Mark Wallinger Mark (Fruitmarket Gallery)

These are my notes from the OCA study visit to the exhibition (there is also a second site, DCA where more of his id paintings are shown, I will visit it this coming Monday, and will add the notes to this post)

  • automatic drawing, working simultaneously or, as per exhibition notes: one hand copies the other (one a presentation, the other a representation)
  • the effect of narrow constraints on a series: both I paintings and Id paitings are black acrylic on canvas, the former consisting of various forms/ type in which the letter ‘I’ can be written; the latter the same process throughout
    >> working in series, working fast, exploring what is in it
  • the I paintings as self portrait but very effectively questioning the I of the viewer: this is not about Wallinger but about the audience (relationship author/subject/viewer)
  • the I paintings as a transitional route that leads to the Id paintings as a fully resolved form
  • the scale of the Id paintings is twice his height (the canvas flipped round to paint the other half) and extends to his arm width; the I paintings are also related to his body height (I think the large ones are his body height).
  • Sleeper (2004): encaged, dangerous, lonely, filmed and viewed from the outside. It took him a few years to negotiate access to the Neue Nationalgallerie; he was living in Berlin at the time and felt pretty isolated. Note also: the bear as city symbol of marketing and image campaigns; sleeper as not activated terrorist cell.
  • I was and are really taken with the sense of quite and persisten interrogation and questioning in his work: the id paintings are stunning and when placed next to Yves Klein’s Anthropometry really exposes so much further the misogyny of the latter, while at the same time allow us to delve quite deep into sense of self, the subconscious and processes and actions in which these are constituted through the body and movement.

I am Innocent (2010) [wordpress doesn’t allow the upload of my own video, but here is another one):

  • really liking this for the effect of surface/ front only: the image is mirrored but with each rotation I expect to be able to see ‘behind’, that expectation is refuted every single time
  • he stares and stares
  • again, a title which is literally true (this is Velazquez’ painting of Pope Innocent) and probably a lie, given the subversiveness of the original painting and its animated copy.

 

According to Mark, the chair and vanishing point installation not only features chairs that my grandparents had, it also works, when you walk around, as a rather stunning refocusing of lines of sight (and power?) > it became something entirely different when I stood underneath the vanishing point, looking across the many varied chairs.

I will need to find out more about Orrery, a four-channel video installation of an oak tree across the seasons.

Viviane Sassen: UMBRA, The Shadow Panel Discussion

– Stephanie suggested this recent panel discussion, as part of Viviane Sassen’s current Umbra exhibition in Chicago in her comment on my first set of negatives.

“Viviane Sassen: UMBRA, The Shadow Panel discussion where experts from a variety of disciplines discussed ways in which the idea of the shadow figures into their professional practice. Mary Dougherty, Jungian psychoanalyst and art psychotherapist; Dr. Andrew Johnson, Vice President of Astronomy and Collections at the Adler Planetarium; Chicago-based author of Heartbreaker Maryse Meijer, and Myra Su, a narrative artist specializing in storytelling through puppetry and live theater, will join Sassen in a series of short presentations”

Watching it, I took a series of notes.

First off: I really enjoyed the interdisciplinary range of presenters, their varied styles and contributions. I thought that was really special in expanding on Sassen’s work (which I only looked up at a point throughout the discussion).

Some notes:

  • Myra Su’s demonstration of shadow puppetry, notably working with a projector. She contends that colours is also shadow; that the more opaque something is, the clearer it becomes.
  • Mary Dougherty, a Jungian analyst and art therapists, gives an excellent introduction into Jung’s concept of the shadow for personal development.
  • Andrew Johnson examines the role of shadow for solar eclipses
  • Maryse Meijer reads a children’s book about a school anxious first day at school and then a short story she wrote about a shadow house.

I have a strong sense that the psycho-dynamic aspect of shadow work is significant in this body of work.

I also sense that my upcoming venture into screenprinting will provide something further into the role of shadows: possibly the presentation on shadow puppetry and the role of colour in this will provide insight.

I have ordered Sassen’s Prestel edition of Umbra to explore this further. I am not overly familiar with her work, and while I am aware of a fair bit of her fashion photography, her more conceptual work is largely unknown to me. The Umbra series on her website is rather formal in utilising coloured perspex/glass, sand and her hands; but probably will present an interesting and very different aspect on the role of shadows. Hers are stark, strong, clearly delineated, occur in broad daylight. Mine are more transient, murky, hardly discernible on a nighttime. I think these distinctions will help me.

There is something in the interdisciplinarity of the panel that pulls me in considerably. I would almost like to provide such disparate aspects for this work: to draw in different elements and install them around a theme (rather than fully integrate).

Tracey Emin’s My Bed (1998)

[first published to Close Friends on FB, 9 February 2017, 18:11]

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the first thing i notice when i eventually enter the room is the scent… smell… hm… no: it stinks. while my eyes register the bed, my nose recoils at some languid humid correlation of it.
i circle around it, again, step back, watch the others who watch it, don’t quite take a straight on stance but peek at it sideways, register the tissues, knickers, vodka bottles, pregnancy test, condoms, rizla, more condoms. the slippers, cuddly toys. more vodka.
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it’s the piece i travelled for, like parker’s exploded shed, emin’s bed was definitely one for a journey. i hadn’t prepared for its odour nor for my shyness… after all, it’s 18 years old.
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later on i find the headsets with an audio loop, women with strong local accents talking about how no self-respecting woman should have these things lying about, let alone let anyone – neither lover nor friend, certainly not public – see any of this.
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that was always how i took this piece: as a radical inversion of what a bed for a reclining nude would be for an art historical public. and that it registered class as much as sexual agency. i had kindly overlooked the vodka bottles.
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‘In contrast to other women’s beds as represented in the Western artistic tradition—such as that of Titian’s Venus, with its suggestively mussed sheets—Emin’s bed bore the marks of blood, sweat, and, most likely, tears. The bed could certainly be interpreted as having served as a site of pleasure, but it was also suggestive of a psyche steeped in doubt, self-neglect, and shame.’
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very glad i travelled for it.

Chantal Akerman : subject matter, time, relationality

I started to seek out current film and video screenings again. I tend to watch a fair bit of TV serial programmes, a few films and do seek out any moving image screenings in exhibitions. The latter have filtered into my own work in various ways, but I have rarely considered ‘entertainment’ films and TV series as part of my source materials (though I am conscious how much of the visual/ performative art that I encounter takes films as starting point).

I was aware of Akerman’s death in autumn but not really of her films, thought anything I read about her work at that time pointed towards her works relevance: the structural interests, extended shots, a focus on mother-daughter relationship and distance, notions of home (in presence and absence), the compositional framing of her shots (interior/ exterior); the resonances in her family of her parents’ having survived Auschwitz; and the inquiry into the day-to-day activities that constitute women’s lives and also how she turned the camera into the actor of her films. – A fairly extended list of theoretical, methodological and substantive resonances of my own concerns (though possibly in different constellations).

Her last film, No Home Movie, was screened as part of Glasgow’s Film Festival and I watched it on Saturday. I also managed to find several clips of her earlier experimental films online, a few texts as well as a pretty large set of her films in one of my friend’s film collections.

So, this post will be a first marker of her work; I can see it taking on a larger role and requiring several iterations.

Of her early films, the one that intrigued me most was Hotel Monterey (1972): how it solely focusses on the interiors of the hotel of the same name; many shots are static (both in position but also what is visible), others move. The framing, the composition and the palette of the shots are incredible (strangely, it is a strong Hopperesque palette… I need to investigate the actual film process and what film material did for colour). It is this film about which I read of how she turns the camera into the film’s protagonist.

My initial thoughts when watching No Home Movie and shortly after :

  • the abruptness (even violence) of the cuts: a dark opening with serif fonts cuts into a wild, windy (gale-force like) scene, high-keyed with a tree in the foreground, a desert emerges once my eyes get used to functioning along the loud hiss of the wind on the mic. I start to be able to make out more and more details; see a road and a crossing on the far right distance. I observe the tree, trying to find patterns in the movements. The sounds remains dominant and disconcerting. Yes: this is not a home movie.

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  • Her mother appears in focus, there she is. I am immediately moved as to the daughter’s keenness and intent to make this elderly woman in her flat the centre of this piece of work; also knowing that neither of them is alive anymore.
  • I notice the furniture, the outsides, notice that many shots are taken with a tripod; Chantal also occasionally moving across the camera. I seem surprised that she herself is my own mother’s age. So, I am watching two older women in this flat.
  • The viewpoints are so familiar: through door openings, through curtains, lingering, then turning.

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  • Chantal’s voice is hoarse, deep and fascinating, I with my French would be better.
  • I am touched by the affection that is displayed by both of them; in proximity but more so through the skype conversations; their humour.
  • The skype conversations are the ones when her mother explicitly talks about the filming and makes it a subject.
  • Her mother seems to have trouble eating: eating too little, not being able to eat; scenes of preparing food and sitting down for food are abundant.
  • It is much later, that Chantal tells a new home help that it is because of Auschwitz that her mother is the way she is. I am disconcerted, wondered what way she was; and I realise that the trouble is the anxiety, displayed in the routines and rituals around food. Another carer says, picked up by the camera while Chantal is elsewhere, that Chantal doesn’t realise that she is causing the anxiety.
  • The intersections of a desert trip (filmed at 90 degree angle out of a moving car), are fascinating as to throwing us back into the house, the flat, its confinement.
  • The film was introduced by someone who works on Akerman and she comments how the extended shots not only capture everyday time on film but also in the experience of viewing: we, the audience, while waiting for the next take, are becoming aware of us watching, the time passing and thus realising our being alive in this moment. I had never thought of this effect of extended takes but very much realise this as one of the effects.
  • The introduction closed with a ‘Shalom, Chantal’, which moved me to almost tears in its appreciation and finality. Similarly, the moment her mother had died seemed definite also; I would like to watch it again to try and discern the elements that made me think so.
  • The closing sequences were stunning: a corn field growing in the Middle East, Chantal packing her bags, moving out of view (I can’t remember if the door closes), a still of the empty house with doors opening and views through into the living room and kitchen (see featured image of this post). And then a dark screen.

 

Elements to explore further:

>> the cuts and the transitions were remarkable; it was uncompromising, the final scenes were heartfelt and yet so violent in their statements; also how it cut to the dark screen and credits; and similarly how it opened from the dark screen onto the first scene (which is in the trailer but not in the order it was shown).

>> the use of static and moving camera was delightful: different aspects and purposes employed in these.

>> elements repeated: the car trip through the desert; in the house, the camera occasionally sought out a recliner on the grass below the balcony; tried out different framings for this, but it seemed to act like a pause, a resting place; different skype calls and the routines of noting the camera and exchanging affection between mother and daughter

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>> eating and the rituals and anxieties around these

>> looking through and past people and objects: most of the frames were narrow, dense – one reviewer described them as claustrophobic (which I didn’t sense while watching).

>> how do conversations and being together relate to the space and the ways of filming?

>> having sought out the trailer and taking screenshots of the scenes to insert here makes me also realise how different it is to view these images as stills compared to still and static takes on the film — the effect of duration is crucial and I would like to explore how I can incorporate this to some of my own images: static stills that are durational in a manner that is solely up to the discretion of the viewer (i.e. how long they chose to look) but also is considered from my side as the author.

Time accumulates and repeats, it circles around tasks and routine not usually considered worth filming. This is what one commentator said for introducing the film just a few days after Akerman’s death:

We’ll be shocked again. Chantal’s films do not comfort. They jolt and they re-orient, they put you and me face to face with accumulating time, in whose shadow we live whether we know it or not. That’s the source of their terror and their great beauty—one in the same. (Gerard 2015)

 

 

References

J. Gerard (2015) Chantal Akerman will be remembered at ‘No Home Movie’ screening at New York Film Festival; http://deadline.com/2015/10/chantal-akerman-remembered-new-york-film-festival-1201568816/; 15 October 2015; accessed on 22 February 2016.

Thomas Demand’s The Dailies (visit)

– This has been sitting for a long time.

Quite a few of the notes about the space and its curious relationship to public: a gallery with a door bell; and private: the town house that belongs to Douglas Gordon will remain off this blog.

And, yet, the most fascinating piece I took from this exhibition was also related to the folding in and out of public/private… or rather: Demand’s particular working process of constructing models to photograph.

The walls of the two main rooms were covered in a wallpaper, I noted it first and I couldn’t quite read it, it seemed used, antiquated, too homely – in a haute-bourgeois-type-of-decadence to be on the walls. In fact: Demand had – of course – constructed the whole gallery as a model in preparation of the show. It was lit accordingly. The wallpaper of this model was then photographed and sent to a printer. Hence, the wallpaper – a green downstairs, a brown upstairs – is unique: no fold repeats anywhere.

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What really excited me in this obsessive decadence was the fact that we were, by visiting the gallery, becoming part of Demand’s models: we were walking inside the modelled gallery, the wallpaper being the connection between the model, then, there and us, here and now.

This repositioning – both in location but possibly more crucially in time: we had been anticipated in the model construction – was insightful and I managed to take this forward, albeit in a very different form, to the repositioning of the manual montages of the office at night assignment.

 

– the discussion (as part of the OCA study visit, 7 November 2015) around the exhibition was incredibly useful and touched on: the dye transfer process that produces photographs akin to lithographs; the generosity of the work as being so open-ended; the relief (or absurdity) of construction to photograph to destroy; how to treat the many moments that one encounters: to record or to let pass?; the Dailies were first shown in a hotel in Sydney, one per room, one image per room, there was a perfume designed to be sprayed in each room to go with the exhibition.

Ah: and there was a specification to leave the blinds somewhat open; so that a corner like this also becomes a modelled daily:

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kennardphillipps here comes everybody (visit)

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here comes everybody

Stills (31 july – 25 october 2015)

I went to see this show towards the end; kennardphillipps’s show for this years festival also included the War on War room as a live workshop in an empty shop front of a city-centre shopping mall for the duration of the festival. The material created during that time then moved to the gallery space at Stills.

Before the visit I had just begun to read around the lineage of photomontage – section 1_3 (the found image in photomontage) of the course materials and look at a number of the links to both Peter Kennard’s own practice and kennardphillipps (him and Cat Phillipps’ collaborative practice that begun at the start of the 3nd Gulf War in 2003).

With their collaborative practice they intent to ‘dig into the surface of words and images to visualise the connections between the oppressed majority and the political and financial elites of the everyday’ (Stills 2015). – While I wrote this quote down on the way to the exhibition, I wondered about how much sense it made: its notion of (a) artistic practice as revelatory in digging down into word and images; and (b) its terminology of ‘oppression’ and ‘elites’ seemed too conspiratorial a practice; so, here is how the two artists write about their own practice on their website:

The work is made as a critical tool that connects to international movements for social and political change. We don’t see the work as separate to social and political movements that are confronting established political and economic systems. We see it as part of those movements, the visual arm of protest. We want it to be used by people as a part of their own activism, not just as pictures on the wall to contemplate.

There are a whole range of installation shots from the Stills set up on the kennardphillipps’ main site here.

Before seeing the show, I was interested in finding out how they use

  • juxtaposition
  • displacement, and
  • rescaling

– These are the strategies that I had been experimenting with recently and where I felt that photomontage would have much to offer.

The installation of wooden pallets up to the ceiling is the first impression of the room: it is full with stuff.

Many of the images are printed onto newprint; the montages seem straightforward in composition and intent. I am surprised by this; later on, when discussing it a bit further, I realise that it is their adoption of advertising strategies that lies at the heart of this ‘in your face’ simplicity: they seem very different to my first sightings of e.g. Hannah Hoech’s and John Heartfield’s images that are complex, entwined and often also playful – these are all characteristics I don’t find in this show. The message of most images that I can see is that ‘people are suffering while there is immeasurable wealth’.

Several images show evidence of action: e.g., a young man is pushing Cameron out of view; here, the installation and 3-d quality of the piece creates an additional layer of complexity: it casts a large shadow with its crumpled paper, this is the piece that was on show at Banksy’s Dismaland, and installation shot from Stills is here.

It is the pieces ‘being in space’ that seems to intrigue me most: there is a great use of negative space evident throughout the gallery; in the piece already mentioned; but also with hanging a small piece of paper collage from a stick high up in the room, like a weather vane, adjacent to it is a cut out; in a cube created out of pallets, small images of a destroyed buildings are placed far back, almost impossible to make out; there are also prints crumpled up and placed in jam jars.

> consider for your own images the use of negative space in these various examples.

Later on, when reading the resource notes on the artists, I realise how the advertising context comes up again as a place where they tried to situate their work but experienced several instances of censorship: Link 16 (kennardphillipps 2013) – a response by the two artists on the decision of advertising companies not displaying their image of Tony Blair’s selfie is useful in providing insights into their deliberate placing of their own work within advertising and taking on the form of production of advertisements with their own approach towards their images.

 

References

kennardphillipps. (2013, October 22). A response from Peter Kennard and Cat Phillips: Censorship is flourishing in our “public spaces.” The New Statesman, 1–5. Retrieved on 30 November 2015 from http://www.newstatesman.com/art-and-design/2013/10/response-peter-kennard-and-cat-phillips-censorship-flourishing-our-public-spa

Stills (2015) Exhibition text for kennardphillipps here comes everybody; Stills Gallery, Edinburgh, Retrieved on 30 November 2015 from http://www.stills.org/exhibition/past/kennardphillipps-%E2%80%98here-comes-everybody%E2%80%99

Anne Brodie at Family Ties Network event: subject missing

Anne Brodie was the first speaker of the event at GSA this Friday past.

As she started speaking, I hadn’t quite realised how much time she had overall; but – among my copious note taking – there is a note that it ‘took half an hour to get to a photo of her + sister, that her mother died when she was 14’.

She proceeded to show a series of works – mostly video work based on four conversations, collaborations (?) with women who had lost their mothers while they were young.

Two of them are available online – or rather, one (Something that goes with me) in a short version to the longer 10 mins one she showed at the end of the talk.

Dead Mother ‘The Mark’ 2013, 3:24

Dead Mother ‘Something that goes with me’ (short version) 2014, 2:19

 

The one that I found most moving was one where she had collaged all the question ends/ answer beginnings together of one of her interviewees: it’s such impressive patterning of silence and gesture/ pose within this silence that I found most moving and incredibly effective for marking the absence of the dead mother.

In her overview of earlier work she also showed a range of images where on her fridge she had a photo of her mother surrounded by her aging children. The mother remained the same while the children grew older. She then proceeded to overlay these in various way – exploring how they can dialogue; the photos she made show the gaps between and surround; these gaps and edges were a frequent theme throughout her work, in various media and locations (e.g. clay, glass, tracing paper, ice, etc.)

 

[ps: I like how the privacy setting of vimeo creates a spaceholder here: very apt for many of the discussions of the day]