(SE, 1973) The point of departure in Bjerger’s paintings is found, anonymous photographs.The people who populate her images share something indefnable. Perhaps the fact that they were once depicted by a camera, that their sole purpose is to fll up a pictorial space, to match a surrounding. Maybe the fact that they are nothing in themselves, but always seem to be aware of the camera. In the paintings there is an intimate relationship between content and surface. Between heavily painted eyelashes and raven-black oil paint, between trickles of turpentine and tears of despair. Someone has chosen an unexpected, photogenic shade of lipstick. And an ostentatious colour of dress becomes a revelation of something.Sunshine as white gold in the air in a room. A natural scenery in the manner of an early tourist leafet. Moonlight in greenery which, as a result of its intense greenness, becomes the highlight of the evening and the party. Movement. Love. Excerpted from Nonpeople at a party, Karin Faxén
Bjerger’s graceful paintings—which hide steel beneath their easy fuency—get down a type of 21st century photo-based impressionism that pushes far beyond the usual postmodern stuff. Like 19th century pleinairism— which sought to record the effects of light and other natural phenomena on the eye—Bjerger charts the personal echoes cast about by realistic images. Her art burrows into the tricky psychological loam that accumulates beneath photographs. The memories of perfect strangers take root there with implications that resemble kudzu. Such is the vicarious reach of her handpicked Vogue glamour shots and found family snaps. Photographs, after all, today constitute the very bedrock of our visual world. Few painters working today match Anna Bjerger’s evocative powers. It’s no wonder that she strives to imbue her gorgeous paintings with the qualities of photographs. She’s picked a look everyone is bound to remember. It is our mirror.Excerpted from Endless Summer, Christian Viveros Fauné.
ALEX DA CORTE
A SEASON IN HE’LL
A man stands motionless behind a pink tabletop within a yellow room. Dressed smartly in a blue shirt and tan slacks, he stares blankly into the camera. On the table before him sits a small perfume bottle and an even smaller jar. A black egg rests upon the perfume bottle, a green and lavender straw upon the small jar. The time and place are unclear [but the details are important]
…1 Alex Da Corte’s (born New Jersey, 1982, lives and works in Philadelphia) A Season in He'll is an elegantly decadent video trilogy, based on the cult poem by Rimbaud (1873), of nearly the same title (in translation 2) – minus the apostrophe. As Da Corte’s grammatical addition suggests, these works point towards the future of will, “he will”, in fact, but with an implied, claused, conditional case, within which harbours the essence of potential doubt:
What becomes of choices, particularly when they are hypothetically placed within an artifcial, consequence-free vacuum? Within this narrowed, claustrophobic framework, Da Corte’s trilogy explores the notions of potential and immanency; “Between the desire /And the spasm / Between the potency / And the existence / Between the Essence / And the descent / Falls the shadow.” 3 Does human nature naturally surge towards the selfindulgence of hedonistic pleasure, or adhere to the increasing abstractions of humanistic ethics and morals?
“When I was still a little child [past /eternal tense], I admired the hardened convict on whom the prison door will always close [future unconditional /eternal tense]; I used to visit the bars and the rented rooms his presence had consecrated; I saw with his eyes the blue sky and the fower-flled work of the felds; I followed his fatal scent through city streets. He had more strength than the saints, more sense than any explorer – and he, he alone! was witness to his glory and his rightness.” 4 Alex Da Corte’s lone protagonist, common to the three works, is a heavily stylized human being; a young Werther, Des Esseintes, or Dr. Frankenstein perhaps, removed from his loved ones, from the world and left to his de(vices). In all instances he is centrally framed, composed or isolated in a colourfeld world. Set against a solid ground, much like that employed by Irving Penn in his compelling shift from the fashion studio to ethnographic
documentation – a native American chief against dabbled grey ground – Da Corte
employs, or transports a dropped-in, (as if from out space) backdrop to neutralize, or liberate the ‘subject’ from the invasive history and reference points of a contextualizing /(de)stabilizing world. All the action becomes focused upon the objects ‘before’ the subject, nothing behind or ‘after’, (literally) matters, beyond the impact of colour sensation. The tabletop, a temporalized ‘Nature Morte,’ becomes the subject’s lab bench, a slow motion research facility for a scientist in a void, a world reduced, but ripe for invention and discovery within the confnes of the self. “In cities, mud went suddenly red and black, like a mirror when a lamp in the next room moves, like treasure in the forest! Good luck, I cried, and I saw a sea of fames and smoke rise to heaven; and left and right, all wealth exploded like a billion thunderbolts.” 6 Each of the individual works richly imagines a mind reveling or corrupting in the culpability of self. In Da Corte’s A Season in Hell, the protagonist, the subject, intakes pleasure, fertility,
leisure; appearing as a dandy in the full excess of forward motion, without remorse (as noted above, with ‘nothing’ behind). Conversely, in Bad Blood, the subject mutates from scientist into anthropologist, a cook, or even a bartender: He collects and measures taste/s (amassing and combining decoratively lush objects), distilling them, and pressing himself against the full experience of that which taste or choice has to offer (even if that means self- hurt, exposure or destruction). The Impossible fnally returns to the subject (a bit thinner now) on an inevitable path towards vice, or at least, with the appearance of
acceptance; a form of peace inamoralistic pleasures – Rimbaud’s “native road”?
“Let us set out once more on our native roads, burdened with my vice, that vice that since the age of reason has driven roots of suffering into my side – that towers to heaven, beats me, hurls me down, drags me on.” 7
Da Corte’s videos starkly, yet lusciously, employ props that relate to familiar and harmless domestic objects and practices. Yet, curiously this familiarity is carefully perverted or sideways or twisted to equally reference the obscene and remote. Ordinary things are fipped towards the unexpected, the (in)evident, the unapparent, as if they have been misunderstood by, or viewed without ‘normal’ understanding from another, exteriorized world. The artist notes this balance of familiarity and oddness in the usual, the stools, tables and utensils in Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, the commonplace made nightmarish.
Objectivity shifts to subjectivity, as the world slips and distorts in between the rational moments, according to the beat of T.S. Eliot’s pendulum. Or as the artist puts it: “The videos propose to be viewed from a place in the future, imagining how it must have been so strange living in the early part of the 21st century.” “This is the way the world ends…” 8
1 From the artist’s notes, 2012
2 Rimbaud, A Season in Hell, originally titled in French; Une Season En Enfer. According to various sources, Rimbaud began this visionary work in London in 1872 under the increasing infuence of Absinthe, and completed it in France the following year under the further infuence of Opium. Graham Robb’s biography of Rimbaud hypothesizes that this begins to explain "… why some of his [Rimbaud's] poems are so hard to understand, especially when sober". The work has nine parts or cantos (which differ markedly in tone and narrative comprehensibility, with some, such as "Bad Blood," 'being much more
obviously infuenced by drug use than others); Introduction, Bad Blood, Night in Hell, Delirium
1: The Foolish Virgin - The Infernal Spouse, Delirium 2: Alchemy of
Words, The Impossible, Lightning, Morning and Farewell, from a number of which Da Corte
sources his chapter titles.
3 T.S. Eliot. The Hollow Men, V. 1925
4 Rimbaud, A Season in Hell, Canto two, Bad Blood.
5 Excess; “…nothing succeed likes it”, notes Maggie Smith playing the Dowager Countess
in Downton Abbey, but it has at least, and indisputably, generated some remarkable and
enduring texts, Rimbaud and Huysmans, amongst others.
6 ibid, No.4
8 ibid, No.3
(...+ arm + brick + window +...)
How do you fx a broken joke? Repetition, repetition, repetition…
Charlie Woolley’s work takes sort of a squat protest in the middle of the worst landscape I’ve known yet. It’s the most fctionalised desire played out, playing itself, and I’ve had some of the best conversations with him as I’ve had with anyone in the last few weeks. Woolley’s works are objects of protest without the aesthetics of resistance. They are instead an aesthetic of remembrance. Yet what are they remembering? They don’t commemorate any nostalgic past, but commemorate instead our present, our mummified present, 2010 onwards. 2010: all the strength felt in protest worldwide disappears as soon as it appears, as soon as it didn’t happen, there is no concrete monument or poetry to say it did. Just as a wave of protest can dispel as soon as it speaks its name, trending and passing in a twitter feed, via its automatic recuperation by capital, or perhaps the unavoidance of the two being one and the same thing, from and in the same site. The love that dare not speak its name. A protest’s posters are propositions for memorials. They are gestures for a vocabulary of remembering, of our language, collectivized. Maybe 2013 is the year of remembrance (remembrance to reignite). Remembrance of how shit it is right now. Dissemination itself as a memorial.
1800 is concerned with the process behind the making of an iconic image. It refers to the heroic gestures of 19th-century history painting, of which Jacques–Louis David’s Napoleon Crossing the St Bernard Pass is perhaps the best-known example. 1800 depicts the production of a fnal shot. Its rapid-fre narrative is constructed from an eclectic collection of clips showing flm crews at work, for example, footage of a flm crew from the The Stunt Man (1980), which is itself a flm about the making of a flm. Dalwood links the flm-making process to the process of making a painting, in which the film ultimately appears to recreate David’s painting. In doing so he portrays flm-making as a military campaign on a grand scale, referencing the grandeur and ambition of both history painting and film.
Frik Collection, Ceramics Wing
The Frik Collection Ceramics Museum operates in a similar fashion to a 'real' museum, but without many of the usual institutional constraints. Unlike a traditional museum, visitors can acquire the objects displayed and in doing so become an important benefactor? and life long friend of the Ceramics Museum. Owners of these museum pieces receive a de-acquisition certificate, and are encouraged to keep in touch: the museum notifes the growing circle of friends of exhibitions and acts as an intermediary for pieces to be loaned. There are regular public exhibition of the museums most recent acquisitions.The Ceramics Museum was initiated by Helen Frik after the artist decided she could not possibly keep all the ceramics she was making. The museum was launched in 2011 in Copenhagen; an offce foor became temporarily vacant above David Risley Gallery and was transformed into the apartment of someone who is mad about ceramics, and had collected widely; the total collection was shown. The artists says of her project: “My goal is to eventually have had every style, form, clay, technique, decoration, use, period, colour, continent, etc represented somewhere in the pieces of the Museum Collection. The museum form itself is an experiment: there is wide discussion in contemporary cultural circles, fanned by the realisation of the enormous production of art on the one hand, and
the rising cost of keeping and showing artworks on the other, about the ‘place’ of the museum today. The rising prices of contemporary art put fnancial pressure on institutions whilst their budgets are being drastically cut; long established institutions have to justify their existence, and merge, change or close. The numbers of worldwide collected and stored artefacts involved are astronomical. When August the Strong (Dresden, 1670-1733) opened his collection to public perusal, there could have been no doubt as to the intentions: by showing people things they could not even have dreamed of, a reaction would be instantaneously extracted: Wonder, admiration, respect, but importantly more internal and personal reactions of joy, entertainment, inspiration. The reactions are bound to the fact that the pieces on view are un-familiar and non-attainable. They are protected, the sight of them in one’s memory can be taken home, the objects remain in the museum. The aim of my museum is to make pieces available for de-acquisition once they have been on public display. People can own a museum piece: They may even break it, without repercussions. The roles are turned, the survival of the museum depends on the memory of what was once in the collection: by means of the curator’s stories, publications, online presence, it can still be classed as a museum.”
Over the last several years, Hyde has taken two trips to Los Angeles to
photograph this area, analyzing it through a lens at various angles and from
different vantage points, but always returning to the same location. Back in his
Brooklyn studio, Hyde transfers and stretches these archival inkjet prints onto
linen over which he applies acrylic paint. These works are about distance—timebased, separated in the gallery space, the location between the east and west coasts, as well as the conversation between how far apart or close together the mediums of painting and photography really are. Hyde’s work ranges from paintings on photographic prints to large-scale installations, photography and abstract furniture design. His recent notable solo shows include Inhere at Shau Ort in Zürich in 2011; The Stuart Davis Group at the Boiler, at Pierogi’s Boiler Room in Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Live Principles of Ventilation and Adhesion at Villa du Parc, Annemasse, France in 2010. Hyde is the recipient of numerous grants including a recent Pollock-Krasner Grant, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in 2008, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship in 2000 and a New York State CAPS Grant in 1982. He has lectured as a visiting professor at Yale University, Brooklyn College, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Bard College and Cooper Union.