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Article

Frazer Ward

(Hannibal)

(b New York, Jan 24, 1940).

American poet, performance, video, and installation artist, and urban designer. Acconci worked for an MFA degree at the University of Iowa from 1962 to 1964. He initially devoted himself to poetry and writing that emphasized the physicality of the page and then began to produce visual work in real space in 1969. He worked as a performance artist from 1969 until 1974. His performance work addressed the social construction of subjectivity. A central work, Seedbed (1972; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), saw Acconci masturbate for six hours a day, hidden under a sloping gallery floor, involving visitors in the public expression of private fantasy. Between 1974 and 1979 he made a series of installations often using video and especially sound, mainly in gallery spaces, examining relations between subjectivity and public space. For Where We Are Now (Who Are We Anyway) (1976; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), a long table in the gallery and recorded voices suggested a realm of public or communal debate, but the table extended out of the window over the street like a diving board, countering idealism with the realities of city life. In the 1980s Acconci made sculptures and installations, many viewer-activated, invoking basic architectural units and domestic space. ...

Article

Christiane Paul

(b Buffalo, NY, May 25, 1978).

American computer artist, performance artist, video artist, installation artist, composer, sculptor, and printmaker. He graduated in 2000 from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he originally studied classical guitar but later switched to the technology of music. At Oberlin he also met Paul B. Davis with whom he formed the Beige Programming Ensemble in 2000, and released a record of 8-bit music entitled The 8-Bit Construction Set. In 2010 he co-founded, with Howie Chen and Alan Licht, the band Title TK.

Arcangel’s body of work has consistently addressed a series of themes, such as the manner in which we express ourselves through technological tools and platforms (from Photoshop to YouTube) in funny, original, creative, and awkward ways. His projects often explore our fascination with technology by playfully undermining our expectations of it and limiting viewers’ control. Another theme that frequently surfaces is the speed of technological obsolescence and the absurdity of a given technology’s lifecycle, which often moves from the cutting-edge of design to an insult of good taste (see Siegel, pp. 81–2). Arcangel connects these themes to the history of art, drawing parallels between pop-cultural vernacular and approaches in the fine art world and combining high tech and do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches. Among his best-known works are his hacks and modifications of Nintendo game cartridges and obsolete computer systems from the 1970s and 1980s (...

Article

Frazer Ward

(b San Francisco, CA, 1967).

American sculptor, installation artist, filmmaker, and video artist. Barney emerged in the early 1990s to considerable fanfare, based on the reputation of works made while still an undergraduate at Yale University (he graduated with a BA in 1989), and early exhibitions in New York galleries. Exhibitions such as Field Dressing (1989; New Haven, CT, Yale, U., Payne Whitney Athletic Complex), and early works in the series Drawing Restraint (begun in 1987), established characteristics of Barney’s work: striking imagery drawn from an idiosyncratic range of sources (sport-oriented in the earliest works), sculptural objects in signature materials (e.g. petroleum jelly, ‘self-lubricating plastic’), and athletic performances by the artist, in the service of arcane personal mythology (see fig.). These characteristics are most fully expressed in the Cremaster cycle of five films (1994–2003, released out of order, beginning with Cremaster 4 (1992)). Elaborate and expensive productions featuring lush imagery, drawing on both marginal and mainstream histories (performance art and Hollywood cinema), Celtic and Masonic lore, popular cultural references (Harry Houdini, Gary Gilmore), and anatomical metaphors (the Cremaster is the muscle by which the testicles are raised and lowered), the ...

Article

Susan Best

(b Sydney, Aug 8, 1919; d Sydney, April 19, 2005).

Australian sculptor, video, installation artist, and sound artist. Brassil received her initial art training at Sydney Teachers College, East Sydney Technical College, and Newcastle Technical College (1937–9). She taught art for 20 years at Campbelltown High School before commencing her exhibiting career in the early 1970s.

Brassil’s first recorded work is Trilogy: Twentieth Century Perception (1969–74; Sydney, U. W. Sydney). Trilogy is composed of three components: Sound Beyond Hearing (900×900×150 mm), Light Beyond Seeing (900×600×150 mm) and Memory Beyond Recall (1050×1050×150 mm). Unlike Brassil’s later works, these three components can be wall mounted. They are beautiful, highly finished, shallow black boxes, and two out of the three are electronic. Memory Beyond Recall has glowing lights veiled behind layers of paper that appear and then dim down and disappear. Light Beyond Seeing has a central lit portion that uses mirrors to suggest an infinitely deep space. The main themes of Brassil’s career—perception, sound, memory, and the transcendental realm—are all signalled in this early work....

Article

Naomi Beckwith

(b Fulton, MO, Feb 4, 1959).

American sculptor and multimedia artist working in fibre, installation, video, and performance. The youngest of seven sons born into a central Missouri family, Cave demonstrated an early acumen with hand-made objects and throughout his career has created works out of texturally rich materials imbued with cultural meaning. Cave received his BFA (1982) from the Kansas City Art Institute, developing an interest in textiles and, after some graduate-level work at North Texas State University, received his MFA (1989) from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, renowned for their textile, fibre art, and design programmes. While working toward his art degrees, Cave simultaneously studied with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, a company known for introducing African American folk traditions into the modern dance vocabulary. Cave moved to Chicago where he became chair of the Department of Fashion Design at the School of the Art Institute in 1980.

Working across the disciplines of sculpture, textile, dance, and cultural performance, Cave’s oeuvre is based on the human figure; he has produced wearable art as sculptures, arrangements of human and animal figurines as installations, and performance works. Cave’s signature works, the multi-sensory ‘...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Washington, AR, July 10, 1940).

Native American Cherokee sculptor, performance artist, and video artist. In 1968 he moved to Geneva, where he attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1972. After his return to the USA he lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and played an active part in the American Indian Movement; he also served from 1975 to 1979 as the executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council in New York. He left both organizations in 1980. Durham’s sculptures and installations can be seen against a background of activism, in which he records the plight of Native Americans in the face of Western colonial culture. His sculptures, bricolages of found objects, often take the form of vivid anthropomorphic constructions, appearing as ironic fetishes in an ethnographic display. Durham often includes words that provide witty if inconclusive suggestions of the type of protest that he is staging, as in the wall-mounted work ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(Karima)

(b London, July 3, 1963).

English sculptor, painter, draughtsman, video artist and installation artist. She studied at Maidstone College of Art (1983–6), and at the Royal College of Art in London (1987–9). In January 1993 she embarked on a six-month collaborative project with the artist Sarah Lucas, The Shop, in the Bethnal Green district of London, selling art objects in the style of bric-a-brac. Her first solo exhibition, My Major Retrospective, (London, White Cube Gal., 1993), provided the public platform for her subsequent success. Emin’s aptitude for self-promotion was demonstrated by the opening, in 1995, of the Tracey Emin Museum in South London, which she ran as a showcase for her work until 1998. She was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1999.

Emin achieved notoriety both in the art world and in the popular press as the enfant terrible of British art, a result not only of her outlandish behaviour but also of her starkly confessional work, based on an unorthodox upbringing and turbulent private life. In ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

Swiss sculptors, photographers, video artists and installation artists. Peter Fischli (b Zurich, 8 June 1952) studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Urbino (1975–6) and the Accademia di Belle Arti, Bologna (1976–7). David Weiss (b Zurich, 21 June 1946) studied at the Kunstgewerbeschule, Zurich (1963–4), and the Kunstgewerbeschule, Basel (1964–5). Their first collaborative venture was a series of ten colour photographs, Wurstserie (‘sausage series’, 1979; Minneapolis, MN, Walker A. Cent.), depicting small scenes constructed with various types of meat and sausage and everyday objects, with titles such as At the North Pole and The Caveman. Such playful use of common objects became central to their work, an aspect of their disdain for what they term ‘Bedeutungskitsch’ (the kitsch of heavy meaning and overwrought rhetoric). Der Lauf der Dinge (‘The Flow of Things’, 16mm colour film transferred to laser disc, 30 mins, ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Geneva, June 24, 1961).

Swiss sculptor, video artist and installation artist. From the early 1990s the luxury shopping bag formed one of the central motifs of her work. Her choice of such a fetishistic object was prompted by the wider debates of fashion, luxury consumption and gender representation raised by her work. Many of her installations involved the presentation of unaltered found (or, more accurately, ‘bought’) objects within a gallery context, a strategy traceable to the ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp. The dialogues set up refer not only to the world of fashion, but also to the masculine aesthetic of certain ‘modern masters’; Fleury’s strategy involved recasting this aesthetic in the superficial yet seductive materials of contemporary fashion. Composition in the Square with Red Corner (Painting No. 3) (acrylic, synthetic fur, wood, 1×1 m, 1992; courtesy Geneva, Gal. A. & Pub.), is an ambivalent homage to Piet Mondrian, revisiting his painterly format but substituting the primary-coloured sections with synthetic fur. The use of artificial fur to cover surfaces within her multi-media installations throughout the 1990s formed part of an exploration of gender ambivalence, suggesting an increasing intermingling of male and female identities. The confusion of traditional aesthetic categories of ‘hard’ masculine and ‘soft’ feminine can be seen in her evolving work ...

Article

Elaine O’Brien

(b Bad Oldesloe, Nov 27, 1948).

German sculptor, photographer, film maker, video artist and collagist. Genzken attended the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg between 1969 and 1971, the Universität der Künste in Berlin from 1971 to 1973, the Universität zu Köln between 1973 and 1975, and from 1973 to 1977 she studied at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf as a student of Gerhard Richter, to whom she was married from 1982 to 1995. Genzken was part of the post-war generation of West German artists, including Blinky Palermo and Sigmar Polke, who identified with American internationalism.

A trip to New York in 1977 marked the beginning of a long fascination with the city and Genzken’s signature architectonic oeuvre. Noted for its exceptional range of materials, methods and formal vocabulary, the coherence of Genzken’s production—both in individual artworks and the sequence of series—is largely found in the sustained dialogical tension that links the Minimalist rationalism of New York skyscrapers with the anti-rationalist carnival of real life as lived in the cosmopolitan city. Her first series of sculptures (...