Viewed on Youtube. I began watching the Guggenheim Symposium: Keynote: Curatorial Practice in a Globalized World and I was particularly interested in the views of Sara Raza and Pablo Leon de la Barra and found that this experience gave me much to reflect upon and consider in relation to my Dissertation topic of Diasporas, Loss and Globalization.
When curating an exhibition on the issue of Diasporic communities, the curator is in the position of being an observer, an outsider looking in at the community – in ethnographic research it is not uncommon for people to spend time with a culture to learn their traditions and beliefs and better understand the culture of the the Diasporic Community they are observing, their culture and their distinct culture in society, their behaviours, beliefs, attitudes, language and traditions through the observation of their daily lives and information gathered through other means, such as artefacts and journals. In Ethnographic Researcher, the purpose is to observe a group, empathise with the group and strengthen relationships without actually becoming a part of the group. However it does sometimes happen when a person spends time within such a group that they can become conditioned by the group culture and begin to develop the same cultural tendencies.
When a Diasporic Community is moving to a new land/country to reside it must be anticipated that there will be an element of hositility/tribalism from the resident community. Certainly in the case of the Patagonian Welsh, there must have been some resistance to their migration from the native Teheulche Indians, however they did attempt to help the Welsh settle into the inhospitable Patagonian land. This element of hostility towards migrating communities can be seen in the UK today, somewhat encouraged by the media, however there is also an element of the UK resident population that welcome the migrant communities and seek to help them become established within the UK. It can be seen that the some of the people belonging to these migrating communities have trades of worked in a professional capactity before they had to migrate from their homeland, these skills can only be seen as a positive contribution to the new society that they find themselves in.
The question of how I relate to these Diasporic Communities has been uppermost in my mind for some time. Yes I do feel that I am part of the Scottish Diaspora, I have a strong connection to Scotland that is at the core of my being something that I have been aware of since being a small child that sense of belonging to Scotland is a strong part of my earliest memories. Although born and spending my early years in Scotland, I essentially grew up in North Wales, where my maternal family are. At the age of 18, I could deny the pull of Scotland no more and I then returned and continued to live there for 25 years. I returned to Wales in 2009 and have continued to feel that strong sense of isolation from my homeland ever since.
During the symposium the Cultural Theroist, Stuart Hall was discussed and the fact that he was born in Jamacia in 1932 and lived in the UK from 1951 he felt isolated from both communities. This observation provided me with a connection for my dissertation and I began to research artists who are displaced from their homeland for whatever reason who continue to create art that reflects the bond that they still possess with their homeland.
The No Country Exhibition that Sara Raza curated on behalf of the Guggenheim. In curating such an exhibition Sara theorises that it is important to look at the problems experienced by the nation of interest and the relative geography and the fluidity of their nations borders. In modern times borders are more fluid and a new form of colonial occupation in some regions appears to be emerging. Also of interest and relevance in the dialog that exists between these trans national and trans regional cultures.
It is important to understand what is significant to the Diasporic Community on a Global level, how do they identify with their culture as a group and how do they identify as individuals. The population in a Diasporic Community have that sense of rootedness in their cultural history and traditions, Individuals who are displaced from their homeland also have the same sense of rootedness to their culture, traditions and beliefs. As an artist or curator we are rootless – represent everyone, the people.
A person or group that has moved away from their homeland can be described as having become de-coupled and this issue is part of the ongoing discussion relating to Diaspora. Something or Someone that is decoupled, is something or someone that is moved away from the centre without necessarily severing its roots – hence a community would then become it’s own autonomous entity.
In curating such an exhibition it’s important to reflect a contemporary Story that doesn’t sever origins or connections to history, that moves beyond regional specificity but show similarities between regional groups too and their connections/relationships both current and historical.
I decided it is important to note as part of my dissertation the issues of trans-nationalism and migration, focussing on artists that are no longer living in their homeland, possibly with dual passports – who have become their own entity whilst still connected to their roots.
After the Etching with Don Braisby Workshop at the Regional Print Centre, I decided to visit the exhibition of Don’s work at Oriel Sycarth Gallery at Glyndwr University in Wrexham. Don is exhibiting here along with John Hedley.
Research in The Art of Corrosion I
Don Braisby is an artist printmaker currently conducting PhD reserch in Fine Art within the School of Creative Arts at Wrexham Glyndwr University.
The prints on display focus on natural forms, surfaces and intense colour and reflect his interest in the use of electrolysis as a safe etching process.
Richard Long also has an affinity with nature and his work, which is often a documentation of his walks in the landscape, is about his interaction with the environment. While some of Richard Long’s walks are recorded by a photograph others, such as In the Clouds 1991 are text based. These pieces are sparse in nature, with a handful of words chosen to describe the long walks the artist makes all over the world.
My only knowledge of Richard Long is from the “A Line made by Walking” piece that he created in 1967.
A Line Made by Walking exists now only in a photograph. This, too, is part of the iconoclastic nature – and the imaginative power – of Long’s art, that it is often as transient and impermanent as anything in the natural world around it. The grass has long since grown back over the track he left that day in a field of wild flowers somewhere in England. It is quite conceivable that no one else actually saw the original work, or, if they did, recognised it as his, or indeed, as a work of art at all.
“The work often has all kinds of echoes,” Long says, “some accidental. If you undertake a walk, you are echoing the whole history of mankind, from the early migrations out of Africa on foot that took people all over the world.”
“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking,” wrote Nietzsche. Richard Long’s great thought while walking was to make his walking into his art. In an illuminating catalogue essay for Heaven and Earth, Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, writes, “In A Line Made by Walking (1967), a work made at the age of 22, Long changed our notion of sculpture and gave new meaning to an activity as old as man himself. Nothing in the history of art quite prepared us for the originality of his action.”
This formative piece was made on one of Long’s journeys to St Martin’s from his home in Bristol. Between hitchhiking lifts, he stopped in a field in Wiltshire where he walked backwards and forwards until the flattened turf caught the sunlight and became visible as a line. He photographed this work, and recorded his physical interventions within the landscape.
Although this artwork underplays the artist’s corporeal presence, it anticipates a widespread interest in performative art practice. This piece demonstrates how Long had already found a visual language for his lifelong concerns with impermanence, motion and relativity.
When Emrys first mentioned Richard Long in the presentation I gave, I was a bit unsure where the link to this artist would be, however as I began to research him it became quickly apparent that I could see not only a link to his outdoor work but also his Textworks as well, I began to see the connection to Richard Long more clearly.
He mediates his experience of these places, from mountains through to deserts, shorelines, grasslands, rivers and snowscapes, according to archetypal geometric marks and shapes, made by his footsteps alone or gathered from the materials of the place. These walks and temporary works of passage are recorded with photographs, maps and text works, where measurements of time and distance, place names and phenomena are vocabulary for both original ideas and powerful, condensed narratives.
This piece adds support to my thinking about combining screen printing methods with other printing methods, in my case digital, in this case Lithograph.
This lithograph and screen print, which measuring 189.50 cm high, stands roughly the size of a man and catalogues a series of experiences noted during a sixty-minute walk. The number 60 runs throughout the piece, which features 60 lines of texts and was then reproduced into 60 prints. With this repetition, Long draws our attention to the temporal quality of this walk, presenting us with one descriptive word or phrase for every minute of his journey, describing what he saw, heard, felt, and did.
The letters sit atop a black and gray background which Long created by applying ink onto the surface directly with his fingertips. Against this minimal background, each line contains only one to three words, making the text long and narrow as if the words are walking down the original path in Big Bend, Texas.
Long experiments here with a different process of recording his actions; rather than photograph the walk, he wrote a poem and then presented that poem in a way that recalls the physical experience of the original in simple terms. The words are concise and the background of the poem is a monochromatic, gestural expression. Yet, the artwork still remains conceptual, as the audience can never fully envision the actual event and is left with only the poetic fragments.
Lithograph and screen print – Museum of Modern Art, New York
His Textworks, I find particularly interesting and they have piqued my interest because of the symmetry in their design (everything always has to be symmetrical for me) and the palindromic nature, a new obsession of mine, particularly with poetry is the palindrome.
Richard Long Press 037
Houghton Hall is a venerable stately home these days, but White Deer Circle, as this work is called, is new – created by Richard Long for an exhibition that, unusually for this visionary land artist, is being held outdoors. His stump circle is an uncanny echo of a Seahenge, an ancient wooden circle discovered on a beach 12 miles away. Amazingly, Long, who this year marks 50 years of showing his walking-inspired work, has never heard of the bronze age relic. Perhaps Long is listening to the landscape more closely than most, though, for he is unsurprised by such serendipity.
They accompany the permanent long sculpture, ‘Full Moon Circle‘, which was commissioned for Houghton in 2003. There will also be large mud works in the outdoor colonnades and smaller-scale works in gallery spaces, as well as historic material relating to the artist’s career.
The sturdy splendour of the Stone Hall currently has even more to draw the eye. Richard Long, the British land artist, has installed a work beneath the chandelier as part of his summer show at Houghton, Earth Sky. This particular piece stops you in your tracks more than the others – it’s a black, white and grey circle of rocks, formatted as compass coordinates. It brings the wild irregularity of nature inside, but ordered perfectly, as if by magic. “I will certainly miss this piece when it’s gone,” says Rocksavage. “It’s an incredible architectural intervention.”
While Holzer is known for inserting her political statements into the public sphere, the German artist Joseph Beuys is lauded for his role using art for social transformation. Beuys positioned himself as artist, teacher and educator often articulating his thinking through extensive lectures, using blackboards to illustrate his ideas in works such as For the lecture: The social organism – a work of art, Bochum, 2nd March 1974 1974. Beuys own words were inextricably linked with the artwork itself in part because of his role as a teacher and activist.
Much of Beuys’s work was focused on the environment – many of actions would take place in the landscape.
This started me thinking about the blackboard I had seen in the Tate Gallery. His work is provokative, stimulating a reaction and engagement from the audience. I too like to stimulate a reaction, I’m not concerned with whether people like my work, only that in viewing my work something has changed within them, that my work has provoked a reaction, either good or bad.
During the 1970s, Beuys lectured extensively on art and politics, and the task of creating a genuinely democratic society.
In the Duveen Galleries, in what is now Tate Britain, Beuys lectured on humanity’s natural creative capacity and the power of direct democracy to shape society. He chalked his conceptual theories onto the three leftmost blackboards (the fourth was used in a subsequent action at Whitechapel Gallery) and engaged the crowd in a free-form and often tense discussion.
This series of three blackboards were used to illustrate an event held at Tate in 1972, in which Beuys discussed his ideas about communication and grassroots democracy. A fourth blackboard, not displayed here, was used during a subsequent lecture at the Whitechapel Gallery.
This lit a spark in my mind given my recent delve into the theories of Pedagogy, Creative Processes and Autoethnography in Education discussed in my blog post Creative Flow.
The subtitle of this work indicates that 7,000 Oaks was fundamentally a time-based, or “process” work of environmentalism and eco-urbanization. Beuys planted 7000 trees in the small, historic city of Kassel, Germany, over several years (carried out with the assistance of volunteers), each oak accompanied by a stone of basalt. Beuys’s concerted effort to physically, spiritually and metaphorically alter the city’s social spaces – economic, political, and cultural, among others – is what finally constituted a community-wide “social sculpture” (Beuys’s own terminology). 7000 Oaks officially began in 1982 at Documenta 7, the international exhibition of modern and contemporary art that is organized, by a guest curator, at Kassel every five years (since 1955). Beuys’s own ecological “happening” drew to an official close five years later, at Documenta 8, after being continued by others for a full year after Beuys’s own death.
7000 oak trees and 7000 basalt stones – Kassel, Germany
A playful balance between Beuys the warm with Warhol the cold.
The chalkboard, a tool used by Beuys with cold and inhuman computer printouts, something Warhol would have liked. The wax prints are warmed up (a la Beuys). The poem in the center speaks to inside out, hot and cold.
I really like the use of a blackboard in Joseph Beuys work and have previously considered the idea that something like this could be used to record daily thoughts or happenings over a period of time to create a piece of artwork.
The terms ‘visual language’ or ‘vocabulary’ are typically used to describe the distinct characteristics of an artisthttp://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms/collection/themes/artist-rooms-theme-language’s practice. This employment of words is apt within the context of modern and contemporary art, since the use of written or spoken word has been a significant feature of artists’ practices since the early twentieth century. The use of letters and words in artworks is traditionally associated with authorship – the artist’s signature or inscription, often towards bottom of a painting or drawing.
Street and graffiti artists have always been using the power of letters and written words to attract attention of distracted bystanders, hungry for meaning and significance. For graffiti lettering it all began with letters and symbols scrawled on public surfaces, and when one looks at the work created by ten creators featured on the following list, it becomes clear how those markings evolved in beautiful and unexpected ways over the years. Some of them explore the beauty of lettering itself by creating complex and almost mystical calligraphic images, while others strive with great passion to achieve more simple, yet deeply philosophical use of typography as a vehicle to convey their messages.
Jenny Holzer (born July 29, 1950, Gallipolis, Ohio) is an American neo-conceptual artist, based in Hoosick Falls, New York. The main focus of her work is the delivery of words and ideas in public spaces.
Holzer belongs to the feminist branch of a generation of artists that emerged around 1980, looking for new ways to make narrative or commentary an implicit part of visual objects. Her contemporaries include Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Sarah Charlesworth, and Louise Lawler.
Lately, I’ve been exploring the use of text in my artwork. Many artists employ text – I’m thinking about artists like Joseph Kosuth, Ed Ruscha, Jasper Johns, Cy Twombly, etc. And recently I was introduced to the work of photographer, Idris Kahn and quickly discovered his artwork as well. Kahn, a London based artist, uses large stamped lines of text in his work. The text is inspired by Nietzsche. There’s something really compelling about Kahn’s work and I keep coming back to it again and again.
Hans Haacke‘s work questions systems of power and can be nicely packaged in the blanket of institutional critique. His most attractive piece is Shapolsky et al. Manhattan Real Estate Holdings, A Real Time Social System, as of May 1, 1971 (1971), an abstracted infographic linking a wealthy land owner (Shapolsky) to buildings he purchased. I haven’t seen it in a while, but it painted the guy as a slumlord and really dug into the shell companies used to purchase the land indirectly. It caused quite a stir at the time, and the Guggenheim refused it for Haacke’s solo show (possibly due to his politicizing a tie with the Guggenheim’s Board).
Lawrence Weiner (born February 10, 1942) is one of the central figures in the formation of conceptual art in the 1960s.
His work often takes the form of typographic texts.
The Weiner works in the ARTISTROOMS collection consist of a cycle of ten wall texts; each statement such as Tied Up in Knots 1988 and Roughly Ripped Apart 1988 suggests a physical action or invoke the manipulation of an object or matter. Weiner regards his language works as sculptures, and they can be seen as instructions or propositions that could be enacted. These works are displayed as vinyl lettering applied directly to the exhibition surface. The artist’s aim is to offer a universal, objective experience in which the reader is invited to execute the work through his or her own imagination.
Weiner began his career as an artist as a very young man at the height of Abstract Expressionism. His debut public work/exhibition was at the age of 19, with what he called Cratering Piece. An action piece, the work consisted of explosives set to ignite simultaneously in the four corners of a field in Marin County, California. That work, as Weiner later developed his practice as a painter, became an epiphany for the turning point in his career. His work in the early 1960s included six years of making explosions in the landscape of California to create craters as individual sculptures. He is also known during his early work for creating gestures described in simple statements leading to the ambiguity of whether the artwork was the gesture or the statement describing the gesture: e.g.”Two minutes of spray paint directly on the floor..” or ” A 36″ x 36″ removal of lathing or support wall…” (both 1968). In 1968, when Sol LeWitt came up with his Paragraphs on Conceptual Art, Weiner formulated his “Declaration of Intent” (1968):
1. The artist may construct the piece.
2. The piece may be fabricated.
3. The piece need not be built.
Each being equal and consistent with the intent of the artist the decision as to condition rests with the receiver upon the occasion of receivership.
Works form the early twentieth century where appropriated words, letters and symbols were increasingly incorporated, such as Francis Picabia’s The Fig-Leaf 1922 and Kurt Schwitters’s Mz.299 1922, reflected the emerging avant-garde movements of the time. This period also saw an increasing presence of the printed word in the urban landscape and the developing sophistication of marketing and advertising.
The Italian artist Mario Merz began using neon in 1966, his neon texts were often juxtaposed against everyday objects as is the case with Che Fare? 1968-73. The words ‘Che Fare’ in neon resemble handwriting sunk into a pot of wax that melts under the heat of the neon. Che Fare translates as ‘What is to be Done?’ taken from the title of a political pamphlet produced by Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in 1902. The text is widely regarded as advocating a political party to promote Marxism within the working classes and has come to define the drama of an individual’s engagement in modern society.
DIRTY BABY 1977 Edward Ruscha born 1937 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00058
BLUE PURPLE TILT 2007 Jenny Holzer born 1950 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00082
TIED UP IN KNOTS 1988 Lawrence Weiner born 1942 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00136
In the Cloud 1991 Richard Long born 1945 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00143
Che Fare? 1968-73 Mario Merz 1925-2003 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00598
La Brea/Art Tips/Rat Spit/Tar Pits 1972 Bruce Nauman born 1941 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00607
For the lecture: The social organism – a work of art, Bochum, 2nd March 1974 1974 Joseph Beuys 1921-1986 ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d’Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/AR00621
Pain doesn’t show up on a body scan and can’t be measured in a test. As a result, many chronic pain sufferers turn to art, opting to paint, draw or sculpt images in an effort to depict their pain.
“It’s often much more difficult to put pain into words, which is one of the big problems with pain,” said Allan I. Basbaum, editor-in-chief of Pain, the medical journal of The International Association for the Study of Pain. “You can’t articulate it, and you can’t see it. There is no question people often try to illustrate their pain.”
Mark Collen founded the organization as a result of his own experience with chronic pain. He herniated a disk in his lower back resulting in chronic nerve pain. He searched for many years but was unable to find quality pain management and felt that no matter how hard he tried to communicate with his physician he was unable to express his true physical pain. Mark began to make art about his pain and suffering as a way to visually share his experience with his doctor. After showing his artwork to his healthcare provider his treatment improved as a result of his doctor having a visual reference and seeing the pain through Mark’s art. Art was far more effective at communicating pain than words ever could be. As a result of his experience, in 2001 Mark decided to reach out to other artists with chronic pain and assemble an online collection of images of their art expressing some facet of the pain experience. The response was overwhelming and artists from around the globe volunteered to join Mark to share their pain experiences with the public through their artwork on-line. In June of 2012 PAIN Exhibit was formally born as a non-profit with the goal to use the collection as a visual tool to educate healthcare providers and the public about chronic pain and give a voice to those suffering in silence. James Gregory, who is also affected by chronic pain, has been part of the journey of the PAIN Exhibit throughout the years and is integral to the exhibit achieving its mission.
Art is far more effective at communicating the pain experience than words. The pain experience goes beyond the actual occurrence of physical pain and encompasses the entirety of one’s life. This experience can be both negative and positive.
The negative pain experience can include multiple surgeries, painful treatments, using different medications which produce unpleasant side effects, the failing of relationships, feelings of isolation and being trapped, poor self-image, depression, insomnia, frustration in trying to find quality medical treatment, and battles with insurance companies and lawyers. Since chronic pain frequently cannot be seen, unlike a broken arm, many with pain are not believed by doctors, colleagues, friends and family. This lack of belief is especially difficult for those living with pain.
Although no person would ever volunteer to have chronic pain, the pain experience can impact one’s life in positive ways. “What does not kill you makes you stronger,” is an applicable quote. It is not unusual for people with chronic pain to develop greater inner strength, and to become more introspective which leads to increased self-understanding. Chronic pain may change the course of one’s life and result in a more satisfying path. It is not unusual for those in pain to begin the pursuit of a spiritual path which can greatly enhance life.
One of the most famous pain artists is Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, whose work, now on exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is imbued with the lifelong suffering she experienced after being impaled during a trolley accident as a teenager. Her injuries left her spine and pelvis shattered, resulting in multiple operations and miscarriages, and she often depicted her suffering on canvas in stark, disturbing and even bloody images.
Narrative Art put simply tells a story, where the artist tells a story in the piece of artwork. Traditionally the Narrative Artist would make the assumption that the audience is familiar with the story he is telling, either from religion, myths or legends. In modern times, narrative art will tell a story or depict a scene from everyday life.
The development of the contemporary art scene has seen the narrative become obsolete in the eyes of many artists, collectors and investors. One of the reasons for this is that people have come to view the narrative as being indicative and representative of an indulgent and decorative approach to fine art that is somehow not “intelligent” enough and not in keeping with the complex visual language that contemporary artists seem to be obsessed with
The use of narrative by Francis Bacon can be described as a contradiction in terms. Although his work tells a story, he avoids the boredom by focusing on the narrative as an activity or process rather than the narrative as a product which Bacon appears to be opposed to.
“I do not want to avoid telling a story, but I want very, very much to do the thing that Valery said – to give the sensation without the boredom of its conveyance. And the moment the story enters, the boredom comes upon you.” – Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon is deeply suspicious of narrative. For him, narrative seems to be the natural enemy of vision; it blinds. Narrative is boring because it precludes the direct actualisation of a painting via the viewer’s perception. Story-tellers are seducers, diverting the audience’s attention from what there is to see.
Bacon seems to propose an opposition between narrative as a product that can be endlessly reproduced, as re-presentation – the ‘boredom’ is inspired by the deja vu of repetition – and narrative as process, as sensation. Conveying a story implies that a pre-existing story, fictional or not, is transferred to an addressee. Narrative is then reduced to a kind of transferable message. Opposed to this ‘conveying of story’, ‘telling a story’ focuses on the activity or process of narrative. This process is not repeatable; it cannot be iterative because it takes place, it happens, whenever ‘story’ happens… Bacon’s hostility toward narrative is directed against narrative as product, as re-presentation, not against narrative as process.
Although Bacon’s paintings display many signs which traditionally signify narrativity, the same token any attempt to postulate narratives based on the paintings is countered.
Alphen, E. (1993). Francis Bacon and the loss of self. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Tracey Emin: My Bed
My Bed made by Tracey Emin in 1998 can be described as a piece of Narrative Art, describing the scene where she lay for days after a relationship breakup.
Tracey Emin’s art is one of disclosure, using her life events as inspiration for works ranging from painting, drawing, video and installation, to photography, needlework and sculpture. Emin reveals her hopes, humiliations, failures and successes in candid and, at times, excoriating work that is frequently both tragic and humorous.
Emin’s work has an immediacy and often sexually provocative attitude that firmly locates her oeuvre within the tradition of feminist discourse. By re-appropriating conventional handicraft techniques – or ‘women’s work’ – for radical intentions, Emin’s work resonates with the feminist tenets of the ‘personal as political’. In Everyone I’ve Ever Slept With, Emin used the process of appliqué to inscribe the names of lovers, friends and family within a small tent, into which the viewer had to crawl inside, becoming both voyeur and confidante. Her interest in the work of Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele particularly inform Emin’s paintings, monoprints and drawings, which explore complex personal states and ideas of self-representation through manifestly expressionist styles and themes.
Although Rauch’s paintings appear to be narrative, they can also have contradictions throughout them that can leave the audience questioning the real intent of the artwork.
Neo Rauch is one of the great contemporary narrative painters who uses complexity and ambiguity to offer a fresh and challenging interpretation of the visual narrative.
In Rauch’s off-kilter landscape Der Rückzug (The Retreat), 2006, the affectless faces of the men, women, and children reflect a Cold War sense of imminent danger which was inspired by the memory of the artist’s youth in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.John Currin is another great contemporary artist who uses the narrative to great effect in his work.
Rauch studied art under Arno Rink at the Art Academy in Leipzig, becoming a master-class student under Bernhard Heisig from 1986 until 1990. Following German reunification he was Heisig’s assistant at the Academy from 1993 to 1998. In 1997 Neo Rauch was awarded the art prize of the Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper. As the euphoria surrounding the Young British Artists (championed by Charles Saatchi) abated, the international art market in the late 1990s began courting the artists of the ‘Leipzig School’. Since that time Neo Rauch has become an extremely successful German export, above all to the United States.
The works of John Currin typically are figurative with a satirical element that highlights provocative or social themes.
In his masterpiece Thanksgiving, 2003, Currin presents a wonderfully humorous story of three women work together to prepare a Thanksgiving meal.Far from the innocent and purposeful imagery of the traditional narrative, Currin uses various different artistic devices to present a rather uncomfortable and challenging interpretation of an event that is of great importance and significance to the American people.
A Scottish artist, born in Oban who lives in London and dedicates his work to an imaginary island.
There are few artists brave enough to play God, but Charles Avery has no problems on that score. Over the last 10 years he has been building an island and painstakingly documenting its inhabitants, landscape and cosmology in text, paint and sculpture. The premise could be straight out of Tolkien, except that Avery is much more sophisticated than that. His world is populated with mythical beasts that haunt the inhabitants’ psyche, decrying their very nature and usurping their sense of reason.
Many of the natives are addicted to the local delicacy, pickled eggs, which enslaves them to the island. Hunters in tweed jackets and shotguns search out a Kantian dichotomy while hawkers in the local flea market sell pictures of nude women for the price of peace of mind.
Lindsay Seers who was unable to talk as a child, uses video installations and film projections to create a magical world of stories and narrative.
British artist Lindsay Seers endows her work with a touch of magic. Her video installations transport the viewer to a cacophonous wonderland inhabited by shamans, fortune-tellers, transgender ventriloquists, and people with strange medical conditions, where multiple narrative voices and film projections dissolve all sense of anchorage. In her 2012 work Nowhere Less Now, a historical photograph of Seers’s seafaring great-great-uncle George triggers an odyssey across generations and geographies, featuring blood sacrifice, Zanzibari slave trade, and Victorian secret societies, interwoven with themes of identity, memory, and veracity.
“It’s as if a whole universe could unfold from a photograph,” says Seers in her North London studio. “It was this idea of the mythology of a photograph.”
While there has always been a narrative thread in my work, as there is in almost all painting–even abstract painting–I’ve generally tried to keep it autonomous to and within the painting. I’ve wanted to illuminate a pathway rather than illustrate a story. In the past, if I were to use an image of a glass of water, for instance, I would try to make a new connection to some not water images.
When I was young, I didn’t want to be understood too quickly, though I realized that sometimes you just end up concealing rather than revealing yourself. Now those kinds of more literal, narrative connections wouldn’t faze me. I might even find them reassuring. Still, this is the first time I’ve consciously kept a family of images tied together, like spokes in a wheel. The challenge here was to develop a correspondence among the emotional, narrative, and thematic lines of the subject matter and the formal considerations that generally occupy me–how to, for example, connect images of Hurricane Katrina from the New York Times to the Michelangelo scenes. It was interesting to see that doing this didn’t kill the painting; it didn’t kill the art. We live in a moment that is so crisis-laden that biblical or apocalyptic metaphors seem appropriate–and the scale seems right–whereas in another time they might have felt preposterous.
«24 Hour Psycho»
Realistically, no one can watch the whole of 24 Hour Psycho, which consists of Alfred Hitchcock’s film «Psycho» (1960) slowed down so that a single, continuous viewing lasts for twenty-four hours. While we can experience narrative elements in it (largely through familiarity with the original), the crushing slowness of their unfolding constantly undercuts our expectations, even as it ratchets up the idea of suspense to a level approaching absurdity.
(source: Russell Ferguson, «Trust Me,» in: Douglas Gordon, Cambridge/MA, 2001, p. 16.)
The Crossing undermines our notion of video as fast-paced, easily understood, and narrative. To describe the video is not just to spoil the “plot”—it really has none—but, more importantly, to trivialize the experience.
Suffice it to say that Viola uses slow motion and sound to confront and challenge viewers to reconsider instances of metaphysical transformation. In short, Viola employs this new age medium of figuration and sound to investigate the question of human mortality and resilience—issues that have preoccupied artists through the ages.
Installation view at Brent Sikkema, New York
Projection, cut paper and adhesive on wall, 14 x 37 1/2 feet
Neo Narratives Essay
For many neo-narrationists, analysis of their own narration is clearly a major concern. At its simplest level, the re-purposing of narrative vehicles necessitates at least some critical comparison with the original’s intended function, whether undertaken explicitly by the artist or those engaging in the work itself.