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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

India artist Raghava KK’s “magic carpet ride” at TED2010 – video

Posted by artradar on June 16, 2010


INDIAN ART ARTIST TALK TED CONFERENCE VIDEO PUBLIC SPEAKING

Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist (length of video, 17:56 mins) was recorded when Indian artist Raghava KK spoke at ideas conference TED2010 earlier this year. In the video, the artist tells an inspiring story of how art took him to new places, and talks about the different stages of experience which led him to become the artist he is today. He gives the viewer an insight into the concerns of today’s young artists and into the processes of contemporary art making. Raghava is a self-taught artist and who began his career as a newspaper cartoonist. At the age of 27, he is already one of India’s most celebrated emerging artists.

Raghava KK, Colossal Sleeper, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava KK, Colossal Sleeper, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava starts the talk by speaking of his childhood. He started his artistic journey during his second grade, but it was abruptly stopped when he was caught drawing a bust of a Michelangelo nude by a school nun. In the ninth grade, he started drawing again. Although afraid of getting caught, Raghava drew a flattering portrait of his school principal, which he gave to him as a gift. Following this, Raghava’s caricatures shot him to popularity within his school.

I think it was in my second grade that I was caught drawing the bust of a nude by Michelangelo. I was sent straight away to my school principal, and my school principal, a sweet nun, looked at my book with disgust, flipped through the pages, saw all the nudes. You know, I’d been seeing my mother draw nudes and I’d copy her, and the nun slapped me on my face and said, ‘Sweet Jesus, this kid has already begun.’

I had no clue what she was talking about, but it was convincing enough for me never to draw again until the ninth grade. Thanks to a really boring lecture, I started caricaturing my teachers in school. And, you know, I got a lot of popularity. I don’t play sports. I’m really bad at sports. I don’t have the fanciest gadgets at home. I’m not top of the class. So for me, cartooning gave me a sense of identity.

As Raghava continues with his story he mentions his family. He talks fondly of how much of an inspiration his mother was, how she taught him how to draw and how to love. Raghava also talks about his father’s holistic approach to living.

Raghava KK, Lady after bath, 2001, watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava KK, Lady after bath, 2001, watercolor on paper, 22 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

The artist eventually quit school to pursue a career as a cartoonist, which he felt gave him a sense of purpose. His popularity rose, he soon became a media star in India, and he caricatured hundreds of celebrities. For him cartooning was addictive; he was in love with the rush.

Of course, Raghava has known success and failures and he cherishes his failures the most. After drawing a cartoon about 9/11, he was banished from a cartoonists’ organisation in America, and it was with this that he realized there is a responsibility that comes with art.

The next slide I’m about to show you is a little more serious. I was hesitant to include this in my presentation because this cartoon was published soon after 9/11. What was, for me, a very naive observation, turned out to be a disaster. That evening, I came home to hundreds of [pieces of] hate mail, hundreds of people telling me how they could have lived another day without seeing this. I was also asked to leave the organisation, a cartoonists’ organisation in America, that for me was my lifeline. That’s when I realized, you know, cartoons are really powerful. Art comes with responsibility.

Following this “failure”, Raghava became concerned about his financial circumstances. He decided to quit his job and travel. Along the path he met an artist who inspired him to stop being a cartoonist and become a full time artist himself.

“He invited me to his studio. He said, ‘Come and visit.’ When I went, I saw the ghastliest thing ever. I saw this dead, naked effigy of himself hanging from the ceiling. I said, ‘Oh, my God. What is that?’ And I asked him, and he said, ‘Oh, that thing? In the night, I die. In the morning, I am born again.’ I thought he was cuckoo, but something about that really stuck. I loved it. I thought there was something really beautiful about that. So I said, ‘I am dead, so I need to be born again.'”

Raghava KK, Many sides of the mask, 2006, Venice-Suite, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 54 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava KK, Many sides of the mask, 2006, Venice-Suite, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 54 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

His early painted works demonstrate a complete break with his cartoon career. He painted watercolors on canvas using both his hands and feet and during his talk he shows footage of the making of several artworks. Later he moved into performance art and, wanting to make his pictures come alive, he asked his friends to paint their bodies and dance in front of the paintings.

“I had this crazy epiphany at two in the morning. I called my friends, painted on their bodies, and had them dance in front of a painting. And, all of a sudden, my paintings came alive. And then I was fortunate enough to actually perform this in California with Velocity Circus. I sat like you guys there in the audience and I saw my work come alive. You know, normally you work in isolation, and you show at a gallery, but here, the work was coming alive, and I had some other artists working with me.”

Raghava’s later artworks were darker than his previous paintings, due to his mother’s illness. In his own words, his art work “turned ugly” and he lost his audiences. Some of his works became autobiographical. When a friend’s sexuality was criticized in India he began to create violent and political artwork.

“So, after this, my works turned a little violent. I talked about this masculinity that one need not perform. And I talked about the weakness of male sexuality.”

After witnessing what a huge impact art can have on society, Raghava made the decision to stop painting and performing. He had lost collectors and was constantly being threatened by political activists. He decided to move back to New York where his artwork changed, even hinting at street art influences.

“Everything about my work has become more whimsical. This one is called What the Fuck Was I Thinking? and it talks about mental incest. You know, I may appear to be a very nice, clean, sweet boy. But I’m not. I’m capable of thinking anything. But I’m very civil in my action, I assure you. These are just different cartoons.”

Raghava KK, Blow me kisses, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Raghava KK, Blow me kisses, 2009, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 36 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Over the years, Raghava has reinvented himself using several different mediums. He professes to having a greater sense of responsibility and a knowledge of arts’ ability to affect peoples’ lives. For him, his art is a magic carpet ride and he wants everyone to ride with him.

Watch the video, “Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist” (length of video, 17:56 mins).

JAS/KN

Related Topics: Indian artists, videos, painting

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Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist
In this video “Five lives of an artist”, Raghava KK tells
the story of being an artist, how art took him to new
places and the different stages of experiences, which
led him to what he is now. Raghava is a self-taught
artist and who started his career originally as a
newspaper cartoonist. At the age of 27, he is already
one of India’s most celebrated, emerging artist.
With endearing honesty and vulnerability Raghava captured the TED audience’s attention. He did
nothing more than tell his story, a tale of several lives wrapped into one. Raghava starts his
journey by telling a little bit of his childhood. Everyone’s life starts with school seasons and with
inspiring teachers. Raghava started his artistic journey during his second grade, but it abruptly
stopped when he was caught drawing a bust of a nude by Michelangelo by a school nun. In the
ninth grade, he started drawing again. Drawing a flattering portrait of the school principal that he
gave to him as a gift, Raghava soon became popular with his caricatures.
“I think it was in my second grade that I was caught drawing the bust of a nude by
Michelangelo. I was sent straight away to my school principal, and my school principal, a sweet
nun, looked at my book with disgust, flipped through the pages, saw all the nudes — you know,
I’d been seeing my mother draw nudes and I’d copy her — and the nun slapped me on my face
and said, “Sweet Jesus, this kid has already begun.”
I had no clue what she was talking about, but it was convincing enough for me never to draw
again until the ninth grade. Thanks to a really boring lecture, I started caricaturing my teachers
in school. And, you know, I got a lot of popularity. I don’t play sports. I’m really bad at sports. I
don’t have the fanciest gadgets at home. I’m not on top of the class. So for me, cartooning gave
me a sense of identity. I got popular, but I was scared I’d get caught again. So what I did was I
quickly put together a collage of all the teachers I had drawn, glorified my school principal, put
him right on top, and gifted it to him. He had a good laugh at the other teachers and put it up on
the notice board. (Laughter) This is a part of that. And I became a school hero. All my seniors
knew me. I felt really special.”
As Raghava continues with his story he mentions his family. He tells fondly of his mother and
how she taught him how to draw, but also how to love. About his father’s holistic approach of
living and moreover about how he quit school to pursue a career as a cartoonist. Cartooning gave
him a sense of purpose. His popularity rose and surely caricatured over hundreds of celebrities. It
was addictive and being in love with the rush, he soon became a media star in India.
Raghava has known success and failures, but he cherishes his failures the most. After drawing a
cartoon about the 9/11, he was banished from the cartoonists’ organization in America. It was
from that moment that he realizes the responsibility that comes with art.
“The next slide I’m about to show you, is a little more serious. I was hesitant to include this in
my presentation because this cartoon was published soon after 9/11. What was, for me, a very
naive observation, turned out to be a disaster. That evening, I came home to hundreds of hate
mails, Hundreds of people telling me how they could have lived another day without seeing
this. I was also asked to leave the organization, a cartoonists’ organization in America, that for
me was my lifeline. That’s when I realized, you know, cartoons are really powerful, art comes
with responsibility.”
Giving us an insight into the concerns of today’s young artists and processes of contemporary artmaking,
Raghava was concerned of his financial lifeline. Not only has that, but also of the works
that exposes a range of issues relating to the society and the world. The next step he takes is
quitting his job and decides to travel. Along the path he meets an artist who inspires him to
become an artist.
“He invited me to his studio. He said, “Come and visit.” When I went, I saw the ghastliest thing
ever. I saw this dead, naked effigy of himself hanging from the ceiling. I said, “Oh, my God.
What is that?” And I asked him, and he said, “Oh, that thing? In the night, I die. In the morning,
I am born again.” I thought he was koo koo, but something about that really stuck. I loved it. I
thought there was something really beautiful about that. So I said, “I am dead, so I need to be
born again.”
His early work as a painter made a complete break with his cartoon career. He painted
watercolors on canvas using only his hands and feet. Showing videos of making several art
works, the scene later changes to how he suddenly works with performing arts. Wanting the
pictures to come alive and dance, he asks his friends to paint their bodies and dance in front of
the paintings.
“So I decided — I had this crazy epiphany at two in the morning. I called my friends, painted on
their bodies. and had them dance in front of a painting. And, all of a sudden, my paintings came
alive. And then I was fortunate enough to actually perform this in California with Velocity
Circus. And I sat like you guys there in the audience. And I saw my work come alive. You
know, normally you work in isolation, and you show at a gallery, but here, the work was
coming alive, and it had some other artists working with me.”
Raghava’s later art works were darker than his previous works, due to his mother’s illness. Along
the road, he decided to explore the darker side of the human mind. Because of it, his art work
turned ugly and he lost his audiences. Some of his works became autobiographical. It also
became more violent and political, due to a friend’s sexuality that was criticized in India.
“So, after this, my works turned a little violent. I talked about this masculinity that one need not
perform. And I talked about the weakness of male sexuality.”
Having experiences of how an art can have a huge impact on the society, Raghava had to stop
with his productions. Not only losing his collector, he was also banned and threatened by political
activist. He decides to do something different and thus tells us of his last steps of being reborn.
Just becoming a father, he also got the news of his mother recovering, as well of the election of
India’s new president. Upon the decision of moving back to New York, his art work changes and
becomes whimsical.
I moved back to New York, my work has changed. Everything about my work has become
more whimsical. This one is called “What the Fuck Was I Thinking?” It talks about mental
incest. You know, I may appear to be a very nice, clean, sweet boy. But I’m not. I’m capable of
thinking anything. But I’m very civil in my action, I assure you. (Laughter) These are just
different cartoons.
Over the years, Raghava would reinvent himself to use several different mediums. Coming back
to art, you learn of having a greater sense of responsibility and knowing its ability to affect
peoples’ lives. To that Raghava finishes his speech off with,
“For me, my art is my magic carpet ride. I hope you will join me in this magic carpet ride, and
touch children and be honest. Thank you so much. (Applause)”
Watch the Raghava KK: Five lives of an artist here. (Length of video, 17:56 mins)
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3 young Chinese artists awarded prizes at inaugural Caochangdi PhotoSpring

Posted by artradar on May 21, 2010


PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL BEIJING AWARDS

As part of the launch of the first annual Caochangdi PhotoSpring festival, held in Beijing, China, from 17 April to 30 June this year, three young Chinese artists were awarded a prize for their outstanding work in photography. The three award winners were selected out of 20 semi-finalists who in turn had been chosen from over 200 submissions from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of the world.

International panel of experts awards photography prize

A panel of international photography experts including Eva Respini (Associate Curator, Photography Department, Museum of Modern Art, USA), François Hébel (Director of Les Recontres d’Arles, France), Karen Smith (Photography Critic and Curator, UK), Kotaro Iizawa (Photography Critic, Japan), and RongRong (co-founder of the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, China) made up the members of the jury and selected the recipient of the Three Shadows Photography Award 2010.

The festival was directed by well-known artist couple RongRong & inri, founders of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, together with Berenice Angremy. The director of Les Rencontres d’Arles, François Hébel, acted as guest curator. According to the event’s website, the award aims to support and encourage new talent and give them greater exposure both locally and internationally.

This year’s 3 winners

The winner of the third annual Three Shadows Photography Award and the 80,000 RMB cash prize was 28 year old Shandong province native, Zhang Xiao. In his They Series of 2009 he deals with ordinary people who, because of their jobs, are often relegated to the fringes of society. The artist describes his work: “In real life, they are a group of very ordinary people, with their own lives and careers, but in these photographs, they seem strange and absurd, and very unreal. Behind this ostentatious city there is always grief and tears, indifference and cruelty. I met them by chance and I longed to understand each of their lives and experiences. Perhaps our daily lives are all absurd. I long to understand the meaning of our existence.”

Zhang Xiao, They Series No.01, 2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

Zhang Xiao, They Series No.01, 2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

Winner of this year’s Shiseido Prize and a 20,000 RMB cash prize was Wang Huan. Born in Shandong Province in 1989, her Alley Scrawl Series (2009) of black and white images was taken of the people, animals and places of the small town of Zhuantang, near Hangzhou. The artist was drawn to recording the lives of its “simple, decent” inhabitants. “It was this simplicity that… made me want to record their lives and engage in this narration about life’s vicissitudes” says the artist.

Wang Huan, Alley Scrawl series No. 2, 2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

Wang Huan, Alley Scrawl series No. 2, 2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

The haunting black and white works of the winner of The Tierney Fellowship a and 5,000 USD cash prize, Huang Xiaoliang, deal with memory and a yearning for a better future. The Hunan Province-born artist (1985) presented his An Expectation or a New Miracle Series (2008-2009), with its shadows and dream-like images drawn from the artist’s memory. The artist states, “Many things from my memory appear in these works; these things are from scenes that I remember.”

Huang Xiaoliang. An Expectation or a New Miracle Series No. 15 2008-2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

Huang Xiaoliang. An Expectation or a New Miracle Series No. 15 2008-2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

Caochangdi PhotoSpring and Arles in Beijing

The photo festival was held at one of Beijing’s top art districts, Caochangdi. Caochangdi PhotoSpring partnered with 40 year old French photography festival Les Rencontres d’Arles. This is the first time that the Arles’ exhibitions have been shown outside of France.

Caochangdi PhotoSpring offered a myriad of exhibitions from 27 participant galleries featuring both Chinese and international artists. The festival also featured slide shows and discussions, documentary film screenings, book launches and even musical concerts. Some exhibitions and activities run into the month of July.

The main hub of activity, including the venue for the opening ceremony and the announcement of the festival winners, was at the Three Shadows Photography Art Centre. This centre, which was opened in 2007, focuses solely on photography and video art. The Centre was designed by Chinese artist/architect Ai Weiwei.

Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

The courtyard of the Ai Weiwei designed Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, Beijing, China. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre

The semi-finalists: 20 young and upcoming Chinese artists

The semi-finalists, whose work was showcased at the Three Shadows Photography Centre Galleries, are: Chen Ji’nan, Feng Li, He Yue, Huang Xiaoliang, Li Chunjun, Li Liangxin, Li Yong, Liao Wei, Liu Jia, Liu KeMu Ge, Qi Hong, Song Xiaodi, Tian Lin, Wang Huan, Xiao Ribao, Xue Wei, Zeng Han, Zhang Jie, and Zhang Xiao.

Tibetan-born artist Qi Hong submitted hand-painted black and white images of the three gorges damn 15 years after they were taken with the intent “to gradually develop the landscape and life of the Three Gorges that I remember.” His images depict the inhabitants going about their activities of daily life such as boatmen pulling a boat against the current, or mountain inhabitants moving a house.

Qi Hong. Backpacker in the Ra, Three Gorges series. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Qi Hong, Backpacker in the Ra, Three Gorges series. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

With regards to his Stone City Series 2009, He Yue states, “Cities are created by piling things up and such is the case with life and thoughts.” For example, in Moth (2009) we admire the beautiful pattern on the wings of a moth only to realize that it is resting on a toilet seat. Or in Electric cables (2009) we can still find beauty in the pink hued cloud that is hovering in the blue sky, even if this view is intersected by electric cables.

He Yue. Dove, 2009. City series. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

He Yue, Dove, 2009, City series. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Li Yong presented his Daily Series 2006-2009 in which he documents the effects of rapid economic development in China and its often harmful impact on the environment. One of his photographs depicts a man fishing in a pond that has a partly submerged building in it without any concern as to how this might affect the toxicity of the fish he will later consume. Another depicts a man calmly sitting in the water surrounded by submerged buildings and trees heedless of its possible effect on his health. The artist states, “The people in these photographs are like me in the sense that we cannot change this environment; we can only indifferently accept it and calmly live in it.”

Li Yong. Fishing, 2008. Daily series. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Li Yong, Fishing, 2008, Daily series. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Song Xiaodi has no formal training but managed to capture the attention of the judges and the public with her images of fish and flowers in ultra-bright colours.

Song Xiaodi. Light Series, 2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Song Xiaodi, Light Series, 2009. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Haunting images of China’s Xinjiang region were taken between 2005-2009 by Tian Lin, her series, Children of Yamalike Mountain, depicts the inhabitants of the main shanty town in this region, known as the “slum of Urumqi.” These children, from migrant families, play and live in this dusty rubble with a sprawling modern city as their distant backdrop. According to the artist, tens of thousands of migrant workers from different ethnic backgrounds, such as Uighur, Hui, Han and Kyrghiz live here but with no legal papers or standing.

Tian Lin. From the series Children of Yamalike Mountain, (2005-2009). Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Tian Lin, from the series Children of Yamalike Mountain, (2005-2009). Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Taiwanese artist Xue Wei used a scanner to construct full-size images of her body. She had to scan her body section by section between 18 and 24 times to reach her desired effect.

Xue Wei. Self-Portrait - Side, 2005. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

Xue Wei. Self-Portrait - Side, 2005. Image courtesy Three Shadows Photography Art Centre.

For more information about the festival visit the website.

Watch for part two of Art Radar Asia’s coverage of Caochangdi PhotoSpring which will highlight a number of exhibitions including some from the Arles program.

Read part two here: Beijing first to host Arles program outside France

NA/KN

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Posted in Animals, Asian, Beijing, Body, Buildings, Children, China, Chinese, Critic, Curators, Documentary, Emerging artists, Environment, Events, Human Body, Migration, Photography, Prizes, Professionals, Urban | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

First of its kind in Asia – Taiwan’s Digital Art Center officially opens

Posted by artradar on July 2, 2009


DIGITAL ART TAIWAN

First of its kind in Asia and six years in the making, the NT$25 million (US$756,000) avant-garde art facility, the Taipei Digital Art Center, is now officially open to the public.

Taiwan News has the full report:

.. the site of Digital Art Center is very close to the future location of the Taipei Performing Arts Center in Shilin, and it also neighbors the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, making the whole surrounding area a cultural stronghold in Taiwan’s capital city.

Ma Chun-fu, Kodomo Manufacture at Taipei Digital Art Center

Ma Chun-fu, Kodomo Manufacture at Taipei Digital Art Center

The first DAC exhibitions include The Light of Historical Ending by Tao Ya-lun and Kodomo Manufacture by Ma Chun-fu.

The Light of Historical Ending is a laser projection piece that creates stunning effects when light beams pass through a visitor’s body.

Ma’s Kodomo Manufacture employs suspended channels to symbolize factory production lines – a cynical take on an educational system that churns out “good children” as production line outputs.

The centre’s first example of installation art is Tseng Wei-hao’s Speaker Tree, which won top prize in the first Taipei Digital Art Awards in the interactive installation category.

Tseng Wei Hao, Speaker Tree, Sound installation, ink, speaker, pencil 2006

Tseng Wei Hao, Speaker Tree, sound installation, ink, speaker, pencil 2006

The Taipei Digital Art Center is located at 180, Fuhua Rd., Shilin, Taipei, near Zhishan MRT station. For more information, please call (02)77360708.

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Posted in Children, Electronic art, Emerging artists, Gallery shows, Human Body, Laser, Light, Museums, New Media, Nonprofit, Sound, Sound art, Taiwan, Taiwanese | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Schoeni gallery Hong Kong plans online archive for website

Posted by artradar on May 4, 2009


ART ARCHIVE WEB

Head of Schoeni gallery Nicole Schoeni told Art Radar that as part of the revamp of the website, there are plans to digitise their artist literature to form an on-line archive, “though it may take a while given that there is 16 years’ worth of material” she warned with a laugh.

Zhang Lin Hai

Zhang Lin Hai

Nicole’s father Manfred  Schoeni along with Johnson Chang of Hanart were pivotal in the nineties in bringing Chinese contemporary art to the international stage. For example Schoeni held the historically important 8+8+1 exhibition in 1997 which showcased the works of 15 contemporary Chinese artists many of whom are now internationally famous including Yue Min Jun, Zeng Fan Zhi, Zhang Xiao Gang, Guo Jin and Yang Shao Bin.

Harnessing the web to share historically important art materials with a global audience is, perhaps surprisingly, still an unusual initiative. While museums are making big strides, few galleries as yet are making materials pubicly available even when this would help promote current exhibitions. No doubt this will change and we look forward to the day when research , images and interviews, previously locked down in print publications such as catalogues,  are released to a wider web audience as a matter of course.

In the meantime, Schoeni is also making its first forays into the world of video documentary with a just-released video of Chinese artist Zhang Lin Hai’s recent show ‘Stunned Speechless at Today Museum in Beijing.

Zhang Lin Hai’s work often features a repeated signature motif of a bald male child  against hauntingly bleak backdrops. This motif was born out of his own experiences of being adopted as a child and witnessing the devastation of the Cultural Revolution.

Nicole Schoeni is featured in the video which shows the artist supervising the installation of his work in the museum space.  

see Zhang Lin Hai video

Related links: Schoeni Gallery, Zhang Lin Hai

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Posted in Beijing, Children, China, Chinese, Cultural Revolution, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Human Body, Videos | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

MOMA acquires Israeli artist Guy Ben-Ner video Moby Dick

Posted by artradar on April 20, 2009


ISRAELI NEW MEDIA

This year Israeli artist’s Guy Ben-Ner’s Moby Dick (2000) has been acquired by MOMA. Ben-Ner was born in 1969 and is resident in New York and Berlin. He represented Israel in Venice Biennale 2005.

His art, resonant with socio-political allusion, is deep but far from bleak. His comic soap-opera style videos retell stories appropriated from other cultures and feature his family and household objects in a gloriously amusing, jerky slap-stick style.

Guy Ben-Ner, Moby Dick, video still, 2000

Guy Ben-Ner, Moby Dick, video still, 2000

In New York Magazine, Jeremy Salz described why Ben-Ner’s work is so different

All art comes from other art, and all immigrants come from other places. What makes Ben-Ner’s art stand out is that he puts these ideas together so well, continually cannibalizing the culture and objects he encounters, trying to make these things work for his art and his family. In this way, he echoes the immigrant’s story and the artist’s quest.1

Link to part of Ben-Ner Moby Dick video on youtube

Ben-Ner’s Moby Dick is a sly, improvisational retelling of Herman Melville’s novel in the form of a short, silent video punctuated with intertitles and magic-trick asides.

Turning the kitchen of his family home into an impromptu set, Ben-Ner and his young daughter reenact the novel from the time Ishmael (Ben-Ner) arrives at the Spouter Inn until the denouement of the story, when Captain Ahab (also played by Ben-Ner) meets his demise at sea. His daughter Elia plays the landlord of the Spouter Inn and later Pip, the deck boy of the whaling ship Pequod.

Ben-Ner’s rendition of Moby Dick is reminiscent of early silent cinema’s melodrama and slapstick comedy routines. The props that turn the kitchen into a theatrical set are entirely homemade and are wildly inventive. Cabinets and sink first stand in as the bar at the Spouter Inn, then with a wooden mast added they become the Pequod floating atop the sea (the kitchen floor). Simple cinematic illusions using magic tricks, animation, and sight gags abound, making reference to the comedic ploys of Buster Keaton and the magical trickery of Georges Méliès. The playful antics of father and daughter are fun to watch, but the work is not simply a parody. It is, rather, an investigation of creativity and innocence, the father/child relationship, and the home as a site for wayward adult and adolescent fantasies.2

note 1: Review of Guy Ben-Ner video in ‘Stealing Beauty’ New York magazine by Jeremy  Saltz

note 2: The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art , p. 191

note 3: Details of the Guy Ben-Ner’s Moby Dick in MOMA collection

note 4: Gallery show 2006 press release lists other videos

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Posted in Acquisitions, Children, Collectors, Domestic, Family, Israeli, Museum collectors, New York, Social, Video, Videos, West Asian | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review of Japanese artist Tatsumi Orimoto’s performance Finger Dolls in Hong Kong

Posted by artradar on January 23, 2009


tatsumiorimoto_breadmansonalzheimarmama_sm

Tatsumi Orimoto Breadman son + Alzheimer Mama 1996

JAPANESE PERFORMANCE ART REVIEW

Inside a cramped art space off a small side road at the wrong end of  Hong Kong’s gallery street Hollywood Road, the great performance artist Tatsumi Orimoto bows, his chin-length grizzled hair falling forward. “That’s it” he laughs as he straightens up. “It is four o’clock….my medicine time”. On cue a gallery assistant brings the artist a beer and a stool to sit on as the handful of viewers applaud, laugh and jostle closer to claim his offer of an autograph on a free ‘Breadman’ poster.

Tatsumi Orimoto, also known as  ‘Breadman’ for his world-famous performances in which he wears French baguettes twined to his face, has just completed his half hour performance piece ‘Finger Dolls’ and a lecture. The latter turns out to be a recount of his life’s work salted with comical asides and has been described by Para/Site Art Space’s new curator, Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya, as a ‘performance in itelf’. Spaniard Alvaro brings Orimoto to Hong Kong as part of an overall plan for his new role described to Time Out writer Claire Morin. “I want to refocus Para/Site … with more artists from Asia,” he says. “I also want Para/Site to become a social space, a space where things are actually happening, not just exhibited… I want the public to appropriate Para/Site and become a part of Para/Site.”  Arimoto’s quirky performance and engaging lecture are two sure steps towards that vision.

Tatsumi Orimoto Finger Dolls Hong Kong 2008

Tatsumi Orimoto Finger Dolls Hong Kong 2008

Short in stature and dressed in a strange semi-formal ensemble of green tie and waistcoat, Orimoto begins the Finger Dolls piece by wheeling an old bag across the floor and then slowly and deliberately opening and removing from it crumpled plastic carrier bags bearing the names of Japanese stores. These in turn are opened and small grubby dolls – mostly babies – are taken out and either hung around his neck or laid carefully in a semi-circle around him on the floor. The deliberate repetition of movements is puzzling: why this heaviness?  But then we notice one of the dolls has been given a cane and marked with pen-made facial wrinkles, a clue to the meaning behind this work. As Orimoto explains later in his lecture, “They are all Mama” .

Sixty- two year old Orimoto feels a special duty to care for his mother because of the part she has played in his long hard road to art success. Although he  is now a leading name in the global performance art scene, having performed with legendary video artist Nam June Paik and received spectacular reviews at the 49th Venice Biennale in 2001, this was not always the case.

The Bread Man was born in Kawasaki outside Tokyo to a working class, poor family and began drawing when he was ten. While his mother encouraged him, buying supplies and the latest art magazines for him, his father  a heavy drinker disapproved. As a teenager he began painting with oils which made his father fly into ‘ugly’ rages because he did not like the smell. Dealing with these experiences caused Orimoto to develop a resilience which enabled him to carry on in the face of prolonged rejection by the art establishment later in his life. “Even after I was asked to perform for the Queen of Spain, the Japanese establishment still didn’t want me” Orimoto grins to his Hong Kong audience, ” I don’t care. I call myself International Orimoto”.

But everyone needs a supporter according to Orimoto. “For me my Mama is like Van Gogh’s brother Theodore”.  When he applied to the most-respected art university in Japan, the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music  he was rejected year after year. His father pressed him to get a job but his mother supported his move to New York in the 1960s where he discovered performance art – “there was no performance art in Japan, ah I am so lucky, I saw the early peformance art in New York, I saw people like Joseph Beuys. Soho was exciting, artists came from around the world”.

Helping him financially she worked until she was 75 years old and supported him again when he set out to travel around dozens of countries where he held impromptu performances in unexpected places.  “Art is not only white space gallery, it is also public places, railways stations and restaurants. It is a very important thing”.

Later in his Finger Dolls piece he carefully produces from yet another old bag  a used box and from this, ponderously, in the manner of the elderly he brings forth bizarre mini-heads sculpted from papier mache and odds and ends. Each is individually crafted with its own quirky features (lurid pink eyes , green bobble hair) and treated with tenderness and the special focus only a ‘Mama’ can give.  Cautiously, protectively each puppet is laid on the ground before being donned on Orimoto’s stubby fingers and displayed to the audience during a purposeful unhurried walk around the room. As the piece develops we are increasingly aware of allusions to maternal and filial love and finally we are left in no doubt when Orimoto, rhymically slowly expels the word ‘Mama’ in a series of gravelly gasps.

Today his mother is a source of inspiration for his art and occasionally a participant in his performances. When his mother developed Alzheimer’s disease Orimoto knew that, as a man without wife and children, he had a duty to return home and care for his mother but this was not an easy step: he felt ambivalent and he worried that he would have to give up his art. But with characteristic creativity and perseverance he has turned this setback to advantage and she has evolved into his muse.

Is the work Finger Dolls about the love of a mother for her child or the filial duty of love and care owed to a mother? Is Orimoto playing the part of a mother or a son? At times the roles seem interchangeable. He is a mother who carries his creations wrapped about his neck and he plays a son who calls for his mother but in an ancient crackly voice.  In turn-and-turn-about fashion, he is now the older and now the younger, the mother and the son all in one. What does his art mean? What is it telling us? Perhaps it does not matter why or what his art is saying. As Monty diPietro says in his review of Orimoto’s first ever museum show in Japan at Hara Museum in 2000 when he was finally given deserved recognition, what matters is the effect Orimoto has on the people who watch him perform.  With a satisfying blend of drama and substance Orimoto’s puzzling, eerie performance work thoroughly engages his Hon g Kong audience –  and thankfully the art establishment now too .

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Posted in Children, China, Gallery shows, Hong Kong, Japanese, Performance, Public art, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Three Pakistani female artists in New York – review New York Times, Art Knowlege News

Posted by artradar on January 13, 2009


Farida Batool Nai Reesan Shehr Lahore Diyan

 

 

PAKISTANI CONTEMPORARY ART SHOW REVIEW

Indian contemporary art is hotter than ever, but globalization is also giving a lift to artists from neighboring Pakistan says the New York Times in its review of a show featuring three female artists at Aicon Gallery in New York which ended January 11 2009 .

Farida Batool, Tazeen Qayyum, and Adeela Suleman were presented in its recently relocated space on 35 Great Jones Street during a time of great political upheaval for the country. The three women’s artistic practices speak to the role of women and Pakistan’s tumultuous recent history.

 

Adeela Suleman Green Peacock Helmet

Adeela Suleman Green Peacock Helmet

Triggered by the  ‘Indian Highway’ currently on show at the Serpentine in London, reviewers there are declaring themselves ‘tired’  of the ‘obvious’ motifs evident in some of the art emanating from the Indian subcontinent. Bindis and the kind of steel hardware supplies favoured by Subodh Gupta are out. But in New York Adeela Suleman’s stainless steel kitchen equipment sculptures, which are described as  ‘exquisite’, are given a gentler reception.

Most eye catching are Adeela Suleman’s sculptures, in which stainless-steel hardware of the sort that might be found in nearby kitchen supply shops is convincingly and ingeniously transformed. In the exquisite “Green Peacock Helmet,” an upturned funnel with a painted-on fan of feathers becomes a headpiece fit for a Mongolian warrior.

Adeela Suleman has assembled household hardware such as drain covers, nails, showerheads and fasteners, into forms ranging from strange microorganisms to internal organs and sections of the human body. Despite the clunky and prosaic associations attached to these found objects, the finished artworks have a surprisingly ‘delicate quality’ says Art Knowledge News.

 While the domestic origins of her materials may provoke the viewer to label her work as feminist in its intent, Suleman prefers instead to view her works as sketches in three-dimensional form realized through the potential of combining these disparate elements.

Suleman received a Masters of Arts in International Relations from the University of Karachi in 1999, and continues to live and work in Karachi, Pakistan.

Tazeen Qayyum Test on a Small Area Before Use

Tazeen Qayyum Test on a Small Area Before Use

Delicate workmanship is a striking feature in many Pakistani works, a legacy of Pakistan’s tradition of miniature painting which dates back to the Mughal empire.  

Tazeen Qayyum renders cockroaches and other household pests with extraordinary delicacy. (Like the well-known contemporary artist Shahzia Sikander, Ms. Qayyum studied miniature painting at the National College of Arts in Lahore.) The pins and small labels attached to several works mimic the conventions of entomology, but they also exude a minimalist vibe.

She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan, with an emphasis in Indian Miniature Painting in 1996. She lives and works between Lahore, Pakistan and Toronto, Canada.

Farida Batool who received her MA in ) from the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales, Australia in 2003 and now lives and works in Lahore Pakistan, has created a series of lenticular prints (the image changes with the viewing angle) to portray complex political realies.

Batool prefers the medium to that of video, as the lenticular print allows the viewer to meditate upon a frozen series of moments within a single event, stop at any moment, and review again instantly.

Her print Nai Reesan Shehr Lahore Diyan (There is no Match of the City Lahore) depict acts of arson committed by religious extremists. Through the animation, Batool weighs the evils of both Eastern and Western extremism and finds the greater evil is difficult to identify.  

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Posted in Children, Feminist art, Gallery shows, New York, Pakistani, Photography, Political, Sculpture, Social, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »