Tag Archives: Assemblages

Barbara Kasten in Constructs, Abrasions, Melons and Cucumbers

Barbara Kasten on her work Studio Construct 17 in The Edge of Vision Interview Series by Aperture Foundation.

While many might consider Barbara Kasten, whose portfolio was featured in Aperture 136, one of the foremost artists pushing the limits of  the photography, she herself considers her work pushing the limits of painting, drawing, and sculpture more through a particular use of photography.

Kasten was one of the artist’s covered in Lyle Rexer’s 2009 volume The Edge of Vision, a history of abstraction in photography that traces the roots of what might be a contemporary revival of the mode to early ‘modernist’ photographers like Aaron Siskind and László Maholy-Nagy.  However, as she explains in an interview with The Photography Post, she prefers to distance herself from terms like ‘abstract’ or ‘modernist.’ “What I do,” she says, “is neither a continuation nor a departure from their work but a conceptual event of my own.”

Most non-representational art is an abstraction of some originally recognizable form. Kasten considers her work, on the other hand, “as a process that transforms itself into something else.  Beginning with a simple, transparent, non-representational form, I create the image as I work through the possibilities of sculptural and lighting combinations to a new point of perception.”

She photographs assemblages that are built with mirrors, plexiglass, paper, and highly specific lighting situations, not to last, but for the sole purpose of the photograph. She distances her work from the discourse of engaging with the ‘real,’ and levels instead a strict focus on the sheer phenomenon of light.

Her latest exhibition, Constructs, Abrasions, Melons and Cucumbers with sculptor Justin Beal, opening Thursday, June 21, 2012 at Bortolami Gallery in New York (on view through August 3, 2012), is an attempt to explore the ways the artist tends to “mis”-lead the audience’s first reading of the work.

Find more about Kasten’s “approach to photography and what it means to ‘think like a painter’,” in another interview with Anthony Pearson of Frieze Magazine.

Constructs, Abrasions, Melons and Cucumbers
Opening reception:
Thursday June 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Exhibition on view:
Through August 3, 2012

Bartolami Gallery
520 West 20 St
New York, NY
(212) 727-2050

Kirsten Hoving

I recently reviewed portfolios of photographic educators at the SPE National Conference in San Francisco. This week I am featuring some of the terrific work I got a chance to see….

I first got to know Kirsten Hoving as the owner/director of the PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont. I have been a big supporter of her gallery and their exhibition opportunities for emerging photographers, and several times had the great pleasure of serving as a juror for their exhibitions. It took me awhile to realize that Kirsten is also a photographer, and a good one at that. In addition, she’s a Professor of Art History at Middlebury College. It was great to finally meet her in San Francisco and spend time with her work and person. Her new series, Night Wanderers, was a powerful collection frozen assemblages, that have an ethereal beauty.

Night Wanderers is a series of photographs envisioning the cosmos. I photograph objects and nineteenth-century photographs frozen in or placed under disks of ice to create the feeling of galactic swirls of stars, galaxies and spiral nebulae.

For this series, I have been influenced not by the work of other photographers, but by the collage and assemblage art of the American artist Joseph Cornell. In the course of writing an art historical book on the artist, Joseph Cornell and Astronomy: A Case for the Stars (Princeton University Press, 2009), I became aware of the artist’s deep and abiding interest in astronomy. I also came to understand his creative process, which involved juxtaposing objects in often unexpected ways. His working method encouraged me to take risks, to experiment, and to be willing to destroy one object to create another. He also taught me to appreciate the stars.

Using ice as a still life object is always a challenging process. I partially thaw the ice to create transparent and translucent areas, then work quickly to photograph it. While I choose objects and photographs that recall earlier times, such as an outdated globe or old cartes-de-visite, to help remind us that star light is old light, the ice that encases them underscores the elegance and fragility of our place in the universe.

Aman Mojadidi

We are all at conflict. Whether with others or ourselves, with our own ideas, thoughts, desires, history, present, future. We are all at conflict as we try and navigate ourselves through a life we understand only through our experiences, through our confrontation both internal and external with social, political, cultural, and personal strife. My visual arts work in multi-media assemblages, sculptures, 3-D collages, mise en scene photography, and installations, are always inspired by a negotiation through these conflicts, a negotiation between worlds and the multiple experiential landscapes that shape them. My recent work in particular is based largely on the dialogue between the external, contemporary experiences of conflict and the internal – mental, spiritual, and emotional – responses to it that continue to shape the understanding of my own identity and the world I live in. Through and across the different works, one can find threads of cultural tradition (be it real, imagined, invented), identity, politics, diasporas, war, and reconstruction weaving reflections, often contradictory, of humanity; a humanity which finds itself in a post-modern world that is simultaneously globalizing and fracturing, forcing us to confront each other and ourselves in ways we have yet to learn or understand. Complementing this work are my anthropological studies (B.A., M.A.) which provide a strong grounding in the debates around conflict, cultural change, post/colonialism, third-world development, and the representation of culture; while my continuing experience working and creating in Afghanistan provides the contextual richness that leads me down the path of trying to identify and understand not ways for resolving conflict, but rather ways in which we accept conflict as a life-long experience. Creating art as an aspect of, rather than response to, conflict is ultimately an exercise in dissecting the human condition in order to expose the sometimes fragile, sometimes durable, but always shifting relationships we have with each other, with ourselves, and with the conflicts we must endure throughout our lives. In order to do this, it will be necessary to see that condition as a place where external conflicts tied to global processes and internal battles tied to our own experiences are blurring into each other, becoming confused, indistinguishable, and equally personal.

Growing up in a war, where the bombs were 12,377 kilometers or 7,691 miles (or 6,683 nautical miles though Afghanistan is land-locked so perhaps not as relevant) away.  An Afghan-American suburban dream punctuated by weekend sleepovers, Saturday soccer games, fist-fights with racist children of the Confederate South, and religio-nationalist driven demonstrations chanting “Down with Brezhnev!”, “Long live Islam!”, “Down with Communism!”, and “Long Live Afghanistan!” before I even knew what that meant.  It is what I was fed growing up, in between southern-fried chicken and garlic mashed potatoes, cumin-scented meat and basmati rice…

In his work, Aman often uses contemporary, post-modern ideas of conflict and globalization combined with traditional narratives rooted in culture, belonging, and identity. He collects the materials and inspiration for his work from his internal and external landscapes, including growing up Afghan in the Confederate South of the United States and spending the better part of the last decade living and working in Afghanistan.

He has exhibited his work in galleries, independent spaces, and cultural centers in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, Cairo, Hong Kong, and Kabul.

Aman currently lives, works, and creates in Kabul, Afghanistan.

A Day in the Life of a Jihadi Gangster:

Out of the Conflict Bling installation emerged the character in these images, the Jihadi Gangster, as I continue to explore the idea of globalized gangster styles and iconography while exploring my own dual cultural heritage as an American-born Afghan with strong familial ties to politics in Afghanistan, including jihad.

After a Long Day's Work (A Day in the Life of a Jihadi Gangster Foto Series) edition of 5 c-print on dibond 75 x 78 cm



Inspired by real events which led to the death and disappearance of 183 family members in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion.

183 glass bottle, plastic, anti-aircraft shell casings, 183 self-portraits 30 x 24 x 8 cm

183 glass bottle, plastic, anti-aircraft shell casings, 183 self-portraits 30 x 24 x 8 cm



The first in a line of mobile furniture for conflict environments developed by Emeric Lhuisset and Aman Mojadidi, with support from designer Pierre-Francois Dubois.

Kandahar (nomadic furniture line for belligerents) fabric, wood, steel, paper (assembly instructions) 60 x 100 x 60 cm (assembled), 70 x 10 cm (packed)


Jihad Gangster Afghan Parliamentary Campaign:

The final culmination of the Jihadi Gangster, a faux run for Parliament in Afghanistan.

Jihad Gangster Afghan Parliamentary Campaign Poster c-print on dibond 59 x 84 cm

SLOGAN – “Vote for Me! I did Jihad and I’m Rich”
FACE – “Your favorite Jihadi Face Here”

Jihadi Gangster Afghan Parliamentary Campaign Street Installation:

Parliamentary Campaign 6 c-print edition of 10 28.5 x 42 cm

Be sure to check out Aman’s site HERE or click on any of the photos above to see more from the series.