San Francisco

Miriam Böhm: At On at Ratio 3

From our partners at Art Practical, today we bring you a review of Miriam Böhm’s current solo show at Ratio 3 in San Francisco. Author Danica Willard Sachs notes that the work has “a surreal dimensionality, with lines and planes that intersect in unusual ways, suggesting a simultaneous depth and flatness that refuses to resolve neatly into one or the other.” This article was originally published on April 14, 2015.

Miriam Böhm. Equally III, 2015; chromogenic print; 23 x 29 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Ratio 3, San Francisco.

Miriam Böhm. Equally III, 2015; chromogenic print; 23 x 29 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Ratio 3, San Francisco.

The conceptual artist Jan Dibbets made his first Perspective Corrections in 1967, around the same time that he was experimenting with optical illusions in sculpture and painting. When photographing some of his artworks, the artist realized that the viewpoint of the camera could transform the shape of the object, removing the simultaneity of perspectives inherent in viewing a sculpture and fixing it in time and space.1 Dibbets came to make this metamorphosis a focal point of his practice, producing images such as Perspective Correction, My Studio I, 2: Square with 2 Diagonals on Wall (1969) that underscore the ambiguity of depth in the flat plane of the photograph. For At On, her third show at Ratio 3, Miriam Böhm has pushed the limits of her studio-based photography practice in the vein of Dibbets, creating confounding, abstract, minimalist images of intersecting geometric forms and planes. She has also translated her photographs into her first sculptural works, which likewise perplex.

The artist’s first foray into sculpture—the series Mutual (2015)—occupies the rear portion of the main gallery. With pedestals painted white to match the gallery walls, the sculptures appear to hover in midair when viewed from the entrance in the slanting afternoon light. Atop each pedestal perches an object composed of intersecting glass planes framed in dark walnut; photographs of wood grain printed on vinyl are adhered to the surface of the glass. Unlike Dibbets, who looked to photography as a means to eschew the multiple viewing angles demanded by sculpture, Böhm embraces the changing perspectival experience created when one moves around her objects. In Mutual I (2015), the printed vinyl strips form a pair of rhombuses positioned at perpendicular angles across the glass panels. Because the glass panes are clear and we can see through one form to the other—and also because the walnut frame holding the panels matches that of the printed vinyl—the result is a layering of lines that, when viewed head-on, appears flat and two-dimensional, like a drawing. As one moves around the work, however, the rhombuses shape-shift as the angles of intersection change.

Read the full article here.

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Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Paul Taylor

At the risk of having his artwork go unrecognized, Paul Taylor creates subtle interventions in land- and cityscapes. His works simultaneously embody and critique the influence of the quotidian. To achieve such interventions, Taylor works with an array of media: film, video, concrete, ink, graphite, plants, and found industrial and construction material.

Paul Taylor. CAUTION, 2011-2012; plywood, steel, paint, hardware, water; 24 x 40 x 29 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Paul Taylor. CAUTION, 2011-2012; plywood, steel, paint, hardware, water; 24 x 40 x 29 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Much of Taylor’s work appears as though he simply found a perfect organization of elements that create a humorous, striking, and preordained moment. Gate (2011) is part of a larger body of work titled Anonymous Infrastructure, and it portrays (perhaps most succinctly) Taylor’s ability to intervene almost without being noticed. In the midst of a blank, brown empty lot that awaits a commercial or residential development, the artist built a faux security gate, pouring the concrete platform and assembling the structure under the cover of darkness. Gate stayed in the vacant field, relatively untouched, for a week, until an unknown party dismantled it.

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Vancouver

Patryk Stasieczek: Asking For It at FIELD Contemporary

Patryk Stasieczek is a painterly photographer. He is part of a loosely united cadre of artists whose work has been identified as “immaterial”—they’ve abandoned the apparatus of the camera almost entirely, but still use alternative darkroom processes and light-sensitive paper. Stasieczek’s abstract, kaleidoscopic works draw on the experimental legacies of analog photography, but are no less rooted in the digital realm. Accordingly, these are the key elements that emerge in Asking For It, the artist’s latest solo exhibition at FIELD Contemporary.

Patryk Stasieczek. Gestured Interference (13), 2015; UV laminated digital light-jet print on metallic chromogenic paper, mounted on foam; 16 x 20 in.

Patryk Stasieczek. Gestured Interference (13), 2015; UV laminated digital light-jet print on metallic chromogenic paper, mounted on foam; 16 x 20 in.

Psychedelic and transcendent, Asking For It transgresses the traditional boundaries of the photographic medium by rejecting the representational in favor of total abstraction. As a record of their own production, these works emphasize the materiality of analog processes while denying the figurative intentions typical of photography. Conceived by the artist as interventions within stages of image production, they are innovative in a way that resists the banal simplicity of the digital.

In the Gestured Interference (2015) series, which includes multiple iterations, Stasieczek has taken a cellphone camera and smashed it with varying amounts of force against a number of telematic devices (technologies that transmit computerized information across long distances). This physical collision of technologies causes interference in the transmission and reception of a light frequency via the camera’s sensor. Gestured Interference (11), for instance, was achieved by striking a camera phone against a tube monitor while simultaneously taking images of the resulting effects.[1] Like the other works in the exhibition, the colorful lines of Gestured Interference (11) document the moment of the image’s making. The essence behind the image is the physical action, and it points to nothing outside of the technologies that were used for its production.

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New York

Margret: Chronicle of an Affair at White Columns

Sometimes the most unassuming artworks can question the relevance of art history’s categories. Margret: Chronicle of an Affair—May 1969 to December 1970, currently on view at White Columns, exhibits a personal archive of obsession, one presumably never intended for public view. Over a seven-month period between 1969 and 1970, a Cologne businessman named Gunther K. meticulously recorded his affair with his secretary, Margret S. During that time, he took hundreds of photos of Margret; he collected her fingernails, hair, and empty birth-control-pill packets; he organized receipts logging where they traveled and what they ate; and he wrote detailed notes of their sex life, recording the frequency, duration, and specifics of each act. Nearly three decades later, when this entire cache was unwittingly discovered in a briefcase in an abandoned German apartment, it set off a series of events that led to the collection being represented by the Cologne gallery Delmes & Zander, an institution focused on outsider art and art brut.

3.Margret: Chronicle of an Affair—May 1969 to December 1970, 2015; detail. Courtesy of White Columns / Delmes & Zander.

Margret: Chronicle of an Affair—May 1969 to December 1970, 2015 (detail). Courtesy of White Columns/Delmes & Zander.

Gunther K. could certainly be considered an amateur photographer, and his identity has remained protected, allowing this work to fit easily within outsider art’s mandate for the self-taught and its penchant for the anonymous. However, the precision and depth of Gunther’s project contains intriguing formal and conceptual ties to many practices within mainstream contemporary art, including the memory-laden installations of photographs and ephemera by Sophie Calle and the found-photographic interventions of Hans Peter-Feldman and Erik Kessels. Moreover, found photography is a subgenre that has straddled the insider/outsider divide for some time, albeit with very different interpretations. Found photographs of freak-show participants, medical anomalies, and incarcerated individuals were featured in the 2015 Outsider Art Fair, for example, their inclusion based less on the unique virtues of each work and more on their uneasy documentation of cultural outsiders.

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San Francisco

Derek Jarman: Super 8

Today from our partners at Art Practical, we bring you Anton Stuebner’s consideration of Derek Jarman: Super 8, a recent monograph from Thames & Hudson. Steubner notes, “[The book] shows an artist fully coming into his own at a social and historical moment when his distinct creative voice would become more needed than ever.” This article was originally published on April 9, 2015.

Derek Jarman. My Very Beautiful Movie, 1972 (contact sheet of film stills); Super 8mm; 17:13. Courtesy of Thames & Hudson and LUMA Foundation.

Derek Jarman. My Very Beautiful Movie, 1972 (contact sheet of film stills); Super 8mm; 17:13. Courtesy of Thames & Hudson and LUMA Foundation.

In his lifetime, Derek Jarman (1942–1994) was arguably Great Britain’s most prolific queer artist, a punk poet rallying against the homophobia and AIDS paranoia of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party government. Although originally trained as a painter at London’s Slade School of Fine Art, he created work that gleefully transgressed conventional boundaries of discipline and medium. In Jarman’s oeuvre, paintings function doubly as text pieces (incitements for political action with slogans like “FUCK ME BLIND” and “SPREAD THE PLAGUE”), while his journals, conversely, incorporate pictorial images: film stills, mixed-media collages, oil studies in miniature. By the time of his death, Jarman had amassed a staggering body of work that included countless canvases both large and small; multiple set designs for the Royal Opera House; over ten books of autobiography, poetry, and scripts; and even a house, a cottage near the Dungeness nuclear power station in Kent that Jarman designed and built from the ground up.

Jarman’s eleven feature-length films—from the highly sensual Sebastiane (1976), a homoerotic account of St. Sebastian’s martyrdom, to the autobiographical masterpiece Blue (1993), a monochromatic tone poem about Jarman’s physical and psychological experiences of living with HIV/AIDS—are undoubtedly his most lasting and powerful works. Twenty years after his death from AIDS-related complications, it’s still painful to imagine the films that Derek Jarman could have made had he survived. At once both painterly and highly cinematic, profoundly political while also deeply meditative, his features represent the fullest expression of his creative energies even if they aren’t the entirety of his cinematic output. Jarman’s initial forays in filmmaking were on Super 8, a medium he continued to experiment with and incorporate in his feature films throughout the early part of his career. Many of Jarman’s feature films were funded (in part) by the British Film Institute, the largest government-supported nonprofit for film production and preservation in Great Britain. This funding enabled these films to circulate through larger distribution networks, reaching a wider audience that the Super 8 films, as considerably smaller and more fragile works, could never reach. As a result, Jarman’s feature-length films continue to dominate critical assessments of his work.

Read the full article here.

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Interviews

Interview with Ian McMahon

Artist Ian McMahon is a material purist who makes monumental sculptures from raw clay and industrial plaster. The resulting works are contradictory in impression—domineering but fragile, familiar while avoiding redundancy. In his most recent exhibitions he has introduced an element of controversy for anyone who has ever engaged with the tedium of delicate materials—the work is made to be broken.

Cascade, 2014; Freestanding cast plaster, used pallets; 40’ x 6’ x 21’ (each side).

Ian McMahon. Cascade, 2014; freestanding cast plaster, used pallets; 40 x 6 x 21 ft. (each side).

Ashley Stull Meyers: Let’s talk about the scale of your work. How long have you been making monumental sculpture? Does that impulse predate your current circumstances or was it born from it?

Ian McMahon: I’ve been making large work since I was a student. For a while, all the work I made was very specifically dictated by the amount of studio space I had. I was frustrated by that and the fact that there is already such regimented labor in making ceramics. I was getting results that were really boring, and if there’s no potency, there’s no conversation.

I started spending a lot of time rethinking all the projects I hadn’t made for various reasons—like scale or uncertainty about the materials. I chose to tackle the strange idea of how to suspend raw, unfired clay. At first I wasn’t sure how to build an armature that would support that much weight or ambiguous form. I had a real ah-ha! moment once I got the hang of the mold. The result was an outcome I couldn’t have predicted, and it resonated to me and fortified my drive to build installations. Shortly after graduation, a group of collaborators and I were offered a site-specific opportunity in Portland where I ended up with Arena.

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Shotgun Reviews

Sanaz Mazinani: Threshold at the Asian Art Museum

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Nancy Garcia reviews Sanaz Mazinani: Threshold at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

Currently on view at the Asian Art Museum is Threshold, a new work by the Iran-born, San Francisco-based artist Sanaz Mazinani. The installation is an impressive development for the artist, and engages both the museum’s architecture and the visitor’s experience.

Mazinani, whose work is rooted in conceptual photography, has created a mesmerizing video by splicing together sequences of helicopters and explosions from Hollywood action films. The resulting work pulses with the movement of kaleidoscopic patterns that draw on Islamic ornamentation; these patterns are also evident in the laser-cut mirrored panels along the gallery walls. In the center is a large, mirrored sculpture that reflects the viewer and further fragments the images. Completing the immersive experience is a six-channel sound installation that responds to movement. Threshold’s repeated visual and sonic fragmentation is seductive and intense.

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