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Guggenheim Helsinki


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Guggenheim Helsinki


GUGGENHEIM HELSINKI
ART IN THE CITY
The New Guggenheim takes over Helsinki’s South Harbor 

written by Toas Silem

october 2016
 

Guggenheim Museums embody quality art, design and architecture. They stand for innovation and honoring contemporary art for today and yesterday.

The concept of displaying art in a artistic environment has been translated into the 21st century through modern and thoughtfully designed architecture. When entering a Guggenheim, you don’t get to see art, you get to experience it. Every Guggenheim has a taste of its own. The Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York concentrates on abstract paintings while also displaying some impressionists, expressionists and surrealists. The Peggy Guggenheim in Venice shows works from the turn of the last century in Europe, expressionism, cubism, surrealism as well as works of the school of Bauhaus, Der Stijl and Art Déco. The Guggenheim in Bilbao focuses on contemporary art of the 21th century, not so much exhibiting paintings and sculptures but installations and video art. 

" The architecture of the Guggenheims museums is legendary and part of the commercial image and public perception of the Guggenheims, simply think of the Bilbao effect "

The architecture of the Guggenheims museums is legendary and part of the commercial image and public perception of the Guggenheims, simply think of the Bilbao effect. It was therefore with great suspense that the world awaited the announcement of the construction of a new Guggenheim.

In June of last year, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation decided on a winner of their design competition for a new museum building located in the capital city of Finland, Helsinki. With a staggering 1,715 submissions, the jury was finally able to select a well-deserved winner: Moreau Kusunoki Architects from Paris, founded by Nicolas Moreau und Hiroko Kusunoki in 2011. Kusuniki was trained and gained her first work experiences in Japan, while Moreau received his degree in Paris itself. They came to know each other in Tokyo and moved to France shortly afterwards. With the knowledge and experience from two different cultures, looking at the matter with fresh, young eyes, their design was chosen to be the future icon of museums. 

The design of the Guggenheim Helsinki invites visitors to engage with museum artwork and programs across a gathering of linked pavilions and plazas organized around an interior street. There architecture plays with the maritime flair of its location by mimicking the skyline of a fisher town. The nine pavilions are lying low while one lighthouse-like structure stands out. Because of the local disposability of certain materials, the building is planned to be made out of charred timber and glass, making the building environmentally sensitive. The layout is also intended to revalue the nearby Observatory Park and to guarantee access to the South Harbor via a bridge. The whole quartier of South Harbor will hence be tied together with the rest of the city.  

" Because of the local disposability of certain materials, the building is planned to be made out of charred timber and glass, making the building environmentally sensitive "

The novelty design of the Guggenheim Helsinki consists of nine individual pavilions, which are internally connected so that the visitors can follow the flow that the architecture is purporting. People will be able to enjoy art, architecture and environment all at once in the same space. Moreover, all of these aspects are intertwined, underlining a sense of community and belonging to the city.

During the announcement of the winners Richard Armstrong, the Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, thanked the many participants of the competition, especially the five other finalists, and looked enthusiastically into the future: “While the design competition has now ended, we are confident that its contribution to architectural discourse and the public imagination has only just begun.” Jury chair Mark Wigley, Professor and Dean Emeritus of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, remarks that “the design is imbued with a sense of community and animation that matches the ambitions of the brief to honor both the people of Finland and the creation of a more responsive museum of the future." Architecture and art are given an opportunity to emphasize what they respectively need. The museum is being built with both disciplines and the environment in mind to reach its full potential.

A building is an artistic work on its own and it is supposed to be a considerate host to the art it will accommodate. Since contemporary art is really appropriating the spaces that it is given, we are anxious to see what kind of works the new Guggenheim will be able to display and what works will be inspired by the space.

There are many more architectural concepts that need to be realized and there is much more art that needs to be shown. Guggenheim Helsinki is the next brick in the never- ending road of art history. The Guggenheim-family is growing and the world is ready to see it. 

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Bill Morrison x DOK Leipzig


Bill Morrison x DOK Leipzig


BILL MORRISON
meets DOK LEIPZIG

written by Valerie McPhail

october 2016
 

Extending a week long, DOK hosts its annual event from October 31st through November 6th. The festival considers its mission, a dedication to documentary and animated film through the theme of disobedience that permeates throughout the various categories and divisions offered by the selections and its events.  

" What began as a gathering among filmmakers from different cultures and countries around the world “exchanging DOK Leipzig,” still today remains at the heart of this film festival’s function "

As the world’s oldest documentary film festival, DOK is a platform for international artists, undivided by geography and creative pursuits since 1955. Located in Leipzig, East Germany the event has evolved into the center for animated and documentary showcase. With a full calendar of events throughout the year — including projects and media research, partnership events and trainings for young artists, the festival seeks to support filmmakers in every aspect of their vocation. Since the festival’s establishment at the time of the Cold War Era, the event has become a worldwide event where creative experts share their depth of knowledge. What began as a gathering among filmmakers from different cultures and countries around the world “exchanging DOK Leipzig,” still today remains at the heart of this film festival’s function.  

Among various events that will occur throughout the week includes the screening of Bill Morrison’s “Decasia” and his accompanied Master Class. The New York-based artist and filmmaker’s “Decasia”, offers an experimental venture between animation and documentary. “Decasia” is a film contribution to the festival’s Reworking the Image Series, a collection of work that “demonstrates how artists intervene into the analogue film stock itself and create new work by scratching or etching. ‘Decasia’, “comprised of found footage collages, makes the decomposition of vintage nitrate film stock visible.” 

Previous to this DOK premier, the film directed, edited and produced by Mr. Bill Morrison himself, showed in 2002, among the biggest, baddest, and commercial film events: the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Vienna International Film Festival, Viennale, Sundance Film Festival and MOMA’s “My Way for Tomorrow” Program. Additional accolades for Morrison’s piece include the trailblazing claim as the “first 21st Century film to be added to the list of Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2013 and Village Voice’s J. Hoberman’s one of ten best films in 2003. “ The opportunities for exposure and recognition entice its mystery. “Decasia” is an enigma to the traditional film form. An original contribution to the Ridge Theater’s Live, Multimedia Theatricalization of Michael Gordon’s Symphony of the same title, the film was “commissioned, produced and presented in November of 2001 by the Europpaischer Muskimonat and Basel Sinfonietta.” Its American premier followed at the St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn a live event hosted in September 2004, years after its international debut.  

" A ghostly wisp takes over the screen in a reoccurring fashion. It monopolizes a collage filled with the private moments of everyday people "

The premise of the narrative focuses on “Man’s struggle to transcend his own mortality as the very fabric of his world disintegrates before his eyes.” Through nitrate-based elements and deteriorating product, the film creates a black and white nightmare. The destruction caused by the chemical concoction lends aid to the emotional effect the marriage between images and music can create. Shared thoughts from the narrator’s mind exposes the fear and anxiety pondered over this wrestle. Music exaggerates the tone of the film; the musical ballad runs through a series of screeches and symphonic alarms to accomplish its experience. That is a philosophical exploration of the first musical score, “Bang on the Can” of Co-founder Michael Gordon’s influence.

The art of filmmaking and its aesthetic is amplified by the grimy, flawed and distorted wave bleeding through these images. Characterized by ghostly imprints of distorted portraits of life in the 1930s when men wore uniform wife beaters and women, traditionally conservative overcoats. The contrast between the modern mixture and this old fashion frame of reference stirs curiosity.

A ghostly wisp takes over the screen in a reoccurring fashion. It monopolizes a collage filled with the private moments of everyday people: a women solemnly lost in her thoughts while standing aside a window sill, a male boxer caught in the act of swinging a punch, and presumably the responsibilities of pulling a wagon cart, strenuous outdoor labor — all the duties that consume day-to-day life. The Chicago born artists uses this juxtaposition to unleash his interest in hypnotic pictures. The films partnership with contemporary music sets the stage for his definitive work. “The Great Flood” (2013,) “Light is Calling” (2004) and “Miner’s Hymn” (2010) are among the impactful films and landmarks of his career. In the same respect as “Decasia,” these films depend on music as the soundtrack of dialogue and storytelling throughout. In the art world, Morrison is a fellow of the Guggenheim Museum of Art, receiving the Alpert Award, and in the film industry: a director of a vision for how the combination of art and music work together to show the relationship between art forms relative to everyday life.

This is the lasting effect of Morrison’s 2002 “Decasia.” Surpassing its idiosyncratic character, the film presents a natural understanding of art, such as a sensory experience found in the events of life. The director expresses this reality by enabling an artistic perspective to mundane images of the world. Fuzzy distortions cause the mind to focus on the people whose story is ruined by the chemical reaction eating away at the camera’s focus. Additionally, the dominating affect of the musical intensity leads the mind to conclusions. The two sensory effects lead the mind to feel the worries of the world. Discerning conclusions are a part of this experience. Even so, there is without a question or doubt of Bill Morrison’s impact. As this most recent acknowledgement proceeds, DOK Leipzig goes to show the extent of his contributions, as both an influencer and mastermind.

 

 

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Agnes Martin


Agnes Martin


AGNES MARTIN
ON THE IMPERFECTION UNDERLYING LIFE

written by Andreas Hübner

july 2016
 

“I paint with my back to the world” – in one sole sentence, Agnes Martin encapsulated the grounds of her art. Martin, the Canadian-born American painter, did not mean to portray the lavish glories of material existence, Martin meant to catch the intangible modulations of being: solitude, inspiration, and happiness. Placed by critics into a lineage with Minimalists, Martin, whenever asked, claimed kinship with Abstract Expressionism.
Even more so, she stressed her entanglements with the Classics, her art representing the Ideal in the mind as found in Coptic, Egyptian, Greek and Chinese traditions. Indeed, to her, paintings offered a key toward the art within “you,” that is a key toward one’s own mind.

Starting on October 7, 2016, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will stage a major retrospective of the works of Agnes Martin, the first since her passing in 2004. In an immense effort, benefitting from the collections of such renowned institutions as the Tate Modern, London, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Guggenheim rotunda will be filled with paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and a film encompassing the wide array of Martin’s works. 

 Co-curated by Tracey Bashkoff and Tiffany Bell, the exhibition will trace the full breadth of Martin’s career, beginning with the surrealistic oils of her formative years, such as The Spring (1958) or White Flower (1960), and ending with her mature statements of the twenty-first century, most notably The Sea (2003) and Untitled #1 (2003).

" Martin resumed painting, at the same time refining and re-defining her spare style "

Born and raised in Saskatchewan Canada, Martin had moved to New York City in the 1940s to eventually receive a Master of Arts degree from Teachers College, Columbia University. Leaving New York City for Albuquerque to teach art at the University of New Mexico, Martin was to create her first semi-abstract, somewhat biomorphic pieces that set her on path to critical acclaim. Although she returned to New York City in 1957 to prepare her first one-person exhibition, housed by Betty Parson’s Gallery, Martin, in search of remote silence and solitude, would come ‘home’ to New Mexico perpetually, finding comfort in isolated towns of the state such as Cuba, Taos, and Galisteo. Here, influenced by the thoughts of Zen-Buddhism and the natural surroundings, Martin developed her meditative, contemplative, often transcendental style that she shared with other Abstract Expressionists, namely Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and Jackson Pollock. 

In the late 1960s, Martin abandoned the art world altogether, leaving behind critics and devotees alike to build a mystic reputation that would celebrate her intricate multifaceted character: Once a farm girl of the Canadian prairie provinces, Martin now emerged as an author of gnomic statements, parables, and poems, deconstructing normative gender roles and appraising anti-intellectualism and anti-materialism. In 1974, after a hiatus of almost seven years, Martin resumed painting, at the same time refining and re-defining her spare style. Meanwhile, the paintings still showed close relations to her earlier works. She continued to favor the 6-foot-square format, but her canvases now lacked the monochrome fields that had come to dominate her projections in the 1950s and the early 1960s. Instead, bands, blocks and stripes of pale washed blues, various pinks, peaches and salmons now engrossed her works. Grounded in intense whites, Martin consequently set off to explore new modes of balancing the “material and immaterial, the literal and illusory, the precise and the inchoate, the sensuous and the austere.”

" influenced by the thoughts of zen-buddhism and the natural surroundings, martin developed her meditative, contemplative, often transcendental style that she shared with other abstract expressionists "

All the while, Martin had continuously been successful in manipulating her audience. At first glimpse, her oeuvre appeared deeply rooted in infinite symmetry, rectangles and squares, horizontal and vertical lines distinguishing most of the tableaus. Subtle pencil lines and pale color washes, providing the core structure, seemed to be arranged over and over again to resemble a sort of quietude and formal asceticism. However, Martin made sure to undermine this illusion and to express her abstract and conceptual reflections about the imperfections underlying life. Her initial impulse, her aesthetic advent was always the same, but in the course of laying out her canvases she constantly allowed for slightly different results, establishing the nuanced yet significant distinction between mere repetition and sophisticated seriality. She therefore corrupted the prevalent forces engrained behind rigid geometry: “My formats are square, but the grids never are absolutely square; they are rectangles, a little bit off the square, making a sort of contradiction, a dissonance.”

Martin’s works illustrated her awareness of imperfection. In this sense, the retrospective, that is to corrupt the Guggenheim Museum from October 2016 on, does not simply present a homage to the life and work of Agnes Martin, it furthermore is to be understood as a homage to the abstract notions of beauty, joy, and happiness; or, in plain words, a homage to the imperfection of life as such.

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The Return Of Surrealism


The Return Of Surrealism


TAGEN DONOVAN
THE NEW HYBRID OF ART + ADVERTISMENT

written by Annika Hatje

july 2016
 

Surrealism is on the rise again. Once almost forgotten, Surrealism has made its way back into consumer culture in recent years. New fashion collections and ad campaigns are implementing surrealist approaches to market and to fascinate, with labels such as Viktor & Rolf and Kenzo taking a vanguard role. However, surrealist advertisement is not a mere tool, to create a promotional poster or film, but it is also a reflection of society: We are ambivalent, we are mysterious, and we render ourselves audible though social networks. Who we really are, can only be discovered through deep friendship and good listening.
The approach of surrealism in advertisement evolved in France during the post-war era. It quickly made its way over to Germany, where groups like ‘Das Plakat’ and other activist groups laid the foundation of contemporary advertisement. Ever since, surrealist work has caught the consumer’s attention.
Surrealism itself was born in 1924, when, in Paris, poet André Breton interpreted Sigmund Freud’s idea about the unconscious mind. Painters like Magritte, Dali or Miró were soon to follow and to apply Breton’s ideas to their works. Surrealism quickly developed as a tool of critique, attempting to understand the human being in its entirety.
Accordingly, the Tate Modern Museum states: “The Surrealists sought to overthrow the oppressive rules of modern society by demolishing its backbone of rational thought. To do so, they attempted to tap into the ‘superior reality’ of the subconscious mind. ‘Completely against the tide,’ said Breton, ‘in a violent reaction against the impoverishment and sterility of thought processes that resulted from centuries of rationalism, we turned toward the marvelous and advocated it unconditionally.’”
In the world of advertisement, surrealism and social reality intersect. Strategic communication seeks to distinguish a brand from others, to evoke the people’s interest, or to express certain messages in a clever, intense and bold way. Advertisement is crucially bounded to surrealism, by its tools and in its core values: But whereas art strives for curiosity and exploration, advertisement longs for profit. Postmodernity provides the foundation for the application of surrealist art in advertisement. Both enhance and nurture each other through values and culture. Such relationship naturally creates a strong story, crucial to companies, when communicating their brand. Thus follows a simple question: Are we looking at art or at advertisement when focusing on a Kenzo campaign poster? In history, art was clearly defined as an entity of its own, but nowadays these rules, laws and cultural const- raints have vanished. Art has become a commodity and a means of commodification and as such it can narrow down a customer group and serve as an adman’s tool.

The hybrid of art and advertisement was first and most fa- mously discussed in Andy Warhol’s oeuvre. He elaborated advertisement in his artworks, questioned but never produced advertisement itself. While art had always been regarded as a medium to criticize and go beyond the rules of cultural norms, surrealist advertisement now added to the understanding of art as such. Surrealist advertisements, thus, en- hanced the mode of manipulation performed through art.

" in the world of advertisement, surrealism and social reality intersect. Strategic communication seeks to distinguish a brand from others, to evoke the people’s interest "

Ads fascinated by sheer appearance, projecting the artistic heritage and value of the products they were ultimately trying to sell. This idea has been pushed towards the edges by the Toiletpaper Magazine, a project initiated by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo. “Only” curating images, the magazine is regularly featured at art exhibitions and art book fairs. Printed on mugs and table cloths, its well- curated collections of images are causing all kinds of reactions. First impressions range from laughter to disgust. Still, the images to be seen in the magazine are highly critical towards certain issues in society and they resemble the pop art movement. Within the images, the different elements are clearly put out of context: Why wrap money in cling film? – “To keep it fresh and consum- able?” These surrealist images work with the same tools as surrealist painters do. They put objects, even more radically, out of context and built a new world that seems familiar as the viewer knows the objects but recognizes that they are put together in unusual ways. Furthermore, advertisement has become more and more sexualized in the past years. When looking at surrealist art works, the theme of sex, of course, has been employed many times. Sigmund Freud defined sex as the prior motivation in life and the catalyst for all unconscious acts of human beings. Although Freud later changed his mind, sex and notions of sexualization have remained in the art world and exert a powerful influence on advertisement as can bTHe seen in the photographs by Guy Bourdin.

" All I knew was that I wanted to feel something, even if nothing but loneliness would emerg "

Surrealist art in advertisement has also been influenced by René Magritte and his famous painting: “Ceci n’est pas une pipe.” Communicating ‘what you see does not exist in that specific moment’ became an initial theory in advertisement, promoting the idea of different layers that imply the power to sell a product and to manipulate society into accepting a product. Of course, consumers want to be fooled. Even in movies, like The Prestige, such ideas are promo- ted: “Now you‘re looking for the secret. But you won‘t find it because of course, you‘re not really looking. You don‘t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled (The Prestige, 2006). ”
With regard to surrealism, the fact that art still stimulates a certain prestige and helps create a highly respected branch has to be acknowledg- ed. Art will grant specific values to a brand and is therefore a highly appreciated means of advertising luxury brands. In result, contempora- ry luxury brands spread across continents and beyond borders, not only circulating certain products but also ‘western’ values. Now how do we con- sume art and advertisement then? Art and advertise- ment influence each other, indeed they have become a hybrid. Just think about Alexander McQueen or Raf Simons for Dior who took the creation of fashion and its presentation to a different level, apart from “weird” and “unaffordable” designs. It is the presentation itself and the clear distinction from commercial attempts that catches the atten- tion. Prada, for instance, does not only stand for outstanding designs, but also manifests its inspi- ration through curating artworks at Fondazione Prada. Luxury brands have started to own galler- ies, to collaborate with and to create funds to support artists. Surrealist art and advertisement now form a hybrid. We define ourselves by means of consumption. In building consumer groups through tools like surrealism, the value of a brand is sustained. Branding now can be conceptional ized as ‘throwing out’ your idea into the world like a fisherman throwing a net into the ocean. The more complicated and distinct your brand’s value and image is, the fewer but the more exceptional people are likely respond. Likewise, the coarser the fisherman’s net’s holes are the fewer fish he will catch. Nonetheless, the fish caught are the most exceptional ones. ‘Surrealist fisherman nets’ are rather coarse.

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But A Storm Is Blowing From Paradise


But A Storm Is Blowing From Paradise


BUT A STORM IS BLOWING FROM PARADISE
CONTEMPORARY ART OF THE MIDDLE EAST + NORTH AFRICA

written by Taos Silem

july 2016
 

Among Europeans, the Middle East and North Africa have always triggered the wildest visions of exoticisms: Pictures of the Sahara desert with its sandstorms blowing over orange dunes, images of paradisiacal oases on the horizons of hot steaming lands, notions of tamed camels with Bedouin riders covered from head to toe in white flowing tissues, ideas of Bazaars with traders for spices on the left and for fabric on the right, the air filled with the smell of coffee, the sound of foreign languages in the background.

Old world exoticism is still predominant in Western culture. Yet, said to be the cradle of civilisation, the Middle East and North Africa are as modern, complex and diverse a region as can be: Founding terrain of all three monotheistic religions, rich in history, in myths and stories, melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, concepts and philosophies, science and languages. Artists originating from the region are now depicting its modernity, complexity and diversity in the exhibition “But a Storm in blowing from Paradise – Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa.”  

" Founding terrain of all three monotheistic religions, rich in history, in myths and stories, melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, concepts and philosophies, science and languages "

Taking place at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York from April 29 to October 5, the exhibition features a wide array of voices from this rapidly evolving part of the world. The spectrum ranges from works on paper over photographs, sculptures, and videos to installations. The curator Sara Raza tries to tie the works together in a common theme: Migration and Movement. That is the migration from nowadays refugees that come to seek a better life in Europe as well as the European movement of colonial times that left a lot of countries scarred. The artists explore the phenomenon, as Raza says, of “migration of ideas and people in an age of anxiety”.
This global subject is also present in the title of the exhibition. “But a Storm is blowing from Paradise” is a quotation from the German philosopher Walter Benjamin. The video installation of Ori Gersht, from whom the exhibition borrowed the title, treats the subject of Walter Benjamin’s journey through Europe. He fled from Nazis occupied France; on his way to the US he was caught in Spain where his visa application was denied. At this point, he was desperate enough to commit suicide.

Other works, like the installation “flying carpets”, realized by Nadia Kaabi-Linke, pay homage to present-day African and Asian refugees in Italy who are making a living as illegal street sellers. Kaabi-Linke used the outlines of the carpets, on which the immigrants display their goods, and transferred the shape into stainless steel objects. These crocked frames are hung from the ceiling on metal chains to create the sensation of depth, volume and weight.

Another crucial point for the exhibition is the formal umbrella under which the works are placed: Geometry and architecture. Most works have a specific architectural quality or are based on geometrical shapes. The subject of architecture respectively buildings is dominant in a few works. Geometry is applied as a concept to represent something logical and therefore “true” while at the same time opening up the question about what “truth” is. Traditional and social media are projecting a specific image of the Middle Eastern and Northern African region that is still soaked in colonial images and discourse. Not only this principal pushes the oriental countries into a certain corner but architecture is also a symbol of the colonial oppressors who left a lot of countries with their fingerprint of imperial buildings. Raza remarks that “architecture is seen as an ideological tool from former colonial powers.”

" some artists are making the connection between the worlds of the orient and occident by comparison of architectural styles "

Indeed, some artists are making the connection between the worlds of the orient and occident by comparison of architectural styles. Mariam Ghanis’ video installation contrasts the states of two big museums for history: The Dar ul-Aman Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany. The Fridericianum was the first public museum on the European continent and was destroyed and since restored after World War II. In contrast to the Dar ul-Aman Palace that almost completely burned down in 1969 and 1978 and never again reached its former significance, the Fridericianum rose again with the Documenta in 1955. In her video installation, Ghanis, thus, opposes the decline of the Dar ul-Aman Palace with the revival of the Fridericianum.
Kader Attia adapts the idea of rise and decay in his scale model of the Algerian world heritage site of Ghardaïa made out of Couscous. As an instable, slowly deteriorating object that represents the instability of this region. According to the artist, it is also a symbol of the “ruthless exploitation and cultural appropriation that occurred during the colonial period”. In spite of the dominant opinion that Europe brought cultural and artistic concepts to Africa, the opposite was the case in Ghadaïa. Le Corbusier, a Swiss architect and designer working in France, was inspired by the old Mozabite architecture and based his designs on the same principals of simplicity, geometrical clarity and the use of raw materials. Even Simone de Beauvoir described the site in her book “La force des choses” as “a wonderfully constructed cubistic painting”. The work of Attia is a perfect description of how colonialism and modernism impacted one another. The artist highlights: “Cultures have borders and the borders are very flexible. A culture is always in touch with an other one”.

In conclusion, the exhibition constitutes an accumulation of the problems, the history, the politics and the people of the Middle East and North Africa. The languages with which the artists work, are as diverse as the countries they stand for. But regardless of the different languages, media, shapes and sizes of the works, the message is clear: The concept of nations and borders has always led to disconnecting people. Raza emphasises that, through the exhibition, “we can open the discussion to multiple histories of art and create a museum that more faithfully represents the world in which we live.”

 

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Louise Nevelson


Louise Nevelson


LOUISE NEVELSON
AT PACE LONDON

july 2016
 

Louise Nevelson was born in 1899 in Kiev and died in 1988 in New York City. She emigrated from czarist Russia as a child and grew up in Rockland, Maine. As an adult, she returned to Europe where she studied with Hans Hoffman. Upon her return to the United States, she served as Diego Rivera’s assistant and later as an art instructor in the Works Progress Administration. In 1941, she had her first solo exhibition, and in 1946, was included for the first time in the Whitney Annual exhibition, which she would participate in eleven more times. Nevelson exhibited her first all-black sculptures in the mid- 1950s. Although she worked in white and gold and later with painted steel, her developments in the 1950s sustained her work throughout the rest of her life.

Louise Nevelson was an iconic and vital figure in post-war New York, regarded for her groundbreaking sculptural environments as much as her persona, which was captured in memorable photographs by Cecil Beaton. Nevelson created her first assemblages in the mid-1950s, and quickly made an impact in the New York art scene with her pioneering approach to sculpture. Inspired by Cubism, Nevelson took scraps of wood and other materials found on the street near her studio and assembled them into free-standing and wall-mounted sculpture that she would paint a solid colour—most famously, black or white. Nevelson’s sculptures range from small assemblages to free-standing columns and monumental wall-based works consisting of multiple small compartments.

" Nevelson’s sculptures range from small assemblages to free-standing columns and monumental wall-based works consisting of multiple small compartments "

Although the physical form of the scraps remains unchanged in her work, Nevelson subsumes them in an entire system, creat-ing a unified whole from disparate parts. She insisted on the psychological and expressive virtue of her work, which was illustrative of a highly personal cosmology rooted in light and shadow.
The artist’s early collages, produced at a smaller size than most of her sculptures, provide important insight into her thinking and working process and the importance of wood in her work. Mostly unpainted, the collages reveal Nevelson’s use of raw materials, demonstrating an organi- sational logic that continues in her larger work as well. In addition to Nevelson’s iconic black monochrome sculptures, her current exhibition at the Pace gallery in London also includes steel maquettes Nevelson produced for public sculptures, now exhibited in Chicago and at Harvard University. These works, intended to be seen in the round, exemplify the heightened architectural quality of her work in the later decades of her career.
The exhibition coincides with Pace New York’s presentati- on of Blackness in Abstraction, a major exhibition organ- ised by Adrienne Edwards, a curator at Performa and curator-at-large at the Walker Art Center. The exhibition considers the eponymous theme, treating Nevelson and her expressive treatment of black as a historic anchor for subsequent generations of artists.
The exhibition at Pace London will be on view to 16 July 2016 at 6 Burlington Gardens and is the fourth solo presentation of the artist’s work ever in London and the first since 2009.

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Allure


Allure


ALLURE
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THE SUSANNE VON MEISS COLLECTION

july 2016
 

It shimmers quietly and timelessly from among all the rapidly changing fashions, trends and opinions. It appears only briefly in a fleeting combination of elegance, poverty and movement. Stance, attitude or allure is intangible, indescribable inconceivable and unattainable in the perpetual white noise of our zeitgeist. Yet it is the essence that radiates from deep within.
It oscillates between coolness and naturalness, with a fascinating mixture of staging and authenticity. However, the more it becomes a theme in itself, shifting into focus, the more it dissipates. Should one wish to grasp it, or seek an explanation, it dissolves. Yet how can the fragile, immaterial character of allure be held photographically? Photographers constantly take on this challenge anew - with the goal of capturing this ephemeral phenomenon, sometimes pontaneously, at other times as a visual composition. Whether fashion photography, street photography, reportage or conceptual  approaches the respective working context of the individual photos in not  significant in this compilation of the Susanne von Meiss Collection.

" It appears only briefly in a fleeting combination of elegance, poverty and movement "

Instead, all the photographs share the absence of the direct gaze of the person portraited into the camera and the subtle play with the hidden and the mysterious - that goes beyond sex or gender. Hence the main focus lies on detail views of individual parts of the body and accessories, as well as on silhouettes, movement or concealment. The individual photographs do not tell any explicit stories. They do not contain any direct narrative. They serve as diverse projection films for the viewers and their interpretation.
The Susanne von Meiss Collection representatively covers all genres and styles in the history of photography from the 1920s through to the present. It includes works by internationally renowned photographers, however for the main part it does not give preference to the iconic photographs but rather to unknown classics.

The personal selection ranges from Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Rene Burri and Henri Cartier-Bresson through Horst P. Horst, Irving Penn, Paolo Roversi and August Sander to contemporary artists such as Tracey Emin, Nan Goldin, Daido Moriyama, Richard Prince and Juergen Teller.
The group exhibition is divided thematically into three chapters: “pose”, “experiment” and “staging the situative”.
The photographs serve as a starting point for an art- historical analysis and observation, from an inner perspective, within the medium of photography. The collection will be presented to the public for the first time at C/O Berlin. The exhibition encompasses approximately 250 photographs including many unique and vintage prints, as well as photographs that were produced especially for the Susanne von Meiss Collection. The presentation has been curated by Felix Hoffmann and Birgit Filzmaier. A publication will be issued by Kehrer Verlag to accompany the exhibition. Two vintage photographs by Richard Avedon from the 1950s were the initial inspiration for the Susanne von Meiss Collection.
For 25 years now, the Swiss journalist, publicist and entrepreneur has been collecting photography with the special focus on “allure” a personal compilation that transcends individual genres, styles and artists.
The private collection currently includes approximately 400 works from Japan to South America. The art historian Birgit Filzmaier is curator and supervisor of the Susanne von Meiss Collection.

Vincent Fournier Le Mile Magazine published by Alban E. Smajli.jpg

Vincent Fournier


Vincent Fournier


VINCENT FOURNIER
BRASILIA

july 2016
 

Brasília is a city composed of reinforced concrete, a paragon of the tenets of modernist architecture and city planning. Enfolded by the artificial Paranoá Lake, the city fashions a curious structural plane; a grid-like formula of post-war modernism arranged into a light curve. Brasília was constructed in the late 50’s from scratch according to the blueprints by the urban planner Lucío Costa, land- scape designer Roberto Burle Marx and the architect Oscar Niemeyer. The three designers proposed a set of speculative opportunities for the future of architectural utopia; future, that some sixty years later has lost itself somewhere in the murky water between the past and pre- sent. A far cry from the buzzing city streets of Rio and São Paulo, Brasília is a plateau mostly of purpose-built bureaucratic and governmental settings.
The austerity of modernist architecture lends itself to Vincent Fournier’s photography series that bear the name of the concrete capital. Here, architect Oscar Niemeyer’s work constitutes the backdrop for Fournier’s retrospect of the grandiose dream of posterity. Fournier’s photo- graphs buttress Niemeyer’s consolidated vision that finds its counterpart from the urbanism of Le Corbusier; a political, as well as a technical project concerned with land use and its implications to transportation and physical activity.

" The photographs exist as carefully composed and colored geometrical entities, just like Tati’s, as if to remind us about the memory of a lost future "

In Fournier’s images, Niemeyer’s formalistic fictions appear like relinquished film sets from Jacques Tati’s Playtime. The photographs exist as carefully composed and colored geometrical entities, just like Tati’s, as if to remind us about the memory of a lost future. Interestingly, in the contrived landscapes and interiors Fournier delivers, anything human is expressed rather via lack than excess. Throughout the series only a handful of people is positioned in the image. 

In Fournier’s exterior shot of the Chamber of Deputies, Niemeyer’s concrete lines and curves appear like an absurdist outtake on governmental functionalism turned into an artistic experiment, more specifically into what appears like a flying saucer. Fournier’s image constitutes a language that from the outset seems purely aesthetic but reveals itself to be above all ideological, like all modernist architecture was. Fournier’s simple composition is elegant and clever, approaching the utopian object from an angle that provides us an opportunity to access the construction a new. Respectively, Fournier’s work highlight the sophistication and precision of Niemeyer’s practice.

Irving Penn Pace-MacGill gallery new york Le Mile Magazine written by Julia Ahtijainen published by Alban E. Smajli.jpg

Irving Penn


Irving Penn


IRVING PENN
THE ATTRACTION OF IRVING PENN

written by Julia Ahtijainen

april 2016
 

Viewing Irving Penn´s "Personal Work" is like reading between the lines. So simple and effective, yet his works tell the viewer more than expected. And here, expectations play conclusive role.

To begin with, attraction isn’t necessarily physical, even if it subsequently becomes so. The same can be said about Irving Penn’s work – it’s attractive. Not having any particular type, nor special fascination or object, be it a nude body, street signs, or a pitcher – he chooses carefully and has his preferences, but they aren’t fixed, they are extraordinarily attractive. Irving Penn is doubtlessly the most prolific and respected photographer of the 20th century. He’s mostly known for his fashion photography, portraits, and still lives. Penn's career included groundbreaking editorials for Vogue magazine, and innovative commercial imagery for clients such as Issey Miyake, Clinique, General Foods, and De Beers. Penn's extensive artwork explored the boundaries of personal and public expressions. He played within art and commerce through compelling images that expanded the creative limits of the photographic medium of the 20th century.

" A good photograph is one that communicates a fact,  touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it; it is in one word: effective "

Personal Work
Pace/MacGill Gallery NYC has exhibited Irving Penn’s “Personal Work” from January 29 – March 5, 2016, which included “Bone Forest” (New York, 1980), “The Fallen Pitcher” (New York, 1980), “Nude No. 55” (New York, c. 1949-1950), “The Bath (A) (Dancers Workshop of San Francisco)” (San Francisco, 1967), “Vacancy (with doorknob)” (New York, 1939) and many more. This carefully selected collection of images gave the observer another point of view on Penn’s work, more personal point of view.
In 1949, just a year before Irving Penn’s editorial images of the Paris couture collections created new visual aesthetics of fashion photography, Penn began what is considered perhaps his most personal but least known compilation: studies of tightly-framed, corpulent nudes that explore the beauty and physicality of the female form.

Women he chose as models and the way he pictured them was highly unconventional by fashion standards that time. Although charged with sexual undertone the images were extraordinary for that period, with twisted and stretched skins, folded fleshy body parts, mounded hips, puddled breasts and extra bellies. Even if most of the pictures lack limbs and heads, Penn’s figures are always complete in their partiality, just as ancient sculptures representing the Goddesses, so these nudes represent the Woman and fertility, embracing the concept of bodily beauty that is not prescriptive, nor trendy or exclusive.

" Not only within portraiture, but also with still life, Penn’s compositions are highly organized. They stand as assemblages of objects, articulating the abstract interplay of lines and volumes "

Unconventional Effects
Unconventional in both subject and composition, Penn’s series were also radical in technique. He drastically bleached, overexposed, and redeveloped his prints to create stunningly unusual tonal effects.
For example, a photograph “Woman Turning Over” (New York, 1995) having a painting effect concealed through bleaching, is still recognizable as a photograph. This image speaks humanity, and is excessively honest. Known for his pared-down compositional style, Penn often photographed his subjects in the natural light of the studio using minimal decorations and additions. His fashion images were accurate, sophisticated, appealing and effective. Photographer himself has said: "A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart, and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it; it is in one word: effective."
Being successful at creating the effect of la femme with his series of “Nudes”, in unconventional forms and formats, also in creating commercial images that work as landmarks while travelling on the historic path of fashion and advertising. Penn’s work illuminates passion. Passion towards chosen subjects and techniques. Both, passion and attraction are personal, always straightforward, not needing extras.

Less is always more
Not only within portraiture, but also with still life, Penn’s compositions are highly organized. They stand as assemblages of objects, articulating the abstract interplay of lines and volumes. Penn was one of the first photographers to set his subjects against a simple grey or white background, using effectively the style notion of “less is more”. Penn's photographs are composed with a great attention to detail in a pure and simple way. His black and white prints are notable for their deep contrast, giving them a highly clean look.
Here, the question of truth is irrelevant. Because Penn’s work is attractive, honestly and simply attractive. One can stare at his subjects for ages, observe them, contemplate them. And his subjects… they don’t know that they’ve been observed for such a long time, they don’t know that they’ve been framed, captured into a frame of attraction.
Viewing Irving Penn’s “Personal Work” is like reading between the lines. So simple and effective, yet his works tell the viewer more than expected. And here, expectations play conclusive role. Here the expectations can be compare to the expectations of a marriage. So completely does he enter his photography that he and his subjects become engaged in a consensual relation, a mutual give and take that is more than plain passion or obvious love, it’s the everlasting attraction than anything else that possesses the viewer. Every object of Irving Penn becomes gradually attractively narrated. And this style of narration should be known and celebrated as the legacy of Irving Penn.

And it feels good to be attractive.

 

Peter Watkins The Unforgetting-Self Portrait 2011 courtesy The Ravestijn Gallery LE MILE Magazine_published by Alban E. Smajli.jpg

Peter Watkins


Peter Watkins


PETER WATKINS
THE UNFORGETTING


april 2016

I will have spent my life trying to understand the function of remembering, which is not the opposite of forgetting but rather its lining "

On the 15th of February 1993, Peter’s mother walked from Zandvoort beach into the North Sea to her death "

The Unforgetting is a series of works that explores the texture of personal memory, and is told through photo- graphy and sculpture and is presented in installation form.
It is a series of works made up of remnants, exploring the loss of Peter Watkin’s mother, and their shared German ancestry. Often borrowing from the language of museum presentation, these works explore the complexities of memory in the (re)presentation of personal narratives. How much of a person remains in the objects that are left behind, and what can these objects tell us of the trauma of loss, and of how memory so easily turns to narrative. The presentation of objects carry the weight of a family history, but the personal charge with which the images are made remains undisclosed and often obscured, encouraging a dialogue between the universal and the highly personal—images of cans of Super 8 withhold the images they contain; ceremonial glasses appear transpa- rent and emptied of liquid; and a spectral baptismal dress appears impossibly suspended, glazed behind yellow glass: a wash of colour in an otherwise monochromatic se- ries of works. 
The recurrence of wood throughout points towards the exploration of a certain rural Germanicity; but wood here also represents the passing of time, and of the “here I was born, and there I died,” as Hitchcock’s Proustian Madelaine exclaims in Vertigo, when pointing to the sawn sequoia tree. These works are universal in their stoic unwillingness to disclose their deeply personal roots; but woven beneath their surfaces are the stories and narratives that come to constitute the biography of the departed. This series finds its core, therefore, in the interplay between presences and absences—the absence of the mother, and the traces of her life explored in states of Unforgetting. 

Peter Watkins, The Unforgetting-Self Portrait, 2011
Courtesy: The Ravestijn Gallery

Muholy-Nagy by Alban E. Smajli LE MILE Magazine.jpg

László Moholy-Nagy


László Moholy-Nagy


LÁSZLÓ MOHOLY-NAGY
FUTURE PRESENT

written by Andreas Hübner

april 2016
 

“Art is the most complex, vitalizing, and civilizing of human actions;” in 1946, at the end of a lifelong struggle, the Hungarian born László Moholy-Nagy had come to reconcile the divide between human nature and industrial reality. In Vision in Motion, he declared art to produce a balance between social, intellectual and emotional existence. While Moholy-Nagy had always searched for ways to negotiate the present and envision the future, art now appeared to open a portal synthesizing attitudes and opinions, fears and hopes. In this sense, Moholy-Nagy has still a lot to contribute to post-modern society and debates: “The true artist is the grindstone of the senses, he sharpens eyes, mind, and feeling; he interprets ideas and concepts through his own media. In the midst of vast social controversies he cannot escape that task.”

" Art is the most complex, vitalizing, and civilizing of human actions "

Karole Vail, Associate Curator at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York, seems aware of Moholy-Nagy’s ongoing relevance. In a joint effort with the Art Institute of Chicago and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, she has organized and now presents the first comprehensive retrospective of Moholy-Nagy’s works in nearly fifty years, honoring the 70th anniversary of the Bauhaus master’s death. Starting on May 27, 2016, the Guggenheim will feature a long overdue presentation, bringing together more than 300 works from public and private collections, encompassing Moholy-Nagy’s many talents: collages, drawings, ephemera, films, paintings, photographs, photograms, photomontages, and sculptures. In result, visitors will have the chance to enjoy the artist’s early experimentations with light, A II and AXL II, and later masterpieces such as the 1942 B-10 Space Modulator. As an additional bonus, the exhibition has put Room of Present into reality, a fabrication of space, conceived by Moholy-Nagy in 1930, but never followed through during his lifetime. It seems the exhibition will finally pay tribute to the universal oeuvre of Moholy-Nagy.

Among scholars, Moholy-Nagy has long been acknowledged as the most comprehensive of the Bauhaus group, performing an Experiment in Totality. Walter Gropius, in 1947, was not shy to declare him successful simultaneously as thinker and artist, as writer and teacher. Influenced by Dadaism, Suprematism, and Radical Constructivism in the beginnings, Moholy-Nagy joined the Bauhaus School in 1923 and stayed until 1928. Here, in Weimar, he meant to become a productive component of the 20th century, that sought to represent an era of technology, of invention and construction of machines. “To be a user of machines,” he proclaimed in 1922, “is to be of the spirit of this century.”

" Walter Gropius, in 1947, was not shy to declare him successful simultaneously as thinker and artist, as writer and teacher "

Leaving Bauhaus, he began to distance himself from the technological monogamy of Constructivism, aiming to emphasize the present and future of humanity, exploring the new dimensions of the industrial society and translating the new findings into emotional orientation. He left Germany for London in 1934 and emigrated to the United States in 1937, settling in Chicago. In this new environment, Gropius, his longtime patron, was fortunate enough to secure Moholy’s leadership for The New Bauhaus that was later on renamed the Chicago Institute of Design. Henceforth, his genius ventured into all realms of science and art, fascinated more than ever by the riddles of space, light, and motion: “He incessantly strove to interpret space in its relation to time, that is, motion in space.” In consequence, some critics have stressed his influence on subsequent artists such as Adolph Luther, and, most famously, James Turrell.

In 1946, suffering from leukemia, Moholy-Nagy’s life circle came to an end. By then, he had not only established himself and his school of design among the renowned institutions of American art, but he had also developed a vision for the future that harmonically brought together technology and human existence: “The problem of our generation is to bring the intellectual and emotional, the social and technological components into balanced play, to learn to see and feel them in relationship.”

In this respect, Moholy-Nagy, his works and ideas, still remain notable today. Moholy-Nagy believed in the power of art and technology. He envisioned promoting social transformation and the betterment of humanity through artistic experimentation, design and creative multidisciplinary. The Guggenheim New York is right to honor him with a substantial retrospective and to open his oeuvre and concept to a wider audience, Present and Future.  

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Vasily Kandinsky


Vasily Kandinsky


VASILY KANDINSKY
WORKS

april 2016
 

A pioneer of abstract art and eminent aesthetic theorist, Kandinsky broke new ground in painting during the first decades of the twentieth century. His seminal treatise Über das Geistige in der Kunst (On the Spiritual in Art), published in Munich in December 1911, lays out his program for establishing an art independent from observations of the external world. In this and other texts, as well as his work, Kandinsky advanced abstraction’s potential to be free from nature. The development of a new subject matter based solely on the artist’s “inner necessity” would occupy him for the rest of his life.

From 1911–1913, Kandinsky’s artistic style moved steadily toward complete abstraction. He realized, however, that the development of such a style would have to be gradual in order to foster public acceptance and comprehension. As a result, many works from this period still contain fragments of recognizable imagery, such as the rolling hills and trees that appear in Small Pleasures (Kleine Freuden, June 1913). In the time following the 1917 October Revolution in Moscow, Kandinsky’s encounters with Russian Constructivist and Suprematist artists influenced his work. He distanced himself, however, from their respectively “mechanistic” and “pure” art by insisting that even his most abstract works retained expressive content. By 1920, the Constructivist avantgarde ultimately rejected his teachings and spiritual ideology. Shortly thereafter the artist moved to Berlin with his family, and in 1922 he began teaching at the Bauhaus, a school of art and applied design founded in 1919 in Weimar, Germany. Kandinsky found the Bauhaus sympathetic to his belief in art’s ability to transform self and society. There, he examined the relationship between primary colors and elementary forms, and the circle came to play a dominant role in the artist’s pictorial vocabulary, as seen in Several Circles (Einige Kreise, 1926). Following the close of the Bauhaus in 1933 due to pressure from the Nazis, Kandinsky moved to the Paris suburb Neuilly-sur-Seine, where he remained highly creative despite political turmoil and deprivation until his death in 1944.

" A pioneer of abstract art and eminent aesthetic theorist, Kandinsky broke new ground in painting during the first decades of the twentieth century "

The history of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is intertwined with the work of Vasily Kandinsky more than any other artist of the twentieth century. Hilla Rebay, artist, art advisor, and the museum’s first director, encouraged founder Solomon R. Guggenheim to begin collecting Kandinsky’s work in 1929 and to meet the artist at the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany, in July 1930. This introduction initiated an ongoing acquisition period of Kandinsky’s art, and more than one hundred fifty works have since entered the museum’s collection. The museum’s collection of Kandinsky works is the largest in the United States and the third largest in the world. Since the 2004 exhibition An Inaugural Selection, the Guggenheim’s Kandinsky Gallery has primarily featured a rotating selection of focused presentations of his work, arranged by theme, period, location of production, or medium.

Works by Vasily Kandinsky are on view at the Guggenheim in New York through spring 2016, the Guggenheim Museum presents an intimate selection of works by Vasily Kandinsky that trace his aesthetic evolution. The exhibition, which is on view in the museum’s Kandinsky Gallery, includes paintings selected from the artist’s early beginnings in Munich at the start of the century, the return to his native Moscow with the outbreak of World War I, his interwar years in Germany as a teacher at the Bauhaus, and his final chapter in Paris. 

Alex Trochut portrait LE MILE Magazine_published by Alban E. Smajli.jpg

Alex Trochut


Alex Trochut


INTERVIEW: ALEX TROCHUT
MR. TROCHUT

written by Alban E. Smajli
interview by Alban E. Smajli, Henrike Schneider + Akiko Kondoh

april 2016

Life chances. You are looking for challenges in life and New York is definitely a place that is offering all these excitements that you may be looking for after some years in the same city. So if I were from New York, I would probably want to be in Barcelona "

Alex Trochut is an independent graphic designer and illustrator. He currently lives and works in New York City. Born in 1981 in Barcelona, Trochut is the grandson of the well known Spanish typographer and printer Joan Trochut, who developed the typographic system Super-Veloz back in 1942.
After working at different studios in Berlin and Barcelona, Alex Trochut established his own design studio in Barcelona before relocating to the United States. Alex Trochut has developed a perceptive way of creating, employing a vivid visual style that surfaces in comprehensive illustrations and design practices. He focuses on the potential of words as a visual medium, pushing any verbal expressions to the limits so that seeing and reading becomes the same process and word and image become one unified articulation.
rochut manages to demonstrate that typography functions on two hierarchical levels: First, through the image of language and, second, through its reading, translation, or interpretation. His works meander somewhere in between art and design, they combine typography and illustration. His typographic illustrations remind us of actual digital and vital paintings that seek to interpret traditional typography in a very modern and artistic manner.

Drawing inspiration from the people that surround him, Trochut has worked for a diverse range of brands such as Nike, Adidas, Nixon, Coca Cola, MTV, AUDI, or Mumm. Katy Perry, The Rolling Stones, and The New York Times have been added to his ever growing client base. However, his works are never purely customer-oriented, they are always striving to define the limits between arts and client-centered practice. The champagne brand Mumm, for instance, invited Trochut to participate in an interactive installation back in 2015. While he was operating his tablet, the process of his creation was projected on an oversized screen so that typography, colors, and forms came together and an accessible masterpiece of art was realized.



Alban E. Smajli: Before starting with graphic design, having your grandparents doing graphic design, did this particular heritage inspire you to go down the same path, of course, in comparison, adapting to a digital, technical and a rather modern atmosphere?

Alex Trochut: I think it was more like a genetic memory because I never met my grandfather. My father was working in something else. My father died when I was born, so by the time that I was thinking to study graphic design, I had really no idea what my grandfather did in relation to what I was going to do. My grandfather was a printer and at that time printers and designers were the same. I said to myself, that's what he did it and it had nothing to do with the things I was going to study. I was going to study the future and these things from the past had nothing in common with it. And then, I think it was the first week of my school, they saw my name and asked “Are you the grandson?” and I was like “Yeah, yeah I am.” My grandfather obviously was a big gun. And so, I guess, I got attracted to typography. But I wasn't really trying to follow his steps, I think, things kind of led up to connecting typography and illustration together in an expressive way.

My first internship took me to Berlin, I was doing my Erasmus over there and I had the chance to work with „Xplicit" and „Moniteurs", who are very type-based, rational design studios. They are specialized in sign design, less interested in expression, but more focused on effect and function. It was a good experience for me, back in 2002, and I spent six months with them. Then I moved back to Barcelona and started working at “Toormix,” that´s a studio in the same kind of field. After that, I switched to „Vasalla“ which is way more expressive. In 2007, four years of experience in different companies later, I started my own freelance career.

AES: What do you prefer? The traditional way of applying the pencil and working on paper or is it rather the digital pen and screen? I mean, nowadays there´s so much you can do digitally, like creating complete authentic scenarios that never existed. There are just so many devices and options that sometimes I feel like you get so confused by using these modern technical tools.

AT: I was always more of a mouse guy, that was my tool. From there, about five years ago, I stepped into the Wacom – which allowed me to work with a tablet.

Right now, because you can choose and you can get the best out of every tool, I find it is way more precise to work with just pencil and paper. Your hand gets way more to the point, for example the letter shapes.

The Mumm project was the first installation that was interactive, and it was the first time we collaborated with a team. It was fun. And it‘s very cool right now when you see, that things are translating into different mediums and things are evolving so fast "

At the beginning, I was just using computer from step one on. It was more of a “learn and leave” kind of process that led me to just go ahead and take the pencil and paper. Now I am using pencil and paper half way of the process and then, in the end, I go to the computer. Back in the days, it was not very popular to work with another tool, especially when I started in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But nowadays, it seems totally mandatory for any student to go this path, it’s a very good direction for education. 

AES: After moving to New York, do you feel that the vibe of the city has now become part of your art works? How come you moved from Barcelona to New York?

AT: Life chances. You are looking for challenges in life and New York is definitely a place that is offering all these excitements that you may be looking for after some years in the same city. So if I were from New York, I would probably want to be in Barcelona. 
New York inspires me a lot. Most cities and their cultures inspire me. It is not the physical content, it is the people. They are what really pushes and inspires you, because everybody is following some dreams here; and you just see that many dreams obviously come true and that is really what pushes you to do better.

AES: Are there any impacts that may have influenced the spirit of your work?

AT: I don´t think the city really shapes me that much, I think many of my references come from other sources like the internet. I really feel like I am a son of the digital era, I mean we´re surrounded by the same things, no matter if it’s Tokyo, Barcelona or Berlin.

AES: For Mumm, you created a packaging design for three of their sparkling wines.
What is the concept behind your art design?


AT: This was meant to be an event at an art fair. So we thought it was a good opportunity to do a visualization of the product from a more abstract point of view. Not very literal though, I'm not trying to do very figurative representations of a sort of champagne lifestyle. I am more trying to make a connection between abstract painting and bubbles. Kind of an art connection that is very settled, yet very open.
There are three patterns, every pattern speaks to a different note or flavor in every bottle, Rosé, Dry and Extra Dry. Rosé has pioneer notes and is less bold and Dry is a bit more splashy, has bigger shapes and Extra Dry is darker and seems stronger. These are the backbones, the concepts, but they are super open. And I thought the art fair kind of allowed us to create a project that was less thought for an audience in the supermarket context.

AES: How was the design process together with Mumm?

AT: The label came first. Because the final products, the bottles, were already brought to me. From there, we could translate them into many things and one of them was the installation.

"There is a reference to abstract paintings, abstract expressionists and bubbles. And this conection leads us to this kind of aesthetic value "

AES: Is the art design inspired by artists like Pollock?

AT: There is a reference to abstract paintings, abstract expressionists and bubbles. And this connection leads us to this kind of aesthetic value. For sure, there are references to masters like Pollock.

Henrike Schneider: Do you want to concentrate on graphic design or are you going to focus on motion design in the future?


AT: I feel my abilities are more with the graphic world, but that doesn't mean, that things can't evolve into a video, an animation or whatever. The Mumm project was the first installation that was interactive, and it was the first time we collaborated with a team. It was fun. And it's very cool right now when you see, that things are translating into different mediums and things are evolving so fast. It’s nice to experiment and to try techniques that open many other options.

ALEX TROCHUT, New York City, Atelier, 2016.
photographed by Alban E. Smajli

LE MILE Alberto Burri.jpg

Alberto Burri


Alberto Burri


ALBERTO BURRI
THE TRAUMA OF PAINTING


april 2016
 

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum had presented a major retrospective The Trauma of Painting—the first in the United States in nearly forty years and the most comprehensive in this country—devoted to the work of Italian artist Alberto Burri from October 2015 to January 2016. Exploring the beauty and complexity of Burri’s process-based works, the exhibition had positioned the artist as a central protagonist of post–World War II art and revises traditional narratives of the cultural exchanges between the United States and Europe in the 1950s and ’60s. Burri broke with the gestural, painted surfaces of both American Abstract Expressionism and European Art Informel by manipulating unorthodox pigments and humble, prefabricated materials.
A key figure in the transition from collage to assemblage, Burri rarely used paint or brush in conventional ways, and instead worked his surfaces with stitching and combustion, among other signal processes. With his torn and mended burlap sacks, “hunchback” canvases, and melted industrial plastics, the artist often made allusions to skin and wounds, but in a purely abstract idiom. The tactile quality of his work anticipated Post-Minimalist and feminist art of the 1960s, while his red, black, and white “material monochromes” defied notions of purity and reductive form associated with American formalist modernism. Bringing together more than one hundred works, including many that have never before been seen outside of Italy, the exhibition demonstrated how Burri blurred the line between painting and sculptural relief and created a new kind of picture-object that directly influenced Neo-Dada, Process art, and Arte Povera.

" With his torn and mended burlap sacks, “hunchback” canvases, and melted industrial plastics, the artist often made allusions to skin and wounds, but in a purely abstract idiom "

Burri is best known for his series of Sacchi (sacks) made of stitched and patched remnants of torn burlap bags, in some cases combined with fragments of discarded clothing. Far less familiar to American audiences are the artist’s other series, which this exhibition represented in depth: Catrami (tars), Muffe (molds), Gobbi (hunchbacks, or canvases with protrusions), Bianchi (white monochromes), Legni (wood combustions), Ferri (irons, or protruding wall reliefs made from prefabricated cold-rolled steel), Combustioni plastiche (plastic combustions, or melted plastic sheeting), Cretti (induced craquelure, or cracking), and Cellotex works (flayed and peeled fiberboard). The exhibition had unfolded on the ramps of the Guggenheim both chronologically and organized by series, following the artist’s movement from one set of materials, processes, and colors to the next.

Throughout his career, Burri also engaged with the history of painting, reflecting his deep familiarity with the Renaissance art of his native Umbria. The exhibition likewise revealed the dialogue with American Minimalism that informed his later Cretti and Cellotex works. In addition, the installation included an immersive new film commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum. Dutch filmmaker Petra Noordkamp documents Burri’s singular Land art memorial, the enormous Grande cretto (Large Cretto, 1985–89; with its last section completed posthumously in 2014) in Gibellina, Sicily, a town devastated by a 1968 earthquake. An enormous shroud of white cement covers the ruins, and fissures function as pathways that wind through an area of roughly 20 acres. The film captures Grande cretto as an experiential work of art filled with a sense of place and history.

Born in Città di Castello, Italy, in 1915, Burri trained to be a doctor and served as a medic in the Italian army in North Africa during World War II. Following his unit’s capture in Tunisia in 1943, he was interned at a prisoner-of-war camp in Hereford, Texas, where he began painting. After his return to Italy in 1946, Burri devoted himself to art—a decision prompted by his firsthand experiences of war, deprivation, and Italy’s calamitous defeat. His first solo show, at Rome’s Galleria La Margherita in 1947, featured landscapes and still lifes. After a trip to Paris in 1948–49, he began to experiment with tarry substances, ground pumice stone, industrial enamel paints, and metal armatures, and he formed accretions and gashes that destroy the integrity of the picture plane. He then traumatized the very structure of painting by puncturing, exposing, and reconstituting the support. Instead of using the traditional cohesive piece of stretched canvas, Burri assembled his works from piecemeal rags, broken wood veneer, welded steel sheets, or layers of melted plastic—stitching, riveting, soldering, stapling, gluing, and burning his materials along the way. His work demolished and reconfigured the Western pictorial tradition, while transforming the scale and affective power of modernist collage.