Thursday, February 24, 2011

I Don't Get It: Portraiture and Propaganda

Clare Bohrer as a peplos kore.

As my winter term at Lawrence University draws to a close, the final touches are being put on my term project I Don't Get It: Portraiture and Propaganda. This work, which is based on my previous series of photos by the same name, expands the notion of the meaningless nature of decontextualized propaganda. In this 40 page book, I put my favorite 9 portraits on display accompanied by the originals from antiquity. Thus far, I have 8 of the 9 photos taken. Due to one of my models being ill, we had to postpone the shoot multiple times. However, that should be happening within the next two days. Otherwise, I'm completely done formatting book and it's all set to be sent off to Blurb for publishing soon. Also, a quick thank you to Julie and Johnny as well as Ali Scattergood for all their help and guidance with photography.

Just as a teaser, here are a couple of my favorite works from the book. Can't wait to see the final product!

Allison Bjork as an aristocratic Flavian woman.

Collin McCanna as the Apoxymenos.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hold on, I gotta take this...

This week I explored the origins of the World Wide Web through the readings of Jorge Borges, Bill Viola, and Tim Berners-Lee. I was happily perusing their works when I started reading a chapter of Alone Together by Sherry Turkle. I found it difficult to put down and even harder to return to the other readings. Maybe I took to her work so much faster because it addresses the immediate issue of technology and how it takes over our lives or because the possibilities theorized by Berners-Lee have been realized. Whatever the reason, I found Turkle's work to be a train wreck synopsis of our society: our social interactions are too atrocious to watch, but we can't turn our backs on them. I personally find it very disheartening that we are reducing our interactions with people down to words, as opposed to quality time and actions. On the Colbert Report Sherry describes to the satirist the dangers of this new obsession with social media.
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sherry Turkle
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I've been brainstorming a few ways in which to promote my upcoming photo book based on my previous project, I Don't Get It. I'll probably put up some flyers and posters with a propagandistic feel to advertise for the event as well as making a Facebook event. Before any of that happens I need to come up with a better title, but other than that I've chosen my book format and am working on finishing the covers and artist statement. Vivant proficere!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Nothin' from Nothin' Leaves Nothin'

I think everyone would agree that a 1,000,000 piece jigsaw puzzle is hard to figure out. You have to put all those tiny intricate pieces together to understand the big picture. Now, imagine the same puzzle, but with a few thousand pieces missing and the remaining pieces scattered around the country. Then you have Ray Johnson. Ray was an enigma, but not like Joseph Beuys or Allan Kaprow. He simply didn't let people into his psyche in its entirety. He would let individuals see different parts of his life occasionally, but he never let anyone far enough in to make any real sense of the big picture that was his persona.
His mail art is what eventually allowed people to network together to try to make sense of his life.  He also did highly impressive collage portraits using silhouettes as well as his performances pieces called (in obvious mockery of Kaprow) "nothings." Overall his pieces were really done for himself rather than for his friends or audiences.
Ray's personality of disregard for his audience is in distinct opposition to a speaker I recently heard, Mary Jane Jacob. Her work, from curatorial to public to philanthropic, is strictly about the audience. Her process for creating begins not with WHAT she wants to create, but WHY she is creating something. She then moves on to find other artists who she can collaborate with to make her work happen, plans the work, and then executes it. Her supreme ability to tap into what a community desires and values in terms of public art has really and truly made all the difference when it comes to her success.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vaporous Art and Allan Kaprow

As a pioneer of performance art, Allan Kaprow freed art from the white box and marble pedestal of the gallery space. He was able, by making the art the performance (or happening) rather than a permanent physical object, to fight the age old idea of the object as art. Below is a video of a recent recreation of his interactive installation piece, Yard.
I feel that Kaprow has a way of capturing the beauty of simple acts and just bringing them to life. If you don't know what I mean, then you should try looking up some of his instructions on how he performed some of his own Happenings and try them out with a friend. After participating in a recreation of Routine, it's even more clear to me how difficult it is to understand the significance of performance art without the benefit of experiencing the act.
Now, I know that I tend to harp upon the importance of context for art. In fact, context is still very important. However, Kaprow's works are experience-driven and personal. He gives the participants guidance, but then sets them loose to shape their interaction with the piece. In this way, Kaprow writes off the need of political, social, or historical context because each individual possesses their own context.