I discovered Daria Tuminas in an article giving an overview of 24 young Russian photographers. Her featured work was one of the stand-out images for me, a photograph from her series Ivan and the Moon. The series follows the lives of two teenage brothers, living in a small village in northern Russia. Tuminas’ became close friends with them throughout the process of developing the body of work, and this is evident in the disarming openness of these boys to participating in her project. We are drawn into a world of slow village life, mystical beauty, strange apparitions. What seem like simple, quiet moments from daily life are interlaced with something otherworldly. It is as though they are constantly hovering on the threshold to another realm, one foot in this world, the other in a place where distant memories and pagan legends are alive and thriving.
It is difficult to tell to what extent the photographs have been preplanned and set up, which is what gives them their magic. Ivan and his younger brother, nicknamed “Moon”, take to the camera with natural ease, slipping in and out of character. Daria Tuminas studied Russian literature and folklore, before shifting her focus to photography as a method of archiving oral history and tales. She continues her research and writing practice, and has recently co-curated Undercover, an exhibition of Dutch photography which looks like it would have been a fascinating one to navigate through.
Her current photographic project is currently in progress, with more images being released soon, you have a sneak peak here.
High definition CGI is not a common presence in the fine art world, and I was surprised to see images of a digitally rendered human figure so prominently displayed at one of the the most important contemporary art galleries in Britain. The troublesome looking young man is an avatar modeled on Ed Atkins, the artist himself. Ed Atkins had somehow slipped my radar, but the more I’ve learned about him the more intrigued I’ve become with his work. His multi-channel installation Ribbons (2014) occupies several spaces and screens in the Serpentine Sackler Gallery until 25 August. The video follows the protagonist as he drinks, smokes, swears, mutters, gets naked, tries his luck with a glory hole. It is accompanied by large boards bearing blocks of texts with scribbled-in margins, and disturbingly realistic human skins, or UV maps of the avatar, on display like scientific specimens or conquests.
Atkins is skilled in coding, and creating 3D animation, though he did solicit the help of an expert to produce elements like the astoundingly hyper-real render of a whiskey glass that appears in the video. He pushes CGI far enough to remind the viewer that its’ most prized achievement, hyper-realism, undoes itself as, no matter how close the image gets to looking real, it will forever fall short of life. The avatar is so meticulously rendered, and yet so vapid, vacant—he is but a shell of code, stretched over an artificial structure.We see ourselves reflected in him, and but that which becomes apparent is our comparative physicality, flesh and mortality.
Ed Atkins is heavily influenced by literature and poetry and the written word play an important part in his creative process. Here is a beautiful performance of a piece called Depression from last year. If you happen to be in London definitely check out the exhibition, and I’d recommend reading some interviews with him, he is a fascinating artist. Here is a good audio interview recorded at Chisenhale Gallery in 2012.
Last year I was fortunate enough to interview Shepard Fairey for our Frontier magazine focusing on Santa Fe. He was at SFUAD, one of our supporting universities, undertaking a collaborative art project. Since then, my interest in his work and that of many street artists has been piqued and this new website by Google allows me to delve into this even deeper.
Google’s new Street Art Project is a partner to it’s existing Art Project which aims to give access to influential art objects, historical artifacts and world wonders to a wider audience. Run by the Google Cultural Institute in France, the Art Project aims to democratise art. It seems fitting then for Google to enter into the world of street art which by default brings art to everyone. Much like the Art Project, the Street Art Project utilizes gallery archives, Google’s own street view, Google maps, and user generated content to provide a map of the worlds street art. Allowing viewers to zoom into details of the work, providing glimpses of work that has since been destroyed and showcasing pieces in locations many of us will never get to are just some of the features this incredible initiative hosts. Street Art is generally considered the ugly brother to that of the gallery world, bar the few exemptions of Banksy and Fairey, but here, the scope and detail of this project is given as much emphasis and importance as it’s older brother. With Amit Sood, director of the Cultural Institute initiative commenting, “Im not treating street art as anything different from what I would do with the Impressionist collection I’m getting on Art Project”, it’s clear to see that the intention of this site is to lift this often neglected art form to it’s rightful place. Personally, I find it incredible that this is even questioned – shouldn’t this should be the acceptable norm by now?
The best thing about this site though is that it’s fun! Seriously fun. I thoroughly enjoyed checking out street art in Oman, a place I’ve wanted to travel to for years but have never quite got there. How great that I can now do this, and more to the point, that once the artwork is painted over by some bored government official, we’ll still be able to view it as it was.
Click here to check it out. Definitely worth your time.
It may be summer break in the U.S at the moment, but that hasn’t stop Santa Fe University of Art and Design hosting a range of exciting creative events. Along with ARTFEST, which Frontier always looks forward to, SFAUD have opened up their campus as a free range exhibition space for American modernist James Surls.
Surls is known for his large scale monotone sculptures, drawings and prints. Originally focusing on natural and human images and forms, of recent years his wooden and metal works have adopted a more abstract presence with the recognizable elements being paired back in favour for spiky dangerous forms. His use of natural, twisted wood is what interests me. The last shot from one of his annual studio exhibitions looks like dangerous viewing, large heavy wooden structures are hung precariously above, with the thorny spikes heightening the sculptures menacing aesthetic.
At SFUAD, Surls’ sculptures have been placed around campus like aliens landed in the dry desert landscape. It’s an fantastic juxtaposition. From what I can tell, James Surls’ sculptures are up all summer long, if you’re in the neighbourhood then make sure you stop in for this intriguing free show.
We’ve seen a lot of marble used over the past year in furniture, product and graphic design, and even in fashion as digital prints. Here it is used by artist Ai Wei Wei in what is perhaps the most apt manner—for the purpose of social critique. Ai Wei Wei has risen to international prominence despite (and also due to) his widely-criticized 81 day detainment by the Chinese authorities in 2011, and has since continued producing work—even though he is barred from traveling overseas to be present at his own shows, with his passport still being withheld by authorities. His commitment to social activism and the protection of free speech is laudable, especially since politics and art are seldom a successful mix.
His current show at Lisson Gallery in London is largely made up of meticulously sculpted objects, sparsely arranged, some encased in glass display cases. His photographic series Study of Perspective, depicting him giving the middle finger to various structures of power around the world, dilute what may appear to be a serious museum display with a touch of cheeky humour. A good sense of humour is surely needed for someone in his situation, and the rest of the aesthetically beautiful objects point to some of the problems he encounters in the homeland he is bound to. A conglomeration of bicycles harks back to the days when Beijing was famed for this mode transport, now overtaken by cars and pollution. The gas mask, immortalized in marble, serves as a sinister warning. Highly personal items intermingle with those of wider cultural and political significance. There are handcuffs and coat-hangers, re-created from crystal, jade and huali wood, that refer to his detainment. Traditional lanterns and replicas of his father’s armchairs carved from heavy marble. Glass replicas of taxi window cranks are a puzzling sight, until we find out that these have been banned from Beijing taxis, in order to prevent passengers from distributing protest leaflets.
Every object in this exhibition is charged with cultural and personal references it is up to us to research further and decode. It’s an unapologetic display of dissent towards the authorities, but also a narrative of Ai Wei Wei’s experiences and struggles as an individual. The exhibit will be on until 19 July, but Ai Wei Wei is also the subject of a major retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum until 10 August.