Emile – Blog takeover #2 Bartleby Review

Today I thought I’d post a review I wrote almost a year ago about a work by my good friend Isaac Thomas. The review was published in Bartleby Review, a free and occasional leaflet of criticism and other writing published in Vanoucver, Canada, edited by Steffanie Ling. Last October the second book collecting issues 21-40 was published. Here is a link to Bartleby Review’s website. Have a look!

http://bartlebyreview.com/

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Awkwardly located high on the narrow wall facing the front entrance of Gallery 295, the 4 x 6 ft lightbox project space exhibits a rotation of transparencies presented independently of the gallery’s program- ming. For the most part, the works presented here have avoided dealing with the local and influential legacy of that particular mode of presentation through a variety of subterfuges. From the wide array of abstract looking images to the numerous colorful arrangements of squiggles, without forgetting the occasional anecdotal play on the devices’ nature, featured artists have forgone, or abstained from, the inevitable implications of the backlit frame. In this context of willful amnesia, Isaac Thomas’s Sara’s Bat Mitzvah (2015) could mark a turning point in the short history of 295’s lightbox project space.

Resulting from Thomas’s meticulous arrangement, the large format colour photograph is purposefully deployed to overtly recall the compositional methods associated with the “Vancouver School”. Using a large format camera incongruously placed inside a car, the picture shows a man in formal costume standing on high stilts by the side of the road. The man is festively waving his white-gloved hand at the driver in a greeting manner, meanwhile holding a large flashy arrow indicating the direction to “Sara’s Bat Mitzvah”. The unexpected nature of the scene is enhanced by the banal suburban landscape pictured on a bright sunny day. Here, the grass is green, the sky is blue, and the man waving his hand harbors a large smiling face in what appears to be a picture perfect scene. One could linger on deciphering the religious connotations of the event announced by the displayed sign, but what is most striking in Thomas’s photograph remains its composition, which renders the reading of this announcement more complex than merely giving directions to Sara’s coming of age.

The sum of all peripheral and central elements of the composition makes for a photograph in which past, present, and future times are collapsed within the contained space of the picture.The rearview reflection situated at the top right of the picture seems to evoke an idea of the past, whereas the man waving his hand in front of us stands as a marker to announce the event currently unfolding. In the meantime, the two lignes de fuites of the picture, present in the form of a yellow painted line on the road guiding the eye to the right edge of the plane, and a passing airplane on the top left corner, guiding the eye to the other side of the frame, seem to suggest an unknown future; an indefinite elsewhere. This dynamic composition, while making more believable and ambiguous the carefullyarranged photograph, simultaneously operates a discrete yet significant synthesis. By combining large format photography along with the simulation of a snapshot taken from a moving car, Thomas visually encapsulates the conceptual origins of the artists infamously linked to the “return” of pictorial forms in picture making. Wall’s 1969 Landscape Manual comes as a self-evident reference that is further reaffirmed through the presence of a comparable early photograph by Ian Wallace, Untitled, 1970/1995, recently on display at Catriona Jeffries, located across the street from 295. Lucky coincidence!

When contextualized within the rest of Thomas’s work, Sara’s Bat Mitzvah seems to constitute a punctual and rigorously contemporary response to the intricate context of 295’s project space. One could almost use the convoluted word homage to describe this piece which indeed asserts Thomas as one of the few young artists experimenting with photography in Vancouver today, who does not succumb to the prevalent angst towards traditions.

Emile Rubino

Emile – Blog takeover #1 Ian Wallace

 

Hi everyone, my name is Emile Rubino (1st year MFA) and I will be taking over the blog for this week.

 

Camera/Editor: Rolf Versteegh

To start off, I thought I’d share this short documentary video on Ian Wallace that I watched for the second time yesterday. I think it is worth watching and gives some good insights into his work..

 

Bonus for Day 5

This is one of my favorite films of all time…

Danse Serpentine by the Lumière Brothers (Auguste and Louis) (1896)

Courtesy of Ubu

The Serpentine is an evolution of the skirt dance, a form of burlesque that had recently arrived in the United States from England. Skirt dancing was itself a reaction against academic forms of ballet, incorporating tamed-down versions of folk and popular dances like the can-can. The new dance was originated by Loïe Fuller, who gave varying accounts of how she developed it.

The Serpentine Dance was a frequent subject of early motion pictures, as it highlighted the new medium’s ability to portray movement and light. Two particularly well-known versions were Annabelle Serpentine Dance (1894) (shown below), a performance by Broadway dancer Annabelle Whitford from Edison Studios, and a Lumière brothers film made in 1896 (shown above).

-Nechama Winston

Sources within part 2, day 5

Graciela Iturbide – my other anchor.

Some of my favorite pieces:

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México, 1979, Desierto de Sonora

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México, 1979, Desierto de Sonora

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Ostia, Italia, 2008

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Juchitán, México, 1984, Iguanas

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Chalma, Estado de México / Chalma, State of Mexico, 1984, First Communion

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Juchitán, México, 1987, Bull Woman

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Juchitán, México, 1984, Rest

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Juchitán, México, 1988, Cemetery

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Juchitán, México, 1986, El Rapto/The Abduction

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Pájaros, Sin Titulo

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Pájaros 9

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Pájaros 12

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Pájaros

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Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, 2006, Frida’s bathroom

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Ojos para volar? Coyoacan Mexico 1991

Here is also a great short film produced by ART21.

SHORT: Graciela Iturbide: Photographing Mexico, From the series “Exclusive”

-Nechama Winston

Sources I find within, day 4

I have been thinking about some of my early influences – artists who I always return to when I feel the need to be anchored and find inspiration.

Sally Mann is one of my go-to artists who has shaped my practice and perspective.

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Ambrotypes, 2006-2007

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Family Pictures, 1984-1991

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Body Farm, 2000-2001

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Proud Flesh, 2003-2009

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Family Pictures, 1984-1991

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Proud Flesh, 2003-2009

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Body Farm, 2000-2001

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Early Work, 1978-1980

Here is an excerpt from Mann’s recent book Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs, printed in New York Times Magazine. 

And a trailer of What Remains (2005)

 

And Giving up the Ghost (2002)

 

-Nechama Winston

More things on my mind…Nira Pereg, day 3

I have been spending a lot of time thinking about this two-channel video installation by Nira Pereg over the last several weeks.

I would like to share it here:

ABRAHAM ABRAHAM SARAH SARAHHebron, West Bank. Two-Channel High Definition Video installation with Sound / Duration: 4 min 25 sec.

 

For more information, a longer monograph about this work can be found here.

Accompanying text from Nira Pereg’s website:

“ABRAHAM ABRAHAM SARAH SARAH follows a unique event of a temporary “change of hands” of what is considered to be one of the ancient and sacred burial caves in the Jewish and Islamic beliefs. The Cave of the Patriarchs, always a place of worship for both religions, has been physically divided for separate use since the Baruch Goldstein Massacre in 1994. The current status quo is: 80% of the cave’s area is a Masque and 20% is a Synagogue.

However, 20 days a year, in accordance with special holidays and under close Israeli military control, the cave passes hands for 24 hours only, enabling each side to have full use of all the chambers of the cave.

ABRAHAM ABRAHAM follows such a “switch” on the occasion of a Muslim holiday, July 2012.

In a matter of hours, the Jewish area is cleared out of all Jewish artifacts, inspected by the Army for security, and stands vacant for a few short moments, before the Muslims enter with their own artifacts and turn the empty rooms into a masque for the next 24 hours.

SARAH SARAH follows such a “switch” on the occasion of Jewish event at the cave, celebrating the parasha “the life of Sarah”, November 2012. This is not a general holiday but a unique event celebrated specifically only at the Cave, as the cave itself was bought on the occasion of Sarah’s death by Abraham.

In a matter of hours, the Muslim area is cleared out of its artifacts, inspected by the Army for security, and stands vacant for a few short moments, before the jews enter with their own artifacts and turn the empty rooms into a synagogue for the next 24 hours.

The two videos are placed facing each other, 10 meters apart, forcing the viewer to constantly turn his or her gaze from one side to the other.”

-Nechama Winston

Inside the head of an art student, day 2

Lately, I have been thinking about the work of Raida Adon (b. 1972 in Acre, lives in Tel Aviv-Yafo), whom I first discovered when I visited the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in September, 2014.

Last semester I began familiarizing myself with some of Adon’s earlier works.

Here is a trailer of the film I saw two summers ago: Woman without a Home, 2014.

This is a text by the artist talking about what Woman without a Home represents and means to her:

“As a child whenever I looked at myself deep in the eyes, I would see two or more faces staring back at me from within the looking glass. More than just experiencing a trick of mind , I knew there existed another women within me.
I never felt uncomfortable with this other being living in the inmost recesses of my soul, yet today I have the feeling she is deserting me.
Is it she who is abandoning me or is it my body who is incapable to hold on to her.
Today when I look at myself I seem to have grown alien to myself, to my aging body, to my tired soul giving sanctuary to my sister being.
Now, at night, when my eyes are closed in fitful slumber, the tenant of my soul leaves her dwellings, like I have no power upon her. She hovers over my bed, scrutinizing my body. Spider web wrinkles, puffed eyes and a frail skeleton are not a suitable abode for that burning fiery subconscious being. I fear she may run away, my body screams to pull her down but my frame is too fragile for the task.

I wonder who is it who turns his back and who of us is left high and dry? Is my physical body giving up on my soul or is my soul tired of my deteriorating body? Is the house really tumbling down or is it I refusing to accept my fragmented existence?
How is our existence manifested? A residence with a roof under which we find refuge or a country in which we are born and live? Is it the language we use that gives us peace of mind or is it our own body that houses our soul? Where at all is that house, or are we doomed to be homeless?

My Video project deals with my own homelessness. It is a quest for a home in the country in which I was born and grew up. The country that changed so much from when I was a child. The country that raised me and gave me my two personalities, two languages, two cultures and traditions.
In my dream I get out of my body to meet the other women in me only to find out we are but two facets of one and the same. I push my bed like a supermarket trolley, heaping some earth upon the mattress, earth on which one can build a house. I add a tree upon which I climbed as a child. I take some blue from the sky and breeze from the sea for my capricious sister-self. We search for our home in the dessert, on the rocky hills in the snowy mountains. Finally we search in the depths of the sea, leaving in our path on the shore, a tell-tale wheal track…
I leave my body to meet myself.”

I was reminded of Adon after being introduced to Sergei Parajanov’s The Color of Pomegranates  (1968), which is a biography of the Armeninan poet Sayat-Nova (King of Song; 1712-1795). Through the lens of Parajanov’s imagination and Sayat-Nova’s poems, the film recounts the poet’s coming of age, discovery of the female form, falling in love, entering a monastery, and eventual death in a visual and poetic, rather than literal language. This work changed the way I think and go about structure and narrative within my own photographic practice.

Here is a clip from the The Color of Pomegranates: 

Weaving these two films together is very exciting!

-Nechama Winston