An Oak Tree consists of an ordinary glass of water placed on a small glass shelf of the type normally found in a bathroom, which is attached to the wall above head height. Craig-Martin composed a series of questions and answers to accompany the objects. In these, the artist claims that the glass of water has been transformed into an oak tree. When An Oak Tree was first exhibited, in 1974 at Rowan Gallery, London, the text was presented printed on a leaflet. It was subsequently attached to the wall below and to the left of the shelf and glass. Craig-Martin’s text deliberately asserts the impossible. The questions probe the obvious impossibility of the artist’s assertion with such apparently valid complaints as: ‘haven’t you simply called this glass of water an oak tree?’ and ‘but the oak tree only exists in the mind’. The answers maintain conviction while conceding that ‘the actual oak tree is physically present but in the form of the glass of water ... Just as it is imperceptible, it is also inconceivable’. An Oak Tree is based on the concept of transubstantiation, the notion central to the Catholic faith in which it is believed that bread and wine are converted into the body and blood of Christ while retaining their appearances of bread and wine. The ability to believe that an object is something other than its physical appearance indicates requires a transformative vision. This type of seeing (and knowing) is at the heart of conceptual thinking processes, by which intellectual and emotional values are conferred on images and objects. An Oak Tree uses religious faith as a metaphor for this belief system which, for Craig-Martin, is central to art.
One day in the ‘90s the British artist Michael Landy came up with a radical concept for an artwork: he decided to destroy every single one of his possessions in public. The idea was simple. But executing it proved surprisingly complex. So, in order to make it happen, he teamed up with Artangel, the non-profit arts organisation, which specialises in realising extraordinary one-off projects with contemporary artists, and set to work. Three years later, in 2001, having compiled an exhaustive inventory of his belongings that ran to 7,227 items, he found himself standing in an empty shop in Oxford Street in central London. Before him, in yellow trays placed upon a conveyor belt, were the belongings that he had amassed over his 37 years, destined for landfill. During the course of two weeks, every single one – clothes, love letters, artworks, his Saab 900 Turbo car, even his father’s sheepskin coat – was stripped, shredded, crushed, dismantled, or otherwise destroyed by Landy and his team of 12 assistants, while listening to David Bowie and Joy Division. When they had finished, the artist owned nothing at all, apart from the blue boiler suit he had been wearing throughout. He called the project Break Down.
Works by Heidi Bücher taken by me at the Parasol Unit.
Leaping Mirror Meme
6 photographs from the series Vandalism 1974
From 1974-5 American photographer John Divola travelled across Los Angeles in search of rundown properties to photograph. Using spray paint, string and cardboard, the artist created abstract installations which he then documented. He titled the project Vandalism. It blurred the line between fiction and reality. Divola’s carefully staged interventions merged sculpture, installation and performance while his images drew on the aesthetics of forensic photography. The series questions the photograph’s role as evidence.
Death In June
Death in June are a neofolk group led by English folk musician Douglas Pearce, better known as Douglas P. The band was originally formed in Britain in 1981 as a trio. Over the band's three decades of existence, they have made numerous shifts in style and presentation, resulting in an overall shift from initial post-punk and Industrial Records influence to a more acoustic and folk music-oriented approach. They are sometimes considered controversial (largely due to usage of themes and imagery relating to Nazi Germany). Douglas P.'s influence was instrumental in sparking neofolk, of which his music has subsequently become a part.
The images above are taken from Death In June album covers in which I later chose to edit on photoshop and create collages with. My initial intrigue in these two specific photographs were the usage of masks in them. As I had already started a collection of 'mask' images of both a violent and religious nature, I deemed these images also appropriate to my themes, one showing Douglas P in a stance conveying fear or disgust, the other holding a dagger and rose as if in a ritualistic act of worship.
White Cube Mason’s Yard
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
Here are a selection of images I took whilst at the Galerie Thaddeus Ropac.
Portuguese artist Ricardo Passaporte shrugs off controversy all for the means of art and free expression. Contrary to public belief, Lidl is not his main sponsor, but it perfectly could be. The contemporary fascination for logos and tacky-turned-trendy brands is just another proof of his sense of humour, sarcasm, and contemporaneity.
Interview with Metal Magazine: https://metalmagazine.eu/en/post/interview/ricardo-passaporte-a-lidl-bit-naughty
Danh Vo often employs seemingly mundane objects to meld personal biographical narratives with global political histories. While Vo at times intervenes in the objects he selects, deconstructing and recombining them, at other moments they are endowed with new meanings solely through the act of their selection and recontextualization as artworks. He identifies objects associated with figures of historical or personal significance, emphasizing otherwise hidden meanings and histories. The objects in his work include historical artifacts, mass-market commodities, documents, letters, and photographs, all of which provide material form to the relationship between global events and individual people. Vo weaves broad themes like colonialism, nationalism, or a notion of “America” into his work, along with personal details gleaned from the people and objects that are close to him and that he encounters during his process of research.
In 2009 Vo stacked a television set onto a refrigerator, which was placed on a washing machine, and attached a large crucifix to the door of the fridge. This work, Oma Totem, is composed from objects given to the artist’s grandmother, Nguyễn Thị Ty, by an immigrant relief program upon her arrival in West Germany in 1980. Made with the actual appliances and crucifix that were part of the artist’s grandmother’s home, the found objects in Oma Totem were once used, touched, and examined every day.
Liz Magor (born 1948 in Winnipeg, Manitoba) is an award winning senior Canadian visual artist. She is well known for her sculptures that address themes of history, shelter and survival through objects that reference still life, domesticity and wildlife. She often re-purposes domestic objects such as blankets and is known for using mold making techniques.Valley, 2017
Michiel Ceulers’s process-oriented abstract paintings are known for bearing evidence of their mistreatment in the artist’s studio, where he routinely stacks paintings against one another before they are fully dry. Often tearing, taping, sanding, and puncturing his canvases, Ceulers’s works feature imperfect geometric shapes and patterns, a playful engagement with art historical styles.
Michiel Ceulers, Even a clock that doesn’t work is right twice a day, 2017, wood glue, Liquin medium, magazine cuttings and Styrofoam on found painting mounted on paper.
'Behold' by Sheela Gowda
Behold 2009 is an immersive large-scale installation by the South Indian artist Sheela Gowda. This work consists of four kilometres of hand knotted rope and approximately twenty car bumpers. The bumpers are suspended against the gallery wall, individually or in sets, from ropes made of braided human hair, which are knotted around the metal. The ropes extend irregularly between the hanging bumpers in small and large loops, as well as being gathered on the floor in piles and heaps, some of which can also be suspended from the ceiling. In this way the installation can take over a single gallery space or occupy a single stretch of wall.
This piece inspired me to design a similar installation work involving hair on a large scale. The knotted hair would link together to form the anarchy symbol which would span across the entire room.
Psychic TV/Genesis P Orridge
Psychic TV are an English experimental video art and music group, formed by performance artist Genesis P-Orridge and video director Peter Christophersonin 1981 after the break-up of Throbbing Gristle.
I had watched an interview with Psychic TV in which they talk about sexuality and the constraints of society. Genesis P Orridge states that “freedom is taken away when there is a threat, therefore there is a threat to control from sexuality”. To me that very much speaks anarchism. Alongside this, the interview is filmed in 1982 and both Peter Christopherson and Genesis’ hair are somewhat controversial for its time. Genesis possesses a haircut that is completely shaved down to the scalp but leaves a section of long hair at the back.
Link to the interview below
Crass were an English art collective and punk rock band formed in 1977 who promoted anarchism as a political ideology, a way of life and a resistance movement. Crass popularised the anarcho-punk movement of the punk subculture, advocating direct action, animal rights, feminism and environmentalism. The band used and advocated a DIY ethic approach to its albums, sound collages, leaflets, and films.
Below is a link to BBC Anarchy Documentary 1980
Anarchy In The U.K
The Feudal System
The feudal system was introduced to England following the invasion and conquest of the country by William I, The Conqueror. The feudal system had been used in France by the Normans from the time they first settled there in about 900AD. It was a simple, but effective system, where all land was owned by the King. One quarter was kept by the King as his personal property, some was given to the church and the rest was leased out under strict controls.
To understand the foundations of anarchism, I first have to educate myself on the origins of societal structure e.g feudalism.
Miwon Kwon Text
Simply Botiful, 2007
Büchel’s complex installations force his audience to participate in scenarios that are physically demanding and psychologically unsettling. Cramped tunnels, claustrophobic chambers and frequent dead-ends induce feelings of panic and paranoia. He explores the unstable relationship between security and internment, placing visitors in the brutally contradictory roles of victim and voyeur.
Stripped of the usual discreet gallery signage, the entrance to the space was stage-dressed as a low-rent flop-house. After a brief reality-check – being asked by a smart young gallery assistant to sign an accident disclaimer – the seedy mise-en-scene continued inside. Worn, carpeted stairs led up into a passageway off which were a set of offices and bedrooms. Thunderous Heavy Metal music blared from a stereo. Along the corridor were lined makeshift bunks; less ad hoc accommodation for oversubscribed youth hostel dorms than cramped crash-pads for illegal itinerant workers. One door opened into a room stuffed with fossils and exotic animal bones – an anthropologist or archaeologist’s study, perhaps. A hole knocked in the lower part of the wall led into an antechamber, at the centre of which stood a burnt-out motor scooter.
Walking further along the bed-lined corridor, the mystery thickened; a balcony at the end of the passage overlooked an enormous warehouse containing a number of metal Portacabins, around which were clustered high stacks of disused refrigerators, broken televisions, VCRs, radios and tools. Descending the stairs onto the shop floor of this electrical knacker’s yard, you were able to explore the narrow pathways that snaked between vertiginous columns of fridges, nests of wiring and circuit board landslides. The Portacabin interiors further suggested human presence – half-empty beer bottles, pages from grotty porn mags stuck to the walls, more sleeping bags and camp-beds, an area with a punch bag and homemade set of weights.
Two more distinct zones stitched narrative teases into the installation. Poking from a hole in the floor of one of the Portacabins was a ladder, which plunged through levels of dirt to a clandestine archaeological dig; a large mound of soil encasing, judging by the huge pair of tusks jutting from one end, a prehistoric mammoth. Elsewhere, another door led onto a street-level shop front selling fridges and TVs that, presumably, had been reconditioned in the workshops out back. Amid the bland, strip-lit rows of appliances were yet two more narrative elements – a pile of prayer mats woven with motifs celebrating the events of 9/11, and a set of shelves carrying copies of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle, 1925) translated into Arabic.
Anne Hardy's photographs look like the illustrations to a Raymond Carver novel. They are strange retreats groaning with tattered junk, dark and unprepossessing. Prime, 2009 for instance, is what I imagine the Unabomber's hideaway might have looked like – not the sort of place you want to hang around in. Tiptoe across the floor and you might set off an explosion to rival the Northern Lights. Then there's the decor: it resembles a cabin lined with wood paneling, crowded with tables piled high with detritus. Despite the absence of a protagonist, you get the certain feeling that there is method in all this madness. But Hardy's photographs are always unpopulated; her scenes appear simply as shells where human existence might once have been present.
Sadie Coles HQ
Series of photographs taken by me of Lawrence Abu Hamdan's work at the Chisenhale Gallery.
Home-made: Contemporary Russian Folk Artifacts
This book features highlights from Russian artist Vladimir Arkhipovs extraordinary collection of unique inventions, objects made by Russians at a time when the Soviet Union was collapsing. His archive includes hundreds of contraptions with idiosyncractic functional qualities made for inside and outside the home, for example a coathook fashioned from a toothbrush or a TV antenna made out of forks. Each of these quirky artifacts of Soviet culture is accompanied by a photograph of the maker and the story behind the objects.
London-born, LA-based artist Walead Beshty describes himself as a photographer, although his practice is far more extensive than that. Beshty often works with processes that mirror photography, beginning with a blank medium and allowing a variety of chance circumstances to shape the appearance of the final work. In his FedEx series (2007 – 2014), the artist created a series of glass objects constructed to the exact dimensions of the standard FedEx shipping boxes. Beshty then used the FedEx Express service to mail his objects across the country to exhibitions and galleries. Relying on external forces to shape his final work of art, Beshty exhibited the damaged glass shapes alongside their containers upon arrival. Fuelled by his interest in how art objects acquire meaning, Beshty’s FedEx works record their movement from place to place, in both the shattering patterns left behind on the glass box, and the shipping labels on the FedEx packaging. Beshty’s motivation in this series is also a comment on the “perversity of a corporation owning a shape,” as the boxes are proprietary volumes and shapes owned by FedEx.
Flat Waste, 1973
Kandis Williams produces large scale collages that draw both from her personal experiences as well as from the interaction with the audience. She explores questions regarding her own identity and history and wider ranging topics such as racism, nationalism and violence. Her work is often held in black and white, using gradients to suggest space and depth. In a sensitive manner, she shows the closeness between beauty and ugliness, which can often only be seen at second glance. She densifies the content in her work, making the violence and horror seem more abstract. With the use of repetitive forms in her collages she brings structure to these complex issues, thereby showing their essence. Additionally, her work comprises performances and choreographies which encompass topics such as race, identity and the movement of the human body.
Cervical Smile, 2016
Jenny Holzer at The Tate Modern
In preparation for my 'Collections' project, I visited the Tate Modern. Of all the exhibitions and artist rooms I saw, the one artist whose work spoke to me the most was Jenny Holzer. This was predominantly because of her use of different mediums. Holzer's versatility as an artist allowed each piece in the room to be so different from the other, yet equally as provocative and aesthetically pleasing.
American artist Jenny Holzer presents statements that can provoke strong responses. Whether encountered on city streets or in art galleries, her work asks us to consider the words and messages that surround us.
Holzer’s art takes many forms, including stone benches, projections, signs, posters, paintings, plaques and textiles. Words are central to her work, whether pasted on a wall, flickering from an electronic sign, carved in granite or stitched in wool.
The piece above (I'VE JUST BEEN SHOT, 2017) which I have photographed was possibly my favourite purely because of my natural fascination towards war memorabilia/aesthetic and the violent nature of the text sewn onto the sleeping bag. It is essentially quite a minimalistic instillation but withholds a powerful and distressing message. The room also consisted of two paintings which also caught my attention due to its geographical style, use of text, and military connotations.
Protect Protect, 2007 (above)
After September 11, 2001, Holzer started paintings of declassified United States government documents relating to intervention in the Middle East. You can see where some information in the original documents was redacted before release to the public. The paintings faithfully reproduce the original documents, apart from enlarging their scale and at times adding colour to emphasise the content. The two large paintings are slides from a PowerPoint presentation used to brief the White House in advance of the United States’ and UK’s invasion of Iraq.
THEY LEFT ME, 2018
The Tate is not only displaying posters and electrical pieces, but also polystyrene coffee cups, and even condom wrappers. The cups and prophylactics (which bear Holzer’s dispiriting Truism ‘Men Don’t Protect You Anymore’ form part of a compact, yet fulsome show, which also features some of Holzer’s earliest works.