Friday, January 30, 2009

More more more...

This weeks I had a few people critique my work, it was decently received I think. The visiting artist was the first people of the week to review my work. Alix Pearlstein critiqued my work last tuesday. When looking at my older work, she felt that it had potentially and that the construction of the images were good, but they were too overly processed. About half of them created a decent narrative, but the tableaux got lost in the construction of set images. She felt that the elevator photocollage was my strongest, but disliked the fact that just one little part of the image didn't sync up correctly. There wasn't enough intention in the interruption, and I do agree with that notion. She also like the stairwell photograph too, but felt that the area of the stair was too jumbled and lost her interest, but said that the image had the strongest narrative. We then moved on to the new work that I was preparing, my really formal deadpan work. She said that i had a really good eye and that I know how to compose a photograph, but that the subject matter seemed to cliched. Saying that every photographer shoots scenes of deteriorating beauty and infrastructure. Her favorite piece of the new work was one that, i wouldn't say I didn't like it, but it wasn't one that I was truly visually appealed to. But, she had a good reason why she liked it. She enjoyed it because the photograph was so mundane and so boring (in a sense) that she wondered why one would take that photograph, and made her search the image more than normal to find out why one would photograph the scene.

Also, Heide had an individual critique with myself and my work. I showed her my new work, and from what I gathered she liked the images, but they got dismissed really quickly because they were just a well composed photograph, they didn't incite the viewer to really enthrall themselves with the work. It lacked that narrative that she really wants me to pursue. She had great advice saying that i really need to absurdisize (i don't know if that's a word) the mundane. She wants another visual element to the piece to help question the logic of the photograph, and to keep the interest. I really liked that suggestion and I did that over the weekend. Buying props and whatnot to keep the interest of the viewer.

The most motivational part of my week was the advice that Heide gave to me, it really inspired me to create.

In studio this week i want to achieve a good critique, i want to find out where my work can go and how far i can push it. I want to get really good feedback and really solidify a direction in my art.

Ummm, I guess in last week's studio i got really good feedback from my work.

Profound thought related to my practice? Hmmm... Keep shooting with a circular polarizer at f/22 with kodak portra 160 vc on overcast days and 160nc on bright days.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Interview with Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand has been honored with major mid-career retrospectives at New York's Museum of Modern Art in 2005, London's Serpentine Gallery in 2006, and the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 2007. With new two new projects on view at Venice's Fondazione Prada through July, Berlin-based Demand talks with Artkrush contributing editor H.G. Masters about his identity as a German artist, an artist's relationship to history, and how his practice is evolving in the wake of broad critical acclaim.

AK: Your work is on view in the group show Reality Bites: Making Avant-garde Art in Post-Wall Germany, which chronicles German art following the fall of the Berlin Wall. How did Germany's re-unification affect your artistic development?

TD: It was perhaps less important to my development than to my interest in narratives, and hopefully my sensitivity towards changes, frictions, and patterns of references in society — especially the one that I grew up in.

AK: Do you mean that re-unification permitted you and others to speak about a collective history — a more coherent narrative — for Germany and Europe?

TD: Those are big words, but let's put it this way: I had the feeling that the objectiveness of the previous generation and their fear of any narrative had become obsolete.

AK: Though you work from photographs often related to important historical events, the dramatic action has already occurred. In reconstructing these scenes, do you feel like a participant or a witness to history?

TD: It's extremely difficult to distinguish the two, I think. The only purpose of historical consciousness is to influence your actions or, at least, your understanding of who you are and where you want to go. If it's only entertainment, then it's banal — then my work is part of the service industry.

AK: One of your new projects, Yellowcake, which is currently on display at the Fondazione Prada, deals with the Italian involvement in the Iraq War, and your other recent projects also address current events. Do you feel finished with German history? Does your approach to contemporary events differ from your engagement with the historical?

TD: No, German history is not finished. That's nonsense. Maybe speeds of developments are changing differently, so the German one is going down a gear now, but the European one might accelerate a bit.

There is a certain safety feature built into historic references, which is the assurance that the event was significant — that's why we remember it. If we look at more recent things, objectivity goes out the window. Both our notions of events as well as our representations of them are more opinionated and probably less clear as to where they can go.

AK: But do you feel finished with German history as a subject matter for your work, or are you turning away from episodes in German history to address a broader history?

TD: I knew that's what you were after, but you see, I don't think of myself as a German as such. I might make things that others may identify to serve their preoccupations about Germans, but that's really beyond my concerns. I think demarcation of subjects leads to very broad generalizations. I'm not through with German history, but I was never a fan of it either. If there is something coming my way that's interesting enough to trigger a work, fine. But it's not like I tick off boxes and then I'm through.

AK: Your recreation of Saddam Hussein's hideaway kitchen during the American invasion and your new photograph about the destruction of three Qing-dynasty vases by a stumbling visitor at the Fitzwilliam Museum reveal a dry sense of wit. Is humor playing a greater role in your work?

TD: It's probably more visible than before, but the whole undertaking has some ridiculous aspects, so I guess I'm able to make those productive for my work now as well.

AK: What aspect of the undertaking is ridiculous? Is it the tedious studio labor?

TD: No, the fact that it's all bricolage and can't support more than its own surface.

AK: Your photographs are the only extant records of the models built in your studio, but you've also shown images of your construction process in small works like Five Drafts (Simulator). In the other half of the Fondazione Prada project, Processo grottesco, you're exhibiting the model of a grotto alongside your photographs of it. Why and when do you permit a glimpse at your method?

TD: If the process is valid, there isn't anything wrong with shedding light on it for a moment, but it's more complicated than simply documenting and displaying. On the one hand, the grotto is, in its making, a rather different sculptural endeavor than the other sculptures I do, because it's solid and its shape is generated in a very different way; but it might also have another effect on other work, which is to "fluidize" the reading of my images again. One tends to think of this practice a bit too much from the end of the process — its product — a C-print on the wall. I believe there are other aspects, which I also want to make productive.

AK: Do you think of your work as being handmade?

TD: Sure. But is that a category that can lead to anything other than a rather trivial judgment?

AK: I think it's important as way of gauging whether the locus of your work is in the constructions or in the photographs themselves. Do you significantly manipulate the photographs after shooting the sculpture? Or would that defeat the point?

TD: The entire work is about manipulation. And furthermore, there is no hierarchy: the image is as important as the sculpture, but both have different places in my process. I might shift attention, maybe, but I don't see why I would need to give preference to one of them if they depend on each other.

AK: You've said before that you've brought the concerns of a painter and of a sculptor to photography, but you also make 35mm films, which are very much like animations of your photographs. How is your work different when it's captured on film, and how do those films relate to your photographs?

TD: I'd like to keep in mind that these are, first of all, sculptures, documented. I think if the film shows a sculpture, it implies different meanings than a still image, and I always test myself before making a film; if it can be made as one image, then the film is redundant.

AK: In the past, you've exhibited in traditional white-box spaces like the Museum of Modern Art, outdoors at the Venice Biennale, and also, collaborating with architects Caruso St John, in Florence's Galleria d'arte at the Palazzo Pitti. How do these different contexts challenge your work?

TD: That's another part of a process. It isn't so much of a concern when you start as an artist, but increasingly you find yourself in a position where you can either do a traditional nail-in-wall-and-hang-me-on-it show or try to make it more complex overall. I obviously prefer the latter. I also like to make each show a very specific experience for the viewer and for myself. That's when something like a viewing device comes into play, such as wallpaper or exhibition architecture.

AK: For last year's exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London you designed wallpaper for each of the rooms in which your photographs were shown, and a frieze for Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond's pavilion. Were these projects a way of creating a new kind of venue for your art?

TD: No, I've used wallpaper before (at the Fondation Cartier in Paris) and after (at IMMA in Dublin); but as a German artist and having the unique opportunity to have earned the trust of the director and curator of the Serpentine Gallery, I wanted to go a bit further towards a gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork); I also wanted to keep the MoMA project unique for a few years in its referential approach to 15 years of working, so I tried to make a very different show in London. Therefore, I looked carefully at the building and the options for my two-dimensional works, and I wanted to create some sort of a display feature, as Richard Hamilton called it.

Thomas Demand's work is available at Esther Schipper's booth at Art Basel. His project for Fondazione Prada takes place at Fondazione Giorgio Cini on San Giorgio Maggiore Island in Venice through July 7.

Monday, January 26, 2009

interesting idea and concept, possible follow up

The Broken-Window Theory
Neighborhood decay happens at a rapid rate in communities plagued with abandoned buildings and vacant properties. Residents have seen how a few abandoned buildings can quickly spread throughout a transitional neighborhood. Attitudes toward vacant properties and crime and our perceptions of community order have been well documented by public policy experts George Kelling and James Q. Wilson under the rubric of the “broken window theory”: “If a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken.” Neglected property allowed to remain in such a condition is a signal to the community that no one cares.
Wilson and Kelling go on to suggest that disorder and crime are inextricably linked with the physical environment at the community level: “[A] lot of serious crime is adventitious, not the result of inexorable social forces or personal failings. A rash of burglaries may occur because drug users have found a back alley or an abandoned building in which to hang out. In their spare time, and in order to get money to buy drugs, they steal from neighbors. If the back alleys are cleaned up and the abandoned buildings torn down, the drug users will go away. They may even use fewer drugs because they will have difficulty finding convenient dealers and soft burglary targets.”

Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky is a Canadian photographer born in 1955 (of Ukrainian heritage, BOOSH!) in Ontario. He studied photography at the Ryerson Polytechnic Institute, he then went to Niagra College where he received a degree in graphic arts. His most famous work is from his series of manufactured landscapes, where he chooses to show how man has altered the natural beauty of the environments that they inhabit. He also made an award winning documentary called 'Manufactured Landscapes" in 2006. His work is world renowned and has been shown all over the world.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Week in Review, yo!

Well, it was a pretty informal critique from Heide because she wasn't present at my final crit last semester. She enjoyed the work for the most part. She didn't really like elevator photograph of myself, except the color, because it was too straight forward of a photograph and didn't evoke the sense of mystery or narrative that were present in most of the others. Her favorite photograph of mine was the one shot in the stairwell with the ladder, hose, and myself. She said that it had the most narrative out of all the pieces and that it was sinister. Which I hadn't heard anyone say about that piece, so i rather enjoyed the painters approach to my work.

The most motivational moment of the week for me was when i downloaded Bob Marley's "No women, No cry." For some reason that song really speaks to me, just it's all around attitude and musical aesthetic. The lyrics really cheered me up (and i wasn't even sad) it was very enlightening for me so i really appreciated that. Also, another motivational moment for me was when i downloaded John Denver's "Take me home, Country Roads." Now, I've never really been a John Denver fan (i never disliked him, i just never really payed much attention to his music) but goddamn that song is fucking fantastic. I would sing it the whole way through every time i listened to it. Just ask Hassan and Jennida, they heard me a few times singing along to it. I'm not really sure why these were my motivational moments, but they were and it rocked!

What I want to achieve in studio is scanning a bunch of my negatives that I shot, submit to some upcoming shows in Oregon/Washington/California, keep shooting and keep researching my aesthetic and topic i want to pursue.

I achieved, in studio this week, I shot a bunch of film and had Heide critique my work. that's about it, and i've been getting ready for the visiting artist.

Most Profound thought of the week in relation to my work is a quote:

"Everything is gonna be alright, everything is gonna be alright, alright, everything is gonna be alright-a, everything is gonna be alright!" -Bob Marley

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

interview for research - Tim Roda

October 15, 2008

Tim Roda

Tim Roda's exhibition, Family Album, opened on October 2nd, 2008 at the fresh San Francisco gallery, Bear Ridgway Exhibitions. Roda and his family could be called a collaborative, since the creative process involves the whole family's participation. Roda creates intricate sets (often on-the-spot) including--just to name a few--found objects, costumes and carpentry materials. Roda then invites his family into his newly fashioned space where the scenes are created--which he documents closely with a 35mm camera. Roda captures out of the ordinary moments that draw influence from his past family life. His photo development process is also unique in that he pays little attention to the exacting tasks of typical photo development--he burns, dodges, and cuts down at his own accord evoking a blurry, pixilated, and "unfinished" feel to his photographs.

Educated in ceramics, Roda earned his MFA from the University of Washington and his BFA from Pennsylvania State University. Roda has exhibited widely throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He and his family are currently living and working in Italy on a Fulbright scholarship. DailyServing's Arden Sherman, had a chance to speak with him about his current exhibition, his working process, and what's next to come.

DailyServing: I understand that you have had a friendship with Kent Baer and Eli Ridgway of Baer Ridgway Exhibitions (BRX) for some time now. Can you tell us a little bit about the process that went into the preparation and into the actualization of your Family Album exhibition?

Tim Roda: I started working at Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle a few years ago. Both Eli and Kent worked there. We got to know each other on a more professional level. I have worked with a handful of galleries, some really organized and some really horrible. I know how Kent and Eli work and I had no doubts about getting involved with them. Even though they are a young gallery, I know their working style--they are very organized. Kent and Eli are really smart guys and I think they will go a long way. Hopefully we can have another show next year.

DS: You have used the title, Family Album, for other shows as well as the title, Family Matters. How did you select the works for this show?

TR: There are close to 150 works in Family Album, so I used the same title, though each show is different. When deciding which works go into a show, it comes down to a negotiation between artist and dealer. For a show I did in Germany, I used tape and wallpaper, creating more of an installation. Eli, Kent [of BRX] and I were into agreement about which works went into the show. The way I work is by taste and aesthetic, trial and error. I have never really made work that fits together as a whole; they are mostly all individual photographs.

DS: You create elaborate sets made out of found objects, tape, clay, and scrap building materials. Do you conceptualize these scenes before they are conceived or does the process occur organically? And does your son help with the ideas?
TR: Sometimes both. Usually the first thing I will do is start painting a white wall or cover it with wallpaper, a process that usually lasts all day. Allison brings my sons in the evening and I tell her what I am looking for--when she sees it, she snaps the picture. We work really well together. She understands me and we are on the same field of thought. Ethan's role has definitely changed, we started making photographs when he was four and now he is ten and much more aware of what is going on. A lot of the scenes come from constructed memory and family experiences... a lot of it stems from my past.

DS: Through the father-son relationship, which you document in your photographs, and your father and grandfather's inherent influence on you, do you think that you are taking--for lack of a better word--a decidedly masculine approach to documenting your time with your son? And what place do women occupy in your work, either as subjects or as viewers?

TR: My work is domestic. I think there is a gay following of my work. The gay community seems to relate to it. I think this would be a good question for a woman. I play a lot with domestic situations and I sometimes wear dresses. My father was a "tough guy" and a "hard man", so sometimes I poke fun at that. Oftentimes, in America, men do not participate in domestic activities, but my grandfather who was Italian was always in the kitchen. For me cooking is one of my favorite things to do, my wife is busy going to school for her doctorate so I have to pull the weight at home. Allison and I are 100% half and half. Right now, she is going for doctorate and when I was going through school, she took care of the house. I guess I do not address women so much in the photographs because I do not know so much about them or about being one.

DS: Plaid is an aspect of your work, in the show at BRX, and additionally referenced in the introductory essay of the exhibition catalogue by David Hunt. You created a wallpaper collage of xeroxed plaids and stripes in the gallery. Can you elaborate on your motives behind this installation? What sort of symbolism does plaid have for you?

TR: I think, for me, plaid means layers and process. I find David Hunt to be sort of plaid himself. I had to read it like six times to comprehend it! Lighting, wallpaper, fabrics, my installations need to have layers to be interesting. I am a very process oriented person. I have had traditional shows in the white-box setting and others that are more installation based--in order to show more of the process demonstrated in my working style and my photo process. I find it a whole lot easier to understand my work when the viewer can see the rolls of paper or the loose paper that I have Xeroxed and taped to the wall. When my son and wife arrive after installation is complete, it adds a whole life to the sets that I create. I started in ceramics in school and then one day took a photo of my son sitting next to it, the whole thing sort of started there.

DS: Why are most of your photos in the BRX show untitled?

TR: Titles let people off the hook. People try to come up with their own meanings based on a title. They are numbered in chronological order so, in a sense, there is a story being told. Plus I do not think I am very good at titles, so I do not want to force it. I find that people are quick to associate a title with other works and other artists. I am aware of certain artists but they do not necessarily influence that particular work or body. In school, I looked at a lot of other artists, but I think I get kind of annoyed because I do not want to be classified with them.

DS: I noticed a baby appearing in a few of your photographs. Is that your son or daughter?

TR: That is my son Rocco; he is eleven months old. This past summer we spent a residency in Spain. It was the first time we worked and lived in the same space. It was a cool experience because there was no difference between art and family or home and studio. I have an artist friend from Montana, and he was always conflicted because he wanted to go home to his family but he felt deeply inspired to keep working in the studio. My son, Ethan is also very exposed to contemporary art and artists. He sees people making work, which is totally different from what we are doing, and then we ask him about what he sees. He has a hard time connecting art class at school and the studio work of us or other professional artists. The way schools are set up, the kids only really learn traditional elementary tools.

DS: I wanted to congratulate you on receiving the Fulbright scholarship. What an honor. I understand that you will be moving to Italy to work on your project. Can you tell us what you will be working on and what we should look forward to in the future?

TR: Actually this was my third time applying for the Fulbright. Its pretty simple process, you write a proposal and they either accept it or deny it. Mine was a little tricky. I want to investigate the domestic side of Italy, which sounds pretty great to most people--cooking and hanging out in the home. I think finally my contacts and my work brought me over the top and showed them that it was not just a great vacation. I will be going to Rome and giving lectures and then we will head South go live in Pentidatillo, the village where my grandfather grew up. I am interested to see his life, his struggles, his friends, and his home. My family will join me of course-this is a very familial experience. We are all very connected to this project, we work tightly, meeting great people, traveling and being together.
Then we will head to Northern Italy where I am going to work with Eva Brioschi, who is the curator for the Gaia Collection (Collezione La Gaia). I am excited about getting to understand differences between North and South Italy and their subsequent rivalry. If you look on an Italian map, we are from just north of Melito, and no further south than there. Northern Italians are nice to us because we are American-Italian but if we were Southern Italians it would be a different story. Another Fulbright recipient told me not to decide too much before I get there. So we will see. I am confident that my work will organically evolve once I am over there and meeting people and working.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Matthias Hoch

Matthias Hoch was born is Radebeul, Germany (near Dresden) in 1958 and currently lives in Leipzig. He uses architecture as his primary focus and makes a duality between man made and the natural. He focuses on very contemporary metropolitan cities with very current architecture. He questions the "architectural notion of the public arena."

Interview: can't find one