SOAKED

26 Mar

Last week I went to see Furo by Batsheva. The show was originally produced by Stockholm’s Judiska Teatern in 2006 and it’s the second time it was showed in Tel Aviv.

I have to admit the dance field is quite new to me, and the main reason I went to see the show was Tabaimo, a Japanese artist whose work I saw for the first time at the last Venice Biennial. I’ve already wrote about her artistic style in the post Biennale finale, so I’ll just refer to the video Furo, the starting point of this cooperation between Ohad Naharin, Batsheva’s artistic manager and Tabaimo.

Tabaimo is known for her controversial videos that display the tension between Japanese tradition and contemporary life. The work Furo (Japanese public bath house) deals with aspects of gender, class and morality.

The video was displayed on three large screens that surrounded the stage on which were placed small yellow tubs, a concrete expression of  bathing activity. The dancers performed the first dance segment at the stage center and then continued at both sides of the video where they were standing on top of rotating podiums.

The show was presented in rounds of 45 minutes, each round was performed by different pair of dancers.  The viewers were invited to enter and exit at any given moment, a fact that created an exceptional atmosphere and connection between performers and audience. It was also interesting to experience a show in which the viewer cannot see the entire happening at the same time and the eye flickers between the video and two dancers. That way, one can see different interpretations to the choreography.

However, I was a bit disappointed; The video was screened in a very low quality (which is not typical to Tabaimo’s meticulous work, especially the way it was exhibited at the biennial), the dance segments were not significantly linked to the video and everything seemed a little forced.  The  general atmosphere, set  and costumes design were standing  in prominent contrast to the harsh, refined nature of the Japanese culture in general and Tabaimo’s  work in particular.

Even though, the music selection was wonderful [ Peaches, AA XXX // Gino Vanneli, Crazy Life ] and this cooperation should serve as an inspiration for many more. I will definitely try anything twice.

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[Video of the show]

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Maya

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Cherry Pick no.26

1 Jan

read my BODY LANGUAGE

It is well known that body language is an integral part of our personal and collective communication. Through almost imperceptible nuances,  body language reveals the unconscious self and often extradite what we try to hide.

The Italians are known for the famous gestures that accompany their already too picturesque verbal  language. That’s why it’s not surprising that on my last trip to Venice I found an Italian gestures dictionary; The highly aesthetic book Supplemento al Dizionario Italiano by Bruno Munari displays an overview of classical gestures (censored, by the way) derived from ancient Neapolitan sources and are proved to be validate ever since.

Some of the gestures are very clear and obvious and some are particularly amusing. The beautiful photos were taken at Ballo+Ballo studio, and have a nostalgic scent along with humorous approach.

ANTICO GESTO NAPOLETANO DI SCONGIURO [ancient Neapolitan protective gesture]

GESTI FAMOSI DEGLI ANTICHI ROMANI [famous gesturs of ancient Romans]

CHE VUOI? [what do you expect?]

FUMARE [have you a cigarette?]

FAME [hunger]

INVITO [invitation]

BERE [drink]

ECCELLENTE! [excellent!]

VIENI QUI! [come here!]

E’ UN DRITTO [artful]

SE L’INTENDONO [secret liaison]

RABIA [rage]

MINACCIA [threat]

IO NON SO NIENTE [it’s nothing to do with me]

INTESA [agreed]

SILENZIO! [silence]

MARAMEO [teasing]

NON MA NE IMPORTA [I don’t care]

PIENO DI GENTE [crowded]

CONTRASTO [contrast]

IDEA!

TI PREGO [please]

CHE PESO! [what a bore!]

Maya

Cherry Pick no.25

1 Jan

AT GRANDMA’S

Sunday at grandma’s few weeks ago was all about my recent research on dress history in Zagreb in the period of forties and onwards. Maca (my grandma) showed me hundreds of her old photos. I’ve already seen most of them as a child but now I observed them carefully, recording her stories and memorizing many details she mentioned. Most of the people from the photos I’ve never seen in my life so it was hard to catch up with all the cousins, aunts, brothers in law, friends, neighbours she still remembers. While she talked, I was choosing the photos I wanted to use for the research, mostly the ones clearly showing coats, dresses, swimsuits, hats…I’ve selected my favorite ones for this post. Let the photos talk…

Lea

Biennale Finale

29 Nov

As Venice biennial closes, we thought it might be a good time for a festive comeback combined with a closure. I have to admit 2011 biennial was not as good as 2009, but it had its moments.

In this post I will try to bring a quick review of some of my favorite works, hoping it will provide an partial illustration of the general ambience.

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Ritorno, 2011, Giorgio Andreotta Calo

Ritorno is a circular sound installation drawn with the artist’s voice. The installation deals with the path Giorgio Andreotta Calo did by foot from Amsterdam to Venice, his hometown, as part of a series of journeys he conducted all over Europe.  Through these  journeys, Calo examines repeatedly the boundaries and limitations of body and space, physically and metaphorically.

[Video]

Spazio Elastico, 1967, Gianni Colombo

As one of Kinetic Art movement’s pioneers, artist Gianni Colombo deals with disrupting the viewer’s perception and orientation in space via an optical illusion created by artificial light rhythms.

Nacht und Nebel, 2011, Dani Gal

This video installation recalls the shedding of Adolf  Eichmann’s ashes in international waters of the Mediterranean by Israeli police. The film is based on a testimony by a Holocaust survivor who took part in this secret mission designed to ensure that no land shall be a burial-place for the Nazis and thus preserve their memory. Dani Gal created a dark enchanting atmosphere that like a thriller, draws the viewer into uncomfterable situation.

The Jump, 1978, Jack Goldstein

As part of his membership in the Pictures Group, Jack Goldstein refered to an image as raw material for an art work by creating a process of abstraction and transformation through which he explored aspects of movement and action; in this case an elementary action of the diver, concentrates into one fleeting moment.

[Video]

Untitled (Ghost), 2011, Elad Lassry

This silent film corresponds with the first creation of photographs when technical problems created different effects such as transparency and blur.
Elad Lassry focuses on the ability of  film as an artistic medium, to represent what the eye is unable to see. This is a metaphorical display of an artistic attempt to represent the supernatural.

The Clock, 2010, Christian Marclay

This video collage by well-known artist Christian Marclay, is a 24 hours piece that displays varied moments of cinematic history that deals with time term through interaction between characters and different types of clocks. The time on the screen corresponds to reality, an element that creates an unusual dialogue between past and present.

[Video]

Untitled, 2010, Cindy Sherman

As in her earlier works, here too Cindy Sherman serves as a bizarre model, this time against pastoral backdrops rendered in the manner of 18th century Toil De Jouy fabric printed on PhotoTex adhesive fabric and scaled to big dimensions.
Sherman’s figure stands on a large-scale wall and her colored image stands out from the monochromatic background that highlights her sharp gaze at the viewer.

Elastic Tango, 2010, Sturtevant

French artist Sturtvent deals with aspects of replication and copy in order to show the psychological impact these actions have on the viewer.
The work consists of six video screens placed one on top of the other in a pyramid shape, similar to an electronics shop window, broadcasting contents regardless of the viewer. Sturtevant uses a series of populist images with copies of artworks by Marcel Duchamp and Paul McCarthy and creates a network of links, seemingly random, but in fact carefully planned.

The Ganzfeld Piece, 2009-10, James Turrell

James Turrell gives an innovative interpretation to the concept of  light. He creates works that  invite the viewer to be assimilated in them and produce meditative interaction with light and space. Influenced by the Quaker faith that gives, to his claim, a direct and complete representation of the sublime, Turrell creates kind of spiritual centers, peaceful environments, clean from any stimulus. These spaces allow light to fill them with its presence as it conceals the architectural elements and thus blurs the boundaries of the  space. Turrell is trying to create what he describes as “seeing as feeling”.

Chance, 2011, Christian Boltanski (French Pavilion)

This work explores the theme of fate and fortune with reference to individuality in the face of lack of identity.
Artist Christian Boltanski created a “factory” that stands in marked contrast to the Neo-classical building in which it stands. The viewer is invited to circulate among a pipe-made structure and watch images of babies running on a treadmill that stops once in a while and displays only one baby. This “stop” represents the moment of fate, the “selection” of one individual over the other to win honor and glory and leave a significant mark on the world. This  “Infant industry” is even more pronounced in the additional installation –  a “baby-making” machine that invites the viewer to try his luck in matching the perfect human being.

[Video]

One Man’s Floor is another Man’s Feelings, 2010-11, Sigalit Landau (Israeli Pavilion)

Despite the significant propensity to political matters, Sigalit Landau’s work refers to a broader message of economic power and its political and ecological implications.
Through three different installations using salt, soil and water, Landau creates a dialogue between ideas of interdependence and inequality.
The building is divided into three floors – the ground floor as a whole becomes an engine room with pipes and water clocks while the upper floor displays a video installation that shows a visual connection between Gdansk, Poland (birth land of the Solidarity movement) and the Dead Sea in Israel. This connection is a metaphor to a discourse between East and West, past and future, life and death.
At the middle floor stands an allegorical negotiation room in which the subject of debate is the construction of a salt bridge connecting between the Israeli and Jordanian sides of the water.

Tabaimo: teleco-soup, 2011, Tabaimo (Japanese Pavilion)

The work is based on Tabaimo’s  hand-made drawings that were converted into computer animation. Using a technique and colors that echos to prints made by Hokusai, Tabaimo raises a discussion about contemporary Japanese society through symbolic images.
The main message refers to an ancient Chinese idiom -“A frog in a well cannot conceive of the ocean“. The entire space becomes a well hole from where the viewer can see the sky as a metaphor to the question – Is the world of  frog living in a well really so small?

The Love is gone but the Scar will heal, 2011, Lee Yongbaek (Korean Pavilion)

Korean pavilion consists of works by Lee Yongbaek, an artist widely known for his use in innovative technology to explore political and cultural issues. Here he presents a number of works addressing to the meaning of human existence and civilization’s barbarian side.

Broken Mirror is a video installation showing a group of mirrors that invites the viewer to have a glance at his figure reflected in them, when suddenly it breaks into pieces in a deafening sound. Nearby are two installations from the  series Pieta which through being a clear religious reference, deals with the big contradiction of human nature.

Maya

This Moment could have a Different Flavor

29 Nov

After so long, the three of us finally arranged the reunion; so visiting Venice, two years after the internship we did in Peggy Guggenheim museum, was quite an intensive experience.  Since art brought us together, our reunion was centered around the Biennale (and the yummy Italian food of course…).

For now I’ll skip the food part and focus on my impressions of the Biennale. My favorite  moments were actually hours spent watching Christian Marclay‘s film Clocks. After being bombarded with so much art, all I needed was a little time for myself so I decided to spend time watching time go by. Many things has been said about this artwork so I do not wish to focus on it, but to turn to another installation that caught my attention.

Austrian pavilion presented spatial installation by Marcus Schinwald which consisted of a floating labyrinth, early 20th century paintings, chair legs and two videos.  On one hand, the installation was fetishistically obsessed with legs but on a more general level, it’s the human body that interests the artist. Entering the pavilion you are puzzled by the view you are offered and it draws your attention to legs of the visitors passing through the it.

The labyrinth, as I mentioned earlier, hangs from the ceiling leaving the bottom part open for direct view on the mass of moving dismembered legs. As you enter the labyrinth you uncover lifelike dark forms hanging from the ceiling or sticking from the angles. It is the chair legs (Chippendale style) spread through the labyrinth; Another reference to the legs, but again legs without the matching body. It’s interesting to mention that this Chippendale style chair legs are made as an imitation of human legs.

Besides the chair legs, the space of the labyrinth is filled with uncanny late 19th and early 20th century portraits. Schinwald bought those portraits and repainted prosthesis over the faces and bodies of the portrayed men and women. You feel such an uneasiness watching those faces and then the moving legs of the visitors. The legs are missing the body and the body of the portrayed (mostly sitting) is missing the legs so you get a kind of weird match, a balance between the two.

A third part of the installation is a story on its own, actually a separate work/video called Orient (from the word orientation). It shows dancers in an abandoned building, dressed in the evening outfits, Their movements are mechanically repeated, distorted, surreal.

To be contradictory…There is an exquisite correspondence between the knee and the back of the hand…The form of feeling comes…Formulas vanish, poses alter…Legs pushing, legs grabbing…The space has it sense of lightness…This moment could have a different flavor… (excerpts from the video Orient)

[Video]

Lea

Planet X

26 Apr

On my last visit to  “Fresh paint”  art fair, I almost missed Katja Loher‘s video work. It was hanged on a narrow sided wall that, I think, did not give it the respect it deserves. However, once I noticed, I couldn’t take my eyes off the two colorful glass bubbles through which popped out couple of tiny framed videos. The clips showed images of different figures trapped in a mysterious world built by the artist. The special camera angle gave a unique and refreshing aspect to the occurrence.

It was just a taste. As I visited Loher’s website, where she displays what she calls “Miniverses” or “Videoplanet“, I discovered an artist full of imagination who translates  fantasies, fears, aspirations and criticism on the world and seemingly objective cold reality, into amazing works of art.

Similar to the revolutionary process that has happened to exhibition spaces in the last decades, the transition from “conventional” to “alternative” can easily be seen in Loher’s videos, as she takes them out of the “black box” and displays them on rounded three-dimensional objects.

The effect created is powerful and disturbing at once;  it makes the viewer face an uncomfortable and a bit  claustrophobic situation created by the fact that the figures move in a limited space  in different constellations and repetitive kaleidoscopic layout.

Loher combines music, dance and visual art in her extraordinary videos. She uses the qualities of each field to create a complete and coherent piece of art. The variance choreography she composes, operates  perfectly with the rounded sculptures, while everything is surrounded by electronic sounds that creates a meditative atmosphere and makes the viewer step into the world Loher seeks to create.

Loher’s multitasking works reinforces my point of view on contemporary art – a combination of different media, abandonment of familiar boundaries and striving towards the creation of a different reality, whether better or worse than at present, are the tools through which critical and innovative art can be expressed .

My recommended videos: Collaposcope, Where Will the Stars Live, The Question is No, Floating Rendezvous

Maya

Enter the Void

26 Apr

There is such a fixation in our Western culture on the visible, which explains why we think that… a room is empty… because there is nothing visible. But I’ve never thought that an empty room is empty.(Maria Eichhorn)

Just reading the title of this post you might think I’m dedicating it to Gaspar Noe and his film Enter the Void but I’m actually interested in something else. Since I’m currently working on a project that focuses on the gallery space as the starting point in the research, I started browsing the web in search of curatorial issues in that field. I was also interested in the way the empty space of the gallery can be subtly modified using light, architectural elements, text or sound.

The first thing I came across was an intriguing exhibition that took place two years ago in Center Georges Pompidou under the name Voids: A Retrospective. The exhibition itself was a big void, containing only walls that carried documentation of famous artifactless exhibitions. Displaying emptiness was officially introduced by Yves Klein in his famous Le Vide exhibition. Empty gallery space was quite often a subject in the conceptual practice (Michael Asher, Robert Barry and Art&Language) and means of critique of the institutional character of the exhibition space. There are two great texts on this subject: http://www.tate.org.uk/tateetc/issue21/voidsdezeuze.htm and http://www.artandeducation.net/paper/the-void-as-dedication-proceeding-from-a-space-of-transgression-to-veneration/, which gave me a deep insight into the empty space practice.

Although I relay on the material that can be perceived only visually, I’m challenged to rethink emptiness as I am confronted with a number of very different voids.

The rest of the post are pictures of the landmark empty exhibitions of the artist such as: Maria Eichhorn, Yves Klein, Martin Creed, Susan Philipsz, Laurie Parsons, Roman Ondak, Bethan Huws and Michael Asher.

Lea