In our contemporary society, photography is a medium of the masses. It is taken for granted, a tool perpetually present, tying us to the images we create, as digital media constantly offers us new ways of capturing ourselves, our family and our emotions. Beyond this consumption, photography is a long accepted part of the art world and whilst many of the highly heralded contemporary pieces of the past several years have been centred on the photographic image this widespread acceptance is a recent move. The birth of photography in the early 19th Century gave way to a barrage of scepticism, criticism and anxiety toward this new tool. Ranging from folk tales of stolen souls, to academic criticism of its merits, photography was condemned to the act of scientific cataloguing. Some photographers did just this, making documentation their sole purpose, a constant amongst a sea of daunting technological progression. This turned into an act of looking to history for many, a moment in which to use this new medium to rediscover the easily neglected past.
Closing on 22 May, Cannes 2011 was one to remember and though Cannes’ milieu may appear frivolous, tasteless and absurd from its exterior, the real treasures lie behind its theatrical doors, where, each year, the vocabulary of cinema awaits to be enriched by innovative filmmakers. Marking its 64th manifestation, this year’s festival was one of the greatest of recent times. After two weeks of truly inspiring films, one way to treat symptoms of Stendhal syndrome is by reflecting on the ones that were a true delight.
Review by Kara Magid, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond, The American International University in London.
Peter Marlow’s Point of Interest photography exhibit is on view at The Wapping Project Bankside gallery from 24 May – 2 July. The Wapping Project Bankside is a gallery focusing on lens-based media founded by the Director of the Wapping Project, Jules Wright. Marlow joined the gallery in 2009 and the site provides Marlow’s photographs with a generous amount of space in which they can truly flourish. The first photograph we encounter when entering the exhibit is of a shopping cart left astray in a public space. This large-format image allows for the viewer to ingest each detail and also to get a feel for the wide expansive space in which the shopping cart has been positioned. Because this photograph is not in black and white, it resembles a scene we might pass by while taking a random walk outdoors. Most of Marlow’s colour photographs first seem like visual documents of mundane life but as one makes their way through the exhibit, it becomes clear that this is not Marlow’s intention. What he is attempting to do is to capture instances of abandonment in which various objects are the victims. No longer is the solitary shopping cart a commonplace object but a trace left behind by reckless human behaviour.
The Greek myth of Narcissus has captivated Western civilization for centuries: an exceptionally beautiful, though proud and precious youth disdains all those who love him and falls instead for his own reflection in a pool, refusing to leave the image until he dies and is changed into a flower of the same name. The myth’s enchanting and interlocking themes of self-obsession, self-image, and image-obsession have proved irresistible to artists and writers throughout the 20th century and remain so today. Guest-curated by the Manchester-based Art Historian David Lomas and Surrealist expert Dawn Ades, the current exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery dips a toe into Narcissus’s pool, surveying the ripples and refractions of the myth in the work of a range of Surrealist and contemporary artists.
Examining the intersection between aesthetics and journalism goes back to Dostovesky and his writings on the theoretical link between a commitment to the aesthetic ideal (with beauty at its core) on the one hand, and journalism on the other. The relationship between genuine art and good journalism can intermingle and prove mutually sustaining and a new exhibition at QUAD, Derby explores these apparently opposite realms. Opening this weekend (Saturday 28 May) and running until Sunday 31 July, All that Fits: The Aesthetics of Journalism presents the provocative idea that art and journalism are two sides of a unique activity – the production and distribution of images and information.
Review by Sarah Richter, a candidate for the MA in Art History at Richmond the American International University in London.
Decorating Euston Road in the windows of the Wellcome Collection is an installation by rAndom International entitled Reflex. The light installation, which inhabits two large sets of windows, is composed of evenly spaced brass rods adorned with specially designed LED chips and is based on an algorithm that emulates collective decision making found in large groups of animals, such as ants or birds. All identical, the lights react to passers-by on the street and in a way record our migratory patterns as well. As one walks by the Wellcome Trust’s windows, the installation is seemingly unassuming, but as soon as one swiftly walks by the piece, the lights gracefully twinkle and rush swiftly down from post to post trailing behind the pedestrian. In this sense, everyone who passes by the installation, whether they want to or not, are participating in the art. Without the pedestrian, the work wouldn’t work, wouldn’t be activated or have any artistic presence and thus the viewer is, in a sense the art work.
Filmmaker Series – Part 4 Q&A with Daniel Wirtberg
For the fourth instalment in our Q&A series with last year’s Aesthetica Short Film Competition winners we speak to filmmaker Daniel Wirtberg about his film Kärleksbarn (Love Child) for some insights about the film and about growing up in Sweden. Daniel’s film is a sweetly comic look at what happens when a couple’s affection for their new cat begins to replace their love for their daughter.
As I follow the row of Philip-Lorca diCorcia Polaroids lined up against the otherwise sparse white walls of Sprüth Magers, it is like tracing the random fluctuations of a pictorial stream of consciousness. There is no recognisable chronology linking one photograph to the next, just a visual train of thought rapidly shifting narrative, context and subject matter so that our individual perceptions are befuddled. It’s a rather humble, scaled-down display compared to the grandiose style accustomed to some of diCorcia’s high-conceptual exhibitions. However, this is probably why it feels like I am raiding the inner sanctum of diCorcia’s mind; each Polaroid offers a semblance of a life that is verging on the ethereal realm. Although it is clearly fictionalised documentary, where location flits easily from intimate scenes of a mother and child nestled on a bed together to barely discernible woodland scenes, its surreality is utterly captivating.
Concrete Geometries is an ongoing research initiative at the Architectural Association directed by Marianne Mueller and Olaf Kneer. Derived from ‘Concrete’ referring actual, non-abstract experience and ‘Geometries’ referring to spatial form, it is an investigation into the relationship between spatial geometry and social practice. In short, the research poses the fundamental question that drives architectural practice; how can the design of the built environment affect human behaviour and processes?
Exposed, enclosed, surrounded – in Arthur Miller’s classic but timelessly terrifying drama The Crucible, no protagonist escapes these feelings. Set in the claustrophobic, deeply superstitious small-town community of 17th century Salem, Massachusetts, the play charts the mass hysteria that broke out during the real-life Salem Witch Trials. Though written by Miller in 1953 as a comment on McCarthyism, many parallels can still be drawn today with the tragic and unstoppable events that ensue during The Crucible. The finger-pointing and whispers that escalate out of hand during the course of the piece bear an uneasy resemblance to the situations we have all experienced in the playground, in the boardroom, and wherever it is easier to be the accuser than the accused.
White Cube Hoxton Square presents the first solo UK exhibition by Friedrich Kunath. Born in Germany and based in Los Angeles, his work covers an impressive range of mediums, encompassing sculpture, painting, drawing, photography and installation, often incorporating text among these techniques. Conceptual art, German romanticism and Symbolism permeate Kunath’s artistry and he frequently references popular culture – song titles are a particular favourite – together with lyrics and books.
To celebrate the V&A’s current Yohji Yamamoto retrospective, the V&A will stage two events exploring the influential Japanese designer’s work and offer the chance for visitors to take part in a live casting from which couples will be selected to model at the V&A’s Yamamoto catwalk show.