Ariadne. Los lazos rotos.

What drew my attention to a character like Ariadne is the fact that she has such a passive role in the ending of her story, even though she seems to be a defiant and smart woman at the start.

If you are not familiar or don’t remember her myth you are about too.  Ariadne was the princess and the keeper of the labyrinth of Crete, the one that held captive the chimeric figure of the Minotaur, a beast with the body of a human and the head of a bull. Ariadne helps Theseus to kill the Minotaur and to find his way safely out of the labyrinth, by giving him a sword and a ball of thread, all in the promise of wedding her.

For Ariadne, Theseus was love at first sight.  A love so strong, that she defied her father, the king, for it. Women where suppose to do things like that at that time. The story tells that they eloped, but then Theseus leaves her on the island of Naxos while she sleeps.

Much has been said about what happened next and in general it doesn’t end well for Ariadne. For Theseus, well he’s a hero, who remembers how he treats women. If Ariadne had been a man she would have been a hero too. Theseus would owe his life to her and probably an eternal friendship would have been forged. But Ariadne didn’t have that luxury, the luxury of being regarded as a person or as an equal.

I wanted to hear her voice and give her the opportunity to tell her own story, to express the mixed feelings that being betrayed by the one you love makes humans feel: despair, sadness, anger; so then after she could give space to relief and to her new life. Because a man that betrays a wo-man couldn’t deserve her. A man like that is no hero.

Ariadne is described as utterly pure, but I want to understand her complexity and the complexity of human relationships as well. That is the story behind ‘Ariadne. Los lazos rotos (the broken ties)’. Ariadne and her thread will grace eternally our skies.

MORE IMAGES

Dancer: Roxanne Duchesne-Roy

 

Should Art be difficult?

by Christelle Proulx

Last 9th of December, in the British journal The Guardian, an article presented a declaration by artist Anselm Kiefer proclaiming: ‘Art is difficult, it’s not entertainment.’[1] This statement is striking and it begs us to reflect on art and its reception, more so in the case of contemporary art that has the reputation of being inaccessible to the general public.

Anselm Kiefer is without doubt a great artist. I could even say that he is one of the artists that inspired me to pursue a graduate degree in Art History after his solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Montreal. In 2006, “Heaven and Earth” was an exhibition very rich in interpretations. I even remember having found the explanations on the guide a little bit farfetched.  The fact that one of his pieces belongs to the Musée du Louvre collection is certainly one of the main marks of legitimation of his work in the world of art. It is likely that this is also a factor in why his categorical affirmation is tricky, since it comes from such an influential artist.

I had the impression of having stumbled into the old elitist beliefs of American art critic Clement Greenberg written in his classic essay “Avant-Garde and Kitsch”,[2] where he positions entertainment on the same side as Kitsch, poverty and lack of education; in opposition to real art, the art of the Avant-Garde, difficult and made for rich educated people.[3]

Art cannot place itself in opposition to entertainment.  There’s an overlap between the two, and to attempt to trace which part belongs to which is often very difficult. I really don’t believe in that kind of firm oppositions; I prefer to see art as a concept in the form of “constellations”, with contradictions that coexist and overlap, that complement and defy each other. Yet, if art must be “difficult” it is probably with the purpose of making it really effective on its contribution to new ideas about itself and about life. Though if it is only a few people that have access to those ideas because the artworks are too hermetic, it exists only as intellectual amusement that demands time, but has no more impact on life because it doesn’t reach the public.

The works of art should help the public to understand what it intends to communicate to them.  Without making it easy, it must give clues of the thoughts it proposes. It also makes sense to me that art has to be “difficult” because its importance dwells in its capacity of making us reflect. Art must ask the viewer to be active in his interpretation rather than passive.

Artistic value is not intrinsic to the work, it is produced trough a complex system that comprises people that have visions and values that are very different: historians, critics, artists, museums, art collectors, art enthusiasts, etc. There is not one Art, but rather there are the arts.  I firmly believe that art should contain a part of complexity, although it could be less without loosing its status; without becoming “anti-art” as Kiefer argues. The easy formulas that are visually captivating without opening the door to much more; may this be gratuitous provocation or empty esthetics, are nevertheless part of art. Art, no offense to the purists, is not and cannot be “pure.”

If art was easy, reflection about it would not have any reason to be. So yes, in that sense it should require a certain effort. Is it the work itself that should be difficult? I don’t think so. Should artistic practice? Maybe yes. I think it entails thorough research work. Art interpretation in general and of the works of art specifically? Seems this is rather it. It should demand an effort from the public to reflect on the meaning of the work.

If art, any art, is to hermetic that it takes years of reflection to derive some meaning, there would be only a bunch of art historians for which art would be meaningful. This is rather limited as an option. Art, in my view, should be multilayered. The artistic value seems to lie in the variety and depth of possible interpretations, which is called polysemy. Art that is accessible, and art that is hermetic have their place, but I’m all for the most accessibility possible, without falling into simplicity devoid from all critical sense. To make accessible the critical side of art seems a worthy goal.

 


[1] Written by Alex Needham and accessible through this link : http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/dec/08/anselm-kiefer-art-white-cube

[2] Published in 1939 in the Partisan Review.

[3] A bit like Kiefer states in the article, Greenberg opposed “real” art to commodity. If it is true that the market can pervert the conception of art, just as when Kiefer argues that « buying art is not understanding art ». This issue demands more reflection than I cannot address here now, but it is important to keep this in mind.

Ophelia, my love

I remember well when my fascination for the Pre-Raphaelite painting began. In 1997 I visited my brother in Mexico City, in his room he had a reproduction of Hylas and the Nymphs by painter J.W. Waterhouse. From that moment the art of this period has been a constant reference in my work, in the construction of the characters and even in the way I design the make-up.

The character of Ophelia is recurrent and essential in the narrative of Victorian painting that usually drew from English literature, the Arthurian mythology and the Greek mythology as well. Ophelia is originally a character from William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Perhaps the most known representation of her is the one by J. E. Millais, depicting her already dead in a river with her hands in the air.

Ophelia, as many of a big array of female in the context of History and Literature she is condemned to be a victim of her own fragility, her beauty and her innocence. As it is well known, Ophelia commits suicide drowning, after loosing her mind after learning that her lover Hamlet murdered her father, and that as a part of his plot is faking madness and rejecting her.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Victorian art is that it concentrated the negative paradigms that limit the construction of new female identities; even in contemporary society to some extent. In the case of Ophelia, imagined in the cusp of her adolescence represents the transition between a virgin girl and a crazed woman. A transition that in the Victorian Era seemed natural, when women where corrupted by the awakening of sexual desire.

For Victorian Society, metaphorically speaking, death was a fair punishment for this kind of perversion, and it could also be a fair sacrifice to prevent the loss of innocence and purity. The morals principals of the time supported by science (confirmed by Darwinian theory), considered women to be almost asexual beings, completely disinterested in carnal pleasures. These ideas are directly correlated with the high rates of prostitution in XIX century England and with the creation of Hysteria as diagnose for female sexual frustration (as it was not natural for woman to feel such desires).

The images created by the Victorian artist contain some of the most interesting symbolism of the time. Flowers could represent sexual awakening, red represented passion, danger and death and water was regarded as a transformative and feminine element. The woman depicted in their work seemed free from social repression but it often seemed to appear trough the narrative of the painting.

Ophelia is without doubt one of my favourite characters for its abysmal dichotomy between the beauty of her depictions and the darkness of the moral principles and oppression to women it personified.

Images:

1) Water lily (Ophelia). Model Liliana Alarcon. 2005.

2) If I die, let it be of love. Model I. Franco. 2005

3-4) Ophelia. The paradox oh her own reflection. Model: Merryn Kritzinger. 2010.

For more images click HERE.

 

Annie Leibovitz AT WORK

Annie Leibovitz is without a doubt  an artist that has shaped the way we see the world trough images. Her portfolio is filled with iconic images that are engraved in our minds and in History.

At Work is a book where she tells her story and writes anecdotes about the way that she constructed some of her images, including some of the technical features.

“While it is true that the art of photography relies on knowing how to use the camera to the best of its ability, it’s also true that not knowing what you’re doing is only a temporary and not necessarily crippling condition. You learn as you work and you can certainly ask for advice.” Annie Leibovitz–

Note: This image was made on the eve of Lennon’s death.

http://www.amazon.ca/Annie-Leibovitz-at-Work/dp/0375505105

 

Photographer Guillaume Simoneau exhibits at la Place des Arts

(starting this 29 of March at la Place des Arts, 1600 St-Urbain)

Guillaume seems to control natural light at his will; and in this sense he shed light on the subjects that interest him. Might it be an awkward object or a compelling character we are able to discover its humanity.

One of the things I love about Guillaume’s images is that most of the action seems to happen in the characters heads, we see them thinking and feeling, they seem to be wrapped in their world while they unravel inside.

With a great array of topics is his treatment of social issues and his sensibility that are the most touching and memorable.

This is what Guillaume has to say about his work and this new exhibition:

On his style:

I would describe my styles as Post-documentary with an incline for substance.

On the exhibition:

For the ARTV studio exhibition I’m presenting work taken with a large format camera, half way between my commercial and my personal work.

 On his passion for photography:

Photography arrived to my life trough a life-changing accident while I was in college (CEGEP). I was running late for my class and I collided with a girl that was going the opposite way. She was going out of the dark room with her material and I ended up soaked in developing chemicals. We ended up having a short conversation on photography and my life changed.

What makes me be passionate about photography is its narrative power, linear or not, of a group of images; using photography as a mean of communication, for dialogue and argumentation.

http://www.7578.com/guillaume/

Photographer Jocelyn Michel exhibit at la Place des Arts

(Starting this 29 of March at la Pace des Arts, 1600 St- Urbain)

Jocelyn Michel is a photographer that has a piercing eye; a spear like way of looking that bares the souls of his subjects. When I look at his images all trace of pretentiousness is gone and only the essence of the depicted is left.

Even his elaborate staged images have this sense of finding a deeper truth and with it beauty and simplicity.

All the elements of the image seam to work in perfect harmony, so it is hard to see anything stand out right away. But a closer look will show flawless lighting skills, amazing model direction and an ever curios mind about photography.

 

This is what Jocelyn has to say about his work and this new exhibition:

On his style:

I’ve always loved to create the image with madness, sarcasm, and dark humor along with 3 sticks of dynamite.

 On the exhibition:

I’ll be presenting mises en scènes from my “Admission” project, which was set in motion in 2005 with the generous participation of 50+ Quebec on-screen actors & actresses.

 On his passion for photography:

I love the process of letting my imagination run completely free & uninhibited and then letting the left side of my brain make order of it to create something both as absurd as tangible

http://www.7578.com/jocelyn/

 

Discover the amazing Kevin Beverley, Circus artist.

Kevin Berverley is a circus artist with a dancer’s heart. An up-and-coming performer who’s biggest talent is making you forget about the difficult and precise technique required for his trapeze number with incredible soulful performances.

I would invite you to take a look at his new site including some awesome footage of his performance!

Start watching here.

 

The credits of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I would like to share with you the work of Onur Sentruk, who did the credits for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He has an amazing aesthetic worth while discovering.

Onur Sentruk: “July 2011 Blur studio invited me to design opening titles for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
I started illustrating Tim Miller written, David Fincher approved vignettes. Later on moved to typography, opening logo reveal. Collaborative process took almost three months to complete”

Discover his work here.