Palto Now, 1973
Palto Now, 1973
A cascade of voices belonging to people who have been declared physically dead, but lived to tell the story, comes together in a ghostlike installation of 104 screens. Experience the intriguing art installation by the influential American artist Susan Hiller.
‘Channels’, the installation artwork Hiller discusses, centres on death and near-death experiences. The 104 television screens, which the artwork consists of, are programmed with visuals in shades of blue – echoing the “screen of death” in computer terms and the “stand-by screen” in TV-terms – and a myriad of voices belonging to people who have had near-death experiences. The result is fascinating and somewhat uncanny.
Hiller is interested in investigating certain occurrences, such as near-death experiences, which have become subject to ridicule and even embarrassment: “The point is that the stories are there, and it’s worth looking into them.” The incidents furthermore seem to contradict the common belief that the brain is a source of consciousness or reality.
Susan Hiller (b. 1940) is an American London-based artist. In the early 1980s she began to make innovative use of audio and visual technology. Her groundbreaking installations, multi-screen videos and audio works have achieved international recognition and are widely acknowledged as a major influence on younger British artists. Hiller’s works are based on specific cultural artefacts from our society, which she uses as basic materials. With a practice extending over 40 years, she has been recognized by mid-career survey exhibitions at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts (1986), Tate Liverpool (1996) and Tate Britain (2011). For more about Susan Hiller see: http://www.susanhiller.org/
Susan Hiller was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg in connection with her exhibition ‘Channels’ at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen, February 2015.
Camera: Kasper Kiertzner
Produced and edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2015
Wild Talents, 1997
Meet the sensuous Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist, whose work full of colour and playfulness. She here argues that videos can have painterly qualities and tells the story of one of her most famous videos, where a woman smashes car windows with a flower.
“There is no rule for when and where I get my ideas – some are survival tactics, some are psychotic tics, some are very well thought over.” The video ‘Ever is Over All’ (1997) was Rist’s response to a chief editor, who wouldn’t let her do the things she wished to do – even though he had given her a carte blanche. She felt like smashing his car, but instead chose to make a video, which challenged and even altered her aggression: “That was my catharsis.”
“I’m not more colourful than life is.” The screen is like “a moving glass painting” to Rist, who enjoys the playful use of colours. Moreover, she feels that a lot of people distance themselves from colour, even finding it intimidating. Rist, however, wants to fight for colour: “They call it superficial, but actually it’s dangerous.”
Elisabeth Charlotte “Pipilotti” Rist (b. 1962) is a Swiss visual artist, who works with video, film and moving images, which are often displayed as projections. She takes her name from Pippi Longstockings, heroine of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s much-loved series of children’s books. Early on in her career she began making super 8 films, which generally last only a few minutes and contain alterations in their colours, speed and sound. Among the themes her work centres on are gender, sexuality and the human body. In 1996 her work was first featured in the Venice Biennial, where she was awarded the ‘Premio 2000 Prize’. Other awards include the ‘Wolfgang Hahn Prize’ (1999), the ‘Joan Miró Prize’ (2009) and the ‘Cutting the Edge Award’ at the 27th Annual Miami International Film Festival (2010). Rist’s works are a part of prominent museums worldwide such as MoMA in New York City and Tate Modern in London.
For more about Pipilotti Rist see: http://pipilottirist.net/
Pipilotti Rist was interviewed by Christian Lund at the Hayward Gallery in London, November 2011.
Gravity Be My Friend
“It was at Harvard not quite forty years ago that I went into an anechoic [totally silent] chamber not expecting in that silent room to hear two sounds: one high, my nervous system in operation, one low, my blood in circulation. The reason I did not expect to hear those two sounds was that they were set into vibration without any intention on my part. That experience gave my life direction, the exploration of nonintention. No one else was doing that. I would do it for us. I did not know immediately what I was doing, nor, after all these years, have I found out much. I compose music. Yes, but how? I gave up making choices. In their place I put the asking of questions. The answers come from the mechanism, not the wisdom of the I Ching, the most ancient of all books: tossing three coins six times yielding numbers between 1 and 64.”
–John Cage, 1990
John Cage “4’33” – Original Performance, 1952
John Cage “4’33”
NOLA The Cat Performs John Cage’s 4’33”
Continuous Only, 2006
Day For Night Four. 2013
Notebook volume 38: Already been in a lake of fire
Document title: Notebook volume 38: Already been in a lake of fire
Category_File_Type_Volume_Plates: [cat. A]_Fakhouri_Notebooks_38_055-071
Media: Color photographs
Plate dimensions: 30 x 40 cm
Attributed to: Dr. Fadl Fakhouri
May 23, 1985
300 kg. of TNT
500 meter perimeter
35 cars burned
June 14, 1985
30 kg. or 200 kg. of TNT
2_120mm shells or Hexogen
The Atlas Group – Walid Raad
The project of the artist from Lebanon exhibited at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.
Exhibition view, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
Let’s be honest, the weather helped.
Document title: Let’s be honest, the weather helped.
Category_File_Type_Plates: [cat. A]_Raad_Photographs_001 – 007
Media: Color photographs
Dimension: 46 х 72 cm
Attributed to: Walid Raad
Sweet talk: The Hilwé commissions (1992-2004)
The Atlas Group (1989-2004). A Project by Walid Raad
The project of the artist from Lebanon exhibited at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.
By Kassandra Nakas | Sep 2006
Existing since 1999, The Atlas Group participated in major international exhibitions like the Documenta 11 and the Whitney Biennial 2002, which has made some of its works known to a broader public. In shifting constellations within the Atlas Group collective, Walid Raad (born in 1967 in Chbanieh, Lebanon), who founded the project, has created a complex of works with an abstracting/reducing aesthetic that raises many-layered questions about themes like experience and memory, authenticity and authorship, and how history can be depicted.
The exhibition “The Atlas Group (1989-2004). A Project by Walid Raad” in the Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin is showing the most extensive overview yet on this project. The years given in the exhibition title signal a temporal closure that, like most factual information in the context of The Atlas Group, should not be understood literally, but rather put in doubt. The Atlas Group set itself the goal of documenting and researching the present and history of Lebanon, in particular the years of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990/91), so its theme is also always the continuing effect of all the individual and collective experience that constitutes history in the first place. The archive set up by The Atlas Group brings together not only found, but also intentionally invented photographic, audiovisual, and written “documents” of everyday life in Lebanon.
continue reading on http://u-in-u.com
Notebook volume 72: Missing Lebanese wars
Document title: Notebook volume 72: Missing Lebanese wars
Category_File_Type_Volume_Plates: [cat.A] _Fakhouri_Notebooks_72_131_149
Media: Color photographs
Plates dimensions: 32 x 25 cm
Attributed to: Dr. Fadl Fakhouri
Instagram, an artist and the $100,000 selfies – appropriation in the digital age
Richard Prince has turned borrowing online images into high art – and hard cash. But is the artist’s work anything other than genius trolling?
Hannah Jane Parkinson, Saturday 18 July 2015 05.00 EDT
It’s a question as old as art itself: “Yeah, but is it art?”
Type it into Google and get 1.26 billion results. It lends itself to book titles, television series and conversations between white walls, whetted by prosecco.
It’s a question asked of a shark in formaldehyde; an unmade bed; a sleeping footballer; two humans meeting in silence across a table, and before those of John Cage; Mondrian; Pollock.
This question, the distant cousin of “my kid could have done that”, has quietly endured.
The decibel levels rise, however, when it comes to appropriation. Appropriation is the practice of artists taking already existing objects and using them, with little alteration, in their own works. The objects could be functional, everyday objects, or elements of other art pieces; commercial advertising material, newspaper cuttings or street debris. Anything, really.
It’s interesting, though, that some appropriation in art is seen as acceptable in the public consciousness, some not. Warhol: of course. Sampling at the birth of hip-hop – well, sure. Found object art like Duchamp’s Fountain? Hmm.
Richard Prince and the art of ‘rephotographing’
Richard Prince is a New York-based artist famous for appropriation. His work relies heavily on the work of others. Not all of his pieces or projects are appropriated, but his most famous pieces owe their existence to the technique.
Take, for instance, Prince’s “rephotographing” of Marlboro cigarette advertisements, specifically those featuring the Marlboro Man (originally shot by Sam Abell). The series, entitled – and some might say, appropriately – Cowboys, began in the 1980s. A more recent piece from the series (2000) sold for more than $3m (£1.9m) at a 2014 Sotheby’s auction.
There’s a rather brilliant PDN interview, in 2008, with Abell, who speaks about Prince’s appropriation of his photographs. At the beginning of the interview, Abell states: “I’m not angry, of course”. He then speaks for three minutes, getting angrier and angrier.
I’m not particularly amused … it’s obviously plagiarism, and I was taught by my parents the sin of that … it seems to be breaking the golden rule … he has to live with that.”
Abell’s Marlboro photographs are not the only pictures to be repurposed by Prince. In 2014, Prince settled a three-year-long copyright case with the photographer Patrick Cariou after the former used Cariou’s Yes, Rasta, a book on the rastafarian community, as part of his Canal Zone series. He’s also been known to hand out copies of A Catcher in the Rye with his own name on the cover.
Now, Prince is back in the spotlight. His current exhibition – New Portraits – opened in June at the Gagosian gallery in London, having debuted in New York in 2014.
The portraits, however, are not new to everyone – and certainly not new to their subjects.
This is because Prince’s New Portraits series comprises entirely of the Instagram photos of others. The only element of alteration comes in the form of bizarre, esoteric, lewd, emoji-annotated comments made beneath the pictures by Prince.
Prince’s pieces sold for up to $100,000 (£63,700) at New York’s Frieze art fair, according to CNN. This might not sound a lot, given the prices fetched for oher artists’ works at the Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions in London this month – including $32.1m (£20.9m) for a Warhol painting of a $1 bill – but it is what mothers around the world would call “better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick”.
As collaborations go, if Jay-Z and Beyonce duetting represents a bringing together of the best of hip-hop and R&B, and Scorsese, Nicholson and DiCaprio a filmmaking supergroup, then Richard Prince and the internet are an appropriation dream team.
So it is that one of the oldest questions (“but is it art?”) collides with one of the most pressing, current global debates: that of online privacy and ownership in the digital age.
continue reading on www.theguardian.com
Sherrie Levine (American, born 1947)
After Walker Evans: 4, 1981
Gelatin silver print, 12.8 x 9.8 cm (5 1/16 x 3 7/8 in.)
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a group of artists including Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, and Sherrie Levine—at the time dubbed the “Pictures” generation—began using photography to examine the strategies and codes of representation. In reshooting Marlboro advertisements, B-movie stills, and even classics of Modernist photography, these artists adopted dual roles as director and spectator. In their manipulated appropriations, these artists were not only exposing and dissembling mass-media fictions, but enacting more complicated scenarios of desire, identification, and loss.
In 1981, Levine photographed reproductions of Depression-era photographs by Walker Evans, such as this famous portrait of Allie Mae Burroughs, the wife of an Alabama sharecropper. The series, entitled After Walker Evans, became a landmark of postmodernism, both praised and attacked as a feminist hijacking of patriarchal authority, a critique of the commodification of art, and an elegy on the death of modernism. Far from a high-concept cheap shot, Levine’s works from this series tell the story of our perpetually dashed hopes to create meaning, the inability to recapture the past, and our own lost illusions.
Sherrie Levine (American, born 1947)
After Walker Evans: 1, 1981
Gelatin silver print, 8.6 x 12.9 cm. (3 3/8 x 5 1/16 in.)
Sherrie Levine (American, born 1947)
After Walker Evans: 10, 1981
Gelatin silver print, 9.6 x 12.7 cm. (3 3/4 x 5 in.)
Sherrie Levine (American, born 1947)
After Walker Evans: 11, 1981
Gelatin silver print, 12.9 x 10.2 cm. (5 1/16 x 4 in.)
In 1936 Walker Evans photographed the Burroughs, a family of sharecroppers in Depression era Alabama. In 1979 in Sherrie Levine rephotographed Walker Evans’ photographs from the exhibition catalog “First and Last.” In 2001 Michael Mandiberg scanned these same photographs, and created AfterWalkerEvans.com and AfterSherrieLevine.com to facilitate their dissemination as a comment on how we come to know information in this burgeoning digital age.
Here on AfterSherrieLevine.com you will find a browsable selection of these images. Links to the high-resolution exhibition-quality images to download and print out. Along with a certificate of authenticity for each image, which you print out and sign yourself, as well as directions on how to frame the image so that it will fulfill the requirements of the certificate.
By building the image’s URL into the title – the image to the left is “Untitled (AfterSherrieLevine.com/2.jpg)” – the images are locatable and downloadable by anyone who sees or reads about the image. By distributing the images online with certificates of authenticity, the images are accessible by anyone. Unlike the work of the late Felix Gonzalez-Torres ‹ known for his spills of candy and stacks of paper from which the viewer can take a piece of, though the sculpture stays complete because the owner possesses the certificate of authenticity, the right to reproduce ‹ the certificates here are used to insure that each satellite image be considered with equal authenticity, not the opposite. This is an explicit strategy to create a physical object with cultural value, but little or no economic value.
One of the most famous chapters of post-war Japanese art is Genpei Akasegawa’s 1000-yen Note Incident.
In 1963, the young han-geijutsu (‘Anti-Art’) artist had printed several hundred single-sided monochrome 1000-yen note semblances, mailing them in the post office’s cash envelopes as invitations to his exhibition of collage works in Tokyo. In the following months he made several thousand reproductions of the image, burning some of them in a performance and using others to wrap objects, like the bag pictured below. Nobody took much notice outside his own circle of artist friends.
The following year, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police launched a criminal investigation on Akasegawa, referring to an old, vaguely termed law prohibiting manufacture of objects with an exterior that “may be confused with currency.” This led to a highly publicised and drawn-out trial at Tokyo District Court which raised more provocative questions and reached more people than Akasegawa’s art works could ever have managed to do without the state intervention.
The case (which has been recounted in recent years by Reiko Tomii and William Marotti) necessitated a close consideration of the boundaries of legality and of art. Backed by a group of like-minded artists and critics, Akasegawa stressed the blatant unusability of his notes, arguing that they weren’t counterfeit because they weren’t pretending to be real or true – they only referred to real and true money (albeit aiming thereby to disrupt its imagined reality and truth). The uselessness of the notes gave them their status as art objects, but the court’s response was that what he did may well have been ‘art’, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t criminal. After two appeals, the supreme court upheld the lower court’s indictment in 1970, activating the artist’s sentence of three months incarceration and one year probation.
An ironic side effect of the incident was that it cemented the otherwise barely noticed work in the public consciousness, and in art history. The event is remembered as a forensic interrogation of the nature of representation, replication, imitation and simulation – which, it turns out, are all quite different things. Akasegawa named his notes ‘models’ – they weren’t intended as currency but as images of currency, money abstracted from monetary value.
The aforementioned Ming Dynasty bank notes were printed with warnings that forgery was punishable by death. This serves today as a reminder that due to the huge gulf between the low material value of a piece of paper and the high promised value of the state-issued symbol, the risk of counterfeit has been a concomitant part of every paper currency. One of Akasegawa’s responses to the trial was to create the Greater Japan Zero-yen Note (1967) (above), which was ‘money’ that made explicitly clear the fact that it had no monetary value. People were invited to exchange three hundred real yen with him for an ‘original’ zero-yen note, his ambitious idea being that once he swapped it all, there would be no ‘real’ money issued by the state left in circulation.
A member of the avant-garde art collectives Neo Dada (initially Neo Dadaism Organisers) and Hi Red Centre, Akasegawa was associated with the radical han-geijutsu or ‘Anti-Art’ movement of the 1950s and 60s. In later years he would develop a theory of cho-geijutsu or ‘Hyper-Art’, which was less overtly political but would continue to seek intersections of the spaces of art and daily life, and interrogate notions of individual authorship and originality.
He also went on to be a prolific author under the pen name Katsuhiko Otsuji, and wrote the screenplay for the 1989 film Rikyū (by Hiroshi Teshigahara of Woman in the Dunes fame), which chronicles the life of the sixteenth century master of the Japanese tea ceremony. At one point in the film, Sen no Rikyū looks upon a statue made in his image and says, “I now see that I am little more than an effigy myself.” Here, the copy doe not reinforce the originality of the original – in Baudrillard’s terms, the copy suffices to “render both artificial.” This harks back to the institutionalised fear that abounds around semblances of money; mechanical reproductions of mechanical reproductions, they threaten to destabilise the consensual authority of money, and the precarious apparatus of faith required for homogenised symbolic value to function.
Appropriation in art is the use of pre-existing objects or images with little or no transformation applied to them. The use of appropriation has played a significant role in the history of the arts (literary, visual, musical and performing arts). In the visual arts, to appropriate means to properly adopt, borrow, recycle or sample aspects (or the entire form) of human-made visual culture. Notable in this respect are the Readymades of Marcel Duchamp.
Inherent in our understanding of appropriation is the concept that the new work recontextualizes whatever it borrows to create the new work. In most cases the original ‘thing’ remains accessible as the original, without change. Wikipedia
Culture jamming (sometimes guerrilla communication) is a tactic used by many anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt or subvert media culture and its mainstream cultural institutions, including corporate advertising. It attempts to “expose the methods of domination” of a mass society to foster progressive change.
Culture jamming is a form of subvertising. Many culture jams are intended to expose questionable political assumptions behind commercial culture. Tactics include re-figuring logos, fashion statements, and product images as a means to challenge the idea of “what’s cool.” Culture jamming often entails using mass media to produce ironic or satirical commentary about itself, commonly using the original medium’s communication method.
Culture jamming is employed as a reaction against social conformity. Prominent examples of culture jamming include the adulteration of billboard advertising by the Billboard Liberation Front (BLF), and contemporary artists such as Ron English. Culture jamming may involve street parties and protests. While culture jamming usually focuses on subverting or critiquing political and advertising messages, some proponents focus on a more positive (often musically inspired) form which brings together artists, scholars, and activists to create new types of cultural production that transcend—rather than merely criticize—the status quo. Wikipedia
The Yes Men
The Yes Men
The Yes Men
The Guerrilla Girls
Banksy – Guantanamo
Banksy – No Loitering
Banksy in Palestine – Cut Out
http://www.ted.com Artist Neil Harbisson was born completely color blind, but these days a device attached to his head turns color into audible frequencies. Instead of seeing a world in grayscale, Harbisson can hear a symphony of color — and yes, even listen to faces and paintings.
“The Secret Life of Lance Letscher” is a deeply personal and psychological portrait of internationally known, and Austin based, collage artist Lance Letscher. Told through memories of trauma and triumph, the film provides a doorway into Letscher’s profound insights on creativity, the subconscious, work ethic and spirituality. Through his intricate artistic process, we witness the artist’s unwavering determination to stay in the moment—free of mind, thought and preconception. Featuring detailed images of more than a hundred of his collages, sculptures, and installations, viewers are offered a visual feast while gaining intimate access into Letscher’s methodical techniques and brilliant mind.
Filmed amidst the Arensberg collection at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where 35 works by Marcel Duchamp are gathered, this 1956 interview features the artist talking with James Johnson Sweeney, former director of the Guggenheim Museum. Duchamp describes his transition away from Impressionism toward a Cubist, and then post-Cubist, approach, providing commentary while standing before Nude Descending a Staircase (“I was not aware of Italian Futurism when I painted it”) and The Large Glass (“The two crackings are symmetrically arranged and there is…almost an intention there…a ready-made intention, in other words, that I respect and love.”). These concepts are paradoxically, although quite logically, articulated alongside his desire for “dryness” and mechanical precision. Viewers also gain insight into Duchamp’s thoughts on painting for an “ideal” public—a notion he clearly distinguishes from ivory-tower elitism.
What happens when you send a request out to the world to chronicle, via video, a single day on Earth? You get 80,000 submissions and 4,500 hours of footage from 192 countries. Producer Ridley Scott and Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald took this raw material — all shot on July 24, 2010 — and created Life in a Day, a groundbreaking, feature-length documentary that portrays this kaleidoscope of images we call life. National Geographic is bringing it to theaters starting July 24, 2011. Prepare to be amazed.
Installation View, Martin Creed ‘Mothers’, Hauser & Wirth London, Savile Row, 2011 © Martin Creed Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth Photo: Hugo Glendinning
Work No. 360. Half the air in a given space, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, 2015
Photo: Evan Chakroff/henryart.org
Mark Bradford was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1961. He received a BFA (1995) and MFA (1997) from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. Bradford transforms materials scavenged from the street into wall-size collages and installations that respond to the impromptu networks—underground economies, migrant communities, or popular appropriation of abandoned public space—that emerge within a city. Drawing from the diverse cultural and geographic makeup of his southern Californian community, Bradford’s work is as informed by his personal background as a third-generation merchant there as it is by the tradition of abstract painting developed worldwide in the twentieth century. Bradford’s videos and map-like, multilayered paper collages refer not only to the organization of streets and buildings in downtown Los Angeles, but also to images of crowds, ranging from civil rights demonstrations of the 1960s to contemporary protests concerning immigration issues. Mark Bradford has received many awards, including the Bucksbaum Award (2006); the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2003); and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2002). He has been included in major exhibitions at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2006); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2003); REDCAT, Los Angeles (2004); and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2001). He has participated in the twenty-seventh Bienal de São Paulo (2006); the Whitney Biennial (2006); and “inSite: Art Practices in the Public Domain,” San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico (2005). Bradford lives and works in Los Angeles.
Janine Antoni was born in Freeport, Bahamas. She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, and earned her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989.
Her work shows nationally and internationally. Antoni has exhibited at numerous major institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; The Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Magazsin 3 Handelshögskolan, Stockholm; Haywood Gallery, London, Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany. She has also been represented in several international biennials such as the Whitney Biennial; Venice Bienialle; Johannesburg Biennial; Kwangju Biennial, South Korea; Istanbul Biennial; S.I.T.E. Santa Fe Biennial: Project 1 Biennial, New Orleans; and Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India.
Antoni is the recipient of several prestigious awards including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship in 1998, the New Media Award, ICA Boston in 1999, the Larry Aldrich Foundation Award in 1999, an Artes Mundi, Wales International Visual Art Prize nomination in 2004, The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2011, a 2012 Creative Capital Artist Grant, Anonymous Was A Woman Grant in 2014, and A Project Grant from The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage to collaborate with choreographers Anna Halprin and Stephen Petronio at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia for a 2016 exhibition. She currently resides in New York City.
Selected public collections include MoMA, New York, NY; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC; Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden; Sammlung Goetz, Munich, Germany; The New Museum, New York, NY; Astrup Fearnley Museet for Moderne Kunst, Oslo, Norway; and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA.
Monographs and publications of Antoni’s work include MOOR published by Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall and SITE Santa Fe; The Girl Made of Butter published by The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut; and JANINE ANTONI published by Ink Tree Edition, Küsnacht, Switzerland.
Installation materials used in this section of the rope are:
Dad’s coconut husks, Joe’s blue pants, Rosary beads found
with Doug, Doug’s grandmother’s dish towel, Elizabeth’s
grandmother’s blue and white striped apron, Mom’s fall and
hairnet, Grandmother Gugu’s slip, Red velour Christmas
dress worn by Granny Miana
Currently 326.9 feet (99.63 meters)
The joining of people to devices has been rapid and unalterable. The application of the personal device in daily life has made tasks take less time. Far away places and people feel closer than ever before. Despite the obvious benefits that these advances in technology have contributed to society, the social and physical implications are slowly revealing themselves. In similar ways that photography transformed the lived experience into the photographable, performable, and reproducible experience, personal devices are shifting behaviors while simultaneously blending into the landscape by taking form as being one with the body. This phantom limb is used as a way of signaling busyness and unapproachability to strangers while existing as an addictive force that promotes the splitting of attention between those who are physically with you and those who are not.
The work began as I sat in a café’ one morning. This is what I wrote about my observation:
Family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies. I am saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and I doubt we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience. Mom has her phone out now.
The image of that family, the mother’s face, the teenage girls’ and their father’s posture and focus on the palm of their own hands has been burned in my mind. It was one of those moments where you see something so amazingly common that it startles you into consciousness of what’s actually happening and it is impossible to forget. I see this family at the grocery store, in classrooms, on the side of the highway and in my own bed as I fall asleep next to my wife. We rest back to back on our sides coddling our small, cold, illuminated devices every night.
The large format portraits are of individuals who appear to be holding personal devices although the devices have been physically removed from the sitter’s hand. They are asked to hold their stare and posture as I remove their device and then I make the exposure. The photographs represent reenactments of scenes that I experience daily. We have learned to read the expression of the body while someone is consuming a device and when those signifiers are activated it is as if the device can be seen taking physical form without the object being present.
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.
“Make room for Ray Johnson whose place in history has been only vaguely defined. Johnson’s beguiling, challenging art has an exquisite clarity and emotional intensity that makes it much more than simply a remarkable mirror of its time, although it is that, too.”
–Roberta Smith, The New York Times (1995)
Ray Johnson (1927-1995) was a seminal Pop Art figure in the 1950s, an early conceptualist, and a pioneer of mail art. His preferred medium was collage, that quintessentially twentieth-century art form that reflects the increased (as the century wore on) collision of disparate visual and verbal information that bombards modern man. Integrating texts and images drawn from a multiplicity of sources — from mass media to telephone conversations — Johnson’s innovativeness spread beyond the confines of the purely visual. He staged what Suzi Gablik described in Pop Art Redefined as perhaps the “first informal happening” and moved into mail art, artist books, graphic design, and sculpture, working in all modes simultaneously. Johnson not only operated in what Rauschenberg famously called “the gap between art and life,” but he also erased the distinction between them. His entire being – a reflection of his obsessively creative mind – was actually one continuous “work of art.” His works reflect his encyclopedic erudition, his promiscuous range of interests, and an uncanny proto-Google ability to discover connections between a myriad of images, facts and people.
Born in Detroit, Michigan on October 16, 1927, Johnson grew up in a working class neighborhood and attended an occupational high school where he enrolled in an advertising art program. He studied at the Detroit Art Institute and spent a summer in a drawing program at Ox-Bow School in Saugatuck, Michigan, an affiliate of the Art Institute of Chicago. Leaving Detroit in the summer of 1945, he matriculated at the progressive Black Mountain College, where he spent the next three years with the exception of the spring of 1946. He studied painting with former Bauhaus faculty Josef Albers and Lyonel Feininger, as well as Robert Motherwell. By the summer of 1948, Johnson had befriended summer visiting lecturers John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Willem de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, and Richard Lippold and fellow student Ruth Asawa. He participated in “The Ruse of Medusa,” the culmination of Cage’s Satie Festival (characterized by scholar Martin Duberman as “a watershed event in the history of ‘mixed-media’”) with Cage, Cunningham, Fuller, the de Koonings, and Ruth Asawa, among others.
In early 1949, Johnson moved to New York City and became an active participant in the downtown art scene. Alongside the American Abstract Artists group, Johnson painted geometric abstractions heavily influenced by the imagery of his former professor, Josef Albers. Johnson later destroyed most of this work, having turned to collage.
By 1954, Johnson was making irregularly shaped “moticos,” his name for small-scale collages upon which he pasted images from popular culture such as Elvis Presley, James Dean, Shirley Temple, and department store models. Johnson’s 1950s moticos anticipated Warhol’s 1960s Pop imagery. However, his attitude towards fame remained the antithesis of Warhol’s. He continually dodged it and was dubbed “the most famous unknown artist” by Grace Glueck in a 1965 New York Times article in which she discussed his deliberate elusiveness. Johnson carried boxes of moticos around New York, sharing them with strangers on sidewalks, in cafes, and even in Grand Central Station. He solicited and even occasionally recorded the public’s response to his intricate creations. After a number of performance-like installations of these works in 1954-55, Johnson claimed to have burned a plethora of them in Cy Twombly’s fireplace, a gesture that John Baldessari later replicated in his “Cremation.”
From the early 1960s onwards, Johnson would reuse his “moticos,” cutting them up to create tiny compositions that he glued onto small blocks of layered cardboard. He would then ink, paint, and sand these “tiles” or “tesserae,” using them in his extremely complex collages whose underlying structural emphasis on repetition and variations of semi-geometric forms relate to the eccentric minimalism of fellow artists Louise Bourgeois and Eva Hesse. These collages reveal his profound understanding of cubism and his intent to explore it in different forms. Johnson incorporated meaningful texts into his work beginning in the 1950s – letters or fragments of words, names of celebrities, literary figures, and art-world denizens, both historical and current. He pointed his viewers towards marvelous connections between them and a world of metamorphosing glyphs that became part of Johnsons’s ever-expanding lexicon of text and forms. An artistic alchemist, Johnson could turn the detritus of ordinary life into proverbial art “gold.” In his typically self-deprecating way, Johnson would say that he did not make Pop Art, he made “Chop Art”.
In 1958, Johnson was already recognized as part of the nascent Pop generation. In a review of a Jasper Johns’ exhibition, a critic for ARTnews stated: “Johns’ first one-man show (…) places him with such better-known colleagues as Rauschenberg, Twombly, Kaprow and Ray Johnson.” Around 1959, Johnson met Billy Linich (later known as Billy Name) at New York’s Serendipity, and in 1963 Johnson introduced him to Warhol. Billy Name became a key figure at Warhol’s Factory, responsible for covering the Factory walls with silver, which resulted from Johnson bringing Warhol to Name’s similarly silver-covered apartment.
Johnson was one of the first conceptualists, an heir to Marcel Duchamp whom he may have met in 1961. Johnson shared his enthusiasm for the elder Frenchman’s work with many of his contemporaries. In Marcel Duchamp: Étant donnés, Michael Taylor notes, “The public display of Johnson’s work helped to situate him as a crucial figure in the post-World War II dissemination of Duchamp’s art and ideas, alongside cultural luminaries such as John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and Jasper Johns.” Johnson was one of the key artists to incorporate exhortations to the observer to participate actively in the work of art itself. His interest in codes, poetics, and semiotic systems looked back to Duchamp, while anticipating the enlarging contemporary conceptual practices, and the development of appropriation in particular, during the early second half of the 20th century.
Throughout the early stage of his career and spanning its duration, Johnson sought out the random and the ephemeral, incorporating chance operations into his artistic practice with “mail art.” He gradually built up an informal, hybrid network of friends, acquaintances, and strangers with whom he exchanged ideas and artworks by means of the postal system. By 1958, he began to write, “Please send to…” on his mailings, thereby creating even more sub-networks among the hundreds of correspondents in his greater mail art organization. By 1962, when it was named the “New York Correspondance [sic] School,” his virtual “school” of correspondents had become a network for a web of communication by mail that eventually spread across the nation and around the globe.
Johnson was an early instigator of performance art, actively participating in events by James Waring and Susan Kaufman, among others, and staging his own starting in 1957 that included “Funeral Music for Elvis Presley” and “Lecture on Modern Music.” Johnson’s compositions were performed at The Living Theatre and during events such as the Fluxus “Yam Festival” of 1963. From 1961 on, Johnson periodically staged events he called “Nothings,” described to his friend William S. Wilson as “an attitude as opposed to a happening,” which would parallel the “Happenings” of Allan Kaprow and later Fluxus events. The first of these, “Nothing by Ray Johnson,” was part of a weekly series of events in July 1961 at AG Gallery, a venue in New York operated by George Maciunas and Almus Salcius. Ed Plunkett later recalled entering an empty room: ” . . . Visitors began to enter the premises. Most of them looked quite dismayed that nothing was going on . . . Well, finally Ray arrived . . . and he brought with him a large corrugated cardboard box of wooden spools. Soon after arriving Ray emptied this box of spools down the staircase … with these … one had to step cautiously to avoid slipping … I was delighted with this gesture.” Johnson’s second Nothing took place at Maidman Playhouse, New York, in 1962. Furthermore, the carefully orchestrated circumstances of his suicide on Friday the 13th, 1995 have prompted the suggestion that the process of his drowning was his “final performance.”
On April 1, 1968, the first of the meeting of the New York Correspondance School was held at the Society of Friends Meeting House on Rutherford Place in New York City. Johnson called two more meetings in the following weeks, including the Seating-Meeting at New York’s Finch College, about which John Gruen reported: “It was . . . attended by many artists and ‘members’ . . . all of whom sat around wondering when the meeting would start. It never did . . . people wrote things on bits of paper, on a blackboard, or simply talked. It was all strangely meaningless — and strangely meaningful.” Until his death, Johnson continued to mail out an extraordinary quantity of material, including elements of chopped-up collages; drawings with instructions (“please add to and return…”); found objects; snakeskins; plastic forks; and annotated newspaper clippings, to name only a few. To Johnson, “art” rejected physical limitations, the restraints of time, or a single identifiable goal. In this capacity, Johnson privileged inclusivity, deeming anyone and everyone with whom he interacted suitable for creative exchange.
Richard Feigen was an early champion of his work, holding one-man exhibitions in New York and Chicago from 1966-72, including I Shot an Arrow into the Air It Fell to Earth in the Ear of an Artist Living in Flushing, New York Tit Show (1970) and Dollar Bills (1970). From 1968-1974, Johnson produced an ambitious body of work, received critical attention on the pages of Artforum, and was featured in several major exhibitions. In 1970, The Whitney Museum of American Art organized Ray Johnson: New York Correspondance School, which served as a major form of cultural validation for Johnson’s practice. Additionally, Johnson had several solo shows at Willard Gallery (New York) as well as Famous People’s Mother’s Potato Mashers (1973) at Galleria Schwarz (Milan) and Ray Johnson’s History of the Betty Parsons Gallery (1973) at the Betty Parsons Gallery (New York), and participated in the group exhibition Post Card Show (1971-72) at the Angela Flowers Gallery (London).
On June 3, 1968, the day Valerie Solanas shot Andy Warhol, Johnson was mugged at knifepoint in lower Manhattan. Two days later, the world was shocked by the assassination of Bobby Kennedy at the hands of Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles. These traumatic events prompted Johnson’s abrupt departure to Glen Cove, Long Island, to house he described as a “small white farmhouse with a Joseph Cornell attic.” He then relocated to nearby Locust Valley, where he lived in ever-greater reclusiveness. As his contemporaries became famous, Johnson gradually but purposefully closed off his private life and dwelling, but still maintained connections via his mail art, the telephone, and various activities in the Locust Valley community. Johnson, referring to himself as a “mysterious and secret organization,” eventually achieved legendary status as a “pure,” completely un-commercial artist. His underground reputation bubbled beneath the surface into the 1980s, despite his physical absence from the scene. Johnson’s presence continued to be felt by those who admired him including Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Chuck Close, Robert Rauschenberg, and a close circle of friends, admirers, and collectors. Only a handful of people were ever allowed into his house and around 1978, he ceased to exhibit or sell his work commercially. In contrast to his physical seclusion, Johnson’s pre-digital network of correspondents increased exponentially. Johnson feverishly developed richer and more complex collages, which Whitney Museum curator, Donna de Salvo, described as “extending the compositional network beyond the parameters of an individual work and into the wider world.”
On April 5, 1973, Johnson declared the “death” of the “New York Correspondance School” in an unpublished letter to the Obituary Department of The New York Times but continued to practice mail art under this and other rubrics.
In 1976, Johnson began his Silhouette project, which involved creating over 200 profiles of friends’, artists’ or famous peoples’ faces, which he would often use as the basis for collages. Subjects included “a who’s who of the New York arts and letters scene”: Chuck Close, Andy Warhol, Paloma Picasso, James Rosenquist, Richard Feigen, Frances Beatty, William S. Burroughs, Nam June Paik, David Hockney, Peter Hujar, and Roy Lichtenstein, among others.
On January 13, 1995, Johnson was seen dressed in black diving off a bridge in Sag Harbor, Long Island and backstroking out to sea. Many aspects of his death involved the number “13”: the date, his age, 67 (6+7=13), as well as the room number of a motel he had checked into earlier that day, 247 (2+4+7=13). There was much speculation amongst critics, scholars, admirers, and law-enforcement officials about a “last performance” aspect of Johnson’s drowning. After his death, hundreds of collages were found carefully arranged in his Long Island home. A retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1999), which traveled to the Wexner Center for the Arts as well as solo and group shows in the US and abroad, including Paris, London, Oslo, Budapest, and Barcelona, began the process of re-introducing Johnson’s work to a broader audience. Johnson is considered one of the major artistic innovators of the second-half of the 20th century within the critical community but his work remains underexposed and underappreciated by the general public.
Following Johnson’s suicide, filmmakers Andrew Moore and John Walter, with the support and oversight of Frances Beatty, Vice-President of Richard L. Feigen & Co. and director of the Ray Johnson Estate, spent six years probing the mysteries of Johnson’s life and art. Their collaboration yielded the award-winning documentary, How To Draw a Bunny, released in 2003. How To Draw a Bunny examines Johnson’s life, art, his ambivalent attitude towards fame, and finally his mysterious death. The film includes interviews with artists Chuck Close, James Rosenquist, Billy Name, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and the founder of The Living Theatre, Judith Malina, among many others. A decade after his death, the network of mail artists continues to grow, numbering in the thousands of general correspondents. Although Johnson’s death left many questions, his life’s work is evidence of a powerful and original sensibility unique in the history of Modern Art.
Richard L. Feigen & Co. represents the Ray Johnson Estate.
TimeExperience (work in progress) is the title of a chronological serie of miniature sewn photos and photo-montages. In this actualized multiplated cycles I`m “sewing” my own biography through different phases of my work: self 1975-76, pregnant 1977-80, mother`s luck – with daughter and son 1977-1986, Grima – with child and animal 1986-89, double head – with daughter and son 1991-92, generativ – self with daughter, mother and grandmother 1994-99, KALI-daughter 2000-04, N.Y.FACES-surgical operations 2001-02, personal identity since 2003, transgenerativ-MotherFatherDaughterSon 2005-2008, verified self 2009-10, Orifices since 2011.
‘Beautiful Boy’ is an ongoing series of photographs of my lover. It began as a confession between friends. On the subway one evening, my friend shared that he had worn women’s clothing almost exclusively in college, but after graduation struggled to navigate a world that seemed both newly accepting and yet inherently reviling of male displays of femininity. I thought that photography could provide a space to experiment outside of isolation. Taking the first pictures was an emotional experience, and I connected to his vulnerability. Over time he became my muse and eventually my romantic partner. Soon we began taking photos like addicts, setting up several shoots every weekend.
When taking the photos, I feel the same as when viewing a film where a director and actress share a deep connection to the fantasy captured. It is thrilling to see my partner transform into countless goddess-like forms. The project is a canvas to project our desires. At times the images even become self-portraits. The camera transposes our private experiences into public expression.
Often, I construct sets in my studio. Other times, I seek out locations that feel as if they are sets. I spend a lot of time conceptualizing the costumes, which I piece together from thrift shops, Ebay, and discount fabric outlets. I think it is important that the images not be seamless, but more like an assemblage where you can see the glue, revealing contemporary identity as a collage of the visual language of the past. Although I art-direct the images and come to each shoot with a strong aesthetic intention, my partner inhabits each costume and set in a thoughtful way, embodying the scenario with a sense of openness.
It is important to show his femininity as strength. I want to feel empowered as well, and to have an intimate muse. Together we investigate feminine fantasies presented throughout the history of photography and cinema. The project is a way to ‘step-inside’ images that we have found alluring and examine what it is like to live each scenario out. We explore both our captivation and our ambivalence towards these depictions of femininity. By presenting my partner within the lineage of great beauties and populating the media with our images, we are reclaiming our voice in what is attractive and beautiful.
Redefinition motivates me to create my embroidered x-rays. The stark clash of two such divergent materials, cloth and plastic, is the simple catalyst. One tactile and labor intensive, the other technical, and quickly a finished product. There’s a wide historical context, one ancient, decorative, and artisanal, the other contemporary and devoid of aesthetic intention. By simply placing one of these materials on top of the other the understood purpose of each is redefined.
For me, stitching has a nurturing aspect and acts as care giving or healing to the injured, a socially feminine sort of action, while the x-ray itself can be considered masculine and unemotional. Finally, my own recognition of what is beautiful [these separately became appealing to me at about the same time]. As an artist who takes on tedious, labor-intensive projects, I am also reacting to the ever-increasing presence of photography in contemporary art – by introducing the process of labor over the quick, slickness of film.
»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.«
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.
My ongoing body of work explores constructions of the masculine within popular culture – while using Jamaican dancehall culture as platform for this discourse. My works seeks to measure the masculine by looking at how popular culture as contributed to these transformations. The early work looked at the fashionable practice of skin bleaching, followed by investigations of so-called ‘ bling culture’ and its relationship to the masculine within an urban context. While still making references to dancehall culture, my work raises larger questions about beauty, gender ideals and constructs of masculinity within so called ‘popular black’ culture. It examines the similarities and differences between ‘camp aesthetics’ – the use of feminine gendered adornment – in the construct of the urban masculine within popular culture. This body of work raises questions about body politics, performance of gender, gender and beauty, beauty and stereotyping, race and beauty, and body and ritual.
Materially, the work has been a continued exploration of mixed media ranging from drawing and painting, to installation, street projects, mixed media tapestries, mixed media photographs along with three-dimensional objects and wallpaper to expand the discourse formally and conceptually. Combining flower petals, toys, pussy bullets (tampons) etc. along with these images has helped to expand the conversation about gender construction and how ideas about masculinity are indeed shifting in to a kind of faux feminine. Expanding my media choices has allowed for multi-dimensional exploration of image, language and gesture in the construct of gender; presenting or deconstructing notions of masculinity and its parallels with the feminine. Referring to notions of gender and identity as masquerade. The result of this choice has made the work more decorative, decadent, iconic and confrontational.