Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison are a creative couple who have been in the art world for nearly a decade creating unique images by combining photography, collage, painting, sculpture, and performance elements.
Selections from the Projects series (1997-2001) by performance photographer Nikki S. Lee.
Integrating herself into various ethnic and social groups, Lee explores the nature of identity and practices of representation through these seemingly casual photographs. Comparing Lee’s work to Cindy Sherman's performance photography, Sylvia Kwon writes for the Asian American Writers Workshop:
Where Sherman distorts, Lee is a more clandestine participant. In Projects, Lee engrafts herself into ethnic as well as social groups; at her best she is a deft chameleon. Part of Lee’s success derives from her surrounding cast, the very community into which she seeks entrance. Lee always reveals her artistic intent before she joins a group’s gatherings and adopts its practices; an acquaintance then takes the photo. “The work I do always needs to involves others,” she explained in an interview with The Creators Project. “I realized I couldn’t understand who I am without the people around me.” In Lee’s photos, the artist appears as though she has actually experienced another life…
While I am a fan of Sherman’s work as well, Lee’s unique techniques are especially interesting. Though simple and informal, these photographs provide incisive commentary on race, gender, and class, demonstrating the depth and significance of Lee’s artistic vision.
What a huge loss. I’m a huge fan of Dasgupta’s work and his successful balance of commercial and artistic appeal.
Selections from the permanent collection on European Orientalism at the Musée d’Orsay.
- Prière du Soir Dans le Sahara (1863) by Gustave Guillaumet
- Salammbô Chez Mathô (based on Flaubert's Salammbô) (1895) by Théodore Rivière
- Esclave d’Amour et Lumière des Yeux (1900) by Etienne Dinet
- Odalisque Allongée (1870) by Benjamin-Constant
- Nègre du Soudan (1856) by Charles Cordier
This section of the Orsay was accompanied by a great informational board that defined Orientalism “less a category of sculptors and painters, than a desire to describe, idealize even, this often fascinating Elsewhere.” I appreciated seeing these works receive this contextualization, which placed their development within systems of colonialism and European fantasy without rejecting the artistic accomplishment achieved during this time.
Emmanuel Frémiet, Gorille Enlevant Une Femme (1887) at the Palais De Tokyo.
Batoul S’himi, Le Monde Sous Pression (2007-2012) at the Palais De Tokyo
At the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. This was one of my favorite places we visited in the city.
Cassandre (1893) by Max Klinger at the Orsay, Paris.
Cassandra is one of my favorite figures from Greek mythology, but that might just be because I really enjoy saying “I told you so.”
ReRecord (2009) by Ajit Chauhan
Via the Saatchi Gallery:
American born Ajit Chauhan, based in San Francisco, is an artist attempting to subvert our sense of perception by reorganizing existing visual languages. For one of his most recent body of works entitled ‘ReRecord’ Chauhan uses old vinyl albums. The work is composed of 160 erased record covers pinned together onto a wall, forming unresolved and slightly faded portraits that recall and highlight the ephemeral nature of things. The record covers can be seen as a marketing tool & a form of expression. They are an expression of marketing, which is playfully undermined. Chauhan’s unresolved portraits are rendered abstract and a reoccurring absence of detail unsettles any sense of something more substantial. Chauhan’s playfulness, upon what already exists, amounts to a work of delicate resolve and mild amusement.
Everything is Inside, 2004 by Subodh Gupta
Pushpamala N, Abduction/Apaharana (2009)
Pushpamala, one of my favorite contemporary Indian artists, is best known for her earlier Ethnographic Series. This take on the Ramayana brings Pushpamala’s exaggerated sense of drama to explore questions of gender and storytelling.Discussing Pushpamala’s performance photography for the National Portrait Gallery of Canberra, Ajay Sinha writes:
In the ‘Wilderness’ chapter of the Indian epic Ramayana, Sita, the pinnacle of feminine virtue, yields briefly to temptation and is abducted by Ravana. Pushpamala seizes this moment and elaborates on it, playing the role of Rama’s demure wife swept away by the demon. High action unfolds in meticulously designed tableaux, recalling the proscenium-framed settings of late nineteenth and twentieth-century Parsi and Kannada theatres. Mist, symbolising dreams and illusions in theatre and film, engulfs the actors. Against faintly visible Arcadian landscapes and golden architecture, Ravana and Sita take on the melodramatic poses of comic-book characters such as Chandamama and Amar Chitra Katha.
One of the most striking differences between this series and Pushpamala’s prior photo-performances is the large size of the photographs (approx. 1 x 1.5 metres). They recall history paintings, and the use of ornate gold frames brings to mind mythological scenes occupying ceilings and overdoors in Baroque and Rococo interiors. And yet, while the genre reference transports the scenarios to a remote story-land, the images also reflect the artist’s body as if in a life-size mirror and thereby address us somatically.
Oil paintings by Shibu Natesan.
Natesan was born in Kerala and currently splits his time between Britain and India, though his paintings cover multiple geographic and cultural contexts. Ranging from work that explores the representation of non-Western women to the deification of public figures like Bob Marley, Natesan’s paintings identify the ways that spectacular imagery is increasingly naturalized in global visual culture. Deeksha Nath writes of Natesan in Voices of Change: 20 Indian Artists:
Natesan’s paintings while appearing lifelike are not limited to a visual representation of the world but in an intriguing way blur the distinction between illusion and reality, fiction and truth, by the unlikely juxtaposition of visual characters. (184)
In the interplay between plausible images and implausible juxtapositions Natesan’s is a visual language to which we are accustomed and simultaneously from which we are distanced. One may take a familiar detour into the role advertising has played in creating multiple subterranean narratives and nuanced references for images that masquerade as documents. (188)
Tehran Remixed (2005), a multimedia photographic series by Amirali Ghasemi that explores Tehran’s underground scene and youth culture.
In the series Tehran Remixed Amirali Ghasemi shows young urban Iranians socializing, their faces and other areas of exposed skin blanked out to protect their identities. The social activities depicted seem as though they could be happening in any city around the world. Yet the fact that the identities of the participants in these seemingly ordinary acts must be so starkly concealed underscores how specific the situation is to Iran.
Stadia II (2004) by Julie Mehretu, ink and acrylic on canvas.
Julie Mehretu’s biography reads a bit like an atlas. She was born in Ethiopia, raised in Michigan, educated in Senegal and Rhode Island, and now lives in New York. It is no surprise, then, that her work incorporates the dynamic visual vocabulary of maps, urban-planning grids, and architectural forms as it alternates between historical narratives and fictional landscapes.
Mehretu combines a personal language of signs and symbols with architectural imagery to create her elaborate semi-abstractions. Simultaneously engaged with the formal concerns of color and line and the social concerns of power, history, globalism, and personal narrative, she is interested in “the multifaceted layers of place, space, and time that impact the formation of personal and communal identity.” The underlying structure of her work consists of socially charged public spaces—government buildings, museums, stadiums, schools, and airports—drawn in the form of maps and diagrams. She inscribes her own narrative into these decontextualized, highly controlled spaces through the layering of personal markings. Mehretu achieves an effect of compositional maelstrom, as elements advance and recede within the graphically ambiguous spaces. With paintings that blur the line between figuration and abstraction while constantly referencing the world around us, she creates perfect metaphors for the increasingly interconnected and complex character of the 21st century.