Celebrated American artist Trenton Doyle Hancock in conversation with Zoe Whitley, Tate Modern Adjunct Research Curator supported by Guaranty Trust Bank plc, hosted by Autograph ABP at Rivington Place.
Preceding Hancock's first solo exhibition in London, I Want to Be at the Meeting After the Separation, the talk explores ongoing themes surrounding narrative painting, sculpture and performance in Hancock's broad and dynamic practice spanning over 2 decades. Hancock has, since childhood, been interested in issues of morality and ethics, especially those defined by puritanical Christian beliefs. He grew up in an all-American household governed by these ideals, but quickly developed his own parallel (often contradictory) value system. What began simply in his youth, necessitated by a desire to manage a seemingly endless amount of resources, questions and life information, has continued unabated into adult life, pulling in a deepening understanding of life's thematic complexities, current events and existential conundrums.
The talk was hosted by Autograph ABP at Rivington Place.
Michael Smith's video-performance Avuncular Quest was conceived as part of Fountain, an installation centered around a timeworn theme: the quest for youth. The exhibition is also a continuation of a series of misadventures featuring the artist's eponymous performance persona, Mike, a hopeful innocent who believes everything and understands very little. In this episode, Mike is preoccupied with recapturing his youth, as seen in photomontages documenting his journey to The Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine, Florida, a tourist trap designed to both inform and misinform visitors.
The photographs of his pilgrimage are shown in proximity to a video installation (Avuncular Quest) depicting Mike on another search, this one much closer to home, as he looks through his pockets for his glasses, keys and cell phone. His absentminded behavior indicates that it is possible he may forget his goal while on the quest for the ever-elusive elixir of life. In spite of this, Smith is hoping - together with Mike - to approach aging as a tourist on an uplifting journey, rather than a reluctant commuter caught up in the inevitable junket of life.
Fountain was exhibited at Dan Gunn Gallery, Berlin in 2012 and Hales Gallery, London in 2013. Smith developed his video installation, Avuncular Quest, into a live performance which was presented in conjunction with Parcours Night, Art Basel 2013 and, most recently, at Glasgow International 2014.
Watch artist Sebastiaan Bremer talk about "Σπήλαιο (Spilaio)", his fourth solo exhibition with Hales Gallery, London.
The exhibition, taking its title from the Greek word Σπήλαιο (spilaio), meaning “cave”, will come to life through an amalgamation of various elements, objects and media combined to create a single large-scale installation occupying the entire space of the gallery. The exhibition will further explore the ideas from Bremer’s recent exhibition at MOCA Tucson in Tucson, Arizona (MOCA Bas-Relief (Mike-Papa-Bravo)).
Using the Greek word for “cave” for the title of the show, Bremer hints at the mythical and almost sacred side of art-making – the faith in the final outcome upon the piece’s completion, the other side. In myths and folklore caves have long been regarded as entryways into the Underworld and as links to sacred existences. Σπήλαιο (Spilaio) is precisely that – an entryway into the different layers of Bremer’s practice and an exploration of his inspirations, from classical sculpture to totemic objects and modernist photography. All of these, either in spirit or in form, will be present in the final installation.
For his 2-dimensional works, Bremer employs various techniques to distort and change the image and the surface of the photograph: cutting and carving away sections of emulsion, which are then backfilled with paint, or using ink and photographic dyes to produce fine patterns of lines reminiscent of cobwebs or readings from seismographs. For Σπήλαιο (Spilaio), this layering of mediums on a 2-dimensional surface of a photograph will be recreated in the space of the gallery, with the installation acting as a 3-dimensional realisation of the artist’s 2-dimensional photographic pieces, brought to life through a blending of modernist and prehistorical influences and layering of objects and media.
For Σπήλαιο (Spilaio), Bremer will transform the gallery into a mystical and dark cave or grotto-like space, inhabited by artist-made, industrial and found objects as well as image projections which also act as the only source of light. For Bremer, none of the objects in the work, seemingly selected at random, are accidental. All of them, together with the piece that they create, are part of a journey – a well-situated path where each encounter is symbolic and bears significance. Each of the items has a unique history and background: from building materials, metal wires, glass and papier mâché to sea shells and artefacts found on the bed of the river Thames, each of them carries a unique aura which contributes to the creation of the communal being. Now, like in Plato’s ancient Greek allegory of the cave where shadows of the objects are confused for their real essence, the shadows in Σπήλαιο (Spilaio) deceive the eye creating an image constructed from different layers, making the viewer question the levels of reality within the space. Objects, other media, art-historical and mythological references come together to create a collage which can be experienced both 2-dimensionally (as projection and shadow) and 3-dimensionally (as the inhabited space), encompassing the viewer into the work.
Bremer commissioned composer Josephine Wiggs to write the audio component of his multi-media installation. Just as Bremer manipulates objects and surfaces to create new layers of meaning, here sound, perceived at first as perhaps the hum of a machine--the audio equivalent of a found object--is manipulated, layered and transformed, given contour and pattern, a new intention.
Sebastiaan Bremer (b. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1970) attended the open studio program in Vrije Academie in The Hague (1989-1991) and moved to New York in 1992. Selected shows include Tate Modern (London), The Brooklyn Museum of Art (New York), Het Gemeentemuseum (The Hague), MOCA Tucson (Arizona), The Aldrich Museum (Connecticut), Marlborough Gallery (New York), Mia Sundberg Gallery (Stockholm), Projektraum I (Berlin), Warhol Museum (Pittsburg). Bremer's work is represented in important private and public collections such as Victoria & Albert Museum (London), MoMA (New York), LACMA (Los Angeles), Berger collection (Zurich), The Rabobank Collection (The Netherlands). Bremer lives and works in New York.
Josephine Wiggs is a founding member of the Breeders. She also made two albums with Jon Mattock of Spacemen3/Spiritualized and collaborated with Luscious Jackson's Vivian Trimble under the name Dusty Trails, recording and producing an album, film soundtracks and music for internationally-acclaimed choreographers chameckilerner. Wiggs wrote the score for the feature film Appropriate Behavior, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. She was an artist-in-residence at the Cape Cod Modern House Trust, where she composed the score for the 2013 documentary film Built on Narrow Land, which screened at the Architecture and Design Film Festival in New York City and Los Angeles.