition includes photographs from a wide period in Smith's career. Is there a development in style over the period in your opinion or is the way she uses photography consistent?

CC: Smith makes photographs incessantly. The curatorial endeavour of sorting through such an archive to make a manageable selection means the selection cannot represent every facet of her development. More than arguing for a clear stylistic development, the exhibition presents selections of photographs that demonstrate the wide range of creativity and ingenuity Smith applies to her work.

A: I'm really interested in the works that make use of traditional myths and fairy tales. Could you tell us a little about these works and how Smith is able to subvert their meanings and implications?

CC: Kiki Smith often uses the iconography of fairy tales in the characters and narrative in her artwork. She borrows from Western iconography already laden or fraught with meaning. The visual symbolism of Little Red Riding Hood, the Evil Witch, the screaming banshee, trigger a flurry of associations. Smith breaks this dialogue, however, by interjecting unexpected storylines into the traditional stories. At times Little Red Riding Hood becomes a girl with a grotesque, hair‐covered face; harpies become beautiful, lithe sexual bodies, banshees are based on portraiture of real women.

A: Many of Smith's sculptures seem influenced by Julia Kristeva's ideas of the "abject" and "horror", particularly in the context of the AIDS crisis. Do you see these ideas as important in the photographs?

CC: Kristeva and Smith were born within fifteen years of one another. Both feminists are interested in identity, the feminine, sexuality and the representation of women in culture. Certainly Smith’s images blur the line between the abject and the beautiful—one of Kristeva’s main interests. Perhaps most interesting however, is that Smith and Kristeva see the subject in a state of unending process—always
morphing and growing and changing. In their artwork and writing, respectively, they emphasise the instinctual, emotional, psychological—characteristics generally associated with the feminine.

A: Finally, the title of the exhibition seems really interesting as it relates the art of photography to Smith's individual and personal vision... Could you tell us a little bit about what you see as the importance of the title to the exhibition, is there a sense in which the camera is documenting the way Smith sees the world?

CC: I Myself Have Seen It: Photography and Kiki Smith emphasises, first and foremost the first-person perspective. What is interesting here is the plurality of meaning - this could reference Smith's
visual encounter with the subject; the utilisation of the photograph as documentation, or proof; or the perspective of the exhibition-goer, sharing Smith's representations of the visual world.

I Myself Have Seen It: Photography and Kiki Smith, 11/02/2012 - 20/05/2012, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7374 East Second Street, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, USA. www.smoca.org

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you are missing out. The April/May issue of Aesthetica is out now and includes a diverse range of features from Bauhaus: Art as Life, a comprehensive survey of one of the most influential schools of thought from the 20th century, Growing Up: The Young British Artists at 50, which centres on Jeremy Cooper's examination of the illustrious career, and the phenomenon that was the YBAs and Behind Closed Doors, an intimate portrait of family life in Cuba from photographer David Creedon.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can find your nearest stockist here. Better yet, subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine. To subscribe visit the website or call us on +44 (0) 1904 629 137.

Caption:
Kiki Smith Untitled (from: Crow). 1997
Chromogenic (Ektacolor) colour print
© Kiki Smith, courtesy PaceWildenstein, New
York.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Matthew Picton: Urban Narratives | Sumarria Lunn | London








Text by Bethany Rex

Cities are often described as living organisms; viewed as subject rather than object. Matthew Picton engages with this traditional of humanising the city by deconstructing the clean, uncompromising aesthetic of the cartographic city plan and imbuing it with the unique history and culture of each place.

For this exhibition Urban Narratives, Picton depicts these cities as active participants, affected by outside sources and shaped by their internal social structure. They city becomes a subject and an entity of its own.

BR: Urban Narratives opened earlier this month. What has the response to the work been like so far?

MP: It has been extremely positive so far, very well attended at the special evening for the young diplomats of London and the LSE Alumni, we had many interesting questions and received some good input and thoughts. People seemed excited by the work, and that's important to me.

BR: What do people understand the work to be about?

MP: It's about cities, urban life, history and the perspectives given by literature. There is a clear understanding of the work's depiction of the vulnerability of human civilisation. People also clearly recognise the work to be about mapping and will locate their own personal narratives within the cartographic framework.

BR: Could you talk us through your relationship with the concept of the city? Where did this begin?

MP: My relationship with the concept of the city is an ever expanding one. I started seeing the city as akin to an organisation but what I increasingly see is something more akin to an accumulation of humanity stretching back centuries. A city as an accumulated depositary of culture and the progress of civilisation, a body which has grown through the tumults and events of history. I always begin with an excitement about a city, an enthusiasm that is found in the imagination of it's history and visual appearance, which leads to an imagination of what a life within the city might be like, or has been like.

BR: I've been reading about your work, and your research must be meticulous. What's your favourite place to think about what you'll make next?

MP: Looking out of the window on a long flight. The view from high up has always intrigued me, particularly the macro aerial perspective offered by the plane seat. Again not unlike looking at a map, except here starting to imagine past the immediate visual gratification of the geography and on to thinking about the social and historical components of the landscape.

BR: We've got a shared love for Thomas Mann. Is there something particular about Death in Venice that inspired you?

MP: The wonderfully poetic and evocative nature of the writing and it's mirroring of the decline and slow death through the centuries of Venice. All of course put into the very personal and human terms of the decline of the central character, Aschenbach as he follows his obsession.

BR: Where on the map do you hope to transform next?

MP: I am particularly excited about making a sculpture of St. Petersburg. I am planning to use a map from the early 19th century that depicts the extent of the flood waters of the year 1997. I anticipate travelling there to collect some of the Nevsky water and mud. The work will encompass some of Russian poet Joseph Brodsky's writings and poetry; writing that reflects upon the transition of St. Petersburg to Leningrad and back again, writing that reflects the mythology of St. Petersburg in Russian Literature. The work with also include portions of Shostakovich's 7th Symphony, which was written about the gruelling 3 year siege of St. Petersburg. Thus it will be a work reflecting different eras and transitions in the history of this city.

Matthew Picton: Urban Narratives, 08/03/2012 - 06/04/2012, Sumarria Lunn, 36 South Molton Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 5AB. www.sumarrialunn.com

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Captions:
1. Hollywood Crushed and Burned (2010)
A sculptural map of Hollywood created from the covers of the fictional film Earthquake (1974) and the documentary Killer Quake (2004). The work provides a fictional dramatisation of imagined and future earthquakes as well as imagery from the actual Los Angeles earthquakes of 1989 - 1994. Film and documentary are as much bound up with the history and future of LA as the fault lines that sit beneath it and it seems fitting here that the two converge in the sculpture.
2. Lower Manhattan (2011)
Lower Manhattan if the first "smoked" sculpture Picton has made. The complex cartography of the city plan was created from the headlines that followed the 2001 World Trade Center tragedy, DVD covers of the film Towering Inferno and book covers of the novel The Plot Against America by Philip Roth. The finished work has been carefully "smoked" from the site obscuring the colour of the sculpture. Without doubt this event will take its place in human history and has already shaped the lives of those in the city, the country and many more around the world.
3. Portland (2011)
Created from the covers and text of the novel The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula LaGuin and the DVD covers of the films Dante's Peak and Volcano. 

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Daytime TV | David Hall: End Piece… | Ambika P3 | London

























Text by Travis Riley

David Hall is a formative figure in time-based art. Credited with introducing the term "time-based media" into circulation through his writing, he followed this by creating the first British course in the subject. In January of this year he was awarded the Samsung Art Lifetime Achievement Award for his groundbreaking work in video art. Ambika P3 is an imposing 14,000 square foot space, hidden beneath the University of Westminster’s Engineering School. It is the university’s former construction hall in which concrete was tested for major projects including Spaghetti Junction and the Channel Tunnel.

An indistinct chattering pervades the area immediately around the gallery entrance, intensifying to an echoed cacophony as you pass through the doorway into Ambika P3’s cavernous space. The source of the clamour becomes apparent a few steps on. The expansive warehouse floor is filled by the 1,001 face-up television sets that make up End Piece (2012). From David Cameron, to Sue Barker, to Antiques Roadshow, the unmistakable sounds of daytime TV slowly come into focus. Taken as a whole, the work could be seen as a depiction of a hell worse even than Dante had imagined, however in its scale, the installation generates an unexpected beauty.

Standing back on the raised platform above the TVs, the images become blurred, and the noise too distorted to represent its source. The incandescent light of the television sets washes over the space, disseminating the harsh daytime TV as a soft glow. The flickering light seems too erratic to be produced by a machine; the network of TVs becomes a sci-fi creation, a cybernetic organism. The fitful cuts between Cameron and an outraged labour backbench becomes a pattern, isolating the televisions tuned into that particular debate, and creating an understated light show that fills the room. A network of cables rise up from across the grid of screens. Ten metres above, the cables come together, gathered centrally by a large hook; a point of dispersal.

The installation is, in essence, a reworking of an earlier piece, entitled 101 TV sets, however in this instance Hall has imbued it with further motive. These are all cathode ray televisions tuned into one of the five analogue channels. Consequently the installation will chart the end of analogue broadcast in the UK. From April 4 the number of transmissions will gradually be reduced until April 18 when the final signals will be switched off at London’s Crystal Palace. The televisions will remain there until April 22, emitting only white noise, a steady stream of light and sound memorialising the final signal.

Two other pieces are included in the exhibition, providing a counterpoint in scale to the vast installation. David Hall’s TV Interruptions (1971) are widely credited as the first instance of an artist intervention on British television. Behind a curtain and away from the din, they are shown here as an installation across six monitors. Films include: a television set that burns furiously, a tap which gradually fills the screen with water, and a cameraman who films a television set on the street, eventually filming through the screen to capture the viewer. The themes of consumption, voyeurism, and immersion in the films make immediate sense in the context of an unannounced broadcast. The subject matter is further illustrated by an auditory accompaniment; a regular announcement of “interruption” punctuated by an incessant bleeping. This along with the haphazard positioning of the monitors, which prevents the films all being viewed from any one position, keeps the viewer at arms length from the events on screen.

Further still from the warblings of mass of televisions, Progressive Recession (1974) is an installation of nine CCTV cameras mounted atop nine monitors. Only one monitor displays its own feed, the others calculatedly resituate the viewer onto an alternative screen. The spatial play is fun, but also disconcerting. The cameras don’t record for security, instead enacting a form of voyeurism. Across the length of the room, two cameras swap feeds; the viewer is constantly fed an image from behind them. Another wall contains the remaining seven cameras. Your own reflection is transmitted elsewhere, becoming horizontally displaced. On the screen before you, in its place, you are left with blank space, or on occasion, another viewer staring back at you. In this way the white room becomes filled with a non-symmetrical surveillance loop, the network of cameras means that a person can never just be in one place.

Whilst with TV Interruptions and Progressive Recession, Hall seems to have looked ahead, forecasting the themes that, after his influence, would pervade the art world; End Piece uses current technology to look back. The installation is concerned with the technologies and signals to which Hall responded in the early 70s. He has taken the opportunity to demarcate a unique moment in time, the technological transition at which analogue television will cease to exist. Concurrently the piece locates a more personal theme, to mark the end of structures that have defined Hall as an artist. April 18 is a moment at which many of Hall’s pieces will become nostalgia. They can no longer be a discussion of present formats but those, which after more than forty years of making art, have become part of the past.

David Hall: End Piece… 16/03/2012 – 22/04/2012, Ambika P3, 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LS. www.p3exhibitions.com

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Caption:
1001 TV Sets (End Piece) 1972-2012 David Hall
Photo: Michael Mazière, Ambika P3, University of Westminster

The Formal Language of Protest | Tina Hage: Gestalt | Tenderpixel Gallery | London

























Text by Bethany Rex

Tina Hage (b. Port-au-Prince) is a London-based artist. She grew up in Düsseldorf and studied at the Academy of Media Arts in Cologne until 2004 and then completed her Masters in Fine Art at Goldsmiths in 2009. Gestalt, Hage's first solo-show in London, opened earlier this month at Tenderpixel. We spoke to Tina about her work and future plans.

BR: Tell me about Gestalt. What are the bare bones of the project and where did it begin?

TH: My work starts with found images particularly those from newspapers and online media. I often look at journalistic images and have amassed a large collection of these, so I have become very aware of the various uprisings in different countries that have sprung up since the end of 2010.

What interests me is that all the protesters from these diverse places appear to be people on the street as opposed to seasoned activists and are self-organised. However, the actions of the UK rioters cannot been seen in the same context as the protesters in Egypt for example. 

There is clearly an unplanned movement of masses in a swarm like mentality which uses social media and networking to communicate. The result of this is an almost spontaneous physical presence on the street. The protesters are mostly anonymous; there is no confirmed leader and most of the time the faces we see in the media are completely covered.

It is important to mention that this work is not about the subject of protest, but rather the formal language that these protesters start to create. Until recently, protests were usually pre-organised with defined leaders and political agendas. The language emerging from these new protests represent a different way in which masses now form. It is one of anonymity and viral chaos. 

BR: What can we expect to see from the new work and what reaction do you anticipate from audiences to the show?

TH: When you step into the gallery space, you are physically standing inside the work. The photographic installation is made of large format prints on panels, set up very closely next to each other. The other element of the show is a book, containing images in the exhibition and additional works from the series. It creates rhythm, movement and patterns by juxtaposing the images next to each other in the page layout. Both elements are important to the show because they broaden the context of the work. The show and the book are not a political statement about protesting, I am more interested in looking closely at the anonymous individual and how they emerge as part of a movement; their gestures, appearance and actions. I would like the audience to discover a visual language that lets in their own association towards the work. I did not want to produce work which can be put into a distinct category, I always feel that restricts ways of thinking and new associations. I am fascinated by these current movements across the globe and I would like to contribute to see the individual in other aspect besides the greater political movement they are part of. 

BR: What is the significance of the title of the show?

TH: The title of the show, Gestalt,  is a quite an important aspect of the work. It is a German word and means in general to “form” or to “take shape”.  Specifically, it can mean that a figure/person is taking shape for e.g. coming out of the dark or from far away. It defines that moment when someone/thing appear, the seconds before it becomes clear what or who it is.
Not knowing who these people are in the pictures, yet the lingering sense of an idea blurs the individual into the collective. This makes them part of something greater. It is difficult to recognise the figures within the Gestalt Series as well. If familiar with my work, the viewer might suspect that it is me. In my study of the individual v. the masses, I use myself as the anonymous repetition in the work. For me, this helps to articulate the forming of contemporary protest we have been discussing above, but also brings into question the constructing/deconstruction of photographic images.
On a larger level, it also describes a phenomenon which is not yet clear. It is only beginning to take shape. I feel that the way masses operate in a swarm mentality has the potential to change the structure of society and how we interact.
BR: Where did your personal interest in this relationship between the collective and the individual begin? 

TH: I became particularly interested in this relationship when I read Siegfried Kracauer’s book The Mass Ornament, in which he describes the mass as the bearer of the ornament. The individual is very much integrated in capitalist production processes, and indeed it is through their work which contributes to these processes.  Although the book was written nearly 100 years ago, I feel that it still has its relevance and I find it helpful when trying to understand capitalist societies.

BR: What can we expect from you in 2012?

TH: The publication Gestalt I made for the show is now available at art book shops, like Banner Repeater at Hackney Downs train station and I am hoping it will be seen in more art book shops later in the year. It will also be presented at Art Cologne in April with Thomas Rehbein Gallery in Germany. I am also working on a project for a group show with the Modern Language Experiment that will be hosted at Angus Hughes Gallery; and there is the potential of another solo show later this year in London.

Tina Hage: Gestalt, 10/02/2012 - 01/04/2012, Tenderpixel, 10 Cecil Court, London, WC2N 4HE. www.tenderpixel.com / www.tinahage.com

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

The AIPAD Photography Show New York Opens Thursday 29th March




















The 32nd edition of The AIPAD Photography Show New York will open this Thursday 29th March. It promises to be a fantastic show with new by Philip-Lorca diCorcia from David Zwirner, New York and a specially curated exhibition of early French photography at James Hyman Photography, London. A number of extraordinary portraits will be on view from Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York, who are showing Linda McCartney's photographs of Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix alongside new portraits of Occupy Wall Street protesters by Accra Scheep at Steven Kasher Gallery.

We've previewed some of our favourite images here but would always recommend you pay a visit to the show yourself. To accompany the galleries, five panel discussions will be held on Saturday 31st March covering such diverse topics as Emerging Artists in Photography and How to Collect Photographs. It's not just anyone giving these talks; expect appearances from the likes of Jennifer Blessing, Curator of Photography at the Guggenheim, New York and Sandra Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography at SFMOMA.

The AIPAD Photography Show New York, 29/03/2012 - 01/05/2012, Park Avenue Armory, 67th Street, New York. www.aipad.com

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Captions:
1. Stephen Wilkes, Coney Island, Day To Night, 2011. Digital C-print, 40 x 80 inches
Courtesy Monroe Gallery of Photography
2. Weegee, Water Spray, ca. 1940. Vintage gelatin silver, printed ca. 1940, 10 x 12 inches. 
Courtesy Steven Kasher Gallery
3. Karen Knorr, The Joy of Ahimsa. Takhat Vilas. Mehrangar Fort. Jodphur, 2008 - 2010. Pigment print, 50 x 60 inches. Courtesy Danziger Gallery
4. Matthew Pillsbury, Tribute of Light, 2011. Pigment ink print,30 x 40 inches. Courtesy Bonni Benrubi Gallery
5. Matthew Brandt, American Lake, WA C1, 2011, from the series Lakes and Reservoirs. C-print soaked in American Lake water, © Matthew Brandt, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York
6. Guy Bourdin, Untitled, 1970s. Polaroid, 4.2 x 3.3 inches. © Estate of Guy Bourdin. Reproduced by permission. Courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery.

Excessive Beauty | Sebastião Salgado & Per-Anders Pettersson: AMAZON | Gallery of Photography | Dublin


Text by Sarah Allen

This month Dublin's Gallery of Photography plays host to the work of two esteemed photographers - Sebastião Salgado and Per-Anders Pettersson. Each photographer presents distinct bodies of work which deal with the Amazonian rainforest and the ongoing plight of its inhabitants.

Sebastião Salgado has achieved international acclaim for his seemingly effortless ability to transform any subject into art, his name becoming synonymous with haunting monochrome images. Yet Salgado remains one of those truly divisive artists, his oeuvre typically inciting heated debates amongst photography aficionados. The accusations leveled against him are essentially the same as those leveled against photojournalism in general. Primarily his images are criticized as being reductive, overly rhetorical and too willing to aestheticize. In essence Salgado skeptics often view his work as a distasteful plundering of the picturesque.

If you come to this exhibition weighed down by such preconceptions it will be hard to retain an unbiased response. This is because well over half of Salgado's showcased work, culled from his ongoing project entitled Genesis, depict the exotic and little known Zo'é tribe and thus deal with the endlessly intriguing "other" and the impulse to fix a fading rarity. However it is hard to see how even the most hardened cynic would not succumb to the sheer skill and entrancing artistry of these works. Ceremonial activities and hunting scenes feature heavily and see the quotidian lives of the tribe presented to the viewer as an embodiment of the mystic and almost surreal.

Peppered amid these images of tribespeople are awe-inspiring landscapes which portray untouched nature; they induce a kind of reverence we reserve for such icons as Ansel Adams. They hint at a form of modernist sublime where a sense of the absolute and the majestic is made palpable. Working in black and white has allowed Salgado to imbue his subjects with an abstracted and graphic quality - in one such example we see the Great Juruá River reduced to a simplistic but formally striking meandering line resting amid a rich landscape.

Salgado's work is without doubt indebted to approaches of modernist photography and the core belief in the inherent structure to be found in everything. Examples of symmetrical doubling are evident throughout this collection of images, none perhaps more captivating than the Waura Indians fishing; the luminous tones and strong chiaroscuro of which is poetic in its beauty. Indeed Salgado's oeuvre has often been described as "excessively beautiful", however it should be said that lending credence to this claim would be to ignore the fact that his subjects in and of themselves are "excessively beautiful". The Amazon, standing as the antithesis to our sometimes shallow and crass culture, is itself the paradigm of beauty and its inhabitants embodiments of the rare and uncorrupted. Furthermore, for those who maintain Salgado's emphatic style undermines the objectivity of his images we have to question whether he is motivated by objectivity in the first place. Stylistically his work is reminiscent of W. Eugene Smith and it seems apt that Smith once noted: "the photographer can have no other than a subjective approach".

In terms of Pettersson's work, one may have reservations as to how any photographer could attempt to stand shoulder to shoulder with the photographic presence that is Salgado. However the fact the two bodies of work are physically separated into different levels of the gallery made this issue less of a concern. The most idyllic image by Pettersson Morning Mist in Acre leads the viewer into the second phase of the exhibition which focuses solely on his photographs. Bridging the divide between these two stylistically discrete bodies of work with this image is an insightful curatorial move and one which renders the transition seamless. Rather than capturing pristine nature Pettersson has chosen to expose the ravaged and disturbing aftermath of deforestation. It is almost as it the exhibition sets up a polarity of utopia and dystopia; where Salgado virgin nature plays off Pettersson's exposition of humankind's ruinous effects on the environment. The aforementioned image of Morning Mist in Acre both attracts and repels, its beguiling and sumptuous colours camouflaging the mass deforestation that lies beneath.

While Salgado's work could be said to idealise and romanticise, Pettersson's exists very much in the present. This primarily owes to the fact he is shooting in colour; however what is equally apparent is the fact that his compositions do not display the kind of obsessive attention to compositional and formal harmonies evident in Salgado's. For example, his photographs capturing the process of rubber tapping seem to reside in the realm of documentation as opposed to fine art. However, if there is one aspect of Pettersson's images which is open to criticism it is the presence of actress Gemma Arterton. At the risk of being overly cynical, there was something almost devaluing about her presence, it seemed to abate the poignant message of the project on a whole.

The Gallery of Photography have done an excellent service to the photographer's works in terms of exhibition presentation. In past projects such as his photobook entitled Workers Salgado isolated his captions from his images. Yet given that the narrative authority of photography is mutable at best it seems almost negligent not to include explanatory text with the images. However it was encouraging to see that this exhibition included not only revealing captions but also a jam-packed leaflet to take home. As well as this it is quite hard to grasp the sheer scale from these images however by communicating statistics in layperson terms the magnitude of the issue is not lost.

The inclusion of these statistics remind us, lest we forget amid the virtuoso photography, that this project has a very real and tangible agenda, one which seeks to drive change. Thus a primary function of photojournalism, its use as an instrument to highlight the incongruities of life and propel reform is brought to the fore. What this exhibition essentially does, apart from sating our appetite for beauty, is sensitize us to our participation in the malaise that is First World decadence and disregard.

AMAZON: Sebastião Salgado & Per-Anders Pettersson, 01/03/2012 - 01/04/2012, Gallery of Photography, Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. www.galleryofphotography.ie

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Caption:
Copyright Per-Anders Petterson.
An aerial view over the rainforest in Amazonas state, Brazil on June 21, 2011.

Massimo Nolletti | Bar Lane Studios | York









Massimo Nolletti's April exhibition at Bar Lane Studios is a wonderful celebration of the sounds and vibrations of everyday life. This series of work represents the endless possibilities of photography in an urban setting, exploring the Australian landscape and all its idiosyncrasies.

Massimo Noletti: Oz, 10/04/2012 - 14/04/2012, Bar Lane Studios, 1 Bar Lane, York, YO1 6JU. www.barlanestudios.com/www.massimonolletti.com

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Caption:
All images courtesy the artist

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