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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

Kevin Mulhearn

(b Johannesburg, 1959).

South African sculptor and installation and multimedia artist. Though Alexander trained as a sculptor at the University of the Witwatersrand, earning a Bachelor in Fine Arts in 1982 and a Masters in 1988, she nevertheless pursued a variety of artistic disciplines, regularly employing photomontage and sometimes using video in her practice. While working towards her Masters’ degree, she produced Butcher Boys (1985–6), an iconic work from this contentious era in South African history. The sculptural tableau presents three monstrous, grey nude male figures built from plaster over a gauze core and glazed with oil paint. Seated casually on a bench, their heads strikingly combine human and animal forms, with twisting horns and sealed-up mouths. While Butcher Boys, like many of the artist’s works, responded to its socio-historical context, Alexander typically has not produced explicitly political work or supplied interpretive statements, preferring pieces to remain open-ended in their meanings....

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

Mary M. Tinti

(b Houston, TX, 1951).

American sculptor, installation and conceptual artist. His multimedia works investigate the pathology of contemporary culture. Mel Chin was born and raised in Houston, Texas to parents of Chinese birth and received his BA in 1975 from the Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee. The works in Chin’s oeuvre are diverse in both medium and subject, but a consistent undercurrent of social, political, and environmental responsibility runs throughout. Whether a sculpture, film, video game, installation, public project or earthwork, Chin’s artworks consistently targeted a broad spectrum of pressing cultural and ecological interests and spread their message in subtle, if not viral ways.

In the 1980s, Chin produced a number of sculptures that set the stage for his ever-evocative artistic journey. The Extraction of Plenty from What Remains: 1823 (1988–9) is a frequently referenced piece from this period. It is a symbolic encapsulation of the effects of the Monroe Doctrine, referencing the complicated dealings between the US (represented by truncated replicas of White House columns) and Central America (represented by a cornucopia of mahogany branches, woven banana-tree fiber, and a surface layer of hardened blood, mud, and coffee grinds). From the 1990s, however, Chin moved away from strictly gallery-based installations and began creating works that directly engaged contemporary culture in a variety of physical and theoretical landscapes....

Article

Fiona Bradley

(b Wakefield, Oct 21, 1968).

British visual artist and musician. He was brought up in Glasgow from the age of three, and studied in London at the Slade School of Fine Art, graduating in 1990.

Creed’s work plays on definitions of art and captures the public imagination while also attracting critical acclaim for its thoughtful, accessible approach. His art puts ideas out into the world in a variety of materials; he uses simple things such as planks of wood, stacks of chairs, and pieces of crumpled paper; some professional materials such as acrylic paint and neon; and some more unusual live components such as runners, ballet dancers, musicians, and dogs. He has made sculptures, installations, paintings, drawings, videos, songs, events, live performances, and one ballet.

Creed’s works are numbered sequentially (although some numbers are not used), and often have subtitles in the form of descriptive instructions. He first became known for sculptural gestures whose slightness and humorous inadequacy called into question the nature of sculpture: for example, ...

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 (...

Article

Andrew Cross

(b Newcastle Upon Tyne, June 20, 1964).

English sculptor, video artist, film maker and installation artist. She began making and exhibiting film and video works soon after graduating in sculpture from Falmouth School of Art in 1987. She moved to London and had made a number of video works by the time she had completed an MFA at Goldsmiths’ College in 1994. Setting the tone for future work, these videos mostly document her own and other people’s actions. In Climbing around my Room (1993), lasting seven minutes and thirty seconds, a woman wearing a red taffeta dress is seen circumnavigating a room without ever touching the floor. Much in Gunning’s videos references early works by video artists such as Bruce Nauman, but her focus on formal actions is overlaid by the complexities of metaphor and humour in situations that determine their own language and structure. For another video seven and a half minutes in length, ...

Article

Mary Chou

(b Bethlehem, 1970).

Palestinian conceptual artist. Jacir’s works use a variety of media including film, photography, installation, performance, video, sound, sculpture and painting. Jacir was raised in Saudi Arabia and attended high school in Rome, Italy. She received her BA from the University of Dallas, Irving, TX in 1992, her MFA from the Memphis College of Art, Memphis, TN in 1994, and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program from 1998 to 1999. She became a professor at the International Academy of Art, Palestine in Ramallah in 2007. Jacir’s conceptual works explore the physical and psychological effects of social and political displacement and exile, primarily how they affect the Palestinian community. Her work investigated the impact of Israeli action on the Palestinian people and countered representations of Palestinians in the press as primarily militant. Jacir often collaborated with members of the Palestinian community, both local and international, in the creation of her works....

Article

Margaret Barlow

(b York, PA, Jan 21, 1955).

American sculptor, painter, and multimedia artist. He trained at Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore (BA 1976), and worked as a Wall Street commodities broker before embarking upon his career as an artist. In the 1980s he won international recognition as a radical exponent of Neo-Geo, an American movement concerned with appropriation and parody. Following the example of Pop artists of the 1960s, Koons used his work to reflect the commercial systems of the modern world. He also referred back to the Duchampian tradition, appropriating an art status to selected products (see Appropriation art). His vacuum cleaners encased in Perspex (1980–81; see 1993 exh. cat., pls 5–9) were classified as monuments to sterility. His immaculate replicas of domestic products, advertisements, kitsch toys, and models exercised an enthusiastic endorsement of unlimited consumption, unlike the veiled criticism of some work of the first generation of Pop artists. Koons perceived Western civilization as a driven society, flattered by narcissistic images and with a voracious appetite for glamorous commodities. In his expressions of the ecstatic and the banal he did not hesitate to breach the borderlines of taste; in the body of work titled ...

Article

(b Antwerp, Nov 17, 1945).

Belgian sculptor, video artist and installation artist. She studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture et des Arts Visuels in Brussels (1975–8). Lafontaine first became known for her large, imposing, monochromatic woven-textile sculptures (e.g. Black Monochrome, cotton, 2.0×2.5 m, 1976; Ghent, Mus. Hedendaag. Kst). She was influenced by the work of such artists as Robert Ryman and Brice Marden and their ideas about the material nature of both colour and support. In 1979 she made her first video work, The Pile-driver, for an exhibition at the International Cultural Centre in Antwerp. As with her woven sculptures, the theme of repetition was central to this and subsequent videos. Repetition of the image and the slowing down of the speed of the film disrupted any narrative and also set up a rhythm that underlined its sensuous and material nature. Lafontaine’s decision to work with video installations enabled her to develop an interest in the closely related phenomena of aggression and desire: ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Palmer, MA, 1962).

American painter, sculptor, and video artist. He completed an MFA at the Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT, in 1986. His paintings typically incorporate banal, confessional text and mundane, kitsch imagery, exploring an obsession with the inseparability of art and life. Text first appeared in his second solo exhibition (New York, Postmasters Gal., 1991), for which he hand-wrote short confessional narratives on sheets of yellow paper, shown attached directly to the gallery wall. Surrounding several clay busts on pedestals, wrapped in plastic, these were presented as the creations of a young, unsuccessful sculptor, Chris Hamson, Lander’s disaffected alter-ego. His concern with sincerity and authorship was continued in later paintings, as well as in a hand-written autobiographical book, [sic] (1995), a rambling, badly written account that caricatures his own unrealistic ambitions and talentlessness. Paintings of the mid-1990s, such as Self Something (oil on canvas, 2.74×4.27 m, 1994...

Article

Daniel E. Mader

(b New York, Jan 7, 1953).

American painter, draughtsman, sculptor, video artist, and performance artist. He received his BFA (1975) from the State University College in Buffalo, NY, with a professed ambition to reach the largest possible audience. Living this prophetic statement throughout his more than 30-year career, Longo first achieved fame in the 1980s with a series of large-scale drawings in charcoal and graphite entitled Men in the Cities (New York, Metro Pictures). These images were life-size human figures in isolation or in groups, wherein the power struggles created a menacing atmosphere.

During the late 1980s he was increasingly involved with film, directing Arena Brains (30 minutes, 1988) and later Johnny Mnemonic with Keanu Reeves (98 minutes, 1995). A regular international exhibitor, often using both controversial and intimidating scale, he exhibited a 1993 drawing series Bodyhammers: The Cult of the Gun (New York, Metro Pictures; Salzburg, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac). He exhibited in the Venice Biennale (...

Article

Susan S. Weininger

(b Havana, Nov 18, 1948; d New York, Sept 8, 1985).

American sculptor, performance artist, video artist, and painter of Cuban birth. From the age of 13, when she was sent to the USA from Cuba by her parents, she lived in orphanages and foster homes in Iowa. Her sense of exile and the separation from her family proved strong motivating forces on her later work. After completing an MA in painting at the University of Iowa in 1972, she entered the university’s new Multimedia and Video Art programme, in which she was free to experiment and develop a unique formal language, gaining an MFA in 1977.

In the 1970s Mendieta began to create ‘earth-body sculptures’ outdoors in Iowa, using the primal materials of blood, earth, fire, and water, having first executed performances that she documented in photographs or black-and-white films. In the Silueta series she traced or sculpted the image of her body on the ground, using ignited gunpowder, leaves, grass, mud, stones, other natural elements, or cloth; ...