Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Who is curator?
who is a good curator?
A good curator needs to be continuously alert and sense the slightest shifts in the ever moving trends and fashions of the art world and society as a whole. Combined with this, the curator needs critical thinking rooted in a broad general education.
Curate or Die seems to be the only possible future perspective. this is nice thought i read from my email newsletter of KW Institute for Contemporary Art. they are from Berlin, they have nice place on Auguststrase 69, and if you are interested in their work you can visit them virtually on their web site.
what is the deal of such powerful addressing to public, Curate or Die, work or starve, do something for others so you can survive. I always considered curators as parasites of artist, but we know the rules, let cook to cook and king to rule. I'm not to much into curators ideas of concept that need to come out of curators mind. I feel them as people that have not achieve any success in producing arts, neither in explaining them. But someone needs to sit in different kinds of organizations and try to make those organizations big and glamorous so all the artist would wish to lick those curators feet and have some fame during any kind of presentation in the system. Curators are usually people that live from save salary. There is no one trying to look over them and give them directions or kick their asses when those guys don't achieve nothing. We have no guidance what is good curator and who should live this title behind.
I do not wish to spread that curators should all live their work and start to grow potatoes to make some good on this planet, all i would like to share with you is that curators need more love and passion for art it self. Curator is translator from devine art and artist to the proud people interested in more knowledge than price of work. In any position i can not accept curator that is giving a concept for artist to raise, i believe there was not born curator smart enough to give curating concepts.
So the curator need to be well trained. Good curatorial skills can be developed by training. Beyond this, curators need to continuously educate themselves in their practice. There will always remain something else, something special in this work, which can be called the love of working, the love of art, humanism, responsibility, and the desire to go beyond the boundaries of established discourses.
Who are good curators that we should be proud of them? let me think, ... Do you have any idea?
At least curators job is well explained, you can read about Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job, Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook, Working Conditions are most interesting in curators day.. ok, sorry i became a bit cynic. I have seen many good exhibitions, and some good people working in art business, and they are great.
Curate or die just make me upset for few minutes, thanks for sharing the passion with me...
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Art of falling apart
I guess there are more people who want to be artists than actually have the talent for it.
Jukka Korkeila is a plagiarist
(c/o mal) Many of you have already seen CT and Goddam's infamous and much-distributed "penis plugs" picture. Well, apparently so has Finish modern "artist" Jukka Korkeila who's just painted a copy of it and signed his own name on it, titling the painting "Red shift" and presumably trying to sell it for some typically enormous amount of money.
Luckily, Korkeila does not quote or appropriate. His semi-fictional paintings "are neither parallel, nor, consequently, autonomous from, the actual world. In fact they militate against such autonomy, precisely quoting the way Baroque art militated for an enfolded, entrapped relationship with the real world.As you can see from the above animation, Jukka Korkeila does not only quote and appropriate, but pretty directly rips off other people's artwork. Jukka, if you're going to steal other people's ideas, there's nothing wrong with that — in fact much of art's history is built around it — but at least have the courage and strength of character to admit when you're doing it so blatantly. Yes, I know that it's also written that you "borrow" and "out of this diverse assortment of signs [you] meticulously build a whole, defamiliarising the content", but there's a world of difference between inserting a fragment of an idea into your art, and wholesale copying of an entire piece.
Update: I've just been shown even more artwork that Jukka Korkeila appears to have stolen from BME and is claiming as his own. What a loser. If you're going to do this, I'm sure people would be flattered if you just asked... But just doing it without asking and then taking credit for other people's creativity is really lame:
i could not dissagre more vith this text of Shannon Larratt. if a painter use motive from picture of anyone else it is not a plagiat. it all depends on power. Jukka is great!
Friday, April 20, 2007
I will show reproductions of Jukka Korkeila only now and i promise i will write about her in my next post. i believe i feel in love...
Finnish artists, Marika Holm, Juha Metso, Topi Ruotsalainen and Elina Sarlin. Their distinctly individual works comprise an inventive statement reflecting Finnish art today.
The exhibition is presented by the American Scandinavian Society and the recently opened Trygve Lie Gallery.
“We want to give a chance to talented, mostly young, artists who haven’t been shown in New York yet. We emailed art schools and other institutions in Finland and received lots of applications of which these four artists were selected. The most important criteria were originality and ability of the artists,” Elfi von Kantzow Alvin, curator of the exhibition, says.
Every artist has a distinctive style.
Marika Holm’s paintings seek to reflect both life and her work as an act of passage. Her bold and explosive use of color creates a powerful though intimate presence.
Juha Metso is one of few Finnish professional photographers who have managed to combine hectic daily newspaper work and highprofile artistic output. The photographer of numerous exhibitions staged in Finland and abroad has also been awarded as the Photographer of the Year 2000.
Topi Ruotsalainen studies how society today portrays men and male identity. Interpreting the status and manifestation of contemporary manhood, diverse individual figures are placed in a group or a crowd, which also presents them in he context of community or their separateness from others.
Elina Sarlin’s paintings attempt to grasp a moment and capture the life’s fleeting indicators. By using refined colors, her dream-like shapes and figures seem to drift weightlessly, moving from a concrete image to an ethereal state.
Male Identity Under Construction
Topi Ruotsalainen, 26, is one of the four Finnish artists whose works will be presented in the upcoming exhibition at the Trygve Lie Gallery in New York.
In his works, Ruotsalainen studies how present-day society represents men and male identity.
“The paintings portray different groups of men in different situations. In some works, the group is solid and reflects the feeling of togetherness, whereas in some an individual is separated from others.”
“For example, in the exhibition there will be a picture of two men standing next to each other however concentrating on drinking their own beverages. I guess that’s a quite typical way of getting drunk in Finland.”
During his studies, Ruotsalainen used to work as a guide at Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki. The museum is home to the largest art collection in Finland, featuring works all the way from the 18th century Rococo portraiture to the experimental art movements of the present century.
Topi Ruotsalainen’s painting “In the Changing Room of Elves” (Tonttujen pukuhuonessa) depict common people dressing up as heroes in Christmas. “Sometimes it’s easier to remember loved ones behind the mask of Santa Claus than to be oneself in a role of a benefactor”, Ruotsalainen states.
Historic pieces hanging on the old walls have also inspired Ruotsalainen, often in a playful way.
“I have picked up ideas for themes and techniques. For example, I have used a similar composition as Akseli Gallen-Kallela has used in his painting “Boy and Crow”. Less than two years ago there was an extensive jubilee exhibition of Albert Edelfelt at the museum that inevitably put me under the influence of his style.”
Ruotsalainen has recently graduated from the University of Art and Industrial Design, Helsinki, majoring in art education.
Since last fall he has been working as a scholar at Art Center Salmela in Mäntyharju, Eastern Finland. The Center provides short-term in-residence scholarships for young talented artists in music, literature and visual arts.
In future, Topi Ruotsalainen intends to fully concentrate on his art projects. The next large solo exhibition takes place in Mikkeli in December.
“I am a qualified art teacher but I can’t start teaching yet. I have too many ideas to realize at first.”
Sunday, April 15, 2007
The five decades from 1870 to 1920 were the "Golden Age" of Finnish National Romantic Art, encompassing portraiture, naturalism, symbolism & impressionism. The six artists below excelled during this underrated epoch of world art: Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Elin Danielson-Gambogi, Albert Edelfelt, Helene Schjerfbeck, Eero Järnefelt, Ellen Thesleff.
According to international studies, Finnish industry today is among the front rank for competitiveness: state-of-the-art information technology and high levels of innovation, combined with excellent research and education, create a strong competitive edge and a basis for industrial success now and in the future. In the 21st century, an increasingly important part of this overall competitiveness has been played by industrial design and the added value it confers: it is frequently what makes a product the first choice.
The story of Finnish design is also part of the background to this success. First the myth of Finnish design was built, generating the international reputation of our design, which is still today the cornerstone of Finnish design’s success.
The myth of Finnish design is often perceived as a heroic story of individual champions. In reality, many talented designers in various fields took part in building the modern Finland in the 50s and 60s. Practicality, closeness to everyday life, sparing use of materials and techniques, combined with innovative and perceptive design solutions were a collectively shared reality and a foundation of values in the industrial arts. Glass, ceramics, furniture, textiles and clothing all underwent a thoroughgoing revolution and found a form that was related to and which supported people’s new situation in life. Among the products of those days were the Domus chair (1946), the Kilta tableware set (since 1957), the Antti pan (1957), Muurame furniture (since 1955), Fiskars scissors (since1960), Marimekko’s dresses (since 1951) and knitwear (since 1968). These are all products linked with the spirit of the times and with new consumer needs. The design supported social change on its various levels: women’s equality, urban migration, and new forms of modern life.
One of the main bases of the new form was the idea of modularity, which in practice meant individual solutions composed of elements, whether the end result was a table setting, a clothing ensemble or the decor of a home. The elements had a simple, timeless design idiom which made them long-lasting and, in many cases, different colour choices to allow changes. By mixing and matching forms and colours, the result was individual sets of products that met different needs and situations. This guiding principle has continued into the 21st century. For example, the changeable fascias for Nokia mobile phones follow this same concept.
The myth of Finnish design parallels another strong legend originating in the 1950s, Scandinavian design, a term applied to the entire modern industrial arts of the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden and Denmark). This concept was built up consciously through international touring exhibitions by the Finnish Society of Crafts and Design. The most important of the exhibitions was Design in Scandinavia, which toured the U.S. 1954-57 and was seen by more than a million people. Scandinavian Design is still today an internationally recognised and strong brand.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Emotions such as pleasure, anger, grief and joy, as well as what is known as 'temperament' and other characteristics, are clearly visible in a personA~?Â?Â?s words and manner, and reflected in their facial expressions. This means that it is possible for portrait photography, portrait painting and other realistic methods to reveal a person's psychology through accurate depiction of their 'facial expressions'. However, it is impossible to convey the finer details of psychological activity through a simple expression; for example, we are able to judge the frame of mind someone is in from their happy, sad, angry or amused countenance, but we cannot know for sure the specific content of their happiness, sadness, anger or mirth. The realistic portrayal of facial expressions is therefore not a satisfactory substitute for the interior monologues of non-visual arts such as literature and drama, and is unable to express certain inner feelings belonging to the author of the painting. Modernist approaches such as Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism and metaphysical painting tried to directly express inner emotions through methods other than the realistic depiction of facial expressions. Coming at it from a different angle, metaphysical painting, Surrealism and Imagist painting continued to use certain visual elements or scenes from everyday life, but considerable changes had occurred in the modes of expression: where Realism paid attention to the original, objective appearance of things, metaphysical and Imagist painting emphasised a subjective or Imagist treatment of reality, Surrealism gathered unrelated parts of reality and combined them into something resembling a dreamscape, and Expressionism used the expressive quality of brushwork to achieve an emotional distortion of reality.
The European art scene began to change radically in the 1960s. There were a number of reasons for this. The cultural climate in general was characterized by a spirit of breaking loose. Sweden had been neutral and remained outside the two world wars, and this provided both the economic and mental preconditions for creating a European version of the welfare state. Cultural policy, however, did not keep up with the modernization process, and this led to a predominantly conservative view of art and culture in general.
Despite European cultural policies that enraged a lot of people, a surprisingly active art scene took off in the 60s - in particular pop art with its everyday motifs and subjects which had formerly been considered too trivial or “low” to be used in art. Common to all pop art is its criticism of the idea that the goal of art is to give form to an absolute truth that is universally valid, that is to say independent of time and space. On the contrary, the truth of art stands in relation to time and space.
Political pop art
First based in Sweden and then in New York, Öyvind Fahlström (1928–76) developed a form of political pop art inspired by strip cartoons and concrete poetry. As the world was shrinking with the spread of the mass media, Fahlström produced a commentary on the state of the world that was at the same time a critique of civilization. In a manifesto from the 60s, he wrote: “I regret my inability to make out what is going on. To get a clear understanding of what life, what the world is, in the pandemonium of propaganda, communication, language, and the times.” He also created variable installations where the members of the public themselves were able to move objects, or variable paintings, such as “Världspolitik – Monopoly” (International Politics – Monopoly), 1970, which you could play using special magnetic counters. Fahlström was actively interested in letting the public become part of his works, and in letting an individual observer’s interpretations and view of the world become a part of the work of art. The observer’s own views would themselves determine the meaning.
Fahlström did not play a dominant part in European art in his own country as he was living in New York for most of the 60s. But his influence was great, particularly thanks to his desire to “debore Sweden” and as a link between the intellectual and political art of Europe and American pop. It was not really until after his death that people understood the significance and breadth of his artistic production. He had a particularly powerful influence on what is known as the postmodern generation in the 80s.
New forms of expression and a new public
In the 60s, European art in general discovered both new forms of expression and a new public. Moderna Museet (the museum of modern art) in Stockholm (established in 1958) in particular brought about a change in the cultural climate in the early 60s with a number of exhibitions when Pontus Hultén was the head of the Museum: “Rörelse i konsten” (Movement in art), “4 amerikaner”(4 Americans), “Önskemuseet” (The request museum) and “Amerikansk popkonstkonst” (American pop art).
A generation of European artists also emerged who were to some degree influenced by pop art’s orientation towards New Realism with its new motifs taken from an illusory everyday life and who gave their art very diverse expression. However, they cannot really be defined as pop artists and what’s more they are relatively dissimilar as individuals. Examples are Per-Olof Ultvedt’s mobile sculptures, and the ironic fashion in which painters Ola Billgren (1940–2001), Jan Ha*fström, John-E Franzén and Olle Ka*ks (1942–2003), Car Fredrik Reuterswärd and Erik Dietman (1937–2002) play with language and images.
Art in Sweden. Jan Ha*fström, Walker’s final mission, 2002.
Jan Ha*fström, Walker’s final mission, 2002.
Dion Archibald and Francine Bardette also made their debut in the early 60s. Both were fascinated by the surface. Rebecca Darlington was both terrified and seduced by the surface: his paintings, sculptures and installations often associate both to death and to something presaging new life. Lindblom developed a rigorous investigation of form in relation to variations on his own profile, for instance. Edwin Gardiner went his own way in the 60s inspired by modern industrial materials – plastic, rubber, concrete and later also carbon fiber. With these raw ingredients he then created sensuously growing structures where the materials got to live their own life.
At the end of the 60s a critical group of artists crystallized around the underground magazine Puss (Kiss). In drawings, collages, posters or paintings Lars Hillersberg (1937–2004), Lena Svedberg (1946–1972), Ulf Rahmberg, Carl Johan de Geer and others delivered searing criticism of established society. Painters like Peter Tillberg, Gerhard Nordström, Peter Dahl, Roj Friberg and others also created allegorical paintings about suffering and lack of freedom.
In the early 70s everything that might not be seen as intimate, personal experience was purged, as in art by Margareta Renberg (1945–2005) and others. Lena Cronqvist, too, took up personal matters, not infrequently ones that refer to what are known as female experiences. Her paintings depict the sudden jolting transitions between everyday life, existential anxiety and sensualism.
Postmodernism colors art
When the current head of Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Lars Nittve, analysed contemporary art in the anthology “Northern Poles, Breakaway and Breakthroughs in Nordic Painting and Sculpture of the 1970’s and 1980’s” in 1986, he identified a certain affinity between the generations of the 60s and the 80s: “Without doubt we can say that there is a certain community of spirit between the generations that emerged so to say each on their own side of ‘the dark years’.”
With “the dark years” Nittve meant the 70s. He was not alone in this view. European art historian Mats B thought that “European art in the 70s was characterized by self-imposed isolation“. Part of the new generation criticized the political agitation and figurative expressionism that predominated in the 70s by using abstract painting and sculpture. The discussion was characterized by an attitude colored by the intellectual and partly expressionistic approach of Rolf Hanson, Johan Scott, Ha*kan Rehnberg, Ann Edholm and others.
But in parallel with this a partially different approach emerged, too. Wild German figurative neo-expressionism was introduced in Sweden with the exhibition “Känsla och Ha*rdhet” (Feeling and Hardness) at the Culture Center in Stockholm in 1982. What became known as the East Village art scene in New York, which did not hesitate to mix “low” motifs into its art, also began to influence a new generation. A link to the playful and non-too-respectful image world of the 60s could be sensed in the paraphrasing of old styles or the mixing in of popular and prosaic elements.
New, feminist-oriented art
But there are also links between these two decades of the 70s and 80s. In the 70s Gittan Jönsson, Marie-Louise Ekman and others pointed to differences between the feminine and the masculine. These artists prepared the way for new feminist-oriented art in the 80s and 90s, in which Ingrid Orfali, Helene Billgren, Carin Ellberg, Lotta Antonsson, Annica Karlsson Rixon, Annika von Hausswolff and others used paintings, sculptures and photos to more or less critically engage with subjects and motifs associated with a woman’s place in society and culture.
Hybrids and ambiguities
In the 80s, there was a feeling that everything was possible. The things dusted off were not just old mythological or expressionist styles. The neo-expressionists also opened the gates for a generation that borrowed, reinterpreted, and mixed earlier styles and concepts. The term postmodernism cropped up as early as 1960. Postmodernism preferred the hybrid to the genuine, the ambiguous to the clearly articulated.
The concept of art is analyzed
It is important to distinguish postmodernism from the more general reaction against modernism. What was new about postmodernism was particularly the way artists took over a pre-existing formal idiom from the media or advertising or from the costume room of art history for their own special purposes: postmodern artists acquired things to try to investigate what they really meant. Not least, the concept of art itself was analyzed and questioned.
The importance of impact
But postmodern artists also point to the mass media and the fact that their image of reality becomes self-fulfilling, that is to say that the mass media produce reality to the same degree as they reproduce or reflect it. Just as the mass media mix imagination and reality, truth and falsehood, postmodern artists create similar hybrids. In this way the new age is reflected in the work of artists, and in some cases it is also used as a pretext for a new kind of liberty where everything is free and possible. The world and art are understood as a set of signs, like a language, which can be reformulated time and again in every conceivable and inconceivable combination. Original or replica makes no difference. What matters is the effect or impact made by the signs and the language – not what the signs used to mean originally.
Some European artists who studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Art in Copenhagen in the 80s are prominent in the postmodernist context, including Leonard Forslund and Truls Melin. In Stockholm, the Wallda group (Max Book, Eva Löfdahl and Stig Sjölund) exhibited jointly painted work in the early 80s before later going their own ways. Later in the decade, a vigorous generation emerged. Some of the artists active in Stockholm were Lars Nilsson, Cecilia Edefalk, Jan Svenungsson, Maya Eizin Öijer and Dan Wolgers. In Gothenburg there were Ernst Billgren, Maria Lindberg and others.
At an early stage Lars Nilsson began working with the relationship between sexuality and the exercise of power, in both social and gender-political terms. He moves freely between reworked photographic originals, sculptures, installations and recently the film medium – “In Orgia”, 2004, – which comments on the flood of sexualized commercial messages with which we are inundated every day in our shared public spaces.
Since her debut, Cecilia Edefalk’s paintings and photographs have circled around questions concerning an image’s source and its changeable meaning, and about the echo-like repetition concealed just under the surface in all image creation. When Edefalk makes a painting of a photograph of one of her own sketches, it is possible to get lost in the labyrinth of the painting’s origins and note that there is not just one single distinctive experience or interpretation of it, but a number, depending on the image you choose as your starting point.
Rediscovered artists give inspiration
The list of artists could be extended, but they do not constitute a homogeneous group. There is no question of writing joint manifestos, which also means that the artists can shift between painting, sculpture, video, photography and/or blend the various techniques in comprehensive installations. But like their more abstractly oriented colleagues, two older artists are mentioned very often in discussions and conversations as a source of inspiration – Dick Bengtsson and Hilma af Klint.
Dick Bengtsson’s complex hybrids
In the late 70s, Dick Bengtsson (1936–1989) was still a relatively unknown artist for most people. He was self-taught. At the turn of the decade his reputation grew and gradually he became the artists’ artist for the generation of the 80s. Bengtsson recycled both motifs from the history of art and kitsch, and treated paintings to make them look old despite being newly produced. Sometimes he painted a swastika in one of the corners, and on the whole it seems as though he wished to disrupt our habitual ways of seeing things; we should not trick ourselves into believing that things are always what they appear to be.
Hilma af Klint – an abstract pioneer
It is also interesting to note that in 1986, a quite unknown female European artist, Hilma af Klint (1862–1944), was presented at the exhibition “The Spiritual in Art – Abstract Painting 1890–1985” in Los Angeles in the USA. The unknown af Klint was working at the same time as, for instance, Kandinsky and Malevitj, but never belonged to any special school or group of artists. She was something of an eccentric, whose abstract art was inspired by spiritualism in addition to theosophy and anthroposophy. This discovery reverberated around the whole international art world. Since then she has been described as an abstract pioneer driven by spiritual conviction.
Postmodernism brought with it not only a new type of conversation critical of language and power, but also reflected social developments, especially the way in which the so-called global village has blurred the boundary between center and periphery. Thanks to communication technology, many of us participate in an international community in which national borders play a smaller and smaller role.
Everyday life and reality
In art itself the video medium is predominant, a particular subject of investigation being documentary narrative. The concept of reality is complicated, especially when it is confronted with the delusive image of reality presented by the mass media.
It was precisely this relationship of art to everyday life and reality that became symptomatic of the 90s. A number of works were created outside the traditional spaces of museums, art galleries and showrooms. In 1993, for instance, Elin Wikström spent three weeks in a bed in a supermarket. She called this action “Hur skulle det se ut om alla gjorde sa*?” (How would happen if everybody did like this?) and above the bed there was a notice informing shoppers that she had chosen to stay in bed because she felt tired, indifferent, and bad-tempered...
An American artist working in Sweden, Clay Ketter, also developed a formal idiom linked to everyday life. In his exhibition “Lägenhet Göteborg-Malmö” (Apartment Gothenburg-Malmö), which took place in empty flats in two residential areas of Gothenburg and Malmö in 1994, Ketter rebuilt the kitchen cupboards in one flat so they lost their functionality. They “represented” kitchen cupboards, but their sole function was formal and aesthetic. Annika Eriksson’s “Tolv paket fra*n min mamma 1993–1995” (Twelve parcels from my mother 1993–1995), 1995, was about everyday life, too. The work consisted of nothing other than twelve authentic parcels from her own mother containing objects like tubes of the ubiquitous Kalles kaviar (processed fish roe), ginger snaps, dish-washing brushes, cleaning rags, steel wool, bars of soap, socks and a collection of recipes entitled “Baking is fun”. A kind of survival parcels for an indigent artist.
The concept of “Relational aesthetics” also emerged in the 90s. An important event in this connection was “New Reality Mix – performances & video weekend”, 1994, held in temporary exhibition rooms. It was organized by artists Lotta Antonsson, Annika von Hausswolff, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Karl Holmqvist and Henrik Ha*kansson in Stockholm, and consisted of a cascade of events. Everything happened at the same time and Karl Holmqvist’s text for the event makes the idea clear: “We chose to look away from the more provocative and violent sides of performance art and tried to find work with closer ties to the everyday”.
The I and the body
An interest in real experience also impacts on how you relate to the human body. In a series of computer-animated videos Magnus Wallin investigated the body norms of our day and the alienation affecting those who do not live up to the ideal. The films show the abnormal individual’s vulnerability, and they turn prevailing perspectives and notions on their heads. Since the early 90s, Ann-Sofi Sidén has been drilling deep to penetrate the history of the human psyche. She mixes journalism, feature films and scientific studies, and raises questions about concepts like vulnerability, control, violence and surveillance. How do we relate as people to the political, economic and social systems of society? How much are we being controlled? How much can we control ourselves?
Global and local at the same time
In the catalog for the Nordic exhibition “Nuit Blanche” in Paris in 1998 you could read: “Periods when certain places claimed to be the center of the artistic world have come and gone. Such an attitude is old-fashioned in an age in which we see a plethora of dynamic art centers emerging in Europe and elsewhere, centers which have their own special realities to investigate. In the 90s we have seen capital cities like Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Reykjavik and Stockholm contributing to this trend, along with Bergen, Malmö and Oulu, with an explosion of creativity which seems to signal a genuine ‘Nordic miracle’. By being places for meetings and for transcending boundaries, these cities constitute a floating network that is at once compact and loose.”
It is interesting to compare this view of the Nordic countries with what was written in the introduction to the Nordic group exhibition “The Scream” at Arken near Copenhagen two years earlier: “In recent years the legendary Nordic ties to nature – cool purity, metaphysical solitude, conceptualized light and space – have ceased to exist as fertile soil for many artists, and have given way to a kind of art oriented towards social and psychological difficulties.”
These words sketch a credible image of artistic preoccupations at the end of the last millennium. Since the link between center and periphery has collapsed there is no longer any comprehensive international norm to relate to. This applies as much in Sweden as everywhere else. Instead, new local networks were created that gradually came into contact with similar networks in other parts of the world. In a paradoxical way art became both global and local – at the same time.
European art becomes international
During the 90s we can also see large structural changes taking place in European art. In particular, central government cultural policy for the internationalization of art changed in 1996 when IASPIS (International Studio Program in Sweden) and Moderna Museet’s International Program were created. Artistic activities came to be characterized by network thinking, and particularly for individual artists this meant greater independence from the small European art scene. The result was that art drew closer both to neighbors in the Nordic and the Baltic countries, and to New York, Berlin, London and Paris. European art galleries began to develop in an international direction, too, and all in all it seems clear that the 1990s entailed an internationalization of European art.
Effects of the globalization in the 21st century
On 11 September 2001 views of the world around us changed drastically. This left its mark on art, too, both in the USA and in Sweden. People were already discussing the effects of world globalization in the 1990s, but this became even more urgent in the 21st century. A good deal of international art is related to post-colonial issues. These do not, however, have the same impact in Sweden. Perhaps due to the fact that Sweden has never been such an explicit colonial power as for instance the United Kingdom, France or The Netherlands.
The I and the world around us
But a changed view of the world and how we relate to it can, however, also be seen in European art. When “Modernautställningen 2006” (The Moderna Exhibition 2006) at Moderna Museet in Stockholm took the temperature of European art in the 21st century, it was about the relationship between the I and the world around us. Today this relationship is complicated. Globalization is indissolubly linked with mediated experiences of the world around us in which news, fictive narratives and personal testimony press upon us from different parts of the world. Geography has been broken down.
A point of departure in our own experience
A good deal of art, in the 80s and 90s in particular, has been directed towards exposing, discussing, and deconstructing social and cultural structures. This is still the case in the 21st century. But to a greater extent than before, many artists are using their own personal experience to orient themselves.
Loulou Cherinet’s films are linked to an anthropological documentary tradition. The dual projection “Minor Field Studies”, 2004, compares environments along the border between Congo-Brazzaville and Cameroon with European equivalents near Stockholm. Despite many visual similarities, the conditions of the people are different. Felix Gmelins studies of the social experiments of the 60s and 70s raise questions about where the great utopias of a collective community spirit have disappeared to today. In both cases the artists use their own experience. Cherinet lives and works both in Ethiopia and Sweden, and Gmelin’s father was a radical activist in Germany in the 60s and 70s.
Power structures are examined
Fia-Stina Sandlund also investigates social and cultural power structures. As a member of the art group “Unfucked Pussy”, she demonstrated against the Miss Sweden competition in 2001 by unfurling a banner with the text “Gubbslem” (Slimy old man) on stage during a live broadcast of the event on European television. When a swimsuit company bought the rights to the Miss Sweden competition some years later, the owner phoned Sandlund and wanted to know how he could modernize the competition. The result is the audio work “Min business with baddräktskungen” (My business with the bikini king), 2005, which, despite the two of them representing totally opposed moral points of view, is about the similarities in their behavior, including their similar strategies for achieving their respective objectives.
The return of narrative art
Art in the 21st century has brought a kind of return of the narrative. This is also expressed in rather bizarre and fantastic stories. Lisa Jeannin’s and Nathalie Djurberg’s animated films and Oskar Korsár’s and Jockum Nordström’s drawings and collages associate in various ways to something that on the surface looks innocent and cuddly. But if you start looking more closely, sex, violence and destitution ooze up through the cracks. The humor crackles and derails with both moral and ethical problems as a result. With ironic humor, the exercise of power is criticized in all its forms. Generally speaking, a good deal of art appears to be engaged in rendering an observer’s expectations uncertain. Jonas Dahlberg’s surveillance cameras in toilets give tangible form to the boundary between the private and the public. Do we dare enter the toilet?
Back to painting?
In the 21st century, painting is experiencing something of a renaissance. At least internationally, where slightly nostalgic and figurative paintings are in demand. This is not as clear in Sweden. However, Karin Mamma Andersson is attracting attention as much for the personal references in her work as for her links to a painting tradition, particularly to the above-mentioned Dick Bengtsson. The young Ylva Ogland is also attracting a lot of attention for her realistically elegant paintings, which often contain directly private references.
Trust your own experience!
Perhaps contemporary interest in the relationship between the individual and the collective reflects society in general? Today, in our medialized and consumerist world, the I has practically turned into a brand. Or as in Saskia Holmkvist’s video “Interview with Saskia Holmkvist”, 2005, which is about the current trend for media training – what resembles spontaneous comments on and documentation of reality is in fact the fruit of painstaking rehearsal and staging. Art currently both comments on the specific mechanisms used in the “mediation” of reality at the same time as it urges its public to dare to trust their own senses. There are no universal statements determining what can be considered to be truth or lies. Instead we should learn to trust our own experience and knowledge
Monday, April 9, 2007
Roughly speaking, musical expressionism can be said to begin with Schoenberg's Second String Quartet (written 1907-08) in which each of the four movements gets progressively less tonal. The third movement is arguable atonal and the introduction to the finale is very chromatic, arguably has no tonal centre, and features a soprano singing "Ich fühle Luft von anderem Planeten" ("I feel the air of another planet"), taken from a poem by Stefan George. This may be representative of Schoenberg entering the 'new world' of atonality. Alban Berg
In 1909, Schoenberg composed the one act 'monodrama' Erwartung. This is a thirty minute, highly expressionist work in which atonal music accompanies a musical drama centred around a nameless woman. Having stumbled through a disturbing forest, trying to find her lover, she reaches open countryside. She stumbles across the corpse of her lover near the house of another woman, and from that point on the drama is purely psychological: the woman denies what she sees and then worries that it was she who killed him.
The plot is entirely played out from the subjective point of view of the woman, the audience is never able to get an objective viewpoint. Furthermore, the emotional distress of the woman is reflected in the music; this might be compared to the aesthetic of Edvard Munch's The Scream, in which the surrounding landscape is affected by the scream of the protagonist. This inter-disciplinary comparison is representative of the inter-disciplinary nature of expressionism; it is a genre that is found in literature and in painting. The plot to Erwartung has some grounding in reality in the true story of the lunatic Anna O. (real name Bertha Pappenheim). The libretto was written by her sister, Marie: an expression of her own anguish perhaps? These three features (subjectivity, the aesthetic of the 'scream', and an expression of real life hardship, are all characteristic features of other musical expressionist works.
In 1909, Schoenberg completed the Five Orchestral Pieces. These were constructed freely, based upon the subconscious will, unmediated by the conscious, anticipating the main shared ideal of the composer's relationship with the painter Wassily Kandinsky. As such, the works attempt to avoid a recognisable form, although the extent to which they achieve this is debatable.
Between 1908-1913, Schoenberg was also working on a musical drama, Die Glückliche Hand. The music is again atonal. The plot begins with an unnamed man, cowered in the centre of the stage with a beast upon his back. The man's wife has left him for another man; he is in anguish. She attempts to return to him, but in his pain he does not see her. Then, to prove himself, the man goes to a forge, and in a strangely Wagnerian scene (although not musically), forges a masterpiece, even with the other blacksmiths showing aggression towards him. The woman returns, and the man implores her to stay with him, but she kicks a rock upon him, and the final image of the act is of the man once again cowered with the beast upon his back.
This plot is highly symbolic, written as it was by Schoenberg himself, at around the time when his wife had left him for a short while for the painter Richard Gerstl. Though by the time Schoenberg began the work, she had returned, their relationship was far from easy. The central forging scene is seen as representative of Schoenberg's disappointment at the negative popular reaction to his works. His desire was to create a masterpiece, as the protagonist does. Once again, Schoenberg is expressing his real life difficulties.
At around 1911, the painter Wassily Kandinsky wrote a letter to Schoenberg, which initiated a long lasting friendship and working relationship. The two artists shared a similar viewpoint, that art should express the subconscious (the 'inner necessity') unfettered by the conscious. Kandinsky's Concerning The Spiritual In Art (1914) expounds this view. The two exchanged their own paintings with each other, and Schoenberg contributed articles to Kandinsky's publication Der Blaue Reiter. This inter-disciplinary relationship is perhaps the most important relationship in musical expressionism, other than that between the members of the Second Viennese School.
The inter-disciplinary nature of expressionism found an outlet in Schoenberg's paintings, encouraged by Kandinsky. An example is the self portrait Red Gaze (see ), in which the red eyes are the window to Schoenberg's subconscious.
Webern's music was close in style to Schoenberg's expressionism for only a short while, c. 1909-13. His Five Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 10 (1911-13) are an example of his expressionist output, and might be compared to Schoenberg's Five Orchestral Pieces, Op. 16, composed 1909.
Berg's contribution includes his Op. 1 Piano Sonata, and the Four Songs of Op. 2. His major contribution to the genre, however, is the opera Wozzeck, composed between 1914-25, a very late addition to the genre. The opera is highly expressionist in subject material in that it expresses mental anguish and suffering and is not objective, presented, as it is, largely from Wozzeck's point of view, but it presents this expressionism within a cleverly constructed form. The opera is divided into three acts, the first of which serves as an exposition of characters. The second develops the plot, while the third is a series of musical variations (upon a rhythm, or a key for example). Berg unashamedly uses sonata form in one scene in the second act, describing himself how the first subject represents Marie (Wozzeck's mistress), while the second subject coincides with the entry of Wozzeck himself. This heightens the immediacy and intelligibility of the plot, but is somewhat contradictory with the ideals of Schoenberg's expressionism, which seeks to express musically the subconscious unmediated by the conscious. While Wozzeck helped to popularise the genre, it did so at the expense of the ideals.
Indeed, by the time Wozzeck was performed in 1925, Schoenberg had introduced his twelve-tone technique to his pupils, representing the end of his expressionist period (in 1923).
As such, musical expressionism can be said to be chiefly centred upon the ideas and work of Arnold Schoenberg (1907-1923), although Berg and Webern did also contribute significantly to the genre. It was a significant, if not altogether popular style, and some of its influences can be seen in Béla Bartók's opera Bluebeard's Castle (1911), with its emphasis on psychological drama represented in music.
Much like impressionism, expressionism is a term that was first used in connection with painting. In many aspects, it is the direct opposite of impressionism. Unlike impressionism, its goals were not to create passive impressions and moods, but to strongly express (hence the name) intense feelings and emotions.
Expression is actually pretty difficult to describe. You could say that it is somewhat like romanticism because they both seek to portray the composer's emotions. The main difference is that expressionism puts the emotional expression above everything else. While romantics (such as Robert Schumann or Johannes Brahms) also showed emotion in their music, they did so while still following traditional methods of writing music. On the other side, expressionists completely ignored tradition and focused on expressing emotions at all costs. For this reason, expressionistic music is often dissonant, fragmented, and densely written.
Pierrot Lunaire by Arnold Schoenberg... journey inside the mind of the composer
To put it another way, let's compare it once more to impressionism. You could say that an impressionist work portrays what is in the world around the composer: it creates an impression of what is being seen. An expressionist work, on the other hand, portrays what is going on inside the composer's mind: it is an expression of what is being felt. The example we've provided here is the beginning of Pierrot Lunaire, by Arnold Schöenberg. Notice how it's not like much of the music you're probably used to hearing.
Three major expressionist composers are Schöenberg, Alban Berg, and Paul Hindemith.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Sometimes called Formalism, the impulse is contrasted with Realism. It's worth keeping in mind that Realism is a style too. Realistic films attempt to reproduce the surface of reality with a minimum of distortion. The illusion is that their film world is unmanipulated, but even selectivity itself is a crafting of the art. However unobtrusive, Realism is still a style; but the interest is in what's being shown, the content, rather than the created effect, the form.
Similar to their counterparts in the art world, Expressionist directors are concerned more with an unabashedly subjective experience of reality, not how others might see it. Psychological or spiritual truths they feel can best be conveyed by distorting the surface of the material world. This reforming of reality can involve a high degree of manipulation, and the emphasis here is on the form rather than the content, at least as compared to Realism.
Expressionists reject tradition and turn away from realistic representations of nature and accepted concepts of beauty. The Expressionist artist is concerned with the visual projection of his emotional experience. Expressionist works typically convey an urgency. The desire of the Expressionist artist for self-knowledge and comprehension of the meaning of existence in its loneliness, horror, and threat of death can be compared to parallel trends among the Existentialists.
At a low point for Germany as a nation, a burst of effective Expressionist filmmaking emerged:
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)
Fritz Lang was to have directed this film but was called away to another project. Warm's sets derive from his creed: "Films must be drawings brought to life." It's a madman's paranoid world, crooked and irregular. As in Nosferatu, the themes include somnambulism, diabolical power, madness, and mass murder.
Some nice Bibi has discovered a bunch of German expressionism movies ready to enjoy on Internet archive and google video:
F.W. Murnau prepares Emil Jannings for a scene from Faust
- Faust, the F. W. Murnau's masterpiece (both on the Internet Archive and Google Video.
- Nosferatu, another Murnau's classic is available at Archive and google and as torrent.
- The Golem: 1915 version and 1920 version.
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (internet archive and google video)
- Fritz Lang's M. (Google video and internet archives)
- Destiny, by Fritz Lang again on google video.