The Simple Expression of Complex Thought

Clare Taylor is a recent graduate from Camberwell College of Art. She frequently likes to tell people that she's from Greenland. This is not true.

Matt Johnson’s work is often more humourous than the above example, although I feel there’s a special kind of resonance found in the bronze Buddha, his chest blasted through and his features sliding in a less-than-Zen fashion. Johnson’s work is generally made of mundane, everyday materials - tarps, piles of compacted dust, ice cubes - so the use of bronze is an interesting step out of the ordinary.

His practise echoes the practise of many other young sculptors in that it marks a turn away from the room-sized installation and a return to the love-affair with object. His work often involves the re-creation of an object as a parody of itself, such as Bread Face, and references a fundamental, child-like form of expression

Click through on the image for a link to Johnson’s page on the Alison Jacques Gallery website.

Julian Hoeber’s work is full of illusions and visual trickery which leave the audience bemused, even as the work reveals its own secrets. The above bronze busts were placed onto mirrored pedestals which reflect their image back at all angles, even implicating the viewer in the scene. The faces are bald versions of Hoeber himself, and their faces seem dispassionate and disillusioned, even during their own destruction.

It’s likely that Hoeber sculpted the heads from clay and shot at them, before casting them in bronze to solidify their passivity. While bronze is an inherently tough, cold material, the rupturing of their surfaces reveals a kind of soft fleshiness, reminiscent of real skin. Their expressions, devoid of any passionate emotion, drain the sculptures of any kind of heart-pounding, adrenaline-rush that one could derive from their destruction, replacing it with a calm, almost meditative state.

Click through on the image for a link to Hoeber’s page on the Blum & Poe website.

Scattered Crowd is the brainchild of German artist, dancer and choreographer, William Forsythe. Each site-specific installation sees Forsythe installing hundreds of inflated balloons, suspended throughout a space. The audience is welcome to interact freely with the piece, allowing them to wander through a wonderland-esque environment. The balloons float and ripple, their movement caused by the interaction of the audience.

Scattered Crowd takes the normal, stuffy, grown up atmosphere of a gallery, and turns it into a play room - a place for the magical to manifest and for reality to be suspended for a few seconds. There is a breath-taking volume to the piece, which exists in such a huge fashion but really, is composed of very little.

Click through on the image for a link to the Scattered Crowds page on Forsythe’s website.

Michael Rakowitz’s "paraSITE" series was born when the artist participated in a residency in Kerak, Jordan, and was inspired by the tents set up by Bedouin tribes and the way their tent poles would be moved every night to accommodate for the ever-changing wind patterns in the desert. Upon his return to Boston, Rakowitz used this inspiration to start building inflatable tents for the homeless, hooked up to air vents for heat and made with a budget of $5 each. 

Rakowitz took suggestions from the homeless during meetings held at shelters, and custom built them to fit the person and their individual needs. He has gone on to publish step-by-step instructions for building tents, passing the knowledge on to others who may utilise it as they see fit.

The artist’s work is obviously inherently political, and much of it is based on the cultural erasure of certain groups, such as the homeless. His work is often based in public spaces, stepping outside of the elite gallery world closed to so many. His work agitates social relations, bringing visibility to society’s most invisible.

Click through on the image for a link to Rakowitz’s webiste.

In 2007, Urs Fischer took a jackhammer to the floor of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise gallery. In the process, pipes were removed, concrete flooring pulled up. Once he’d finished the hole, white walls were placed around it to enshrine it in the white cube gallery paradigm. Visitors, warned of the potential dangers, were allowed to climb into the hole and experience the space which didn’t exist before, which Fischer brought into being with a seemingly violent act.

The piece was named You, and referenced the work of others who have dramatically altered the traditional gallery space in some way - Gordon Matta Clark, Walter de Maria, Robert Smithson. Fischer’s hole is not just the destruction of the gallery space, but the fetishising of it, manifested in the form of the audience climbing deep into the very foundations of the space.

Click through on the image for a link to Fischer’s website.

Anonymous asked: Hi, l like your page. Just want to point out the electrocuted man picture by Gonkar Gyatso directly references Abu Ghraib, not Guantanamo. Cheers.

Hi Anon, thanks for that - noted and corrected.

Unsurprisingly, Darren Almond is obsessed with time and its passage. His work questions the effect it has upon an individual and the elastic of our memories. Almond’s obsession with machinery and its integration into daily life plays perfectly into his love of time, and as a result, the clock is a potent symbol for Almond not just of the actual passing of time, but of time’s ability to gain form, to become spatial.

His work often delves into his personal memories or the memories of family members, but Almond is also interested in the collective memories of Western history. His 1999 installation, "Terminus", saw him install a pair of borrowed bus stops from outside of Auschwitz into the gallery space - an exercise in the indexical traces left behind after one of humanity’s cruelest moments and a poignant testimony to the suffering of millions.

Click through on the image for a link to Darren Almond’s page on the White Cube Gallery website.

Mikko Kuorinki’s "Wall Piece with 200 Letters" is probably his best recognised piece of work, in which the artist placed a different quote onto the wall of a gallery every week for 11 months. This quote in particular was taken from the Ingmar Bergman film, The Magician. Kuorinki’s work uses language to explore the relationships between the individual and the surrounding world, and re-appropriates the context of the original quote to give it a new meaning.

Kuorinki, interestingly, has deliberately chosen for these pieces to be displayed in the gallery context, as opposed to public spaces. He feels public spaces are already saturated with imagery, words, street art - all competing for attention. By presenting these quotes in a gallery or museum, he offers what he calls a “concentrated encounter.”

Click through on the image for a link to Kuorinki’s website.

Zsuzsanna Ujj’s work is radical on several levels. She has been practising in Hungary since the early 1980s, at a time when most art institutions were closely controlled by the government. Ujj is a self taught artist, and her use of her body as a primary medium is almost in itself an act of political subversion, mediating on a woman’s place in a Communist society.

Ujj’s self portrait, “With a Throne" is a bastardised version of the female nude. The artist appears as a stark contrast to the pious, submissive nude we expect to see. Her body language is defensive, ready to strike. Her genitals are crudely marked with a dark smudge of paint. Her surroundings are anonymous, completely unremarkable. Her eyes stare out from heavy lids in a defiant, brutal fashion as if to implicate the viewer in this scene which oscillates between fierce and vulnerable.

Ujj has taken the traditional, Renaissance image of an alluring woman, and turned it on its head. 

Click through on the image for a link to a recap of reviews of Ujj’s recent exhibitions in London on the Mission Art Gallery website (website in Hungarian).

Ewa Partum is one of Poland’s most significant feminist artists, having created the first ever documented installation in a public space in Poland. Her work consists of installation, performance, photography and actions. Much of her work focuses on the power of signs and symbols, and touches upon public space, femininity, and a woman’s place within society.

Partum’s work is based on a language specific to her experience as a woman. The above image is from her 1980 exhibition, “Selbstidentifikation”
in which Partum confronted public spaces nude, publicly making a value statement on what it means to be a woman artist. This work was also deeply related to the Communist rule of her home country, and the role in which women were placed during this time. Partum’s naked body declares a resistance and a provocation which declares her intention to continue displaying her nude form until women have created an art of their own.

Click though on the image for a link to Partum’s page on the Polish Cultural Institute website.