Online Viewing Room CLOSE-UP A FOCUS ON FILM AND PHOTOGRAPHY
Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Wallace Berman, Jay DeFeo, Ja'Tovia Gary, Tomislav Gotovac, Ari Marcopoulos, Mladen Stilinovic
Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili (born in 1979 in Tbilisi) is a Georgian-American photographer living in Berlin. She studied at Bard College, Annandale, NY under Stephen Shore, An My Lee and Barbara Ess. Her work stands at the confluence of digital and analog photography. Images she makes are straight snapshots or intricately staged photographs, which then undergo a process of altering by hand or digital means, or a mix of both. The multilayered manner in which she combines these interventions, while experimental and often intuitive, converges on a conceptual logic of choreographing and staging not just surfaces, but the conditions of photographic representation.
Her recent solo exhibitions include ‘mother ,feelings ,cognac’, galerie frank elbaz, Paris and ’Hollow Body’, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York, and Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne; and ‘I Move Forward, I Protozoan, Pure Protein’, Micky Schubert, Berlin. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; Bridget Donahue, NY; FRAC Haute-Normandie, Sotteville-lès-Rouen, France; Kunstverein Hannover, Hannover; Casey Kaplan, NYC and New Museum, New York, for the 2015 New Museum Triennial, amongst others.
Ketuta ALEXI-MESKHISHVILI Narcisse, 2020 Archival pigment print 29,7 x 21 cm (11 3/4 x 8 1/4 in.) Edition 1 of 2 + 2 AP ALE2020-2302
Ketuta ALEXI-MESKHISHVILI patterns of an unstable frame, 2019 Archival pigment print Print: 50 x 40 cm (19 5/8 x 15 3/4 in.) Framed: 54,7 x 44,8 cm (21 1/2 x 17 5/8 in.) Edition 2 of 2 + 2 AP ALE2019-1802
"What made me love photography was its boundary problems: how the ambiguous power of decisions such as composition, editing, framing, circulation and presentation of an image tends to determine the meaning more than that which is being depicted. Or, for example, the opaqueness of boundaries between the depicted and depicter that are easily blurred by the dynamics of power. These tendencies allow photography a vast, mysterious area for an artist to investigate and play in. What has surprised me most lately, in my inquiry into this phenomenon, is how closely the experience of motherhood has paralleled it and in turn, has fed my images post-partum.
My last exhibition at galerie frank elbaz in Paris, was titled “mother ,feelings ,cognac”, which was an attempt to communicate a sense of lost boundaries, between bodies, images, definitions: a certain amnesia, personal and general, if you will. Recently, I sense myself moving away from that as well, but whatever is brewing is very new and I can´t yet verbalize it. When we could still afford to have a stable world view, an image could shift our perception of the world. In this sense, it’s the billion collective images that I’ve consumed in the past ten years that have resonated with me the most. Slowly, over time, the power of a single exhibition or image to change one’s perception has been put to question. In a time of relentless and almost involuntary consumption of images, the rise of mass-market digital retouching and live rendering software, can a single image hold power?
Artists have been foreshadowing our ‘post truth’ moment for a long time. I think whether directly or indirectly, all work is affected by the broader realities of its time. Generally, I don’t set out to comment on things through my work. Following the last US presidential election, however, I was invited to participate in a group show called Produktion: Made in Germany Drei, at the Sprengel Museum in Hannover. For this exhibition I worked on a concise project, titled ‘MID’, where I photographed – off the computer screen – found images of window locks produced in Germany. I also added a crumpled ribbon of a different colour to each image, in order to keep things open to interpretation. But the images still turned out to be too resolved for me. After that experience, I turned in again, hoping that the personal, with its call to empathy, can also be political.
What comes after the pictorial turn? Instagram has eaten Facebook, fashion is having pop culture for breakfast, emojis are feasting on the written word, and most of human communication is taking place on a screen. Maybe the pictorial turn is the last turn we make before the end."
— Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Carte Blanche, Objektiv
Ketuta ALEXI-MESKHISHVILI HOLY SNAKE TEARS, 2020 Archival pigment print 29,7 x 21 cm (11 3/4 x 8 1/4 in.) Edition 1 of 2 + 2 AP ALE2020-2303
Ketuta ALEXI-MESKHISHVILI Heinrich-Heine Strasse (Aldi), 2019 Archival pigment print Print: 62,5 x 50 cm (24 5/8 x 19 5/8 in.) Framed: 69,6 x 56,8 cm (27 3/8 x 22 3/8 in.) Edition 2 of 2 + 2 AP ALE2019-1803
Wallace Berman (born in 1926 in Staten Island, USA. Died in 1976 in Topanga, CA.) Wallace Berman was an iconic figure of the California Beat movement. His personality and multifaceted body of work deeply influenced several generations of artists. His practice resonates with jazz, Jewish mysticism, and poetry that accompanied and inspired his work. According to Dennis Hopper, "he affected and influenced everybody seriously involved in the arts in Los Angeles in the 1950's. If there was a guru, he was it – the high priest, the holyman, the rabbi." Walters Hopps recalled "his magical touch of wit" – a magical touch still operating on younger generations who discover Berman's work today. Berman had a strong relationship with his peers, for instance with Jay DeFeo who stood several times in front of the lens for him. Between 1953 and 1965, his small house on Crater Lane was the center of a community of artists; Charles Brittin described Berman’s home as a kind of artistic dissemination center. It was in Berman’s living room that the seeds for Semina Culture were sown. Berman's body of work includes collages, photography, graphic design, drawing, sculptures, and film.
Wallace BERMAN Untitled (Shuffle), 1969 Acrylic paint and verifax collage 33 x 35,5 cm (13 x 14 in.) BER1969-900
"The principal image in Berman's Verifax collages is almost always the same: a right hand holds up an AM-FM transistor radio, which is about the size of a cigarette pack. The face of the radio is flat, coincident to the surface of the collage, and a photograph has been inserted in the place where its speaker would be. This band holding a radio is displayed in a variety of combinations. Sometime it stands alone, sometimes it is collaged with other pictures, and sometimes it is repeated in a gradual arc, like a hand shuffling a deck of cards. Most often it is repeated in a compositional grid. The smallest grids hold four repetitions, the largest 56 (eight high, seven across). Some of the collages have regular black-and-white images and some float in painted fields of bright, flat colors. When Berman discovered he could use the disposable Verifax negatives, these usually took the place of positive images. The inventory of pictures he overlaid onto the radio speakers is long: an antique bust, a palm-reader's chart, a jazz musician, a thumb, a bird, a one-eyed priest, a snake, a skull, a mandala, a praying cardinal, an engine, a flower, a soldier, a galaxy, a Iock and keys, a skeleton, a fighter plane, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, a gun, a dancer, a Hebrew letter, handcuffed wrists, Buck Rogers, a bed, a window, knees, a coat, an ear, a football player, a bell tower, a horse, an American Indian chief, a canine, a Mayan relief, a butterfly with a pocket watch, Mick Jagger, a camera, a planet, a copulating couple, a spider, a nude ... and on, and on. At precisely the central intersection between horizontal and vertical rows, the picture on the radio frequently depicts a cross. Elsewhere, it is possible to encounter a picture of most anything you could find photographed in magazine or book. Like the earlier parchments and the contemporaneous painted rocks, the Verifax collages have the feel of being instant artifacts (some are even embellished with Hebrew letters). But, there is a difference. These are not artifacts from history, as ragged papyrus and ancient Hebrew calligraphy on stone would imply, but artifacts from the immediate present, as copier machines, transistor radios, and the encyclopedic list of pictures makes plain. Their form and tent are seamless: mechanically made pictures (the Verifax copies) of an electronic machine (transistor radio) that transmits machine-made pictures (the internal photographs). Berman’s typical use of negatives, rather than positives, makes the otherwise familiar litany of ordinary images vaguely obscure and initially difficult to read, as if it represented some lost but powerful language about to come into view and reveal itself. Furthermore, the almost sepia-toned quality of the Verifax process yields a worn, aged look. As with his earlier attempts to create visual equivalents of jazz, sounds are transformed into pictures by the depiction of a transistor radio pulling invisible images from the aether and broadcasting them to viewers. The Verifax collages comprise a body of work extraordinary for its dense cohesion and its resonant simplicity."
— Christopher Knight , Wallace Berman: Support the Revolution, Distributed Art Pub Inc, 1993
Jay DeFeo (born in 1929 in Hanover, New Hampshire, USA ; died in 1989 in Oakland, CA)
Jay DeFeo was a central figure of the famous San Francisco's Beat community. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and studied art at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving her masters of fine arts degree in 1951. Upon graduation, the university awarded her a fellowship, which she used to travel through Europe and North Africa in 1951 and 1952, lingering in Paris and Florence to create her first body of mature works. Returning to the Bay Area in 1953, DeFeo became a celebrated figure in the historic San Francisco community of artists, poets and jazz musicians of the time. DeFeo worked with unorthodox materials to explore the broadest definitions of sculpture, drawing, collage, photography and painting. In 1958, she began to work on “an idea that had a center to it” and almost eight years later, in 1966, completed The Rose, a monumental work created with so much oil paint that she called it “a marriage between painting and sculpture”.
Jay DEFEO Untitled (detail), 1972 Gelatin silver print 14,6 x 16,7 cm (5 3/4 x 6 9/16 in.) DEF19722-2308
Not only a favorite subject, DeFeo's tripod served her well as a tool. In 1971, following a long hiatus after completing her magnum opus, The Rose, 1958-66, she returned to artmaking via photography. A dozen small gelatin silver prints made between 1972 and 1975 illustrate various natural and artificial texture combinations: a riverbed's sparkling water and matte sand; a shiny plastic parcel tied with rough twine. Like her paintings, DeFeo's photographs are essentially tonal studies of superficial contrasts. The two kinds of works also share similar compositions. For example, a still life of broken glassware (Untitled, 1972) presages the arrangements of angular and curvaceous forms in DeFeo's 1980 "Eternal Triangle" paintings. In one of her most successful cross-pollinations, DeFeo photographed her own paintings and sculptures in various stages of completion (and destruction). Three 1973 photos of Tuxedo Junction, 1965/1974, a large triptych of layered oil paint on paper, which was concurrently on view in Paris at the Centre Pompidou's "Beat Generation" exhibition, were taken before the artist mounted each of the triptych's irregular fragments (themselves salvaged from an unfinished painting on paper) onto Masonite supports. Astonishingly, the photographs enhance the delicate flakiness and sedimentary quality of her layered paint sheets so that they appear more haptic on paper than in person. Leave it to DeFeo to make such photogenic sculptures and sculptural photographs.
— Excerpt, Artforum, reviews, Jay DeFeo, galerie frank elbaz, Paris, October 2016, Mara Hoberman
Jay DEFEO Untitled (detail), 1973 Gelatin silver print Image: 7,9 x 11,7 cm (3 1/8 x 4 5/8 in.) Sheet: 10,2 x 12,5 cm (4 x 4 15/16 in.) DEF1973-2309
"I worked on photography alone for several months and gave it nearly as much attention as painting in the early 1970s. ... The best of them have a kind of haunting quality, I think.. surrealist leanings… a sense of portraiture in landscape surroundings." - Jay DeFeo
Jay DEFEO Untitled, 1972 Gelatin silver print Image: 15,9 x 10,8 cm (6 1/4 x 4 1/4 in.) Sheet: 17,5 x 13,7 cm (6 7/8 x 5 3/8 in.) DEF1972-2307
Ja'Tovia Gary (born in 1984 in Dallas, TX; lives and works in Dallas, TX)
Gary’s work seeks to liberate the distorted histories through which Black life is often viewed while fleshing out a nuanced and multivalent Black interiority. Through documentary film and experimental video art, Gary charts the ways structures of power shape our perceptions around representation, race, gender, sexuality, and violence. The artist earned her MFA in Social Documentary Filmmaking from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. galerie frank elbaz presented her first solo exhibition « Tactile Cosmologies » in February 2019 introducing the three channel video installation THE GIVERNY SUITE. Concurrent to the exhibition at Paula Cooper Gallery, THE GIVERNY SUITE premiered on the West Coast in a one-person exhibition at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (February 2 — May 17, 2020). Her work has been screened at numerous festivals including Houston Cinema Arts Festival; BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia; the American Film Institute Festival in Los Angeles; the Montreal International Documentary Festival; International Film Festival Rotterdam; Frameline LGBTQ Film Festival, Edinburgh; New Orleans Film Festival; and Ann Arbor Film Festival. Gary’s work is part of the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester. Exhibitions have been presented at cultural institutions worldwide including the Schomburg Center, NYU Florence, Goldsmiths University, MoCA LA, MoMA, Brooklyn Museum, ICA Boston, and MoMA PS1. Her work has received support from the Sundance Institute and The Jerome Foundation. In 2016 Gary participated in the Terra Foundation Summer Residency program in Giverny, France. She was named a 2019 Creative Capital Fellow, a 2019 Field of Vision Fellow, and a 2018-2019 Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University.
Ja'Tovia GARY Precious Memories, 2020 SD video and SD video from 16mm film on 3 CRT monitors, acrylic, dried cotton, moss, dried helichyrsum. Monitor: 228,6 x 61,6 x 47 cm (90 x 24 1/4 x 18 1/2 in.) Edition 1 of 2 + 1 AP GAR2020-2305
For her first sculptural installation, Gary will recreate an approximation of her 1990s childhood living room in Dallas, Texas—a familial tableau with discretely positioned recliner, table lamp, rug, and other decorative accents. Illuminated by condensed chiaroscuro lighting, the room evokes a prismatic dreamscape, at the center of which stands a slanted tower of stacked monitors. Each playing a unique looped video, the three monitors and their domestic circumambience spotlight the paradoxical intersection of violence of the interior and notions of home and placemaking. As a meditation on memory, bodies, and the realm of the haptic, the piece asks: When is it clear that the old life is over, a new one has begun, and there is no looking back?* - Excerpt, Ja’Tovia Gary, flesh that needs to be loved, press release, Paula Cooper Gallery
* Saidiya V. Hartman, Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006)
Tomislav Gotovac (born in 1937 ; Sombor, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, now Serbia ; died in 2010, Zagreb, Croatia)
The Croatian artist Tomislav Gotovac is considered the precursor of performance art in Eastern Europe in the 1960's and the 1970's. He attended the University of Zagreb and the Academy of Performing Arts in Belgrade. He was fascinated by cinema, which had a deep influence on his work; as he said so himself, he perceived life as a constant movie : “when I open my eyes in the morning, I see a movie”. Gotovac's own body as a readymade soon became his main medium and subject, when it appeared in his photographies in the 1960's; he also worked on his body on the public space, often naked, doing performances in the streets of Zagreb such as Zagreb, I Love You in 1981. He also worked with collage, and was at the origin of the first Happening in Zagreb, in 1967 (Happ Our-Happening).
"The series of photographs turns the omnipresent and yet almost invisible detail of metal street covers into strong visual signs that are indicative of Gotovac's method of reduction and repetition of finding systems in unexpected, unforeseen circumstances. The series reflects his sensibility for obsessive visual collecting, a systematic catalogue of particular motifs of the surprising urban reality. » - Excerpt - One Needs to Live Self-Confidently… Watching, Antonio G. Lauer a.k.a. Tomislav Gotovac and BADco, curated by What, How and for Whom/WHW, Croatian Pavillon, 54th Venice Biennale, 2011
Tomislav GOTOVAC Metal Covers of the City of Belgrade, 1977-2011 Series of 96 black and white photos Each photograph: 34 x 34 cm (13 3/8 x 13 3/8 in.) GOT19772011-1613
Ari Marcopoulos (b. in 1957 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, USA).
Since arriving in New York from his native Holland in 1979, Ari Marcopoulos has documented the diverse subcultures of American youth. His photographs and videos depict the brash vitality of underground music and the rebellious athleticism of extreme sports. ln a body of work that demonstrates a rare empathy for his subjects, who are almost always young men or boys, Marcopoulos neither patronizes tentative expressions of identity nor romanticizes youthful freedom. His straightforward portraits and lush snapshots capture everyday moments of beauty and anxiety, becoming, as he says, "something that just stands for life lived." Marcopoulos' work has been the subject of exhibitions at New Orleans Museum of Art, USA; Berkeley Art Museum, USA and Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, the Netherlands, among others. His work is included in public collections such as USA Berkeley Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; New Orleans Museum of Art; and Switzerland Fotomuseum in Winterthur.
Ari MARCOPOULOS Robert Frank Diptych, 2018 Silver gelatin type LE/Selenium print 86,4 x 199,4 cm (34 x 78 1/2 in.) Edition 1 of 3 + 1AP MAR2018-2140
"Andy Warhol said he wished he could be a machine but I'm not about all that, not exactly. I use a Machine, several in fact - sometimes a Leica, Canon, Contax, or Hasselblad - to take pictures with. Why? It's hard to explain, it’s easier to just look and to find patterns, repetition is key. These days everyone has a camera in their pocket and in the Warhol sense they have become machines, empty recorders continually taking aim at the time, trying to capture the elusive and the mundane. The trouble is that time slips away and fades anyway. I make books, zines, and films as a way to extend the life of the photograph, to make it move."
— Ari Marcopoulos (Excerpt, Machine, galerie frank elbaz, Paris, 2017)
Ari MARCOPOULOS Jean III, 101 Crosby 1983, 2018 Silver gelatin print 127 x 127 cm (50 x 50 in.) Edition 1 of 3 + 1 AP MARC2018-1424
Mladen Stilinovic (born in 1947 in Belgrade, Serbia ; died in 2016)
Stilinovic is one of the most significant representatives of neo-avant-garde art in Central and Eastern Europe. His work is nourished by Croatian artists from the previous generation such as Julije Knifer and Mangelos. Through his works, Stilinovic explores ideological signs and their social aspects. Using devices such as irony, paradox and manipulation, the artist criticizes the language of politics, institutional hierarchy within art, and the role of money and labour in society. Language is central in his aesthetics; he associates it with graphic signs and other visual references to historical movement, such as geometric abstraction. Stilinovic’s projects have assumed a variety of mediums such as painting, photography, sculpture, collages, and works on silk and ceramics.
Mladen STILINOVIC Fotografirane fotografije / Photographed Photographs, 1975 14 Black and white photographs 24 x 30,5 cm / (9 1/2 x 12 in.) each STI1975-1831
"From 1970 to 1977, Stilinović made around 30 short films and one feature film, which were shown at short and experimental film festivals at the time they were created, and later as part of his exhibitions. Shot on 8mm and 16mm film (and one on 35mm), and mostly on only one original tape, they were eventually damaged. Four films: Primer 1, 2, 3 (1973), Write about Un-loneliness 2 (1973), Walls, Coats, Shadows (1975) and Time 1 (1977) have been digitized, and three of them have been restored and are now being shown for the first time. (…) The film Write about Un-loneliness 2 (1973) has a much more complex and free structure resembling the collages he also made around that time. A sort of self-portrait, or better yet, a diary of solitude which exudes vibrant content: his creative dialogue with life, with art of the past and present, driven by Eros and Thanatos."
—Branka Stipančić (Excerpt, Primer 1, 2, 3 , Films, photographs and collages 1973–1977, Curated by Curated by Branka Stipančić, galerie frank elbaz, Paris, 2019
Mladen STILINOVIC Piši ne samoće / Write about Un-loneliness, 1973 35 mm film, black and white negative with color interventions, silent, 4’37'' Edition of 7 + 2 AP STI1973-1820
"But film still has a privileged status in his artistic system. It functions as an autonomous language, at the same time striving towards a bidirectional overstepping of boundaries, providing the author with (montage) techniques applicable in other visual media. For Stilinović, film is, above all else, a space of the creative aggregation of knowledge and the energies accumulated from the exploration of modern age libraries, film archives and galleries and the experiences of historical avant-gardes, as well as the dissociated observation of the ideologically ‘occupied’ socialist reality in which he had lived and participated through observation in the events which simultaneously documented and defined, transcended and subverted this reality."