Exhibition: June 1 – November 27, 2011
Opening Reception: June 2, 2011, 6-9pm
Press Preview: June 1, 2 and 3, 2011, 12pm-2pm
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Anton Ginzburg: At the Back of the North Wind is an exhibition of new works by Anton Ginzburg, which will open to the public from June 3 to November 27, 2011 during the 54th Venice Biennale at the Palazzo Bollani. The exhibition has been chosen as an official participant of la Biennale di Venezia’s Collateral Program. The exhibition is curated by Matthew J.W. Drutt and is supported by the Blaffer Art Museum and Flo Art Fund, with initial organizational support provided by Artpace San Antonio.
In developing this project, Ginzburg embarked on a three-part journey, commencing in the American North West (Astoria, Oregon), continuing to St. Petersburg and then to the White Sea, the site of the Soviet Gulag prison camps.
The exhibition will encompass four rooms and two floors and includes three large-scale sculptural installations, eight site-specific bas reliefs, photography, paintings, a video installation and a series of works on paper. Serving as the central narrative force for the exhibition, the film is a poetic and evocative record of the expedition to “map the void” and search for the mythological land of Hyperborea, “beyond the Boreas” (beyond the North Wind).
On the first floor of the palazzo there will be a series of photographs and works on paper, detailing and expanding upon the artist’s travel journal, revealing the process of developing the project, as well as artifacts from the artist’s explorations.
The exhibition, taking a form of the dreamscape, begins in the grand salon with an installation entitled Ashnest. In this work, a serpentine sculpture emerges from a vast, centrally positioned circle of ashes five meters (over 16 feet) in diameter. Sculptural elements, some up to four meters (13 feet) in height, will rise from the circle of ash and debris held by steel rods, traditional to anthropological museum presentations. Fragments of 40,000 year-old mammoth tusks will be juxtaposed and combined with sculptural elements developed from the micro CT scan of the human bone and reproduced in three-dimensional polyurethane structures. In a manner common to scientific practice, these objects will have been made whole based on computerized approximations of their original forms in combination with artistic invention. The resulting sculpture will become the embodiment of an alternative history, and will evoke a palpable sense of the mystery surrounding their origins. Ashnest will convey a feeling of the after effects of disaster and collapse. Eight molded panels, which once framed paintings in the palazzo’s interior, will contain site-specific bas reliefs of geometric masks and abstract motifs relating to the cosmogony of sculptural characters and references presented throughout the exhibition.
The second room will house two marble sculptures, Bone Totem Owl, carved from white Carrara marble, featuring a bronze-eyed owl, and the biomorphic Bone Totem 2, carved from black Belgian marble. Over two and half meters (8 feet) in height the sculptures reference shamanic totems while also drawing on the human bone CT scans represented in Ashnest. This room will also contain two large abstract paintings based on maps of potential locations of Hyperborea.
The last room will contain Hyperborea, a video installation that will document the journey attempting to locate Hyperborea according to its descriptions in literature, newspaper articles and mythology. The installation takes the viewer from the primordial, virgin forest of Oregon, to St. Petersburg and its eroding palaces and haunted natural history museum, and finally to the ruins of the Gulag prisons and archeological sites on the White Sea. Present throughout the installation is a cloud of red smoke that functions both as a metaphor for the exalted self and an expression of the collective unconscious.
The body of work began with the artist’s observation that mythological patterns were undeniably woven into the fabric of everyday reality – specifically in the tension formed between the actual and the potential – and was expanded by the concept of Hyperborea, a mythical region that has been recently claimed to be discovered on the White Sea in northern Russia. Hyperborea was originally described by the ancient Greek writer Herodotus as the land of the Golden Age, and was thought to be a place of pure bliss, perpetual sunlight and eternal springtime. It has been an inspiration for early modernist thinkers such as Nietzsche and Madame Blavatskaya, while acting as a central theme to the early twentieth century St. Petersburg poetic tradition of Acmeism — dealing with the “golden age of man.” Hyperborea continues to excite imagination of global media as the supposed birth-place of numerous cultures and nations.
Anton Ginzburg uses an array of historical and cultural references as starting points for his investigations of art’s capacity to penetrate layers of the past. He constructs lines of memory and imagination, whether collective or individual, and traces them to points of intersection. For example, in the artists work Abstract American (2008), Ginzburg reinterprets a classical bust of Thomas Jefferson, cutting and repositioning the sculpture in a manner which both refers to the historical nature of the original work, while re-contextualizing its new form and meaning.
Ginzburg was born in St. Petersburg in 1974, where he received a classical art education in preparation for the Soviet academy, and emigrated to the United States in 1990, earning a BFA from the Parsons School of Design in 1997. His works have been shown at Palais de Tokyo, Paris; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York; White Columns, New York; and the first and second Moscow Biennales, as well as NADA (Miami) and ARCO (Madrid) art fairs. His art is represented in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, as well as in private collections around the world.
Anton Ginzburg lives and works in New York. This exhibition marks the artist’s debut showing at the Venice Biennale.
CURATOR: Matthew J.W. Drutt
Independent curator, Matthew J.W. Drutt (MA, Yale University) has most recently been the Executive Director of Artpace San Antonio, TX since 2006. In this role, he selected the guest curators, oversaw the International Artist-in-Residence program, and produced exhibitions for Artpace’s Hudson (Show)Room. Before joining Artpace, Drutt served as Chief Curator at The Menil Collection (2001-2006) and was Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, NY, while simultaneously holding the title of Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Art (1993-2001).
This exhibition is supported by the Blaffer Art Museum at University of Houston and
Flo Art Fund, with initial organizational support provided by Artpace San Antonio.
La Biennale di Venezia
For any newcomer or longtime resident of the city of Cairo, one of the prominent features marking this massive urban organism is the disproportionate lack and/or malfunction of public spaces. Whether recreational spaces such as gardens, parks or even mayadin (plazas), cultural ones such as museums and libraries or functional spaces such as pavements, the city has continuously failed to provide its residents with ample space and access to a public sphere in which they are allowed to gather and interact with each other.
Nonetheless, residents of the city often employ guerrilla-style tactics to find and create gaps in which they inventively produce their own public space in existing environments. Appropriation of the cities’ numerous bridges, more specifically the ones that link the banks of the Nile, is a case in point. On any given day or night, these bridges, engineered for transportation, are buzzing with couples, families and groups of young men. The Nile represents here the absence of nature from an ultra urban metropolis, and becomes the equivalent/replacement of green spaces existing in many non-desertic cities. Another key example of this approach is the way in which Cairo’s youth culture (and its many marginalized subcultures) has made use of the virtual public space of the internet and the myriad social opportunities it promises.
The discourse we would like to initiate for Meeting Points 5: Cairo Unclassified makes use of the language and strategies of art to examine the problematics of the lack and/or malfunction of public spaces in the city. This project is not about art in public spaces. We propose to approach this project by inviting a group of artists, designers and writers to create performances/interactions/situations - emulating the subversive strategies employed in the public arena on a daily basis – through which they would subtly disrupt the accepted codes imbedded in the urban landscapes to engage with the issues in question. Because of the ephemeral and non-object based nature of this project, we would like to document these events and their given contexts both visually and discursively, in an effort to reconstruct and reexamine the project, its consequences, failures, shortcomings and its numerous possibilities. This publication is an integral part of the project as it is an attempt to build a creative and productive platform for dialogue and discussion surrounding the existing problematic in present day Cairo.
Aleya Hamza and Edit Molnar
Malak Helmy and Essam Abdallah
PADDING THE CITY: AUTHORIZATION OF AN URBAN COMPLEX
Prototype for an architectural public intervention.
Champollion St., opposite NSGB Bank, Downtown Cairo
Launching 13 November 2007 at 6 pm
A public furniture project.
Corniche El Nil (adjacent to Kasr El Nil bridge), Garden City
5-15 November 2007
A VERY PRIVATE CONVERSATION
A mobile audio installation.
Corniche El Nil (adjacent to Kasr El Nil bridge) and various locations across the city
14 November 2007 at 7 pm
Malak Helmy and Essam Abdallah
HOW TO MAKE YOUR BODY DOUBLE OVERNIGHT at KOSHK
KOSHK is a kiosk transformed into an interactive art project that is composed of continuous artist collaborations that build upon the interactions and outcomes of the previous art project.
The location of the KOSHK is on the passage way between Mohamed Bassiouny St. and Kasr El Nil St.
5-15 November 2007
Opening on 5 November 2007 at 6:30 pm
A TV-based urban situation.
On the pavement in front of CiC (20 Safeya Zaghloul St., Mounira)
9 November 2007 during the football game between Ahly and El Negm El Sahili
CATCH ME IF U CAN
A series of graphic interventions throughout the city.
5-15 November 2007
A poster project
Various locations across the city
5-15 November 2007
For more information
Contemporary Image Collective
+2 02 27941686
+2 012 115 8700
The Couple Show! Is a group show of the Chinese contemporary art world’s “Royal Couples”. The aim of the exhibition is to probe the many levels of man/woman relationships through artworks by artists whose significant other is also an artist. Sometimes these artist couples are collaborating teams while other times the artists maintain independent practices. Through collaborative works or the pairing of two artworks themes such as love, domesticity, sex, parenting, co-habitation, partnering, and power will all be reflected upon. While some of the work may not talk directly about these issues, the juxtaposition of artworks and the ensuing dialog will expose the dynamics of the personal relationship at hand as well as illuminate the intricacies of being a couple in general.
Date: Mar 12, 2011 - May 12, 2011
Opening: Mar 12, 2011, 18:00, Saturday
Venue(s): Shanghai Gallery of Art (Shanghai, China)
Artist(s): Colin Chinnery + Liang Wei , Huang Yongping + Shen Yuan , Michael Lin + Heidi Voet , Qiu Xiaofei + Hu Xiaoyuan , Quyang Chun + Yang Fan , Song Dong + Yin Xiuzhen , Wang Gongxin + Lin Tianmiao , Wang Wei + Rania Ho , Wu Shanzhuan + Inga S. Thorsdottir , Zhuang Hui + Dan Er
Organizer(s): Shanghai Gallery of Art (Shanghai, China)
From the beginning of time men and women have loved, fought, worked and died together. Among these men and women were artists. When it comes to relationships however artists have a certain handicap, namely their inherently egotistical artistic pursuit. Art is generally thought to be an expression of one’s own individuality. Note one is the imperative word here, not two. Furthermore an artist isn’t like any other profession that has holidays and weekends off. In the words of Jean Claude, “artists don’t retire, they die”. Art follows artists home for dinner and gets into bed with them. In any relationship there is an intricate game of role-playing between partners- sometimes you lead, sometimes you support. In relationships with artists these roles are often further confounded by a third wheel- the artist’s work. So how does an artist deal with a relationship with another artist? Is there room for two artists (and both of their work) in a relationship?
In the West, modern art history is peppered with artists whose relationships to other artists have helped keep the art history books lively. The late Hanna Wilke would often ruminate about the 1960’s scandals of minimalists like Carl Andre and her ex-husband Claus Oldenberg. Other star art couples include Anne and Josef Albers, Nam June Paik and Shegko Kabota and Brice and Helen Marden. Then there are the great same-sex couples of John Cage and Merce Cunningham, Pierre et Gilles, and Gilbert and George whose exhibition at the National Gallery of Fine Arts in the late 80s was inspiration to a score of young Chinese performance artists. Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner’s legacy has been memorialized in Hollywood films, magazines, books, and even in a foundation for emerging artists. And then of course there’s Jean Claude and Christo who managed to not only to raise a son together but also wrap New York City’s entire Central Park in bright orange fabric to become one of the most vibrant and memorable public art works to date.
Today the Chinese contemporary art world is also full of artist couples. Some of these couples work in collaboration with one another while others maintain independent practices. Each of these couples share the same artworld pressures, challenges, benefits and contacts. At the same time they face the challenges and benefits of living together, raising children together, and loving one another. This exhibition aims to profile some of the Chinese contemporary art world’s ‘Royal Couples’. These are artists who have reached the pinnacle of contemporary art by being exhibited and collected by the most prestigious intuitions worldwide. While the list of artist couples presented here is certainly not exhaustive, it presents an occasion to reflect upon the tenuous division between business and pleasure in the arts of today.
Through collaborative works or the pairing of two artworks certain clues to the dynamics of the artist couple will emerge. Themes such as love, domesticity, sex, parenting, co-habitation, competition, partnering, and power will all be reflected upon. While some of the work may not talk directly about these issues, the juxtaposition of artworks and the ensuing dialog will help to expose the intricacies of these artists’ relationships and relationships in general.
The origin of men and women’s vast differences is spelt out in the Old Testament’s book of Genesis’. Wu Shanzhuan and Inga S. Thorsdottir reflect upon this Biblical creation myth in “Paradise”, their own updated version of “Adam and Eve”, which takes place not in the Garden of Eden but in the produce section of a supermarket. While viewing the diametrically opposed painting styles of Ou Yang Chun and his wife Yang Fan we might be reminded of the cliché that ‘opposites attract’. Zhuang Hui and Dan’er’s collaborative found-photography works reflect upon the contemporary condition of ‘love’ as a commercially hijacked emotion and sex as a medical issue. In the pairing of Wang Wei’s ghostly furniture sculptures with Rania Ho’s brazen DIY fountain a surreal domestic fantasy emerges.
This exhibition also features three artist duos that normally pursue their own independent and successful careers, in a rare collaborative occasion. The artist’s Yin Xiuzhen and Song Dong explore the idea of collaboration itself by devising their own ideological framework for working together based on China’s most famous ‘couple’ “the chopstick”. Huang Yongping and Shen Yuan, the parents to Chinese Dada, and a teenage girl, present a dialogue between a pair of simple wooden chairs, each modified with alchemic and medicinal materials. Another well-known artist couple, Lin Tianmiao and Wang Gongxin present work from “Here? or There?”, their only collaborative series which originally debuted at the 2002 Shanghai Biennial. These dramatic photos combine both Lin’s unique sculptural garments and Wang’s penchant for documentary with their shared concern for the quickly changing urban environment in which they grew up and now live.
Besides Wu Shanzhuan and Inga S. Thorsdottir there are other ‘mixed couples’ in the exhibition. Taiwan born, Michael Lin and Belgian born, Heidi Voet share two sides of a plaster brick wall. While the plaster blocks are Voet’s signature material, the wall becomes a metaphor for the couple’s relationship with both artists work relying on it for support. Liang Wei and Colin Chinnery, originate from two different continents, use different mediums in their work, but share similar themes and aesthetic sensibility. Both their works are imbued with tones of black and white, a sense of political wit and razor-sharp logic.
The couple as an independent entity becomes manifest in the work of our youngest couple. A shared private room in the gallery becomes a metaphor for Qiu Xiaofei and Hu Xiaoyuan’s own little world, away from the reality of the everyday. Here they meditate on their vastly different sleeping patterns. While Qiu is plagued by obscure dreams Hu is insomniac. No matter how close their relationship is by day, the separate worlds that they occupy at night testify that they are ultimately independent spirits.
By Matt Stromberg | Feb 20, 2011
With his series of artistic interventions in the newly re-installed Gallery of California Art at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), Mark Dion posits that a museum is a dynamic site, the history of which is as worthy of investigation as the didactic exhibitions on view there. In The Marvelous Museum, Dion has carefully selected pieces from the museum's permanent collection that might not otherwise be seen and placed them around the gallery, highlighting connections between science, history, and art. By juxtaposing these orphaned objects within a larger exhibition, Dion focuses viewers' attention on the story behind the museum's collection itself, pulling back the curtain to reveal what goes on behind the scenes.
OMCA's Gallery of California traces the story of the landscape, history, and culture of the state. Through this, Dion weaves a secondary narrative focused on OMCA's vast collection that is often unrelated to the themes in the main show. In doing so, he illuminates the role that curators play in making sense out of a vast array of artifacts and objects. Most of the interventions that Dion has orchestrated are on view throughout the Gallery of California. Objects in storage crates with accompanying classification tags highlight the double identities they assume when they enter the collection.
Dion has made his selections with an eye toward both the aesthetic and cultural connections between the works and those surrounding them. Some noticeably stand out, others blend in, and it is only with careful scrutiny that their identity as interlopers becomes apparent. A stuffed two-day-old baby giraffe stands next to a nineteenth-century sculpture of Venus, raising questions about the nature of portraiture. An architectural element made of thick rope stands amidst a room of outsider art, looking perfectly at home were it not for the packing crate in which it sits. Dion draws similar aesthetic connections between an electrical insulating column placed in a room of ceramics by artists such as Robert Arneson and Peter Voulkos. Sharing a similar material as these works and placed in proximity to them, the column's formal beauty stands out more than its utilitarian function.
Architectural fragment from the Tubbs Cordage Co. building at the Panama Pacific International Exposition, 1915; Courtesy of the Oakland Museum of California. Photo: David Maisel.
In a room of 1960s minimalist artworks, Dion has placed a natural-history exhibit consisting of a cube of earth, which enters into a playful dialogue with a nearby pristine glass cube by Larry Bell. The comparison draws attention to the man-made quality of this seemingly "natural" work. Lastly, a set of drawers full of '60s political and counterculture ephemera adds context to a room filled with like-minded art of the period. Part of the joy of the exhibition is in seeking out Dion's orphans on one's own, as he strives to recover a sense of wonder that has perhaps become conspicuously absent in museums.
Dion has also created two installations that literally display the inner working of the museum. First, he has re-created three curator's desks: a nineteenth-century naturalist's, a 1976 historian's, and a contemporary art curator's (modeled on the desk of OMCA's own René de Guzman, who has been seen to sit in the installation from time to time). These desks illustrate the changing role of the curator -- from organizer of scientific knowledge to arbiter of high culture. Indeed, the museum's collections, assembled over decades, also reflect this evolving role, and hidden in a back corner of the exhibition is another installation that re-creates a museum storage room. Half-opened crates fill the center of the room, while mismatched oddities sit side by side in a storage cage: a stuffed bird next to historical examples of chairs next to a mounted set of walrus tusks. For children, this room conjures up thrills akin to the classic young adult novel From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, while for cultured museum-goers, it illustrates just how important a curator's role is in shaping an exhibition from unordered objects.
Another part of The Marvelous Museum that bears mention is its catalogue; more than simply a portable compendium of the works on display, it is designed to resemble a crate and features the many objects than weren't included in the actual exhibition. It also goes into greater depth about the development of the collection and the process of selecting the works from a pool of almost two million, revealing to viewers a glimpse of the making of an exhibition about making exhibitions.
The Marvelous Museum: A Project by Mark Dion is on view at the Oakland Museum of California through March 6, 2011. For more information visit museumca.org.
This article was originally published February 11, 2011 by Art Practical, an online magazine providing comprehensive analysis of Bay Area visual arts events and exhibitions.
A new art show at the March Gallery presents
an iconoclastic scouring of our world gone mad.
A satirical declaration of independence against
uncommitted and the shallow common place.
It is an exciting show, a show in which Involvement
and Innocence become the sacred symbols of
survival. The show includes oil paintings, collages,
drawings, and mixed media.
Isser Aronovici, Rocco Armento, Al D'Arcangelo,
Herb Brown, Ferró (Erro), John Fisher,
Stanley Fisher,Esther Gilman, Sam Goodman,
Gloria Graves,Dorothy Gillespie, Ted Joans,
Allan Kaprow, Yayoi Kusama, Jean-Jacques Lebel,
Bob Logan, Lora, Suzan Long (Harriet Wood),
Boris Lurie, Mihal Mishorit, Jerome Rothenberg,
Michelle Stuart, Richard Tyler, Ray Wisniewski
und Lee Zack.
Run! Hide! Scream!! Groan!! While You May. Walls are Shattering, The Ground Crumbling The Air Polluted A Cry ... In This Wilderness Of Desolation And secure us with shallow, repetitious decorations. An escapist fireplace to warm our illusions over. A blank wall to cogitate inactive withdrawal. Cold geometries calculate our final destiny—a fallout of annihilation. The plastic arts do have the magic, the answers, the potency for the dedicated, searching and humanly invoIved artist, more than ever in our times.
Welcome to this exhibition. If your eyes and mind serve you well, you will see something new. When viewing this show, please avoid applying aesthetic labels; do not call us realists, neo-dadaists, surrealists. These labels are neither true nor important in today's context. Formalist distinctions do not apply here. Aesthetics are generally viewed as a fixed, solid entity: we look upon it as the reflection of changing reality. The ivory tower is no substitute for Involvement in life. In a time of wars and extermination, aesthetic exercises and decorative patterns are not enough. We are not 'abstract', 'non-objective', 'representational', alone- rather, we are all of it: we want to use all inventions, past or present, without discrimination as to 'styles'. Totality is seen as a composite of all aspects: limiting, purist, puritanical approaches are rejected. We are not playful! We want to build art and not destroy it, but we say exactly what we mean - at the expense of good manners. You will find no secret languages here, no fancy escapes, no hushed, muted silences, no messages beamed at exclusive audiences. Art is a tool of influence and urging. We want to talk, to shout, so that everybody can understand. Our only master is truth. New frontiers ... old frontiers. Is it true it only took one man to awaken the world? Eichmann alive ... Eichmann dead ... who cares for Eichmann? Now they tell us all about the concentration camps. Bergen-Belsen has been turned into a beautiful park. Thousands kept on starving after the Liberation. Was it right to kidnap Eichmann? International law? Who brought the capture about? One man? Look down. What do you see? Count the dead! Count the living? What do you hear? Silence. How can they be counted? Millions worth of publicity. We have absolutely nothing to sell! Some people get very uncomfortable in their cages - nothing seems as credible as before (the ghosts started their parade in New York). Even the Dead had been in hiding, so long, deprived of the right of self-expression. They are much more at peace now that the newspapers have remembered them. But it only took one determined man to accomplish all this. Buried, covered up, sick, mouldy consciences; open up! Man might be helpless, but faith has moved a mountain. Fresh air blows through these putrid canyons?! Platitudes and sophistries. Deceit, conceit, lies.
Involvement hits below the belt. And at the private parts above, too. It deals a lethal blow to the ideology of dog eat dog. There is no escape here. Even your deodorants will sweat. No ivory tower of dribbling design or cocktail color. You will never be the same , nor will you want to be after viewing this show which is galvanizing art into a modern crisis. The new March Gallery is a citadel for the idealistic, and bastion for those who would like to make a last stand against the commercial depredation of uptown galleries. We stand on the threshold of a new art, and art committed to speak out, an art involved with issues. We are not afraid of confronting the Hiroshima Hells and Buchenwalds of a world in trouble. We offer no tranquilizers. We face the truth. But to become the truth is blasphemous, and we have become the truth. Anti-art uses all the groping varicose brains of science fiction and the Pin-up cheesecake of the calendar magazines and the gloss of Life and Times and the plush-slush comic strips and the byzantine Boweries of Lower Broadway and the balling Off-Broadway and Buchenwald and H-bombs bopping and the colored condoms of that detention-dimension, Hollywood, and its vomitorium of video. Anti-art is the art in which men are blue, monsters are framed-up and beasts leap from stool pigeon penthouses of pink-mink. It is the art in which meeting the ground at 100000 miles an hour becomes glamorous and tires are made from the belly button. Mickey Mouse travels to Laos with Saint Dulles and is murdered by a snowball that has been blown from Tibet by a forty-five millimetre monk. He decides that Doom is more sporting in Los Angeles where plate windows make bad wings of blood on their victims. Mad Magazine undersells a brassiere factory and all chic's in NYC wear shirts stuffed with Alfred E. Neuman and he tickles too like crazy. What a scene on subways, automate, laundromat, ladies room, powder room, blue room, and Hawaiian room! Marilyn Monroe is found with an ash tray filled with my shirt sleeves and I am accused of unsightly littering. They stretch my skin over a light bulb in Alcatreaz and the motes of murder shine in Shanghai when they press that switch. A menstrual flow against gravity stuns scientists. The March Gallery is lynched. This is the stuff of which anti-art is made. Art cannot be measured or defined any more than love. The depths of a kiss cannot be fathomed, nor can art. Both are inscrutable. Love, the most transitory of acts meets art, the most accidental of loves. Both are meaningful only insofar as the involvement is passion. And passion leads to what is unmastered in the beyond. In the death of all things is our world of uncommitted shallowness, the need for passion and involvement become a death and life struggle. And violence becomes the parody of futility. I believe in a new art of committed violence. I believe art should destroy all things before they become utilitarian symbols of useless longevity; before they become fuses to our own high-priced destruction. As most art galleries are padlocked behind their sinister commercial dreams, I search for this new art in the comic strip and the tabloid sheet. Here you see the catastrophe, the avalanche, the flood, the tidal hurricanes, the carnal holocausts and the inadvertent so actual that planes meet above Staten Island in hectic rendezvous with two boroughs, plowing snow with blood in one, and razing garnished steeples and serene funeral parlors in the other. Smoke terror flames crawling like schizophrenic lightening in beauty parlors and garages, into the starch of Chinese laundries, into the fuming wax of imitation begonias, into the detergents of dusky groceries. Here momentarily life is renewed and the fear of affirmation vanquished. This is the new art, the shock art, the anti-art that is preparing us for the H-bomb sodomy and the seasickness of a violent death.
To hell with academic taboos, old or new! This historical year, 1961, finds many artists, in their soul-searching private conversations with their work, turning in revulsion from the specialized and decorative.
Again ... to hell with academic taboos! Involvement with the rich loam, the blood and merde and sex of an exploding mankind is too much of a hot sea to escape from. Let's face it!
The great adventure of the modern movement, in its tremendous preoccupation with means, has given us the tools forged by ascetic specialists of all kinds.
Let us thank everyone, and hate no one from the past, in art.
The appetizers were excellent but ... On with the Banquet!
We love subject matter ... So there ... What's more, we love all our tools and intend to use any number of them we require to fully implement an idea.
Let's face the drama, beauty and ugliness of the world's dance in the flames of Hell, 1961, and beyond ...
Let's face it and swim in it.
2008, six-channel interactive video installation, 30'x20'computers, six video projectors, three video cameras, custom software, vinyl floor
Healing Pool uses custom algorithms to create a glowing pool of organic patterns on the floor. Left alone, the patterns slowly pulsate and shift over the course of each day. When a person walks across the piece the patterns tear apart and rebuild themselves, but never exactly as before. The change is similar to a scar left behind when a wound heals. Thus the pool holds a history, or memory, of all the interactions that have occurred since the piece was first turned on.
Like the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, this project serves as a type of memorial, a constantly evolving record of change that honors the minuscule ways in which the slightest interactions—no matter how small or unintentional—have some impact. It is also an examination of how each person is, like the pool, a manifestation of everything that came before.
This project was generously supported by both the Creative Capital Foundation and the MacDowell Colony.
The Healing Series
The pieces in the Healing series explore interaction and integration: the changes, both destructive and regenerative, that happen when things interface with each other. They are interactive floor projections with patterns that change in response to visitors. When visitors walk across, the patterns pull away, creating wounds. When left alone, the patterns grow to cover these wounds. In each of the pieces, however the patterns grow back in different ways.
This work is related to the research being done on artificial intelligence and artificial life, but the path and the goal are different. Most explorations in these fields attempt to create human-like intelligence and behavior, and in so doing they use more and more complex algorithms and techniques. In contrast, with these pieces I am focusing on the complexity possible with very simple rules. The patterns and their growth are completely emergent phenomena; they arise from the mathematical equations that the software simulates. The basis for these equations comes from biological and chemical models of molecular interactions, interactions that are at the core of all living things. By amplifying them and making them visible and accessible, they become metaphors for human behavior and interaction.
These pieces are not life-forms, but they exhibit life-like behaviors, behaviors that are simple in their goals—to grow—but complex and subtle in their realization—how the piece actually grows and reacts to visitors. Visitors quickly understand how the pieces react to them, but the subtlety creates many possible, often surprising, interactions. Visitors enjoy playing with the pieces and exploring new ways of interacting with them. They experiment and watch and learn from each other. The pieces encourage them to interact not only with the carpet but with each other.
Kindertotenlieder examine the representation of dread, in relation to the representation of death, and the constant proximity in which it remains with human properties such as the body physical appearance and behaviour. The representation of dread and the horrifying leads to what Sigmund Freud called the “uncanny”: the representation of something both familiar and alien, and consequently disturbing. It therefore constitutes a great trigger of cathartic experiences characterising ceremonies, rituals and shows, such as the one we are concerned with.
The stage, in this case, and in general, is a place where one can call to and resuscitate the dead. Between dream and reality, performers blend in the play, through their appearance and movements, with other characters represented by artificial or altered bodies - moving or limp - who create this feeling of the uncanny linked to death by mimicking life.
My work usually centres on the relationship between natural and artificial bodies. On this project, it will be more precisely focused on how the body is represented in traditional Austrian iconography. This will allow me to tackle the issue of the representation of death and the horrifying.
More particularly, Kindertotenlieder works on the custom related to the “Perchten”, creatures who appear mid-winter to offer protection against demons and to punish cursed souls. This custom is still alive today and stirs in us fantasies of cruelty, innocence and expiation. Through this work, I am keen to examine the meaning of the fantasies expressed through this custom. I would also like to explore the confusion that may occur between the official events where this fantasy is expressed - such as ceremonies - and reality.
Dennis Cooper will write a text exploring these issues. If my work so far was dealing with the relationship between truth and fiction in a personal and intimate setting, this new work examines the confusion between fantasy and reality in a collective context.
Created by Gisèle Vienne / Texts and dramaturgy by Dennis Cooper/ Music by KTL (Stephen O’Malley & Peter Rehberg) et “The Sinking Belle (Dead Sheep)” par Sunn O))) & Boris (monté par KTL)/ Conception robots: Alexandre Vienne / Creation dolls : Raphaël Rubbens, Dorothéa Vienne-Pollak, Gisèle Vienne, assisted by Manuel Majastre / Creation wood masks : Max Kössler / Lights by Patrick Riou / Make-up by Rebecca Flores / Hairdressing dolls : Yury Smirnov With the technical team of the Quartz – Scène nationale de Brest : Technical direction : Nicolas Minssen Sound manager : Kenan Trévien Stage manager : Christophe Le Bris
Performed by and created in collaboration with: Jonathan Capdevielle, Margrét Sara Gudjónsdóttir, Elie Hay, Guillaume Marie, Anja Röttgerkamp ou Anne Mousselet
pictures : © Mathilde Darrel
Production february 2007 / Festival « Les Antipodes » - Le Quartz, Brest – Duration : 1h15
Associate producer: DACM With the collaboration of the Quartz - Scène nationale de Brest
Coproduction : Le Quartz - Scène nationale de Brest, Les Subsistances 2007 / Lyon, Centre Chorégraphique National de Franche-Comté à Belfort dans le cadre de l’accueil-studio, Centre national de danse contemporaine d’Angers
With the support of the Drac Rhône-Alpes / Ministère de la culture et de la communication, Région Rhône-Alpes, Conseil général de l’Isère, Ville de Grenoble, DICREAM / Ministère de la culture et de la communication and Étant donnés, the French-American fund for the performing arts, a program of Face.
With the support of the Centre Chorégraphique National de Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon and of Point Ephémère à Paris.
Thank you to: Les Ateliers de construction du Théâtre de Grenoble, Didier Boucher, Patric Chiha, Etnies, Simone Hoffmann, Antoine Masure, Minijy/Clara Rousseau, Séverine Péan, Sophie Metrich, le Théâtre de l’Odéon – Paris, Jose Enrique Ona Selfa, for the costumes Loewe, Troubleyn/ Jan Fabre et Mark Geurden, Enrique Urrutia, Remy Vidal, Alexandre Vienne, Jean-Paul Vienne et Esther Welger-Barboza
Gisèle Vienne is associate artist at Le Quartz - Scène nationale de Brest
You seem to have a very interesting approach to process, of letting a work evolve at it's own speed.
It’s sort of nice, making something and then nothing comes immediately. That’s how it is a lot of times. You make something and nothing happens with it for years and then all of a sudden it can happen. That’s nice. That’s great.
I think the thing about making things is that you have a proof. You have some proof every day that something has been accomplished, that something’s different. If you can make something as that proof it has a lot of power. You have a lot of power if you can just take your energy. But you know, I’m also happy if somebody else comes and does something on the house to fix it up. I think, well something happened today. I realize that I’m very attached to needing a proof of something, a proof that there has been a change. Not just to think about it in my mind but to have a physical manifestation of that change. It’s like accumulating things. You know it’s kind of nutty. I’ll go out and I notice always when I go out I come home with things. I try to curb it, the tendency. But I think it’s okay today because something came in the mail. That was like some proof of my accomplishment.
A mark of your existence in this world?
Yes, it really is. It’s a physical proof that everything’s okay for a minute.
Does that has something to do with being raised Catholic?
It’s one of my loose theories that Catholicism and art have gone well together because both believe in the physical manifestation of the spiritual world, that it’s through the physical world that you have spiritual life, that you have to be here physically in a body. You have all this interaction with objects, with rosaries and medals. It believes in the physical world. It’s a ‘thing’ culture.
It’s also about storytelling in that sense, about reiterating over and over and over again these mythological stories about saints and other deities that can come and intervene for you on your behalf. All the saints have attributes that are attached to them and you recognize them through their iconography. And it’s about transcendence and transmigration, something moving always from one state to another. And art is in a sense like a proof: it’s something that moves from your insides into the physical world, and at the same time it’s just a representation of your insides. It doesn’t rob you of your insides and it’s always different, but in a different form from your spirit.
Have you read a lot in that area?
I read a little bit.
Information that floats into your consciousness comes from wandering around the world, or how?
When I was in school I was a very poor reader. It was very difficult for me to learn how to read. And so I just had to learn from looking at things. So I pay a lot of attention to things or I listen to things or I listen to what people say. I like Bob Dylan’s line, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” Because he’s talking in a specific cultural connotation. But it’s true, you have to live to know what is happening in your neighborhood and in your realm of consciousness. What you’re thinking isn’t particularly unique to what other people are thinking. That’s why you can recognize things from two thousand years ago because it’s not radically different. How you’re thinking about them might have slight variations, but basically everybody has a body and they experience in them very differently, but physiologically there are certain things happening and so it’s no wonder that people think about lots of the same things.
I like learning through observation. I’m very stubborn in it too. It gets in my way a lot because I won’t believe things. I won’t believe lots of things that people tell me until I can see it myself somehow. But being observant is a good way to learn about things. And once you do know about one thing physically, at a certain point it’s easy to translate it then into other mediums and quickly understand it. Like if you have enough information in your body from doing something, you can then move it around. Like I can sew well if I need to, or I can do ceramics. I can do different things just from having enough physical experience.
Let's talk about the women on the pyres.
The women—I put them together because they have a physical relationship to one another. The women on pyres came from a photograph. I bought in an anonymous collection of photographs from someone’s notebook in the late 1890’s, from Lyon. And it’s like early collage work. From Victorian times when people started having access to cameras and started making these collages. And this person made these incredibly wonderful collages, chopping this woman’s head off and then her decapitated head sort of rolling around. And then he also made these wonderful ones of a woman kneeling on a pillow and then he collages that with a pyre, these women on pyres.
And I was asked to be in a competition last year, or two years ago, for an outdoor sculpture. And I spent a lot of time trying to do it but I wasn’t good at doing it. And I decided that I didn’t want to make public sculpture that was of other people’s agendas. I couldn’t do that. I can only do things that come from my necessity. And so then I thought I wanted to make these women on pyres, like these commemoratives for witches. I was making at the time drawings of drowned witches, of them floating with their hair in the water. And I thought these women on pyres, that I wanted to make these sculptures and that they should be in all these towns in Europe, like in each town.
There aren’t commemorative sculptures for witches in Europe. There was a tremendous amount of killing and there’s little commemoration of that. And so, so no one has needed it in their town yet, but [LAUGHS], but you know, I just make them anyway. Their arms are out like Christ, saying "Why have you forsaken me?" I had originally made some where the pyres were out of metal, but then I just bought wood for it.
And the Bodhisattva figures you've been collecting...is there a story behind those?
I like Kuan-yin because she is a Bodhisattva of compassion. And compassion is something that we’re supposed to think about a lot in our daily lives. There are relationships between her and the Virgin Mary In her iconography. The religions are all influencing one another. So there’s times when she starts showing up with a child or being like the benevolent mother. They say this is influenced by the Virgin Mary.
I’m a big Virgin Mary fan. I was raised Catholic. Lots of my work refers to the Virgin Mary and I've made a lot of pieces kind of manipulating her around different ways from my own perverse interests. Kuan-yin is a similar character in that she represents this open compassion that envelopes you but then also that you can look at as a model for your behavior in the world. Besides all that I really like the representation of her and the scale of the house or altar sculpture. Church sculpture is something that’s very influential to me. It has lots of decorative elements. It has the serene faces where they’re looking down on you always. There’s interesting things about the proportions. Often the heads are much larger than the bodies, which is something I’m always interested in. Gauguin made great sculptures. I guess you’ve seen Tahitian models for figurative sculptures where the head is about three times the size of the rest of the body. And if you think about it, Alice from "Alice in Wonderland" has that where the head’s very enlarged. In lots of the Kuan-yins the heads are much larger than the bodies proportionately.
The Kuan-yins tell me to pay attention. That’s my new excuse for everything. It tells me to pay attention and I just do. They say pierce me with your eyes. I went and saw one the other day and then it said, pierce me with your eyes. I like that because your not sure whether it’s telling you to look at it or you’re telling it to look at you. Like darsham, like being blessed. Like wanting a blessing in Catholic Church. You go touch the feet of the saint or something because you want a blessing from them. It's important to stay in the gaze of what's important to be thinking about.
© Ray Caesar, Revelation, Courtesy of Jonathan Levine Gallery, NYC
Posted: February 7, 2011 01:05 PM
It had taken months of trying before I finally met with reclusive artist Ray Caesar, just before his new show opened at New York's Jonathan Levine gallery. I found him to be a pleasant, soft-spoken gentleman, surprisingly forthcoming about his troubled past and the process of healing that his art represents.
Caesar renders art using 3D software with movable appendages operable in a virtual world, sometimes scanning his or his wife Jane's skin from the area below the eyes and eyebrows, giving his creatures a sanguine, sentient appearance. He is their Pygmalion but through their 'autonomous' anatomies they ascend as rulers of their domain. Caesar, whose name connotes emperor, is also the root for caesarean, and according to mythic tradition, Julius Caesar was the first to be delivered in such fashion by a midwife. Childbirth can be viewed as eruptive and emergent, painful but cathartic; the generating host can be consumed by the process. Caesar's art is his progeny but also the instrument of his healing.
A resident of Toronto now, Caesar grew up in a troubled household in the tricky suburbs of South London near Brixton. The tiny wallpapered, Victorian residences from the early 1800s form the nostalgic backgrounds for many of his paintings. "I remember an area behind my father's chairs, where I used to peel the wallpapers away," he recalls.
His artistic influences though are much wider, referencing the French rococo period, the fête galante, Antoine Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, the period of Dutch paintings - Vermeer, the Regency in England, "all the painters from where you see all the escalation in art," elaborates Casear, "like early American paintings; and fashion from the 1950s and 1960s; when I was growing up that was what people were wearing."
I had deduced a Japanese element to his work, and he explained that when he was fifteen his future father-in-law, who had survived seven years of prison camp in Siberia, had introduced him to the works of Yukio Mishima and Jun'ichiro Tanizaki, writers that touched upon bushido, the samurai ethic, balancing the cultivation of beauty with discipline.
Caesar also cites writers Anita Brookner, Jane Austen as influences, telling me he had read Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird countless times. Recently he had been clinically diagnosed with disassociative identity disorder, and therapy had revealed the greater impact of Lee's book.
"The whole realm of To Kill a Mocking Bird started to play out in my mind as ways I would disassociate parts of myself," says Caesar. "The children were one part, the perfect father was Atticus Finch, the grown up man who had no voice was Boo. All these characters played out in my work. For many years for me, there was no voice. Art was the light speaking about the troubles that I was dealing with. Two children see the world as they have never seen before, the world of hate."
Caesar liked to play with dolls, which used to infuriate his father, and though he was left alone to draw, he repressed that side of himself that wished to be more vocal. Later in life, he would work for seventeen years in a children's hospital, and the physical wounds he would witness that were inflicted on the children and their powerlessness to protect themselves, would have a profound effect on his own expression.
I tell him that having access to multiple personalities could be considered more a gift than a disorder. "It actually has been a gift," says Casear, "as a child it was an excellent way of dealing with things, if you were in a situation and you didn't like it, you could close your eyes, go off into somewhere else, and say, for now logic and reason makes no sense to have it... I'm in an insane situation, so I will disassociate myself from logic and reason. I will just accept the world is insane. It is a safety."
Ray Caesar, Back Birth - Side Saddle, Courtesy of Jonathan Levine Gallery
Because of his frequent anxiety attacks Caesar had undergone therapy, which helped him unravel elements of his personality affected by his childhood upbringing. He tells me, "One disassociative part of myself is the part that is allowed to say, No."
"As a child I used to stand in line-ups with my father who used to scream at people, and I had so much anxiety over that I could either live with the anxiety as a child or disassociate from myself. [If I was at a] super-market with my dad, and he was screaming, I would take that part of myself and tuck it away. And soon as I did it once, I did it over and over again, until later on in life there are all these disassociative parts of oneself."
Logic and reason became personified into Castro and Pollux, "two northern uncles." Castro and Pollux, also known as the Dioscuri, are seen sometimes as St. Elmo's Fire by sailors, and are the patron saints of lost ships at sea. Pollux means polluted, and Castor means clean, reflecting the two conflicting sides of himself; the tattoos of one are mirrored in the scars of the other. Caesar uses many nautical references in his work that allude to suspension, being cast out at sea, falling, birthing, and like the archetype of the Hanged Man, an intermediate state of being.
KL: I imagine there was a spiritual aspect to these 'guardians' that therapy may have discounted. Sometimes life itself is a barrier to connecting to other worlds - and maybe a bridge is only possible through the subconscious, which is also the source of our creativity.
RC: I believe so; I had a lot of therapy for it... But when I questioned them, they did say once, that both [points of view] could be right. I think ...that life is not a closed sphere. There is an opening like the top of a cup. And these voices are a part of you and a part of something else, and you become aware of the difference between 'lower entities' and the 'higher entities'. There is a hierarchy in everybody.
We all have panic, depression, anxiety, its just called a disorder when we have too much of it. Disassociation is a human skill. We can walk into a situation and you can say I am not going to be angry, I'm going to put my anger away, just as a child I did it too much, and forgot that I was doing it.
KL: The rooms look inhabited in your paintings.
RC: The rooms exist in a virtual world. Just like each of us carry memories whether of this life or beyond or of another world. There are drawers in cabinets in which I place letters. I lost my mother and sister years ago, and so I have lockets with their pictures in them and it means something to me that they are there, even though you can't see it in the picture all the time.
KL: You used to bury things in the garden when you were a boy.
RC: There was an obsession with doing this. And I didn't realize until I took therapy that's what I was doing with parts of my personality. Burying them, putting them there, so they are safe, so nothing could touch them.
KL: Maybe burning is cathartic? It exorcises the things lodged in your head.
RC: Certainly, if this was causing me a lot of trouble or stress. There was an incident while I was working in the children's hospital, in which I saw a picture of a child who was murdered. And I couldn't get that out of my head. Actually after I saw that particular picture I quit the hospital maybe 3 weeks later; I was really coming apart.
I started drawing a lot of pictures of it, and started tucking it away and burning them. Things were safe if they were burned because no one could touch them again. Years later I did a piece called Bride, it was of a girl who lost her head and I decided to sew it back on. The young murder victim that I saw in the hospital had something to do with that image. She was strangled; her neck was crushed to a point where it was all caved in.
KL: Does it bring it all back - when you look at these pictures again of her you've created?
RC: I have tried to create a place where she is put back together, where she is safe.
KL: She has power now and she's come back with a vengeance. She's got teeth.
RC: Exactly, no one can do that to her again. Your subconscious tries to deal with that. We call them disorders but they are natural ways for the mind to protect itself.
Ray Caesar's virtual dioramas are populated by a coterie of doll-like creatures. Caesar tells me he has maybe ten or twelve character studies with twenty variations of faces that he resuses, sometimes altering their facial expression by changing the shapes of their noses, morphing smiles with frowns, but he says that somehow, they always return to a look of serenity. Recently he is using more painterly backgrounds and the final digital prints are varnished, giving the illusion of a painted surface that enhances their dream-like milieus. Often things are hidden from view in the finished artworks: if we looked inside the mouths of his creations, they would have teeth and tongues. In Silent Partner, the dismembered parts of a body are concealed within drawers, representing his hidden disassociated selves.
In his work Blessed, we see a girl with the scars of a caesarian section, a play on Caesar's name: It is a picture of "all the things I have to cut out of my life," says Casear. He likes the idea of drawing on skin - an ideal drawing surface he claims - though he would not tattoo himself. "I don't want to be ever not naked. You are always clothed if you have a tattoo," says Caesar.
KL: Sometimes we locate our sense of self outside of us, we externalize it, and forget to invert our senses to feel on the inside; Sometimes meditation is a way of becoming aware of our insides.
RC: During a panic attack your heart is going out of control. Recently, I had an inflammation of my heart, but I was calm as ever. Here I was actually having a heart attack, why was I calm?
With the 3D models, there are things that are not anatomically correct. They are not always girls under these clothes. Their appendages aren't always what they appear to be. They could be male or something completely different. I think we are all very different creatures. I always say this in some interviews: if you walk into a room and you turn out the light, then try to walk to where you want to go - and you reach your hand out - your hand sometimes feels as though it goes beyond your fingertips. You know the table is there before you get to it. Tentacles are coming out of your fingers and your hands. And all these places, fingertips, lips and genitals, our eyes, feel different in the dark. What are we really inside?
In Silent Partner she has taken her lover, and she has dismembered him. There is a head, his heart, his genitals, which are tied by a nice little blue ribbon - and his liver - I put them in a little cabinet with his glasses, with his pipe on top.
KL: Is that some kind of revenge?
RC: No, it's about every good man should know his place, and she's got them in the places that she wants them. And he's a silent partner. It's what I do to myself; I dismember myself. I am that person.
KL: Is that the same male character in Totentanz - a dance with death? Is that a personification of you?
RC: Yes he usually shows up dismembered, and parts of him are in the cupboard, he is a personification of the masculine side of me. I recently had a dance with death with the pericarditis, I caught an infection in my heart. The thing is, I don't know who death is in there, whether it is him or her - she could be dancing with a corpse. He is the male idiot that lives in me. I judge myself even more harshly. [It represents a] quality that I am not comfortable within myself. [The character] is at the whim of the women.
KL: Do you think brutality is just beneath the surface of sophistication in people, that we are inherently atavistic?
RC: It is in everyone, and everyone has a feminine and masculine side. I see it mostly in the masculine side of us. Not all men, but if you look at the world today, a lot of the problems are male created problems ...problems of men's fears.
We have to look at the way in which we bring up the masculine in us. To bring up males with more feminine qualities is to me an answer - but men find that too humiliating to even consider. This is another fear - the fear of humiliation. We have to be tough, but it is also our world and we have to find a place in it. I don't think we are fulfilling our place in it very well, to be honest - starting with myself first - it's not a judgment.
KL: The hunter or the hunted are qualities that could be present in both men and women.
RC: The hunter and the hunted are also survivors: It's the job of both the hunter and the prey to survive too. It's the balance of dark and light I try to put in my work, but I swing more towards the feminine side - these are sanctuaries of love, kindness and empathy.
[Caesar refers to paintings showing deformities, tentacular appendages here.] She wears her scars, not like medals but remembrances. Bruises, deformities...are a big part of my childhood. My father had certain physical deformities - childhood arthritis - and his feet were twisted and unrecognizable. There were times when his feet were in extreme pain, and I would take his shoes off and they were not what I would consider human feet.
KL: What are their universes like, the creatures you create?
RC: If you are kind and nice, you are perfectly safe. But it is a world where the cruel and kind are not tolerated too well. The favourite theme of mine is the huntress. That gives them the right to hunt back things that were taken from them. The children in the hospital were not given a life like you and I, their innocence was taken away. I make them hunters so they can hunt back that innocence.
KL: Some of them appear prepubescent and coming of age and some are eroticized. I think of Balthus' paintings of girls.
RC: I try to put a bit taboo, a bit of horror, love, and a bit of kindness, something sexual or asexual. A lot of them are angelic and there is some asexuality in that.
KL: In this picture, 'Precious,' she looks like she is masturbating with that doll.
RC: What she is doing is protecting her doll, and that doll is a representation of her, and it is upside down from her, like she is giving birth. Creating art is like giving birth. I had dolls when I was a child; one was Beatrice, and she was tall, and missing a leg, and up inside the cavity of her leg is where I kept all my toys and you can imagine what it was like walking into a room with this little boy with his arm up inside the cavity of her groin. These are things I like to play with. None of us know where sexuality begins.
'Bubbles' is all about puberty. I don't decide to put things in there, but they come to me... This is a window, and there are two towers outside, (I did them shortly after the World Trade Center went down) and she is blowing bubbles, which are about to burst - a symbol of innocence. The window was like a target. She is wearing all red, and on her lap, there is a little scenario with a woman bathing and a deer. It is the story of Actaeon - he got killed for seeing Diana bathe. She turned him into a stag, and her dogs hunted him down. Puberty is a change of life, a change of awareness - this girl's bubble is about to burst.
And the reference to the World Trade Center going down - well it changed everybody. If you talk about a subconscious, there is also a super-conscious, and we all went through puberty that day, and realized the world is a different place and always will be. So I play with the taboo, the sex, and innocence. I am hunting for a different flavour every time I make a picture...
A figure falls through the air. You don’t see him jump and you don’t see him hit the ground. He’s just falling through the light. A miner enters a cage. The cage plummets down, two miles into the body of the earth. He is descending through the dark. British artist Steve McQueen made what was his most ambitious cinematic installation to date for the extraordinary underground interior of the Lumiere at St Martins Lane in London’s West End. McQueen’s project brought together two different experiences from two different places – from the island of Grenada, where McQueen’s parents were born, and from a working gold mine in South Africa. Caribs’ Leap journeys into the historical interior of the Caribbean island of Grenada. In 1651, rather than surrendering to French soldiers, a large number of Caribs threw themselves over the cliffs onto the rocks below. This ultimate act of resistance is one focus of McQueen’s film which was largely shot on location in Sauteurs in Grenada, where this act of collective sacrifice took place. Western Deep journeys into the physical interior of the deepest fold mine in the world, the Tautona mines near Johannesburg in South Africa. McQueen takes the viewer into the darkness and claustrophobia of the lifts and shafts, the dust and the noise of the working faces. This definitive installation of McQueen’s work offered the viewer a tough, almost physical, viewing experience within the cavernous interior of the Lumiere at St Martins Lane. This project was supported by Arts Council England, Special Angels and The Company of Angels.
Over the last decade, Steve McQueen has been influential in expanding the way in which artists work with film. Among his films are Bear (1993), Deadpan (1997) which re-enacts Buster Keaton’s famous stunt in which he survives a house falling on his head, Drumroll (1998) involving a metal barrel, mounted with cameras, being rolled through the streets of Manhattan and Caribs’ Leap / Western Deep (2002) which was one of the highlights of the recent Documenta XI. Born in West London in 1969, he studied at Chelsea School of Art (1989-90) and Goldsmith’s College (1990-1993) in London, and at Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, in New York (1993-94). He won the first ICA Futures Award in 1996 and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. In 1997, solo exhibitions of his work were held in Frankfurt, Eindhoven and New York, where he showed both at the Marian Goodman Gallery and at the Museum of Modern Art. In 1998 he won a DAAD artist’s scholarship to Berlin and, in 1999, besides exhibiting at the ICA and at the Kunsthalle in Zürich, won the Turner Prize. In 2003 he presented a major exhibition at Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris called Speaking In Tongues which included the breathtaking new piece Once Upon a Time, a collaboration with NASA and linguist William Samarin. In 2002 he was awarded the OBE. In 2003 McQueen was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum as Offical War Artist to Iraq, attracting international attention with a rare non-film work titled Queen and Country. More recently, he won the Camera d’Or and an International Film Critics Federation Prize at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival for his first feature film Hunger.