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Friday, July 8, 2016

Yuni Kim Lang, Artist






This is 'Comfort Hair,' A Live Sculpture That Beautifully 
Explores Women's Cultural Identities
Katherine Brooks, Senior Arts and Culture Editor, Huffington Post
Yuni Kim Lang doesn’t just make sculpture, she makes live sculpture. 
The Korean-American artist’s signature artwork, “Comfort Hair,” doesn’t
come with a tiny beating heart, if that’s what you’re thinking. The “live”
modifier refers to the fact that the sculpture is more performance that
stationary object. The piece requires a person — a wearer — to make
the work whole. And when wearer meets sculpture, meaning pours forth.
The massive pile of dark, woven hair becomes a totem of cultural identity,
and a visual reminder of history’s obsession with long flowing locks.
“Comfort Hair” was inspired by the Korean practice of wearing a cache,
a large, heavy wig typically found on the heads of wealthy, high society
women. Like these raven-hued fixtures that epitomized the “bigger is better”
mantra, Lang’s sculpture appears like a massive pile of hair made from
polypropylene rope that sits atop a model’s head for one hour at a time. 
The gache is just one historical example that illuminates humanity’s greater
obsession with manes, mops, curls and tresses. Over the centuries, “hair
has symbolized so many different things,” Lang told The Huffington Post,
despite the fact that the only “living” portion of hair remains hidden inside
the follicle. “The obsession we have with our dead hair that we imagine
to be full of life is fascinating. It is the part of the body that has no nerves
or muscles but has movements and rhythm that feel alive. When you cut
it off there is no pain and it does not bleed. Yet, we perceive it as a
sacred entity.”
While history at large has undoubtedly obsessed over hair — from
yesterday’s Victorian wigs to today’s Instagrammable cuts — hair is,
of course, as much a personal experience as it is a shared one.
“‘Comfort Hair’ was conceived because of the way I was brought up,
as a third culture kid,” Lang explained. Third culture kid (TCK), she
elaborated, is a term used to refer to people who have spent a significant
amount of their developmental years in cultures other than the ones they
were born into. “Being a Korean growing up in China, going to an
American International school, I was sorting through three different
cultures to makes sense out of my own. The amalgamation of these
three cultures has become my personal cultural identity.”
According to Lang, the thing that makes the TCK experience so unique
is that it involves tough questions regarding personal cultural identity
 — even confusion — at a very early stage in your life. For Lang, this
first happened when she was three years old. “It is truly unique in the
sense that these individuals are moving between cultures before they
even have the opportunity to fully develop their personal and
cultural identity,” she said.
After each “Comfort Hair” performance, Lang tells us, the wearer
ceremoniously sheds the gache-esque work. “The action of shedding
the hair piece is like shedding a layer of skin,” she added. It’s the same
idea behind a reptile shedding its skin regularly to allow room for growth.
“The main reason for shedding is that their older skin does not grow
with them, so in order to grow they need to shed the old, allowing the
new skin to form below the old one. This is the idea behind the
performance. Our identities are ever evolving and growing and it is
a crucial part of the growth that we also shed a layer of us behind.”
“I fantasize about my hair,” Lang concluded. “It stands in for my
cultural identity which is becoming an organism that continues to
grow and prosper. Hair is always personal and my work is definitely
very personal.”
Photographs of “Comfort Hair” will be on view at 
John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, 
as part of the “Towards Textiles” exhibition, until Oct. 11, 2015.

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Jenny Holzer, Born 1950, USA


Protect Protect, 2007
Oil paint on canvas


In this work by American artist Jenny Holzer, an image of a military map of Iraq has been screen-printed onto a linen canvas covered in a thin, translucent layer of violet oil paint. The map was first photocopied onto clear film, called a photo-stencil, which was used in the screen-printing process to transfer the image onto the canvas. The map features various labels, arrows and symbols. Three signs for military jets point towards the capital city of Baghdad, which lies almost at the centre of the screen print. Three labels reading ‘Protect’ frame the north, west and south sides of the map (where Iraq borders Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia respectively). Around the map are various instructional labels, with the words ‘Suppress’, ‘Fix’, ‘Seize’, ‘Isolate’, ‘Shock and Awe’, ‘Exploit’ and ‘Gain Control’. (‘Shock and awe’ was a phrase used by the American government to describe its tactic of using overwhelming power during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.) These instructions suggest the defensive and offensive strategies of a military force. A box in the top right-hand corner notes details of the image’s declassification in June 2006.
This large-scale canvas is part of Holzer’s Redaction Paintings series, which the artist began in 2006. It is one of six works from this series in the ARTIST ROOMS collection. Material for this series came from declassified US government documents, particularly those concerning national security, economic policy and foreign relations. Holzer began to use US government files in her work in 2004, taking advantage of the US 1966 Freedom of Information Act, which allows any requesting member of the public to view declassified documents. Redaction refers to the censoring of information in a text, and as the title of the series of Redaction Paintings suggests, Holzer’s images were based on documents redacted by the US government before being made publicly available. Many of the source documents used in the series were made almost entirely illegible through the work of censors before their release, but this appears not to have been the case with the source image used for Protect Protect, which has only two lines of text crossed out. Holzer’s use of a photo-stencil to screen-print the image of the map allowed every element of the document to be reproduced in all its original detail.
Protect Protect makes no explicit critique of its subject matter, but by taking this map out of its military context and holding it up to public scrutiny in an art gallery, Holzer probes the boundaries between transparency and censorship, inviting viewers to reflect upon documentary evidence that offers an alternative reality to the images of war presented in the mass media, while avoiding sensationalist images or the direct representation of violence. The artist has explained her motivation to make such work: ‘As one becomes habituated to things, their intensity is dulled … in the last decades of the twentieth century, political rhetoric on all sides became so strident and inflated that obliqueness and artful understatement proved the most effective means of catching the attention of a weary public.’ (Storr 2006, p.14.)
Described by the art critic Robert Storr as ‘a verbal maze of specialised terminology, acronyms, abbreviations, rote salutations and initials’ (Storr 2006, p.8), the Redaction Paintings were the first works on canvas Holzer exhibited in her career. Before this, she was known primarily for her language-based works, involving a variety of media including posters, LED screen works and projections.
Further reading 
Robert Storr, Jenny Holzer: Redaction Paintings, New York 2006.
Cathy Lebowitz, ‘Protect Us From What We Don’t Know’, Art in America, vol.94, no.9, October 2006, pp.162–6.
Jenny Holzer: Protect Protect, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago 2010.
Florence Ritter
January 2012
source tate.org

TATE Modern, Artists Rooms: Theme: Cultural Identity

Artists often explore the characteristics that determine our personal and social identity. They construct a sense of who we are as individuals, as a society, or as a nation. They question stereotypes and conventions while exploring attributes such as gender, sexuality, race, nationality and heritage. Our culture is informed by various forms of artistic and social endeavour such as technology, politics, style, music, performance and the arts. ‘Cultural studies’ emerged in the late 1950s and has been informed by radical approaches such as Marxism, feminism and semiotics.

The period of the Weimar Republic 1919–33 was a time of immense cultural revival in Germany. Berlin was the nerve centre of this activity and art forms such as cinema, dance, literature, theatre and visual arts all thrived. The mood of the time was famously captured by Christopher Isherwood’s novel Goodbye Berlin, its decadence and political upheaval were depicted in the paintings of the Neue Sachlichkeit artists such as Otto Dix and Geog Grosz. Dix, like many artists of the time, was a subject of the Weimar photographer August Sander, who photographed individuals and groups of people that he then classified according to their occupations and position in society. Amongst these categories were The Skilled Tradesman, which included iconic portraits such as Bricklayer 1928 and Pastry Cook 1928.
This lifelong attempt to document the German people resulted in Sander’s exhaustive portfolio People of the 20th Century which presented a diverse and democratic society. This vision was at odds with the emerging totalitarian regime which marked the end of the Weimar Republic and Sander’s publication Face of Our Time 1929 was subsequently confiscated and destroyed by the Nazi government in 1934. Sander is recognised as a major force in the history of photography. His work was an enormous influence on a later generation of photographers such as Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon and Walker Evans.
While Sander was known for his range of subjects, Diane Arbus was known for photographing those on the margins of society. New York born Arbus came to prominence in the New Documents exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1967, along with Lee Friedlander and Garry Winogrand. The exhibition heralded a new generation of photographers. The exhibition’s curator noted that they “directed the documentary approach towards more personal end…Their aim has been not to reform life, but to know it.” New York in the 1960s, like the Weimar Republic of 1920s, was a richly diverse society and attracted artists and political dissidents. During this period cultural politics were at the fore; minority groups such as the Black Panthers challenged authority through protest while the repression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities culminated in the Stonewall riots of 1969.
Arbus’ interest and celebration of gender and identity is evident in images such as Two Friends at Home, N.Y.C. 1965 1965 where a couple are photographed in their domestic setting, creating an intimate portrait suggestive of the nature of their relationship. Arbus’ direct images convey a sense of trust between the sitter and the artist where strikingly and often brutal portraits convey inner emotions.
“There are and have been and will be an infinite number of things on earth. Individuals, all different, all wanting different things, all looking different. Everything that has been on earth has been different from every other thing. That is what I love: the differences, the uniqueness of all things and the importance of life… I see something that seems wonderful; I see the divineness in ordinary things.”
Another New York-based photographer was the artist Robert Mapplethorpe whose images, like Arbus, convey a sense of trust and honesty. Mapplethorpe, who primarily worked in the studio, came to prominence in the mid-1970s with portraits of his inner circle of friends and acquaintances, including artists, composers, and socialites. Unlike Arbus, Mapplethorpe used himself as a subject, returning to the self portrait throughout his career. 
Mapplethorpe’s oeuvre included photographic portraits, still lives and nudes. He was also known for his sexually explicit images, which depicted the underground gay S&M scene of the mid-1970s. In these controversial works, sexuality takes precedence over social class or distinction of the sitter: examples of this include unknown young men such as Smutty 1980 and Tattoo Artist’s Son 1984. The British artists Gilbert & George began to photograph casts of young men from London’s East End in the early 1980s. Although works such as Existers 1984 are somewhat ambiguous the young men are elevated to the status of icon through their embodied potency, strength and beauty, the use of photographic panels resembling stained glass windows. Such depictions of young men aroused considerable hostility among critics, who accused Gilbert & George of being exploitative, and wrongly described the youths as rent boys or East End thugs.
Gilbert & George explored their own identity working as a pair and presenting themselves as ‘living sculpture’, incorporating themselves and their lives into their art, they set out to provoke their viewers, to make them think and question conventions and social taboos. Bruce Nauman, like Gilbert & George, was associated with conceptual and performance art in the 1970s. Nauman is renowned for his investigation into the human condition through language and the human body. “My work comes out of being frustrated about the human condition. And about how people refuse to understand other people.”
Nauman blurred the boundaries between performance and installation art in the 1970s with works that encouraged the spectator to become participant. His work often incorporates tools of mass media e.g. televisions and neon lettering, while challenging their conventions. Nauman’s video works, which are at times both ambiguous and menacing, are metaphors for the rituals, gestures and struggles of daily human existence. In works such as Setting a Good Corner (Allegory and Metaphor) 1999, Nauman documents his everyday life, where his identity as an individual is informed by ‘place’ and occupation.  The menacing nature of the works concern questions of anxiety and alienation.  Whilst not ‘overtly’ a political artist Nauman’s work often references the political cultural climate of the late-twentieth and early twenty-first century.
In the late 1970s, Jenny Holzer devised slogans known as Truisms 1977-9, which play on commonly held truths and clich√©s. A truism is a statement which is obviously true and says nothing new or interesting: A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE CANGO A LONG WAY. Initially, the Truisms were infiltrated into the public arena via stickers, T-shirts and posters. Later, Holzer started using electronic displays. In 1982 she emblazoned these messages across a giant advertising hoarding in Times Square, New York. The Truisms are deliberately challenging, presenting a spectrum of often-contradictory opinions. Holzer hoped they would sharpen people’s awareness of the ‘usual baloney they are fed’ in daily life.
Protect Protect 2007 forms part of a series of screenprints that reveal sensitive government transcripts relating to America’s intervention in the Middle East. Here Holzer uses a document from the National Security Archive, enlarging a military map and setting it upon a bright background. Holzer’s technique forces us to acknowledge the interpretative power of language, where the words “protect”, “suppress” and “isolate” emanate strongly against the image of a deeply divided and segregated Iraq.
Like Holzer, the work of Belgian artist Johan Grimonprez can be read as a political comment on contemporary culture while asking questions. Grimonprez came to prominence when this film-essay, Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y + Inflight 1997-2001, was shown in 1997 at Documenta X. The work sees the protagonists perform a series of rituals at airports where identity is to some extent removed, taking off items of clothing while being security cleared and saying goodbye to loved ones. The work traces the history of airplane hijackings, eerily foreshadowing the events of 9/11, through archival images discovered during thorough research, televised images and quirky home movies.
As Grimonprez uses pre-existing film to collage an artwork, Gerhard Richter used photographs of eminent scientists, writers, musicians and philosophers found in encyclopaedia and dictionaries for his 1972 work 48 Portraits. The figures, such as the writer Franz Kafka, the composer Igor Stravinsky and the scientist Isidor Issac Rabi, are all European and North American men. Although they broadly represent a humanistic view of Western civilisation in the nineteenth and early twentieth century they do prompt the question of which cultural figures are used to compose history. There are no women, religious figures or prominent persons from out with Western society. One of four photographic editions of 48 Portraits 1971-98 is held in the ARTIST ROOMS collection.
Andy Warhol’s celebrity portraits and films often incorporated those from his social scene, including his associates from his studio, The Factory. The celebrities and factory stars of these artworks such as Liz 1965 are not just a celebration of celebrity but are tinged with tragedy, especially the images of women such as Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy. The stars themselves were often associated with misfortune and the works both pre-empt the obsessive nature of celebrity and reflect on the negative connotations of life in the public eye. His society portraits, like those of Mapplethorpe, represent not just the society that he himself inhabited but also wider popular culture and many subcultures.
The polaroid, A Self-Portrait with Fright Wig 1986, is one of several that Warhol took in preparation for a series of large-scale paintings commissioned by Anthony d’Offay for an exhibition at his London gallery in 1986. In the photographs, and subsequently transferred into the paintings, Warhol’s skull-like head is isolated from his body, floating against a dark background. This composition bears striking similarities to a Robert Mapplethorpe photographic portrait of Warhol from the same year. In both, Warhol wears his famous silver wig, but, in this Polaroid, the hair stands on end in an almost manic fashion. His eyes seem to be fixated on something to the left, behind the viewer, creating a distinct feeling of uneasiness. This series of self-portraits was the last Warhol completed before his death in 1987.
Richter and Grimonprez appropriate objects and images into their artwork to construct identities as does Ellen Gallagher, much of whose work is informed by her Irish and African-American heritage. Gallagher’s paintings and mixed media collages often question racial stereotypes and appropriate references to the physical divisions in race.
Paper Cup 1996 is part of Gallagher’s first mature body of work which explored layered and contradictory themes. Gallagher has created a loosely structured grid by lining up small pieces of writing paper in multiple rows, recalling the history of handwriting exercises. Closer inspection reveals each line to be carefully constructed from rows of bulbous shapes resembling the vowels a child must repeat when learning to write, though they are in fact a reference to the stereotypical lips of American blackface minstrels. From a distance this large work’s subtle geometry resembles an American minimalist painting, but closer inspection reveals not only a darker side of American history but references Gallagher’s own mixed-race origins.
source tate.org

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Cabinet Magazine, Mapping Behavior, Tomas Matza

ssue 4 Animals Fall 2001

Mapping Behavior

Tomas Matza

 
Walter Tschinkel, a Florida State University entomology professor, has been making plaster casts of ant nests since 1982, when he first heard of the strength of orthodontic plaster. The painstaking process involves pouring the plaster down the opening as quickly as it will go in. After the plaster hardens, the excavation begins, but the nest must be taken out piece by piece. (One harvester ant nest, for example, took some five gallons of plaster and came out in 180 pieces.) Sometimes more than ten feet tall, the nests are as beautiful in structure as they are complex.
Nests dug by the Florida harvester ant under experimental conditions by 200 workers in 4 days. Photo: Charles Badland.

Tschinkel has long been interested in nest structure, and says the first cast he made of fire ants provided him an invaluable way to visualize ant colonies as they are, that is as a three-dimensional network of tunnels and chambers. Up until that point, "seeing" nest structure was limited to compiling a series of cross-sectional cuts in the soil.

"I was astounded that the nest looked different than I had imagined," he says. "I am now convinced that nest architecture is functional because it organizes the worker force and is in turn organized by ant behavior."

As an example of this "feedback loop," Tschinkel points out that workers are arranged vertically according to age: The younger workers are born deep in the nests and spend the first part of their lives tending to the queen. As they age they move closer to the surface, eventually becoming foragers. The top of the nest, which tends to be more hollowed out with chambers, "bears the mark of the older workers partly because they have a higher tendency to dig."

"Certainly the nest is the product of their behavior," he says, "but it also serves as a ladder on which they arrange themselves. This long extended vertical structure allows them to differentiate labor so that they don't all do all the same tasks in the same chambers. It's like a factory and it's all logically arranged so that the work can move from one area to the next in an efficient manner."

Nest dug by woodland ants. Photo: Charles Badland

The casts have also suggested new sets of questions, such as how ants know how to build highly detailed nests in the first place? Tschinkel has confirmed that different colonies of the same species of ant will typically make similar nests. This has prompted him to hypothesize that the "instructions" for nest construction are contained within every worker so that a single harvester ant, left to its own devices, might build the same structure as a group of its sisters. But he also says that it's equally likely that social interaction is needed to produce a normal nest.

Aside from their scientific value, these "inverse ant sculptures," made one grain at a time, also blend √¶sthetic form with function in ways that rival human architectural achievements. And Tschinkel is planning to approach major museums about exhibiting his casts. First, however, he plans to master a new method—the use of aluminum heated to over 700 degrees Celsius, which he figures will be more moveable, mountable, and require less piecing together after excavation.

The only apparent downside to making these ant sculptures is that abandoned nests tend to lose their form quickly, and therefore do not make very good casts. Instead, Tschinkel says, live nests will be sacrificed to make them, and perhaps appropriately a few ant bodies can be seen suspended in the tunnels they've made.

"Sometimes I call it the science of death. It's not something I like doing; it's just a reality. But the living world is neither timid nor cautious about death, so I'm just another agent of mortality, and not even a particularly severe one. You can't do biology without killing creatures. There are some questions you can do without killing, but ultimately you run up against the limit of what you can learn."
Tomas Matza is a writer based in San Francisco.
Cabinet is published by Immaterial Incorporated, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Cabinet receives generous support from the Lambent Foundation, the Orphiflamme Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Opaline Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Danielson Foundation, the Katchadourian Family Foundation, and many individuals. All our events are free, the entire content of our many sold-out issues are on our site for free, and we offer our magazine and books at prices that are considerably below cost. Please consider supporting our work by making a tax-deductible donation by visiting here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Chris Kenny, Artist



Above: Fetish Map of London, 2000, is a mixed media artwork based on an out-of-date map of London. The pins, nails and tacks mark places that mean something to the artist, Chris Kenny. A pink pin marks Kenny's studio in West London. Other pins record where he lived, where he was first kissed and where he was beaten up. Like many artists in the late 20th century, Kenny is fascinated by maps: 'A map provides a way of holding a place, making an object of a place. It is already a fetish of a type .... The age of the map, the different ages of the nails suggest nostalgia and longing, often central to our sense of place. I sought to make primitive and material something that is unimaginably complex and cosmopolitan. I wanted to defy the flatness of the map, embellish it and create tiny narratives'.  source link here.


Nonsuch (white map circle) 2007


Mesopotamia 2007


Mercato 2007

above images from designboom.com

Eduardo Chillida 1924 - 2002, Spain




Untitled
Ink and paper collage on paper
17 1/8 x 12 3/8 inches
Executed in 1984




Image source gabrielcelaya.com


Eduardo Chillida, 1924 - 2002, Spain





Lurra 57
Executed in 1980
Image source tfeanda.com



Hommage a Goethe IV
Alabaster
 13 3/4 x 24 x 25 5/8 inches
Executed in 1978
Image source christies.com







Image source spkorenart.com