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The home studio of Hanne Darboven

27 Jul

 

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This exhibition assembles a broad range of her artworks and a highly diverse mélange of objects (toys, mannequins, musical instruments, promotional items, souvenirs from different corners of the earth…) that Darboven amassed in her family home in Am Burgberg, where she lived and worked her whole life (apart from a brief two-year stint in New York in the mid sixties). More than a studio in use, it is akin to the Cabinets of Curiosities or Wonder Rooms that proliferated in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Hanne Daboven at Museum Reina Sofia, Madrid, photos by David Maroto

Shoe Obsession

28 Feb

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Christian Louboutin’s “Fetish Ballerine” pump. The shoe is on display at the “Shoe Obsession” exhibit at The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum in New York. The exhibition, showing off 153 specimens

More about the show

Imelda Marcos

Laurie Simmons

25 Jan

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Interview with Laurie Simmons in Dirty Magazine

From “Playing With Dead Things: On the Uncanny” by Mike Kelley

3 Jan

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In 1993 and 2004 Mike Kelley presented an exhibition titled The Uncanny, consisting of sculptures, objects and images that he found “creepy”, with “an ‘uncanny’ aura about them”. The majority were life-sized polychrome models of the human body in whole or part. This accorded with ‘scary’ experiences of my own involving figurative sculptures, particularly one winter in my early teens when I was repeatedly surprised and slightly unnerved by a deshevelled Guy Fawkes that we had propped in a living room chair awaiting the evening’s bonfire. Kelley’s exhibition centred on Sigmund Freud’s essay The Uncanny (1919), which draws on Ernst Jentsch’s The Psychology of the Uncanny (1906), in which the uncanny is exemplified by “doubts whether an apparently animate being is really alive; or conversely, whether a lifeless object might not be in fact animate”3. It is this ambiguity that I have attempted to give my own sculptures in Attic Basement Garage, which this essay accompanies.

“It is important to me, first of all, that the objects displayed maintain their physical presence, that they hold their own power in relation to the viewer. I decided, therefore, to exclude miniatures–smaller than life-size statues, dolls, toys, figurines, and the like–from the exhibition. Generally, I believe that small figurative objects invite the viewer to project onto them. By this, I mean that the viewer gets lost in these objects, and that in the process of projecting mental scenarios onto them they lose sense of themselves physically. The experience of playing with dolls is a case in point. The doll becomes simply an object to provoke daydreams, and its objecthood fades into the background. Once the fantasy is operating, it could be replaced by any other object. On the other hand, I am interested in objects with which the viewer empathizes in a human way–though only as long as the viewer, and the object viewed, maintain their sense of being there physically.”

(p. 75)

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“The disposability of the venerated substitute has modern correlatives […] Then there are whole classes of figures designed specifically to be destroyed in use: car-crash dummies, the effigies of hated political figures hung and burned at demonstrations, the mannequins that people the perimeters of nuclear test sites, and the electrified human decoys recently used in India to shock man-eating tigers into losing their taste for human flesh. In a way, all these figures ask to be mistreated. The iconoclast, the one who feels compelled to destroy images, knows: statues invite violence. Like the vampire, they desire a violent death to relieve them of the viewer-projected pathos of their pseudo-life.”

(p. 90)

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Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

3 Jan

Frances Glessner Lee (1878–1962), a New England socialite and heiress, dedicated her life to the advancement of forensic medicine and scientific crime detection. The seeds of her interest began when her brother’s college classmate, George Burgess Magrath (1870–1938), vacationed with the Glessner family at their summer home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Magrath, then a medical student, went on to teach legal medicine at Harvard and to become the chief medical examiner of Suffolk County (Boston). In 1931 Mrs. Lee helped to establish the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard, the only such program then in existence in North America. From that time on, she became a tireless advocate for forensic science. In 1934 she presented the department with a collection of books and manuscripts, which became the Magrath Library of Legal Medicine, and in 1936 endowed the department with a gift of $250,000 (adjusted for inflation, the equivalent of $3,367,000 in 2005 dollars).

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Mrs. Frances Glessner Lee at work on the Nutshell Collection, 1940s-1950s, 
Glessner House Museum, Chicago, Illinois
In 1943, Mrs. Lee was appointed captain in the New Hampshire State Police, the first woman in the United States to hold such a position. Around the same time, she began work on the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death—a series of eighteen miniature crime-scene dioramas for student analysis. The Nutshells allowed Mrs. Lee to combine her lifelong love of dolls, dollhouses, and models with her passion for forensic medicine. She originally presented them to the Harvard Department of Legal Medicine; later they came into the possession of the Maryland Chief Medical Examiner’s Office. Erle Stanley Gardner, the writer best known for creating the Perry Mason mysteries, and Mrs. Lee’s close friend, wrote that “A person studying these models can learn more about circumstantial evidence in an hour than he could learn in months of abstract study.”

Biological models

4 Nov

Leopold Blaschka (1822– 1895) and his son Rudolf Blaschka (1857–1939) were German glass artists, known for the production of biological models such as the Glass Flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos

4 Nov

The exhibition at New Museum (NYC) conjures an imaginary universe in which Trockel’s own artwork shares space with objects and artifacts, spanning different eras and cultures, that map her artistic interests.

 Since the early 1970s, Rosemarie Trockel has produced an impressive body of work that includes drawing, collage, installation, “knit paintings,” ceramics, videos, furniture, clothing, and books. She brings together a range of associations and references from art history, philosophy, theology, and the natural sciences. For “A Cosmos,” Trockel places her work in the company of others whom she regards as kindred spirits. Installations created for the New Museum illuminate the intellectual and formal connections between her practice and a range of historical figures including self-taught artists James Castle and Morton Bartlett, and the botanist/mathematician José Celestino Mutis. Objects whose impetus was primarily aesthetic will be juxtaposed with pieces that more conventionally belong to the realm of science. Trockel’s roughhewn glazed ceramics from the past several years will be displayed along with Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka’s delicate glass models of sea creatures created in the nineteenth century. A selection of new work by Trockel can be examined in conjunction with watercolors by the seventeenth-century artist Maria Sybilla Merian, whose impeccably precise yet beautiful renderings of flora and fauna proved invaluable to scientific study.

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