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Mesmerizing glitter artwork shimmers in downtown LA

Mesmerizing glitter artwork shimmers in downtown LA

Poetic Kinetics – Liquid Shard, Pershing Square, Los Angeles, 2016
Poetic Kinetics – Liquid Shard, 15000 square feet of silver streamers, at Pershing Square, Los Angeles, 2016

Introduction

If you keep a tab on what’s happening in the public display arts, the odds are that you came across the Liquid Shard. It was a public art installation on display in Pershing Square in LA between July 28 and August 11, 2016. Thanks to its odd size, unique design, and pure ingenuity of the creators, the Liquid Shard was all the rage, wafting several posts on social media, and made headlines in the US and all over the world.

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Politically incorrect on purpose – Humans in awkward poses

Politically incorrect on purpose – Humans in awkward poses

Erwin Wurm [Austria] (b 1954) _ _Pee on someone's rug_, 2003. Instructions on how to be politically incorrect. c-print (126 x 160 cm). Cropped

Erwin Wurm - Instructions on how to be politically incorrect, Spit in Someone's Soup, 2003
Erwin Wurm – Instructions on how to be politically incorrect, Spit in Someone’s Soup, 2003

Introduction

Erwin Wurm is certainly one of Austria’s and the world’s most recognizable artists. Using social taboos and absurd scenarios to create his thought-provoking work, Wurm’s art installations have broken boundaries and changed the way that people approach and view art in a contemporary society.

Through his installations, Wurm comments on modern society and critiques it through his curious point of view of the world that has catapulted him to global fame and success. Throughout his career, Wurm’s transient performative one minute sculptures which he often photographs before exhibiting have combined both humor and basic criticisms, which has paved the way for innumerable explanations and interpretations from audiences.

How to be politically incorrect

How to be Politically Incorrect” consists of a strange series of photos depicting human beings in several awkward situations that would otherwise be deemed politically incorrect in any part of the world. The series of photos was created between the years 2002 and 2003.

Instructions on how to be politically incorrect” was comprised of several inappropriate scenarios that should never happen in real life such as a woman peeing on a rug, as well as a scene containing a man whose head is stuck beneath a woman’s blouse. Comic and absurd, each of these scenarios was created to question political and social standards as human beings understand them today.

For years, Wurm has been creating facetious skits such as these that challenge the rules of stability and societal ethics. Using photographs, performances, installations and videos, each of these works is created with the subjects or the actors posed in singular compromising situations. The subjects or mannequins in the series were made with simplicity in mind so that they could come as close to resembling real human beings as possible.

In the series, the subjects and the various scenes were designed to represent events that take place in daily life and Wurm emphasized their ridiculous nature to drive the point home. By relying on absurdities to make up his work, Erwin forces the viewer to confront and challenge expected behavioral conventions.

About Erwin Wurm

Throughout his career, Erwin has been creating art that both entertains and irritates at the same time- this has become his standard and style. When he creates art, Erwin strives to continually investigate the limits of human behavior by challenging the legitimacy of the norms and rules established by society.

Born in Austria in 1954 in Bruck an der Mur, Austria, Erwin has gained fame for his figures and sculptures which have been making rounds in biennials and galleries since the 80s. Today, he lives and works in Vienna and he has been the subject of numerous museum exhibitions including the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Museum of Art in Osaka, and many more.

Erwin Wurm - Instructions on how to be politically incorrect, Inspection, 2002, C-print, 126 x 184-cm, Foto Erwin Wurm, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn
Erwin Wurm – Instructions on how to be politically incorrect, Inspection, 2002, C-print, 126 x 184-cm
©VG Bild-Kunst Bonn

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Ai Weiwei uses clever wordplay to speak about censorship

Ai Weiwei uses clever wordplay to speak about censorship

Ai Weiwei – He Xie (crabs), 3200 porcelain crabs, Royal Academy of Arts in London
Ai Weiwei – He Xie (crabs), 3200 porcelain crabs, Royal Academy of Arts in London

The lead up to He Xie (Crabs) – 河蟹

Artist Ai Weiwei, it seems, is always surrounded by controversy whether it is in relation to his visual masterpieces or his activism. Mr. Ai’s run-ins with the Chinese government have continued to border on dangerous but the revered artist is always willing to include these elements in his performance art. In 2010, Ai ran into the Chinese police in an unfortunate encounter whereby the local government tore down a large new studio that Ai had built in Shanghai as a result of ‘code violations’.

Before the studio was demolished, Ai hosted a dinner at the Shanghai studio, which he was barred by the government from attending, as a satirical nod to the studio’s planned destruction by the administration. The dinner was characterized by one of Ai’s most talked about installations- He Xie (crabs).

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Overworked and underpaid – Dramatic photos of workers

Overworked and underpaid – Dramatic photos of workers

Sebastião Salgado - Greater Burhan Oil Field, Kuwait, 1991, Chemical spray protects firefighter
Sebastião Salgado – Greater Burhan Oil Field, Kuwait, 1991
Chemical spray protects firefighter

The Story in Sebastiao Salgado’s workers

Sebastiao Salgado’s workers is an exceptional photography series and book thanks to its detail in men at work in the lowest levels and harshest conditions. His work shows solidarity with the world’s most poor societies. He seeks to recognize and appreciate the isolated peasants and refugees who represent a large portion of humankind. Salgado focuses on oppressed workers of South America comprising men and women who are overworked and underpaid. The book is a journey into activities that define the real labor force responsible for changing the world with major constructions. It also depicts the transformation from stone-age to the present industrialized levels.

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This shiny & giant metal Zeppelin invades museums

This shiny & giant metal Zeppelin invades museums

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, installation view of Crashing” at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018, photo Linda Nylind
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view of Crashing at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018
Photo: Linda Nylind

Intro

Lee Bul’s installation that saw the transformation of the Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery took place in 2018 between May and August. Occupying the entire Hayward Gallery, this exhibition was the artist’s first ever solo show in London. In it, more than 118 other pieces created from the late 1980s to now were also showcased. However, it is the Zeppelin piece that had audiences completely enamored and fascinated during the show.

From the late 1980s to now, this pioneering Korean artist has been instrumental in generating a wide array of artworks, which draw on a mix of references. The Zeppelin, in particular, was designed to transport visitors in attendance to another place and time with the hope of exploring the aspirations of a contemporary society and the resulting failures within it.

About Willing to be Vulnerable

Bul’s work Willing To Be Vulnerable (2015-16) was represented by a massive foil Hindenburg Zeppelin. With this piece, the artist continued her investigation of utopian ideas and their effect on history and society. If you can recall your history, the Zeppelin was an airship that was pioneered and named after the then German Count known as Ferdinand von Zeppelin1.

At the start of the 20th century, these futuristic airships represented modernity and progress but their popularity came to an end after a Zeppelin carrying 96 passengers went up in flames2 while attempting to land. As such, Bul created the piece to draw attention to the different ways that technology can harm people even when the same technology is developed with the best of intentions.

As she did with the other 117 pieces, Bul took advantage of the distinctive design of the gallery and used it as a collaborator rather than just using it as a mere backdrop. The 17-meter-long Zeppelin structure was docked inside the upper galleries of the Haywards and was installed to hover above the gallery’s reflective floors.

Conclusion

Bul has been created thought-provoking artwork since the 1980s. Her work often revisits past experiences in her own life and in history with the hopes of imagining what the future would look like had the events not occurred. Born in South Korea during president Park Chung-hee’s3 dictatorship, Bul saw the rapid modernization that occurred in Korea during the 1960s and 1970s.

Often times, the projects that were undertaken during this period were often left half-finished and the individuals working on them often suffered as a result. As a consequence, her artwork is often strongly related to her upbringing and her childhood, which explains why her work is also so strongly linked to the modern.

“Crashing” exhibition at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, installation view of Crashing” at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018, photo Xinhua:Ray Tang
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view of Crashing at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018
Photo: Xinhua/Ray Tang

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, installation view of Crashing” at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view of Crashing at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, installation view of Crashing” at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018, photo Maxie Fischer
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view of Crashing at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, London, 2018
Photo: Maxie Fischer

“Crash” exhibition the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2018, photo alliance:dpa
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view of Crash at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2018
Photo: Photo alliance/dpa

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2018
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view of Crash at Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, 2018

The Zeppelin at the Biennale of Sydney

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia, photo Ben Symons:Biennale of Sydney)
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view on Cockatoo Island at 20th Biennale of Sydney, 2016
Photo: Ben Symons/Biennale of Sydney

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view on Cockatoo Island at 20th Biennale of Sydney, 2016

Lee Bul - Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Cockatoo Island, Sydney, Australia, photo Algirdas Bakas
Lee Bul – Willing To Be Vulnerable, 2015–2016, Heavy-duty fabric, metalized film, transparent film, polyurethane ink, fog machine, LED lighting, electronic wiring, dimensions variable, installation view on Cockatoo Island at 20th Biennale of Sydney, 2016
Photo: Algirdas Bakas

Video of Willing To Be Vulnerable at the 20th Biennale of Sydney, 2016

Video interview with Lee Bul

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Marina Abramović & the arrow that could have easily taken her life

Marina Abramović & the arrow that could have easily taken her life

 Ulay/Marina Abramović Rest Energy performance for video, 4 minutes, ROSC’ 80, Dublin 1980. Photograph: Marina Abramović and Ulay. Courtesy of Marina Abramović and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York. DACS 2016
Marina Abramović & Ulay – Rest Energy, 1980, performance for video, 4 minutes, ROSC’ 80, Dublin 1980
Photo: Marina Abramović and Ulay. Courtesy of Marina Abramović and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York. DACS 2016

Introduction

It is no secret that Marina Abramović is one of the best and most audacious performance artists of all time. Celebrated for her ability to push boundaries when it came to performance art and indeed using her body as an a portrayal of meaning, endurance and at times the threat of physical harm, she has therefore made a big impact on performance art over the years. Her work, Rhythm Series (1973-1974), Balkan Baroque (1997), The Lovers: The Great Wall Walk (1988), and The House with the Ocean View (2002) among others is a testament to her dedication to this type of performance art. This became even better when she paired up with German artist Ulay, to create this piece, Rest Energy with her in 1980. She credits this four minutes long performance piece as being her most difficult work.

Marina Abramović & Ulay and the arrow

Currently in the Netherlands Media Art Institute’s collection, Rest Energy does not disappoint. Indeed looking at a Polaroid that is part of the loop series featuring Abramović and Ulay draws a lot of emotions. The two face each other and Ulay aims an arrow tensed on the bow straight at her- in fact, a few inches from her heart. The Polaroid evokes emotions of individual vulnerability and total trust with Mariana holding the bow while Ulay grasps the arrow and bowstrings both slightly tilted back on their heels making eye contact. The captured pose is tense, a reaction evoked because the two put tension on the bow and arrow. What draws one’s eye is the fiery red arrow and the focus on Marinna though her pose is suggestive of subordination.

Marina Abramović & Ulay – Rest Energy, 1980
Marina Abramović & Ulay – Rest Energy, 1980

The meaning of Rest Energy

What you could describe as a harrowing ordeal is actually a portrayal of total trust and vulnerability, inherent in every close relationship where the people love each other, and rooted in extremism. What makes this piece raw and resonant with emotions is the fact that the two artists had fallen in love and were in a relationship at the time of shooting this piece. Indeed, the entire video is more intense as they had microphones hooked on their hearts such that with the progress of the performance, there was an increase in the tempo and intensity of their heartbeats. Also, an interesting contributing factor to the birth of this piece is the fact that both artists were born on 30th November hence were both Sagittarius, the zodiac sign of the Archer. This formed the basis of choosing the bow and arrow as the weapon of choice to approach and link with each other.

About Marina Abramović

Marina Abramović, the undisputed queen of performance art is well-known for her radical pieces that propelled her to worldwide fame. She was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia in 1946 and dedicated her life to creating pieces centered in performance, and feminist art. She is especially renowned for the use of her body as medium and subject when creating her art.

Video still of Rest Energy

Ulay/Marina Abramović Rest Energy 1980, 16 mm transferred to digital, with color, sound, 4:04” min. Amsterdam, LIMA Foundation. Courtesy of Marina Abramović Archives and LIMA, MAC/2017/034. Credit: © Ulay/Marina Abramović. Courtesy of Marina Abramović Archives. Marina Abramović by SIAE 2018
Ulay/Marina Abramović Rest Energy 1980, 16 mm transferred to digital, with color, sound, 4:04” min. Amsterdam, LIMA Foundation. Courtesy of Marina Abramović Archives and LIMA, MAC/2017/034
Courtesy of Marina Abramović Archives. Marina Abramović by SIAE 2018

Video excerpt of Rest Energy

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Our top 5: Strijdom van der Merwe’s public art

Our top 5: Strijdom van der Merwe’s public art

Strijdom van der Merwe - Staircase to heaven. Sculpture for Hermanus Fine Arts festival, Hermanus, South Africa
Strijdom van der Merwe – Staircase to heaven, sculpture, Hermanus Fine Arts festival, Hermanus, South Africa

“Land art encompasses everything – wind, birds, smell, touch. And my work doesn’t exist until I find it” – Van der Merwe

Childhood and Education

Strijdom van der Merwe is a South African land artist. Growing up as a young boy on a farm just outside of Johannesburg, Strijdom was always taken by the beauty of nature and the magnificence of the sprawling landscape. The artist graduated with BA in Fine Arts from the University of Stellenbosch in 1984. He later received a scholarship to study printmaking at the Hooge School Voor de Kunsten in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Between 1993 and 1995, he taught Computer Graphics at the University of Stellenbosch before enrolling at The Academy of Art & Design in Prague, Czech Republic. Soon after, he went on to become the artist-in-residence at The Kent Institute of Art and Design, Canterbury, the UK.

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