Former Marine and ceramist Ehren Tool exhibits war awareness work at CAFAM.
Opening reception: Saturday, May 26, 6 – 9 pm.
“The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend.” – Abraham Lincoln
Coinciding with Memorial Day, the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) presents Ehren Tool: Production or Destruction, a solo exhibition of ceramist and former Marine, Ehren Tool. Emblazoned with the haunting imagery of armed conflict, Tool creates handmade ceramic cups as a medium to address war and the violent rhetoric and imagery used to perpetuate it. The exhibition will feature 1,000 handcrafted cups, video, installation, photographs, and printed materials.
Twenty years after his service in the first Gulf War, Tool’s firsthand contact with the reality of war is manifest in the thousands of cups he dutifully produces. The cups will be exhibited at CAFAM in “units” based on military formations of “squads” (13), “platoons” (55), and “companies” (225), serving as a visual reminder of each Marine within a military unit. Each cup is uniquely crafted, decorated with ceramic decals of soldiers’ photos, propaganda, war porn, and sculptural reliefs shaped like bombs, guns, or medals.
Recent events such as the Occupy movements and the incendiary language of current election campaigns figure strongly in his new work, as well as veteran suicides and stories of U.S. Marines desecrating bodies of the deceased. Other imagery alludes to the culpability of video games, toys, and pornography in desensitizing the public to the emotional toll of war.
Tool insists that his art is not anti-war, and prefers to characterize it as “war awareness” work. “It is not my intention to teach or preach. It is not possible to communicate the pain, waste, or intensity of war. My work deals with the uneasy collision, and collusion, between military and civilian cultures,” he says.
By putting people in contact with the imagery of war through an everyday household item, he hopes to make people think more often about war and it’s consequences in a meaningful way. “Letter to President Obama” (2009) is among the several letters he wrote to national and corporate heads urging them to consider the outcome of supporting continued war efforts. He also sent a cup to each of these leaders, which elicited responses from politicians such as Karl Rove.
Though the cups are functional drinking vessels, they are also memory objects that contain unspoken stories about fallen soldiers and wounded survivors. The installation “393” (2004) is a striking display of 393 shattered cups that represent the number of U.S. combat casualties during the first year of the second Gulf War. In the video “1.5 Second War Memorial,” a different cup is shot to pieces every 1.5 seconds, each signifying a soldier or civilian who has died in a war.
Tool will be on-site at CAFAM for an artist residency between June 1 and June 15, where he will set up a ceramic studio in the courtyard to encourage public conversations and share his work in progress. He will be giving away all the cups he makes at CAFAM.
On 30 May 2012, Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art will preview a solo exhibition dedicated to the filmic works of the Belgian artist David Claerbout. The exhibition features works spanning Claerbout’s practice from 2000 to the present. The time that remains will be the artist’s first solo exhibition in a London public gallery.
Claerbout situates his striking work between the complex worlds of digital photography and film, investigating this intermediate area in concise and thought-provoking installations. Claerbout’s films often depict everyday activities or events, which once digitally manipulated negate the linear passage of time. His work questions the viewer’s conventional ideas of time and narrative processes.
Filmed in a house designed by contemporary architect Rem Koolhaas and using the same episode shot at ten-minute intervals from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Bordeaux Piece, 2004, lasts nearly fourteen hours. Three actors repeat flat dialogue and use dramatic gestures. They seem to be the protagonists of the work, but as time goes by the narrative slowly collapses into the movement of the sun and the changing light of day. A different sense of time is created and the protagonist is now the natural world. This work contains Claerbout’s first use of dialogue.
The Algiers’ Sections of a Happy Moment, 2008, is set on a small soccer pitch on a roof of the Algiers casbah. Young men, surrounded by a group of elderly people, pause in their game as one of the players feeds a flock of eager seagulls. The succession of images in this ‘happy moment’ provides a reflection on what Claerbout terms ‘the suspicious gaze’. The artist uses the passage of time as a tool for moderating that suspicious gaze, and more generally as a means of reconsidering what we see.
Set within the rigorous architecture of Skywood House, near Denham in the UK, Sunrise, 2009, takes the viewer into near-total darkness. The film depicts a nocturnal scene inside the villa, where a maid goes about her usual routine while the inhabitants sleep. The camera follows her through the course of her work and finally films her as she cycles home along a country road under the rising sun, accompanied by an imposing piece of music by Rachmaninov.
“The basic elements in my work are the materials: clay and glaze. I enjoy engaging in expressive ceramic experiments that test the boundaries of material and form. I often take my point of departure in nature’s principles and regularities of form. This results in strange inscrutable sculptural growths and large wild and amorphous nature abstractions that may be both lush and melancholic with an expression of beauty in both growth and decay.” Bente Skjøttgaard
“Bente Skjøttgaard is a ceramist: she was born in 1961. In much the same manner as a runner or an existential philosopher, she is cultivating her material, which is clay overcoated with an application of glaze. She is a master of her field and she is “inside” the clay in the sense that she is challenging herself each and every time she creates a new work. The glazed pieces are constantly becoming larger and more voluminous, with interiors consisting of complicated constructions, as is the case inside a person or an animal, a prehistoric creature or another biological phenomenon. And the beauty cannot be mistaken. It is a kind of primeval nature, but accordingly a nature that is created both from within and from without, in the course of a protracted reciprocal interplay.” Excerpt from “Elements in white”, a text By Erik Steffensen - Professor at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen.
Bente Skjøttgaard: Traces – Art along Hærvejen, At the ancient road Hærvejen nature trail, close to the village of Bække in Central Jutland DK, approx. 40 m2. A project by the Danish Arts Foundation, 2010.
Bente Skjøttgaard: The “Hærvejen” Art Project under construction at Gråsten Agricultural College, February 2010. Petersen Tegl A/S in Broager has sponsored 10 tons of red brickwork clay.
Ruth Power: Cephalophilia (installation), 2011, 100cm wide x 100cm long x 40 cm high.
Ruth Power: Masks (Cephalophilia), 2011, porcelain, wooden box with black paint and flocked interior.
Opening reception with Garth Clark, New York-based critic, writer and gallerist: Thursday, March 29, 5–8 pm. Artist Talk with Turi Heisselberg Pedersen: Saturday, March 31 at 2 pm.
"I love my garden, its plants and vigorous growths. Its potency of growth that within one season can produce an enormous plant from a tiny seed. It contains such a wealth of amazing and strange shapes, textures and colours. Furthermore it is a curious mix of nature and cultivation, of something dirty or beautiful, of poetry and ugliness. Certain things bloom and grow, some go wrong, unsuccessfully. It is a world of controlled nature, which is shaped, trimmed and reworked, not unlike the world of clay" Turi Heisselberg Pedersen explains on the inspiration for her show. Her garden can be experienced at Copenhagen Ceramics from 29 March through 21 April 2012.
For the exhibition My Garden Turi Hesisselberg Pedersen has created a new series of works inspired by the patterns, textures and structures in her garden. In the process of transforming this into ceramics works, two overall themes have emerged:
Vases inspired by buds and growths On one hand you find a group of precise, simple and cultivated shapes. For example vases inspired by the tautness of swelling flower buds – formal expressions that may seem almost vulgar. Or abstract, simple vase-shapes miming the upward, rhythmic patterns of plant-growth. Both act as ceramic equivalents to the trimmed and cultivated nature of gardens and an interpretation of the underlying order.
The opposite theme renders visible the sprouting life under ground. Out of this, works in the shape of organic, bulbous forms and seed capsules emerge with coarse, expressive surfaces or fluted structures. Careless growths and root-like forms, testifying to the more unruly forces of the garden.
In her new exhibition, Turi Heisselberg Pedersen will be showing some all-new, expressive and asymmetric works, where she explores the inherent character and textural freshness of the clay. Other pieces are more typical of her and display her mastery of simplified sculptural vessels, where rhythm, lines and the interplay between forms are recurrent themes.
Richard Slee: Camp Futility / Studio Voltaire, London April 25 – May 26, 2012
Opening reception: Tuesday, April 24, 7–9 pm
Studio Voltaire presents a new commission by Richard Slee, comprising of a series of objects and installations made specifically for the exhibition. Slee is an important figure within contemporary ceramics and the exhibition will be his first presentation in a public gallery since From Utility to Futility, a solo exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2010.
Central to Slee’s exhibition at Studio Voltaire is a number of works based on vernacular objects such as wood saws, hammers, pick axes and camping equipment. Inspired by a recent residency at Alfred University, in upstate New York, the works investigate particular myths and the symbolism of our ideas of America such as the great outdoors and the pioneer spirit. Lashed together workbenches that refer to old mining equipment, various scattered tools and an abandoned camp-fire can be read as an allegory to abandoned industries where whole communities move on to find employment elsewhere.
Ideas challenging the economy of productive labor are implicit in Slee’s combination of the hand-made and the found object. The uncanny hybrid of the de-skilled ready-made and the crafted object convey a subversive humourous vision that playfully investigates the limits of the ceramic tradition. Mass produced, everyday objects are meticulously realized with highly glazed, bright colors. These seductive surfaces recall a Pop or post-modern aesthetic that belies the more psychological, underlying cultural references of an object’s utility.
Slee (born 1946, Carlisle) works and lives in London. He studied Ceramics at Central School of Art & Design and the Royal College of Art. Until last year, he was a senior Professor at the University of the Arts in London. His work has been shown in London and internationally since the late 1970s and recent exhibitions include Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990, V&A Museum, London (2011-12), The Peir Arts Centre, Stromness (Solo, 2004) and Tate St Ives (Solo, 2003). Slee is represented by Hales Gallery, London.
Sponsored by SIMONE. Supported by The Henry Moore Foundation.
Dimitrios Antonitsis: Sarmale with Ketchup / SABOT Gallery, Cluj-Napoca, Romania March 21 – May 5, 2012
Sleek show fitting the sleek space of Sabot and breathing contemporary air into the Transylvanian folklore.
A graduate of the New York Film Academy and a former fashion photographer, Antonitsis is keenly aware of the different ways reality can be manipulated or exaggerated. (Tina Sotiriadi | Art in America, April 2002)
The Folklore, as a term of Dimitrios Antonitsis’ personal vocabulary, is invariably concerned with the practice of handcrafts. Always manifesting a soft spot for the discarded and the rejected, the artist easily fell for the triviality of Romanian fleamarket-stands, where he purchased used ceramic pots and vessels, woven rugs and bedspreads, and even some coarse wood-crafted decorative objects. These forsaken, modest artifacts became the chosen ingredients for his challenging task of pursuing a juicy aesthetical discourse and transforming them into his own contemporary dish. The mundane titles “Sarmale with Ketchup” (for his solo show at Sabot), and “Panache de Papanași” (for the concomitant exhibition at the Museum of Art in Cluj-Napoca), should be therefore read as an act of resisting social formatting.
Antonitsis uses his latest sculptural work as a sharp metaphor for leisure, fun and luxurious consumption. Bonus, a giant canine treat in aluminum and Bunny Labyrinth, a kids game silk-screened on a woven rug comment on our complicated and troublesome relation with over-achievement, social power and reward. His aesthetic language stretches from an attractive and minimal object making to an overcharged and exaggerated folklore design, always responding to the goal of articulating the concepts as accurately as possible. After all, Antonitsis is an artist who feels responsible for bringing truth to his audience. He can be wrong or misunderstood, but he must struggle to reflect reality in a way that speaks out the truth, whether we comprehend it or not.
Artist and curator, Dimitrios Antonitsis is the founder of Hydra School Projects, a cutting edge international platform for the visual arts set up in an elementary school on the Greek island of Hydra.
Liliana Folta: An Abstract Poem of Freedom, 2009, (on going) traveling/interaction/installation: ceramic chain, bullets & bowl; white gesso, ink, wooden chair, white sheets, rug, soldier boots, paper, high temp wire, 3x7x2 ft.
Liliana Folta: Oíd el Ruido de Rotas Cadenas (Hear the Sounds of Broken Chains), 2010, Installation for the 1st Biennial of the Americas, unglazed ceramic chains, cotton canvas chains, wood, mirror, iron, high temp wire, 13ft. x 56in Diam.