Friday, 18 May 2012

Burtynsky: Oil - Photographers' Gallery

Burtynsky: Oil is the opening exhibition in the refurbished Photographers' Gallery. Closed for nearly 2 years the gallery reopens on 19 May in a building expanded by a 2-storey extension designed by O'Donnell and Tuomey.
Edward Burtynsky:
“In 1997 I had what I refer to as my oil epiphany. It occurred to me that the vast, human-altered landscapes that I pursued and photographed for over twenty years were only made possible by the discovery of oil…”
This exhibition shows three sections from Burtynsky’s series OIL: Extraction and Refinement, Transportation and Motor Culture and The End of Oil. The works depict landscapes scarred by the extraction of oil, and the cities and suburban sprawl defined by its use. He also eloquently addresses the coming end of oil, as we face its rising cost and dwindling availability. (From The Photographers' Gallery website).

Watch a video of Burtynsky talking about his work and a 2006 film by Jennifer Baichwal: Edward Burtynsky: Manufactured Landscapes. (The first 8 minutes of the film is a continuous tracking shot through a vast Chinese factory; read an article about the film.)

Edward Burtynsky, Socar Oil Fields #6, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2006
Edward Burtynsky, Alberta Oil Sands #2, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, 2007
Edward Burtynsky, Shipbreaking #13, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2000
Edward Burtynsky, Highway #1, Intersection 105 & 110, Los Angeles, California, USA, 2003
Edward Burtynsky, Oil Refineries #22, St John, New Brunswick, Canada, 1999
Edward Burtynsky, Socar Oil Fields 1a, Baku, Azerbaijan, 2006

Monday, 14 May 2012

ArcelorMittal Orbit - and other big erections

The Arcelor Mittal Orbit, the UK's tallest 'sculpture' (114.5 metres) has been unveiled in the Olympic Park, Stratford, London - to a mixed reception. The tower was designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond and largely paid for by steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal - the full cost is reported to be around £22.7 Million.

Polly Staple, director of the Chisenhale Gallery in nearby Mile End, remarks drily: "I work with a lot of women artists who aren't interested in working vertically."
(From article by Charlotte Higgins)

Read a (rather gushing) review by Jonathan Jones and watch a video of views about, of, and from, the tower.

Below is a fairly arbitrary anthology of (more or less) 'vertical statements', figurative and abstract, real and imagined.
Vladimir Tatlin, Monument to the Third International, (Tatlin's Tower), 1917 - photomontage as envisioned in Petrogad (St Petersburg). The tower was planned to be 400 metres high but exists only as a model.
Gustave Eiffel, Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1889 - built as the entrance to the 1899 World's Fair; 320 metres high
Antony Gormley, Angel of the North, Gateshead, 1998; 20 metres high
The Spring Temple Buddha, Lushan County, Henan China, 2002; height (including pedestal) 208 metres
Frédéric Bartholdi, The Statue of Libertiy, New York Harbour, 1886; height (ground to torch) 93 metres.
Heitor da Silva Costa and Paul Landowski, Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, 1931; height 39.6 metres.
Yevgeny Vuchetich and Nikolai Nikitin, The Motherland Calls, Volgograd, Russia, 1967; height 85 metres (from tip of sword to top of plinth)
R.M. Soedarsono, National Monument, Jakarta, Indonesia, 1975; height 132 metres
Trajan's Column, Rome, 113 AD; height 35 Metres
Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, Tsonjin Boldog nr Ulan Bator, Mongolia, 2007; height 40 Metres
Mark Wallinger, Ebbsfleet Landmark proposal: height 50 metres
Minaret at the Great Mosque of Samarra, Iraq, 851 AD; height 52 Metres

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Fiona Rae - Leeds Art Gallery

Fiona Rae, Grotto, 2005
Rae, who has recently been appointed as Professor of Painting for the Royal Academy Schools is a graduate of Goldsmiths College and was one of the exhibitors in the Freeze exhibitions in 1988. Her eclectic mix of imagery combined with an improvisatory approach to abstraction resukts in strikingly beautiful and individual paintings.
Fiona Rae, Angel, 2000
Fiona Rae, Bold as a Wild Strawberry, Sweet as a Naughty Girl, 2009
Fiona Rae, Maybe You Can Live on the Moon in the Next Century, 2009
Fiona Rae, Press My Buttons to Give Me Food and Love!, 2006
Fiona Rae,  The Woman Who Can Do Self-Expression Will Shine Through All Eternity, 2010
Fiona Rae,  We Go in Search of Our Dream ..., 2007

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Darren Almond - Site Festival, Stroud

Darren Almond: Sometimes Still is the opening exhibition of the Site Festival 2012 in Stroud and will be shown in the Brunel Goods Shed, Stroud, 5th - 10th May. 
Almond's six-screen video installation was filmed on Mt. Hiei near Kyoto, Japan, over several years. Sometimes Still focuses on the 'marathon monks' who endure one of the harshest and most difficult paths to enlightenment.This will be its first showing in the UK. Watch a video of  Almond discussing the work with Tim Marlow.
See the full Site Festival programme here.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Bauhaus: Art as Life - Barbican

Erich Consemüller, Lis Beyer or Ise Gropius sitting on the B3 club chair by Marcel Breuer and wearing a mask by Oskar Schlemmer and dress fabric by Beyer, c.1927
Bauhaus: Art as Life is at the Barbican until 12 August. The exhibition is a substantial examination of the work and ideas of the world's most famous art school. The Bauhaus existed for a mere 14 years, 1919-33, as a bold utopian creative community in the turbulence of pre Nazi Germany. Led, initially, by the visionary architect and educator Walter Gropius, the Bauhaus brought together an extraordinary group of Modernist artists and designers, including, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, László Moholy-Nagy, Josef Albers, Marcel Breuer and many others; collectively they left a definitive mark on the art, architecture and design of the twentieth century.
Adrian Searle reflects on the state of art education today in his review of the exhibition: 
There is a lesson here about much contemporary art education: the lack of common purpose, the overweening bureaucracy, the disillusionment and grasping for fees, the box-ticking lostness of so much of it. The Bauhaus had a sense of common purpose and shared ideas, of arguments that meant something, of making things up as you go along. And so much that it gave us was practical, and a delight to the eye. No wonder the National Socialists wanted it closed.
Read Searle's review and articles by Fiona MacCarthy and Rowan Moore
Walter Gropius, Bauhaus, Dessau, 1925
Walter Gropius, Bauhaus, Dessau, 1925

Herbert Bayer, Kandinsky zum 60. Geburtstag, 1926
Marianne Brandt, Tea pot, 1925
László Moholy-Nagy, Prospectus cover for14 Bauhausbücher (14 Bauhaus Books), 1928

Herbert Bayer, Architektur Lichtbilder Vortrag Professor Hans Poelzig, 1926

Josef Albers, Factory A, 1925/26
Farkas Molnár, Entwurf für ein Einfamilienhaus, 1922
Marcel Breuer, Wassily chair, 1925
Walter Gropius, Bauhaus, Dessau, 1925

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Die Nacht der kleinen Wunder - Xposed Club, Saturday, 5th May

Poster by Mark Unsworth
Xposed Club presents 'Die Nacht der kleinen Wunder' on Saturday 5 May in the Francis Close Hall Chapel. A night of small miracles, music films, poetry, and much more with special guests including Ove Volquartz, the CIO Cheltenham Improvisers Orchestra, the films of contemporary Russian filmaker Mikhail Basov and lots of other kleinen Wunders.  8pm start at FCH Chapel, Francis Close Hall Campus, Swindon Road, Cheltenham, GL50 4AZ Tickets £5 and £3 students and conc

Burning Wood - Xposed Club, Friday 4th May

Poster by Mark Unsworth
Burning Wood, a string quartet comprising violinists Alison Blunt, Renée Baker, Noura Sanatian with David Leahy on double bass will play Xposed Club on 4th May.
The evening will also feature a return visit from Ove Volquartz playing solo bass clarinet and the Mike Adcock Roof Slate Ensemble.
Xposed Club at The Centre for Art & Photography, Hardwick Campus, St Pauls Road, Cheltenham; £5.00 (students £3.00) on the door, starts at 8.00pm.

David Weiss, 1946 - 2012

Fischli Weiss, In the Carpet Shop (The Sausage Photographs), 1979
David Weiss, half of Fischli/Weiss died on 27 April 2012. Read an obituary by Hans Ulrich Obrist; read 2006 Fischli/Weiss interview with Jörg Heiser in Frieze.
The pair were best known for their 1987 film Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go; watch extract here), but also made their mark with an installation which was one of the opening displays in Tate Modern in 2000. The room appeared to be 'unfinished' in that it was littered with tools and materials - closer inspection revealed the contents to be hyper-real carved and painted polyurethane sculptures.
Fischli/Weiss also made fantastic airport photographs, sausage photographs, clay figures, performed as their alter-egos Rat and bear, and asked searching questions:
Why is everything so far away?
What does my dog think?
Who's going to pay for my beer?
What happened 4.56 billion years ago?
Will happiness find me?
Should I marry my mother?
Am I my car?
Who owns Paris?
Is everything I have forgotten as big as a house?
Why are there bad people?
Is resistance useless?
Why does nothing never happen
(From: Fischli Weiss: Flowers & Questions: A Retrospective, London: Tate Publishing, pp54-60)
Fischli Weiss, Untitled (Tate), 1992-2000
Fischli Weiss, object from Der Lauf der Dinge, 1979
Fischli Weiss, Popular Opposites: Funny and Silly, 1981/2006
Fischli Weiss, Popular Oppsites: Theory and Practice, 1981/2006
Fischli Weiss, Outlaws, 1984
Fischli Weiss, Airport [Berlin - Tegel], 1991