Amidst the bountiful harvest of goodness promised by this weekend’s big Chicago gallery openings, I encourage you to make time to check out a show that’s already been open for several weeks: Carrie Schneider’s solo exhibition Carrie Schneider: The Artist’s Hand, which is on view through September 26th, at Robert T. Wright Community Gallery of Art in Lake County, IL (about an hour outside of Chicago). Schneider, who moved to New York City from Chicago last year, shows photographs, films and videos spanning her early work through her latest projects. I haven’t seen the installation yet (though I’m getting in the car and getting my ass out there to see it this afternoon, as soon as I finish this post), but I did write the catalogue essay for the show (a very brief excerpt from that text follows below). If you’re a fan of Schneider’s alluringly creepy, evocative and emotionally complex imagery, don’t miss this exhibition–it’s one of the most comprehensive presentations of her work yet shown.
“The hand takes on a personality of its own in Carrie Schneider’s photographs and films. Whether grasping or groping, caressing or scrubbing, shadowing or doubling the movements of another person, the hand conveys a desire for connection and cathexis in abstract, gestural form. In the video On Mom’s Lap (2006), we see Schneider curled in her mother’s lap, the latter’s face lying just out of frame. In an attempt to snuggle closer, Schneider puts her hand on her mother’s shoulder. Her mother gently pushes it away. Schneider’s fingers creep up again, this time more insistently, and is met with countervailing pressure from her mother’s hand, which gently but firmly moves her back in a cycle of push and pull that continues until a temporary compromise is reached.
It’s a primal dance, this tango of palms and fingers, parent and child, self and other, one that anyone who’s experienced the messy conundrums of human intimacy (and that means almost all of us) has danced many times before. Whether it takes the form of a mirrored pas de deux or an awkward clinch on a barroom dance floor, the dance, in Schneider’s lexicon of images, metaphorically enacts the ambiguous relation of self and other.”
– Excerpted from “Learning to Fall,” in Carrie Schneider: The Artist’s Hand, Robert T. Wright Community Gallery, August 20-September 26, 2010.
I first encountered the work of Chicago-based photographer Heidi Norton only recently, when one of her photographs was included in landscape/portrait/still life, a group show curated by Philip von Zweck at Hungry Man Gallery. For me, von Zweck’s show provided the curatorial equivalent of a restaurant tasting menu: it offered small but pungent bites of different artworks, laid out according to a fairly broad curatorial premise. I came away with a short list of artists about whom I was curious and eager to learn more. At the top of that list was Norton, a photographer and an instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she teaches color photography and multi-level studio. Norton earned her MFA from SAIC in 2002, and has participated in numerous group shows in Chicago, New York, London, and Spain. She will be exhibiting her work at Next / Art Chicago (April 30 – May 3, 2010) with Swimming Pool Project Space. Heidi was kind enough to engage in an in-depth Q&A with me about her current photographic practice and the state of the photographic arts in general. I’m very grateful to her for the time she took to answer my questions.
CI: You seem to move easily in and out of three traditional photographic genres–portrait, landscape, and still life–without residing solely in any one. The photograph “Deconstruction/Rebirth” in “landscape/portrait/still life” seems to fit into at least two of the categories that that show was exploring. Can you talk a bit about the ideas behind “Deconstruction/Rebirth,” and how that image fits into the tradition of landscape and still life while subverting them as well?
HN: The relationship between photography and painting will always be a subject worth exploiting. For years the two have worked reflexively, borrowing from one another when it suited them, dissing one another when they felt inferior. Photography lagged behind for many years until its introduction to the art world via the museum institution. However, Modernism also brought with it a tremendous number of failures within the medium of photography itself, i.e. technical prowess dominated by men exclusively. Works by Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Minor White, for example, use landscape, figure and still life in a highly vapid yet monopolizing way. Their works lacked any conceptual content, relying instead on technique and shallow representations of beauty. In these works, nature, light, and the female form are reduced to popular notions of the sublime and the meditative. This becomes problematic in that beauty is classified as idyllic, cliched and subsequently artificial. In all of my works I am interested in reexamining these traditional ideas, but also in deconstructing them by using more contemporary and conceptual methods.
With the painted plant works I am interested in simultaneously preserving and deconstructing the idyllic beauty represented by the the plants, through the application of paint. The paint initially concerned me because I thought it would kill the plants. However, the plants soon begin to grow out of the center, shedding the acrylic paint and moving back into the their natural forms. This is where the subversion begins. The paint is the medium added to the still life, interrupting its identity as the “perfect” formal still life. The green paint is strewn onto the image in a chaotic and “messy” manner, the forms are no longer perfect, and the plants sit somewhere between life and death.
****On WBEZ Chicago Public Radio this week, Eight Forty-Eight ran a report about artist Chris Drew‘s fight against Chicago’s restrictive laws concerning street art vendors. The report compares Chicago’s laws on the issue to those of San Francisco and New York City, and the results are mostly unfavorable to the Windy City. This quote from Drew’s attorney Mark Weinberg sums it up nicely: “Mayor Daley has an idea of beauty which includes sort of an orderliness, you have the black wrought-iron fences, you have beautiful buildings and you have flowers in between the streets. It’s a nice idea of beauty, but it’s a very limited idea of beauty.”
****Time Out Chicago noticed that The Art Institute seems to be instituting “rolling blackouts” in its galleries. They asked the Art Institute’s Director of Public Affairs Erin Hogan if this was indeed the case, and Hogan told them yes — it’s a cost-cutting measure. Read the story here.
****On his blog, Tyler Green criticizes The University of Chicago Press‘ recent publication Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting for being “essentially an authorized biography, 389 pages of praise rather than examination and contextualization.” The book was written with the full cooperation of the artist himself, and with full access to Richter’s archives. Green adds that the “book rarely contextualizes Richter within broader history. It veers toward as-told-to territory. The prose is often grating, overly laudatory and almost always reads as if it was ripped from a press release.”
****Chris and Sam of the great Midwest painting blog MW Capacity have curated an exhibition titled undercrowded at University of Central Missouri Gallery of Art & Design. The exhibition dates are March 11-April 10, 2010. It features paintings and videos that depict depopulated public spaces and includes artists Joey Borovicka, Sam King, Kristin Musgnug and Stephanie Pierce.
****This special New York Times report on major museums whose gains in attendance are due to being “vibrant destinations where the exhibitions are sometimes besides the point” certainly isn’t breaking news, but it bears being reminded that “the rise of merchandised culture” is more than likely where the future of the behemoth arts institution (and those institutions who wish to join the ranks of the elephantine) lies. Another reason why Jeffrey Deitch’s move to MOCA makes perfect demonic sense.
****Art World Salon wonders if things might be looking up, just a smidge, for print-based arts reporting? The Wall Street Journal announces it is hiring additional arts reporters for its soon-to-be launched local section. The New York Observer says it will also expand its arts coverage on March 31. Good news for NYC-based arts bloggers? Will be interesting to see if expansion of newspaper arts coverage spells greater opportunities for arts bloggers, or if newspapers instead cull from reporters whose background lies exclusively in print media.
****These photographs by Estelle Hanania reminded me of Jeriah Hildwine’s Off-Topic essay about Ghillie Suits. Hanania’s performance images make me think we need an art theory of the ghillie suit, something that delves into performative acts of covering and uncovering, and the art of camouflage. Anyone? (via Nihilsentimentalgia).
****Stunning, and gut-wrenching, if you’re a fan of modern architecture: Chris Mottalini’s After You, They Took It Apart: a series of photographs of demolished homes by modern architect Paul Rudolph. (Via Culture Monster). The only building designed by Paul Rudolph in Illinois was the Christian Science Study Center at the University of Illinois, which was demolished in 1987.
****Eyeteeth: A Journal of incisive ideas is one of our favorite blogs. Paul Schmelzer is in the process of cataloging art blogs based in Minneapolis. He’s also tallying Twin Cities-based Artist’s Blogs, and Graphic Design Blogs. If you can add to his list, go on over and help him out!
This week: Duncan talks to 2010 Whitney Biennial participant and decontructivist photography raconteur, Curtis Mann.
Send us your video questions for the art world!!!
Philip Bloom has been testing/demoing the new Canon 7D for a while showing what you can do with the upper end Prosumer camera. The results are jaw dropping to say the least and it’s all almost within reach. Who said you can’t shoot porn in Dubai? Oh and hit the fullscreen button when you watch to get the full experience.
If you want to see what a Pro Camera can do then you can do no better then this shot in Prague with a Canon 1d mkiv