Tag Archives: Messes

What’s Next?

I’ve just written a piece for the magazine European Photography in which I touch on the lack of substantial online discussion on current trends in photography and where things are going. I’ll be posting the piece on eyecurious soon, so I won’t go into detail here, but in general my feeling is that although online activity on photography is growing by the day, it is becoming commensurately shallower as a result. Fortunately there are examples which buck the trend. Foam, the Amsterdam photo-museum, has recently added What’s Next? to its expanding range of content. What’s Next? is a supplement to Foam’s quarterly magazine but also an online discussion forum which is designed to spark discussion on current trends and how they are affecting the development of photography. The museum recently organised an expert meeting in Amsterdam around the What’s Next project with an impressive line-up including Charlotte Cotton, Fred Ritchin, Thomas Ruff, Joachim Schmid and many others (you can see a number of the presentations from the meeting on Foam’s youtube channel). Although the design of the site messes with my eyes and head a little bit, there is some terrific content on here running from photobooks to photojournalism. As a blogger I find that the most satisfying experiences writing online are those which spark a discussion, debate or even an argument. If you are interested in any of the above, I highly recommend a visit to What’s Next?


Related posts:

  1. Paris in Amsterdam
  2. Notes on 2010
  3. Unless You Will

Go See – Los Angeles: Ed Ruscha’s ‘Psycho Spaghetti Westerns’ at the Gagosian Gallery Beverly Hills Through April 9, 2011

Ed Ruscha, Psycho Spaghetti Western #5 (2010). All images via Gagosian Gallery

Currently on view at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills is a series of ten paintings by Ed Ruscha in an exhibition titled Psycho Spaghetti Westerns. The show opened with a star-studded evening gala on February 24th and is up through April 9, 2011. The ten large paintings each have a ground, most often natural and diagonally sloping across the canvas, on which realistically painted detritus is resting. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Ruscha explains that the title has little to do with “Spaghetti Western” films and more to do with the meaning of the three words themselves: “‘Spaghetti Westerns’ says it all: tangled up messes like spaghetti, and we’re living out here in the West, and we’re all psycho.”

Ed Ruscha, Psycho Spaghetti Western #7 (2010)

More text and images after the jump…

Ed Ruscha, Psycho Spaghetti Western #3 (2010)

Words are noticeably absent in this series, except when they appear as brand names on a crumpled Bud Light box or a discarded mattress. The gallery describes the works as a “surreal extension” of the Course of Empire series that Ruscha produced for the 2005 Venice Biennial. That series was inspired by five paintings by Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole which depict the same landscape over time as it is transformed from pristine natural environment to  bustling metropolis and finally to desolate ruins. The current series of paintings engages those same themes of waste and the passage of timeRuscha actually found and took in many of the objects in the paintings while driving on the highway in California.

Ed Ruscha, Psycho Spaghetti Western #6 (2010)

Ed Ruscha, Psycho Spaghetti Western #4 (2010)

Together, the ten paintings at first seem to compose something akin to a 21st century vanitas. In place of skulls and dead flowers the Psycho Spaghetti Westerns have abandoned doors and trash heaps that encourage reflection on death—not so much of ourselves, though that is there too, but of objects in our consumer society. Ultimately, though, the paintings eschew morbidity and socio-political concerns about waste and instead envision a happy ending for these discarded items. In Ruscha’s world, garbage is resurrected as art.

Ed Ruscha, Psycho Spaghetti Western #8 (2010)

Ed Ruscha, Psycho Spaghetti Western #10 (2010)

-J. Mizrachi

Related Links:

Ed Ruscha at Gagosian Gallery [Gagosian Gallery]
Q&A: Ed Ruscha on ‘Psycho Spaghetti Westerns’ [LA Times]
Road to the Oscars [Purple Diary]