Thursday, 2 July 2015

Interview with Herman de Vries at the Dutch Pavilion, 56th Venice Biennale

Interview: Herman de Vries

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 Lagoon.

Review of Carol Bove / Carlo Scarpa at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

Carol Bove / Carlo Scarpa
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
2 April – 12 July 2015

“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?

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Display: #Outcome LGBT Portrait Project by Tom Dingley

Display: #Outcome
LGBT Portrait Project
Tom Dingley

“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 community!

LGBT Portrait Project
Tom Dingley

#Outcome with Pride in London
New Bloomsbury Set
22 June – 28 July 2015

Brighton Jubilee Library
17 July – 10 August 2015

To see the full portfolio and enjoy the images, please see the July 2015 print issue of DIVA magazine 

Portfolio: Mandy Niewöhner

Portfolio: Mandy Niewöhner

“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.

To see the full portfolio and enjoy the images, please see the July 2015 print issue of DIVA magazine 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Interview with Patricia Cronin at Shrine for Girls, Chiesa di San Gallo, 56th Venice Biennale

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 otherworldly triumph.

Cronin talks to Studio International about why these stories had such a huge impact on her and what compelled her to speak out.