Dag Nordbrenden, Presentation of the book, Rub With Ashes, 2012
Dag Nordbrenden is a Norwegian artist working with photography. His work explores different concepts and genres of the medium. His book Rub with Ashes is a compilation of photographs of recent years, and reflects Nordbrenden’s nomadic lifestyle.
The photographs are rooted in a documentary tradition, and the book combines snapshot observations with more loaded, still life-oriented scenes. A diversity of themes are being played out where motifs are mixed together; landscapes, details of interiors, scenes from after a fire, museums and monuments, and some of his meetings with stray cats in Istanbul. Many images show milieus from different parts of the world, social gatherings and local events, which can be viewed in global perspective.
The book dwells at the individual, more autonomous photograph, and how these images influence each other in combinations. By interweaving the lyrical with the more political, Nordbrenden creates a space where different subject matters start communicating with each other.
Lutz Becker, Installation view, Cinema Notes, 1975. 16mm Black and White, 45 mins
For many years lost and recently found, Kino Beleške was produced in 1975 in collaboration with the group of artists, curators and critics gathered around the Student Cultural Centre, Belgrade. The film includes verbal statements and performative gestures of the numerous protagonists of the New artistic practice in former Yugoslavia, referring to the role of art in society and re-thinking the concepts of form, autonomy, economy, politicality and institutionalization of contemporary art.
Ahmed Kamel, From the Series, Dreamy Day, 2004 – 2008
Ahmed Kamel is interested in domestic and urban life. He uses photography, video and drawing to address social issues. He was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1981, where he studied painting and received his BFA in 2003.
Kamel is the recipient of a number of residencies including “Mediamatic” Amsterdam, Netherlands, “Prohelvetia”, Bern, Switzerland, “Land NRW”, Dusseldorf, Germany and “Amongst Neighbours”, Istanbul, Turkey. He has participated in various solo and group exhibitions in the middle east and Europe.
His work is mainly concerned with how society constructs and idealizes its identity through means of visual representation that can act as markers of peopleʼs social and cultural background.
Wael Shawky’s work explores transitional events in society, politics, culture and religion in the Arab World. The films, installations, and performative works of the Egyptian artist explore the ways in which social and political systems have been restructured in Arab countries over the past several decades.
Through restaging historical events with children and marionettes, Shawky turns cultural hybridization into a narrative and aesthetic strategy. Using displacement and alienation in content and form, he creates a transitional space between documentation, fiction, and animation.
Lovingly and meticulously produced settings and costumes, a wealth of literary and historic references, and astutely selected music come together to create extraordinarily multifaceted films that invite us to think about history and the present day in new ways.
Gestures related to the body and the exhibition space feature prominently in the work of Los Angeles-based artist Chadwick Rantanen who creates among others anodized telescopic sculptures with tennis balls affixed to the bottom which are held up by their own internal pressure.
Disseminated throughout a gallery space, and stretched from the floor to the ceiling, these frail sculptures with a combination of patterns and colors incise the white cube without clearly occupying it. By expanding or retracting them depending on the height of the space, the character of any particular installation is relative to its site, its proportions and form.
Iman Issa, Material for a sculpture representing a monument erected in the spirit of defiance of a larger power, 2010 and Making Places (c-print), Series of ten c-prints, 2007
Iman Issa, born 1979, Cairo, is an artist based in Cairo and New York.
The cryptic work of Iman Issa rarely denotes its subject matter nor reveals the artist’s creative process. In many of her recent projects, there is a tacit insistence that Issa’s materials – which include sculptural objects, photographs and video – speak of far more than their content suggests.
This is also true of Issa’s work in that most content-laden of media: fiction. Her book of one-page stories, Thirty-Three Stories about Reasonable Characters in Familiar Places (2011), which she considers both a work of literature and of art, almost completely omits names, places or adjectives. The stories are more like fragments in which the reader must locate a narrative arc from a brief spark of disappointment, a passing thought or a disagreement between a handyman and his client. Issa’s writing suggests that what ultimately characterizes a situation, event or concept may not lie in its own self-evident, specifically described form or content. Rather, it might extend itself from an association, a memory or an otherwise insignificant detail.
In making a work, Issa often proceeds as though she has a hypothetical relationship to the medium or subject matter, then alters her position during the development of the piece as a tactical measure. For example, in her series ‘Triptychs’ (2009), Issa created the three elements in each work by assuming a different artistic subjectivity in relation to a source. In Triptych #1, for instance, she began with a snapshot she had taken of a bland communal waterfront space. Treating the photograph as though she had never seen it before, Issa then developed a second piece in response. The third work in the triptych was likewise created as though she were unaware of the first two, and had simply imagined the connections between them. Whilst this may seem a curious process to adopt in order to communicate a personal memory or sensation – involving as it does more alienation than proximity – the elements of the triptychs nonetheless resonate with one another.
Her group and solo exhibitions include Trapped in Amber: Angst for a Reenacted Decade, UKS, Oslo, 2009, 7th Gwangju Biennale, 2008, Cairoscape, Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, Berlin, 2008 , Making Places, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo, 2008, Look Around, Arte Ricambi, Verona, 2008, Memorial to the Iraq War,ICA, London, 2007. Her video work has been screened at several venues including Tate Modern, London, Spacex, Exeter, Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool, and Bidoun Artists Cinema.
Mathew Cerletty, The Economist, 2007, oil on linen, Yoplait, 2007, colored pencil and gouache on paper and Epson, 2009 graphite on paper
Since the early 2000s, Mathew Cerletty has been earnestly stretching the possibilities of figurative painting while cleverly subverting much of what we have come to expect from both realism and hyperrealism. Transitioning from his early, psychologically compelling portraits to more abstracted takes on household products and text-based images, Cerletty has been probing some amazingly banal subject matter as a challenge to the transcendent promise of traditional painting and to his skills as a draftsman.
Mathew Cerletty was born on 1980 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin New York. Matthew Cerletty’s paintings encapsulate a cosmopolitan air with their voguish finish and ambivalent sexuality. Presenting a fragmented body, Cerletty’s untitled trade’s image for the fetish of gesture, his absent figure reduced to an intimation of style. Rendered as graphic form against an empty slate colored ground, Cerletty’s hands seem strangely foreign and empirical. Classically positioned, Cerletty sets his study as abstracted intrigue, his opaque white sleeve and purple nail polish convert the representational to formalist balance, constructing the sublime through the simplicity of casual expression.
Matthew Cerletty’s Untitled reconsiders the figure as an abstracted strategy of design. Set on a cold ground, his torso is centered as an obsessional focus of concentration. Rendered with painterly impasto, his shirt becomes a slacker study of illusionary space: its simplified cartoon form balancing between graphic flatness and 3D perspective, the stylised shadow alluding to sculptural form reinforces the planar surface. The addition of the hands converts Cerletty’s painting from compositional study to relational subject, infusing traditional line, shape, and tone with dandyish and charismatic personality.
Mårten Lange, From the Book, Another Language, 2012
“A physical delineation of nature terminates at the point where the sphere of intellect begins, and a new world of mind is opened to our view. It marks the limit, but does not pass it.”
Alexander von Humboldt (1845)
The aesthetics of science, nature and the materiality of things are recurring themes in Mårten Lange’s work and in Another Language, his first major publication, Lange delves even deeper with this fascination for the natural world.
Combining images of flora, fauna and natural phenomena in an intimate and beautifully crafted book, Lange teases out a subtle narrative – a meteor crashes, a landmass is visible and a distant planet occupies the final page – but the book is more akin to the workings of a scientist collecting specimens. Together the photographs create a cryptic and heterogeneous index of nature, with recurring shapes, patterns and texture, where the clarity and simplicity of the individual photographs contrasts with the enigmatic whole.
Shot in his signature black and white style, his subjects are isolated from their environments, taking on sculptural qualities. Ranging from the sublime (lightning, mountains, a star) to the commonplace (ducks, rocks, a fish), these phenomena all attain equal importance through the democracy of Lange’s photographic treatment.
Mårten Lange was born in 1984 in Mölndal, Sweden. He studied photography at University of Gothenburg in Sweden and the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, United Kingdom. He has previously self-published four books, including Machina (2007) and Anomalies (2009).
Nina Beier, Shelving for Unlocked Matter and Open Problems, Detail, 2010
Of any artist working today, 35-year-old hyper-mixed-media artist Nina Beier is creating some of the boldest examples of the contemporary artwork in crisis mode. This has a lot to do with the unstable, in flux, usually-referencing-something-absent, often-crushed-or-pieced-together, and likely-to-change nature of her sculptural explorations.
Take her seemingly straightforward work, On the Uses and Disadvantages of Wet Paint, 2010, which may look like a large blotch of test paint on a blank wall; instead, it’s a savvy institutional critique on the art of backdrops, in which Beier raids a given museum’s paint stockpile to reapply a new color on the same spot intermittently. Another example of Beier using the system against itself is her photographic piece What Follows Will Follow II: Installation shots of works from a previous show become the work framed in the next one, an idea that could breed an endless chain of recycled and re-rerecyled imagery.
The Danish-born Beier gets much of her creative impulses from philosophy and literature (Heidegger and Lewis Carroll are recent touchstones). But for all of the theoretical uplift, the end result is provocatively tactile. Her most recent productions include dipping photographic stock images in glue and hanging them to dry on mass-produced household items, thus using an image to utterly envelop an actual thing. Another series involves found secondhand fabrics stuffed together inside a frame to create an almost Arte Povera-esque surface on the verge of busting open.
Beier has been living in Berlin for the past three years after starting her career in London. “I moved mainly because I was attracted to the qualities of an underpopulated city,” she says. “I guess the pace of the city is a little slower than other cities I have lived in, but I find the contrary to be true when it comes to the productivity of artists who live here.”
Michaël Borremans, Shades of Doubt, It is not something of beauty underneath, 2012
When Belgian artist Michaël Borremans first presented his paintings to the world at the tender age of 37, he immediately caused a stir in the art scene. His realistic yet mysterious figurative images subtly draw one to the centre of a question which remains permanently unspoken. Through the combination of his immaculate painting techniques, using muted tones and classic compositions, and the puzzling scenarios that are at the heart of his work, the artist brings together both:
melancholy and humour.
Signed by the prestigious David Zwirner gallery in New York, Borremans represents the modern reincarnation of the classic painter, in the same league as his colleague and friend Neo Rauch. Recently, Borremans also started translating his mysterious scenarios into abstract short films, which have been shown at Berlin Biennial 2006, among others. He lives and works in Ghent.
With mono.kultur, Michaël Borremans talked about the mystery at the heart of painting and life in general, his commission for the Belgian Queen, and why he needs to wear his Sunday suit when he goes to work.
The issue features a whopping 20 plates of Michaël Borremans’ paintings, all printed in lifesize scale, allowing you to examine the technical mastery behind his work in breathtaking detail.