Martin Parr, Sign of the Times at Beetles + Huxley

Category: Photography

I am a huge fan of Martin Parr. He excels at taking photographs that capture the idiosyncrasies particular to the lifestyles of the social strata in his native Britain. His ability to see extraordinary detail and capture humorous juxtapositions in the most mundane of moments is a special gift. In addition to the satirical commentary carried through his images, the photographs are aesthetically compelling and distinctive. Unafraid to get up close, Parr often works with a macro lens and a ring flash, giving the images an uncanny clarity and luster. The visual effect is commonly seen in fashion photography, (recall Viviane Sassen’s work I wrote about earlier this year), takes on a disconcerting quality when applied to the types of subjects we are not used to seeing in such proximity— overweight, middle-aged white folk lacking the protective coatings and disguises of professional models.

I am well acquainted with Parr’s photographs of resorts, beaches and hot-spots of mass tourism, but the Signs of the Times series is new to me. These photographs were taken in the early 90′s, when Martin Parr was asked to be the stills photographer for a BBC documentary of the same name. A collaboration between BBC, Nicholas Barker and Martin Parr, the show set out to documents the décor and tastes of 50 diverse British homes. Now, the series is exhibited in a solo exhibition for the first time at London’s Beetles + Huxley, in association with Parr’s representatives, Rocket Gallery. Humorous, awkward and kitsch, the photographs uncover some painfully twee florals and frills, accompanied by a frightful assortment of carpets. Hilarious quotes from the home-owners feature as the photograph’s titles, framing each image with a personal insight.

Let’s face it, we all love a good nosey into the lives of our fellow human beings. If you can’t make it to Beetles + Huxley, you can satisfy your voyeuristic urges and 90s bad-taste nostalgia by viewing more photographs here.

Anna Tokareva

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Santa Fe, New Mexico
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Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Photography
Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Photography

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NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti

Milan, Italy
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Relating – It’s All About Ya

Category: Film / Multimedia, Fine Arts, Installation

I have just spent a week visiting Melbourne and during that time I was fortunate enough to stumble upon one of the best exhibitions I have seen in a very long time. Currently showing at the National Gallery of Victoria are three video installations by Chinese artist Wang Gongxin. I have seen one of Gongxin’s video installations before, but otherwise am a complete novice on his work.

Gongxin comes out of the conservative Chinese art world. Having studied social realism, a form of propaganda art that was endorsed during and continued after the end of the cultural revolution, Gongxin’s practice swiftly shifted to video installation after a stint teaching in New York. The exhibit at the NGV in Melbourne showcases three works, two of which I have shown above. All three are incredible but Relating – It’s All About Ya  2010 (top set), is probably one of the most affronting and immersive video installations I have seen. Documenting the fast paced existence of humanity in China’s Beijing, the frenetic film is projected across 11 giant screens, timed and choreographed to create an encapsulating and exciting sequence. Beginning with the sound Ya, the film starts with a traditional chinese warrior. This quickly moves through to a teapot, floating fabric, vibrating coins, wobbling flabby bellies, jittering high heels and finally, a pulsating white wigged head banging dancer that morphs into trancing older woman. The installation is incredibly captivating, I watched it fully through four times, and likewise did the young kids who were running from screen to screen around the gallery.

The second work (bottom set), Basic Colour 2010 uses five elongated projected screens, each with a detail of the human body. A hand, an ear, the contours of an arched back, are all set against a soft grey background. These bodies become almost like abstract landscapes, only to be made more so by the covering and then unveiling by colour pigment and water. Unlike Ya, Basic Colour is slow and hypnotic. The colour and detail of this piece is incredibly beautiful and allows you to draw into the work in a completely different manner to the rooms either side.

Wang Gongxin’s training in social realism built a foundation of art making around the elevation of the ordinary working man. His work since the regime fell continues on this same path but without the confounds of the idealized propaganda aesthetic. The fake-ness has gone and what’s left is a body of work that deals with this subject in a truly honest and beautiful way.

If you’re in Melbourne, or are there before the 28th September, make sure you take the time to see this one. Wang Gongxin at the NGV, get in there asap. But if you’re not and want to see the full installation video, click here and head under ‘selected works’. Gongxin graciously allows you to watch the full video under the title of each work.

Logan Bradley

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Santa Fe University of Art and Design

Santa Fe, New Mexico
http://www.santafeuniversity.edu/

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Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Studio Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Studio Arts
Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Moving Image Arts (Film/ Video)

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Ed Atkins at Serpentine Sackler Gallery

Category: 3D Animation, Film / Multimedia, Fine Arts

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.

Anna Tokareva

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Santa Fe University of Art and Design

Santa Fe, New Mexico
http://www.santafeuniversity.edu/

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Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Studio Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Studio Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Digital Arts
Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Moving Image Arts (Film/ Video)

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Media Design School

Premium Design Academy in Auckland, New Zealand
http://www.mediadesignschool.com/

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Bachelor of Art and Design (3D Animation and Visual Effects)

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NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti

Milan, Italy
http://www.naba.it/

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Bachelor of Art in Painting and Visual Arts
Bachelor of Art in Media Design and Multimedia Arts
Masters of Art in Visual Arts and Curatorial Studies
Masters of Art in Film and New Media

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NewSchool of Architecture + Design

San Diego, California
http://www.newschoolarch.edu/

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Bachelor of Science in Digital Media Arts
Bachelor of Arts in Animation

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Noémie Goudal at The New Art Gallery Walsall

Category: Architecture, Fine Arts, Intallation, Photography

A powerful narrative unfolds when abandoned places meet the poetic juxtaposition of brutalist manmade structures in French artist Noémie Goudal’s epic photographic work.

Her current exhibition at The New Art Gallery Walsall in the UK titled ‘The Geometrical Determination of the Sunrise’ shows photo series, stereoscopic images and multi-screen film installations exploring the same theme.

Goudal’s process is absolutely fascinating. Her compositions are completely staged. The artist uses full-scale printouts composed of individual sheets of paper joined together and imports them into eerie abandoned environments. Her constructions refer to butalist and Cosmic Indian architecture, exploring geomorphic structures and the relationship between nature and artifice. The results are breath taking.

‘The Geometrical Determination of the Sunrise’ is shown at The New Art Gallery Walsall until the 14th of September 2014 and produced in co-operation with Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, where the exhibition will tour in 2015.

Kyle Glass
Images: © Noémie Goudal

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Santa Fe University of Art and Design

Santa Fe, New Mexico
http://www.santafeuniversity.edu/

Relevant Courses:

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Studio Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Studio Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Photography
Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Photography

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NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti

Milan, Italy
http://www.naba.it/

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Bachelor of Art in Media Design and Multimedia Arts
Masters of Art in Visual Arts and Curatorial Studies
Masters of Art in Film and New Media
Masters in Photography and Visual Design

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Ai Wei Wei at Lisson Gallery

Category: Fine Arts, Installation, sculpture

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.

Anna Tokareva

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Santa Fe University of Art and Design

Santa Fe, New Mexico
http://www.santafeuniversity.edu/

Relevant Courses:

Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Studio Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Studio Arts

Get in touch now:

 

NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti

Milan, Italy
http://www.naba.it/

Relevant Courses:

Bachelor of Art in Painting and Visual Arts
Masters of Art in Visual Arts and Curatorial Studies

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