War Game, 2007 by Jeff Wall.

War Game, 2007 by Jeff Wall.

@2 days ago with 65 notes
#Art #Photography #Jeff Wall #Portraiture #Landscape #Theatricality #Documentary photography 

In FROWST I do not doubt the veracity of these questions, nor the eloquence of their articulated form, but rather the provenance of their critique and the substance of their complaint. The compelling and awkward intensity of the images flows from their theatrical disjuncture with conventional forms of familial intimacy, but as they eschew autobiography for a performative strain of therapy, the photographs transform emotion into an unaffiliated abstraction. In this the portraits frame a pathology without a patient, and the vigour of their fiction immunises us from the troubling psychology they articulately engage. Even as each elegant arrangement of figure, self and sex unveils the determining power of the gaze, the effects of their fiction free us from the darkest implications of the contradictions they engage, and this renders their concerns more theoretical than visceral.

— “Developmental Deficits: an essay on Joanna Piotrowska’s FROWST" just published at thegreatleapsideways.com

@4 days ago with 86 notes
#Art #Photography #Portraiture #Joanna Piotrowska #The Great Leap Sideways #MACK Books 

"The American Survey image captured the expansionist desires of a fledgling republic after the Civil War. The surveys were meant to provide both valuable geological and topographical information about the West to the Congress, and were also a means of indirect subsidy for the private sector - to encourage land speculation and to attract the development of unsettled territories. Through their pictorial organisation these photographs demarcated land as possession, placing it under the singular view of a privileged eye. In demonstrating that the land could be encompassed in the monocular gaze of the camera lens, these images provided subliminal reinforcement of the idea that man could control it. Writing on the American West, Jane Thompson describes the power of these representations to locate an imperialist desire within the passive experience of the spectator, transferring an agenda in the service of a state apparatus to the psyche of the individual citizen. As she writes: ‘[the blankness of the plain] implies - without ever stating - that this is a field where a certain mastery is possible… the openness of the space means that domination can take place virtually through the act of opening one’s eyes, through the act, even, of watching a representation on a screen.’ As this experience of possession is ‘shared’ with the individual subject, the sense of triumph is claimed as a democratic realisation of personal freedom enabled by the state and economic opportunism. This defined a distinctly American mythology of the West as an area to be mastered and colonised and whose subordination could be experienced as a triumph on the personal level."

— Walead Beshty Notes on the Subject Without Qualities: From the Cowboy Flaneur to Mr Smith" in Afterall, No. 8 Autumn/Winter 2003

"Why landscape now? A few conjectures come to mind: it is certainly true that among educated, middle-class audiences, landscape is generally conceived of as an upbeat and wholesome sort of subject which, like mom and apple pie, stands indisputably beyond politics and ideology and appeals to ‘timeless values.’ This would sit well in our current conservative climate where images of the land (conceptual, historical, literary) from lakes Tahoe to Wobegon are being used to evoke the universal constancy of a geological and mythic America seemingly beyond present vicissitudes.

But this is too simple. Images of landscape cannot be perceived simply as an antidote to politics, as a pastoral fantasy lulling us back to some primordial sense of our own insignificance. Nor should landscape images be regarded simply as the occasion for aesthetic pleasure in arrangements of material objects in ironic constellations, found “happenings” for the lens whose references to the worlds beyond the frame rivet all attention on the sensibility of the artist.

These two prevalent constructions of landscape remind us that landscape as a subject of visual representation is a distinctly modern phenomenon. The taxonomic term “landscape” comes from European art history and refers to a genre of painterly practice that gathered momentum and prestige only in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In the aristocratic classical tradition of painting, landscapes were principally fields for noble action—carefully cultivated gardens suited to the gods and heroes who populated them. With the rise in the seventeenth century of the merchant bourgeoisie in Holland, a new sort of landscaper emerged—a seemingly more natural landscape that celebrated property ownership: the working water- or windmill, the merchant ship at anchor, the farmer’s field, the burgher’s estate. English landscape painting in the eighteenth century followed the Dutch model, though it supplanted the formulaic quality of earlier genre painting with scientific accuracy that reflected the increasing prestige and achievements of empirical science and its offspring, technology. The world landscape, in English, initially referred specifically to Dutch paintings and only later denoted the broader idea of a view or prospect.

Whether noble, picturesque, sublime or mundane, the landscape image bears the imprint of its cultural pedigree. It is a selected and constructed text, and while the formal choices of what has been included and excluded have been the focus of most art historical criticism to date, the historical and social significance of those choices has rarely been addressed and even intentionally avoided. (…) 

Thus, whatever its aesthetic merits, every representation of landscape is also a record of human values and actions imposed on the land over time. What stake do landscape photographers have in constructing such representations? A large one, I believe. Whatever the photographer’s claims, landscapes as subject matter in photography can be analyzed as documents extending beyond the formally aesthetic or personally expressive. Even formal and personal choices do not emerge sui generis, but instead reflect collective interests and influences, whether philosophical, political, economic, or otherwise. While most art historical/curatorial scholarship has concentrated on the artistic genius of a select few (and the stake in so doing is obvious), it is time to look afresh at the cultural meanings of landscapes in order to confront issues lying beyond individual intuition and/or technical virtuosity. The sorts of questions we might ask concern what ideologies landscape photographs perpetuate; in whose interests they were conceived; why we still desire to make and consume them; and why the art of landscape photography remains so singularly identified with a masculine eye.”

Deborah BrightOf Mother Nature and Marlboro Men: An Inquiry into the Cultural Meaning of Landscape Photography” (1985) in The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography (1996), or in Illuminations: Women Writing on Photography from the 1850s to the Present (1996)

Photographs by Timothy O’Sullivan, Carleton Watkins, Sze Tsung Leong, Bryan Schutmaat, Susan Lipper and Robert Adams.

@5 days ago with 152 notes
#Art #Photography #History #Culture #Ecology #Economics #Criticism #Theory #Walead Beshty #Jane Thompson #Afterall journal #The American West #Sprawl #Timothy O'Sullivan #Carleton Watkins #Sze Tsung Leong #Bryan Schutmaat #Susan Lipper #Robert Adams 

"

See them
walk the tide-line
as the oil-rig shimmers
through the faded blue,
she, glancing up
in a gust of sunlight
like a pearl diver
opening her eyes underwater.

See them exchange
the red tabernacle
of their hearts
against a covenant
of light and water,
while dolphins sleep
on borrowed time
with one eye open.

"

"Wedding Song" by Pauline Stainer, from Crossing the Snowline (2008).
@1 week ago with 20 notes
#Art #Poetry #Pauline Stainer 

"The bourgeois family in its “classic” phase was not marginal or threatened, but secure and independent. Not its numerical frequency, but unique configuration of authority and affection is the issue. Authority was severe, but not brutal or inconsistent. Total submission was not the goal; nor was the family lacking in warmth. This is not to say there were no victims; there were, especially women. These victims furnished the patients for psychoanalysis.

The bourgeois family, it seems likely, developed into the narcissistic family; the class composition remains roughly the same. The case reports of narcissistic patients allow fleeting views of family life; these do not show parents who, after long, grueling days of waiting on tables or driving cabs, come home to bark at their too many children; but parents who are relatively successful, whose energies are directed towards themselves and their careers; and who tend to be enlightened but also cold to the few children at home.
 That narcissism may be circumscribed by class does not, of course, dispose of it. The bourgeoisie makes society in its own image.”

— Russell Jacoby “Narcissism and the Crisis of Capitalism” in Telos (1980)

@3 days ago with 67 notes
#Art #Painting #Photography #Gunnel Wåhlstrand #Theory #Russell Jacoby #Narcissism #The Bourgeoisie #Capitalism #Power #Identity 
"The enclosure of the world seems finally to be completed before our eyes with the globalization of the economy. In the wake of the establishment of intercontinental economic giants, a web of insignias like McDonald’s fills up the space and renders its contraction even more noticeable.
In contrast to the planet, however, the city tends to become boundless, blending into territory. It is no longer possible to contemplate it from the outside, except perhaps from strategic command centers where one might envisage its destruction by means of atomic bombs. The urban landscape is no longer framed. Here again, this absence of borders constitutes a rupture with the Western landscape tradition, which used to depend invariably on a pictorial framing. Subsequently, we understand better how photography or cinema interprets the contemporary urban landscape more readily than does an art such as painting. The framings that they propose have a greater capacity for instability, and this instability resonates well with that of a limitless landscape.”
— Antoine Picon ”Anxious Landscapes: From Ruin to Rust,” Grey Room No. 1, Fall 2000

"The enclosure of the world seems finally to be completed before our eyes with the globalization of the economy. In the wake of the establishment of intercontinental economic giants, a web of insignias like McDonald’s fills up the space and renders its contraction even more noticeable.

In contrast to the planet, however, the city tends to become boundless, blending into territory. It is no longer possible to contemplate it from the outside, except perhaps from strategic command centers where one might envisage its destruction by means of atomic bombs. The urban landscape is no longer framed. Here again, this absence of borders constitutes a rupture with the Western landscape tradition, which used to depend invariably on a pictorial framing. Subsequently, we understand better how photography or cinema interprets the contemporary urban landscape more readily than does an art such as painting. The framings that they propose have a greater capacity for instability, and this instability resonates well with that of a limitless landscape.”

 Antoine Picon ”Anxious Landscapes: From Ruin to Rust,” Grey Room No. 1, Fall 2000

@5 days ago with 34 notes
#Geography #History #Culture #Technology #Antoine Picon #Architecture #Art #Photography #Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs 

"In the early 1970s the disaster film enjoyed a renaissance of sorts, beginning with breakthrough hits such as the Poseidon AdventureTowering InfernoEarthquake and Airport, and re-emerged in the 1990s in a computer-enhanced form. These depictions of the complete destruction of the familiar, and of our collective punishment for technocratic hubris, provided ample escapist fantasy. But the disaster film never allowed the annihilation to be complete; the cataclysmic always allowed a kind of redemption, in which confrontations with death culminated in a new beginning. We could then discard the very history that lurked as the most troubling undercurrent of rationalist expansion in the service of modernity, free to begin anew. Our debt to the past was now paid as a final penance on the way to social utopia. From the ashes of disaster liberal-capitalist democracy could reinvent itself as the utopia it promised but never delivered. The very real social inequalities and economic challenges to American capitalism (the deep recession of the early 1990s and urban unrest that struck American cities) echoed the situation the late 1960s and early 70s. We could forget the Los Angeles riots because the city was a now a smoking crater, with the survivors banded together around the American flag that now operated as a collective symbol of redemption and forgetting.

While these films sublimate and reconfigure the anxieties of western democratic capitalism, they are prefigured, in the 1970s and 90s, by films that concern themselves directly with the construction of subjectivity within an apocalyptically amoral society. This social catastrophe reaffirms and reconstitutes what might be considered a traditional retro-subject in jeopardy. The signature vehicles for such stars as John Wayne and Bruce Willis insistently assert this re-emergence of the modern anti-hero. Moments of crisis are used to reveal our need for such ‘real men’, whose alienation from society is marked by their reflection of the harsh realities that lie beneath the safety of social order. But Hollywood fantasy is not the only location for realising this return. Shortly after September 11th, the mythical ‘real men’ that were our working-class heroes were heralded as the new model for the masculine, the trend celebrated even in the sober pages of The New York Times. The traditional masculinity of men who spoke with actions and not words assured us that our rugged individualism could again double for our national identity. This mythology provided comfort, and gave us permission to ride the globe like cowboys searching for the ultimate villains of our consumerist polity.

— extracted from ”Notes on the Subject Without Qualities: From the Cowboy Flaneur to Mr Smith" by Walead Beshty, in Afterall No. 8, Autumn/Winter 2003.

Photographs by Geert Goiris, Gregory Halpern, Bryan Schutmaat and Curran Hatleberg.

@6 days ago with 62 notes
#Art #Photography #Culture #Walead Beshty #Visual Culture #Subjectivity #Landscape #The Public Imaginary #Geert Goiris #Gregory Halpern #Bryan Schutmaat #Curran Hatleberg 

“Every photographed object is merely the trace left behind by the disappearance of all the rest. It is an almost perfect crime, an almost total resolution of the world, which merely leaves the illusion of a particular object shining forth, the image of which becomes an impenetrable enigma.” — Jean Baudrillard.

Photographs from Window Seat by Jennilee Marigomen.

@1 week ago with 263 notes
#Art #Photography #Jennilee Marigomen #Theory #Jean Baudrillard 
War Game, 2007 by Jeff Wall.
2 days ago
#Art #Photography #Jeff Wall #Portraiture #Landscape #Theatricality #Documentary photography 
3 days ago
#Art #Painting #Photography #Gunnel Wåhlstrand #Theory #Russell Jacoby #Narcissism #The Bourgeoisie #Capitalism #Power #Identity 
4 days ago
#Art #Photography #Portraiture #Joanna Piotrowska #The Great Leap Sideways #MACK Books 
"The enclosure of the world seems finally to be completed before our eyes with the globalization of the economy. In the wake of the establishment of intercontinental economic giants, a web of insignias like McDonald’s fills up the space and renders its contraction even more noticeable.
In contrast to the planet, however, the city tends to become boundless, blending into territory. It is no longer possible to contemplate it from the outside, except perhaps from strategic command centers where one might envisage its destruction by means of atomic bombs. The urban landscape is no longer framed. Here again, this absence of borders constitutes a rupture with the Western landscape tradition, which used to depend invariably on a pictorial framing. Subsequently, we understand better how photography or cinema interprets the contemporary urban landscape more readily than does an art such as painting. The framings that they propose have a greater capacity for instability, and this instability resonates well with that of a limitless landscape.”
— Antoine Picon ”Anxious Landscapes: From Ruin to Rust,” Grey Room No. 1, Fall 2000
5 days ago
#Geography #History #Culture #Technology #Antoine Picon #Architecture #Art #Photography #Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs 
5 days ago
#Art #Photography #History #Culture #Ecology #Economics #Criticism #Theory #Walead Beshty #Jane Thompson #Afterall journal #The American West #Sprawl #Timothy O'Sullivan #Carleton Watkins #Sze Tsung Leong #Bryan Schutmaat #Susan Lipper #Robert Adams 
6 days ago
#Art #Photography #Culture #Walead Beshty #Visual Culture #Subjectivity #Landscape #The Public Imaginary #Geert Goiris #Gregory Halpern #Bryan Schutmaat #Curran Hatleberg 
"

See them
walk the tide-line
as the oil-rig shimmers
through the faded blue,
she, glancing up
in a gust of sunlight
like a pearl diver
opening her eyes underwater.

See them exchange
the red tabernacle
of their hearts
against a covenant
of light and water,
while dolphins sleep
on borrowed time
with one eye open.

"
"Wedding Song" by Pauline Stainer, from Crossing the Snowline (2008).
1 week ago
#Art #Poetry #Pauline Stainer 
1 week ago
#Art #Photography #Jennilee Marigomen #Theory #Jean Baudrillard