Tag Archives: Vik Muniz

Remixed, a New Take on Aperture Classics

Throughout its 60-year history Aperture has never turned away from its hallmarks: an abiding respect for photography as an artistic medium and a tireless encouragement of the free exchange of ideas. From its founding in 1952 through the present, the foundation has always attracted the leading image-makers of the day, and it is only fitting this anniversary serve as a time to reflect on the past. In the celebratory exhibitionAperture Remix, this instinct towards nostalgia is focused on a reflection of photographic influence.

Curator Lesley Martin invited ten contemporary photographers to look back on past Aperture publications, choose a personally influential example and pay artistic homage through appropriation and modification. Martin went to great lengths to select artists explaining, I was looking at a range of people who could represent the directions that photography is moving in now, the way documentary is shifting, and the way digital is being incorporated into photographic practice.

The diversity is apparent, and artists selected span both space and time. Japanese artist Rinko Kawauchi drew inspiration from American photographer’s Sally MannsImmediate Family,created more than a continent away. Meanwhile,Alec Soth selected Robert AdamsSummer Nights, which he reinterpreted into a video, Summer Nights at the Dollar Tree, 2012. When explaining his reasoning for working with Robert Adams past publication he says, Over time, you begin to understand influences and the nuances of what makes your own work different.The other artists commissioned to create work include Vik Muniz, Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs, Martin Parr, Viviane Sassen, Penelope Umbrico, James Welling and Doug Rickard, who chose to remix Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places.

While the initial assignment could be read as encouraging passive appropriation, Rickards approach to Stephen ShoresUncommon Placesis an example of how remixing encouraged unexpected results. Instead of physically intervening with the publication, Rickard decided to analyze the influences that affected it to create his expansive homage. After reading several interviews and text on Shores work, Rickard honed in on postcards as a source of inspiration forUncommon Placesthrough their unique and plain depictions of America. Reminiscent of the great American road trip, Rickard took a digital road trip on eBay to scavenge hundreds of thousands of postcards for his re-imagining. From this wide edit he narrowed down to a smaller set of candidates he felt had the appropriate ingredients that would yield imagery most reminiscent of the original 8 x 10 photographs in Shores publication.

I spent hundreds of hours doing it because his book is so iconic, and I felt homages or anything that is connected to something iconic is always tricky,” Rickard says. “It was important that I did something that was worthyand fitting of this era toowhich is the digital era.

Although the outcomes are decidedly mixed, the assignment uniformly challenged each artist to wrestle through the issue of influence. In an age of image abundance, it may seem easier to ignore icons for fear of looming too close to previous conceptsbut to process and pay tribute is equally demanding. The moral of the story could be dont try anything ever, but figuring out how strong each contributing artists voice is within all their layers of consideration is what makesAperture Remixsuch an engaging exhibition.

Aperture Remix is on view at Aperture Gallery in New York from Oct. 17Nov. blog comment . 17. See more informationhere.

Fall Exhibitions in New York

Basil Jones (2011) © Gary Schneider

This Fall, many works by Aperture-featured photographers are being exhibited in New York City. Here is our run-down of this season’s must-see shows.

Gary Schneider: HandPrints, Johhanesburg at David Krut Projects. Made by hands’ sweat and heat interacting with film emulsion, these unusual portraits of friends and family will be on view September 8 – October 22, 2011.

Hellen van Meene at Yancey Richardson Gallery, September 8 – October 22, 2011, will exhibit the photographer’s distinct style of portraiture.

Vik Muniz at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., September 9 – October 15, 2011, focusing on paintings by the Brazilian artist.

Edward Steichen: The Last Printing at Danziger Projects, September 15 – October 29, 2011. Photographs made by George Tice, renowned photographer and Steichen’s last printer.

Social Media at Pace/MacGill, from September 16 – October 15, 2011, featuring work by Penelope Umbrico & others. Detailing the rise of social media in our visual culture, it includes Umbrico’s work Sunset Portraits From 9,623,557 Sunset Pictures which was meticulously culled from the photo-sharing website Flickr.

Simon Norfolk: Burke + Norfolk at Bonni Benrubi Gallery, September 14 – December 3, 2011, features a visual dialogue between nineteenth-century British photographer John Burke and contemporary photographer Simon Norfolk, centered in Afghanistan.

The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936 – 1951 at The Jewish Museum from November 4 – March 25, 2011. Featuring work by Lisette Modell, Aaron Siskind, Weegee & many other photography legends.

There are also many gallery openings that are showing artists featured in our 2011 Benefit, Auction & SNAP! Party:

Sara Greenberger Rafferty at Rachel Uffner Gallery, September 7 – October 23, 2011.

Charlotte Dumas: Retrieved at Julie Saul Gallery, September 8 – October 15, 2011.

Click here to start bidding online for work by these artists and others!

Waste Land by Vik Muniz

Ordinarily I don’t feature movies on Lenscratch, but after watching Wasteland recently (on Netflix), is am moved to broadcast the importance of this film. Artist Vik Muniz shows us what the power of humanity and art can create, and how it can change lives. Wasteland was nominated for an Academy Award, and a long roster of other awards including the Sundance Audience Award for Best World Cinema Documentary.

Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores”—self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives.

AO News Summary – Contemporary Art defines the 2011 Oscar Ceremonies

Banksy, A clip from Exit Through the Gift Shop (via The New York Times)

The Oscars tonight are intrinsically linked to the contemporary art market, with new players like Banksy wreaking havoc on the academy while a charismatic actor/emerging artist  James Franco hosts the ceremony. As the show draws ever-closer, uncertainty blankets the unfolding succession of events.  In the weeks leading up to the Oscars, where his film Exit Through the Gift Shop has been nominated for Best Documentary alongside Vik Muniz, Banksy’s graffiiti has been hotly debated as it appeared throughout the Los Angeles area. The multitude of works further underscores the question of his actual identity, especially as an Oscar nominee.  Banksy is famous for being faceless; his anonymity fuels the curiosity and  hype surrounding his street art.  His work has been decried as vandalism, lauded as satirical genius, and sold at Urban Outfitters in the form of his book, Wall and Piece.
Gus Van Sant, James Franco, and Larry Gagosian at this weekend’s opening (via the Billy Farrell Agency)

more images and story after the jump…

Pre-Oscar hype escalates as Banksy’s work continues to appear.

If the film wins, the reclusive artist’s co-producer Jaimie D’Cruz is rumored to be publicly accepting the award. The chance that Banksy himself would appear on stage in costume was considered “undignified” by the Academy.  “If Banksy isn’t comfortable showing his face on the Kodak stage,” Academy president Steve Pond told TheWrap, “then the Academy isn’t comfortable having him on that stage.”

Banksy - A child holding a machine guy, using crayons for ammunition - Oscars
Vandalized: Banksy, A child holding a machine guy, using crayons for ammunition (via Melrose & Fairfax)

Predictably, the appearance of Banksy’s latest works was rapidly followed by controversy. A child holding a machine guy, using crayons for ammunition has been repeatedly defaced, and property management at the Urban Outfitters moved to have the work painted over on the store’s parking lot wall. Charlie Brown Fire Starter has been boarded up, and Mickey Mouse Billboard has been taken down.

Banksy, Mickey Mouse Billboard, which has since been taken down (via The Daily Mail)

The timeliness of Banksy’s Oscar nomination and the creation of new works is in cohesion with previous self-promotion. When Exit Through the Gift Shop was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, his works appeared in Park City, Utah, and in Los Angeles following the film’s first release.

Banksy - Mr. Brainwash or Banksy storming the Oscars on La Brea - Oscars
Banksy, Mr. Brainwash or Banksy storming the Oscars (via The Huffington Post)

In distinct contrast to the tension surrounding Banksy’s graffiti, James Franco exudes charm and commercial popularity while seamlessly crafting himself as both Hollywood A-Lister and art world aficionado. This weekend his collaboration with Gus Van Sant, “Unfinished,” debuted at the Beverly Hills Gagosian Gallery, and will be on view through April 9th. The opening of “Unfinished” was attended by the writer Bret Easton Ellis, actor Adrien Brody, and Academy Award Winner Robert Duvall — a precursor to the young Hollywood set Franco will work with tonight.

Franco has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, and is currently studying Digital Media at Rhode Island School of Design. In the current exhibition, Franco worked on Gus Van Sant’s film My Own Private River, based on previously unused scenes from the 1991 film My Own Private Idaho featuring deceased actor River Phoenix. Before showing with Gagosian, Franco exhibited elsewhere in Los Angeles, New York, and Berlin.  Franco’s art is often infused with Hollywood references. At the showcase of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Franco worked with an episode of General Hospital as performance art.  Tonight’s Oscar ceremony pays tribute to the contemporary art overlap with Hollywood and celebrity, from the charm and collaborative energy of James Franco to the aggressive sensationalism that fuels Banksy’s success. Whether or not the ceremony conspicuously refers to the art market, the tacit presence of underlying art experience defines this year’s Oscar showcase.

– A. Bregman

Related Links:
Banksy goes to Hollywood [The Independent]
What people are saying about Banksy [Melrose & Fairfax]
Urban Outfitters Responds to Cries They’re Taking Banksy Down [the Laist]
Academy Members Are No Fun, Refuse to Let Banksy Show Up in Disguise [indieWire]
James Franco / Gus Van Sant – Unfinished [Gagosian Gallery]
His Own Private Idaho [Style.com]
James Franco, Gus Van Sant exhibition coming this week to Gagosian Gallery [LAtimes]


Interview by Althea Viafora-Kress
. . .
“wrestle” (installation view), hessel museum of art, 2006-07

During Art Basel Miami Beach 2006, I did a live interview with Tom Eccles for WPS1 Art Radio inside a shipping container at the show “Art Positions.” We talked about “Wrestle,” an exhibition that he co-curated with Trevor Smith at Bard College’s Hessel Museum, which now features more than 1,700 art works by over 900 artists, including Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, and Kara Walker. android application development . If you don’t already know Eccles’s curatorial work, you’ve most likely come across it without knowing it was his. He was the director and curator of the Public Art Fund from 1997-2005, for which he organized projects featuring work by such artists as Francis Alÿs, Louise Bourgeois, Wim Delvoye, Dan Graham, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger, Vik Muniz, and others. Since 2005, Eccles has been the executive director of The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. In this interview, we discuss the challenges of curating in private collections, a living outdoor museum like the Public Art Fund, and traditional museums like the Hessel or the Museum of Modern Art. How do curators wrestle with the multitudes of identities? How does a collection reflect the collector, the institution, the curator, and the artists?

Althea Viafora-Kress: Among other achievements, you were the Director and Curator of the Public Art Fund from 1997 to 2005. If ever there was a living museum, it’s the Public Art Fund. You are now the Director of the Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture at Bard College. If traditional museums are containers of art, the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard is now a carrier of a living museum and a traditional museum. You’ve been entrusted with ideas and things, art, and this will be viewed and taught to future curators. Today, let’s talk about personal collections and curatorial practices, and also art about collecting and curating about collecting. Tell us about self-representation. How will you teach future curators using a pre-existing collection that was recently donated to your museum?

TOM ECCLES: Collecting is a form of self-representation. You create a portrait of yourself and your interests, and then through philanthropy, hopefully will give that to a much wider audience. There’s a very big difference between having a personal collection in your own domain and putting it out into the public domain. My role is to represent that collection in a way that perhaps is not really a portrait of our donor/benefactor, Marieluise Hessel. It’s about how to work with specific choices that she made over the years. Certainly, with the first show, entitled “Wrestle,” we took a particular slice of the collection-about 5%-and yes, it says something about her, but it has to be much more than that.

“wrestle” (installation view), hessel museum of art, 2006-07

Viafora-Kress: It becomes more than that. When something’s successful, it leaves the personal domain, and it goes into the public domain. You were formerly the curator of the Public Art Fund where hundreds of thousands of people walked by pieces that you installed, and now you’re contained in a museum. Normally museums are like mausoleums-the work is not alive. But your being there today makes this museum an organic, growing, evolving, curatorial process because you’re not only curating objects, but you’re now organizing principles of future curators’ visions and thoughts. How do you bring those two ideas together?

ECCLES: As you put it, we now have this container. We have a new 17,000 square-foot museum. I think one of the big challenges is how we break that container open, both metaphorically and, I hope, literally. You know?

Viafora-Kress: Yes.

ECCLES: One of the big differences between what I was doing at the Public Art Fund and what I’m doing now, and you hit on it immediately, is that I didn’t need to go and get an audience. Also, what’s interesting in the sphere of the museum is that even if thousands of people come, there is a much more intimate relationship with the audience. I watch my audience more carefully now. Also, in curating an exhibition, one of the most important things to consider is how people move through the space. How are you really going to confront them with those works? How are you going to make those works vital in some sense?

Viafora-Kress: You’re actually unpacking a suitcase of a collection, and forgive me, but you’re selling an idea or a curatorial vision through juxtapositions of an original representation of the collector herself with the representation of the curatorial team. Now you collaborated with another curator in doing this show, “Wrestle.” Was that part of the idea of the title of the exhibition or was it the juxtaposition of the pieces themselves?

ECCLES: The title came first because I chose to collaborate. I always collaborate. recycled glass wine glasses . I love working either with artists or with other curators. And in this case, we were working with a collection, so there wasn’t really an opportunity at that time to work with an artist, so working with Trevor Smith, formerly of the New Museum of Contemporary Art, we set up a kind of game, in a sense. The museum as well feels a bit like a Rubik’s Cube. We were turning, twisting, and then would throw it back to the next person and say, “Well you try it.” And then we would try another thing. And out of this dialogue came the idea of juxtaposing works. It was almost like trying a different card and a different card and trying it again and getting it better. For six months, it was a struggle, trying to do something that feels original and saying something specific about specific works. We’re in the sphere of a personal collection. This is not a universal collection. This is not the kind of collecting that, for example, MoMA is engaged in; it’s one single person.

Viafora-Kress: It’s not an institutional idea. How do you make this very fine line available to a general public: Bard is an institution by definition because it’s a university. At the same time, you’re showing works that were highly personalized.

ECCLES: Marieluise Hessel always had this idea that the collection should in some sense represent her time, which is in fact our time, from the 1960s up until the present, and we continue to collect today. She always had this idea, and it’s embedded in the name of the organization, “Art in Contemporary Culture.” So, the show says a lot about art. The art that we chose says a lot about our society and some of the struggles that we have in our society. We didn’t want to do a political show or a show about identity; there have been so many shows about identity, but I think that there is something in the works and in the show itself that deals with a specific idea of identity: that it’s not a given, it’s not a whole, that we’re constantly struggling with ourselves, that we’re within the fragmented self.

Viafora-Kress: There are different ways of representing oneself through curatorial practices. Some people are interested in redemption, some in problem solving-in seeing new visions or new futures or even in seeing new pasts. Men tend to have museums about redemption. For example, Frick was really about redemption. He was a robber baron. Women tend to be more about self-expression. The heiress of the Post family, Marjorie Merriweather Post, has a private museum in Washington, DC, The Hillwood Museum. She allows for near voyeurism. You literally look at the shoes in her closet in her museum. It’s almost fetishistic in that sense of the idea of serialization. Around half of all of the private museums in this country have women founders, even though most contemporary art collectors in this country are men. Do you see self-representation in curatorial practice as something to do with the past or something to with the present or something to do strictly with the future?

ECCLES: I think that it’s about the present actually. What you’re saying about redemption is related to “Wrestle” and the fact that Marieluise is a woman and that it’s a woman’s collection. seo in philadelphia . I was struck by how many of the works have strong images of sexuality and were often very much about male sexuality.

“wrestle” (installation view), hessel museum of art, 2006-07

Viafora-Kress: Could you give us an example?

ECCLES: Marieluise was one of the earliest and most significant collectors of Robert Mapplethorpe’s work. We have in the region of eighty works by Mapplethorpe – and not flowers! We have a number of flowers, but Marieluise also bought the “Portfolio X” at a time when nobody would go near that work. And we started with that. There were also two portraits of children. Marieluise got one portrait of a girl named Rosie and one of a boy named Jessie McBride that were absolutely stunning, but also kind of taboo, and that set off the question of whether we could we show that work now. Can we read that work now? Meaning is not static. Meaning is constantly in evolution, and the curator’s role is to tease out new meanings or to suggest new readings of works and sometimes to take some risks. One of the questions in relation to Mapplethorpe becomes whether we can look at this outside the graphic sexual nature of the work.

Viafora-Kress: So it becomes form. It becomes about Modernism which equals form.

ECCLES: Absolutely. And in fact, that’s part of the argument of the show. There’s a lot of figurative work, which plays into linguistic work but also into work defined by more formalist questions. And one of the largest rooms we give over to a double asymmetrical pyramid by Sol LeWitt, which then plays against a candy piece by Felix Gonzales-Torres, For a Man in Uniform (1991), which takes on the triangle. Then we look at Valie Export, a kind of prototypical feminist work showing a woman enclosed in a landscape in Vienna in the 1970s; and then you look at Mapplethorpe’s figures enclosed in boxes, and then you go back to LeWitt, and we have a piece of open cubes. So each of the works … takes something from the surrounding works.

Viafora-Kress: Sounds very athletic.

ECCLES: It’s very athletic.

Viafora-Kress: Visually, intellectually, aesthetically. Often when you bring aesthetics into art, you get into the realm of churches. That type of architecture, those types of ideas. But you’re bringing in the physical as well as the aesthetic; maybe there is a new principle that can be found in that curatorial practice.

ECCLES: We have two central issues that we deal with: one is that we’re at Bard. We’re not in the center of the city, so people have to have a reason to come here. And the second is that we’re a school. So we try things that might not be able to be done in other places.

Viafora-Kress: Absolutely… and there may not be answers. They are open-ended questions. There is even the question of whether contemporary art is compatible with a museum. Contemporary art is by living artists, and museums are institutions. They historically have been about comparing old and new like cabinets of wonder from the Renaissance. Museums are only two hundred years old in our culture. They’re a very new experience.

ECCLES: It’s something which I’m very conscious of from my experience with the Public Art Fund. We did collaborate with museums. We did a number of projects with the Whitney Biennial, and we worked with MoMA on a piece called Modern Procession with Francis Alÿs. Now as museum director, I’m saying, okay can you also work with artists and get artists to challenge the notion of the museum.

. . .