UMPUI #28

carlos_jaramillo-5

Carlos Jaramillo.

Tue. August 2nd, 2016. 7:57 PM. Begin:

What a strange combination of shadows. On hand, right behind the feathers and the arm. But the backdrop seems to be a faked sky. Like a backdrop poorly lit for the seduction of reality. Lit more as a behind the scenes take. But how beautiful, this bird. Giving us a warrior’s pose even in the hand of caged-ness.

End. 7:58 PM. Tue. August 2nd, 2016.

 

 

Art and Power: A Blurb of Thought

  
I read (largely skimmed) an article in ArtPapers written by Vincent W. J. Van Gerven Oei. It’s basically about an artist who became a prime minister in Albania. Oei covers quite a lot of themes in the article, and it really got me thinking about the context of art and power. 

Of course, art is powerful, but how often is it put into the real world audience to have real world power? Featuring this artists’ rise to power and use of art within that power is important because art largely finds itself as a critic of politics rather than a contender of politics. 

Where does art seem to have power? We can put art anywhere. Have you noticed any stickers in train stations? Pen drawings on walls? But who looks at it? Plenty of people look at these bits and pieces of art, heck plenty of people go to galleries and museums, but what portion of those people digest the art they see? 

It seems to boil down. 

Then consider the art itself. Is a critique like a burnt flag more powerful than a contemporary depiction of a historic moment of a country’s past? 

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.

_DSC3475 layered bkgrnd flat with mags FLAT SMALL

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:

plasticgram 1

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.

catalogue1 FLAT

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:

_DSC4991 copy

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!

 

Masculinity

A perk of being an art student is always having exhibitions available and advertised for entry. An ambiguous point in being an art student is when professors make entering an exhibition a grade. For the digital photography course that I am taking, we were asked to enter the Low Museum’s exhibition entitled #Masculinity. The idea was to express what masculinity means.

Personally, this word has no real meaning for me in humanity. My upbringing was very open-minded and largely avoided generalizations. What did form a spark was the idea of male birds and their role in sexual displays. In Human gender roles, the woman is the showy object. In aviary gender roles, males are often the entertainers. I used this idea and inserted male bird habits and visual affects onto human males to test out my ideal of masculinity into my own species.

Thus are the results:

masc masc2 masc3 masc4 masc5 masc6 masc7 masc8 masc9 Animal Kingdom (#1) Teal Gordon 13x19in Animal Kingdom (#2) Teal Gordon 13x19in Animal Kingdom (#3) Teal Gordon 13x19in

Masculinity is what you believe it to be. I think masculinity and femininity is something that’s very old-fashioned. There’s a whole new generation of people who aren’t defined by their sex or race or who they like to sleep with. –Johnny Weir

Afterthoughts: Beth Lily, Trevor Deese, and Jack Reese

Listening to three artists talks back to back–well, one gallery owner explaining an artists work and two Grad student artist talks–has proven to muddle my mind today.

As a color photography class field trip, we met at Whitespace Gallery to view the work of Beth Lily. Her work up in Whitespace is comprised of voyeuristic photographs involving cars and the people in them. The first room has black and white prints on rice paper of contemplative people in their cars as they pass the car Lily is in. Lily is a practicing Buddhist who finds her meditation fully erected in travelling by car. The second room has three groupings of work. The closest is of color prints of people in their cars, this time with more drama. The people in the cars had more narrative than just looking thoughtful. There was an old woman reaching out of the frame, for what we won’t know. There was a man driving a car with two younger passangers, one with gauze over his eye and resting on a pillow. This part of the series struck me because I could stare at the images as long as I pleased. It wasn’t the fleeting moment of a car passing on the highway. It was the image of that fleeting moment that my brain could never solidy for comprehend extensively. To the right of this group, Lily played with that idea of playing God with fleeting moments. She made hand-turnable flip books of people in their cars. I noticed myself and my classmates controlling the speed of the images as preferred. The last wall interested me the most. It disconnected from what was outside of the car and connected with the passenger within and what that passenger experienced. It was the more abstract and painterly group of the series.

The Grad talks consisted of, I think, five graduate students. We made it to two. The first was a student named Trevor Reese. A sculptor, Reese had an interest in objects and their existence and perception within the world as well as objects’ responses to human interaction. He also mingles in human response to objects outside of their normal display.

The second talk was given by Jack Deese, a photography grad student. His work is an intimate documentary, in my opinion. He approaches his work head on with his experiences. His presentation was intimate in itself in that he created it into a narrative rather than a setlist of his work. Each series presented had personal memory and consequence. However, he prefers to give his work no context or a universal context, so that no matter where the images are seen (he visualized them in book form, so no matter where the images are read) they would have some sense of narrative that may or may not be influenced by context and still hold its own.

“I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.” -Marcel Duchamp