Harun Farocki – Parallele

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Parallele exhibition at gallery Thaddeus Ropac, features the latest works of Harun Farocki, a Berlin-based artist and film-maker. The gallery proposes to explore his previously unseen videos, a four-part Parallele I-IV (2012-2014), a project on which the artist has been working since two years. When entering the exhibition, four screens are projecting his videos, in a dark, small space. The first impression does not promise anything eloquent, but when Farocki’s universe is revealed piece by piece, the strength of his view convinces me.

Parallèle, originally a Latin word (parallelus), means contemporaneous, referring to something that is taking place in another context at the same time,  yet in similar conditions. This is exactly the motif of Farocki’s work: with these projections, he proposes an analysis of another kind of universe, and studies the relations between reality and video games. The artist treats the questions of computer animation, which is becoming a general model in the contemporary society, even surpassing the importance of films.

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

The tour to Harocki’s world starts with an introduction in computer graphics, with the video Parallele I. It shows how the first games, created in the 1980’s, consisted only of horizontal and vertical lines, whereas today’s representations are more oriented towards photo-realism. In this first part, the artist shows how this artificial world is created, how a game designer creates this new world piece by piece. A step from abstraction to concretism.

A female voice, the narrator on each video is accompanying the spectator with her monotonous voice. She demonstrates, how the Egyptians constructed the pyramids and how splendid cathedrals were constructed in the Middle-Ages, however, it was only recently, when a representation in perspective, a 3D model was created… The great accomplishment of a modern man. Another interesting remark is how computer games are starting to fulfil roles traditionally reserved for films. For example, when clouds are floating in the sky, in films this is a consequence of something which is produced either intentionally, or is a result of natural phenomenon. However, in video games this is not the case: the  notion of causality does not exist anymore.

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Does the world exist if I’m not watching it? inquires the woman when the second film starts. The series continues with Parallele II and III, which are in the search of the boundaries of the game world and the nature of their objects. This computer reality, is finally no more than a theatre stage, and thus, has no real existence. Each of their properties must be separately constructed: the objects have no existence, or if they do have some characteristics, they are assigned to them separately. On the last video, the artist analyses the concept of heroes in video games: how they often live in a world of chaos and anarchy, having no parents or teachers, having to find their own rules to follow in the society.

Indeed, this omnipotence of video game characters is interesting, where does it come from? What surprises me the most, is how the artist succeeds in inviting the spectator to challenge the perception of the world: his study on video games and computer animation is finally like looking in a mirror, and enables the viewer to reflect the question of representation and perceiving images on a more general level, in our universe. When leaving the exhibition, there is only one question in my mind: which model is more reproduced and thus, more authentic in people’s minds: has the reality started to imitate computer animation, or is it vice versa? 

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

The world ends like a board game. The walls are invisible from the inside. The surface of the water is nothing but surface. This world seems infinite. In 2007, Harun Farocki, whose work has had a decisive influence on the history of the political film since the late 1960s, was the first artist and film-maker featured at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Besides over 100 productions made for television and cinema, Farocki – curator, long-time author and editor of the magazine Filmkritik, and visiting professor at Berkeley, Harvard and Vienna – has set out his reflections on the relation between society, politics and the moving picture.

His importance for the visual arts is reflected in retrospectives of his films in institutions such as Tate Modern/London, and solo exhibitions in the MUMOK [Museum of Modern Art]/Vienna, Jeu de Paume/Paris, Museum Ludwig/Cologne and more recently in the Kunsthaus/Bregenz. The significance of his films and installations is demonstrated not least through his participation in the documenta in 1997 and 2007, as well as in the Venice Biennale this year.

Harun Farocki

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Advertisements

On the rise: Patrick Hough

© Patrick Hough

© Patrick Hough

Following my critique of the recent works of Urs Fischer & Alex Israel, I am introducing a young artist who operates on the same wave: Patrick Hough. Born in 1989 in Galway, Ireland, having been raised in a small rural village where official historical narratives were continually intertwined with folk stories and religious myth. As written in Dis Magazine Patrick developed a long-term preoccupation with examining how history is constructed and represented in the present.

© Patrick Hough

© Patrick Hough

Archeology (from the greek ἀρχαιολογία , consisting of the words ἀρχαῖος , “ancient”, and λόγος , “discourse” or ” study “) is the science that studies human cultures and civilizations of the past, and their relationships with the surrounding environment, through collection, documentation and analysis of material traces they have left: architecture, artifacts, biological and human remains. An auxiliary science of history, in which suitable materials provide documentation for those periods that are not sufficiently illuminated by written sources.

© Patrick Hough

© Patrick Hough

How many objects could be superimposed on a colored background (Patrick Hough chooses green in “An Archeology of Cinema”)? Busts, vases, anthropomorphic sculptures, columns are presented in his works. But this kind of production could continue perpetually with ceramics, jewelry, papyrus, human remains, knives and swords. Simply by combining them with other background colors. Where is the next Jeff Koons? If you read my article you should try to produce this series, I will help you! Then you could also add various tools, such as the rotating platform of the video for “An Archeology of Cinema”, but the installation of object / background would be self-sufficient.

© Patrick Hough

© Patrick Hough

“An Archeology of Cinema” is currently on view at “Bloody English”, the group exhibition curated by Ariella for OHWOW gallery, LA. Or Royal College of Art, London in March. Graduated in 2013 at the Royal College of Art , London. Patrick Hough is a young talent who only had a single exhibition in 2011 ” Ouarzazate ” at the PhotoIreland Festival , Block T, Dublin. He had many group exhibitions : such as “Bloody English”, OHWOW Gallery, Los Angeles, USA and “Hangwoman” : The Feminine Arrested , Schwartz Gallery, London, but Patrick’s production is definitely worth of another solo show.

Patrick Hough

OHWOW

Pietà – Alexander Tovborg

Fauna gallery, Copenhagen, tonight will present Pietà, the solo exhibition by Alexander Tovborg. After long working hours with several assistants, the dinosaur sculpture will see the light, together with a framed drawing and a booklet of poetry, 16 pages filled with fathers, dinosaurs and memories. Not afraid of depicting the humble or the elevated, Tovborg keeps on examining man’s eternal relation to both the mundane and the spiritual.

© Alexander Tovborg

© Alexander Tovborg

Tovborg explores different genres of art including painting, drawing, sculpture, and performance. He seems to find a sincere and genuine expression in religious and spiritual art that he transforms into paintings and sculptures. His work usually presents a series of figures that act almost as arch types summoned from the interplay between collective unconscious and individual imagination. Religion or perhaps more precise spirituality plays an important role in the imagining of his works.

PIETA’

.

I’m writing

.

my dead father

forth

in my arms

.

and he bears

from the hands

.

a low sun

a little yellow rubber dinosaur

.

I am crying

like a sewing machine

of joy

.
© Bjørn Rasmussen

In his most recent works he has also begun to incorporate different elements of popular culture in particular music. It seems like Tovborg has found a new source of energy in the glossy products of the contemporary music industry comparative to that of spirituality and religion. Danish artist Alexander Tovborg (b. 1983) studied at Staatliche Akademie der Bilden Künste in Karlsruhe and he graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagenin May 2010.

Fauna

Nicolai Wallner

Special Thanks to Louis Scherfig

Vapor Artists: Urs Fischer & Alex Israel

It is now a fact that the combination of antique statues, or of sculptures that look like ancient, and pastel colors, works. You can simply open another panel and type from your keyboard the word Vaporwave and then observe the countless fake greek/roman statues on backgrounds in pastel colors ranging from pink to light blue.

Urs Fischer - Courtesy Sadie Coles

Urs Fischer – Courtesy Sadie Coles

Alex Israel - Courtesy Peres Projects

Alex Israel – Courtesy Peres Projects

This concept has been well understood by Urs Fischer, who ends his successful show today at Sadie Coles, and Alex Israel whom exhibition will instead soon start at Gagosian, Rome, together with Kathryn Andrews. Both artists in fact, have seduced the audience with pastel skies, one with 3,000 suspended plaster raindrops, the other with large-scale unframed paintings of LA sunsets (Sky Backdrop has been painted by a scene painter at Warner Bros). And by the way, everybody remembers Israel’s installations at Museo Civico Diocesano di S. Maria dei Servi.

Urs Fischer - Courtesy Sadie

Urs Fischer – Courtesy Sadie Coles

Alex Israel - Courtesy Peres Projects

Alex Israel – Courtesy Peres Projects

In addition, both have well thought of placing statues crumbling under or in front of pastel backgrounds, Urs Fischer’s sculptures describe an earthbound world of disorderly, golem-like forms in contrast with the symphony of shapes suspended above. The floor-based works and the raindrops constitute a “heaven & earth” tableau. While Alex Israel claims to believe in the Stardust of Hollywood, in the magic that transforms an object just through the appearance on film, pictured in association with a star whose image is just as fictitious as the movie itself.

Urs Fischer - Courtesy Sadie Coles

Urs Fischer – Courtesy Sadie Coles

Alex Israel - Courtesy Peres Projects

Alex Israel – Courtesy Peres Projects

In most installation views the pastel colors give to the statue a sense of digital, of New-Ancient, which is probably the right direction of many contemporary artistic practices. In Urs Fischer’s exhibition the pastel drops are emblematic of a strain of fairytale, surrealism pervading that Fischer’s work, variously manifested by his wryly anthropomorphic sculptures. Both Urs Fischer and Alex Israel deepen those concepts by insisting on impermanence and contingency as new parameters for their art.

Urs Fischer - Courtesy Sadie Coles

Urs Fischer – Courtesy Sadie Coles

Alex Israel - Courtesy Peres Projects

Alex Israel – Courtesy Peres Projects

Sadie Coles

Almine Rech

Gagosian Rome

Pauline Hisbacq – Ephemeral figures

Natalya, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

Natalya, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

Last November, the visit to Jeune Création exhibition at Centquatre in Paris was a great to chance to discover several prominent young artists. One of them particularly caught my attention, a Parisian photographer Pauline Hisbacq. At Jeune Création, she was featured with her work Natalya, a series of photograms on Natalia Shaposhnikova, a young Soviet gymnast who participated at the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980. These pictures, photograms, are created using youtube clips and television news: the artist has used flash images featuring the young athlete. She has, however, carefully chosen the pictures, which aren’t strictly speaking connected to the context, the competition itself: this is how she unfolds a whole new, fictive character Natalya, who isn’t anymore in relation with the competition. A new story comes about, independent from its original context: by doing this, the artist questions the boundaries between fiction and documentary approach in photography, which finally reveals to be, almost of no importance. With her work, Hisbacq evokes successfully the essential themes of contemporary photography: questions on originality, manipulation and imitation. Also her working method is quite intriguing: when working mainly on the internet, she takes advantage of the material found online, using pictures which already exist. This re-use of photographs and video clips raises also the question on the challenges that digital photography presents to old criteria.

Natalya, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

Natalya, 2013. Courtesy of the artist.

One of my favourites is however Hisbacq’s series Holden, a collection of her personal photographs, captured during a residency in New York in summer 2011. With this series, Hisbacq retraces the frenetic path of the young Holden as in the novel The Catcher in the Rye. Even though this isn’t necessarily an original idea, the photographer has, however, managed to do this in a way, which ables to capture the perpetual themes of the book, depicting the youth during the lost hours of the day, creating nostalgic feelings. Aimless wandering in the city, restless summer nights, taking the first metro home – these themes are strongly transmitted through her images, and it works. These motifs of alienation and melancholy are, despite their banality, universal and never outdated. Hisbacq has already treated the same questions with her previous work, This side of paradise (2008-2011), a series of photographs on Rallyes, parties for teenagers from upper-class, and also with Les battements (2011) and A l’ombre il y a des flours et la paille (2006-2009).

Holden, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Holden, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

First, I read the story.
Then, I’ve been in New-York, looking for him.
Finally, I found Holden

Holden, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Holden, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

Born in 1980, Pauline Hisbacq, has graduated from Ecole National Supérieure de la Photographie d’Arles in 2011, and works and lives in Paris. You can visit her ongoing exhibition at gallery Düo in Paris, on view until 19th January 2014. Besides this, the artist curates an online collection of photographs, on her blog La bienheureuse, which is worth checking out.

Pauline Hisbacq

La bienheureuse