Shot over five days for the book and exhibition, “Contraband” — of items detained or seized from passengers or express mail entering the United States from abroad at the New York airport. The miscellany of prohibited objects — from the everyday to the illegal to the just plain odd — attests to a growing worldwide traffic in counterfeit goods and natural exotica and offers a snapshot of the United States as seen through its illicit material needs and desires.
Taryn Simon (born February 4, 1975) is an American artist. Simon’s artistic medium consists of three equal elements: photography, text, and graphic design. Her practice involves extensive research, in projects guided by an interest in systems of categorization and classification. She is a graduate of Brown University and a 2001 Guggenheim Fellow.
Simon’s photographs and writing have been the subject of monographic exhibitions at institutions including Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012); Tate Modern, London (2011); Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin (2011); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2007); Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2008); Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2004); and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2003). Her work is held in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate Modern, Whitney Museum, Centre Pompidou, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2011 her work was included in the 54th Venice Biennale.
Helen Bullock is using strong bold silhouettes as a canvas for bold and intuitive prints.
Trained at Central Saint Martins ( MA/BA), her past experiences include Ossie Clark, John Galliano and a collaborative project with Anthropologie. She has also worked as a freelance textiles designer for Louis Vuitton, and teaches at various creative institutions.
A regular illustrator at LFW, her work can be seen online in various publications, including SHOWstudio and Pop magazine.
David Askevold, Harbour Ghosts, HFX (detail), 1999 and Tourists Veiwing Pilescape, Inkjet on Canvas, 2000
David Askevold (30 March 1940 – 23 January 2008) was an experimental Canadian artist who lived in Nova Scotia. Askevold studied art and anthropology at the University of Montana. In 1963, he won a Max Beckmann Scholarship to study painting for a year at the Brooklyn Museum Art School in New York. In 1966, he enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, in Sculpture. Askevold went to Halifax and joined the faculty of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1968.
His artwork, often manifested on videotape, is usually the result of a non-strategy based on favorable happenstance, collaboration, and selected circumstance. This method evokes those used by many younger artists today, such as Dave Muller and Rirkrit Tiravanija, who invite the unscripted, unchoreographed participation of others as a necessary part of their artistic practice.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he taught at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CalArts in Valencia, and the University of California, Irvine. Askevold showed at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions in 1983 in a group show entitled Head Hunters. He had solo shows at the Thomas Lewallen Gallery in Los Angeles in 1978, the Jancar/Kuhlenschmidt Gallery in Los Angeles in 1981, and a survey entitled Selected Works 1972–1976 at the University of California, Irvine in 1976. His group shows in the area include Reconsidering the Art Object 1965–1975 at MOCA (1995) and Michael Asher, Richard Long, and David Askevold at Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art (1977). At the 1977 Documenta exhibition at Kassel, Askevold showed Muse Extracts, a 13 part photo text piece of ghost-like photographic reflections of the artist’s head and torso taken at a pond near Crystal Crescent Beach in Nova Scotia.
In 1985, while teaching as a visiting artist in media arts in Minneapolis, Askevold collaborated with students to produce his only music video, a tape of two songs by the rock and roll band Hüsker Dü.
His works are held in the National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
Philippina “Pina” Bausch (1940 – 2009) was a German performer of modern dance, choreographer, dance teacher and ballet director. With her unique style, a blend of movements, sounds and prominent stage sets, and with her elaborate cooperation with performers during the composition of a piece (a style now known as Tanztheater), she became a leading influence since the 1970s in the world of modern dance.
Wim Wenders’s deeply intelligent 3D tribute to the work of the modern dance choreographer Pina Bausch was conceived as a collaboration with her. Pina Bausch, died in production (2009), just as Wenders, the director of ‘Paris, Texas’, was about to start shooting.
The resulting film achieves a poignant, elegiac quality, shot through with an overwhelming sense of loss, both on the part of the dancers of the Tanztheater Wuppertal, the company she ran for 36 years, whose thoughtful interviews and dance sequences form the film’s backbone, and the director himself. ‘Dance for love,’ one of her colleagues remembers her saying, recalling it as one of the few instructions he received from Bausch in years of working with her.
Bausch was a reticent figure, wary of personalities and insistent on letting her work speak for her. She would undoubtedly have been a distant figure in this film had she lived, but now her absence has a sombre, almost tragic quality.
If its meaning can be summed up – though it is arguably the point of an abstract artform that it can’t be summed up – it is probably in the words of a dancer who asks, “What are we yearning for? Where does all this yearning come from?” We spend our lives yearning, and then, in the shadow of mortality, our yearning is redirected backwards, a yearning to understand our past lives, our youth, and again forwards – a yearning to understand the point of our death. Wenders’s movie uncovers the crucial state of yearning in Bausch’s work.
While she is working to alleviate the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS, Lennox herself says she is not HIV-positive. “It will raise questions, I know, as to whether I am HIV-positive,” she said of the shirt. “And I can tell you, actually, the good news is I am not. However, many people are.”
“I think stigma is everywhere and I think that’s one of the biggest challenges anyone has to face when it comes to HIV whether it’s in a developing country or whether it is here, I’ve met people here who are HIV positive who can’t disclose their status because they are too afraid of the impact it will have.”
“At the moment we have had 33 million people die because of Aids, The scientific discoveries are proving that we can actually make a huge difference if people can get access to treatment.”
In the 1980s, when AIDS was first being talked about, Jean Kalilani travelled to other countries in Africa to persuade them that the disease existed. Many leaders were in denial. Others claimed it stopped at their borders.
The Kepler mission’s science team announced its latest finding at a press conference on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. The team announced the confirmation of Kepler-22b, its first planet found in the “habitable zone,” the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth, orbits around a star similar to our sun and is located 600 light-years away.
Scientists don’t yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets. The planet’s host star belongs to the same class as our sun, called G-type, although it is slightly smaller and cooler.
In october 2005 Frieze asked 33 artists, collectors, critics, curators, educators and gallerists How has art changed?
With the proliferation of museums, biennales and fairs, and the sheer amount of work now being made, shown, and sold, the art world has obviously changed substantially over the last 40 or so years. But what have been the most important shifts in art and the structures that surround it?
A critic, art historian, lecturer, broadcaster and Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
The last four decades are both a legacy of the 1960s and a betrayal of their revolutionary potential. We can thank the Feminist and Civil Rights movements for making our art world massively more inclusive. The dematerialization of the object of art and its expansion into idea or phenomenon have made it possible for a text, an action or an environment to be understood as art and for Modernist realism to continue by other means. Early experiments with Super 8 and video laid the groundwork for the colonization of the art world’s time and space by the moving image, while the lens has attained equal status with the paintbrush. The entry of Structuralism, psychoanalysis and anthropology into theories of art has rocked the boat of aesthetics and evolved into an insistence on subjectivity and participation as integral to meaning. The spirit of collaboration and the co-option of empty property that was a hallmark of so many artists’ groups in the 1960s continues to live on generating a mobile but sustained network of laboratories for art. It’s an expanding field that has also become increasingly professionalized, commercialized and spectacularized. The last 40 years have marked the rise and proliferation of curators, collectors and architects specializing in making museums into powerful corporate brands that are intended to provide mass entertainment, generate tourism or solve social problems. Art has moved from margin to centre, with all the losses and gains that this entails.
Director of the MA Curating Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art, London.
In the summer of 1966 the Arts Council presented at the Tate Gallery ‘The Almost Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp’, the first major retrospective of the artist’s work to be held in Europe. It was selected by Richard Hamilton, who wrote the one-page introduction to a catalogue designed in classic Modernist style by Gordon House. With its Monotype Univers text, monochrome illustrations shown approximately to scale, modest selection of six colour plates and discreet scholarly tone, this understated but informative publication speaks eloquently of a particular set of assumptions about the purpose of art. There is no expectation of box office or of universal appeal. Forty years on the continuing influence of Duchamp on art theory and practice is still felt, but the world of art is no longer a separate sphere. It is now permeated by the art market, by business and political interests, and by the values of the ‘creative industries’. The museum building boom of the late 1980s continues, linked to agendas of economic regeneration. Biennials have proliferated, and supranational museum brands have been established. The audience for art has exploded in size, with a growing emphasis on diversity and education. Electronic communication has increased the speed at which an exhibition or publication can be realized, and international travel has become an essential component of the activity of the artist or curator. Art has become a globalized field, no longer bounded by the physical presence of the work of art.
An art critic who lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
First, I am not a part of this any more. I am still writing but obsolete, a dead man walking. Most of my younger colleagues, the art critics who should be in the ascendant today, died of AIDS in the 1980s. Those that survive are academics or tabloid celebrity geeks. Art dealers who once represented an informed aesthetic now show one of each. Museum directors and curators who once proudly promoted an engaged view of things now show one of each. Magazines that once implemented an informed agenda, now publish one of each, pro and con. With the exception of collectors, everyone in the art world today is either a public servant or journalist, a poll watcher or a bean counter, implementing ‘fairness’. With the defection of critics, curators, museum directors and editors from the realm of informed decision-making, only collectors vote on new art, so they drive the market, which, as a consequence, is radically front-loaded, frivolously quixotic and egregiously sentimental. Other than that, everything is peachy.
Director and Chief Curator of White Columns, New York.
My feeling is that only a nostalgic (or curmudgeon) would argue that things were better (or, even, more interesting) in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s or 1990s. ‘Right now’, i.e., the present tense, is always the best time for what we do. Certainly there have never been more people interested in and involved with contemporary art, which is a good thing. (‘Art for all’, as Gilbert & George might say.) I know that some people grumble about art fairs and biennials, but these are probably the same kind of people who would grumble about their favourite bands becoming popular. Technology insists that things happen and are absorbed a lot quicker these days, but that’s OK too. (Only romantics would have it another way, and don’t forget: Ars longa vita brevis.) What’s sad? Call me old-fashioned, but art seems to be losing its regional dialects and accents, becoming instead a kind of visual Esperanto, but, hey, you can’t have everything. What’s bad? The art world remains too professional and too bourgeois … some things, I guess, will never change.
An artist who has exhibited his work in biennials and triennials around the world, and also curated major exhibitions for numerous spaces, including Tate Modern and the Venice Biennale.
Over the last 40 years contemporary art has witnessed few significant changes besides the numerous trends and fads that provide the art world with much-coveted entertainment. Photography gained prominence. Video art failed to fulfil its early promise. The much-touted dematerialization of the art object proved to be a mere discursive fantasy, as even ‘new media’ artists continue to privilege the marketable object. Eventually cynicism has replaced genuine curiosity and engagement even in post-colonial contemporary art. More significant, however, is the consolidation of women artists’ place in discourse, display, documentation and practice. Despite continued gender disparity in visibility and remuneration, women artists have registered their presence beyond contest or erasure. This is particularly important because younger artists can now take the possibility of success and recognition for granted. Equally significant is the decline of the critic as a culture broker. Of course, critics remain important arbiters of taste, but the all-powerful, fate-determining critic that emerged especially in mid-century America and brokered careers, movements and canonical paradigms, leaving powerful imprints on the discourse of contemporary art, is no more. Today that role is played by the curator. That, too, will change. Regrettably, artistic autonomy has also declined. In the 1960s and early 1970s artists boldly and consciously distanced themselves from the establishment, and in the process opened refreshing avenues for expression. However, that independence is all but completely ceded today as artists jostle for position and jockey to mortgage their work, careers and convictions for success, thus relegating themselves to pawns in the culture game.
The Trouble with Productivity, 11 January 2012
Institute of Contemporary Arts
Artists, writers and curators today, more than ever, take part in a time-pressured culture of high performance.
Can you be productive by not being productive? Are there artistic possibilities in exhaustion, failure and laziness? Those were among the questions posed at the ICA last week during a discussion between the writer and critic Laura McLean-Ferris, the curator Paul Pieroni, and the writer and philosopher Lars Iyer (all of whom are unusually productive, we audience members couldn’t help noticing).
McLean-Ferris opened with reference to a number of articles written a few years ago when the art market was at an “overblown” level: Dan Fox observed in Frieze Magazine (of which he is associate editor) that the art world had developed into “a high-turnover, high-visibility international activity that everyone wants a slice of”, and expressed an uneasiness about galleries’ sleek corporate architecture and vague but authoritative-sounding art-speak, which he suspected to be somewhat at odds with the ways in which artists actually work. In a piece entitled “I Can, I Can’t, Who Cares”, the critic and curator Jan Verwoert, troubled by the relentless pressure on creative types to “perform”, looked around for interesting and amusing examples of “unwillingness, non-compliance, uncooperativeness, reluctance or non-alignment”.
One example is the work of the Croatian artist Mladen Stilinović, whose photographic series “The Artist at Work” (1978) shows him lying in bed. Stilinović is the author of a manifesto, “In Praise of Laziness” (1993), in which he describes laziness as “the absence of movement and thought, dumb time – total amnesia. It is also indifference, staring at nothing, non-activity, impotence. It is sheer stupidity, a time of pain, futile concentration”. Those “virtues of laziness” are important factors in art, he says: “Knowing about laziness is not enough; it must be practised and perfected”.
McLean-Ferris pointed out that Herman Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener – who discombobulates his Wall Street colleagues with the refrain “I would prefer not to” – has become a sort of model for non-compliance among artists. Étienne Chambaud produced a neon sign that reads “I would prefer not to too” (2007), which never gets switched on. Pilvi Takala spent a month in the marketing department of the accountancy firm Deloitte, where she filmed herself doing nothing all day for her installation The Trainee (2008). Only a few people knew that she was not an ordinary worker. As it says on Takala’s website: “these acts, or rather the absence of visible action, slowly make the atmosphere around the trainee unbearable . . . . What provokes people in non-doing, alongside strangeness, is the element of resistance. The non-doing person isn’t committed to any activity, so they have the potential for anything”.
Paul Pieroni was keen in his talk to “recalibrate ideas about how we might understand procrastination”. While acknowledging that it can be straightforwardly evasive – he confessed that when he was supposed to be preparing for his ICA appearance he went out and bought a carbon monoxide detector, having created ”a ridiculous context where I might die” – he said that procrastinatory “counter-activity” can be important in art production, “especially when we’re not sure what the priorities of our actions are”.
Counter-activity can have value even if the original goal is discarded entirely, he said: his friend Mike Harte, who at one time aspired to be an artist but always seemed to find something else to do (sitting about, karaoke, eating Choc Dips – we were treated to a little slide show), used to write letters full of trivia, newspaper cuttings and “general nonsense” to his friend Jamie Shovlin, who was then studying at the Royal College of Art. Shovlin kept the letters and made them into an art project of his own, Mike Harte – Make Art, which was commissioned by the collective art collection V22. Pieroni has lately been researching what he calls the effluvia of office work – which include humorous pictures and signs such as the ones on this page (other slogans include “A tidy desk is a sign of a sick mind”) – for the exhibition Xeroxlore, which opens tomorrow, January 20, at SPACE.
Lars Iyer’s subject was the common view of consumers versus producers: consumers are suggestible and easily manipulable, while producers are in control, in charge. He finds the modern notion of the producer problematic: in an age of neoliberal capitalism, he said, to be a producer is to be a capitalist entrepreneur; and very often what producers are marketing – through social media, for example – are not artworks, but themselves. The ICA audience, a large, mostly young crowd (Mike Harte was there – I spotted him in the bar afterwards), asked some interesting questions in relation to this; McLean-Ferris answered one about productivity and internet use with the comment that people who upload a lot of material tend to be particular kinds of people, who can set the agenda in ways that may not be obvious.
Iyer suggested in a recent article in the White Review that great literature was over, and that modern writers were sullied by their active involvement with the marketplace. At the ICA he told us that if writing is to be successful today, it should respond “to the ways in which we arse about when no one’s watching us”. Iyer’s compulsively readable, funny and touching novel Spurious (2011) started as an attempt, in the form of a blog, to answer a serious philosophical question. “What I found myself doing instead”, he told us, “was recording the stupid conversations I’d had with a friend of mine”. Read Full Article
Valerio Spada’s self-published photo book Gomorrah Girl, the grand prize winner of 4th annual Blurb Photography Book Now Competition. The book explores the murder of Naples resident Annalisa Durante, a young woman caught in the crossfire of violence in “the land of Camorrah,” (the name for the Mafia in Naples). It is an artfully made documentary about adolescence in one of the most dangerous places in Italy to grow up.
“Gomorrah Girl shows the problems of becoming a woman in a dangerous, crime-ridden area,” says Spada, who studied in Milan and has worked as a fashion photographer. “At age 9 they make themselves up as TV personalities and dream of becoming one of them. At age 13 or 14 they often become mothers, skipping the adolescence which is lived fully everywhere else in Italy.”
The story comes together in the books innovative design—Spada’s own documentary photographs, along with a smaller book of photographs detailing the police investigation, are bound together. Captions offer details into the personal tragedies suffered by the subjects alongside stone-cold factual information provided by police evidence. “As each page unfolds, the viewer is challenged by layers of meaning,” Says Larissa Leclair, a photography curator/writer and a judge in this year’s contest.
Spada wanted to take pictures of the original murder evidence, but the Italian police denied him permission. Handing over photographs of the crime scenes, “the police told me, ‘If you want, you can take pictures of the pictures.’ I remember I was depressed, thinking, ‘I cannot get what I want,’” says Spada, “But I shot every single page. And while I was shooting, all was clear once again. This had to be a book within a book.”
Egill Sæbjörnsson in collaboration with Karolin Tampere, Installation view, 2008
Egill Sæbjörnsson (born 1973, Reykjavik / IS) graduated from the Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts (now the Icelandic Academy of the Arts) in 1997 and studied at the University of Paris, St.Denis, from 1995 to 1996. Since 1999 he shares his time between Reykjavík and Berlin. His art is an unusual fusion of music, sound, video and installations in addition to which he often appears himself as part of his exhibition projects. From the start of his career he has handled different media and expressive idioms with remarkable facility. He harnessed computers, projections and musical instruments in his performances where he himself took on a different persona in each new context. He has a whole career in music and has released his music with record companies and music is an integral part of his many performance projects.
In recent installations Egill has used video, sound and sculptural installations to create a sort of cabaret in the gallery with cut-out figures and artworks that speak and sing and even interact. There are numerous echoes from art history, including Dada-evenings in the teens and twenties, and the artworks themselves comment out loud on such references.
Egill’s recent exhibitions in Iceland include a large installation at the National Gallery in 2004, a solo exhibition in Gallery 101 and an exhibition with Magnús Sigurðsson at the Living Art Museum. In 2004 Egill was invited to take part in the international workshop programmed at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. He has also exhibited widely abroad, most recently in Berlin, Vienna, Skopie, Lubliana and London.
Fredrik Værslev, Untitled, 2010. Spray paint, house paint and white spirit on canvas /wooden stretcher
STANDARD (OSLO) Gallery was established in April 2005. Based in Oslo the gallery aims at promoting contemporary Norwegian artists in the international field, as well as introducing international artists to the Norwegian audience.
Gallery artists have been included in a number of internationally renowned exhibitions, such as Documenta (2007 and 2012); the Whitney Biennial (2006, 2008, 2010 to 2012); the Venice Biennial (2003, 2005 and 2011); the Biennial of Sydney (2004, 2008, 2010, 2014 and 2016); the Istanbul Biennial (2005); the Lyon Biennial (2007, 2013 and 2015); Manifesta (2004, 2016); the Gwangju Biennial (2010); the Taipei Biennial (2014); and Momentum – the Nordic Art Festival (2000, 2004, 2006 and 2009). The gallery also participates in the following art fairs during the year: Art Basel, Art Basel Miami Beach, Art Los Angeles Contemporary and Frieze Art Fair New York.
For Spring, Oscar de la Renta gave us a refresher course on all the reasons we love him. The taffeta ball skirts! Those handkerchief lace dresses! The embellished gowns! The pre-fall collection he presented today on Park Avenue wasn’t the ode to joy he put on back in September, but it served as a reminder that ODLR still has his charms when he’s performing in a minor key.
Chief among them were a series of dresses, both to the knee and floor-length, cut from crinkled and pleated silk. Whisper-thin and nearly weightless, they’re the kind of frock you’ll turn to again and again when the weather warms: fabulous, but also easy. This may be the “awards season” season, but de la Renta didn’t put a lot of red-carpet showstoppers on the runway. (We’re guessing his Hollywood gals go to the atelier for some one-on-one time with the designer along with their one-of-a-kind gowns.) In their place were narrow beaded or sequined column dresses worn with matching bolero jackets that sparkled without being flashy.
That’s a fitting description for this line all around. Out went Spring’s harem pants in favor of elegant trousers in bold shades of marigold or ocean blue. And the show’s most unforgettable coat came in wine red double-faced leather, not a stitch of embroidery or passementerie or what have you. On the more embellished side of the equation, silk Mikado dresses in Rothko-esque color blocks and Monetlike botanical prints, as well as a hooded fox vest clinched by a dragonfly brooch, stood out.
Over the course of Jeff Wall’s career, his versatile and disciplined approach to the possibilities of the medium of photography to ‘paint modern life’ has resulted in a body of work notable in its attention to composition, scale, color and construction and for its hybrid integration of the documentary and the cinematographic, the ‘street’ and the monumental, two directions he has pursued simultaneously, while being partial to neither.
‘The Crooked Path’ , an exhibition that surveys Jeff Wall’s work from the seventies to today in conjunction with the work of fifty-nine other artists, has just opened at the CGAC, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and will be on view until February 28, 2012. The exhibition was organized by the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels, and opened there in spring of this year.
Jeff Wall’s work has been seen in a number of large solo exhibitions over the past few years. These include ‘Transit’ at the Kunsthalle im Lipsiusbau, Staatlichen Kunstsammlungen, in Dresden in 2010, and ‘Jeff Wall: Exposure’, a special commissioned exhibition of new black & white works in conjunction with earlier works, at the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin in 2007. That same year an important retrospective featuring a selection of over 40 works, was shown at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and travelled to The Art Institute of Chicago and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In 2005, ‘Jeff Wall, Photographs 1978-2004’ was seen at the Schaulager, Munchenstein, Basel, for which a catalogue raisonné was published. A related, revised exhibition was shown at Tate Modern, London, for which a complementary catalogue was also published.
Lygia Pape, Magnetized Space, 7 December 2011 – 19 February 2012
Serpentine Gallery, London
Pape was a founding member of the Neo-Concrete movement, which was dedicated to the inclusion of art into everyday life. Pape’s early work developed out of an interest in European abstraction, however she and her contemporaries went beyond simply adopting an international style, and started to draw on their own local situation.
Neo-Concretism is often seen as the beginning of contemporary art in Brazil, and Pape’s work – which focused on the coming together of aesthetic, ethical and political ideas – has formed an important part of Brazil’s artistic identity.
Classy pervs, rejoice: The coffee-table sex magazine Richardson is back from the dead. British fashion stylist Andrew Richardson (no relation to the similarly licentious photographer Terry) put out three glossy issues featuring porn stars and pontification between 1998 and 2002 before going on hiatus amid the post-9/11 economic downturn. In the years since, Richardson refined his business plan. (Sex = still interesting! Website = necessary!) “It’s the perfect time,” Richardson says. “There is a dialogue to be had about sex. All the information out there, whether it’s about sex parties, Internet sex, or pornography, is overwhelming. There is a real need for an edited voice.”
“Sorry I was being polite because you had put me in a public and difficult position. I actually think the magazine brings nothing to the potential art of pornography and do not want to be quoted in any way. Sincerely, Richard Avedon.”
That was a letter written by the legendary photographer to Andrew Richardson that is proudly reprinted in the opening pages of the third issue of the magazine published in 2002. With its confrontational, potent mix of sex, politics, art and a hefty dose of punk rock attitude, Richardson was never going to be to everyone’s taste. But even if Avedon passed on it, plenty of the highest calibre of photographers ranging from Glen Luchford, Mario Sorrenti and of course, Terry Richardson have shot for its pages, elevating it far above the realms of the mere sex magazine. That the magazine more closely resembles a beautifully put-together coffee table book is probably due to British-born Richardson’s background as a highly-sought after fashion stylist. But inside its pages, stories on group sex, sadomasochism, internet hook-ups, a guide to sexual fetishes represented by handkerchiefs and contributions from the likes of Bruce LaBruce, Harmony Korine, Richard Prince, Jack Pierson, Larry Clark and anarchist, Stewart Home serve to discomfit and entice in equal measure.
After a seven-year hiatus, the magazine returns with an unflinchingly honest look at the female gaze in A4. Crossover porn star, Sasha Grey gives a full and frank interview whilst posing seductively, whereas elsewhere Amy Kellner dishes on Riot Grrl, and transgressive artists like Annie Sprinkle, Valie Export and Carolee Schneeman are profiled in detail. At a time when the conservative nature of advertisers means that sexual provocation in magazines has become a rare commodity, the return of Richardson provides a much needed jolt and frisson of excitement.
A stout cavalier straddles a parade horse, his head bowed slightly to survey his troops in promenade. In the fresco he created for Florence Cathedral, Paolo Uccello painted Sir John Hawkwood and his horse in one-point perspective, on the same level with the viewer, but depicted the cenotaph on which the mercenary and his horse stand in three-point perspective, viewed from below. The multiple vanishing points upset the hierarchy between the subject and the object, disorienting the viewer and the viewed: the equestrian statue is indeed monumentalized on the impressive cenotaph, but Uccello’s perspectival play pulls the viewer up alongside the cavalier.
When a regime falls, the monuments to its figureheads are broken off at the ankles and toppled from their pedestals. Suddenly, all points of reference are lost. The displaced desperately seek a new ruler who can assure them a defined place in the world. Who is the subject and who is the object in this exchange? In Nashat’s video Modern Body Comedy (2006), two men act out these questions in a choreographed performance in which a pair of shoes and socks, a false moustache and a broken chair are the props for their power games. When one man kneels to lace the other’s shoes, his gesture seems obsequious; yet it could also be an expression of dominance, as he has, in effect, immobilized his partner. The film ends with the two actors on the floor in a confused embrace, somewhere between tickling and wrestling.
Like Uccello’s fresco, Nashat’s work sends tremors through the ground between the subject and the object. Human existence, Nashat seems to say, is a constant struggle for dominance, played out not just between the self and the other, but also schizophrenically between the self and itself. Nashat’s work dismisses the dominant/subordinate dichotomy, demonstrating that such concepts are illusions conjured to reorder the muddled superimposition of roles, identities and meanings we encounter in daily life.
John Kleckner and Patrick Tuttofuoco, Those Ghosts, 2011
The works in this exhibition are about human figures dissipating into voids, into abstractions, and shape-shifting into solid structures. Transformation, transcendence, and transience are the core concepts fixed into 2- and 3-dimensional material permanence in each of the exhibited artworks.
In his newest works one can see John Kleckner transitioning from meticulously rendered rotting noses and metamorphosing cavemen, to poetic allusions/illusions of infinite (contemplative) space. Figures do still appear and certainly inform the works on view, but with this new direction and some new techniques, Kleckner has opened his practice to fully embrace abstraction. These works of ink on paper are a meditative union of carefully planned accidents and haphazard intentions.
Patrick Tuttofuoco’s practice initiates a dialogue between individuals and their environment, exploring notions of community and social integration. Tuttofuoco’s sculptures study this concept, relating it to solitary individuals and their ability to transform external reality. Tuttofuoco melds Modernism and Pop; he presses figuration into abstraction, using man as the paradigm of existence, as the matrix and measuring unit of reality. From this interpretative and cognitive process, infinite versions of man and the context of his existence are produced, from which shapes able to animate the sculptures are generated.
John Kleckner’s (b.1978) work is included the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, NY (The Judith Rothschild Collection of Contemporary Drawings); The Saatchi Gallery, London; Magasin 3, Stockholm, Sweden; and The Deste Foundation Athens, Greece.
Patrick Tuttofuoco (b. 1974) has exhibited in: 10th Biennial of Havana, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; 50th Venice Biennale; Magasine, Grenoble; Manifesta 5; MAXXI, Rome; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan; Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo,Turin.
Mozambique gained its independence in 1975. It was ruled by the socialist Frelimo Party. My parents decidedto relocate to help the government rebuild the country. We arrived in Maputo on the 11 of January 1982. I was ﬁve years old.
In 2000, I spent another summer in Maputo. This time I helped out at the photo school and got to use thedarkroom for free. One day walking home from the school I met Ingracia and Antonieta. They stood out fromthe crowd as they strolled down the streets of Maputo, hips swaying. They were openly gay and for Maputo this was truly outrageous.
I approached them and we spent an afternoon together. Gradually they allowed me to get a glimpse into their lives. Stigmatised and yet inhibited by such a crazy and stubborn will to survive. And with a fearlessness I admired – there was not much left to lose. Antonieta worked the streets and Ingracia survived by entertaining in the bars of the Shanty Towns and getting people to buy him beer and food.
They introduced me to their circle of gay friends: “The Sisters”. I photographed the Sisters and got the feeling of a story that was so much deeper than what a few picturescould convey. That was the beginning of Maputo Diary.
One and a half years later, I returned. I went to look for Ingracia at the apartment where he used to live. His mother had passed away and Ingracias older sister, Carla, had taken over the place. She had kicked out Ingracia who was now living with an auntie. Ingracia showed me the way to Antonietas new place. Antonietta was more tired than when we ﬁrst met. Tired of walking the street every night.
Maputo gets cold in the winter. I would walk the streets with Antonieta – attracted to that dark and secret side of life.
Antonieta was the only man in Maputo that dared wear womens clothes in public. He had worked the streets since he ran away from home at the age of 13.
Whenever he managed to make a little money, he would spend it right away. He said: “Save money for what if tomorrow I might be dead?” And he lied a lot. It annoyed me when he also lied to people about me, bragging about the big money I had spent on buying us drinks at an imaginary bar the evening before. I told him off and he said: “Ditte; When I meet a man I tell him my nameis Isabel and that I have two children, Carla and Nito. My whole life is built on lies”.
On New Years day we travelled to Xinavane, the village where he was born. There, with the family, Antonieta was Antonio. Antonieta died the 11th of January 2004. He was 29 years old. I always felt it as a special conﬁrmation of the bond between us that he died on my birthday.
Ingracia’s brother Zito was in jail. Zito had been using hard drugs for a long time and was now doing time at the “Central Prison”. Marcelo, a Sister, had been accused of stealing a pair of pants off a clothesline and was also at the Central Prison. Ingracia had been inside for a while. He sold his stove back home and used the money to pay an ofﬁcer to sign his release papers.
The prison was overcrowded. There was one water tap for the 2000 inmates and no latrines. A plate of foodwas served once a day and always the same – rice with a watery sauce. Inmates survived by trading food which family brought on the visit that was allowed every two weeks. Sex was traded too.
Marcelo was found innocent and released, having spent eight months in the Central Prison. He returned to his home province and lived there for two years until he passed away. Soraia, the owner of the bar where we usedto hang out, said: “He should have played safe”.
Rui rented a room in the outskirts of Maputo. He also belonged to the group of Sisters. As a teenager, Ruiwent to Eastern Germany, where he worked on a power plant and came out as a gay man. When East and WestGermany reunited, all Mozambicans were sent home. Coming back was tough. Jobs were hard to ﬁnd and Rui moved around a lot. Wherever he moved to he would bring with him his pot of orange ﬂowers. Last time we met he said: ”There are so many feelings in my life. I think a lot about love and the work that I don’t have -and sickness.” And I asked him what he meant by sickness. “You know, any kind of sickness… And I’m afraid because I’m alone…”
Twenty percent of the Mozambican population are HIV positive. Yet it is still a taboo to talk of the disease.Rui passed away in 2004. He was 32 years old
It may come as a surprise, but narcissism was facing extinction by 2013. That’s when the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – also known as the DSM–V – was due to appear without its traditional entry on the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Published by the American Psychiatric Association, the manual is the reference for American practitioners (the rest of the world relies on the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases). In the current DSM–IV (1994), NPD is one of ten personality disorders. But in the forthcoming edition, these were to be reduced to only five basic types: antisocial, avoidant, borderline, obsessive–compulsive and schizotypal.
In The New York Times, the Harvard psychiatrist Dr. John Gunderson called the change ‘draconian’. It seems to be part of the American trend to make mental disorders biological (and thus treatable with drugs) instead of relying on old psychoanalytic terms and the traditional talking cure, which even Freud once described as ‘interminable’. Last summer, the American Psychiatric Association must have buckled under the pressure; according to its website, narcissism has been saved from woblivion and is back in the mix of personality disorders for the next edition of DSM–V.
For narcissists, it’s a victory they may be hard-pressed to acknowledge (‘Me? A narcissist?!’). I find the volte-face dismaying, not because I’m for prescribing drugs and against talking cures. You don’t need to be a psychiatrist or a psychoanalyst to see that narcissism has shifted from a pathological condition to a norm, if not a means of survival. Melancholy also shifted historically from a medical illness to a state of mind. But narcissism appears as a necessity in our society of the spectacle, which runs from Andy Warhol’s ‘15 minutes of fame’ prediction through reality TV and self-promotion to today’s YouTube hits. While the media and social media played a role in normalizing narcissism, photography has played along with them. We exist in and for society, only once we have been photographed. The photographic portrait is no longer linked to milestones like graduation ceremonies and weddings, or exceptional moments such as vacations, parties or even crimes. Photography has become part of a daily, if not minute-by-minute, staging of the self. Portraits appear to have been eclipsed by self-portraits: tweeted, posted, shared.
A brief historical review of attitudes towards narcissism and self-portraiture may be in order. According to Greek mythology, Narcissus was the man who fell in love with his reflection in a pool of water. According to the DSM–IV, 50–70 percent of those diagnosed with NPD are men. But according to my upbringing in Canada, looking at one’s reflection in a mirror for too long was a weakness particular to the fairer sex and an anti-social taboo. I recall doubting Cindy Sherman’s ‘Untitled Film Stills’ (1977–80): wasn’t she just a narcissist taking pictures of herself all day long? At least she was modest enough to use a remote shutter trigger. By contrast, Helmut Newton had openly displayed his camera when he captured his reflection in a bathroom mirror for Self-portrait, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City (1973). Then again, the exceptional situation – his naked body hooked up to wires for an electro-cardiogram – made the self-portrait look like a moment of documentation.
There’s no modesty about staging the self in Patty Chang’sFountain (1999), although this work is a video and not a photographic self-portrait. A modern-day Narcissus, Chang gazes into a mirror covered by a thin layer of water and can’t stop licking it all up. Digital narcissism has recently gained attention in the popular press with Gabriela Herman’s portrait series ‘Bloggers’ (2010–11), which captures bloggers gazing into their glowing screens alone at night. But closer to our narcissistic norm are Wolfram Hahn’s portraits of people taking pictures of themselves (‘Into the Light’, 2009–10) or Joan Fontcuberta’s book A través del espejo (Through the Looking Glass, 2010), a collection of online images of self-portraitists posing with their cameras.
Unabashed self-portraiture has a purely formal side, which seems to have escaped recent discussions about photography. Today, no one bothers to use the remote shutter trigger or even the camera’s timer to make a self-portrait. We contemporary narcissists – me, myself and I – simply hold the camera or the phone in front of our faces and push the button. But this approach has led to a profound shift in the vanishing point, which has historically been understood as a point disappearing on the horizon in a landscape, whether drawn, painted or photographed. What disappears today is the hand of the photographer, holding the camera and aiming it at himself. While the hand lies outside the frame, the outstretched arm seems to vanish into the foreground. The vanishing point is not outside in the world and off in the distance, but on our own bodies. If we once directed our gaze outwards, we now look inwards and invite the world to watch as we lose ourselves.
Published in Frieze d/e Issue 143, November-December 2011. By Jennifer Allen
The flesh-coloured walls of the young London-based artist’s room-within-a-room were plastered smooth. In the middle stood a lumpen beige sculpture, There is No Such Thing as an Equivalent (all works 2011): slightly phallic and bulbous – with wonky lumps and bumps, like an ill-formed Barbara Hepworth – its colour mimicked that of the plaster. The space’s corners and walls didn’t correlate with those of the buildings; nothing was quite aligned.
Peake’s room was one with multiple views: alongside the aforementioned bottom was a rainbowed placard that read ‘Eddie Peake Thing’ and a board with a smiley face on it, all part of the work Transsexual. Through one of the three windows opposite you could see a photo of the legs of a man/boy sticking out from beneath a panel painted with orange, blue and pale green squares. Beside this, a large version of the bottom spanned two windows – letting the viewer see more, but perhaps not as much as they would like – accompanied by a pale pink board that cheekily stated ‘P.S’, next to another of a painted palm tree. To the right was his face: eyes turned coyly downwards, he looked as if he was about to flutter his eyelashes, a picture of young, androgynous perfection, standing next to another sign reading ‘Eddie Peake’ (all part of Jungle). Beside this was a doorway leading nowhere, but poking my head around lead me to see the final image of him: here his face and naked upper body were fully exposed. Beside him was a board which read, ‘The Loving Clutches of My Hands’.
The blankness of the beige structure contrasted sharply with the works hung on the existing walls of the gallery outside, creating another world within what would normally be a very ordinary Victorian room, on an upper floor of a terrace in Soho. It felt like a Modernist version of a temple or theatre: tiny in size and minimal in character, but somehow ridiculously monumental as a gesture. The contrast between the interior space and the exterior works was disorientating; the views out of this ‘stage-set’ were onto a hipper, younger and more fractured world. One part without the other part would have been redundant; the exhibition’s success lay in how one world made you view the other.