Zuid-Afrika, foto’s Ilvy Njiokiktjien
Taylor Mead Aphorisms features highlights taken from his underground classic On Amphetamine and in Europe. The seminal 1968 text collected his singular stream of consciousness short form poetry. He’s best known for starring in Warhol films (Imitation of Christ, Lonesome Cowboys, The Nude Restaurant) but more recently was seen in Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee & Cigarettes. Institutional support has ranged from his inclusion in The Whitney Museum’s “Day for Night” biennial to the Harvard Film Archive celebrating him this month as “the furiously beating heart of the American avant-garde.”
Extracted from www.halfgallery.com
L’unique décor est une sorte d’immense plaque de plastique noir verni, recouvrant l’intégralité du fond de la scène. Cette plaque n’est que partiellement lisse, amochée comme si on s’y était cogné plusieurs fois. L’aspect brillant crée un léger reflet des corps. Les quelques creux et raillures produisent une irrégularité appréciable, où viennent même se loger quelques giclures de lumière. Ces discrets accidents lui donnent un aspect brut et évoquent les sculptures de Banks Violette. Le sol restera vierge, si ce n’est l’empreinte des corps échoués. Brendan Dougherty accompagnera le spectacle par ses percussions électroniques, dans un son extrêmement proche des productions raster-noton, assez moléculaire et minimal, susceptible d’accès de fureur.
Dès le départ les danseurs sont cinq. La scène n’en invitera pas un de plus, et n’en relâchera aucun. La teinte générale abstraite du spectacle nous fournit des possibilités d’évasion immédiates. Telle une maladie infectieuse, le long cheminement de la posession commencera par chatouiller en douceur une infime partie de leur corps, et terminera par martyriser l’intégralité de leur âme. Murés quelquefois dans leurs solos, les danseurs font néanmoins jaillir quelques beaux moments de connexion, notamment un passage semblable à une scène d’amour ou de bagarre complètement amorphe. Mollement englués les uns sur les autres, ils forment une sorte de boule de chewing-gum géante.
Les humains s’animalisent. Nos danseurs, tels des poissons hors de leur bocal, sont coincés entre l’immobilité et l’épilepsie convulsive, le silence et le cri, la vie et la mort, en somme condamnés à agoniser perpétuellement. L’épuisement devient pratiquement un processus d’écriture purgatif, il n’y a ni le temps ni l’énergie de faire ce qui n’est pas absolument nécessaire. Ils vont quitter la terre, ne tiennent plus sur leurs pieds, mais lèvent les bras au ciel.
Plus tard encore, à quatre pattes, les dos s’arrondissant, beuglant et crapahutant, ils se transforment plutôt en fauves. Une jungle se déploie sous nos yeux. Laissant s’écouler ici et là nuées de cris et torrents de sueur, le chaos se répand panoramiquement dans tout l’espace mental que représente la scène. Puis soudain, en un geste, l’attention se replie précisément sur deux mains refermées l’une sur l’autre, dont les doigts confectionnent, l’air de rien, très certainement les barreaux d’une cage.
La lumière est un élément-clé du spectacle. Elles apparaît quelquefois vêtue d’une blancheur aveuglante, artificielle, pharmaceutique, qui provoque angoisse et insomnie chez tous ceux qu’elle attrape. L’un des passages les plus marquants est probablement quand elle vient s’écraser sur le sol, dans une nuance orange et cuivrée. Nous assistons à une sorte de coucher de soleil, mais, comme dans les tournesols de Van Gogh, le soleil ici est malade et a la “couleur du souffre”.
Presque tout le temps, la frénésie est enchaînée à la frénésie. Cette couleur appliquée de façon trop monochrome fait parfois perdre en densité le spectacle, et cloue l’imaginaire à un seul et même tableau.
On peut conclure en disant qu’il s’agit d’une pièce harmonieuse et habitée, généreuse dans les images et l’énergie qu’elle convoque, et surtout très ouverte aux diverses possibilités de lecture. Cette pièce a définitivement l’ambition de brûler, plus que de s’éteindre.
Text by Anna S.
Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation’s latest film, whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir, 2011, portrays a dystopian future. The film is set in City-A, where austere plazas, socialist realist monuments, and cinder-block apartment buildings suggest a Soviet history. There is no fresh water. Traces of lithium taint the recycled water supply, contenting the citizenry. A language ration dictates the expiration of words. Time passes at an altered, controlled rate. The film follows Mr. Holz, a geophysicist on an unexplained assignment, who surveys City-A’s factories, oil fields, and kitschy landmarks. He navigates the city alone, and, in cluttered apartments, he watches television, makes phone calls, and checks the time. He is picked up, an action implying that his presence in City-A is suspect and under surveillance.
Sussman and the Rufus Corporation produced this retro-futuristic film noir from two years of footage that they shot across central Asia. A computer remixes nearly three thousand clips of footage, spoken and subtitled narration, and music in continuous random sequence, all called up by an algorithm. The incongruous repetition of visual and audio clips in an infinite pseudonarrative is equally uncanny and compelling. Lines of cryptic text and symbols scroll on a monitor in a makeshift cinema in the gallery, theoretically illuminating the film’s structure.
The titular reference to Malevich’s 1918 painting prompts consideration of the montage according to Suprematism. As the movement manifested an objective geometric language, Sussman’s film exemplifies a cinematic semiotics. But the implication of sequential narrative in the film, reinforced by presumed cinematic conventions, demonstrates the paradoxical subjectivity of technology. It mocks the viewer who hopes to make out a clear narrative or anyone who expects resolution.
Exctracted from www.artforum.com
Diane Arbus (New York, 1923-1971) a révolutionné l’art de la photographie ; l’audace de sa thématique, aussi bien que son approche photographique ont donné naissance à une œuvre souvent choquante par sa pureté, par cette inébranlable célébration des choses telles qu’elles sont. Par son talent à rendre étrange ce que nous considérons comme extrêmement familier, mais aussi à dévoiler le familier à l’intérieur de l’exotique, la photographe ouvre de nouvelles perspectives à la compréhension que nous avons de nous-mêmes.
Arbus puise l’essentiel de son inspiration dans la ville de New York, qu’elle arpente à la fois comme un territoire connu et une terre étrangère, photographiant tous ces êtres qu’elle découvre dans les années 1950 et 1960. La photographie qu’elle pratique est de celle qui se confronte aux faits. Cette anthropologie contemporaine — portraits de couples, d’enfants, de forains, de nudistes, de familles des classes moyennes, de travestis, de zélateurs, d’excentriques ou de célébrités — correspond à une allégorie de l’expérience humaine, une exploration de la relation entre apparence et identité, illusion et croyance, théâtre et réalité.
Avec plus de deux cents clichés, cette première rétrospective en France permet de découvrir la source, l’étendue, mais aussi les aspirations d’une force parfaitement originale dans l’univers de la photographie. Y sont présentées toutes les images emblématiques de l’artiste, ainsi qu’un grand nombre de photographies qui n’ont à ce jour jamais été exposées en France. Les premières œuvres déjà témoignent de la sensibilité particulière d’Arbus, au travers de l’expression d’un visage, de la posture d’un corps, du type de lumière ou de la présence particulière des objets dans une pièce ou dans un paysage. Animés par la relation singulière que tisse la photographe avec son sujet, tous ces éléments se conjuguent pour inviter le spectateur à une rencontre véritablement intime.
Exctracted from www.jeudepaume.org
Answering an online compendium’s quest for immediately engaging content, Onorato and Krebs soundly tick the increasingly ubiquitous kooky eyecandy box. There’s a substantial bloggers’ buzz surrounding the photography of Swiss duo Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs (both b. 1979), no doubt partly due to the gently surreal humour that characterises much of their work. Fortunately, there’s more to the duo’s work than instant visual gratification
The artists’ photographs of an extensive American road trip - the most widely distributed online - not only provide perfect access to their combination of illusion, chance and staged realities, but also succeed in establishing a distinctive route through the well-trammelled territory of the American West, a terrain so culturally familiar that, as Krebs put it prior to the journey, “…we already know (it) without ever having been there.” United by a common interest in various strands of deviant reality - accidents of nature, the fortuitously bizarre and their own, objectivity-bending interventions - Onorato and Krebs have been producing whimsically uncertain images since 2003.
In several of the works, simple sculptural props both define and refashion predominant clichás: toy-like lengths of highway loop in endless circles or force new routes through undergrowth, yet are also made subject to tricks of perspective that confound distinction from the real thing.
Part David Lynch, part Fischli and Weiss, Onorato and Krebs’ outsiders’ view of the US functions as a metatextual response to the established tropes of the Road Trip, provoking, as in all their work, an examination of the documentary-style photograph and its specific framework of expectation.
Exctracted from www.modernedition.com
The new documentary Gloria: In Her Own Words, which airs this month on HBO, is ostensibly a celebration of the life and work of feminist icon Gloria Steinem. The film, though, also offers a healthy dose of perspective on the Women’s Movement of the 1960s, what it accomplished, and what it all meant on a personal level to one particular woman, Steinem, who was already in her mid-thirties when she made the leap from journalism to activism. Steinem, though, quickly proved an influential, if polarizing, figure in the movement, and found herself not only wrestling with the long-entrenched ideas and political systems that were conspiring to deprive women of their rights and freedoms, but also with the media (which placed an undue emphasis on her physical appearance), her own ambivalence about stepping into the spotlight, and even, at times, with other feminists. Charting Steinem’s journey from growing up in a middle-class section of East Toledo, Ohio, through her work as a writer, reporter, and editor-which includes her now- infamous 1963 undercover exposé for Show magazine on the working conditions of Playboy Bunnies; “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation,” her treatise for New York magazine inspired by a 1969 abortion hearing and the speak-out that followed; and her founding of Ms. magazine in 1971-and, later, as a political orga- nizer and social-justice advocate, Gloria: In Her Own Words brings into stark relief both how far the Wom- en’s Movement has come over the last four decades and how far there still is to go.
For her part, the 77-year-old Steinem continues to fight the fight, having recently returned from a trip to South Korea, where she had delivered speeches at Ewha Womans University and the Seoul Broadcasting System Global Digital Forum in Seoul. Back home in her apartment in New York City, she spoke by phone with fellow journalist and activist Maria Shriver.
MARIA SHRIVER: So how did you feel watching this documentary for the first time?
GLORIA STEINEM: Well … [laughs] Our own lives feel so disordered and confusing, so it’s amazing to me that the filmmakers caught the personal, emotional high points and low points of my life and not just the public aspects. I mean, at one point they show a photograph of my mother taken at Oberlin, where she had gone to college for one year before her family ran out of money. Later, she went back with me when I spoke there. I look at that photograph and remember how much that meant to her-and to me. So it’s one thing to find the public moments, but they also found the private moments.
SHRIVER: You talk in the film about your mother trying to be a writer, a wife, and a parent, and becoming really unglued by all of that.
STEINEM: Before I was born, she had what was then called a nervous breakdown. So the truth is, I don’t quite know what happened. Decades later, when I was in college, she was in a mental hospital for a couple of years, and she finally got some help. I asked one of the doctors there … He said the closest he could come was that it was an anxiety neurosis. I asked him if he would say her spirit was broken, and he said yes. It was only then that I began to understand she had given up being a pioneer reporter, given up on her friends, and everything she loved.
SHRIVER: As you worked to become a writer and have your own life, did you ever worry that what hap- pened to your mother would happen to you?
STEINEM: No, I never thought for a millisecond that would happen. Like so many women, I was living out the unlived life of my mother—so I wouldn’t be her. But the price I paid was that I distanced myself internally. I wasn’t as close to her then as I now, in retrospect, wish I had been.
SHRIVER: Did you try to run away from associating with her?
STEINEM: No. I took care of her and I loved her, but I couldn’t let myself realize while she was alive how alike we were. I couldn’t afford to realize how alike we were. But now I have her books, and I see from what she was reading that we were more alike than I was able to admit. When I was little, I knew that I was not adopted, but I actually imagined and hoped that I was—and that my real parents were going to come get me. I was just too different from the rest of the family, so I lived in books and in my imagination.
SHRIVER: You talk in the film about feeling depressed at points in your life.
STEINEM: I probably have no right to use that word, because some people really are depressed. I wasn’t ever unable to function, but I did realize at some point that I had built a wall between myself and my childhood by saying, “I’m so glad that’s over. Nothing can ever be as bad again,” without understanding that my childhood was still very much with me.
SHRIVER: Was there ever a moment where you said, “I’ve built this wall. Now I’ve got to rip it down”?
STEINEM: There were many such moments. But I think that whatever kind of depression I might have encountered had to do with exhaustion when I reached 50 or so—because I was just so tired. What was pushing me was the need to be useful. Why did I need to be useful in order to think I was real? The answer really was because I had been neglected as a child. Not because my parents weren’t wonderful people—they were wonderful people—but they themselves were having a tough time. I didn’t go to school a full year until I was 11 or 12, so I lived in books. I really was an observer of life.
SHRIVER: You always seem to have guarded the more private aspects of your life. Why did you agree to do this documentary now?
STEINEM: As an activist, you do find yourself directed more toward public action. But I’ve always tried to use stories from my own life in my writing—for instance, in Revolution From Within . It has always been clear to me that the stories of each other’s lives are our best textbooks. Every social justice movement that I know of has come out of people sitting in small groups, telling their life stories, and discovering that other people have shared similar experiences. And since we’re each unique, if we’ve shared many experiences, then it probably has some- thing to do with power or politics, and if we unify and act together, then we can make a change. Revolutions that last don’t happen from the top down. They hap- pen from the bottom up. So whatever use my story might be to other people, whether it’s because we have something in common or because there’s a cautionary tale in there to not do something that I did …
SHRIVER: Is there some part of your life that you think represents a cautionary tale?
STEINEM: I think the biggest thing is probably that I wasted time.
SHRIVER: You feel like you wasted time? In what way?
STEINEM: I continued for too long to do things that I already knew how to do, or to write stories that I was assigned instead of fighting for stories that I couldn’t get, or doing ones that I thought were important on my own. The wasting of time is the thing I worry about the most. Because time is all there is.
Extracted from www.interviewmagazine.com
BEFORE SHE WAS KNOWN as the “It girl,” Clara Bow (1905–1965) was promoted as “the Brooklyn Bonfire,” and, along with Barbara Stanwyck and Rita Hayworth, the actress endures as one of the greatest exports from Kings County. Hollywood’s first sex symbol, Bow was the epitome of jazz-baby thrill seeking, a spit-curled good-time gal in silent films like Dancing Mothers and Mantrap (both from 1926) and talkies such as The Wild Party (1929) and Call Her Savage (1932).
Directed by Frank Lloyd and based on a Broadway play called The Barker, Hoop-la (1933), Bow’s final film, amply showcases the star’s earthy charms. Playing a carnival cooch dancer named Lou—her show-biz handles include Fatima and Snake Hips—Bow is introduced shooting craps backstage, whooping it up with the fair’s ticket takers and clean-up crew. When the boss’s son, a greenhorn college kid and lawyer hopeful, shows up, one of Lou’s fellow hard-boiled gyraters, for complicated romantic reasons of her own, offers her $100 to make the sap fall in love with her. It’s easy enough work, especially when Lou slips into a curve-hugging silk nightie. The naïf’s father is on to her, snarling at Lou to mind her own business; “I ain’t got the energy,” she retorts, Bow’s outer-borough vowels barely tamed.
Offscreen, Bow’s stamina would be drained by scandals involving sordid allegations by her once-devoted private secretary (which eventually led to a trial) and mental breakdowns. She retired at age twenty-eight, stating, as quoted in David Stenn’s Bow biography Runnin’ Wild, “I’ve had enough. I don’t wanna be remembered as somebody who couldn’t do nothin’ but take her clothes off. I want somethin’ real now.” Extinguishing her own flames, the Brooklyn Bonfire became a housewife and mother, raising two sons with Rex Bell, a cowboy actor and future Republican lieutenant governor of Nevada.
Exctracted from www.artforum.com
L’exposition s’articule autour de tenues, densifiée cependant par la présence de masques africains, sculptures et vidéos d’art en tous genres. Une scénographie dramatiquement linéaire des silhouettes est à regretter, mais le contenu de certaines pièces, notamment celle des ses références, tendent à la bousculer. C’est avec plaisir que nous retrouvons les trublions complètement dégénérés Mike Kelley et Paul McCarthy.
À travers ses collections, le styliste s’attelle ici à la Pop-Culture et développe une esthétique assez surprenante. S’il est qualifié d’Outsider dans le catalogue, il peut se rapprocher d’une large famille ”Party-Monster” vitaminée et fantasque, de Jeremy Scott, Cyril Duval, Casetteplaya, Romain Kremer, Charlie Le Mindu, et surtout Bernard Willhem…
Les obsessions du créateur flamand sont diverses, des rituels ancestraux à la science-fiction, de la sexualité aux mass-medias. Il orchestre une tentative d’hybridation totale, que ce soit dans le choix des couleurs, des matières ou des coupes. Si l’esthétique globale forme un léger glacis de tranquillité et de douceur, elle se fissure néanmoins par l’injection de pulsions d’enfance et de mort.
Greffant des perles, amputant des manches, chahutant les formes, saturant les couleurs, sur ses tissus viennent se tramer les maux électriques de la ville, la toxicité de son atmosphère. Des patchworks invraisemblables explosent et rivalisent de gags et de grigris ésotériques en tous genres. Walter Van Beirendonck semble expérimenter sans se soucier d’autorité plastique et prend plaisir à associer, dans un geste pratiquement politique, ce qui ne cohabite jamais ensemble. On croise une paire de chaussettes pour orteils déformés, des noeuds papillons tricotés par grand-mère, moonboots thermo-dynamiques, imprimés auvergniens, ponchos-tentes, motifs tribaux violemment colorés tels des graffitis.
Les smokings s’apparentent davantage à des pyjamas. Préparé à la fois pour savourer la montée des marches pour le prochain festival de Cannes, autant que l’épreuve d’une nuit sous LSD, coincé dans une chambre d’adolescente attardée. En artisan amoureux le créateur-couture confectionne d’immenses silhouettes spectaculaires et carnavalesques autant que de minuscules écussons, comme par exemple une amusante carte visa en tissu mouchoir.
Pour finir je peux dire que l’exposition est sucrée sans être indigeste, plaisante finalement. Si la fête ne bat pas hystériquement son plein, nous sommes ravie d’y avoir été conviée, qui plus est avec cette inépuisable source de joie pour nous rafraîchir. Même s’il est affaibli par la dispersion plus que par l’anecdote, le caractère personnel est à souligner, la spontanéité et l’humour règnent dans un esprit Music-Hall, Tropical, Physical. Loin de de s’auto-alimenter et de se suffire dans son propre territoire que représente la mode, Walter Van Beirendonck regarde partout autour de lui, et en lui.
Text by Anna S.
“Think of a moving universe in absolute, unquestionable deep space (no glasses) as time stands still …“ (Ken Jacobs)
Der New Yorker Experimentalfilmer und „Kino-Performer“ Ken Jacobs (geb. 1933 in Brooklyn) zählt neben Maya Deren, Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Jack Smith und Jonas Mekas zu den Pionieren des New American Cinema der 1960er und 1970er. Bereits Ende der 1950er Jahre entwickelte er eine ästhetisch-politische Filmpraxis. Sein Malereistudium bei Hans Hoffman nahm Einfluss auf seine frühen Filme, die von einer abstrakt-expressionistischen Sprache geprägt waren, wie vor allem sein früher Klassiker des amerikanischen Avantgardekinos Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son (1969). Diese Experimente führten schließlich Mitte der 1970er zu seiner einzigartigen Methode des Nervous System, einer Serie von Live-Performances mit Filmprojektionen, die er bis heute weiterentwickelt. Mithilfe zweier modifizierter Projektoren, die denselben Film leicht zeitversetzt abspielten, verwandelt er Found-Footage-Material – meist alter Filme – in unaufhörlich flimmernde, pulsierende 3D-Bilder. In den Grenzbereich der Abstraktion tauchte er mit dem 2000 entwickelten System der Nervous Magic Lantern ein: Ausschließlich durch das Spiel mit Licht und Schatten kreiert er abstrakte 3D-Figuren. Mit dieser Technik versucht Jacobs, unter Verzicht auf existierende Bilder dem Wesen des Films so nahe wie möglich zu kommen und neue Sinneseindrücke zu evozieren.
Ken Jacobs ist mit seiner Arbeit Capitalism: Slavery (2006) in der Ausstellung Animismus. Moderne hinter den Spiegeln vertreten und wird anlässlich der Vienna Art Week gemeinsam mit seiner Frau Flo eine der legendären Nervous Magic Lantern Performances live präsentieren.
Extracted from foundation.generali.at
Paul Thek moved between New York and various European cities in the 1970s. In addition to the sculptures and installations for which he is best known, he made paintings and drawings based on observation in Ponza (Italy), Fire Island and Manhattan. They punctuate a profoundly disparate practice and suggest a continued engagement with his place in the world.
The images Peter Hujar took in his close friend’s studio in 1967 lovingly probe its ephemera, Thek’s process and his public persona. Originally taken for potential use in association with Thek’s solo exhibition at Stable Gallery, many images in this series providentially document the making of his infamous sculpture The Tomb/Death of a Hippie. Now widely considered to be the masterwork of his 1960s sculpture. The Tomb was destroyed after languishing in storage, with Thek reportedly having refused delivery of the piece in 1981. Aside from the one used for the Stable Gallery announcement, these images have never been published or exhibited until recently. Photographs from this studio session were uncovered during the research for Paul Thek: Diver, a retrospective curated by Elisabeth Sussman and Lynn Zelevansky.
Paul Thek: Diver opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in October 2010 and is on tour to the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
Together with these photographs the gallery will also present a series of etchings by Paul Thek.
Exctracted from www.maureenpaley.com
Working in a wide range of media—predominantly sculpture but also painting, drawing, photography, video, and performance—Yutaka Sone’s work revolves around a tension between realism and perfection. The artist originally trained as an architect and an almost obsessive attention to detail and its relationship to a larger whole underpin his practice at large.
Whether architectural or natural, landscapes occur throughout the artist’s oeuvre, and he frequently picks his subjects from actual locations—Hong Kong Island, Los Angeles highway junctions, a mountain range, a section of a rainforest, ski resorts, and his own backyard—recreating these to scale in paint, marble, and crystal, or using organic materials such as plants and soil.
Whether using miniaturization or magnification, Sone’s three-dimensional work conjures up an imaginary realm, which in turn forms part of a larger effort to extend the idea of sculpture to encompass landscape. In previous projects, including his reconstruction of an entertainment park rollercoaster in actual scale (Amusement Romana, 2002), Sone has invited spectators to actively participate in the artwork, thus offering an experience of movement implicit in much of his subject matter. In other works, he has used real snow and
created micro-habitats with running rivers, blurring the distinction between natural and artificial construction.
This exhibition brings together marble sculptures and trees made predominantly from rattan, a natural plant fiber. The largest of the marble sculptures is the two-and-a-half ton Little Manhattan (2007-2009), which from a distance appears to present a large, weightless sheet of drapery, yet upon closer inspection reveals a detailed, intricately carved model of the island of Manhattan. Avenue by avenue, block by block, and building by building, Sone, aided by photographic reproductions, imagery from Google Earth, and several helicopter rides, has rendered the densely-populated metropolis to scale, showing the city’s many skyscrapers as well as the intricate paths through Central Park and the bridges to the east and west. The artist’s adept handling of his medium recalls the classical sculptures of antiquity and offers a commemorative portrait of the ever-changing island—a physical replica of its present formation and diverse architectural landscape.
Other marble works, including three works from 2010 that bear the title Light in between Trees, epitomize the tension within Sone’s work between the natural and the man-made. Here, he has delicately carved out individual rays of light, giving explosive, concrete shape to the immaterial qualities of the sun’s reflections. The result is a precarious balance between transience and stasis, or ephemerality and durability, which, more so than providing an illusory, trompe-l’oeil effect, creates a sense of enchantment.
The dialogue between natural and artificial structures is intensified by Sone’s synthetic trees: six banana plants (2008-2010) and one so-called “traveler’s palm” (2011), with its characteristic flat, fan-like shape. Made from rattan woven around a metal armature, the trees are meticulously crafted; leaves and stems have been carefully painted with acrylic paint and even include naturally occurring flaws in their pigmentation. From a distance, they look like their living counterparts, and their almost perfect mimesis offers a poignant counterpoint to the marble re-creations, which flaunt the notion of the handcrafted (Sone creates the sculptures in hands-on collaboration with marble artisans in a village in southwest China). Individually and collectively, they appear like self-contained environments.
The blurred line that exists within the artist’s practice between organic and synthetic materials (and in turn between nature and architecture, jungle and city) brings to mind a century-old art historical debate between the relative virtues of (flawed) realism and (artificial) perfection, which most recently appeared in the context of Pop art and the clean hyper-realism of many of its manifestations. With their exquisite attention to detail, emphasis on finished contours and surfaces, and ability to capture light, Sone’s sculptures transform their non-natural surroundings into illusory micro-landscapes, effectively embracing a genre typically associated with paintings, works on paper, and photographs.
Exctracted from www.contemporaryartdaily.com
The exhibition is designed in sequences: in each of the exhibition rooms, which are painted grey, three work groups are displayed, and recent works are combined with existing series. Amid these three work groups, one diminutive piece makes a distinctive appearance: a clock made from stained glass with no fingers, which is cast into the wall and is thus illuminated by daylight.
In the first room, we have a new body of work on display: a series of bird figures. A total of thirty bird sculptures have been installed across the whole of the exhibition space, as if in a flock. Created in various sizes, they are moulded in various positions and are all facing different directions. For the most part, these delicate sculptures do not exceed five inches in height and their characteristic claws, beaks and tails, though meticulously crafted, still manage to give of an air of casualness. Their appearance is that of birds, but their character is not. The titles of the bird sculptures refer to natural phenomena. In this way, they represent the natural world outside the artistic space. Their presentation within the group conveys the idea that those non-descript birds stand for more important events. The sculpture surface is covered with dense networks of fingerprints, which form stylised reliefs and mean that the work is forged entirely in the artist’s distinctive style, thus breaking the connection to real birds. The artist has borrowed this surface texture from his masks series. Like with these masks, the actual process of modelling the clay is visible since the artist’s fingerprints, created when moulding the clay, remain on the material after casting. In this way, the creation process is caught in time and is preserved in the finished sculpture. This moment is further emphasised by the materiality of these gracefully-formed figures: cast in bronze and installed on the floor, the creatures have been deprived of their most important feature: the ability to fly. This is compounded further through the artist’s choice of bronze as his work material. Its colour, too, is similar to the colour of the clay, something which that the artist considered as important in his choice of materials. The fact that the bronze was left raw and that the birds differ only in their finish, and not in the colouring of their would-be plumage, affirms this impression even more.
In the second exhibition room, six ten-foot by thirteen-foot ink paintings are hung on the walls. They feature Arcadian landscapes and forest paintings on large paper that has been stretched on canvas and mounted in a frame. They show drawings that are traditionally made in a sketchbook, with motifs reminiscent of the intimacy of 18th century cabinet pieces. Here, they are reproduced on a large scale, developed using a slide projector to enlarge miniatures. This is meant to allow the spectator to establish a direct physical relationship with them while at the same time empathising with their content. The large format has the effect of opening the spectator’s perspective on untouched landscapes and reflects an unaffected approach to idyl and nativeness. Their size means that they simulate the immediacy of a real experience for the spectator. The appearance of the ink drawings refers to the art form of calligraphy. This is because the artist is, in fact, working with a Chinese brush. The calligraphy symbols represent the movement of the artist’s hands and are comparable to the fingerprints on the bird sculptures.
The artist has been creating these monochromatic ink landscapes since the early 1990s. The collection is an as yet unfinished series that Rondinone has diligently worked on since his first solo exhibition, with Eva Presenhuber in Galerie Walcheturm in 1991. However, the most recent exhibition of these landscape drawings was held in 2002 at Sadie Coles HQ, London. There was therefore a strong desire for access to be granted to the public for this important body of work; one which the artist has previously described as the basis of all of his work, including his new drawings from 2011. When asked about his muse, Ugo Rondinone refers significantly to ‘Early Morning’, a small watercolour painting, measuring 7 x 9 inches and depicting a forest landscape in sepia, created by English artist Samuel Palmer in the year 1825. This is how the artist accounts for his choice: “A work of great spiritual power, it achieves and articulates a unique fusion of language, perception and visions. Its delicate touch plays on the texture richness that we find between the folds of very modest episodes, evoking a frisson of deep recognition, a sense of primal encounter with the brilliant, elusive world of senses. There is a striking freedom of style here, which allows the artist to move without any sense of strain or loss of balance
from the visionary and ecstatic to the exquisitely precise. ‘Early Morning’ is an elegiac meditation on love, loss and the spiritual beauty of nature.” (in: domus 942, December 2010, p. 111)
The exhibition closes with a group called ‘lines out to silence’, on display in the third room. These lines are drawn in the form of poems copied out by the artist by hand on old boards of weather-beaten scrap wood. These new pieces also recall existing, similar works already shown at Whitechapel Gallery in 2006. His treatment of poems is another significant feature of Rondinone’s work as a whole. It can be seen in his use of poems in colourful neon sculptures, in pencil drawings sketched directly onto walls, in acrylic paintings made on newspaper and in the poetic titles of all of his pieces. The interaction of his findings -where the choice of material always plays an important role- with the transient perfectly reflects how Ugo Rondinone approaches the concept of temporality in his work.
Rondinone ́s oeuvre constitutes a moving attempt to capture the transience of existence. This intention is embodied in the work groups presented at this exhibition. The landscape drawings can be understood as the effort to conserve a virtual moment in the course of time, to create an ostensibly autobiographic commentary for the memory, or to link the works to a certain moment in the artist’s own life. There is a good reason for the artist to use the creation date in word form as titles for his works: this way, they can be understood as daily works, representing something of a diary entry of the artist or memories in picture form. The bird sculptures, with their surfaces revealing the artist’s ‘interfering’ hand, also represent an attempt to document the working process and preserve its visibility for good. In this way, Ugo Rondinone explicitly links his work to his own lifetime.
Exctracted from www.presenhuber.com