Month: January 2014

The New Realism

posted by – 01/23/14 @ 12:26pm

They say /that Napoleon /was colourblind /& blood for him /as green as /grass. – from Unrecounted by WG Sebald

As a student of art history, I look at a lot of art each day. Because of this, I have an unintentional tendency to glaze over images and objects without second thought. But the first time I saw Richard Mosse’s photographs, they stuck with me. I found myself sharing his work with friends, family, and even strangers.

His most recent body of work, collectively titled The Enclave, immerses the viewer in a challenging and sinister world, exploring aesthetics in a situation of profound human suffering. Like other conceptual documentary photographers, Mosse’s images blur the boundaries between art and reportage, undoubtedly challenging the received conventions of documentary photography.

Throughout 2012, Richard Mosse and his collaborators travelled through the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, infiltrating armed rebel groups in a war zone plagued by frequent ambushes, massacres and systematic sexual violence. The resulting installation is a culmination of Mosse’s attempt to rethink war photography.

The large scale photographs were taken using a custom-built large format camera with infared color film. Interestingly, the film he used was formerly deployed by the military to identify camouflaged targets. The resulting images portray the Congolese landscape in a deep, unreal pink and the uniforms of the combatants a sickly shade of purple. At the heart of this project, as Mosse states, is an attempt to bring “two counter-worlds into collision: art’s potential to represent narratives so painful that they exist beyond language, and photography’s capacity to document specific tragedies and communicate them to the world.”

 

Gardening in the city

posted by – 01/22/14 @ 12:58pm

If you guys haven’t had a chance to swing by the gallery and see the new exhibit, you should probably get on that pretty soon.  Tom Brydelsky’s work has an interesting way of manipulating images to appear as a memory or dream.  The landscapes seem so pristine that you feel adventurous for exploring new lands, yet lonely at the same time because you are surround by miles and miles of nature.

Speaking of nature, sometimes it’s hard to come by a little bit of green in large urban areas.   When you’re paying over a thousand dollars rent for a closet sized studio, gardening probably seems like an unreasonable pastime.  Not for Steve Wheen.  Steve Wheen is a gardener in London that makes it work.  He calls it guerrilla gardening.

Basically, he finds those small patches of vegetation that pops up in potholes and other nooks and crannies of an otherwise concrete jungle and grooms them with some flowers and miniatures.  It’s kind of like what happened in Nashville during national Parking Day, only much, much smaller.  It’s a great way to color a city that is otherwise known for its grayness and dreariness; and it definitely has a way of amusing people that are passing by.  You can see more of Wheen’s work and the work of other guerrilla gardeners here.

You should tape this.

posted by – 01/17/14 @ 1:38pm

I was in the gallery this week packing up some pieces from the exhibit that just finished.  Doing so requires carefully taking them down from the walls, wrapping them in plastic, and securing the plastic with tape.  As a college student who has had to move in and out of dorm rooms several times over the past few years, packing should be a piece of cake.  Yesterday, I discovered how clumsy I was with a roll of tape.  I guess you could say I kept getting myself in sticky situations (get it?).

But let’s not get too wrapped up (there’s another one!) in my ineptitude in handling tape.  Mark Khaisman uses packing tape as his primary medium to create amazing images of people and scenes. He places a light source behind his images to give depth to the figures. His motivation for using tape is its banality.  He enjoys the fact that he can create art with something most of us would consider trash.  With something so simple, he can create quite impressive work.  I think it’s especially interesting that his process does not really involve picturing the finished piece in his mind and attempting to realize it.  He just starts with an acrylic panel and a piece of tape and sees where it takes him.  If he doesn’t like it, he just peels it off and puts it somewhere else.  You can see more of his work here.

Fireworks!

posted by – 01/10/14 @ 12:38pm

The strides made by Dubai over the last 20 years are unmatched by any other city in the world.  Tallest building, a seven star hotel, man-made islands, man-made lakes, largest fountain show, just to name a few of their accomplishments.  To ring in the new year, they have one more superlative to add to their list:  largest fireworks show.

Grucci, a pyrotechnics company based in Long Island, was the mind behind the show.  The planning for this 6 minute show started 10 months in advance.  They brought over around 450 thousand fireworks and set them up everywhere in Dubai–the Palm, Burj Khalifa, Burj al Arab, the World Islands, Atlantis, you name it, there were fireworks there.  It is an interesting approach.  Most of the fireworks shows I’ve seen required me to set up a lawn chair and look in one place in the sky.  This one involved the entire skyline bursting with light that danced across the entire city.  The executives watched the show from the 112th floor of the Burj Khalifa–pretty good seats in my opinion.

The other really interesting aspect of the show was how it interacted with the city.  The silhouette of the Burj Khalifa outlined in brilliant light and the mass of fireworks that outlined the palm celebrates the city’s remarkable accomplishments.  For those of you that haven’t seen it yet, here’s a link to video.