Archive: Art in California
Pioneer in color photography crisscrosses America – Joel Sternfeld

Pioneer in color photography crisscrosses America – Joel Sternfeld

Joel Sternfeld - American Prospects, Wet n’ Wild Aquatic Theme Park, Orlando, Florida, September 1980
American Prospects, Wet n’ Wild Aquatic Theme Park, Orlando, Florida, September 1980

Joel Sternfeld’s road trip across America

In 1980, President Reagan was elected president and Joel Sternfeld had embarked on a road trip across America that would allow him to capture life in America as it was in the 1980s. Having been awarded the Guggenheim grant two years earlier in 1978, Joel’s American Prospects was later to become one of the most revolutionary color photographs of the time, when professional photographers only used the black and white format for official or serious pictures. His photographs from the American Prospects series helped to usher in a new breed of modern photographers, which is why Sternfeld has always been characterized as one of the most influential photographer of his generation.

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The dark secrets behind US power production – Mitch Epstein

The dark secrets behind US power production – Mitch Epstein

Mitch Epstein - Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia 2004

Mitch Epstein - Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia 2004
Mitch EpsteinAmos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia, 2004

American Power by Mitch Epstein

Photographer Mitch Epstein has taken part of his time to bring light into the social and moral fabric of the United States. One of the works that has earned him a lot of praise is his American Power project.

In American Power Mitch travels through America to bring images of how America is being powered. He was inspired by the evacuation of an environmentally contaminated town in Ohio between 2003 and 2008 which messed up lives of the former inhabitants of the city.

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Termites are behind these surprising house wraps – Randi Malkin Steinberger

Termites are behind these surprising house wraps – Randi Malkin Steinberger

Randi Malkin Steinberger - No Circus, Pier Av_

Randi Malkin Steinberger - No Circus, Pier Av_
Randi Malkin SteinbergerNo Circus, Pier Av_

About Randi Malkin Steinberger’s photo project

A growing number of houses in many neighborhoods in Los Angeles are experiencing a termite problem. Fumigators shroud these houses with vinyl tarps that are brightly colored. These shrouded houses had caught the eyes of Randi Malkin Steinberger who started seeing these houses in Southern California when he settled there in the early 1990s.

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The border wall as you’ve never seen (and heard) it – Richard Misrach

The border wall as you’ve never seen (and heard) it – Richard Misrach

Richard Misrach - Wall, Near Los Indios, Texas, 2015
Richard MisrachWall, Near Los Indios, Texas, 2015

The collaboration of photographer Richard Misrach and sculptor Guillermo Galindo

When a writer or a composer creates a piece to tell a story, the imagination of the audience runs wild; people start envisioning the heroines and the villains and how they affect their attitudes and perceptions. The same applies to audiences when they view a piece of art or photograph for the first time; they create mental images and form opinions on what a piece means.

When artists combine two art forms, music and art, to create a piece, the result is nothing short of masterful. Photographer Richard Misrach and sculptor Guillermo Galindo, a joined forces to come up with Border Cantos, an art project accompanied by its own special sound and music.

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Chris Burden shot in the name of art in legendary performance (video)

Chris Burden shot in the name of art in legendary performance (video)

Chris Burden - Shoot
Chris BurdenShoot, 1971

Introduction

American sculptor and performance artist, Chris Burden, who was known for his works in the extreme, passed away May 10, 2015. Many of his works were best described as “shocking”, and the radical nature of his work is what set him apart from other twentieth century American artists. His performance pieces were often depictions of violence in which he was always his own victim: he was crucified to a Volkswagen Beetle, had viewers push pins into his body, was kicked down two flights of stairs, and in the case of the piece being discussed, “Shoot” (1971), he was shot.

Burden’s work forces spectators through the shock of the lived imagery not only to review but deeply analyze their own moral selves, the profound nature of misery, and the undeniable reality of pain. In a time when society has become desensitized to the excess of violent imagery through the media, he pushes the audience to recognize the reality of suffering, agony, and desperation.

What happened during Shoot

“Shoot” is 8 seconds of footage, filmed on November 19, 1971, in a gallery located in Santa Ana, California named “F Space.” With only a handful of his friends in attendance, he proceeded with the piece that he had already announced the intention of to the editors of an art journal called Avalanche. With the small number of people in attendance, he performed what was likely his most shocking of pieces. “Shoot” featured Burden, who was only 25 years old at the time, being shot in the arm at close range by a friend with a rifle. The danger in this piece was obvious, all it took was being off a few inches and Burden could have been killed.

Even Burden wasn’t immune to the shock of being shot in the arm, as he quickly walks off screen. Burden implores viewers to listen to the sound of the empty shell as it collides onto the ground. The imagery of the shot man stumbling forward is one that is difficult to forget.

The bullet was only supposed to graze Burden’s arm, but the shooter was slightly off target. The bullet went through his arm instead of grazing it. Although the film was only eight seconds long, it burns itself into the mind of the audience breaking through desensitization that is felt by most indifferent viewers.

Aftermath of being shot

Following the performance Burden and his friends were left to deal with the reality of a gunshot wound to the arm. They went to the hospital and had to explain the performance piece to the hospital staff that was left in disbelief. This part of the story is a reminder of the reality of Burden’s works, the reality of the violent brutality he was representing through the self-inflected violence and resulting injury.

The piece is a reminder of the fundamental reality of our corporeal life, our corporeal reality. Reflecting that if the bullet had only moved a few inches in one direction Burden would have likely been killed and if it had moved a few inches in the other, he wouldn’t have been touched by the bullet. It brings us to the realization that the gun holder had Burden’s life in his hands, just as soldiers in Vietnam held lives in their hands, politicians held the soldiers’ lives in their hands, and so forth.

Burden’s work, so graphic and shocking, was also committed to the re-sensitization of people to the violence that had become less and less shocking due to its constant imagery being invoked in the media while serving to challenge society’s views on what “fine art” truly is.

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Richard Jackson’s dog pees on prestigious Californian art collection

Richard Jackson’s dog pees on prestigious Californian art collection

Richard Jackson - Bad Dog, 2013 - Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) - 1
Richard JacksonBad Dog, 2013

‘Bad Dog’

As part of his retrospective at the Orange County Museum of Art, Richard Jackson has installed Bad Dog, a giant temporary sculpture of a black labrador “urinating” yellow paint onto the side of the museum. It was an immediate hit. Crowds flocked to see it, and it quickly gained notoriety among both the local community and the art world. Accessible, vibrant, and playful, the work has widely achieved Jackson’s main intention: to make the viewer laugh.

The piece calls into question the role of humor in art, and can be seen as a self-reflexive commentary on the state of elitism and exclusivity in the art museum world.

“Bad Dog” lasted the duration of Jackson’s exhibition “Ain’t Painting a Pain”, before it toured Europe.

About Richard Jackson

Richard Jackson (born 1939) has been a pre-eminent figure on the American art scene since the 70s and is influenced by both by abstract expressionism and action painting.

Photos

Richard Jackson - Bad Dog, 2013 - Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) - 2
Richard JacksonBad Dog, 2013

Richard Jackson - Bad Dog, 2013 - Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) - 3
Richard JacksonBad Dog, 2013

Richard Jackson - Bad Dog, 2013 - Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA)
Richard JacksonBad Dog, 2013

Photos: #1,4


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