NEWS

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WHAT'S SO GOOD ABOUT THE MORNING?


ARTES


PORTALS OF THE PAST


SKYSCAPES



Clouds have always been momentary, fleeting creatures: suspended in the atmosphere while swiftly morphing from dim, ominous masses to islands almost ethereal and divine. Populating the vast expanse between sea and sky, where the earth recedes into the distance, their presence is tangible evidence of ephemerality. One really never sees the same thing twice.

In Skyscapes, photographer and graphic designer Jay Yao (Jose Campos III) presents six images of clouds all caught in flight, taken in transit over the past five years. Alternately based in New York and in Manila, Yao shares these photographs as fragments from his frequent journeys: back and forth between different countries, homes and destinations. In these photographs, specific locations and places far below are forgotten and obscured: what is visible is an unfolding, changing and anonymous terrain of clouds.

Yao’s photographs are taken at different years and different times of the day: attesting to the changing climate and shifting atmosphere from dawn to dusk. Together, this suite of works captures varied movements of shadow and mist, form and light. In these images, physical processes are simultaneously a source of formal beauty: crisp skies and jet streams merge with dense atmospheric haze; clouds float on top of each other, like atolls on a restive ocean; sunlight breaks through sky, like water permeating through crevices. Through such imagery, it is possible to be reminded of how abstraction can be evoked in nature, and (conversely) how nature can be perceived in abstraction.

Yao started exploring the medium of photography in 1997 and has produced work in different formats (such as black and white photography) over the past 15 years. For this show, however, Yao focuses on maximizing and drawing out the emotive impact of color photography. He leaves behind the monochromatic starkness of black and white in favor of the more impressionistic and emotional power that color can convey. This is evident in how the works show white surfaces of clouds illuminated by vivid hues such as azure, purple, coral, gold: forms bathed with a muted yet jewel-like luminescence.

The show can also be seen as Yao’s response to the genre of aerial photography, which has been in practice since the invention of the camera and the first foray of humans into mechanical flight. As works of art, cloudscapes have been produced by other photographers and painters in order to help convey abstract experiences and thoughts. The same spirit of symbolism is present in Yao’s works, which are concerned with how to document and express the fleeting turns of emotion.

For instance, the implied position of the photographer behind the image reveals that these skyscapes are interconnected with Yao’s own personal sojourns: there are no specially chartered helicopters and no elaborate set-ups for capturing aerial shots in this case. Yao takes these photographs in his capacity as a frequent passenger aboard routine commercial flights, relying on his familiarity with digital photography techniques to come up with these transitory images of the world above.

Yao’s process for capturing images of the sky is one that others can relate to. Produced through such a familiar practice – surely many who have flown have been mesmerized by the sky and have also tried to capture it for posterity – these works can also be considered as an extension of Yao’s personal journey through time, space and memory.

Yao’s photographs revisit the act of looking out of windows, to be fascinated by a world beyond. The images capture those transitory and short moments of reverie in mid-flight: at an altitude way beyond the nervous and upward rush of takeoff, the rumble of turbulence and the fickle shifts in weather. Suspended in mid-air, moving from one place and memory to the other, it becomes momentarily possible for the viewer to again remember, dream and wonder.

These are moments too easily lost as one is eventually transported back to terra firma and to the mad bustle of daily life back on the ground. The beauty of Yao’s images of these floating worlds lies in their sharing of the personal: how they make it possible for one to relive these temporary spaces of solace and silence.

SKYSCAPES by Jay Yao (Jose Campos III) opens on June 28, 2012 simultaneously with SKINSKIN by Chati Coronel and RED FIGHTS BACK by Geraldine Javier. All shows run until July 21, 2012 at Silverlens at 2/F YMC Bldg., II, 2320 Pasong Tamo Ext., Makati. For inquiries call 816-0044, 0917-587-4011 or email manage@silverlensgalleries.com

Gallery hours are Monday to Friday from 10am to 7pm and Saturdays from 1 to 6pm.
www.silverlensgalleries.com / facebook.com/slgalleries

Words by Lisa Ito; Image: Jay Yao (Jose Campos III), Los Angeles to Manila, 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

IN EKS


RED FIGHTS BACK



Geraldine Javier is widely known in Southeast Asia and beyond as a master of the uncanny and the strangely disturbing. Her exquisite and masterful paintings play on the allure and beauty of a darker side of experience. Over the years, the artist’s paintings have become increasingly layered and complex, not only in content and imagery but also through physical textures, as she began incorporating 3-dimensional craft-based elements in her canvases. Looking back, works such as Mother and Child (2007) – where a portrait of a Luzon Bleeding-Heart Pigeon framed in silver was set against the heavy backdrop of a woman's dress; and Arrangement in Grey and Black (2008) – metallic plates adorned with pretty patterns and images of seashells, beetles, and a singing blackbird are “hung” in the painted background, are among early evidences that displayed this tendency.

Since then, it would not be unusual to find framed insects and embroidered images of flora and fauna embedded in Ms. Javier’s canvas, or strands of tatting concealing painted images like foliage in the woods. Straddling the 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional realm, her works would develop further and take on interesting 3-dimensional turns as exemplified in recent solo exhibitions: Always Wild, Still Wild (2011) in Manila and later, Museum of Many Things (2011) in Singapore. In Manila, the artist presented a “hammock” installation The Tree in Me (2011) made from tatting and an embroidered self-portrait as the centrepiece of her show, while 3-d objects and vitrines became the highlight in Singapore. As Ms. Javier prepares her latest project in 20SQ entitled Red Fights Back, a work in progress, we chatted over email about the recent developments as well as her new spin on the beloved fairly tale Little Red Riding Hood as her own way to empower Little Red.

RED FIGHTS BACK by Geraldine Javier opens on 28 June 2012 simultaneously with SKYSCAPES by Jay Yao (Jose Campos III) and SKINSKIN by Chati Coronel. All shows run until 21 July 2012 at Silverlens at 2/F YMC Bldg., II, 2320 Pasong Tamo Ext., Makati. For inquiries call 816-0044, 0917-587-4011 or email manage@silverlensgalleries.com

Gallery hours are Monday to Friday from 10am to 7pm and Saturdays from 1 to 6pm. www.silverlensgalleries.com / facebook.com/slgalleries

Adeline Ooi in conversation with Geraldine Javier; Image: Geraldine Javier, Work in Progress, 2012

Monday, June 25, 2012

THREE HUNDRED YEARS OF PHILIPPINE MAPS


PSE LAUNCHES FIRST NATIONAL ART COMPETITION



The Philippine Stock Exchange is holding SiningPSE: 2012 National Art Competition with the theme, "Nagkakaisang Pilipino Para sa Maunlad at Masigasig na Kalakalan" (United Filipino People for Progressive and Active Trade).  Sining PSE forms part of the activities lined up by the PSE to celebrate its 20th Anniversary.

The PSE is celebrating several milestones this year including the Exchange's incorporation on July 14, 1992, the declaration of merger of the former Manila and Makati stock exchanges on December 23, 1992 and the first and the first general membership meeting of the PSE held on March 20, 1993.

"Through this art competition, we hope to portray and showcase how working together can produce positive results towards development of business, livelihood and trade," PSE Chairman Jose T. Pardo said.

This is the first undertaking by the PSE to engage amateur artists 21 years old and above in a nationwide art competition.

SiningPSE is unique such that an institution involved in currency and equities is investing in the creativity of the Filipino people through a nationwide art contest. The competition will also capitalize on budding Filipino talents that could emerge as the next Philippine master.

"The PSE believes that investing in the creativity of the Filipino people is tantamount and parallel to investing in education of a different form. Art is a universal and unifying language that people from all walks of life and various cultures understand. Art is important in reaching out to various markets as we continue to flourish in a global economy," Mr. Pardo said.

The winning artworks will be featured in the 2012 PSE annual report and other publishable materials and products of the PSE for distribution to various publics. 

"It is our hope that through this nationwide art competition, our vision and the role of the capital markets in national development will be communicated through the broad and confident brush strokes and the bold stylized forms of the works that will be created in the next few months," Mr. Pardo also said.

SiningPSE is a nationwide painting and sculpture contest open to all non-professional Filipino artists, 21 years old and above. The PSE will pick 10 finalists for each category. There will be three grand cash prizes to be awarded for each category and seven consolation cash prizes. 

National Artists Hon. Benedicto Cabrera (BenCab) and Hon. Abdulmari Imao will head the board of judges for the Painting and Sculpture categories for the competition.

Winning entries will be based on originality of the work, overall impact or message and the rendition or use of material. Deadline for the submission of entries is on October 1, 2012. Regional entries sent to the Project Secretariat care of Studio 5 Designs via standard registered package or courier must be postmarked October 1, 2012. 

In line with the objective of the Sining PSE to develop creativity, originality, and artistic excellence, the contest requires that all entries submitted for the competition must be original works by the participant and must not have been entered to other related art competitions.

SiningPSE is supported by the following media partners: ABS-CBN News Channel or ANC (Broadcast Media Partner), BusinessWorld Publishing Corporation, The Manila Times, The Philippine Daily Inquirer and Interaksyon.Com.

Entry forms for SiningPSE: 2012 National Art Competition may be downloaded from www.pse.com.ph or www.facebook.com/SiningPSE. Application forms are also available at the Project Secretariat¿s office c/o Studio 5 Designs,  28 Paseo de Roxas corner Jupiter St., Bel-Air Village, Makati City, with telephone numbers (02) 8953971/75.

For complete details on the contest rules and mechanics, kindly visit www.pse.com.ph or www.facebook.com/SiningPSE or call the Project Secretariat¿s office c/o Studio 5 Designs at 8953971/75.

PORTRAIT OF BAGUIO ARTISTS AS CULTURE-BEARERS



"PORTRAIT OF BAGUIO ARTISTS AS CULTURE-BEARERS"

- a group show of Baguio artists
@ Indigo Gallery, BenCab Museum
in Asin, Tuba, Benguet

Opening: 
4:00-6:30pm
27 June 2012

Exhibit runs till 12 August 2012

CULTURE-BEARERS

Baguio City’s culture-bearing artists – including both the living and those who have passed on– are set to have a festive exhibit opening on June 27 at the BenCab Museum in Asin, Tuba, Benguet as part of the 3rd KAPWA-3 International Conference cum Symposium of Schools of Living Traditions.

Entitled “Portraits of Baguio Artists as Culture-Bearers,” the art exhibit has no less than one of the world’s 10 best poets, Mongolian culture-bearing author-calligrapher D. Mend-Ooyo, as guest of honor. The country’s own great novelist, Filipino National Artist for Literature, F. Sionil Jose, will join him. 

The BenCab Museum, which is also owned by National Artist for the Visual Arts, Ben Cabrera, will have a reception at 4:00 pm, after the opening of the 3-day academic module of the KAPWA-3 conference at the University of the Philippines Baguio.

For directions and/or inquiries: Tel/Fax: (+63 74) 442-7165, email – bencabmuseum@gmail.com

Friday, June 22, 2012

REBELASYON




REBELASYON

"Rebelasyon (Revelation), as in the receiving of miraculous insights and messages of Muhammad and Zoroaster, who eventually founded the prophetic religions of Islam and Zoroastrianism respectively, is by and large implicated of its orthodoxy to religion. The shamans and adherents of cults of nonliterate cultures who perhaps experienced auditory or visual phenomena from physical objects, Siddhartha Gautama’s “awakening from sleep of ignorance and achieved freedom from suffering” and being the first to reveal the liberating truth, and how principles and ways (Tao) are telling to Taoists are introspective of rebelasyon of the sacred or holy. Jesus Christ—the God’s own Son, His eternal Word and the perfect image of the Father—fulfills apex of rebelasyon of Christianity under the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

Rebelasyon does not always ordain reverent like religion, as in Sophocles’ tragedy par excellence Oedipus Rex. Oedipus, blinded and in exile, fulfilled the oracle at Delphi’s rebelasyon that he will kill his own father and will marry his own mother, thus a father and a brother to his own sons and daughters.

However, rebelasyon does not always exude a disclosure by the divine or by any preternatural means—as in the case of Rebelasyon art exhibit. For this show, MakiSining appropriates the title to its other definition of “an act revealing to view or making known” or in Filipino: pagsisiwalat, pagpapahayag.

MakiSining desires an art show where creativity cannot almost be limited to just an open theme but, at the same time, sympathetic of gallery space. This as an outcome of previous exhibitions being thematic and purposeful to just introducing the group to the community. Herewith, 121.9 cm x 91.4 cm x 264.9 cm (4.0’ x 3.0’ x 8.3’) spaces are allotted for each artist to discharge their creativity and resourcefulness, notwithstanding the artist’s penchant of exploitation: either to fill it up with traditional to innovative media or just leave it completely void.

Confounded of this novel setup are artists Dante Alarcon, Jimboy Bactong, Niko Cedicol, Sayid Cedicol, Yvette Co, Turing Cruz, Nilo Delos Santos, Paul Hilario, Brian Lee, Doel Mercado, Marvin Oloris, Clifford Nuñez, Dante Palmes, Lynel Portades, Jahzeel Ramos, Maya Salas, Ding Tandang, Jolas Ubaldo, and Ritche Yee. Of how these artists will disclose, leak and unearth their delineation in the arts and in empathy of space, investigate their psyche and consciousness, or just bring forth their comic side rouses excitement.

On the other hand, the exhibition may reveal the group’s true complexion—being primarily consisted of individuals who academically pursued or are pursuing disciplines other than fine arts, having cavernous age disparities, among others—and progression in the arts amidst its first anniversary on 16 July. It may elicit honest representation of MakiSining’s value amidst a community that is very academic and scientific.

Through the auras and symbols permeated by the assemblies, may Rebelasyon be fittingly self-disclosed by the divine of the arts.

REBELASYON art exhibit will open on 26 June 2012, 4:00 PM at the Dioscoro L. Umali Hall, UPLB. Renowned artist Manny Garibay is the reception’s guest of honor with renowned art critic Dr. Paul Blanco Zafaralla to impart inspirational message. Sining Makiling Art Gallery is open on weekdays, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The exhibition will run until 19 July.

For more information, visit our website http://makisining.org.

EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE


ISKULTURA


Thursday, June 21, 2012

CCP NAMES 2012 RECEPIENTS OF THE THIRTEEN ARTISTS AWARD



CCP NAMES 2012 RECEPIENTS OF THE THIRTEEN ARTISTS AWARD
June 20, 2012 10:51am

The Cultural Center of the Philippines has selected the winners for the 2012 Thirteen Artists Award (TAA).  The list includes artists engaged in a variety of contemporary visual arts forms such as painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture, and video installation works.  The 2012 Thirteen Artists awardees include: Joey Cobcobo, Marina Cruz, Kiri Dalena, Riel Hilario, Robert Langenegger, Michael Muñoz, Wawi Navarroza, Jan Leeroy New, Kaloy Olavides, Renan Ortiz, Mark Salvatus, Rodel Tapaya, and Costantino Zicarelli.

This program was first conceived in 1970 initially as a curatorial guide for an exhibition organized by then CCP Museum director Roberto Chabet.  His intent was to identify artists who took the “chance and risk to restructure, restrengthen, and renew art making and art thinking….” It was later adopted as a biennial award by Chabet’s successor, the late Raymundo Albano.  This makes the TAA the oldest award program conferred by the CCP, two years ahead of the National Artist Award which started in 1972.

Since 2009, the TAA has been a triennial award.  It is administered by the CCP Visual Arts and Museum Division (VAMD) under the Production and Exhibition Department.  During the two and half month nomination period (between February to mid-April), 56 nominations were received from museum directors, gallerists, independent curators, heads of art and cultural organizations, and former TAA awardees. From these, 79 artists qualified for the selection process.  This year’s panel of jurors included past TAA winners namely Pandy Aviado (1970), Agnes Arellano (1988), Elmer Borlongan (1994) and Ringo Bunoan (2003), and Boots Herrera, VAMD Director, representing the CCP.

Winners will receive a cash grant to defray cost of materials for producing new works for a group exhibition to be held at the Bulwagang Juan Luna (Main Gallery).  The formal recognition of winners will highlight opening ceremony on 18 October 2012.  This year’s exhibition will be curated by Lena Cobangbang and the trophy will be designed by Gary Ross Pastrana, both also former TAA awardees.

Press release from CCP

DIRECT FROM THE STUDIOS OF...



DIRECT FROM THE STUDIOS OF...Romeo Lee , Maya Munoz , Leeroy New and Christina Quisumbing Ramilo 23 June- 15 July. Opening Saturday June 23, 2pm at the Manila Contemporary.

SUBCONSCIOUS TERRAINS


Subconscious Terrains, Frances Abrigo's First Solo Show
Kanto Artist Run Space, The Collective Makati City
June 20 - July 8, 2012. 

Public reception will be on June 23, Sat at 6pm.

Frances Abrigo is one of the artists that travel across the city expressing themselves through graffiti with a stencil and spray-paint in hand. In his first solo exhibition, a fresh set of works are situated within a site that is entirely different from any typical street in Metro Manila namely an art exhibition space. Out in the streets, images from stencils are usually repeated in every corner as many times the artist possibly could under given circumstances. The way they convey messages are usually short and straightforward even if sometimes they are not fully understood by an ordinary passerby. In crowded busy streets these images could sometimes only guarantee itself a passing glance. So how are we going to look at these stencil paintings if it is situated in a place where images are given a kind of privilege to demand from its viewers to look at them in a solemn, meditative manner? 

So to speak, these portraits have more time to look at us looking at them. What stares back at us are two different sets of people: one are indigenous senior citizens from the Mountain Province and children whose faces are deformed due to some medical condition on the other. Young aberrant faces with their future looking dim under the pressures of the norm, not to mention the high mortality they bring about, and old people whose features have been worn down by the passing of time and toughened by experience. They are referenced from the internet without having any real connection to the context from where they came from. What could probably be seen here then are projections upon these individuals of what the artist sees as the image that aptly represent two different points in (his) life; people who just arrived although in a bad state and the ones who are about to leave. The superimposition of one elaborate, amorphous shape on top of another that create facial features, details and values also resemble a hidden contour map of a terrain, which emphasizes the idea of moving from one state to the other. Cutting these intricate forms on stencil is in one way or the other a form of meditative process that is mostly repetitive and time-consuming. More than being just faces, they are like a rough abstract guide that helps someone make sense of these points in life. A spectator is somehow caught between the transitions from being a young social outsider to a wise old man. What could be seen here are attempts to conceive for oneself a sort of path upon which the shift takes place and eventually, hopefully in the end be able to reach it. The stencil paintings within this space then is a sort of subtle personal reflections on being young and a little different from the others while still having a belief that there is some sort of destination or purpose in life which will be revealed to oneself by the things a person believes in.

IMPERYO



RENAISSANCE ART GALLERY 
9TH ANNIVERSARY 

June 23,2012
Saturday
6pm

ART CENTER

IMPERYO

It has been written and said that the popularization of social realism as a standard formula in some way suppressed aesthetic development. Although there was a continuous exploration regarding its form, audiences, generally regarded social realism as “standard form” where the usual beggars, “inang bayan”, grim faced men and women and squatters dominated the canvas….There have also been calls to identify the need for current social realists to move beyond old approaches and to develop and modify their methods to be concurrent with the period. Having said all that, the multi award winning artist Max Balatbat is not a social realist artist. He is an abstractionist with a social realist’s point of view.

If such stark titles such as “TRAPDOR” and “ANG PAG DAMPI NG BAHAGHARI SA AKING BUBUNGAN” were to be disregarded the composition would seem to explore bold architectural themes. (Max Balatbat’s father was an architect, whose floor plans led him to produce a fresh perspective in his art which he now calls “architectural abstraction.”) There is a dynamic beauty won from a tension existing between various elements: Balatbat creates a muscular aesthetic, what with their combinations of angular elements these works which hint of even a sculptural presence. 

The barung barong (shanty) has always been a popular source of social commentary, thus Balatbat explores other architectural venues with the same implications. His early creative formation and works took inspiration from the “International Cabaret”, a childern’s playground by day and brothel by night where he spent an unusual childhoold. As a profoundly referential artist, this place reminds of every line every shape and every color which eventually came out in his works and everything about it has its own story beyond the glitzy images and the sale of women’s bodies. As the show’s title “IMPERYO” connotes, entertainment is seen in its present use as a vehicle for domination. Entertainment is also a victim of rabid comodification.

But poverty is a constant factor in this alarming trend in commodification, not only of products, culture, the professions, but humans as well who stake their own persons and bodies as well.Blinded by the lure of big monetary rewards and an easy escape from poverty, there are deluded women who make this risky choice, much to their regret.

Balatbat is not a member of nor associated with social realist collectives yet this does not exclude the presence of social commentary in their works.He is one of the movers and shakers behind the art collective Sininggang.

His art depicts his inventive interpretation of austere landscapes of torn buildings as modernist abstraction resonating with undoubtful plausibility. The canvases contain a series of geometric compositions which juggled color and pattern with equal temerity.

Given Balatbat’s architectural-sculptural feeling for his social malaise themes, be it top view or front view is always marked by a certain cragginess, a fragmentation. The buildings are almost ephemeral, and yet this is the same delicacy that holds the composition together.

Balatbat’s colors are always predominantly on the somber side of the spectrum by temperament and by Philippine Aevoking the torments of a world of struggle and uncertainty. Yet his angular forms are without expressionist angst…

His abstractions reveal a style that has not completely given up imagery.The artist uses fabric print patterns such as plaid and stripes(which allude to the dancers skimpy attire),rendered in acrylic, to build up the surface forms, as well as to bringing rhythm and balance to the overall compositions. The fabrics are a motif which can be made to carry various meanings with which he can continue to explore the forces underlying this form of entertainment. Balatbat's visual interpretation of life among prostitutes tend to universalize as much as particularize places 

To the artist, his art is a registry of the daily events he encounters in the very place where he grew up. His works are personal statements inferred from experiences since childhood.

The seediness of the canvases is full of anonymity. The random fabrics represent the many parallel experiences occuring at any one moment in the same scenario

The narratives of “IMPERYO” are full of loneliness and the longing for unfulfilled desires. The states expressed in their work are not uncommon in contemporary Philippines, and it leads one to wonder where the dignity of the individual has gone to in the face of such unleashing of human desire in the mind numbing humbug of our consumerist world.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

PRICELESS HERITAGE AT RISK FROM EXTREMISTS



Priceless heritage at risk from extremists
Rebel group in control of Timbuktu desecrates venerated tomb and seeks to obliterate thousands of ancient manuscripts

By Emily Sharpe. Conservation, Issue 236, June 2012
Published online: 06 June 2012

Concern for the cultural heritage of Mali is growing after militant Islamic fundamentalists desecrated a 15th-century tomb of a Muslim saint in Timbuktu in May, and threatened to destroy other tombs as well as anything else they perceive as being idolatrous or contrary to their version of Islam. The northern Malian city, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is home to several other such tombs and three historic mosques as well as many small museums. Timbuktu also has between 600,000 and one million ancient manuscripts housed in public and private collections that are vulnerable to acts of destruction from the occupying rebel forces as well as from those looking to profit from the political unrest.

Mali has been in a state of crisis since a military coup seized power in March. Two rebel factions—Ansar Dine and the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Azawad—took control of the north in April. Members of the extremist Islamist group Ansar Dine, which is trying to impose Sharia law in the region, attacked and set fire to the mausoleum of the Muslim scholar Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar on 4 May. His grave is venerated by many local Muslims who visit to receive blessings. According to local reports, the doors, windows and gates to the tomb were broken before the rebels set fire to the tomb itself.

The director-general of Unesco, Irina Bokova, condemned the attack on the tomb, calling the desecration “a sign of change for the worse”. She also stressed that Mali’s cultural heritage “is our common property, and nothing can justify damaging it”. Lazare Eloundou Assomo, the chief of the Africa unit of Unesco’s World Heritage Centre, warns of future risks. “We know that the [rebels] have threatened to destroy other mausoleums if the community continues to visit these tombs to receive benedictions.” He adds: “The community is taking action to protect its cultural heritage because it’s too dangerous for anyone else to enter the region right now.” This appears to be the case as reports have since emerged that armed Islamists attempted to reach the pyramidal tomb of Askia—another World Heritage Site in nearby Gao—but were denied access by locals.

As we went to press, Unesco was sending a mission to the capital city of Bamako (in the south) to meet the transitional government to discuss how to prevent future attacks.


Friday, June 15, 2012

HIGH HOPES FOR FRANCE’S YOUTHFUL NEW MINISTER OF CULTURE



High hopes for France’s youthful new minister of culture
Decentralisation and wider access to culture are high on Aurélie Filippetti’s agenda

By Anna Sansom. News, Issue 236, June 2012
Published online: 05 June 2012

Aurélie Filippetti (right) has been appointed by France’s new president, François Hollande, as minister of culture and communication, replacing Frédéric Mitterrand. To keep the post she first needs to be re-elected as the Moselle region’s deputy in the legislative elections on 17 June.

François Dournes, a director at Galerie Lelong in Paris, says: “Frédéric Mitterrand was a rather good minister but did not have much room for manoeuvre. Filippetti will surely be better listened to in this government, which places education and culture at the head of its priorities.” 

Filippetti’s appointment is in line with the socialist president’s commitment to “justice and youth”. She turns 39 in June, and is one of 17 female members in prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault’s government.

Observers are wary of her lack of experience in the visual arts, which has suffered cutbacks during the financial crisis. However, Filippetti was in charge of culture in Hollande’s election campaign and was an adviser on environment, culture, education and social issues to Ségolène Royal, who stood against former president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007. That year Filippetti became deputy of the Moselle region in northeast France, the location of the Centre Pompidou-Metz.

A published author, she studied classics at the prestigious Ecole Normale Supérieure. The daughter of a miner and former communist mayor, and the grand-daughter of Italian immigrants, she supports the “fight against the inequalities in access to culture”, she told Arte, the French-German television channel. Speaking in April at the Centre Pompidou-Metz, she said: “Our aim is to strengthen artistic education and democratise access to culture, and re-launch… innovative policies in establishments like this to go and seek people who don’t spontaneously go to museums.” She is also expected to decentralise culture, rather than just focusing on Paris and France’s other big cities.

Olivier Belot, the director general of Galerie Yvon Lambert, says: “After Frédéric Mitterrand, who turned out not to have any real conviction in our domain, we all hope for real consideration of public powers of social and economic weight that represents art on a national and international level.”

Her visit to the Art Paris art fair in late March has been noted. “She seemed very curious and open to contemporary artistic creation,” says Guillaume Piens, the director of Art Paris.

How Filippetti can enrich the French art scene partly depends on how much she is influenced by her advisers. “Culture ministers have such large fields that it largely depends on the advisers that she’ll nominate,” says Marc-Olivier Wahler, the former director of the Palais de Tokyo. “But given her age and her dynamism, I’m very optimistic about what she’ll do for artists in general.”


Thursday, June 14, 2012

BATO BALANI


THE QUEEN’S IMAGE: THE REVERENTIAL AND THE REAL



The Queen’s image: the reverential and the real
A new publication shows how depictions of Elizabeth II have changed over the past 60 years - from the remoteness and splendour of her early reign to later pictures portraying her as “one of us”. With Freud and Warhol she has even became contemporary art

By Roy Strong. Features, Issue 236, June 2012
Published online: 04 June 2012

Queen Elizabeth II must be the single most visually recorded human being in history. Literally millions of images of her exist as she has lived through a century which has witnessed a media explosion. That was already under way in the year that she was born, in 1926, for the inherited forms of disseminating the royal likeness had already extended beyond coins, banknotes, seals, medals, sculpture and paintings to embrace photography and its use in newspapers and magazines. During her lifetime, film and television were to play crucial roles in sustaining and spreading the monarchical image as well as photography, which began controllable but became ever more intrusive in the age of the paparazzi. The medium of television also expanded: colour, once rare, became commonplace. As I write, the internet throws up almost 58 million images of The Queen in every guise.

These facts establish that during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, any attempt to control the royal image was to become increasingly difficult. But not quite impossible, for the public presence of the monarch in the rituals of state and in officially sanctioned images—ranging from her profile on the obverse of the coinage to official portraits commissioned by the Palace to mark particular moments in the reign—projects a very definite storyline, which charts what was in fact an iconographical paradox, one which remains unresolved. On the one hand, the public, in an egalitarian age during which deference has gone, increasingly wishes members of the Royal Family to be seen to be “one of us”. On the other, there lingers a strong desire for a being set apart, a bejewelled icon embodying the nation and its heroic past, along with values and virtues long since abandoned by most of the population. That contradiction lies at the heart of the iconography of Elizabeth II, which, looked at dispassionately, is often so disjunctive that at times we could be looking at representations of two different people.

The Queen began her life as the elder daughter of a younger son and it was not until the year of George VI’s coronation in 1937 that any serious thought was given to the presentation of the new heiress to the throne. Her earliest appearances before the camera are in the main by Marcus Adams (1875-1959), a fashionable photographer of royal children, soft-focus and cloyingly sweet. In 1936, a photographer calling herself Lisa Sheridan (died 1966) was asked almost by chance to photograph the York family informally. Her pictures, more like snaps, were important not for their style but for their innovative content, visual equivalents of the revelations of the young princesses’ governess, Marion Crawford, on their childhood life. After 1937, such pictures were for official release and designed to present the new monarch, his consort and his children as a happy family doing what any middle-class family would have done at the time. They are carefully contrived presentations of the two young princesses and their parents engaged in family life and especially any activity that reflected the war effort.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

THE WASTE LAND APPARITION


MEDUSA, MY HEART IS YOURS



Maxine Syjuco's "Medusa, My Heart Is Yours" -- exhibition on view from June 15 to July 7, 2012 at Now Gallery, Makati City, Philippines.

The show runs simultaneously with exhibits by Cris Villanueva, Jucar Raquepo, Irma Lacorte and Caroline Ongpin.

DEGAS BRONZES CONTROVERSY LEADS TO SCHOLARS’ BOYCOTT



Degas bronzes controversy leads to scholars’ boycott
Fears of legal action if authenticity questioned at Hermitage seminar

By Martin Bailey. News, Issue 236, June 2012
Published online: 31 May 2012

Degas experts boycotted a Hermitage colloquium arranged in part to discuss a group of controversial Degas bronzes, cast from a set of plasters recently discovered at the Valsuani foundry outside Paris. The refusal of the scholars to attend reflects the growing problem of art historians avoiding questions of attribution, even at scholarly conferences.

The seminar at the State Hermitage Museum, on the wider issue of “Posthumous Bronzes in Law and Art History”, was held in St Petersburg (26-27 May). Papers were presented on Léger, Archipenko, Moore and Dalí, but Degas was by far the most controversial case study. A museum spokeswoman says that the conference was arranged because the Hermitage wants to acquire more 20th-century bronzes.

The Degas experts who were invited to the seminar, but declined, include Sara Campbell, who recently retired from the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Catherine Chevillot from the Musée Rodin, the consultant and art historian Joseph Czestochowski, the leading independent curator Richard Kendall and Anne Pingeot, formerly of the Musée d’Orsay.

Walter Maibaum, the New York dealer who commissioned the casts from the plasters, says that scholars “have a responsibility to seriously study them”. None of the experts would discuss the situation on the record, but several reasons have been given to explain the boycott. Some curators are at museums that do not allow them to comment on the authenticity of works owned by dealers or private collectors. None of the experts accepts that the new find represents early plasters—and some simply want to avoid becoming embroiled in the debate. Most importantly, there are increasing concerns, particularly in America, that specialists could find themselves facing legal problems if they publicly question authenticity, as has happened to scholars over the work of other artists.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

PLURALISM


PUSSY RIOT LAWYER APPEALS TO WESTERN CELEBRITIES FOR SUPPORT



Pussy Riot lawyer appeals to Western celebrities for support
Three women facing long jail terms over anti-Putin art-punk performance

By Sophia Kishkovsky. Web only
Published online: 31 May 2012

The lawyer for three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot, who are currently awaiting trial for an allegedly blasphemous protest in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral shortly before the election that saw Vladimir Putin returned for a third term as Russian president, says only appeals from Western celebrities and high-profile cultural figures can save them from further criminal charges and long jail sentences.

The performance infuriated the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill I, and other top church officials, who were criticised in the “punk prayer” performance which also asked the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Putin.

“The authorities must now, in essence, falsify the charges,” says Nikolai Polozov. “It’s very hard for them to back down. I think the only option now is pressure from the outside. I don’t understand why Western pop and rock stars don’t want to support their Russian colleagues. There are many stars who speak out for various liberal values. Even Madonna, when she heard that St Petersburg plans to pass a homophobic law, said she plans to raise that question during her concerts in Moscow and St. Petersburg.”

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were arrested by heavily armed policemen on 3 March, the day before the election, and have been held on remand since then. A third suspect, Yekaterina Samutsevich, was arrested later. Tolokonnikova and her husband, Pyotr Verzilov, have been associated with the controversial art group Voina. Verzilov was detained briefly by police at an anti-Putin gathering in May.

A YouTube video of February’s “punk prayer service” shows Pussy Riot members in front of the cathedral’s altar in trademark ski-masks, dancing wildly, prostrating themselves and making the sign of the cross. The song they performed, titled Holy Shit, was a condemnation of the Russian Orthodox church's close ties to Putin. The lyrics included the lines: "Holy Mother, Blessed Virgin, chase Putin out!"


Monday, June 11, 2012

THE VICTORY OF THE VOID, A DEFEAT FOR THE TALIBAN



The victory of the void, a defeat for the Taliban
The Bamiyan Buddhas will not be rebuilt, says Unesco. The architect Andrea Bruno proposes a scheme that focuses reverently on their absence

By Anna Somers Cocks. Conservation, Issue 236, June 2012
Published online: 31 May 2012

When Andrea Bruno, an architectural consultant to Unesco for the past 40 years, went back to the Bamiyan Buddhas, blown up in March 2001 by the Taliban, he immediately scrapped all ideas he might have had about some sort of replacement. “The void is the true sculpture,” he says. “It stands disembodied witness to the will, thoughts and spiritual tensions of men long gone. The immanent presence of the niche, even without its sculpture, represents a victory for the monument and a defeat for those who tried to obliterate its memory with dynamite.”

Two years after the destruction, the Japanese National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, working through Unesco and the Afghan authorities, began putting money into clearing up the site and consolidating the surfaces of the niches. The aim at this point was to recreate the Buddhas, an immensely ambitious project since the larger of the two was taller than the Tower of Pisa.

But there were doubts from the first whether this was the right approach. There have been other proposals, from laser projections of Buddhas onto the cliff face—unrealistic in a part of the world that barely has electricity—to a plan from the University of Aachen to attach the remaining fragments to the niche wall on a metal frame—unsatisfactory because hardly any of the stone carving remains intact, the Buddhas having been hewn all in one piece out of the living rock, which was therefore reduced to rubble by the explosions.

What is more, Andrea Bruno, who knows the country intimately, having led the conservation of the fort at Herat and the minaret of Jam over many years, believes that such solutions do not take the sensibilities of the Afghans into account. Rebuilding the Buddhas would inevitably be politically loaded, he says, besides causing religious offence. “Here the Muslims strictly oppose images; to recreate the Buddhas would be an insult even to non-Taliban Afghans. We must show good manners,” he says. In fact, after ten years, the Unesco meeting on Bamiyan held in Tokyo in December 2011 announced finally that the Great Buddha would not be recreated, and the smaller Buddha was unlikely to be.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

BRILLIANCE


MAG-AMA


RUSSIAN CHURCH AND STATE REACH AN ACCORD



Russian church and state reach an accord
Access to returned churches guaranteed, as Putin gives historic icon to convent that was in a museum

By Sophia Kishkovsky. News, Issue 236, June 2012
Published online: 31 May 2012

The Russian culture ministry and the Russian Orthodox Church signed a co-operation agreement on 3 May that guarantees conservation experts and the public access to churches and monasteries that have been returned by the state to the Church. The agreement includes a commitment to train members of the clergy and laity to care for the monuments.

The same week, on the eve of his inauguration for a third term as Russian president, Vladimir Putin returned a revered image of the Virgin Mary, which had been in the State Historical Museum, to the Novodevichy Convent in Mos­cow. The 17th-century copy of the Iverskaya Icon of the Mother of God had been in the museum since it was confiscated after the Russian Revolution of 1917.

The convent’s abbess, Margarita, said on the Moscow Patriarchate’s website that returning the icon “was solely Vladimir Putin’s decision”. In 2010, as Russia’s prime minister, Putin returned the 16th-century convent to the Russian Orthodox Church.

Monuments now in church control that are listed as Unesco protected sites will receive special attention, according to the agreement between Church and state, which was signed by Aleksandr Avdeyev, the outgoing culture minister and Patriarch Kirill I, in a ceremony at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

Avdeyev said that co-operation between the ministry and the Church in preserving monuments is essential “for the development of culture, the development of spirituality, and the formation of citizens of our country as true patriots and real citizens of the future Russia”. Patriarch Kirill said that in receiving church buildings back for liturgical use, “the necessity of close co-operation of restoration specialists with church leaders” was recognised.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

KABAKOVS’ CUBAN PROJECT PROVOKES US GOVERNMENT IN ELECTION YEAR



Kabakovs’ Cuban project provokes US government in election year
American children allowed to travel to Havana only after last-minute appeal

By Charmaine Picard. News, Issue 236, June 2012
Published online: 30 May 2012

A project by the artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov during the 11th Havana Biennial was nearly derailed when the US Department of the Treasury denied the artists the necessary public performance and exhibition licence that would allow five US children to travel to Havana, saying the project was “not consistent with the current US ­policy on Cuba”.

“We had help from senators, congressmen and people in the art world trying to find out why we were denied the licence,” says Emilia Kabakov, who trained as a classical pianist in the Soviet Union before becoming a visual artist. According to the Kaba­kovs, their application had been sent to the US Department of State for further review because their project was seen as politically sensitive and would receive international attention as part of the Havana Biennial.

A government official, who declined to be named for this article, says the state department was afraid that the American children would be used for political propaganda by the Cuban government. “Our argument to the state department was if the US doesn’t allow the children to come, then we will have a political situation,” Emilia Kabakov says. “Russian children are free to come but Americans are not. We live in a free country, so why can’t we bring this message to Cuba?”


Friday, June 8, 2012

THE BATTLE’S OVER: BUT DOES THE NEW BARNES WORK?



The battle’s over: but does the new Barnes work?
The Barnes Foundation galleries, relocated to downtown Philadelphia, walk a fine line between nostalgia and modernity

By András Szántó. Features, Issue 236, June 2012
Published online: 30 May 2012

After all the Sturm und Drang surrounding the Barnes Foundation’s relocation to downtown Philadelphia, what has emerged? What has been lost and what has been gained?

The institutional narrative of the Barnes has been overshadowed by the tortured events that led up to the decision to relocate the galleries from the Philadelphia suburbs, seven years ago, a topic of seemingly inexhaustible debate. Art-world chatter before the 19 May reopening was preoccupied with an unusual design directive for the building. During the court proceedings, Barnes officials had promised a historically faithful rehang of the objects in the new space, replicating the idiosyncratic configuration that Albert Barnes last saw before his demise at the age of 79, in a car crash, in 1951.

For Barnes, a man possessed of an obdurate will and an eccentric approach to art, it was not just the objects in his astounding collection that mattered but their combined teaching value. The sprawling salon-style ensemble in his 1925 neoclassical mansion in Merion, Pennsylvania, amounted to a finely calibrated pedagogical Gesamtkunstwerk. Masterpieces by Van Gogh, Cézanne, Matisse, Renoir and Picasso mingled on the walls along with decidedly lesser works, handmade locks and hinges, more than a few copies and misattributed objects, eclectic furniture and artful bric-à-brac—all studiously placed to make points about the nature of light, colour, beauty and form.

This may have been the collector’s real legacy, and the new Barnes, whatever else it did, had to honour it.

The challenge for the architects, the New York-based duo of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, was to navigate between two unhappy outcomes: sanitising the Barnes into a faceless white box of a modern museum, or creating what Umberto Eco would call an “absolute fake” of the Merion house, straining to be more “Barnes” than the original Barnes itself.


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