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Published in Art in America, June 2014
The power of music to inflect mood is the underlying subject of Jaki Irvine’s video Se compra: Sin é (2014), in which the artist conflates the musical traditions of her native Ireland with the sights and sounds of Mexico City, where she now spends much of her time. (The title comprises the Spanish for “purchased” and the Irish Gaelic for “that’s it.”) Projected onto a vast wall, it follows Mexican street vendors going about their daily rounds to the accompaniment of a plangent score composed by the artist that was inspired by Irish sean-nós, or “old style” singing. Occasionally, the action shifts from the bustling streets to a softly lit recording studio, where we encounter the musicians generating these emotive strains.
Published in Modern Painters, June 2014
“I like it because it’s not normal,” said Polly Apfelbaum of her exhibition “A Handweaver’s Pattern Book,” at Clifton Benevento through August 8. While the pieces in the show are made using fairly simple materials — markers, string, ceramics, and textiles — the artist has conceived of her installation as a hybrid of forms: a drawing; a painting; a book whose pages have been removed and hung on the walls. The exhibition is composed of 50 ink-on-rayon works, arranged in rows, and a series of glazed ceramic beads suspended from colored strings that hang from the existing sprinkler pipes on Clifton Benevento’s ceiling.
Published in The Sunday Guardian, 13 April 2014
“Blood is quite a special fluid,” I recall Goethe’s Mephistopheles telling Faust while wrapping up a special deal as I turn the pages of Dayanita Singh’s File Room (Rs 3,000, Steidl). It is a bit odd to think of blood — or any liquid, for that matter — while lingering over black and white photographs of stacks and bundles and heaps and rows of what is essentially paper. The teeming population of files — harder paper folded to hold softer paper in each of them — are the opposite of liquid, conjuring up the opposite of blood: they are dry and dust-laden.
As the title of Aveek Sen’s opening text emphasises, it is not a sea of paper, but a “Forest of Paper”. “...the saddest smell is that of wet paper, when after the monsoon floods or a super-cyclone, soggy files, books, maps and newspapers have to be cleaned out. Or, when they are laid out to dry in the sun, the strange, fungal smell of river muck and fish-slime that wavy-wet paper can give out,” he writes, pointing to variations and palpable possibilities that Dayanita’s heaps of paper could take.
Published in The Oregonian , 7 April 2014
Polly Apfelbaum, who lives and works in New York City, is best known for her ambitious installations, in which hundreds of hand-dyed swatches of velvet fabric creep and spiral in hive-like formations on the floor. Existing somewhere between painting and sculpture (the artist describes them as “fallen paintings”), these hybridized installations buzz with vibrant color combinations and complex patterns, even though they are made with minimal means. For her installation at the Lumber Room, “Color Stations Portland,” the artist continues to pursue that minimalist aesthetic, muting the hand-crafted quality of her dyed velvet installations and considering the optic effects and meanings of pure color in isolation.
Published in The Irish Times, 27 March 2014
Dorothy Cross’s exhibition Connemara was on view at Turner Contemporary in Margate in January. Now she has reshaped the show for the RHA’s cavernous main gallery space. It is dramatically different and tremendously effective in terms of content and installation.
Make your way through the entrance lobby and you find yourself in a darkened, seemingly limitless interior in which individual works are picked out in pools of light, and two looped video projections flicker on opposite walls.
Still garbed in utilitarian overalls and making a final, ruthless edit of what to put in and what to leave out, Cross provides a concise account of what’s on view and the genesis of the overall project. “I’ve lived in Connemara for about 12 years now. Most of the work [in this exhibition] I’ve made in that time, and a lot of it is specifically to do with Connemara.”
Published in The Guardian, 16 March 2014
A boy the size of life – and eerily lifelike – sits on the top of a kitchen table. Legs crossed, head drooping, hunched, he doesn’t know what to do with his growing self. His seated brother is making the same point more dramatically, slumped right over the table, arms sprawled, extravagantly listless, hungry or tired. They look as if they are waiting to be fed.
To be fed, or to be nourished in some deeper sense: that is the question, the crux of the Irish artist Daphne Wright’s double sculpture. Two lads hanging about the kitchen, getting in the way, who can’t think of anything better to do: the poses are humorous, proverbial, familiar to any parent, and poignant to anyone who remembers the dreamy dwalms of childhood.
Yet these children who have the vestiges of life so powerfully about them are deathly pale and still, as if fading out. Perhaps they could still be revived – that is in the drooping poses, and the kitchen-table scenario – or perhaps they are gone already, absent in more than their dreams. Petrified in cold matter, the colour of chalk, they are here and not here: lost boys, immovable ghosts.
Published in Frieze, 17 February 2014
Not all of Anna Barriball’s art is photographic, but its various forms share a preoccupation with the legacy of casual representation. They are poised between appealing to the remaining recognition of photography’s veracity, and asking us to complicitly acknowledge that this has been diminished to a motif. This theme can become portentously elegiac, as if a casual link to the past automatically granted poignancy to retrospection, and Barriball’s work has a monumental, meditative quality that tends to encourage such an assumption. Like Stezaker, she uses overt artifice - in her case, arbitrary colouring and formalistic patterning - as a counterforce to resist submission to the seductiveness of nostalgia.
Published in BBC News, 6 February 2014
A set of steps in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town, which have been closed off from the public for 10 years, are to be repaired and revamped.
The steps are to get new gates and an art installation by renowned Edinburgh artist Callum Innes.
Callum Innes said: “I was initially approached by Malcolm Fraser to develop an installation that would reclaim the steps as a public space, addressing some of the issues that had led to its closure.
“By placing an infrared camera half-way up the steps we make a hidden part of the steps visible, relaying live footage of silhouetted figures to be superimposed onto the changing colours of the screen.
“The installation directly engages both the architecture of the steps and the public for whom they serve.”
Some of the funding is being provided by Edinburgh City Council from its neighbourhood environment projects budget.
Published in Time Out, 23 January 2014
Sadness is an overlooked emotion in contemporary art, but if anything deserves to be called truly sad, it’s Jaki Irvine’s latest film ‘Se compra: Sin é’. Partly, the feeling comes from the powerfully lugubrious music, the gradual building of which is what the Irish artist’s video is all about. Filmed in Mexico City, it begins with lone street traders crying out in plaintive, sing-song voices, announcing their wares for sale. Next, an Irish folk singer and stringed instruments – filmed in the more salubrious environment of a professional recording studio – start up, while subsequent street scenes bring in more sounds. You’ll hear garbage collectors, itinerant knife whetters, steam hissing from mobile plantain ovens, accompanied by a haunting Irish folk ballad. Everything coalesces into a wonderfully immersive, deeply melancholy medley.
Published in Design Boom, 15 December 2013
Throughout her work, new york based artist polly apfelbaum examines postwar abstraction in relationship to popular culture. The work occupying the gallery floor at the perez art museum, miami refers to the sinister monkey character from the popular cartoon series, ‘the power puff girls’.‘Mojo jojo’ is made from hundreds of shaped pieces of dyed velvet – using all 104 colors produced by the french fabric dye company sennelier — placed directly onto the ground. Spanning 18 feet in diameter, the massive spiral is rich in varying colors and hues, changing their value depending on both the angle of the viewer and the light that enters the space. an important aspect of the work to apfelbaum is this captured sense of fluidity, as the chroma is constantly evolving and moving along with the observer. Its circular geometry and fabric dyes reference the carpets, quilts, and domestic hand-crafts that were influential to the artist during the 1907s, while tie-dye, popular during the late 1960s inform the palette. ‘Mojo jojo’ is currently shown for the exhibition ‘americana: formalizing craft’ from now until may 2015.
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