Tag Archives: Installation

Haim Steinbach: Objects, Commodity Products, or Art Have Functions For Us That Are Not Unlike Words

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Haim Steinbach, Display #31G — An Offering: Collectibles of Ellen and Michael Ringier, Kunsthalle Zurich, 2014

Producing an extraordinary body of work throughout his impressive forty year career, Haim Steinbach has redefined the status of the object in art through his continued investigation into what constitutes art objects and the ways in which they are displayed.

When I began working with objects in the late 1970s, most objects I employed were used objects that I got from flea markets and yard sales. For instance, all the objects in an installation I did at Fashion Moda in the South Bronx in 1980 came from the neighborhood second-hand stores or were picked off the street. The idea of a desire for a “cultural object-as-commodity,” something which “exists outside,” intrigues me because I believe that what exists outside eventually comes inside. A “commodity object,” once acquired, becomes internalized. 

Through juxtaposing paintings, sculptures, artefacts and children’s playthings, Steinbach uncovered alternative meanings inherent in the objects, while subverting traditional notions of display and the value of objects. In presenting these loans and the salt and pepper shakers, Steinbach also unites the day-to-day habits of the home with the seemingly more conventional museum-based act of collection and display.

Up until the mid-1970s, Steinbach explored Minimalist ideas through the calculated placement of coloured bars around monochrome squares. He then abandoned painting to configure works using linoleum based on a range of historical floor designs, responding to both high and low cultural narratives. By the late 1970s, Steinbach began a transition to the three dimensional, collecting and arranging old and new, handmade and mass-produced objects, coming from a spectrum of contexts. These objects were displayed on what Steinbach termed “framing devices”, ranging from simple wedge-shaped shelves, to handmade constructions, to modular building systems.

Steinbach’s preoccupation with the fundamental human practice of acquiring and arranging objects has remained a key focus within his work and brings to the fore the universality of this common ritual.

“People seem to build their own cathedral inside their house. They select the objects that they like to live with, and they make a shell for themselves. They cultivate their little domain. In terms of my own experience with objects, there was a time when I went through a purist period. I didn’t want to have anything in my house — it was simpler just to have very few things around. I went through an evolution in my own work from a minimal, reductive language based on the conceptual activity of the late 1960s and early 1970s, toward a point at which a whole other range of discussions began to emerge. I realized that I had developed an incredible bias toward objects, probably as a result of a resistance to an ideology of “commodity fetishism.”

Steinbach’s interest in display extends to the environments in which objects are placed, and thus photographs, images, models and recreations of interiors are prevalent throughout the exhibition. He often positions his objects within larger architectural installations resembling domestic interiors. Several of these historical installations have been reconceived within the exhibition, where sheets of wallpaper sit on studded walls. These walls serve to guide the viewers’ navigation through the galleries and highlight the architectural qualities of the space.
On show within the installation was a new installation, comprising salt and pepper shakers lent by members of the public. By transporting objects that hold their own stories into the Serpentine Gallery, Steinbach’s participatory gesture reactivates them within this new context and makes the connection between the private and the public sphere.

“Objects, commodity products, or art works have functions for us that are not unlike words, language. We invented them for our own use and we communicate through them, thereby getting onto self-realization.”

Text:Joshua Decter, Journal of Contemporary Art http://www.jca-online.com/steinbach.html and Press Release, The Serpentine Gallery, http://www.serpentinegalleries.org/exhibitions-events/haim-steinbach-once-again-world-flat.
Artist Website: Haim Steinbach, http://www.haimsteinbach.net.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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James Richards, Requests and Antisongs

James Richards, Rosebud 2013, James Richards and Leslie Thornton, Crossing, Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, 2017 and Requests and Antisongs, Book, Sternberg Press, 2016

James Richards talks about his processes of collaging together digital fragments to create immersive audiovisual installations. “I was really into making an exhibition space where there would be nothing to look at”. Combining fragments of film, music, vocals, erotica and medical documentary, James Richards creates site-specific audiovisual installations and morphing exhibitions, which immerse the visitor in a kaleidoscopic and cinematic sensorial experience. Keeping a diaristic digital scrapbook, Richards draws from this to create his collages and assemblages, inspired by Dada. Already having won the Jarman award for film and video in 2012, and the Ars Viva Prize for young artists two years later, Richards was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2014. He spoke to Studio International during the installation of his exhibition Requests and Antisongs, at the ICA, London. Here’s an excerpt of the conversation:

Anna McNay: Can we start by talking about your work here at the ICA? It’s travelled here from Bergen, but you’re changing and adding to it somewhat.

James Richards: The exhibition here at the ICA is the second in a series of three shows. The first, Crumb Mahogany, was staged at the Bergen Kunsthall, Norway. Here at the ICA, the show is titled Requests and Antisongs and, in December, the final show in the series, Crossing, will be presented at the Kestnergesellschaft in Hanover. The idea was to spend 2016 working on these three shows that would be linked by certain works and overlaps of content, but also altered and changed at each stage, allowing the conventional touring exhibition to be something much more open, and allowing for process and evolution. In parallel, there is a publication to accompany the shows with text and images.

The shows are connected in terms of funding, but otherwise they’re very different. Some works appear over and over again, while others are developed on site, in reaction to the very specific conditions of the exhibition spaces themselves. With exhibitions, it’s not just about the work, it’s about responding to the building. Just simple things, like the fact that the two areas here at the ICA are separated by a cafe and stairs, and that they’re architecturally very different rooms, immediately suggests a very different arrangement of works.

AMc: What role does collaging play in your work as a whole? Do you see yourself as following in, or being particularly influenced by, a specific tradition, genre or movement? I’m thinking perhaps of Dadaism, because of the way you layer elements together and pull them apart.

JR: Yes, for me, a certain strand of sculpture has been very important: the assemblage of work starting in Dada and running through the work of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns and then into contemporary work by Isa Genzken and Rachel Harrison. I love this sense of bringing together very disparate materials – images, objects and more conventional artists’ mediums, such as paint, plaster and wood – and making work that plays with the associations and forms, but also somehow allows the parts to stay very much their own, to be separate and just themselves. I like to mix fragments of quite recognisable film footage from cinema and television with much more obscure material from science and documentary, and then I fold in scraps of video that I shoot myself, where I’ve been using the camera in a diaristic way.

I think I see my work as very much collage in its origin, rather than cinema or theatre: gathering things that interest you or stimulate you in some way and keeping a record of what’s around you. It’s very much a daily thing, so not really researching or hiring camera crews, much more just about acquiring what’s accessible and taking fragments of it and keeping it all on file.

AMc: Like a digital scrapbook?  JR: In a sense, yes. But even though it’s digital, as a way of working, it’s much more like having a desk and a folder of newspaper clippings. It’s very much about playing with fragments. The work uses images and the play of associations that become possible when they are repurposed, but it’s also about more abstract things such as image quality, texture and colour, and the way that those properties can be composed. You can often see the edges of the clips. You can feel them as being from very different places from one another. It isn’t seamless. They’re somewhat slick, but it’s very much about rupture and cutting between things.

The publication works with collage and found photography. It was conceived as an extension of the show itself and it works with the same kind of logic. I edited it in collaboration with Mason Leaver-Yap, a writer and editor I work closely with.

It’s also called Requests and Antisongs. I’ve been working on gathering a lot of photography and paper and documentation of existing work and then cutting up and processing and rescanning it all and drawing directly on to it. I worked with this material by hand and then also on Photoshop, and then edited the whole thing into a visual sequence. I can’t really call it a story, but it’s like a sequence that has a sense of build-up and release and tension and certain themes appearing and coming away and reappearing, which is very much the way I work with video and sound, but I tried to do this with print and with a book format.

Text: Anna McNay, http://www.studiointernational.com/james-richards-interview.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Christodoulos Panayiotou, In the Light of the Day the Fireflies Are Like Any Other Insect

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Christodoulos Panayiotou, In the Light of the Day the Fireflies Are Like Any Other Insect, 2013

Christodoulos Panayiotou’s wide-ranging research focuses on the identification and uncovering of hidden narratives in the visual records of history and time. In 2013 The Center for Contemporary Art Kitakyushu Project Gallery presented the exhibition In the Light of the Day the Fireflies Are Like Any Other Insect by Christodoulos Panayiotou.

Dear Akiko,

I hope that you are sailing safely in the Venetian canals. As for myself, I have just come back from the tailor’s. He is a very elegant gentleman and he said he was very happy to see me. He mentioned that this is only the second time he’s had a foreigner in his shop and added that the first one was an American soldier, a long time ago. Considering his age and the geographic proximity to Nagasaki, I didn’t dare to ask when this was. The fitting will be this Saturday. We can go there together before we look for the second jacket.

I have already asked my mother to send by courier what were once her bags, and now my shoes. Also, I have a meeting at the printer’s for the photos, which you can find attached. I took them last autumn on a day-trip to Ostia with my friend Patrizio. I will talk to Nobuo about the rest.

Please translate the following sentence back to Japanese as the title of the show: “In the light of the day the fireflies are like any other insect”. It is a haiku maltreated by memory and translation. Please don’t look for the authentic source; simply translate it from the English as it is. I read it somewhere when I was a student and it still fascinates me deeply. It is somehow the elusive subtext of what brings the works in our exhibition together.

It is very windy tonight. I will stay home and watch a few more Candy Candy episodes. Since I’ve arrived in Japan I found the whole series -dubbed in Greek- online. In the episode I watched last, Anthony said to Candy with an innocent smile: “From today, your birthday will be the day I met you”. She looked at him passionately. I still feel sick from listening to this, but I somehow forgive him. He will be dying soon and I can’t stand knowing it while they don’t. I remember watching his death as a child. The horse he was riding got caught in a fox trap. I refused to go to school for several days.

I will wait for your return to Kitakyushu so that we can visit the other side of the mountain. Anthony will be surely dead by then and Candy will have met Terry. I would like to see the Wisterias before they blossom.

Yours,
Christodoulos

Christodoulos Panayiotou stayed at The Center for Contemporary Art Kitakyushu as Professor of Research Program from March 1st to March 30th, 2013. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Point Centre for Contemporary Art, Nicosia, Cyprus; Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden; Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg; CCA Kitakyushu, Japan; Centre d’Art Contemporain de Brétigny, France; Museum of Contemporary Art, St. Louis, USA; Museum of Contemporary Art, Leipzig, Germany; Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland and Cubitt, London, UK (among others).

He has also participated in a number of group exhibitions, including Museion, Bolzano, Italy; Berlin Biennale 8, Berlin, Germany; Migros Museum, Zürich, Switzerland; dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany; CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, USA; Joan Miro Foundation, Barcelona, Spain; Witte de With, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA; Ashkal Alwan Center for Contemporary Arts, Beirut, Lebanon; Artist Space, New York, USA, MoCA Miami, Miami, USA.

Text: The Center for Contemporary Art Kitakyushu, http://cca-kitakyushu.org/gallery/panayiotou.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Artist: Yngve Holen

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Yngve Holen, Extended Operations, 2013, Sensitive to Detergent, Tired, 2011 and Hater Headlight, 2015

Emerging from the 3D-printed rubble of Berlin’s “post-Internet” art scene, the Norwegian artist Yngve Holen is a cold empiricist and a slapstick comedian. With sculptural test-subjects ranging from minor appliances (tea kettles and washing machines) to high-industrial behemoths (commercial airliners and CT scanners), his works map the anatomical features of a new human-machine eco-system.

René Descartes (1596–1650) had a problem with animals. Or, rather, he had an animal problem. In the Meditations, the “father of modern philosophy” used skepticism to arrive at a radical theory of mind-body dualism. Bodies were machines. Minds were souls. But since the theological doctrines of the time stated that humans were the only animal that could have a soul, it was imperative for Descartes to prove that animals did not have minds either. The French philosopher thus responded by cutting animals open in private and writing about it in public. He penned a number of letters and texts that described animals as deceivingly complicated machines. What appeared to us as signs of their consciousness – their human-like qualities, or their screams under the knife of live dissection – were in fact spring-loaded responses to external stimuli. In the 21st century context, Descartes’s “animals are robots” writings have become the most unpopular of his theories. Perhaps it is because society as a whole has grown to have more empathy towards animals. Or perhaps it is because we know more about machines. Cutting something open to check for its soul seems like lunatic behavior now. At the very least, those of us in this century would use an ultrasound machine first.

In 2011, the artist Yngve Holen (1982–) ran over a chicken with a Toyota RAV4 and 3D-printed its remains. Unlike Descartes’s test subjects, Holen’s chicken was already dead, plucked, and de-clawed. Yet, when he crushed it open, a soul appeared:

Initially, I wanted to scan road kill. But it was difficult to find, and you can’t laser-scan fur. So I got the idea that I’d go to the supermarket and buy a chicken, so I could run it over and scan it. The meat we see in stores is almost a type of design object. For example, a chicken at a supermarket is so far from being a chicken. It’s had its feathers taken out. It’s cut into thighs and wings and drumsticks with lasers at some factory. It undergoes all these sculptural changes in order to transform from chicken to “poultry.” It’s a scary industry. If you don’t buy bio, chicken is cheap as hell. For an artist, it’s cheaper than buying clay. Then, when you drive over it and crush those bones – when you turn it into road kill – it’s suddenly this individual thing again. You give the chicken a soul by running it over. And then you extract that soul by scanning it.

With the artist-publication ETOPS, Holen formed an editorial extension to his sculptural practice. Comprised of long-form interviews with specialists from a variety of occupations, the magazine performs verbal dissection on the routines of otherwise opaque industries. It proffers details that simultaneously augment and drain the fear surrounding professions that operate in the intersections of body and machine. Aptly, the first ETOPS investigated the experience of air travel. In addition to an interview with a commercial pilot, the publication featured camera phone pictures of cruising-altitude sunsets and rows filled with cramped legs.

ETOPS is regulation system in aviation that says how many minutes you can fly a twin-engine aircraft without being in a certain radius of an airport. So a plane will be certified for, say, 120 minutes. Or now some are certified for 720 minutes, so you can basically fly wherever you want. But there’s this pilot joke that ETOPS stands for “Engines Turn, or Passengers Swim.” It’s funny. Metaphorically, it’s a question about how long we can stretch an idea before we crash it. How long are you allowed to spin off certain ideas before it doesn’t fly? The materials can only go for a certain amount of time. After that, the idea can go further, but the materials then won’t allow for it. We tend to think that these thresholds don’t exist, because they keep getting pushed further and further. Like, how far can the body swim before it drowns? We want to know that limit.

With ETOPS, Holen turns his line of inquiry away from the insides of machines and towards the invisible limits of how far the body can be stretched into something foreign from itself. For the second edition of ETOPS, designed by Per Törnberg, Holen and his editorial partner Matthew Evans travelled to Los Angeles and Monte Carlo to interview members of the pornography and plastic surgery industries. The resulting collection of anonymous interviews provides a look into two fields of practice that blur the distinctions between the natural and the artificial. By discussing the minutia of these occupations, ETOPS provides a textured account of everyday life in a futuristic present. During a dinner conversation, a pornstar gives advice on what to eat before sex scenes. In another interview, a plastic surgeon discusses how the placement of scars has been effected by trend cycles; The aesthetic has changed through the years. What is good-looking now may not have been 10 years ago.

For his solo exhibition “World of Hope” (2015) at Galerie Neu in Berlin, Holen released the second edition of ETOPS alongside a series of works make from the faces of CT scanners, which the artist dressed in custom-fitted fishnet fabric. Unlike the dissected water vessels of Parasaggital Brain, the sculptures allude to the possibility of seeing inside without incision. They present a technology designed to see through skin that is encased inside a fabric designed to see through clothing. Mounted on the wall as a type of relief, the works masquerade as paintings, winking at the Renaissance ideal that a picture should be a “window” into another world. They allude to the limits of the two-dimensional – the blurry and flattened organs that appear in radiology. Their shape suggests a type of industrially-designed orifice, although it is unsure whether it is designed for entrance or exit.

Source: Kunstkritikk.
Text: Thom Bettridge, 032c.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Artist: Hans Christian Lotz

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Hans Christian Lotz, Untitled, 2016, Die Ölmühle aus Bickelsberg im Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof Gutach, 2015 and Untitled, 2015

In one famous scene in Jacques Tati’s 1958 film Mon Oncle, Tati’s character Monsieur Hulot tries to open the kitchen cabinet in his brother-in-law’s hyper modern suburban home. He pulls repeatedly on the cabinet’s handle, but cannot open it. He accidentally tricks some switch and the doors fly open without warning, comically spilling their contents onto the floor. All throughout the house the doors are automatic; the garage door operates with a mind of its own, the doors to the veranda slide open and closed randomly, and Tati even manages to break the gate to the house as he attempts to use it like the “manual” doors of his apartment in the city.

In the main room of Hans-Christian Lotz’s untitled exhibition at David Lewis Gallery, three sets of glass automatic doors, the kinds characteristic of convenience stores or supermarkets, are mounted to the walls, opening and closing as you walk around the room. The doors, in parts smashed and with their operating mechanisms visible to the eye, at first appear like debris removed from the aftermath of a vicious riot in some European suburb—a much more extreme reaction to the superfluous upper-middle-class posturing that was the subject of Mon Oncle’s satire. But upon closer inspection, the mechanical objects betray that they too are in on the joke. Titled with absurdly long untranslated names of German water-powered mills like “Die Ölmühle aus Bickelsberg im Freilichtmuseum Vogtsbauernhof Gutach” (2014), the pieces are acutely aware of the anxieties of Monsieur Hulot’s trip to suburbia—except, of course, in the past 60 years the automatic door has shifted from a middle-brow extravagance to an immanent, and banal, symbol of commerce. Furthermore, Lotz’s version of Hulot’s trip from the city is not straight to suburbia, but also adds a stop in the bucolic German countryside.

Underscoring this, one set of doors has a folksy flute embedded in its mechanism, while another has a cast facsimile of the flute. These objects, their copies, and the titles of the sculptures (names of mills) all refer to a history of industrial production set between two poles of city and country, and harken back to the pastoral ideals of the German Romantics, where technological advance stood in profane contrast to the ageless magnificence of the countryside. In Lotz’s hands, the sliding automatic doors augur a philosophical collapse of property enabled by technology; emblems of the city, country, and suburb collide into a vague and threatening territory guided purely by economics, existing everywhere and nowhere. His Germanic references fit the works’ intellectual prescriptions.
Walking around the space, your movements triggering the sensors that open and close the pieces, is a disconcerting experience with a lingering air of menace that Tati would have appreciated. It doesn’t feel quite like a gallery, and as the movement of the doors traces your path through the space, you can’t help but be aware of the fact that the work is staring back at you. Of course, for the moment, there is an important difference between a surveillance camera and an electric eye—only one keeps a record.

Source: Artforum.
Text: Alexander Shulan, The Brooklyn Rail.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Artist: Jordan Wolfson

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Jordan Wolfs, Female Figure, 2014 and Colored Sculpture, 2016, Installation View

In a recent interview Jordan Wolfson artist traced a cycle of works produced since 2009 back to a moment of eye-contact: “It is something that became clear to me in Your Napoleon (2009) […]. For that work, I kept trying to figure out how to cut and paste these mock conversations about string theory and pop culture, and it felt like an ad-lib […]. I didn’t come up with the term formal bridge until I basically asked the actors to just read the script and look directly into my eyes, stare deep into my eyes” [Jordan Wolfson and Aram Moshayedi, “Tell a Poser,” in Ecce Homo / le Poseur, Walther König, Cologne, 2013, p. 92].If eye contact is both the semblance of a “truthful” connection and in the right hands a mask for falsity, Wolfson has pursued this “formal bridge” into a realm of heightened artifice and discomforting disclosure. His sophisticated animated constructions have achieved an unerring capacity to meld the giddy “anything goes” of computer-generated imagery with the telling fetish of the pop-cultural meme.

In his first solo exhibition for David Zwirner in New York in 2014, comprising a projected film, an installation and a number of digitally printed reliefs, instances of engineered eye contact between an artwork’s protagonist and the viewer anchored the show. The looped film Raspberry Poser (2012) featured a medley of animated forms layered against stock-image backgrounds and tastefully shot locations, set to a soundtrack of Beyoncé and Mazzy Star. Bouncing HIV virus particles and ethereal floating condoms emitting cascades of love hearts roved the streets and luxury lifestyle boutiques of New York’s SoHo. Meanwhile a generic cartoon boy gleefully strangled and self-eviscerated himself, as if to prove his immortal otherworldliness. Intercut with these characters, a series of live-action sequences showed Wolfson dressed as an archetypal punk on a “dérive” through a Parisian park. A close-up shot sees him turn to the camera and hold the prolonged gaze of the lens, an insouciant smile flickering across his face. The camera, of course, mediates the connection between Wolfson and the viewer. But the intentionality and persistence behind “the look” is unnerving. It holds both an arrogant knowingness and something of the contorted power play of a fashion model’s stare into the camera.

Female Figure 2014 is an almost absurdist endgame for discourse around the theatrics of the sculptural object and the tendency towards stagecraft within the contemporary art exhibition. While the robot’s routine was scripted, programmed and seamlessly looped — not unlike Raspberry Poser playing nearby — the physical nature of the encounter was heightened through the restriction to one or two people entering the room at any time. This conceit, a gesture towards an individualized performance, allowed for the singular experience of being “seen” by “her,” a phenomenon made possible by the use of advanced facial recognition and motion-sensing technology. The robot is the distant figure in the park in Jean Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness (1943). Thought of as a puppet, its relation to the objects around it is purely additive; it creates no new relations in the world of the viewer. In its locking of sight-lines, however, the viewer is momentarily yet disconcertingly aware of becoming an object in the eyes of the automaton.

In many regards, Jordan Wolfson artist work embodies the internalized contradictions of a generation whose teenage years spanned the twin poles of a burgeoning hyper-sexualized cultural economy and the media-stoked specter of sexually transmitted disease. In conjuring up a social imaginary around HIV and AIDS activism, Raspberry Poser echoes a young adult asking: “What does it mean about me?” — what writer Sarah Schulman has described as a “suburban narcissism in which one is able to ‘identify’ in order to internalize value”[Sarah Schulman, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination, University of California Press, Oakland CA, 2012, p. 7]. The “place of distortion” Wolfson moves toward is undoubtedly agonistic, as it rests on a neurotic self-identification that appropriates positions of sexuality, gender, race and class — positions that themselves are present in the work only through inflated, vulgarized stereotypes. “Do you think I’m homosexual? Do you think I’m rich? Will you tell them what it’s like to be with me?” The artist’s needy voice is caught within the performance of a hyperbolized role, a meta-dialogue with the viewer that challenges their presumptions of identity and the “honest” disclosure of inner angst. While Wolfson is evidently not himself the loose-skinned, tired man of the poetic monologue in Female Figure 2014, the psycho-sexual inner world of the creator of the Bellmer-esque robot-as-sex-object looms large as an involuntary fiction.

There is a clear sense in which the artist’s work from 2009 onward has rejected a reliance on acquired methods and signifiers of artistic validity and rectitude. The complex cycle of works that culminates in the twin gazes of the female automaton and the languid punk instead offers witness to an unadorned self-image at odds with the governing techniques of the self-enterprising individual. Wolfson’s adoption of animation and animatronics locates this externalization within structural ambivalence; the ability to warp, inflate, distort and fantasize offers a fitting testimony to the splitting of contemporary subjecthood.

Source: Kunstforum International, June July 2016 Issue.
Text: Richard Birkett, Flashartonline.com.
All images belongs to the respective artist and management.

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Lars Laumann

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Lars Laumann, Season of Migration to the North, 2015, Kari & Knut, 2009-2010 and Duett (Med styrken i vår tro i en sang, i en sang), 2010

The exhibition Kompendium with the Norwegian artist Lars Laumann features a selection of video works from 2006 until today. By filming, editing, and juxtaposing a mix of appropriated materials and subjectively experienced narratives, Laumann creates virtuoso, visual film collages that feature an extensive cast of characters. His collaborations with artists, filmmakers, and musicians clearly influence the final result. The artist seeks inspiration from the margins of pop culture and explores people and phenomena on the outskirts of society. With a global perspective on both pop culture icons and contemporary political events, Laumann sheds light on the more complex forces of our culture.

‘Kompendium’ is small in scale but broad in scope. The span of Lars Laumann’s works takes in the fishing industries in Somalia and Northern Norway; Morrissey conspiracy theories; migrating puffins and marching bands; and Nico’s last days in Ibiza. This survey of his work – the first time much of it has been shown in his native Norway – comprises six films on small screens or monitors in the upstairs exhibition halls of Kunstnernes Hus, while the newest piece, Seasons of Migration to the North (2015), is projected inside a scaffolding rig that fills up a whole ground floor room.

The earliest piece on show is Morrissey Foretelling the Death of Diana (2006), in which Laumann deconstructs the lyrics of The Smiths’ 1985 album Meat is Murder, track by track, to reveal a dizzying litany of references that appear to predict the death of Princess Diana, an analysis that teeters between being convincing and absurd. Five adjacent monitors play the same film, each one spoken in a different language (one for each country where the piece has been shown to date) and each in a conspicuous, regional accent (the English version is spoken in thick Mancunian). Against a looped background refrain by The Smiths, montaged clips from French New Wave, Kitchen Sink Drama or Carry Onfilms obliquely illustrate the monologue’s rollercoaster of incident. Truth and paranoia lie back to back in what is both an homage to Laumann’s own early Smiths obsession, as well as the obscure lines of research facilitated by the internet.

Laumann is attracted to stories that occur on the margins, or even the margins of the margins. His best known work, Berlinmuren(2008), tells the tale of a Swedish woman, Eija-Riita Eklöf Berlinermauer, who is ‘objecto-sexual’ and has fallen in love with and married the Berlin Wall. The outlandish story, narrated in deadpan fashion by the Swedish woman herself, evacuates the Berlin Wall of its usual symbolic political content and meaning: ‘My love for the Berlin Wall has nothing to do with politics’, she says. Without Laumann’s own presence in the film, it’s difficult to determine if the story is real or fabricated, creating an unsettling viewing experience that brings our own prejudices to the fore.

Laumann’s most recent work, Season of Migration to the North, takes on more topical territory. The film is a refugee story, told from the perspective of a young, gay Sudanese asylum-seeker, doubly ostracized through homophobia and Islamophobia. Again, the narration is in the first person – the protagonist Eddie Ismael reads his diary entries from just before his arrest in Khartoum to his departure for Norway, where he was sent to a refugee camp in the North before moving to Oslo. Eddie’s arrest occurs at a fashion show in Khartoum that he helped organize and took part in. The police raided the event, arresting all of ‘the boys who they thought looked gay’ as well as the girls that ‘looked immoral’. Original footage from this fashion show provides the visual backdrop – handsome, barefoot models parade on a carpeted catwalk, styled in casual designer clothes. The work draws its power from the gulf between the benign images and their role in the narrator’s exile. At one point Ismael brings in a historical parallel, mentioning the diaries of Ruth Maier, an Austrian girl who came to Norway as a refugee from World War II, and fell in love with a Norwegian girl. History repeats itself, and the struggles faced by Jewish homosexuals during mid-20th-century fascism now find their echo in the experiences of Muslim homosexuals – minorities within a minority group.

The first-person narration in both of these films is direct and disarming, while the artist’s own presence is reduced to the point of invisibility. Laumann’s works are never documentary as such: the intense identification of artist and subject dissolves critical distance, rendering the relationship between them ambiguous. Voices, scripts and images are often borrowed, while several works are collaborations with artist friends. Just as Morrissey told his own story through a montage of quotes lifted from literature and films, so each of Laumann’s works becomes an inhabitation of others’ lives. ‘My mind and my life are two different things’, says Nico in the film You Can’t Pretend to be Somebody Else – You Already Are (2009–11), in which a trio of transvestites are called upon to perform the story of Nico’s life: ‘My life follows me around.’

Source: Magazine Contemporary Culture.
Text: Kirsty Bell, Frieze Magazine and Press Release, Kunstnernes Hus.
All images belongs to the respective artist and managment.

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Charles Harlan, Sculpture

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Charles Harlan, Stack, 2015, Roll Gates, 2012 and Counter, 2013

Drawing inspiration from Land Art of the 1970s, Harlan avails himself of the most common materials at hand – including such hardware store staples as ladders, shipping palettes, and one-ton metal pipe – in his large industrial works. Huge in scale, Minimalist in form, and shown both indoors and out, Harlan’s art has often been referred to as Duchampian in its reliance upon readymade components, its deceptive simplicity, and it spatial humor. His stacking and layering of recognizable, utilitarian materials renders surprisingly potent forms that invite unexpected associations.

Charles Harlan sculpture and work invites contemplation of the ways in which we adapt to and absorb the toughness of the urban landscape. Pristine, immutable walls are made from the same sheet metal fencing that encloses myriad outdoor parking lots and construction sites, and hosts graffiti and flurries of advertisements throughout the cityscape. But whereas the world around us is wild and feral, Harlan’s work is carefully ordered, throwing into higher contrast the realms of tumult inside.

Harlan was raised in Smyrna, Georgia, and his work exhibits a vernacular, domestic flair, as if the suburban housing tracts featured in Dan Graham’s Homes for America (1966) were taken apart and repurposed as elegant, redneck Minimalism. With Shingles (2011), for example, Carl Andre’s floor-based metal works meet their working-class counterpart, as copper plates are exchanged for patterns of overlapping asphalt roofing tiles; Siding (2011), meanwhile, replaces Donald Judd’s shiny metal cubes with the work’s namesake – and very plebeian – exterior vinyl wallcovering found on many a tract house; and by simply lifting a marble countertop off the bathroom sink and onto the wall, Counter (2012) proves that even the slightest of gestures, such as a change of orientation and context, can render foreign something familiar – the everyday as convincing art object. Similarly, with Pipe, it’s as if one of Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels (1976) was transported from the desert to this small, white cube gallery on the Lower East Side.

Equally industrial as Holt’s work, though perhaps more refined-looking with its clean metal surface and, when struck, resonant timbre, Harlan’s invasive culvert more closely pressures the thin distinction between rote object and institutionally legitimated artwork. Even if they’re in the middle of nowhere, Holt’s tunnels are art because the artist presents them as such; Pipe is equally authored and institutionalised. That it’s a pipe is precisely the point. While it’s a beautiful object, it illustrates how arbitrary ‘art’ really is. The term may designate anything, from a painting to a pickle in a jar. The latter, displayed in the gallery’s back office, is sold by Harlan’s mother in her hardware store; it could be an artwork too, if he willed it.

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Artist: Isabelle Cornaro, Art Historian Specialised

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Isabelle Cornaro, Paysage avec poussin et témoins oculaires (version II), 2009 and The Whole World is Watching, 2012

The work of Isabelle Cornaro evinces an interest in the way our perspectives are historically and culturally determined. Due to her training as an art historian specialised in 16th- and 17th-century Western art, her visual language is strongly associated with the forms and compositions of the past, ranging from Baroque and Classicism to Modernist abstraction. In her installations, casts and films, Cornaro plays with the possible meanings of everyday implements and artistic objects by placing them in a new context. Oriental rugs, Chinese porcelain, inherited jewellery; miniature landscapes, tautological objects and 16mm film.

Every now and then a single art work becomes associated with an artist in one’s mind and sticks there, obstinately refusing to cede its advantage no matter how sincerely one appreciates that artist’s entire output. Until recently, this has been the case, for me, with Isabelle Cornaro’s installation Paysage avec Poussin et témoins oculaires (version 1) (Landscape with Poussin and Eyewitnesses [version 1], 2008–9), which I first discovered in her 2008 exhibition at La Ferme du Buisson art centre in the Paris suburbs. Loosely based on a painting by Nicolas Poussin, this ‘landscape’ comprises a set of plywood pedestals of varying dimensions and tightly rolled, hung and unfurled oriental carpets, arranged according to rules of perspective and favouring a single point of view. Wandering into the three-dimensional interpretation of its two-dimensional art-historical ancestor, I discovered that the pedestals are topped with large cloisonné-patterned urns, smaller decorative items Cornaro calls ‘tautological objects’ because their forms mimic their functions (such as a duck egg-cup in the shape of a duck), as well as devices for measuring space and for aiding vision. In keeping with the perspectival organization, the size of these objects diminishes depending on their placement in the foreground, middle-distance or background. Cornaro’s accumulation of junk into the language of decoration, in a material that renders it sumptuous, suggests her faith in the innate, extraordinary power of things to endure and withstand the vagaries of how we look and see.

Cornaro uses scanning, photography and plaster casting as her methods of production. Through meticulous arrangements, she investigates the properties of objects and the historicity they can point to or steer away from. Homonyms (II) (2012), for example, are coloured plaster casts taken from soft materials such as laces, quilts and carpets. The misplaced use of colour and materiality of their new form alters their original identity and disrupts how these transformed objects are perceived. In the film, Money filmed from the side and a three-quarter view (2010), Cornraro portrays actual coins and Euro notes being transformed into abstract forms through the cinematic use of light and colour. The preoccupation with spatiality and light in the film brings currency’s aesthetic into the composition, stripping the importance of its monetary value. Cornaro creates differing landscapes in her work, welcoming new reflections on the ideology of object and space.

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Performance Artist: Tris Vonna-Michell

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The Trades of Others, 2008, and Finding Chopin: Dans l’Essex, 2014

Through live performance and audio recordings of spoken texts, Vonna-Michell relays circuitous and multilayered narratives that combine personal anecdotes and historical research. Vonna-Michell’s narrative structures are characterized by repeated detours, dead ends, and streams of association. Dense conglomeration of photographic material, from film and slide projections to photographic prints and other ephemera form a “visual script” that is animated by the artist’s recitations. Integrating fiction and factual information, Vonna-Michell’s narratives address the nature of coincidence and contingency, often referencing his personal history and artistic production. His practice builds on a process that is both recursive and prospective with images drawn from his own archive, including those from previous works, continually reappearing in new configurations.

By splicing the lived with the learnt, Vonna-Michell’s stories and actions form a personal analogue to that monumental act of dispersal and investigation: the large-scale destruction of documents by Stasi officials in 1989, and the new government’s subsequent commissioning of archivists (nicknamed ‘the puzzlers’) to reassemble the mountain of some 600 million scraps. For a month in 2005 Vonna-Michell holed up in a GDR-era Leipzig bed-sit alone with his personal archive of photographs, taking 36 exposures of each image before painstakingly shredding each one by hand. This fragmented portfolio was later presented at his Glasgow School of Art degree show, the resulting photographic slides now used in performance, mementoes of a partial re-enactment and an end-point to his earlier body of work.

Other objects that Vonna-Michell uses in performance have an insufficient and temporary quality: in hahn/huhn, a conspiracy thriller that ducks into the tunnels rumoured to lie under Berlin’s Anhalter Bahnhof, three blocks of dry ice squat in a line between artist and listener, chilling the feet and offering a shonky reminder of the Cold War and the Berlin Wall; episodes in Finding Chopinare represented by a newspaper clipping, an egg carton and a stick of rock. So ephemeral are these carefully gathered props that many were allegedly stolen during an exhibition in Brussels in 2006, after which the artist replaced them with a seven-inch vinyl recording, Short Stories & Tall Tales (2007). The record is the only saleable item Vonna-Michell has produced to date, the token of a failure to maintain an archive that yet gestures towards the continuing possibility of circulation. An archive attempts a totalizing collection of information, but what if, as in the case of the Stasi, it is kept safe or destroyed, hoarded or dispersed?

Vonna-Michell’s practice reflects on the possibility of recording and transmitting history through the spoken and written word, tracing the associative complexities of how histories and rumours are told.

Tris Vonna-Michell lives and works between Stockholm and Southend-on-Sea in the UK. Recent solo exhibitions have been organized by VOX Centre de l’Image Contemporain in Montreal, T293 in Rome, Jan Mot in Brussels, Capitain Petzel in Berlin, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, Metro Pictures in New York, and Cabinet Gallery in London. Vonna-Michell’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Tate Britain in London, Moderna Museet in Malmö, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Secession in Vienna, the Shanghai Biennial, and the Yokohama Triennial. Vonna-Michell was nominated for the 2014 Turner Prize, and was awarded the Baloise Art Prize and Ars Viva Prize for Fine Arts in 2008. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art, the Städelschule in Frankfurt, and Emily Carr University in Vancouver.

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Artist, Sascha Weidner, Photographer, 1979 – 2015

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Sascha Weidner, Am Wasser Gebaut, 2009,  Lay Down Close By,  2012 and La lutte de J. Avec l´ange, 2006.

Sascha Weidner was a German Photographer and Artist, who lived and worked in Belm and Berlin. The work of Sascha Weidner deals with the creation of a radical subjective pictorial world. His photographs are characterized by perceptions, aspirations and the world of the subconscious. His work has been exhibited and published internationally. Sascha Weidner died suddenly at age 38.

“It’s not about putting pictures on the wall. I use the room to tell my story, to create a theme, a storyline, underlined by a romantic melancholy. It’s totally authentic, like I am. A lot of times, it’s also too much, like I am. Feeling too much and speaking too much.”

In his essay ‘What Is the Contemporary?’ the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben argues that contemporaneity is defined not by being attuned to one’s times but, on the contrary, by being disconnected and out of touch. For Agamben, the contemporary is precisely that which contrasts with the present so sharply that the latter’s contours become visible. I was reminded of Agamben’s thesis when visiting Sascha Weidner’s exhibition, ‘The Presence of Absence’. The show presented a wide variety of media and topics, ranging from photographs taken in a forest in Japan to sculptures referencing a family in Germany. There were also light-boxes and collages, pictures of graffiti and cherry blossoms. What connected each of the works, however, as the exhibition’s title made clear, was a concern with developing procedures to envision the invisible and the attempt to find traces of the past in the present.

Central to the exhibition was a series of photographs Weidner shot while hiking in Aokigahara, a forest at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan. Rumoured to be so dense that no one who enters it ever leaves, it has long been the subject of Japanese mythology, inspiring folk tales, as well as appearing in modern literature, including a novel by Haruki Murakami. It is also a prime spot for suicides. Weidner followed the paths of people who entered before him, documenting traces of the journeys of those whose travels went unnoticed. Many of these photographs were sparsely and unevenly illuminated, reflecting the maze-like density of the forest, as well as alluding to the frail spirit of the wanderers. They included images of the ribbons people attach to branches every few metres in case they change their minds and want to retrace their path (Atropos II, 2013); bits of rope and plastic left to rot (Untitled, 2014); crushed red berries in the snow (Untitled, 2014); and the shadows of trees (Untitled, 2013). The idea was simple (sort of old-school Existentialism, in fact) and the execution expertly straightforward (some Romanticism here, some Pictorialism there). Yet, by showing both what Weidner’s predecessors on these paths might have seen and, at the same time, documenting what remains to be seen of them, the work was incredibly powerful – and, perhaps above all, complex – creating a mythological emotional territory of very real terror. Indeed, the closest parallel I could think of was Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary film about the Indonesian mass executions in the 1960s, The Act of Killing (2012).

The works in the show all articulated the presence of an absence by providing the contours of that absence, the ghosts of a past. In the moving looped video The Presence of Absence II (2014), a Chinese man dances a waltz on his own, his arms wrapped around an invisible woman (whose bag may still be visible in the margins of the screen). And the series of collages titled ‘Ecken’ (2014) features photo corners that no longer secure any photos, now functionless, they inevitably recall their prior use. They call to mind the notes that the elderly Immanuel Kant used to try to drive a particular person from his memory, writing: ‘The name Lampe must be completely forgotten’ – a method that was, of course, entirely self-defeating.

Weidner’s exhibition proved itself contemporary – in a time of simulacra and algorithms, of Post-internet art and Ulrich Beck’s ‘risk society’ – by sincerely reintroducing the ‘real’, retracing it as if it were still out there, an invisible thread to be revealed and unravelled. Of course, the artist understands that, after Jean Baudrillard and the post-structuralists, the ‘real’ is no longer an unproblematic register if, indeed, it ever was. But it can be experienced nevertheless, he seemed to suggest, as an affective performance. Weidner’s photographs and collages, his video of the dancing man: they all perform reality as mourning, an acting-out of the present by way of a script from the past, looking forward while feeling backwards. In this, they are a performance of contemporaneity itself – precisely in the way described by Agamben, connecting to the present by not being of it.

Written by Timotheus Vermeulen, published in Frieze, Issue 169, March 2015.

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Fitness for Artists, “We can finally meet in a virtual space and get fit for life together.”

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Helga Wretman, Fitness for Artists, 2015

Helga Wretman aims to fill the body and soul of participating artists with endorphins to improve their creativity and self consciousness, whilst providing a platform for international artists to connect with peers in other parts of the world. “We can finally meet in a virtual space and get fit for life together.”

12 artists have been invited to represent their country, themselves as artists and their will to communicate. This will be a performance where no participant is passive.

The class begins gently with an organic warm up of the joints and major muscle groups that prepares your body for more intensive stages. There after we move on to the activate the cardiac functions in your body. That will start with some fun sparring in couples and then we do some classic aerobic and end with an intensive Jump-style tutorial. At this stage we are warm and ready to move on to the muscle training and floor-work without weights, including yoga and various classic body toning and strengthening exercises. To end the class we make a stretching session focusing on both big and small muscle groups.

Helga Wretman (born 1985 in Stockholm) lives and works in Berlin. She completed her training at the Kungliga Svenska Balettskolan in Stockholm for Modern and Contemporary Dance. Helga has also studied dance in London, Berlin and Stockholm.

Wretman has performed in venues such as Peres Projects, Berlin; Darsa Comfort, Zurich, and Kunsthalle Athena, Athens. She has also performed for artists such as Aids- 3D,  Jeremy Shaw, Donna Huanca, Peaches, Reynold Reynolds as well as performing in numerous German films as a stuntwoman.

http://creative.arte.tv/de/series/fitness-artists-tv

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Patrizio Di Massimo: Col Sole in Fronte (With The Sun In Front Of Me)

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Patrizio Di Massimo, Col Sole in Fronte (With The Sun In Front Of Me), 2010

Col Sole in Fronte (With The Sun In Front Of Me) begins on the ground floor of the gallery with the video Duets for Cannibals. This work was commisioned by Milan City Council and Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation in order to make a portrait of an African boy, Abdullay Kadal Traore, who has been living in Italy for several years. I accepted that request but not standing behind the camera and filming Abdullay as an exotic subject. The video becomes thus a dialogue or a duet in which we reason together about staging my proposal for the commission that he initially accepts and then rejects, revealing the intrinsic limit that we are not disposed to go beyond although we are both paid.

On the first floor, the exhibition continues with a double video installation Faccetta Nera, Faccetta Bianca (Italian, Little Black Face, Little White Face). The drawing that I showed to Abdullay in Duets for Cannibals becomes an image through the use of two actors and a photography study. The video installation examines the problem of difference with a dichotomic and literal attitude, and it gains its real meaning when is combined with the mistaken interpretation in the songs in question. In fact, Faccetta Nera was composed in order to attribute a noble motivation to the Ethiopia’s colonial invasion (1935) encouraging the Italian and the Abyssinian to unite; while Faccetta Bianca was the subsequent request of the regime that didn’t relish the first song. Facceta Bianca attempted to overturn it, however it did not gain a general acceptance among those who still sing Faccetta Nera identifying that “Black” as the ideology colour. Faccetta Nera, Faccetta Bianca:

If you look at the sea from the hills/Young negro slave amongst slaves/Like in a dream you will see many ships/And a tricolour waving for you/Little black face, beautiful Abyssinian/Wait and see the hour coming!/When we will be with you/We will give you another law and another king/Little black face, beautiful Abyssinian/Our law is slavery of love/We will take you to Rome freed/YOU WILL BE KISSED BY OUR SUN/and a black shirt you will be too/Little black face, you will be Roman/Your only flag will be Italian!/We will march together with you/and parade in front of the Duce and the king

Little white face, when I left you/That day on the pier in the steam/With the legionnaires I embarked/And your black eye gazing at the heart/It was equally moved as mine/While your hand was saying goodbye to me/Little white face, my love/Goodbye little, pale, tired face!/Little white face, one goes where one’s already been/in the trench, already on my mind again/among so many misty faces/IS YOUR LITTLE FACE, BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN/Nearly contrasting these black faces/your sharpshooter is a flame and a light/Little white face, my only passion/The day the sharpshooter will clasp you tightly to his chest with emotion/will come/Little white face, one goes where one’s already been/And your little, beautiful, white face/Will rest on a tired medal!

The exhibition pertains to the sun, that is said to be Italy’s petroleum, to our heads and faces, to the intensive dialogue between the Italian contemporary society and its specific colonial past. The Italian song, through its use and quotation, interweaves all the works in the show and expresses historical, cultural and image ties. The exhibition also includes a rich selection of drawings made in 2009.

Col Sole in Fronte is then this press release that explains itself as an artwork within the exhibition. It explains and extends itself all around looking for that place in the sun which is Italy, which should be Italy, but has never been.

Go…my heart, from flower to flower/with sweetness and with love/go you for me…./Go…since my happiness/WITH THE SUN IN FRONT (OF ME)/and happy I sing/blissfully…/I wanna live and enjoy/the air of the mountain/’cause this enchantment/costs nothing!/Ah, ah! Today I ardently love/that impertinent creek, minstrel of love/Ah, ah! The blossoming of the trees/keeps in feast this heart/do you know why?/I wanna live like this/with the sun in front (of me)/and happy I sing/I sing for me!/Ah, ah! Today I ardently love/that impertinent creek, minstrel of love/Ah, ah! The blossoming of the trees/keeps in feast this heart /do you know why?/I wanna live like this/ with the sun in front (of me)/and happy I sing/I sing for me!/

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Artist: Simon Denny

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Simon Denny, New Management, 2014, Screen Crush Comparison 1, 2013 and TEDxVaduz redux, 2014, Installation Views

In a clipping from a 1914 edition of The New York Times, it is reported that dancer Paul Swan collapsed in the middle of the stage during his vaudeville debut. Almost a century later, on the evening that Simon Denny’s most recent exhibition opened at Friedrich Petzel Gallery, a perfectly aligned row of freestanding double canvases imitating flat-screen television sets crumbled like dominoes after a visitor inadvertently knocked them over. Like the seven paintings on duty that night, the performer billed by the press as “the most beautiful man” soon returned to the stage, put back on his feet by assistants, and finished his number to ecstatic acclaim.

Appropriately opening with a physical collapse in the gallery, Denny’s first solo exhibition in New York drew its material from two market crashes. “Corporate Video Decisions” is the title of similar exhibitions he presented at Michael Lett gallery in Auckland, New Zealand, and now at Friedrich Petzel in New York – but also that of a trade magazine from the late 1980s, circulated to corporations to help them boost consumer confidence using video after a market meltdown. In addition to a company website called Diligent Board Portals offering “paperless solutions” to corporate boardrooms, the defunct magazine provided images and text that Denny appropriated for works shown at Petzel – digital prints on canvas, videos, and found objects tracing an arc in time between the current recession and one that took place some 20 years ago.

In the video “Corporate Video Decisions Archive Interface Design” (2011), played onto a Samsung LN46C750 46-inch monitor at the entrance of the gallery, one recession is literally dragged and dropped into the other. Produced with the help of a corporate DVD designer, the video is based on Cover Flow, an animated, three-dimensional graphical user interface integrated within iTunes and other Apple Inc. products for visually flipping through content. Loaded with a digital archive of the magazine Corporate Video Decisions, Denny’s video endlessly cycles through issues of the publication as one would through a collection of mp3s. Like a rare album downloaded from an obscure blog, the colorful 1980s graphic design and zany creative photography of the cover pages were imported into a familiar interface – not just that of Cover Flow, but of Denny’s work, in which the creative subjectivity of the artist virtuosically hearkens back to the artist’s role as a consumer free from the needs of production.

When iTunes abstracts physical records into digital files, it merely reflects what Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction,” a moment in which a part of the economy falters to make room for growth and innovation elsewhere – Cover Flow is one such digital music venture that was born from the demise of physical records. Denny’s work often functions by latching onto such economic cycles of obsolescence to generate artworks.

If those who lose their jobs during a recession usually have to settle for lesser pay elsewhere (that is, if they can find work at all), outdated objects like records, books, and electronics can greatly appreciate on niche markets kept afloat by collectors and hipsters. Something like this is happening when a television set thrown onto the curb or a defunct trade magazine becomes a painting or a sculpture in a gallery. For a residency, Denny once transformed photographic reproductions of an art center’s complete inventory of audiovisual equipment (including many outdated CRT monitors and VHS players) into relief paintings – a set of two canvases printed with the same photographic image of the television and superimposed using metal fittings adjusted to the real object’s thickness.

Produced using still images of the Samsung monitor hung in the same room, seven such canvases were shown freestanding on a drop cloth of transparent plastic at the center of Petzel’s exhibition space. Organized by the rigid architecture of Cover Flow, each canvas was an austere and cold, yet jazzy collage in which images of Corporate Video Decisions’s (the magazine) cover pages hovered above smaller images of their own content, which formed a tapestry in the background. Their display in a row formation was reminiscent of the production chain, or perhaps a waiting queue at the Social Security office – after all, aren’t these paintings literally just televisions that don’t work?

As the multiplying signs of social unrest amidst depressed economies and high unemployment may be demonstrating for the nth time at the moment, what we call “work” today is also, if not mainly, a means to keep bodies from doing something else. Typically at home in front of the TV or staring at the wall, the unemployed body is a sort of toxic asset whose destructive potential must be managed for the existing order to prevail. For “Decommissioned Trading Table/Workstation” (2011), a desk obtained from a recently bankrupt German corporation was disassembled piece by piece and hung on the wall to resemble a depressed financial graph. Here, Denny performs a prank he has been known for in the past: storing garbage in the smart fridge – or in other words, the gallery.

Mobilizing creativity to repackage and sell the sad relic – his “Decommissioned Trading Table/Workstation” functions as a sort of artistic Rettungspaket (rescue package) that ingenuously cures what the failing economy has transformed into junk by putting it back to work in the orgone accumulator of an art gallery.
After their collapse on opening night, the painting reliefs were back to a marching regiment formation in the center of the room, just in front of the disassembled trading table. If these hot canvases – hot in both the McLuhan-esque and “market” senses of the word – could catch on fire, they would burn like ice. Astutely directed by Denny, their invisible ballet exuded a sense of optimism. When screens and markets freeze, art still works.

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Artist: Pennacchio Argentato

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Pennacchio Argentato, Survival Upgrade, 2013 and Dude where is my career?,  2009

In May 2013, footage emerged in the media of a man waving a bloodied meat cleaver in the air whilst reciting the mantra to the camera: ‘You [people] will never be safe’. The phrase formed part of a political message delivered in the style of a home video to the British public by the man who, along with one other, had hacked a British soldier to death on the streets of Woolwich just moments before. The footage was threatening, macabre and darkly arresting; its rapid dissemination on the Internet pointed to a grim, voyeuristic fascination with the brutal crime and its motivations.

It is this interaction of human events with the complex machinations of technology that appears to fascinate collaborators Pasquale Pennacchio and Marisa Argentato. The two artists wrenched the phrase ‘you will never be safe’ from this context as part of their exhibition ‘Survival Upgrade’ and hung it in the centre of Van Horbourg, a non-profit curator’s collective operating within a temporary art space in Zurich run by founders and co-directors Sandra Oehy and Roger Meier. Far from the original setting of the crime, the sinister words were objectified by the artists, who frequently use the technologies of fabrication and projection to attempt to engage with the hypnotic and transformative powers of technology.

Pennacchio Argentato cut the words out of Perspex with a light-transmitting film on one face. Behind this, a projector was set up at a distance to transmit swirling fractal images through the Perspex and onto the front surface of the text. The overall effect was that of gaudy kitsch, visually arresting when you first enter the space and face the text, but less convincing as you move around and to the rear of it. This was largely due to the material itself, which is flat and flimsy, slightly undermining its own apparent status as the centrepiece of the exhibition. The flatness of the material did however have one curiously confounding effect, which was to negate the very depth of the images projected onto it. By turning the freestanding words into a screen upon which the abstract receding fractals were projected, the artists managed to debunk any conventional optical illusion of depth commonly associated with filmic projection, or indeed with any projection onto the solid wall of a gallery, because in this case the audience could walk behind the ‘screen’. The projection, in other words, was revealed for the ruse it really is, while at the same time the words lost their meaning in deference to the hypnotic optical effects they have become a latent surface for.

In past exhibitions, notably ‘Five o’clock shadows’ at T293 Gallery, Rome in 2010 and the group show ‘Where Language Stops’ at Wilkinson Gallery in London in 2011, Pennacchio Argentato have exhibited immense planar forms cast from concrete, wood and fibreglass that slide, fold, slither or droop lazily across the floors and walls of galleries. But in the second part of ‘Survival Upgrade’, the artists’ almost comically anthropomorphic sculptures were reinterpreted as prosthetic human limbs cast out of Carbon-Kevlar, a material favoured by the US army for the manufacture of soldiers’ combat helmets and other protective gear. This is a new material for the artists, who have previously worked with cast concrete and Perspex, yet the experiment seems successful. The Carbon-Kevlar appears both sleekly organic and awkwardly mechanistic, able to mould itself symbiotically with the human body whilst retaining the appearance of a hard, shiny shell, cast off like the plasticized robotic detritus of some future world in which the technological extension of the body has already outlived its usefulness. These apparatuses occupied the periphery of the space in which the text formed the centrepiece, yet they were by no means secondary to it. Flung to the edges of the white room by some centrifugal force, either adhering to the walls or scattered about the floor for the viewer to pick his or her path between, the prosthetic limbs were rendered as junk, as the bodies they were made for have evolved – or mutated.

http://www.frieze.com/shows/review/pennacchio-argentato/

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Artist: Mark Leckey

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Mark Leckey, From the Exhibition, See We Assemble, 2013

Mark Leckeyis a British artist, working with collage art, music and video. His found art and found footage pieces span several videos, most notably Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999) and Industrial Lights and Magic (2008), for which he won the 2008 Turner Prize.

Through a multi-disciplinary practice that encompasses sculpture, sound, film, and performance, British artist Mark Leckey explores the potential of the human imagination to appropriate and to animate a concept, an object, or an environment. Drawing on his personal experiences as a London-based artist, who spent his formative years in the north of England, Leckey returns frequently to ideas of personal history, desire and transformation in his work.

Leckey was born in Birkenhead, near Liverpool, in 1964. In a 2008 interview in The Guardian, he described how he grew up in a working-class family and became a ‘casual’ in his youth. He left school at 16 with one O Level, in art, and at 19 became obsessed with learning about ancient civilizations. In the Guardian interview he described himself as an autodidact, “That’s why I use bigger words than I should. It’s a classic sign.” Following a conversation with his stepfather he took his A Levels and went to an art college in Newcastle, but didn’t enjoy it: “It was the early 1990s, when critical theory had swept the nation. The place was full of hippies from down south who were reading Mervyn Peake and Tolkien, and suddenly they were made to read Barthes and Derrida. It was like a Maoist year zero. I became very suspicious of the merits of critical theory…”

Mark Leckey’s video work has as its subject the “tawdry but somehow romantic elegance of certain aspects of British culture.”He likes the idea of letting “culture use you as an instrument.” but adds that the pretentiousness that artists sometimes fall into is destructive to the artistic process: “What gets in the way is being too clever, or worrying about how something is going to function, or where it’s going to be. When you start thinking of something as art, you’re fucked: you’re never going to advance.” Matthew Higgs has described his work as “possess[ing] a strange nonartlike quality, operating, as it does, on the knife’s edge where art and life meet”.

On Pleasure Bent is a body of work in which Leckey attempts to form a kaleidoscopic memoir, assembling his past from the imagery that he believes conditioned him. The exhibition will include all new works, several being exhibited publicly for the first time. Objects will include LED screens featuring looped animations, animated screens made up of highly-magnified computer screens silk screened with images, as well as cinema lobby style ’standees’ and a trailer for a new video.

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Pierre Huyghe

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Pierre Huyghe, In Border Deep, 2014. and The Host and The Cloud, 2010

Pierre Huyghe (born 11 September 1962) is a French artist who works in a variety of media from films and sculptures to public interventions and living systems.
Describing his work can often be an exercise in frustration, bringing to mind the poet John Ashbery’s observation about Roussel, an important influence on Mr. Huyghe: that trying to summarize Roussel’s “mad wealth of particulars” was like trying to “summarize the Manhattan phone book”.

Pierre Huyghe has long loved “Locus Solus,” Raymond Roussel’s 1914 novel about an inventor who invites friends to a secluded estate to show off his creations, one of which is a tank filled with cadavers that re-enact the most important moments of their former lives, animated by a miraculous substance called resurrectine.

Huyghe has been working with time-based situations and has explored the exhibition process from the 90’s. His works imply such diverse forms as living systems, objects, films, photographs, drawings and music. In recent years, he has created self-generating systems, including living entities and artifacts, in which emergence and rhythm are indeterminate and exist beyond our presence. Taking the exhibition and its ritual as an object in itself, Pierre Huyghe has worked to change the paradigm of this encounter, exploring the possibility of this dynamic experience.

He has had numerous international solo exhibitions at such venues as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles (2014); the Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2014); the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2013-2014); the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City, Mexico (2012); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain and the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2010); Tate Modern, London, England (2006); Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland (2005); Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin (2004); the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York and DIA Center for the Arts, New York (2003); the Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2001); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2000); and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1998).

He has also participated in a number of international art shows, including documenta XI (2002), XIII (2012); the Istanbul Biennial (1999); the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (1999); Manifesta 2, Luxembourg (1998); the 2nd Johannesburg Biennial (1997); and the Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (1995).

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Books: Neapolis, A poetic look at the world through prism of skateboarding

Neapolis, A poetic look at the world through prism of skateboardingNeapolis, A poetic look at the world through prism of skateboarding

Neapolis, A poetic look at the world through prism of skateboarding

Neapolis, A poetic look at the world through prism of skateboarding, 2013

Self published book featuring works and words by : Rick Owens, Taro Hirano, Jean-Max Colard, Camille Vivier, Jérémie Egry & Aurélien Arbet, Eric Tabuchi, Audrey Corregan & Erik Haberfeld, Yann Gross, Andrew Phelps, Estelle Hanania, Jerry Hsu, Raphaël Zarka, Paul Virilio, and many more. 368 pages, 17×24 cm.

A poetic look at the world through the prism of skateboarding.
The idea of a book as an invitation to wander. A journey through images, essays and interviews from fields as diverse as architecture, contemporary art, choreography, youth studies or the sociology of risk.
The practice of skateboarding has been a big part of our daily lives for many years now. From our childhood to a somewhat prolonged adolescence, it has not only influenced our perception of the city, but of the world at large. Today, we are taking a step back as we contemplate the wide-ranging and seemingly disjointed manner in which this practice has informed our worldviews.

Neapolis is a subjective attempt to connect the dots and explore the imprint left in our lives by skateboarding, through a selection of works and reflections from artists, authors and photographers.

http://www.ill-studio.com/store/view-all/187-neapolis-book.htm

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Lutz Becker, Cinema Notes, 1975

Lutz Becker, Marina Abramovic, Cinema Notes, 1975Lutz Becker, Marina Abramovic, Cinema Notes, 1975

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.

Participants were Marina Abramovic, Dunja Blazevic, Jesa Denegri, Goran Djordevic, Nesa Paripovic, , Bojana Pejic, Zoran Popovic, Jasna Tijardovic, Slavko Timotijevic, Rasa Todosijevic, Biljana Tomic, Goran Trbuljak, Dragomir Zupanc

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Artist: Wael Shawky

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.

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