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Thursday 25 June 2009

Hopefulness through photography

With all the recent furore over the Iranian elections, I was pleased to discover an alternative, more positive aspect on the country through the artist Sara Shamsavari, who moved to the UK after spending her first two years in revolutionary Iran. Shamsavari’s images capture a hopefulness uncharacteristic of so much coverage today, and they reflect the artist’s mixed cultural heritage and increased awareness of art’s responsibilities as leaders in spiritual and social progress.

Shamsavari’s work reminds me of Martin Parr, and she has the rare gift of capturing how the light strikes a face to illuminate it in hope. Standing in stark contrast to the almost nihilistic, magic realism of Roger Ballen, or the readily packaged nostalgia of MoMA’s recent Into the Sunset Exhibition, Shamsavari looks forward rather than back and presents us with an alternative view of reality. It seems apt that Shamsavari was recently selected as one of the exhibiting artists at the ICA’s Love in the Sky. The exhibition asks us to imagine – what would we do if our aim was a world based on love, and serves to reach for the kind of positivity which seems to be evading many of our contemporaries.

For more information, visit Shamsavari's flicker page.

Images (c) Shamsavari

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Stephen Deuchar appointed the new Director of The Art Fund

The Art Fund has just announced today the appointment of Dr Stephen Deuchar as the new Director. Currently the Director of Tate Britain and Chairman of the 2009 Turner Prize, Dr Deuchar will start at The Art Fund in January 2010.

David Verey, Chairman of The Art Fund, said: “Stephen Deuchar is passionate about art and artists, and in giving the public the opportunity to experience great art in all its forms – which has been The Art Fund’s charitable purpose for more than 100 years. It is wonderful that he will be joining The Art Fund as our new Director. A great arts professional, Stephen Deuchar will bring a wealth of expertise and exceptional achievement to The Art Fund. We are all very excited for the future of The Art Fund under his forthcoming directorship.”

Stephen Deuchar said: “I am simply thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to direct the UK’s leading art charity. Its vital support of art galleries and museums across the UK, and the role it plays in galvanising support for the visual arts in Britain, make it a truly exceptional organisation. I cannot wait to start work.I am very proud of my time at Tate Britain, and to have been entrusted with the task of being its founding director. I feel privileged to have worked alongside many inspirational colleagues, especially Nick Serota. But The Art Fund represents an important new chapter for me and an exhilarating challenge.”

Dr Deuchar was appointed to the Tate in 1998 after 12 years as a curator and exhibitions director at the National Maritime Museum. He oversaw the creation of Tate Britain in 2000 at Millbank, home of the original Tate Gallery, and the opening of its Centenary Development galleries in 2001. Under his leadership Tate Britain has acquired an outstanding international reputation for the quality of its exhibitions, drawing 60% more visitors over the past eight years. He led the campaign to secure Rubens’s Sketch for the Banqueting House Ceiling last year, and worked closely with The Art Fund on the campaign to acquire Turner’s Blue Rigi in 2007. Dr Deuchar succeeds David Barrie who stepped down at the end of May after 17 years in the post.

With the recent exhibitions at Tate Britain bringing exceptional art and contemporary thought to the forum, it will be exciting to see what Stephen Deuchar will bring to the Art Fund, and consequentially to our galleries and museums across the UK. It’s hard to believe that the Art Fund give grants up to £5 million per year to help enrich collections across the UK.

Image credit: © Marcella Leith

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Artists’ run spaces reinvigorate the gallery

Opening on 4 July at Eastside Projects in Birmingham, a solo show by Glasgow based artists Joanne Tatham & Tom O’Sullivan. The collaborative duo have made a new work which through its very naming, Does your contemplation of the situation fuck with the flow of circulation, clearly, eloquently and aggressively, introduces the duo’s playful, provocative and interrogative art practice. Tatham and O’Sullivan have been creating work since 1995 that is concerned with the mythic potential of art, and how art can exist as an event in a particular space and time.

Embodying the concept of interdisciplinary their work is situated between and utilising, sculpture, painting, architecture, photography, performance, literature, institutional critique and curation. The artists’ works use carefully crafted paths, displacements and diversions as strategies for synthesising the concept of culture as a localised system of meanings and the world of art - seen as a community.

Does your contemplation… is a complex re-presenting of the artists’ rhetoric as a new construct, tackling the fact that the artists’ most significant works exist in the form of an exhibition. While an exhibition may be comprised of a number of ‘pieces’, it is the choreography or curation of these pieces that needs to be read as the work-construct. Eastside Projects’ very particular state of reflexive performativity as a venue, and context within which to make a new work, provides the artists with an opportunity to test out new strategies as a public process of re-analysis.

Tatham and O’Sullivan consider Eastside Projects a non-standard gallery and are treating it as a found site, working “on top of” the venue with components that form the exhibition as a series of objects (or constructed artefacts) designed to challenge the function and status of the venue and its contents. The objects consist of a new architectural construction, a large patterned Z-shaped tunnel which can be entered and passed through, positioned centrally amongst elements that adapt and reclaim the artists’ existing tropes with a new development in the form of a digital projection sequencing colour manipulated photographs interwoven with an innate rhetorical question.

The artists are opening up the language that they use in order to better fashion an exhibition to make the viewer aware of their own thinking processes - an environment to highlight consciousness. Very exciting work.

The exhibition runs from 4 July until 6 September. www.eastsideprojects.org

Image credit (c) Joanne Tatham & Tom O’Sullivan

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