Brazilian artist Cinthia Marcelle films ordinary everyday occurrences, initially highlighting their abstract geometric qualities, then through the passage of time and mindless repetition, viewers are drawn indirectly to contemplate first the poetic and ultimately, the sublime.
Sometimes, she intervenes with irony and humour, to disrupt these everyday occurrences, questioning the meaningfulness of various human activities that we take for granted. Her landscapes and man-made scenes have come to encompass the notion of a landscape of ruin; the cumulation of human excess and the ‘frontier’ between culture and nature.
Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr’s films, sculpture and paintings reflect the realities of life under what could be described as a totalitarian regime in his native country and thus might be considered a political activist as well. Time and again these works describe an inability, as he puts it, ‘to act and react to what is seen’, which in many respects is about a collective sense of powerlessness in the face of a self-serving government.
In An Ear of Mud, Another of Dough (2001), 2000 ears sculpted in mud and dough line a wall, with a video displaying someone shrugging their shoulders in non-committal fashion and the buzzing sound of flies in the background. Taken from an Egyptian proverb derived from folk tales, it features Goha, a ‘wise fool’ who deafens himself to the relentless complaints of his wife by stuffing one ear with mud and another with dough.
Chinese artist Wu Jian’an uses traditional paper cutting techniques of Chinese shadow puppet plays to make complex multi-layered sculptures that are rooted in traditional Chinese folktales and Buddhism, providing a glimpse of the contemporary in the process.
All these monkeys, monsters, phoenixes and other icons of traditional Chinese folklore are flattened, coloured and twisted into a comical contemporary expression, but to what end?
With the announcement of the 2017 Pritzker Prize laureates, the Spanish architecture studio RCR Arquitectes has found themselves suddenly being propelled to international fame. One might be wondering, who are these people and what did do to receive such an honour? While I don’t usually write about architecture here, I thought perhaps this is a bit different and deserves a mention as it delves into the sublime.
The Building That Isn’t There
Located at the site of the demolished La Lira Theatre where the Ter and El Fraser rivers meet in the small town of Ripoll, Catalonia, Spain is a building that redefines what it means to have a facade. Left with a gaping hole in the urban fabric after the removal of the old theatre building, the architects decided to celebrate this by framing the outlines of where it once stood with corten steel panels. The choice of using dark coloured steel is also, in a way, in remembrance of the black box theatre that once stood here.
Cuban artist Jose Yaque seems to have an obsession with openings and things that come out of (or go into) them. These mechanical or biological openings and the things that grow out from them, flowing continuously and sprouting upwards, twisting and twirling, perpetually changing in convoluted revolutions, strangely occurs over and over again in his works. What might be the meaning behind these?
A common thread linking these works seems to be nature, in its various forms. In Tumba Abierta (2009) which means ‘open tomb’ beer bottles that are each filled with water and all sorts of plant life fill a standing shelf. That these plants are submerged in water and put in a closed bottle is reminiscent of the preservation of biological organisms in formaldehyde. But why beer bottles?