Thursday, February 18, 2010

Richard Mosse at Jack Shainman Gallery



Richard Mosse: The Fall



Jack Shainman Gallery

513 West 20th Street

New York, NY 

19 November through 23 December, 2009





What, I asked myself while surrounded by Richard Mosse’s photographs, is he after? I kept seeing these pieces of man-made machines of transport and war as alone, isolated, abandoned, alienated and forgotten. They were cast-offs, cast-aways, not swept up into the dustbin of history but truly unseen by most, unimagined and unknown. Was Mr. Mosse attempting a kind of rescue of these relics? Or was he placing himself in a similar situation to these artifacts? Did he posit himself, tracking down these things, as similarly disregarded? It’s a question that puzzled and fascinated me. The images themselves are preposterously beautiful.




In addition to the previous question, I had another. I was reminded of myself as a young boy, taken to long explorations of the vast area behind my grandmother’s property. Exploring this neck of the woods, this unknown expanse, at one point I came across the ruins of a World War II radio tower. It froze me then, much like these photographs freeze me now. They encompass within their boundaries the drive towards not only exploration and discovery but also the notion and great possibility of getting lost. What would it be to get lost in some of the areas Richard Mosse has explored? It would mean death, in no uncertain terms. And death as a signifier is crystal-clear: it is the place where any and all decisions, including the decisions to traipse around the globe in search of disappeared and forgotten relics, are rendered moot, a realm where choice is nonexistent; hence, all confusion, anxiety and despair is silenced. I wondered, then, if Richard Mosse’s exploration into these far-away territories, these polar-bear-infested wilds, these war-zones, and the resulting images, are records of an attempt to peer into an inner landscape of peace, or rest.




Ultimately, I was asking myself if Mr. Mosse was after the images themselves, or if the resulting photographs are records of his process of hunting down that psychic area where choice and confusion have been whittled down to unimportant, noninvasive nubs.





Hans Michaud: Could you describe the original impetus for capturing these images?




Richard Mosse: Contemporary art's greatest strength is its potential to make visible what cannot be seen, pointing to the limits of experience and representation. Photography, meanwhile, is firmly rooted in the world of things as it carries a trace, an actual physical memory of the world at a specific time and place. Between these poles, then, I discern, photography's unique potential to represent human suffering which is, after all, something that cannot be represented. I cannot feel your pain. You cannot adequately express your pain. It is an essentially private affair, yet it is something experienced by all of us. Starting from these basic ideas, I'm hoping to find a better way to describe the catastrophe, which I feel is something that defines our era.




HM: Why airplanes?




RM: I feel there's no finer, more violent, more succinct, more international, and more culturally loaded expression of the catastrophe than the air disaster. However, a plane crash is a very difficult thing to photograph. You can stand under the flight path of JFK with your camera each morning for years and you won't get anything that resembles an air disaster. Or you can reenact Chris Burden's piece 747 and stand under the flight path of LAX for ten minutes, fire off a pistol at a jumbo jet, and take a photo of that. The documentary photographer has a terribly difficult life compared with the conceptual artist. But like Prometheus and Loki, we're both tied to the same rock.




Why airplanes? The air disaster holds tremendous traumatic power. An airliner in vertical descent is a spectacle of modernity's failure. It is horrifying but also aesthetically powerful and depicts unstoppable globalization. It's for these reasons that terrorists covet the air disaster. Terrorism is not an act of warfare. It's a form of advertising, and it's aim is not primarily to kill, but to capture the popular imagination through killing. Artists, particularly those working in photography, with its relation to advertising, have every right to enter the terrorist's symbolic order and violate the same taboos.


HM: The current show also portrays images of shredded four-wheeled vehicles, in the desert. What was the drive to capture these, in contrast to the capturing of airplanes and jets?





RM: I couldn't resist photographing these ciphers in the Iraqi dust storm. The dust storm is the battlefield's ultimate palette, caking the eyes and lips of the artist, and confusing the camera with its unworldly colour spectrum. Even the sound of the landscape is affected by this environmental assault. I felt breathless and paranoid, rather like I'd found myself plunged deep underwater. Yet there was something fabulous about the wreckage and the missing horizon. These are American and Japanese vehicles in the Iraqi landscape, a family-size Chrysler minivan blown apart like a Giacometti sculpture.




HM: Is there something about the remoteness of these relics that is appealing to you? The process of discovery and hunting down these objects?




RM: The plane crash photos are the result of months of online research, skimming forums, Youtube videos, flickr, etc., searching for forgotten relics which are so remote to civilization that they only really exist in the virtual imagination of transient and anonymous online communities. What I'm doing here is engaging with my own imagination. I'm searching for the real in the simulacrum. The web is a sort of mirror that allows me to dream. I then make that dream my own through genuine intrepid experience, by striking out into the world and hiring a helicopter or an all-terrain vehicle, and negotiating the natural wilderness, sometimes very far indeed from human infrastructure.




Like 19th century survey photography, it's a process of charting the unknown. But it's also a kind of picaresque quest narrative. The epic, univocal, and highly-produced nature of my imagery is undermined by the surrounding online mass of highly compressed snapshot images from which the work has been derived. This is nothing more than a project of re-photographing existing imagery, a kind of parody of photography's epic impulse. The work has echoes of the po├Ęte maudit, the immoral artist figure who will go to any extreme, transgressing any boundaries in pursuit of the ultimate aesthetic experience.



HM: Do downed planes signify anything to you other than enticing, strange and beautiful objects/images in and of themselves?


RM: I am drawn to a crystallization of themes surrounding the air disaster. Control. Remoteness. Hiddenness. Archeology. Time. Environment. Form. Scale. Quest. Taboo. In making the image, I'm aiming towards something aligned in spirit with Caspar David Friedrich's painting, Das Eismeer (1823-24). Spatial remoteness becomes temporal remoteness, and the forgotten plane wreck is swallowed by the primeval landscape.




HM: Remote, left-for-trash, downed airplanes seem extraordinarily vulnerable. Care to comment?




RM: Yes, they're also incredibly rare. But where they exist, they're irresistible not just to humans, but also to animals. I helicoptered into a very remote swamp in the Yukon Territories to photograph an old C-47 wreck and found an animal, perhaps an otter or mink or even a beaver, had built a nest out of reeds in the shelter of the belly of the wreck. And birds had propped their nests in holes in the tail of the fin.




HM: Did you start out as a photographer? Please describe your artistic development.




RM: My artist parents forbade me to go to art school, under threat of being disowned. So I studied English literature instead. When I graduated I realised that I was totally unemployable. So I went back to school to take a Masters in Cultural Studies. When I graduated I realised that I was even less employable. So I cut my losses and went to art school, much to my family's chagrin.




HM: What is/are your current project(s)?




RM: I'm hoping to take a long boat ride up the Congo with my wooden camera, shooting the landscape with colour infrared film so that the green jungle foliage turns red.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Kim Cogan at Gallery Henoch



The first thing I realize about Kim Cogan's work, through my eyes, is the astounding representation of light. having made abstract and conceptual films for two decades, I'm painfully aware of the challenges visual artists face representing light as it is perceived, the subtleties as well as the more overt elements.


Mr. Cogan's work, in the end, reminds me, of all things, of how I perceive light, especially the light that stops me in my tracks. I’m thinking specifically of the night paintings, especially “Williamsburg at Midnight”. I’ll try my best to convey the transcendent quality of the work as I’ve apprehended it. I think the word I’m searching for here is ‘luminosity’, although the implication is ‘glowing’ which is close, but not exact.


In the painting I see buildings from an aerial perspective, possibly something like a building rooftop.
The combination of a soft luminosity and the brooding backdrop of midnight hues allows me to entirely rethink the neighborhood I live in, the very same Williamsburg. By “rethink” I almost want to say “re-experience”: the slow walks I’ve taken around the area of my home. The citrine light both from apartments and sparse street lights is palpable here and even tactile: one can nearly reach out and touch it, caress the forms it softly illuminates. The jumbled and (compared to Manhattan) somewhat sparse layout of light-industrial zoning is in a finely-tuned sense, particular to this neighborhood.


Looking at “Williamsburg at Night” up close and from a distance I perceive two rather different pieces. Up close, the tones are almost entirely citrine, the warm glows caressing the eyeballs, allowing and even inviting the viewer to get closer, ever closer, until the work becomes an aggregate of perfectly-placed brushstrokes, revealing unexpected colors and textures not imagined from afar.


Across the gallery space, “Williamsburg at Midnight” appears as an entirely different painting. From a distance it’s colder, darker, the blue-blacks dominating the canvas. The painting is quite large, 60” x 52”, and it takes over the wall it shares with other works.


Overall, “Williamsburg at Midnight” is both captivating and subtle, reminding me of nothing else but the area it represents. After seeing this painting in Gallery Henoch I returned to my neighborhood, took a stroll around and drank in the area with an entirely new perspective. Having such immediate access to both this particular work and the area it represents has had a profoundly transformative effect, quietly handing over to me new tools with which to apprehend my home surroundings.
The second painting I’d like to bring up is “Sanctuary”, a quieter work, a whisper of a painting, a smaller piece than the first.
What “Sanctuary” represents is a bedroom, a four-poster bed, a single bedside lamp and the figure of a woman preparing for a night of sleep. The colors, the warmth, the composition, the reflected light on the surfaces bring to me nearly-lost memories: recollections, softened over time, from a childhood peppered with visits to my grandmother’s and her overwhelmingly large old house. I spent many weekends in that place, a second home, in front of the fireplace on cold New England nights or next to it, curled up in the stuffed armchair, reading comics and horror stories. My memories of that period contain solidity, in the form of my grandmother, a stern but gentle and kind woman who possessed a proto-Victorian outlook and who effortlessly provided me with a much-needed emotional beacon. “Sanctuary” is a wallop of recollection in this regard only because of the hues, the representations of reflected incandescent light.


I’m floored by this implication: colors, shades, textures and tones as memory, as emotional landscape. It seems true that the human sense most closely associated with the powers of recall is smell; however, in Gallery Henoch my past comes tumbling back to me due to the stimulation of paint and brushstrokes. I can still feel the rug under me in front of the fireplace, feel the worn fabric of the armchair, gaze hesitantly out the window into the incomprehensible blackness of night and curl up tighter in the chair.


I remain in awe of Mr. Cogan’s work, and I look forward to many returns to Gallery Henoch, in addition to hopefully many more works by this infinitely talented artist.



Kim Cogan showed at Gallery Henoch from November 5, 2009 through November 28, 2009.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Alice Attie at Foley Gallery




I write. I use the English language for this task. In all of the different arenas I write in, characters and words serve as tools, methods of conveyance, a series of abstract representations that point to an idea or a set of ideas. In this light, words are infused with a certain level of transcendence. A word is perceived/apprehended, which, seemingly automatically, triggers chemicals in the brain (or wherever), and this “conjures” an image, a link, an idea, a series of firing synapses.

Because I am a writer my relationship to the English language possesses a particularity about it that most people generally do not need to concern themselves with. Likewise, as a graphic artist, I have a relationship to text itself that has placed me in a privileged position in regards to my understanding of text as a graphic and aesthetic element.

And so it was with sheer delight that I entered Foley Gallery and stood in front of the work of Alice Attie. I witnessed several things all at once, especially with the text-oriented pieces. However, how Alice Attie uses characters and language is in many ways far more encompassing than how the same is utilized in writing in general and in the graphic arts. Endurance and determination are at work here, plus a level of exploratory bravado that the realm of contemporary art affords. Or Alice Attie has afforded herself.

Different viewing perspectives of the pieces give entirely different readings. One of the most prominent examples is The Inferno by Dante Alighieri. Looking like a cross between a graphic flame and a clot of seaweed reaching from the ocean floor, The Inferno by Dante Alighieri, upon closer inspection, becomes something entirely novel: it wipes the graphic slate clean and embraces the human/super-human qualities of endurance, determination, focus, concept and devotion. I'll accent the last quality, because, without it, all of the others would fall apart sooner or later. And the word “devotion” is one of the few that I can actually hang the work on, religious signification or not. The forms/form that makes up The Inferno by Dante Alighieri is the actual text of Dante's piece in its entirety.

Gazing at this piece up-close is to enter oneself into a conversation with human devotion. How does one, or, rather, how did she do it? By being persistent, of course. By devoting herself to the task. For me, this previous sentence invites notions of religion and transcendence.

Alice Attie's text pieces are “transcendence in action”. Many of her works themselves transcend towards something else, and some, like the collages, become places we arrive at through transcendence. However I will not write about the collages; these deserve their own article.

Alice Attie's Letter, after all is said and done and I've viewed everything else is, for me, the anchor. It does not resemble the others in that it employs characters and words from a pre-existing alphabet. It does not. It's characters are, in the end, culled from something else. I do not know where from. And I do not care to find out, at least for now. In fact I think it's entirely besides the point from where. I am still far too enthralled by the piece both as a whole and as a potential to ask those questions. I'm so enthralled I dare not call it “beautiful” or “transcendental” or “timeless”. I simply gravitate towards it eventually, from whichever corner in Foley Gallery I find myself. I always return. And I end up standing there, facing it, gazing, without a solid clue as to where it's taking me.

“Made up” or “false” characters of language have always had a draw. In middle school I knew other children who enthralled each other and themselves by creating a coded language for note passing. If I remember correctly the stated function was forgotten about rather quickly but the actual characters—the forms themselves—somehow pointed to a potential, a transcendence that was impossible at the time to verbalize. It was transfixing.

There is great promise in scribbles. Scribbles/unknown characters tend to be both defiant and rich with untapped energy. They're like nuclear energy cells, or a well of fossil fuels. They're also signposts, pointing off and away from the pavement and into the dense wooded area off to the side, an area with no foreseeable pathway. Does this mean that unknown characters are to be used as, at the bare minimum, sliding signifiers, quickly exchanging their meaning depending on the viewer? Or are they entirely relegated to the status of a graphic, an aesthetic piece, an objet d'art? Is this what happens when we apprehend an unknown alphabet or a set of characters? Does it immediately take on the status of an aesthetic and, therefore, empty of linguistic significance? Is there a difference in our perception and knowledge? By that I mean, specifically, does it matter if we are certain that what we're looking at is a legitimate (read: in use or out of use) language?

Gazing at Letter I could not be sure. I didn't, ultimately know if the characters are aggregates of a known and “legitimate” system, or if they are, in the end, scribbles. It is precisely this lack of solidity in my perception of the work that creates great, heaving potential to begin with. Letter, before my gaze, shimmered within this pathway of potential, off the main thoroughfare and into the dense wooded area.

There is mystery in Letter. Mystery is, in fact, potential in its purest form. Missing pieces, unknown elements, open ended questions. To gaze at Letter is to gaze at pure written language—a set of unknown characters traversing a page, spaced evenly, covering the surface and pointing everywhere else, away from the page. To be at that precipice, to be engaged with something physical yet be straddling a constant, open-ended capability is to start to engage with what the existentialists termed “authenticity”. At Foley Gallery, this was the project, in my eyes, the grappling with authenticity. And this is all it needed to be.

Alice Attie at Foley Gallery, 547 W 27th Street, 5th floor New York, NY 10001 from April 16 through May 23

Monday, May 18, 2009

Initial Thoughts on the Installation Work of Pe Lang + Zimoun at bitforms gallery



I remember being a small child and roaming around in my parents’ backyard, exploring, as I often did. There was a 2x4 piece of decaying wood on the ground, surrounded by pine needles and leaves, and I casually overturned it with my hand. What I saw underneath for a small moment (jerking my hand back in horror) has stayed with me to this day, and it is, I’ve come to believe, a reference, an anchor, a visual footnote that informs the underbelly, partially, of how I’ve come to apprehend certain forms of motion.

Underneath the rotting piece of wood scampered countless insects, mostly gray and black beetles. It was as if the entire underbelly of the plank was undergoing a series of electric shocks and was conveying that through visual motion along the surface.

I was both repulsed and fascinated, of course, and the image has stuck with me.
At bitforms gallery, I saw this same movement, displayed on the walls and hanging from the ceiling and I approached it with a modicum of caution in spite of myself. What Pe Land + Zimoun have constructed is a physical and electronic representation of what I’ve come to believe is a kind of archetype of some sort.

Insect movement is wholly unlike movement found anywhere else. The movement itself is lightning fast, can stop/start and change direction on a dime, and is a physical embodiement of something we may come to understand as entirely inhuman (un-human?).

There are three distinct pieces at bitforms by Pe Lang + Zimoun. They all fall under the umbrella title of “Untitled Sound Objects”. They are each worth mentioning. They are all constructed from electric vibration or DC motors, and they each present a similar kind of movement that is found in the insectoid underbellies of nature all around us.

One piece involving DC motors is entitled Untitled Sound Objects - 100 Prepared DC Motors and Chains in Wooden Type Cases. All 100 motors and chains lie in their own respective boxes within a larger shelving fixture (or, installation). The DC motors are prepared in such a way tso that when turned on, each individual motor turns a small chain which merely hangs from the motor shaft. The very movement of these hanging, turning chains (and the ensuing racket) is pleasurable, but does not, in the end, deeply entrance, electrify and even disturb me like the others do.

The two pieces that utilize vibration motors, essentially, small, round, black nubs at the end of dual-wires (red-blue, pos-neg): Untitled Sound Objects - 49 Prepared Vibration Motors, and Untitled Sound Objects – 400 Prepared Vibration Motors in Wooden Type Cases. The first piece comprises 49 hanging vibration motors. The movement is not unlike spying a group of tiny swarming insects in a small patch of the air on an early-summer evening, just before dusk. It almost seems as if the insects are bounding off of each other, which is exactly what the vibration motors are doing. They’re not silent, but they are nearly so. Watching the mindlessness of the procession is transfixing and somewhat disturbing.

The final piece I’d like to address is Untitled Sound Objects – 400 Prepared Vibration Motors in Wooden Type Cases. When this piece is turned on, all the motors jump around their respective cases, as if they’re insectoid-like. Stepping back from it a ways, it resembles more and more an extreme close-up of a cross-section of a mechanical beehive. It certainly sounds like it, as well, in its own mechanical way. The movement is there, that electric, dynamic sense of disquiet that characterizes insect worlds. It’s an alien movement and, in the countless methods we all use to not only communicate but also to apprehend the world; in many cases it is the information that shuttles beneath the linguistic and semiotic radar that sometimes is the most important: colors, smells and, especially, movement.

The very notion of how separate and alien the movements are in these pieces illustrates how distant (alien) insect life (movement) is to us humans.

Which is, to me, comforting.

Tim Knowles and Pe Lang + Zimoun
January 24, 2009 – March 7, 2009
bitforms gallery, 529 West 20th Street, NYC

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Few Thoughts on Glynnis McDaris at Bespoke Gallery



The clumps and fragments of memory I possess from my childhood in large measure "look" to me a lot like the film emulsions of that period, a transition-era in both style and substance in consumer photography if there ever was one. Recetly put on the back-burner were the hyper reds and bottomless blacks of Kodachrome and Technicolor. New were the Ektachrome and the forerunners of today's C-41 process films. Unlike the brazen hues of the immediate post-war period gone by, these stocks carried their color dyes with them, being far less stable over time than their elder counterparts. Fading negatives were widespread by the end of the 1970s.

Glynnis McDaris's photographs capture intimacies and some of that "look" aforementioned. The prints seem like records of a ghost, temporarily caught in between rooms, in between sunlight and shadow, between day and dusk, night and morning, printed image and memory. In childhood, exploration, visual and mental processing took place in the literal twilight between times of day, between rooms, between periods of psychological growth. I remember dark, deep hues, clutter, heavy curtains, silhouetted figures and, having grown up in southeastern Massachusetts, I remember disappearing sun. Vanishing light. Always the disappearing sun and vanishing light.

Glynnis McDaris showed at Bespoke Gallery from March 12, 2009 to April 25, 2009
Bespoke Gallery 547 West 27th Street, 6th floor, New York, NY

http://www.bespokegallery.net/

Monday, March 23, 2009

Interview with James Salomon



Originally published in WHITEHOT MAGAZINE OF CONTEMPORARY ART January, 2009):

What is your background? Education? Previous professions?

I grew up in Westhampton, Long Island. My father is French and my mother is from Quogue.
I went to Boston University for film studies...it was something to do.
Two weeks after graduation, I moved to Paris, where I wound up staying for four years.
After a few odd jobs, I found myself in the Latin Quarter handing out resumes because I wanted to work in a bookshop, where I came across the editions boutique for Galerie Maeght on rue du Bac.

At 21, I decided then that I wanted to own an art gallery. I knew that it would take a long time to get there, and wasn't sure how long exactly, but it was something that became a real interest and strong desire. I am not an artist; I thought it was more within my character to bring together ideas and idea makers.

In 1998, I moved to New York, and after harassing Mary Boone for six months she let me in.
It has been an incredible experience since then, and I feel privileged to work with some of the greatest artists in the world.

What drew you to art in the first place?
At an early age I became very interested in looking at art. My father would take me to Paris once a year, and we would go to museums together. Sometimes I would run off by myself, starting at about age 12, which had a great sense of adventure and discovery. I remember being very moved by abstraction. It was mysterious, it was powerful to me, but I had no idea why.

At this point art is a necessity. Having it around me keeps me sane.


How, exactly does art keeps you sane? From a subjective standpoint, in other words, describe how a span of time in your life might progress sans art.

I guess without it I would use other devices to feed the brain healthily.
Having a great work of art in my environment affects me in different ways, but the experience can sometimes be heightened in an engagement with the creator, an admirer,
or someone who challenges it. So an artwork may be a vehicle for a shared human experience or even conduit for a friendship. Maybe it can create an enemy!

I love meeting interesting and passionate people through what I do.

How do you go about the task of directing for two different galleries?
At Mary Boone Gallery, I have a role in operations and sales, but I am not directly involved in programming. Although Mary is supportive of my seasonal program out East, it is completely autonomous of her gallery. My choices are mine. Mary understood how important this was to me, especially on my “home turf”. Her blessing came easy, but there’s a lot of trust and respect that comes with that. After 10 solid years, I believe that we have a very good working relationship.


Do you have high hopes that this year will bring you into contact with new artists whose work challenges and inspires you? Or do you take each day as it comes?
I have already laid down the groundwork for my summer program, which involves a new artist whose work I am greatly looking forward to presenting. His name is Hiroyuki Hamada, who is a Japanese artist, 40 years old, who lives and works in East Hampton.

Apart from that, I invited Alice Aycock to curate a show which will include a few of her contemporaries. This is very exciting to me, as I admire her enormously.

I will also be exhibiting Ned Smyth’s new sculptures in June, and Darius Yektai will have a late August through fall show in collaboration with LTMH Gallery, New York. Darius and Ned both live and work out East; we have had great experiences together from the gallery’s onset.

So I am already very proud of the Summer 2009 lineup.

Is the clientele for each much different in taste and buying potential, considering the different locales?
Yes and No. There are collectors who I meet out East in the summer who become Mary Boone clients in the fall. Then there are collectors who buy from my shows in the summer.
It's all the same to me if people are excited about procuring something interesting.

From your perspective, is the business of art in any way "recession-proof"?
Since Lehman Brothers went down, things changed for everybody. Nowadays, people are being very prudent… this can be a good thing, because if someone makes a commitment to purchase a work of art, then chances are a considerable amount of thought went into it.

Opportunities may present themselves in an economic downturn as secondary market pieces will surface at more palatable prices. As well, great artists who didn’t participate in the “economic bubble” may keep their slow and steady course.
That’s the most optimistic way I can answer the question. We’re all in this together.

Who are some of your favorite artists and do your favorites also bring the gallery the most attention and sales?
All the artists that I work with are my favorite. Otherwise, we wouldn't work together. For me, it's all about chemistry and trust.

Is there a common aesthetic or conceptual thread between the artists that you represent at SALOMON CONTEMPORARY?
The commonality is great quality work as far as I am concerned. The public will make up their mind, but I love what I show.

At this time are the bulk of the art buyers coming from the U.S., Asia, Europe, or the Middle East? Also, why, in your opinion, are the bulk of the art buyers from that location?
"When I hear the word culture I take out my checkbook" - Barbara Kruger

Collecting art and art patronage has no borders. Cultural institutions are the temples for art and the wealthy help support them in one form or another. They may buy works of art to eventually donate to an institutional collection, they may underwrite construction, fund an educational program, etc. To those who give big, we love you!

With that though, "buyers" have their own taste, which could be rooted in a multitude of social, cultural, economic, religious, or other factors. I learned very quickly with experiences in the Middle East that the general public has little interest at this moment to sign on to western contemporary art. They follow artists that come from their land. Many Asian collectors stick to Asian Contemporary art. Same goes with Indian collectors. So there can be a type of "nationalism" or tribal identity, which is what it is.

Getting down to money issues, there are certain economies and currencies that are stronger than others. This may create a better “deal”, depending on which side you are on. So for the past few years with the Euro having an upper hand on the dollar, we have witnessed many Europeans buying artworks in America. This is typical with global consumerism in a luxury market.

At this moment, however, it is hard to predict which groups will be doing what and for how much.

In the last several years, there has been a comparative "surge" of new artists (entrants) into the world of contemporary art.
This may have been influenced by the inflationary bubble of the early/mid-2000s.
Now that the bubble has "burst" and we're undergoing a correction, are you seeing
a corresponding lessening in the number of new artists/entrants in the field?

I wasn't around to feel the 70's, but listened and read that artists were producing because they wanted to, and found "some way" to show it off. I think that people will be looking to tone down the razzle-dazzleness of it all for a while; some galleries will unfortunately close, and that tightens up the facility for young artists to exhibit. We may see more alternative spaces.

We all need to eat and try to sleep well and strive to be happy.
People will go on to do other things and make a living and survive differently,
but they will remain artists if they stay true to themselves along the way.

That goes for someone just getting out of art school to someone who has had a moment
in the sun.

Why a gallery outside of NYC?
Salomon Contemporary was always intended to serve the East End community, which I consider my home. The area has a great art audience comprised of year-rounders and seasonal residents (of course with their droves of houseguests). My visitors are intelligent, savvy, and enjoy arriving at “the warehouse in the woods” on a Sunday afternoon. The focus is on presenting progressive ideas to that public, which includes but is not limited to art gallery exhibitions.

In your opinion, among the investors who put their money into contemporary art, is the business of art investment a somewhat exclusive domain, or, overall, does it share the playing field with other investments (commodities, the bond market, stocks, venture capital, etc.)?
Art is much more sexy, provocative, and thoughtful in its’ humanness than any other investment. But in my heart of hearts I don't consider any of this a speculative financial investment but an investment in one's mind and spirit. To each their own.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some Thoughts on Luisa Lambri at Luhring Augustine Gallery


by Hans Michaud

I made abstract and conceptual films for twenty years. I'm on a hiatus from filmmaking and it affords me time to reassess the work that I did and why I did it and what the contexts were in which I did it.

Throughout the two decades there were, really, only about ten years of filmmaking, all told, that I would consider "productive". The rest of the time, of course, was spent procuring equipment, working on my chops, procuring more equipment and looking for work which may have afforded me the time and money required for the tackling of celluloid. The first four or five years were incredibly productive, and some of that time was at school. I made more mistakes than I could imagine and fought the medium tooth and nail and fought the artists and professors around me who were also engaged in fighting the medium of film tooth and nail. It was great fun, and it was, for the age I was at, quite satisfying.

Then came the dry spell, i.e. my twenties. Moving around the country, not working at jobs that paid all that much and the usual trials and tribulations of being that age all added up to much creative frustration and wheel-spinning. Which was exactly the impetus needed to slingshot me into actually making film again, as my 30s rolled around. And I made film. At one point I was shooting several rolls per week. Every morning in the warmer months I'd be out at the nearby park, Bolex in hand, picking off images like I was a tailgunner during wartime and I had virtually everything around me in my sights. It was wildly fruitful and I dove headlong into the making of these abstract and conceptual visual feasts. From the years 2000 through 2005 I made films that I'm still quite proud of and have shown many of these around the U.S., Canada, South America and Europe.

I also shot still-photos during this time, especially towards the end; it was a medium I used as somewhat of a "sketchbook" for my moving-image projects.

After all is said and done, in the end, there is only the image. It boils down to this image/these images, the actual focus of all of this scratching and scrambling and shelling out of cash. I was obsessed, of course. How else could one work in cinema and not be obsessed? I was gleefully obsessed, ultimately, by that goddamned image. It felt like the image never let me sleep, never let me dream about anything else...I was seeing these images, these still images forced to "move" via fades, cross-fades, pans, tilts, rack-focuses and more each night as I tried to sleep, each morning upon waking and throughout each day.

Having since stopped making films, it goes without saying that it's something I do, in fact, think about but, at least for now, still do not allow myself to get too close to. I cannot afford it at this point, in more ways than one, and I need my focus to be on other things at the moment.

However.


After the holiday season it was with great interest and relief that I returned to the galleries this week and last. It's been highly profitable. I've seen more work that genuinely excites me than I've seen which leaves me cold. Traipsing through the district earlier today, I happened upon the Luhring Autustine gallery. The space is, like many Chelsea galleries, quite large and perfectly suited to view artwork-on-a-wall. Sparse. The gallery "allows" one to focus intently upon the work at hand. And to take one's time.

The photographs of Luisa Lambri were on display. I've never seen her work before now. I walked in and looked at the first one, facing the entranceway. I nearly didn't see it. I don't think I could have. It was too close to me, much like the psychological remnants of filmmaking still are. I'd sought after images like this one, for twenty years. I looked for them and the entire time I kept seeing them in my viewfinder, in the back of my head, in my sock drawer, in the shower. And here is one of them, or at least the same "ideal" image, staring me in the face. It took me a while but I began to allow myself to gaze at these pictures, simply stand there like an idiot and look at them. Up close, far away, from this side, from that side. They are, in fact, as nearly perfect as I've ever seen. I was, in my own mind, absolutely speechless. These images of hers had kicked back all linquistic urges and had forced me to shut up. I'm still speechless. I don't know what I'm going to write next. There's no plan, no project, no narrative. There is only image. The ideal image. And they were all spread out before me, each and every one of these ideals.

Each picture of each set is slightly different from the others. What makes each so imperceptibly different is the light. And of course there are no images without light. These images are as close to perfect-textbook examples of how to sculpt light as anything I've seen since John Alton, Nestor Almendros and John A. Alonzo. The light differences between each picture in each set are so slight, so subtle, that one's intelligence is not insulted. The infinitesimal variations draw one in, draw the differences around the viewer and begin to breathe with the viewer himself. Each picture has its own weight, velocity, its own reason for existing. Each one can exist on its own; however, each image, belonging to a set, co-exists alongside its peers and does not steal the attention from them; rather, each reinforces the others' importance. Gazing at singular images and then at each set offers a balance that leaves me, as a viewer, sated.

The experience of witnessing Luisa Lambri's work at Luhring Augustine Gallery brings me dangerously close to considering making film again. Beyond all considerations of practicality, responsibility, devotion, obsession and inspiration, work that is as singularly stunning as Ms. Lambri's is nothing less than a gift.

Luisa Lambri exhibited at Luhring Augustine Gallery from January 10, 2009 through February 7, 2009.