Do Ho Suh: Passage/s

Victoria Miro, London, until 18 March 2017.

Entrance, Unit 2, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA, 2016

Bristol’s Museum and Art Gallery had shown Do Ho Suh in 2015, I hadn’t heard of him before, and was very surprised by the exhibition. I was looking forward to seeing his work again, but anticipated it would be similar to what I had seen before. Did I necessarily need to see it again?  There are so many shows to see in London, perhaps I should go to one of the others on my long list of, try to see.

It is almost like seeing the x-rays of architecture, but not in a scientific way, more ephemeral.  We were reminded by the fleeting delicacy of this work by the gallery attendants, as we were herded through the fabric structures of brightly coloured polyester.

Do Ho Suh: Passage/s

It was intensely busy for a commercial gallery, and perhaps this work would be better suited to a permanent collection, as people want to experience it. If there is an afterlife, I am sure this is how the buildings would look. And perhaps that was the appeal, like moths to light.

Do Ho Suh: Passage/s

I was not expecting to see works on paper, and these were just as inventive as his structures.  Thread drawing, gelatine sheet embedded on STPI handmade cotton paper. These were pressed architectural details of apartment entrances which you might find squished in the middle of a book, like one does with flowers.  Much too large for a book, roughly 150 x 100 inches.

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Architectural replicas of memory, place and questions of identity. If these pieces weren’t so beautiful, you might get a better sense of displacement. Just passing through. Even the delicate structure hints at the lack of anchored structure one desires from a shelter. The steel structures themselves are very reminiscent of tenting.

Equally as beautiful and technically competent, was a drawing titled, My Homes. This showed an almost metamorphosis of three dwellings. Were they actual places in which he lived?  I am not interested to debate that actual question, but they were empty spaces, just like his fabric structures. Perhaps more reflective on time, like snake skins.

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Laser Cutting

5 Jan 2017- Practical Workshop, Introduction to Laser Cutting, with Zarya Moskowits and Richard Falle.

There are endless examples of laser cut objects, usually in gift shops, where you stumble around trying to find something just right in a sea of disposable consumption. I think my first introduction was seeing heart felt messages engraved in wood picture frames and various other saccharine gifts for Mother’s Day or to celebrate the birth of a child. It is with great relief that I never received a gift like this, as I do tend to keep the gifts I am given. More recently I have received some interesting laser cut specimens. Although upon receiving them, I never really thought of them as laser cut, just appealing in the way that I couldn’t have made them myself. There is always going to be a group of people who can see the potential of a medium, to experiment with it to create something new, and that is what is so thrilling about laser cutting. Moving beyond the inscribed sap, and into the world of concept and craft. Infinite possibilities.

What was fascinating was seeing a sample print in the fabrication centre by Arthur (Arthur Buxton?), where he laser kissed the surface of a painting. This added another interesting layer to an already beautiful print. Here is an example below, but seeing it on the screen does not do the print justice as the haptic nature of a laser cut needs to be felt. In this example, I would be inclined to call it a laser whisper rather than a kiss, and could easily be missed, but this visual treat was rather grand to me.

Arthur Buxton (?) Laser cut (kiss cut) sample in fabrication studio.

This could be a way of creating a hybrid print, by adding the digital layer (the laser cut etching) to the handmade print. I am currently thinking of two possibilities here:

  1. My idea of glitching William Morris Wallpaper.
  2. Creating visual sound samples and loops referencing the etchings of John Cage.

Both can start as traditional printmaking techniques, such as etchings, but then could be laser kissed to add the digital element I have been wanting to experiment with. In this way it could be much subtler, as I have been worried that both techniques could compete with one another and disjointed and look more like two separate prints rather than a combined effort.

Laser cut sample in fabrication studio.

The only negative is how technician dependant most of us would be at the beginning stage, and I hate having to ask for help. This is probably the reason for my hesitation with a few of the different print areas. I come from a photography background which is usually a solo pursuit, and of a can-do generation, and would rather not have my hand held or spoon fed, at least not for another 40 + years, I hope.

Chrystal Cherniwchan- Laser cut test

Smiljan Radić, Radić Pavilion, Hauser & Wirth Somerset

5 Nov 2016, Smiljan Radić, Radić Pavilion, Hauser & Wirth Somerset.

Smiljan Radić, Radić Pavilion.
Smiljan Radić, Radić Pavilion.
Detail, Smiljan Radić, Radić Pavilion.
Detail, Smiljan Radić, Radić Pavilion.

 

Smiljan Radić, Radić Pavilion.
Smiljan Radić, Radić Pavilion.

It was a real surprise to find this pavilion here, I wasn’t expecting to see it, and I had missed seeing it at the Serpentine Pavilion in 2014. It was wonderful approaching this building, viewing it through the almost decayed, but still standing garden. The fiberglass was incredibly tactile, and almost had a cast like quality for holding broken bones in place. From the inside the sun could penetrate ever so lightly, to give a warm glow. Luckily it was sunny, as this could so easily be missed.

Architecture is critically important to me, especially if I am required to do any illustrative pieces. Although funnily enough, someone recently commented when seeing what I was printing from one of our workshops, “oh are you doing another landscape?” No! These are my buildings. Sites. Urban planning systems. But, architecture is part of the landscape, so I guess I am ‘doing another landscape’.  One cannot ignore the landscape that surrounds the Radić Pavilion, and it wouldn’t look as spectacular without it.

Brad Downey, Visiting Artist Talk, UWE, Bower Ashton

12 October 2016- Brad Downey, Visiting Artist Talk, UWE, Bower Ashton.

I have become institutionalised! In the way that I am now accustomed to professional academic talks, especially the scientific ones. In this talk I wished that he was introduced to us with a little more information about his background. He also didn’t talk about his education, shows, and residencies, only just how prolific he was via Instagram. Perhaps a failing on my part for not doing research about him prior to the talk. But he is incredibly prolific, and this vigour makes up for what I felt was missing at the start. I felt sympathetic exhaustion at the end of his talk.

I can see that his work would have appeal for its sense of humour and courageousness. But, the way that he described his large family with no artistic roots, made it seem like he was some sort of punk American folk artist. But wait a second, he went to Pratt in New York for his undergrad, one of the best art schools in the US, and then on to Slade in London. Is the clever in his work, something that was taught or had it been molded?

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Brad Downey. This Para-site-archi-sculpture.

To me, the piece that stood out the most was “Mit allen Wassern Gewaschen” or in English “To be washed with all waters” which was made by attaching wet bars of soap to towels and letting them dry. These pieces were included in “Essentials” at Haus der Kunst, Munich, and showed a slightly different Brad Downey. More mature, but still clever, along with his known aesthetic that makes you smile, until you recognise that he is referencing soap made from human corpses. I think he likes to teeter on the taboo. Simple ideas, until you think about them for a little longer, and you soon catch-on that there is something highly crafted beneath the veneer surface.

Brad Downey, Soap on Towels, Included in "Essentials" at Haus der Kunst Munich.
Brad Downey, Soap on Towels, Included in “Essentials” at Haus der Kunst Munich.

What I admire the most, is his use of tomfoolery or shenanigans in his work. I wish I could do this. I gravitate towards the serious, which can be a bit of a bore. We need more laughter and fun, even when tackling the difficult.