Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fwd: Aesthetica December Newsletter

Aesthetica Magazine Newsletter

Current issue

Welcome to the December Newsletter

Recommended article from the current issue of Aesthetica Magazine

An Unfamilar Reality: Introducing Camilo Echeverri

A graduate of London College of Communication, Echeverri (b.1977) searches for new angles and unremarkable scenes, and the result produces a sensitive study of the people who inhabit them. We preview his SuperWomen series here.

Image credit: Camilo Echeverri TV News. 84x65cm. 2010

For more, visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/art.htm

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Issue 44: December/January - Out Now

Kimsooja, Bottari Truck - Migrateurs (2005). Photo: Spyros Staveris. Courtesy: The DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art

In art, this issue offers a diverse range of features starting with The Way We Live Now, which is on at the Design Museum and explores Sir Terence Conran's impact on contemporary life in Britain. Sharon Lockhart: Lunch Break runs at SFMOMA and reflects the position of the individual in the framework of industrial labour. Anselm Kiefer opens Shevirat Ha-Kelim: The Breaking of the Vessels at Tel Aviv Museum of Art to inaugurate their new building. Zarina Bhimji's retrospective of 30 years and the premiere of her new film Yellow Patch opens at Whitechapel. There's a visual survey of this year's winner and shortlisted photographers for the National Portrait Gallery's photography prize, and we look back at this year's cover artists with an overview of their works.

In film, highly acclaimed and award-winning director, Pablo Giorgelli talks about his subtle and beautiful new film, Las Acacias. There is also a round-up of ASFF 2011.

In music, we examine the niche genre of musical comedy and chat with American four-piece Wild Flag about their new album.

In performance, we look at Danser Sa Vie at Pompidou Centre, which looks at the place dance hold in art history.

Finally, Christoph Benjamin Schulz discusses Alice in Wonderland, Tate Liverpool's latest show. I wish you the best for the year ahead. Enjoy!

Enrique Metinides, Untitled. Regis Hotel, Centro Historico, Mexico City, 1985. After the earthquake of 19 September 1985. Courtesy of the artist, Enrique Metinides.
Break My Fall, photo: Cynthia Vanzella
App Music: At Your Fingertips
Nicolas Floc'h, Performance painting # 2, 2005. HDV, 16:9, colour, sound. Rachid interpreter Ouramdane Edition 1 / 3. Reims, Frac Champagne-Ardennes. © ADAGP, Paris 2011.

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Arts News
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3. Stuart Whipps
4. Ryan McGinley
5. Paloma Varga

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Blog Excerpt
Rashid Rana: Everything Is Happening At Once

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Arts News

In this section of the Aesthetica newsletter, we look at some of the most exciting events
that are happening this month.

Dara Birnbaum: Arabesque (2011). Four channel video installation, four stereo audio, 6' 30". Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York - Paris. Photo: John Berens

1. Dara Birnbaum: Pioneer of Video Art

South London Gallery, Peckham
9 December – 12 February 2012

American artist Dara Birnbaum was one of the first to subvert the language of television and is internationally recognised for her pioneering video works made over the past three and a half decades.  For this exhibition she presents the UK premiere of her recent work, Arabesque, 2011, a multi-channel video installation which reflects the legacy of two piano compositions; one composed by Robert Schumann for his wife Clara, the other composed by Clara Schumann for her husband Robert. Spanning the gallery's main exhibition space and first floor galleries, the show also includes the seminal work, Attack Piece, 1975, Birnbaum's first surviving installation, and a series of her single channel works from the 1970s.  A survey of Birnbaum's analysis of television through the 1980s, including Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman, 1978-79, will also be presented as a one-off screening on 11 January 2012.

Birnbaum's Arabesque, 2011, surveys and re-presents multiple perspectives on Robert Schumann's Arabesque Opus 18, 1839, through a multi-screen video installation occupying the SLG's main exhibition space.  Still footage from the 1947 film Song of Love, a melodrama featuring Arabesque, is set against Birnbaum's edit of a broad selection of performances of the piece taken from YouTube clips and excerpts from Clara Schumann's diary. In Birnbaum's words, "the more the viewer is exposed to the Arabesque masterwork, the more it becomes neutralized by the diverse range of musicians attempting to reach for it". In the course of her research Birnbaum became increasingly interested in the relationship between Robert Schumann and his wife Clara, an accomplished pianist and composer who cared for him through phases of depression and madness, as well as for their eight children, supporting them through her playing. For Birnbaum, the relative obscurity of Clara Schumann's composition Romanze 1, Opus 11, which might be argued to be of similar virtuosity to Robert Schumann's widely acclaimed masterpiece, symbolises the power struggle between men and women, a concern which has informed her practice for more than thirty years. 

In the SLG's first floor galleries a series of Birnbaum's earliest single channel works from the 1970s are shown alongside the double projection installation, Attack Piece, 1975. In Attack Piece Birnbaum is shown "armed" with a still camera while she is filmed by her mostly male collaborators (including David Askevold, Dan Graham and Ian Murray), who attempt to invade her territory. Other works use video to create psychological self-portraits, or explore the tension between the performative and the psychological.  All of the works are in different ways underpinned by the artist's exploration of the relationship between the camera, performer and viewer, and many reveal her questioning of gender stereotypes and the exploitation in the media of women's roles. 


Jessica Hutchins. Symposion (2011). Courtesy the artist and Laurel Gitlen, New York. Photo: Dan Kvitka

2. Jessica Jackson Hutchins

Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Until 4 March 2012

Jessica Jackson Hutchins creates sculptures and collages from everyday objects, such as her family's kitchen table and sofa, or favourite pieces of clothing and books. The rituals of daily use infuse her work with a measure of sentiment, history, birth and death – in short, the stuff of life. While all of Hutchins' work foregrounds the hand and revels in the process of making, its characteristic imprecision is also carefully considered. This exhibition at the ICA showcases several works on paper and a new, large-scale sculpture, Symposion (2011). This exhibition will be Hutchin's first solo museum exhibition.

Taking as its title the classical-era Greek work for a drinking party, Symposion marries exuberant abstract form with a shabby sofa. Hand-build ceramic pots nestle among the crevices of a gargantuan black papier-mâché form, which haloes a peacock-blue couch. It is both monstrous and sublime. The bulbous, curving form recalls imagery as varied as Henry Moore's sculptures of reclining nudes to Greek pots decorated with drawings of revellers lounging drunkenly on chaises. Several works on paper will also be included alongside Symposion. If symposions were places to deliver speeches, then these drawings offer another kind of text, a field of punctuation marks – commas, exclamation points, and question marks – rendering from lumpy paper pulp all of which offer the suggestion of narrative while withholding the plot.


Stuart Whipps. Detroit Public Library, 006 (2011). Medium Format Slide

3. Stuart Whipps: Why Contribute to the Spread of Ugliness?

Ikon, Birmingham
Until 5 February 2012

This exhibition by British artist Stuart Whipps (b.1979) presents a selection of photography and video exemplifying the changing nature of cultural value. The major work here, Why contribute to the spread the ugliness? (2011), centres on the 487 boxes of archived paperwork of architectural firm the John Madin Design Group, stored in Birmingham Central Library. A multi-screen slide projection combines three strands of subject matter: the archival boxes, their contents (printed materials relating to Madin's projects and the construction industry between the 1950s and 1970s) and the buildings to which they refer.

The architect John Madin (b.1925) designed many buildings that defined Birmingham as a modernism city, since pulled down or under threat of demolition. Organisations such as the 20th Century Society have campaigned without success to have some of his buildings listed for their historical importance. Birmingham Central Library, the largest civic library in Europe and considered by some to be the defining monument to post-war brutalist architecture in Britain, is due to be demolished in 2013. Besides this building, Whipps focuses on archive material relating to Madin's former Birmingham Post and Mail printworks and the Queen's Square shopping centre in West Bromwich, amongst many others.

In 1964, Madin made a tour of North American libraries whilst preparing his designs for the new Birmingham library. Whipps retraced his steps, visiting the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, New Haven; The Donnell Branch of The New York Public Library and The Detroit Public Library. New photographs of these buildings, their interiors and the collections form another vital part of the exhibition, making a visual reconnection between parallel and simultaneous histories.

In a similar vein, England and the Octopus, Britain and the Beast (2011) reflects on the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales, a former quarry town at the geographical centre of Snowdonia National Park. When the Park's borders were created in 1951 the grey slate waste tips that surround Blaenau Ffestiniog prevented its inclusion, a decision made in part by the eccentric architect of Portmeirion, Clough Williams-Ellis. This new two channel video installation contains new film footage of Blaenau Ffestiniog, with a Welsh-language script sourced from texts written or edited by Williams-Ellis.


Ryan McGinley: Purple Beacon (2011). Courtesy the artist and Alison Jacques Gallery, London.

4. Ryan McGinley: Wandering Comma

Alison Jacques Gallery, London
Until 22 December

For his first London exhibition since his celebrated Moonmilk series, Ryan McGinley has assembled seven new photographs, all in the largest format the American artist has yet worked in. Scale is one of the central variables in McGinley's practice, as each photograph taken is initially printed in an array of sizes in order to fix the exact  dimensions that allow the image to speak most effectively to the viewer. All prints in other sizes are then discarded. McGinley rarely produces his artworks at this 280 x 180 cm format, the maximum size, and only does so when the photograph truly calls for a vast canvas – an expanse that demands a heightened scrutiny from the viewer, as it does more attention on the part of the artist.

Ryan McGinley's aesthetic has evolved over the past decade from a verité snapshot style to one that is more cinematic, even epic. More director than documentarist, McGinley has recently made photographs in which his imagination has become imprinted on the reality he captures. His working method involves a careful balance of the orchestrated and the unpredictable, the staged and the spontaneous. Although the images begin with choreographed scenarios, the images that result are never wholly pre-meditated. Indeed, it is this very sense of the potential for randomness that is alluded by the exhibition's title, which refers to a species of fluttering butterfly.

McGinley determines the activities and locations of his shoots in advance, preparing elaborate studio-style lighting — despite these contingencies, McGinley's models are encouraged to behave on their own initiative, taking actions as utterly unpredictable as a fall from a cliff or a tumble down a cascade. When photographing his
models jumping in a haystack, sliding down a rushing river or holding a wild animal, he cannot know what image will result. The subject matter of his recent work occupies a profound middle ground between reality and the artificial: McGinley's images are dreamed worlds willed into existence.

The taking of the photograph is only the beginning of McGinley's artistic process, as his chromatic interventions and manipulations of scale are central to the emotional and spiritual landscapes evoked by each image. He applies effects to the entire image, rather than to individual sections, printing each image in an enormous variety of colour variations and grain amplifications before deciding on its final appearance. In Purple Beacon, for instance, the artist chose a filter that radically changed the colour of the sky and water, but left the tone of the girls' bodies unchanged. The grain amplifications endow the images with a familiarity and immediacy, relating them to the kinds of casual photography found in family photo albums. McGinley's adherence to apparent realism is not an attempt to trick the viewer; rather, it serves only to make the images that much more evocative and accessible.


5. Paloma Varga Weisz: Spirits of my Flesh

Chapter, Cardiff
Until 4 January 2012

Paloma Varga Weisz creates enduring and evocative works that recall folklore, contemporary media and art history. The hybrid forms that she fashions by this fusion of influences are reminiscent of our culture history – be it mythical, religious or comic – and simultaneously encapsulate adult knowingness and youthful innocence; personal reference and collective memory; the familiar and the remarkable.

Deeply rooted in the arts and crafts of the Middle Ages, Varga Weisz's works embrace many of the intrinsic facets of its style and subject matter. For Chapter she has moved away from her trademark ecclesiastical woodcarvings to produce works in ceramic that embrace the aesthetic instincts and influences of the Arts and Crafts Movements.

Theses of bodily containment and deconstruction still remain current in these works. The slick, dynamic glaze seems to shift in such a way as to capture in each work a moment of metamorphosis or transformation – between sleep and death; male and female; real and unreal. This delicate balance between restraint and exaggeration is also felt in her watercolour paintings which reveal immediacy and freedom that is equally captivating. Almost ghostlike in their delicate appearance, the portraits seem to foreshadow the manifold stories still untold by the artist.


Aesthetica News

In this section, we like to report on what's new at Aesthetica.

1. Aesthetica at a store near you

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Amanda Moire in the Artists' Directory2. Artists' Directory

The Artists' Directory lists artists working in different media from across the world, offering an opportunity to present their work to a wider audience and to connect with galleries.

See the December/January issue to find out
who is producing what.

Artists' Directory opportunities are available online and printed inside Aesthetica Magazine.

To download the Artists' Directory pages from Aesthetica Magazine, please click here.
To visit the online Artists' Directory page, please click here.

For more information on being listed in the Artists' Directory, both print and online,
please contact Bethany on bethany@aestheticamagazine.com.

3. What's On? - Find out what events are happening near you

Find out what events are happening in your area, or if you are organising an event, list it on the Aesthetica What's On page.

For more information, click on 'WHAT'S ON' at the top of the page of the Aesthetica website, alternatively, visit http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/digital/events.php

Excerpt from the Aesthetica Blog

Posted Friday, 25 November 2011

Rashid Rana: Everything Is Happening At Once

The Cornerhouse, Manchester

Text by Liz Buckley

Everything Is Happening At Once at The Cornerhouse, Manchester, is the first solo UK exhibition in a public institution by Asian artist Rashid Rana. Rana's work explores how physical realities and social practices affect our culture and identity. He is also particularly interested in the contrasts that appear in everyday life. This interest manifests itself itself in the exploration of both two and three dimensional fields found in the artist's work. Using a mixture of both micro and macro images in his work, which reference the idea of the whole vs. fragment that many of the pieces in this show embody, Rana uses the theme of abstraction, however his techniques are not abstract.

The first part of Rana's exhibition is titled Dis-Location. In this section visitors can find varying examples of the artist's work, including both 2D and 3D. The three dimensional sculptures on display are made up of magnified pixels, which gives the effect of digital movement in a solid space. These pieces play with the idea of stillness and motion coinciding. A particularly fun piece is Plastic Flowers in a Traditional Vase (2007); here Rana has created an almost digitised bunch of flowers, a subtle hint at how our everyday culture is affected by technological advancements. Dis-Location (2007), is a large flat print, and consists of thousands of small pictures which make up one larger image. It appears Rana is trying to portray how many components go towards building a society, culture or identity, and it is the little details which create the big picture. The question of whether to concentrate on the micro or macro image created here shows viewers the contrasts of perceptions that we all experience. A similar piece is The World is Not Enough (2006-2007), which uses the same techniques. Here the small pictures are of masses of waste and rubbish, which ironically creates quite a pleasing abstract and colourful image when one stands back. From a distance the busy movement of forms and colour here could be reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock.

Gallery Two of The Cornerhouse holds work of more explicit content. Rana's pieces here are concerned with the human body, and the conflicts we find within cultural practices. Again the artist plays with the contrast of the image both up close and far away. Several pieces in this part of the exhibition appear to be paintings of blurred bands of colour, however they are actually made up of yet more pixels, taken from photographs of flesh, blood and wounds. Standing back, Rana's piece What Lies Between Flesh and Blood I (2009) could be a Mark Rothko with its strips of dense colour, but Rana has used magnified squares again here, making the photographed wounds appear to be painterly in a clever fusion of art with the body.

It is clear Rana likes to experiment with scale in his work, using both magnified and shrunken images in many of his pieces. Veil VI (2007) and Red Carpet I (2007), a couple of the artist's more explicit pieces, are large scale Asian-inspired prints seen from afar, and are even quite attractive. However these are also made up of tiny images which the viewer can only notice if they get right up close. It seems Rana is using these techniques again and again to portray how every part of social culture is double sided, and that even demure and traditional civilizations almost always have an explicit and violent side to them.

The final part of Rana's exhibition is on the top floor and holds another mixture of the artist's work, including some of his most well known pieces. Untitled (HOC) (2010) consists of 4 square panels that form an open-top cube. The panels are covered with tiny mirrors, which are tilted so that only one side shows the viewer their reflection. Behind each mirror there are many tiny images of urban landscapes and buildings from Rana's home town of Lahore in Pakistan. Desperately Seeking Paradise (2010-2011) uses the same technique but on a much larger scale. Both of these pieces show the relationship between a person's physical appearance and what makes up their personal identity and culture, as well as the constant contrasts we find in every area of life.

From the range of Rashid Rana's work on display in Everything is Happening at Once, we can see how the artist uses a range of both modern, minimalist and abstract expressionist techniques to create his art. His pieces compile photographic imagery on an alternative scale, and provoke the viewer to consider how we perceive images. Rana's work expresses his ideas about personal identities and the contrasts found within varying cultural practices in the modern world. The way he constructs his pieces, whether it's a sculpture, print or otherwise, shows a curious investigation of the physical realities we create around us, and how existence is made up of many dimensions.

Everything is Happening At Once, 01/10/2011 - 18/12/2011, The Cornerhouse, Oxford Road, Manchester, + 44 (0)161 200 1500. www.cornerhouse.org

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Photography: WeAreTape
All images courtesy the artist and Cornerhouse

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Final farewell
We hope you enjoyed this month's newsletter. It has been a pleasure sharing our news with you.

© Aesthetica 2011.

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