Friday, September 28, 2007

Sentimental snapshots

"Atlanta Celebrates Photography" was technically kicked off last night with the opening of "Responding To Home," curated by Susan Todd-Raque, at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia.

Considering this show is the start of the largest festival of photography in the southeast and is housed in a museum of contemporary art one may go so far as to expect a showing of contemporary photography. But I guess with a titled like "Responding to Home" I should have known better. With a few exceptions, the show fell into a very sentimental reverie of artists photographing their homes, or parents homes, or cabin retreats. Taking pictures to capture the "memories" in a very traditional, overly literal way, negating any feeling of nostalgia for anyone but the artists, themselves.

Take for example Judy Morris Lampert (above) and Jane Robbins Kerr (below). They get straight to the point when examining "home". These remind me of how my mom has photographed every house our family has lived in, plus some childhood homes, and hung them all on a living room wall. Can't wait to tell her that her efforts belongs in the mocaga.

But when I said there were a few exceptions, I was talking about Jerry Siegel. His series "Rt. 2 Box 248E" documents quiet moments and small details of the home that has been in his family for fifty years and passed down through generations.

The beautiful, contemplative images document history like only photography can. Siegel's use of the camera to interpret and memorialize home with time being the most pressing subject matter grasps what this large group show is really about.

One more Siegel

The other exception is Charles Hemard III, whose series "Departures and Junctures" documents the strange no-mans land between interstates and exit ramps.

These people are waging a never ending battle.

Hemard took a broader approach to "home" and examined the strange reality of Atlanta. The stubbornness of existence in spite of nature. Cranes populating our skyline and a slightly toxic river running through it. Atlanta is a city of tombstones butted against interstates but in this lies her charm.

Christopher perusing the art - taken from his "good side".

The wine line was long. Hey, there's Mehmet in the red shirt.

The walk home. Despite the cranes, Atlanta's pretty photogenic.

I highly recommend the combination of this wine and this cheese. (insert plug for Trader J's)

Woke up this morning and took my own picture of "home".

"Responding to Home" is up at the MOCAGA through Nov. 24th, 2007.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Night Ripper

Saturday night was Girl Talk at MJQ.

There is something about walking home at 3am, completely drenched in your own sweat, with ear drums still echoing the insane beats, and your body vibrating from hours of dancing smashed against strangers - that you know - you've gotta do that again.

It was so intense.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Declare Independence!

Don't Let Them Do This To You!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Center Stage

While waiting for the Sam Taylor-Wood talk to begin on Saturday, I stumbled into the show "I'll Remember You" by South Korean artist Yeondoo Jung at the ACA Gallery in the Woodruff Arts Center.

Interestingly, like Talyor-Wood, Jung was also originally a student of sculpture and also attended Goldsmiths College in London. Both photographers take a very planned approach to the construction of their images but Jung's work concentrates more on the very validity of the image and the ability of photography to narrate fictional realities.

For me the work also aims to see through the facades upheld by countries to propagate their own romanticized or stereotyped culture. The large color photographs are part of what is called the "Location Series" and seem to be asking, in our global culture, what locations are truly unique or "real" anymore? The show is definitely worth checking out.

There is an artist talk and reception with Yeondoo Jung Oct. 19th, 07 (6-9pm)

Sunday, September 16, 2007


In cahoots with the kick off of Atlanta Celebrates Photography, Jackson Fine Art opened solo shows of David Hilliard and Sam Taylor-Wood Friday night. I was looking forward to seeing the new work of both accomplished photographers but found the shows to be pretty dull.

David Hilliard's work, while sometimes teetering on the edge of being too literal and a bit cheesy, is evocative story telling and plays with the formal qualities of photography - the best works, in my opinion, really messing with perspective and examining vision and memory.

The newest work, shown under the name "Saturate" seemed too formulaic, almost empty in expression, the work indeed seemed too saturated in the style of Hilliard without the artist pushing into new territory.

As in the image above , the photograph "Immersed - 2007," (the titled being beyond corny considering the figure is reading a book while wading in water) is too reminiscent of "Susie Floating - 2002", which, for me, has a much more interesting perspective and less literal purpose.

Here are a couple of other works that are too good not to mention when talking about Hilliard, though nothing this interesting at Jackson Fine Art this time around.

"Hot Coffee, Soft Porn" 1999

"Black Sheep" 2007

Sam Taylor-Wood's show "Crying Men" was also hard for me to get into. Out of all of her work, this series is the least interesting (but my opinion may be biased by my extreme dislike of celebrity culture - or more specifically, our country's obsession with it.) This isn't to say I don't think the Jolie-Pitt clan is cute too, but when it comes to fine art photography haven't celebrities already been photographed enough? Their images carry extraordinary weight, easily hijacking the artist's efforts while simultaneously unable to penetrate a viewer already numbed to these images, losing interest quickly in someone who lives their life in front of a camera.

In response to this though, Sam Taylor-Wood would say I am not getting it, because that is the entire point. Taylor-Wood spent three years tracking down male actors that she then asked to cry for her so that she could photograph them. She wanted to expose a softer side to men while at the same time leaving the viewer confused as to whether the actor is actually crying, or indeed acting. With most, maybe all, of these portraits the actor is surely acting. How can anyone really cry while a stranger is sitting there watching you through a lens? But these are incredibly good actors, and so moving the images that you begin to doubt yourself and think, perhaps, she caught an unguarded moment for these very guarded men. When photographing Ed Harris, his "performance" was so moving that Taylor-Wood began crying herself, and Harris stopped crying, asking her, "are you alright?"

I am big fan of of Philip Seymour Hoffman, but honestly, haven't we seen him cry in every movie he has ever done? Does this image not lose it's intended effect? (Beautiful though it might be)

To hear more about this I went to the Sam Taylor-Wood talk at Woodruff Arts Center on Saturday. I was met by a giant image of David Beckham sleeping and decided Taylor-Wood had completely sold out and I wanted to leave.

But then she won me over. Taylor-Wood turned out to be incredibly charming, funny, easy going, and candid, showing a glimpse into the way she works and explaining that she did not want to photograph Beckham but was asked by the National Portrait Gallery to do the commission and then decided to do a film of him sleeping, as a sort of reaction to the over-kill of Beckham laden images in the media.

Interestingly, Taylor-Wood was trained as a sculptor at Goldsmiths and only starting working with video and photography after she was out of school. I can especially see this sculptural interest in the series of work she has done using herself, such as "Self Portrait Suspended I."

A lot of Taylor-Woods imagery is based off of or influenced by classical paintings, recasting the figures to examine gender. The photograph "Sleep" is beautiful.
What I especially liked about Taylor-Wood was her approach to creating work. She did not bore the audience describing an overly-intellectual agenda of creating emotionally detached art for the purpose of ego and critic pleasing. If anything, she played down the conceptual intentions and focused on the pleasure and humor of making work. Taylor-Wood went so far as to admit she got the idea for the video "Ascension" from a daydream and only later began to see the implications of the work.

After I left the talk - Atlanta was beautiful outside! Time to go to the mountains!

"Saturate" and "Crying Men" are at Jackson Fine Art through Oct, 27th, 07.

Friday, September 14, 2007

My Body and Me

Two of Atlanta's stronger performance artists are keeping busy.

Kiki Blood announced she is one of 12 finalist chosen for the International Performance for Performance 2007, which will take place in early October in Trento, Italy, at the Galleria Civica in collaboration with the centrale FIES.

And Shana Robbins just came out with a 5 minute trailer highlighting her past performances.

Related Post:
Atlanta's Got Talent?

Thursday, September 13, 2007


"But nobody cares when it gets in their hair
It gets in their lungs as it floats through the air
It gets in the food that they buy and prepare
But nobody cares when it gets in their hair"

Andrew Bird at Variety Playouse tonight.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Next Stop -

Later Saturday night was the opening for the "Unbuilt Atlanta" show at Eyedrum where there must have been the largest gathering of GA tech architecture majors ever outside of campus. The show, curated by Karen Tauches, "is a show of models and drawings for Atlanta-specific sites, unconstrained by the practicalities of business, politics, or construction."

I love architectural models and Spaghetti Junction could use some rethinking.
Ed Atkins proposed creating apartments in between billboards. This seems like something Atlantans could embrace.

Tracy Young made my night by telling me she had hung my sculpture "Untitled Sac (Pink)" in her bedroom along with one of Yun Bai's "Porn Flowers" paintings, and these, apparent talismans of passion, had really heated up the energy in the room. Glad to hear my sculpture is doing good in the world.

The show is worth checking out, if nothing else, just to see the 3-D model of the proposed "Atlanta Pavilion" by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects. It's incredible and specified to be made out of translucent plywood, which I had never heard of, but was told it does exist. The project was only given a 3 million dollar price tag and considering how immediately the beautiful structure would become an icon of Atlanta, that is very small price to pay for a contemporary edition to the downtown skyline. "C'mon Atlanta! Think outside the box."
One architect/friend grumbled that he was "disappointed" by the show. Perhaps it was a little too playful in approach to appease architects wanting serious dialogue about Atlanta's future options but then again, this isn't a show at the MODA, it's Eyedrum, and meant to be experimental. On the show website it is described as "an art show about architecture" and I think that sums it up nicely.

"Unbuilt Atlanta" at Eyedrum runs through Sept. 29th, 2007

I could tell SCAD is starting up their fall session by all the funny looking SCAD kids that have reappeared on the scene and I kept running into at each opeing. They were the ones with the noticeably paint splattered pants and hair that had undergone some sort of electric-shock styling (new trend?). Everyone seemed to be on the same gallery path and ended up at Young Blood Gallery for a new show of paintings by Ryan Lincicome.

"Your Lame Ass Boyfriends I" - oil on wood

"Secret Tellers" - oil on wood
"Wish Transfusion" - oil on wood

"Subway Sally Polaroid" - oil on wood
I have always like Liccione's paintings. There is something about his paint handling (he paints fast - wet on wet), use of color, and depiction of the people that makes me feel good. Each painting packs a wallop of personality - a light-hearted reminiscence of some moment I wish I had been part of.
Liccione's show, as usual, was priced very cheaply and most of it was sold before the end of the opening. For example "Secret Tellers" was only $75 and I felt the need to point out that he could have gotten three times that. Liccione said that people have often told him he is "devaluing art" by pricing his work so lowly (and regarded me cautiously as one of "those" people). But for Liccione, it's more important to sell the entire show, move the work, than try to make more money on some paintings. And I think it's safe to say that for Liccione it's not about the money at all, he is a painter, he likes for people to have his paintings (especially the type of people he celebrates in his work), and low balling the asking price ensures this. This adds another perspective to the conversation on the "value of art."