Week 11

Complete Food and Art assignment and post your final work/images/videos on the blog with a title and description of the work.

We will discuss finished projects in our final class, on THURSDAY Dec. 3rd at 2:30.

Prepare to make a special hot beverage of your choice – and we’ll also celebrate by the fire! Really!

I will also be baking a chocolate cake for the occasion – a super easy one pot recipe. You mix all the ingredients right in the pan and stick it in the oven! Start it up at lunch time and eat cake together with us!

You may have these items on hand – you can join me (bonus points if you do and post a photo!):

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1020063-made-in-the-pan-chocolate-cake

Week 10

Summary of work for Week 10:

  1. Create your Food assignment based on feedback from the professor and the class.
  2. Consult Nathan (email him for an appointment or show up for office hours) for technical assistance if needed – and check the resource page for tips and methods in audio, video and photo editing.
  3. Post your completed work with a title and short description for critique in our NEXT class meeting.

Week 9

FOOD ART:

Summary of work for week 9:

  1. Review all lecture materials and videos below
  2. Write about at least one artwork, or food-culture reference that inspires your next assignment
  3. Post all research notes /images for a FOOD ART proposal – we will discuss your proposals and offer support in the next class.

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Look at these approaches to exploring food by artists:

Aislinn Thomas, A Stack of Pancakes to hold up the Ceiling, 2015.

“The pancakes were vegan (flax seeds being a cheaper—and more ethical?—binding agent than eggs) and local (because, although it was more expensive, the local flour was in the bin beside the less-expensive, non-local flour and I couldn’t pretend that I hadn’t seen it). The recipe was for extra fluffy pancakes (for obvious reasons). The apartment smelled very good until the pancakes dried up and shrank away from the ceiling. When I composted them I discovered that the pancakes had become colourful with mold in the places where they were pressed together and still moist.

My partner asked me if I made A stack of pancakes to hold up the ceiling because the ceiling fell two years prior.  I said no, although the question reminded me of the fact that the ceiling did, indeed fall. So perhaps that is the reason. ” AT from https://aislinnthomas.ca/index.php/portfolio/a-stack-of-pancakes-to-hold-up-the-ceiling/

Rod, Bernie, Peggy, Aislinn

Video, 2009

Rapport Report, a video screening curated by Tejpal Ajji, described this video of narrative vignettes:  “Using her kitchen as a set for storytelling, Thomas recounts a family history using recipes representing her father, mother, grandfather, and herself.”  Below is an excerpt of the video.  Rod, Peggy, Bernie, Aislinn was included in CAFK+A.11 and several screenings.


In Love with Patty Chang:


The Hunt, Christian Jankowski, 1997

Christian Jankowski – Bow hunting in the supermarket

Martha Roslet, Semiotics of the Kitchen

Women With Kitchen Appliances

Women with Kitchen Appliances – band

FOOD ART Assignment:

For next class, propose a way to use food in a short video or photographic series that explores aspects of food other than how it tastes –

This might include actions that explore:

  • The tactile/material qualities of food and food-related devices
  • The sounds of food, the smells of food
  • Memories of food
  • Food and emotions
  • Popular representations of food in culture
  • Relationships of food to the body
  • Food and gender
  • Visual aspects of food
  • How food changes in time
  • How food connects us to each other

Think of a series of gestures – working with food on hand and create a work that pushes the limits of how we expect to relate to food.

This can be done in your home, with food and related implements, and/or you may also work with found video/images from other sources in your work.

Week 8

Summary of work for Week 8

  1. Finish and revise ZOOM videos and post to blog
  2. Listen to the podcast and write reflection notes
  3. Acquire ingredients – and prepare them according to video below before Tuesday’s class.

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Listen to the podcast:

The Rise and Fall of Bread: a simple staple with a complex legacy

A young girl leaves after receiving free bread from the municipality outside a bakery during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in Kabul on April 29, 2020. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images)

The Podcast is available at this link here, or using your podcast app on your phone, search for “CBC Ideas – The Rise and Fall of Bread”: https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/the-rise-and-fall-of-bread-a-simple-staple-with-a-complex-legacy-1.5564511

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WRITE IN YOUR BLOG POST:

What does bread mean to you? What is your family’s relationship to bread? What is the centre of your meal – or your comfort food – if it’s rarely bread? Why do you think so many people have been baking bread during the pandemic? Which aspects of the podcast did you find surprising, or striking and why?

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Acquire these inexpensive ingredients and prepare your dough for the oven before our next class.

Each step only takes a couple of minutes – get all your ingredients ready, and begin at 12:30 pm to start mixing!

Quick Bread Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 +1/2 tsp. INSTANT yeast (this is equal to about half of one little envelope)

1 tsp sugar (or you can use 2tsp honey, or maple syrup)

1 cup warm water + a little extra if needed to make a wet dough

1 tsp. salt

Butter for greasing pan

Mixing bowl and spoon

One pan for the bread – I use a loaf pans, you can use a pyrex bowl, cassarole dish, or some other smallish oven safe vessel. Watch video for details….

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METHOD: (Each step only takes a couple of minutes)

12:30 pM on Tuesday: Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl: the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. Add the warm water and mix to a wet sloppy dough.

Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1+ 1/2 hours.

Generously butter your pan.

2:PM on Tuesday: Separate dough from bowl, and scoop into prepared pan. Let rest for 20-30 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.

2:30 on Tuesday: Show your dough to the class in class, and together we will stick them in the oven! Set timer for 15 minutes.

When the timer goes off, reduce heat to 375, and set timer again to bake another 20 minutes.

When done, take bread out of oven and pan to cool!

Be prepared to discuss the podcast during class, and to eat and share some bread!

Week 7

  1. Watch the videos below
  2. Write notes on videos based on questions below
  3. Post your final video on the blog with a description

TECH TIME this week will have Nathan consulting on all your video art ideas throughout class. He will promote his DaVinci Resolve workshop and his resources for sizing videos for the web.

More faces in video: works by Pipillotti Rist and Michele Pearson Clarke

Pipillotti Rist, Be Nice to Me (Flatten 04) 2008

VIDEO INSTALLATION

Suck Teeth Compositions (After Rashaad Newsome)

3-channel, HD video installation with sound
16 x 9 format, 9:47 | 2018

In Shade Compositions (2005-present), a series of live performances and videos, the African-American artist Rashaad Newsome explores issues of Black authorship, appropriation, identity and belonging by conducting choirs of women (and sometimes, gay men) of colour who snap their fingers, smack their lips, roll their eyes, and cock their heads, creating expressive linguistic symphonies out of the nonverbal gestures and vocalizations of African-American women. Suck Teeth Compositions (After Rashaad Newsome) is a three-channel video and sound installation that both responds to and extends this inquiry by focusing on sucking teeth, an everyday oral gesture shared by Black people of African and Caribbean origin and their diasporas, including those of us who live here in Canada.

(Stills from Suck Teeth Compositions)

Referred to variously as kiss teeth, chups, steups, and stchoops, to suck teeth is to produce a sound by sucking in air through the teeth, while pressing the tongue against the upper or lower teeth, with the lips pursed or slightly flattened. West African in origin, this verbal gesture is used to signify a wide range of negative affects, including irritation, disapproval, disgust, disrespect, anger and frustration. Given that representations of African-American Blackness dominate and define mainstream understandings of the Black experience, when it comes to anti-black racism, most white Canadians are allowed to feel comfortable and are supported in their comfort by the historical and ongoing narratives of “not me,” “not us,” “only them, down there.” Suck Teeth Compositions (After Rashaad Newsome) is thus a response to the frustrations of living within this denial, and an expression of the anger and pain that many Black people often experience living in Canada, where we are always assumed to be better off, if not completely free of racism. (From https://www.michelepearsonclarke.com/suck-teeth-compositions/)

Installation Photo (Royal Ontario Museum, 2018): Peter Schnobb

Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, Live to Tell, 2002

Basil AlZeri is a Palestian artist based in Toronto working in performance, video, installation, food, and public art interventions/projects. His work is grounded in his practice as an art educator and community worker. He explores the intersections between the quotidian and art, and strives for interactions with the public, using social interactions and exchanges to create gestures of generosity.

AlZeri’s performance work has been shown across the Americas.

The Mobile Kitchen Lab

AlZeri Basil artinfo_mobilekitchenlab_01

With The Mobile Kitchen Lab (2010 – present), AlZeri performs simple and generous gestures, inviting his guests to identify the Palestinian stories of land, resources and labour that are built into his recipes.

Initiated in 2010, his durational performances feature live projected instructions provided by his mother, Suad, via Skype.

Hear a radio interview on the project here.

WATCH:

Michelle Pearson Clark – Suck Teeth Compositions 2018

WRITE NOTES:

Make notes on two of the above videos. What strikes you in each of them? Describe the ways artists use the media of video technologies to create affecting experiences for viewers. And What do you think the conceptual prompts/instructions were for the performers?

EXERCISE:

Record and edit your new work for teleconferencing technologies. You may work together with others from the class. Post your finished work (up to 4 minute excerpt) to the blog with a concise description of the piece.

Get help from Nathan with your editing, and with sizing the video for the web. Nathan’s office hours are Monday and Thursday 1-4, and he is also available by email for appointments. See resources for video on this blog, under Resources.

Week 6

Summary of Work for Week 6

  1. Read the article by Vivian Castro
  2. Watch the videos referenced in the article and the videos below – ,
  3. Create and post a proposal for a ZOOM video-art work and prepare to discuss your proposal with the class. Include images/research in your description.

During Tech Talk time – Nathan will discuss how to download a free copy of Davinci Resolve, and promote Davinci Resolve video editing workshops. All students will need to edit videos for new works soon. See Courselink for dates and times of upcoming workshops, and video workshops on the Resources page in this blog.

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See the full text here and watch the videos highlighted in the text!

Candice Breitz

Breitz’s experiments in the field of portraiture can cumulatively be described as an ongoing anthropology of the fan. Beginning with ‘Legend (A Portrait of Bob Marley),’ which was shot in Jamaica in 2005, Breitz has subsequently set up temporary portrait studios in Berlin [for ‘King (A Portrait of Michael Jackson)’], Milan [for ‘Queen (A Portrait of Madonna)’] and Newcastle [for ‘Working Class Hero (A Portrait of John Lennon)’]. The portraits have thus far followed the same procedural logic, and have been governed by the same tight conceptual framework. In each case, Breitz first sets out to identify ardent fans of the musical icon to be portrayed, by placing ads in newspapers, magazines and fanzines, as well as on the Internet. Those who respond to this initial call (typically numbering in their hundreds) are then put through a rigorous set of procedures designed to exclude less than authentic fans of the celebrity in question, in order to arrive at the final group of participants.

The individuals who appear in these works have thus stepped forward to identify themselves as fans, and have been included purely on this basis: all other factors – their appearance; their ability to sing, act or dance; their gender and age – are treated as irrelevant for the purpose of selection. Each of the selected fans is offered the opportunity to re-perform a complete album, from the first song to the last, in a professional recording studio. The conditions are thus set for a typological study, as each of the participants steps into the studio, one by one, to offer their version of the same album under the same basic conditions. Having set the parameters of the experience, Breitz then allows the performances to unfold with little directorial interference. It is left up to each fan to decide what to wear, whether to use props, how to address the camera, when and if to dance, whether and how to follow the lead or backing vocals, how to behave between tracks, and whether to mimic the original recording or seek interpretive distance from it. Diverse as they are, the portraits are collectively characterized by a riveting tension between the somewhat inflexible conditions under which each shoot takes place (conditions which both reflect and reflect upon the severe limitations for creativity within the commodified realm of mass entertainment), and the struggle of each fan to register an idiosyncratic performance despite these conditions. In the process of this struggle, the singers generate an a cappella cover version of the album that scripts the work, a re-recording which might best be described as a ‘portrait’ of the original album. Although the portraits stubbornly insist on the exact format and duration of the original albums that they take as their templates, they specifically exclude the auratic voices and familiar musical arrangements from the original version, so that the star in question ultimately remains present in the work only in the unaccompanied voices of his/her fans.

The portraits evoke their mainstream entertainment counterparts (such as American Idol or Pop Idol), but also take significant distance from their reality television cousins: Breitz promises her subjects neither fame nor fortune. What she offers them is an opportunity to record the songs that have come to soundtrack their lives in whatever way they choose. The non-hierarchical grids that she uses to organize the final presentation of the fans in each portrait, allow Breitz to deliberately sidestep the question of who has fared better or worse under the conditions that she has created for these quasi-anthropological visual essays on the culture of the fan. Whether the fans who pay tribute to their icons in her portraits are victims of a coercive culture industry or users of a culture that they creatively absorb and translate according to their needs, is left to the viewer to decide. If the dignity of the portrayed fans remains surprisingly intact, it is because rather than prompting us to laugh at the fans that she lines up, Breitz forces us to reflect on the extent to which pop music has infiltrated our own biographies. From Candace Breitz

FACTUM TREMBLAY, 2009

Left: Natalyn Tremblay (born 3 April, 1980).
Right: Jocelyn Tremblay (born 3 April, 1980).

FACTUM TREMBLAY is usually shown as a dual-channel video installation on two vertically-mounted plasma displays hung alongside one another. For exhibition purposes, the footage loops endlessly without beginning or end. For more info on FACTUM and to view other portraits from this series, see Factum

To produce the series of works collectively titled FACTUM (2010), Candice Breitz conducted intensive interviews with seven pairs of identical twins and a single set of identical triplets in and around Toronto during the summer of 2009, footage from which she then edited seven dual-channel video installations (and one tri-channel video installation). Like Robert Rauschenberg’s near-identical paintings FACTUM I and FACTUM II (both 1957), from which the series borrows its title, each interviewee in FACTUM is an imperfect facsimile of their twin: their apparent identicality is soon disrupted by a host of subtle differences.

Breitz chose to work with monozygotic twins (and triplets) who spent their formative lives together and who thus draw on shared memories and experience. Each pair of twins was filmed over the course of one long day in a domestic environment designated by the twins – most chose to shoot in the home of one twin, or in their shared home. In each case, Breitz interviewed Twin A for approximately 5–7 hours in the absence of his/her sibling and then directed the same set of questions separately to Twin B. Designed to give each individual the opportunity to narrate his/her own story as s/he chose, the questions covered intimate areas such as childhood, sibling rivalry and family matters, but also zoomed out to allow each subject to address his/her relationship to the world at large.

Some questions were specifically slanted to shed light on the mysterious terrain of subject formation: the twins were asked to lend comment, for example, on the nature-nurture debate, or to offer their thoughts on evolution versus creation. Other questions invited the twins to share personal anecdotes or key memories. According to their level of comfort before the camera, some individuals were willing to enter into minute and graphic autobiographical detail, while others set distinct boundaries.

Each pair of twins was asked to style themselves as identically as possible for the camera, and left to decide how diligently they wished to fulfill the request. For some the superficial sameness that resulted – almost immediately to be undermined by innumerable small differences that manifest themselves throughout the interview – became an apt metaphor for the projections of sameness that they had been subject to all their lives.

Each pair of interviews was later woven together in the editing studio to create a somewhat stereoscopic dual-channel portrait. Breitz’s edits accentuate the push-and-pull relationship between the siblings. As the twins relate their stories, sharp distinctions in their voices, their attitudes, their body language, and their views on the world become apparent. At times they gravitate towards each other, offering almost the same syntax and gestures to describe memory, while at other moments they differ vastly in their conclusions on topics they both consider vital. Breitz’s presence is strongly tangible in each twin portrait – her jagged editing style distances the works from the truth claims of conventional documentary, suggesting that the intertwining forces of fact and fiction are always at play in auto/biography.

FACTUM raises questions not only about twinship per se, but also about the struggle that each individual must negotiate in defining him or herself as distinct, while facing constant reminders of the relative role of others in the process of self-definition.

Pipillotti Rist,Open My Glade

Excercise:

Post a proposal (with images/research/referenes) for some kind of ZOOM based video artwork you want to make. Play with, and think about this in your notes.

Consider the history of video art – and ways artists have experimented with the medium of video itself right from its early days of mass use. Artists sometimes manipulated the hardware, the software, and used video technologies in ways that were not intended. They found ways to connect video to sculpture, performance, and initiated what we now take for granted as remix culture. They used video to make intimate confessionals, experiment with their own bodies, and explore possibilities for art in public space that was critical of commercialism and conformity.

Explore the platform of ZOOM and consider its intended use for business meetings and class presentations. Experiment and play with the tools to see what other kinds of images, communications, and relationships might happen there. Test its possibilities, and explore how the platforms we learn and socialize and do business on – can lend insight to the medium itself, and to this historical moment we are living in right now.

We will discuss your proposals in class – to refine them and find possible collaborators.

Week 5

Summary of work due AT THE LATEST: TUESDAY OCTOBER 27th, 2020

There is no new work to complete for this week .

I will be checking your Student page on the blog to find the work from the past 5 weeks. This is how your work will be evaluated. If work is incomplete, your will be deducted according to the amount of work incomplete. If everything is complete and the minimum requirements of each assignment are met – you will automatically receive a 75%. If it is completed with above-average level of curiosity, investment, effort and understanding of ideas – you may receive a higher grade.

See each week’s post to find a summary of work that should be on your blog.

Notes for weeks 1-5 (worth 20% of final grade)

Notes will be evaluated for completion, evidence of curiosity and full engagement with material, level of understanding of critical ideas at play.

Exercises for weeks 1-5 (worth 20% of final grade)

Exercises will be evaluated for completion, evidence of historical precedents for the work, understanding of conceptual ideas at play, evidence of technical investment and effort, evidence of experimentation and adventurousness.

TECH TALK TIME: In this week’s class, Nathan will talk about formatting your videos for uploading to the blog, and how to upload media to WordPress. Bring your questions – Nathan will join us for the last 20 minutes of each class.

Week 4

Summary of work for Week 4:

  1. Actively explore and think about the work of Adad Hannah
  2. Make a self-portrait or portrait of someone else in the style of Social Distancing Portraits. Post and describe your 1 minute video.

  1. Explore the website and look at the past work of Adad Hannah:

Adad Hannah was born in New York in 1971, spent his childhood in Israel and England, and moved to Vancouver in the early 1980’s. He lives and works in Vancouver, Canada.

From An Arrangement, Stripes

Focus on these works, and consider his conceptual approach to his videos. Think about the simple concept he begins with, and the prompts and rules he gives to his performers. Consider how when very action happens, all kinds of surprises and meaning happen.

Handheld Case Study:

https://adadhannah.com/2018-handheld-case-study-white-orange-blue

Burghers of Vancouver:

https://adadhannah.com/2015-burghers-of-vancouver

The Screen:https: //adadhannah.com/2013-the-screen

VIDEOS from Traces:

https://adadhannah.com/2010-traces

Look at his most recent project on Instagram – he is collecting portraits of citizens of Vancouver living, working, shopping, protesting, teaching, studying and more – during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

An ongoing collection of works that speak to the historical moment – made in the past, or made today.

Adad Hannah: Social Distancing Portraits 2020:

Visit this link to see the videos in the ongoing collection:

Stills from Adad Hannah: Social Distancing Portraits 2020:

Read the article about the project from the Vancouver Sun:

https://vancouversun.com/entertainment/adad-hannahs-social-distancing-portraits-capture-the-uncertainty-of-our-time

MAKE and post on blog:

You are going to make two videos – each a 1-minute version of a Social Distancing Portrait – based on the work of Adad Hannah (see link above).

You can make a self-portrait – and or portraits of someone you know, or of someone you don’t know. Strictly follow all public health guidelines during the pandemic at all times – and when you make your work.

Consider Adad Hannah’s examples, look at many of the videos from the past 6 months. What are the kinds of people he observes? How are they different from one another? How do the portraits change over time? How do the portraits witness important moments of the pandemic? What new insights or meaning does he bring with these videos – especially with so many of them?

Also consider the rules he uses to create the videos – in terms of framing, composition, and the prompts he gives his performers. Can you tell his concepts and forumulae for making these pieces? Use his rules – as far as you can deduce them.

We will be making videos with ambient sound – and not adding music to the videos. They will be unedited – just cut at the start and at the end to form an eternal loop. The will each be approximately 1 minute long.

Adad Hannah has given his blessing to students in Experimental Studio to appropriate his methods and make versions of his Social Distancing portraits. He wants to see the best ones – keep it real – and try to make them follow in the spirit of his concept for the series.

Post your 1 minute, one-shot videos on the blog. Include a quote from your model (or self) the way Adad does.

Also include a description of your video, with references to Adad Hannah’s project, reflecting on some of the questions above in BOLD.

Week 3

Summary of Work in Week 3:

  1. Look at the artworks and videos below

2. Read the article from Canadian Art.

3. Make a banner, hang it, and put a photo and description on the blog. (details below)

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LOOK AT: Artists who use text in their work including: Micah Lexier, Lenka Clayton, Laurel Woodcock and Hiba Abdullah.

Micah Lexier:

“Ampersand” is a collaborative installation on the walls of Toronto subway stop Sheppard & Leslie. In this project, Micah Lexier, asked locals to write the name of the station onto the tiles, which he later had installed.
2014
Two Equal Texts sets up the same situation, as each author invokes or points to the other in “his” text. Though one text preceded the other, neither is primary. Lexier emphasizes their equivalence so that resolution to the binary tensions of the work may not be found in the piece itself. It is instead left to the reader, who is positioned within a series of mediating states: between the right- and left-hand columns of the work’s design, between its visual and the verbal tactics and amidst its inquiry into the original and the derivative. From Lined & Unlined. https://linedandunlined.com/archive/at-least-you-can-read-it/
Micah Lexier, Notes-To-Self. 2007, Silkscreen ink on acrylic on canvas.
Laurel Woodcock, wish you were here, 2003
wish you were here (2003), a series of aerial-banner letters, references the popular postcard message. Woodcock draws our attention to ubiquitous phrases and words whose definition we take at face value, and we are happy to find that in a contemporary context, old phrases can be given new life. With her characteristic wit, the artist reveals that nothing is static.”

Image: https://canadianart.ca/news/news-brief-remembering-laurel-woodcock/
Text:https://canadianart.ca/reviews/laurel-woodcock/
Laurel Woodcock, on a clear day, 2010
“Language is more than inspiration for Woodcock: it is raw material, awaiting manipulation and reinterpretation. Rather than invent new phrases or author original prose and poetry, Woodcock explores the ability of common language to become layered with multiple and unexpected meanings; when presented in new contexts, familiar words, symbols and sayings acquire new significance while retaining reference to their primary definitions.
Woodcock treats words as ready-made or found objects, often lifting phrases from songs and screenplays. on a clear day (2010), four sky-blue aluminum panels originally produced for the Toronto Now space at the Art Gallery of Ontario, borrows its title phrase from two films:Gaby Dellal’s On a Clear Day (2005) and Vincente Minnelli’s On a Clear Day You Can See Forever (1970).”

image and text: https://canadianart.ca/reviews/laurel-woodcock/

Hiba Abdullah: Watch the whole interview below – Hiba makes text works and social practice works – she is also former Guelph grad. She discusses several of her projects pictured below:

http://hibaabdallah.com/everything-i-wanted-to-tell-you

2. Read this article from Canadian Art about the word “Interesting”

3. MAKE:

Using the article from Canadian Art above – isolate a few words, or a prhase, or a sentence to make a banner. Each letter should be on a separate piece of paper, and the letters should be strung onto a string or support of some kind. Use any colour, materials, and size of banner, but be ambitious and thoughtful – consider where you intend to hang the banner.

Take your words out of the context of the article, and put them into a new context in your home or neighbourhood. See how the chosen words, the look of your letters, and the scale of your banner affect meaning. See how putting your banner in different contexts expand/inform the meaning in surprising and evocative ways.

Make a banner, hang it up, and document it. Post a photo with a short description on our blog.

Here is a generic “banner” as an example:

Here is one with individual letters, made by a former student:

As always be safe and respectful to yourself and others, and follow public health guidelines. Be creative within the restrictions of the moment.

Week 2

SUMMARY OF WORK IN WEEK 2: (See details below)

  1. LOOK AT: Text as Art images, text and videos

2. WRITE: See reflection questions on text as art at the end.


  1. LOOK AT: Artists who use text in their work including: Yoko Ono, Jenny Holzer, John Baldessari, Barbara Krueger, Geurilla Girls, and Shelly Niro. And more contemporary examples including: Nadia Myre, Joi T. Arcand, Jon Rubin, Eleanor King, Micah Lexier, Lenka Clayton, Alisha Wormsley and Germaine Koh.

John Baldessari:

John Baldessari
I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art
1971

In 1971, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, invited John Baldessari to exhibit his work. However, the college did not have the funds for Baldessari to travel to Halifax, so the artist proposed that the art students in Halifax act as his surrogates. The students were instructed by Baldessari to write “I will not make any more boring art” on the gallery walls for the duration of the exhibition (April 1-10, 1971). By enlisting the art students to slavishly write the phrase over and over, Baldessari poked fun at the entire system of art education, which he felt encouraged students to imitate rather than experiment and innovate. The artist also sent along a handwritten page of the phrase, from which the students produced prints. After the work’s completion, Baldessari committed his own version of the piece to videotape. The subversive, graffiti-like action of drawing directly on the gallery walls reflected the artist’s dissatisfaction with the limitations of traditional painting in the early 1970s. His interest in language-based performative actions that could be realized by others was a hallmark of early conceptual art.  (From Whitney.org)

From the exhibition Pure Beauty, works from the late 60’s.
John Baldessari, Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell, 1966-1968

By 1966, Baldessari was using photographs and text, or simply text, on canvas.[2] His early major works were canvas paintings that were empty but for painted statements derived from contemporary art theory. An early attempt of Baldessari’s included the hand-painted phrase “Suppose it is true after all? WHAT THEN?” (1967) on a heavily worked painted surface. However, this proved personally disappointing because the form and method conflicted with the objective use of language that he preferred to employ. Baldessari decided the solution was to remove his own hand from the construction of the image and to employ a commercial, lifeless style so that the text would impact the viewer without distractions. The words were then physically lettered by sign painters, in an unornamented black font. The first of this series presented the ironic statement “A TWO-DIMENSIONAL SURFACE WITHOUT ANY ARTICULATION IS A DEAD EXPERIENCE” (1967).”
text: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Baldessari
image: https://imageobjecttext.com/tag/john-baldessari/
Lenka Clayton, Fruit and Other Things, 2018
Fruit and Other Things
Collaboration with Jon Rubin / Carnegie International 57th Edition 2018, Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh

Full Project Website

“From 1896 to 1931 the Carnegie International selected artworks for its exhibitions from an international competition. The museum kept meticulous records, not only of all the works accepted, but of those rejected as well. Only the title, artist’s names, and the year of each work were recorded, no images exist. Over this 35 year span, 10,632 artworks were rejected from the exhibitions. For the duration of the 57th Carnegie International, each of the 10,632 rejected titles were made into individual hand-lettered text paintings. Each text painting was exhibited for a day, and then given away to visitors.”

Text and image: https://www.fruitandotherthings.com/home
Germaine Koh, Dear Mercer, 2006
“A form letter in various formats, used as my participation in fundraising events.
unlimited series”

text and image: http://germainekoh.com/ma/projects_detail.cfm?pg=projects&projectID=19
YOKO ONO, Grapefruit, 1964
Conversation Piece, an event score from Grapefruit, 1964.

“Ono’s event scores were intended to replace a physical work of art with written instructions or suggestions for acts that the person experiencing them could create. Pulse Piece, for example, suggests, “Listen to each other’s pulse by putting your ear on the other’s stomach. 1963 Winter.” The activities usually highlight a simple day-to-day activity. Often considered a Fluxus work, Grapefruit has become a monument of conceptual art. The title comes from the way Ono felt about herself: a hybrid between American and Japanese identities, the way a grapefruit is a hybrid between a lemon and an orange.”

Text and Image:
https://www.swanngalleries.com/news/art-press-illustrated-books/2017/06/grapefruit-yoko-ono-guide-living-art/

Yoko Ono, FLY (1996), billboard installed in Richmond Virginia. Photo by Stephen Salpukas. Courtesy of Yoko Ono.
Composite of Yoko Ono’s billboards since the 1960’s.

Yoko Ono WAR IS OVER!, 2008-2009 IMAGINE PEACE in 24 languages Holiday Billboards Times Square, New York, NY Photo by: Karla Merrifield © Yoko Ono

Jenny Holzer, Truisms, 1980-
Image: http://gallery.98bowery.com/wp-content/uploads/Jen-Holzer-Truisms.jpg
http://classes.dma.ucla.edu/Spring05/25/artists.php?name=holzer&works=3

Holzer’s Truisms have become part of the public domain, displayed in storefronts, on outdoor walls and billboards, and in digital displays in museums, galleries, and other public places, such as Times Square in New York. Multitudes of people have seen them, read them, laughed at them, and been provoked by them. That is precisely the artist’s goal.

The Photostat, Truisms, seen here presents eighty-six of Holzer’s ongoing series of maxims. Variously insightful, aggressive, or comic, they express multiple viewpoints that the artist hopes will arouse a wide range of responses. A small selection of Truisms includes: “A lot of professionals are crackpots”; “Abuse of power comes as no surprise”; “Bad intentions can yield good results”; and “Categorizing fear is calming.”

Holzer began creating these works in 1977, when she was a student in an independent study program. She hand-typed numerous “one liners,” or Truisms, which she has likened, partly in jest, to a “Jenny Holzer’s Reader’s Digest version of Western and Eastern thought.” She typeset the sentences in alphabetical order and printed them inexpensively, using commercial printing processes. She then distributed the sheets at random and pasted them up as posters around the city. Her Truisms eventually adorned a variety of formats, including T-shirts and baseball caps. (From MOMA.org)

Jenny Holzer, Survival Series, 1986
http://classes.dma.ucla.edu/Spring05/25/artists.php?name=holzer&works=3

In the Survival Series, Holzer explores other methods of presentation. Survival Series (1983–1985), which warned about the dangers of everyday living, were blazoned on enormous electronic signboards in public spaces.

From https://walkerart.org/collections/artists/jenny-holzer

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989
“Much of Kruger’s work pairs found photographs with pithy and assertive text that challenges the viewer. Her method includes developing her ideas on a computer, later transferring the results (often billboard-sized) into images.[5] Examples of her instantly recognizable slogans read “I shop therefore I am,” and “Your body is a battleground,” appearing in her trademark white letters against a red background. Much of her text calls attention to ideas such as feminismconsumerism, and individual autonomy and desire, frequently appropriating images from mainstream magazines and using her bold phrases to frame them in a new context.
Kruger has said that “I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to determine who we are and who we aren’t.”[15] A larger category that threads through her work is the appropriation and alteration of existing images. In describing her use of appropriation, Kruger states:
Pictures and words seem to become the rallying points for certain assumptions. There are assumptions of truth and falsity and I guess the narratives of falsity are called fictions. I replicate certain words and watch them stray from or coincide with the notions of fact and fiction.[16]

Image and Text: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Kruger#/media/File:Untitled_(Your_body_is_a_battleground).jpg
Untitled (I Shop Therefore I Am), 1987
Image: https://www.widewalls.ch/consumerist-culture-art-10-artworks/
BARBARA KRUGER: BELIEF+DOUBT 2012–ONGOING
Part of an initiative to bring art to new sites within and around the building, this installation by Barbara Kruger fills the Lower Level lobby and extends into the newly relocated Museum bookstore. Famous for her incisive photomontages, Kruger has focused increasingly over the past two decades on creating environments that surround the viewer with language. The entire space—walls, floor, escalator sides—is wrapped in text-printed vinyl, immersing visitors in a spectacular hall of voices, where words either crafted by the artist or borrowed from the popular lexicon address conflicting perceptions of democracy, power, and belief.

At a moment when ideological certitude and purity seem especially valued, Kruger says she’s “interested in introducing doubt.” Large areas of the installation are devoted to open-ended questions (“WHO IS BEYOND THE LAW? WHO IS FREE TO CHOOSE? WHO SPEAKS? WHO IS SILENT?”), while the section occupying the bookstore explores themes of desire and consumption. At once addressing the individual, the museum, and, symbolically, the country, Kruger’s penetrating examination of the public sphere transforms one of the Hirshhorn’s key public spaces.

Text + Image: https://hirshhorn.si.edu/exhibitions/barbara-kruger-beliefdoubt/
Guerrilla Girls, Guerrilla Girls Definition Of A Hypocrite, 1990
“The anonymous collective Guerilla Girls fits into a rich tradition of protest artists who employ words for explicitly political ends. In particular, the group uses language to reconsider gender discrimination and violence. “What do these men have in common?” one of their 1995 posters asks. Below the bold black wording, photographs of O.J. Simpson and minimalist artist Carl Andre
 appear. The answer to their provocation? The state accused both men of murdering women (Simpson: his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson; Andre: his wife Ana Mendieta). Both enjoyed acquittals and avoided jail time. The Guerilla Girls discuss the prevalence of domestic violence beneath the pictures. They also include a tagline at the bottom: “A public service message from Guerilla Girls conscience of the art world.”
Another famous work, Do Women Have to Be Naked to Get Into the Met Museum? (1989), critiques the lack of art by female practitioners in major institutions. Across the Guerilla Girls’s oeuvre, wry ideology becomes an art form. Their messaging—and its situation within the institutions it critiques—supersedes all other aesthetic concerns.”

Image and Text: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-13-artists-highlight-power
Recent project by the Geurilla Girls at MOMA, 2020 See their website for ongoing activities

https://www.guerrillagirls.com/

Pluralism, Deborah Roberts, 2016

Roberts identifies dozens of Black names that Microsoft Word identifies as misspelled. Series of prints.

Shelley Niro, The Shirt (detail), 2003
Shelley Niro, The Shirt (detail), 2003.____ Uploaded by: Whyte, Murray

“In “The Shirt” – a video that debuted at the 2003 Venice Biennale – Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) artist and director Shelley Niro parodies the archetypal tourist tee-shirt from the point of view of First Nations Peoples as an exploration into the lasting effects of European colonialism in North America. Facing the camera directly and poised against the landscape of “America”, an Aboriginal woman with biker-like accessories bears a sequential series of statements on her tee-shirt that together comprise a discourse on colonialism. The darkly ironic and yet brutally truthful messages of “The Shirt” draw attention to the history of invasion that indigenous peoples have experienced in North America. By presenting the tee-shirts as souvenirs and memories of these impositions, Niro’s work suggests that the consequences of colonialism are still active today. The Shirt is an ironic and humorous take on colonialism enacted through text on T-shirts worn by an Aboriginal woman (artist Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie). Directly facing the camera with the landscape of “America” as a backdrop, the woman poses in shirts that bear a sequential series of statements that together comprise a discourse on North America’s troubled past.”

Text:https://www.gallery.ca/collection/artwork/the-shirt
Image: https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/visualarts/2017/05/21/shelley-niro-the-way-of-the-subtle-warrior.html
Joi T. Arcand, Northern Pawn, South Vietnam, 2009
Joi T. Arcand is a photo-based artist and industrial sculptor from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation, and she knows that words, that letter forms, shapes and glyphs, “change the visual landscape,” that they are how we go about practicing new ways of looking. Words are emotional architectures, and Arcand calls hers “Future Earth.”

Here on Future Earth is a series of photographs that Arcand produced in 2010. In a phone interview, Arcand explained to me that this is where her photo-based practice and her interest in textuality synched. Arcand wants us to think about these photographs as documents of “an alternative present,” of a future that is within arm’s reach.

For this series, Arcand manipulated signs and replaced their slogans and names with Cree syllabics. By doing this, Arcand images something of a present beside itself and therefore loops us into a new mode of perception, one that enables us to attune to the rogue possibilities bubbling up in the thick ordinariness of everyday life. Arcand wanted to see things “where they weren’t.”

Hers is not a utopian elsewhere we need to map out via an ethos of discovery. Rather, Arcand straddles the threshold of radical hope. She asks us to orient ourselves to the world as if we were out to document or to think back on a future past. That is, Arcand rendered these photographs with a pink hue and a thick, round border, tapping into what she calls “the signifiers of nostalgia.” Importantly, these signifiers are inextricably bound to the charisma of words, to the emotional life of the syllabics. The syllabics are what enunciate; they potentiate a performance of world-making that does not belong to the mise-en-scene of settlement.”

Text and Image: https://canadianart.ca/features/optics-language-joi-t-arcand-looks-words/
Joi T. Arcand, Amber Motors, 2009
Image: https://canadianart.ca/features/optics-language-joi-t-arcand-looks-words/

Nadia Myre, Indian Act, 2002
“Indian Act speaks of the realities of colonization – the effects of contact, and its often-broken and untranslated contracts. The piece consists of all 56 pages of the Federal Government’s Indian Act mounted on stroud cloth and sewn over with red and white glass beads. Each word is replaced with white beads sewn into the document; the red beads replace the negative space.
Between 1999 and 2002, Nadia Myre enlisted over 230 friends, colleagues and strangers to help her bead over the Indian Act. With the help of Rhonda Meier, they organized workshops and presentations at Concordia University, and hosted weekly beading bees at Oboro Gallery, where it was presented as part of the exhibition, Cont[r]act, in 2002.”

Text and image: http://www.nadiamyre.net/#/indian-act/

Eleanor King, No Justice No Peace, 2015
Latex Paint on Wall, 80FT x 12FT
The Peekskill Project, Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art

Image:http://eleanorking.com/index.php?/projects/wall-texts/
Jon Rubin, The Last Billboard, 2010-2018
Above Text by Alisha Wormsley

“Founded in 2010, The Last Billboard was a 36 foot long rooftop billboard located on the corner of Highland and Baum in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Each month a different artist was invited to use the billboard. The custom designed billboard consisted of a rail system with wooden letters that were changed by hand.

The Last Billboard ended operations in April, 2018 after artist Alisha Wormsley’s text was removed from the billboard by the property’s landlord under pressure from area developers. “

Image and text: https://www.thelastbillboard.com/about
Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Are We There Yet? (and other questions of proximity,destination, and relative comfort), 2017
Kameelah Janan Rasheed, A QUESTION IS A SENTENCE DESIGNED TO ELICIT A RESPONSE. TODAY, WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE SLOPPY FUTURE HOLDS (detail), 2018. Installed and on view at the Brooklyn Museum

2. WRITE: Select TWO artworks from above to write about. Compare and contrast the different ways the artists use media (materials, platform, format) to express their message. How is the medium relevant to the message in each case? How are viewers expected to relate to the text in each case? (Write approx. 250 words).