Sunday, March 8, 2009
Immediation (Wonder Cabinet 2135)
Yearning for the imaginatively objected desires of foreign shores, anxiously penning love letters, and unveiling the world through the unfolding of maps have gone the way of the dinosaurs. This brand of romance requires time.
Alas, every great mystery opens at the touch of our fingertips.
Unraveling at increasingly high-speeds before our eyes through a network of invisible channels.
Could this beacon of highly-defined light be the demise of true sensation?
The social networking forums of the world wide web have written a new flaw into the program of love; making a new and powerful currency of digitized self-advertisement, emoticons, and text-based flirtation. Creating a space where gender is not only blurred, but completely obliterated by technological mediation. Where individuals are processed and transformed into information and symbols in a dialect that changes daily in search of the most efficient storage solution. Rendering the modern “relationship” as impersonal and fast-paced as modern warfare and making available to us a power of collection once reserved for royal explorers.
This project is an exploration to this end.
The Persecution of Saint Bartholomew
My work is about structures, and how those structures are put together. I am interested in the idea that through dissection we can discover unexpected information simply by going through the motions. In The Persecution of Saint Bartholomew, I wanted to reproduce the making of one of the most famous depictions of skinning in the art world, Marco D’Agrate’s sculpture of Saint Bartholomew. In the sculpture D’Agrate is able to create a horrifying image of the torture and martyring of a Saint. This image has been part of our culture for hundreds of years, and through this image being in existence we have become desensitized by its painful imagery. By using a material in such stark contrast to the original marble, I wanted to perhaps recreate the initial experience of the sculpture before it became a mundane object, and let fabric, a common every day material, become something uncommon and even possibly gruesome by transforming and carving it a new existence in the world much like D’Agrate did in the fourteenth century.
Part of making this piece for me was also studying the historical connotations of marble in contrast to textiles. Carving something out of marble is the most masculine form of art making, the metaphorical connotations are an endless list of how man can dominate the earth and how man hunts for the perfect stone, while the making of textiles is stereotypically a feminine art. In acknowledging obvious truths about these media and combining these two ways of making, I hope to be able to create a kind of dichotomy between the masculine and feminine.
When I was 10, I went on a hunting trip with my dad. Even with me, as a noisy tree-stand-mate, he managed to kill a buck. We dragged it back to the cabin, and proceeded to prepare it for gutting. My dad decided to try something new after we got started. He cut the insides away from the hide, but didn't remove them completely. He wrapped a rope around the back of the deer, under the skin, and tied the legs to a tree. He hooked the rope to the winch on the front of his Chevy 4x4 and threw it in reverse. The guts of the deer flew out of the skin just as he had planned.
Come Undone and Promises reveal everyday objects in a visual narrative still life. I reference intimacy, memory, relationships, and female sexuality through the objects I choose to recreate and the handling of the material. The nostalgic nature of the imagery is deeply personal and derives from my experiences and the lives of those close to me.
My current work is a collection of intimate objects which are grouped together to reveal a visual narrative. The objects are similar to storybook characters, each carrying an individual record. They represent personal relationships and experiences from past and present events. My fascination lies not only within the individual objects but also in their contextual arrangements. The meticulous compilations convey the essence of memories, relationships, and experiences, documenting important events in my life and the lives of those close to me. The work captures a narrative interaction that lies between the individual objects. Their juxtaposition can build layers of meaning often comprised of mystery and humor. This current body of work is meant to evoke a story in the mind of the viewer. The story is presented and enhanced as a result of the joining, clustering, and collision of objects throughout these sculptural narratives. These compositions have become a permanent memoir of my life.
I Don’t Give a Shit
I am flirting with the idea of developing my own representation of femininity through the lens of the antiquated classic feminine image. I am working with this subject through ‘passionate acts’ and ‘running’, recreating cinematic type scenarios and gestures in which I can replay and edit the projection of the feminine icon, referencing both cinema and history’s representation of the ultimate feminine through the use of satire.
What does it mean to be a woman in today’s society? The overall accepted idea of what is ‘feminine’ has certainly changed and shifted considerably from a hundred years ago. It has even shifted genders a bit. Transferred over to the effeminate male. In the muddy yet progressive waters of gender and sexual identity, we are riding this so- called ‘fifth wave of feminism’, but where is it taking us? We are not to forget how far we’ve come, of course, but where exactly are we going?
I am losing my bearings. With being a woman and its expectations, with the breakdown of social constructs, with the unsteady world around me, with the spiral we are continuing to travel, circulating downward to the unknown. Whether what we are spiraling toward is good or bad, we cannot know until we reach this hypothetical ‘bottom’. There is this strange homeostasis today in many regards, of things changing at the same time just as much as they are struggling to remain the same. Our traditional and narrow minded ideals and our material and personal dependencies are being uprooted; they are floating around in this purgatory of sorts. I find myself floating as well, in the middle of the road with everyone else, wondering what will happen next. My way of communicating this uneasiness of self and vague sense of being is through creating imagery and video work that speaks to this sense of in between, the idea of the endless vs. the finite. I do not know what it means to be ‘feminine’ anymore, I only have references from the past. I can only grasp at straws, and build my own steady ground, my own language. I know what it will mean to be a woman to a certain point, but I am not certain of the future; I cannot make predictions of where woman, for example, will end up. What I can do, though, is spiral downwards with a purpose.
A screen divides space and unites it. Seeing what lies on the other side invites the viewer in, and yet access is forbidden. I seek to activate space by building screens. They act as architecture, as psychological separation, as filter, and distiller. My exploration is rooted in the institution of veiling in Islamic society. I draw connections to the relationship of the sexes in the West as well as the East. I hope to reveal the intersection of eroticism, the sacred, containment, and desire.
I am fascinated with the duality of the screen; it simultaneously conceals and reveals, protects and tantalizes. It consists of matter and space. Using the language and tradition of vessels I build architectural walls and enclosures as well as functional pottery to highlight and clarify the relationships between access and denial, isolation and inclusion. I draw on the reference to the female form as vessel and explore the potential of containment. Pieces may enclose a human form, food, a document, or space.
Constructing and deconstructing, I push the material to its limits, removing as much clay as I can while retaining structural integrity. I am gratified by the transparency of the screen juxtaposed with the mass that has been cut away. After producing a lacy, complex pattern by cutting out a single quatrefoil or trefoil shape I am left with hundreds of tiles. I stack the tiles and pave paths with them, surrounding the enclosures from which they originated. This has led me to consider modularity and the connections between architecture and functional pottery.
I inscribe my work with greater personal meaning using text and labor-intensive surface decoration. I write letters and journal into the wet clay before rendering the text inaccessible by cutting through or enclosing it. This becomes an act of confession and absolution. Although I work in both small and large scale my aim remains the same in terms of engaging the viewer through an interactive and intimate experience.
A screen blurs the boundary between public and private, transforming the space, person, or object on the other side. Tension is heightened through separation and visibility. Objects and space become eroticized. By highlighting the fragility and permeability of dividers I question our often self-imposed restrictions of openness, protection and vulnerability.
Black Girls Series:
The Black Girls series examines the ongoing relevance of racial and gender stereotypes in a “post-racial” America. Recently, public discourse has considered and questioned the ongoing relevance of race in the United States. In Black Girls, I examine the contention that race no longer matters by appropriating images of the jezebel stereotype in African American culture.
I am appropriating images of black women who are on the covers of erotica advertisements and sexual gadgetry, listed under the term “black girls”. I have removed their skin color, which now allows the women to pass as any race. Most of the humanizing qualities of the women are replaced with a strong neon outline against a black surface. The black surface replaces the skin tone literally making these African American women “black girls” devoid of tonality, imperfections, and personality. These women become empty, sexual teases that could be from any race or culture with nothing left but gesture and posing to communicate to the viewer.
Heather Johnson is currently working on her MFA in Photography at The Rhode Island School of Design. She received her BA from Columbia College Chicago in 2005. Her work has been exhibited nationally, including shows at the Orleans St. Gallery in St. Charles, IL., Muse Gallery in Prescott, AZ., Peninsula Open Studios in Mountain View, CA., the “Working” Gallery and Studios, Schenectady, NY., and the Washington Gallery of Photography in Bethesda, MD.
Lynn Kiang, MFA Graphic Design, 2011
Photo assistance by Craig Wen
Words instigate image. Image verbalizes into words. Meal explores the semantic possibilities of common words within new environments. A word study responding to female objectification and the potential of empowerment within the context of sexual appetite.
I felt it appropriate to include this piece in Facing Expectations as I consider my own voice as a female designer. I question whether our contemporary society has truly evolved or whether we are merely relabeling its perpetual shortcomings. Meal is a selected piece from a larger series that considers sexual hunger as a motivating force within the mass marketing of products and commerce.
Shelley Sloan Lineberger
In ceramics, I strive for honesty, honesty about my life and honesty about my thoughts. The works I create are physical manifestations of what I am thinking, my personal life, my experiences and my theoretical interests. Ceramics for me is a way of discovering my true nature. My sculptures serve as a framework for an interior experience. Currently my body of work is a personal narrative about dealing with grief, loss, innocence, fragility, vulnerability, protection, hope and freedom, expressed through the image of the apron, which also plays a part in my own history. My work has centered on a parallel between a personal narrative and a need to expose my understanding of female vulnerability.
Ki Ho Park
Made in China
Using a very old, dilapidated 8x10 Deardorff camera I began photographing so-called common people: portraits of a tired salesman, a factory worker, house wives, a taxi driver, and many others like them. But instead of photographing them against their environment as I have done in the past, all the subjects were either shot on simple background paper or outside without the use of props and little direction on my part. After a shoot, I would then collect the related props either from the subject or elsewhere.
In Rush Hour a life-sized taxi driver is surrounded by over 200 miniature cars which I have tacked onto the photograph. Made in China is a portrait of my daughter wearing a pink Cinderella dress, surrounded with her lifelong collection of toys. Attaching the actual objects, rather than photographing not only captures my feelings about the subject, but distills them.
The idea of "rush hour" is represented with hundreds of toy cars that have metaphorically trapped the taxi driver. Ironically, the cars are frozen, negating the existence of speed. The driver’s tired expression is the result of 25 years of being a cab driver in Seoul, where the pollution count outweighs the comfort of an automobile and where the health of drivers deteriorates at an alarming rate. I am not making a sympathetic social statement, I let the viewer find his/her own connections. Ordinary objects such as piles of toys can convey powerful, emotional symbolic meanings. Objects in real life can show more than photographs alone. All the photographs are one of kind installations.
Her breasts heave, her muscles flex, she swings, slaps, cringes. She is a character, a caricature; decidedly violent, obviously female, strangely alluring. Is she punishing or being punished? She caresses, skin to material, in the only way possible. She is animal. She is human. She is female. The lines that define tenderness and brutality, lust and love, danger and desire are blurred. Touch it. Touch the untouchable.
S U N I T A P R A S A D
A story about two personas: Sunny is a lavender-coifed hyper-feminine girl-next-door on a quest for bigger boobs. Benny is a city guy with style, a sort of shy charm, and hormones bubbling to the surface. Benny is willing to offer Sunny some support for her treasure chest in exchange for a little titillation. Sunny is discovering all the ways to fake it and still get paid. And of course, Sunny and Benny are also the same person. Their roles get switched and swapped in a mash-up of gender identity, desire, and exchange rates of the body.
In Real Girl, as I inhabit both characters, and the transformation in between, I hone in on an important characteristic of the exchange of sexual commodities: that the gendered being you pay for is not the same as the diverse gender identities we witness in daily experience outside of this exchange. In other words, the body as commodity is a major site for the construction of discrete, binary gender, clearly delineated into what counts (or is marketable) as feminine and what counts (or is deserving) as masculine. The resulting video performances draw on the tradition of drag performance to set in motion a cycle of production and reproduction of hyper-gendered identity, sliding back and forth from one extreme to another.
I’ve always been the inquisitive kid in class, who asked a million questions and was constantly told that I “ate an entire parrot along with its beak”. Despite holding the title as class talker I grew up in a society where it was somewhat inappropriate to convey one’s opinion and certain issues just weren’t talked about. My work uses personal experiences as an outlet and response to the cultural stereotypes and social stigmas that I have dealt with while growing up and continue to do so daily as a young woman of color. As an individual who has gained privy to the various cultures and sections of the world first hand, I have benefited as an artist through experiences and engagements with the people that I have encountered over the years. I have taken these experiences along with the influences of my culture and used them within my art to convey a story.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Nora Over Reuben
Blank Man Masking
Nora as Reuben Breslar
"Painting provides a place to create a contained realm for the impossible. In painting, there is a complicit agreement between the viewer and artist to suspend disbelief and believe together the shorthand of the painted world. Umberto Eco said that “the American imagination demands the real thing, and to attain it you have to fabricate the absolute fake.” I build everything from the ground up and record it. The cyclical usage of sculpture in conjunction with photography and painting lends a real-world credibility as opposed to the pure artifice in painting alone.
The balance between revealing the artifice I create and suspending disbelief rests on the fulcrum created by the translation between mediums. This translation dissolves given assumptions inherent to any medium. For instance, photography still connotes the literal recording of reality while painting has become the place for fantasy. My work travels cyclically; one medium informs the content of its neighbor.
The process I have cultivated is low-tech. I built a blank sculpture, photograph it, then paint atop the print. The advantage of photography is that I can print multiples to mutate in infinite ways with paint--this is where the social/sexual content lives. I then re-photograph it so that it becomes a thing that now exists in “reality.” The sculpture, painting, and photographic processes I employ make the body a container that you can pour yourself into or project yourself upon in order to become it and expresses the fluidity of gender."
Disparities between gender become problems when personal choice is infringed upon. In each of these works, we begin with a structure agreed upon by each party, and depart into an interaction with undeterminable results. Our hands are clasped together holding a mark making implement. Our other hands are both gripping a single video camera. Together we play roles of cooperation, submission, and/or domination. I am the constant, the right hand through each drawing, setting a baseline to draw comparisons between each participant. Physical, mental, and emotional interaction is recorded in this series of drawings. At times power struggles form. In others a more sensitive approach occurs. With each participant, a direct relationship is witnessed.
Louisa Marie Summer
This photograph was captured at the play “Swan Lake” from Pyotr Tchaikovsky at the Tbilisi Z. Paliashvili Opera and Ballet State Theatre in the Republic of Georgia. For this historical event on 19 April, 2007 many children came with their families to witness local superstar Nina Ananiashvili’s return to the stage after a two-year absence.
After the play, when everybody was leaving, the crowd disbanded and for a brief moment this quaint and silent scenery opened up. A stunning and beautifully dressed innocent little girl sheltered by her androgynous looking mother, lit in soft light. The intimate, protective gesture of the woman holding the girl’s shoulder with a large masculine hand and a wired face creates a strong contrast to the girl’s expression lost in reverie with a twinkle of childlike curiosity. Both, the mother and the daughter are aware of being photographed, although, I am consciously detached. In shooting this image my intention was both aesthetic and empathetic. The image is presented as taken and I would like to leave the inherent beauty of the scene to the interpretation of the observer.
As a photographer, I believe pictures can tell stories without words, having the power to touch people in an instant. I love photojournalistic work and I am always eager to learn about and to identify other country’s people, and how they mirror its history, culture, and social and political situation. In this regard, I was very much concerned and interested in the Republic of Georgia. I spent time there during April and May 2007. The Caucasian Republic lies at the Black Sea and is located at the dividing line between Europe and Asia. Georgia has been a representative democracy since 1991 but faces severe problems with its neighbor Russia and its separatist regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia. I documented the multi-faceted lifestyle of contemporary youth in the Republic of Georgia. These young people are growing up in an area conflicted between post-soviet stagnation and an influx of current pro-Western government and economy. The youth in Georgia are strongly influenced by religion and traditional values like honesty, pride, family, and hospitality. At the same time they are chasing modern status symbols like cars, fashion, and glamour. In Georgia I met the challenge of developing and completing a project under extreme conditions. The result of that effort was a book of 125 photographs depicting the faces, gestures, landscape, infrastructure and architecture of an emergent democracy, in a country with deep roots in the Caucasus.
Capturing magical moments requires an attentive and sensitive approach, being close to the individuals, understanding their situation and uniqueness, and respecting each other. It is very important to me that people in front of my camera are not self-conscious. I want to communicate the people’s life stories, their experiences and emotions, so that the observer gets an impression, a feeling about what it means to be a young person in the Republic of Georgia today.
Sakura Sew is a revisitation of my experience as a caretaker for my mother. Care-taking, a traditionally female activity, involves bathing, listening, bandaging, waiting, brushing, stitching, watching, cleaning, repetition. As a continuation of the activity, no longer necessary, I make each cherry blossom through a ritualistic process in which the lifeline on my palms are imprinted into the fragile porcelain. Cherry blossoms represent the ephemeral and transient nature of life, blooming quickly and just as quickly falling to the ground, a life cut short. I sew the blossoms together in a futile attempt to suspend them in time. They become a reflective surface for memory, questions, and fears.
Humans are simultaneously strong and fragile, simple and complex, passive victims and active creators of society. The individual’s struggle to come to terms with society and nature is a recurrent theme throughout my work. I am interested in finding the moments where private and public life intersect, where the lines become blurred. My work also centers around the attempt to control and the inevitable loss of control over expressions of emotions and is greatly inspired by the sociological theory of emotion work and emotion labor. Individuals who are required to control their feelings do so at a price. In order to keep up an appropriate façade the individual must learn to suppress and as a result their emotions manifest in different areas of their lives, in different ways of behaving. Emotions and the senses are often distorted and discounted. I aim to encourage the viewer to rethink conventional perceptions and assumptions about their own feelings, senses, and society.
My work also deals with illness. Illness is frequently hidden from the public sphere of society, much like emotions it is seen as a sign of weakness. My mother was diagnosed with cancer. Her daily routines were altered by illness: the bowls she used for bathing, her bandage changes, the hole she cut on the left-hand side of her shirt for comfort. She yearned to share her experience with others, to reach out to others, while simultaneously fearing the judgments and discrimination many individuals with disabilities face. My mother’s life was increasingly altered by her condition, as pictures and items became nostalgic objects to hold onto, as we spent hours waiting and focusing on one object while everything else blurred. Her ability to share her strength, weakness, thoughts and feelings are what drives me to keep creating. My work is highly personal, deeply painful, and undeniably feminine.