In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...
Diana Campbell Betancourt is a curator working predominantly across South and Southeast Asia. Since 2013 she has been the founding artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a transnational art event that has grown in size and scale ever since its first edition in 2012. Backed by...
China, home to 802 million internet users, is subject to sophisticated online censorship. This shrouded state of affairs, unsurprisingly perhaps, serves to reinforce stereotypes around conformity elsewhere. Any realm, digital or otherwise, subject to such strict scrutiny must necessarily be bland and uncritical, right? I was mulling over such...
Sarah Sze, Exhibition view at the 96th Street station. Photo: George Etheredge for The New York Times.
When a city has been waiting for a badly needed new subway line since 1929, public art is probably far down the list of expectations, well behind accommodations like a) working trains, b) lights and c) some means of entrance and egress.
But when commuters descend into the new Second Avenue subway’s four stations, at 96th, 86th, 72nd and 63rd Streets, now set for New Year’s Day — or perhaps a little later if things don’t go as planned — they will find one of the most ambitious contemporary art projects in tile work that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has ever undertaken. The agency’s art department, M.T.A. Arts & Design, founded and first funded in 1985, is rarely — in a salmagundi system 112 years old — presented with a brand-new, blank canvas.
Close’s work continues to evolve in surprising ways. Incorporating new techniques, from nineteenth-century daguerreotypes to twenty-first-century computer-generated Iris prints, he has remained committed to rigorous experimentation within his rigidly defined practice. Through more than thirty-five years of “isms” and art movements, Close has operated on his own continuum, one that never fails to propel his work to new places.In 2000, Close was presented with the prestigious National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. Close is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, has served on the board of many arts organizations, and was recently appointed by President Obama to serve on The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.
Vik Muniz is best known for his works made from everyday materials such as string, garbage, chocolate syrup and dirt. He engages in the referential potential of these surprising mediums by assembling works that incorporate their subject matter into their materials. In doing so, Muniz adds new dimensions to established notions of representation.
Muniz began his career in sculpture with playful works such as Clown Skull (1987), from his 'Relics' series, which depicts the realistic-looking skull of a clown, bulbous bone nose included. Eventually, however, he found photographic documentation of his sculptural work to be more compelling than the artworks themselves and gradually came to focus on photography as the exclusive final medium for all his pieces. His 1989 series 'The Best of LIFE' was inspired by photographs from the coffee table publication The Best of LIFE, a book he had owned but lost while moving house. Muniz drew the legendary images in the book memory—among them The Man on the Moon and Kiss at Times Square (both 1989)—then photographed the drawings and presented the photos as final works. In another series, titled 'Pictures of Clouds' (2001), the artist photographed a skywriter's clouds as they gradually disintegrated and disappeared.
Unlike fading clouds formations which are in danger of disappearing from memory, masterpieces such as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and photographs of Marilyn Monroe and Marlon Brando are deeply embedded in popular consciousness. However, Muniz's depictions of these images rework the iconography in non-traditional mediums that match the content of the image itself. For example, his 2004 portrait of Marilyn Monroe, titled Marilyn Monroe (Pictures of Diamonds), is made of diamonds—a reference to her famous song 'Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend'. In his 'Pictures of Dust' series (2001), Muniz replicates the works of various famous mid-century American artists—such as Donald Judd's Untitled (1965) and Richard Serra's Prop (1968)—in dust collected from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Discussing the piece in his Joseph M Cohen Family Collection biography, Muniz said: 'Dust is pieces of hair and skin. I think people scratch their heads a lot in museums; that gets mixed with the residue from the artworks themselves. That's the ultimate bond between the museum visitor and the artwork'.
In the past decade, Muniz has extended his visual repertoire from contemporary culture to more personal encounters. In his series 'Pictures of Garbage' (2008), he photographed garbage pickers he met at an open-air dumpsite just outside Rio de Janeiro called Jardim Gramacho. However, he retains his interest in iconography by staging the pickers as the subjects of classical portraits, such as the French revolutionary leader Jean-Paul Marat from Jacques-Louis David's Death of Marat. Details of the images were accented with the garbage the models had scavenged. In the accompanying documentary film Waste Land (2010), directed by Lucy Walker, Muniz states that he aimed to 'change the lives of people with the same materials they deal with every day'. Indeed, due the critical acclaim and success of the documentary, the artist and the filmmakers have donated more than $300,000 to the pickers' community in Jardim Gramacho.
Muniz splits his time between Brooklyn and Rio de Janeiro.
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