Thursday, January 30, 2014

James Turrell at Pace London

James Turrell, Yukaloo, Wide Glass, Installation, 2011 © James Turrell, Florian Holzherr

For over three decades, Turrell has used light and indeterminate space — not objects, nor images — to extend and enhance perception. Turrell’s inspiration draws from astronomy, physics, architecture and theology. 

Turrell’s first solo exhibition at Pace London features two never-before-seen works from the Wide Glass series staged in site-designed chambers on the ground floor of the gallery. Works from this series were recently included in the LACMA’s exhibition. Each Wide Glass work is unique and features an aperture with a frosted and curved glass surface animated by an array of sophisticated LED lights. With these new works, Turrell continues his exploration of technological possibilities combined with sensory practices, and invites the viewer to a meditative experience.

“I am really interested in the qualities of one space sensing another. It is like looking at someone looking. Objectivity is gained by being once removed. As you plumb a space with vision, it is possible to ‘see yourself see’. This seeing, this plumbing, imbues space with consciousness.” James Turrell.

Pablo Picasso - "Capa in Colour" an exhibition on view at the ICP

Robert Capa, [Pablo Picasso playing in the water with his son Claude, Vallauris, France], 1948. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos.

"Capa in Color," a traveling exhibition, will be on view at the International Centre for Photography in New York from January 31 to May 4, 2014.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Transformer: Aspects of Travesty at Richard Saltoun Gallery

Richard Saltoun Gallery in London presents a restaging of an exhibition initially curated by Christophe Ammann in 1974 and held at the time in Switzerland. 

Transformer : Aspects of Travesty celebrates the aesthetics of desire and sexuality through travesty and drag performance. The exhibition takes its title from the seminal 1972 album by  Lou Reed, finding its parallel in the worlds of fashion and glam-rock. Transformer examines the politics and aesthetics of transgressing identity and at the disruptive sexualisation of masculinity by incorporating characters usually labelled as 'feminine', as Brian Eno reflected with a text written for the original catalogue.

It runs until until 28 February 2014. Don't miss it.

David Lynch: the Factory photographs at the Photographers Gallery in London

The Photographers Gallery in London presents an interesting trium-virat exhibition featuring rare works by David Lynch, Andy Warhol's and William S. Burroughs.

David Lynch's dramatic black-and-white photographs of empty and abandoned American factories will be juxtaposed to fifty Andy Warhol photographs capturing mundane moments of his daily life, along with photographs and collages by the poet, writer and drug addict William S. Burroughs. 

The theme of industrialisation is of great interest to Lynch - my favourite of the three - and in films such as Eraserhead (1977), The Elephant Man (1980) and Dune (1984) machinery and the sounds of industry dominate the background. He began taking photographs of factories when scouting for shooting locations and many of his images seem to possess an inherent potential for being the setting of a story. Functionless, disintegrating, rundown, the ‘factory’ appears in Lynch’s ‘personal narrative’ as an enclave, a refuge from the onrush of progress and modern technology. 

It opens on Thursday this week, and I look forward to it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Exclusive interview with Alexander Whitley nominated for the Times Breakthrough Award, South Bank Sky Arts Awards

Watch out for this amazing new talent! Alexander Whitley, is Affiliate Choreographer of The Royal Ballet and Associate Artist of Sadler's Wells Theatre. He has just been nominated for The Times Breakthrough Award 2014 as part of the prestigious South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2014. 

Described by The Observer's dance critic, Luke Jennings as, 'A choreographer of quiet distinction,' Alexander is one of the UK's most exciting young choreographers. His new dance company, which will launch in 2014 has recently been invited to be an Associate Company of Rambert's new home on the Southbank and next Spring sees the premiere of his first full-length evening of work at The Royal Opera House's Linbury Theatre (15th/16th May 2014). Other commissions for 2014 include those for Ballet Boyz, Birmingham Royal Ballet and The Royal Ballet School. Alex is also currently working on a short film for Channel 4. In 2015 he will choreograph a new work for Rambert as part of their spring programme.

Art is Alive catches up with him on his nomination, his upcoming projects and his inspiration. 

Congratulations for the nomination, does it come as a surprise?
Yes, absolutely. It’s always a pleasant surprise to be nominated for an award but this one is especially nice because of the profile of the South Bank awards and the recognition within the field of dance.

Can you tell us more about your new dance company please: when exactly will it launch, how many dancers will be part of it?
I’ve been setting the foundations of my company over the last year with a couple of short projects and 2014 will see the premiere of my first full length work, The Measures Taken, commissioned by the Royal Opera House as well as a shorter work commissioned by Sadler’s Wells. I’ve brought together five very talented dancers to work with and although it’s still early days I have high hopes for the company to be an experimental platform for me to collaborate with artists and thinkers from a wide range of disciplines to explore dance and the human form in innovative ways. 

Are you working on a show at the moment and what is it about?
I’ve been developing a piece called The Measures Taken over the last year and will finish the creation of this in the spring of 2014 with the world premiere in Paris in April. The piece is a collaboration with digital arts studio Marshmallow Laser Feast with music by  Dutch electronic composer Rutger Zuydervelt exploring the role of technology in society and our interdependent relationship with it. It’s an ambitious piece that incorporates cutting edge motion tracking technology so that projected images can be generated in real-time by the dancers movements.

What is the Rambert show about and is the architecture of the new building impacting the choreography?
My commission for Rambert will be made at the beginning of 2015. I’m still in the relatively early stages of planning for this but am excited about the collaborative team I’m assembling for it. I’m hoping to work with Icelandic composer Daniel Bjarnason and design artists Revital Cohen and Tuur Van Balen to explore something of the relationship between the body and designed objects. Although the architecture of Rambert’s new building isn’t inspiration for the piece, there’s inevitably some impact it will have on it as I think the particular architecture of a space has an affect on how people move and operate within it, however unconscious or subtle this may be. The question of the body, it’s form and the potential extension or adaptation of this through design is in some ways related to an architectural perspective on human movement I think.

Who are you most inspired by?
There are several choreographers who have been an inspiration to me and have mentored me over the years. Jonathan Burrows has been a fantastic influence in broadening my understanding of what choreography is and what kind of questions to ask of it. Wayne McGregor has also had a strong impact on how I conceive of the body, movement and its relation to thought processes, as has William Forsythe who’s work I have admired for a long time. I’m also inspired by people outside of dance in philosophy and other areas of thinking. I've found that looking outside of of a field I am so familiar with brings fresh perspectives and keeps my interest in it invigorated and increasing curious.

How do you feel about today's British contemporary choreography?
I think it’s an exciting time for British choreography despite the obvious concerns about funding cuts. Dance seems to be more popular than ever with theatre-going audiences and there’s lots of good work being produced. There’s been quite a strong legacy of the New York modern dance scene here in the UK with the style of choreographers such as Merce Cunningham being very influential, but this seems to be changing with new influential styles emerging. I’m most excited by how dance in the UK is increasingly integrating with other art forms and schools of thought as traditional boundaries are broken down and methodologies and creative processes are opened up. I think this is helping people better engage with and understand dance, most notably the choreographers themselves. For too long choreography has been a process shrouded in mystery and the more that is done to develop a serious discourse around the subject, for example in Wayne McGregor’s research with cognitive scientists, the more it can be understood and taken seriously. Britain, fortunately, seems to be at the forefront of this trend.

Tell us about the Channel 4 show
The Channel 4 film is a three minute dance film for the Random Acts series, commissioned by the Ballet Boyz. I’ve made it in collaboration with DuckEye films, with whom I’ve worked on other short films in the past. The film is a duet for a dancer from my company - Marina Hernandez and a dancer from the Ballet Boyz - Leon Poulton. It was shot with a remote control quadcopter flying around and above the dancers so should offer some interesting perspectives on the choreography! It will be aired sometime in 2014.

Is contemporary art an inspiration and which artists do you like?
I enjoy contemporary art a lot but couldn’t say I’ve ever been inspired by a particular art work to make a piece of dance, as other choreographers may have been. I’ve been drawn to the work of modernists such as Josef Albers because of the geometric abstraction that has clear parallels with choreography. Something of the distortion of the human form in Francis Bacon’s work is also appealing. It’s hard to say which artists in particular I like as I’m generally curious about and sometimes overwhelmed by the range and variety in contemporary art, but the conceptual basis of much of it is inspiring to me in suggesting different motivations and processes for making work.  

The Measures Taken premieres at The Royal Opera House (Linbury Theatre) on 15/16th May 2014.

Thank you Alex and Nouska.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Giant rubber duck by artist Florentijn Hofman explodes

A giant rubber duck by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman deflated on Tuesday, hours before midnight... It died before 2014. 

Yves Saint Laurent shoes

César in Marseille at the Musée Cantini

Long before artists who use recycled materials such as the Campana brothers for instance, French sculptor César created a powerful œuvre by mastering both classical and 20th century techniques while also developing his own creative technique.

The Musée Cantini, located in his native city of Marseille presents a retrospective of the master until March 2014. Works from Les Compressions, Les Expansions, Les Empreintes humaine's series have been gathered from various Marseille’s museums and collections. A must-see. 

Happy New Year !

Dear All,

Remembering the great year that 2013 has been, here are my best wishes for 2014 to you all, supporters of Art is Alive ! 

I've been keeping this blog for nearly 7 years for one reason only: you! Thank you all for your comments, support, and kind words.

I am determined to make 2014 another successful year: publishing more interesting interviews, informative posts and meeting you. 

Warm wishes for 2014.


BBC Radio 4's Today programme - PJ Harvey's opening statement

When I was invited to be guest editor on Today, I saw it as an opportunity to try and do something unusual with the format and content of the programme. 

I began by thinking of people I consider to be highly articulate, stimulating and extremely interesting to listen to - people who challenge us and move us to examine our deepest beliefs and feelings. I wanted to fill my programme with their voices. 

Most importantly, I wanted to let them be heard in a manner of their choosing, whether that be a monologue, a poem, or interviewing others. What I didn't want was for them to be restricted from saying what they wanted to say. 

Before I accepted the invitation to be guest editor, I asked Today to agree to this, as well as agreeing not to edit my contributors pieces without their full consent. 

I hope that the programme you hear, is the programme I wanted you to hear - I have come to realize that a great deal of its content is about censorship in one way or another. 

As ideas for titles and topics to be discussed took shape, many poems and songs came into my mind. For me, music and poetry can be as persuasive and as powerful as a fine speaker and a fine speech. You will hear songs and poems supporting and highlighting the content of this programme. 

I would like to thank my contributors for the time and care they have put into this project, and for the willing spirit with which they have entered into it. 

As an artist, I try to make sense of the world through my work. I just try to get something down - look at it up close, from different angles. These people, these voices, help me make sense of it all.

PJ Harvey, 2 January 2014.
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