≡ Sculpture & Photography: a love affair (part II) ≡

Roughly one year ago I made a post highlighting the love affair between photography and sculpture in contemporary art. The post featured artists that were part of the 2014 selection of Hyères Festival. In this second part what follows is a selection of work based on an exhibited curated on the theme Under Construction – New Positions in American Photography, organized by Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam and Pioneer Works Center for Art and Innovation, showcasing the work of ten artists from EUA and Canada. On the Foam website one can read:

“The far-reaching digitisation of society exerts an unparalleled influence on almost every aspect of the medium. This ranges from entirely new photographic techniques (digitisation of the equipment) and the use of the photographic image (distribution via digital networks) to the value and significance of photography itself (in view of the never-ending stream of many millions of photographic images that are being taken, distributed and manipulated every day). This fundamental reassessment is particularly appropriate and important in a society in which so much culturally relevant information is communicated via images and where an unprecedented and extremely complex dynamic has developed amongst images. In this new world, how can photography or a photograph be defined? What is the value and significance of photography? What is the role of the artist?

“These kinds of questions are of utmost relevance for this new generation of image makers who all represent very specific positions within a complex landscape. One of the most distinguishing features is that the image is constructed and built up from decontextualized elements. Furthermore its aesthetic qualities are largely determined by the use of abstract forms and colors. Whether the photograph is created entirely from scratch or whether it is put together using archetypal images, art history references, archive material or pictures derived from the internet, the end result is fragmented and layered. The artists make use of analogue or digital workflows, or a combination of both, often using advanced post-production software. With the introduction of three dimensionality as a self-evident addition, the photographic image is not always limited to a flat surface.

“The participants of Under Construction are in fact engaged with a reinvention of photography within a totally different societal context, taking account of more than 150 years of photographic history. It is no less than a photographic renaissance.”


svanderbeek43.jpg.pagespeed.ce.a98N5NV-g_© Sara VanDerBeek, Shift, 2014. Digital c-print.

svanderbeek40.jpg.pagespeed.ce.eXjerq5HES© Sara VanDerBeek, Turned Stairs/Pyramid Steps, 2014. Detail view.

svanderbeek41.jpg.pagespeed.ce.0v6mNUHpfq© Sara VanDerBeek, Ancient Objects, Still Lives. Installation view.


katesteciw_interview01© Kate Steciw, Springtime Entropy, 2009.C-Print.

katesteciw_interview04© Kate Steciw, abstract, assistance, bed rest, biology, blade, botanic, clean, clear, close-up, closeup, detail, dew, dew-drop, drop, droplet,
flora, foliage, fresh, green, grow, harmony, hope, leaf, life, light, macro, morning, mourning, nature, organic, pure, purity, purpose,
rain, reflections, scattered, spring, survival, water, warning, weather, wet”,
2012. C-Print.


Cut-(from-Picturing-the-Times-of-your-Life)© Sara Cwynar, Cut (from picturing the times of your life), from the project Flat Death.

Toucan-in-Nature-(Post-it-notes)© Sara Cwynar, Toucan in Nature (post it notes), from the project Flat Death.

Contemporary-Floral-Arrangement-1-(Many-Perrenials-can-be-used-in-arrangements-such-as-this-for-winter-decoration)© Sara Cwynar, Contemporary Floral Arrangement 1, from the project Flat Death.


26089-1391119124-05TOPIARY© Cynthia Talmadge and Matthew Leifheit, Fruit Topiary (Bosc Pears).

IMG-0633-INVspread© Cynthia Talmadge and Matthew Leifheit, Untitled (topiary), 2013.


Crescnent_Eyed_Portrait© Daniel Gordon, Crescent Eyed Portrait. C-print, from the project Back to the Green Line, M+B, Los Angeles, 2013.

banana© Daniel Gordon, Bananas. C-print, from the project Back to the Green Line, M+B, Los Angeles, 2013.

Artichokes_and_Leeks© Daniel Gordon, Artichokes and Leeks. C-print, from the project Back to Screen Selections and Still Lifes, Wallspace, New York, 2014.


higherpictures_joshuacitarella_renderdifference© Joshua Citarella, Render and Difference, 2013, C-print.

23_HourglassLattice© Joshua Citarella, Hourglass in Lattice Configuration II, III & IV, 2015, C-print.


LIPPS_Camera_700© Matt Lipps, Untitled, from the series Library.

LIPPS_03Heads_700© Matt Lipps, Untitled, from the series Horizon/s.


8863_1000© Jessica Eaton, Interpolation Dramatization 7, 2012. Archival pigment print.

8038_1000© Jessica Eaton, cfaal 306, 2013. Archival pigment print.


porter_greet_the_dust© Matthew Porter, Greet the Dust, 2012. Archival pigment print.

porter-VonSternbergHouse-2-crop-fake-WEB© Matthew Porter, Von Sternberg House #2, 2012. Archival pigment print.


© Owen KyddRed Wall, Three Parts, 2013. Video on 40 inch display screen.

© Owen Kydd, Composition Warner Studio. Video on 40 inch display screen.

© Owen Kydd, Knife, 2011. Video on 40 inch display screen.

٠ Sculpture & Photography: a love affair ٠

What follows is a selection of photographs from this year shortlisted photographers for one of the most coherent photo-festivals in Europe: Hyères. As is made very clear by the following selection, this prize is also an elegy to the long lasting love affair between photography ans sculpture, with a particular emphasis on the fusion between subject and object (or should I say ‘the crisis of identity’), that has been growing for the past couple of years and ends up being materialized in the form of a mask.

pap05© Marie Rime, both images Untitled, from the series Symétrie de pouvoir, 2013.

arm05© Marie Rime, Untitled, from the series Armures, 2013.

masque03© Marie Rime, both images Untitled, from the series Masques, 2011.

0003© Lorenzo Vitturi, Untitled, from the series Dalston Anatomy, 2013.

cocco© Lorenzo Vitturi, Untitled, from the series Dalston Anatomy, 2013.

oriannelopes-1© Orianne Lopes, Untitled, from the series Les Mélanies, 2013.

Untitled2_retouche_web© Orianne Lopes, Untitled, from the series Pellis Armatura, 2012.

gods-high-4_0© Anna Grzelewska, Editorial work.

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpg© Birthe Piontek, Untitled, from the series Mimesis, 2013.

2© Birthe Piontek, Untitled, from the series Mimesis, 2013.

tumblr_mw7kvf4dDz1qc41cro1_500© Osma Harvilahti, Untitled.

london_ 076© Osma Harvilahti, Untitled.

61_web6© Virginie Rebetez, Untitled, from the series Under Cover, 2013.

61_web10© Virginie Rebetez, Untitled, from the series Under Cover, 2013.

٠ Maurizio Anzeri and the problem with labelling and expectations ٠

maurizio_anzeri_rebecca© Maurizio Anzeri, Rebecca, 2009

20110701033135_maurizio_anzeri_Rita300© Maurizio Anzeri, Rita, 2011

I came across Maurizio’s work through an unusual root – Bric-à-brac -, a section of the electronic journal Sans Soleil, specialized in issues related to Art Brut and self-taught art. Not only because of that but also (1) because embroidery is a very common medium within the world of art brut, and (2) because it is also fairly common to encounter appropriations of portraits that authors then re-work – in a sort of manifestation of the complexity of any identity notion or even as a symbolic expression of transcendental ego features -, I “was lead” to believe that Maurizio was not an academically trained artist, nor was he in a conventional circuit.

Anyway, my instinctual mode of association came into place and I found myself thinking of spontaneous art. It was only when I looked for more of Maurizio’s work on the internet that I realized it was framed in a completely different world, though that didn’t change the fact that I really enjoy his embroidery work. The problems that arose have little to do with the work itself, instead they pertain to the artist and the machine around him, which he is undoubtedly responsible for. There’s no sign of bad faith in Maurizio’s statement about his work. In fact, he meets my expectations, in part created by the qualities of the work itself, and speaks of something alike affective labor: “I work with sewing, embroidery and drawing to explore the essence of signs in their physical manifestation. I take inspiration from my own personal experience and observation of how, in other cultures, bodies themselves are treated as living graphic symbols. I then use sewing and embroidery in a further attempt to re-signify, and mark the space with a man-made sign, a trace. The intimate human action of embroidery is a ritual of making and reshaping stories and history of these people. I am interested in the relation between intimacy and the outer world.”

There is no denying that his work is sculptural. I don’t understand the need to label it as photographic, since the photographs are either found, archival or collected in flea markets and the medium that defines his artistry is embroidery, not photography. While googling for his work I came across a description in Vitrine Gallery where it says that Maurizio invent[ed] the term: ‘photo-sculpture’ and I can’t help but laugh. I don’t know who’s responsible for this slip or if this is just bad marketing, but it doesn’t help him in anyway to “sell” him as a surrealist or an avant-garde artist from the 70’s, especially because he was born in Italy in 1969 which would lead to biographic discrepancies.

20-maurizio-anzeri-zelda-1941_2009© Maurizio Anzeri, Zelda, 2009

Maurizio Anzeri's La Famiglia (2013)© Maurizio Anzeri, A stitch in time… La Famiglia, 2013

Tri-dimensional photography, collages, photo-montages and so on, are part of the history of contemporary photography. With surrealism, dadaism and constructivism these techniques were already building their one symbolic field but with the advent of digital photography there was a new boom. The nostalgia, nothingness and apathy that led artists to turn to archives (not only but also) as a way to react to digital manipulation and bring back analogue deconstruction of the one-layered idea that photography is an amalgamate of signs that “were really there”, also sprouted the discussion about the photographic support and its potential to be something else.

Questions about what defines one’s identity in the 21st century merged with questions about what defines the photographic medium and with it portraiture gained a new light. There are several examples of collages, montages and embroidered portraits, most of them recognized and awarded in the last few years and I’ve been posting some of them here – an example is Julie Cockburn. This is the ground Maurizio walks on. There is not a single problem with not having invented the wheel. This lack of originality doesn’t define the work in absolute, only in relation to its culture. In an intimate relation, the work is free to become whatever one needs it to be. The problem is with lying and bad faith, which ruins expectations of an authentic creation.

Sean O’Hagan, from the Guardian, states Anzeri creates something new and surprising by applying an old-fashioned craft to old-fashioned artefacts. I keep questioning the need to adjectivize this as new, specially since the works-of-art are good enough on their own without the help of ‘new-technological’ or ‘ground-breaking’ add. There are also other descriptions which, without being false, are just over embellished – there are far too many adjectives and no critic of the art on display. It’s part of the problem with art criticism in general, too complex, so let’s see another example.

maurizio_anzeri_roundmidnight© Maurizio Anzeri, Round Midnight, 2009

I can’t say who worte it, for there is no signature, but in Maurizio’s portfolio in The Saatchi Gallery one can read that Anzeri’s delicately stitched veil recasts the figure with an uncomfortable modesty, overlaying a past generation’s cross-cultural anxieties with an allusion to our own. My problem with this sort of statement is that it is pretentious and naïf at the same time: it is arrogant to the point that it suggests that what the work communicates should be contained (within a subject and its culture); and it is ingenuous in the sense that it presupposes that there is one understanding for the notion of ‘cross-cultural anxieties’, which means the spectator bust be either the colonizer or the colonized.

I’ll finish with another of Maurizio’s statement, since they are the most honest to his work: “I’ve been collecting old photographs for a long time. A few years ago I was doing ink drawings with them and out of curiosity I stitched into one. I work a lot with threads and hand stitching, and the link to photography was a natural progression. I put tracing paper over the photo and draw on the face until it develops. Sometimes the image comes straight away, suggested by a detail on a dress or in the background, but with the majority of them I spend a lot of time drawing. Once the drawing is done, I pierce the photo with a set of needle-like tools I invented and take the paper away; the holes are obsessively paced at the same distance to convey an idea of geometry. When I begin the stitching something else happens, drawing will never do what thread will – the light changes, and at some points you can lose the face, and at others you can still see under it.

text by Sofia Silva

٠ Eli Craven, pulling the pictures out of the photographs ٠

14_sideswing_6x9© Eli Craven, Smoosh Smaller, from Condolences

10_smooshsmaller© Eli Craven, Side Swing, from Woman Alive

26_sofa© Eli Craven, Sofa, from Screen Lovers

26_hunch© Eli Craven, Hunch, from Screen Lovers

25_white_hair_web© Eli Craven, White Hair, from Folding

25_tuck© Eli Craven, Tuck, from Folding

More of Eli’s work here

٠ An Artist from a Family of Lumberjacks ٠

I found this work via Jonathan Steele. The Italian artist Aron Demetz is not only a gifted wood carver, but of course that really stands out. In a conversation with Alessandro Riva, Aron says he fell in love with wood and the figurative art: I have always been fascinated by people, by what they think and what they have under their skin. The attraction towards the human behaviour and feelings made my choice be a natural consequence and it is, still today, highly spontaneous.

maren© Aron Demetz, Maren, 1998

When asked about his sculpture Maren (Good Morning Uncle Willy) he explains: This sculpture has a strange history. When I was in Nuremberg in 1998, two eleven-year-old girls had just been kidnapped, raped and killed. This created a strong state of uncertainty and everybody just spoke about this incident. This is why I decided to make a sculpture inspired by this crime. The daughter of an elder colleague student posed as a model and I portrait her the way she was: naked, inexpressive, with her hand in her lap. I think that the expressive strength of this sculpture lies in its pose: I put her in front of a huge mirror and in order to see her face, I had to bend into the mirror myself. At that point I could see my face reflected in the mirror and it seemed to ask: “What am I doing next to this young naked girl?” This is what every spectator might ask himself, too, when looking into the mirror. This discourse of constriction and embarrassment, my own and hers, the psychological pressure of the public opinion after the murder of the two young girls, I think all this has created a sculpture of great intensity.

sul_sentire© Aron Demetz, Sul Sentire, Neonato, 2007

senza tijolo© Aron Demetz, Senza Tijolo, 2009

The wood is presented as a living and complex material, sometimes resistant and hostile, at others sinuous and compliant; the artist varies his line in the same way: here aggressive and barbaric, there delicate and affectionate. It is a language that, while rooted in the alphabet of a familiar sculptural tradition, is able to formulate an extraordinarily flexible and ample grammar. Yet it is above all on the plane of narrative that Aron Demetz’s work reveals its full expressive potential and its rich gamut of poetry. What emerges here is a surprising literary dimension that silently takes possession of the figure, abandoning all interest in its wooden body, in the colors in which it is clad, in its graceful representativeness. The work seems to be shrouded in a poetic halo which appears completely detached from the linguistic research pursued by the artist. We are aware of a light step that takes the gaze beyond the image, beyond the figure, beyond the material and the color. Then the details of a face, a gesture, a hand emerge: the piercing eyes of a figure with a forlorn and lonely expression, the small detail of a broad forehead that leaves the hair to the role of a distant curtain, the tongue extended in the purifying act of communion, the fingers gathered in a gesture as familiar as it is mysterious. Fragments of an absolutely moving and absorbing tale, bewildered faces that are reminiscent of the secrecy of Felice Castrati’s women or the gentle geometries of Osvaldo Licini, visionary murmurs of a figuration that transcends the image to tackle the deception of appearance, of mystery, of doubt. The same quivering look as the photographs of Hiroshi Sugimoto, where reality fades into an impalpable horizon, a soft architecture, an empty screen; the same vaporous narration of Aron Demetz, which spurns the certainty of a schematic and didactic account to confront the enigma of a barely hinted poetry, the mystery of an indefinite tabulation, the visionary character of a fragmented gaze. Excerpt from text by Danile Eccher. Complete here.

2011© Aron Demetz, Senza Tijolo, 2009

Aron_Demetz08© Aron Demetz, The Tainted, 2012

Aron_Demetz03 copy© Aron Demetz, The Tainted, 2012

٠ The language of (mutilated) flowers ٠

florero_orquis-lugubris© Juan Manuel Echavarría, Orquis Lugubris, from the series Corte de Florero/Flower Cut Vase, 1997

«Asked on a radio interview a couple of years back why he drew animals and not people, the great cartoonist Chuck Jones of Bugs Bunny and Road Runner fame replied: “It’s easier to humanize animals than humanize humans.” Recently the Colombian artist Juan Manuel Echavarrı´a gave this a twist. Reacting against the stupendous violence in his country, he humanized flowers by photographing them like botanical specimens, replacing the stems, leaves, flowers, and berries with what look like human bones. He called this series of thirty-two black-and-white photographs The Flower Vase Cut, referring to the name of one of the mutilations practiced in the Colombian violencia of the 1940s and 1950s in which the amputated limbs were stuffed, so it is said, into the thorax via the neck of the decapitated corpse.


florero_dracula-nosferatu© Juan Manuel Echavarría, Dracula Nosferatu, from the series Corte de Florero/Flower Cut Vase, 1997

At one point in an interview, Echavarrı´a says, “My purpose was to create something so beautiful that people would be attracted to it. The spectator would come near it, look at it, and then when he or she realizes that it is not a flower as it seemed, but actually a flower made of human bones — something must click in the head, or in the heart, I hope.”

I myself do not see it that way. The flowers are so obviously not flowers. Instead it is the very clumsiness, the deliberateness of the artifice of posing bones as flowers, that perturbs one — and this is of the same order of artifice that makes the mutilation of the Corte del Florero so powerful, too.

The flowers in Echavarría’s photographs have stems made of curving ribsor of the decayed long bones of arms. The petals are formed from what appear to be the human pelvis or spinal vertebrae. In some photographs, small bones like teeth or chips of bones lie to one side, thereby disturbing pretensions to symmetry or completeness. A vertebra hangs delicately off a rib, five of which are bunched together like plant stems emerging from a column of three vertebrae glued together, not as in the human spine, but separated from that, like a child’s building blocks, then stuck front to back, one on top of the other.

florero_orquis-negrilensis© Juan Manuel Echavarría, Orquis Negrilensis, from the series Corte de Florero/Flower Cut Vase, 1997

Lying on their bleached-out background, the flowers appear fragile, suspended in midair and ungrounded. They could be flying. The lawof gravity no longer holds. There is a sense of a world on hold, a painful absence of sound. What we see is silence, the silence of something gone awfully wrong with the human world such that we are all, God included, holding our breath, which is probably what happens when you fall a long, long way.

To add to their strangeness, each photograph bears a title like the Latin names used in the plant illustrations of the famous botanical expedition to Colombia organized by the Spanish crown and led by José Celestino Mutis at the end of the eighteenth century. Echavarría is very conscious of this genealogy. In fact he sees his flowers as its latest expression. The difference is that Echavarría’s latinate names are hybrids suggesting the grotesque, one pelvic bone flower being named Dracula Nosferatu, while another flower made of a curved rib with a bunch of metacarpals at one end, suggestive of petals, is called Dionaea Misera. Although these names are in small, discreet letters, names are of consuming importance to this work, beginning with the name of the mutilation — The Flower Vase Cut. The name is crucial because on viewing the mutilated body without the name, I doubt whether an observer would get the point — as we say of a joke — without the name. All the observer would see would be a bloody morass of hacked-off limbs and a limbless trunk.»

excerpt of “The Language of Flowers” (2003), by Michael Taussig

More of Juan’s work here

٠ Kant’s classes clash ٠

The title references Pierre Bourdieu’s critique of Kant’s famous essay on aesthetics – The Critique of Judgement. Bourdieu’s take on Kant’s distinction between ‘taste’ (available to all animals) and ‘beauty’ (exclusive to the humankind) implies a marxist notion of the separation of classes. For him, Kant’s praise of beauty and of ‘pure taste’ is a praise of the bourgeoisie:

‘Pure’ taste and the aesthetics which provides its theory are founded on a refusal of ‘impure’ taste and of aisthesis (sensation), the simple, primitive form of pleasure reduced to a pleasure of the senses, as in what Kant calls ‘the taste of the tongue, the palate and the throat’, a surrender to immediate sensation which in another order looks like imprudence. At the risk of seeming to indulge in the ‘facile effects’ which ‘pure taste’ stigmatizes, it could be shown that the whole language of aesthetics is contained in a fundamental refusal of the facile, in all the meanings which bourgeois ethics and aesthetics give to the word; that ‘pure taste’, purely negative in its essence, is based on the disgust that is often called ‘visceral’ ( it ‘makes one sick’ or ‘makes one vomit’) for everything that is ‘facile’-facile music, or a facile stylistic effect, but also ‘easy virtue’ or an ‘easy lay’. The refusal of what is easy in the sense of simple, and therefore shallow, and ‘cheap’, because it is easily decoded and culturally ‘undemanding’, naturally leads to the refusal of what is facile in the ethical or aesthetic sense, of everything which offers pleasures that are too immediately accessible and so discredited as ‘childish’ or ‘primitive’ (as opposed to the deferred pleasures of legitimate art). […]

Aristotle taught that different things differentiate themselves by what makes them similar, i.e., a common character; in Kant’s text, disgust discovers with horror the common animality on which and against which moral distinction is constructed: ‘We regard as coarse and low the habits of thought of those who have no feeling for beautiful nature… and who devote themselves to the mere enjoyments of sense found in eating and drinking’. […]

For it is a familiar enough fact that men wholly absorbed by their senses have much greater perceptive powers than those who, occupied with thoughts as wel l as with the senses, are to a degree turned away from the sensuous. We recognize here the ideological mechanism which works by describing the terms of the opposition one establishes between the social classes as stages in an evolution (here, the progress from nature to culture).

BOURDIEU, P. (1996) Distinction: A social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge: Harvard University Press

YinkaShonibare_2© Yinka Shonibare, Immanuel Kant, Life-size fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton, mixed media, 2008

Immanuel Kant, sculpted after the Age of Enlightenment philosopher and presented with amputated legs — a fictional disability suggesting that intelligence can be a hindrance when it creates a damaging thirst for conquest.

03large© Joachim Koester, The Kant Walk #1, 2003-2004

01large© Joachim Koester, The Kant Walk #3, 2003-2004

“Throughout his life, Kant never left his native Königsberg (former capital of Prussia, later renamed Kaliningrad), nor did he keep a diary or describe his habits in the letters he wrote. And although he was sociable as a young man, one might even venture to say gregarious, as a mature man he became rather reclusive and hypochondriacal.

All we know about him are his walks. Walks Kant invariably took unaccompanied and which helped him to focus his thoughts. Knowing where the two homes in which Kant lived are located, Koester was able to recreate those strolls the philosopher went on with such punctuality that his neighbours used to tell the time by them.” excerpt of text by Jose Manuel Costa

f_02© Laurent Millet, Calmez-Vous Mr. Kant, 2009, from the series Les Derniers Jours d’Emmanuel Kant/The Last Days of Immanuel Kant

f_11© Laurent Millet, Vous y etes Presque Mr. Kant, 2009, from the series Les Derniers Jours d’Emmanuel Kant/The Last Days of Immanuel Kant

f_05© Laurent Millet, Pas Si Vite Mr. Kant, 2009, from the series Les Derniers Jours d’Emmanuel Kant/The Last Days of Immanuel Kant

The title of the exhibition is taken from Thomas de Quincey’s novella of the same name, in which the narrator describes the declining health and diminished perceptual faculties of the eminent philosopher, rendering Kant less capable of interpreting the world around him. Millet takes Kant’s waning powers as the inspiration for his own explorations of phenomenological doubt. For all of their pleasurable optical revelations, Millet’s constructions are hardly the effects of a naïve dabbler, but rather make knowing and winking reference to a wide-range of Modernist art and scientific discoveries. From Tatlin’s Constructivist reliefs to molecular models: against this matrix of signs, Millet’s work evinces a critical doubt and wonder at our ability to understand and perceive the world around us in any objective fashion.

┐ 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.


Augustin’s website here and his vimeo channel here

┐ Peter Puklus, Handbook to the Stars └

00600500421© Peter Puklus, Handbook to the Stars

“There is a reason why Peter Puklus’ first publication is called Handbook to the Stars, a subtle manifesto of his Ars Poetica. With this handbook he attempts to portray his own universe and provide insight into how his photographic works relate to each other: like galaxies in relative proximity to one another that are bound together by their own gravitational force. The images function alongside one another and through one another, have no sequence or chronology, but exist individually even as they form interconnections and follow their own patterns. Hence they do not necessarily fit on a page in this book; the imaginary distances keep the images in place. This implies that they may appear fragmented, sometimes small, sometimes large, precisely as they coexist in Puklus’ universe of images.

His work is not documentary, nor does it fall within other traditional photographic genres such as staged, portrait or still life photography. Freed from conventions, he works according to his own logic and interests, shifting naturally between genres, themes and media. Coincidence plays a minor role in his work. The famous decisive moment is irrelevant, because it has already taken place at a conceptual level. His photographs are visualisations of preconceived concepts which he initially records in sketches and notes, before painstakingly recreating them and capturing them with an analogue camera.

Puklus’ work is in keeping with contemporary trends in photography. While the focus of many photographers in the ‘90s was on pure documentary, this has now shifted to a personal interpretation of the world, or perhaps more accurately, an interpretation of the inner world. Although photography is Puklus’ primary medium, his method is not purely photographic. He frequently approaches his work as a kind of sculptor or installation artist. The compositions created in a studio-like setting are often spatial constructions, models or collages. In his studies of shapes we encounter fragile constructions, as well as objects to which he has made sometimes simple, sometimes radical alterations with an eye for the interplay of lines and geometric shapes. Like in the studio, his search for formal and three-dimensional aspects is also evident when he take photographs in natural and urban environments. Just as he experiments with objects and shapes, so he also experiments with technology. Where necessary, he exchanges the static for the moving image, combines positive and negative images, and alternates black and white with colour.

Time is an interesting aspect, which is defined by a certain slowness and silence. It is not only the process preceding the actual image that is time-consuming; photographing itself is generally slow and meticulous. His subjects often denote a certain transience or even timelessness. Particularly striking are the photos in which Puklus, using basic materials and self-made objects, recalls the figurative language of avantgarde and constructivist art; or photographs of classical sculptures whose representations recur in various compositions. The lamp is perhaps one of the most frequently recurring motifs. Several of these are often placed in a certain relationship to one another or hung up, immediately calling to mind the trajectories described by celestial bodies.

It is often said that this is a time when photography is undergoing dramatic changes. The question is, however, whether that was ever any different. Since the advent of digital photography, the assumption has been that it would supplant the slower analogue technology. The same goes for the photo book. This was also consigned to the history with the arrival of the internet and advanced digital presentation possibilities. The enormous and growing popularity of the photo book seems, for the time being at least, to prove the contrary. Puklus’ universe argues for the survival of both.”

text by Claudia Küssel

Peter’s website here

┐ Andrea Galvani, ways to space out └

Conceptually, Andrea’s work is amongst the most interesting I’ve seen recently. His works have their own language, both conceptual and documentary, buh also appealing to the senses, evoking sound and parallel universes. His photographs not only evoke sculpture as they are presented like one, as much as they are performances, with their own body, breathing in their own space and time.

a-cube-a-sphere-a-pyramid-1-2© Andrea Galvani, A few invisible sculptures #1 (left) and #5 (right), 2012

A Few Invisible Sculptures #1, a large scale photograph, captures a performance Galvani staged in one of the oldest clay pits known in Europe. Now abandoned as an open museum, the clay pit in question supplied materials for terracotta artifacts and sculptures for over four centuries of human development. For his intervention in this historically loaded landscape, Galvani constructed a geometric steel sculpture and used it to replace the fuel tank on a motocross bike. The volume of fuel was translated into discrete action by instructing a rider to drive the bike in a continuous loop until all of the fuel was spent. The resulting sculpture takes the form of an excavation, translating the volume of fuel into a displaced volume of clay.

In A Few Invisible Sculptures #5, a second motorcycle and fabricated fuel tank sculpture come to rest at the end of the action. Documenting the end point of the sculpture’s existence, the photograph allows both a sense of monumentality and one of impermanence to coexist.”

deconstruction-of-a-mountain-2_0© Andrea Galvani, Deconstruction of a mountain #3, 2005

“Deconstruction of a Mountain is a complex project that started out as a video, but for which, for the time being, I’m presenting a series of stills. I don’t like to talk about projects that haven’t yet been finished. I can say that, at the same time, I’m working on Il muro del suono (The Sound Barrier): its title refers to the physical phenomenon due to which an object (most frequently a plane) that exceeds the speed of propagation of sound (1,200 kph) probably enters a sort of capsule of silence. Both projects are related to the time of history and that of individuals, the image and its representation, and also the geography of an area and the invisible geometries sustaining it.”

the-wall-of-sound-5© Andrea Galvani, The wall of sound #5, 2003/04

I like to think of velocity as an access code to another level, a propelling acceleration so rapid that resets all references. When a plane goes beyond the speed of sound, it enters a capsule of silence. Its mass meets with a physical limit, abruptly interrupting the diffusion of sound waves, which are compressed until they stick to its surface like a glove. In the project Wall of Sound, a selection of photographic images are blown up and moved physically around the shoot location. The collision between actual landscape and photographic clone generates a force field, a visual plunge built around the rectangular perimeter that borders the images. The time between production and reproduction is compressed to the point that it appears absent.Wall of Sound is the staging of an impossible simultaneity, a two-dimensional deception, a transgression in the hysteresis of reality. The images both reveal and subtract. They are erected as altars and they safeguard mystery.”

death-of-an-image-12© Andrea Galvani, Death of an Image #12, 2006-08

More of Andrea’s work 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

┐ 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

┐ Bertolucci and The Sculptural Moment └

If in doubt about cinema being as much of an art form as drawing, painting and sculpture are, just watch Bertolucci’s art trilogy “Stealing Beauty”, “Besieged” and “The Dreamers” (1996, 1998 and 2003) and see how harmoniously all art forms join in to become One.

┐ If the erect penis is not ‘wholesome’ enough to go into museums it should not be considered ‘wholesome’ enough to go into women └

Louise-Bourgeois-8_pics_809© Robert Mapplethorpe, portrait of Louise Bourgeois, 1982

“Nearly a decade later, Fillette would figure prominently in a photographic portrait of Bourgeois by Robert Mapplethorpe. The portrait, in which the (then-) seventy-year-old artist smiles mischievously for the camera while carrying the sculpture in the crook of her arm, was commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art as the frontispiece to its catalogue for Bourgeois’s 1982-83 retrospective. What MoMA printed in its catalogue, however, was a tightly cropped detail of the portrait focusing on Bourgeois’s face. Fillette was excised from the image altogether.14 By placing Mapplethorpe ‘s 1982 photograph (and its cropping by MoMA) in dialogue with Bourgeois’s prior appearance at the New School, we can begin to see Fillette within a wider history of sexuality, censorship, and cre- ative subversion. Mapplethorpe ‘s role in the culture wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s both contributes to and complicates that history.”

source: “Artists sometimes have feelings”, by Richard Meyer

artists sometimes have feelingsAnita Steckel, The Librarian, 1 963, oil on found photograph

Hitler-Reagan© Anita Steckel, Hitler & Reagan,Signed Print, 1983

“We assert that sexual as well as any other subject matter is entirely the artist’s concern and that museums have no right to impose their puritanical and sexist – unbalanced, therefore unhealthy – timidity and coyness upon us all and upon future generations and we demand that sexual subject matter, as it is part of life, no longer be prevented from being part of art. And since the woman has traditionally been exposed in her full nakedness and sexuality in all the great museums of the world, so should the male be uncovered, as sexually on display as the woman; the erect penis therefore, as it is part of life, will no longer be prevented from being part of art. If the erect penis is not ‘wholesome’ enough to go into museums it should not be considered ‘wholesome’ enough to go into women. And if the erect penis is ‘wholesome’ enough to go into women then it is more than ‘wholesome’ enough to go into the greatest art museums.”

excerpt of statement by Anita Steckel (woman artist), distributed to other women artists on March 8, 1973 in NYC.

┐ Donald Goddard and Hannah Wilke – Love made possible └

All reproductions of Hannah Wilke’s work were removed due to copyrights issues. Here’s the link to her virtual home.

© Hannah Wilke, My Country tis of thee, 1975

Lil Picard: I see you are a collector of Art Deco objects. Why?

Hannah Wilke: I’ve always collected things. Objects have always been important for me. But the older I get the less I need things, especially since I am concerned with my work now. I haven’t been really colJecttng much lately. My work is my collection; the small sculptures replaced the objects that had been made by society, and my work is more important now than any objects I might collect. My own works are my icons.”

excerpt of Picard, Lil. “Hannah Wilke: Sexy Objects.” Andy Warhol’s lnterview, January 1973.

© Hannah Wilke, Pink Champagne, 1975 latex with snaps 45.7 x 137.2 x 17.8 cms

© Hannah Wilke, Landry Lint, C.O.’s, 1974, set of 12 sculptures, Lint, various colors, 13-1/2 x 13-1/2 inches

Goddard: In the beginning, she gave me a lot of direction. But then as time went on, she hardly said a thing. She would go from one place to another. She would go up a ladder, and I would take a picture from below. She would lie down with a gun in her hand as if she were dead. She would arrange herself in relation to the space she was in and how she wanted the composition to be. Eventually, I sort of knew what she wanted, so she didn’t have to say anything.

Takemoto: When did you start filming for the Intra- Venus Tapes? Did Hannah have a clear sense of what and how she wanted things documented, or did the filming become a more organic and ordinary aspect of your lives?

Goddard: In 1990 Hannah and I were in East Hampton. We had a rented house out there for the summer. We went to P. C. Richard and Son to buy some electronic equipment for our vacation, including a video camera and a TV set. Hannah just wanted to document her life and her friends. So that’s what we did. There was nothing planned about it. Of course, Hannah did a lot of performing – informal stuff, mugging and performing for the camera. Many of our friends and relatives are in the tapes, and we shot a lot of footage in the hospital. I remember when we went into the hospital for her bone-marrow transplant. I didn’t videotape the visit, but that’s when we started taking still photographs. Hannah was supposed to put on all these things that connected to her body for some kind of test, a cardiogram or something. The connectors were red with many wires and clips. Hannah thought they were wonderful against her skin and the blue-green gown and got very excited about the visual possibilities. That was one of the first pictures we took for the Intra-Venus still photographs.


Takemoto: Making work about illness sometimes produces the feeling of agency, as if you are somehow fighting illness by transforming it into something else. Do you think this resonated for Hannah? Was there a sense of urgency around making these pictures or documenting as much as possible as a way of slowing down time?

Goddard: I suppose. It was a way of measuring time. The idea was that Hannah was going to show all this work, and the name of the exhibition was going to be “Cured.” So she was always thinking about the work that way. We also looked into therapeutic possibilities: macrobiotic diet, nutritional regimens of various kinds, and alternative doctors and treatments. She read a lot and exercised a lot. Perhaps, all of that is a way of trying to slow down the inevitable. You are doing things that fill your life. It’s as desperate as life is. Life is always desperate. But it was a matter of living rather than dying. Making art was really about living.

excerpt of Looking through Hannah’s Eyes: Interview with Donald Goddard, conducted by Tina Takemoto, in Art Journal, Vol. 67, No. 2, 2008

┐ Ugo Rondinone – I don’t live here anymore └

© Ugo Rondinone, all Untitled, from the series I don’t live here anymore, 1996

“My discovery of Rondinone dates back to a sexy picture I noticed in Flash Art in the mid-1990s, of what I took to be a seductive model revealing a glimpse of appealing cleavage. I hadn’t actually meant to stop at the image, but biology had taken over, as it does. But wait a second. There was something weird about this girl. Why was she so swarthy? And wasn’t that a moustache on her upper lip? Someone had digitally transferred his head onto a photograph of an alluring model and seamlessly confused the two to create an unsettling self-portrait that wobbled between masculinity and femininity as frantically as a woofer.

So that was Ugo Rondinone. Except it wasn’t. A few months later, in Flash Art, he had another show. This time, what stopped me was a gorgeous set of abstract paintings, circles of coloured fog of such exciting brightness that the page seemed to throb. They reminded me of Kenneth Noland’s work: Rothko in the round. Who did these, I wondered? They’re fabulous. It was Rondinone.

Except, of course, it wasn’t. A few Flash Art issues later, I noticed some mad-looking drawings, skilfully achieved with Indian ink, of knotted trees, tossing and turning in the landscape as if they couldn’t get to sleep; and forest clearings writhing with unease, like an angler’s worms. An installation shot showed them to be wall-sized. Weird, I thought. Who did them? Oh, no. It was Rondinone.

As the years wore on, and the 20th century seeped into the 21st, it kept happening. Something in Flash Art would catch my eye, and it would turn out to be by Ugo Rondinone. It was never the same thing twice. Video, photography, painting, sculpture, sound pieces, projections, performance, comic stuff, serious stuff, things with him in them, things with nobody in them — you just couldn’t tell.

So the news that this one-man studio of artists was finally getting a British showing at the Whitechapel came as a blessed relief. I had expected to be put out of my confusion, and finally to be able to grasp who and what Rondinone was. But I was being optimistic.

The Whitechapel show is called Zero Built a Nest in My Navel, which is not a title that gives much away. The line is taken from one of the haikus that Rondinone apparently writes every day, and which take the place of a diary for him.

A few examples are scattered about the walls of his Whitechapel installation, written in white on old bits of wood, of the sort you find washed up on beaches. Here’s an example: Fold back/my love/as you did/my sheets.

Here’s another: Air gets/into everything/even nothing.

While you’re solving these etymological sudokus (clue: there is no solution), I will run a few pertinent biographical facts past you. Rondinone was born in Switzerland in 1964, of Italian parents, so flexibility was his birthright. He studied in Vienna and spent his early career collaborating with the notorious Austrian performance artist Hermann Nitsch, who is probably the most gory artist there has ever been. Nitsch showered himself in blood as if it were bath water. From him, Rondinone would have learnt that life is messy, red, angry, scary, wet and violent. We can safely assume that everything he has done since should be viewed as an attempt to get over the trauma of Nitsch.” excerpt of the article Painter? Poet? Photographer?, by Waldemar Januszczak. continue reading here

┐ Hannah Villiger (1951-1997) └

© Hannah Villiger, Untitled, 1980 – C-print from Polaroid

© Hannah Villiger, Sculptural, 1993

© Hannah Villiger, Untitled, 1980/81 – 12 C-prints of polaroids

“When trying to describe physical feelings of any kind, we find ourselves shortchanged by language. I arrived at this conclusion after several, always hopelessly crude attempts to describe
fundamental moments in Hannah Villiger’s oeuvre. The public-at-large is quite capable of registering feelings of repulsion or extreme empathy when blood flows in the movies, when some-one is cut or surgery is performed, or when faced with eroticism, vertigo on a lookout tower or sports—all points on a scale that are clearly designated and defined. But in between lie immense micro-regions, dead lands, where words fail. This is the territory that Hannah Villiger explores. With a well-honed consciousness she masterfully negotiates the overall system of obstruction (of hindrance and enfeeblement). When communication is constantly kept in check, metaphor comes to the rescue. Perhaps this is why Hannah Villiger’s work seems so womanly and so strong.
It is conceivable that the vertigo caused by verticals (at the edge of the abyss) has a gentle partner in horizontals. A kind of window feeling. When it is very intense, you feel it in your nostrils, your ears, your chest or (in connection with speed) your bottom. The fixed point is not the abyss but the horizon. When I was a child and we went for a drive on Sundays, I would sit in the backseat and imagine—especially in fast curves—that I was riding a bicycle because I was never given one. Hannah Villiger can do it without a bicycle. That’s what I have to think of when I see her photographs of gushing water, swift birds or colliding boccie balls. And there is also the mute, squat airship, suspended in the sky, or the burning palm leaf thrown into the air. Here pleasurable and extremely subtle use is made of the potential of empathy, which in turn makes us aware of our own potential and position as part of a greater whole.
Hannah Villiger’s much enlarged color Polaroids no longer record the vehemence of directly transmitted physical sensations; they have quieted down. “He had teeth like luxury hotels on the beach in Florida and when he closed his mouth, there was a big scar.” (Laurie Anderson) These color photographs, usually one meter square, gradually turn into boxes the longer you look at them. Boxes into which you poke your head very, very slowly without noticing, because the pull is so gentle. And damp fog, pointed palm leaves, skin or gazes brush against us, passing by. But there are also pictures whose energy is directed outwards, pictures that radiate, so that we already notice from afar that we are being kept at bay. These are the cold pictures, like the eye with a razor-sharp gaze. Once you have stood in front of them, you know that the format of these photographs is incontestable.
Sometimes the subject matter of a picture ignites feelings; other times it is a vessel or a catchment for them. In memory such distinctions are often utterly irrelevant. For this reason, Hannah Villiger’s wooden or plexiglas objects crop up again in her photo works. Is Hannah Villiger the fog creeping around the mountain, or is the fog enveloping her? Movement back and forth, sudden clashes and leaps, simultaneous flowing and flying flit through Hannah Villiger’s work until a compact whole emerges—like her name HANNAH…” HANNAH and the Horizon, by Bice Curiger

more of Hannah‘s work here

┐ Lock, Stock and Teardrops by Ali Kepenek & Max Snow └

© Ali Kepenek, Jackee Gun Dance, from the project Lock, Stock and Teardrops, 2011

© Maxwell Snow, Untitled, from the project Lock, Stock and Teardrops, 2011

“A constant duality exists in Ali Kepenek and Max Snow’s recent work of photography, installation, sculpture and collage. Under the theme of pain, both artists address their life experiences from physical existence, through installation and sculpture, as well as the internal and emotional realm, as depicted in their portrait photographs and collages.

Kepenek’s photographs are the personal recordings of his world experience, depicting distorted scenes of self-destruction, substance abuse and sexual dissipation from the Berlin and London nightlife. The nude portrait subjects have had a strong personal connection with the artist, reflecting and unveiling layers of Kepenek’s stages in life appearing as a type of flip book of emotional memory. The photographic subjects posed in a kind of free fall motion, reaching their arms out in protection from hurt or painful infliction.

Kepenek’s installation constructed from slats of burnt wood forming a wall with the name ‘Tottenham’ inscribed on it. The wall is the result of Kepenek’s personal projections and emotional reactions to the riots in London this year. The sculptures presenting young rioters standing back to back with designer bandanas hiding their faces, depicting an aggressive action motivated from an inner pain. The artist believes the destructive action can be viewed as an emotional response fuelled by a frustrated desire to obtain money, luxury goods and designer labels.

Confronted with the theme of the exhibition, viewers are driven to not only seek out the artists pain, but also to confront what aches them personally. Max Snow’s portraits of individuals laden with scars expose, adages and selected lyrics from old country songs suggest, and sculptures reinforce objects and symbols of pain in Snow’s work.

Snow’s two portraits of a man known as ‘Crowman’ have a recto and a verso: one side hinting at elation and the other revealing agony. The dialogue that Snow creates by choosing to present the works double sided indicates the duality of pain itself: to experience pain one must also experience something that is painless. Accordingly, a salient sculpture reading Cry Forever in hundreds of small bulbs flashes in Morse code “But it makes me feel better each time it begins calling me home Hickory Wind,” lyrics chosen by Snow from Gram Parsons’ song Hickory Wind.”

excerpt of press release of their show by Duve Berlin

Ali Kepenek’s work here

Max Snow’s work here

┐ Erwan Frotin └

© Erwan Frotin, Pain à Pieds Bleus, from the series Sketch, 2006

© Erwan Frotin, Perdreau Fantôme, from the series Sketch, 2006

More of Erwan’s weird “species” here work here