Swiss artist Fabian Bürgy is a master of deception and trickery. His practice combines installation, sculpture and digital imagery. By subtly and playfully manipulating mundane objects and the space they are in, he creates beautifully surreal situations. Bürgy is inspired by the most mundane of things – from chairs and suicide belts to tire marks, holes, ladders, nails and even dog tails, and he changes the way in which they are used. He has the power to fool our eyes and make us look twice at what we are seeing.
In Bürgy’s hands, an empty gallery space will now have a black hole disappearing through the floor. He will place some black dust in the corner of a room in such a clever way it will look like the wall is bending strangely or lifting up from the corner. Or he will boldly put a ‘crack’ in the floor like an earthquake had ruined the expensive gallery floor the day before and no one noticed. His work is understated, minimalistic, poetic and striking. He transforms, misplaces, and destroys the things we see around us everyday.
A personal favorite work of his has to be ‘A lonely and misplaced black cloud floating in space‘. It’s a beautiful combination of elegance, melancholy and stillness. There is a tension in his work, or a feeling of being unsettled, but the feeling is not so uncomfortable it can’t be enjoyed. Bürgy is able to straddle many contradictions – stillness and movement; familiarity and strangeness; function and non function; real and virtual. He is a clever sculptor who fully understands the words ‘concept’ and ‘art’.
Alison Moritsugu is an artist based in Beacon, NY, who paints pieces of fallen trees with scenes of idealized nature. Her works recall the landscape paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly those of Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Edwin Church. Following the contours of the logs, she revisions their origins as trees, painting deep forests, still lakes, mountain waterfalls, and autumnal skies. The log paintings serve a dual function: first, to acknowledge and meditate on the beauty of nature, much like the artists of the Hudson River School did; second, to contrast this romanticism with the signs of its destruction—the dead wood on which the scenes appear.
“My work reveals how idealized images of the land shape our concept of the natural world—in essence, how our experiences are mediated by the mechanisms of art and culture,” Moritsugu writes in her artist’s statement (Source). Throughout history, artists have appropriated and interpreted nature, turning lush imagery into cultural symbols of peace, exploration, sublimity, and abundance. These were the types of stories that fostered an idea that nature was somehow separate from us, a land of fantasy that eventually grew to be exploited. Today, as Moritsugu points out, “photoshopped images of verdant forests and unspoiled beaches invite us to vacation and sightsee, providing a false sense of assurance that the wilderness will always exist” (Source). By producing a conflict between the serene imagery and the dead wood, Moritsugu faces us with our roles in the environment’s uncertain future.
A humble kingdom of mountains dominates the geological park of Zhangye Danxia in China. The images are surreal, hard to believe they haven’t been photoshopped. Naturally formed of multi-colored layers, the mesmerizing rocks echo the intoxicating installations of Katharina Grosse. She creates an environment of massive abstract installations on where she sprays vivid horizontal and vertical colored lines.
The mountains are overlooking the world and we are observing their similar version in the work of Katharina Grosse. A bizarre unpredicted three way which leaves us, humans, feeling very small face to face with the immensity of creation.
They are both the result of a performance, nature’s on one hand, the artist’s on the other; leaving on site a charismatic scene. The colors on the mountains are the result of deposits of sandstones and other minerals that occured over 24 million years ago. The regularity of the juxtaposed colors is shocking, as if a human hand had meticulously traced those lines. Unthinkable; yet nature did it on its own.
Katharina Grosse, already featured in Beautiful/Decay for her incredible installations, uses space without any limits. Her art is, at times, perceived as graffiti art or outdoor paintings. Means by which she expresses herself as a vision and avoids to think about a separation between what’s inside and what’s outside. “When I’m painting I show what I’m thinking about the world I live in. I don’t make up a world”.
Artist James Turrell, pioneer of using light as an art medium, once said “Seeing is a very sensuous act“. Charles Matson Lume follows Turrell’s influential path, adding his own sculptural, material and architectural elements to his light works. Though the two have distinct differences, Lume’s idea that “Light is seemingly capable of releasing a kind of secret from the ordinary” holds many similarities to Turrell’s artistic philosophy.
The Twin Cities-based Lume spoke with Beautiful/Decay on the eve of being named to the ArtPrize Shortlist for 3D Works for his piece, The World’s An Untranslatable Language II (for Charles Wright) (pictured above). Using pedestals of plastic warning tapes, as well as neon duct tape, mirrored paper reflects light onto the gallery’s walls, creating the alluring forms and patterns which are the spirit of Lume’s work. The artist adds, “Yes, the light is elemental in my work. However, the materials hold meaning. For me, the pas du deux of light and materials mirrors my experience in the world.”
This relationship between the materials and the light itself is interesting, as it is the artist’s main medium, yet is given more conceptual heft with the importance placed in the ephemeral materials used to support the light works themselves. Many of Lume’s ideas are broadened (and also named after) his interest in contemporary poetry, but the artist quickly adds, “I am interested in visual pleasure, the sensual, and experiential. I am also interested in what distracts us (Is there anything in our culture that isn’t vying for our attention?) What gets in the way of really living a full life? Art allows me to find gestures in which I can sometimes access a kind of authenticity that is true.”
Climate control has been a controversial and momentous topic, well, for at at least two decades, but, the issue of global warming seems to be re-trending in light of the the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. One tactic of addressing the issue’s importance, as we have seen, has been the thousands of activists marching all over the world (and the silent protest in Paris due to recent events). However, a Chinese performance artist who goes by the name “Nut Brother” has decided to take a more quantitative and perhaps informative approach. Beijing, the capital of China (the country that has largest CO2 emissions in the world), is a city of industrial smog. The artist announced a plan to literally vacuum the dust from the Beijing’s air for four hours a day, for 100 days in a row. As a performance, the artist walked the streets, starting in late July, with a pony tail, often a respirator mask, and vacuum with suction nozzle held in his hand to collect debris. On November 30th, the last day of his project, he gathered all 100 days worth of dust and brought it to a brick factory to be mixed with clay and turned into an alarming soot filled brick. Nut Brother is aware that he is not actually changing the air quality, however, he hopes his project will provoke passerby’s to consider their relationship to the environment and their surroundings. (via QUARTZ)
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Treasure Hunt “Treasure Hunt is based on the artist’s childhood memories. Lee devoted three months to crafting the lush multitude of wire leaves – it evokes a child-like wonderland.”
South Korean artist Jee Young Lee spends weeks and even months converting her work space into an elaborate tableaux which the artist then photographs (and never alters with computer after effects). In a Seoul studio measuring smaller than 12′ x 13.5′ x 8′, the artist creates intricate scenes, employing various materials, and camera tricks to create narrartive photos which reference fables, cultural metaphors, and stories personal to the artist herself.
According to curator Hyewon Yi “Lee’s constructed realities belong to the “directorial mode,” employed since the 1980’s by Postmodernist photographers in repudiation of the Modernist practice that sought truth in the everyday world. Lee’s “constructed image photography” may be compared to the works of German sculptor and photographer Thomas Demand…U.S. installation artist and photographer Sandy Skoglund’s orchestrated room-size installations. But in contrast to these earlier artists, Lee’s subjects are deeply personal and intensely psychological. Drawing upon prodigious powers of imagination, she labors for months to create effects that seem to expand and contract physical space. And always, a lone figure inhabits and completes her narratives. Jee Young Lee assumes the roles of set designer, sculptor, performer, installation artist, and photographer – and she executes them all magically.”
OPIOM Gallery in Opio, France will be presenting Lee’s first European exhibition, a selection of her ongoing body of work called Stage of Mind. The exhibition opens February 7 and runs through March 7, 2014.(via mymodernmet)
Born in New Zealand, Peter Dobill is a Brooklyn, NY based actionist who has performed across the country. He is the recent recipient of the 2008-2009 Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art Grant. For this four hour endurance piece titled “Receiver,” the artist is suspended in a pool of milk, while a bowl placed overhead drips a continuous stream of milk into his nose. By constructing extravagant sets in which to carry out his actions, Dobill seeks to add a visual component to the performances. Dude is wild.