Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Hilma af Klint

From this article in the New York Times:
“Kandinsky was actively campaigning for himself as being the first abstract artist, constantly writing his gallery and saying, ‘Hey, you know, I was the first! I painted the first abstract painting in 1911!”’ said Julia Voss, an art historian and art critic for the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “He was obviously successful, as he’s widely considered the father of 20th-century abstraction. But all the while, af Klint, much more privately, had already been creating these striking, abstract visuals for years.”
In the March edition of the arts magazine Tate Etc., Ms. Voss campaigned on af Klint’s behalf, arguing that the Swedish artist, not Kandinsky, was the first abstract painter of the 20th century.
Georg Imdahl, a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Münster in Germany and an art critic for the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, is more hesitant on the matter. “She developed somehow outside the art scene of the time, so I think we need to learn more about her intentions as an artist,” Mr. Imdahl said. “That said, there are several of her works which I would consider integrating into a discussion of the genesis of 20th-century abstraction.”
The exhibition adds to the global debate about the canon of contemporary art. “In which box does this strange artist belong?” Ms. Müller-Westermann said of reactions to af Klint’s works. “Is she in the same box as Kandinsky and all the abstract pioneers, or maybe it’s easier to say it’s not art at all, just some woman who did something crazy?”
She continued, “The category does not interest me so much, to be honest; what intrigues me is simply to consider what is there. What did she see, what do we see?”

Fictitious interview that addresses some of the ways Hilma af Klint's work affects a contemporary audience.

Wolfgang Laib

New York City, November 1986:

Klaus Ottmann: You studied medicine. How did you get into art?Wolfgang Laib: The more I knew about the natural sciences, the more I saw that they were too narrow for me and it’s just not what this body, what all these things are all about.
Ottmann: Did you ever think of going into something like holistic medicine?
Laib: No, because that would have been too small a step, and I tried to make a big step. It’s not about homeopathy or anything like that.
Ottmann: What kind of art did you start with?
Laib: I left university and half a year later I was already making my milkstones.
Ottmann: Where did you get the idea for the milkstones?
Laib: The milkstones are the direct answer to what I left, to what I found milk and stone are about. Because milk is not what is told in hygiene. You can teach everything about this liquid but have no idea of what it is.
Ottmann: When did you start working with pollen?
Laib: That came about two years later. This, of course, I would also have never done without studying medicine and avoiding an art college.
Ottmann: Tell me about your work process.
Laib: For years I had no studio at all. I collected my pollen from early spring to August/September, and then, in the late fall, I started to be very free, not being fixed to a space. So my studio was where I collected my pollen. Then, when I was doing more and more work, I bought a beautiful space, but it’s less of a studio and more like a space where I want to see my work in and be with it.
Ottmann: How long does it take you to collect pollen for one single piece?
Laib: It’s very different from one pollen to the next. Dandelion, for instance, has very little pollen and blossoms only for about four to six weeks. So I get only a small jar of dandelion pollen during one summer, and the piece is therefore very small. Pine has much more pollen, so I can make a large piece in the same time.
Ottmann: Do you collect the pollen just around where you live or do you collect also while you travel?
Laib: No, I always thought that would take away the concentration. It wouldn’t become more, so I collect only around my studio and the village where I live.
Ottmann: Does the pollen change with the time?
Laib: You have to be very careful because of the humidity, but I have pollen that is fifteen years old. For instance, with dandelion you have to be more careful, because it is very coarse, very organic. (excerpt from Journal of Contemporary Art. The rest of the interview can be found here.)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

geo starts

Emma Kunz
Brent Wadden
Drew Shiflett
Serena Mitnik Miller

Louise Despont

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ann Hamilton

"There is always this gap between an experience and its naming or picturing. Documentation is always limited in its depiction of experience. I’ve been wondering how, in an age of technological extension and possibility, can one use all those new forms in ways that have integrity? What happens to the embodied experience and the knowledge we gain only through touching, smelling, and being physically present? In an increasingly visual culture, how do we give value to those things that we can only accrue by doing? We privilege certain forms of knowledge over others. How we pay attention and value other forms of knowledge, knowledge which is embodied, feels like a contemporary challenge." From this interview.

Hanoch Piven

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Objects and the bodies that make them special.

An edit of a reprint of an article I originally wrote for a record label that relates to the special qualities of objects, and feeds into what we're doing in class...

By Gala Bent
Wednesday, May 27th, 2009
(Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, California
Statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, detail: the only relic from the “Tilma” in the United States: image public domain)
As a hoodoo-voodoo, get-you-back-to-me tool,
this hank’s thankless task is vast…
(From “A Lock of Her Hair” by Robert Wrigley)

Can an inanimate object hold power beyond its own basic material?  Reliquaries that hold the bones or clothing of martyrs are kept because of the humble objects’ passionate history as part of or closely related to the bodies of saints.  The work of Dario Robleto is compelling because it feeds into the same reverence.  In one of Robleto’s pieces, for example (At War With The Entropy Of Nature/Ghosts Don’t Always Want To Come Back, 2002, shown below), which looks like an aged audio cassette encrusted with rusty porcelain, he lists the materials like this:
Cassette: carved bone & bone dust from every bone in the body, trinitite (glass produced during the first atomic test explosion at Trinity test site circa 1945, when heat from blast melted surrounding sand), metal screws, rust, letraset; audio tape: an original composition of military drum marches, weapon fire, and soldiers’ voices from battlefields of various wars made from Electronic Voice Phenomena recordings (voices and sounds of the dead or past, detected through magnetic audio tape).

The appearance of the object would not lend itself to the knowledge of its poetic ingredients, but once we know what it contains, we are easily entranced by Robleto’s commitment to the details of significance.  Bone dust from every bone in the body?  Voices from battlefields?  Surely these meaningful choices vibrate through the object and charge it with unusual mojo.  In any case, they capture our imaginations, much as the collections of celebrity-touched objects do (Beatles bedsheets?).  As a 14-year-old at a Cure concert, a drop of Robert Smith’s sweat fell on my face (I swore), and it buzzed with the power of teenage devotion.
A rare breed of devotees eat the actual pages of sacred texts, in the eventual crossover of desire for proximity; touching an important object is one thing– but what if I can consume it entirely?  Will it not then even become part of my body?  A part of me?  Dali is said to have swallowed a strand of his lover’s hair when he found out about DNA; in effect, he now had all of her inside of him.  Thomas Kinkaide signs the most expensive prints in his idiosyncratic hierarchy of value by including a DNA signature; read: pieces of the man’s body.  How much more authentic can you get?
But there are many, many people who count this all as foolishness.  A thing is just a thing, after all, and aside from the oral history assigned to these relics, the material has no special power.  This is what struck me when I saw recent photos from Laura Mackin, who makes much of her work with found images from the internet.

Laura Mackin: 64 Black Heads, 2009, digital image, dimensions variable (image courtesy of Half/Dozen Gallery, Portland, OR)
The image above is collected from women who are selling their wedding dresses online.  The blacked out faces are pragmatic– the identity of the bride is concealed in an effort to remain anonymous, so that the dress stands alone.  But the effect is both eerily sad and unexpectedly funny.  The identity of the bride is clearly the intent of the original photograph. The face cover-up plays against our sense of specialness, asking us to ignore the fact that these dresses were used ceremonially, with, probably, a great deal of hope and earnestness.  And this has everything to do with the bodies and personalities housed inside the lace and bead-work.  Their vibrancy still leaks around the corners of the clumsy black ovals and bars.


Object invasion (book covers)

Designer Charlotte Strick
Designer Ben Wiseman

Designer Alison Forner

Vintage Foucault: Designed by Peter Mendelsund
Design Suzanne Dean, Photo Stephen Banks

Designer Gabrielle Wilson
Designer Matt Dorfman

Designer Peter Mendelsund

Tara Donovan: humble objects orchestrated

Tara Donovan Haze, 2003 
Stacked Clear Plastic Drinking Straws

Dedication to construction + listening to the possibilities and limitations of a material + following natural laws of accumulation and variation + masses of mass-produced objects.

When thinking about my work in relationship to the spaces it inhabits, I use the term “site-responsive” as an alternative to what I see as the overuse and vagueness of the term “site-specific.” Because my work functions as a field of material that could extend infinitely, the architecture of the spaces it inhabits defines the volume of material used and scale of the final form. Every installation of my work must necessarily respond very intimately to the architectural surroundings. (Tara Donovan, in an interview with Jill Sterrett and Richard McCoy, 2010)

Printed from matrix of rubber bands
More HERE.