WPP 2017 (our worst or Ozbilici’s iconic photograph)

© Burhan Özbilici, Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş shouts after shooting Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey.
© Burhan Özbilici, Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş shouts after shooting Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey.

Most of us will agree on one thing: this year’s WWP winning photograph is not their typical choice. But that’s it! The consequences of this choice are as multilayered as the photograph itself.

One of the first persons to speak openly about why this photograph “should not have won such a prize” was the chairman of the judging panel: Stuart Franklin. In an opinion article, published by The Guardian, Franklin describes the event that is depicted in Burhan Özbilici‘s winning photograph as a murderous spectacle. Franklin adds that this is only the third time a register of an assassination wins the prize. For Franklin, awarding the photograph of a murder poses a moral problem. Sorry, that’s not really what he says. In fact, his words are: It’s a photograph of a murder, the killer and the slain, both seen in the same picture, and morally as problematic to publish as a terrorist beheading.

I don’t like to give in to cynicism, so I’ll hold back my worst self and just say that I smiled when I first heard this. Sorry, Franklin, but the idea that a competition such as WWP should not beautify and promote our worst selves is ludicrous. The only reason why some photographs have traveled the world with the WWP exhibition is because they were made famous at the expense of the dead bodies represented in them. And those lifeless bodies were only seen, contemplated and appreciated because they had an aesthetic dimension, they were beautified and through that transformation evil was made redundant. That, as I see it, poses a moral problem, because it compromises the dignity of the people in them. But Franklin means what he says. Not only does he disagree with the photograph of an assassination being the winner of the year, he also opposes the message it sends out to the world: Placing the photograph on this high pedestal is an invitation to those contemplating such staged spectaculars: it reaffirms the compact between martyrdom and publicity.

I confess his honesty and ingenuity surprise me. And I understand where he comes from. In Franklin’s perspective, the winning photograph should testify to a less visible reality and it should expose, be a call for action, inspire change, so he says.

But let’s go back to that day: 19/12/2016. Özbilici, a Turkish photographer, is attending a press conference by Russian ambassador that was happening in a gallery in Ankara. One should stress that being a photographer in Turkey is to be part of the resistance, for that country’s liberty is long gone. What happened next is history: while the ambassador, Andreï Karlov, was speaking, Mevlüt Mert Altintas, a 22 years old off duty police officer working security for the event, shot him. He shot him 9 times and claimed to be punishing Russia for its intervention in Syria.

Being there, Burhan Özbilici made the decision to photograph and his shots immediately traveled the world. I saw the winning photograph the following day and I remember it clearly. I was extremely surprised, I showed it to my partner and we had a wee chat about it. At the time, what surprised me had nothing to do with the event itself. What astonished me was the contradictions at place, how different forces and dynamics had made it into one picture. Still, to this day, what I think makes this photograph so great is that it is iconic. And being iconic means we’re talking about its aesthetic value. It’s almost as if this photograph should not be understood as photojournalism, for it has too many hidden layers, too many subtleties. Basically, it’s too brilliant to be reduced to its role as proof.

I also remembered wondering how cold blooded the photographer had to have been to compose this image. It’s inevitable, it looks like a performance. It’s the effect of the White Cube: you put something inside a gallery and it becomes art. The reality is quite different. Ozbilici tells us that he felt he just had to do his job. Back in December, on Hyperallergic, Robert Archambeau published an excellent article entitled Aesthetic Interference where he pretty much says it all, so I’ll quote:

I think a large part of my inability to fully process the images from Turkey has to do with a kind of category error. They should, I tell myself, be documents of an atrocity, the kind of images we’re bombarded with all the time, and to which most of us have, perhaps at some cost to our humanity, developed antibodies. We see mediated atrocity every day. We tell ourselves we care, and perhaps we do. But generally we look at the wreckage, the carnage, the suffering faces, and we move on. This time, though, I’m having a hard time moving on, because I don’t just see the images as documents of atrocity. I also see them as aesthetic, and that doesn’t sit easily with the other way of seeing them. Indeed, it feels immoral. It feels wrong.

[…]

In the strange combination of urgent action and an uncanny suspension of motion, they are reminiscent of some of Jeff Wall’s photographs (1984’s “Milk,” for example, or “Dead Troops Talk,” from 1994). Perhaps it is the dramatic nature of the poses — combined with the fact that they’re set against the stark, white background that instantly declares itself an art space — that makes the figures almost seem like an art installation. Perhaps an installation by Maurizio Cattelan, in line with his 2002 wax dummies of police officers, “Frank and Jamie.” If you begin to let yourself see the photos as works by Jeff Wall, they seem to show the calm at the heart of violence. If you begin to look at them as photos of an imaginary Cattelan installation, you start to think of them as meditations on the nature of exhibitions. But if you do either — and I have done both — you might find yourself uncomfortable to the point of queasiness with your own slip into aestheticizing. The atrocity is real. The violence is real. The death is real. And the photos? They’re so good, they almost don’t let you see that. They’re so good they make you feel bad to have shifted your attention from the moral urgency of bloodshed to the composition itself. They’re so good they make you wonder about the cruel indifference of beauty. They’re so beautiful that they lift you from the real to the aesthetic, so true they send you plummeting right back.

There’s nothing we can do about our visual culture and backgrounds, so it’s inevitable that for those familiar with references such as the ones mentioned by Robert Archambeau, this photograph jumps between categories and tends to reject the most obvious one: that which gave it the WWP prize. Where I differ from Archambeau is that I don’t have any remorse. And why is that? It’s complicated, of course, but as I’ve mentioned many times before, I think contemporary photojournalism is condemn to fail. It hasn’t always been like this. Before the wars were televised, before cellphones had cameras, photography held that status of “authentic proof”. Now, the most authentic imagery seems to come from the perpetrators themselves. They photograph their victims as trophies and those images are also good examples of the hatred that rules this era. But they are not conscious photographs, only digital images. In most of the cases, there is no author behind them; that maker is so morally compromised that one could not recognize him authorship. What this era might well do to photography, as an autonomous expression, may actually be what we’ve been waiting for. And maybe Özbilici’s photograph could trigger that debate, because photography is not an automatism, it is not a machine, and there’s always an aesthetic dimension to every image. Maybe if we don’t potentiate that dimension we will just keep talking about realism and objectivity, where instead we should be speaking about fiction and subjectivity.

≡ John Brill’s Lynchian Universe in photographs ≡

9de7fc28bff17e6578737ad7495fa0ceJohn Brill, Self-portrait, Chihuanhuan Desert, Mexico,1987 (1987-A), printed 2013
Pigment print on rag, with UV-shielding varnish
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20130428035454-Brill_Trish_20130John Brill, Trish, 2013. Still from video. VHS tape; eight hours.

0f7879ea7f49a6c96aba4cb7280e16cbHypnotherapy-Install2DSC04217Every Boy’s Dream, 2013. Installation views.

John Brill’s faux spirit-photographs are enough to make you believe in ghosts, extraterrestrials and visitations of all kinds. Mr. Brill, who is 49 and is having his third solo show at Kent, is a consummate manipulator of the photographic process, a wizard of the darkroom. Starting out with normal photographs of family and friends (and, it seems, the occasional household pet), he comes up with images that are anything but. He works primarily with selenium- or sulfide-toned silver prints.

The figures and faces, shining orbs and dark silhouettes, phantasms and nebulae that drift through the smoky atmospheres of these images evoke all kinds of encounters, many of them on the creepy side. They include unhappy spirits, amorphous apparitions, unearthed skeletons or mummies from the nearest crypt, evidence of long-ago crimes, ethnographic photographs of shamanistic rites or powerful amulets, surveillance photographs, even U.F.O.’s. The associations are helped by titles like ”Emanations,” ”Trance” and ”Childhood Dreams.”

If all this sounds a little melodramatic, it is. It helps that one can sometimes make out the laughing relative or family portrait that was the photograph’s original subject. Still, these images are often touchingly beautiful. They remind us that because photographs can render the most exact truths, they can also tell the biggest lies. They put one in touch with the intermittent need to believe that, one way or another, we are not alone. ROBERTA SMITH .” text by Roberta Smith. Published: April 14, 2000 in the NYT.

085b2affee7c0ba5d746e582eef78925John Brill, untitled (SX_103) [from a series in progress, Accidental Diary]. Pigment print on rag, with UV-shielding varnish.

b341524bcdd456ba533d7db031b926beJohn Brill, untitled (625-22) [from a series in progress, Hypnagogy]. Pigment print on rag, with UV-shielding varnish.

50f71bc73bc9ec5f09ded8bbca377940John Brill, Bad Memory #1, 2004-06. Selenium toned gelatin silver print, edition of 10.

ea01d7a7941f0d6af4bcea3402bf9306John Brill, Endless Summer installation, 2002.

⁞ ‘Real Life is Elsewhere’ ⁞

white mirror didactic© Sam Durant, White Mirrors, from the project Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments, 2006. Inkjet print, 42 x 36 inches.

9_pilgrim39© Sam Durant, Natural History Part II, from the project Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments, 2007. Mixed media; Dimensions vary; Photo credit: Scott Massey.

excerpt of THOSE WHO MAKE HALF A REVOLUTION ONLY DIG THEIR OWN GRAVES: THE SITUATIONISTS SINCE 1969, by Christopher Gray.

May 1968 and France on the verge of anarchy… An atmosphere of martial law in Paris and hundreds of factories occupied… one hundred and forty American cities in flames after the killing of Martin Luther King… German and English universities occupied… Hippie ghettos directly clashing with the police state… The sudden exhilarating sense of how many people felt the same way… The new world corning into focus… The riots a great dance in the streets…

Today – nothing. The Utopian image has faded from the streets. Just the endless traffic, the blank eyes that pass you by, the nightmarish junk we’re all dying for. Everyone seems to have retreated into themselves, into closed occult groups. The revolutionary excitement that fired the sixties is dead, the ‘counter-culture’ a bad joke. No more aggression, no more laughter, no more dreams. “To talk of life today is like talking of rope in the house of a hanged man.”

Yet there were thousands and thousands of people there. What has happened to us all?

The Paris May Days were the end for the SI. On the one hand, the police state pressure on the French left after May made any overt action virtually suicidal. […]

The presence of the SI never made itself properly felt in either England or America. The English and what could well have become the American sections of the SI were excluded just before Christmas 1967. Both groups felt that the perfection and publicising of a theoretical critique was not sufficient: they wanted political subversion and individual ‘therapy’ to converge in an uninterrupted everyday activity. […]

Henceforward the dissemination of situationist ideas in both countries was dissociated from the real organisation that alone could have dynamised them. 0n the one hand this led to obscure post-grad groups sitting over their pile of gestetnered situationist pamphlets, happy as Larry in their totally prefabricated identity. On the other, the more sincere simply went straight up the wall: The Angry Brigade, very heavily influenced by situationist ideas (translate Les Enrages into English … ), destroying themselves at the same time as they took the critique of the spectacle to its most blood-curdlingly spectacular extreme. […]

9_pilgrim18© Sam Durant, Male Colonist (cornstalk), from the project Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments, 2006. C-print, 60 x 48 inches.

9_pilgrim16© Sam Durant, Female Indian, Male Colonist, from the project Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments, 2006. C-print, 48 x 60 inches.

What then remains of the SI? What is still relevant? Above all, I think, its iconoclasm, its destructiveness. What the SI did was to redefine the nature of exploitation and poverty. Ten years ago people were still demonstrating against the state of affairs in Vietnam – while remaining completely oblivious of the terrible state they were in themselves. The SI showed exactly how loneliness and anxiety and aimlessness have replaced the nineteenth century struggle for material survival, though they are still generated by the same class society. They focused on immediate experience – everyday life as the area people most desperately wanted to transform.

Rediscovering poverty cannot be separated from rediscovering what wealth really means. The SI rediscovered the vast importance of visionary politics, of the Utopian tradition – and included art, in all its positive aspects, in this tradition. […]

What was basically wrong with the SI was that it focused exclusively on an intellectual critique of society. There was no concern whatsoever with either the emotions or the body. The SI thought that you just had to show how the nightmare worked and everyone would wake up. Their quest was for the perfect formula, the magic charm that would disperse the evil spell. This pursuit of the perfect intellectual formula meant inevitably that situationist groups were based on a hierarchy of intellectual ability – and thus on disciples and followers, on fears and exhibitionism, the whole political horror trip. After their initial period, creativity, apart from its intellectual forms, was denied expression and in this lies the basic instability and sterility of their own organisations. […]

Look, after so many, many pages, let’s try and be honest, just for a moment. I feel very fucked up myself, and I know it’s my responsibility. Yet whenever I go out on the streets my being somehow reels back appalled: these terrible faces, these machines, they are me too, I know; yet somehow that’s not my fault. Everyone’s life is a switch between changing oneself and changing the world. Surely they must somehow be the same thing and a dynamic balance is possible. I think the SI had this for a while, and later they lost it. I want to find it again – that quickening in oneself and in others, that sudden happiness and beauty. It could connect, could come together. Psychoanalysis and Trotskyists are both silly old men to the child. Real life is elsewhere.

9_pilgrim34© Sam Durant, Still Life (speaker, bowls, bread), from the project Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments, 2006. C-print, 40 x 50 inches.

9_pilgrim32© Sam Durant, Still Life (head, jug, electric parts), from the project Scenes from the Pilgrim Story: Myths, Massacres and Monuments, 2006. C-print, 40 x 50 inches.

⁞ The complex task of seeing through Photography: a conversation with Isaac Pereira ⁞

1012600_643410882417254_4043574406647253164_nall images © Isaac Pereira. Courtesy of the artist.

This conversation took place in July 2014, over the virtual space that unites Macau and Lisboa. The original, portuguese version, of this conversation, can be seen HERE.

Sofia: We’re having this conversation mainly because of your exhibition, Tree, now held in Macau. Although I couldn’t be there, I find the way you are imposing installation and performance on the photographic matter very interesting. In an article about the exhibition, published in South China Morning Post, you named what seems to be the keyword for this project: contamination. Tell me about that contamination.

Isaac: The idea of “contamination” in this work, comes due to a problem that has been on my mind about Photography and my own work: Is it still possible today, given the level of profusion of visual information and the speed at which such information circulates, to “retain the look” of the other, and your own look, on the images we create? Let us assume, driven by a mere hypothesis, that is the result of a direct observation, the “act of retention” is close to a breaking point. I call this “the crisis of the look”. So what remains? Or, in other words, in what manner can images, or certain images, survive this crisis? A simple argument, frequently used in this debate, is the argument on the idea of the “strong image”. But, in this context, what is now a “strong image”? My quest is only to ask if, from the point of view of my own practice of photography, and the practice of photography in general, and given the classical definition of Photography as “the act of killing time”, would it be plausible to pass this idea to an installation, in the sense of “an action”. This “act” presupposes the existence of an effective relation between an image and its site specific reading – the space of the installation – a “combat mode” relationship, of a fair challenge between the one lending his eyes to the possibility of another look. Or, alternately, to a look as a vehicle of reflection and thought. For me, this “combat-challenge” is an attempt to, by means of such relation, overcome the “crisis of the look” or, at least, it matches my desire to leave it outside this crisis. Even if it is a paradox, I call “contamination” to the appeal to a mode of survival that is motivated by the experience of thought as a look “over a time that has already lived through its end.”

Sofia: Where you speak of “an action”, I speak of “a doing”, let me explain: in Kant’s Critique of Judgement, he distinguishes between agree and facere, explaining that “to do” is related to the artistic practice – it entails intention and finality; while “to act” relates to nature – a natural effect, with no intention. It seems to me that what you purpose is based on your intentions and ability to act, the spectator is able to do more than contemplate. But in such a context, where through installation you are setting an atmosphere that guides the experience of the spectator, what relevance do the images presented really have?

Isaac: I understand and respect the kantian stand, but here I do not make any distinction between the resolute nature of the categories. Nowadays, the concepts are expanding and acquiring different meanings and in the rhetoric of the aesthetic discourse, “to do-to act” is not that opposed to “to act-to do”.
Let me just add a final consideration about the idea of “contamination” because it pertains to your question. During the creative process, I wanted to embrace that idea in the editing process. I don’t know the exact number, but I must have gone through over 10 thousand negatives, some long forgotten. During that revisitation some images grabbed my thoughts but some failed to have that energy. So I started to separate them. It was like I was looking at something for the first time, something that had already lost the seal of ownership and was free from me. I then decided that in some way this idea should come through in the installation and that the images, though from different times and spaces, should “look at each other”. I thought that contamination, exposed through the installation, should give the spectator the opportunity “to act”. At the same time, I showed the final edition to a couple of creators – a music composer and a filmmaker – and asked them to create their own works parting from that body of images. This idea then culminates with a request to the visitor: that he/she chooses three of his/her photographs – which he/she thinks dialogue with what he/she saw – and “lend” them to this project in order for them to be edited and placed in the installation space where there’s a wall with 25 empty wooden boxes, the end place for the images that will be “lend” and chosen by those visitors wanting to associate with the exhibition.
Now in terms of your question. The relevance of the images chosen for the exhibition is that of having been chosen with the limits I set for myself. During the creative process, I decided these were more connected with the nature of this exhibition and with whom I am as a photographer, but what interests me is that these images are not definitive, they can disappear and be replaced by others. In fact, in a way this can be noticed in the installation. I was interested in some images that had to be left out precisely because they dialogue with each other and with the overall idea of the work. The idea of a work enclosed on itself is frightening. Between a void and an aura, there is a never ending field of action. More than the possibility to look at each of the images in this installation, the spectator has the choice not to see all of them and to interact with them.

Sofia: Meaning, it isn’t the photographs, those photographs, that make the exhibition, but the autonomy you are choosing to give to the work exhibited, in order for it to remain open, in an internal and external dialogue. You call for a very strong image, that of seeing the work being set free from the father, which makes me think of two, somehow conflicting, ideas: firstly, the “death of the author”, given you are suggesting to erase intentions of property and authority and hand in the autonomy to the artwork; on the other side, there is a kind of obsessive control over the format and the selective power, even if the interaction between the spectator and the work can be dynamic. Do you really think that opening the range of possibilities to the spectator will allow him/her an experience that is more suitable for the subject?

Isaac: I wouldn’t go that far. The photographs make the exhibition, but not only them. I would say what makes the exhibition is the relation, full of possibilities, people establish with the images that are integrated in the physiognomy of the space. What I suggest is not really an “effacement” of the author – because the trace is there – but an extension of the way I experienced the installation in the autonomy of the other, given his/her choice not to look at some of the images and appropriate them as a selective, exercise of memory. The possibility to overlook some images and through a range of options establishes new relations. The spectator’s reactions tend to highlight that aspect, meaning: although I’m aware that I am the one who created the images, that is as an original selection and pre-set format. In the end it is very interesting to see the experience of the spectator being able to explore other meanings in his/her relation to the work. My proposal is to further investigate otherness. The door is slightly opened to an interactive proposal that goes beyond a deferred act of looking that is imposed by the totality of the visible.

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Sofia: I was trying to avoid making this reference and evoke other names in this conversation, but the way you describe this extension of the space of the author to the space of the spectator and your reflection on otherness make me think of Marina Abramovic’s latest performance in London, at the Serpentine Gallery, where I find that by insisting on the opening of the field of possibilities she is actually imposing control over such field of experiences. I’m not saying your example is the same, what I question is if, instead of offering the world to the spectator, the interactive nature of a work is not a practice that ends up constraining the freedom of the spectator’s aesthetic experience. How are people reacting to your exhibition?

Isaac: My main concern is not to obtain a certain reaction, in that sense I can agree there would be some kind of control force involved. My quest is for the opening of the spectator’s field of action, presenting him/her with a proposition that stands between “yes”, or “no” or a “maybe”. I’m more interested in that “maybe” because, as I’ve said before, it gives the spectator “time and space” to act. This “maybe” or, if you will, I insist, the possibility to find different paths parting from mine, is the way I try to “offer the world” to the spectator (to quote your phrasing) liberating from the more conventional ways to look at an exhibition. In this sense, I confess, the reactions have been surprising. People ask questions such as: How does one see this exhibition? Which section do I start from? My response is that the order is arbitrary. I think this installation – that is accompanied by a “map” – urges, because of something I call “positive provocation”, to repeat the entering process, more than once and in a different way. Because this work has a different psychological time, people are free to start from different “endings” and stop at different “beginnings”. People say they need to come again one more time, preferably on their own, which I think is symptomatic and at the same time gratifying.

Sofia: Some time ago, we exchanged some words about our frustration with the way people are creating and showing art. I was pleasantly surprised by this exhibition, precisely because it proposes something new and you didn’t confine yourself to installing a bunch of photographs on the wall hoping someone can make a more or less linear understanding of them. What was the moment that triggered this exhibition?

Isaac: I’ve been thinking about what Photography means today and what is its role in our contemporary society, a reflection I hope to further develop. I’ve been thinking seriously on my work, or about what it could be. You and me, every one of us, we see lots of things. In museums, galleries, virtual sites. I feel that, in some way, our eyes are tired. Tired of looking, tired of the “photographable”. I only think everything is photographable from the moment the “photographable” wins over the weariness of looking, from the moment there is “a way of looking”. I counteracted the way of looking with “a way to make visible”, because although I’m sure about what this set of images “say”, the look of the other does not necessarily imply the same “references” and the same care, particularly because the images exhibited allude to other significances beyond their apparent meaning. But, today, as a creator, this is not satisfying enough. The excess of the visible has in itself an excess of light that obscures. Maybe, this is what you were previously referring to as “the obsessive control of the format”. I wanted to protect this body of images from that linear reading, from that excess of the visible. I thought, I assume that “yes, I want, wish for people to see this work”; but in order to achieve this, I had to assume a personal rupture with the way I’ve been choosing to make things visible. I think this is the role of the form in Tree. From the conception of the space to the organization and presentation of the images, going through the boxes where people leave their feedback in the form of a word, to the lightning design itself. I wanted that, in the end, people could retain a memory of the way they experienced the exhibition. Altogether, these aspects culminated in a call for intimacy in the experience of the exhibition, and that is the moment you call “the trigger”.

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Sofia: That idea of an “intimacy in the experience of the exhibition” is, by itself, an impossible premise when we’re dealing with photography. It seems to me that you are going through a process of reflection that is common to those who mature with photography, for it becomes inevitable to think about the medium, even if the value of auto-referential art is tendentiously instrumental.
With this exhibition you called for the participation of the public, for them to send photographs with which you would then make a new Tree with universal associations. Is that it? I couldn’t help but notice that you mention notions usually assigned to authorship, using words such as “property”, “signature” and “author”. Where does the need for that rhetoric come from?

Isaac: I don’t agree that the fruition of an intimate time with an object such as this exhibition is an impossibility. I’d never thought about what maturing with photography could be. In any case, yes, there will always be a place for a reflection upon the medium that I find important and necessary.
Yes, I’m inviting people to send me photographs that are their property, to work upon them. It’s not a call for photographers, but a shout out for everyone who owns photographs. My proposal is to challenge the readers of these images to locate in them traces of their subjectivity. And after finding those traces, they go to search in their own archive – it looks to me as if today, everyone owns a photographic archive, even if unconsciously – an image that appeals to that relation.
The images within this exhibition don’t demand an enclosed and objective reading. The premise for the invitation is that people authorize me to work on those images, in case I feel the need. The end result will be an open session for the installation of the images received – at least 25 –, in the physical space of the exhibition. I’m asking people to think about the images in terms of memory and their biography. Once again, I associate this idea with the notion of “contamination” we were talking about earlier. On the other hand, when I speak of propriety, authorship, signature, that is not fundamental. I don’t hold that question in terms of a rhetoric on photography. It’s solely a way to say that even the vagrant is left about in the desert for a reason. Someone left it there. And that has a story that I’m interested in. Suddenly, I thought it could be interesting to unite the brunches, those personal stories, to the same trunk, to this tree of Photography, infinite and immense, and see how a dialogue between things coming from such different places and experiences, could work in itself and with me. I’ve already received some images and the results are surprising.

Sofia: I see the idea of this tree as a kind of otherness within you, I mean, the part of the “collective identity” that participates in your “individual identity”. When I speak of the impossibility of an intimate experience in a photography exhibition is not in relation to your show but in general, because it’s my opinion that photography more rapidly deviates than brings closer: it is part of the universe of representation, it is plain and rarely does it survive by appealing to any other sense than the visual one, even if it has a very unique potential to evoke memories. After this collective experience of reuniting stories and the exhibition is over, is there any project in mind?

Isaac: A cultural sociologist, whom I’m very fond of, McLuhan, talks about Photography as being a hot medium. To my knowledge, some contemporary art critique that is less prone to reflect on contemporary Culture, tend to overlook, as I see it unfairly, his thoughts about the media, although McLuhan has only dedicated a small part of his reflection to Photography as a medium. In any way, I still find it his thoughts on the media as an extension of the body relevant, although he only focuses on his “socially structuring” character. I mention this because you referred to as characteristic of Photography. In his book “Understanding Media”, McLuhan defends that Photography is a “hot medium” because it “extends a singular sense and in high definition”, understanding “high definition” as a “state of high saturation of data”. This author says that “visually, a photography is distinguished by its high definition”. I am particularly interested in this issue. It’s worth to notice that the “state of the medium” is not definitive and can be “overheated” or “cooled down”, depending if we’re facing a “hot culture” or a “cold” one. It’s a discussion worth developing.
Some days ago, while visiting the space of the installation, someone was telling me that this exhibition is “a provocation”. I responded that I agreed. In my opinion, what is happening in the Photography domain is an overheating that is maybe tending to a cold cycle. It’s an open question. But here I find a connection with our conversation at the beginning about the need to “retain the look”, very much because of that “data saturation”. I wanted a composer to work on a music score based on the images – music may be a cold medium – in order to make way for that synesthetic experience. We can argue about all of this and that is why I find a need for a necessary discussion. But, of course, further ahead when he refers to Photography as a “Brothel with no Walls”, McLuhan says that “no one can enjoy a photograph on its one” and that the work “The Balcony” by Jean Genet was inspired by Photography. For all we’ve talked about, this is where my provocation, a positive provocation, comes in, because there is a space and time, or it could be, for in a first encounter to enjoy a photograph in solitude, with all that it implies.
I would like to take this work to Portugal and to other places in Asia. To be able to work on this idea and develop it. I don’t think the process is over. I will read and reflect upon the words left behind and the images that were given to me and work on that material, on their stories. Maybe the result will be a “Ode-Manifest-to-Photography”. Perhaps, it will be possible to develop this work in the form of a book. For now, no new exhibitions. Probably in two or three years. I feel the need to look at it again, after some months of absence.

Sofia: I agree this work is provocative, but fortunately that’s not the reason it was born, lives or breaths. And even if some of my questions may reveal my pessimism towards the process of interaction in art, I feel that your questioning can only potentiate change.
Thank you very much for being so prompt and for your patience in accounting for your creative process.
All the best to you Isaac.

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٠ Duarte Amaral Netto: It’s all real, you just need to give up on your anguish (II of III) ٠

Part I of essay here

_3_5© Duarte Amaral Netto, Ambient 4 (#3 e #5), 2004
48×130 cm. Lambda Print on Fuji Fine Art. Ed. 3 + 1 AP

Before going on to explore Duarte’s recent exhibitions – The Polish Club Case (2011), Z (2012) and Selective Affinities (2013) – I’d like to take a brief moment to glimpse at Ambient 4 (2004), particularly because of its evident cinematic qualities and because it makes me think of Gus Van Sant’s Gerry (2002). Nothing is depicted in these photographs as barely anything is happening in Gerry. But the simple thought of needing a plot to make something happen is a dumb one. Nothing happens in front of us that isn’t happening because we are put in the place of the observer. That doesn’t mean the event doesn’t take place in the universe, it just means it doesn’t happen for us. Blind people see as much happening as we do, for they have the same ability to conceptualize.

In a review of Gerry, Devin McKinney speaks of Gus Van Sant’s ability to find “human psychology signaled in the semiotics of physical landscape”. (2004, p.43) Might that be the case with the amount of layers implied in Ambient 4? Both Nature and Landscape have a powerful quality: they make us stare and by doing that, they open up the world for us. Ambient 4 might be about a rite of passage or about man-to-man relationships (represented by the two male figures) or even about man-to-woman relationships (humans representing the male, natural motifs representing the female). In either case, the humongous greenery is there so we are allowed to wander. And though these photographs are simple and quiet and apparently short-lived, they do justice to their universal quality of being a cut into the existential nature that is perpetuated among men.

Duarte Amaral Netto© Duarte Amaral Netto, The Polish Club Case (#19 Papin’s Birthday), 2011
52×60 cm. UV Print on Zincor. Ed. 2 + 1 AP

The Polish Club Case (2011), Duarte’s work that earned him a spot in Bes Photo in the following year, is, in my opinion, his most unsuccessful work. The work is presented as being a narrative about events taking place in Chicago in the 60’s. Following his tradition of constructing fictional narratives by (re)staging or (re)assigning different roles to those presumed to be (en)acted by the original element he chooses to play with, here Duarte takes a set of archival photographs, depicting everyday scenes, and displays them accompanied by subtitles that are not descriptive of the environment they belonged to. It is a simple discursive play, well known to the literary and cinematic field, as Godard’s so masterfully shows in Histoire(s) du Cinèma (1988).

The almost inexistent habit to discuss photography in our country, and the lack of good criticism as I’ve said earlier, paved the way for uninteresting takes on this particular work. It is my opinion that if it weren’t for that, Duarte could have gone further but, instead, he kept accentuating the importance of the configuration of the work, denoting that there was little beyond that. The art world pretends to love conceptual work, when in reality what it likes is not the art works themselves but the discourse about art. Though I am very fond of the conceptual approach to making art I struggle with the general lack of commitment and connection between the content, the form, and the how and where it is presented. The latter being what threw me off the Club Case.

It was exhibited in a particularly cold place, in a linear display, with small gaps as the sequence of photographs moved into another room and then into another room, and then back to the beginning. Everything looked too polished, too neat. The fact that it was clear Duarte wasn’t behind the camera on this one, accentuated the alienation of the author and denounced the game at play. Although the viewer has had a major role in art for a long time now, with installation calling him/her to be at the center of the stage, it isn’t pleasurable to be forced to assume the place of the investigator up front and realize that the work is all about a dialogue between the fact and the artifact, and that’s it.

Duarte Amaral Netto2© Duarte Amaral Netto, The Polish Club Case (#5 Quigley’s Classroom), 2011
52×60 cm. UV Print on Zincor. Ed. 2 + 1 AP

Duarte Amaral Netto3© Duarte Amaral Netto, The Polish Club Case (#7 Detectives), 2011
52×60 cm. UV Print on Zincor. Ed. 2 + 1 AP

There’s something about being an author that makes it a particularly edgy position to be in: one can easily fall in an authoritarian role, pending to (presume) to mediate between reality and the observer. This strategy, in my opinion, has little respect for a conscious viewer; it invalidates the possibility of an autonomous reading, by way of imposing a confined way of decoding. Duarte has since moved one to other works that also incorporate this process remain autonomous and that makes all the difference in the way the viewer is able to relate to them.

As I said earlier, the best about critic and general discussions about artists’ body of works is their ability to open the meaning of such work. In an interview conducted by Sandra Vieira Jürgens back in 2011, Duarte stated that the thread in The Polish Club Case is faith: “faith in its religious meaning and faith in its more abstract meaning, the one we can even place in the credibility of an image”. Though I’m filled with anti-religious impulses and I know very little about faith, I’ll go ahead and say that in order to have faith there needs to be something incomprehensible that paves the way for a revelation. This is not the case, there are a lot of unknown reasons and motifs and a lot of historical content evocative of hope and trust, but there’s too much reason to allow faith to step in.

The concept of phototherapy is not new but it has spread awkwardly. It also has nothing to do with Duarte’s work, but I’ll make my point in a minute. Phototherapy is not a practice from the art world, but from the scientific one. It defines a clinical procedure that uses “people’s personal snapshots, family albums, and pictures taken by others (and the feelings, thoughts, memories, and associations these photos evoke) as catalysts to deepen insight and enhance communication during their therapy or counseling sessions (conducted by trained mental health professionals), in ways not possible using words alone”, as defined by Judy Weiser. [i] It then was appropriated by different art practitioners, using it as a photo art therapy technique, Jo Spence being one of the most famous artists practicing and writing about the subject.[ii]

On the other hand there’s Annette Kuhn, feminist and theorist of art and culture, who has been developing several different methods of what could be summed up as hetero and autoethnographic visual work. What it means is that she works with  documents, family photographs, personal and collective memory, both for her theoretical work as by setting up workshops and having people come together to discuss their relation to particular images. Both Kuhn and Spence have set up protocols anyone can follow if one chooses to do memory work. Both acknowledge its capacity “to unlock meanings and insights extraordinarily readily” but Kuhn draws attention to the relevance others’ memories and others’ relations with their family albums has to our collective memory.

I say this is where Duarte’s Z project comes in. Z was the work shown at Bes Photo 2012, the biggest prize for photography-related work in Portugal, now extended to include Brazil and the PALOP’s.[iii] Duarte was one of four. Together with fellow Brazilian artist Rosângela Rennó, both their works reflected on the photographic medium, its limits, its specificities, but it was evident Duarte’s work was flying solo and how high, for it had a sort of infantile joy to it, something I’d never seen before on his work. Duarte’s work had reached adulthood.

Duarte Amaral Netto0© Duarte Amaral Netto, Z (Z, August 1939, Harz – Germany), 2012
65×50 cm. Framed Inkjet on Fine Art. Ed. 2 + 1 AP

Z came about when Duarte found a set of photographs from a family member depicting his voyage to Germany in the 1930’s to study aviation. He then mixed this set of images with others from an archival of a plastic surgeon and with some of his own and created the fictional story of Z, a physician from Coimbra, specialized in facial reconstruction, who goes to Germany to study as an aviator and gets caught up in the middle of World War II. The exhibition comprised a huge amount of images, interweaving manipulation of historical documents, archival photographs, original photographs, a slide projection and fake family albums.

Because the idea for this work (and for The Polish Club Case also) was triggered by a photograph which ended up being included and (re)shown, Duarte’s latest projects tend to be put in the context of the archival genre, when I dare to say what triggers Duarte is storytelling, either in the photographic, cinematic, musical or literally form.  And this thread is his consistency, although time can prove me wrong.

text by Sofia Silva (to be continued)


[i] Definition by Judy Weiser, from the PhotoTherapy Center at: http://www.phototherapy-centre.com/

[ii] For example, Jo Spence’s book Cultural Sniping: The Art of Transgression, (1995) where she talks about the art of Reworking the Family Album.

[iii] the group of Portuguese-speaking African countries

Baker, G. (2005) Photography’s Expanded Field. October, Vol. 114, pp.120-140

Fried, M. (2008) Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before, London: Yale University Press

Groys, B. (2013) Art Workers: Between Utopia and the Archive. [online] E-flux journal, #45, Maio

Jürgens, S.V. e Netto, D.A. (2011) Entrevista: Onde está o facto e onde está o artifício. arq./a: Arquitectura e Arte, n. 98/99, pp.86-89.
Krauss, R. (1979) Sculpture in the Expanded Field. October, Vol. 8, pp.30-44

Kuhn, A. (2007) Photography and cultural memory: a methodological exploration. Visual Studies, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp.283-292

McKinney, D. (2004) Review. Film Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 2, pp.43-47

 

٠ Susan Hiller & the transformative potential of investigation ٠

Susan_Hiller_sisters_of_menonSusan Hiller, Sisters of Menon, 1972 -79. 4 L-shaped panels of automatic writing, blue pencil on A4 paper with typed labels

dedicatedHiller-Press-12Susan Hiller, Dedicated to the Unknown Artists, 1972-76. Installation view, Tate Britain, London.

«In fact, Hiller herself has commented that what her archive includes are moments missed, fleeting encounters with a movement that never registered in consciousness (and that is, as such, homologous with trauma): “We love these pictures because they freeze a movement which otherwise we never realize we see.It is this element in Hiller’s archive that interests me most, a moment of missing out that is akin to the anaesthetizing experience Kant linked to the sublime. As an instance of transcendent greatness to which nothing can adequately be compared, the sublime points (as Kant remarked) to a problem of (or in) judgment. If the majestic, crashing waves and the harsh rock faces on the postcards Hiller collected hint at the natural sublime, the utter banality and clichéd depiction of the postcards together with their obvious manipulation—a trauma of the medium itself that is reminiscent of Warhol—neutralize any such reference. Although the sheer size of the archive with its mass of collected images could produce a sublime effect, that effect is emphatically a result of technical reproduction and serial repetition, and as such is distinctly out of joint with the singularity of the eighteenth-century sublime. […]

Voyage on a Rough Sea Homage to Marcel Broodthaers 2009Susan Hiller, Homage to Marcel Broodthaers: Voyage on a Rough Sea, 2009, 16 archival dry prints

[the writing] testifies to a private communicative practice far removed from the universalizing aspirations of nineteenth-century historicism. What the postcards show and what the written greetings and notes transcribe are less what the individuals who sent them actually saw than — as Hiller herself remarked — what they wanted to see. The moment captured by the postcards, for all its natural drama, is a moment missed. Hiller’s archive is thus a storehouse not of objective facts but rather of desire deferred and reproduced. […]

716d3dfc-9966-4bd8-b3d1-8fdaee915dcb--00000--Timothy_Gallery_Susan_Hiller,_Home_Nursing_Homage_to_Joseph_BeuysSusan Hiller, Homage to Joseph Beuys, series of felt-lined cabinets containing antique bottles of holy water collected by the artist around the world; ongoing from 1969-2011

Photography presents a spatial continuum; historicism seeks to provide the temporal continuum…. Historicism is concerned with the photography of time.” If historicism is concerned with “the photography of time,” then the PP-based archive with its formal, linear succession of moments is its natural institutional outlet, a spatiotemporal continuum that “simultaneously contains the meaning of all that occurred within that time.” As Kracauer and Roland Barthes after him made clear, photography does not show or represent the past or history; it merely marks indexically the moment of its own production

excerpt from Sven Spieker (2008), The Big Archive

susan-hiller-609x430From the Freud Museum 1991-6 by Susan Hiller born 1940Susan Hiller, From the Freud Museum, 1991-97, vitrine installation, size variable; 50 units, mixed media,texts, images.

٠ Making Things Public: political dimensions of art practice ٠

phantom_publicMichel Jaffrennou and Thierry Coduys, Demon Demos: The Phantom Public, 2005.
The work tracks and creates schematic representations of the behavior of visitors
to a given space, in this case the Making Things Public galleries.

Katti: Bruno Latour recently cocurated his second show at the ZKM (Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, or Center for Art and Media, in Karlsruhe, Germany), under the title Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy. The wide-ranging thematic exhibition asks a simple question: “Are we well represented?” Some of the basic problems of politics are addressed in this tour d’horizon that, according to Latour, is itself “neither political nor critical.” Of course the provocation in the latter qualification is not unintentional. Without being blatantly provocative, it doesn’t simplify or
narrow down the spaces of conflict in political correctness. The differences between American and European perspectives?especially after 9/11 ? concerning the question of “fair representation” are complicated to articulate, particularly with the recent political upswing in matters of art and culture. The Latin res publica literally means “public thing,” which can at times grow into a nation state? a “thing” that still reflects the historical root of the word republic.

Latours first curatorial project, Iconoclash:Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion, and Art, was a huge success. Methodological discussions in art history, the history of ideas, visual studies, aesthetics, theories of culture, and emerging theories of the image reflect this discourse. These developments are deepened by discussions in recent (German) Kunstwissenschaft (or science of art), which tries hard to distinguish itself from art history, as well as by discussions in the even more recent Bildwissenschaft (science of the image?different from visual studies). The digital passions of the 1990s, the parallel deciphering of the genetic code, and advances in brain research, among other developments, have shifted the attention of the art world to science and technology.

Making Things Public opens an investigation into the political effects of globalization. Politics itself will have to be reinvented. Europe – the major focus of this show, and not just because of the depth of its history – stands at the crossroads: it might go the Anglo-American, or “global” way, or it might develop alternatives, if this is still possible. As Peter Weibel observes in the exhibition brochure, “In Europe, with the increasing privatization of public facilities and institutions, the alterations to and reductions of the welfare state and the ‘social market economy,’ trust in the constitutional state and democracy would appear to be dwindling. It is therefore all the more important to find new stimuli for democracy. The exhibition . . . sets out… to rejuvenate the political in the name of the arts and sciences. In this . . . project, more than 100 artists, scientists, sociologists, philosophers, and historians rethink the concept of politics. At a historical moment when many people are starting to doubt politics and its traditional responses to the contemporary problems, perhaps even to despair of them, one possible solution to the problem may be to put anew the question of the political.”

This sounds like a breathtaking endeavor, and it is by no means presented modestly. The short-circuiting of art and politics, one of the most dangerous experiments of the twentieth century, failed in the most catastrophic ways in “old Europe.” This alone is reason to pose a few questions on the project to its mastermind, Latour. [… ]

bruno latour© Otto Pohl, Workers Uprising, 2003, digital photograph, dimensions variable, published
in the International Herald Tribune, June 17, 2003

Latour: I am interested in art precisely because I am interested in the truth of art. I am interested in the truth-making in all of these activities. Law has its own truth-making. I spent five years writing a book about the supreme court in France, trying to understand the precise sort of truth that is difficult in law, with its very specific type of truth-making: veridiction in French literally means “saying truth.” My interest in art is not because art suspends the search for truth – although it does in some ways – but precisely because it has a truthful way of doing so, since the beginning “taste” in art is a way to make the distinction between good art and bad art. There is a strong grammar of choices between “true and bad” and “true and wrong”  in art that must be understood in all its subtlety. I am not an artist, and I am not an art historian. The only way to do fieldwork – because I am an empirical philosopher, I do philosophy through fieldwork, with ethnographic methods, which have to be precisely adapted to the subject each time?with artists was to produce art with them: to situate myself literally in the direction of the process of construction. The products, at least in contemporary art, are not always easily understandable. The process is usually much more interesting than the product. I decided the best way to do that would be to be a producer, so to speak, of art. Not as an artist, but as a curator. And I had the chance through Peter Weibel, who is also an artist, as well as the director of the ZKM, to do so?twice [laughs]. Now I think I know more. First I met lots of very nice artists. I detected lots of terribly bad artists. I sought out lots of good curators and lots of bad curators. I learned a trade. This is my fieldwork. I didn’t do that to produce art. But I found?I think?the way to get into the process of art production.”

excerpts of Bruno Latour and Chrisian S. G Katti Mediating Political ‘Things’ and the Forked tongue of Modern Culture A conversation with Bruno Latour, ArtJournal Vol. 65 n°1 pp.94-115 Spring 2006.

┐ Endre Tót – 0000000 – Tót Endre └

Stamps0004© Endre Tót, ZEROPOST, Stamps, signed and dated, 1976

Tot1© Endre Tót, in the spirit of Marcel Duchamp, 1987

tot_jobbeso© Endre Tót, if I look to the right: right rain / if I look to the left: left rain, 1973

tot-nowhere© Endre Tót, Outdoor Texts, 1980

iamglad_mittel2© Endre Tót, Hopes in the Nothing (Six outdoor Photos), 1993

After works spanning from pop art collage and gesture painting all the way to minimal art object-pictures Endre Tót took a radical decision in 1971 and started his work completely from scratch. His collage paintings had already contained aspects of installation and his gesture painting had demonstrated the attitude that manifested itself in Tót’s life-long search for identity. His object-pictures (meaning the picture itself is an object, e.g. a tablecloth) signified his last step in painting and the first step towards installation. From the point of view of concept art, signals, messages, posted objects, ads and demonstrations can all be installations. Accordingly, Tót’s media include, among others, postcards, telegrams, letters, envelopes, stamps, rubber stamps, photocopies, faxes, objects, T-shirts, newspapers, electronic message boards, placards/posters, banners, boards, actions, graffiti, audiotapes, film and video.

“My Unpainted Canvases” were conceived as pieces of concept art, but with his slogan “Nothing Is Nothing” Tót entered the territory of “behaviour art”. This means that his behaviour is crucial to his art, since everything that happens to him – through his ideas – is manifested as art. In his gladness works the symbol of nothing, i.e. the zero-symbol 0, becomes an independent shaping tool with which anything can be expressed. In his ideas, in the nothing, gladness, rain, and later in his “mine-yours” works he created mature pieces of correspondence art. By using non-traditional media his documents, the nothing-, gladness-, and absent pictures, are simultaneously present in the mail art network. From the late 80s Tót returned to the use of traditional media, and in these (“absent picture”) paintings his gladnesses were temporarily left unseen. While “My Unpainted Canvases” are about what would make him glad if he could see them, his “absent pictures” made fifteen years later, imply what he is glad to have made disappear.

“I am glad to have stood here” is Endre Tót’s first “sidewalk table“, which he designed in 1996 to be placed in front of the entrance of what was to become the Artpool P60 exhibition space. At first, the sign in bronze, sunk into the asphalt, appears to be a commemorative plaque designating the place where a noteworthy event occurred. In contrast, the style of the text resembles tourists’ writing their name on monuments that will outlive them. The absences in the case of the commemorative plaque: when, until when, and why the person stood here, and once he did, who is this Endre Tót? a tourist? (By the way, Tót is definitely a space-time-traveller.) For a tourist a dusty asphalt sidewalk is not typically the place that would outlive him. So what are we talking about here?

This installation is a new type of absent picture, which harks back to “gladness pictures”; therefore it is worth comparing it with the “gladness pictures” Endre Tót made in the 70s: “I am glad if I can stand next to you” (he is standing next to a Lenin statue), “I am glad if I can look at the wall”, “I am glad if I can lift my leg”, “I am glad if I can go one step”; and a later work entitled “I am glad if this can hang here”, etc. These are all admissible attitudes for him in the present existing as a “kindergarten past”. Since Tót traverses a reverse path, the source of his present gladness is moved into the past (“I am glad to have stood here”), which can also be poetically understood in a way that he is glad about the present which is the past of the future. I am glad that Endre Tót stood here because in this way I myself became privy to a new space-time experience and from now on I will always be glad whenever I have the chance to (be able to) refer to the present as the past, since, as Flusser stated, “the road no longer leads from the past into the future but rather from the future into the present”.

Installing Endre Tót’s “sidewalk table” has been occasioned by Artpool’s installation project and the coincidence that as “self-assembling poetry” it can be directly linked with Miklós Erdély’s {SIDEWALK} table exhibition on Liszt Ferenc Square, as well as with Sándor Altorjai’s picture installations in Artpool P60. The idea was inspired by Miklós Erdély’s oeuvre exhibition in Műcsarnok.

text by György Galántai, October 1998, english translation by Krisztina Sarkady-Hart

┐ Irena Lagator, responsible resistance └

Resistence Reservoir 4, Irena Lagator© Irena Lagator Pejović, Resistence Reservoir, 2012. Equation in english, montenegrin and german written on an ex Mazut (fuel oil) reservoir @ garden of the Ministry of Culture, public project for Cetinje, Montenegro

Knowledge of the Limited Responsibility Society 2, Irena LagatorOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA© Irena Lagator Pejović, Knowledge of the Limited Responsibility Society (extended), 2012. Ongoing series of original customer receipts bound in 18 books.

Limited Responsibility Society, Polignano a Mare 4, Irena LagatorLimited Responsibility Society 5, Irena Lagator© Irena Lagator Pejović, Limited Responsibility Society, 2012. Copies of customers’ original receipts, dimensions vary.

The Society of Peaceful Co-existence SCA 3, Irena Lagator© Irena Lagator Pejović, The Society of Peaceful Co-existence, 2012. 28 algraphy prints, 100 x 70 each, overall dimensions vary according to space.

The Society of Unlimited Responsiblity 2, Irena Lagator© Irena Lagator Pejović, The Society of Unlimited Responsibility, 2006. artist book: school notebook, hand pencil drawing.

All utopias fail in the Balkans: the greater Serbian principality in the Middle Ages, the Ottoman Empire, the Danube monarchy, the greater Serbian monarchy, the Yugoslavian multi-ethnic state, market-based socialism and, in the future possibly, the European Union, too.

At the same time, all the states that arose from the legacy of the old Yugoslavia have to find new identities. The permanent diminishment of the states since the Ottoman Empire and the Danube monarchy were dismantled into tiny states such as Kosovo did not solve the fundamental problem of the western Balkans: the establishment of ethnically homogeneous societies which, in an ideal scenario, represent the basis of the modern nation state.

The new societies, too, are ethnically heterogeneous structures, the basis of which cannot be, in the long term, about ethnicity and nationalism – their downfall would be the price to pay. These societies are thus unintentional laboratories of the post-modern era and have an uncertain outcome.(…)

Irena Lagator understands her artistic function as “a social strategy”; art as the vehicle of the human – that is, of the social civilising. With this claim, she belongs to a post-avant garde generation of artists who no longer herald the presumptuous claim to the liberation of mankind and the salvation of human pre-history from misery. The radical art avantgardes of the classical modern period often forgot that the freedom of art also always contains its social responsibility. Art’s complete freedom implies the artist’s absolute lack of responsibility. Political theory can sing a song about the absolute freedom of the totalitarian agitators; aesthetic theory still has to learn it.

The project on “unlimited social responsibility” sets high standards among societies which would only like to take on limited responsibility. Even over fifty years ago the conservative art historian Hans Sedlmayr spoke of the “loss of the middle way” which, among other things, he saw in the radical autonomy of the arts and the ever-threatening collectivisation of societies.

Irena Lagator avoids the danger of pronouncing (artistic) truths by devising multiple realities; and by changing perspectives she denies the observer and artistic creation any one-dimensionality. Her installations with thousands of material fibres may communicate an insight into the fragility of our knowledge and what we believe to be certain.

What is more, her installations communicate an awareness of how fleeting time and space are, of the finite nature of everything and of human endeavour. Nevertheless, she calls for responsibility on the part of artists and societies: with gentle reason she reminds us whether we want to find ourselves in the museum of the humane or in the memorial to the collective lack of reason, to the barbaric lack of responsibility.”

excerpt of Michael Ley‘s Art and Reason, or: Art as Social Strategy

┐ Augustin Rebetez, from joy to colera └

GP Rebetezaugustin_rebetez-sans_titre001_largeAugustin Rebetez01

“Augustin Rebetez breathes energy in his works. He has developed a very ownable style over a very short period of time, even though this is not easy to put in a box. With a combination of free and staged photography using his immediate surroundings, he constantly surprises with his work. Augustin is not afraid to cross over with sculpture, film, photography and even drawings. He is one of the rare new and raw talents that the world of photography is waiting for. The fact that he studied in Vevey and lives in the region came as a pleasant surprise for the international jury. The proposed project will be a very welcome catalyst to further develop his creative madness.” excerpt from the statement of this year’s Vevey award.
rebetez

Screen-shot-2011-07-30-at-11.18.44-720x47722_rebetez26_rebetez

Augustin’s website here and his vimeo channel here

┐ Ahmet Ögüt, Mind the System └

I have no mercy or compassion in me for a society that will crush people, and then penalize them for not being able to stand up under the weight.”
-Malcolm X

stone9© Ahmet Ögüt, from the project Stones to throw, 2011

stone2© Ahmet Ögüt, from the project Stones to throw, 2011

mts-ahmetogut-strategischschema02© Ahmet Ögüt,Strategic Diagram for Non-hierarchical Participatory Radical Democracy, 2011. In: Mind the System, Find the Gap

More of Ahmet’s work here

┐ Andrea Polli, memories as possessions in virtual space └

25676492© Andrea Polli, Appetite 4, installation detail, Here Space, NY, 1995

3© Andrea Polli, Appetite 4, detail from installation WWW site showing a studio photograph of objects on a plate, 1995

1© Andrea Polli, Fetish, screen shot of detail of installation at the Ctrl show, Name Gallery, Chicago, 1996

“Research into the concept of appetite led me to consider my personal appetite for possessions. It became clear to me that I (like many others) have multiple layers of possessions. We have possessions that exist in physical space, as well as possessions in virtual space: images, sounds and texts stored in analog and digital media. My work, entitled Appetite 4, consisted of 32 porcelain dinner plates suspended on the walls of a small space and containing actual materials symbolic of my personal desires. A cellular phone, for example, symbolized my need for protection-i.e. the idea of being untouchable or unlocatable; keys referred to power and control. I photographed the material on each of the plates in its “ideal” state-lit to resemble a commercial product. Objects of desire in the virtual world exist in a visually heightened state to compensate for the lack of physicality. Remote visitors could access the desires in the virtual world through the World Wide Web (WWW) at <http:// homepage.interaccess.com/-apolli/ appetite.htm>.
(…)
The idea of possessions in virtual space, which I explored in the Appetite exhibition, led me to the conscious realization that virtual possessions are actually an integral part of non-digital life. Every human being has a storage bank of virtual possessions: memories. In fact, the computer storage bank is understood in human terms only through a metaphor of memory.

Fetish, part of Command-Shift-Ctrl exhibition in May 1996 at NAME Gallery, Chicago, explored the issue of memory in virtual and physical space. The installation consisted of 12 objects suspended on glass panels acting as a drop ceiling over the heads of the viewers. A computer in the space provided a virtual replication of the objects. In positioning the objects, I attempted to create a metaphor for the act of remembering. There are physical correlations to many emotional states-for example, joy is experienced as a physical buoyancy, and, in contrast, grief is experienced as physical weight. When trying to remember, humans often will move their eyes up and to the side (Color Plate B No. 1).


I lit each object with a dramatic spotlight, which created exaggerated shadows on the walls of the space. As in Appetite 4, lighting served to give the objects a larger-than-life presence in the space. I wanted to create a physical space that would refer to the mind’s virtual space during the act of remembering events and objects. Certain events have prominence in the mind, and the physical metaphor of size in relation to importance importance is utilized in the space through oversized shadows-foggy reproductions of actual events/objects. I selected the objects as signifiers of personal experiences related to past relationships.”

excerpt from “Polli, Virtual Space and the Construction of Memory”, in Leonardo, Vol.31, 1998

┐ Hanne Darboven – Cultural History └

darboven-kultur-3DAR_Install_Beacon_3.previewDAR_Install_Beacon_1.previewDAR_Install_Beacon_2.preview© Hanne Darboven, Kulturgeschichte 1880-1983 (Cultural History 1880-1983), 1980-83. Installation view at Dia:Beacon, Beacon, New York. Lannan Foundation

Bill Carke: You first saw Cultural History in 1996 at the Dia Art Foundation’s Chelsea space. Can you recall what your response to the work was back then and how it’s evolved since?

Dan Adler: (Laughs) My initial response was of being overwhelmed! The installation took up several large galleries. And, the amount of material to look at! Over 1,600 panels containing thousands of sheets of paper and all these uncanny-looking sculptural objects punctuating the exhibition. I took notes at the time as a way of dealing with my feelings of intimidation, my fear of the work. So, it’s fortunate that I’ve had such a long time to reflect on the work and my notes, and to consider it in relation to other major statements, such as Richter’s Atlas. This gradually made Cultural History less intimidating for me.

BC: How familiar were you with her work before experiencing Cultural History?

DA: I was familiar with some early drawings – the Konstruktonen series made in the mid 1960s, but these are very different from Cultural History. They are humble in terms of scale and materials, consisting of numbers and graphs on paper. Because of that simplicity, they are considered key Conceptual works; the emphasis is on the ideas contained within the calculations. Cultural History, however, is concerned with issues such as historical memory, the reception of traumatic events, and the material reality of things. So, the Cultural History installation was a big surprise because it contrasted with what I though her work was.

BC: I feel her concern with history, especially Germany’s turbulent 20th century history, is shared by a number of her contemporaries. You mentioned Gerhardt Richter, but when I was reading your book, I also thought a lot about Christian Boltanski.

DA: Yes, both he and Darboven convey the events of the Holocaust and other traumatic situations in their work, and how that history is coldly archived, transmitted and distorted by historians, the culture industry and the media. They both deal with the politics of transmission, but in very different ways. By this, I mean the ways through which those horrors have been received by us photographically and textually. We live in a world in which there are forces distracting us from those realities, and that capitalize and make money off of those realities.

BC: You talk about earlier attempts to create atlas-like works in the book, such as Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas from 1929, but it seems to me that a work like Cultural History could only have been made in the latter half of the 20th century. I say this because when Warburg was constructing his atlas, history was probably conceived of in a more linear way – of one event happening after another rather than things occurring simultaneously. Word of events taking place on the other side of the world took days, if sometimes not weeks, to spread. Today, we learn about events almost immediately. We have much more of a sense of the simultaneity of events; however, this seems to have a levelling effect. The media often seems to give equal weight to everything. News of a celebrity having a meltdown is delivered to us in the same format as news of the latest complex developments in the Middle East. Cultural History seems to presage our current situation.

DA: Yes, there is a feeling of dilution of the power of the image today. For example, in Cultural History, we’ll see an image of Hitler saluting, followed immediately by an image of a cartoon picturing a baby eating. The images are brought down to the same level of information. No one subject is more relevant than another.

BC: Darboven’s work is critical of this.

DA: Yes, absolutely. Cultural History is meant to raise our awareness of how we have become detached from our own histories. The role of the culture industry is to detach us from such realities. Its role is to create spectacles that pacify us and make us less aware of ways of subverting the powers that be. One way is to keep us in a constant state of visual stimulation, which distracts us from the realities and injustices of history. The culture industry and the media are always forcing us onto the next thing. Think about the injustices that occurred during the Iraq war. Doesn’t it feel like we’ve already forgotten about them?

BC: Another element of Darboven’s work you mention is the act of itemizing, list-making and cataloguing. Again, this is a trait she shares with Boltanski, as well as artists like Mario Merz or Alighiero Boetti. What is the purpose of Darboven’s itemizing?

DA: Cultural History gathers together varied things as pre-World War II postcards, pin-ups of film and rock stars, World War I-era German cigarette cards, geometric diagrams for textiles, illustrated covers from Der Spiegel and Der Stern; the contents of an exhibition catalogue devoted to post-War European and American art, musical score sheets, pages of numerical calculations and a form of repetitive cursive writing, and imagery from some of Darboven’s earlier works. It also includes three-dimensional objects such as animal figures, a robot, a crescent moon hanging from the ceiling, a kiosk, a ceramic bust of a moustached man, a pair of shop-window mannequins wearing jogging attire, and a book placed on a pedestal. Darboven’s is a personal and non-hierarchical collection of materials, and it provokes consideration of how history is made and related. It draws distinctions between history and information, everyday and historical significance, and documentary and aesthetic import. Her work powerfully questions the division between the personal and the universal, as it operates in the process of portraying history. Most importantly, her work refuses to answer the call for interpretive synthesis.

excerpt of an interview with Dan Adler, author of “Hanne Darboven: Cultural History 1880-1983”, by Bill Clarke. continue reading here
More of Hanne’s work here

┐ The blind man and his visual clarity └

artistas_obras_imagens_imagem_136_2037 (1)© João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva

Terence-KohTerence Koh, God, 2007. View of the performance at de Pury & Luxembourg, Zurich. Courtesy Peres Projects, Berlin.

terencekohinstallview1_600_600Installation view of Terence Koh (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, January 19–May 27, 2007). Photograph by Sheldan C. Collins

Sugimoto_Hiroshi_Self-portrait_2003© Hiroshi Sugimoto, Self-portrait, 2003

hiroshi_sugimoto© Hiroshi Sugimoto, from the series Theaters, 1978

“I wish to suggest that we are like philosopher-artists installed in these works, engaged in inscribing and contemplating the line between the real and representation, the trait, which continually both “draws a boundary and with draws from it.” To be this blind man means, for Derrida, to see with one’s hands, and indeed when one interacts with these installations one finds oneself touching – walls, elevator doors, a door jamb or stair railing – whatever is near to hand that will steady one’s balance. The blind man of necessity must also rely on memory, both the memory of objects and spaces (the configuration of the room, one’s location relative to furniture) and, more important, the memory of sight itself. Deceived by shadows, blinded by sunlight, we are like Plato’s cave dwellers, for, like them, the viewer of contemporary art “suffers from sight.” Accustomed to a world of simulation, a world where image is reality, we are full time skeptics for whom light and darkness, truth and falsehood, reality and representation hold equal dangers. We are left to draw blindly, again and again, the line between them.
(…)
Not quite performance and not quite sculpture, Nauman’s corridor pieces provoke a series of questions: What is the role of the, for lack of a better word, “viewer’s” body and the effect of the constraints placed on that body? What is the place of vision in works in which there is nothing in particular to see (the blank walls), or in which seeing is frustrated (the image of the back of one’s head), or in which one is blinded (the bright lights) ? And what is the function of representation in works in which nothing much seems to be represented? While it seems clear that Nauman’s works are performative?they involve a setting, an actor, a simple narrative arc, a temporal framework, and what Joseph Roach has called sur rogation (the viewer stands in for the artist)?they also resist the category of performance.2^ They are, at the same time, involved with seemingly more conventional artistic concerns such as vision (we are forced to contemplate our own seeing), subject-object relations (the corridor is both sculpture and stage), and representation (the viewer represents the artist). Performance and sculpture, the real and representation, vision and blindness? the corridor is an apt figure through which to contemplate the passage between conceptual categories. It functions both as a long line (Derrida’s trait) that divides, and as a liminal space that connects?here and there, now and then.”

excerpt of Blink: The Viewer as Blind Man in Installation Art, by Jane Blocker, in Art Journal, Vol. 66, No. 4, 2007

┐ Micael Nussbaumer & The Weaving Factory – chaos as creative force └

41_MG_1350© Micael Nussbaumer, from “Tempo Imprime no Espaço” (lit. translation: Time prints in Space), installation

5© Micael Nussbaumer, “Desfiar”, installation, several different documents from the abandoned Fábrica da Fiação de Tomar (The Weaving Factory), 2010

6

32© Micael Nussbaumer, video stills, from “O Registador”, 2010

“Each video depicts an intervention in the abandoned space of Fábrica da Fiação. They are loops, without a beginning or an end, which brings them closer to photography rather than video.(…)”

“Micael Nussbaumer’s installation, “O Registador”, explores objects and spaces from the abandoned «Fábrica da Fiação de Tomar». The choice of this weaving factory as the main subject of this exposition was due to the perfect analogy found by the artist between the concepts he wanted to expose and the history of that enterprise.

The beginning of this factory can be described as an attempt to modernize Portugal, following the industrial revolution happening in Europe, meanwhile empowering the national bourgeoisie by increasing competitiveness. It wasn’t randomly that Tomar was chosen to host such enterprise, it was the surrounding environment that created this opportunity; the local river, Nabão, could use the new hydraulic technologies that were spawning across Europe. Effectively it was here that for the first time these technologies were used in Portugal. But even this didn’t prevent its decline in different times as a result of bureaucratic, political and economical reasons. The factory that employed hundreds of families across the region, boosting local development and economy through 200 hundred years under different administrations, close its doors completely in 1975, after a fire, being until this day abandoned. (…)” Micael’s statement. continue reading here

Micael’s work is multi-dimensional enough but I’ll have to add another layer: a personal one. No family member was an employee of the Weaving Factory Micael’s work refers to, nor have I heard personal accounts of what was like to work there, but I do know people who slept, cooked, fucked and partied there not that long ago and that adds a new layer, one related to the memory of affections. In the midst of this sort of living happening at the Factory, I witnessed life and chaos fulfilling the space and I’ve stared death in the eyes. When Micael comes about rearranging the collective memory of this space as if some internal order could bring objects back to life he manages not only to give it a new form – by repetition chaotic systems are put into order, conceptually, abstractly – but he is also making an offering to his viewers, whether he/she realizes it or not. Objects presented in Micael’s installation have a life of their own, they have a soul. They are not inert. They move, they transform, they affect you. They shared the same humid space hundreds of workers did and they were there when it happened… because Micael insisted on the remains of this particular history, these material depictions are kept alive, breaking through the smell of destruction brought upon that place. Sofia

“Some time in 1965 Bruce Nauman made a plaster cast of the space under his chair. Perhaps it was late in the year, after Donald Judd’s “Specific Objects” essay had appeared, or perhaps earlier, for example in February, in relation to Judd’s review of Robert Morris’s Green Gallery exhibition, or in October, after Barbara Rose had published “ABC Art,” her own bid to theorize Minimalism. In any event, Nauman’s cast, taking the by-then recognizable shape of a Minimalist sculpture, whether by Morris or Tony Smith, or Judd himself, was more or less cubic, grayish in color, simple in texture … which made it no less the complete anti-Minimalist object.

Several years later, when the tide against Minimalism had turned, and the attack on Minimalism’s industrial metaphor-its conviction in the well-built object, its display of rational tectonics and material strength-was in full swing, this reaction would move under the banner of “Anti-Form,” which is to say a set of strategies to shatter the constructed object and disperse its fragments. But Nauman’s cast, which he repeated the following year in two other forays-Shelf Sinking into the Wall with Copper-Painted Plaster Casts of the Spaces Underneath (1966) and Platform Made up of the Space between Two Rectilinear Boxes on the Floor (1966)-acting well before anti-form, does not take this route of explosion, or dismemberment, or dissemination. It does not open the closed form of the fabricated object to release its material components from the corset of their construction, to turn them over to the forces of nature-gravity, wind, erosion- which would give them quite another articulation, one cast in the shadow of natural processes of change. Rather, it takes the path of implosion or congealing, and the thing to which it submits this stranglehold of immobility is not matter, but what vehiculates and subtends it: space itself.

Nauman’s attack, far more deadly than anti-form-because it is about a cooling from which nothing will be able to extricate itself in the guise of whatever articulation-is an attack made in the very name of death, or to use another term, entropy. And for this reason, the ambiguity that grips these residues of Nauman’s casts of interstitial space, the sense, that is, that they are object-like, but that without the title attached to them like an absurd label, one has no idea of what they are, even of what general species of object they might belong to, seems particularly fitting. It is as though the congealing of space into this rigidly entropic condition also strips it of any means of being “like” anything. If the constant utilitarian character of Minimalist objects-they are “like” boxes, benches, portals, etc.-or the more evocative turn of process works, continued to operate along the condition of form, which is that, having an identity, it be meaningful, it is the ultimate character of entropy, Nauman’s casts force us to realize, that it congeal the possibilities of meaning as well. Which is to say that this conception of entropy, as a force that sucks out all the intervals between points of space, not only understands the “Brownian movement” of molecular agitation as slowed to a stop, but also imagines the eradication of those distances that regulate the grid of oppositions, or differences, necessary to the production of meaning.

Although he never, himself, pushed his own concerns with entropy into the actual making of casts, Robert Smithson had always considered casting as a way of theorizing entropy, since he had written about the earth’s crust as itself a giant cast, the testimony to wave after wave of cataclysmic forces compressing and congealing life and all the spatial intervals necessary to sustain it. Quoting Darwin’s remark “Nothing can appear more lifeless than the chaos of rocks,” Smithson treasured the geological record as a “landslide of maps,” the charts and texts of the inexorable process of cooling and death.3 For each rock, each lithic band is the evidence of whole forests, whole species that have decayed-“dying by the millions”-and under the pressure of this process have become a form of frozen eternity. In a movingly poetic text, “Strata: A Geophotographic Fiction,” he attempted to prize apart these layers of compression, alternating blocks of writing with strips of photographs showing the fossil record trapped within the magma of the rock, as the demonstrative presentation of wave after wave- Cambrian, Silurian, Devonian, Permian, Triassic, Jurassic-of wreckage.”

excerpt of A User’s Guide to Entropy, by Yve-Alain Bois and Rosalind Krauss, in October, Vol. 78 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 38-88

More of Micael’s work can be seen here

┐ Christian Boltanski – death from within └

5498496647_85c3f87a4d_o© Christian Boltanski, Odessa Monument, 1991. Four gelatin silver prints, lights and wiring

“Since the late 1960s, Christian Boltanski (b. 1944, Paris) has worked with photographs collected from ordinary and often ephemeral sources, endowing the commonplace with significance. Rather than taking original photographs to use in his installations, he often finds and rephotographs everyday documents—passport photographs, school portraits, newspaper pictures, and family albums—to memorialize everyday people. Boltanski seeks to create an art that is indistinguishable from life and has said, The fascinating moment for me is when the spectator hasn’t registered the art connection, and the longer I can delay this association the better. By appropriating mementos of other people’s lives and placing them in an art context, Boltanski explores the power of photography to transcend individual identity and to function instead as a witness to collective rituals and shared cultural memories.”

2© Christian Boltanski, Sans Fin, part of installation showed in the 54th Venice Biennial

1© Christian Boltanski, Dog in the street, 1991. Installation, Photograph, gelatin silver photograph, lamp, biscuit box and electrical wires

“While the particular images in this installation represent children and the family dog at play, there is a brooding sadness and sense of threat which suggests that fear of loss which accompanies all our joys. The black-and-white photos are taken from, or simulate, old family snaps and sometimes news-paper images. This style is deliberate: the black-and-white prints feel like a literal trace in a way that colour plates and digital images do not. We seem to be able to sense the process embedded in the materiality of the print that is created when light falls onto silver nitrate and changes its chemical structure. In this way the light that ‘touches’ the object also touches the print. Because of this intimate process, the photo of a loved one is more than a likeness; it is a relic of their having once been there in front of the camera. This process is further enhanced by the dim reading lamp which is attached to a frame and by the old biscuit tin below each photo which suggests the collections of memorabilia that most of us have in some cupboard or shed.2 The boxes in this installation contain snapshots of the families represented in the larger photographs. The effect also suggests the use of photos in ‘ex votos’ and memorials to the departed. (…) Boltanski plays upon the ambiguity of photography and memory by presenting these found photo-graphs from family albums or archives. In re-photographing them he further degrades the likeness and enhances the feeling of distance in time from the event. He exploits our predisposition to accept the authenticity of old black-and-white images as actual records of events yet presents them with deliberate theatrical effect. The atmosphere he creates is like that of a shrine in a cathedral or mausoleum, but it does not feel like mock religiosity – it is more personal than that and at the same time has broader cultural associations.”

docclick image to see a documentary about Christian’s life and work, in UBUWEB

┐ Hélio Oiticica – Be marginal, Be a hero └

megulho do corpo, hélio© Hélio Oiticica, Bólide Caixa  22, Mergulho no Corpo, 1966-1967

oiticica_helio02g© Hélio Oiticica, Parangolé, 1964

Helio-Oiticica-seja-marginal-seja-herói© Hélio Oiticica, Seja Marginal, Seja Herói, 1968

tropicalia© Hélio Oiticica, Tropicália PN 2 and PN3, de 1967

cosmococas© Hélio Oiticica, Cosmococa 5 – Hendrix War

Sorry but I couldn’t find the following text in English and it really is the one presenting the kind of analogy I wanted to call forward. It compares the work of Helio Oiticica with the work of Derek Jarman and it couldn’t be more poignant…

“Caminhando pela exposição de Jarman em 97, chamou-me a atenção a fotografia de 1969 do autor-ator com uma capa, uma cape-dollar, muito similar aos parangolés de Oiticica de 64 em diante. A foto de Jarman data do mesmo ano da famosa exposição de Oiticica na Galeria Whitechapell em Londres. A fotografia denuncia a impossibilidade da repetição da performance (dissolvida ou transformada no instante mesmo da sua aparição), sua unicidade, sua eventualidade, ao constituir-se em um registro em 2º grau, simulacro, verdade frustrada e impossível. De qualquer forma, Jarman está contra um parede de tijolos à vista, num happening com uma das várias capas que fez entre 69 e 71. Trata-se de uma arte que junta restos colhidos do Rio Tâmisa, notas de dólar ou mesmo símbolos alquímicos sobre uma capa transparente. O que nos interessa é a possibilidade de um hyper-texto, não exatamente se Jarman viu a exposição de Oiticica. Provavelmente sim, mas esta não é a questão. A questão é ler um pelo outro, juntar alguns hyper-elementos que os artistas recolheram desde a noção de que a arte pode sair de seu espaço passivo de observação, para um campo performativo de incursão no espaço social, numa ação marginal em relação aos sistemas culturais centrados, ainda que híbridos por formação.

PTV6O que surpreende na fotografia era o design complexo e sua rede de relações: Jarman parece um bispo hippie, que desde a ótica do Oiticica poderia ser lido como uma imensa tropicália. Isto relembra-nos que ambos faziam uma intervenção estética no universo urbano, relacionando a arte com a produção de subjetividades críticas em relação ao mundo capitalista, especialmente no que tange à expressão de uma identidade cultural ou sexual, e que, a despeito desta universalidade, ambos eram leitores de seus micro-territórios, dos seus lugares. (…)

Pode-se pensar a marginalidade como heroísmo em Oiticica e um heroísmo como marginalidade na imagem do mártir queer de Jarman. Com efeito, há entre ambos uma névoa do poeta maudito de Baudelaire. Tal idéia advém de um desdobramento de termos e tempos que Benjamin propõe na leitura de Baudelaire: Baudelaire moldou a imagem do artista de acordo com a imagem do herói. Desde o começo eles se equivalem, num contexto onde há uma fratura crucial entre o poeta e a sociedade. Por que ele não gostava de seu tempo ou por que ele não queria iludir a si mesmo, engendrou várias figuras reativas: Flâneur, Apache, Dandy, Trapeiro. Eles são os simulacros de herói em um palco subitamente esvaziado de atores. Cada um destes personagens vai configurar um relacionamento com o tempo: o anti-movimento diferencial, o alimentar-se dos restos, etc. O heroísmo emerge desta situação paradoxal: frente às ruínas e restos dos sistemas de certeza, frente a transformação da arte em produto e do público em massa, o artista faz da imagem de si uma linguagem de resistência.”

excerpt of Be marginal, be hero: art, identity and gender in Hélio Oiticica and Derek Jarman, by Wladimir Antônio da Costa Garcia. continue reading here

More of Helio’s work here

Helio’s MAJOR exhibition is in Portugal @ CCB until January 6th, 2013

┐ Harmut Lerch & Claus Holtz – 36976 portraits└


“The theme of dehumanization was the subject matter of many works in a variety of media. None was clearer or more appropriate to the exhibition than Portrait, a video tape by Harmut Lerch and Claus Holtz which consists of 100,000 photographic portraits viewed consecutively at a gradually increasing rate, up to 20,000 faces per second. As the photographs (which share a common eye level) are shown more and more rapidly, they gradually blur together into one homogenized image, a sexless, expressionless face neither beautiful nor ugly. This is a straightforward work about conformity and lack of uniqueness, yet its simplicity (in conception, not execution) does not detract from the strength of its message leading the viewer to fantasize about futuristic uniform societies produced by cloning. The vision is pure 1984.” source: Feldman Gallery

┐ Jacinda Russell └

© Jacinda Russell, Strange Artifacts: A Photographic and Found Object @ J. Crist Gallery, installation view + details, Idaho, 2007
The wunderkammer or “room of wonder” draws heavily upon 16th century European cabinets of curiosity. I combined digital photography with found object sculpture by printing on canvas and encasing the images in weathered boxes, suitcases, drawers, and crates. Objects like false teeth, steering wheels, anonymous sculptures of naked bandits, jars of paint chips, sculpted cotton, and skull necklaces form the installation. All 50 of the objects are influential in defining my childhood and adult years, the various places I have called home, and the things that I carry with me, not yet willing to let go.

© Jacinda Russell, Residue (left) + Hoard (right), from Dark Mass, 2000

© Jacinda Russell, Detritus, 2000

Thus began the conscious decision to gather large quantities of objects, often undesirable items, placed in dilapidated environments and old containers. In Dark Mass, I want to visually portray the fine line between serious collecting and obsessing over a collection to the point where it controls one’s life. I search for the atypical, whether it is the accumulation of the article itself (hairnets, fingernails, and shredded books are not what one would hoard as precious objects), its placement (bicycles resting on their sides, photographs standing at attention, upside down doll feet), or its environment (globes and birdcages piled at the foot of a ladder leading nowhere). Most of the objects are fragile, poised to disintegrate into their surroundings.

© Jacinda Russell, Amass, 2000

Growing up in a house with 225 balloon-tire bicycles, thousands of bottles, telephone pole insulators, soda paraphernalia, rooms filled with cardboard boxes, golden age comic books, trunks of advertising material and endless amounts of artwork, I was convinced to live a life with minimal possessions. Suddenly the realization that I was collecting (never mind the fact that the object in question was trash) was unsettling.

For my 1999 installation, Fear of Schizophrenia, I collected nearly two thousand cigarette packs to understand my great-aunt’s obsessive behavior and paranoid schizophrenia. She collected paper, wrapping her possessions in Kleenex and storing them in sacks. She smoked incessantly, saving the foil of the cigarette pack to use as stationery and the cellophane as wallets. These filthy packages were an important feature of the installation. One year after reinstalling the exhibition and unable to depart from the packs, I kept them boxed in the backyard storage shed, elevated to keep the rain from seeping through the cardboard.

more of Jacinda‘s work here

┐ Adad Hannah └

© Adad Hannah, Safari #2, from the project Safari, 2011

“Safari is a collaboration between film director Denys Arcand and artist Adad Hannah produced for the exhibition Big Bang, which celebrates the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ 150th Anniversary and the opening of a new pavilion.
The set for Safari is the Safari Seating Environment designed by the Florence based Archizoom Associati in 1968 and produced by Poltronova. Archizoom was founded by a group of architects and designers in 1966 and dissolved in 1974.
Arcand and Hannah developed a 7-minute scene that takes place in the back of a nightclub in the middle of the 1980’s. The scene revolves around the Safari Seating Environment, its sleek white sides and leopard print covered seats providing the stage for the set of actions performed on it. The actors featured in Safari are all employees of the museum with no formal acting training. After workshopping the scene for two days Arcand and Hannah shot the same 7-minute sequence from six different angles. Each actor had a set trajectory, performing certain actions at a set place in the timeline and remaining as still as possible the rest of the time. The result is a staccato and haunting recording of a single scene performed over and over for the camera.”

© Adad Hannah, Lunge, from the project Traces, 2010

“In 2007, Michelle Jacques, assistant curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, contacted me about creating a new project for Toronto’s Nuit Blanche. I proposed taking over Toronto’s oldest jazz bar, The Rex, to create a temporal shift by staging possible localized histories within the aging interior. The project was called Traces. Several weeks before the one night event I shot a series of over twenty videos of tableaux vivants arranged around the patchwork of tables that make up the sprawling bar. During Nuit Blanche the videos were shown in the very location where they were made, creating a dialogue between photography, video, and performance. The installation lasted from 7pm on the night of September 29th, 2007 until 7am the next morning. This selection includes four photographic details as well as four autonomous videos.”

Two Views, Installation with 2 HD videos, 2 plasma screens, 2 stuffed birds, 2 wooden crates, acrylic paint, and other materials. Installed at DAÏMÕN / AXENÉO7, Gatineau, 2011

“Making a self-contained project that integrates both the artwork and the production of the artwork is something I have been working towards for a while. I am interested in the way video and photography bridge index and fiction, the here and now and the same place at a slightly different time.
The two crates each contain everything needed for the installation, the windows, the branch with the stuffed bird, the plasma screen, the wooden stands, the costumes, the book the model is holding, and the media player used to play the video. The videos were shot inside the same crates they are then exhibited on – the plasma screen simply replacing the camera.”

More of Adad’s work here