Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Outside the window is the wasteland of urban living. Olive creates interfaces of humans and nature that call attention to our treatment of the natural environment. She also is a seductive and sensuous painter who knows how to use color and the texture of paint itself so skillfully that her content and her technique are wedded inextricably. Her love of beauty in the art work is a part of her distress about the ruin of the natural environment. Since she is currently based in NYC, she is painting that distress with an urban focus. She has also painted western streams rushing down Manhattan streets with cars floating in them, and a lumber mill and power plant set right on the Columbia River . She depicts vanishing species, birds, animals, and also vanishing trees, lost in our contemporary world.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Is this not an act of resistance to power, an act of bare life that is insisting on itself as something more. Perhaps people will argue that it is a useless decoration of an inevitable fact on the ground.
Greene is currently working with the Rachel Corrie Foundation painting a mural in
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Other than Hirshhorn who is addressing the artist's own position, the works expand our understanding of what is going on inside of an environment in which military attacks are destroying if not your own building, then the one next door, or in another part of the country (Lamia Joreige). Do you go and look, do you stay home and drink tea. Lamia drove nearby.
Other artists are also telling us what happens with the people who are on the ground, but not actually shooting, what happens to memory, what happens to you? Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is an Iraqi photographer and journalist who was next to a US shoot out of civilians in Iraq. His image of a screaming child in his fathers arms, which I have on my desk, is haunting beyond any image I have seen. It interrupts us entirely. We cannot avoid it. These artists are telling us that conflict is a long, wide and deep place. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad was also part of an exhibition and book called Unembedded. The photographers did work for mainstream media, but they are free lance, and the book includes a lot of work that they couldn't get published.
"image wars" ( the subject of the exhibition in NYC), "bare life" (refugees in particular), "uneven geographies", and "transnational social space. " He refers to the fact that these subjects exist in what he calls "rifts of representation" blurring fact and fiction, reinventing documentary photography, collaboration on socially engaged practices, and use of the internet to explore what he calls "heterogenous and uprooted representational structures"
Given the crisis in Gaza, I have been focusing on that in my own writing. In the New York exhibition, Demos included Emily Jacir and Ahlam Shibli, both of whom fall into the category of reinventing documentary photography. But I also found this statement by Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun a pair of artists in one of the London symposia. They comment on the difficulty of representing Palestine, when it is non existent. How can it be made visible they ask? How has it been made visible? They use as the example the Jenin Refugee Camp, a place where the residents have been repeatedly asked to represent themselves, the artists ask if the refugees could be represented as other than victims? or other than witnesses?
Fascinating as these theoretical arguments are to thinking about the role of art in the midst of crisis, I feel that artists who are in the situation, who make connections to people are more signficant for me.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Gloria Bornstein had a small showing of her new work recently. This is what she said about it
"The title of the grouping of Rorschach tests and queens is: "you've been confirmed as queen". I heard a voice saying this in a dream.
The artworks are part of a series exploring the perceptual gap between the eye as optical instrument - and the gaze of the unconscious.
Like Rorschach tests and dreams, the artworks play with objectivity, subjectivity, and the illusionary space in-between.
The artworks developed from one of many dreams I document daily, a continuing practice begun 1974".
After reading Frank Rich in the NY Times yesterday I realized how apropos the mirrors are to the current financial hall of mirrors capitalism is mired in. The queens represent anything you project on them but Madoff (& sub-prime mortgages) are a perfect example of elation/deflation we find in dreams - awake and not). "
These evocative works are eerie, as seen in this suggestive photograph where they are reflected in a window at dusk. They come out of Gloria's Bornstein's subconscious. We love Gloria's subconscious. When I need a jolt in my head I talk to Gloria, who is a private person who rarely shows personal work. But talking to her is always a treat. That is why we were so lucky to have this momentary showing ( or was it a sighting?)
The pieces were in two parts, the Rorschach drawings and the metal "crowns" based on those drawings are set on wooden heads from dummies. This is a great metaphor, a crown coming from the subconscious is placed on a dummy head. It suggests the inversion of the order of things, an accidental person becomes queen.
Since Gloria is so deep, the pieces also connect to Lacan, mirror stages, and dreams. Queens seem like a subject that doesn't come easily in a dream. But a tiara on a wooden dummy head, this is pure comedy, pure outrageous defiance of expectations. I wish more people dared to be this ridiculous and beautiful. Life in the contemporary art world of Seattle would be a lot more interesting!.
Gloria also has a public side: She has done a lot of incredible public art. Here I will mention only the Sentinels at the Fire station in the International District. This is what she told me about them:
"Inspired by forms found in Asian Art, architecture, folk craft, and public safety, the multi-sculptural environment represents the guardians of the city. Just as the staff of Fire Station 10 Center in the Chinatown-International District is responsible for the public safety of the city, the surrounding Asian community has been standing watch over the interests of their neighborhood. I wrote the art plan "Different Voices, One Community" after interviewing the folks that make up the tapestry of
Is this not wonderful information. These sentinels bring together art history, political, cultural connections, and
What is amazing about Gloria's public art is that every piece is different. See her website to know what I mean.