Steve McQueen: Ashes
Thomas Dane Gallery, London
"The only doctrine I have as an artist is to not allow the dust of the past to settle."
For this exhibition, McQueen presents two new works. The first, entitled Ashes, 2014, is installed as an immersive projection with sound. It was shot on Super8 film with a haunting verbal soundtrack, recently recorded in Grenada. Much of the footage dates from 2002 and was taken by the legendary cinematographer, Robbie Muller. The deceptively simple film was commissioned by Espace Louis Vuitton, Tokyo and shown there earlier this year. An entirely new sculptural installation Broken Column, acts as a pendant to Ashes.
Over the last twenty years McQueen has been the author of some of the most seminal works of the moving image designed for gallery-based presentation, as well as three films for cinematic release, Hunger (2008), Shame (2010) and 12 Years a Slave (2013). In this new exhibition, the artist's signature is evident, yet he further extends the range of his enquiry into the image and the object. His work hovers between the specific and the universal, the literal and the abstract, evading definition and multiplying experiential and interpretive possibilities. Certain works stem from McQueen's unflinching observation of the self - sometimes with ambiguous carnal undertones.
Cut to Swipe
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Cut to Swipe, comprised primarily of recent acquisitions by the Department of Media and Performance Art, features works that appropriate and manipulate images and sound drawn from electronic media like television, cinema, the recording industry, and the Internet. Ranging from Dara Birnbaum’s landmark installation PM Magazine (1982) and Rosetta Brooks's incendiary magazine ZG to recent works by Kevin Beasley, Ken Okiishi, Luther Price, James Richards, Hito Steyerl, and The Otolith Group in collaboration with Chris Marker, the exhibition highlights a range of responses to the quickly changing nature of images, and their proliferation through new imaging and distribution technologies. Carving out a space for personal and political reflection within pervasive streams of information, the works in the exhibition demonstrate the shift from analog to digital concerns, as artists grapple with defining new forms of materiality, and new critical approaches in a radically more virtual world.
Cut to Swipe traces key works, produced since the early 1980s, which have pioneered innovative ways of rearticulating the moving image and appropriated cultural forms within the gallery. If the cut signifies collage and montage, foundational artistic strategies of the 20th century, the swipe suggests a 21st-century condition in which images have moved off the screen, dispersed at the flick of a finger into almost every corner of daily life.
Organized by Stuart Comer, Chief Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art
Gillian Wearing: We Are Here
Maureen Paley, London
Gillian Wearing's new single-screen video work We Are Here sees the artist return to the area in and around Sandwell where she grew up. In the video people from the West Midlands present a series of monologues, speaking as if they have returned from the grave. The concept for We Are Here is taken from American poet Edgar Lee Masters’ book Spoon River Anthology (1915). In this book people who lived by Spoon River (that ran close to the poet’s hometown) rise up from the grave and talk about their lives, regrets, losses and memories.
Gillian Wearing was born in 1963 in Birmingham, England. After settling in London in 1983, she studied at the Chelsea School of Art and Goldsmiths College, University of London, earning a BFA in 1990. City Racing in London hosted her first solo exhibition in 1993. In her photographs and videos, Wearing records the confessions and interactions of ordinary people she befriends through chance encounters. Her work explores the differences between public and private life, the individual and society, voyeurism and exhibitionism, and fiction and fact. She has described her method as “editing life” and has acknowledged as influences Michael Apted’s ongoing series of documentaries Seven Up, begun in 1964, and Franc Roddam and Paul Watson’s The Family (1974), a popular British television program. In its candor and psychological intensity, Wearing’s work extends the traditions of photographic portraiture initiated by August Sander, Walker Evans, and Diane Arbus. Likewise, her oeuvre may be understood as an art-world harbinger of reality television.
Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot
Asia Society, New York
Nam June Paik (1932–2006) was a visionary artist, thinker, and innovator. Considered the “father of video art,” his groundbreaking use of video technology blurred past distinctions between science, fine art, and popular culture to create a new visual language. Paik’s interest in exploring the human condition through the lens of technology and science has created a far-reaching legacy that may be seen in broad recognition of new media art and the growing numbers of subsequent generations of artists who now use various forms of technology in their work.
The artist was born in 1932, in Seoul, Korea. He moved to Germany in 1956 to pursue his study of music, and then to New York City in 1964. Upon his arrival Paik quickly developed collaborative relationships with a circle of now iconic American artists—John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Yoko Ono, and Bill Viola, among others—and spent the duration of his career, which spanned four decades, in the United States. Through his progressive ideas and artworks, the artist dared to imagine a future where today’s technological innovations might exist, and it is this pioneering vision that has continued to shape contemporary visual culture in the United States and internationally.
Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot is the first exhibition dedicated exclusively to the artist to open in New York City in more than a decade, and focuses on Paik’s process and his philosophy toward technology, especially the relationship between technology and the body, and the intersection of technology and culture. The exhibition presents key works from public and private collections in the United States, Europe, and Asia to show one artist’s perspective on modern society’s dependence on technology. Paik’s wildly creative artistic practice and his innovative working methods provide a backdrop for visitors to contemplate the central role technology will continue to play in art and culture for future generations.