Haim Steinbach

Steinbach’s art centers around the arrangement and selection of everyday objects. In order to highlight these objects, he has been creating structures and framing devices in order to present them. The range of objects he has present included: the everyday, the natural, the ethnographic etc. By placing them in an artistic setting, meaning is assigned to their existence and an identity is created. This is a similar idea to what myself and Ellie hope to pursue. Through the display and installation of these objects and his framing devices, Steinbach explores what it means for things to appear aesthetic, to hold psychological meaning and what makes things possess a certain cultural or historical relevancy.

 

 

Steinbach’s art has been associated with Simulationism the belief that the world is part of a simulation. This stems from the idea that humans are becoming more capable of creating a virtual world with sentient beings, it could be possible that we are living in a simulation created by similar intelligent beings. Because this world could be false and is only one surface of a true reality people might as well have fun with it. Neo-geometric conceptualism is also an influence of Steinbach. This movement stems from minimalism, pop art and op art using these movements to criticise ‘geometricisation of modern life’ French thinker Jean Baudrillard is also a strong influence to the movement.

 

 

Steinbach’s work fits into this movement through his inclusion of consumer objects and his precise composition in the installation of these objects. Through the use of objects, he has also been associated with Duchamp and his “Readymades”. Steinbach’s art not only relates to the presentation of the objects but the contemporary consumer culture and what within ourselves forms attachments towards these objects.

 

 

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Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha is an American artist associated with the pop art movement and has worked in the media of printmaking, painting,  photography, drawing and film. Ruscha is known for his paintings that include words and phrases influenced by the irreverence of Pop Art as a movement.

“Art has to be something that makes you scratch your head”

As Ruscha is interested in typography, these became his primary subject for his work. A lot of the time his word paintings allude to some part of life in L.A in a sense, they become a reflection of a place and time. Apparently, when asked where his inspiration came from  Ruscha stated:

“Well, they just occur to me; sometimes people say them and I write down and then I paint them. Sometimes I use a dictionary.”

The Music from the Balconies 1984 by Edward Ruscha born 1937

As well as painting in a more traditional sense, Ruscha has also used more elemental materials such as water and gunpowder as a method of writing. In this way, his work feels temporal, fleeting and intangible. The words cannot be grasped or kept the only relic left would be the marks made on the page or the documentation left behind of the work. Paper is also used in some of his work taking the form of the words themselves. The paper is not fixed to the page, and becomes similarly transient as his water and gunpowder works.

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Image result for ed ruscha liquid word paintings

Image result for ed ruscha liquid word paintings

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As well as using existing typography within his work, he also created his own font named “Boy Scout Utility Modern” where curved letters are squared-off. Not only is Ruscha utilising available typography but he is also restructuring the use of text in his practice from the ground up. This enables a full ownership of the words that seem to subvert the usual traditions of language. words strung in a sentence do not always need to make sense within or outside of a context. Ruscha is further enabled to create his own rules and regulations by abandoning traditional form whether it be by language itself, or the method in which text is transferred to a page/canvas.

Cornelia Parker

Since visiting Cornelia Parker briefly last term, we felt her mode of display and installation was again relevant to our own work. We particularly enjoyed the way in which she hangs her objects as often environments are created and the objects inhabit a space that would not normally be available to them. Examples as follows:

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Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View 1991 by Cornelia Parker born 1956

Thirty Pieces of Silver 1988-9 by Cornelia Parker born 1956

What struck me was the use of space, the objects are not placed on top or beneath anything, rather, they are suspended. They are perfectly valid one their own without support. This form of suspension is what I hope to emulate in our work. In suspending our found objects the audience are forced to confront the abandonment of the objects in a space they cannot ignore. Not only are we celebrating their existence and history, but also acknowledging their forgotten beauty.

 

Found Objects

Working with the “Things That Matter” project, Ellie and I decided (Hazel is working in another external project next term so we won’t be able to collaborate in the same way) that we would like to work with found objects. This mainly stemmed from our work in Ciara’s “Landscape and Memory” module where we studied Agnes Varda’s “The Gleaners and I”. From this film we were especially interested in the animist theme in her work: the fact that disregarded objects can still have a life, past memory and can be appreciated despite their abandonment. The variety of things that were gleaned and to what purpose were also interesting to us. In a rural setting, homeless or poor people would glean the local potato fields to collect the rejected crop left by the industry. In the urban setting, markets are gleaned for produce and appliances are gleaned from the streets. Artists also make use of this tradition, gleaning materials for their practices.

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We considered other object based practices such as the OG ready made artist Duchamp. We found that his concept that objects can be altered only slightly and can still be regarded as art particularly interesting. He chose mass-produced, commercial objects and dubbed them “Readymades” subverting the preconceived notion that artists are skilled creators of original pieces. Duchamp stated that: “An ordinary object [could be] elevated to the dignity of a work of art by the mere choice of an artist.”

Duchamp’s “Readymades” also undercut the notion that all art must be beautiful. He stated that he chose everyday objects “based on a reaction of visual indifference, with at the same time a total absence of good or bad taste….”. In doing this, Duchamp initiated the Conceptual art movement, work that is “in the service of the mind,” then to a purely “retinal” art aesthetic.

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Fountain 1917, replica 1964 by Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968

 

Caroline Achaintre

Caroline Achaintre (born Toulouse, 1969) spent her formative years in Germany studying Fine Art at Kunsthochschule in Halle/Saale (1996-98), with her postgraduate Studies in Fine Art and Combined Media at Chelsea College of Art & Design, London (1998-2000) and a MA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, London (2001-03). She trained as a blacksmith before coming to London, where she now lives and works. Recent solo exhibitions include those at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2016); TATE Britain, London (2015-15); Castello di Rivoli, Turin, IT (2015-16) and currently at FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Riems, FR until April 2017. Her works were also part of the recent British Art Show (2015-17). 

Achaintre spoke to us primarily regarding her work rather than a biography and began explaining the general themes behind some of her work. She began by sketching and drawing patterns that explored a form of teenage angst. This tension was expressed and enhanced by the use of ink imitating that of a Rorschach ink blot test. Along the lines of this psychological field, Achaintre wanted to operate on a larger and explore the tension of a physical presence though domestic material.

This pursuit of a domestic material to work with translated into the making of carpets. 2003 was the year of the first development of her practice that followed the use of wool in carpet making. Achaintre liked the intensity of an image consisting of individual fibres. In her words there is a “non-neutrality to the material” as well as an inner tension and torsion in the manipulation of the threads of the carpet as well as the liminal display of object and subject.

In her piece “Insider” the work inhabits both object and painting as both the mask and figure are looking in retrospectively and outward towards the world itself. For me there is a question as to whether the mask itself counts as expression of a person, or is simply a painted persona, as Achaintre mentions: a “performative character”.  There is a distinct interest in shamanism and animism as the carpets themselves often contain elements of faces or figures that walk a tight rope between living and inanimate. This is aided by the hairy and shaggy qualities to the carpet which can be seen as seductive, inviting and playful.

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“Insider”

Achaintre is interested in German expressionism and also masks and the process and performative qualities of masquerade. Often her work are attached to metal stilts, which although are polite and modernist still create their own context when introduced to masks. These masks can be considered as ceramic like carpets and, like the carpets, are something that she has never done. In terms of process Archaintre enjoys starting from something flat and trying to make it 3D with a presence and a voice.

One of her works feature a mask with a ceramic feature attached onto the mask itself. Here, there is a fetish-like element to the piece that, once the ceramic is displayed with the mask, becomes a character. There is also a keen interest in Anthropomorphy and the perception of humanity in animate objects. Achaintre claims to see human features in handbags all the time.  this habit creates and animistic habit in which objects and people co-exist and live and communicate together. This can be traced in her clay workings from which a slab of malleable clay can appear to change shape once looked away from for a brief moment.

Birdsssss is the only piece by Achaintre that is suspended and she states that it probably the only piece that ever will be. There is a definite Animist feature to the work due to the  tension and ambiguity of deducing if the bird is rising or landing. this tension is especially poignant to me as the bird itself is caught in suspended animation which is further highlighted by the object/subject debate related to the material itself. This idea of tension in material, form and perception is very intriguing as I do feel her pieces are full of vibrancy and life despite the fact that on face value they are carpets.

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“Birdsssss”

Camp Coo is described as a post modern annex by Achaintre, where plinths to display here ceramic pieces slot together like Tetris. There is another dialogue between these characters and the hollowness and fullness with their combination with the space.  In terms of process, Achaintres carpets are not woven but tufted: the canvas is stretched and shoots of wool are “tufted” back to front from the canvas. Archaintre calls this, painting with wool which I feel is a great description of her practice; merging both disciplines of traditional art and skilled crafting into a very unique and inclusive practice. Nevertheless, Achaintre always sees herself as an artist and tries not to define herself  in general.

Achaintre’s work is often described as both ancient and modern at the same time having an archaic, distressed presence. There is something quite humorous yet apt to her work that often when thinking about the future it can be imagined that humanity has “advanced” yet potentially could also “revert” back to a primitive state. The use of tensions such as these encapsulate the environment of her work exceedingly well. Achaintre never ceases to be surprised by how display changes her pieces this is especially true when her pieces get transferred into photographs. She describes them as “flattened” and I believe that only in full presence of the work is the real character is able to be experienced and introduced (although it is undeniable that traces of these characters can be met in the pictures).

When asked about sourcing materials, Achaintre explained to us that she doesn’t dye the wool herself but that she likes to work within certain limitations so that some of the choices when it comes to her process are taken away from her. Early on to the development of her carpet pieces she decided that irregular shapes, instead of symmetrical pieces, were going to act as the base to her work as symmetry is boring and with such vibrancy and diversity to her pieces, they must be considered anything but that.

Website address: http://carolineachaintre.com/