n. pl. cor·po·ra (-pr-)
1. A large collection of writings of a specific kind or on a specific subject.
2. A collection of writings or recorded remarks used for linguistic analysis.
3. The main part of a bodily structure or organ.
//Reviews of art. Art and language. Art and the body.
Herman de Vries: to be all ways to be Dutch Pavilion, Giardini di Castello, 30122 Venice 9 May – 22 November 2015
Herman de Vries (b1931) was
educated as a horticulturalist and natural scientist and his work focuses on
natural processes and phenomena, directing viewers’ attention to the diversity
of the world around them. He seeks to encourage people to be alive and aware, and
his guru, he says, is a squirrel, because this creature “is always awake”.
De Vries has spent a long time
working in Venice preparing for the Biennale and has published a book, From the
Laguna of Venice – A Journal, which is essentially a travelogue of his
observations and collected material. His exhibition in the Dutch Pavilion
brings some of this notation – written and photographed – and some of the flora
into the gallery setting, “a place for observation”. This includes a central
circle of Rosa damascena buds, creating a sensory experience through their
colour and scent, and large chunks of charred acacia trunk, collected from the
summer solstice bonfire in the village where he now lives in Germany.
Alongside the pavilion exhibition,
de Vries is also displaying a series of posters –with texts including natura numquam errat (nature never makes
mistakes), natura mater (nature is
the mother), veritas existentiae (the
truth of existence) and natura artis
magistra (nature is the teacher of art and science) – across Venice. These
short dicta sum up the artist’s philosophy and work. His succinct
pronouncements can also be found in plaques dotted among the overgrowth on the
abandoned island of Lazzaretto Vecchio, the site of a former hospital, where
plague victims were nursed.
Studio International spoke to de
Vries before taking a boat trip out to explore this sanctuary in the Venetian
“If language gives meaning and
narrative, what are the tools of the artist and architect to provide syntax for
things in space? Are the plinth and armature to objects what articles and
adjectives are to description?”
By bringing together works by the
Venetian architect and exhibition designer, Carlo Scarpa (1906-78), and the
American artist, Carol Bove (b1971), the Henry Moore Institute asks visitors to
consider this question literally as well as metaphorically. How are objects
given meaning? When does a found object become an art object? What
distinguishes this art object or sculpture from the exhibition furniture on
which it stands? What if the sculptures themselves represent linguistic symbols?
“When I was coming out,” recalls photographer Tom Dingley,
“I was repeatedly challenged because I didn’t quite fit the stereotype. People
would ask me if I was sure.”
Dingley’s photographic project #Outcome has the dual aim of
breaking down these stereotypes by showing that there are LGBT people in all
walks of life, doing all sorts of things, while also giving young people hope
that “it gets better”. His portraits show LGBT people with some attribute of
their job or daily adult life, holding a photograph of themselves as a child.
“Having the child photo seemed a good way of showing the
transition from being a young person to being an adult. That bit in the middle
is different for everyone – some people have it fairly easy, others not at all
– but the point is that everyone gets through it and you can be someone and do
something with your life.”
Dingley has successfully reached his first target of 50
portraits and will be exhibiting as part of both London and Brighton Pride. He
is now aiming for 100 portraits and would then like to do a book. He also hopes
to use the photographs for pop-up exhibitions in schools. The project is
growing and Dingley would like more people to volunteer to be photographed –
especially women – so get in touch and help celebrate the diversity of our LGBT
“Towards the end of my MFA at Goldsmiths, I developed a second
self and his name is Gerrit,” says Mandy Niewöhner matter-of-factly. “He’s like
my alter ego. He’s a really annoying man who thinks he’s a really good
sculptor, which isn’t really true.”
Niewöhner, originally from the Netherlands, had gone to
Berlin to take part in one of Diane Torr’s Man For A Day workshops. This is
where Gerrit was “born”.
“In Berlin, he was ok. He was similar to me. But as soon as
we came back to London, he felt he had to prove that he really was a man. He
got this attitude.”
Gerrit walked into Niewöhner’s studio, tore down all her
research work, got some concrete and began to sculpt. “I know it’s from my
hands as well because we share a body but I just don’t recognise it as my work.
I don’t do sculpture. I don’t know how to.”
Over time, Gerrit and Mandy have become more integrated and
now she describes them as “an artistic duo in one body”. Her final degree show
was produced by them both, as was an exhibition they took to Russia last
October, This Is For All The Queers. “I did a performance as Gerrit, addressing
all the gay people in Russia. I thought I’d be stopped but I had people
standing around me, almost crying, touched by what I said. It was beautiful.”
Both Niewöhner and Gerrit work on the themes of gender and
performativity, kicking against the binary system. “With Gerrit and me
together, we’re already challenging it as we exist,” says Niewöhner. As for
terminology, she prefers the term “queer”: “It’s all-embracing. It’s everything
and nothing. After all – I can’t be a lesbian when I’m Gerrit!”
Mandy Niewöhner has
recently been awarded the British School of Rome Fellowship residency for 2015
and will also be included in the Bloomberg New Contemporaries.
Patricia Cronin: Shrine for Girls Brooklyn Rail Curatorial Projects Chiesa di San Gallo, Venice 9 May – 22 November 2015
Gang rape and lynching; kidnap;
forced labour: throughout history, women and girls have been subjected to
terrible violence and repression around the world. More shockingly, in many
places, it still goes on today. In her site-specific installation Shrine for
Girls, New York-based artist Patricia Cronin (b1963) commemorates three such
cases: the rape, murder and hanging from trees of three girls in India in June 2014
(the “mango tree rape case”); the kidnapping of 276 female students by the jihadist
militants of Boko Haram in Nigeria in April 2014; and the many young women
pushed into forced labour in the Magdalene asylums and laundries in Europe and
North America from the late-18th century to as recently as 1996. These are
represented respectively by piles of saris, hijabs and grey aprons, one on each
of the three stone altars in Chiesa di San Gallo, Venice’s smallest church, now
deconsecrated and serving as a cultural space.
Three shrines, each accompanied by
a framed photograph, offering space for reflection, contemplation and
remembrance; space for learning lessons; space for lamenting wrongs done and
recalling these – and many other – young girls, whom Cronin considers to be
secular or gender martyrs, since, unlike religious martyrs, they receive no
Cronin talks to Studio International about why these stories had such a huge impact on her and what compelled her to speak out.