Alex Wisser

photocentric

Tag: adrian clement

What Things Look Like

by Alex Wisser

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May 7–21 2011
artists: Adrian Clement, Dan Stocks, Yvette Hamil­ton, Tina Fiveash, Sue Storry, Peter Williamson, Lisa Mas­toras, Johanna Trainor, Iso­bel Philip, Ireneusz Luty, Iou­lia Ter­izis, Emily Win­don, Andreia Da Cruz, Kurt Soren­son, Alex Wisser

“What Things Look Like”was a group exhi­bi­tion of pho­to­me­dia to be mounted as a part of the Headon Photo Fes­ti­val.  This exhi­bi­tion asks con­tem­po­rary pho­to­me­dia artists to respond to Gary Winnogrand’s famous claim that he pho­tographed in order to see what things looked like pho­tographed.  Implicit in this claim is an under­stand­ing that by pho­tograph­ing a thing, you change it, you alter its per­cep­ti­ble being.  “What Things Look Like” cel­e­brates our abil­ity to change the real­ity we record, to ren­der it more human even as we ren­der it less real.

Review: “Intersections” at At The Vanishing Point – Contemporary Art, Newtown

by Alex Wisser

This review was originally published on DAS500 on May 04 2011

Intersections is not curated by Adrian Clement. This is a point he insists upon in his (not) curator’s statement. Instead, he considers the exhibition a single artwork made by himself out of the works of the other artists involved. As one of those artists, I have to say, the statement raises some mixed emotions.

Conceived as a challenge to the conventional wisdom that curators employ to isolate the experience of individual works from each other, Intersections is the careful combination of the experience of different works to produce “intersections” between them. These points of overlap create effects unintended by the original artist as neighboring works are brought to impinge upon each other.

For instance, the only illumination in the exhibition is provided by the several light based and projected video works within the show. A tall door of light tubes in the main gallery illuminates Kate Mackay’s large wall of colored cubes when closed and when opened it lights a photograph of a night seascape by Kurt Sorenson barely perceptible through the blinding you must endure to push the door open. On one side of the room, a polished brass mirror made by Tom Isaacs, reflects perfectly Adrian’s arrangement of Petri dishes containing dripped paint by Georgina Pollard on the far wall. The exhibition is full of these discoveries that make you wonder where each of the intersecting artists leave off and Adrian begins. The result is often a sense of elegant confusion and a heightened awareness of the relational nature of meaning. The unity of individual works is disrupted, pushing coherence back to the level of the entire exhibition so that in the end the viewer is brought indeed to consider it a single work of art. And this is the source of my mixed emotion.

On the one hand, Intersections successfully fulfills its original brief, mounting a challenge to the conventions of curation by grounding its “curatorial” practice in artistic rather than theoretical, or art historical concern. It was exactly this prospect that excited me about participating. On the other hand, there is a sense in which it has succeeded too well if the curator thus passes over the threshold being challenged to become artist – curation itself remains unscathed and we end with another monster altogether, the meta-artist, who uses other artists’ work as the raw material of his own. 500 words could never contain the maelstrom of implications that such a figure unleashes. It’s not surprising that he should appear here. Often, it is only through crossing a boundary that we come to understand why that boundary exists.

Once on the other side, Adrian deftly negotiates the ethical minefield he treads. This particular incursion is marked by the profound respect any artist worth their salt has for their medium, which in this case is the work of other artists. In this way, Intersections is as much about the relationships between people as it is about the relationship between things.

Abstract/Object

by Alex Wisser

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artists: Adrian Clement, Alexander Jackson Wyatt, Andre Flament, Angela Stretch, Annalice Creighton, Anthony Bartok, Francesca Mataraga, Georgina Pollard, Goran Tomic, Hayley Hill, Josh Harle, Julia Kennedy-Bell, Muzi Li, Melanie E. Khava, Ro Murray, Susie Williams, Tom Isaacs, Zeo Ledux

CURATIORIAL STATEMENT:

Like an object, this idea is describable from several perspectives, three of which I will present here.

PERSPECTIVE 1:

Throughout the 20th Centry, art discourse has questioned and critically excoriated the context in which art is placed and displayed.  From a very broad perspective one might conclude that nowhere on this earth is there a space that does not somehow degrade, corrode, or diminish the artwork that it contains.  On the one hand there is the home of the collector, into which the artwork enters only through its conversion into commodity fetish through the process of its purchase.  Once there it must endure its humiliated condition as an object amongst other objects, functioning in the service of decoration and the symbolic production of status and prestige.  On the other hand, the gallery space is perceived as a sterile, negative space, scrubbed of any reference to or residue of the outside world, even to the point of denying the bodily presence of the viewer.  Abstract/Object is an attempt to superimpose these two spaces, creating a third paradoxical space in which the status of the object is made uncertain: at once challenged by its placement in a context permeated by the every day world, and at the same time a space abstracted and rarefied by its gallery status.

PERSPECTIVE 2

At the same time, the 20th century also saw the growth and agglomeration of mass media coalesce into an integrated, continuous plane of representation, virtualizing much of contemporary life.  Forced to question its own powers of representation in a world oversaturated with virtual content, art began to look outside the frame to the potentials of presentation, consistently challenging the boundaries between art and life.  In so doing art inverts its traditional role from the production of virtualities to the presentation of actualities, developing an array of strategies that emphasize the presence of the object, the embodied nature of the experience of art, and the object status of the work.  These strategies are diverse, and range between emphasizing the heightened presence of the object to obscuring the difference between the object and the everyday.  Abstract/Object is designed to challenge the audience to discern the difference between the objects of art (which won’t be marked as such) and the domestic everyday objects from my home.  At once, the art object is made to compete with the everyday objects while the everyday object is changed by its placement within a space that insists that it be looked on as art.  In this way, this show is intended to test the artwork, to show how it stands up as art in an environment permeated by non-art and to question the entire process.

PERSPECTIVE 3

This installation does not pretend to do anything new.  The tensions and conflicts it explores have predominated art production for as long as it has been called modern.  Abstract/Object can be considered a performance of these tensions, presenting these concerns through a condensed, unified platform that engages their historical dimension with local and contemporary practice.