Magazine Contemporary Culture


Exhibition: See, We assemble

6. F image mark_leckey_see_we_assemble_2011_6

Mark Leckey, See, We assemble, Installation View, 2011

See, We assemble, 19 May – 26 June, 2011
Serpentine Gallery, London

Leckey conceptualises the past and present through his “performance” piece entitled Sound Systems, an on-going project since 2001. In the central space of the gallery, a tall bronze sculpture by Henry Moore faces a large stack of speakers, which appear to mimic the sculpture in terms of height and verticality. It seems as if Leckey has purported to match the present with the elegance of the past, as the arrangement of the erected sculptures assume an authoritative presence in the otherwise, empty gallery. The only other piece exhibited is a small poster that functions to inform visitors of the upcoming dates of performances, for the sound art changes week to week. The performance aspect of Sound Systems relies on the sound emanating from the speakers that aims to elicit a response from the Moore sculpture. The sound I experienced was irregular and menacing, reminiscent of the immense roar emitted by furnace/exhaust. It was however, very sporadic, often occurring in fifteen-minute intervals. Between the moments of vibratory clamor were low grumbles and humming that verified its animate existence. While occasionally unpleasant, the inclusion of sound, particularly in relation to the sculpture, achieves a theatrical presence that renders a true sense of chemistry in the communication between past and present.

While its status as a performance piece could be debated, Leckey’s final installation entitled GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction also exhibits aspects of theatricality. The temporary transformation of the gallery into a green screen not only provides a visual connection to the grassy fields of Kensington Gardens, but it also served as the backdrop in the production of the film that is exhibited here on two mounted flat screens. Located between them is the focal point of the work, the black Samsung “smart” refrigerator. Both the fridge and the Samsung name appear almost constantly throughout the film, whether seen against a natural landscape or viewed internally, in a scientifically-charged description that concerns its inner workings. The fridge not only stars in the video, it narrates it as well, in a muffled, robotic voice. The artist has reinvented the concept of the readymade by conveying its animate status in connection to the worldly, and out-of-worldly, environments. While Leckey’s elevation of the object to cult status may be interpreted as wildly propagandistic, it could conversely be interpreted as a commentary on technological advancements, particularly “smart” products which possess the abilities to think and function on their own in correspondence to the needs of its user. Thus not only do we become more dependent on these objects, but we form relationships with them as well. GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction may be understood as Leckey’s prediction of the future of technology in our lives, as well as its effects on the art world.

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Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand, Embassy VI, 2007

Thomas Demand is known for making photographs of three-dimensional models that look like real images of rooms and other spaces, often sites loaded with social and political meanings. He thus describes himself not as a photographer, but as a conceptual artist for whom photography is an intrinsic part of his creative process. Having studied sculpture under Fritz Schwegler at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf alongside Katharina Fritsch and Thomas Schütte, Demand began his career as a sculptor.

In 1993, he began to use photography to record his elaborate, life-sized paper-and-cardboard constructions of actually or formerly existing environments and interior spaces, and soon started to create constructions for the sole purpose of photographing them. The photograph he takes of this model with a large-format-camera is the final stage of his work, and it is only this image, most often executed in an edition, of six that is exhibited unframed behind Plexiglas, not the models. On the contrary, Demand destroys his “life-size environments” after he has photographed them. One notable exception is his large scale model for Grotto (2006), inspired by a postcard of a Mallorcan grotto Demand has never visited, which was later exhibited. The life sized models are highly detailed, yet they retain subtle but deliberate flaws and anachronisms, such as an unnaturally uniform texture; according to art critic Michael Kimmelman, “the reconstructions were meant to be close to, but never perfectly, realistic so that the gap between truth and fiction would always subtly show”.

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James Turrell

James Turrell, Alta (White), 1967

James Turrell (born May 6, 1943) is an American artist primarily concerned with light and space. Turrell was a MacArthur Fellow in 1984. Turrell is best known for his work in progress, Roden Crater, a natural cinder cone crater located outside Flagstaff, Arizona that he is turning into a massive naked-eye observatory.

“Well, my interest is working with light and space.
And you got light and you got space, there’s no doubt of that. And it’s always something to work with light in the outdoors.
That’s something that I wanted to do, wanted to shape space, to use the light that was here naturally.
Also, I wanted to use the very fine qualities of light.
First of all, moonlight.
Also, there’s a space where you can see your shadow from the light of Venus alone – things like this.
And also wanted to gather starlight that was from outside,
light that’s not only from outside the planetary system
which would be from the sun or reflected off of the moon or a planet,
but also to emanate light from the galactic planes
where you’ve got this older light
that’s away from the light even of our galaxy.
So that is light that would be at least three and a half billion years old.
So you’re gathering light that’s older than our solar system.
And it’s possible to gather that light,
it takes a good bit of stars to do that,
and a good look into older skies, away from the Milky Way.
You can gather that light and physically have that in place so that it’s physically present to feel this old light.
That’s something that you can do here in a place like this,
where you have good, dark skies.
So to have this sort of old blended light and to have this sort of new,
eight and a half minute old light from the sun.
And I wanted to look at light that way, because to feel it physically,
almost as we taste things, was a quality I wanted.”

In 1966, Turrell began experimenting with light in his Santa Monica studio, the Mendota Hotel, at a time when the so-called Light and Space group of artists in Los Angeles, including Robert Irwin, Mary Corse and Doug Wheeler, was coming into prominence. By covering the windows and only allowing prescribed amounts of light from the street outside to come through the openings, Turrell created his first light projections. In Shallow Space Constructions (1968) he used screened partitions, allowing a radiant effusion of concealed light to create an artificially flattened effect within the given space. That same year, he participated in the Los Angeles County Museum’s Art and Technology Program, investigating perceptual phenomena with the artist Robert Irwin and psychologist Edward Wortz. In 1969, he made sky drawings with Sam Francis, using colored skywriting smoke and cloud-seeding materials. A pivotal environment Turrell developed from 1969 to 1974, for The Mendota Stoppages several rooms in the former Mendota Hotel in Santa Monica were sealed off, the window apertures controlled by the artist to allow natural and artificial light to enter the darkened spaces in specific ways.

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Richard Prince

Richard Prince, Untitled (hippie drawing, Allen Ginsberg), 2000 – 2005

Richard Prince (born 1949) is an American painter and photographer. Prince began appropriating photographs in 1975. His image, Untitled (Cowboy), a “rephotograph” of a photograph taken originally by Sam Abell and appropriated from a cigarette advertisement, was the first “rephotograph” to raise more than $1 million at auction when it was sold at Christie’s New York in 2005.

Starting in 1977, Prince photographed four photographs which previously appeared in the New York Times. This process of re-photographing continued into 1983, when his work Spiritual America featured Garry Gross’s photo of Brooke Shields at the age of ten, standing in a bathtub, as an allusion to precocious sexuality and to the Alfred Stieglitz photograph by the same name. His Jokes series (beginning 1986) concerns the sexual fantasies and sexual frustrations of middle-class America, using stand-up comedy and burlesque humor.

After living in New York City for 25 years, Prince moved to upstate New York. His mini-museum, Second House, purchased by the Guggenheim Museum, was struck by lightning and burned down shortly after the museum purchased the House (which Richard had created for himself), having only stood for six years, from 2001 to 2007. In 2008 the painting ‘Overseas Nurse’ from 2002 fetched a record breaking $8,452,000 at Sotheby’s in London. Prince now lives and works in New York City.

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Armando Andrade Tudela

Armando Andrade Tudela, Untitled (Rattan 4), 2009

Armando Andrade Tudela (born 1975, Lima, Peru) is an artist living and working in St Etienne, France and Berlin, Germany.

Andrade studied at Pontifícia Universidad Católica, Lima, Perú, The Royal College of Arts, London, and at the Jan Van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht. He was a founding member of the artist run space and art collective Espacio La Culpable, Lima, Perú.

Andrade has taken part in the 2006 São Paulo Biennial, the 2006 Shanghai Biennial and the 2005 Torino Triennale.

His latest solo show, INKA SNOW is an extension of the artist’s ongoing research practice into forms of Tropical Modernism. In previous works, like CAMION (2004), his series of Billboard Photographs (2004-5) and Fragmentos de Escultura (2005), the artist has recombined existing and imagined forms out of a growing interest in local manifestations of the informal that occur on the precarious boundary between the historic and the new.

Tudela is represented by Carl Freedman Gallery, London.

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