The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Wednesday, July 6, 2022


What worried artists in lockdown? The same things as everyone else
An image of William Kentridge from his video “Chair Waltz” from the series “The Long Minute,” on display in the exhibition “Unprecedented Times” at the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria. An exhibition at the venue, “Unprecedented Times,” which runs through Aug. 30, 2020, is most likely the first (and possibly only) show in a European museum made up of work produced by artists as the virus spread and they sheltered in place this year. William Kentridge via The New York Times.

by Kimberly Bradley



BREGENZ (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- A tuba sitting on a rolling upholstered chair moves through a small room, to the sounds of a Shostakovich waltz. From the space’s perimeter, a man in a white shirt pulls and spins the improvised contraption across the floor with ropes, like a puppeteer or a dance partner. Why?

The man is the renowned South African artist William Kentridge; his waltzing artwork is a meditation on the months he has spent confined to his studio because of the coronavirus lockdown. The work, “Chair Waltz,” is one segment of a video series on display at Kunsthaus Bregenz, a venue in western Austria. Its exhibition “Unprecedented Times,” running through Aug. 30, is most likely the first (and possibly only) show in a European museum made up of work produced by artists as the virus spread and they sheltered in place this year.

With the abrupt arrival of Austria’s strict lockdown, the Kunsthaus was shuttered. In the following weeks, its director, Thomas Trummer, found himself in email conversations with many international artists: Some sent him pictures of the art they were producing in isolation; others he sought out, to see what they were up to. As a result, an exhibition showing artists’ first reactions to the extraordinary situation was perhaps only logical.

Quickly curated, and displaying works made in places including Johannesburg, London, Paris, Vienna and rural England, “Unprecedented Times” highlights the anxieties and uncertainties of life in a pandemic. Boredom, doubt and isolation weave through the works, some of which also offer glimpses into how artists produce under pressure.

On the ground floor of the exhibition space, two veteran artists explore conditions of solitude and waiting. The Center for the Less Good Idea, a Johannesburg art center founded by Kentridge in 2016, presents “29 Long Minutes” — a series of one-minute films that respond to the lockdown, mostly through dance and performance, shown in sequence on one screen. Ten of the 29 films, including “Chair Waltz,” are Kentridge’s own, shot in his studio. (The other 19 are by international artists he invited to take part.)

In “Hold,” we see Kentridge’s signature charcoal drawings filmed in stop-motion animation, alternating words like “touch,” “breathe” and “wait”— all laden with connotation and appearing like title cards — with drawn images including a caged bird and a masked medical worker.

Arranged in a vast inverted triangle on a nearby wall is “Certitudes — Incertitudes,” by French artist Annette Messager, a series of 52 watercolor sketches depicting skeletons and skulls. They are initially macabre, but on a closer look, some of the figures are dancing impishly or taunting playfully. (One skeleton, wearing a face mask, is giving the middle finger.)

These pictures aren’t necessarily about doom: Messager, 76, had surgery in late 2019, and her recovery dovetailed with the coronavirus outbreak. Part of the same series, called “Youme,” pictures two skulls, fused at the forehead, in a heart-shaped configuration rendered in a deep purplish-red. Messager experienced lockdown in Paris with her husband, and this work seems to distill the comfort, but also the claustrophobia, of confinement with a loved one.




Other works also address the big themes of life and death. Marianna Simnett balances mortality with levity on a screen in one of the Kunsthaus’ vertiginous stairwells: “Dance, Stanley, Dance” is a colorful 16-second animation that metaphorically revives a dead squirrel she found outside during lockdown in London. In “Chalk Outlines,” a two-minute animation of drawn human figures rising and falling in white on a black background, the Beirut-born, Berlin-based artist Rabih Mroué could be depicting a crime scene, or moving graffiti. Its twitchy visuals reflect nervous distraction — and allude to the violent protests that erupted during lockdown in the United States and elsewhere.

As well as the nervous energy that a lockdown might provoke, it also forces inaction and immobility: In Helen Cammock’s 19-minute film “They Call it Idlewild,” the camera scans the rural landscapes and interiors around the artist, one of the winners of the 2019 Turner Prize. She never appears on screen, but in the soundtrack she sings of idleness and utters aphorisms about “futile acts for futile times.” Completed as the virus was rampaging through Asia and Europe, but before Britain went into lockdown, the hypnotic film anticipates the coming limbo and its loneliness.

The only work created pre-pandemic is by Austrian artist Markus Schinwald, who for years has modified 19th-century portrait paintings by adding accessories to their subjects — often fictional prosthetics such as fake noses but also fabric masks. The elegantly masked “Grita” and “Meron” now seem eerily prescient.

Although the Kunsthaus chose “Unprecedented Times” as the English version of the exhibition’s name, the German title, “Unvergessliche Zeit,” which translates more directly as “Unforgettable Time,” seems to better express the show’s emotional dimensions, which resonate through the gray concrete interiors of the Kunsthaus’s monolithic building. This is not an era anyone will easily forget, and for many, confinement has led into uncharted psychological territory.

We’ll be seeing more “pandemic art” in the future, of course. These early responses are intriguingly direct and raw: Some attest to the rigor, self-discipline, and sometimes loneliness of making art, others are a reminder that we’re not through this yet.

Paris-based artist Ania Soliman’s “Journal of Confinement” began in April as an Instagram project. Nearly every day, she created a sketch in mostly black, white and red, which she posted on the social media platform. The original works are displayed in free-standing vitrines and on walls in Bregenz.

That journal, now of “deconfinement,” continues on Instagram and is well worth following. In a post accompanying one of the works, she asks: “All creatures follow the same impulse to movement, from spinning RNA/DNA strands to the turning of planets. How to move forward together?”

Like she does, this exhibition seems to ask us not only to reflect in real time but also to take this fraught moment as a point of departure and to shape what comes next.

© 2020 The New York Times Company










Today's News

August 6, 2020

What worried artists in lockdown? The same things as everyone else

Italian police track down hot-footed statue toe snapper

Met shrinks staff again, totaling 20% cut

Lincoln Library cancels exhibition over racial sensitivity concerns

London Art Week announces 'Art History in Focus' taking place this October

Pace opens exhibition of works by Torkwase Dyson at its recently opened space in East Hampton

Breakfast at Tiffany's typescript sells for £377,000 at Sotheby's

Georgia Museum of Art to reopen August 13

The Courtauld appoints their first ever Head of Conservation, Dr Austin Nevin

Shaker Museum taps Selldorf Architects to create its new permanent facility in Chatham, NY

James Powers, Brooklyn gallerist who nurtured Black artists, dies at 80

UNESCO to restore Mali's conflict-hit Bandiagara site

Poster Auctions International's 81st Rare Posters Auction LXXXI earns $1.3M

It's (almost) business as usual at the Salzburg Festival

San Antonio Museum of Art adds three trustees to board

Clear evidence that the auction world has changed as bidders migrate en masse to the internet

The Saint Louis Art Museum 'Currents 118' exhibition features new work by Elias Sime

Anna Laudel Düsseldorf opens Onur Hastürk's first solo show "Assimilation"

City of Chicago unveils new public artwork by street artist Dont Fret on the Chicago Riverwalk

Urbancoolab's AI artist STiCH resurrects Basquiat on anniversary of his death

Summers Place Auctions to sell unique collection of garden statuary in September sale

Morphy's rolls out Field & Range Firearms Auction, Aug. 11-13

Eric Bentley, critic who provoked lovers of Broadway, dies at 103

Without Online Counseling, the Virus Is Taking a Toll on Young People's Mental Health

Licensed Vs. Offshore Gambling: For Players & Operators

Pros and Cons of Making Money Online

How to source & sell custom enamel pins and patches?




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful