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Carey Young: Appearance review – the faces of female justice



Vivien Rose, supreme court justice, stares steadily back at you from Carey Young’s outstanding new film at Modern Art Oxford. Lady Rose is only required to sit for two minutes in this red leather chair but the pressure of time (and the lens) is upon her. The imperturbable gaze flickers ever so slightly, as she waits for the endless moment to pass. Why is she still here, when she could be dispensing justice?

Appearance– the film’s title plays on the way we come before her and she before us – takes off from Andy Warhol’s celebrated 1960s Screen Tests. But Young is British and born in 1970. Instead of Bob Dylan or Lou Reed, she invites a succession of our female judges into her spotlit studio. You see them arrive, take their seat and try to keep entirely still. Each appearance quickens into psychological drama.

A solemn young woman, with matching lips and nails, looks at the camera with something approaching hostility. A middle-aged judge, wig removed, reveals the carefully brushed tips of her blue-dyed hair even as she conceals her hands beneath kid gloves arranged across her lap. There are abruptly crossed legs, restless fingers and even a hint of growing warmth from a diminutive lawyer whose feet barely touch the ground even in towering stilettos. She stops just short of a full-blown smile.

Is it the occasion or the profession that controls the pose? What should a female judge look like? I came into the gallery just as a woman of exceptional youth and beauty was arriving on screen and the viewer next to me gasped. The artist – her camera noticing emerald rings, expensive hair, judicious eyeliner – mocks our preconceptions. Judge not lest ye be judged.

A still from Appearance (2023).

Young’s profound and involving examination of the law has continued through film, photography and installation art for more than 20 years. This retrospective presents some of her most acute works. Counter Offer, from 2008, consists of two framed propositions. “Offer – I offer you liberty” (though the fine print below warns that this offer will be automatically withdrawn on the making of any counteroffer, which is hereby rejected) and “Counter Offer – I offer you justice”. The elements are mutually exclusive, freedom and justice incompatible, or so runs this dark double bind.

Obsidian Contract (2010) consists of a legal document written backwards that only becomes legible when you peer into its reflection in a black mirror. Whereupon it turns – according to the written claim – into a contract whereby you agree that the mirror is now a piece of common land. All sorts of banned activities, from nudism to loitering to public protest, are magically legal in this illusory place. Look away, though, and your freedom has all gone.

Two recent prints seem to show an expanse of twinkling stars in a night sky and, by contrast, dark flecks in a stretch of white ice. The first is in fact a photograph of a notice board in a law school, the documents removed to reveal the pinpricks; the second, the wall of a prison yard. One is the complex reverse of the other, or so you might say, in life as here now in art.

The laws that govern our rights, our agency and even our movements in this world are, for Young, “a form of choreography”. This is most explicit in a piece from 2013, now updated to reflect our present times. A rectangular line marks out a section of wall and floor. Stand inside it and you agree with the declaration of European citizenship. Step outside and the temporary citizenship ends. But now, of course, the concept is even more remote, intangible, absurd, the dancing in and out of it sheer fantasy post-Brexit. And the line has turned black, like the edge of a funeral notice.

A recent self-portrait, if that isn’t an overstatement, shows a faint reflection of the artist in a group photograph of US supreme court judges. You can scarcely see Young, who has a camera to her eye in any case, but nor can you quite make out the only woman in the shot. This is Sandra Day O’Connor, the first American woman to hold that office, surrounded by men and obscured by a flash of light.

‘Eye to startled eye’: a still from Carey Young’s Palais de Justice (2017).

Young’s acclaimed 2017 film Palais de Justicemoves as if by stealth through the soaring architecture of the Brussels law courts, noticing strange symmetries, hidden figures, the weird murmur of voices that are always elsewhere, behind closed doors. Her camera peers through the curious porthole windows set into those doors, watching women judges listening, arguing, shifting with impatience (in one case turning straight towards us, eye to startled eye).

What does the law look like? With subtle editing, it is suddenly made to look (like the figure of Justice herself) entirely and unprecedentedly female.

Yet the art in this show is always and aptly interrogative. What difference would it make if there were more women judges? (Rose is at present the only female justice out of 12 in the UK supreme court.) Appearance presents numerous British women on screen from various backgrounds and levels – junior and venerable, black, white and Asian, dressed in starched linen, white ermine and even the gold-encrusted robes of the highest courts in the land that require a flunky to trail behind lifting the hem.

Each appearance is a discrete essay in character, from the serenely confident to the impassive, impervious or resistant. But what Young’s camera notices, too, is the luxurious jewellery, the costly makeup, shoes and hair; the extraordinary fact of the soft hands and the unlined faces – scarcely a frown mark, despite the burdens of office. It is as if the law has imposed its own style upon these women, as much as any men, keeping them all in line.



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Home + Away artwork opens in Vancouver’s Hastings Park



A new art installation now towers over Vancouver’s Hastings Park fields in celebration of the city’s history of spectators and sports.

Home + Away is a sculpture by Seattle artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo of Lead Pencil Studio, which opened Monday in the southeast end of the historic park.

It’s a 17-metre-tall structure that resembles a narrow set of bleachers — similar to the stands of the Empire Stadium, which stood on the site of the park from 1954 to 1993 and hosted The Beatles, among many others. It recalls a covered ski jump that stood there in the 1950s and the nearby wooden rollercoaster at the PNE.

The city says the public is invited to walk the stairs and sit on the benches.

“In addition to being visually striking, this artwork is intended to be ascended, sat on and experienced. It offers exciting experiences of height and views and provides 16 rows of seating for up to 49 people, making for a unique spectator experience when watching events at Empire Fields,” the city said in a release Monday.

The idea for the park to include public art was outlined in the Hastings Park “Master Plan,” first adopted by the city in 2010. The city says Han and Mihalyo first presented their design in 2015.

“It’s wonderful to see this piece realized within the context of such a well-used public space,” said Han.

Home + Away was inspired directly by the site history of spectatorship, and we hope it will connect Hastings Park users to that history and the majestic views of the environment for many decades to come,” added Mihalyo.

The artwork features a large light-up sign, in the style of a sports scoreboard, that reads “HOME” and “AWAY.”



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Bill Viola, Video Artist Who Established the Medium as an Integral Part of Contemporary Art, Dies at 73



Bill Viola, whose decades-long engagement with video proved vital in establishing the medium as an integral part of contemporary art, died on July 12 at his home in Long Beach, California. He was at 73 years old. The cause was complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. The news of his passing was confirmed by James Cohan Gallery.

Viola’s works are centered around the idea of human consciousness and such fundamental experiences as birth, death, and spirituality. He delved into mystical traditions from Zen Buddhism to Islamic Sufism, as well as Western devotional art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in his videos, which often juxtaposed themes of life and death, light and dark, noise and silence. These explorations were achieved by submerging viewers in both image and sound with cutting-edge technologies for their time.

“I first used the camera and lens as a surrogate eye, to bring things closer, or to magnify them, to experiment with perception, to extend vision and make lengthy observations of simple objects,” Viola said in a 2015 interview. “Once you do that, their essence becomes visible. So I suppose I was always interested in the inner life of the world around me.”

Beginning in the 1970s, Viola created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast—all of which expanded the scope of the medium and established Viola as one of its most notable practitioner.

Video still of a man diving into water that has been reversed. The image is mostly black and teal.

In 2003 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Tate, London; and the Centre Pompidou in Paris jointly acquired Bill Viola’s 2001 three-channel video installation Five Angels for the Millennium.

Photo Kira Perov/©Bill Viola Studio

Bill Viola was born in 1951. He grew up in Queens and Westbury, New York, and attended P.S. 20 in Flushing, before receiving his BFA in experimental studios from Syracuse University in 1973. There, he studied with visual art with the likes of Jack Nelson and electronic music with Franklin Morris.

Following his graduation, between 1973 to 1980, Viola studied and performed with composer David Tudor in the music group Rainforest, which later became known as Composers Inside Electronics. He also worked as technical director at the pioneering video studio Art/tapes/22 in Florence, Italy from 1974 to 1976. During that time he encountered the work of other seminal video artists like Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, and Vito Acconci.

Viola was subsequently an artist-in-residence at New York’s WNET Thirteen Television Laboratory between 1976 to 1983, wherein he created a series of works that premiered on television. He traveled to the Solomon Islands, Java, and Indonesia to record traditional performing arts between 1976 and 1977. Later that year, Viola was invited to show work at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, by cultural arts director Kira Perov, with whom he married and began a lifelong collaboration.

He was appointed an instructor in advanced video at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California in 1983. He was the Getty Research Institute scholar-in-residence in Los Angeles in 1998 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.

In 1985, Viola received with a Guggenheim Fellowship for fine arts, and later that decade, in 1989, he was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. His work was also featured in some of the world’s most notable exhibitions, including Documenta VI in 1977, Documenta XI in 1992, the 1987 and 1993 editions of the Whitney Biennial, and the 2001 Venice Biennale.

In 1995, he represented the United States at the 46th edition of the Venice Biennale. For the pavilion, Viola produced the series of works “Buried Secrets,” including one of his most known works The Greeting, which offers a contemporary interpretation of Pontormo’s oil painting The Visitation (ca.1528–30). The Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin and New York’s Guggenheim Museum commissioned the digital fresco cycle in high-definition video, titled Going Forth By Day, in 2002.

Viola’s work was the subject of a major 25-year survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1997, which subsequently toured internationally. His work has been the subject of major museum retrospectives in the years since, including at the Grand Palais in Paris (in 2014), the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence (2017), the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain (2017), and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia (2019), as well as an exhibition pairing his work with that of Michelangelo at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 2019.

Viola is survived by his wife Kira Perov, who has been the executive director of his studio since 1978, and their two children.

“One thing that’s very exciting about video that has turned me on since I first saw this glowing image way back in 1970 is that it can be so much,” Viola said in a 1995 with Charlie Rose on the occasion of this US Pavilion at the Biennale. “Furthermore, what’s really exciting is I don’t think it’s been since really the Renaissance where artists have been able to use a medium that one could say is the dominant communication form in society.”


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Couple’s winning art projects adorn overpass



Annabelle Harvey and Corbin Elliot are partners: in life, love, and art. Thanks to their creative pursuits, now they are also joined in the recognition of their work along the Lakeshore overpass.

The City of North Bay, in collaboration with the Public Art Advisory Committee (PAAC), recently held an event to acknowledge the successful applicants for the Lakeshore Drive overpass banner project. This initiative features 14 artworks created by local artists, highlighting the ongoing commitment to bringing public art to the community and celebrating local talent. The banners were installed early last week.

On behalf of PAAC, Katie Bevan noted that 71 submissions were received for the banner art project. “Selecting just 14 artworks from such outstanding submissions was no small feat. It truly highlights the incredible creativity within our community — and it’s only growing.”

Bevan acknowledged all who submitted their work and congratulated the 14 winners:

  • Caitlin Daniel
  • Corbin Elliot
  • Adam Fielder
  • Ian Gauthier
  • Ruby Grant
  • Annabelle Harvey
  • Penny Heather
  • Robert Johannsen
  • Robyn Jones
  • Gerry McComb
  • Victoria Primeau
  • Tessa Shank
  • Rana Thomas
  • Claudia Torres

“This is the first time I’ve participated in something city-wide, and I’ve been really interested in getting more involved in the art community,” said Harvey, a teacher by vocation when not helping to beautify North Bay. “I’ve worked a lot with the WKP Kennedy Gallery and I’ve been putting in submissions for some of their group shows. So, this is a cool opportunity to try something new. This is the first time I have done digital work. Usually, I like painting and collage. So I was interested just to try something new.”

In September 2023, public art gained more prominence in North Bay as 12 pieces by eight local artists selected by the Public Art Advisory Committee were placed on aluminum panels mounted onto the public buildings in both Champlain and Sunset parks.

Harvey’s partner Elliot is an emerging artist and a Fine Arts graduate from Nipissing University who says his passion for bringing his vision to life has only grown, thanks, in part, to these public art initiatives.

“There is so much opportunity to have a lot of different public art in different spaces,” he says. “So, when I saw that there was a variety of different artists and voices being accepted, of course, I wanted to have my vision out there in the city, to make my mark and be a part of that kind of trajectory of building the art scene within the city.”

The couple share a studio space, often working on separate projects at the same time while collaborating with encouragement and ideas.

“We are working on different mediums, a lot of the time,” Elliot said. “We have our own corners set up in the studio and I’ll usually be on my easel and Annabelle will be doing something…”

Harvey picked up his thought, “I’m usually at my desk doing pottery, jewellery, collage — I do a lot of different things.”

Couple Annabelle Harvey and Corbin Elliot each earned a spot among the 14 winning banner art projects. Stu Campaigne/BayToday

For Harvey, working so closely together is her “favourite part, especially watching his creative process.”

Elliot added, “I think I’m more non-verbal as I’m creating. I often hear you saying, ‘Oh, I think I like this.'”

Both have active Instagram pages featuring their artwork, Harvey’s can be found here, and Elliot’s here.

Elliot has a show at the WKP Kennedy Gallery, entitled “Upon a Star,” opening Sept. 13. “I’ll have my own solo exhibition. I typically work in painting. I have a big body of work with paintings,” he said.

The City of North Bay and PAAC encourage everyone to take a moment to appreciate these works of art when passing by the overpass.

Harvey and Elliot are thrilled about the banner art project.

“It’s like seeing your vision come to life. We’ve had lots of friends, even before we saw them today say excitedly, ‘I saw your work on the overpass,’ it’s just a proud moment to have so many eyes on our work.”



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