٠ featuring: ‘Finder and Keeper: a Conversation Between Rotem Rozental and Yaron Lapid’ ٠

This is not one of my usual posts. In conversation with Rotem Rozental, the editor of the Shpilman Institute for Photography blog, she suggested I should take a look at a couple of her posts and that’s how I came to encounter Yaron Lapid‘s work. Featured here is Rotem’s conversation with him, along with images from his work.

07© Yaron Lapid, Not only England, but every Englishman (is an island), from Original stories from real life

Rotem Rozental: Let’s start where our last meeting ended: it was in Jerusalem, and you talked about the reason for you being there and how the experience of returning to the city affected you. Can you describe what you were doing there and share that experience?

I also wonder how this complexity became an active participant in your work. It seems Jerusalem and her conflicts influenced your works at various junctures. You began your career as an artist there, as a student in Bezalel Academy. I’m wondering if this complex city became an active participant in your work and how your first years there influenced your critical approach?

Yaron Lapid: We met in Jerusalem last, and you would be right in saying the mixture of extremes in the city fascinates me. Perhaps it has to do with my biography. I grew up in a religious family, although I had a strong science-based education, with all the inherent contradictions that entails. I went on to travel in South-East Asia for three years. On my return Jerusalem was the only place that could offer the complexity I sought.

As a former religious boy with an interest in science, nothing was further from my thoughts than the arts, except literature. This might be why it was easier for me to pick up a camera, which I first did to try and capture my experiences. I stumbled upon the art world and found that it allowed me to engage in storytelling, which is a central element in my practice. Some of my works could be considered a piece of a story, like You Have not Found his Riddle and, I think in all my works, even the more abstract ones, a narrative is implied through the connections I create.

Jerusalem was, of course, full of stories. I lived there for six years including the mad times just before the Millennium, when the city was buzzing with religious highs and anxieties that permeated down to street level. Night Meter is a work from the end of 1999, made as a response to that time.

yaron© Yaron Lapid, still from the video work You Have Not Found His Riddle (left); still from the video work Night Meter (right)

I also lived in Jerusalem during the bloody years of 2001-2003, where as students we were either doing blatantly political work, or work that was completely escapist. I have always felt the need to deal with what is directly in front of me, but I felt that “the conflict” was molded in such a finite way. I didn’t want to limit myself to the immediate political situation but rather was interested in the broader human landscape, which inevitably includes political content. The more conceptual type of work interested me less; I wanted to make work that one has to experience with its value rooted in the finished piece, not only in the artistic idea.

RR: To continue with the theme of context and location, let’s discuss the project The New Zero. Ayesha Hameed writes about the alternative documentation of the city that these found images might suggest to you and the viewer. I was wondering about your role here, first as the collector of the images and then as archivist: utilizing technology to intervene in private, lost histories, while manipulating the images themselves.

YL: In part, The New Zero was created as a response to the impossible contradiction that Jerusalem signifies for me. The piece satisfies my attraction to the found, the abandoned and the cast aside. The images are simple yet beautiful and touching, and in my interference I tried to echo the frustration and fascination of living in Jerusalem at the time: a place where history is unfolding before your eyes.

Image-379-in-The-New-Zero1© Yaron Lapid, from The New Zero

Although my website is called Finder & Keeper, I am of course also a manipulator. I see the documentary as an art form, through which an aspect of reality is conveyed, but like Werner Herzog says, facts per se do not constitute truth, otherwise the Manhattan phone directory would be the book of books.

Francis Bacon says “You can see an advertisement, you can see something lying in the street.” I see people lying in the street, but also advertisements interest me as an artist, in an attempt to figure and mediate reality. I would like to reflect an inner truth, one that doesn’t rely upon the surface, yet is connected to quotidian reality.

RR: How did your interest in English family archives develop and how do you approach such intimate, private material?

YL: History is a slippery process, which is hard to pin down in the present. The photographic archive is a great source of visual knowledge, although I am not interested in nostalgia, but rather the similarities and differences between times, and the reasons and effects of that. It is not only images I find and use; other human footprints could be utilized to reveal something about a time, a place and a person. Full. Stop. is made of two flyers found in the streets of my neighborhood, and is titled after the anonymous writer’s preference with punctuation.

RR: So now your work is in constant dialogue with and is invested in a very different urbanscape, which necessitates a different viewpoint. I was wondering about the relationship between your status as an immigrant in London and an artist in a new surrounding, and your critical view of that surrounding as it is conveyed in your work. I am thinking, for instance, about your exhibition at Alfred Gallery in Tel Aviv, where these works, in a sense, also “immigrated” out of their original context.

YL: Living in London has changed both my life and my practice. I see parallels between photography and being an immigrant. A photographer is a person who distances him or herself by using the lens as medium, like Perlov’s soup dilemma  – to eat it or to film it. In that sense, a photographer is somewhat of an immigrant: half here, half existing a different context – through the prism of another culture or through the edit.

London is not an easy place for an immigrant, especially not an Israeli one. I am not like any other “ethnic minority” in this cosmopolitan city. Some regard Israel, with some justification, as a problematic country, although often their understanding of the situation is poor.

Some of this is reflected in the Alfred show which was centered on family. The family I see in London is quite different to the one I know from Israel. The show was composed of works I found as part of my research, when I started working with found photos from Britain. My interest in images of British lives also derives from the insight it gave me into family moments, in a society where separation between inside and out is very present. One of the resulting works is Partial moments from which the SIP image is taken.

06© Yaron Lapid, from Partial Moments


RR: Your camera also finds its way to other private spheres. I was surprised by the intimate nature of your work in the series Dad and I taking each other after Mum Died. Beyond the traumatic experience, the physical comparison between yours and your father’s bodies (the naked torsos, the beards) is striking. The two of you seem to be unified by pain, limited by it and by the dense physicality of the neutral space. However, you were also divided as soon as each of you assumed the photographer’s position, documenting the other.

YL: Yes, this is probably my most personal work to date, and the mental process you have gone through is the one I hoped for. On top of the raw emotions in the images and the reference to my mother’s death, I was also considering the nature of photography: how we look at someone when we take a picture, never the same as someone else will, and really never the same as we have looked at them at any other time before.

Dad-and-I1© Yaron Lapid, from Dad and I taking each other after Mum Died


RR: What is your next project? What are you working on now?

YL: I am working with footage I shot in Jerusalem, which will hopefully become a movie. I must admit I am a bad artist, in that I do not work as a trained professional is expected to work. At any given moment I have up to ten projects I am playing with. Every now and then – usually late at night – something falls into place and a project gets nearer to completion.

In art school one talks about research subjects as a result of critical thinking, but this is not the case for me. Instead, I would describe my process as finding a set of connections by doing what I need to do, and then gradually, the theoretical framework surfaces. I create work because something draws my attention, and I think about it critically because that is inevitable. Although I am conscious of the critical aspect of my work, what ultimately pushes me to make it is curiosity.

signal-failure1© Yaron Lapid, from Signal Failures

٠ Gaspar Noë’s appropriation of Paul Sharits’ or the love for ‘formal processes and psychedelic modifications’ ٠

“[…] What I am calling “vulgar appropriationism” is this: the way in which pop/commercial media today often appropriate formal structures from more-or-less “high art,” or even avant-garde art, of the 20th century, and use them in ways that negates the aesthetic or conceptual radicality of those structures.

Another example is Gaspar Noë’s recent video for Animal Collective’s “Applesauce”. This video appropriates its background from Paul Sharits’ 1968 “flicker film” N:O:T:H:I:N:G. […] As it says on the youtube page: “N:O:T:H:I:N:G is a film being deplenished of all, of any signified stance and involved only in the manner of film itself. Just the drawing of a bulb, the projector light and a chair remain in the space of the screen. But these are just random disruptions of monochrome frames.” Or elsewhere: “Sharits’ works reduce the process of filmmaking to its most basic components – the projector, the filmstrip, light and duration.”

Even though Gaspar Noë is himself evidently interested in formal processes and psychedelic modifications of the sensorium, from a high modernist viewpoint you could only say that he has destroyed the essence of Sharits’ work. Not only has he turned it into video, but he has used it as the background against which we see the silhouette of a female figure, in extreme closeup, eating a mango (I think; eating a mango comes up in the lyrics to the song, and it sort of looks juicy like a mango, but it is not possible to tell for sure). Now, the shadowy figure is extremely sensuous, as we do sort of see her lips, and the bites she takes, and the juice dripping from the fruit. Noë instructs viewers to watch the video in otherwise total darkness; so it is fair to say that he seeks to provide for digital/electronic media, an ecstatic equivalent to the effect on Sharits’ film in its older medium. Nonetheless, I still think that we have to say that Noë has eliminated the self-reflexivity, the materialist rigor, and the conceptual lucidity of Sharits’ work; he has replaced a Kantian (or Clement-Greenburgian) purity with an aesthetics of hedonism, and has denatured the meditative essence of Sharits’ film by reintroducing those very elements of moviemaking (the human figure against a background, an implicit narrative, a sense of representation) that Sharits had taken such effort to get rid of. (Not to mention that, as a music video, we have a soundtrack that is a pre-existing song; as opposed to the silence of the Sharits film — even though the latter supposedly gives a visual equivalent of a Buddhist prayer drone)

In any case, the point I am building to is this: I vastly prefer Noë’s work to Sharits’, just as I do Kahn’s to Tunick’s, precisely because these recent music videos are hedonistic, impure, unrigorous, and filled with the figurative and representational content that high modernism sought to get rid of — in short, I like these appropriations precisely because they are “vulgar.” They present themselves as part of the everyday world that high modernism took such pains to separate itself from; they have none of the negativity that Adorno demanded of art in a capitalist, commodified age. The only claims that I can make for them politically are ones that occur on the level of content (e.g. Kahn and Minogue are evidently supporting equal rights for gays and lesbians). Nonetheless, I think it is highly significant that music videos like these (and I think there are many other similarly interesting works) are engaging in formal invention without such invention implying either self-referentiality, or negativity, or a purist rejection of “mere” content or “mere” representation. I’d like to say that these works are (finally) escaping from the prison of sublime modernist aesthetics; they no longer seek to maintain modernism’s self-proclaimed distance from the “Real.” They embody a new sort of immanence, or actualism.

excerpt from a text by Steven Shaviro about what he calls “vulgar appropriationism” in The Pinocchio Theory.

sharits1© Paul Sharits, Study for Frozen Film Frame of “Frame Study 15” (1975)

٠ Groys, Groys, Groys, does it need to be so dramatic? ٠


Boris Groys’ text “Politics of Installation” (2009) is a relevant text for several reasons, as is locating installations between the artist and the curator, but mainly because it draws a parallel between installations and sovereignty.

Contemporary artistic practices fall in several traps: on one hand they suffer from a narcissistic complex that prevents them from reflecting beyond their own condition  of being art; on the other hand, as practices, they have a growing need to accentuate their participatory procedural nature and, for that, they haunt the art market through the acquisition of ruins and registers whose only life’s purpose is to enable a commercial value. Groys exposes the paradox within the art world by referring that such commodities, quintessential to art market, are precisely what the public less cares about.

If “the curator is considered to be someone who keeps coming between the artwork and the viewer”, then maybe we need to accept another one of Groys’ arguments, namely that the installation functions as a private space within a public sphere, where the artist regains sovereignty and freedom, making use of the installation as a “place” for both artistic and political expression, in the freedom and power that they, respectively, potentate.

Although it is clear than an installation is, ultimately, political, what Groys points out is its democratic and democratizing character, only to follow with the idea that before the installation becames a space that opens up to democracy, it encloses itself –  “the space of an artistic installation is the symbolic private property of the artist”.

What I have to say is this: in the first place, Groys only approaches installations that fit official and institutionalized conceptions of the art world, so he does not take into account (because he denies their existence), those cases where the installation is the exhibition, not needing to make a statement as being a house within a house; in the second place, the sort of democracy Groys is talking about is a neoliberal one, hence it is not made clear whether the concept of “private property” underlines a moral judgement. As is well known, “the private is political”, he himself says it as a truism, but doesn’t “everyone” also knows “private property created crime“?

Though it is easy to locate Groys politically, and even though he concludes by saying that an installation is an aggressive, non-democratic, way of installing democracy that plays the role (almost heroic) of denouncing the “obscure transparency of the democratic order”, the problems above mentioned still stand, for Groys choses not to contemplate a form of horizontal expression, exhibiting and receiving, and he could have done it masterfully.

26_Selbstlos im Lavabad, 1994

٠ Sandro Ferreira, memory code: 6174 ٠

portefolio SandroF4© Sandro Ferreira, Não lhe digas para onde vais amanhã (Don’t tell her where you’ll be tomorrow), from the project “6174”
Set of a hundred booklets, with dimensions identical to those with speeches of some dignitaries of the Portuguese dictatorial regime: “Estado Novo”.

portefolio SandroF6© Sandro Ferreira, from the project 6174. The left card reads The useless, the right card reads The miserableportefolio SandroF5A series of 126 “lobby cards”, corresponding to the 126 films that the soldier Manuel Rosa Simões had seen since his arrival in Angola until his departure for the Metropolis. Ironically, the first film was “Les Miserables” and the last “The Useless”, setting the tone…

From 1961 to 1974, Portugal became involved in a war in its colonies, a war of subversive naturesubversive war is a war conducted within a territory by part of the inhabitants of that territory against the authority in it established, aided and reinforced or not from the outside, and in order to withdraw that authoritarian control, performing a transformation more or less wide. in Military Newsletter No. 15, Military Region Angola, August 15, 1962

Much of the research/exploration of this event converges to the advances and retreats, political questions, numbers, guilty and innocent people. The true human/animal/social essence of the event is confined to fiction literature and some published journals, often revised. Moving away from the issues widely teased I try to penetrate the internal memory of the war’s day-to-day of a generation that lived haunted with the fear of leaving for a country distant of their roots, risking their lives. In exploring these memories I gather a number of factors and situations that made the day-to-day of the oversea soldier, some did erase memories of home, others did revive memories (aerograms cinema, alcohol and sex).

The memories of war veterans, after so many years, can be divided into two branches, namely, the memories that fade away naturally with time and memories that need to be deleted. The work presented here lives in both branches of the forgotten or erased memory.” Sandro’s statement

The video tells the story of a soldier that was ambushed in Angola, while carrying the “Practical Handbook of Radio and Television” in his pants pocket. Trying to jump off the car he was ridding in, he got shot in one leg. One of the bullets hit and went through his leg and another bullet hit the book and was lodged inside it. Playing with the question of the impossibility to repeat events such as those in the context of war, I tried to recreate the situation of the bullet lodged inside the book. As the way we retell our memories is never the same, also the bullets that were lodged in the replica penetrated by different sites.

portefolio SandroF2© Sandro Ferreira, 7.65 Practical Handbook of Radio and Television, Edition of 8 books, 466 pages, with a bullet inside, 2011, from the project “6174”

portefolio SandroF1© Sandro Ferreira, Carta de Portugal Insular e Ultramarino de 1962, jogo

portefolio SandroF 4© Sandro Ferreira, Antecipação de um regresso a casa (Coming home earlier), from the project “6174”

Sandro was recently chosen for the EDP emerging artists’ award, in Portugal. He will be exhibiting new work, latter on this year, in Oporto.

┐ Michael Snow and the Photobook that can truely be called an Artist’s Book └

“The book — the first mass-produced object — raises a number of questions concerning its conception and distribution. What do we mean by the expression « artist’s book » ? Is Cover to Cover a book of reproductions of an artist’s « originals » or a hand-crafted book containing illustrations of texts, printed on quality paper, published in voluntarily limited édition ? Like many contemporary artists’ books, Snow’s volume doesn’t really correspond to either of thèse catégories, since the reproduction itself is the « original » art work. […]
Thèse considérations are somewhat tempered by the fact that, in the book, the photographs are part of a greater unit, the séquence. A photographie book has characteristics in common with a still photo-graph, a comic strip and a film. The fact that a group of photographs form a linear séquence adds a temporal dimension — a suggestion of past and future — to a médium which usually exists in a sort of eter-nal présent. This enlarges the basic unit of meaning : like individuals words in a sentence, photographs take on or change their meaning according to their place in the séquence.
Cover to Cover is a photographie narrative relating several events in the day of its main character, the author Michael Snow. Edited like a film in alternating shots, this book consists of 320 pages, one photo per page recto-verso, no margin, no négative space from « cover to cover ». The few texts are integrated completely into the images (e.g. the title page — a sheet of letter paper in a typewriter). Snow’s movements are analysed simultaneously by two photographers whose opposing points of view alternate, cross-cutting, from the front to the back of each page. The story-line is simple : The main character is shown first of ail in a house; he opens the door (the front cover) and enters a room. Two photographers appear, one on the right-hand page, the other on the left. Life-size fingers put a pièce of white paper into a typewriter : the reverse side is a photograph showing one of the photographers. In the following séquence, the main character reappears and puts on a record.”

excerpt of the article The Artiste Book and Photography: The Example of Michael Snow’s Cover to Cover, by Karen O’ROURKE. Continue reading here

┐ Shira Klasmer – Walk the Line └

© Shira Klasmer, Walking the Line, 2012. 10’34” in loop

“The ‘painting’ is performed by the artist holding a ‘brush’ made up of a line of LED lights. The act (of painting) is photographed by two still digital cameras creating a single still frame of long exposure, capturing the traces of the action on to the camera’s sensor. A sequence of frames is edited to a video format, where each frame is the recording of one act of ‘painting’. Transforming the still frames into a video format was done by exposing; scanning each frame from left to right, similar to the direction the images where made.

When working on these sequences in the darkness of the car park, ‘painting’ is transformed to a work of performance. With no physical material engagement and resistance, ‘painting’ becomes a work of memory and repetition – the reconstruction of a mental imprint, counting steps, rhythmical gestures, movement – a task in the memorisation of the act which was never seen.”

kick3© Shira Klasmer, from English National Ballet (3D)

kick2© Shira Klasmer, from English National Ballet (3D)

“I met choreographer Itzik Galili in London while working on a shoot at Rambert with photographer Chris Nash. He explained he was putting together a show with the English National Ballet called ‘And the earth shall bear again’ and invited me to photograph a rehearsal in June 2012. I have been wanting to test out my new method of photographing in 3D and dreamed of doing so with dancers. These are some of the outcomes. You will need to view these images with a pair of Red/Cyan glasses.”

Snow-stroll-180© Shira Klasmer, from the series Abbreviations, 2009, Lambda print, Diasec, 20 x 180cm

Snow-forest-180© Shira Klasmer, from the series Abbreviations, 2009, Lambda print, Diasec, 20 x 180cm

“The ‘Scroll’ photographs began as a fascination with the transition of time, I have been exploring the etching and interpretation of movement within the still image. The works focus on motion within landscape photography and as a perpetual narrative that integrates the elements of time and space within the image.

The original image (the scroll photographs) extends beyond the standard frame dimension and provides the viewer with a visual horizontal narrative. I work with my old fashioned Pentax camera which I have modified by attaching a motor and in pulling the film through the camera while the shutter is open, I create a long exposure (up to 4min minute) of the entire roll of 35mm film. The result is a photograph that is one frame – the entire length of 36-frames, and reveals an elasticity to time where the future, present and past co-exist as one image.”

┐ Terike Haapoja – mind over matter over mind └

MG_3413-640x400MG_3419-640x400© Terike Haapoja, Anatomy of Landscape, Durational images, 2 parts, 2008 Glass, plywood, live plants, light, electronic, water, 150 cm x 90 cm x 20 cm

When one stands before a landscape, two lines of thought appear. One treats the landscape as a framed fragment of our field of vision, distanced plane of forms and tones, structured by our viewpoint. The other, in contrast, follows the grass from underneath our feet to the distance, hears the resonance of the wind in our ears, smells the soil, synchronizes the pulses of the body with the life inside the view. Abstractions, mathematization and objectification of nature emerge from the first line of thought, just as theories of perception, duration and experience from the second. But still they exist as parts of the same view.

It has been estimated, that if we would have to build all that which the earth provides for us now for free, the number would exceed all measurements. The great machine is, it seems, economic by nature.

ANATOMY OF LANDSCAPE consists of two large, painting-like landscape images. As the viewer comes closer to the painting, it becomes visible that the image consists of live plants and real soil. Automatic watering-, ventilation-, heating- and light system, necessary for sustaining life inside the painting, is visible from the other side of the frame. The lights change accoording to the daytime from sunrise to sunset.

databaseworks2WC3000L2jpg-700x400-11_15_13© Terike Haapoja, In and Out of Time, 2005. Video diptych, duration 4,5h, mute. Size of the projection 180x4000cm.

When a creature dies, it’s inner time ceases. It does not experience time, but becomes an object in the flows of the other’s times. This is why photographic time is always ponting out to the viewer: the absence of the other, revealed by photography, makes the viewer painfully concious of her or his own presence. Photographing a dead body, as the early photographers did on battlefields and graveyeards, doubles this absence. The other is dead, and in the photograph even the death itself has passed away.

Still, death as absence of time is just one point of view. Time does not cease – instead, vivid life continues inside the corpse. The community of microbes live on, interaction with the surrounding world continues as gazes and organic compounds are relesead from the body. The transition from subjectivity to an object is a proces much longer then the moment of dying. The ritual of a wake besides the dead body has served as a way to live thought this phase of transition.

The video installation IN AND OUT OF TIME shows a diptych of a calf, that has just passed away. The image on the left shows a recording of the calf as seen with an ordinary video camera. The image on the right shows the same calf, as seen with an infrared camera. The video’s are in synchrony: as the body of the calf cools down, it’s image slowly vanishes from the infrared image. The original recording time of 7 hours is visible as a time code in the video. The duration of the projection is 4,5 hours

3COMMUNITY2COMMUNITY© Terike Haapoja, Community, 2007. 5-channel video installation, 5-channel sound

Terike’s amazing body of work can be “seen” here

┐ 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


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 Jankowski – The matrix effect └

3278794345_9c321b6f25_zdetail from installation by Christian Jankowski – The Matrix Effect. Photo by Berenice
Matrix-142 copy


Berlin-based Christian Jankowski is a problem artist. His problems are not, however, of the kind familiar to, say, formalist painting, with its “problems” of color and composition. Rather, he is interested in the creative potential of life’s awkward moments, embarrassing situations, mistakes, confusions and unexpected events. Jankowski’s work involves creating problems -which is, in fact, the title of a 1999 piece. Create Problems involved five real-life couples who were invited to act out on video a series of scripted sexual fantasies in a pornographic film studio. Before things go too far, however, the couples begin discussing their domestic problems, destroying the erotic ambience and landing all concerned back down to earth with a thud. A psychotherapist was engaged to provide a commentary on their relationship issues, which appears in a publication by the artist alongside “action” photographs of the couples.

Jankowski came to Hartford to plan his Matrix exhibition without preconcep­tions. He has often worked with video and photography, but also with installation, performance and text. His only brief for Matrix was to create a new work. Initial ideas about exploring the relationship between insurance (Hartford’s traditional business) and risk (the business of innova­tive art) were abandoned as the artist became fascinated by the Wadsworth Atheneum’s own history -in particular that of its Matrix program. This year, Matrix celebrates its 25th anniversary. The 141-name-long roll call of artists to have preceded Jankowski is an impressive, even intimidating one for a young artist making his U.S. debut.

Jankowski decided to make the history of Matrix the starting point for his project. His concept was to make a video that would playfully collide two decidedly different narrative genres: historical documentary and fairy tale. To that end, Jankowski set about gathering interviews with Matrix founder Jim Elliott (Director of the Wadsworth Atheneum from 1966-­76) and between the long-time curator of Matrix, Andrea Miller-Keller (1975-1998) and some of the artists who had partici­pated during her distinguished tenure. The participating artists are: Janine Antoni (1996), John Baldessari (1977), Dawoud Bey (1997), Christo and Jeanne­ Claude (1978), Louise Lawler (1984), Sol LeWitt (1975), Glenn Ligon (1992), Adrian Piper (1980).

The artists were sent a series of ques­tions particular to their Matrix exhibition, to which they responded in writing or by telephone. A script was devised based on these interviews. Departing from conventional documentary form, none of the interviewees appear on camera. Rather, all the participants are played by children between the ages of seven and ten. Hence, The Matrix Effect -a supernatural transformation whereby commitment to new art and ideas stimulates a radical age reversal. Eternal youth is not the only “Matrix effect.” Surprising transformations occur as the sophisticated concepts and language of the artists are interpreted and spoken by the children. It is important to note that the performers, who are not professional child actors, were not asked to learn the script in advance. Instead, their lines were fed to them take by take. Again, Jankowski exploits the problems created by his scenario. In their earnest attempts to repeat complicated lines, the children often change them, opening a space between intended and stated meaning.

“Critics,” for a moment; becomes “critters;” “contemporary” shifts to “contrary;” “historical” ends up “hysterical.” For the artist, these are not so much errors as new meanings generated by the creative potential of a moment’s confusion.”

More about the Matrix Project here

┐ 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

┐ 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

┐ Mary Stark – Searching for Celluloid └

Abandoned, discarded, unwanted film is woven into handmade artefacts and photographic prints are created in the darkroom from constructed negatives. Time becomes an integral element, with each print or object measuring a duration of film. This recent work explores the materiality of photography and film in the digital age and creates a dialogue between the still frame and the moving image.

Mary Stark is searching for celluloid. It’s an exploration that, paradoxically, began in the digital space.

“I was interested in working digitally with video,” says Stark, who recently completed an MA in Photography at MMU. “Then I realised that, of course, all this digital film has a physical ancestor. It’s like a piece of thread.”

The thread analogy is important. Stark’s BA, also at MMU (she graduated in 2006) was in Embroidery. She has combined both the material physicality of film and the action of weaving for her Cornerhouse Micro Commissions project, Searching For Celluloid. “The idea is to develop film as a material,” she explains, “to turn a whole feature film into a physical object.”

The interface between analogue and digital is providing increasingly intriguing creative possibilities, and particularly interesting in Stark’s case is the fluid relationship between the two – there is no sense of either/or, no digital/analogue divide.

“I’m using digital tools to help me design the patterns I’m creating with the celluloid,” says Stark. “I’m interested in the dialogue between stitch and film, both digital and analogue.”

It’s an interest that has also led Stark to explore a process of ‘weaving’ digital film footage together (see Vimeo video, above). A celluloid film is projected, captured digitally on video and then woven together using Final Cut Pro: “It’s quite experimental at this stage,” she says. source: digital innovation

more of Mary’s work here and her blog with all info about this project here

┐ Lars von Trier is calling └

It is actually quit simple. Look into the six artworks, get inspired, grab a camera, film max five minutes of material and submit it to gesamt.org. The material can be raw and unedited, animated and polished, with audio, without audio, consist of still images, be in black and white or in color – only your imagination and the six art works set the limits.

Read about the project here

┐ Death Valley and the economy of masturbation └

stills from Sam Taylor-Wood’s “Death Valley”, Destricted, 2006


In a society based on the separation and isolation of atomised individuals who are precariously chained together on the basis of a set of neurotic projections (nation, religion, family, etc.) and the practices and institutions that undergird them, it seems unsurprising that Tweedledee will occasionally, perhaps increasingly, have sex without the involvement of Tweedledum, or even of another Tweedledee. This has made society’s defenders vilify masturbation as an antisocial form of subject-object identity that bypasses heterosexuality and the holy cow of sexual dimorphism. Apparently it threatens the healthy measure of neurosis that goes by the name of social cohesion.


The debate over masturbation that raged from the eighteenth century on might therefore be understood as part of the more general debate about the unleashing of desire in a commercial economy and about the possibilities of human community in these circumstances.

Thomas Laqueur refers to this as a ‘sexual version’ of what he calls the Adam Smith problem: how can I make sure that the degree of community necessary for society’s functioning reproduces itself spontaneously and continuously without challenging the principles of bourgeois, liberal, capitalist production, which produces the egoistic, calculating, monadic individuals who make community precarious, but also without an overtly Hobbesian, Leviathan-type state? This question which haunted Adam Smith has never lost anything of its near-universal grip on liberal thought. Like masturbation, prostitution was also vehemently attacked as a core antisocial evil for the first time in the 19th century. The modern obsession with campaigning against prostitution is grounded in seeing it as ‘a confusion between the dangerously asocial world of commercial exchange and the healthy social world of married love’.

Laqueur draws a parallel between the 19th century discourse on prostitution and the 12th century papal campaign against usury (which subsequently re-emerged in the various forms of modern antisemitism), arguably the earliest and in this sense the original moral response to a (then) nascent market economy. The church hierarchy denounced the ‘usurious’ charging of interest because ‘nothing real is gained by it’. In Thomist Catholicism, the usurer’s capital is illegitimate because it is generated in the sphere of circulation only: it does not come from productive labour. The same pattern of argument is directed in the 19th century against prostitution: money earned from prostitution is illegitimate money since ‘nothing is produced.’ Like usury, prostitution is ‘pure exchange’; like homosexuality and masturbation, it is unproductive and purposeless.

excerpt of a text by Marcel Stoetzler, published in Mute, Vol.2, No.13, 2009. Continue reading here