Field Trip: Art Institution Hopping

My [amazing] professor Jill Frank scheduled an array of field trips to last us from 9:30 am to 3 pm on Friday and boy was it a blast.

The day started out at the Atlanta Contemporary hearing Paul Anthony Smith talk about his process and work for the show Walls without Borders. Paul’s technique–using clay tools to puncture mounted photographs–is as much of a trademark as his brick facades overlaying most of his work.

From his talk, I gathered he had an interest in glimmers or illusions of reality as well as contained places or contained thoughts. The picking effect does affect the image in the sense of creating or altering the reality of the photograph and the brick walls can clearly emulate contained places or thoughts, but the two together are a hard match.

I am most interested in the four pieces that are picked throughout the entire image–instead of in patterns. Those four are out of a series of nine and speak to the malleable perceptions of reality and shared environmental experiences.

The show’s title is a farce in that there are layers and layers of borders within his work. His neat brick shapes are borders, the bigger picture of brick walls are a border, the edges of the photographs are borders, and the frames are borders. So there are walls with borders, and many of them. Even the paintings of brick walls are bordered by the edges of the panels and then front-bordered with bead curtains.

Our second stop was at Sandler Hudson Gallery where P. Seth Thompson met us to talk about his work and thoughts. Being a curious student, I looked up all of the work we were going to see beforehand and was a bit disappointed by Thompson’s work because it felt dated. I was hoping to hear him explain his work in a way that may contemporize it; however, he did not. His talk was certainly not aided by his reading of an ArtsATL review of his work before seeing us.

His show Insufficient Data for an Image has an overall feel of glitch art with 80s references in a 90s style. He argues that his work is about the impossibility of an inherently true image, mostly focusing on media disseminated images. This is a long time idea, as far back as Hippolyte Bayard’s photograph of his feigned suicide out of petty feelings about not being named the first inventor of photography. His work lacked a challenging perspective on the concept.

The third stop was at Jackson Fine Art where Sally Gall and Lalla Essaydi were on display. Unfortunately we did not spend any time talking about Sally Gall’s work. Her hanging laundry is shot from below, creating beautiful floral shapes while offering an unexpected view of something very familiar. The most exciting part about this part of the trip was that our tour guide pulled out some of the artists’ portfolios for us to see. Being a fan of Kahn and Selesnick, I asked to get a peek at their portfolio; I have to say my geeky curiosity was fully satisfied. Their work is fantastical and fascinating. I will never tire of their magical end-of-the-world stories.

Lastly, we zipped through Whitespace gallery’s display of Bojanna Ginn’s work. Her show features a geometrically patterned video, a couple of geometric neon light forms, a giant sheep’s wool blanket (in a geometric shape), and photographs that are dreamy washes of color. I found the juxtaposition of geometric shapes and soft organic elements intriguing; it reminds me of the geometric nature of flowers and plants despite their softness and organic beauty.

Whitespace also has a small nook called Whitespec that showcased a broken piano by Steffen Sornpao and a video running backwards of someone destroying said piano. Seeing the destruction backwards brings to light the work it takes to destroy something as well as the work that originally built it.

 

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Anya Liftig 

A most exciting aspect of GSU’s art department is that they pay for the best of the best to come visit. And even more so in the photography department: we were honored by Yale and GSU Alum performance artist Anya Liftig. 

My first experience of Anya Liftig was from a previous professor who shared her Wonder video performance. I was appalled, disgusted, intrigued, and terrified. I was not, and still am, disinterested in most performance art. It’s mystifying to me at best. I could easily relate my intellectual experience with Anya Liftig’s work to my first official college art class that started with a urinal on the table and the question “Is this art?” 

Anya’s talk at GSU was intimate and drew a comprehensive line from her entrance into GSU as a photo-based grad student seeking beautiful black and white pictures of her less familiar Kentucky hillbilly family to her graduating performance where she walked into the gallery nude asking “Do you have any questions?” 

Following the complicated, yet intelligent path from disassociation from external identitifying elements to internal phenomenological elements as the context for the move from photography to performance made performance make sense, especially within Anya’s comical and unexpected work. 

Her overarching desire to simply experience things reminds me of the curiosity and selfishness that commandeers learning and discovering in children; this to me is such an intelligent way to navigate life as an individual in a sea of other individuals. 

Blurbing: Tyler Mann, Ben B. Lee, and Elham Masoudi

Georgia State University features its MFA graduates in spurts of weekly reveals. The series of MFA exit shows kicked off with photo-based artists Tyler Mann and Ben B. Lee as well as mixed media artist Elham Masoudi. 
Tyler Mann’s series A few weeks, maybe months brings to us soothing, traditional landscapes, car window landscapes, and urinals in a look at the experience of a transgendered man on a road trip. The various urinals draw to light internal dialogues with bathroom etiquette and familiarity while the intermittent landscapes ground us in a solo adventure across land. The banal, but beautiful, treatment of composition and eye to color narrate a beautiful story of an “unfamiliar” lifestyle for viewers to consider. 

Ben B. Lee creates narratives in The feeling of being ok. Repitition–certainly a form a visual alliteration–finds itself looming throughout Ben’s work. From a triptych of the birth of a boy next to a man gutting his game, finalized by a sentence about a boy and his father. Elements and notes about manhood, boyhood, and fatherhood underlie the work overall, highlighting perhaps a learned gender space that is engrained within snapshot image culture. 

Elham Masoudi looks at the censorship of the body within the context of Islamic ideology in her works on paper as well as mixed media installations. Her pixelated forms disembody women into generalized colors and designs familiarly seen in garments worn to avoid showing off one’s body. The use of typical colors and designs grounds the work in an ethnic and religious context while the pixelation dehumanizes the subjects. 

Update: From Figments of Film To Out of the Blue

I am updating my blog to Out of the Blue from Figments of Film. I have recently gone through a grueling independent study for writing reviews of art around town. This has left me with upgraded tools and ideas toward the intent of my blog: a refurbished website is essential.

So welcome, to the renewed Figments of Film:

Out of the Blue: an assortment of sorts about art

“Framework and View” by John Folsom

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I visited the Hathaway Gallery reception of their trio of openings, one of which was John Folsom’s solo show Framework and View. I pondered the gallery’s artist page once upon a time and discovering Folsom’s work in wonder because at the time–and arguably, still presently–I was obsessed with painting and photography and how they shared a space in the world of art. Oh how pleasing it was to see the work in person!

The photographic underpainting (as it seems appropriate to title) in his mixed media series have the same effect of trompe l’oeil paintings where the effect of reality falls apart as you get closer; however, in Folsom’s work [especially in Salt Marsh Redux #2], the reality falls apart all at once while still being held together all at once; like a loose tooth on it’s last root.

Some have a bit more reality, but then reveal the digital manipulations that Folsom put in place, and lose reality all over again. This is evident in College Park, 2016.

As you move through the works, you come to a point where it all falls apart: an unrealistic green colored brush stroke interrupts the landscape while washes of pink blend into the skies. Paint overcame photograph here.

It was also quite a nice surprise to see his Through the Ground Glass series of photographs of the ground glass of a large format camera. The idea feels solid, but the photographs lack the quality that the piece needs. It falls into a realm of photography wanting to be art rather than just being art.

UMPUI #32

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Heisenberg’s Magic Mirror of Uncertainty. Duane Michals. 1998.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016. 5:53 AM.

Oh, how clever of Michals to take this insane idea and put it into a photograph (or rather, photographs). How lost that woman must feel, not finding herself, but finding so many anthropomorphic selves.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016. 5:54 AM.

UMPUI #31

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Untitled, 2004. Gregory Crewdson.

Sun. October 16th, 2016. 6:42 PM.

It’s been a while. I abandoned you like this man abandoned his car. Is that his suitcase there? Mine is still in my hand, I will open you now. Welcome back. Perhaps instead, he is abandoning a bleak past for a brilliant future, somewhere within that haze under the tree’s silhouette.

Sun. October 16th, 2016. 6:43 PM.