Archives for posts with tag: Joana Vasconcelos

Artists experimenting in new mediums, or changing the speed of the record.

Lutz Bacher ‘Black Beauty’ at the ICA

Lutz Bacher

Lutz Bacher

A shattered mirror set on a slag heap. Or is it obsidian which is altogether more magical.

Lutz Bacher

Lutz Bacher

The space is sparsely populated, it is the crunching underfoot that is the joy. And no doormat.

Lutz Bacher

Lutz Bacher

Upstairs it is all glitz and showbiz, a strange game of chess to one side and the eerie mechanical rotations of a deserted fairground to the other.

Lutz Bacher

Lutz Bacher

All the while the slowed down lullaby of an Elvis Presley classic weevils soporifically into the brain.

Lutz Bacher

Lutz Bacher

It made me smile but there was something sinister about its clean cut image.

One of the spaces often used for performance at the ICA had been painted by the Shanghai artist Zhang Enil.

Zhang Enlli

Zhang Enlli

I wonder if the finished result ‘space painting’ fulfilled the artists expectations. I could appreciate the task undertaken here but think I would maybe like to see his other work that encompasses tangled wires and cardboard boxes. The room itself felt temporary with its flimsy walls and therefore any sense of transformation was lost.

Glasstress – White Light/ White Heat was a collateral event at the Venice Biennale.

Missed it first visit so on my second trip to Venice, this time with my RCA fellow students I wanted to have a look at this show with so many of the artists I admire in it.

The artists were invited to respond to the theme of light and heat using the medium of glass in some way. Being in Venice.

Some of these transgressions into an unfamiliar medium worked better than others.

1311 Glasstress Hew Locke (2)

Glasstress White Light/ White Heat

The setting once again was palatial.

Lucy and Jorge Orta

Lucy and Jorge Orta ‘Amazonia: Tree of Life’

Matt Collishaw 'East of Eden'

Matt Collishaw ‘East of Eden’

A very gothic and theatrical almost pantomime piece from Matt Collishaw. The mirror darkens and a swirling serpent appears. Impossible to photograph in the darkened setting, illusive like the snake.

Joana Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos ‘Babylon’

Rather than go with the glass itself Joana Vasconcelos has used her signature crochet work to create the mother of all chandeliers.

Not the tampons this time.

Hew Locke

Hew Locke ‘Mummy’s Little Soldier’

There were stark contrasts  in Hew Locke’s work, high end opalescent glass with all the little brown rubber arms reaching out – the fragile and the malleable. The child at play, the child at war.

Cornelia Parker

Cornelia Parker ‘Decoy’

A tantalizing glass drum from Cornelia Parker.

Recycle Group

Recycle Group

The Recycle Group aka artists Andrey Blokhin and Georgiy Kuznetsov created a dramatic clash of the natural spliced with science fiction.

Ron Arad

Ron Arad ‘Last Train’

 “Last Train”  was inspired by a late night romantic episode experienced by Ron Arad as he witnessed a man with a large diamond ring graffiti on a train window. He was so mesmerized by watching the man draw onto the glass that he missed his last train. To recreate this experience he has invited artists such as Anthony Gormley and David Shrigley to use a specially created iPad programme to manipulate a virtual hand that scratches their drawings into a large piece of plate glass.

My own excursion into new mediums was to print a lithograph onto polyester.

1311 Lithograph on ployester 2

I wanted to layer images of Avondale and Rialto over the image of the Avondale Rialto caravan. Dreams of grand excursions. Places this caravan will never visit.

The zinc plate was hand drawn with waxy pencils and printed over the sublimation images.

I also tried to make the polyester more translucent by applying extender the lithography press. I did several coats each side of the fabric and then hung it to dry in the paper dryers. This was not very successful.

The fabric dried in the shape it was hanging and it wasn’t very translucent in the dark areas.

1311 Lithograph on polyester

The extender has given the fabric a strange quality though.

I have not quite given up on this image yet.

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These tiny dogs, examples of Victorian taxidermy, were on display at Hall Place in Bexley, Kent.

There is something so appealing about the miniature, but it questions our expectations when scale is distorted beyond what feels natural.

1309 Victorian Taxidermy (1)

Although there were attempts by the Victorians to breed such minute specimens these particular ones are fakes. An X-ray proves a lack of skeleton.

VictorianTaxidermy

VictorianTaxidermy

These strange little creatures were an appropriate taster for the exhibition ‘Beastly Hall’, inspired by the resident  topiary of the Queen’s Beasts.

The Queen's Beasts

The Queen’s Beasts

Originally carved in stone to commemorate the Queen’s coronation in 1953, these living sentinels are based on real and mythical creatures.

Artists had been selected for the exhibition who explored all aspects of what might be considered something ‘beastly’.

HyungKoo Lee works in reverse to the Victorian taxidermist – he creates a fake skeleton.

Hyungkoo Lee 'Ridicularis'

Hyungkoo Lee ‘Ridicularis’

Transporting Goofy from popular culture to natural history.

Carsten Holler’s Red Walrus has a cartoon appearance with its plasticised body and unnatural colouring.

Carsten Holler 'Red Walrus'

Carsten Holler ‘Red Walrus’

It has however been given human eyes which gaze out from within a fabricated world.

Joana Vasconcelos takes a kitsch ornament and adds another skin, a layer of decoration.

Joana Vasconcelos 'Flibbertigibbet'

Joana Vasconcelos ‘Flibbertigibbet’

We were told when we got our cat – it is not an ornament, don’t expect it to behave like one.

Thomas Grunfeld has created a whole series of ‘Misfits’ through mixing species.

1309 Thomas Grunfeld 2

Thomas Grunfeld ‘Misfits’

Questioning our manipulation of nature.

1309 Thomas Grunfeld 1

Thomas Grunfeld ‘Misfits’

Creating a modern mythology.

Thomas Grunfeld 'Misfits'

Thomas Grunfeld ‘Misfits’

Exploring the fear of genetic engineering and what it might create.

Polly Morgan doesn’t always deal in horror but in ‘Blue Fever’ the melding together of so many bodies through a thrashing of wings creates something disturbing.

Polly Morgan 'Blue Fever'

Polly Morgan ‘Blue Fever’

An entity that cannot breathe, suspended in continuous flight with no escape.

Tessa Farmer explores flesh under attack.

Tessa Farmer 'A wounded Herring Gull'

Tessa Farmer ‘A wounded Herring Gull’

Her trademark tiny skeletons in league with the insect world bring down a much larger life force.

Tessa Farmer

Tessa Farmer

Claire Morgan’s installation of blue bottles suspended in flight creates  a geometric order from an association of disgust, germs and disease.

Claire Morgan 'Heart of Darkness'

Claire Morgan ‘Heart of Darkness’

Damien Hirst puts the visceral into the kitsch.

Damien Hirst 'Sacred Heart (with hope)'

Damien Hirst ‘Sacred Heart (with hope)’

Hope and treachery are preserved in perpetual limbo.

I really liked Rachel Goodyear’s delicate drawings of spirits escaping earthly vessels.

Rachel Goodyear

Rachel Goodyear

Her drawings incorporate 3D paper cuts which flow out from and off the page.

Rachel Goodyear

Rachel Goodyear

Her organic ceramic pieces hold strange images, transitory moments like worrisome memories best tucked away.

Rachel Goodyear 'curling up into more comfortable positions'

Rachel Goodyear ‘curling up into more comfortable positions’

The spiritual theme is continued with Jodie Carey’s funeral flowers bleached of colour.

Jodie Carey

Jodie Carey

These flowers are made of plaster, chiffon and ground up bone,

Throughout the exhibition there is the uplifting sound of birdsong.

It comes from Matt Collishaw’s truncated tree trunks where LP’s mimicking the age rings of trees spin and fill the space with the sounds of woodland.

Matt Collishaw 'Total Recall'

Matt Collishaw ‘Total Recall’

The birds recorded are actually mimicking chain saws. With this knowledge the jolly suddenly becomes sinister.

Susie MacMurray filled a room with peacock feathers echoing the crowds drawn to watch the spectacle of the coronation.

Susie MacMurray 'Spectacle'

Susie MacMurray ‘Spectacle’

These fragile remains of the male peacocks display act as an unexpected barrier.

Susie MacMurray 'Spectacle'

Susie MacMurray ‘Spectacle’

The idea of the voyeur is further expressed by Francis Alys in his footage of a fox let loose in The National Portrait Gallery.

Francis Alys 'The Nightwatch'

Francis Alys ‘The Nightwatch’

Trapped and confined to relentless meanderings the fox is exposed to the sort of CCTV surveillance that we are subject to as we traverse the city while similarly unaware of our voyeurs.

Peter Blake’s ‘Tarzan Box’ from 1965 expresses a clash of cultures and clichéd fears of what the exotic might hold.

Peter Blake 'Tarzan Box'

Peter Blake ‘Tarzan Box’

The exploration of dark spaces could reveal fantastical creatures of horror.

Charles Avery 'Duculi (The Indescribable)'

Charles Avery ‘Duculi (The Indescribable)’

There were also lots of artists showing at the Venice Biennale who engage in fantasy and myth.

Levi Fisher Ames sculpted his fantastical creatures in wood and displayed them as specimens in glass cases.

Levi Fisher Ames

Levi Fisher Ames

‘Animals Wild and Tame – Whittled Out of Wood – Nothing Like It Shown Anywhere’

Levi Fisher Ames

Levi Fisher Ames

Ames took his collection on tour around Wisconsin in the 1880’s telling outlandish tales about his creatures to his audience while simultaneously  carving more figures.

Severely autistic Shinichi Sawada has created a very personal mythology with his clay figures.

Shinichi Sawada

Shinichi Sawada

These beasts look like they come from a ritualistic and totemic past, but are recent creations, combining spiky defence in a fragile form.

Domenico Gnoli’s beasts also ‘hail from a vast storehouse in the human imagination’.

Domenico Gnoli

Domenico Gnoli

His series of drawings ‘What is a Monster’ from 1967 place surrealist creatures into everyday settings.

Anna Zemankova is growing flowers that are not grown anywhere else.

Anna Zemankova

Anna Zemankova

Produced during frantic early morning reveries she allowed her mind to flow freely recalling cultural influences entwined in her fantasies.

Ivan Morison also loves to create myths. His talk at the Whitechapel Gallery was peppered with stories of the fantastical, almost believable sort. Is there really a village in Italy that strings goats up from a tree and shoots at them? Was the world’s biggest dinosaur really the victim of arson?    Storytelling is part of the work and has been formalised in the traveling puppet theatre of Mr Clevver, based on a character from the post-apocalyptic novel, Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban.

Heather and Ivan Morrison

Heather and Ivan Morrison

Another of the Morrison’s escape vehicles. They travel through rural landscapes setting up camp unannounced and putting on a show to whichever locals turn up..

Heather and Ivan Morrison

Heather and Ivan Morrison

Telling stories that blend factual recall with fiction, merging information into a narrative that builds on the mythology of their own lives and also the lives of people they encounter.
Out of its time, part medieval part futuristic, Mr Clevver is an evolving work about the coming together of different people in differing places.

'Mr Clevver' Ivan and Heather Morrison

‘Mr Clevver’ Ivan and Heather Morrison

Kay Harwood showing at Simon Oldfield Gallery also deals in mystery and suggestion.

Kay Harwood

Kay Harwood

Exploring iconography and mythology her paintings have a wonderful pure surface, like porcelain. The muted and restricted palette gives a timeless quality.

Kay Harwood

Kay Harwood

These men look like contemporary apostles in meditation on some spiritual truth.

The quest for inner retrospection. A solitary wanderer.

I wanted to capture something of an enchanted wood in these images.

These are screen prints with sublimation inks transferred onto polyester. I printed 3 layers separately onto paper and then heat-pressed them on top of each other blending the colours.

1309 woods

Layering the shadow of a rose garden on organza over the grey woods.
I have been thinking about whether to add a figure in the woods.

Also have been working on one ‘return of the forest ‘ collagraph, cutting sublimation printed organza onto the collagraph.

The forests disappeared under the advancing ice and then reappeared as the ice retreated.

Going back to a time before civilization, before religion. Right back to the beginning to see where the first dislocation took place, looking back for the myth of living in harmony with nature in some idyllic context and the start of nostalgia.

1309 return of the forest

Thinking about fantastical creatures and myth has been helpful for the new work I am planning about beasts of the forest.

Thinking on an international scale can be daunting.
I have been trying to imagine a world before religion which must of course be a world without man but how long was man around first, as religion in some form seems to have been something that emerged very early in our development.

When I think about snowball earth and the coming of the forests I do think globally. Those seeds growing and spreading.

Cross pollination. No borders.

I have been working on adding the fern embryos to the iceberg landscape.

1308 Fern Collagraphs

I made some relief plates of the ferns from cardboard and gave them a bit of texture with acrylic medium and carborundum.

Then I gave them a coat of shellac to give them a bit of strength.

1308 Precursor in progress

I am using them to give a background texture to the fern images.

I will then screen print on top of these to add detail.

What was so great about visiting the Venice Biennale this year was that I found so many of the artists I really like were showing there.
Alfredo Jaar makes work that hits you bodily. I can still feel the power of his work I saw in Brighton years ago about the photo journalist Kevin Carter.

The Sound of Silence, tells the story of one photograph taken in Sudan 1993. You sit in a dark space and the story is told in simple sentences, on a black screen.

Alfredo Jaar 'The Sound of Silence'

Alfredo Jaar ‘The Sound of Silence’

The photograph is shown briefly before a blinding flash of light scores into your retina.

You are left blinking in the afterglow. I can still feel the sadness.

Kevin Carter’s suicide at just 33 is so poignant, he had just seen too much suffering to cope with his own problems.

Should you intervene?  Lucy Kirkwood’s play Chimerica also addresses this issue. On the Headlong website is a link to a bbc interview with war photographer Don McCullin who discusses how ‘ there came a natural limit to looking at what others can’t bear to see.’

In Venice Alfredo Jaar looked at the Giardini and its political and economic posturing of pavilions built before the second world war. He then made a model of the Giardini which gets submerged underwater – we see it disappear into obscurity then emerge, green and dripping only to vanish again.

Alfrdo Jaar 'Venezia, Venezia'

Alfredo Jaar ‘Venezia, Venezia’

It might signify the highs and lows of economic powers but of course being in Venice the water rising is a very real threat.

The whole idea of a national pavilion in the art world is questioned now that artists work internationally, moving and exhibiting around the world.

France and Germany have swapped pavilions and to push the international crossover further Ai Weiwei is showing along with 3 other non-German artists in the German Pavilion.

Ai Wei Wei 'Bang'
Ai Wei Wei ‘Bang’

BANG is an expanding,  rhizomatic structure made from the once ubiquitous wooden stool which has now been superseded in China by manufactured models in metal and plastic.  These simple objects that hold the traces of their life in the patina of years, are part of the cultural identity of a nation being lost to globalisation, just as the individual is swallowed up and forced to conform.

Gilad Ratman for Israel also wanted to question the national boundaries that such a setting as the Biennale constructs and he also made work about  transgressing boundaries.

We see a group of people making their way though underground passages, crawling and dragging themselves through the earth.

Gilad Ratman 'The Workshop'

Gilad Ratman ‘The Workshop’

Eventually they emerge into the light from a hole in the ground straight into the gallery space.

Gilad Ratman 'The Workshop'

Gilad Ratman ‘The Workshop’

Underground there are no borders.

Gilad Ratman 'The Workshop'

Gilad Ratman ‘The Workshop’

Once in the gallery each member of the group begins to sculpt a self portrait in clay.

Like a birth, some new body is forged and given voice.

Joana Vasconcelos also looks at the journey, navigation and passage.

Joana Vasconcelos 'Trafaria Praia'

Joana Vasconcelos ‘Trafaria Praia’

Addressing common themes that Lisbon and Venice share she created a floating pavilion – well a boat.

It has a gift shop and art books, cultural history and then in the depths you can climb down into a dark and warm space, soft and feminine and full of wonder.

Joana Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos

Reduced to basic sensory levels of pleasure like a baby in the womb, soft dark warmth, gentle undulation.

The Instituto Italo-Latino Americano a forum for cultural exchange between Europe and Latin America  is all about how cross fertilization can impact cultural identity.

The cavernous pavilion is scented with spice.

Latin American Institute

Latin American Institute

I loved the animation ‘Los Andes’ by Cristóbal León & Joaquín Cociña.

A primal spirit possess an office causing drawings to appear on the wall and plants to emerge from the furniture.

Latin American Institute

Latin American Institute

The spirit appears in the form of a giant growing in size and then crumpling away.

Leon & Cocina Loa Andes

Leon & Cocina Los Andes

Jasmina Cibic for Slovenia looked at how national identity is portrayed and guided by the state into what is acceptable.

Her project ‘For Our Economy and Culture’  looks at art as a token of national identity and how the integrity of the art commissioned for public arenas may be compromised by institutional hierarchies intent on influencing its presentation..

Jasmina Cibic 'For Our Economy and Culture'

Jasmina Cibic ‘For Our Economy and Culture’

Art by committee.

The Pavilion is lined with wallpaper depicting a beetle which has become endangered because of its ideologically charged name – Anophthalmus hitleri.

Anophthalmus hitleri

Anophthalmus hitleri

The beetle which is only found in caves in Slovenia could have been a national cause celebre were it not for it being named by a fascist species collector.

The official Chinese representative Simon Ma had been to the rainforest of Southern China and come back to a life in the city that now was too grey.

He had been inspired by the dramatic landscape, the colours of the forest and the magnificent height of the trees.

Feeling overwhelmed by the power of these colossal living forms he was aware of how deep the roots much reach to support such heights which in turn made him think about the scale of the cities sprouting up all over China

and the need for people to also have roots.

Simon Ma

Simon Ma

His oversized rain drop sculptures gave a good photo opportunity against the dramatic architecture of an ancient palazzo.

Simon Ma

Simon Ma

Simon Ma

Simon Ma

These plastic raindrops were left over form a performance piece.

At the Manchester International Festival Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack and film maker Adam Curtis got together to create a new kind of media experience combining film and music on a mega scale.

The result of their collaboration tells the story of a new system of power that has risen up in the modern world to manage and control us. It is a fake, but enchanting world which we all live in today – but which has also become a new kind of prison that prevents us moving forward into the future.

Massive Attack v Adam Curtis

Massive Attack v Adam Curtis

So many ideas are set off by this ‘gilm’ as they called it. I was spellbound by the scale, the decibels vibrating through my chest, the wonderful eclectic music set, the pure voice of Elizabeth Fraser and the stream of images – my era in soundbites. There were mixed reviews but I loved it. It wasn’t all news but there was a lot of things I didn’t know about –  Russian Punk Yegor Letov for instance though whether the story we were spun was actually true or not I can’t quite work out. The history is mapped out in personal stories such as the tragic case of Pauline Boty who died at 28 after she refused cancer treatments that would have harmed her unborn daughter.

Pauline Boty

1308 MIF 2

The daughter, Katy ‘Boty’ Goodwin went on to study at the California Institute of the Arts, Walt Disney’s idealist art college, but she became obsessed with her appearance, developed an eating disorder, took heroin and died.

The Japanese gambler Akio Kashiwagi known as ‘The Warrior’ got into a row with Donald Trump’s casino when his system finally failed and he left owing 10 million dollars. Trump never got the money however as the gambler was stabbed to death with a samurai sword before the debts were paid.

Risk management.

1308 MIF

Lots more info about this and other ideas of Adam Curtis can be found on his blog

Mayfield Depot

Mayfield Depot

After a chilling look at the recent past and the nature of control and illusion the crowd is channeled through a subterranean world under intense spotlight to the ferocious barking of the guard’s dog.

Mayfield Depot

Mayfield Depot

Despite the dystopian exit route we were left with the message that now it’s up to us to change the world.

Artist Maria Cristina Finucci is having a go.

There are huge patches of rubbish floating in seas around the world like islands and so to bring something tangible to the debate she has got the U.N. culture agency UNESCO  to grant the “Garbage Patch State” symbolic statehood. This brings them onto the world stage. They are a global problem.

These “garbage patches” are areas of high marine debris concentrated in the North Pacific Ocean, the exact size and content of which are hard to define.

The patches are mostly invisible to the naked eye as the debris – chiefly plastic – breaks down over time, without ever fully disappearing.

In Venice there was an immersive installation using plastic bottle tops to highlight the problem.

Maria Cristina Finucci 'Garbage Patch State'

Maria Cristina Finucci ‘Garbage Patch State’

Every time you throw away a bottle top you are part of the problem.

She is hoping to give direction for good behaviour rather than an apocalyptic message.

In the Emergency Pavilion, a multinational event took on the topic ‘Rebuilding Utopia.’

40 years have gone by without us realizing it.

This exhibition will be a game, what happened during
the last forty years? What worked, what didn’t, what
appeared and what disappeared? When did the world
begin to change? Was it 1973 or 1989? When did
“imagination in power” die, was it in ‘68 or 2012?
Or was it on the first of January, 2013?
Jota Castro ' Here comes the rain again'

Jota Castro ‘ Here comes the rain again’

It didn’t really offer much optimism for a better world it felt full of sadness and lost hopes.

However, these artists from all parts of the world are thinking about a better world, and how art can contribute to imagining such a world.

Emergency Pavilion - Rebuilding Utopia

Emergency Pavilion – Rebuilding Utopia

During the early 60’s when Pauline Boty was studying at the RCA and involved in the anti capiltalist students movements of the time she followed the ideas of the german political theorist Herbert Marcuse.

A year after her death he gave a speech titled “The End of Utopia”. Marcuse said he didn’t mean that utopia was impossible but now we had the technical and scientific means to achieve what had only once been dreamed of, utopia was a real possibility no longer an imagined idea. Poverty and hunger could be solved.

I’m not sure that anyone any longer believes utopia is a real possibility certainly not on a global scale. Even Jesus said there will be poor always.

We have to try though.

Adam Curtis encourages us to look to the future and to think about what sort of a world we want to live in. Our origins are important too.
How much changes how much we learn is debatable.
Pauline Boty is posthumously going to have retrospective of her paintings this year – the show is to be called Pauline Boty: Pop artist and Woman
I suppose that has to be taken in the context of history.
Pauline Boty 'Colour Her Gone'

Pauline Boty ‘Colour Her Gone’