OPENING 27TH OCTOBER 2012 - GALERIE ST. GEORGE, STATEN ISLAND, NEW YORK Galerie St. George, the premier art gallery of Staten Island, is kicking off its new "Italian Artists Program" to support emerging young artists coming from Italy to America! We will have a fun-filled evening of Italian cuisine, an art opening from Italian photographer CLARA TURCHI, and a screening of Federico Fellini's masterpiece "The White Sheik". Come meet new friends and supporters of Italian culture in America, and support our new mission! Admission is FREE.
Audrey Vampire. 2012. Scraped off BW photographic print
(One of the pieces on show)
Gary Brant, owner of GSG, commented: "[...] brilliant Italian photographerClara Turchi, whose intricately hand-surface surreal imagery, ghost like and haunting, have not chilled me so since I first studied the work of Ralph Eugene Meatyard as a young photography student in Houston studying at Rice University with my teacher, Geoff Winningham." And again: "I am so excited to be premiering CLARA TURCHI in New York, she is a stunningly talented artist that is bridging the worlds of surrealism, horror, and manipulated textures to create photographs of haunting power. You do NOT want to miss the opportunity to meet this young Italian artist who is breaking ground faster than it can form beneath her feet!"
Alana Lake / A.M. Hanson / Chris Russell / Clara Turchi / Cornelia Badelita / James Howard / Joey Bryniarska / John Lawrence / Kraig Wilson / Michael Petry / Richard Ducker / Roberto Ekholm / Rob Leech / Tom Brown / Tracy McEachran
preview Tuesday 25 September, h 7 pm.
via Ausonio, 18 - Milano
@ Alana Lake
"What could be more convincing, moreover, than the gesture of laying one's cards face up on the table?" (Jacques Lacan)
Rock-paper-scissors is group exhibition contemplating mark making, symbology and gesture. The title takes inspirations from a well know cyclical game played using three symbolic gestures. Seemingly random choices are made, but tactical players observe patterns and execute educated predictions in order to gain an advantage over their opponent. Rock-paper-scissors acts as a metaphor for the inanimate art object and the power of gesticulation held within the artists’ hands.The works in this exhibition although seemingly disparate have a commonality, and this is that they draw from an evolving composite of shared references. There are images in this show that cite other images and there are works that quote pre-existing works or pay homage to the future. References critique, ironize and probe relying on a mutual understanding of a common visual language. What then completes these works is the audiences ability to hypothesize, seek connections, reflect, critique and analyse understanding the signs and signifiers presented by the artist, thus making the viewer integral to the form and function of the work.
Sasso-carta-forbice"Cosa ci puo’ essere di piu’ convincente del gesto stesso di calare, scoperte, le carte in tavola?" (Jacques Lacan)Sasso-carta-forbice e’ una mostra collettiva che contempla il segno, il simbolo ed il gesto. Il titolo prende ispirazione dalla Morra Cinese, che si gioca usando tre gesti simbolici. Scelte apparentemente casuali vengono prese dai partecipanti ma i giocatori esperti osservano le debolezze degli avversari e cercano di predirne le mosse, cosi’ da acquisire un sicuro vantaggio competitivo. Carta-forbice-sasso e’ una mostra che si propone come metafora per l’oggetto d’arte inanimato e per il potere gestuale in possesso dell’artista. I lavori in mostra, seppur vari per materiali ed esecuzione, hanno una precisa matrice in comune, ossia conversano tra di loro sulla base di una comune rete di riferimenti visuali. Ci sono immagini in questa mostra che citano altre immagini, lavori che dialogano con opere pre-esistenti ed altri che omaggiano un futuro imminente; ma tutte criticano, ironizzano ed esplorano sulla base di un comune linguaggio visuale. Cio’ che completa i lavori, allora, e’ l’attiva partecipazione del pubblico nell’ipotizzare, nel trovare connessioni, nell’analizzare e nel criticare i segni ed i significanti proposti dall’artista, e quindi, in sintesi, nel divenire parte integrante della forma e della funzione dell’opera d’arte.
September 25th > November 1stLun/Ven + Mon/Fri 10.00 - 13.00 / 15.00 - 19.00 Sabato su appuntamento / Saturday on appointment Domenica chiuso / Closed on Sunday
Robert Haeberle, author of People about to be Shot, 1968, describes the moments before the My Lai massacre: ‘Guys were about to shoot these people. I yelled “Hold it” and I shot my picture. MI6’s opened up and from the corner of my eye I saw bodies falling but I did not turn to look’ (1968, cited in Clarke, 1997, p.160)
P. 42 Jeff Wall. Morning Cleaning, Mies van der Rohe Foundation, Barcelona, 1999. Transparency in 4.0 light-box, 187x351 cm (Conley, 2010, fig.1)
Extract _ Chapter 1. The Surface _ pp. 9-11 and pp. 14-20
(...) we tend to behave with photographs as we behave with money, that is, because of the difficulties and obscurities of the system (financial and photographic), which are paired with an incredible easiness of access (to money and images), by entrusting these surfaces with a nominal value, we relieve ourselves from understanding the forces that control them (which is what caused the irrational raise in credit and credit derivatives and the period of recession we are actually living in).
During the twentieth century photography has become regarded as ‘the visual currency of our time’ (Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, internet page), view confirmed by exhibitions such as ‘Currency - Contemporary New Zealand Photographic Art’ (1995) and books such as ‘Visual Currencies - Reflections on Native Photography’ (2009). Various sources have alluded to the close time-relation between the invention of photography and the raise of a new industrial age dominated by the capitalist model in the early nineteenth century: in one case the production-machines were to substitute men labour, in the other the camera-machine was to substitute men artistry. The output of the new mechanical processes were money in one case and photographs in the other. It is appalling how many characteristics these two objects share.
Firstly they both are images which can be assessed from an aesthetic point of view (view reinforced by the fact that monuments and works of art are normally reproduced on money). In the case of paper money, they also share the same bi-dimensional flat surface which doesn’t allow any in-depth knowledge about the system that created it. Historically, money were a promise to pay a certain amount of gold that was stored somewhere and represented by the note. The fact that until at least the II World War any country issuing money was in various ways compelled to do so on the basis of its physical reserves of gold, whilst nowadays this paritydoesn’t exist anymore, doesn’t diminish the fundamental role that trust has in the successful use and circulation of money. Indeed, it is trust in a vast, complicated, and largely misunderstood system, the financial system, that permits the light-minded mass-consumption of a promise that somewhere, somehow there is gold for everyone (hence the inflation is the measure of how much we believe in that promise). Likewise, photographs are usually considered a promise that somewhere, sometime, the subject of the photograph (which is the nominal value of the photographic image) has been existing in front of the camera and is truthfully represented in the final print. ‘The painter constructs, the photographer discloses’ affirms Susan Sontag in On Photography (1977, p.92). The issue here is not that the photograph can only depict something that for sure exists in a specific time and a specific place in the realm of the real, but that from such a definition we can appreciate the switch that occurs in the attention of the observer/user of the photographs from the value of the surface as such - as meaningful property of the image-object that can be constructed - to the nominal value of the image, that is, the promise it carries, the subject represented, the information imbedded in it.
Because of the complexity of a medium which encompasses natural phenomena, human control and machine power, paired with an apparently effortless, reproducible and so forth mass-usable image, its worth has been almost exclusively linked to its informative value (which corresponds to assessing a Turner on the exclusive basis of the subject depicted, or assigning to it a value based on how useful the canvas can be in explaining the weather).
Hence the ambiguity about the epistemic significance of photography. (......)
To summarize the ideas expressed so far, on one hand the photographic surface doesn’t lend itself easily to the interpretation of the intentions of its creator, and on the other the easiness of access to the referent compared to the technical difficulties of a not well known process makes the former the central focus of the public and the critics’ interest.
Knowledge and information are severely intertwined. If a limited knowledge of a complex process and a limited amount of informations are provided, the usual parameter employed to assess the work of a photographer is its being inserted in a precise schema or series: the seriality of the images becomes the only reassurance that there is a precise intent behind the work. I am not referring to the necessary fact that any artist, in order to be considered as such, must demonstrate a certain coherence of talent and quality over time, and that a posteriori is often possible to group up works by the same artist in series characterised by similar concerns or techniques, but the fact that photographic works are very rarely given any artistic value if they are not inserted in a precise schema or series since their conception. This might well explain why postmodern photography has so much contributed to establish photography as art, or at least this is true when we consider auction prices of postmodern photographic (almost exclusively serial) works.
Iconic books for the study of photography such as Marien’s Photography A Cultural History are overabundant in illustrations of photographic works but there is not one indication of the dimensions or mediums of those pictures in the over 500 pages. The same can be said for Jeffrey’s Photography A Concise History, or Clarke’s The Photograph, Wells’ The Photography Reader, or Grundberg’s Crisis of The Real; in none of these publications, which are at the basis of any undergraduate course of photography, there is any specification of size, medium, support, printing support etc. of any of the images reproduced. This is a common practice in photography and can often be seen in exhibitions of original works as well; surely this doesn’t happen for painting and sculpting, where medium, size and support are treated as integral part of the work and so forth always mentioned.
Richard Prince. Untitled (Cowboys), 1993. Ektacolor print from 35mm colour negative film. 121.9x182.9cm
Size and medium are crucial information to appreciate the work but they are ignored in Marien (2002, p.425)
Information stimulates curiosity and learning, and vice versa, but little attention is usually given to photographic information. I propose that specifications about the photographic image (device, negative support, printing technique and printing support, scale, seriality or singularity of the images and eventual positioning instructions, if any) are paramount in order to assess the picture and must be provided by the artists to accompany the piece along with the conceptual explanation that normally goes with it, rather than being relegated to the status of technical knowledge for technical experts. These elements do provide meaningful insight into the artist’s practice and are important aids to its interpretation for, ‘although the process of production of the work of art is deliberative and intentional, discerning meaning in the work, or providing an interpretation of it, cannot be reduced to, or be simply derived from, statements about the artist’s intentions’ (Wilde, 2007, p.126).
It is important to remind the reader that I believe that this more informed approach is necessary but not sufficient to assess the photographic work. As it happens in the assessment of more traditional kinds of artistic practices, other orders of conditions are necessary, such as historical knowledge, a certain level of sensitivity and, of course, the ability to read and contextualise the referent. The point I want to stress regarding the common critical approach to fine art photographic practices is that, by limiting the analysis to the referent of the photograph, a whole set of information about the work is ignored.
Take the Audience series by Thomas Struth. This is the last in a body of work that span over more than two decades and in which the artist has photographed the spaces where art is celebrated, from churches to, especially, museums. The exquisite images of the ouvre are all chromogenic prints from large format negatives (10x8 inches), mounted to plexiglas by Diasec method; some are larger than a man with his arms stretched out, some are comparatively of a more intimate size. For easiness of purpose I will refer to Audience 2, Florence, 2004.
Thomas Struth. Audience 2, Florence, 2004. Chromogenic process print from 10x8 inches colour negative/slide (?not specified). 178x234.5 cm
In this occasion Struth photographed the audience contemplating the monumental David by Michelangelo in the Galleria dell’Accademia. The usual reading based on the referent of the image concerns the temporal (De Diego, 2007) or spatial (Fried, 2008) communication between the audience and the masterpiece. Both De Diego and Fried acknowledge Struth’s presence in front of the photographed public and resolve to insert him as third element in this exchange. Despite being an interesting interpretation that leads to a number of important considerations about the museum as institution, the relationship between the work of art and the place where it sits, and it brings a whole set of possible speculations about the contemporary audience, I don’t find it satisfactory. My main issue lies with the format used.
A 10x8 inches camera is, literally, enormous; it requires a similarly big tripod and the two of them together weight and are as tall as a teenager. The 10x8 is one of those cameras that attract immediate curiosity, not only because of its dimensions but also because of its “vintage” looks: it looks (and it is) like one of those used by photographers at the end of the nineteenth century, those that can be seen in very old pictures or historical films. This is not a camera that people are accustomed to see anymore. And this is not a camera that takes snaps in a fraction of a second and is ready for the next in even less time, as the negatives sit in big black holders which must be inserted in before and removed off after each shoot. It is not automatic either, it requires long time to focus trough a loupe posed on a glass plate that is larger than a man’s face and that shows the image upside down. It requires very small apertures for it to deliver sharpness throughout the negative, which means that it requires a strong source of light (natural or, as in Struth’s case, artificial).Framing the images is complicated as well because of the upside down view and because of the heaviness of the camera itself. In brief, it is not possible for the camera and the photographer to remain unnoticed and to avoid receiving active attention. My very humble experience with a large format camera (5x4 inches) is that even when I place it within the night in isolated, dark places, and I leave its side, any person passing by is attracted and moves towards it.
Going back to Audience 2, I start speculating that there might have been a sign somewhere, either in or outside the room at the Galleria, explaining the presence of a photographer in action and specifically asking the audience to ignore him. Or maybe when Struth was ready he shouted to people to look somewhere other than at him (more likely museum attendants might have asked the public, rather than the artist being shouting). Occasionally within the series there is someone whose sight accomplishes the presence of the photographer, but these cases are far too few for me to believe in the genuinity and spontaneity of the entire scene.
If I am correct in this supposition and a sign or signal have been given to these people, then ‘the handsome woman in chic black slacks’ (Fried, 2008, p.139) on the right side of the picture may not be bending to ‘protect her daughter’ (for economy of words I stay with Fried about their relationship) but she might be doing it to make sure that the little girl looks up and in front, for the sake of the photograph and of the photographer. Then the image starts talking about surveillance; about the intrusion of the artist in people’s life (as it happened in fact in the two decades previous to the economic meltdown, those during which Struth composed the series), about the recognition of the intrusion of photography in the fine arts; about not the awe that we feel in the presence of a masterpiece, but the awe that we feel towards postmodern art and artists, and other sets of conclusions. It is not my intention to discuss in this instance the validity of these interpretations and their relationships, which certainly there are, with the referential ones previously mentioned of Fried and De Diego. My intention has been to broaden up the debate about fine art photography by reaffirming the importance of usually overlooked information which might challenge or reinforce critical approaches that otherwise cannot but be limited. This more informed approach, I argue, better suits the task of understanding fine art photography and the hand behind it.
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The amazing artist Alana Lake (visit Alana Lake's Website) curated the exhibition P A P E R C U T S & Plaster in Dogliani, Cuneo, Italy, during her residency at Antico Borgo, Art Living Hotel, Monchiero (project in collaboration with curator of martin Martini Art Internazionale Patrizia Bottallo). The exhibition is part of Our Dark Chamber, artistic platform in evolution created and developed by Lake.
The artists participating (all chosen by Lake) are: Alana Lake / A.M. Hanson / Chris Russell / Clara Turchi / Joey Bryniarska / Kraig Wilson / Michael Petry / Richard Ducker / Roberto Ekholm / Rob Leech / Tom Brown / Tracy McEachran.
Below you can read the PR:
P A P E R C U T S & Plaster is group exhibition narrated predominately by works on paper.
Presenting a point of reflection for the viewer to perceive how the artist works within a hybrid balance of revealing and concealing their concerns, presenting ‘a shadow of hope, a glimmer of despair?’ (Jean Baudrillard) a concept expanded through the unique delicacy of the medium on which they are composed.
These works are a platform in which hiddenness presents itself, a paradoxical manifestation that is synonymously the unifying catalyst and diveded between the revealed and concealed, and/or what is apparent and what is anonymous.
A number of professional photographer would confirm that if they want to remember something they are about to do, they will not bring the camera with them. For something which remains in the memory is something which remains alive, exposed to the changes of our mental states and experiences, maybe exposed to a further interaction with the thing itself, and definitely subjected to our own caducity and death. But for something to gain new life as an immortal being, it has to die, it has to cease to be able to mutate, and this has to occur outside us, maybe in a photograph.
At a personal level, what strikes me as so similar between photography and death is the flawless, inscrutable surface that they share: the ineluctability of an event in front of which there is absolutely nothing one can do or expect, nothing to grab in order to grasp its meaning, no awareness of the event because to become aware of it can only happen in death. This flawless surface that conceals everything is the same surface of the photograph that conceals the hands of the artist. Photography and death don’t hide, but they don’t say what they let us see either.
The series is part of a larger installation called Persistency of Death (Desire of Memory). The images are black and white darkroom prints that have been subsequently scraped off (the series consists of scraped off colour prints as well). The technique and tools applied do not scrape the entire surface off the print (leaving it white), but rather they take away the very first layer of surface off the picture, leaving what it looks like a latent, a skeleton image. Within the investigation of the surface and of death, these pictures are possibly the last layer before the complete disappearance of the image (and metaphorically of the person). The process is extremely lengthy and caring, revelatory rather than destructive: it reveals the ineluctability of death, of the image, and of the surface, and the impossibility of its memory.