Research and Reflections

Modern and Contemporary artists

Anna Baumgart- ‘Fresh Cherries’

Anna Baumgart- ‘Fresh Cherries’

One artist is Anne Baumgart. I find her concept interesting. Her most recent works are films/documentaries. In this film, ‘Fresh cherries’, she addresses prostitution and mass rape during the second world war in Poland.

“ There is a limit to which a woman will not let her dignity and humanity be stolen by the city of men and it’s money devouring existence.” 

I looked into a number of artists, such as Vanessa Beacroft, Shirin Neshat, , Scot Sothern, Karim Hamid, Lauren Bergman, Jill Greenberg

Pictorial essay

Pictorial essay

  •  Vanessa Beacroft: Voyeuristic work: the models watch the viewers stare at them, creating a sense of discomfort in the viewer.
  •  Shirin Neshat: Adresses the treatment of woman in Arabic culture
  •  Scot Sothern: Photographs prostitutes and renders them with dignity and compassion
  •  Karim Hamid: Attempts to ‘re-invent’ the female form
  •  Lauren Bergman: confronts expectations of contemporary culture and how we form our identities
  •  Jill Greenberg: raises questions on what is tolerated by women in society.

 

Four artists, however, stood out the most for me both in their methods and their concepts.

 

Hans Bellmer

A German artist best-known for his life-sized dolls produced in the mid-1930’s. His dolls were mutated in form and in unconventional poses; they were directed at the cult of the perfect body by the Nazi party.

The Dolls, 1935-37. Gelatin silver print

The Dolls, 1935-37. Gelatin silver print

He was influenced by his resentment towards his father, who dominated his mother and also joined the Nazi party and his interest in politics. When he was younger, he use to visit a secret garden decorated with toys, which was filled with young girls who joined in sexual games.

Doll ,Paris 1936 (cast 1965). Painted aluminum.

It’s appendages offer endless perverse recombinations.  It’s disturbing to witness physical traits of both a mature woman and prepubescent girl.

Plate from ‘La Poupée'

Plate from ‘La Poupée’

In the introduction to his work ‘La Poupeé’ he wrote a poem clearly demonstrating how the ‘innocent’ games of the child had developed into sexual fantasies of the adult.

‘The Machine-Gunneress in a State of Grace’ 1937. Construction of wood and metal

“ If the origin of my work is scandalous, it is because for me, the world is a scandal.” 

Hans Bellmer & Unica zürn Collaborative Photography

Bruce Nauman

For Nauman, art become more of an activity and less of a product. He was fascinated by the nature of communication and language’s inherent problems. He ™works with sculpture, photography, neon, video, drawing, printmaking and performance.

‘Woman’, Drawing, 1985

‘Fingers and holes’ series

His works address as participants: to interact with his work and he is fascinated with the nature of communication.

‘Violent Incident’ 1973

Violent incident: in this installation, a short sequence is repeated in three versions; a couple exchanging roles, played by two men and played by two women. It creates a wall of staggered action, a repetition of destructive violence.

“ My work comes out of being frustrated about the human condition. And about how people refuse to understand other people. And about how people can be cruel to each other. It’s not that I think I can change that, but it’s just such a frustrating part of human history.”

‘Video Surveillance Piece’, Public Room, Private Room, 1969 – 1970

‘Video Surveillance Piece’, Public Room, Private Room, 1969 – 1970

 

Dan Fine

Dan Fine’s work deals with the human body; both as an object of desire as well as an aesthetic entity.

‘The Booth’ by Dan Fine

To view this work, please go to:

http://www.videoart.net/home/Artists/VideoPage.cfm?Artist_ID=74&ArtWork_ID=93&Player_ID=10#stmt

In his installation ‘The Booth’, he incorporates video and live performance. He presents it to one viewer at a time, in a small, dark booth. A light is switched on revealing a soundproof stage infront of the viewer. On stage stands a naked woman with her back facing the viewer. Her face appears on a monitor to the right of the viewer. She asks direct questions about the experience of watching and being watched. An old woman on the left monitor criticizes the viewer, the woman and the whole project. Dan Fine cubes the complexity of sight, when we look at other people, into a small uncomfortable space.

He leaves the duration of the visit up to the viewer, but most people stay for the entire show. He wants viewers to ask questions to themselves, why are they interested in the woman’s exhibitionistic display? After the experience, woman are more comfortable talking about the experience than men.

 

Gillian Wearing

‘Signs’

She explores the differences between public and private life.  Influenced by the writing of Erving Goffman in her book ‘The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life’: discussing that people have front-stage and back-stage personalities. She has a talent for making people say their private thoughts.

™“ I’m always trying to find ways to discover new things about peoples, and in the process discover more about myself.”

‘Confessions’- video series

‘Confessions’- video series

‘Confessions’- video series

In her confession series, her subjects wear masks to hide their identity, and expose their best-kept secrets. She wants to create a sense of too much knowledge within the viewer, an invasion of privacy. She uses these confessions as way to explain herself to herself.

I can relate to this. I also toyed with this idea and conducted experimental interviews in preparation  for my dissertation findings. I interviewed and filmed young, Maltese men and women about my topic, all masked to hide their identity. I gathered and produced interesting results.

Still taken from an interview

“ People are strange, people are not what they seem. Nobody can be fully understood.” 

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