Link

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Maurice Berger writes for the New York Times Lens Blog on recent ICP-Bard MFA alumnus Kim Weston‘s work:

“…Seen, Unseen, Ms. Weston’s contribution to her class’s thesis group show, focuses on her mother’s family in Cheraw, S.C. The artist, who is part African-American, Native American and Irish, initially found the process of photographing her relatives daunting. “I was afraid of violating their privacy. I didn’t want to be seen as exploiting them.”

Though she completed the series in relative secrecy — she told no one at school about it — she ultimately embraced it as a celebration of “the people who made me who I am’”

Read the full article here.

Another history – A great week to go to the MOMA

Not only for photographers, this is a nice week to go to the MOMA as they have a some very interesting shows on display at the moment, as there is a lot of interesting work on display that allows to think about influence and underlying aspects in history in space and in language. And I strongly recommend to make a visit and look specially into the following three shows:

Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010″ // April 19–August 3

“A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio”// February 8–October 5

“Designing Modern Women 1890–1990″ //October 5, 2013–September 21

 

Here is why:

In “The Archeology of Knowledge” (published 1969) Michel Foucault requests to rewrite history and to include the everyday and the stories of the random and ordinary people into our archives of knowledge and cultural or national history.

The work of the German artist Sigmar Polke (who died in 2010) shows and interacts with this this kind of social-cultural specific everyday-ness and visualizes and works with the living circumstances and the media, the newspaper articles and the proverbs and street language of post war Germany.

The thoughtful curation of Polke`s work in this retrospective visualizes another part and history of the social cultural atmosphere and the social landscape of post war Germany. Polke’s work often comments or transforms the given material and gives an insight into what people were talking and thinking about in their homes and on the streets – and it uncovers how much certain specifics and habits of German culture are mirrored in the media and in street posters, signs, and daily newspapers and their advertisements and articles.

The show at the MOMA gives a sensitive insight to aspects of a habitual Germaness that is underlying in the culture and becomes more visible in Polke´s work. The curation shows how Polke’s work talks to those kinds of things that are some how there but unpronounceable about a country or culture – as all spoken or written words and explanations about those things could only maneuver into the dangers of being seen as stereotypes.

But here the underlying an the unpronounceable become a part of the art work and curation, which remembers me, that the work Unpronounceable (“unaussprechlich”) itself is a meaningful term in Germany with important meaning and reference to the German culture and history.

Even though the colors and free use of material might in Polke’s work might not be to everybody’s favor – his work and vocabulary is full of truthfulness and sensitive awareness of influence and nationalism inside of a culture.

The work of Polke is looking on that what is underlying and unpronounceable and visualizes and looks critical at the superficialness and boundaries of newspaper articles and their practice, his works talk with awareness and sensitivity about the leftovers of fascism and obedience to authority in the German language and history, and in the everyday.

But they although show and visualizes the atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm, the willingness to work on change and transformation and shows the beauty and meaning of certain infrastructures and characteristics such as the living close to nature and the self expression in alternative life styles in the German culture by using the everyday stories and materials of the culture. It is very interesting to see what kind of materialities mediums and vocabulary Polke uses to visualize this ideas of hidden things inside of a culture.

 

Staying with Foucault’s idea of reframing history and uncovering other kinds and parts of the history of a culture although the curation of some photographers photo studio produced images  “A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio” is worth a look.

The exhibition shows some very interesting photographs and studio works such as Fischli and Weiss “The way things go”, and it might make you think not only about the singular photographs but although a little more about photographic studio practice in general and think about what kind of things and subjects belong to the studio practice of photographers and what their dynamics are in different times and cultures.

It makes questioning if there are parallels in the subjects and work and where they came from. What were and are the subjects and motivations of the photographers? What were their interests and where they similar to other photographers motivations and interests at different times? One can think about the state of photography at different times in our history and ask what kinds of texts and ideas were circulating at the different times and now and what was and is the cultural atmosphere and influences at now and at the different times.

 

The third show I like to recommend to look at is ”the Designing Modern Women 1890–1990”, – not that the show itself is arranged as thoughtful as the two other shows, or one could ask which women designers are displayed in the museum with which message and which women designers or artists are not presented in the museum and why is that so… but the model of the small kitchen that by Charlotte Perriand designed with Le Corbusier (1952) from the Unité d’Habitation housing project is– even though its presented shamefully pressed very distantly from the viewer in to a corner inside of the show –  a wonderful in addition to the ideas of Foucault and the Polke Show,  and to think about how we inhabit space and how the space we inhabit forms and structures ourselves and our culture, the human psychology and social interactions we have and can have with each other inside of home and space. What does this kitchen say about the sate of the meaning of home and family or about thus of the working class  and conditions or about about individuality and which hints and information may it be giving about power structures as well as about enthusiasm and to the the underlying and to the unpronounceable? (http://www.dexigner.com/video/30235)

 

 

Responsibility for one’s selfie

I’d like to start this post off with my working definition for a few words:

Portrait: not just an image of someone, but rather a true representation of that person and their character, personality, and being.
Self-portrait: a considered portrait of one’s self.
Selfie: an image of one’s self typically created with the front-facing camera on the iPhone.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think selfies aren’t serious or considered, I just feel they have their own language and aren’t necessarily always a self-portrait. James Franco, the self-appointed selfie authority, recently had a show entitled New Film Stills at Pace Gallery in which he restaged Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills. Given his position, I would imagine Franco would be more responsible in his recreation of these images; they feel like a lazy interpretation of an iconic photographic project. After seeing Bound 3, his (better than the original) recreation of Kanye West’s music video Bound 2 he’s set the bar for how good his appropriation work can be that it makes me upset to see these Sherman recreations.

One image in particular and the impetus for writing this is posted below with the original from Sherman.

830.1995

What is it about this image that bothers me so much? Franco didn’t recreate it. He wears a similar hat and gaze, but the essence of the photograph hasn’t been considered; he’s missing the thoughtful placement of the buildings in the background. In Sherman’s she is surrounded by buildings and is literary engulfed by the city whereas Franco’s is haphazardly composed. It may seem like a tiny detail to criticize, but the entire meaning of the photograph has been lost.

For a renaissance man and culture creator like Franco, missing a detail like this is problematic especially after seeing the precision with which he recreated and improved on West’s video. I applaud the effort in his continued interest in the representation and presentation of the self, but maybe the actor/writer/director/student/artist should stick to what he knows best, the selfie. That or apply the same level of responsibility to the creation of his work that he did in Bound 3.

Aline Shkurovich: ni de aquí ni de allá (neither from here nor from there)

Huevos Pinche Presidente (Fuck That Peña Nieto)

I was 14 on September 11th, so I grew up with our War on Terror.  As a New Yorker this meant going to anti-war rallies in the city for fun, and watching the city evolve into the police-heavy landscape that it is.  “If You See Something, Say Something,” replaced the AIDS and don’t-do-drugs public service announcements, and the rift between my young liberal friends and anyone that looked remotely pro-war was wide.  When those yellow “Support Our Troops” ribbons started appearing on storefronts, stoops, and suit lapels, we gave dirty looks.  To be patriotic was not cool, and voicing pride for our nation was a social death sentence.

Art, for a while, became a way to voice our opinions.  People in my high school were big into making Barbara Kruger-style anti-war paintings (“These Colors Don’t Run” read an American flag dripping with blood, as I recall), and I had some graffiti style “Ohio Fuck Tards” on my backpack over the 2004 Ohio Miscount.  I got into photography because of time spent looking at war journalism and marching with protestors in the Republican National Convention rally in NYC.  The art I made in college, by and large, was critical of our country, however I no longer make art like this, and if I do, the politics in my work are so subtle I hardly notice my own commentary.  Art and politics in my sphere is a rare combination, which is why it’s a refreshing dose of reality to spend time in the current show up at ICP’s Long Island City MFA studios.

Collaboration with Catherine Zuñiga, México City

Collaboration with Catherine Zuñiga, México City

Aline Shkurovich, a Mexican artist and my classmate here in the ICP-Bard MFA program (whose solo exhibition ni de aquí ni de allá [neither from here nor from there] will be on view at the MFA studios in Long Island City from Thursday, May 1st to Sunday May 4th), was at home cooking when she realized that the red, white and green of Mexico’s flag is reflected in her country’s food: the hot sauce, meats, beans, rice, tortillas, lime, and cilantro.  It’s these very colors you’re confronted with in Aline’s exhibition—a blood red wall by the entrance frames a printed internet meme of telenovela star Carmen Salinas flipping off the camera, declaring a bold Fuck You to both viewers and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto; a white wall of corrugated fiberglass in an adjacent room is activated by projected polaroid’s of the backs of undocumented Mexican workers; a table with a bowl of limes next to a cutting board and knife (Limoncito Agrio [the lime-limon-crisis]) is nestled nearby.

Anafre Agrengado (Interior Safe Grill)

The socio-economic status and privilege of the artist is most present with Tortillas Hechas a Mano (hand made Tortillas), in which Flora Martinez, also Mexican, fries and serves homemade tortillas to viewers in a padded kitchen.  Bubble wrap surface-coated with a film of silver fireproofing material covers the floor wall to wall, and Flora works a grill in the center of the room that is erected above a steel foundation in the shape of an inverted pyramid.  Viewers can expect a variety of encounters with Flora based on their nationalities, social class, and language barriers.  Instead of telling us directly about Mexican cuisine, or immigration for that matter, Aline promotes the beauty of her culture and the crisis of Mexican society (the limes, for example, which can be sliced open and squeezed onto Flora’s hot tortillas), and acknowledges her relationship to working-class Mexicans both at home as well as here in NYC.  The work confronts racial segregation and class separateness without offering a manifesto.

Tortillas Hechas a Mano (hand made Tortillas)

 

Instead of telling us where exactly to have a conversation, and with whom, Aline points to a variety of options: we can interact with those who are next to us, across the counter, or above us.  In No a la Censure (They are censoring internet), a small webcam close to the ceiling monitors the photograph of Salinas giving the finger, live streaming the backs of the exhibition-viewers as they enter the space and confront the print.  Who could be watching the live footage is unclear, but the small eye of the camera lends further presence to President Nieto and his people.

On an individual level, Aline interacts with other Mexicans in vulnerable territory for both parties involved.  In Con el Sudor de Tu Espalda (wetbacks?), a looping one channel video projection that shows a grid of 23 Polaroid’s developing immediately following their exposure, the bare backs of anonymous restaurant workers glow on the surface of the corrugated fiberglass (titled Construccion de Muro [Labor of Wall]).  “I realized how important it was to be Mexican and talk about Mexican problems,” she told me.  “Being away from home triggered this need to talk about Mexico with cooks in restaurants, workers in bodegas,” and also Flora, who cleans the pre-school below Aline’s apartment.

While her first attempts to communicate with others were “clumsy,” Aline was interested in how quickly her conversations with workers became so personal.  “Soon I was being invited into their homes and leaving with the gifts they insisted I take,” she said.   In their workplaces, Aline would ask the individuals to take off their shirts and pose with their backs turned away from the camera, and almost everyone agreed to do so.  Aline would shoot video of the Polaroid’s developing and in exchange give the finished photos to her subjects.  In this way, these are documents of undocumented immigrants–documents owned by the pictured subjects.  The tragedy of Aline’s subjects lies in the reality that the individual who crosses national borders to search for opportunity can’t even have their face presented as a picture in public.  The artist walks away with video documentation and the subjects go home with Polaroid’s that have little value to them in the face of a Green Card.

“I’m not in a position to solve the problem.  My privilege is being a bridge between two worlds,” explains Aline.  “I found a curatorial voice in this program and I regained a love for my practice.  I have a lot to say and it’s amazing when you realize how to say it.”

-Daniel Terna (’15)

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Aline Shkurovich Bialik

ni de aquí ni de allá

Opening Reception Thursday, May 1, 6:00pm–9:00pm 

El Guateke del Reyes (DJ Reyes Mexican Mix)

Mexican playlist by Oscar Reyes + Aline Shkurovich

 

ICP-Bard MFA Studios, 24–20 Jackson Avenue, 3rd Floor, Long Island City, Queens

On View

May 2: 3–7 pm

May 3: 3–5 pm

May 4: 11 am–3 pm

Directions
E and M trains to 23rd Street/Ely Avenue; G and 7 trains or the B61 bus to 45th Road/Court House Square.

 

Light and Space // Part 3 – Transformations of Light and Space

Based on my previous two articles focusing on light and space,( which you can look up here http://icpbardmfa.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/light-and-space-part-2-on-leds-and-neon-light/) I am closing this series of light with an expanded overview on the transformation of space in interaction with light.

Mischa Kuball, (born 1959 in Düsseldorf), Germany uses light in specifically ways as a subject in his work. He interacts with architecture and public spaces and creates videos, photographs and installations with social political meaning.

The 1967 in Denmark born artist Olafur Eliasson creates installations with light and space in the nature as well as in artificial environments. The interaction with the viewer is very important in his work. He is looking at how and why we do things in a certain way as human beings. His work questions what it means to be in a space, to change and to experience it, how we create space and what reality is. He is interested in the relationship between author and receiver, and who has the responsibility for what one sees.      

olafur eliasson 002 take your time

Nan Hoover (1931 – 2008) was a Dutch - American artist and a pioneer in performance art. The interaction of light and motion is on of the main subjects of her artwork. She combined many of her performances with her installations of light and space.

 

In Gerhard Richter (born 9 February 1932) his art work the experience of light itself is repeatedly the main subject. But each time the light is questioned a new way and explores the relationships and meditative and sensual qualities of light and color.

Stained-glass-window gerhard richter

The Dutch artist Jan van Munster (born 1939) creates sculptures and installations with different kinds of materials. He uses light as a metaphor of energy and life. Contrasts like light and dark, warm and cold are often emphasized in his work.

Marian Zazeela (born 1940) works in several disciplines. She was born and raised in the Bronx and majored in painting in 1960. Her colored light installations and transformations of space are often combined with very minimalistic music and take sculptural forms.

Christian Boltanski (born 1940, Paris) his work is known for his interests on remembering and archive, playing, and the ephemeral. In his work the light plays an essential role, as a metaphor and creates a certain kind of sensitivity and atmosphere that becomes very particular in the meanings of his work. In his earlier work memory and death is often related to shadows and darkness, and to very dim and yellowish lighting. In his newer work the light becomes much lighter and more ephemeral.

 

The American artist James Turrell (born May 6, 1943) explores the interaction of light and space with each other. His father, was an aeronautical engineer and educator. Turell studied perceptual psychology and mathematics, geology and astronomy as well.

Rebecca Horn (born 1944 in Germany) works in many different disciplines, she works with poetry, painting,performance, film and sculpture. Many of her metaphorical installations focus on the relationships between body and space.

Experiencing Juana Romero’s Overhaul

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I like to think of myself as someone who pays particular attention to seemingly everyday objects, as I’m sure many artistic types do. It wasn’t until viewing Juana Romero’s Overhaul that I began to reconsider my attentiveness.  She has taken objects from the everyday, the disposable or “unimportant” and created a visual experience that surpasses the imagination. These objects that could be considered trash by many, have been transformed into new compositions that entice you to study and interpret their complexities.

They have been touched, not only by the artist, but by our eyes as they follow the intricate lines of form and shadow to create a labyrinth of visual pleasure. They are no longer just found objects, but have come together to create an intoxicating visual narrative. Elastic cord tendrils wrap around the legs of a robust tripod and connect to the lush reflective surface of sequin fabric, as a transparent plastic tapestry creates a beautiful melting shadow of color across the room. DVD cases are caught mid-flight above our heads and we are witness to a superman mask’s light vision.

These descriptions may seem strange, or unattainable to grasp just from reading. This is because Juana Romero’s Overhaul must be experienced in person. When you stand in the large exhibition area, it feels as though time has stopped. Throughout the show, heavy objects seem weightless, while what weighs next to nothing seems to acquire this density formerly unknown to it.

There is a type of suspension that a person rarely comes across. This tension, this vibration is special. When you look at sheet music, there is a symbol between notes to represent silence; this is called a rest. A rest appears between the notes of music to signal “don’ t play or sing at this beat.” The anxiety of anticipation builds during this rest as the musician prepares for the next note, ironic since it is supposedly a “rest.” Juana has created the visual equivalent to a rest. The objects never move, but are constantly charged with the silent energy around them. This energy spurs projections of interpretations customized to every individual.

Juana has lived with these objects, her touch has given them a breath of new life so that we may carefully consider what they mean to us and what we can learn from them.

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Interview with Kathy Akey, Fata Morgana

Where are you from? How does place affect your work?

KA: I was born and mostly raised in central Virginia. I spent several of my youngest years in Athens, Greece with my mother and stepfather who are both archaeologists. My stepfather still works there most of the year, so it’s never stopped being a place to call home. I also spent many summers and holidays on Nantucket, and my father and stepmother have been in Ithaca for over a decade. I guess I’m from a lot of places and they have all had an influence on me in their own ways. Going to an old prep school in Richmond while living in an ante-bellum plantation house in the country and being exposed to Athens and the rich view of history that archaeologists have all made me love and long for history and the amazing stories you come across in old places. My appreciation for local history and learning from a very young age how to relate those histories to myself and the present day comes very much out of the amazing and varied places I’ve gotten to live.

Talk about the title of your thesis show, Fata Morgana.

KA: A Fata Morgana is a complex type of mirage; they occur most frequently in deserts and within the polar circles. They can be so convincing that people have been fooled into mapping out islands that, upon a secondary excursion, turn out to have never existed. I think the ambitions of so many of these men who went north were like Fata Morganas; what drove them to embark, what kindled the hope that kept them alive, and what they give credit to for their success once they return are all completely different things. The North Pole itself is elusive, misleading; there’s a geographic north pole, a magnetic north pole, the celestial North Pole, and a northern pole of inaccessibility. The Arctic, unlike the Antarctic, is a frozen ocean, not a continent; there’s no land mass, just sea ice. Sometimes adventurers would lose ground to the ocean currents no matter how fast they walked. The mythic explorer hero is also a foggy, misleading concept; these men were egotistical, driven by ambition, and many of them died miserable, needless deaths alone.

Before ICP, you came from a background that was unrelated to art practice and making.  Could you talk about this a little and how that influences the way you make work now?

KA: I did my undergraduate studies at NYU, earning a BA in Psycholinguistics. It’s a node of Cognitive Science focusing on the neurological and psychological underpinnings of linguistics. I supplemented the major with classes in philosophy, anthropology and art history, taking the linguistics-heavy emphasis of the major and stretching it out to encompass art and creative thought in general. Interdisciplinary thinking is phenomenally important, and Cognitive Science itself is a field born of overlapping disciplines. Though I found out quickly that research science was not the profession for me, I’m so glad that I stuck with the major. Having a deep understanding of the mechanisms of the human mind and how to apply it to pretty much anything a human has produced or interpreted is a super useful tool in my arsenal. It adds more complexity to how I unpack a work of art.
How has your work evolved since you started at ICP?  Is there one critique or lesson that you’ve gathered since starting that you could mark as a tipping point to a change in the way you perceive your practice?

KA:I came to ICP without any formal photography training. I was anxious about my technical abilities, and spent a lot of time trying to make my work fit into a theme or line of inquiry that I thought was worthy of capital-a Art. I realized after the first year that this was just not working; my work was stagnating, I was getting frustrated, and my classmates and teachers were really bored with my work. I realized that making work on a subject that you are totally crazy about (in my case Polar and Antarctic exploration, early aviation, manned spaceflight etc.) automatically takes you halfway there. Sure, not everyone is going to get jazzed about the technicalities of man-hauled sledging, but you have to trust that there is something beautiful and compelling to what you are passionate about and that as an artist you have the abilities to communicate that to others. So, don’t worry if what you’re interested in most is super nerdy, or seemingly mundane, because your excitement will carry you through your art making and will shine in your work.

What artists are you looking at right now?

KA: We have a class this term that is just us and our teacher, Joanna Lehan, going to galleries around the city and seeing what’s up. It’s incredibly fun. I also am a total Tumblr addict and most of the work I’m seeing on there is from emerging or even amateur artists. I come across some seriously amazing stuff, and keepa tumblr of my own as a collection point for these discoveries. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Richard Mosse’s The EnclaveandCristina De Middel’s The Afronauts.I also revisit Klimt’s work every few months; he seems to be the point around which I orbit.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?

KA: That is a very good question. I can say what I fantasize myself as doing, and also what I’d more likely be doing. I’d love to have been a writer! I took a number of creative writing courses and I think I would have both enjoyed and been pretty good at writing some historically grounded fiction. Realistically, if I hadn’t come to ICP I would have been working full-time at a start up here in New York and may have moved from the tech sector into the NGO sector, working in a marginally creative capacity in a photography/video/media department. All in all, I am thrilled to be an artist and hey, maybe I will write a book anyways!

What are your plans after graduating?

KA: In the short-term, I’d like to take a vacation this summer and in the fall I’m going to become an aunt. In the longer term, I have some really exciting stuff planned. I have been selected to participate in the Arctic Circle artist residency in October 2015. I am over-the-moon excited and have a lot of planning to do! I’m also going to start a body of work on the early days of the US Postal Airmail Service, which is going to be insanely fun for me. I’m growing my relationships with explorers, Arctic Advocacy groups and air and space enthusiasts, every step of which is opening up exciting new lines of inquiry for me. In the longer long term, I’m not really sure where I am going. But I have a heading direction, an unbelievably supportive network of family and colleagues, and a whole lot of energy. I think it’s going to be great.

Light and Space // Part 2 – On LED`s and neon light.

 

Based on my previous article on similarities of lighting techniques in photographs and painting (Read here: http://icpbardmfa.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/light-and-space-part-1-a-short-history-of-different-lights/) this second part of my Light and Space series presents some interesting artists whose main subject is light itself.

Some of the first artists that started to use light as the main subject of their art was Group Zero from Düsseldorf. Heinz Mack Otto Piene and Günther Uecker, the members of Zero were tired of the Nachkriegskunst (post-war-art) and started to look for a new beginning. They named it the Hour Zero. Their kinetic and puristic light sculptures and pictures are based on the ideology of pure light and emancipation from the classical genres of art. (http://www.zerofoundation.de/works.html)

Mario Merz(1925-2003, Milan/Italy) started to make art during the second world war. Many of his installations were made of neon lights and fluorescent lamps combined with every day objects like water bottles and raincoats.

The American Artist Dan Flavin (1933-1996) created many of his installations with commercially available fluorecent light fixtures. He can be seen as one of the founders of minimalism. The way he used color and light influenced many artist as well as architects and designers. Before he went to art school he worked as an air weather meteorological technician.

Waltraut Cooper (1937, Austria), has studied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics before she became an artist. Her light sculptures are based on color, fluorescent lights, neon and glass. Her light and sound installations interact with architecture in private and public space and concentrate on the perception of room and space.

Bruce Naumann (1941, Indiana) who works in several disciplines worked as an engineer for an Electric company before he became more important with his art. He started to make sculptures with neon light during the sixties and created provocative neon light installations on the artists body.

keith Sonnier

Keith Sonnier, (1941, Louisiana) belongs to the first artists that used light with sculptures during the sixties. He is well known for his post-minimalistic neon tube installations and he often uses the possibilities of reflections and different color temperatures in his light sculptures.

jenny holzer

Jenny Holzer (1950, Ohio) is mostly known for her LED works and text projections in public space. She startet in the seventies with projecting humorous and ironic text lines on public buildings to criticize common practices of advertising.

 

…to be continued on 30.04. with Light and Space // Part 3 -Light and Space in interaction.