Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Burk Frey reviews Tacita Dean

Tacita Dean, born 1965 in England, is known for her affiliation as a YBA (Young British Artist) and for her richly metaphorical film and photo work. Despite being a YBA, her work is dissimilar to the more renowned artists in that group, namely Damien Hurst.

I was particularly caught by her documentation of the performance work Craneway Event (2010) as it relates to this class. The piece itself is a nearly 2-hour long 16 millimeter film set in a San Francisco industrial building. It is a collaboration of sorts with master choreographer Merce Cunningham, who also appears as one of the subjects.

Dean herself believes she's "really never been able to do a single image. I’ve always worked in sequential images, everything always had a narrative." The viewer gets the sense that this sequential narrative space is indeed the one in which Dean is most comfortable. However, while the documentation stills from Craneway Event do fare better as a set, her success with it has at least partially hinged on the ability of each image to stand alone. Perhaps this is true for the majority of her work (see Kodak [2006] for another example).

A significant element of Craneway Event is the play of light streaming through the large windows, partially silhouetting the subjects and creating a pleasing inverted symmetry. Dean: "I always choose situations where the light is very important. The light is always a character. Craneway Event [is] so much about the light, in fact, the light is on equal footing with the dancers."

The documentation of Craneway Event makes for good imagery by itself, but also for a compelling life portrait of a man and his work. Through the choreography, the setting, and the hand of the artist, we sense both Cunningham's history and the Craneway building's history.

Las Hermanas Iglesias REB

Lisa and Janelle Iglesias crated "Sibling Rivalry Series" which are a mixture of performance and stages photos. These two sisters went to different high schools, colleges and MFA programs but even though they were apart their interest in art grew gradually at the same time yet individually. Their collaborations started when they were in grad school and they would send drawings and ideas to each other by mail, they got to know each others practices more intimately and once grad school was over, they moved back to New York to start calibrating.  Their video "Cherry Contest" show Lisa and Janelle sitting at a table facing the camera with matching red jumpsuits. Then they start to shove cherries into their mouths in competition to see who can eat the cherries faster. Then they would try to blow the biggest bubblegum and measure precisely how far the bubble gum is away from their body. These sisters perform competitions with each other which are humorous but the performances, sculptures,video and photographs have a serious culture undertones.


Saturday, September 2, 2017


         Julie de Waroquier’s Inhabit is the exploration of homes and how they influence us. More specifically she describes the idea of her work as such, “We live between walls, but they inhabit us back; they contribute to building our identity. Moving indeed unsettles a whole way of life.” Initially the series appears as a list of aesthetics and it mostly is. Yet there are a few images in this series that are more successful conceptually. At the forefront is the use of lines from the light, floors, furniture and the cutting of the image into a triangle. Varied are the lines from diagonal to curvilinear. Most of the series includes deep shadows that cut of the information of the environment. The commercial clean look is a result of the triangular shaped images on top of white rectangular and square shapes. Additionally, the triangle shape that cuts up the images creates a rigidness to each of them. Color wise the palette is mostly blue and white but there are a few images that are warmer. One group of images that are more successful dynamically, are the ones with the body parts extending past the triangle. The couple if images that are more successful conceptually are the ones with her body contracting in some way right along the edges of the triangle because it lends to the idea of the home as a being and containing power over its inhabitants. This idea can also be extended to the fact that her face is subdued or hidden in every image.


            French photographer Alain Laboil’s series Reflexions Autour du Basin translates to Reflections Around The Pond. The images are just that, reflections in a pond that were stumbled upon when his children were around it. The soft reflections of the sky allow for the audience to transport to a world that somewhat appears as ours but is not. In his scenes he stages his children in various scenarios that are dreamlike. The family uses objects found around their pond and home such as sticks and brush to create these stories. There are even some photos with only constructed pieces and no figures, for example, the image with an insect holding a key. Images such as the one including an apple and one of his children holding a bow and arrow made out of sticks and another with one of his children on a ladder reaching for a soccer ball are more dynamic in that the physical objects on the surface of the water create dimension on an otherwise flatter image. Additionally, the water ripples from the physical objects create a sense of movement. In turn the movement of the water creates an interesting texture to the image. Secondly, the water distorts and elongates various body parts of the figures, adding to the fantasy, which are seen in the images with a boy with long fingers and another with a long torso. Alaina’s images naturally contain a blue, yellow and green color palette from staging outside. Overall the series is playful and childlike.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Barbara Ess- by Monique Alonzo

Barbara Ess

        Barbara Ess is an American photographer who is known for her use of  a pinhole camera. She works with large scale images and often creates images that leave a lot to the imagination of her viewer’s. To be honest, Barbara Ess’s work is what inspired me in my own work with the 4x5 camera. Her images are often seen as vague, unresolved and sometimes rather eerie. It leaves a lot to the imagination and leaves you feeling like you are walking the thin line between the dream realm and reality. Her use of just one color is also very successful as it lets you focus on just the image. In her book, “I Am Not This Body.” Barbara Ess focuses on ‘the ambiguous perceptual boundaries’. Her images in this series often leaves a stir of emotions that is very effective. 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Flor Ameira Reviewing Todd Hido

     Todd Hido's images make me want to be born in the 60's ( 60's? 70's? not quite sure) just to be able to grow up in one of these houses and come back 30 years later to feel that my nostalgia -for these places/images) is justified. He takes THOSE kind of  pictures. The ones that you think of taking them whenever you are going back home at  night or waking up early morning but you think " it's too cold" or " it's not going to be as good as it is in person" and BAAAAM he does it. His work involves photographs of urban and suburban housing. He also has a collection of found objects and images.  His use of light is so metimes minimal and I believe very successful. “ Homes at night” are a series of images that, as the name states, are exteriors and interiors at night.  The images are shown in different times of the year, day, night and weather. His use of light stays consistent with the street light or the indoor of the homes he shoots, but the weather conditions or the time of the night plays an interesting role in modifying the scenario in a natural way. When shooting interiors, the source of light may come from the technology in the room , creating an atmosphere that most of us can relate to. He also utilizes natural light from the outside revealing a particular time of the day. 


Flor Ameira Cig Harvey

Cig Harvey

Cig Harvey’s photographs remind me of the kind of imagery I once was attracted to before becoming interested in photography. Bright colors, square compositions and pretty scenarios. I do not know how to feel about her work. A part of me loves the scenarios, the colors, the brightness and joyfulness portrayed in her images even in those with darker tones. Another part of me, is somewhat doubtful of the content that each one of her images beholds. I do not doubt or question the beauty of these but I do the content. Her images often make me wonder " Why does this matter ? " to her, to me. On the other hand, photographing for 10 years and putting it all together in a series of images that go well with one another might be where the power resides.  I think her compositions are well thought, her use of light is vital, and the awareness of the space she has often lets the viewer a space to breathe. Her main subjects are her family and everyday surrounding giving us a sense of familiarity yet wonder thanks to her often ways of cropping the human face.  “Cig Harvey’s deceptively simple photographs tap into the universal elements of the human experience: love, loss, longing and belonging

“ Gardening at night” and “ You look at me like an Emergency – act I , act II and act III “ are the works she is more known for. 

The Lamp, Self Portrait, 2005, San Francisco, California
The Cut Apple and Gingham Dress, Self Portrait, Clark’s Island, Maine, 2003The Hope Chest, Self Portrait, Rockport, Maine, 2007The Pink Living Room, Self Portrait with Doug, Camden, Maine, 2006