Uta Barth’s Photographs Quote The Lightness In Her Own Life

Uta Barth - Photography

Uta Barth - Photography

Uta Barth - Photography

Uta Barth uses photography to capture her own personal dreamy moments with light, and in doing so, exposes its environmental power over our solitude and romance . . . or romance with solitude.

As a viewer, I find myself drawn to the window, the curtain, and the wall in each piece, not only because it’s illuminated accordingly with sharp visceral attention, but also because I’m intrigued with how the mundane awakens. It feels childlike, reminiscient of a world without technology and other busy distractions. Ironically, or maybe not so, it also feels wise– close to death. There’s drama in the little details as the hand pulls back the curtain or the camera approaches the glow. It’s not so much about being a voyeur as it is about being here and being still– sharing the space where light opens into mood and reflection.

Of her work, Barth notes, “In most photographs the subject and the content are one and the same thing. My work is first and foremost about perception.”

To say these pieces are only about composition: space or pattern, would be to ignore the aura around the intention of these images, which are all shot inside her home– there’s a depth that resonates with an almost intrinsic documentary feeling. Unlike James Turrell, she does not appear to be mathematically immersing us in the immediate moment of light and awareness; instead, she’s quoting from the lightness in her own life, and we are privy enough to bear witness.

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Iain Baxter Re-imagines His 1966 Bagged Place Installation In The Key Of Rebecca

Iain baxter - Installation

Iain baxter - Installation

Iain baxter - Installation

Rebecca Levy died. Her apartment, situated above Raven Row gallery in London, did not; instead, it became a work of art by Iain Baxter, Canada’s most prominent conceptual artist.

Here, Baxter re-imagines his classic 1966 piece Bagged Place in each nook and cranny of Rebecca’s abandoned flat, wrapping clear plastic around the contents of which previously had been donated “intact” to the gallery from her family. Unsurprisingly, Rebecca’s Bagged Place, this 2013 rendition (collected here), seems to have more of a personal feeling, which immediately brings a new spark to not just Baxter’s work, but also, the underlying narrative or intention. This is not about sterilization nor consumerism, instead, it’s about Rebecca: her past, present, and future.

Before Rebecca’s things were bagged, they were alive because she was alive holding them, sitting in them, staring at them, and touching, loving, or losing them. Now that she has passed, her habitat is still and quiet, at least momentarily until the room slowly disassembles from one new pair of hands to the next. The thought of an interior space collapsing and dividing seems like a final goodbye, and the preservation of that farewell, heartbreakingly seems like an inability to confront death and an almost tragic prolonging of life. A room on life-support. How as viewers do we fall into the room? What do we take from it and where do we stay? When will we let go?

In this piece, amidst all the plastic isolation, the subject shifts with our own anxieties, daydreams, or curiosities in reaction to such careful preservation. We start to imagine Rebecca as we imagine ourselves: our own deaths, our own rooms, our own limbo before the dismantling. In this sense, Rebecca’s Bagged Place mirrors our own, and strangely we are Rebecca looking in from the outside.

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Rudy Shepherd’s Paintings Make Us Think By Feeling

Rudy Shepherd - Paintings

Rudy Shepherd - PaintingsRudy Shepherd - Painting

On the surface, Rudy Shepherd’s work appears simple, some might even argue amateurish. However, spend a little more time with these pieces and the lines starts to deepen with a raw energized intention, especially when paired next to one another in a specific series such as this one titled “Psychic Death.”

What is a psychic death? It sounds devastating. I look this up on the Internet and discover it’s a term relative to fearing one’s own physical death, a collection of energy manifesting negatively as anxiety in the body. To experience psychic death is to endure a dualistic sense of panic and release– or to embrace a deep personal concept of power and loss. This is what Charlie Sheen, Osama Bin Laden, and Columbine have in common, and these painted images are not just about them, but us as a society. How do we as a nation move beyond headlines and examine our own psychic death? Rudy Shepherd doesn’t just want us to think about it, he wants us to think by feeling, and this is what great art does.

According to his website, Rudy Shepherd’s work “involves investigations into the lives of criminals and victims of crime. He explores the complexity of these stories and the grey areas between innocence and guilt in a series of paintings and drawings of both the criminals and the victims, making no visual distinctions between the two. By presenting the people first and the stories second a space is created for humanity to be reinstilled into the lives of people who have been reduced to mere headlines by the popular press.”

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Conceptually Driven Photography Evokes A Touch Of Play With A Dash of Sartre

Coke Wisdom O'Neil - Photography Coke Wisdom O'Neil - Photography Coke Wisdom O'Neil - Photography

Coke Wisdom O’Neil’s conceptually driven portrait series The Box feels theatrically avant-garde, akin to Sartre’s No Exit, with strong emphasis on “the look”– or, the dilemma of seeing ourselves as objects in other people’s consciousness.

Each photograph was originally shot in a twenty-two foot tall wooden box, constructed by the artist himself and set up in a variety of different public spaces from New York City to Texas. Such an unnaturally large empty platform allowed curious subjects the freedom to perform when shooting; however, ironically, it also has a tendency to trap when printed– evoking a doll-like sense of display, especially when collected back-to-back on a gallery wall, suggesting “the look” is relative to not only our minds, but also most apparent in photography or art itself.

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Robert Montgomery’s Conceptual And Poetic Public Art

Robert Montgomery - Public Art Robert Montgomery - Public Art
Robert Montgomery - Public Art

Jean Cocteau once said,”a poet doesn’t invent, he listens.”

The pieces built by self-proclaimed “melancholic post-situationist” artist Robert Montgomery, likewise, work as interesting dreamy receivers or lightning rods, absorbing bursts of humanity’s collective subconscious in relation to varying environments.

Translating frequencies and teetering between genres, Montgomery, in Interview Magazine asserts, “Obviously my own work comes from a conceptual art tradition, but I love the graffiti artists, and I feel spiritually closer to them than to most contemporary art; they make the city a free space of diverse voices and we shouldn’t get all cynical about them just because Banksy made some money.”

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Studio Visit: Claude Collins-Stracensky’s Explorations in Space and Light

As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Claude Collins-Stracensky. See the full studio visit and interview with Claude and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.

Claude’s studio is in a commercial building in Downtown, Los Angeles right where two fairly busy streets intersect. It’s a few floors up, and as soon as Klea and I stepped out from the elevator doors Claude’s Vizsla dogs greeted us with wild tail-wagging enthusiasm and then lead the way into the studio. It’s a huge corner space with tons of natural light streaming in through the wide windows that lends an almost limitless feel to the room. I took a few minutes to wander around and take it all in— the dogs tumbling about together in play, the dust particles fluttering in and out of the hazy afternoon light, and the many projects underway, all of them in various states of completeness. At any given time Claude is often at work on multiple endeavors, taking time with each to experiment, re-think, tinker and tweak. His studio is a like a research lab where he plays around with concepts and materials, creating mock-ups and models, and then tries to bring these ideas to life with his hands. There is a bit of a “mad scientist” in Claude— he approaches his work with unfettered imagination and whimsy, totally unafraid to scheme and dream big, and he seems almost possessed by a rampant curiosity about the natural world and how it works. At the core of Claude’s practice is a preoccupation with physical systems and processes and the innate dynamics of different materials, and the ways in which these forces and elements can interact to bring about a new consciousness of one’s surroundings. Embracing a range of mediums, his practice often plays with perception and aims to expand his viewers’ visual experience and spatial awareness to create impressions that go beyond an everyday understanding of the world. I got the impression that the wheels in Claude’s brain must always be spinning at top speed, never at rest, always at work on questions, always in a state of assessing and hypothesizing. Which is kind of funny, because he comes across as super mellow… but I didn’t let that easy-going vibe fool me!

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julien berthier’s Conceptual Artist Pranks

French artist Julien Berthier brings a pranksters twist to conceptual art with tongue and cheek alterations, manipulations, and juxtapositions. A great example of his comic wit is  A Lost (pictured above) featuring a ripped piece of a billboard with  “A Lost” written across it. Next to the torn billboard fragment Berthier hangs a photo of the billboard that originally read “Making Thievery A Lost Art”. Other favorite projects include a large fully functional boat that appears to be capsized, skull topiary, and a fabricated chair based on the artists left handed drawing of a chair (Berthier is right handed.

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