Bohyun Yoon: To Reverse Yourself – Artwork Review

By Jesse Bowling

Yoons work “To Reverse Yourself”, is a mirrored work with a whole cut ¾ up the mirror for a participator to place their face.  This work is made from a freestanding wooden frame with a mirror placed on one façade.  This work is in reference to Giuseppe Penone’s work “To Reverse One’s Eyes”.

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In a small write-up by Yoon on this work on his website he explains how he is interested in the relationship of self to others. This work starts to reflect a hybrid image that combines one, the viewer and two, the participator; the participators face is placed on the viewer’s body. This work is dependent on the interaction of two people, so that the full optical engagement can be realized. Yoon seeks to reverse the viewer’s perspective of one self and how this engages with the “other” or how one can see your self but the defining part of your identity is removed and replaced with someone else’s face.

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Yoon also states “…my work speaks about illusional experience as a whole”. I find this statement quiet shallow, I do not feel that it’s an “illusion” it’s far more literal than a normal mirror. This work breaks the illusional aspects of the mirrors representation of reality and questions the Foucauldian notions I explained in my previous review of Anish Kapoor’s work.  As one is “over there” but not complete, the face of the participator is present physically, and replaces your reflection with a “real” face that is not your own.

Over all this is an interesting work when the representation of self is concerned and links to my thinking around my practice of the representation of self through a digital medium.

This can also been seen as another interesting selfie opportunity as there are apps that replace the face of you with another, with this object you can do it with out the use of a digital tool, and have a great photo with your BFF.

Elbe’s Milk Bar by Tim Barlow – Art Review

Common Ground Hutt Public Art Festival

3rd March – 7th March 2015

By Sarah Kennedy

Ten artists from across New Zealand have been selected in this year’s 2015 Common Ground Hutt Public art festival to show their work to the public in Lower Hutt. Wainuiomata based artist Tim Barlow is one of the ten artists chosen to take part in the festival, where his work responds very well to the location. His temporary public art project went back down memory lane to recreate Elbe’s Milk bar close to where the original Elbe’s Milk bar traded from the early 1940’s to the late 1950’s. This reinvention happened inside the old souvenir shop on the corner of Laings Road and High Street where the place was transformed back in time, with the same theme of classic 50s colours and installation of the original.

Elbe’s Milk Bar served ice cream, sundaes, milkshakes, and was a main area for teenagers to hangout and socialise enjoying the atmosphere, music from the jukebox and food.  The behaviour of some of its teenage patrons led to moral panic which led for the Mazengarb inquiry report of 1954, a beginning to the birth of youth culture in New Zealand.

Tim Barlow’s project captures an audience of a mix of teenagers, families and elderly coming in to reminisce of their younger days. Also what made it special was that the artist got in touch with the original owners of Elbe’s Milk bar sons to help out behind the counter at the same time the brothers got to relive their father and mothers business in the 1950s and 60s.

I found Tim Barlow’s installation inviting and it is a very clever way to get the public mixing and thinking about societal changes or youth culture whilst enjoying sundaes and listening to music from the jukebox. I found out about this from the newspapers, radio, posters and word of mouth to come along and experience it. I think the work is engaging, history repeating itself, satisfying, brings up discussion of the past and what’s happening today in New Zealand youth culture and is a fun interactive piece that people socially engage in the community.

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Fragmented Mirror Works by Anish Kapoor – Art Review

By Jesse Bowling

Kapoor’s mirror works are large sculptures by artist Anish Kapoor. They are large, concave stainless steel discs made from many shapes.

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Fragmented mirrors reflect the institution literally upside down. As you approach the mirror it flips reality back to normal. This is to do with optics and focal points. The focal points change with the light reflecting as your eye comes closer, you narrow your focal point hence the image becomes clearer for your perception to obtain a “normal” reflection. The mirror, in Foucauldian theory, is a utopia and a heterotopia; in that the mirror reflects reality in its present form, through a physical object, but the reflection is not physical. A mirror is placeless because as we see ourselves “over there” we are not actually there. It is merely mimicking what is placed in front of its focal point.

Quote from Different Spaces, Foucault, 1984:

“In the mirror, I see myself there where I am not, in an unreal, virtual space that opens up behind the surface; I am over there, there where I am not, a sort of shadow that gives my own visibility to myself, that enables me to see myself there where I am absent: such is the utopia of the mirror. But it is also a heterotopia in so far as the mirror does exist in reality, where it exerts a sort of counteraction on the position that I occupy. From the standpoint of the mirror I discover my absence from the place where I am since I see myself over there. Starting from this gaze that is, as it were, directed toward me, from the ground of this virtual space that is on the other side of the glass, I come back toward myself; I begin again to direct my eyes toward myself and to reconstitute myself there where I am. The mirror functions as a heterotopia in this respect: it makes this place that I occupy at the moment when I look at myself in the glass at once absolutely real, connected with all the space that surrounds it, and absolutely unreal, since in order to be perceived it has to pass through this virtual point which is over there.”

The work also pixels its reflected reality by joining many shapes like the hexagon. This makes up an interesting reflection that is made up of individual reflections to create a whole.

An “ironic” twist on Kapoors work is the intervention of technology by gallery visitors. There are many images online when googling his work. A lot of people are taking selfies in these mirror works. The interesting thing here is the use of the selfie that is then placed on social media of them selves in an art work. There is a continuum here of what I explained earlier and what Foucault writes about how one’s self is set in a mirror in an alternate reality. This “alternate reality” is experienced twice, one through the mirror, second through the uploading of the image on to a heterotopic space, the Internet. Does the selfie undermine the power of the mirror in this instance? Or does it engage with it on a different more supportive level, that re-enforces the mirrors narrative? Some thing interesting to think about!

Fan by Kim Asendorf – Artwork Review

By Jesse Bowling

Kim is a Berlin-based artist, working in new media influenced by the Internet.

Kim’s work “Fan” is listed as a 6 channel sound installation, I watched the video and I think this refers to the noise of the computer fan. When stacked on top of each other playing a constant high-definition coloured video, it makes the computer work constantly for an extended period of time. This causes it to heat up, which makes the fan work, making the “noise”. This is an interesting aspect to technology that they create this “white” noise that we tend not to pick up on, we block it out and just consider it, as “that’s just the sound it makes”.

I’m also interested in the laptop as a sculptural form as a ready-made. The laptop can have implications of the dependence of technology and the tool we create digital works on, there are many connotations that a laptop can emit these are just a few.

But overall I feel this work doesn’t have much substance, conceptually. The idea is simple, and I enjoy that simplicity, but at the same time I wish it went further then just the idea of making the laptop fan work extra, because of lack of air circulation. This judgment is purely off observation, I cannot find anything listing the ideas of the work or any write-up on this exhibition. Which seems contradictory for someone who works within the Internet and in the “Internet-aware” scene.

Public Nap Series 2015 – Art Review

By Matty Smith

PARK(ing) Day bills itself as an “annual open-source global event”, and aims “to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated” by allowing groups to transform metered parking spaces for one day. This was the context for Emotion Time’s Public Nap Series 2015, which took a park on Cuba Street, and invited people to take a nap in public, amidst city offices, and heavy pedestrian traffic. Personally, having worked four years in a CBD office, and having felt exhausted a lot of that time, I could not help reading it as a fun and friendly challenge to the typical New Zealand construction of “the workday” and “work ethic”. People very seldom work in the conditions that are best for them, or healthiest, but only those that return the best profit within (sometimes without of) legal boundaries. I’ve always been rather jealous of countries where a nap during the course of the work day is the norm, and I have fond memories of Tongan shopkeepers dozing casually in the midday sun.

The aesthetic of the work was dryly humorous, with the artists wearing lab coats in a form of quasi-scientific slapstick. Everything from the linen they used to their shoes was white, evoking cheesy imagery of sleeping on a cloud. The aesthetic of the work was careful, and made the bed look inviting and… …clean. Which, in a context where you’re asking lots of members of the public to climb into the same bed, seems a very important reading to give off. At one point late in the show, members of a collective from a nearby PARK(ing) Space staged a strange intervention, juxtaposing the white aesthetic against a bright, messy bed in which a Maori woman held up a tino rangatiratanga flag. The gesture was clearly meant as a humorous poke, not a scathing critique, but it fell a bit flat in that – aside from the fact that all members of Emotion Time happen to present as white – there had been no suggestion of a racialised reading in their work. Despite lab coats and white sheets, there wasn’t even an unintentional hint of KKK garments or any form of white supremacy or privilege. In fact, the gesture itself read as somewhat racist, casting Maoridom as bright and bold, and whiteness as sterile. Evenso it was an interesting intervention – interesting to see an artwork forced into a new (if tenuous) reading by another collective – and talking later with Emotion Time members I had the sense they were philosophical and good-humoured about it.

Photo: Louise Rutledge

Window Studio – Art Review

By Matty Smith

When artist Anne LaFond founded Window Studio, in Brooklyn New York, she commented that she was worried “whether I would feel comfortable painting essentially in a fishbowl, with the people passing in the street able to look in and see what I was working on.” Nor was she certain people would be interested, and yet as she chronicles on her window-studio.com blog, members of the public took a definite interest in her project, and commissioned portraits from her. Since its beginnings in 2012, the project appears to have gathered more funding and support, with community art programmes running regularly now. Public art is not a new phenomenon by any means, but it is interesting considering how rarely we see artists in more traditional media working in the public, exposing their process to a wider audience, and inviting them to take part.

Ever since I encountered this project in 2013 it has made an impact on me. It seems natural and right to me for art to be so unpretentious, communal, and candid – I always find it is working people outside the Fine Art establishment who have the most perceptive and least ideologically-warped observations about art. Often I feel that post-war criticisms of “mass culture” and “authoritarian personalities” have made artists reluctant to reach out to the working class in anything except an imperious and accusatory mode. LaFond’s project treats the people in its immediate community (I am not certain that Window Studio is in the same area as LaFond herself lives) as important, worth chronicling, and worth reaching out to.

I suppose, in a sense, this marks for me an interest in “outsider art”, and yet LaFond clearly is not an outsider. She trained at the New York Academy of Art, and paints expressively and well. She has given Window Studio’s conceptual framework a great deal of thought, and is critically engaged with problems in Fine Art academia. I begin to wonder about that term – “outsider” – applied even to the untrained who participate in LaFond’s project, and frame it so much. Perhaps I would prefer a term that suggests bringing people in, rather than excluding them – something like “gateway art”. Ultimately that’s what I love about the project, is that it opens art up, and speaks plain and clear, to working class people who may seldom have opportunities for a creative voice, or access to the cloistered, insular galleries of the Fine Art industry.

Break Up (We Need to Talk) – Art Review

By Callum Devlin

Artwork: Break Up (We Need To Talk)

Artist: Binge Culture Collective

In a dark, sombre theatre we encounter five exhausted performers, all dressed in banana suits. They take turns acting as the protagonist, who sits front and centre, their back turned to the other four who make up the other character in this dialogue. We grow to know these two characters very intimately, as the conversation bounces backwards and forwards as they negotiate, argue, plead, defend, for six hours. You are watching a break-up, a real one, and it is in equal parts as emotionally exhausting and fascinating as it sounds.

Binge Culture Collective (Claire O’Loughlin, Gareth Hobbs, Fiona McNamara, Joel Baxendale & Ralph Upton) performing Break-Up (We Need To Talk) at the Basement Theatre, Valentines Day 2015.

Binge Culture Collective (Claire O’Loughlin, Gareth Hobbs, Fiona McNamara, Joel Baxendale & Ralph Upton) performing Break-Up (We Need To Talk) at the Basement Theatre, Valentines Day 2015.

Binge Culture Collective first performed Break-Up at the 2014 Fringe Festival, at the back of Matchbox Studios on Cuba Street. I wasn’t there. I also wasn’t there when they performed it again at the Basement Theatre in Auckland earlier this year. Or when they most recently performed it at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club in New York earlier this month. And yet, for some reason I am always explaining this work to people when I need to explain what theatre can do.

And this is theatre, I think. I mean, it is a live performance delivered to an audience. But it’s not for an audience. The audience is not being spoken to, they are eavesdropping on a conversation. It is improvised, but there are no audience suggestions. The performers rely on each other to create content, building an amalgamation of five perspectives on love and heartbreak. In that sense, it is more of a negotiation; you have each performer trying to articulate their point of view (as the protagonist) and yet also provoking, defending and calling each detail into question.

This is a narrative work, at least in the sense that there is a start time, and six hours later there is the inevitable end point. Each time the work is presented, it is simultaneously streamed on the internet, so anyone can tune in from anywhere to watch the mess unfold. This is how I was able to experience the work, on my laptop in my bedroom. In this way it is almost aggressively un-intimate, creating a biting tension between the private nature of the content, and its very public transmission.

Break-Up is located very much to each time that it is presented, locked temporally to the moment of creation and never repeated. The duration of the work, and the open access of the work affords the performers the luxury of not having to entertain. Instead, the focus is honest communication, and the careful navigation of potentially incendiary material.

http://www.bingeculture.co.nz/break-up.html