Posts Tagged ‘Venice Biennale’

Lucas Samaras

Published September 9, 2009 by Graham

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With a series of nightmarish polaroids, Lucas Samaras took the 1970s art world by storm. His ugly addiction to the deepest crevices of his own body became an unexpected sensation, fueled by the hazy allure of his distorted self-portraits and a series of distrurbingly glib interviews with himself. Maurice Sendak’s late partner, psychoanylist Dr. Eugene Glynn, described the artist thusly in a 1971 article:

Samaras, self-fascinated, scarcely notices society at all. He is very aware that he doesn’t like peeople. They are too warm, too pressing, too smelly. “The needs of other people” is what frightens him. He can’t think about females “in terms other than extreme anger;” he can’t think about males “in terms other than extreme anger.” He likes apricots, flowers, fireflies, he likes best to stay alone in his apartment “existing alongside my utensils, furniture, materials, surfaces, spaces with an erotic freshness.”

Samaras’ persona is a caricature of misanthropy. Through his works and interviews, he presents himself as a devilish trickster whose narcissism knows no bounds. The repulsive nature of Samaras’ character is only exceeded by the aching talent underlying his depravity. The fragile enigma of his intensely personal work almost illicits sympathy, or at least curiosity. Like Glynn, we’re tempted– beckoned– to analyze the artist and his work, poring through recurring motifs: glass, teeth, mirrors, cannibalism, materialism, the body, the place where individuals end and society begins.

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Still active in the art world at 76, Samaras’ latest exhibit is currently on display at the Venice Biennale. Samaras has built a dominating sculpture of endlessly mirrored reflections, surrounded by dozens of video monitors. A series of close ups fill the screens– reaction shots of friends like Jasper Johns and Chuck Close being treated to footage of the artist getting naked in his studio. Awkward!

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Nathalie Djurberg

Published August 12, 2009 by Molly

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Nathalie Djurberg is a Swedish artist who specializes in entrancing (and occasionally freaky-deaky) short videos of handmade puppets shot in stop-motion. As befits someone who was awarded the Silver Lion For a Promising Young Artist at the Venice Biennale in 2009, Djurberg is a provocateur, producing videos that are thoroughly in bad taste.

This isn’t a bad thing. It’s not easy to make demented art that avoids being shmaltzy and calculatedly shocking. New York art critic Jerry Saltz–a familiar champion of good bad art–describe Djurberg’s work as “magnificently raucous but charming”, and conjuring “a place where the center does not hold and things fall apart.” It may not be for the faint of heart, but really–these days, what is?

Miranda July – Venice Biennale

Published May 11, 2009 by Dallas

What can we say, Miranda July is one of our favorite people. So many great ideas. Her films, her performances, her hijinx (be sure to check the “comments” section), and one of our personal favorites the classic promo website for her book “No One Belongs Here More Than You”. And as if all of this wasn’t enough she’s been selected to exhibit at the 2009 Venice Biennale alongside a pretty heavy list of talent. Amazing. The show runs June 7 through November 22nd and Miranda was awesome enough to let us have a sneak peek. Behold!