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...
A slew of superstar curators, including ones from the Tate Modern, the Pompidou and the Rubin, are now on board for the upcoming Dhaka Art Summit. The huge biennial of South Asian art, now in its third iteration, will be held in the capital of Bangladesh February 5 through 8, 2016.
The show will include commissioned solo works by Lynda Benglis, Tino Sehgal, Shumon Ahmed, Tun Win Aung and Wah Nu, Simryn Gill, Waqas Khan, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Prabhavati Meppayil, Haroon Mirza, Amanullah Mojadidi, Sandeep Mukherjee, Po Po, Dayanita Singh, Ayesha Sultana, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, Munem Wasif, and Mustafa Zaman.
Lynda Benglis is recognised for the sculptures made of poured latex and foam she began making in the late 1960s. In eliminating the canvas, Benglis blurred the boundaries between the two previously separate traditions of painting and sculpture. These oozing, biomorphic forms melted hierarchies and distinctions. Though revolutionary in practice, the luscious and groundbreaking works went under-recognized in the 1970s New York art scene. In response to the male dominance of the art world, Benglis—oiled up, wearing nothing but cat eye sunglasses and brandishing a dildo—notoriously photographed herself for Centrefold (1974) in Artforum. Met with much criticism, this famous act did little to elicit response for her work at the time, but her willingness to use her own body in photography went down in feminist art history. It also represented an era that saw the likes of Cindy Sherman take self-portraiture to a new level.
Benglis’ sculptural works came about in the late 1960s when she began pouring latex and polyurethane foam onto the floor and corners of her studio. Later, she cast these shapes in metals to create a mix of soft and hard physical forms. The sculptures—a mixture of Abstract Expressionism, process art, transformation and feminist art—challenged the male-dominated Minimalist movement and trend towards control over painting that pervaded at the time. In many of her sculptural works, Benglis used pastel colours and craft materials such as glitter and wax to distance herself from the cool colours and ‘macho’ media used by her contemporaries. One series of works involved Benglis reflecting upon her Greek heritage and producing pieces named after letters of the Greek alphabet. An example of this is Psi (1973)—a glittery, twisted sculptural knot. Another notable series is her pleated metal sculptures, as with the silver and mauve Eridanus (1984).
Benglis has produced not only sculpture but also video and photographs to explore themes of power, dominance, masculinity, gender relations and natural forms. An example of this is her video piece, Female Sensibility (1973), made in response to the 1970s belief that a lesbian phase was necessary in the women’s movement. In it, Benglis kisses her colleague Marilyn Lenkowsky, leading the viewer to question the role of women and ideas around submission. In an interview with Ocula Magazine in February 2015, Benglis says of her video work, ‘I studied underground filmmaking and I began to think about the difference between video image and film time. . . . I was interested in the idea of investigating moving image in real time, using different contexts.’
Benglis grew up in Louisiana, where she attended McNeese State University. In 1964 she received a BFA in ceramics and painting from Newcomb College in New Orleans. Later she moved to New York, became involved in the art scene there and pursued painting at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. Benglis’ work continues to garner interest and is the subject of solo exhibitions at locations such as the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2009); Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2011) and The Hepworth Wakefield, West Yorkshire (2015). Alongside this, her work continues to influence younger generations of artists.
Simryn Gill's methods include photographing, drawing, collecting, altering, casting and writing. The artist presents two works from the MCA Collection, Untitled (Interior) II, 2008, and Carbon Copy, 1998, at the 21st Biennale of Sydney. These works are separated by ten years and use profoundly different material and formal approaches, yet both arise from the close attention Gill pays to the ubiquitous and overlooked, and from her habitual process of harvesting materials and forms from her immediate environment.
Untitled (Interior) II, 2008, is one of five bronze sculptures the artist cast from fissures in dry dams and creeks during the severe drought that affected South Eastern Australia between 2001 and 2009, described as 'the worst drought in 1000 years'. The initial silicon rubber casts were made near Nyngan and Lake George in NSW, and cast in bronze in Bangkok, Thailand, by Apisit Nongbuo, who comes from a family of bronze artists who have traditionally made ritual objects for temples.
Carbon Copy comprises 53 parts, including 26 typed texts and their carbon copies. The words and phrases feature statements by Australian politician Pauline Hanson and Malaysia's former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad regarding immigration and refugees. Phrases such as 'Do we want or need any of these people here?' and 'foreign miscreants and parasites' are referenced, as well as words including 'succumb', 'sincere', 'trust me', 'swamped', 'kowtowing' and 'assimilate'. It is not always clear who said what, but collectively the words generate a sense of panic that knows no borders.
Struck by the remarkably similar language used by both individuals, Gill extracted the words and represented them as typewritten and duplicated texts. The words are repeated without spacing and arranged in geometric blocks, creating a kind of abstraction in both meaning and form. The repetition of the typed words also creates warp and weft patterns, such as diagonal lines of the same letters: text as texture, or textile. It is as if these inflammatory phrases have become woven into the fabric of everyday life, and are now almost invisible and impossible to unpick.
Adapted from: Russell Storer, 'Simryn Gill', in Natasha Bullock (ed.), MCA Collection Handbook, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, 2016
British artist Haroon Mirza works with video, objects, light and sound to form large-scale installations, kinetic sculptures and performances. His work explores tensions between sound waves, light waves and electrical currents, often blurring the line between noise and music. In what he refers to as 'self-governing systems', Mirza combines rewired electronics such as turntables, speakers, radios and household items including lamps and chests of drawers to create three-dimensional collages that are in many ways reminiscent of Dadaist principles. Take for example his mixed-media sound installation, Cross section of a revolution (2011): footage of African drummers at a Muslim wedding ceremony plays on loop on three screens while a student participating in a speech competition in Lahore is seen on another. The work acts as a remixing of two distinct Islamic populations. A light hangs from a constructed metal frame, illuminating a turntable that spins clockwise.
In 2007, Mirza received his MA in fine art from Chelsea College of Arts, London. He also holds an MA in design critical practice from Goldsmiths, University of London (2006) and a BA (Hons) in fine art painting from Winchester School of Art (2002). In 2011, Mirza exhibited at the 54th Venice Biennale and received the Biennale's Silver Lion award for most promising young artist. Mirza has since been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Daiwa Foundation Art Prize in 2012, the Zurich Art Prize and the Nam June Paik Art Center Prize in 2014 and the Calder Prize in 2015. He has been the subject of several institutional exhibitions throughout the globe, including Preoccupied Waveforms (2012) at the New Museum in New York.
Mirza's primary interest is consciousness—in particular, as stated in an interview with Ocula Magazine in February 2017, 'how consciousness relates to scientific endeavours: what we know about the physical world and universe and how that doesn't make sense in terms of metaphysics and consciousness, because we don't understand consciousness in scientific terms.' Mirza uses science to combine metaphysical and physical things—to create logic out of chaos. In a studio visit with Tate in March 2013, regarding how he forms new work Mirza said, 'Sometimes it might start with an object, sometimes it might start with a sound or a way of making a sound, sometimes it might start with an idea [or] a point of interest in something sociological or cultural.' Mirza is fascinated by how the internet is changing audiences' behavioural patterns and ways of understanding, as well as in the growing interest and need for acoustic space even more than visual culture. Sonic effects, processes of exploiting sound and vision, nuances between hearing and listening, and materialising the sound of light all play into his installations. Mirza considers the visual and the acoustic to be of equal significance to what he does as an artist.
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