Just dropping in to draw your attention to the fact that Caroline Picard is art:21 blog’s newest guest blogger. Caroline starts out with a bang with her interview of photographer Melanie Schiff. A brief excerpt follows; please hop on over to art:21 and check the full post out!
While always being aware of her work, Melanie Schiff snapped into focus shortly after I first heard about Ox-bow, the School of the Art Insituteâ€™s residency program in Saugatuck, Michigan. Friends came back from a summer there looking a little wild. Melanieâ€™s workâ€“color-rich photographs of youths blending into trees, whiskey bottles glinting like a candle in a bath of morning sunâ€“offers a portrait, not just of Ox-bow, but of a feral, post-adolescent youth. It would be inaccurate to distill her prolific energy into one characterization; her work is lush, well-composed and ever-sensitive to silky light. Those aesthetic concerns transcend specific subjects. In addition to empty skate-park landscapes and attic rooms, she has made self-portraits with bong hits, another with raspberry-nipples, another involvesÂ spewing water in the sun (always reminds me of Tony Tasset), or the one above, where she reclines in a sea of empty bottles glinting like a deteriorated Jeff Wall interior: these gestures position her-self-as-artist, approximately tied to a flanking landscape of, often exclusive, culture. Whether holding the Neil Young album before her head, or photographing a motel room once occupied by Kurt Cobain, her presence adds an idiosyncratic awareness to these cultural referents. In an effort to explore that affect, I asked her a series of questions, primarily about the camera and its gaze. This is one interview in a series of many that explores the self on either side of the camera, while thinking through the respective position of the artist. (Read more).
This week: Brian, Patricia and Duncan get into the mind of Lindsey White. They discuss the challenges of being a photographer in an image saturated-culture, light, magic, and the intimate details of White’s studio practice. Lindsey White is a San Francisco based photographer and video artist born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is the third interview in our series recorded at Baer Ridgeway Exhibitions as a part of Chris Duncan’s Eye Against Eye exhibition.
This week: Duncan and Richard talk to art superstar Luc Tuymans!
The following is shamelessly lifted from the MCA site:
Luc Tuymans (Belgian, b. 1958) is considered one of the most significant European painters of his generation and he has been an enduring influence on younger and emerging artists. Born and raised in Antwerp, where he lives and works, Tuymans is an inheritor to the vast tradition of Northern European painting. At the same time, as a child of the 1950s, his relationship to the medium is understandably influenced by photography, television, and cinema.
Interested in the lingering effects of World War II on the lives of Europeans, Tuymans explores issues of history and memory, as well as the relationship between photography and painting, using a muted palette to create canvases that are simultaneously withholding and disarmingly stark. Drawing on imagery from photography, television, and film, his distinctive compositions make ingenious use of cropping, close-ups, framing, and Luc Tuymans sequencing, offering fresh perspectives on the medium of painting, as well as larger cultural issues.
The artist’s more recent work approaches the post-colonial situation in the Congo and the dramatic turn of world events after 9/11. These series have led Tuymans to a sustained investigation of the realms of the pathological and the conspiratorial.
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:Â 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 Schneiderâ€™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 Momâ€™s Lap (2006), we see Schneider curled in her motherâ€™s lap, the latterâ€™s face lying just out of frame. In an attempt to snuggle closer, Schneider puts her hand on her motherâ€™s shoulder. Her mother gently pushes it away. Schneiderâ€™s fingers creep up again, this time more insistently, and is met with countervailing pressure from her motherâ€™s hand, which gently but firmly moves her back in a cycle of push and pull that continues until a temporary compromise is reached.
Itâ€™s a primal dance, this tango of palms and fingers, parent and child, self and other, one that anyone whoâ€™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 Schneiderâ€™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.Â 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.Â She will be exhibiting her work atÂ 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,Â 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.Â In these works, nature, light, and the female form are reduced to popular notions ofÂ 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.