The Mental Museum

Archive for May 2008

Lluis Barba’s Garden of Earthly Delights

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Spanish painter, Lluis Barba has received a lot of attention for his modern day version of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. The original piece was completed in 1504 and stands as a 87″ high and 153″ wide triptych. The panels are meant to be read from left to right and the first panel depicts God presenting Adam with the newly created Eve; Creation. The central panel is a broad panorama of sexually engaged nude figures, fantastical animals, oversized and gorged fruit, and hybrid stone formations; depicting Earth. And the right panel is a tortuous, flesh-rending hellscape portraying the torments of damnation; Hell. 

Lluis Barba has used this exact work for his own, modern day and artistic social commentary. During the 2007 Art Basel Miami Beach, Barba unveiled his contemporary version of the Garden of Earthly Delights. Alongside Bosch’s disfigured and haunting characters, Barba juxtaposed images of fellow friends, artists, colleagues and celebrities, purposefully placed in Paradise, Earth or Hell. Kate Moss can be seen on the far left side of the panel, enjoying the innocent delights of Creation. Barba offers that “Kate Moss is just as important to Art History as Andy Warhol,” therefore earning her a place furthest away from Hell. Brad Pitt, Madonna and Elton John are among those engaged in earthly sin in the central panel.

  “However, the most damning judgments are reserved for key players in the art world. The White Cube Gallery dealer Jay Jopling (who sold Damien Hirst’s £50 million skull , For the Love of God), is shown in a sharp suit talking on his mobile as he strides cheerfully through Hell, no doubt closing another mega deal. Prints of Barba’s work sold in a flash – at a mere £25,000 they represented pretty good value in Miami, where an Andy Warhol went for £4 million. ” 

~Times Online December 12, 2007


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May 30, 2008 at 6:30 pm

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Graciela Iturbide

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Graciela Itrubide was born in Mexico in 1942. She became interested in the everyday life of Mexico’s indigenous cultures and began photographing life in Juchitán, Oaxaca and on the Mexican/American frontier (La Frontera.) Her first experience as a “professional” photographer was in 1979 when she was asked by a Mexican man to document his village in the Sonoran Desert. This experience helped inspire her feministic views which have since played important rolls in her photographs.

The image below from her well known series titled “Señora de Las Iguanas”, (“Our Lady of the Iguanas”) represents the matriarchal society of Juchitan, Oaxaca. This somewhat haunting image becomes far more compelling when it is taken into consideration that it reflects a non-Hispanic, pre-catholic Mexico and becomes an important element of better understanding the county and culture.

Graciela Itrubide is the founding member of the Mexican Council of Photography and currently lives and works in Coyoacán, Mexico. Her work is internationally recognized and is included in major museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the J. Paul Getty Museum. She has won the W, Eugene Smith prize for photography in 1987, the Hasselblad Foundation Photography Awards in 2008 and was granted a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1988.

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May 27, 2008 at 9:53 pm

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Sam Abell Did That?!

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“But the worst peril, any photographer agrees, is self-doubt. That black shroud of depression. The Arctic chill in your stomach. The insidious whisper that convicnces you 20 years of brilliant photographs were a lucky aberration – the next time the gods won’t be so kind.

“Cold sweat time, ” Cary Wolinsky calls it. That “this is the day they find out what a phony I am” feeling. Which is why even an old hand like Bill Allard can be heard to mutter in mid shutter snap.: “This could be great, Allard – if you don’t screw it up.” Because you can screw it up. Wrong camera; wrong lens; wrong light; wrong film (sometimes even no film). The irretrievable moment, the picture that got away.

Then, suddenly, the world takes a quarter turn. The stars align. The improbable happens. Magic happens. “The moon rises,” says Sam Abell. “The blossoms fall. The peacocks display. The shadow lingers on the tent. The gondola slides into the light.

And photography redeems itself.”

~National Geographic, August 1995


photo, Sam Abell.

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May 22, 2008 at 4:57 am

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Gerry Hofstetter

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National Cathedral, Washington, DC

Swiss born Gerry Hofstetter from Zurich is, for lack of a better word, an illuminating artist, or some variation of a pyrotechnic. A former investment banker and helicopter pilot, Hofstetter has since turned his attention to artist installation. Commissioned across the world, Hofstetter creates light projection masterpieces to be projected onto surfaces such as the Antarctic icebergs, the Egyptian pyramids, the Swiss Matterhorn, the Parisian Arc de Triomphe and other landmarks. Using enormous 6,000-watt projectors, he is able to transfer the images on his slides to these multi facaded canvases.  His practice is unique in the sense that it utilizes buildings, monuments and natural reserves to transform natural or manmade architectural into contemporary color. In 2006, he claimed the month of December to be his busiest month; a telling 62 illuminations in three countries. His works require expedition preparation involving permits, helicopters and an ample crew. At the end of a performance, he claims he switches off his lights, and ‘all is left are the memories.’ Most recently he was in Washington, DC projecting his work on the National Cathedral. In the future, he plans illuminate Mount Kilimanjaro.

Antarctic Icebergs

Church of St Peter Mistail, Alvaschein, Switzerland

Giza pyramids and sphinx, Egypt

Seychelles Islands

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May 16, 2008 at 8:38 pm

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Jack Perno

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…comes from a fine art background and has now turned his attention to fine art photography. His striking polaroid transfers take on a living breathing entity of their own. If you have ever worked with transfers before, you would know that the emulsion itself; the film that the image has been burned into lifts off onto a placenta like substance. It is wet and fragile and often warm from the warm water used to initially remove it from the polaroid card. The image has been burned into this thin film. It can tear or wrinkle very easily and needs to be handled with a great amount of care. Perno’s work incorporates these wrinkles into the work, representing the notion that they are in fact deliberate; Achieving a large transfer with not wrinkles is very hard to do. The term polaroid transfer refers to the process of removing this translucent and fragile film from the polaroid card and placing it onto another surface. In this case, the images are transfered to 300lb thick soft press watercolor paper. Rather than using an image on a 35mm slide film and an instrument called a Daylab to burn the image onto polaroid film, Perno caputres his images directly onto 8×10 polaroid sheet film. This one sheet of polaroid can produce only one transfer where as Daylabs can use any slide film over and over again to create an infinite number of polaroids.  Because he is capturing his initial image on the 8×10 sheet polaroid, his process limits him to creating editions of only one. As they cannot be reproduced, Perno states that he often finds himself quite attached to each of his pieces. The end results are these truly unique works that  not only please us visually, but stimulate our tactile senses. 

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May 8, 2008 at 8:19 pm

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Franz Jantzen

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Franz Jantzen’s show, titled Manifest Order is a series of six plus photographic constructs. He uses the term ‘assemblages’ to describe his technique. The end results are these birds-eye, architectural floor plan like layouts in the form of black and white photographic collages; Assemblages. If you see a detail of his work, you’ll notice some manipulation (especially seen in the Conservator’s detail) to enhance the aura of the space he is portraying. These works, in their entirety, force the viewer to comprehend space in such a manner that is upside down, backwards and flipped. To understand the image, one must twist and turn his head, almost in expectation that the image will become three dimensional. The rhythm that is formed by these assemblages, to a certain degree, cannot be controlled by the artist. The rhythm is formed by the layout of the space itself. Jantzen’s succees in creating aesthetically pleasing photographic maps proves there is rhythm and beauty to our physical man-made space, much like the view from an airplane proves the rhythmic beauty of the earth.

McSorley’s Bar New York, NY (and detail)

The Conservator in his Laboratory (and detail)

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May 6, 2008 at 8:34 pm

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