The Wound: JR's New Anamorphic Artwork Appears to Carve Out the Facade of Florence's Palazzo Strozzi
French artist JR unveiled an imposing artwork at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence last week that mimics a massive gash in the institution’s Renaissance-era facade. Spanning 28 x 33 meters, “La Ferita,” or “The Wound,” is an anamorphic collage that appears to reveal the iconic artworks housed inside the building, in addition to a stately courtyard colonnade, exhibition hall, and library. Exposing different parts of the interior as the viewer shifts position, the artwork is in response to the lack of accessibility at cultural institutions since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Completed alongside a team of 11 in two months, the site-specific piece was constructed 30 centimeters in front of the 15th Century ashlar facade with a metal structure and 80 panels of Dibond aluminum. It features JR’s signature photographic style—similar projects were installed at Williamsburg’s Domino Park, the Louvre, and the U.S./Mexico border—and includes a mix of real and imagined elements, including black-and-white renderings of Botticelli’s “Primavera” and “Birth of Venus” and Giambologna’s “The Rape of the Sabine Women,” in addition to prominent spaces like the Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento.
“The Wound” is layered further with references to art history, from its use of the trompe l’oeil technique that grew in popularity in the 1500s to its evocation of ruinism, an 18th Century style that portrayed ancient architecture “as testimonials to a glorious past in a dramatic reflection on the fate of mankind,” a release says, noting that Palazzo Strozzi will not be preserving the piece beyond its initial construction.
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A Monumental Bas-Relief Sculpture by Nick Cave Connects Senegalese and U.S. Cultures in a Web of Beadwork
Innumerable pony beads, pipe cleaners, sequins, and objects gathered from two continents overlay a web of rainbow mesh that’s suspended in the U.S. Embassy atrium in Dakar. Installed in 2012, the expansive work by Chicago-based artist Nick Cave (previously) is composed of amorphous swells and circular patches of multicolor netting that stretch 20 x 25 feet. Physically connecting pieces of both U.S. and Senegalese culture, the webbed, bas-relief sculpture symbolically stands as “a unifier that brings people together,” Cave says in an interview.
Virginia Shore and Robert Soppelsa curated the project for Art in Embassies, a program led by the U.S. Department of State that fosters cross-cultural exchange through visual arts and spans more than 200 venues in 189 countries. “When you think about Art in Embassies and cultural diplomacy, what is interesting for me, as an artist, is, how can I facilitate that within the work that is developed? Yes, I will create the piece for the embassy, but I was also interested in ways to integrate the artists that live and work here,” he says.
Cave developed the structural portion of the work in his Chicago studio, and after meeting Sengalese artists, scholars, and students, he utilized pieces from three locals—Seni M’Baye, Loman Pawlitschek, and Daouda N’Diaye—once on site. The resulting installation, which weighs nearly 500 pounds, took Cave and ten assistants more than three months to complete.
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2020 was a year of many realizations, but for Thomas Jackson (previously), the most profound was “proof of the adage that creativity thrives under constraints.” Known for suspending swarms of everyday objects on the rocky shores of the Isle of Man or desert locales across the southwest U.S., the photographer shifted his practice as lockdowns spread and limited his ability to travel beyond nearby landscapes.
The resulting series reflects these restrictions and focuses on a single location and adaptable material: swaths of colorful nylon float above the beaches and down the California coastline, creating compositions that juxtapose the natural environment with the bright, manufactured materials. “I chose tulle for its mutability—depending on how it’s arranged and how the wind catches it, it can morph from a solid to a liquid, to fire to billowing smoke,” Jackson says.
Shot on 4×5 film with little to no editing, the photographs convey a pared-down approach. Rather than hire people to help him install the sculptural objects in exact positions, Jackson utilized driftwood to prop up the lightweight textiles and the wind to infuse the fabric with movement. He explains:
On every shoot, Northern California’s offshore breezes were my collaborator, the force that transformed my installations from lifeless fabric to living things. As collaborations go it was a tumultuous one—of the twenty or so pieces I built and photographed last year, thirteen were failures—but along the way, I learned a thing or two about the importance of staying on nature’s good side. When I built pieces that obstructed or defied the wind in any way, I’d go home unhappy, but when my constructions respected and responded to the wind, interesting things would occur!
Jackson shares a wide array of his work that mimics the amorphous, self-organizing patterns of birds, insects, and other animals, along with behind-the-scenes shots and footage of his process, on Instagram.
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Two Imposing Cubes Covered in Yellow Plastic by Artist Serge Attukwei Clottey Respond to Global Water Insecurity
A mottled patchwork of plastic cloaks two cubes that tower over the desert landscape of Coachella Valley. Titled “The Wishing Well,” the bright pair are the work of Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, who created the nine-foot pieces from scraps of Kufuor gallons, or jerrycans, in response to shared struggles with water insecurity that ripple across the world. Resembling a yellow brick road, a paved walkway connects the two woven structures that stand in contrast to the surrounding environment, which faces continual struggles with access to the natural resource.
Clottey’s use of the material is tied to a larger critique of colonialism’s enduring legacy and the ways it continues to affect populations around the world, particularly in relation to the climate crisis. Originally, European colonialists brought Kufuor gallons to Ghana to transport cooking oil. Today, the plastic vessels are ubiquitous and used to haul potable water. “As repurposed relics of the colonial project, they serve as a constant reminder of the legacies of empire and of global movements for environmental justice,” says a statement about the work that’s part of Desert X, a biennial bringing site-specific installations to Southern California.
“The Wishing Well” is one facet of Clottey’s larger Afrogallonism project, which he describes as “an artistic concept to explore the relationship between the prevalence of the yellow oil gallons in regards to consumption and necessity in the life of the modern African.” The Accra-based artist works in a variety of mediums spanning installation, sculpture, and performance that deal with the broader influence of colonialism in Africa. You can see a larger collection of his pieces on Artsy and Instagram.
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A towering expanse of red thread, a new installation by Chiharu Shiota (previously) suspends 10,000 letters within the nave of Berlin’s König Galerie, a Brutalist-style space located in the former St. Agnes church. The immersive construction runs floor to ceiling and is awash with notes from people around the world who share their dreams following a particularly devastating year. Aptly named “I hope…,” the large-scale project hangs two wire boats that appear to float upward at its center, evoking travel into an unknown future.
For this collaborative installation, the Japanese artist, who’s lived in Berlin for the last two decades, draws on a similar piece from 2015 titled “The Key in the Hand.” That earlier work similarly utilizes gathered objects and bright red thread, although it trapped 50,000 keys in a web that swelled from a wooden boat. In this iteration, however, Shiota lets the strands fall loosely and connects them to paper notes, leaving the individual elements open to movement and change.
“I hope…” is on view through March 21, and there’s a video tour of the staggering project if you can’t see it in-person. Follow Shiota on Instagram to keep up with her sweeping installations that weave common objects into vast networks of fiber. (via designboom)
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Fueled with a sense of rebellion, yards of colorful tulle cascade from windows and down staircases in site-specific installations by Ana María Hernando. The soft, pliable material breaches existing architecture and entwines trees in swaths of mesh, creating works that are both visually striking and subversive.
Evocative of ballgowns and garments that are traditionally worn by women, the tulle explodes into a flood of fabric as a way to break with social constructions surrounding feminity. “As a Latina, I explore how the feminine comes forward in strength and flexibility, in beauty and in (an) unstoppable abundance of generosity,” the Argentinian artist says.
Though she’s worked with a range of materials, Hernando shares that she always incorporates a textile element, which seems “to be an expansive conduit for my work” and references her childhood in Buenos Aires, where she observed the women in her family sewing, crocheting, and embroidering together every day. She explains:
The things they made from fabric and thread were expressions of their spirit. All the beauty—the hours of work, the washing and ironing—was made invisible once the table was laid and stained with food. I explore the unacknowledged feminine force of work as a prayer that I have known my whole life.
Hernando mainly works from Boulder, although she’s spent much of the year so far in a forest in Tennessee’s South Cumberland Plateau. She’s represented by Robischon Gallery, Shark’s Ink, and Moving Art. If you’re in Colorado, view the artist’s multidisciplinary projects in the coming months as part of Present Box at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and in a September solo show at Denver Botanic Gardens. In 2022, you can find her at the Sun Valley Museum of Art and Denver’s Robischon Gallery. Until then, explore an archive of her tufted, textile-based projects on her site and Instagram. (via Cross Connect Magazine)
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