- Tattoos lecture and video – discuss ideas
- Workshop in class, worktime, discussions
Performance by Jordan Bennett 2012
Materials: Tattooing, Technical equipment, film screening of Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance and Is the Crown at War with us? by Alanis Obomsawin
Performed/Presented at: Eastern Edge Art Gallery, St. John’s NL
Photo: Eastern Edge Art Gallery
80064. Its title is the camp number of a 92 years old Auschwitz survivor, Jozef Tarnawa. The tattoo has faded with the years and Zmijewski meets the old man in a tattoo parlor and tries to persuade him to have it ‘refreshed’.
The old man is not to be convinced easily. He wants to be left in peace. He is worried that the renewed tattoo will not be ‘original.’ In the end, Zmijweski gets his way and the poor man submits his arm unwillingly to the tattoo artist. In Zmijweski’s own words: ‘When I undertook this film experiment with memory, I expected that under the effect of the tattooing the ‘doors of memory’ would open, that there would be an eruption of remembrance of that time, a stream of images or words describing the painful past. Yet that didn’t happen. But another interesting thing happened. Asked whether, while in the camp, he had felt an impulse to revolt, to protest against the way he was treated, Tarnawa replied: ‘Protest? What do you mean, protest? Adapt – try and survive.’ In the film, suffering, power relationships, and subordination are repeated.
About the controversial work the artist says:
“It’s a renovation of the number, a kind of the respect toward the guy, he is treated as a living monument of the past which needs to be preserved and kept in good condition. And the second meaning of it is re-creation or repetition of the act of violence toward this guy. In both movies, I wanted to open access to the past, really open it, not to commemorate it only, but only open access to it, really jump into the past. The very moment when the tattoo was done or the very moment when people were in the gas chamber […] Deifnitely artists should maintain their position and support curators and institutions which presents this exhibition and fight censorship.”
- Michelle Lacombe, Of All the Watery Bodies, I only know my own, documentation, 2013-2014.
Reading a Body
Michelle Lacombe turns her body into a palimpsest for us to decode, mingling constructed and natural signs and generating a complex image of the tensions traversing it. Each of her works comes about in two moments. The first is the work’s production and presentation, focusing on an issue conveyed by the media and art history, which generate an exterior view of the woman. The second is everyday lived experience, in which bodily signs endure, accumulate, recontextualize one another. Lacombe embodies both perspectives simultaneously; her body, a field of struggle, testifies to this.
Revisiting the historical modes of representation of women through the deconstruction of Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus (1510), Lacombe stands in for the main subject of the scene in The Venus Landscape(2010). The work consists of lines tattooed on her body that serve as guides to the prescribed pose of a reclining, wanton Venus offered up to desiring eyes. The artist denies the prescription by fragmenting her posture in everyday actions, the drawn lines never joining up to render a coherent image of their reference. Nor does she shy away from the tropes associated with women or fear falling into stereotypes: in dealing with maternity, the menstrual cycle, and women’s kinship with nature, her project Of all the watery bodies, I only know my own (2013–16) is an occasion to reflect on the body’s erosion through the monthly loss of its reproductive potential. No longer situated in the landscape, her body becomes the landscape, a terrain that wears down over time, with every cycle.
The voice of women, often devalued, lies at the heart of Italics; Underlining for emphasis (2010 and 2015), which indeed underlines Lacombe’s voice with an invisible line etched inside her lower lip, symbolically marking her agency. She strives for the same goal in all her work: to reveal and explode the barriers that restrain her field of action as she confronts the complexities and nuances inherent to her research.
Translated from the French by Ron Ross
Generic Man, 1987-1989, printed of 2002
160 cm Line Tattooed on 4 People … is a video documenting an action that took place at El Gallo Arte Contemporáneo in Salamanca, Spain in December 2000. The artist’s text explains: ‘Four prosititutes addicted to heroin were hired for the price of a shot of heroin to give their consent to be tattooed. Normally they charge 2,000 or 3,000 pesetas, between 15 and 17 dollars, for fellatio, while the price of a shot of heroin is around 12,000 pesetas, about 67 dollars.’ (Quoted from the artist’s text accompanying the video.) The single-channel black and white video constitutes an informal record of the event in which the four participating women allow their backs to be used for the tattoo. It shows the women – two fair haired and two dark haired – arrive in the space and take up positions, naked from the waist up and with their backs towards the camera, straddling black bentwood chairs. During the action they move constantly, chatting, laughing, smoking, turning to look behind them, curiously watching the female tattoo artist and commenting on her processes until, finally, she cleans their wounds and covers them with bandages. During the film, two men in dark clothes pass in and out of the frame, holding a tape measure over the bared backs for the initial measurement and taking photographs of the process as it develops.
I’m thinking about your relationship to lines, in particular. Can you talk about your tattoos?
JM: They’re still there!
KH: [Laughs] Yes, well, in some ways they are only slightly less ephemeral than your paper cups and napkins, in the sense that you yourself are rather ephemeral in reference to geological or cosmic time…
JM: True. I honestly don’t remember how I began working with lines exactly, except that it began soon after I started working at NSCAD. My use of straight lines is probably another reflection of the fact that I was interested in making works in visual art but had no particular skills or training, and I also had no interest in gaining those skills. That compounded with my background literature and my interest in science and mathematics. As for the tattoos, they are artworks that I’ve had for twenty-two years now. Most of my life I’ve worked in some sort of job where I’m dressed with sleeves covering the majority of the work, so the question most people will wonder is how far up my body they go. There is an implication that they continue.
KH: I’m looking at them now – they are on the center of your forearms, beginning at the wrist and ending at the elbow. I remember you saying once that one was black and the other blue, though of course now the black one is blueing, and the blue one is blueing further, which is also interesting in terms of tracking time. Lines are of course related to a human sense of time as a linear concept, and certainly your continued use of the line connects much of your work through time.
John Murchie, “Black and Blue”, 1996. Photos courtesy of Gemey Kelly.
JM: When I got them done in the mid-‘90s, there weren’t that many people around with tattoos. Those from my father’s generation who had been to war certainly had some, but aside from that they weren’t that prevalent, but were starting to be. I’ve always been interested in how a sculpture can be a painting and vice versa. I still see them as my drawings, basically. On the other hand, I’m obviously a three-dimensional thing, so its sculptural, and also I see it as an ongoing performance, until my last breath. It’s the only way I can give my body real value. I have offered this artwork to the National Gallery of Canada. I told them they couldn’t have it until I passed away. And then, they would have to make a decision as to whether they preferred to see it as a drawing, and skin me, or see it as a sculpture.
KH: And embalm you?
JM: [Laughs] Yes. It’s their choice. I see both possibilities as perfectly adequate and true, but obviously you have to make a choice. Curatorially speaking, I think they would make the better choice than I would. From my perspective, it’s one of my most successful works.
KH: I’m led to think of Santiago Sierra’s 160 cm Line Tattooed on 4 People from 2000, which of course was done much later and garnered a lot of negative attention for the obvious problematics – paying prostitutes the price of their choice substance to be tattooed across their backs as some sort of unit. Obviously your work is exceedingly different, but I can’t help but bring Sierra to mind. Both works, regardless of their extreme difference, involve an attempt at geometry against the fleshiness of the human body, and demand that the living body be seen as an art object.
JM: Yes well even in my case not everyone has been empathetic with the work either, like my mother, for example. [Laughs] She thought it was the most stupid thing she’d heard in her life. Conversations around their utility come up most often in hospitals when my sleeves are rolled up to do blood work and the like. I guess they look suspiciously like the surgical marks doctors draw when they’re getting ready to cut you open.
Tattoo (for Reflection)
The work of Douglas Gordon revolves around a constellation of dualities and dialectics. Mistaken identities, doubles, split personalities, and such opposites as good and evil, and self and other are thematized as inseparable. Gordon’s films, video installations, photographs, and texts transform differences into uncanny, nuanced pairs.
Gordon approaches film as ready-made or found object, mining the potential collective memory that exists in cinematic fragments, and in the process, disclosing unseen or overlooked details and associations. His installation through a looking glass (1999) features the well-known scene from Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film Taxi Driver in which Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro, asks, “You talkin’ to me?” while gazing into a mirror. In Gordon’s piece, the scene is projected onto dual screens placed on opposite walls of a gallery space. The original episode from the movie, filmed as a reflection in the mirror, is shown on one wall. The other screen displays the same episode with the image reversed, flipped left to right. The two facing images, which begin in sync, progressively fall out of step, echoing the character’s loss of control and his mental breakdown. These discordant projected images seem to respond to one another, thus trapping the viewer in the crossfire. In its almost dizzying play of dualities, through a looking glassperfectly articulates the dialectical inversions, doublings, and repetitions that are the central concerns of Gordon’s work.
Gordon also uses still photography to capture performative acts, as in Tattoo (for Reflection) (1997). In accordance with Gordon’s instructions, the writer Oscar van den Boogaard had the word “guilty” tattooed in reverse on the back of his left shoulder; the tattoo can only be read via its reflection in a mirror. Gordon revels in the mixed messages found in the tattoo’s various cultural associations, from its use as an identifying mark on prisoners to its current incarnation as a subculture status symbol. In true Gordonian, reflexive fashion—with the word legible on van den Boogaard’s back only when reversed—the photograph becomes an index of an index.
Three inches, black no. 2
Douglas Gordon Douglas Gordon, Never, Never (white), 2000. C-type digital print. 62 x 76 cm (unframed). © Studio lost but found / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017.
Fastwurms: See AGYU book
Donkey Ninja Witch, 2010
Shannon Gerard: Willy
Russian Prison Tattoos:
Art Hurts: CBC Series
As a child, my friends and I used to draw watches on each other’s wrist for fun. Back in the days, a ball point pen is not easy to find for us since everyone uses pencil and only adult and older children can use a pen. To share a ball point pen that was hard to find and draw different watches on each others wrist was a simple mark of friendship. To recreate this childhood memory, I asked my classmates to draw each other a wrist watch with their own design and photographed it then translated it into a printable design. I then printed these “watches” on temporary tattoo paper and shared it with the class.
Matching Freckles, Sydney Coles, 2019
Sarah Hernandes, Embrace, 2019.
Make an Artist Tattoo
RECOMMENDED MEDIA: Tattoo transfer, drawing for the body, performance, video
Due: See schedule for details
Human beings have been tattooing themselves for thousands of years. For religious and spiritual reasons, for beautification, remembrance, for rites of passage, for sex, as expressions of identity and belonging; of protest, of love and sometimes – of possession and hate.
Artists have explored many of these ideas in artist-tattoo projects, utilizing self-conscious, and conceptual strategies in designing and applying tattoos. The resulting works are sometimes surprising, provocative or difficult, funny, or emotionally moving.
Students will create a tattoo piece. You can use the transfer paper or other print and drawing techniques to make one, or multiple tattoos. You can also consider ways to present your work – on a body, in a performance, or in a video. Finish your tattoo somehow – to present to the class and on the blog as a finished artwork.
**** While your work may be a proposal and sample of a permanent tattoo, I would recommend you do NOT apply a real permanent tattoo/mark on yourself or others to complete this assignment. After critiques you are free to do what you like with your own body – but for class, you will not make a permanent body alteration, please.
Consider artist tattoos by:
Students will document finished works for addition to the blog. Include a title, a short description and one to two images or video of your work.
Works must be posted on the blog with a title and description to receive a final grade.
- Video Crits
- Video Crits
- SHENKMAN LECTURE WEDNESDAY
- Show and discuss CBC Spark, The Power and Provocation of Art
- Discussion of work in progress, tech adc
- Editing time, discussions of work in progress.
The power and provocation of art – from CBC Spark
A special Spark retrospective
What happens when you let an AI deer run loose in a video game?
Running with the Grand Theft Auto deer
What does a computer look like?
How to make an embroidered computer
What do computers, knitting, NASA and 18th century China have in common?
See more Kristen Haring:
What if you could convert pollution into something useful?
- Discuss proposals for Internet-Video Art projects and collaborations
- Demo on ripping images, video and sound from Youtube with Nathan
- Ongoing discussions of work in progress
- Work time in class
- Listen to The Power and Provocations of Art- from CBC Spark for homework
Listen to the podcast – for discussion next week
Artists who shape and respond to popular video culture
Pipilotti Rist (Swiss) talks about her first work of video art “I’m Not the Girl Who Misses Much” from 1986 – barely art – that they submitted to a festival just to get a free ticket to see the shows. Before MTV, before YouTube the artist – like Joan Jonas or Bruce Nauman or Nam June Paik and others – was performing simple gestures, improvised performances, and performing herself in footage that was rough, poor quality, chaotic and spontaneous.
Did artists invent music videos? You Tube?
Or cat videos? See Kelly Mark, Toronto based artist in 2002.
See the video here: http://kellymark.com/V_MusicVideoSeries1.html
“Faced with the awe-inspiring popularity of web-monoliths like YouTube, contemporary art risks becoming nothing more than a quaint relic of the 20th century.
It’s probably not fair to compare contemporary art practice with YouTube; yet there is evidence to suggest that somewhere in the ulterior of its collective brain, the art world does just this, and finds itself lacking. How else to understand the ongoing assurances given in art exhibition press releases and catalogue essays about the important role the viewer plays in the construction of meaning – and the intention to facilitate it with this very exhibition?
If artists once played a leading – avant garde – role in providing a complex and forward-looking framework for reflection on the contemporary world, it now seems most comfortable bringing up the rear, providing explanations for developments already intuitively understood and widely enjoyed by the culture at large. “
Rosemary Heather, From Army of You Tube
“Ryan Trecartin’s videos depict a vertiginous world I’m barely stable enough to describe. Watching them, I face the identity-flux of Internet existence: surfing-as-dwelling. Images evaporate, bleed, spill, metamorphose, and explode. Through frenetic pacing, rapid cuts, and destabilizing overlaps between representational planes (3-D turns into 2-D and then into 5-D), Trecartin violently repositions our chakras. Digitally virtuoso, his work excites me but also causes stomach cramps. I’m somatizing. But I’m also trying to concentrate.” From Situation Hacker: The Art of Ryan Trencartin, Wayne Kaustenbaum
Maya Ben David
Maya Ben David (MBD) is a Toronto-based Jewish-Iranian Anthropomorphic Airplane. Working in video, installation and performance, she creates worlds and characters that aid her ongoing exploration of anthropomorphism, cosplay and performative personas. Ben David presents the origin stories of her characters in the form of video and performance, and expands on them via her online presence. They often inhabit alternate universes accompanied by nostalgia, such as the worlds of Pokémon and Spiderman. In addition, Ben David also plays a character called MBD who is known for having multiple feuds with her many alter egos as well as the art world. Most infamously, MBD has ignited online feuds with artists such as Jon Rafman and Ajay Kurian. Bio from her site Maya Ben David
Warning about video art below: Contains explicit/violent material, actual footage
“Well my thing was like, first of all, there’s something to be said for just making explicit what is oftentimes implicit—which is black people being killed as if we’re not human beings. How do we introduce something in the space that can cut through the noise? There’s a real problematic around the appropriateness of having an image of a man getting murdered. But this footage is all over the place. It’s everywhere. It’s not like we’re talking about digging stuff out of some archive that’s never been seen before.
It’s literally everywhere so the question becomes: How do you situate it so that people actually see it, this phenomena, as opposed to just having it pass in front of them? How do you have people actually see it? And simultaneously, how do you induce people to apprehend both the beauty and the horror these circumstances? There’s something profound (and magical) to be said about the ability, the capacity to see beauty anywhere and everywhere. I think it’s a capacity black people have developed because not only are we are not authorized, we’re demonized—we are radically not affirmed, so we’ve actually learned not just how to imbue moments with joy but to see beauty in places where beauty, in any normative sense, doesn’t necessarily exist.”
From Love is the Message, The Plan is Death, Arthur Jafa and Tina M. Campt in coversation on e-flux
OPTIONAL READ: From Love is the Message, The Plan is Death, Arthur Jafa and Tina M. Campt in coversation on e-flux
Orian Barki and Meriem Bennani, 2 Lizards: Episode 1, 2020
2 Lizards: Episode 1, 2020
Artforum is pleased to host this Instagram video by Orian Barki and Meriem Bennani, made while self-isolating because of COVID-19.
Beautiful moment of communion through sound waves in Brooklyn despite social distancing—the virus’s protective membrane is very sensitive to soap and heat but also bass. These two lizards are lucky they work from home and can afford to stay inside. This is the first collaboration between Yani and me; we made it over the weekend to take a break from editing and animating for work. —Meriem Bennani
This is what it feels like to live
presently in a historical moment.
“2 Lizards is an artistic time capsule that fuses genre—part documentary, part fiction—using cartoon animals to represent the artists’ community. The resulting absurdity and realness channel humor and sincere emotion to explore the societal fissures that formed around the pandemic, and its intersection with systemic racism. Each episode explores a specific quarantine mood: dreamlike detachment, anxiety, impassioned protest. Melodrama is notably absent. Instead we see cool emotions and “affect management.” Daydreaming, scrolling, and distraction abound. In addition to physical confinement, there is an emotional confinement that manifests as out-of-sync-ness: the lizards move with a particular cadence, slightly slower than everything else. This, the videos seem to say, is what it feels like to live presently in a historical moment.” From MOMA
2 Lizards joins a rich history of diaristic video art, including Gregg Bordowitz’s episodic Portraits of People Living with HIV or George Kuchar’s performative video diaries. Like Bordowitz’s and Kuchar’s footage of the mundane, 2 Lizards focuses not on the crisis as an event but on its daily effects. (It isn’t until episode four, when the lizards visit a friend, a healthcare worker, that we hear stories about the coronavirus tragedies.) As an event, contagion is invisible, but the ripple effects are evident. This is reminiscent of cultural theorist Lauren Berlant’s term “crisis ordinariness,” whereby “crisis is not exceptional…but a process embedded in the ordinary that unfolds in stories about navigating what’s overwhelming.”
This series speaks to the changing methods of image consumption that aim increasingly toward smaller, more portable screens and user-generated content that seeks to comfort through humor. Like memes, the lizards are an opiate for our precise moment of extreme social disruption. Much of the value in these videos is their format (the Instagram video), as they inextricably tie the work to the platform and its users. 2 Lizards is a feedback loop: it reflects the Internet by incorporating new modes of image technologies related to the constant stream of pictures, which are then distributed back into the world through those very feeds. During lockdown, in the context of isolation, social media became a place where many of us channeled our pent-up communal and emotional need to connect. It is where we received information about the world and began to watch a new one unfold.
“Scrap Pieces is a collaborative meditation on the physical components of the surface of images. This 4 channel video project borrows materials from the studios of four Canadian photographers: Laurie Kang, Jeff Bierk, Nadia Belerique, and Celia Perrin Sidarous. Filmed in the intimate style of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), Benivolski soothes the viewer using debris and scrap materials such as small pieces of metal, silicone, plaster casts, test strips, seashells, glass, wires and transparencies.” Yuula Benivolski from her site
2021 / 4k video / colour / sound / single screen / 62’46
“Traces is an ASMR video tutorial that demonstrates the process of forensic fingerprint development on old currency that has been out of circulation for thirty years. With Bridget Moser.
I left Moscow at 10 years old when it was still part of the Communist USSR and made my first trip back home to the “Russian Federation” 28 years later. Curious about the disappeared ideology and citizens of the place I was born in, I purchased 300 Soviet banknotes which went out of circulation in 1993, with plans to lift fingerprints off them.
The fingerprints, once revealed through a chemical process taught to me by a forensic specialist, are photographed using an orange filter on a macro lens, and enlarged 80 times their size, in order to show the last natural traces of a place that has been made to vanish.” Yuula Benivolski
Assignment for next week:
Forage through the internet for the tropes of popular video culture you would like to explore more deeply. We’ll discuss possible options in class, so a pair of students can each present a video genre. The presentation should take up to 10 minutes MAX. including video time.
Prepare a presentation on your blog page – of one internet video. Include a detailed description of the video.
Consider these questions and others relevant to your selction:
- How is it shot, and framed? Where does the material come from? What is the quality of the footage?
- How is it edited, and does it flow from clip to clip?
- What does it sound like? How are sound or image manipulated and transformed from original footage?
- What are some of the key features that define this genre?What are some weird variations on it?
- What are some of the reasons these kinds of videos are compelling or useful in this historical moment? Use quotes from published sources to back up your arguments and analysis.
- How do you relate to it?
- Critique Parents videos
- Reminder – all work should be up to date on blog by WEDNESDAY
- Critique Parents videos
Have a restful reading week!
- Finish critiques
2. More in progress discussions/parents videos
Watch Jim Verburg, For A Relationship (in Studio library)
and Aislinn Thomas: Rod, Bernie, Peggy, Aislinn (2009)
- Work time – in progress – discussions
- Video Editing Demo with NATHAN (1 hour) Bring your laptop or working device
Reminders: ALL work from weeks 1-6 must be posted on the blog – I will be checking it all for completion and effort during Reading Week – due next week!
- Discuss proposals for Parents Video Art
- Critique fully documented Text Multiples! Put all documentation – images , title and a clear description of the work on your blog page.
Video Recording demo with Nathan
VISITING ARTIST TALK!
The School of Fine Art and Music is pleased to present the Winter 2022 Visiting Artists and Speakers Series. Our next event featuring visual artists Abbas Akhavan will take place on February 7, 6:00 – 7:00 pm EST.
Zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/97176335957
Topic: Abbas Akhavan: Artist Talk
Time: Feb 7, 2022 05:45 PM America/Toronto
Meeting ID: 971 7633 5957
Abbas Akhavan’s practice ranges from site-specific ephemeral installations to drawing, video, sculpture and performance. The direction of his research has been deeply influenced by the specificity of the sites where he works: the architectures that house them, the economies that surround them, and the people that frequent them. The domestic sphere, as a forked space between hospitality and hostility, has been an ongoing area of research in his practice. More recent works have shifted focus, wandering onto spaces and species just outside the home – the garden, the backyard, and other domesticated landscapes.
Akhavan’s recent solo exhibitions include Chisenhale Gallery, London (2021), Fogo Island Arts, Fogo Island (2019), and The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2019). Group exhibitions include Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool (2018), SALT Galata, Istanbul (2017), and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2016). Akhavan was recently the artist in residence at Atelier Calder, Saché (2017), Fogo Island Arts (2013, 2016, 2019), and Flora: ars+natura, Bogota (2015). He is the recipient of Kunstpreis Berlin (2012), The Abraaj Group Art Prize (2014), and the Sobey Art Award (2015).
You can find more information about Akhavan at the following link:
Zoom links for forthcoming events will be distributed via. email and made available on Instagram @guelphmfa
We acknowledge, with respect, that the University of Guelph is situated on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit and on the ancestral lands of the Attawandaron people. Their historical relationships with the land continue to this day.