The Infinite Library is an ongoing project by Daniel Gustav Cramer and Haris Epaminonda. It is primarily an expanding archive of books, each created out of pages of one or more found books and bound anew. The online catalogue serves as an index.
Ever since the introduction of the mirror somewhere in the 15th century, I guess there have been many different reasons for artists to make self-portraits, varying from vanity to pragmatism and everything in between.
I once had the brilliant idea to draw myself at least once a year as to later have a reference regarding my changed – or unchanged – self-image. I still think it’s a brilliant idea, but – alas – lack of time-travelling facilities will prevent it from ever happening. And that is a shame, because from the few self-portraits I do have I can already tell that my perception of self and place in the world have changed tremendously over time.
I’m an admirer of Alberto Giacometti’s work, so last autumn when in France I visited the exhibition at the Maeght Foundation (a private European art foundation), reflecting the close relationship between the Giacometti brothers and the Maeght family. Featuring over 120 works – paintings, drawings, sculptures, portraits of members of the Maeght family and film of Giacometti at work – it certainly contained some work I had never seen before.
Lori Nix is a New York based photographer who constructs dioramas and photographs the results. The scenes she builds are mostly made by hand and can be as small as 50×60 cm and as large as 182 cm in diameter. It takes approximately seven months to build a scene. With miniature power tools throughout her apartment, a chop saw under the kitchen table, a miniature table saw on top, her Brooklyn living is her studio.
Lori’s inspiration comes from reading The New York Times, science fiction paperbacks and magazine articles. Most of her ideas arise during her morning subway commute to her day job. “Something about the morning light, the rocking of the subway, seeing the cityscape pass by” opens her mind up to inspiration.
Lori is fascinated (in her own words “maybe even a little obsessed”) with the idea of the apocalypse. In her work “The City” she creates a world being retaken by nature. “The City” is showing at Chicago’s Catherine Edelman Gallery until
March 5, 2011.
Charlotte Salomon was sixteen when the Nazis came to power in 1933. Despite the severely restricted Jewish student quota, she initially gained admission to the Berlin Academy of Fine Art where she studied for two years until her enrollment was annulled in the summer of 1938. The family decided to leave Germany and Charlotte was sent to France to live with her grandparents, where she commenced the great work that would outlive her short life.
Her extraordinary series of 769 paintings – entitled Life? or Theatre? – was driven by “the question: whether to take her own life (like her mother and several other family members had) or undertake something wildly unusual”.
In the space of two years, she painted over a thousand gouaches, working with feverish intensity. She edited the paintings, re-arranged them, added texts, captions, and overlays. The entire work was a slightly fantastic autobiography preserving the main events of her life – her mother’s death, studying art in the shadow of the Third Reich, her difficult relationship with her grandparents – but altering the names and employing a strong element of fantasy.
Just before being captured by the Nazis, she managed to give her work to a trusted friend with the words, “keep this safe, it is my whole life”. Charlotte was five months pregnant when she and her husband were caught. She was transported to Auschwitz on 7 October 1943 and was probably gassed on the same day that she arrived there (October 10). Source Wikipedia > read more
I used to – a long time ago – adhere to the dichotomy between autonomous work and “parametrized” commissions. When working as a graphic designer, I didn’t perceive to be having much creative autonomy and I used to assume that a real artists would be purely autonomous and refuse to take any directions from anyone other than themselves. Now, many years later, I’m not only starting to appreciate the many different subtle states autonomy comes in, I also realise that autonomy can be a questionable notion from a philosophical and neurological point of view. Am “I” really doing this, or am “I” being steered by processes beyond my (conscious) control?
When looking back at my old graphic designs, I now see much more creative autonomy in them than I used to; they at least “feel” like having a me-ness to them. And, nowadays as an artist, to a certain extent, I do not mind some direction from others as I know it will turn out to be something I will perceive to have a me-ness too.
The latter has raised discussions; some have stated (and many others will follow) that for that I am not a true artist. This is fine as I will be enjoying my blurry lines regardless and “on my own autonomous terms”. Did I mention that like dichotomies, I fancy fallacies too…?
I don’t know where exactly my fascination with trees comes from, but I know it has something to do with their shapes as it exceeds natural trees and includes tree-like things, such as electric pylons (see previous post). However, there are also trees that I find downright ugly, such as pine trees. And yes, the first has to yet enter my house during Christmas; instead I decorate leafless brown tree branches and put them in a large vase.
So within the huge variety of features trees come in, what are the common characteristics I’m so fond of? I’m afraid I can only be rather vague here…
Grounded creatures reaching for freedom? Impressive giants that connect earth and sky? Graphic – be it capricious or structured – shapes that make up a sky design? I guess all I know is that I’m not alone. Trees and tree-like shapes work for many people and artists. Brooks Shane Salzwedel, an LA-based artist who employs layered resin and mixed media to create depth and a delicate misty effect in his tree-ish works must be one of them.
When in Paris, I always try to visit Pere Lachaise. It is in fact the only cemetery I visit regularly, even though no one I personally knew rests there. And I am not alone. Why are people drawn to Pere Lachaise if not dead or related to those who are?
Heddy Honigmann’s intriguing and award-winning documentary “Forever” explores the answer in a series of conversations with visitors, each musing on gravestones. Honigmann goes well beyond the triumph of life over death; she examines the importance of art in our existence.
I think one of the (many) reasons behind choosing a corporate career after my art education was that it would force me to act sanely. There simply isn’t much space for weird fantasies in the world of ‘managing to meet the bottom line’.
It’s true, one of my biggest fears in my 20′s and early 30′s was the thought of losing control, of letting my subconscious take over and drag me to where I did not necessarily wanted to be. Funnily enough it is whilst climbing the corporate ladder that I learned to let go of trying to be in control.
So here I am, letting my imagination run wild and giving it free range to do so. Happily mad, with pigs flying into walls, conducting night with a fishing rod, breaking the ice on the Venice canals with stilts to hear the city cry, performing surgery on my knee during a ballet dance, walking with lost penguins on a sunny beach, halving a frog with a clothes hanger to see the two parts jumping towards a well, and much more.
Julian Beever is an English artist who creates 3D trompe-l’œil chalk drawings on pavements since the mid-1990s. He uses a projection technique called anamorphosis to create the illusion of three dimensions when viewed from the correct angle. It is often possible to position a person within the image as if they were interacting with the scene.
Beever first designs his work on paper. Once finalised a camera is placed at a distance from the art on the pavement, which he returns to in order to observe the image through the lens a number of times as the camera’s wide angled lens can create an optical illusion which distorts the actual size of objects.
Julian Beever’s 3D street art - The last picture showing the lobster from a “wrong” angle
For her project “Evidence” Angela Strassheim, a Minnesota-born photographer living and working in New York, mapped out locations where violent crimes had taken place. Subsequently she talked her way inside these spaces and sprayed the former crime scenes with “Blue Star”, a chemical that will turn up blood stains long after they have been cleaned away. Using long exposure times, ranging from 10 minutes up to an hour, with minimum night light pouring in, she managed to capture these seemingly mesmerising, yet startling scenes long after the struggles ended.
Photos by Angela Strassheim, for her “Evidence” project
I envy courageous people. There is something tremendously appealing about courage as a trait. And I don’t mean the reckless kind, but things like people who dare to fail; fall flat on their faces and get up to give it another go. People who do things because they love doing them, not necessarily because they’re good at them. In short, people who step out of their comfort zones.
Having decided to become a full-time artist was more than just leaving the relatively safe haven the corporate world and its steady financial rewards had become. More even than pursuing a true passion. It was also meant to force myself to step out of my comfort zone.
I think all artists by definition are courageous. Creating is personal business. And personal business makes for vulnerability. And vulnerability makes for fear of failure or negative critique. (Well okay, the exceptional indifferent show-off excluded.)
The most difficult thing for me is to share is my writing (start blogging, ha!), particularly creative writing. I’m not a creative writer or a poet in my own language (which is Dutch), let alone in another. But… I happen to enjoy playing with words… preferably in English.
I like their sounds, their newness and even the fact that I often don’t know their meaning. I will take them, shuffle them, paste them, rearrange them, structure them, find synonyms, shuffle again, etc. until I think the result is ‘at least’ a creation of repeating sounds that I’m fond of.
So at the risk of being slightly embarrassed as well as torn apart by language sensitive, native English speakers, I will force myself to post a poem every now and then.
I love to learn; so whenever I can I will put serious effort into gaining new skills. Given current circumstances a “professional” link should exist when external resources are required. In other words, no French or Vinification, but Glass blowing or Silver casting (not complaining at all!). My expectations for Silver casting were high and – despite the process being quite laborious – more than met in terms of relish. Now just find the time…