Connect with us


More activists are gluing themselves to art. Their tactics aren't new. – The Washington Post



When Eben Lazarus and Hannah Hunt showed up at London’s National Gallery in July armed with tape, glue and hidden Just Stop Oil T-shirts, they didn’t come to look at art. But five minutes before they glued themselves to the frame of John Constable’s “The Hay Wain” and called on the British government to stop new oil and gas licenses, they paused in front of Diego Velázquez’s “The Toilet of Venus.”

It was not Velazquez’s soft brushstrokes that drew them in but an edgier story they had heard about the 17th-century work. In 1914, Canadian suffragist Mary Richardson attacked the painting with a hatchet, slashing the figure’s back and hips, to protest the arrest of a fellow activist and condemn the work’s misogynist imagery. Richardson’s act inspired so many copycats that some British museums temporarily banned women from visiting.

Looking at the painting, Lazarus felt swept up in a bigger history of civil disobedience. “It was this surreal connection to those who had come before us and fought for basic rights that we now take for granted. It just solidified our conviction in what we were about to do,” he said. “It was actually quite a peaceful moment.”

Shortly thereafter, Lazarus and Hunt covered “The Hay Wain” with a poster showing a chaotic, apocalyptic vision of the English countryside and glued themselves to the original work’s frame. Kneeling on the floor of the gallery, Lazarus cried out, “When there’s no food, what use is art? When there’s no water, what use is art?”

That day, the pair joined the notable annals of an idiosyncratic protest movement that sounds more like a Dada-inspired performance piece. In the past few months, activists around the world have been affixing themselves to the frames and glass coverings of artworks — a Picasso in Australia; a Botticelli in Italy; a Raphael in Germany — and demanding their governments stop supporting the fossil fuel industry. In early October, Just Stop Oil activists threw soup at Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in the National Gallery before gluing themselves to the wall beneath the work. A tactic borrowed from street protests, the glue increases the time protesters have to deliver their message from what, in an instant, can become an international stage.

When activists attacked Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers,’ they affirmed its power

These Super Glue subversives have been derided as publicity-seeking Philistines and hailed as martyrs for a vital cause. But lost in the noise is the reality that these acts are part of a long history of protest in museums. That activism has reached a fever pitch in recent years, with protesters calling on institutions to rethink their collections, diversify their staff, return looted artifacts and expunge toxic donors. At a time when museums have become ground zero for rewriting narratives of the past, it should be no surprise that climate activists have also turned to them in hopes of rewriting the future.

Western museums have long presented themselves as objective keepers of history and sanctuaries, separate from current events. This is, of course, an illusion. In the 1960s, artists like Hans Haacke started creating works that directly challenged museums themselves, sparking a movement known as Institutional Critique, which would go on to include works by Andrea Fraser and Louise Lawler.

Haacke’s famous “MoMA Poll,” made during the Vietnam War, asked museum visitors if the fact that Gov. Nelson Rockefeller — then chairman of MoMA’s board — had not “denounced President Nixon’s Indochina Policy” would dissuade them from voting for him. For another work meant to critique the divide between art and the outside world, Haacke set up a telex machine to print live news updates on a seemingly endless paper scroll.

Speaking about the work in a 2008 interview, Haacke said, “What concerned me at the time and what is still important for me today is that people coming into a gallery, a museum, or another art exhibition venue, are reminded that these art spaces are not a world separate from the rest of the world. The world of art is not a world apart.”

Climate activists have embraced this thinking. Through their actions, a John Constable painting becomes more than some escapist countryside fantasy — it becomes a poignant reminder that the natural landscape is endangered. Pablo Picasso’s “Massacre in Korea” doesn’t just show history, it warns of war and famine that could come with a warming Earth. And Sandro Botticelli’s “Primavera” isn’t about celebrating the beauty of spring — it’s about mourning the biodiversity we are at risk of losing.

Leonardo Basso, a 23-year-old student in Padua who helped Ultima Generazione activists with planning before they protested in front of Giorgione’s “The Tempest,” says these actions give renewed power to art. “If we just keep that art locked in the museum, and we don’t do anything with it but show it to some paying customers who post it on Instagram, then art just becomes like the coffee we get at Starbucks,” he says. “The art is still available to us. We need to use the art.”

Kirsty Robertson, a professor at Western University and author of “Tear Gas Epiphanies: Protest, Culture, Museums, sees parallels between activists like Basso and the Situationist International, an anti-capitalist group of artists and thinkers active from 1957 to 1972. The group’s slogan, “Sous les pavés, la plage!” (“Beneath the pavement, a beach”) gets at the logic behind gluing yourself to a painting: Scrape the varnish off the status quo and you’ll find something better below.

Like the Situationists, today’s protesters are “using this act of disruption to jolt people out of their normal, everyday lives,” Robertson says. The setting amplifies the shock. “What’s so special about museums is that they are this point of contact between a wealthy elitist history and the public,” she says. “The artwork is an emergency button.”

Beka Economopoulos, the Not An Alternative co-founder and activist behind the push to remove climate change denier David Koch from museum boards, sees this movement as part of a “continuum” of arts-focused climate activism that includes organizations like BP or Not BP and Liberate Tate. Recent economic strain — including England’s cost of living crisis — gives these buzzy actions depth, she says.

“We just see the value of art going up and up while low-wage workers and communities are having a harder and harder time making ends meet. Our values are topsy turvy, and that is brought into stark relief in a museum setting,” she says. “It’s not attacking the sunflower painting as much as it is attacking something that can symbolize the deep violence of an economic system that creates extreme wealth and extreme poverty.”

Critics say these activist groups aren’t challenging museums, they’re just using them as particularly sensational soapboxes. BP or Not BP gave witty, Shakespearean-style performances and Liberate Tate did creative art actions — including faking an oil spill on the museum floor — all to ask British institutions to stop taking money from Big Oil. But the groups gluing themselves to paintings and riding their fame to headlines don’t have such tangible demands for the institutions they occupy.

When protesters stage actions in museums, “you’ve got to ask yourself the question, why are you in a museum? What are you saying to the museum?” says Emma Mahony, a professor who studies museums and activism at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. She praises Liberate Tate for bringing art lovers to their side and worries that the super-gluers are pushing away potential supporters. “You’re not going to make friends with oil bosses, but you have to bring the 99 percent onboard if you want to achieve something.”

While Lazarus insists Just Stop Oil isn’t trying to be popular, at the National Gallery over the summer, he took pride in bringing at least a few people onboard. As he and Hunt walked into the gallery where “The Hay Wain” hung, they saw a group of schoolchildren studying a painting nearby. They stopped, unsure whether to go through with the protest. “I think it was just because of that tendency to protect children,” he said. “But, actually, they deserve to know the truth. Everyone does.”

As they finished their speeches, the children — who are more likely to face the harsh realities of the climate crisis than many of us — erupted into cheers.

Adblock test (Why?)


Source link

Continue Reading


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.”



Source link

Continue Reading


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.”


Source link

Continue Reading


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.”



Source link

Continue Reading