Keith Piper: The Banker’s Bones


‘Unearthing the Banker’s Bones’ is a work that mobilises tropes from science fiction as a means of examining contemporary anxieties surrounding environmental change, migration and globalisation.

The act of presenting a speculative view of the future as a means of deconstructing the present has long been a staple of science fiction. ‘Unearthing the Bankers Bones’ references the dystopian speculations of Octavia Butler and Mary Shelly as key examples of the literary projection of contemporary anxieties into an imagined future.

The project is comprised of an installation of three large-scale synchronised video projections alongside sculptural objects displayed in exhibition vitrines.

Each projection is composed of an evolving collage of filmed, drawn, painterly and animated elements through which we are taken to a series of reference points within classic science fiction texts. This journey is revealed through the literary reflections of an anonymous narrator who describes the emergence of an illusive hooded ‘trickster’ figure, eventually given the name ‘Surmanakin’ in reference to the work of the ‘Islamo-futurist’ poet Jalaluddin Nuriddin. Depicted as a shape-shifting Android, this ‘trickster’ figure acts as a time travelling cypher weaving a pathway through the contemporary social and political landscape. In the course of this journey this ‘trickster’ encounters another illusive allegorical figure know only as ‘The Banker’ It is from this character that the work takes its title.

www.keithpiper.info

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Francesca Woodman (1958-1981)

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Francesca Woodman, Space2, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976
Gelatin silver print, 13.7 x 13.3 cm

At the age of thirteen Francesca Woodman took her first self-portrait. From then, up until her untimely death in 1981, aged just 22 she produced an extraordinary body of work (some 800 photographs) acclaimed for its singularity of style and range of innovative techniques. Woodman studied at Rhode Island School of Design, from 1975 – 1979, receiving a grant to spend a year in Rome to continue her studies. Whilst there she produced an extensive body of work and had her first solo exhibition at a bookshop and gallery specializing in Surrealism and Futurism.

Since 1986, her work has been exhibited widely and has been the subject of extensive critical study in the United States and Europe. Woodman is often situated alongside her contemporaries of the late 1970s such as Ana Mendieta and Hannah Wilke, yet her work also foreshadows artists such as Cindy Sherman, Sarah Lucas, Nan Goldin and Karen Finley in their subsequent dialogues with the self and reinterpretations of the female body.

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Born in 1958 in Denver, Colorado, Francesca Woodman lived and worked in New York and Italy until her death in 1981. Since 1986 her work has been exhibited widely. Significant solo presentations of Woodman’s work include Francesca Woodman at the Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco (2011-12), which subsequently toured to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2012); Francesca Woodman: Retrospective at the Sala Espacio AV, Murcia, touring to SMS Contemporanea, Siena (both 2009); Francesca Woodman: Photographs at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York (2003) and Francesca Woodman at the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris (1998), which subsequently toured to Kunsthal, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (1998); Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, Portugal (1999); The Photographers’ Gallery, London (1999); Centro Cultural TeclaSala, L’Hospitalet, Barcelona (1999-2000); Carla Sozzani Gallery, Milan, (2001); The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2001) and PhotoEspana, Centro Cultural Conde Duque, Madrid (2002). Woodman’s work is represented in the collections of major museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art; The Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Detroit Institute of Arts; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Tate/National Galleries of Scotland.

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http://www.victoria-miro.com

Idris Khan

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The World of Perception, 2010
digital c-print, 97-7/8 x 77-3/4 inches (framed)

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The World of Perception, 2010 – detail
digital c-print, 97-7/8 x 77-3/4 inches (framed)

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every… Nicholas Nixon’s Brown Sisters, 2004
digital C-print, 43-1/4 x 52-1/8 inches (framed)

Idris Khan transforms the conceptual art of appropriation into an elegant and substantial meditation on the act of creativity. Appropriating icons of literature, music, and art, Khan methodically layers his material, whether it is Beethoven’s symphony, Milton’s Paradise Lost, or Bernd and Hilla Becher’s stylized sculpture of water towers. The process allows the artist to tease out certain areas adjusting the source material so that the soul of the piece is manifested in Khan’s accreted interpretation. For example, in Struggling to Hear… After Ludwig van Beethoven Sonatas, 2005, Beethoven’s entire series of sonatas becomes a dense wall of near blackness; a virtual illustration of the composer’s deafness.

Khan’s work tests our experience of these other art forms; words and music are experienced sequentially, however the artist compresses time visually. Photographic iconography such as Bernd and Hilla Becher’s water tower series—a body of work based on the inherent nature of recurring form—layer upon one another and ultimately create a ghostly animation describing the ‘essence’ of the form rather than each individual tower.

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every…William Turner postcard from Tate Britain, 2004
47-1/2 x 62-1/4 inches (framed)

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every… Bernd and Hilla Becher Prison Type Gasholder, 2004
80 x 65 inches

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Born in Birmingham in 1978, Khan lives and works in London. Solo exhibitions of his work have been mounted at the Gothenburg Konsthall, Sweden (2011), the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (2009), and K20, Düsseldorf (2008). His work has been exhibited at Forum d’art Contemporain, Luxembourg (2008), the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2006), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2006), and the Helsinki Kunsthalle (2005). His work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, among others. Most recently, Khan was commissioned to design a permanent public monument for the new Memorial Park in Abu Dhabi. The sculpture will be unveiled in late November 2016.

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Caravaggio… The final years, 2006. 101” x 68”

https://fraenkelgallery.com

Zbigniew Libera: Positives

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Positives, 2002-2003
Series of staged photographs, printed and reproduced photographically

Series of photographs restaging the famous historical press photos in a “positive version” – repeating the original in terms of composition, but changing the characters and the general meaning of the captured events. “The series is another attempt at playing with trauma” Libera comments, “we are always dealing with memorized objects, not the objects themselves. I wanted to employ this mechanism of seeing and remembering and touch upon the phenomenon of memory’s afterimages. This is how we actually perceive those photographs [“Positives”] – the harmless scenes trigger flashbacks of the brutal originals. I have picked the “negatives” from my own memory, from among the images I remembered from the childhood.”

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Zbigniew Libera is one of the most interesting and important Polish artists. His works – photographs, video films, installations, objects and drawings – piercingly and subversively (in an intellectual way) play with the stereotypes of contemporary culture. His shocking video works from the 80s (among others “Intimate Rites” and “Mystical Perseverance”) preceded “body art” by 10 years. In mid-90s, Libera began to create “Correcting Devices” – objects which are modifications of already existing products – objects of mass consumption (among others “Universal Penis Expander” and “Body Master. A Play Kit For Children”). He also designs transformed toys – works that reveal the mechanisms of upbringing, education and cultural conditioning, the most famous of which is “Lego Concentration Camp”. From that moment on, he is one of the pillar of the so-called “critical art”, also in the institutional sense – despite the development of his career he is still closely connected with the independent circles. In recent years he has also been preoccupied with photography, especially the specificity of press photography and the ways in which the media shape our visual memory and manipulate the image of history (works from the series “Positives” and “Masters”, 2003).

http://raster.art.pl

Sylwia Kowalczyk

Lethe is the river that cleanses Dante in Purgatory, the one that wipes memories of the dead as they drink from it or bathe in it. The poet Sylvia Plath steps up from ‘the black car of Lethe, Pure as a baby’. It is an escape, a relief from our own physical limitations. ‘The soul that has been rash enough to drink from the fount of Lethe… is reincarnated and again cast into the cycle of becoming’, according to Mircea Eliade.

As important recollections slip from our memory, this loss brings its own kind of grief. The past becomes a vast, blank territory where even the most important memories from childhood are erased – if we do not remember them, perhaps these might as well not have happened in the first place.

‘Lethe’ wins in PDN Photo Annual 2016 ‘Personal’ category and is now shortlisted for The Renaissance Photography Prize with the accompanying exhibition at Getty Images Gallery, just off Oxford Street in Central London from 7th September 2016.

http://www.sylwiakowalczyk.com

Yishay Garbasz

»My mother lost parts of her soul in those places and I had to go back to collect them… As I am a photographer, the camera was going to be my tool to help me see.«
Yishay Garbasz

British-Israeli photographer Yishay Garbasz uses a bulky large-format camera “to force herself to slow down.” Her project In My Mother’s Footsteps is an exploration of the inheritance of memory as well as a healing process. Garbasz’s mother was born in Berlin in 1929 and fled from the Nazis with her family to Holland in 1933. In 1942, at the age of fourteen, she was incarcerated and deported to Westerbork, then to Theresienstadt. Via Auschwitz-Birkenau, she arrived in Christianstadt and was sent in April 1945 on one of the infamous death marches to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where she was liberated by British forces.

In the making of this project, Garbasz traced her mother’s path for a year, often on foot, over long distances. The large camera forced her to spend time at each location, letting the image come to her, opening herself and the lens to what was there, admitting her own vulnerability.

http://www.yishay.com/footsteps.html

Daisy Patton

Forgetting is so long, 2016-2017
“Defacement is the confrontation with death and dislocation…”—Michael Taussig, Defacement

They say we die two deaths: the first is our actual passing; the second is when the last person who remembers us takes their final breath. Family photographs, vessels of memory, are integral to extending this quasi-life. They show a mother, a child, a past self, full of in-jokes and the mundane meaningful only to a select few. But divorced from their origins, these emotion-ridden images become unknowable and lost in translation, for they are intrinsically entwined with the intimate memories of someone. These images are timeless because photography can forever capture a moment—so much so that they have outlived their families and purpose, becoming orphans. As we drown in an overwhelming visual culture, what place does an old family photo have outside their original home?

In Forgetting is so long, I collect abandoned, anonymous family photographs, enlarge them past their familiar size, and paint over them. I paint to disrupt, to reimagine, to re-enliven these individuals until I can either no longer recognize them or their presence is too piercing to continue. Family photographs are sacred relics to their loved ones, but unmoored the images become hauntingly absent. Anthropologist Michael Taussig states that defacing these types of objects forces a “shock into being;” suddenly we perceive them as present, revered, and piercing. By mixing painting with photography, I lengthen Roland Barthes’ “moment of death” (the photograph) into some semblance of purgatory. Not alive but not quite dead, each person’s newly imagined and altered portrait straddles the lines between memory, identity, and death. They are monuments to the forgotten.

All works in this series are mixed media paintings (oil-painted photo prints), mounted on panel.

http://daisypatton.com