Nam June Paik And Olafur Eliasson With The London Regional OCA Group

Got to be honest here and say that I really struggled with the Nam June Paik exhibition. My childhood was such that I went to sporting events and airshows, and have had no experience of exhibitions until recently. I think the lack of artistic culture in my formative years has left me with a lack of expertise when viewing art at exhibitions. I’m going to make a point of reading “How to read a painting” by the National Gallery.

On the whole I found the Paik exhibition to be confusing, bewildering and overwhelming. There was a cacophony of sound and light, and other exhibits that I felt little connection to. Whilst trying to connect with what the artist was trying to communicate I found my mind was left blank. I didn’t connect with his art at all. I feel almost tearful at my inadequacy when it comes to reading art, especially of this discordant and abstract nature.

However, there were two exhibits that I connected with. The first of these were a selection of artefacts from Paik’s studio.

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I may not understand what Paik is conveying, but I appreciate how ideas formulate and concepts develop, and I find the creative process to be fascinating. Ideas emerge in the space between the minutiae, little seeds germinate and creativity branches forth. Some of these will die along the way, but they still remain valuable to the branches which produce fruit.

The second exhibit that I connected with was a projected, blank, 16mm film.

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The accompanying text states that the film represents “emptiness, boredom and random interference… events such as the shadows cast by the spectators, became part of the work.”

Bev, Johnathan and I enjoyed became part of this transient piece of art. It highlighted to me that the meaning of art changes dependant upon the setting and the viewer.

Interactive art then became the theme for the rest of the day with the Olafur Eliasson, In Real Life, exhibition.

Wow. What an experience.

Welcome to a new world Richard.

In Real Life is not an exhibition to watch and read, it was a fully immersive experience in which one interacts mentally, emotionally, physically and, dare I say, spiritually.

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“Big Din blinde passage” was 39 meters of sensory deprivation. The passage is full of fog created by food additives. I could barely see in front of myself, so much so that at one point I almost tripped over a woman with a buggy. I couldn’t see either the floor or the walls, and my sense of hearing increased. What made the experience so joyful for me was the laughter of children walking along with their parents. Sensory deprivation made the laughter so pleasurable. The taste of the fog was rather pleasant as well. When I left the tunnel I couldn’t stop smiling. The experience left me awestruck and lifted my mood so much, which was needed after the drop in my self esteem from viewing the Paik exhibition.

Most of the rest of the exhibition was enthrallingly interactive, and I very much became a part of the exhibit. I particularly like the viewing windows, in which the glass had been cut and shaped into hexagons. Each had been cut at an angle which reflected and reflected the view back as if one was looking through a kaleidoscope. Regrettably I did not record the name of these installations.

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I also enjoyed the room with the mirrored ceiling. So many people were laying on the floor and looking up at the view.

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The whole exhibition felt like play time. I will endeavour to return before the exhibition closes. Never have I found art to be so fun and inspiring.

What the experts say

Nam June Paik 

“I always thought of Nam June Paik as a livewire avant-garde figure from long ago but for decades my experience of him has been as a permanent Art Biennale fixture whose work acted as an instant soporific.

Represented by piles of TVs showing mass-media random information with no particular meaning, the sight of his name on a wall label usually sends me straight into a coma.” (Collings; 2010)

“In 1963, artist Nam June Paik had his first solo exhibition. The show took place in a three-storey villa in Wuppertal, Germany and among the works was a room packed with 13 manipulated television sets. It was the first time an artist had used television as a medium for their art. 

For five decades, Paik built upon these TV experiments and continually bridged the gap between art and technology in a way no other artist had done before.” (Fulleylove; 2019)

Olafur Eliasson

“My works demand the visitors’ engagement; they are dependent on viewers to co-produce them,” he explains. “Many of my works are not only about the visitor’s encounter with the work, but the visitors’ encounters with one another. This is endlessly fascinating.

“I do not mind if people are moved by my work without knowing, or even caring, about any of the theories behind it. I think the art world often treats people patronisingly: take guided audio tours in museums, for example. I enjoy watching people interact without any of this guidance, without the instructions.” (Eliasson; in Alderson; 2015)

References

Alderson, R; 2015; It’s OK to disagree, the divisive work of artist Olafur Eliasson; Online; AT https://www.itsnicethat.com/features/its-ok-to-disagree-the-divisive-work-of-artist-olafur-eliasson

Collings, M; 2019; Nam June Paik Review, Daft, inventive energy from a weird kind of artist; Online; AT https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/arts/nam-june-paik-tate-modern-exhibition-review-a4261856.html%3famp

Fulleylove, R; 2019; Why Nam June Paik is more than the father of video art; Online; AT https://www.creativereview.co.uk/nam-june-paik-tate-modern-retrospective/

The National Gallery; 2019; How to ‘read’ a painting; Online; AT https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/learning/teachers-and-schools/teaching-english-and-drama/how-to-read-a-painting

 

Crystalising Ideas For Assignment Five

  • Installation
  • Photo of my face, over-sewn to represent emotional/mental states of anorexia
  • Positioned 90 degrees to photo from Laura Letinsky
  • Stitch on Laura Letinsky’s photos to pick out detail
  • 1 inch in front of Letinsky’s photo will be plain card of same size
  • Cut out shapes so aspects of Lentinsky’s work can be revealed and others remain hidden
  • Revealed areas will be related to food or eating
  • An object from Lentinsky’s art will be placed between the two photos i.e. Cup, plate, squashed water melon
  • Long stitches to go from my face over to the revealed areas in Letinsky’s photo (in the style of Kate Aston (review to be written up shortly). This will further emphasise emotional state.
  • Sound recording which emulates specific thought patter relating to each of my mental/emotional states
  • There will be six states represented so I will use six self portraits and six of Laura Lentinsky’s.

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Review – Barbara Kruger

Barbera Kruger (1945)

Kruger, B; 1982; We Have Recieved Orders Not To Move [photograph and screen print]Fig. 1. We Have Received Orders Not To Move (1982)

Kruger, B; 2014; Untitled (Hello Goodbye)Fig. 2. Untitled (Hello/Goodbye) (2014)

My current research is in relation to exercise 3.5 Photographs from text and the coursework suggests looking at Kruger’s montages.

Initial Thoughts

Plain, unappealing, dull, text is prominent, text works well in first image which carries feminist political content. What is the female gaze? Second image appears like an advert in an underground station or maybe street art, questions identity and the gaze in general (we see the world how we want to see it, rather than how it is and because of this we lose track of who we are, and others view us through their looking-glass, hence we too become the unseen.

In relation to Photographs from text

Neither of these are photographs in their original format, but are relevant to one of my approaches. I intend to complete the exercise in two ways, one will be using a poem next to photos that I have taken, and the other will be a montage in the style of Gerhard Richter, using appropriated images from newspapers, including some of its accompanying text, and following the same poem, which may or may not be printed or written alongside it. Kruger uses appropriated images in many of her montage’s and employs the silk screen printing process to overlay the text. Her text in general is quite large, but with brief sentences.

My reason for choosing We have received orders not to move was purely because it reminded me of a thread based craft that my sister used to do. She would stick pins into a pre-marked board, and then follow a design to tie thread around the pins, which then created a pattern.

Kruger is a politically motivated artist, and her work is often based around the theme of the dominance of men, especially white men, and how the media promotes stereotypes. Although it has been written that she was influenced by Dianne Arbus I do not see that in these images at all, rather I can see her background working with an advertising agency coming through strongly. Often her art makes use of appropriated magazine advertising, which she then overlays with text of her choice. Generally the montages that she creates are simple and eye-catching, and they have been created this way to be impactful. They are also vernacular because they make use of the style of images and presentation that people are used to from reading magazines and newspapers. Using popular and current images to appeal to the populace was a successful technique that the Lever Brothers used to mass market pre-weighed soap. They would purchase modern works of art that appealed to the wider audience, and then place their logo into the paintings as seen in figure 3.

Relating to the first image Fabienne Dumont says “This work consists in enlarging advertising images taken from magazines, applying them to large banners, and adding a slogan explicitly directed at the public and questioning white male authority and the stereotypes spread by the media.” (Dumont, F; 2013).

Untitled (Hello/Goodbye) is a photo of a small section of an installation in which most of the wall space is covered with large vinyls that contain black and white text, with the occasion words in red ink. “Her texts often employ personal pronouns, which incorpo­rate the spectator into the discursive and graphic space: “I shop therefore I am.” “You invest in the divinity of the masterpiece.” References for these pronouns remain intentionally nonspecific, opening up a space of identification and disiden­tification.” (Erikson, R; 2017)

Sunlight Soap, Lever Brothers cFig. 3. Sunlight Soap (c1886)

Illustrations

Figure 1; Kruger, B; 1982; We Have received Orders Not To Move [photograph and screen print]; AT: https://awarewomenartists.com/en/artiste/barbara-kruger/ (accessed on 12/05/2018)

Figure 2; Kruger, B; 2014; Untitled (Hello Goodbye) [installation – Digital print on vinyl] at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; AT: https://hammer.ucla.edu/take-it-or-leave-it/artists/barbara-kruger/ (accessed on 12/05/2018)

Figure 3; Lever Borthers; (c1886); Sunlight Soap; Online AT: https://www.baytree-interiors.co.uk/item/sunlight-soap/ (accessed on 12/05/2018)

References

Dumont, F; 2013; Barbara Kruger; Online AT: https://awarewomenartists.com/en/artiste/barbara-kruger/ (accessed on 12/05/2018)

Erikson, R; 2017; Barbara Kruger, Born 1945, Newark, New Jersey; Online AT: https://hammer.ucla.edu/take-it-or-leave-it/artists/barbara-kruger/ (accessed on 12/05/2018)

Wolf, J; 2018; Barbara Kruger, American Designer, Graphic Artist, and Photographer; Online AT: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-kruger-barbara.htm (accessed on 12/05/2018)

Review – Polly Apfelbaum

Oh my gosh, I am so happy right now. I have discovered an artist that I feel very excited about, more so that any of the photographers that I have discovered through Foundations in Photography.

Apfelbaum works with a variety of media, but I am particularly drawn to he hand dyed crushed velvet installations, where she makes an excellent use of colour and space. Walking through one of her exhibitions must be such a treat for the soul.

Apfelbaum,-P;-(2016);-Face-(Geometry)-(Naked)-Eyes-[mixed-media]Fig. 1. Face (Geometry) (Naked) Eyes; (2016)

The amount of space within the gallery strikes me as much as the colour, I believe that they compliment each other and I feel both peaceful, energetic and joyful. The composition of this photo makes me feel as if I am being hugged and safely contained. I can imagine standing where the camera is and not wanting to move.

During an interview by Sarah Miller Meigs, Apfelbaum says “My issues are color, surface and form – painterly issues, but the work unfolds in space… I like to react to the space of the gallery, and work with the large scale and site specificity, reacting to the architecture.” (Miller Meigs, S; 2014). The development of her installations has many processes, but the most important to her is that she spends time in a space, hours even, just observing the light, space and boundaries. She places small pieces of fabric on the floor in her studio and then she dies them. Her installations may include an addition of ceramics that hang from the ceiling or paintings on the wall, and fabric and paint that flows down the wall and across the floor. (Widewall; 2013 – 2018).

Erasing Tracing Racing Paint; Apfelbaum, P and Nelson, D; Michael Benevento, Los Angeles, CA, March 12 - May 17 2016Fig. 2. Erasing Tracing Racing Paint; (2016)

To attend an Apfelbaum exhibition at a gallery gives you the opportunity talk through her creations, and interact with the light and space that’s available, an immersion rather than a viewing. She says “It’s important to me that people have to move through the works so the spectator activates it and participates in the experience. As you move, the color and the nap of a fabric change and the work plays a lot with light.” (Marcoci, R; 2007).

Her work has been described in many ways, as art, pop, sculpture, feminism, installation, craft, photography, post minimalism, performance and abstract (Miller Meigs; 2016; Widewalls; 2013 – 2018; Ebony; 2017). One of her abstracts is of particular interest to me because I saw a photograph of it without a title, and I couldn’t get my head around it. Did it represent clothes laid out in an orderly fashion? A journey with other people who you meet along the way? Rigid thinking that constrains creativity? Although Apfelbaum had a very specific representation with this installation, she is glad that her work is open to interpretation, and each viewer can bring their own unique personality into the gallery.

Apfelbaum, P; (1992); The Dwarves Without Snow White, The Blot on my Bonnet, Amy Lipton Gallery, New York, NY [boxes and lids, stretched crushed velvet]Fig. 3. The Dwarves Without Snow White; (1992)

Speaking during an interview with Brooklyn Museum she discusses feminism and gender in relation to this piece and how she drew upon the work of other women that had created installations. With regard to the abstract nature pf this piece, there are eight boxes and only severn dwarves (re the title Without Snow White), because “If Snow White got her act together she could have a box. But at the time you had this very Disney world. The dwarves were absolutely much more emotional and more fun, having a great time.” (Polly Apfelbaum, 2008). This highlights for me gender roles in relation to relaxation time and leisure for the man that went out to work, and the subservient woman whose role around the house didn’t stop at 5pm, but continued once the man got home and after the children had gone to bed. This division of labour and leisure, privilege and unworthiness have become so ingrained that even with a demand for change, the progres is very slow.

I find these insights into feminism very revealing. I have been aware of the societal construct and reinforcement of gender roles for many years, but it’s always pertinent to have a new perspective.

I would like to finish with one last photo of Apfelbaums art, and I do so because it highlights the intensity, creativity, time and dedication that she flows from her intuitive spirit. This piece is made of 1040 individual pieces of fabric that are hand dyed so that the colours include all of the Sennelier 104-color dye chart. This is not made once and then sown together, rather, each time she has an exhibition, she goes along to the space and gets a feel for how she can best present, then uses her intuition to re-lay “Blossom” onto the floor. Each installation will have three or four variations of the same piece which has different colours that are more dominant from piece to piece, the patterns change through out because of this. She does not make use of assisstants and performs this herculean task alone. By observing the two images below we can see how the lighting, floor and colour of the walls all allow Blossom to be a dynamic, changing and living work of Art

Apfelbaum, P; (2000) ; Blossom [Synthetic velvet and fabric dye] Collections of Museum of Modern Art, New YorkFig. 4. Blossom (2000)

Apfelbaum, P; (2000) ; Blossom Powerpuff, D_Amelio Terras, New York, NY. 2000Fig. 5. Blossom (2000)

 

Illustrations

Figure 1;  Apfelbaum, P; (2016); Face (Geometry) (Naked) Eyes [mixed media]; AT: http://www.pollyapfelbaum.com/2016/face-geometry-naked-eyes/ (accessed on 11/05/2018)

Figure 2;  Apfelbaum, P and Nelson, D; 2016; Erasing Tracing Racing Paint at the  Michael Benevento, Los Angeles, CA, March 12 – May 17 2016; AT: http://www.pollyapfelbaum.com/2016/erasing-tracing-racing-paint/ (accessed on 11/05/2018)

Figure 3; Apfelbaum, P; (1992); The Dwarves Without Snow White, The Blot on my Bonnet [boxes and lids, stretched crushed velvet] at the Amy Lipton Gallery, New York, NY; AT: http://www.pollyapfelbaum.com/floor/early-stain/ (accessed on 11/05/2014)

Figure 4; Figure 5; Apfelbaum, B; 2000; Blossom [Synthetic velvet and dye] at MoMA, Manhatten; AT: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/86477 (accessed on 1/05/2018)

Figure 5; Apfelbaum, B; 2000; Blossom [Synthetic velvet and dye] at the D’Amelio Terras, New York, NY; AT: http://www.dameliogallery.com/artists/polly-apfelbaum?view=slider#14 (accessed on 11/05/2018)

 

References

Ebony, D; 2017; Polly Apfelbaum, New York, at Alexander Gray Associates; Online AT: https://www.artinamericamagazine.com/reviews/polly-apfelbaum/ (accessed on 11/05/2018)

Marcoci, R; 2007; [interview by author March 4-June 11, 2007]; “COMIC ABSTRACTION: Image-breaking, Image Making. “The Museum of Modern Art Interviews, March 4-June 11, 2007; London; Thames and Hudson: pp. 42-49; Online at: http://www.pollyapfelbaum.com/files/article1.pdf (accessed on 11/05/2018)

Miller Meigs, S; 2014; [Interview by Author 2014]; “Q and A with Polly”; Online AT: http://www.pollyapfelbaum.com/files/Polly_Interview_04_14_SarahZ_Meigs.pdf (accessed on 11/05/2018)

Polly Apfelbaum [interview online]; Brooklyn Museum (2008) 4.26 mins At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syaX9U78_zw (accessed on 11/05/2018)

Widewall;  2013 – 2018); Polly Apfelbaum/ Polly Apfelbaum, United States 1955, Installation, Painting; Online AT: https://www.widewalls.ch/artist/polly-apfelbaum/ (accessed on 11/05/2018)