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. 

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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. 

Art AIDS America; An exhibition at the Zuckerman Museum of Art

Today, my class went on a field trip! We went to the Zuckerman Museum of Art on Kennesaw University’s campus. They’re currently holding a powerful exhibition about AIDS and HIV in America and how artists have been working around that topic over the span of about 30 years. There’s even a neat and tidy timeline with facts and figures at the front of the exhibit.

I am going to relay the event in the order of my notes; the lay of the land is a wide open sunlit space. Just in front of the staircase is artwork representing the museum’s donor’s wife’s artwork. To the left are two pieces of artwork (one a bit obscure). The obscure piece of artwork leads into a large gallery space filled with beautiful artwork facing all aspects of AIDS in America from time, sickness, and death to overarching ideas of loss and love.

The obscure piece of artwork that I previously mentioned is Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Water which is a site dependent wall of beads. Who knew a string of beads could be so powerful? When I walked through it–even after being fully aware of its existence as an artwork–I felt cleansed.

Moving through Water, I was then struck by Glen Ligon’s Untitled (I feel most colored when I am thrown against a white background). Of course, we all have art history and we all pick and choose what we remember, and this happens to be one of the chosen. It’s so relieving to see artwork in person and experience it.

Now, I am a child at heart; so going into galleries is stressful sometimes because I want to get close to things and touch things; so I almost had an anxiety attack when I noticed a large white space filled with red sculptures next to my feet. I leaned over an entire foot just to read the label for it to be sure I didn’t disturb the essence of it. The delicate piece is Kiki Smith’s Red Spill, a group of glass sculptures shaped like red blood cells. The cells ranged from being opaque and dark to slightly transparent and light. They spoke volumes to me with their glass delicacy and vibrant red hue. They seem so effortless.

I have so much admiration for artists that take traditional elements from their cultures and wittily transform them. Masami Teraoka transformated traditioanl Japanese woodcuts to display a geisha ripping open condoms in her piece Tale of 1000 Condoms/Geisha & Skeleton. Tino Rodriguez mimics this wit in his Eternal Lovers with Dia de los Muertos traditional imagery of sugar skulls and flowered skeletons to display two figures kissing.

The last piece in that section from my notes struck me with a smile was Niki de Saint Phalle’s book AIDS You Can’t Catch it Holding Hands. I wish we could flip through the pages; only two pages were set in display in a box (the picture in the link shows the page we saw). What was so beautiful was how simplistic and friendly the book was, easy enough for children.

Then we walk through the donor’s wife’s artwork to a cold corridor which leads to many other hallways and avenues. The director led us into an even colder room that was filled with very charged and intense artwork, still as part of the Art AIDS America exhibition. The first piece I encountered in this room was Jenny Holzer’s condoms. What was more interesting to me though was Holzer’s label description. It talked about her openness to interpretation and how artwork is up to her audience. I admire this openness because so many artists and teachers of art seem to want to hone in on directed artwork; I personally think it’s impossible to have a fully 100% directed piece of artwork. That’s a conversation for another day.

Ray Navaro’s Equipped allowed for some comedic relief with this witty pairing of words with his (unfortunate) disabilities from AIDs.

After only an hour spent at the Zuckerman, I was on the edge of being emotionally and mentally spent, but I am so greatly to have had the opportunity to experience these pieces of artwork in person. This is a traveling exhibition, so if it happens to come near you, it’s a must go-see.

 

 

Picture Day

I have finally had the opportunity to sum up this semester in three photographs. I have been struggling through this idea of trash. I began with a very romantic eye, to a more alternative eye, to a clinical eye, to a critical eye.

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It began with surreal compositions made from abstract photographs of trash paired with images of simulated nature found in magazines.

Then it became a very abstract dance of plastics and silver gelatin prints:

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I was too romantic, there was no disgust. No ugly. All pretty. So I went to the other side of the rainbow and brought a grey cloud clinical eye to the process and catalogued this trash.

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This was too clinical, but then I had a strike of genius just before the critique for this work. I paired haiku with highly romanticized images of trash:

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And with this, I will carry into my final show of work which will come to you by the beginning of May! I do apologize that I do not have the haiku that was paired with this image. It will all be reworked for the final show.

For your interest, here is the artist’s statement behind the last bit of work.

Romantic Trash juxtaposes an out-of-date romanticized frame of mind with the dissenting subject matter of trash.

The implementation of a softened lens upon a jarring act of indifference is to utilize an alternate of the theory of ‘comedy of waste’; where one can only really self-reflect on under-the-rug morals through comedy. Romantic Trash replaces the comedy with beauty. The excessive use of signifiers of beauty in both image and text challenges the viewer to assess their moral stance on trash and its place in nature.

 

Until next time!

 

Into and Out of Nature

I know I have written enough about my interests in nature and romanticism, but in case you need a refresher (or an introduction) my work is very much intrinsically nature-based and romanticized from subject matter to just the essence of the art I make.

With having Directed this semester, I had to work on one concept for a whole semester. A year or so ago, I did a series on trash that I found on my walk to the train station as well as trash from the Chattahoochee River. After the fact, the Chattahoochee River photographs are being showcased in Georgia State University’s Research Conference AND I was interviewed about it; that interview will be making an appearance on GSU’s social media sometime soon.

But, in Directed, I figured that I found a good start and a good direction to aim for. I wanted something more artistic and interesting though, something more romantic than the Hooch Series. So I made abstract landscapes out of trash.

That became too beautiful and made no effect.

So I created an array of images involving nature and trash from juxtaposing the two in a frame to printing pictures of nature ONTO trash to putting a picture of nature in trash. These seemed to struggle.

So I went back to the documentary, cold-hearted cataloguing of trash. This lost my voice. BUT two days before my critique, I had a strike of genius. Pair photographs of found trash with haiku. Haiku is traditionally a veneration of nature in 17 syllables.

This is what I have been developing. I have a critique tomorrow on the work I have made. In lieu of finding haiku (it’s terribly hard to find this online) I perused the library (with books already overdue) to find haiku. I acquired a book with haiku by Basho and a book with haiku by Jack Kerouac. Kerouac’s book is small and easy to carry around, so naturally, that’s what stayed in my backpack to ogle at while I was on trains or buses.

Let me tell you, JACK KEROUAC’S HAIKU’S ARE GENIUS. He wanted to reestablish haiku in a way that doesn’t continue the age old tradition of it. He altered the rules to create an Americanized and modern haiku that is more playful and open to contemporary thinking that traditional haiku. They are perfect to pair with my photographs. Out of context romanticized quality with non traditional photographic subject matter paired with a non traditional poem about nature? I’m in heaven.

However, as much as I love this series I have created, I have found myself in conflicting ideas. Nature is so empowering and overwhelming that it doesn’t care about trash. Of course, trash is affecting animals tragically, but I’m not up for that fight. Plants and trees don’t give a flying flipper about plastic and trash. A recent article that I read from DIS magazine online article that I read from DIS magazine online about Bea Fremderman’s art series “Solastalgia” has reinforced that realization for me. Her work looks at the apocalyptic world where humanity is finished and nature takes her rein over objects leftover by humanity’s existence.

I am not sure where that leaves me to continue on with, but that’s for another story.

Pictures coming soon!

 

Throughout my Truancy

So, after my post apologizing for my absence, I went and looked to see when my last post was. It amazes me that I have left this blog out in the virtual world for a year without salvaging it. An entire year. A year ago was my last post, when I was turning 21. Here I am, about to turn 22 in a couple of days.

A lot of selfishness has found me in the past year, and I think it was the right kind of selfishness to push me forward into the world.

In the past year, I produced and supervised a successful summer camp program at my job with a private daycare. I learned managerial skills, I fell into an Assistant Director position which I have excelled at since. I’m gearing up for another amazing summer camp program. In the fall, I took Alternative Processes, Intro to Linguistic Anthropology, Digital Video for Artists, and Digital Possibilities.

The only one to care about is Alternative Processes. While I struggled throughout the course to produce good work, I had so much fun exploring alternative methods and using even more so alternative methods along with those, such as Van Dyke Brown printing on wood and cyanotype on sheer fabrics in fishtanks with a goldfish. I learned that I am a nature-born gum bichromate printer; this is very exciting for me because I am a romanticist at heart with a longing for painting and gum bichromate opens a couple of doors for that. I also excelled at tin types with beautiful images of my boyfriend.

During the fall semester, my boyfriend became a drag queen, which has been monumental in that I have a in-house model for fashion photo shoots! Exciting stuff.

Then came the Spring Semester. I am finishing out Directed, Art and Architecture of Ancient Rome, Oil Painting, and beginning a thesis.

Directed is a course where you spend the entire semester on one idea; exploring it as thoroughly as possible in the time given. I have been photographing trash and have gone from catalogued objective images of trash, photographs on trash, to photographs of trash with haiku by Jack Kerouac. What a journey.

I am very excited about my thesis, but I am keeping that under wraps until it comes closer to fruition. This semester is just the watering of the seed.

Oil painting has been very intriguing; I actually will pursue a series of oil paintings of old photographs, thinking of how arbitrary physical emanations of photographs are in this generation. How digitized everything is, yet I am taking the time to bring these photographs to realization. Something of nostalgia.

Keep your eyes peeled for a soon-coming article about my inspirations and interests moving forward from a year of explorations…and also tidbits of the work I have completed in the past year.

 

“Dusk–the bird/on the fence/a contemporary of mine.”

-Jack Kerouac

Ending my Truancy

Hi all,

 

I have been absent for so long that I am not even sure when I began this blog. In my absence, I have been striving through school, work, and life in general.

Given that I have only one year left in school to complete my degree, I have realized that I need to buckle down and realize what I can do to support myself while fully utilizing my degree and I think part of that is writing. And no one gets anywhere by only doing something when required to do so, so I am reviving Figments of Film.

Stay tuned for a post on what I have been working on this semester and what’s coming up.