Monday, 28 February 2011

Broken Whole

Yee Sookyung 2010

waves and flutes and parallel lines

Untitled, 2005
40.6 x 53.3 cm / 16 x 21 in
Louise Bourgeois


Laurenz Berges considers photography as an aesthetic and a documentary artistic medium. Like an archaeologist he records traces of something which does not exist. Deserted spaces and places are in the focal point of the artist. Shortly after the German reunification Laurenz Berges documented the barracks left behind by the Soviet Army in the regions of the former GDR. Later he starts recording towns and villages between Cologne and Aachen which were forced to give way to the brown coal mining. In emptied houses and flats Laurens Berges finds relicts of human existence. In the photographs the apparent void of the places transforms into an auratic presence of the past.

At the same time the pictures deal with aesthetic problems. The exfoliated wallpaper is not just a signifier for a past cosiness but it also abstracts to a colour field. An old radio covered with spider webs becomes a compositional element. The curtain, which conceals three letters written times ago lying on the sill, refracts the light in a pictorial manner. Windows, corners, pale areas at the carpet and walls revealing locations where couches and display cases filled with china had its place; All of them become part of the whole composition.

Pictures of Berges are saturated with tender melancholy. Their deep surface does not reduce the visible to a frozen, absolute moment. Moreover the past is sensibly present. Berges develops his photographs to stages of past everyday life and to mirrors of the experienced reality.

Merklinde, 2009

123 x 174 cm
Ed. 5

Laurenz Berges

Monday, 31 January 2011


Connection 1969
Fiberglass,  polyester resin on cloth-covered metal wire
20 units, each 40.6 to 166.4 X 2.5 to 7.6cm
Eva Hesse

In this work, Hesse experimented with how fiberglass would respond when it was neither cast nor applied to a regular form. Hesse applied wet resin-dipped fiberglass to suspended wires and allowed chance and gravity to influence the final shapes. At the time of Hesse’s death, these twenty units (ten of which were shown in the 1969 exhibition A Plastic Presence at The Jewish Museum) were found in the artist’s studio. Collectively known as Connection, this work does not have a set installation. 

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Furnace 2010
Cut papers
Sachiko Abe
Sachiko Abe’s work encompasses, performance, drawing, film and sculptural installations using cut papers accumulated over the last seven years. Her practice explores duration, repetition and constraints. This is a paradox as she first started creating artworks after leaving the Self Defense Forces in Japan because ‘the life of artists seemed so free.’  Her work since 1997 has explored the regimes of subjectivity which are imposed by society, most explicitly in her series of performance works, Elevator Girl Friend in which she acted outside of the conventional behaviour of the demure elevator assistants who were a common sight in big department stores. Abe says of this work,”While the job sounds boring, it was a “dream job” for young girls because it was believed then that only the most beautiful and elegant person could be assigned to be an elevator girl.”
Her more recent works continue to explore disquieting routines that provoke anxiety and touch us in ways we cannot explain. In Cut Papers Abe invites the audience to experience an intimate space in which the constant snipping of scissor blades is the only measure of time passing. At A Foundation Liverpool Abe will perform for the duration of the Biennial but be warned Abe says. “My work is neither beautiful nor meditational.” Rather it is an aesthetic paradox that locates the artist at the center of a field of reciprocal subjectivity, she is an object of the gaze that returns the subject to themselves by activating a feedback loop. Cut Papers is a series of works that create a surplus of meaning within an apparently simple aesthetic economy. It is this scenic space of perception and production that is the focus of the work. Abe will present the performance in an environment of large scale sculptural interventions in the Furnace gallery and a new large scale drawing work produced during her 2010 residency with A Foundation funded by the Pola Foundation. An intricate graphic weave produced by intensive durational periods of drawing which might be best apporoached through the dimension of the fold as expressed by French Philosopher Gilles Deleuze. Like Cut Papers Abe’s drawings invite us to contemplate the intensity of ideas which accumulate and are disseminated in the transformation of a white sheet of paper into medium of communication.


Whale skeleton, alum crystals
Ackroyd and Harvey

Ackroyd & Harvey retrieved a 6m long skeleton from a beached Minke whale and encrusted it with a chemical growth of alum crystals. Stranded was part of the Cape Farewell project, which was shown at the Natural History Museum and as part of the Liverpool Biennial.

'This artwork makes no easy concession to a quick sound bite about climate change. We were drawn to working with the skeleton of a whale after seeing beaches in the High Arctic littered with thousands of bones. Whales were hunted for centuries for their oil, for heating and lighting in the industrialising world prior to the discovery of petroleum. Some species of whales were eradicated completely and many are now endangered by changes in sea temperature and ocean currents, noise pollution and hunting.
Working closely with the Cetacean Stranding Programme at the Natural History Museum in London, we removed the skeleton from a minke whale washed up in Skegness, Lincolnshire, on the UK’s east coast. We cleaned the bones and then immersed them one by one in a highly saturated alum solution, encrusting the skeleton with a chemical growth of ice-like crystals.
As the work progressed so did our understanding of how the ocean absorbs vast quantities of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuel and how in the last two hundred years the chemistry of the ocean has changed for the first time in millions of years. The seawater is turning sour and many marine creatures are struggling to make shells. Ocean acidification is affecting corals, molluscs and tiny zooplankton, the major food source of many marine animals, including whales. It is now accepted that if we continue unabated in our consumption of fossil fuel, the acidity of the oceans will increase incrementally and the life they support will perish.'

salt glazed ceramics

John Dwight's Fulham Pottery (manufacturer) 1682
Salt-glazed stoneware with engraved silver collar

V+A collection


Butterflies in the Stomach 2008
Caul fat and plastic
Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva

"On her arrival in Valenciennes for the residency Elpida used her usual and highly successful approach of investigating the local history, including both the town and Le Nord Pas de Calais. She is interested in the special, or uniqueness of a place, and discovering Valenciennes lace industry was an ideal start. The intricate and slow production methods of traditional lace making, resonate well with Elpida’s previous work where laborious and skilful work is required to make a piece of art. By borrowing, re-working and repeating designs donated by the ladies of the Dentelle de Valenciennes, there is a real connection between the historic lace making and the new works Elpida has made for this exhibition. Typically, Elpida has also investigated the local food specialities, and became fascinated with the types of meat eaten in France. Here then she can bring together surprising cohabitants: Lace and Offal. Bringing these two diverse practices together is typical of Elpida’s work. Here she has made different shapes and structures, reflecting lace making (and just as intricate), but produced out of Tripe, Caul Fat, Intestines or Omasum. This device of using different materials to that which is expected, encourages a sense of experimentation, a challenge to the orthodox and, strangely, a celebration of craft.
Visitors can journey through a tunnel of Caul fat, coming to an inaccessible exit, requiring them to turn around to repeat the journey and leave. Once again, Elpida is aiming to make the hidden visible, encouraging a sensitive appreciation of a particular place, but acknowledging both skill and craft which is less appreciated in the fast food, mass produced, consumer focused society of the 21st Century."
- Mark Segal, November 2007

Sunday, 5 December 2010

La Riviere Gentille 2007
Mixed media on paper, 42 sheets
38.1 X 99cm
Louise Bourgeois

A metaphor for memory, for a life looked back upon, Louise Bourgeois’s La Rivière Gentille (2007) is an astonishingly beautiful series on paper that wraps its way in three tiers around the upstairs gallery. Made up of 42 mixed media sheets, each almost a metre long, the series interweaves imagery and phrases from a text the artist wrote in the mid-‘60s which looks back upon her childhood in France. Moments of ecstasy, vivid incidents and dark passages are recollected in a liquid palette of blue, red and black, which snakes its way across each individual sheet. Bourgeois dwells upon sensate experience – the physical world of things and the pleasure they bring – whilst summoning the inexorable, onward flow of existence.
Bourgeois has always lived by a river. From the Creuse in Aubusson, to the Seine in Choisy-le-Roi, to the Bièvre in Antony, the river played a crucial role in her childhood. The water’s high tannin level was needed for the family’s business of tapestry restoration. Bourgeois remembers the dyed skeins drying in the trees. She remembers the colours of the flowers of the garden that her parents planted along the river’s bank.
Like all of Bourgeois’s imagery, there is contradiction. While water can be a metaphor for the origins of life, the passing of time and reverie, it also stands for destruction, the black well of depression, and a place to commit suicide. Bourgeois’s images of rivers are like the umbilical cord that ties her to her mother. The river acts like an unbroken thread that weaves the past and present together.
In all of Bourgeois’s works, colours and motifs are imbued with emotional meaning. Blue represents peace, meditation and escape; black its opposite; and red blood and insistence. The gentleness of the title is borne out through imagery. Pencil-drawn horizontal lines traverse the sheets like the staves that mark music paper, a device that also features in the portfolio work Nothing to Remember (2004 – 6) and of which Bourgeois has explained:
‘It is very peaceful to look at the lines of the staff paper. It gives a rhythm…. it gives a passive direction to the horizontal plane and it gives an active direction to the vertical plane.’ Often the meandering course of a river is described as hundreds of corpuscular forms, strongly suggesting the vessels of the body. These relate to the ‘cumuls’, cloud-like shapes that have been a recurrent feature in Bourgeois’s work since the late 1960s that she values for instilling a sense of reassurance and calm. Lines, flowing through all of La Rivière Gentille, are themselves a source of comfort: ‘The repetitive motion of a line, to caress an object, the licking of wounds, the back and forth of a shuttle, the endless repetition of waves, rocking a person to sleep, cleansing someone you like, an endless gesture of love.’

darkness sunk in the floor

Shibboleth 2007
Doris Salcedo