Lindsay Seers

Lindsay Seers is often known for her use of internalising the camera where she used her mouth as a camera, and her lips as the aperture and shutter. The images that were produced as a result of being in her mouth would be framed by her teeth, stained with saliva and tinged red with blood from her cheeks.

In a visit to Stockholm, Seers photographed anything that was associated with her step-sister through streams of associations and connections. There was an attempt to reconstruct the past through moving history. This leads onto Seers work of highly personal narratives while interweaving concepts of science, philosophy and photographic theory. These works help the investigation into how cinematic and photographic technologies shape us. The personal narratives include plot devices that ‘mimic the rupture at the heart of image production, creating a dramatisation of selfhood in all its melancholy and failure’ (Matt’s Gallery). The photography Seers uses is an act that creates experiences rather than records them, extending the boundaries of photography.

Artist Talk: Sandra Sterle

Sandra Sterle introduced a series of work that occurs even seven years; running around a tree. This started as a CD Rom and the development of characters over years. As Sterle travelled, she had the feeling that she herself was different in different places and relates this to the characters and fiction that is created in the CDs. It starred as an ironic gesture that related to the thought that you have to fit into something that you don’t necessarily know how to define. The clothes that she wears during these performances help her to get into the mindset of the characters. This changes as she gets older through her mentality, questioning the simplicity but multilayered structure, entering into the role of the peasant.

Sterle uses a series of postcards that also corresponds to the idea of moving to a smaller country and connecting to the element of rural life. Again, this is similar to that of the CD Rom.

The videos created are an endless run around a tree. The first was created using HI8 video recording and made Sterle question about how she is preserving the method of recording. She also designed posters of the HI8 system and this is included in the exhibition. Seven years later, Sterle repeats this process of running around a tree. On purpose, she has changed the central circulation, however the age of the woman is not something that could be controlled. Because her age has changed, she now runs slower, but the recording device is now better.

There is an element of allowing herself to play while making these videos, showing off that they are all unique. It is not about the purity of the space but rather a performative gesture relating to the space. There are also elements that are being added to her works but she does not know where they will end up, only that they will be repeated in the video and performance every seven years. A sense of deformed recycling and challenging new ideas.

Artist Talk: Patricia L. Boyd

Patricia L. Boyd spent this weeks artist talk discussing the past three years body of work that she has produced around the world. This started in San Francisco where she studied the environment around her and ended up at a liquidation auction of a media tech company ‘Post Intelligence’ (who were bought outright by Uber). She also became interested in the service of grease recycling to solve the problem of blocked drains. The city would collect the grease for free and develop it into bio diesel.

Boyd responded to the auction and bought an office chair and turntable. She stripped the items down to their core components, making moulds from them. These were negative casts made from a mix of wax and grease that glisten and shine when they get warm. These were embedded into the wall of the gallery so that the surface of the cast was flush with the wall. Through this, Boyd looked at parts that had similar functions to do with posture. The exhibition moved from its original gallery and were now a series of casts of the same object to show the lack of stability in the materials used.

In LA, Boyd had a solo show in ‘Potts’ that consisted of casts and videos. The video was a block aid when trying to enter the website, showing a camera being pushed down the drain from a rooftop into the citys’ sewer and all the way back again. The gallery itself used to be a plumbing shop, and as many shops in LA, it was built so that you could see everything as you drove by. Those who used to own the business were also musicians who used the items that they sold. Behind the wall that Boyd exhibited on was their studio. This lead to Boyd being interested in how the front space, the gallery, was so hygienic and a complete contrast to the back space.

There would often be a tense relationship between Boyd and the galleries as the walls that she displayed in were their boundaries. However, through the installation of her works, she was able to stretch those boundaries for the galleries.

Videos that Boyd made include looking at good and bad examples of grammar. The example sentences that you find in grammar guides builds a world for you, informs you and determines a reality for you. Boyd also made a video last year that was commissioned as an advert on TV. She then recorded when her piece was on TV and included some of the surrounding programmes and adverts. The video itself happened somewhat by accident and Boyd became captivated with Carl, the stage hand who built an engine and then took it apart again. The creation of the engine itself was fast and performance lie to demonstrate his skills, but this was cut up further to fit in the space of an advert creating a piece even more frantic than the performance.

In one of the previous exhibitions, Boyd asked for a piece of the wall along with her artwork, which is now displayed as an entirely new piece that is hung on the wall. Boyd also moved onto photograms from windows in shops in San Francisco. The graffiti has scarred the window due to acid, giving a different opaqueness to the window. There was a similar exhibition in Melbourne, Australia held in a trade unions building where it was purposefully not a gallery space and life went on. Here, Boyd displayed a photogram of a bus shelter where the glass encasing displayed an area that was not truly public nor private. (Boyd has since learned that a company owns all the bus shelters and makes a profit from them through advertising). The other part of this exhibition was in the back of a graphic designers office.

Much of Boyd’s work responds to the environment and the space around her, while also stretching the boundaries of standard display and installation.

Francis Bacon (1910-1992) Interview with David Sylvester

“It does, but now I hope it will arrive more positively. Now I feel that I want to do very, very specific objects, though made out of something which is completely irrational from the point of view of being an illustration. I want to do very specific things like portraits, and they will be portraits of the people, but, when you come to analyse them, you just won’t know – or it would be very hard to see – how the image is made up at all. And this is why in a way it is very wearing; because it is really a complete accident…

…the situation has become much more involved and much more difficult, for very many reasons. And one of them, of course, which has never actually been worked out, is why photography has altered completely this whole thing of figurative painting, and totally altered it…

…You see, all art has now become completely a game by which man distracts himself; and you may say it has always been like that, but now it’s entirely a game. And I think that that is the way things have changed, and what is fascinating now is that it’s going to become much more difficult for the artist, because he must really deepen the game to be any good at all.”

Harrison, Charles, and Paul Wood. Art In Theory, 1900-1990. Blackwell, 2001, pp. 626-9.

Jean Baudrillard (b. 1929) ‘The Hyper-realism of Simulation’

“…Reality itself founders in hyperrealism, the meticulous reduplication of the real, preferably through another, reproductive medium, such as photography. From medium to medium, the real is volatilized, becoming an allegory of death. But it is also, in a sense, reinforced through its own destruction. It becomes reality for its own sake, the fetishism of the lost object: no longer the object of representation, but the ecstasy of denial and of its own ritual extermination: the hyperreal.”

Harrison, Charles, and Paul Wood. Art In Theory, 1900-1990. Blackwell, 2001, pp. 1048.

Walter Benjamin (1982-1940) ‘The Author as Producer’

“For greater clarity let me concentrate on photographic reportage. Whatever applies to it is transferable to the literary form. Both owe their extraordinary development to publication techniques – radio and the illustrated press. Let us think back to Dadaism. The revolutionary strength of Dadaism lay in testing art for its authenticity. You made still-lifes out of tickets, spools of cotton, cigarette stubs, and mixed them with pictorial elements. You put a frame round the whole thing. And in this way you said to the public: look, your picture frame destroys time; the smallest authentic fragment of everyday life says more than the painting. Just as a murderer’s bloody fingerprint on a page says more than just the words printed on it. Much of this revolutionary attitude passed into the photomontage. You need only think of the works of John Heartfield, whose technique made the book jacket into a political instrument. But now let us follow the subsequent development of photography. What do we see? It has become more and more subtle, more and more modern, and the result is that it is now incapable of photographing a tenement or a rubbish-heap without transfiguring it. Not to mention a river dam or an electric cable factory: in front of these, photography can now only say, ‘How beautiful.’ The World Is Beautiful – that is the title of the well-known picture book by Renger-Patzsch in which we see New Objectivity photography at its peak. It has succeeded in turning abject poverty itself, by handling it in a modish, technically perfect way, into an object of enjoyment. For if it is an economic function of photography to supply the masses, by modish processing, with matter which previously enabled mass consumption – Spring, famous people, foreign countries – then one of its political functions is to renovate the world as it is from the inside, i.e. by modish techniques.”

Harrison, Charles, and Paul Wood. Art In Theory, 1900-1990. Blackwell, 2001, pp. 486-7.

Artist Talk: Soheila Sokhanvari

Soheila Sokhanvari originally took a biochemistry degree, finding that this was not the route that she wanted to take. Her path took her through to a BA and MA at Goldsmiths. A quote that she felt like resonated with her work and mindset was;

“To understand me, You’ll have to swallow the world”
– Salman Rushie, Midnight Children

Sokhanvari’s works looks at collective trauma and amnesia, the shock of a country as well as the symbolic residue that is left from these. Researching this, it often turns into stories and mythology. She feels like the mythology is linked to her own past of being an Iranian exile, beginning her interest in others who have been exiled and are showing it through their art.

There was a challenge of governmental control and security, which Sokhanvari explored through airlines. This started when looking at the 1953 Iranian coup and the oil money, resulting in a nation going through trauma. She took 500ml of crude oil through an airport and on a flight from Iran. From this, she created drawings from family photographs and photographs in media at that time. The message was in the materiality of the medium, presented in a purple room to present the monarchy. The crude oil paintings asks how a drawing can represent the memory.

The abstractions through egg tempera paintings and fibreglass sculptures look at self portraits, and where the negative space is in the family photographs of where she is supposed to be. A representation of the lack of her presence because she is a political exile. There is also no perspective with the composition with no shadowing or particular layering, creating very flat pieces. Colour was the pop in these pieces, as well as working with 24K gold. The pigments came from Venice, creating a connection with the masters of painting. Vellum that is used in her work comes from calf skin, and finds that it is the symbolism of the sacrifice of self.

Sokhanvari’s ongoing project is that of passports, which she mentioned that she will collect for as long as she can. The passport is an alternative portrait as it has context within your current nationality. She swapped stamps with UK and US advertising slogans. The passports are then visible from both sides as a transportable world.

Re-viewing Modernist Criticism, Mary Kelly

Paradox of photography – Edelman. For the law of property in the nineteenth century, which ascertained that the image could only be property to the extent that it was mixed with subject, that is, represented and transformed through his creative labour. Although it can now be legally maintained that a creative subject and his purpose is installed behind the camera, this does not mean that it is generally sanctioned within the traditional institutions and discourses of fine art. Artistic practices employing film or photography as well as those using found objects, processes, or systems where creative labour is apparently absent, continue to problematise the transcendental imperatives which predominate in critical and historical literature on art.

To insist on the materiality of the print would be to undermine its founding attribute, that of illusion.

What is lost in that image, in so far as it can no longer be emphatically marked as the property of the creative subject, is gained to the extent that it is, precisely, a photograph of the artist and as the possessive subject he has the right of the photographer over the disposal of his own image. What is taken away from the pictorial text-the painterly signifier of bodily gesture, is given back in photographic form as the visible body, its peculiar gestures acceding to the status of the signifier in another space, that of pictorial quotation.

The artistic photograph; the detail, the interesting composition which displaces the record. It gives the appearance of transgression, but effectively it is a fragment, a metonymy, enveloped by the all-pervasive pictorial metaphor, addressing the reader with continued reference to the grand regime o Painting.

Henry Moore and Sherry Levine

Henry Moore was a sculptor, who took on Sherry Levine as an apprentice where he taught them to photograph the sculpture pieces in a specific way. There was the element of being able to see the work through Moore’s eyes that Levine had to learn, which is evident in the photography work that was subsequently produced. It took any years for Levine to learn to see the sculptures in this way, but it left Moore to create more artwork, and spend less time on documenting it.

Jo Spence

Jo Spence used photography to capture stages of life, looking at the way people think of words written in objects and signs, and her journey through living with cancer. Her photographs take you to the heart of the problem, putting it directly in front of you with the social queues pointing towards it. The journey that you are taken through with each individual photograph leaves you wanting more as to why that is there, such as ‘love’ written in what looks like beans in a tray. The often direct eye contact with the camera adds an emotional intensity to each of the images.