Tuesday, 22 February 2011

ArtSlant Interview: Ben Rivers for Slow Action at Matt's Gallery

February 2011 - Ben Rivers currently has a solo exhibition on at Matts Gallery which showcases four 16mm films. The resulting work is a mix between science fiction and ethnographic investigation all set in several fantastical island landscapes. London ArtSlant writer Laura Bushell had the great opportunity to discuss his epic work Slow Action.

Laura Bushell - You worked with writer Mark von Schlegell on the voiceover narrative for the film, can you tell me how that collaboration came about?

Ben Rivers - I had been developing the film with an idea of narration that I was going to write myself, or at least collage together from various bits of slightly adapted existing pieces of fiction - excerpts from books which I had been reading for years, stories of Victorian explorers searching supposedly undiscovered lands and finding Utopias or strange races, as well as travel writing from the 19th and early 20th century. So things like Erehwon by Samuel Butler, After London by Richard Jefferies, The Green Child by Herbert Read, The New Atlantis by Francis Bacon.

Anyway, I was struggling a bit and then went to a show called Dreaming the Mainstream at Vilma Gold (http://www.vilmagold.com/), and what seemed like the press release was written by Mark. It was fascinating because it wasn't a press release, it was a piece of work in itself, a very strange piece of fiction. I immediately read his book Venusia and loved it - so got in touch. Then we started a long email discussion about these books and he came back with things like Melville's Mardi and Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island, and it was obvious we understood each other.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Dazed Digital Interview: Paul Kindersley for TVOD at Transition Gallery

Last time Dazed checked in with artist Paul Kindersley he was a shiny new graduate from Chelsea College of Art and was mounting his first solo show as winner of the Transition Gallery prize. Being thrown in at the deep end was no bad thing for the artist, who for the last 11 months has dodged the post-graduation blues with busy schedule of curating, writing and exhibiting across London and Europe. Developing his fascination with our interaction with media glitz, glamour and stars, Kindersely has curated TVOD, a forthcoming exhibition continuing his relationship with Transition Gallery which collates work reflecting on the residual effects of the mythologised film and TV experience. Dazed spoke to him in the lead up to the exhibition… (read interview)

19 February – 13 March 2011, Fri-Sun 12-6pm
Transition Gallery, Unit 25a Regent Studios, 8 Andrews Road, London E8

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Saatchi Magazine Interview: Michael Petry at the Soane Museum

When architect Sir John Soane bequeathed his London house to the public in 1837, the world gained access to three amalgamated townhouses worth of antiquities, artifacts, books, and artworks, on the strict proviso that nothing left, and nothing was added. But recently a series of creepy, ambiguous, biomorphic glass forms have insinuated themselves into the collection, sensuous yet sinister shapes that loiter on window sills, ooze out from fireplaces and balance precariously off pieces of priceless furniture. These are the result of the second exhibition of resident artist Michael Petry, whose sculptural response to his time at the museum rearticulates Soane’s rather dark family history into a series of glass works that speak of traditional craftsmanship, Soane’s love of contemporary British art and his meticulous design of the building itself, as well as the sex, lies and scandal that saw his whole collection donated to the state. Meeting me at the museum for a guided tour of the beautiful works in this very idiosyncratic setting, Petry told me of the inspiration behind and practicalities of mounting this show… (read interview)

Michael Petry: Bad Seed
Until 12 March
Sir John Soane’s Museum,13 Lincoln’s Inn FieldsLondon, WC2A 3BP http://www.soane.org/

Monday, 14 February 2011

Shadow Catchers at the V&A - closes 20 February 2011

Shadow Catchers, an exhibition of camera-less photography at the V&A, is drawing to a close soon and since it's resonated with me since I saw it a few weeks back, I wanted to put down some thoughts and encourage those who haven't been to catch it before it disappears...

Essentially a collection of works on photographic paper by five contemporary artists, the show demonstrates how images can be captured by non-mechanical means of reproduction to startling and often haunting effect. There’s no technology involved in the production of these pictures, only a bit of chemistry, the elements and an artistic mind. It's everything that quick, easy, highly detailed, easily manipulated digital isn't.

Floris Neususs creates life sized photograms of female models who, it appears, pose on large sheets photographic paper before being exposed to light, which then fixes their shadows and contact points with the paper in large monochromatic imagery. There’s a real sense of traces in these works, the memory of a being who is now absent, their form now impregnated into the paper in a series of tones.

Pierre Cordier uses the chemicals of photo processing like a set of paints, priming and making marks on a sheet of photographic paper with chemicals ranging from developer and fixer to egg and syrup. The resulting imagery can be geometric or fluidly organic, but always utterly unique to his way of manipulating the medium. One leaves these images with little or no idea of how they were produced, there’s no demystification, just awe at how such intricate works can be produced by hand.

Using metaphysical themes and symbols, Adam Fuss’s work turns three dimensional objects into large two dimensional motifs. His image of a baby crawling through shallow water is burnished onto a bright yellow background, suggesting a symbol of a baby more than a representation of form. His photogram of swirling smoke conversely suggested depth and form within a two dimensional pattern. His work very much opens itself to chance.

Like Cordier, Garry Fabian Miller similarly creates abstract imagery in his work, but it is his beautiful images of leaves that engrossed me the most. Miller imbeds a sense of time into these photographs by using repetition and variation. There’s a real sense in these images, as with others in the exhibition, that this particular approach to photography really lends itself to natural forms. Where photography using a camera suggests a pose or at least selection of imagery, these images have a sense of participation between the object depicted and the mode of capturing its likeness.

Similarly, Susan Derges produces imagery by placing sheets of photographic paper in rivers, allowing moonlight to cut through the water and dance across the surface, leaving a record of both time and nature. Again, these works feel like somehow the elements were complicit in the process, not just objects being represented.

Barthes made a beautiful observation in Camera Lucida – that there is a chain of light between an object photographed and the eyes of those viewing it. The analogue photograph emanates with the light that once bounced from the object or person who was once in front of the camera (or in this case, paper). I'll leave it to him to conclude:

“From a real body, which was there, proceed radiations which ultimately touch me, who am here; the duration of the transmission is insignificant; the photograph of the missing being, Sontag says, will touch me light the delayed rays of a star.”

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