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My photographic work utilizes found language and imagery. As an undergraduate I studied Anthropology and I look at my source materials, books, blackboards, card catalogues, player piano rolls, sewing patterns etc. as potent artifacts that can yield poetic information reflecting the circulation and dissemination of information and material in our shared popular culture. I’m thinking about structures and systems and how a playful engagement can yield insights as well as generate new meanings.
Transposing the tradition of street photography, I navigate intuitively framing and partially decontextualizing my subject matter harnessing moments that suggest meanings beyond their original situations.
What interests me are the juxtapositions and sense of history derived from the words themselves even without knowing everything. I want to give you a sense of a particular environment but not in its entirety. The view is oblique and re-contextualized. In this close up immersive situation the viewer can retain a level of awareness, just enough to inform but also to allow a different visual and semantic experience to take hold. The source is familiar and recognizable but the experience is new. It is that tension between something that we recognize, that we routinely encounter and the fact that we can look at it in a different way that creates a strangeness, a difference in which exist multiple possibilities.
While respecting the constraints of a given subject, the page sequence of a book or the reference system of a library, the work suggests a visual meta-language, mixing history and humor to display the disparate, often unheard cacophony of voices present within cultural structures.
Reflecting intimate and direct encounters with familiar actions and objects – opening a card catalogue drawer, opening a book, folding a page – the viewer is reminded that meaningful visual surprise surrounds us if one pays attention.
Recent museum exhibitions include Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Face à face, frac île‐de‐france, Villetaneuse, France; Anna Atkins Refracted: Contemporary Works, The New York Public Library, New York; The Swindle: Art Between Seeing and Believing, Albright‐Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Lever le voile, Frac île‐de‐france, Paris; The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin, The Jewish Museum, New York; Photo-Poetics: An Anthology, Kunsthalle Berlin and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Reconstructions: Recent Photographs and Video from the Met Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Recent solo and two‐person exhibitions include A METHOD OF A CLOAK, Square is the Chatter, Galerie Markus Lüttgen, Düsseldorf; A METHOD OF A CLOAK, Klemm’s, Berlin; A Long Dress, Bureau, New York; Naked Eye Nature Morte, Galerie Crevecoeur, Paris, France; AAa:Quien, Erica Baum & Libby Rothfeld, Bureau, New York; The Following Information, Bureau, New York; and Stanzas, Galerie Crevecoeur, Paris. Selected biennials include: AGORA 4th Athens Biennale, Athens, 2013 and the 30th Bienal de São Paulo: The Imminence of Poetics, São Paulo, Brazil, 2012.
Her work is held in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; MAMCO, Geneva; Albright‐ Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris; FRAC Ile de France, Paris; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven and others.
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In my most recent body of work, I continue to construct my paintings with an engineer’s sensibility and rigor, but the architectural structures come from the world of leisure and recreation—and of memory. The structures and patterns seem borrowed from an earlier generation, evoking nostalgia and yet also inspired by autobiography. My paintings collapse both geography and time. What at first appears to be an intricate painting reveals itself, upon close examination, to be finely cut slivers of paper on wood veneer, hand painted and then laboriously collaged together to create fields of grass, multifaceted rocky cliffs or lush botanical growth. The architectural structures are often incised directly onto wood panels and inserted into these wild landscapes.
My process begins with documentation: I photograph locations newly traveled, as well as well-known and loved. These photographs are digitally stitched together, combining landscapes with structures from various “memories.” I collage photographs the way we experience memories: we confuse the place and time, the structures bleed together, places patched together in our minds. Like concretized memories, my photographs give physical shape to the improbable landscapes of our memory.
My Brother’s War is an eleven chapter series (so far) of personal photographs reflecting my investigation into the circumstances of my brother’s early death after the war in Viet Nam. The work is about loss, healing, hope, and living in the aftermath of war – both for a veteran and for his family and friends. Gary was sent to Viet Nam at the height of the war in 1967. He arrived in Qui Nhon on November 4th. It was my 8th birthday. Honorably discharged from the army in 1969 with a “service connected nervous condition”, we later came to know his plight as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My pre-war brother, a normal and well-adjusted person, had become, according to the U.S. Veterans Administration, 50% disabled. He took his own life about ten years later. Determined to find more information about what happened to him, I contacted his comrades 35 years after the war, traveled to a reunion of his platoon, found the home where he died, his burial place, and twice traveled to Chu Lai, Viet Nam, where Gary was stationed during the war. I used his photographs and letters to serve as my guides, sometimes combining his photographic vision with mine. The project, nearly twelve years of effort, has evolved and changed with time, using a variety of formats to tell the story. In titling this work My Brother’s War, I make reference to other families worldwide that have lost, and are presently losing loved ones to war. My works seeks to inspire, as the only alternative, a peaceful coexistence.
For almost 50 years I have created conceptual multimedia artworks exploring the friction between our interior lives and public selves. I have secretly observed, listened to, photographed, filmed and recorded strangers in public places while remaining largely invisible. When using myself as subject, I have appeared masked or hidden, as in several recent series.
After graduating Carnegie Mellon, I moved to New York from the suburbs of Cleveland and found myself in a densely populated metropolis. For me, each person was a matchless original as well as a stereotype. In 1970, with a small, cheap camera, I began surreptitiously photographing people on the streets, often listening to their conversations. In an attempt to tease out patterns of human experience, I aggregated thousands of photographs.
For years, I repurposed my street photographs in many forms: books, videos, photographs, installations and sculptures, and even created Who I Saw in New York from 1970-2000, a book and gallery installation consisting of photographs of thousands of people.
When I moved from SoHo to Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2008, I became dependent on the L train to visit Manhattan. This made it easy to go to galleries, museums, visit friends, see doctors, etc. I now found myself in close quarters with a vast and, for me, new, population. As a pastime, I began photographing other passengers with my iPhone. At the same time, I continued my art in the studio by developing several series of myself behind masks.
In 2017, it was announced that the L train would be closed for 18 months for repairs. What would this mean? How would my life be affected? Would my work practice change? It would not, but the focus, the idea would have a different urgency. I decided to start a new project, painting portraits of the passengers I had photographed. With free, quick, gestural strokes and a palette of both muted and intense colors, I tried to bring life to the gray underground. The speed of my painting reflected, for me, the crowded, ever-moving population of passengers; hurried, contemplative, sometimes angry, occasionally musical and lyrical. Almost half a million of us would be dislocated or stranded every day.
Underground became integrated with above ground. Everywhere I walked, construction crossed my paths. I photographed my altered landscape. The images became backgrounds on which I mounted several of the portraits. This recombination created context which has always been crucial to my art practice. I called the series L Train Bye, Bye. But then, overnight, everything seemed about to change. The governor had somehow discovered a new technology at the last minute. No shutdown, he said. No fast track. But my work would stand with a new title, They Rode the L Train.
I am a strong believer in place, and how a region, community and a home will shape who you are. The place I know, where I was raised, is the Black Belt region of the American South. It is how I was raised, as a Southerner and as a Jew in a small southern town, instilled with belief in family and tradition that motivates me to document the place I call home.
You have left for tomorrow
like the rhythm of rust
gasping, fleeing the day
we pressed our hearts
against the glitter
of wisdom, our being
choked on a voiceless
be pliant, be the words
translucent as dust.
The Waiting Room
It must be rain inside the walls. The rain of a child’s cries, a red swing against the grey sweetness of sky. A hollow to stifle, rocking in the cold front. Of ciphers discarded on the doorsteps, lips bleeding into porcelain shards to let live. Come back, come back, to the call of faceless drinkers pleading for histories, in a room of dust singed by erasure. For I will wait, I will wait to touch their voices, punctured by rain.
from Pages from the Frozen Sea
The “pages” in Pages from the Frozen Sea are photographs of ordinary objects or materials suspended in ice, or artworks made by working with ice. This collaborative project is a celebration of the beauty and constantly changing nature of ice, and embraces an experimental, process-oriented approach to art-making. The project was inspired by a quote from Franz Kafka: “A book must be an axe for the frozen sea within us.” The images selected were done during the winter of 2017. The project will continue during the winter of 2018: it requires cold weather. This year Sarah Stengle and Eva Mantel hope to extend the scope of the project by inviting other artists to also contribute pages. The project can be followed on Facebook and Instagram.
This photography series is focused on capturing the last vestiges of the vibrant street culture, the traditions and lifestyles that are quickly being eradicated due to the aggressive gentrification that’s invading almost every corner of NYC. For the past twelve summers, Ruben Natal-San Miguel has traveled around New York City by bicycle searching for what it’s like to live in these parts of the city. The artist has been able to find not only a vibrant and colorful vision, but also a happy and very meaningful life lesson.