Thursday, October 4, 2012

Review: New works at St. Claude Avenue galleries

I currently have a few photos in a group show at Barristers Gallery. Here is an excerpt about the show from the Gambit.

Review: New works at St. Claude Avenue galleries 

D. Eric Bookhardt on the latest exhibits at Byrdie's Gallery and Barrister's Gallery

More graphical extrapolations appear at Barrister's Gallery, in Wendell Brunious' Buried Alive painterly pop collages of comic strip characters interwoven with visions of black female stardom, most pointedly in the form of Whitney Houston. Something about the way this is layered is both musical and wavelike, suggesting a visual dirge for the drowned diva. The mood turns ambiguous in Vanessa Centeno's abstract compositions, where viscous reds vie with more bilious shades in works mingling saturated sensuality with creepy science fiction overtones. If this sounds noir, it is.

  Ryn Wilson's large pseudo film stills of elegant women carrying valises deep into foggy forests, or appearing only as a pair of shapely lifeless legs under a blue velvet dress, convey a darkly atmospheric romanticism, a hint of looming oblivion accompanied, implicitly, by an elegant soundtrack. — D. ERIC BOOKHARDT

This is How We Roll: UNO graduate student work curated by Dan Tague and Tony Campbell
Barrister's Gallery, 2331 St. Claude Ave., (504) 710-4506;

Show ends Oct. 6th.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Martin-Gropius-Bau Museum, Berlin

I recently traveled to Berlin where we visited two exhibitions at the Martin-Gropius-Bau Museum. The first, and one of the best I've been to lately, was PACIFIC STANDARD TIME: Art in Los Angeles 1950–1980. This time and place was central to the first wave of feminism, and the exhibition included many seminal works in the women's movement. The show was divided into three parts. The first titled Crosscurrents, displayed work from over 50 artists including Judy Chicago. The most impressive piece in this section was Edward Kienholz's room installation of old fashioned radios, whose varying sounds were activated by pedals. It was most successful when multiple people were interacting with it from different parts of the room. The radios were attached to old fashioned tables by a clear glue which was poured over each one. One was in an aquarium, one was attached to a dismembered mannequin arm, and in the center there was a group set up with washboards and Nazi medals. Here the radios stood in for men while the washboards represented women during the war. The medals, which were given to women who could produce four or more children for the Nazi party, were hung over them.
The second part, titled Greetings from L. A. , was packed full of over 200 important objects, many of them from the feminist movement. Photographs from Eleanor Antin's 100 Boots were on display as well as a series of text typed on notecards by Martha Rosler.
 This part also included video, photo and text documentation of the Womanhouse project run by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro at the California Institute of the Arts Feminist Art Program.
There was so much work packed into this section that it was really hard to take it all in. One of the last pieces in this section was a room installation by Bruce Nauman in which the viewer walked around a square room with a cube of walls in the center and surveillance cameras and video screens on the corners. As the person turned the corners, they could see a glimpse of themselves if they looked back at the video screen behind them.

The third section of the exhibit was  dedicated to Julius Shulman's photographs of modernist architecture.

The second exhibition we visited was Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915–1935. It included works of the early avant-garde by El Lissitzky, Gustav Klutsis and Alexander Rodchenko among others. These works, which were revolutionary in the world of visual arts also held great influence over the Russian revolution.
This exhibition also discussed the innovative town planning and communal housing at the time. This was displayed through vintage photographs as well as beautiful photographs taken by Richard Pare in 1993 of the decaying buildings.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Young German Photographers and the EPEA

Two new photo shows opened recently at Hamburg's Deichtorhallen. The first was Young German Photography, an annual competition for graduate students final year projects. Seven were chosen and there was quite a range of approaches.

Miriam Schwedt exhibited a series of lithographs.
These images were so beautiful in their quality of light and subject matter, I thought the rising tides looked like mountaintops. There were a few images of construction machinery which I felt could have been left out as they didn't fit with the rest of her work.

Luise Schröder had an interesting approach and she displayed a video of her process. She laid out a pile of old photo books and subjected them to the four elements, water, fire, wind and earth.
 From the debris she created images that looked like this.
The pictures were large scale, which meant the original images were blown up to many times their original size, losing image quality. I would have preferred smaller images, or perhaps framed bits of the debris. The transition to digital reproductions could, however be a comment on how the digital world is a fifth element.

Sara-Lena Maierhofer did a series exploring the phenomenon of the imposter. She analyzed the identity of the con artist Clark Rockefeller through unexpected photographic journey. Here are some of her findings.

The other work was less interesting to me, but I was impressed to see that five of the seven photographers were women.You can see more work from this and past exhibitions here.

The second show was the European Photography Exhibition Awards. The organization appointed twelve photographers to create work concerned with “European Identities”, providing them with grants and photography workshops to aid in creating the photo essays. 

Gabriele Croppi's created surreal scenes of a past era in his stark black and white architectural photographs.
Hannah Modigh's eloquent series on adolescence showed awkward and private moments of young adult lives. It was very personal and raw, but her soft colors and the lush surface of the papers she printed on gave it a nostalgic aura.
Marie Sjøvold's subject was motherhood and she explored the altered world view which a woman with a newborn child experiences.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Saul Leiter and Wim Wenders at the Deichtorhallen

The Deichtorhallen Hamburg had a retrospective of Saul Leiters work, including his photographs, paintings, collage and fashion photography.


I didn't find his paintings very interesting, but his paintings on photographs were really something special. His color palette was quite unexpected and sometimes you couldn't see any traces of the photograph so that if you weren't aware, it wouldn't be apparent that there is a photo underneath. His use of mirrors, windows and light distortion was constant through his art and fashion photography. Many of the techniques he used are commonplace today and thus don't sound very original, but he was one of their pioneers and he did it with such grace.

Wim Wenders had a photography show at the Deichtorhallen as well, at the Sammlung Falckenberg collection in Harburg. To my dissapointment, and for most of those who went that I spoke with, his photographic works were underwhelming. As my friend Lumen pointed out, you could stop his films at any given moment and find a much more interesting image than the ones presented in this show. I think part of the problem was the scale. The photographs were printed very large, which seemed to accentuate their banality. They were more impressive in the catalog than on the wall. In his statement, Wenders explains that he makes these images when he's getting lost while wandering and stumbling upon strange and quiet places. It surprises me that he has this strong feeling for the moments he captures, and he is such a talented filmmaker, but that feeling doesn't emanate from the photographs like they do in the films.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Louise Borgeois at the Kunsthalle

In honor of the great, late Louise Bourgeois 100th birthday, the Hamburger Kunsthalle has a show highlighting some of her major projects. One of her famous Maman (1999), giant metal spider sculpture, sits at the entrance to the museum. This project, she explains in the feature length documentary Lousise Bourgeois: The Spider, the Mistress, and the Tangerine (2008) (also at the exhibit), represents her mother and the sharp intellect she inherited from her. More personally, it represents a reconciliation with her mother.
The title piece of the show, Passage Dangeroux (1997), is a huge cage-like structure holding different “rooms” of found and sculptural objects representing memories of her childhood as well as the feminine psyche and psychological trauma. Unfortunately this impressive piece felt dwarfed by the large hall, I think it would have been more effective if it felt more closed in, in a smaller space.
My favorite piece in the show was, Untitled (1996),  an installation of sheer garments hanging from giant bones casting ever-so-slightly moving shadows on the floor. The delicacy of human life seemed suspended here. On my second visit to the show I noticed newly formed spider webs and a piece of blond hair hanging from the garments. These unintentional additions were so eloquent. 
 In addition to Bourgeois sculptures there are two wings of her 2-D work. One holds many rooms filled with framed fabric pages of the book Ode à l'Oubli (Ode to Forgetfulness) (2002), sewn with patterns and text. 
The other displays large scale etchings from the series À L'infini (2008). These look like watercolors depicting converging lines which represent thread. This thread is so significant because her mother was a seamstress and she associates her with the spider. The red colors invoke human organs and makes one think of the mother spinning the web of life.

Bourgeois long career involved her in many movements, such as surrealism, abstract expressionism and feminist art. She was one of the first female artists to be recognized and show with the other big names in museums. Her life and work paved the way for many woman artists as well as installation art, and her genuinely personal approach to art making has never wavered.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Made it to Germany!

I stopped over in New York for a couple days on the way and got a chance to see Cindy Sherman's retrospective at MOMA. It was great to finally see the entire Untitled Film Stills series together. Her giant wallpaper mural was great as well.
(Taken off ArtNet as photography was not allowed)

There were so many other amazing works on display and spending an entire day there wasn't enough. Here are a few highlights...

My favorite exhibition was Sanja Ivecović's "Sweet Violence". She is a feminist, activist, and video pioneer from Croatia who became known during the 70's. This is her first museum exhibition in the U.S. and it spans four decades of her work. She introduced me to the fact that the U.S. is one of only eight countries left in the world who have yet to adopt CEDAW, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The other countries not participating are Iran, Nauru, Palau, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan and Tonga. Among many other issues relating to equality for women it affirms the reproductive rights of women, which is something the U.S. is definitely behind on (please note CEDAW is abortion neutral, but promotes access to family planning).

The performance captured on video titled "Practice Makes a Master", was very powerful. It showed a woman on a stage in black dress and shoes with a white bag over her head falling over in violent reactions to an invisible assailant while a spotlight switches on and off. This was set to Marylin Monroe singing a sensual tune from the movie "Bus Stop", slowed down to where it eventually sounds like a man's voice at the end of the film. It had a Lynchian feel with a very direct message about the rehearsal of violence and psychological savagery.
(The version I saw was different. The one at MOMA had more of the song, the falling was not in slow motion, and it did not show the lighting/camera etc.)

This piece was not in the show, but I think it's brilliant.  Eve’s Game, 2009

I was also happy to see some of Hannah Wilke's pieces including these...

The incredible sand filled nylons of Senga Nengudi.

Senga Nengudi, R.S.V.P. I, 1977

There was plenty of fabulous photography as well...
 Two pieces from Ai Wei Wei's Study in Perspective, 1995-2003.

Nan Goldin
1. Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City
2. Philippe H. and Suzanne Kissing at Euthanasia, New York City
3. Rise and Monty Kissing, New York City

And an entire Eugene Atget Exhibit. I loved this one of a prostitute. I would definitely sport those leather boots with knee socks and giant mink.

I checked out the last day of the H.R. Geiger retrospective today and found out there is a Louise Bourgeois exhibit at the Hamburg Art Hall. More to come...