Tag Archives: Local Artists

Robert Adams’ Retrospective Goes West

Retrospective exhibits, while an enviable chance to create a cohesive story from a lifetime’s worth of work, can be a curator’s nightmare: pieces have to be gathered from all over the world, selected at a distance, organized before they even get to the gallery. Not so the new retrospective of the work of Robert Adams, the photographer famous for documenting the people and landscapes of the American West—both natural and manmade—who is approaching his 75th birthday this May. The show, which opens at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) on March 11, was put together at the Yale University Art Gallery (YUAG) from the master set of thousands of prints donated to the gallery by the photographer in 2004.

“We had time to work with originals and precisely strike a tone that we thought the overall exhibition should have,” says Joshua Chuang of the YUAG, who worked with Adams to curate the images that the show comprises. Adams had preserved the best prints of his work throughout his career and he was instrumental in sculpting the retrospective, which will travel for two years following its time at LACMA. “It’s a very special artist indeed who is the best editor of his own work,” says Chuang. “Adams is really exceptional in that way.”

The resulting show is not intended to be merely a collection of over 300 pictures that happen to be the work of one artist, but rather a single, epic piece of work. It includes each of his major projects, dating back to 1964, and dozens of photo books that he has produced. LACMA’s installation also includes a multimedia reading room and a variety of related programs, from a botany-themed tour to talks with local artists who have been inspired by Adams’ work.

Chuang says that, taken together, the pictures in the show demonstrate how, even though many people think that a camera captures a literal version of the world, the art of photography is one of fiction. “The way that fiction functions is very tricky because it’s using facts to tell a fiction, and it has the appearance of fact,” he says. Robert Adams’ particular devotion to those facts, especially when it comes to capturing the precise look of light that may be flat or boring or dim, was so extreme that the photographer, viewing prints of a photograph taken decades before, was able to describe to curators the exact feeling of standing in a particular spot thirty years ago, and how that feeling ought to come across in the image. Chuang says that such fastidiousness about light means that Robert Adams’ work probably captures the West more accurately than that of the other chronicler of that region, Ansel Adams. But that faithfulness doesn’t mean a lack of artistry. Robert Adams’ skill at capturing nondescript light conjures up an experience—whether it’s in a Target store or the desert—with unexpected intricacy.

“He makes smog in California look ethereal and beautiful,” says Chuang.

And because of his relationship with that state, the photographer’s series of Los Angeles photographs will be highlighted in the show’s LACMA incarnation, in order to allow visitors to compare the environment of their daily lives with the one captured on film, says Edward Robinson, LACMA curator.

“It will be great for people to see this extraordinary photographer’s understanding and exploration of the area, to see how changes in the built environment have been reflected in the landscape,” says Robinson, “and what even the trees can suggest about the use of the land over time.”

Robert Adams: The Place We Live will be on view at LACMA from March 11 through June 3. Find out more about the exhibit here, or visit the YUAG companion site here.

Colombo Art Biennale 2012 Schedule of Talks and Conversations 15-19 February

Beware of the critic whose reputation depends on the power to impress the public with a semblance of knowledge, and the artist who attempts to do the same with skill and technical swagger. An artists’ perspective, see Gallery Talk 16 February Critique versus Criticism

This looks like a timely talk topic and one that’s sure to get us all thinking about our roles – as both critics/reviewers and art producers. It’s also important to challenge the taste makers and gatekeepers in the arts, especially those who like to dazzle and, sometimes, befuddle with language games and (apparent) knowledge. Also, to the artists who place technical virtuosity above all else.

As part of Hotshoe Blog supporting the Colombo Art Biennalee (CAB) 2012, the Roaming Eye (tRE) – who has been travelling off shore looking at all creatures great and small – is delighted to share the talks and conversations scheduled for the festival. It’s an exciting and interesting line up with international and local artists and curators contributing to a diverse range of topics. The schedule is still evolving, so keep checking in as relevant updates will be posted. However, The Roaming Eye will be at the biennale for the 18 and 19 February and will be reporting from the festival, talking to some of the photographers and visual artists and attending a couple of the talks on those days.

Of particular interest to readers of this blog is photojournalist, activist, writer and curator Dr Shahidul Alam from Bangladesh. The Roaming Eye hopes to do a short interview with him for the blog, so look out for it as a short podcast especially if you’re unfamiliar with his work.

It’s always good to discover new things and search for fresh perspectives – one of the hallmarks of Hotshoe and its tagline. But we’re also aware that it’s easy to say we do it but the proof is in actually getting out there and doing it – not just saying we do. Otherwise, we’re just blowing hot air. Plus, in an increasingly global world, a global approach is needed to stave of Eurocentrism and Northern-America bias in the photography and arts worlds.

See more for details of some of the scheduled talks.

Thursday 16 February 2012
Session 1 – 11.00am – 12.30pm – “Why a Biennale?” A conversation with the BECOMING 2012 organisers.

Presented to the public by Neil Butler, UK Co-Director CAB 2012 (Keynote), Roman Berka, Suresh Jeyaram – Curators, CAB 2012, Annoushka Hempel, Festival Founder & Director, Jagath Weerasinghe, Co-Director

An introductory talk also featuring the Biennale Curators – Roman Berka and Suresh Jeyaram – to set the scope of the range of works being presented and the topics covered in Talks to come. Aimed at participating artists, students and the general public.
Venue: Park Street Hotel, Park Street, Colombo 2 (NOT TICKETED)

Session 2 – 4.00 – 6.00pm – Harry Peris, The ’43 Group and the Sapumal Foundation.

Gallery Talk – 2.00 – 3.00pm – “Critique versus Critcism”
Speaker: Leo Pasqualge, Artist BECOMING 2012.

“Beware of the critic whose reputation depends on the power to impress the public with a semblance of knowledge, and the artist who attempts to do the same with skill and technical swagger” – An artists’ perspective.
Venue: JDA Perera Gallery (NOT TICKETED)

Friday 17 February 2012
Session 1 – 11.00am – 12.30pm – “Building Bridges – The South Asian Context”
Speaker: Suresh Jeyaram, Curator BECOMING 2012

“Sethu Samudram” is a three-year collaborative art project and a dialog-making platform between Theertha International Artists Collective, Colombo, Sri Lanka and 1Shanthi Road in Bangalore, India, bridging art, history and human relations. “Sethu Samudram” is the name of the mythical bridge found in Ramayana, meaning the bridge across the ocean. This bridge connects Sri Lanka and India.
Venue: Nuga Gama, Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo 3

Saturday 18 February 2012
Session 1 – 11.00am – 12.30pm – “The Debate – Does great art require great skill?”

Panel: Cecil Balmond UK/Sri Lanka, Shahidul Alam, Bangladesh and Biennale artists. Dr Shahidul Alam is a world-renowned photojournalist, activist and writer from Bangladesh who will be at the festival. His profile is on the CAB website

Yes or No? an interactive debate on the benchmarks to becoming a great artist. The audience will be invited to vote.
Venue: Barefoot Gallery

Photo of Shahidul Alam

Session 2 – 2.30pm – 4.00pm – “Art as a Witness”
Speaker: Shahidul Alam, Bangladesh

Faced with imposed situations of repression, cultural activists have had to find new ways of resistance. This has required documentation, articulation and tools of creative expression to deal with injustice in many forms. By using both new and traditional media, as well as the networking ability of social media, lean and tenacious campaigns are formed that insisted on being heard and bent on achieving justice.

The presentation attempts to show how, by resisting not only the formal entities that have usurped power, but also the cultural norms that attempt to pigeon-hole cultural practice in terms of ‘fine art’, have tried to ensure that our ‘art’ does not limit itself to admiration in a gallery. It breathes the gunpowder laden air of street battles with police, the dank vapours of the factory floor and pervades the silence of patriarchal inner chamber.
Venue: Barefoot Gallery

Session 3 – 4.30pm – 6.00pm – “Art and Architecture”

Sunday 19 February
Session 1 – 11.00am – 12.30pm – “What now – after the ‘90s Trend?”
Speaker: Jagath Weerasinghe,Sri Lanka

Art of the 1990s marked a turning point in Sri Lankan modernist art. It brought in a narrative turn to the modernist art and pushed it beyond modernist aesthetics. In this presentation Jagath Weerasinghe will talk on this change and attempt at addressing the possibilities and limitations that the 90’s trend brought in.
Venue: CASA Colombo, Galle Road, Colombo 4

Session 2 – 4.00 – 5.30pm – “Art and an expanded Museum Concept”
Speaker: Roman Berka, Museum In Progress, Vienna, Austria

Daily newspapers, magazines, billboards, television, information screens, building façades or the safety curtain in the Vienna State Opera House have been used temporarily for media- and site-specific contemporary art. Outside the walls of the traditional White Cube, Museum in Progress is active in a wide-ranging social environment and is devoted to an avant-garde concept of art that includes other social systems besides the traditional artistic milieu. In this way it elaborates on the artistic concepts of the 1960s and 1970s, creating a virtual “museum of the twenty-first century” that grows in the public sphere like a social sculpture. Philosophy, science, politics and other aspects of social life are reflected in the contributions, which encourage socially relevant discussion on the basis of an expanded conception of art.
Venue: SKKY Bar, 4th Floor, 42 Sir Mohamad Macan Markar Mw., Colombo 3

Session 3 – “Art as a Social Sculpture”

Filed under: Artist Talks, Documentary photography, Photographers, Visual Artists Tagged: artist’s talks, Bangladesh, Colombo Art Biennale 2012, Colombo Art Biennial, Dr Shahidul Alam, photojournalism, Shahidul Alam, Sri Lanka, the Roaming Eye

Alejandra Prieto – Jardín Satélite

On my way to Peru, I stopped in Santiago de Chile. I asked an acquaintence there if he could recommend any local artists, which is how I discovered Alejandra Prieto. The images below are stills from a short video showing houses in the upscale neighborhood of Jardín Satélite in Santiago.

Alejandra Prieto – Jardín Satélite

Alejandra Prieto – Jardín Satélite

Alejandra Prieto – Jardín Satélite

The punchline of the video is that these homes could be from any gated community in Chatsworth or Woodland Hills. I’m reminded a bit of Catherine Opie’s photographs of homes in Bel Air. Santiago already shares a climate and topography very similar to that of Southern California. Furthermore Chilean real estate developers, have worked hard to meticulously recreate the look and feel of wealthy North American suburbs here in the south.

Geissler/Sann In the Trib’s Top Exhibitions

Foundation Repair .
The Chicago Tribune’s recent wrap-up of the best exhibitions of 2010 included a mention of the MoCP exhibition the real estate by local artists Beate Geissler and Oliver Sann. reverse phone . Thank you to Lauren Viera and the Trib for highlighting our programs!