A couple of new-to-me, albeit well-established artists I stumbled across recently – along with a couple of their projects that explore ideas I am interested in. I was also really drawn to some of their presentation choices – both contextual and aesthetic.
Camille Henrot (born 1978, lives and works in New York)
Grosse Fatigue (2013) is a 13minute video, in which Henrot attempts to tell the story of the universe’s creation, to the sound track of a spoken word poem (written collaboratively). The work mixes scientific history with creation stories (religious and oral) from a wide range of cultures. The backdrop is a computer screen, containing overlapping and rapidly changing screen shots and moving image sourced from the internet or filmed directly by the artist – the foundation of which is the unveiling of cultural treasures at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC”. See excerpts from the video, including some commentary from the artist here.
Unbeknownst to me Gross Fatigue was presented at the 2013 Venice Biennale (which I attended) and I missed it again by a couple of weeks last month at the City Gallery. I came across the work a few days ago after looking through a City Gallery pamphlet and seeing an image of the artist’s hand with painted nails holding a Buddhists-hand fruit (see below). This was a few days after I had taken my own series of images presenting some mock-ups with hands and painted nails (refer blog entry “Evolution or creationism?”). It got me digging deeper.
As another interesting aside, I had also been thinking about ways in which I might be able to integrate poetry into my work. This year my parents and I set ourselves the challenge of learning and remembering a new poem a week. I love the way poetry can so eloquently express thoughts, feelings and ideas through metaphor and see an enormous amount of potential in this.
In Jewels from the Personal Collection of Princess Salimah Aga Khan Henrot presents botanical specimens she gathered from private flower-beds decorating building entrances on the Upper East Side, New York City’s wealthiest neighbourhood. She presents the pressed flowers interspersed amongst the pages of a Christie’s auction catalogue – in the manner of herbarium sheets. The catalogue details the entire jewelry collection belonging to the recently divorced Princess Salimah Aga Khan, auctioned by Christie’s at the Hotel Richemond in Geneva on November 13th 1995 — jewels received during her twenty-six-year marriage to the Aga Khan. See more about this project here.
Alaberto Baraya (born Colombia, 1968)
In Herbário de plantas artificiais” (Herbarium of Artificial Plants) Baraya applies scientific collecting, recording and cataloguing technique to artistic endeavour (the collection of found plastic plants). I came across his work as a ‘related project’ in my search for more information on Henrot’s Jewels project. See here for more information on Baraya and his work.