Sights and sounds, the changing illusion of the world in which
we live, and the world that lives
only in the mind, are the basic materials of film creation.
The full flow of color, sound, synthesized form, plastic form, light and
picture poetry have in no way begun to be explored in man’s
range of experience.

–Stan VanDerBeek, “Re:Vision,” The American Scholar 35, no. 22 (1966): 340.

 

DOCUMENT is pleased to present Poemfield, Stan VanDerBeek’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition will present a 16mm film installation of Poemfield no. 7 (1967-68), a digital projection of the film Symmetricks (1972), and a selection of works on paper (1973-83).

VanDerBeek’s Poemfields, the artist’s most well-known series of computer-generated films, are complex, multilayered moving tapestries of abstracted images, colors, visuals, texts, and sounds. Fascinated with the computer’s ability to generate text on a screen, VanDerBeek established an “image-based poetry language.” For this series, he collaborated with computer scientist Ken Knowlton at AT&T Bell Labs beginning in 1964. Using an IBM 7094 computer and BEFLIX (short for “Bell Labs Flicks”), a computer graphic programming language that Knowlton conceived in 1963, VanDerBeek and Knowlton created eight Poemfields films between 1966-71. Each film combines the artist’s own poetry with a range of digital illustrations. Since studying under poet M.C. Richards and composer John Cage at Black Mountain College, VanDerBeek incorporated collage-like practices of chance and simultaneity, experimenting with representations of text and poetry in cinematic time.

The poetry of Poemfield no. 7 presents a thought-provoking message, one that maintains its political relevance in 2018. VanDerBeek’s poem ends: THERE IS NO WAY TO PEACE; PEACE IS THE WAY; NO MORE WAR. Movements 1 and 4 of John Cage’s composition Amores comprise the soundtrack; this same composition premiered at the historic performance of Cage’s work at the Museum of Modern Art in 1943. The synthesis of text, pattern, and sound in Poemfield no. 7 conveys a bizarre sense of foreboding, a quirky yet urgent uneasiness. Some words appear and then dissolve on the screen so quickly that one must focus intently to capture the phrase in its entirety; VanDerBeek anticipated the blink-and-you-miss-it effects of newsfeed overload and image overstimulation.

Symmetricks invites a slightly more meditative viewing. While artist-in-residence at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, VanDerBeek experimented with computer-animated drawing to explore the visual effects of rapidly tracked drawn line, symmetrical patterns, and flickering images. White forms pulse, shrink, expand, and mirror each other against the black screen, and the contrast subtly suggests colors as Symmetricks progresses. One reflects on their own interpretation of the cinematic Rorschach test upon the film’s completion.

VanDerBeek was a pioneer in the growing fields of “movie art” and “Expanded Cinema” during the 1960s and 70s. His multimedia practices forecasted many facets of later iterations of contemporary art–network aesthetics, Internet art, graphical user interfaces, and appropriations of desktop computing. Rather than employing a camera to traditionally capture images, VanDerBeek made use of the computer as an abstract notation system for making movies. He wrote pictures and visually manipulated language. VanDerBeek challenged the formal paradigms of film and moving images, adopting a collaborative, pluralistic, and multisensory approach to filmmaking that resonates with today’s prevalence of multimedia art and the feedback loop of everyday digital life.

Stan VanDerBeek (b. New York, 1927-1984) studied visual art at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York and then at Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina, receiving honorary doctorates from both schools in 1957 and 1972, respectively. He began his artistic career as a painter but soon moved on to create animated collage films made of altered paintings and newspaper and magazine clippings. VanDerBeek’s research into developing visual languages as ways of communication led him to seek out expertise from individuals pioneering in the fields of film technology, digital media, and computers. He worked with Ken Knowlton at AT&T’s Bell Labs and served as an artist-in-residence, collaborator, and instructor at a number of organizations and research universities during his artistic career. He was a professor of art and film at University of Maryland, Baltimore County from 1975 until his death in 1984.

Among VanDerBeek’s numerous awards are grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts; and an American Film Institute Independent Filmmaker Award. VanDerBeek’s work has been featured in countless international exhibitions over the past six decades, beginning with the pioneering exhibitions Cybernetic Serendipity, Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), London, and Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C. (1968-69); The Projected Image, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1968); and Software, The Jewish Museum, New York (1970). Recent exhibitions include Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, The Museum of Modern Art, NY (2017); Merce Cunningham: Common Time, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (2017); Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950-1980, The Met Breuer, New York, NY (2017); Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905-2016, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2016); Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 1933-1957, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2015); Stan VanDerBeek: Poemfield, Andrea Rosen Gallery 2, New York (2015); Cosa Mentale: Art et Télépathie au XX Siécle, Centre Pompidou-Metz, Lorraine, France (2015); Venice Biennale (2013); and Stan VanDerBeek: The Culture Intercom, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2012). VanDerBeek’s films have been presented in numerous moving image screening programs, including Cine Dreams: Future Cinema of the Mind, 1972, Planetario Galileo Galilei, Buenos Aires (part of Art Basel Cities Week, 2018); Experimental Animation, Anthology Film Archives, New York (2015); Stan VanDerBeek: Newsreel of Dreams, Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA, Los Angeles (2015); Movie-Drome, New Forms Festival, Vancouver (2014); Stan VanDerBeek: Expanded Cinema, Skissernas Museum, Lund, Sweden (2014); and Expanded Cinema: Activating the Space of Reception, Tate Modern, London (2009). Upcoming exhibitions include Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2018).

VanDerBeek’s work is represented in public collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Art Institute of Chicago; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the National Library of Australia Film Collection, Canberra; Pennsylvania State University, State College; and the Arts Council of Great Britain, London.

Elizabeth Atterbury

Elizabeth Atterbury (born 1982, West Palm Beach, FL) lives and works in Portland, Maine. Recent solo and group shows include Kate Werble Gallery, New York; The Portland Museum of Art, Portland; Mrs., Queens; The Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville; kijidome, Boston; Document, Chicago; Western Exhibitions, Chicago; The Luminary, St Louis; Et al. Etc., San Francisco; Pulaski Park Field House, Chicago; Able Baker Contemporary, Portland; Ida Schmid, Brooklyn; TSA, Brooklyn; Bodega, Philadelphia/New York; KANSAS, New York; and The ICA at Maine College of Art, Portland, among others. In the Middle, An Oasis, a monograph of her work, was published by Bodega Press in 2013. She received her BA from Hampshire College and her MFA from MassArt.

Atterbury’s studio practice is fluid, fluctuating between picture making and object making. Fascinated with the autonomy of the artifact – objects disassociated from their original function and context – Atterbury’s practice considers the distinction or lack thereof between artifact, prop, model and sculpture.  Drawn to materials such as paper and sand, Atterbury constructs ephemeral tableaux specifically for the purpose of transfiguring and recording them. Both her photographs and sculpture build upon a continued interest in display and its visual structures, along with a more recent interest in language, ritual, and abstraction.

Elizabeth Atterbury, 26 Waves, 2018, Mortar, plywood and glue, 22 3/4 x 19 x 1 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Alone at night, 2018, Mortar, plywood and glue, 23 x 19 x 1 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Still life with bowl and mirror, 2018, Mortar, plywood and glue, 23 x 19 x 1 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Anonymous Old Poem, 2018, Mortar, plywood and glue, 23 x 19 x 1 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Another Poem, 2018, Mortar, plywood and glue, 23 x 19 x 1 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Calligraphy Frame, 2018, Maple, acrylic paint, glue, 60 x 40 x 1 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, The Well, Again (Pool), 2017, Beach sand, glue, MDF, 10 1/2 x 8 x 6 1/4 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, The Well, The Wall, 2016, Silver gelatin print, 20 x 24 in, Edition of 3

Elizabeth Atterbury, Beach Woks (Marks of a Tool II), 2016, Silver gelatin print, 20 x 24 in, Edition of 3

Elizabeth Atterbury, Still Life with Popcorn and Pits, 2016, Silver gelatin print, 11 x 14 in, Edition of 3

Elizabeth Atterbury, Logogram III, 2016, Silver gelatin print, 20 x 24 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Logogram II, 2016, Silver gelatin print, 20 x 24 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Logogram I, 2016, Silver gelatin print, 20 x 24 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Sunny Side, FL (Tomb), 2016, Enamel paint, steel, 12 x 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Sunny Side, FL (The Cut), 2016, Enamel paint, steel, 13 1/2 x 28 1/2 x 1 1/4 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Sunny Side, FL (Sunset Hedge), 2016, Enamel paint, steel, 1 1/2 x 16 x 2 1/2 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Sunny Side, FL (Small House), 2016, Enamel paint, steel, 1 x 16 3/4 x 14 1/2 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Sunny Side, FL (Bull Shark), 2016, Enamel paint, steel, 2 1/2 x 18 x 1 1/2 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Sunny Side, FL (Paper Cut / Hedge), 2016, Enamel paint, steel, 10 x 9 x 1 3/4 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Sunny Side, FL (Noguchi's Intetra, Mist Fountain), 2016, Enamel paint, steel, 11 x 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Sunny Side, FL (Lawn), 2016, Enamel paint, steel 9 x 9 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Sunny Side, FL (Big House), 2016, Enamel paint, steel, 16 x 18 x 6 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Sunny Side, FL (Palms), 2015, Enamel paint, steel, 17 1/2 x 11 x 16 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Relief (China White), 2015, Plywood and paint, 33 x 48 x 1 3/4 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Moonlight on the river, 2014, Chromogenic print, 14 x 11 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Slow Song, 2014, Chromogenic print, 14 x 11 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Marks of a tool, 2014, Silver gelatin print, 11 x 14 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Rake, 2014, Silver gelatin print, 24 x 20 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Ghost Tracks, 2014, Silver gelatin print, 24 x 20 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Black Beach, 2014, Silver gelatin print, 13 1/2 x 11 1/2 in, Edition of 3

Elizabeth Atterbury, Bones, 2014, Silver gelatin print, 11 x 14 in, Edition of 3

Elizabeth Atterburym Glyphs II, 2014, Silver gelatin print, 11 x 14 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Glyphs, 2014, Silver gelatin print, 11 x 14 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Site, 2014, Silver gelatin print, 11 x 14 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Sculpture Park, 2014, Silver gelatin print, 11 x 14 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Bricks, 2013 Chromogenic print, 13 1/2 x 11 1/2 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Harry, Henri, Sal, 2013, Chromogenic print, 14 x 11 in

Elizabeth Atterbury, Blue Runner Night, 2014, Chromogenic print, 13 1/2 x 11 1/2 in, Editon of 3

 

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Paul Mpagi Sepuya Mines the Queer
History of the Portrait Studio

What are the conditions for making portrait photography? These days, if you’ve got a phone and a face, you’re all set. Historically, though, taking a portrait meant having a studio. For much of the nineteenth century, the length of a camera’s exposure required sitters to hold their poses for as long as a minute; if they moved, they’d be rendered as a blur. The earliest known portrait (also the first selfie and the first scene staged for the camera) was made in 1840, by Hippolyte Bayard, a Parisian pioneer of the medium, whose rival was Louis Daguerre. Bayard posed as a corpse, in part because the process that he had invented entailed keeping still for twelve minutes. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, he spent the rest of his life shooting buildings.) Daguerreotypes, on the other hand, became wildly popular, and studios proliferated all over the world, from France to Liberia, where Augustus Washington, who was born a free man in New Jersey to a formerly enslaved man and an Asian woman, opened one, in 1853. By the mid-twentieth century, a portrait could be shot in a flash anywhere, but the private realm of the studio retained its allure.

“Model Study (0X5A3973),” 2018.

 

“Darkcloth (_2000142),” 2016.

The historical intimacies of the portrait studio and the agency of a black man behind the camera are among the subjects of the impressive pictures in Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s new show, “The Conditions,” at Team Gallery, through April 13th. The series continues an exploration that the thirty-six-year-old photographer, who is based in L.A., began as an undergrad at N.Y.U., from which he graduated in 2004. His subjects are typically lovely queer men—himself included—who pose alone or together, naked or clothed, in puzzle-like compositions, accompanied by such photo-studio staples as clamps, tripods, and lenses. Black and brown velvet backdrops are draped behind bodies, their lush expanses playing off—and standing in for—dark skin, although the bodies that Sepuya eyes are neither exclusively black nor always male. Mirrors and sliced segments of printed photos are incorporated into the pictures, heightening their visual complexity. Sometimes portions of the figures are cropped out of the frame, leaving hands and arms center stage, unencumbered by bodies. The results can appear so kaleidoscopic that it’s hard to believe that they’re not collages.

All of this fragmentation serves a conceptual purpose and also a compositional one, underscoring the marginalized position that L.G.B.T.Q. figures have occupied for most of art history. Sepuya’s frankly queer eye also unlocks a hidden history of the studio as a safe space for free expression. The social stigma of gay desire in the age before Stonewall may be unimaginable now, but, not so long ago, pictures like “Drop Scene (0X5A8165)”—in which the artist steadies his camera against another man’s naked haunch—were distributed surreptitiously. The modernist fashion photographer George Platt Lynes believed that his most important contribution to art was his male nudes, but they were also a secret that he kept until his death, in 1955. In an interview last year, Sepuya spoke of his interest in “queer modernism” like Lynes’s and said that he hoped that his own work would lead viewers “to think about the structures of photography, portraiture, and of queer sociality in new ways.”

“A Portrait (0X5A6109),” 2017.

 

“A Portrait (0X5A2258),” 2017.

 

What is perhaps the most tender portrait in “The Conditions” is one of the simplest. A beautiful young man is seated, with a dancer’s grace, in front of a black backdrop, in a white shirt and a black skirt, unless it is simply the backdrop behind him wound chicly around his waist. The fabrics merge too seamlessly to discern. The figure, who has pale skin and a curly mop of black hair, coupled with holes in his socks, suggests an urchin straight out of Caravaggio. Like all of Sepuya’s increasingly sophisticated work, the reference unites ideas of identity and mechanics. The Italian painter was not only a master of the homoerotic but an artist whose studio tools likely included a mirror, a lens, and dark fabric—the conditions of a camera obscura.

“Studio (_1000021),” 2018.

 

“A Portrait (0X5A8325),” 2018.

 
Andrea K. Scott is the art editor of Goings On About Town and has profiled the artists Cory Arcangel and Sarah Sze for the magazine.

 


Paul Mpagi Sepuya’s “Darkroom Mirror” (2017) in his show “The Conditions” at Team Gallery.

New York Art Galleries: What to See Right Now

March 28the, 2019| by Martha Schwendener

Paul Mpagi Sepuya

Through April 13. Team Gallery, 83 Grand Street, Manhattan; 212-279-9219, teamgal.com

Paul Mpagi Sepuya is experiencing a flush of success right now, and his new show — “The Conditions,” at Team Gallery — demonstrates that it is well deserved. His work appears on the cover of Artforum’s March issue and will be included in the 2019 Whitney Biennial . Mr. Sepuya is not an overnight sensation, however; over a decade of working, exhibiting and returning to art school to study with the great photographer Catherine Opie at the University of California, Los Angeles helped him to arrive at a distinctive and timely amalgam of portraiture and conceptual photography.

Mr. Sepuya’s photographs are like visual puzzles. He appears in many of them, but in fragmented form and usually with a camera in hand. Some of the works show multiple hands holding cameras, suggesting that authorship is always some sort of collaboration. Pushing that out further, you, the viewer are reflected against the dark backdrops in the picture and if you photograph Mr. Sepuya’s works (as I of course did), your hand and camera end up nestled surprisingly amid the gesturing fingers of him and his subjects.

“The Conditions” could refer to lighting, studio setups, or social conditions. Mr. Sepuya’s photographs have often been categorized as “queer” (that is, within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender cosmos), but they feel more universal to me: Multifarious shades of melanin are represented, and he has included images of women in this show. And while the history of representing bodies in photography — particularly nude ones — is fraught, Mr. Sepuya charges intrepidly into the mire, offering what feel like new, smart conclusions on how to represent power or vulnerability, as well as the unwavering desire to look at such images. MARTHA SCHWENDENER

Full coverage here: Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Press for The Conditions at Team Gallery (March 7-April 13, 2019)

Owner
Aron Gent
aron@documentspace.com
Director
Sibylle Friche
sibylle@documentspace.com
Gallery and Print Studio Assistant
Renata Cruz Lara Guerra
info@documentspace.com

Gallery hours:
Tuesday-Saturday: 11am-6pm

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DOCUMENT is a commercial gallery located in Chicago that specializes in contemporary photography, film and media based art. The gallery has organized more than 40 solo exhibitions since its opening in 2011 and actively promotes the work of emerging national and international artists. Operating conjointly as a professional printmaking studio, DOCUMENT facilitates the production of works by artists from Chicago and the US. At this time we do not accept unsolicited submissions.