Archive

Exhibitions

The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things

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Cyberman with Gargoyle
Cyberman Helmet, 1985, Courtesy Chris Balcombe, Photo: Chris Balcombe
Singing Gargoyle, England, c. 1200, Courtesy of Sam Fogg, London

Curated by Mark Leckey

Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey has curated an exhibition that explores the magical world of new technology, as well as tracing its connections to the beliefs of our distant past.

Historical and contemporary works of art, videos, machines, archaeological artefacts and iconic objects, like the giant inflatable cartoon figure of Felix the Cat – the first image ever transmitted on TV – inhabit an “enchanted landscape” created in the Pavilion’s galleries, where objects seem to be communicating with each other and with us.

In Leckey’s exhibition “magic is literally in the air.” It reflects on a world where technology can bring inanimate “things” to life. Where websites predict what we want, we can ask our mobile phones for directions and smart fridges suggest recipes, count calories and even switch on the oven. By digitising objects, it can also make them “disappear” from the material world, re-emerging in any place or era.

In this timeless exhibition, “the real and the virtual co-exist”, Leckey has said. Perhaps technology has created its own form of consciousness – an animistic future. While we already live in the realms of what used to be science fiction, we seem to have simultaneously gone back to our ancestral past – a time when ancient civilisations believed spirits inhabited plants, animals, geographic features and even objects.

Leckey’s theatre of “things” is presented in specially designed environments. Works by artists such as William Blake, Louise Bourgeois, Martin Creed, Richard Hamilton, Nicola Hicks, Jim Shaw and Tøyen are displayed alongside a medieval silver hand containing the bones of a saint, an electronic prosthetic hand that connects with Bluetooth, a bisected 3D model of Snoopy showing his internal organs, and many other treasures that all share connections. Loosely divided into four themes or scenes – the Vegetable World, Animal Kingdom, Mankind and the Technological Domain, Leckey’s exhibition is a collection of not-so-dumb things that all talk, literally or metaphorically, to each other.

Mark Leckey was born in Birkenhead in 1964. He currently teaches at Goldsmiths College, University of London. In 2008 he won the Turner Prize. Recent solo exhibitions include Work & Leisure at Manchester Art Gallery (2012), and See We Assemble at the Serpentine Gallery, London (2011). The Universal Addressability of Dumb Things is the latest in a series of artist-curated Hayward Touring exhibitions.

‘The status of objects’, Leckey argues, ‘is changing, and we are once again in thrall to an enchanted world full of transformations and correspondences, a wonderful instability between things animate and inanimate, animal and human, mental and material’. Our hyper-rationalism of modern technology has paradoxically produced its opposite, an ‘irrational’ magical realm – or as Marshall McLuhan, communication theorist, described “a resonating world akin to the old tribal echo chamber where magic will live again”.

A Hayward Touring exhibition from Southbank Centre, London

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Woofer Design by Sander Mulder
© Sander Mulder

De La Warr Pavilion
Marina
Bexhill On Sea
East Sussex
TN40 1DP
Box Office and information:
01424 229 111 or boxoffice@dlwp.com

Sat 13 Jul 2013-
Sun 20 Oct 2013
Tickets: Free entry

Booking & Information:
01424 229 111

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Making It Up: Photographic Fictions

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Untitled – May 1997, Hannah Starkey, 1997, Museum no. E.491-1998. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London / Hannah Starkey

3 May 2013 – 12 January 2014
Room 38A
Free admission

Photography is widely associated with truthfulness yet it has also been employed throughout its history as a means of telling stories and evoking the imaginary. This display includes photographs by some of the most influential contemporary artists working in this vein, such as Gregory Crewdson, Duane Michals and Cindy Sherman, alongside examples by 19th-century practitioners including Julia Margaret Cameron, Clementina Lady Hawarden and Oscar Gustav Rejlander.

About displays
Complementing our permanent collections, there are many free temporary displays around the V&A. They range in size from a single case to a room.

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Review by Susan Steward in the Evening Standard:

The photographs selected for this exhibition are drawn from the vast V&A archives, images from the 1850s to 1870s to today’s contemporaries. Some are paired across time, others stand alone, but all are engaged in detailed conversations and stories plotted for costumed actors by the photographers. Cindy Sherman greets the exhibition, an appropriate exemplar of many alter egos and photographic fictions, here presented as a Fifties or Sixties Hollywood actress.

The earliest works inevitably include the young 19th-century daughters of Julia Margaret Cameron and children of friends of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), all carefully choreographed into familiar poses, but the lesser-known Clementina Hawarden’s girls pose like young lovers, one cross-dressed and with more edge. They complement Hannah Starkey’s colourful cinematic scene of two 21st-century students sprawled on a party sofa. A lone, anonymous and calmly poignant 1850s scene is set outside a chapel where a mournful Bride of Christ in her wedding dress is seated alongside a young nun, a story loaded with emotion but with its religious detail unexplained.

As we see, theatrical narrative serves different purposes beyond pleasure. Many 19th-century painters used it as models for their work, as with SR Percy’s staged gypsy girls in a country scene. For the Chinese photographer Wang Quigsong, Night Revels of Lao Li imitates traditional scroll paintings working the vignette sequences like a story-board.

The museum’s two recent acquisitions fit into these fictions, with William Henry Price’s portrait of Don Quixote and the contemporary German, Jan Wenzel building complex stories through photo-booth snaps.

The silent dialogues behind the frames are an irresistible lure to viewers following the made-up tales.

Until Jan 12 (020 7907 7073, vam.ac.uk)

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AMERICAN HARDCORE, 1978 – 1990

Exhibition running 11 April – 4 May 2013

Opening Reception Wednesday 10th April 6 – 9pm
The Vinyl Factory Chelsea
91 Walton Street
London SW3 2HP
The Gallery is open Monday – Saturday, 10 – 6pm
+44 (0) 207 589 0588

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The Mott Collection and The Vinyl Factory announce a new exhibition and publication:

AMERICAN HARDCORE, 1978 – 1990
Running 11 April – 4 May 2013

The exhibition brings together 50 American Hardcore single sleeves spanning the apex of the genre from the late 70’s up to the 90’s. The collection represents the subtle shifts and changes, and finally the overall unification of what began as a disparate musical style that developed into a rigid set of fixed codes, sounds, and political beliefs.

From the raw stripped down sounds of Black Flag to the spasmodic reggae influenced Bad Brains, Hardcore emerged as a puritanical suburban rely to the decadence of big city Punk Rock outfits such as the Ramones or the New York Dolls. Popping up in small West Coast communities like Hermosa Beach, Oxnard and San Pedro and simultaneously in East Coast cities such as Washington DC and Boston the Hardcore movement was obsessively local, yet at the same time extremely far reaching due to the punishing tour schedules bands would put themselves through sometimes touring non-stop for years. This had the effect of birthing small Hardcore scenes nationwide each with their own distinct flavours.

The exhibition also features a limited edition silk screen print featuring the ‘AMERICAN HARDCORE’ catalogue cover artwork.

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AMERICAN HARDCORE, 1978 – 1990

The catalogue, printed in an edition of 300 copies, documents 50 US Hardcore Punk singles and features an extended Q&A with author and UK Punk collector Toby Mott and US Punk collector and curator Bryan Ray Turcotte. Also included are a 7” vinyl pressing of a Black Flag interview from 1981 and an oversized foldout print.The catalogue is printed and designed by Ditto Press.

Opening Reception Wednesday 10th April 6 – 9pm
Exhibition runs 11 April – 4 May 2013

The Vinyl Factory Chelsea
91 Walton Street
London SW3 2HP

The Gallery is open Monday – Saturday, 10 – 6pm
+44 (0) 207 589 0588

www.vfeditions.com/product/view/98

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Graphic Design as Political Practice:

A Conversation With Metahaven [Part 1]

Published on February 14th, 2013

From: http://hyperallergic.com/

Written by: Kyle Chayka

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Installation view of “Metahaven: Islands in the Cloud” at MoMA PS1 (Photo: Matthew Septimus)

Metahaven is an Amsterdam-based design studio made up of its two members and founders, Vinca Kruk and Daniel van der Velden. Yet to describe them simply as a design studio seems misleading. The pair uses graphic design, identity branding, and product development as weapons, harnessing the power of the image in the internet age to design concepts that both signal label and propel political and social change.

Following their fascination with strange political gambits, obscure corners of the internet, and the power of the cloud, Kruk and van der Velden have written essays for e-flux, rebranded the micronation of Sealand, and created salable products for Wikileaks as the organization was just hitting the global scene. On the occasion of their current exhibition at MoMA PS1, I sat down with Metahaven to discuss their history as a studio, the process of working with Julian Assange, and the aesthetics of the dot-com boom. The second part of the interview will be published tomorrow.

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Metahaven infographic from “Captives of the Cloud” (Image via e-flux.com)
Kyle Chayka: How did Metahaven first get started?

Vinca Kruk: We started to collaborate on the Sealand Identity Project, which was to conceive a national identity for the Principality of Sealand, which is a self-proclaimed nation on a former war platform near the coast of the UK. We didn’t stop working on that project, but wanted to keep going with it. That’s what our practice emerged out of. Quite naturally, it wasn’t a formal decision.

Daniel van der Velden: I agree.

KC: How did you first hear about Sealand or start thinking about it?

DV: Towards the end of the dot-com boom at the time I was co-designing a magazine called Archis, which is now called Volume, an architecture journal, and we had a special issue about islands. Sealand emerged in an editorial meeting as an example and then actually the idea came about to think about an identity for this kind of really weird place that no one can actually visit, that’s only accessible through the internet.

Sealand was trying to have its own dot-com business model at the time. So it was really a combination of this idea of sovereignty, self-proclaimed nationhood, in combination with this flawed entrepreneurial dream of starting an offshore business onboard Sealand. I think we were both interested in working on a lyrical aspect of visual identity, something that had to do a lot with heraldry, opulence — something not so minimal. Sealand was a really good launch platform for that. We also had an interest in theory, so it was also a great projection screen for all kinds of theoretical notions of identity and state.

VK: Explorations of theory, nationhood, and statehood, the combination of anarchy and monarchy, and all the contradictions that you find in Sealand as a kind of self-proclaimed state. There’s a strange, almost totalitarian thinking behind it, but it is so lo-fi. People hanging out with beer on a platform like “playing state” in their backyard.

DV: It’s interesting because Roy Bates, the founder of Sealand, recently passed away. The whole idea of Sealand was basically a gift to his wife. So it was his wife Joan, and he was obviously very much in love with her. He gave her this title “princess.” Which is a super-poetic and at the same time totally meaningless title. She doesn’t get any special perks from that other than some sort of fame. It’s interesting that it was done in a pre-internet age so obviously he wouldn’t have done it for, like, followers.

It was an inherently genuine act. That’s what’s great about Sealand.

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Installation view of “Metahaven: Islands in the Cloud” at MoMA PS1 (Photo: Matthew Septimus)

KC: Can you describe what kind of identity you made for Sealand? How did it evolve visually and what was the end product?

VK: What we found interesting about Sealand that it had all the very traditional objects of statehood, like stamps and passports, to prove that Sealand was very legitimate and real. There were also fake Sealand passports circulating. We were interested in creating coins of stamps that wouldn’t really materialize, but would exist virtually. An endless flow of heraldic images that keep going and keep adding to them.

DV: There are the old fixed icons like coins and stamps, but they are charged with stuff that’s actually really unstable, like everything that you find through Google Images. Everything you find about Sealand through Google would be legit to use in the identity for that reason.

So, for example, the landlord of the murderer of Gianni Versace had a fake Sealand passport. So that’s a little chain of events, and because of that link we could use the Versace iconography in the brand. If you Google “Sealand” now, you also get results for “Seal and Heidi Klum,” because Google has changed its algorithms accordingly. So you get lots of images of Seal and Heidi Klum together. Had that had been around at the time, we would have certainly used that.

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“Jewelbox” of Sealand branding (Image via wired.com)
KC: What’s the current state of Sealand?

VK: There was a fire on Sealand a few years ago, so it’s in a bad shape.

DV: People also know that their idea of turning Sealand into a data haven is not working. The P2P file sharing platform,the Pirate Bay, tried to buy Sealand a couple of years back because it still is this kind of internet anarchy symbol. But it’s not working, and I think we predicted that in our essay ‘The Network Ruin.”

KC: Totally, the ruins of the failed utopia are a visual archetype. Through Metahaven, you’re taking on projects that are niche but remain very relevant. How did you develop and run the studio practice.

DV: We are interested in ideas and concepts that require not just visualization but also research. I think that when we decided to we wanted to collaborate further on these things we also were struggling with how to set up a studio. I gave up another practice that I had at the time, which had many clients, in order to completely focus on Metahaven, so we started form scratch — we had nothing. We also had to find clients to sustain this practice. You can’t run your practice on something like Sealand alone. So the first few years were spent on getting that model together, of having commissioned work, combined with longer and shorter term research projects.

VK: I think working on Sealand as a topic was very important because there were so many themes in there that we have continued working on since, in different projects. We started to write much more, we organized conferences. We started working issues like the use of totalitarian architecture in Europe, and how such buildings were re-appropriated as symbols in capitalism. Still architecture, and identity were things we were working on.

KC: It’s interesting that on one hand, there is the commercial need to survive and take on projects and clients, but you also have a split between client work and research projects. How do you guys feel about Metahaven as kind of a business entity?

VK: We don’t really separate it — it’s not like we work on a commission for a client and the next day we do a research project. It very much overlaps, and also the way we talk with clients about commissions is very much how we talk in the studio about how to continue a research project.

DV: I think the notion of proactivity is really important, the notion that you can initiate stuff yourself. It can actually be a project that involves a client. There is the old notion of “pro-bono” work, which is the supposedly ethical counterpart to commercial practice, but in our case you could say that we dedicate a certain amount of research and resources to a potential client or partner that we feel could benefit from that.

That’s how we approached WikiLeaks, for example. Just before their global notoriety, so they were actually still approachable at that time.

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Installation view of “Metahaven: Islands in the Cloud” at MoMA PS1 featuring Wikileaks scarves (Photo: Matthew Septimus)

KC: Wikileaks blew up pretty quickly in terms of global notoriety. Do you mean working on topics that have more real-world impact?

DV: Nobody could have foreseen what happened to WikiLeaks, and the events that unfolded. Of course, it’s impossible for an identity to keep track of all this, so that’s also why we had to change the central question of the project, moving into something that was much more about products, merchandising — because what they needed most was money. Then of course we solved that in a completely non-straightforward way. We did stuff that obviously was very different form what they had in mind originally.

KC: What kind of things did Wikileaks have in mind for themselves?

DV: The sort of stuff you see in their official merchandising store.

KC: Instead, you made some more upscale items for them, like a Chanel-style scarf. What’s the story behind that?

DV: The notion of the scarf talks about opacity and transparency, which is exactly what they are about.

VK: Something that’s kind of glamorous, and you could wear it both as a luxury item, but also use it to cover your face.

DV: There’s also the cheapness of glamour. There is something about WikiLeaks that echoes cheap, fake imports—like a revolt of the means of production over the brand image. That’s why we had that Louis Vuitton play with the “WL” logo in one of the earlier scarves. WikiLeaks is about a notion of democratic access to value. This is something that we wanted to bring out a little bit.

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A Wikileaks scarf by Metahaven, featuring their logo (Image courtesy Metahaven, photo Meinke Klein)

KC: How difficult was it to actually communicate with Wikileaks, given their secrecy? Did you have any contact with Julian Assange himself?

VK: It basically started with us sending them an email in mid-2010 saying, “Hey, we would like to work on your identity, would you be up for it?” We got a reply back two hours later. The email said, “Great, we have a shortage of such things.” The e-mail was signed with “JA.” So that was enough for us to get started because they opened up the possibility to do something.

Then they started releasing the cables, and communication became very difficult. It took some time to get back touch with them, which eventually happened. We met with them and showed what we had done.

DV: Then, in that meeting, what we had been doing was sort of brushed aside, which was completely predictable. Some of the stuff we did which was brushed aside is in the show.

KC: Which parts?

DV: The identity part basically. Then we decided that pursuing tee shirts and mugs was really the way to go. We had a dialogue over the specific designs later on that was very productive.

VK: What we really understood during that meeting was that they have a problem surviving financially because of a blockade by MasterCard, VISA and PayPal. Selling merchandising is an important way for WikiLeaks to raise money, so basically that was the only thing they felt they needed designed.

DV: There’s a lot of criticism about this. They seem so focused on money sometimes that you feel it’s actually not benefiting the people who care for Wikileaks. These are not necessarily people who have lots of money. So if you force someone to support an organization by buying a mug you’re basically molding that person into a consumer role.

We found that the leaks are to WikiLeaks what tour dates are to a band, so basically our t-shirts present different important leaks, one per t-shirt.

Part two of Hyperallergic’s interview with Metahaven was published on Friday, February 15, 2013, “Graphic Design as Political Practice: A Conversation with Metahaven [Part 2].”

Metahaven: Islands in the Cloud runs at MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City) through April 1.

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The Uncanny

Featuring works by Adeline de Monseignat and Berndnaut Smilde

Curated by James Putnam

Opening 16 January 2013

Ronchini Gallery London presents The Uncanny featuring new works by two young artists, Adeline de Monseignat and Berndnaut Smilde, curated by James Putnam from 16 January – 16 February 2013. The Uncanny draws on each artist’s relationship with their materials and the ways in which they create a sense of unease for the viewer by using the familiar out of context.

The exhibition’s theme is partly inspired by Sigmund Freud’s celebrated 1919 essay of the same title. Based on the notion that the strange could not exist without the non-strange, Freud’s study pioneered the distinctive nature of the uncanny as a feeling of something not simply weird or mysterious but, more specifically, as something strangely familiar. Freud’s concept of the uncanny and his interpretation of dreams had a significant influence on the Surrealist movement and their depiction of the unnatural and strange.

Dutch-Monegasque artist de Monseignat creates sculptures and installations from organic and tactile materials such as fur, a material suspended between life and death, often encased in glass. Her works have an uncertainty as to whether they are animate or inanimate objects. She refers to her creations as ‘creaptures’ as they are somewhere in between creatures and sculptures. Her kinetic works aim to create a sense of life through movement and mimic a slow breath. The creaptures thus hold a sense of presence and their tactile qualities elicit in the spectator an unfulfilled desire to touch them.

Dutch artist, Berndnaut Smilde produces striking images of ‘real’ Nimbus clouds suspended within empty rooms. Using a fog machine, he carefully adjusts the temperature and humidity to produce clouds just long enough to be photographed. There is a unique ephemeral aspect to the work where the photograph captures a very brief moment before the cloud dissipates and disappears again as mysteriously as it was formed. His choice of lighting and viewing aspect enables him to create a representation of the cloud’s physicality. Smilde’s work looks at transience and challenges the physicality of space.

 About the artists

Adeline de Monseignat (b. 1987, Monaco) lives and works in London. She was awarded the Catlin Art Prize, Visitor Vote Prize (2012) and was long listed for The Threadneedle Prize (2012). She studied at Slade School of Fine Art, Parsons The New School, New York and City & Guilds of London Art School.

Berndnaut Smilde (b. 1978, Groningen) lives and works in Amsterdam. Smilde’s work has been exhibited at Out of Focus, Saatchi Gallery, London (2012) and Red Sky at Night, Mercer Union, Toronto (2012). Smilde holds an MA from the Frank Mohr Institute, Groningen. Awards include a starter stipend from The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture. He was a resident artist at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin in 2008.

 About the Curator

James Putnam is an independent curator and writer based in London. He founded and was curator of the British Museum’s Contemporary Arts and Cultures Programme from 1999 to 2003. He was also a former curator of the British Museum’s Department of Egyptian Antiquities. He has organized a number of critically acclaimed exhibitions for major museums juxtaposing the work of contemporary artists with their collections. Recently he was a curator for the 2010 Busan Biennale in South Korea, and the collateral events ”Distortion” and “Library” at the 53rd Venice Biennale. His book Art and Artifact: The Museum as Medium, published by Thames & Hudson, surveys the interaction between contemporary artists and the museum. He was Visiting Scholar in Museum Studies at New York University and currently lectures in Curatorial Studies at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, London.

 About Ronchini Gallery

Ronchini Gallery is a contemporary art gallery founded by Lorenzo Ronchini in 1992, in Umbria, Italy, which expanded in February 2012 with a space in Mayfair, London. Its exhibitions have explored pioneering movements within Italy; the gallery aesthetic is defined by Minimalism, Spatialism, Conceptualism and Arte Povera and it retains an unblinking future-focus on progressive movements. Ronchini Gallery evolved from 20 years of private collecting. Paterfamilias Adriano Ronchini was an early supporter of artists such as Alighiero Boetti, Daniel Buren, Joseph Kosuth, Frank Stella and Michelangelo Pistoletto and collected their work throughout the seventies. Subscribing to the highest standards of curatorship and scholarship, the gallery provides a rigorous context in which its artists can be viewed. Ronchini Gallery also maintains a successful publishing arm which produces exhibition catalogues, monographs, critical texts and artist’s books.

Exhibition Facts: The Uncanny: Adeline de Monseignat and Berndnaut Smilde

Exhibition Dates: 16 January – 16 February 2013

Opening Reception: 15 January 2012

Opening Hours: Monday – Friday 10am–6pm, Saturday 10am – 5pm

Location: 22 Dering Street, London, W1S 1AN

Tel: +44 (0) 207 629 9188 Website: http://www.ronchinigallery.com

For press information and images please contact:

Sophie da Gama Campos or Toby Kidd at Pelham Communications

Tel: +44 (0) 208 969 3959 Email: sophie@pelhamcommunications.com or toby@pelhamcommunications.com

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Shoot!


EXISTENTIAL PHOTOGRAPHY

http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/shoot-existential-photography

Admission £5/£3 Concs
12 October 2012 – 6 January 2013
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©Kate Elliott

INFO
In the period following World War I, a curious attraction appeared at fairgrounds: the photographic shooting gallery. If the punter’s bullet hit the centre of the target, this triggered a camera. Instead of winning a balloon or toy, the participant would win a snapshot of him or herself in the act of shooting.

Shoot! Existential Photography traces the history of this fascinating side-show – from its popular use at fairgrounds to how it fascinated many artists and intellectuals in its heyday, including Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, Man Ray and Lee Miller. The artist Erik Kessels celebrates one shooter in particular – Ria van Dijk, who took portraits of herself in this way every year from 1936 – sixty of these images feature here.

Investigating numerous analogies between taking photographs and shooting, the exhibition includes works by many contemporary artists including Sylvia Ballhause, Agnès Geoffray, Jean-François Lecourt, Christian Marclay, Steven Pippin, Émilie Pitoiset, Niki de Saint Phalle, Rudolf Steiner and Patrick Zachmann.

To artist Rudolf Steiner the camera also serves as a target. In his series Pictures of me, shooting myself into a picture, the bullet hole serves as the aperture for a pinhole camera, creating an image upon impact. The video-sound installation Crossfire by Christian Marclay is a sampling from Hollywood films that edits together those moments in which the actors on the screen begin to take aim at the movie theatre audience. For eight minutes and twenty-seven seconds, the montage transports the viewer into a visual and acoustic crossfire from all sides.

At the end of the exhibition, visitors (18+ years) have the opportunity to take their own portraits in a photographic shooting gallery.

 

Exhibition curated by Clément Chéroux and co-produced by the Rencontres d’Arles and the Museum Für Photographie, Braunschweig

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