There is a sequence of film in black and white with no sound where we simply, through the use of a camera mounted on the side of a vehicle moving through a settlement, see what the soldiers see – kids making finger guns to shoot at them, a woman smiling, men studiously ignoring the passing vehicle. We see lots and lots of stands selling vegetables (even in b&w the eggplants stand out shiny and dark). Some people are caught really close up as they pull their scooters over to let the vehicles pass. The normality of the scene is constantly challenged by the shadow of the 50 cal machine gun mounted on the top of the vehicle tracking over everything.
The artist and photographer Mark Neville spent time in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, with 16 Air Assault Brigade in a project organised by firstsite in Colchester and the Imperial War Museum. This exhibition at the Imperial War Museum comprises large format photographs and films he made whilst there.
Mark uses a very high speed film camera, usually used for documenting science experiments, which means that even from a moving vehicle the image is really clear.
The still photographs also exhibited involved taking a large format camera and flash unit normally used in fashion shoots out on patrol (I can’t quite imagine how this worked, but I believe it knowing Mark’s commitment to his process). Kids, a man slaughtering a goat, nothing that looks like a patrol in a war zone (a soldier carrying a case of Irn bru) except what you see in peoples’ eyes – suspicion and uncertainty.
Currently at the Dan Flavin Institute in Bridgehampton you can see an exhibition of cards and letters that Carl Andre sent to Sol LeWitt (press release here).
It’s pretty clear that they must have shared a sense of humour as well as an aesthetic.
There is on sequence of instructions for painting landscape (a card divided into a grid of six boxes -three by two – in each box is the name of one colour paired with the names of one of six other colours. Down the side of the card is written the word foliage). Following the instructions should lead to works which might remind you of works by Joseph Albers.
There’s another set of 16 cards each, in sequence, with three lines of the biography of Spinoza pasted onto them.
There’s a set with different materials’ polar curves (something to do with algebra), again cut out of a University textbook.
This pretty much demonstrates a number of LeWitt’s Sentences on Conceptual Art such as “Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.” Sorry not to be here for part 2 in the winter featuring Andre’s poetry.
Robert Motherwell the East Hampton Years 1944-1952 at the Guild Hall in Easthampton.
Selection of works starting at the point when Motherwell was still caught between Surrealism and Cubism. Some of the works are truly beautiful, and in places you catch glimpses of realism – a shadow under a shelf – you’re not sure if its you’re imagination. Sad they razed his house in 1985 (bad decade).
The new Parrish Art Museum just outside Southampton, designed by Herzog and de Meuron (of Tate Modern fame), is at once a challenging and also quite subtle piece of architecture. It aspires to sit in the landscape like the epitome of an agricultural building: larger maybe, more overtly using the materials of agricultural architecture such as sterling board and exposed concrete. It’s very different from the quiet neoclassicism of the old Parrish. Sitting on a basically rectangular plot next to Route 27, the relationship to landscape dodges the otherwise generic retail architecture that prevails along every highway in the US. On the other hand the relationship of the car parks, oak trees and swales at the back of the building is good, and the quality of wildflower meadow also successfully differentiates this space from commercial, municipal and domestic lawns. Fritz Haeg and the Harrisons would be pleased to see this, and perhaps it will slowly change the wider landscape.
Inside the overhanging roof creates a quality of light recogniseable from the best architecture in places with such strong summer sun.
The spaces suit Maya Lin and Denis Oppenheim, both with works installed this summer. Maya Lin’s explorations of aspects of landscape at different scales are compelling, whilst Oppenheim’s proposals for splash buildings are fun and funky, but keep your attention.
The building doesn’t seem to serve traditional painting quite so well. It is perhaps too austere for William Merritt Chase’s works on show.
It’s quite an achievement for a small town (albeit with access to considerable wealth) to have produced a space which will be considered alongside the best small art museums in the world. But with great wealth comes great responsibility and it would be interesting to hear how this institution engages with all those who are excluded. It looks like it might have good environmental credentials, but it needs good social ones beyond the conventional work with schools – where’s the residency with the hispanic migrant working community that services the domestic and gardening needs of the Hamptons, or works with isolated older people in the winter?
There are two opportunities in Edinburgh in August to hear artists talking about working in healthcare (I’m going to be moderating the second of them). Both will touch on mental health contexts, but the second event will particularly focus on them.
Art and the Healing Environment
Sunday August 17th 1.30 – 2.30. Princes Room, Bonhams. Free entry.
The session will be Chaired by Dr. Donnie Ross, an ex-hospital consultant and medical director, and ex-chairman of Grampian Hospitals Art Trust, who also describes himself as a shed-builder, writer and artist – and who writes:
‘….the NHS is about healing but the elements of wholeness, compassion and creativity have been squeezed out by technology, rationality and hard economics …… there should be an intellectual and emotional dimension to hospital art projects which extends beyond the acknowledged essential and valuable putting of nice pictures on walls ….. to give the movement longevity & durability in the face of changing political and economic circumstances.’
Jan-Bert van den Berg – Director of Artlink, Edinburgh
Trevor Jones – Director of Art in Healthcare
Alexander Hamilton – Lead commissioned artist for Dignified Spaces at th New South Glasgow Hospitals
Robin Williams – Gallery manager at Edinburgh’s The Gallery on the Corner
Ian Rawnsley – Artist and exhibitor in this year’s show
Artist as Healer: The relationship between art and the health service
Summerhall Festival 2014
21st August 18.00
How can art contribute to our health? What part can it play in the clinical process? What are the issues for artists and producers working in healthcare contexts?
Join Artist Maria McCavana, Producer Chris Fremantle and Dr Lindsey MacLeod, Consultant Clinical Psychologist specialising in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, as they discuss the role that artists can play in the creation of modern healthcare environments and the impact these can have on the patients that use them.
I’d also recommend the other UZArts discussion which will focus on Human Rights,
Artist as Activist: The relationship between art and social change
Summerhall Festival 2014
22nd August 2014 18.00
UZ Arts Director and Director of Sura Medura Artist Residency centre, Neil Butler in conversation with Sri Lankan artist and human rights activist Chandraqupta Thenuwara about his life and work. A leading peace activist before, during and after the Sri Lankan civil war, Thenu worked with Neil Butler on the 2007 concert ‘Sing for Peace’, which brought together prominent Tamil, Sinhalese, Burgher and Muslim singers to share the same stage. Thenu has continued his work as a human rights activist in post-war Sri Lanka, maintaining a constant critique of the Sri Lankan war and its aftermath. Thenu will be visiting the UK as UZ Arts Artist in Residence in Glasgow, living and working in the city throughout August and September
Went to Laboratorio on West Nile Street for coffee and art. So appropriate for the Commonwealth, Last To Win brings some memorabilia from Italy to Scotland relevant to this specific moment. Apparently in the late forties the Italians had a special black jersey for the rider who came last in each stage of the national cycle race. Just to further explore the good humoured stereotype I can imagine that Chris Biddlecombe must have spent quite a long evening drinking grappa in the bar in Genoa where these treasures normally reside. I can see the owner behind the bar grizzled and smiling, wide as he is tall, telling Chris about the various objects on the walls, and then slowly being charmed into the into the idea of lending them to Scotland as a reminder of trans European connections and the joy of losing.
Beth Carruthers kindly highlighted this fascinating report by Pam Hall on her residency in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1997-99. It’s interesting reading and in key respects still very relevant.
Radical Geommetry at the Royal Academy is pretty quiet on a Saturday afternoon. I came because I’m interested in Carlos Cruz-Diez and his use of colour and optical effects (but the largest piece is in a room where you can’t stand back far enough to appreciate it). Anyway the reviews have tended to be concerned in whether South American abstraction was derivative or an interesting thing in itself. If this is derivative then what becomes of Jim Lambie when you are looking at Otero’s Colourhythm 38 of 1958?
But that might be unfair because Soto’s maquette for a mural (1952-53) probably became something like the piece of cast concrete public art outside Charing Cross Station in Glasgow – very dated. Could and should that sort of work be revitalised in the way Alex Frost has with mosaic (another 70s public art classic)? Yet the concerns of these artists (abstraction, interaction) remain relevant today, the aesthetic largely retains its power and South America has gone on contributing to ideas of what art can be (eg Ala Plastica, Grupo Etcetera).
1988-89 Sod Swap – David Nash
1971 Calendar – Allan Kaprow