The month of May belongs to Agathe de Bailliencourt, who will have two solo shows, Eintritt in Toronto and Sheer in New York, plus a site-specific projection onto The New Museum, concurrently on view. Eintritt means “joining” in German (de Bailliencourt is French but currently based in Berlin) and this post joins together images from both of her painting exhibitions as well as selected past projections and site-specific installations. The images are strikingly distinct, yet demonstrate de Bailliencourt’s continuing interest in the expressive mark of the hand (particularly her graffiti-inflected splashes and scrawls), as well as her ongoing engagement with architectural form, space, and especially movement/directionality delineated through the use of decisive gestures, layered textures, and vibrantly contrasting colours.
The past week has been a whirlwind in many ways, not least because of the devastation Hurricane Sandy wreaked on the East Coast. Here in Toronto, we saw howling winds, a week of rain, and trees down, but nothing like the floods and power outages to our south. As cleanup began over the weekend in New York and New Jersey, we kept tabs on our friends’ progress down there while confronting a wholly unrelated, yet no less saddening tragedy up here — the death of a person we didn’t even know.
The Toronto International Art Fair is bigger and better than ever, having eclipsed Art Chicago (which was canceled earlier this year) as Merchandise Mart’s only North American art fair north of the border and not on the coasts. (In case you’re wondering, Merchandise Mart, which also runs The Armory Show, Volta Basel and NY, and Art Platform Los Angeles, was itself recently bought and renamed by Swiss media conglomerate, Informa Plc.)
With over a hundred exhibitors from 23 continents, more than 20,000 visitors expected to attend, and projected sales in excess of $20 million, Art Toronto 2012 set itself apart this year with a rich program of panel discussions and curator’s tours co-developed with the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), the Power Plant, and the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art (MoCCA), a diverse selection of artists and galleries highlighted within the Focus ASIA area and exhibition, the AGO’s ongoing and very visible acquisition program, a capsule exhibition of the RBC Canadian Painting Competition finalists for 2012, and a focus on the fresh perspectives offered by newer galleries in the Next section.
As Occupy Wall Street celebrates its one-year anniversary, art and design communities around the world continue to parse the movement’s implications and effects through themed exhibitions, festivals, and ideas. Earlier this year, on the heels of the stridently political 7th Berlin Biennale, Kassel’s Documenta 13 announced its own intent to question “the persistent belief in economic growth”. Stateside, the New Museum dubbed their triennial The Ungovernables (selected images below), focusing on “both anarchic and organized resistance: protest, chaos, and imagination as a refusal of the extended period of economic, ideological, sectarian, and political conflict that marks the generation’s inheritance”. And here in Canada the Contact Photography Festival, centered on the theme Public, positioned itself as an exploration of “photography’s role in the public performance of identity as an important means to respond to, intervene within, and document political actions” (see our review here).
Spring is in full swing and Occupy has exploded back on the scene with impressive May Day demonstrations. As a movement which unites an incredible array of (sometimes conflicting, but that’s part of the beauty) agendas under the inclusive umbrella of the 99%, it has been uniquely effective in staying on message: Occupy isn’t going anywhere. Or perhaps: it is going to be everywhere.
What’s always been striking about the movement (as we noted in our previous post on Occupy’s aesthetic beginnings, linked below) is its focused attention on creating visually powerful moments that appeal to the heart and linger in the mind. From the start it has adopted a sophisticated, multifaceted approach to protest that is informed by contemporary art, design, and social media as much as it is by socio-economic theory and political action. While we can’t pretend to be able to cover all of the visual, performative, and often subversive mass media tactics that Occupy has deployed over the past weeks and months, we can offer a selection of some of the more intriguing arts-related articles and images that have surfaced in our news feeds over recent days. To a limited extent, we’ll try to update this post with fresh links and images as they emerge during what we’ll call OWS Chapter Two.
We love typologies here at Typologica—quite obviously, considering they are our namesake. All that collecting and categorizing serves us curatorially-inclined folk well, facilitating critical connection-making on so many levels. As a scientific method, the use of typologies has existed for centuries within a tradition of exploration, classification, and analysis, but from the late 1950s when Hilla and Bernd Becher famously debuted their photographic archive of industrial structures, calling it Anonymous Sculptures: A Typology of Technical Constructions, typological methods within art have become widely appropriated and applied to all manner of people, places, and things.
While in New York, we stopped off at the Museum of Arts and Design to see Swept Away: Dust, Ashes and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design. Part of a series of exhibitions that “explore the intersection of traditional or unusual materials and techniques as viewed through the lens of contemporary art and design,” Swept Away features painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video, performances, and installations which confront “the ephemeral nature of art and life, the quality and content of memory, issues of loss and disintegration, and the detritus of human existence” through the incorporation of fugitive and often discarded materials.
Last year we were drawn in by Niall McClelland’s first solo show at Clint Roenisch gallery, for which he produced mainly paper and fabric-based works which had been folded and re-folded, inked, stained, bleached, and otherwise pushed around and abused. Unfolded, shaken out, and hung or draped to various degrees of looseness, they wore their cracks, folds, and stains with a hard-won pride and stark material beauty.
Last night we had the pleasure of visiting McClelland’s studio with the Ministry of Artistic Affairs. Speaking on the surprises and discoveries he has made in the course of rolling paint onto cheap dropcloths or spraying it over smashed light bulbs among other things, McClelland has developed a process-oriented way of making which is simultaneously rooted in the physical (experiments with materials, actions, and the effects of things like time, weather, friction and force) and the philosophical (engaging intuition, editing, and a constant questioning of when something is good, or right, or finished, and what ultimately qualifies as art and not just someone else’s trash, or vice versa).
“Dry your eyes, Lebbeus Woods explains why architecture school and years of unpaid labor might be worth it” is how Architizer tweeted their recent post summarizing Woods’ lovely and concise true story, “Why I Became an Architect”. Posted in two parts on his blog this past week, the story is in actuality less about why and more about how one becomes and architect—or any creative professional, really—and therein lies the essence of its hard-won truth.
Leading off rather nicely with a Gustave Doré image of Virgil and Dante at the entrance to Hell, Woods traces the outlines of his early interests and influences in Part One, focusing on his passions for painting and light. In Part Two, Woods details how these outlines slowly began to resolve into the fuller picture of his life’s work, providing reassurance and inspiration to any creative professional who may currently be deep in the throes of dues-paying, or what one might more productively call practicing, to become a full-fledged architect, artist, designer, etc.
We celebrated the 100th birthday of a family member this past weekend, a rare and momentous occasion indeed. What stunning change he has seen, having lived through the past century’s exponential social and technological growth. In the days since, we’ve been wondering about the world into which he was born so long ago. A new century was just hitting its stride, and among many other international developments, the year 1912 proved to be a pivotal moment in the world of art when the first exhibitions of Italian Futurist paintings were held in Paris and London.
It was then that the painters Balla, Boccioni, Carrá, Russolo, and Severini made their now famous declarations against commercialism, academicism, and traditionalism: “For we are young and our art is violently revolutionary.” Vaunting new pictorial laws which would “deliver painting from the uncertainty in which it lingers” the Futurists boldly equated art with sensation, simultaneity, and discontinuity through a rendering of the invisible rhythms and forces between all things. In employing such “physical transcendentalism”, the painter—and by extension, the viewer—could become a full participant in the chaos and clash of contemporary life at the height of the 20th century Zeitgeist.