Current Issue

Issue Eleven Cover Joyce Treasure.png
Contents
 
Introduction

‘Redux’ is a word now probably most familiar from its use in film titles to indicate a remake, a trend that began with Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now Redux (2001), a re-edit in which the director restored scenes that had been cut from his original 1979 movie, extending it, and editing the original material almost as if making the film anew. The term also has current usage in music production to describe remixing songs and remastering original recordings. However, redux, from the Latin reducere, "to bring back" has been used in literature for centuries, at least as far back as John Dryden’s Astraea Redux in 1662, a poem celebrating the restoration of the English monarchy.

 

Redux, in these senses of restoration, reinterpretation, remaking, remixing, or re-editing, is explored in various ways in the contributions to this issue of Soanyway. Sometimes the restoration is literal and complete, as in Richard William Wheater’s lovingly remade versions of Fred Tschida’s little-known neon sculptures in the first of this issue’s two exhibition features. Other works, Joshua Whitaker’s playful transformation of Pier Paolo Pasolini into a Sesame Street-style puppet for example, create a knowing alienation from the original.

 

Like Tschida, Nicol Allan is also an important yet almost unknown artist, and this issue’s second exhibition feature presents a selection of collages from his recent exhibition at Laure Genillard Gallery. They are fragile and intimate works that reference both Constructivism and the calligraphic traditions of China and Japan.

 

Tehran-based Navid Memar and amata Studio’s  افلا تتفکرون  a photo-essay derived from their earlier film, was made in a historic men’s public bath house, and reframes a contemporary narrative through the use of renaissance painting from a distant and dislocated past. Also shifting between worlds, Mark Wingrave is concerned with how translation can be seen as a form of ventriloquy, re-voicing words to recreate another artist’s work in a process that in some sense involves ‘becoming’ them.

 

Revisiting an earlier work can result in its meaning being remade even while the original remains intact, something evidenced in Rebecca Lowe’s still life painting. Reconsidering it now in the midst of a pandemic, she sees the distance between objects no longer so much as a material spatial relationship but as a metaphor for social distancing. Fiona Glen’s poem and Mark Valentine’s short story, in wildly different ways, each contemplate opening up, emergence and the release of something new from something that was already there. Also working with pre-existing phenomena, Sean Ashton and Sara Kleib revisit and rework the tropes of well-established genres – the Western in Ashton’s poem, and fairy tale illustration in Kleib’s drawings.

 

Sophie Bouvier Ausländer's The Financial Times series reuses newspaper pages, transforming and remaking them as seductively textured surfaces that both reveal and conceal the original words and images. They present us with past narratives as they might be archaeologically uncovered in a future focused on recovery, in a way that resonates with Franco Troiani’s discussion with the curator Tommaso Faraci of his work that recycles natural materials and considers how routes are retrodden, stories are retold, and memories remade. Memory and presence, and the unimaginable depths of space-time, are celebrated in Yukako Tanaka's performance work that reframe scientific phenomena into an art practice developed in collaboration with researchers in astrophysics and neurology. 

 

This issue of Soanyway demonstrates across diverse media and creative practices that, as with the most successful cover versions of songs, the act of remaking at its best transforms and enriches the original, not simply making it anew, but making something new of it. 

 

The cover image for this issue is a photograph by Joyce Treasure, showing the suspension bridge that leads into the dense forest of the Osun Sacred Grove in southern Nigeria, the home of the goddess of fertility, Osun, one of the pantheon of Yoruba gods. The meandering Oshun river is dotted with sanctuaries and sculptures, shrines, and artworks in honour of Osun and other deities. In the context of this issue the bridge might be seen as the metaphorical route into a tangle of past stories that are constantly retold and remade for a changing culture and a new time.

 
Derek Horton - "Out of Thin Air", ​Fred Tschida, CIRCLESPHERE
Fred Tschida / Richard William Wheater

Fred Tschida/Richard William Wheater, Frederick Carder Vase Forms, 2021. Photo: David Lindsay.

Given his steadfast refusal to engage with the market-led fashions and curatorial machinations of the international art world, preferring instead to devote himself to educating artists and designers and developing communities of like-minded practitioners, it is somehow fitting that for his debut exhibition in Europe, Fred Tschida didn’t need to leave his home in Corning, upstate New York, close to Alfred University, where he taught as Professor of Glass Design for nearly forty years. And in the context of that career-long commitment to education, it is appropriate also that the works in the exhibition were made by one of his former students, Richard William Wheater.

 

The exhibition Circlesphere (at The Art House and 7A in Wakefield, UK, from September to November 2021) revealed the aesthetic potential of movement and light, essential elements of all Tschida’s impressive but largely unknown and under-appreciated body of work, whilst also highlighting important aspects of authenticity in relation to the making and remaking of technically complex artworks involving collaboration between makers with different expertise and skill sets. It also revealed the personal dimensions of influence, learning, respect, and homage between generations of artists — the reworking of ideas and re-interpretation of earlier work that is central to the development and evolution of a tradition of craft skills and art making.

 

In 2000, Richard William Wheater spent a semester in the USA under the tutelage of Fred Tschida, studying glass and neon, and he has described seeing Tschida’s Sphere (2000) as a defining moment in his subsequent career which has been dedicated to working with neon. His remaking of this work, on a larger scale than the original, is one of the eight pieces at the heart of the Circlesphere exhibition and it celebrates that crucial experience, serving as an homage to his mentor and teacher. The other seven pieces, the Frederick Carder Vase Forms, trace the lineage of influence further back to the English glass designer Frederick Carder, who emigrated to the USA in 1903 and co-founded the Steuben Glass Works in Corning, NY, where Fred Tschida now lives.

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Fred Tschida/Richard William Wheater, Sphere, 2021. Photo: David Lindsay

Incidentally, there is an interesting geographical story that maps onto this history: Carder was born in Stourbridge in the English West Midlands, which had been an important centre of glassmaking since the early 1600s, and was where Stourbridge School of Art, established in the 19th century, acquired a longstanding reputation for its glass making courses. Corning, where Carder went to work and where Tschida has long been based, has been a key location for the glass industry in the United States and is home to one of the most comprehensive museum collections of glass in the world, as well as the Rakow Library, one of the world's major glass research centres. In the 19th and 20th centuries, bottle making, coloured glass, lead crystal and pressed glassware were an important part of the industrial economy of Wakefield in West Yorkshire. Although soon synonymous with Las Vegas or Times Square in New York, the first neon gas-filled tube was created in London by the British scientists William Ramsay and Morris Travers in 1898. During the first half of the 20th century, West Yorkshire became the neon-making capital of Europe and it remained so until the century’s end, when the industry’s decline began, due in large part to cheaper plastic and LED alternatives displacing the craft skills of hand-bending the tubes by skilled glassblowers. Hence there is considerable significance in the fact that the Circlesphere exhibition took place in West Yorkshire and that Wakefield is also the home of Richard William Wheater’s Neon Workshops, which make an important contribution to preserving endangered neon-making skills and promoting their creative use for the 21st century.

Fred Tschida / Richard William Wheater
Fred Tschida / Richard William Wheater

Fred Tschida/Richard William Wheater, Frederick Carder Vase Forms, 2021. Photo: David Lindsay

The Frederick Carder Vase Forms, conceived by Tschida and remade for this exhibition by Wheater (working to Tschida’s detailed instructions and utilising the carpentry and engineering skills of other collaborating fabricators) are kinetic sculptures consisting of motorised wooden armatures supporting shaped neon tubes. Each of these tubes defines half of the outline shape of one of Carder’s vase forms. Once set in motion by the electric motors built into the structures, these precisely engineered objects create through their movement seductively colourful and luminous forms in the shape of the whole vase, their apparent solidity an illusion that explores the nature of human vision. Sphere works in the same way, a circle of neon spinning until it creates the illusion of a floating spherical form. The real stuff of these works is not the physical material of wood, motors, glass, and neon, but the interaction of light, space, and time as each neon line revolves. As the rapid rotational movement builds to reveal a volumetric form, creating the form over time, it connects the tangible with the intangible, and generates a mesmerising calmness at the still centre of the rapidly spinning work .

 

The illusory aspect of Tschida’s work, as it conjures apparent solidity out of thin air, emphasises its fundamentally conceptual nature. As is mostly the case with any conceptual art, who makes it is not necessarily significant: the creation of the idea and the articulation of its concept is the work of the artist, and its materialisation can then be delegated to others. In this sense Tschida’s work being remade by Wheater following the artist’s instructions might be seen as comparable, for example, with teams of gallery technicians ‘making’ a Sol LeWitt wall drawing, or with the descriptive prescriptions of Lawrence Weiner’s Statements series. In the case of Tschida and Wheater though, there is a different and more personal dynamic at play. Their collaboration is rooted in their initial relationship of student and teacher and in the dialogue they have subsequently maintained; so that for Tschida there is a trust in Wheater’s capabilities and a recognition of his motivations, and for Wheater the remaking is an act of homage based in admiration and respect. Remaking art can be an attempt to understand it more deeply; to ‘get inside’ it, to enter its imaginative world and engage with its material production. In this sense, Wheater’s reconstructions of Tschida’s originals could also be seen as part of a tradition that goes back at least as far as Raphael’s relationship to his elders Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, or Rembrandt ‘remaking’ Titian, or, more recently, Derek Jarman’s cinematic restaging of paintings by Caravaggio.

Photo: Eliza Tonachel 1980

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Fred Tschida, Light in Motion, 1980. Photo: Eliza Tonachel

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Photo: Eliza Tonachel 1980

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Tschida is an important figure in the development of neon as a medium for art and yet is invisible in mainstream art history, having no monograph, no major museum exhibitions, and being virtually unknown outside of the specialist field of glass design. His previously mentioned dedication to education and aversion to engaging with the gallery system have clearly contributed to this, as perhaps has his relative geographic isolation, living in a little-known part of the USA and working in a small regional university. His significance, however — particularly in relation to kinetic, time-based work that adds movement to the sculptural potential inherent in neon light; and his unique contribution to American land art — is unquestionable, even if as yet unrecognised. Neon is now widely used in contemporary art, although its function there is often restricted to textual message-making. Tschida, however, began working with neon when it was a very marginal activity. Dan Flavin, with his installations of commercially manufactured fluorescent tubes in the 1960s, and then Keith Sonnier and Bruce Nauman, adopting a somewhat more technically sophisticated approach, were amongst the first artists to use neon light as a medium for sculpture. Tschida, only a few years younger than Sonnier and Nauman, deserves to be seen alongside them as a pioneering exponent of neon’s artistic and sculptural potential, both aesthetically and technically. Importantly, he also merits a place in the history of land art alongside such as Robert Smithson (whom Tschida has cited as an important influence), Nancy Holt, or Walter de Maria. Tschida’s radical experimental work, Light in Motion (1980), involved mounting a 22-foot neon mast to the top of his Chevrolet Impala, driving it at night on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, and documenting the resulting ‘wall of light’ effect with time-lapse photography. Documentation of this work was included in Circlesphere, alongside Wheater’s witty and more leisurely-paced re-creation of it, performing the same action with a neon tube attached to the mast of a dinghy on a local canal. Wheater’s remaking of key works from important stages of Fred Tschida’s long career will hopefully help to redress the art historical balance and attract some overdue and well-deserved critical and institutional attention to Tschida’s ground-breaking work.

Richard William Wheater
Richard William Wheater
Richard William Wheater

Richard William Wheater, The Walls We Make Whilst Dreaming of Escape, 2021. Photo: Jonty Wilde

 
Laure Genillard Gallery - Nicol Allan: Collages

Nicol Allan: Collages curated by Rye Dag Holmboe at the Laure Genillard Gallery, London, ran from 20 November – 22 January 2022. These compositions play delicately with the viewer's memory and recognition, with forms appearing half-familiar, like theatre lights, props or cloth. They create evocative scenes which, in the sensitive curation of the exhibition, correspond and converse with one another. The viewer is invited to peer closely at the tiny details of these collages, to draw out their place in the work's gesture towards sensation, story or allusion.

Nicol Allan Collages

Nicol Allan Composition G4 (Hölderlin-Zimmer), 2008, collage with pencil, 296 x 200mm and Composition F15, 1994, collage, 205 x 165mm.

Nicol Allan (1931-2019) is an important yet almost unknown artist who lived and worked in the United States and Great Britain. Over more than half a century, Allan produced sumi, wood reliefs, watercolours and occasionally oils. His primary medium, however, was paper collage.

 

Nicol Allan: Collages at the Laure Genillard Gallery, London, is the first exhibition to show collages from the breadth of Allan’s career. Curated by Rye Dag Holmboe and accompanied by a book of the same name, published by Slimvolume, the works presented in this exhibition are fragile and physically intimate. They allude to the natural world, to landscape and to human life, and sometimes float playfully between figuration and abstraction. The sense of scale can be disorientating; small works in paper that intimate dimensions of experience quite out of proportion with their size. The collages also engage in subtle and original ways with the major abstract art movements of the twentieth century, as well as other traditions such as Folk Art or Japanese and Chinese calligraphy.

Nicol Allan: Collages at the Laure Genillard Gallery

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Nicol Allan: Collages at the Laure Genillard Gallery

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Nicol Allan: Collages at the Laure Genillard Gallery

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For personal reasons and because of circumstance, Allan only ever produced around two hundred collages; many of the works included in this exhibition have never been seen before. This is the first time they are shown and, after decades of obscurity, are finally given the attention and life they deserve.

 

Photo and text credit: courtesy of Laure Genillard Gallery.

 
Sophie Bouvier Ausländer - From The Financial Times series and Speaking in Tongues
Sophie Bouvier Ausländer

In Sophie Bouvier Ausländer's The Financial Times series multiple layers are visible at once. They are palimpsestic and seductive in their provocation to be touched; to feel the textures provided by the lines cut in various directions. These layers and lines are not chaotic but straight and parallel. Where groups of these lines cross, at points of intersection, like tracks in the snow, the proximity of the crossing lines means that more from is visible the layer below. In some places, parts of the surface(s) tear, providing a contrast with the ruled lines. In these tears are glimpses of words and images of the newspaper. Wax acts as a filter, an interruption to the gouache paint which would otherwise obliterate the original newspaper ink. It preserves the images and text so that what is revealed in the scratched lines and occasional tears is the undamaged 'original'.

Taking an exploration of the material of The Financial Times as its starting point, the reuse of the paper and remaking of its visual and textual surface, suggests ideas of recycling. Considering the unique colour, paralleled to the artist's own skin colour, the work looks at this paper as skin. Beneath the surface of the skin is movement, breath, life, things felt on the inside but unseen from the outside.

What do you feel? / The Financial Times series, (SBAWFFT20191001), gouache on waxed newspaper, 64 x 56.5 cm, 2019. Image Julien Gremaud.

This series coincided with the outbreak of Covid-19, developing in the midst of global crisis, where every newspaper heightened self-consciousness of body, mind and health. Utilising both physical and conceptual components of the newspaper, it gestures at notions of return, excavation, of how we look back at the past from the present or how the present crisis is to be looked at in the future (discussed by Jo Melvin in the essay 'An Archaeology of the Future' in Bouvier Ausländer's catalogue Words, Works, Worlds (Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, 2021)).  

Speaking in Tongues
Speaking in Tongues

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How do you feel? / The Financial Times Series, (SBAWFFT20191002), gouache on waxed newspaper, 220 x 214 cm, 2019. Image Julien Gremaud.

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How do you feel? / The Financial Times series, (SBAFT20200301), gouache on waxed newspaper, 125 x 111 cm, 2020. Image Marcus Leith.

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Also included here are images from the artist's book Speaking in Tongues, which develops on an exploration of FT paper. Delicately handled with archival gloves, it evokes the careful turning of pages of rare books, like a medieval book made of vellum, true animal skin, each page uniquely crafted. The work considers its formation as a book, with alternate spreads left blank so as not to clash and obscure the page before, as the double-sided printing of newspapers does. Each spread shows a body part, reminding the viewer that skin is also an organ, a point of mediation between the internal and external worlds, allowing both absorption and excretion.

 

These evocative works, with their layered surfaces, obscured and revealed in part, invite the question as to how the body speaks; how is the surface of the body permeated by those outside it to understand the feelings within? How does the world look back and perceive the present moment; what will the future remake of the present?

Sophie Bouvier Ausländer

Images courtesy the artist. Text Gertrude Gibbons.

 
Fiona Glen - crane fly’s third birth
Fiona Glen
 
Yukako Tanaka - From Memory of Ghost: Sound of Gravitational Wave
Yukako Tananka

Yukako Tanaka's Memory of Ghost - Sound of Gravitational Wave is a performance work, a performance ceremony which explores and pays tribute to the memory of a dead star, through the suggestive phenomena of gravitational waves. With three-dimensional audio and moving image projection, words and the sound of the gravitational wave, two performers read the words surrounded by sound and in front of the projection. Images with words are interrupted by the sound of the gravitational wave; this performance utilises this mysterious phenomena to consider the visualisation of invisible, how to recall, touch or communicate the incomprehensible, movement of time and space, and ideas of memory.  

 

Included here alongside the separate component of the sound of the gravitational wave are video stills from a performance of the work performed by Katrine Skovsgaard and Timothy Cape. The full version of the moving image projection is viewable here and is currently on display as part of Tanaka's solo exhibition at the Daiwa Foundation, London, until 9th March 2022 (installation view below).

Yukako Tanaka
Installation image.jpeg

I would like to hear your voice but...

I would like to talk with you more but...

I would like to see you physically but...

I would like to feel you close but...

I would like to meet you more frequently but...

I would like to touch you but...

"Gravitational waves are phenomena generated by collisions between black holes and neutron stars, and supernova explosions. When these occur, the accelerated masses release gravitational waves that may subsequently reach Earth, which means that these waves hold a space-time memory of dead stars in the past. In this work, I utilise the sound of gravitational waves that are half infrasound (inaudible) and presented as a performative ceremony. The work aims to visualise and appreciate the memory of a dead star. The audience only sees the water vibrating as a result of the half-inaudible sound / gravitational wave, and feels the waves created by the invisible gravitational wave, similar to those visible on the surface of pottery. There is, moreover, an anecdote that infrasound was used in the past as a method to detect ghosts. This narrative is also tied to the way gravitational waves convey the memory of stars that died in collisions and explosions, and to the title of the work, Memory of Ghost."

Images courtesy the artist.

 
Mark Valentine - Qx
Qx.jpg

‘Did you notice,’ said Michael Brampton, ‘that there was a copy of Stansby’s Black Queen Dances in there?’

            They had emerged from a large second-hand bookshop ten minutes before and were now resting from the foraging that had occupied them for the last hour or so, and were sipping at coffees in a corner of a nearby cafe.

            An earnest couple were playing at chess at the next table, in silence. They stared at the pieces and at each other about equally.

            ‘I did happen to notice it, yes,’ said his friend John Wickham. ‘But I’ve got a copy. And so have you, I’m sure.’

            ‘Well, yes, I have,’ admitted Brampton, ‘several in fact. But I don’t quite like to leave it there. It’s not a bad price. I wonder if I should go back. Or do you think I ought to leave it for somebody else to discover?’

            ‘Yes,’ said Wickham. Brampton often valued the terse common sense of his friend, but it soon became evident that this was not quite what he wanted to hear.

            ‘I suppose so,’ he responded, doubtfully. ‘But it could just sit there for some time yet. I feel as if I am somehow being called to it.’ He often had mystical urges that seemed usefully to accord with his own inclinations. The couple playing chess also seemed to him a sign.

            ‘Well go on then,’ said Wickham, who did not much care one way or the other. ‘I’ll wait here.’

            ‘Yes, I think I will. Perhaps there might be something inside it that I am meant to find.’

            As he went eagerly out on his errand he noticed that the woman was doing decidedly the better at the chess game, and the man’s brown eyes were sorrowful.

 

The book was still there. He picked it up and looked at it, and almost put it back again. Perhaps after all it was the destiny of the book to thrill or to stir or to guide someone new to it, who needed it far more than he did. It was a novel about a particular set of chess pieces, in which some of the figures seem to come alive and to be encountered or at least glimpsed in unlikely places.

            There was no inscription in this copy, only the moderate pencilled price and, as he flicked through some of it, he could see no marginalia and nothing fell from the pages. This was mildly disappointing. Even so, he did not think he could let the book go. He took it to the desk and paid. It was raining lightly when he got outside and he tucked the book inside his jacket.

            Back at the café the man had conceded the chess game and the two were talking quietly, with long pauses. The woman held a cup of black coffee close to her face and the fumes rose around her. Her eyes mirrored the coffee.

            ‘All right?’ asked Wickham.

            ‘Yes, got it. Nothing obvious, though,’ said Brampton. He pulled the book out of his jacket and looked at it again. The lettering on the spine, perhaps once gilt, had faded, and could now only just be discerned. Maybe that was why no-one else had found it. You had to look closely to know what it was. The paper was of good quality, still crisp, opaque and clean. Sometimes Brampton had the fancy that simply turning the pages of a book that had been long unopened might be a ritual act, releasing something. Not dust or stale air, or not just that, but an influence. He wondered what there might be in this copy of Bliss Stansby’s Black Queen Dances that was now out in the world.

            The chess couple were rising to go. The man put the chess board and the box of pieces back on a table that also had a pile of dog-eared glossy magazines. It perched on top of a copy of Romantic Interiors. They gathered up their coats and satchels and piled up the crockery neatly. They had a habit, Brampton noticed, of staring at each other, direct into the eyes, quite often. It was as if they were reading each other’s thoughts. Yet they did not seem to be partners exactly: there was no easy familiarity between them. They might have not long met.  As they approached the door, he thought he heard the word ‘Dances’ emerge through the hubbub, perhaps spoken by the woman, and he thought she might have looked back. But he could not be sure of the word or the glance, and could have imagined them.

            For a few moments he wondered if she had noticed the book in the shop too, and was telling the man with the melancholy eyes that she had intended going back for it. What would have happened if he had not himself taken it? There opened out a different perspective in which it was she, and not he, that had the book: perhaps his own interference had prevented what should have happened.

He briefly entertained the thought of dashing after her and handing her the book, without a word of explanation. But that would be another matter again, not the same as if she had herself obtained it. It would not do.

            There were a few crumbs of shortbread biscuit left on the saucer. Brampton licked his fingers and pressed them down on these, then tasted the sweet flecks.

            It was getting late, the February dusk drawing in. The café windows were dark screens. When he looked once more at the door, the chess players had gone and he still held Black Queen Dances. He began to turn the pages again. Towards the end a slip of paper was caught tightly in the book’s gutter. Gently he eased it away from its niche. There was a brief handwritten text: Qx, and then two further blurred characters. He frowned. Where had the Queen moved? What had she taken?

 
Rebecca Lowe - Still Life

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"Still Life", 1995 oil on cotton on plywood panel 30.5 x 30.5 x 0.6 cm

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Sean Ashton - Blueprint

Found the barman slumped against a barrel,
jet of beer parting his hair,
bullet in the forehead, dollar on the counter,
a dollar on the counter for damages,
wastage, cooperage and suchlike,
the word tarnation already on my lips
to describe the scene’s salient aspects.
And a man has to say something, does he not,
can’t just cut to the undertaker
in the event of fatalities.
Left the dialogue blank for my deputy,
a man more skilled at wordsmithing than myself.
Best he could do was spit his cheroot,
show it the heel of his boot. All he had.
Thought about using the T word, then didn’t.
Lighting wasn’t all that great neither.
Town half-built, just like a real Western.
But I should probably send a posse out.
It’s customary to send a posse out roundabout now.

 
Sara Kleib - Three Billy Goats Gruff
Sara Kleib

Sara Kleib, back cover.

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Sara Kleib, cover illustration.

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Sara Kleib, page 2.

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"In December of 2020, my friend Izeah Guiao had the idea to make a reinterpreted version of the original Ladybird cover of Three Billy Goats Gruff to give it a different meaning. I then drew this above illustration inspired by popular imagery of goats as a symbol in mystical beliefs. From that drawing, I subsequently worked on a short graphic novel heavily inspired by folktales that explores eeriness and fascination for the unknown. Included here are a selection of pages from this graphic novel, including the front and back covers." 

 
Joshua Whitaker - Pier Paolo
 
Mark Wingrave - The look of translation
Mark Wingrave

Our lives are full of objects, some we hold onto in the belief they may come in useful one day. Artists’ studios are no exception, those undeveloped objects, whose very presence seems to mean so much. Potential. The above image is one of those things, after eight years of being on the studio wall I decided to examine it more closely.

It is an A4 page of text in Russian with scribbled translated notes in red pencil. I like it because it sits between the world of language, writing and painting. This text, a book review, is part of a chain reaction via a writer and the reviewer to myself, a painter who translates Russian. It was written in 2014 by Evgenia Rits; a contemporary Russian poet whose poetry I translate. Her thoughts on Galina Ermoshina’s book, ‘The Hourglass’, intrigue me both as a review of a book I wanted to read (a series of Borgesian vignettes) and as a creative piece of writing in itself.

 

Annotated to the nth degree, out of curiosity, the opening paragraph resembles an anatomy lesson, a body held open by forceps. Such a literal translation makes the text unreadable in the usual way, and through being displayed it has lost its sequence. This disrupted text interests me because what it says and how it looks seem to connect. It describes Ermoshina’s method, synaesthesia, an overspill of one art form into another; and it shows how translation turns a text into a visual object.

 

This is a standard translation.

The Garden of Forking Paths

Evgenia Rits

Published in Znamya, number 8, 2014

The Hourglass by Galina Ermoshina

Moscow: Knizhnoe obozrenie, Argo-risk, 2013

 

The underlying modus operandi for Galina Ermoshina’s writing is synaesthesia, phenomena of seen and heard sensations overlapping one another – a piece of music appears as colour, a landscape sounds. At the same time her synaesthesia is distinctive, in combining both sensation and intellect. Colour has a sound, what is more it is read and reckoned. A sixth sense – a reading and perceiving sign system. In fact, this system welds everything together: light and sound turn letter-like, everything is literal, and this literality is no longer separable from the sensory world.

Something interesting is happening in the last sentence.

И свет, и звук — все буковки, все буквально, и эту буквальность уже не вычленишь из чувственного мира, ею все спаяно. 

 

light and sound are letter-like, everything is literal, and this literality is no longer separable from the sensory world.

The three words in red all connect with the word буква/bookva/- letter.

 

They are:

буковки/bookovki/- letter-formed, lettered, letter-like

буквально- /bookvalno/ literally ‘leterally’

буквальность-/bookval’nost/ literality, literalness

 

What is so beautiful is the transition from ‘letter’ through ‘literal’ to ‘literality’, the words together on a line become opaque and concrete —writing is material, both in deed and meaning. Translating a text draws attention to nuance and lexis of certain words. The last sentence is revealing of the way Evgenia Rits uses language.

Her poetry is concerned with the how Russia’s past haunts the present, it is visionary in scope and concrete in its knowing use of metre. Imagine Anni Albers’ geometric textiles channelling William Blake’s spirits. The themes of voice and disembodied subjectivity are a recurring presence in Evgenia’s poems. One she wrote earlier this month incorporates dialogue from a seance.

 

Evgenia Rits

12-8-21

 

Raps on a tabletop:

“Rat-a-tat tat. I’m here.

I’m fat and flab.

I’m that.”

And sweat drips

From hand to hand,

Like the electricity of doorbells:

“Look, he’s here”.

What’s there to see?

He writes in shadow “yes”

And “no”,

As if death weren’t forever,

As if life.

He tells me:

“I am your brother,

Brother- your unborn twin

A calf from worn out droves,

You couldn’t save me,

While the altar burned

Receiving offerings to heaven.

Your gift was steam,

My gift was smoke,

Together all turned smog.

We’re comfy-cosy,

Don’t you see”.

What’s there to see?

I too recall that day.

From the villages

The cities emerging

Not for good.

Can I recall that day?

The curling water flowing

The environment thirsty

All hands on deck.

And once again it’s Thursday,

It’s true he didn’t suffer.

Today the table shook

Morse beat upside down,

A no, a yes -

It’s all about him.

It’s not about me.

But I was there,

My gift was steam

And away it went.

 

A translator is an intermediary between worlds, bringing words across from one language to another. You occupy a different space and on return you are refreshed and changed. I see now how you inherit another artist’s work or it’s like you become that artist and grow through them, or it’s like the work you select becomes an extension of you, or that another you is found through another’s work. This sounds like a story by Borges.

 

The more I translate the more I question how I make paintings. To translate is to start with something that is complete — the opposite of a blank canvas, I dismantle and analyse the text from a series of different perspectives, and attempt to find an equivalent in English. With every translation I realise how acutely provisional it is, how another variation is always possible. This sense of variation has extended into my painting.

Mark Wingrave

Keywords 7: Zamyatin. Graphite, paper and rabbit skin glue on linen, 23 x 23 cm. 2021

Mark Wingrave

A long forgotten pronunciation of ‘you’. Oil on linen. 46 x 36 cm. 2021

These images are of work made last year. They were included in a solo exhibition that centred on my readings of Evgeny Zamyatin’s dystopian novel ‘We’. The paintings, painted with colour straight from the tube, take the same overlapping positive-negative format, while the linen collages incorporate extracts from Zamyatin’s novel in Russian and English. Together these paintings and collages mix different understandings of materiality and vision. Translation remaps notions of subjectivity and authorship, and redefines writing and painting.

 
Franco Troiani - Extracts from an Interview by Tommaso Faraci

Included here are translated extracts from an interview of Spoleto-based artist and cultural operator Franco Troiani by Tommaso Faraci, Assistant Curator at the Mahler & LeWitt Studios, July 2020. Faraci talks to Troiani about the story of how and when Troiani began his active career as an artist, curator and facilitator in the arts. Faraci asks specifically about his project 'Viaggiatori sulla Flaminia' ('Travellers on the Flaminia') series: "Referencing the famous Roman road, which crosses territories and time, the title contains the theme of travel: moving and resting, considered perhaps as physical labour, as well as the labour of the mind." This ongoing project offers interactions across time, of retrodden paths, of cross-generational and cross-disciplinary artists to consider the location, with exhibitions and performances along the route. Faraci also asks about the significance of Spoleto itself as a unique location which he says often unexpectedly strikes visitors and specifically the artists in residence on the Mahler & LeWitt Studios residency programme.

Franco Troiani

These ideas also present themselves in Troiani's current exhibition, Sacrari d'Ignoti Figli di Quercia, which is formed of pieces of oak. The tree, which died of a mysterious disease, was chopped down and the pieces used by Troiani to create a new body of work in memory of his wife. Organised around the centre piece made of olive wood, an earlier work from 1984, the fragments evoke familiarity to an observer, not only through the reused objects (bits of leather, spoons, scissors), but also because they resemble bodies, mountains, caves, valleys and boats, as well as recalling specific cultural references. These pieces each tell a story, speak for memories, thoughts, past stories told and retold. They are a tribute to family, loss and grief, and the generations that came before. In a recent essay, Gertrude Gibbons describes the exhibition's evocation of journey and return, concluding, "The reassembled pieces of this destructed tree incorporate the promise of return, enabling a journeying spectator to make of them new bodies, and witness the quietly dancing shadows of ideas."

Sacrari d'Ignoti Figli di Quercia at Complesso San Carlo, Spoleto, 2021.

I was born on the Via Flaminia. On my first trip on the train from Spoleto to Riccione, "Maritime colony of Umbria Pius XII", at six years old, I was glued to the window and anxious to see the sea. I lived in Tuscany, in the Marche region in Fano for three years — having long journeys on the ancient Strada SS 3 Flaminia — then in Liguria where I interrupted my studies to return to Umbria and enrol in a professional school as a technical designer in Terni.

 

From that time in Spoleto, I have a vague memory of Carandente's Sculptures in the City exhibition in 1962 within the Festival dei Due Mondi. I was 16 years old, I liked the "celebratory" works by Calder and Moore. I made drawings and small chalks, I often went to Valnerina to paint the geometries, the architecture of the churches and barely perceptible frescoes. I loved nature and simple things. Today's media terrorism on Covid-19, reminds me of a training course on the ABC (Atomic, Biological, Chemical) war during my military service in Friuli in 1967: the sight of authentic military videos documenting the consequences and disasters taken up in the wars of the south East Asia is a traumatic experience that still haunts me.

Franco Troiani
Franco Troiani

Franco Troiani in the underground parking of the Spoletosphere.

In Christmas 1986, there was the first collective exhibition in my space in Via Brignone as 'Studio A’87' (my pseudonym). STUDIO A'87 today celebrates almost 36 years of shared art. In 1994 I had the opportunity to create numerous murals at Spoleto's Albornoz Palace Hotel by Sandro Tulli, and subsequently also in his hotel Artèhotel in Perugia; these were fruitful experiences that in 2006 allowed me to face the wall paintings in the 32 boxes of the underground parking of the Spoletosphere. These commitments did not prevent me from dedicating myself to collective projects. In the spaces of my new studio in the former church of San Carlo or in other institutional places, I have always continued to propose numerous initiatives open to contemporary art.*

Franco Troiani at the Parcheggio Spoletosfera (foto di Gianluca Pantaleo 2010)

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Spoletosfera Buckminster Fuller e Sol LeWitt (foto di Angela Beninati). The carpark with Troiani's paintings is beneath.

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Franco Troiani at the Parcheggio Spoletosfera

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"Viaggiatori sulla Flaminia" was an old project of mine, a path of millennial history of mysterious journeys, with its infinite diverticula to be rediscovered by inviting many other international and emerging artists to confront the present and the past. It consists of exhibitions in museums, churches, libraries, open spaces, secondary and main roads. Since 1994 in Spoleto, I have had as a base the availability of the spaces of the former church of San Carlo, the Chapel of the Madonna del Pozzo and the Ponte Sanguinario.

 

The earthquake of 1997 didn't stop me, the gigantic work of Lawrence Weiner "Returned to the Light" written installed on the highest tower of the Rocca Albornoz gave me strength. The following year, with the collaboration of the Pro S. Giacomo Association, I involved the Municipality of Trevi and the Municipality of Campello sul Clitunno, the Department of Culture of the Municipality of Spoleto and the Mountain Community. A catalogue financed by Pro-Trevi is testimony to this unforgettable experience. Five successive editions shared with the architect Giuliano Macchia and from 2006 with the architect Emanuele De Donno (Viaindustriae), up to the recent tenth edition including more than twenty itineraries from the Martani Mountains to the Valnerina and Dorsale Appenninica Umbra. The eleventh edition was held in November 2021 Ravenna - Spoleto - Rome.

Franco Troiani

Franco Troiani in the underground parking of the Spoletosphere.

Umbria is a joyful mystery // Spoleto must be loved. But to answer more fully about Spoleto, I transcribe a thought of mine written long ago by the Cherry Tree of the Roman Theatre: Loving Spoleto means living it, knowing its inhabitants, attending museums and libraries, visiting churches and castles in peripheral areas, in the branched countries of the countryside in the immense plain, on the hills and sacred mountains. It will then be possible to understand the stratifications of time, the alternation of political-religious power, the work and inventions of anonymous artists and craftsmen who, since the seventh century, have left very important testimonies, meaning art as a social duty of all and for all: to carry out their work, their profession in a workmanlike manner. Every year, the gigantic Cherry Tree of the Roman Theatre blooms, expressing love with its fruits; perhaps symbolically in memory of the four hundred Guelphs slaughtered by the Ghibellines in the underground tunnels of the theatre steps.

 

Spoleto has always been in fratricidal struggles, invasions and spoliation but has always risen, always with new beauties and new people, new craftsmen for monuments, palaces and churches scattered everywhere. And then, after the last war, Spoleto crossed by artists of all disciplines, unstoppable cultural ferments, women and men from all over the world. The Rocca Albornoz "returned to the light" and the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art in 1989 opened the way, and even more so today the Palazzo Collicola - G. Carandente Modern Art Gallery, in continuous confrontations between artists of different experiences and generations, indispensable ways to grow and stimulate new energies for the 'Rising City ...'.

Franco Troiani

Franco Troiani in the underground parking of the Spoletosphere.

*These have included: ​Baculus, developed for the Orti del Sole and the church of San Carlo shared with Emanuele De Donno: sticks made by Italian and foreign artists were exhibited at the Museo del Ciarlatano in Sellano di Spoleto and at the National Archaeological Museum of Spoleto; Liberolibrod'artistalibero, a biennial project on the artist's book that started in the church of San Carlo in 2002 (taking further shape with the 3rd edition with Emanuele De Donno and Viaindustriae, the 10th edition will take place soon); Opus & Light running monthly over the last 23 years at the Madonna del Pozzo chapel; LuciSorgenti curated subsequently by Miriam Montani; The Lightness of Sculpture at the Park of Cerrina (Alessandria) 2009; Spoleto 2015 New Generations at the Xylon Museum in Schwetzingen in Germany; and it will take too long to tell the story of the "pack-bomb" in front of the door of San Carlo for the collective exhibition The Earth is a place of combat for all curated by Aldo Iori. A publication will be out soon.

Images courtesy the artist. Photo credits: Ivano Trabalza and Emanuela Duranti. 

 
Navid Memar - amata Studio: َأَفَلَا تَتَفَكَّرُونَ

"افلا تتفکرون", part of a Quranic verse, means "Do you not think?", and invites the audience to think independently in each frame. "افلا تتفکرون" collection is the narrative of creation through paintings in a historic men's public bath that has been turned into a museum. My approach to the narrative of creation has been a combination of the views of Islam and Christianity. This collection considers women's absence across various narratives, emphasised by its location in the public baths which barred women; these scenes reference their underrepresentation from creation stories to the first family photos of the Qajar (the Iranian royal dynasty). The presence of a young girl in the cast contrasts with the traditionally male setting, highlighting this exclusion of women. In most frames, the use of paintings helps to narrate and draw out symbols to suggest that these are ongoing problems constantly being repeated. Furthermore, amata studio has produced the film Covid-19 / Part 1 (2021) which plays on a metaphoric relation between Caravaggio's paintings (The Incredulity of Saint Thomas and The Sacrifice of Isaac) and phases of Coronavirus disease. It looks at Caravaggio as a potentially prophetic and relevant figure for our contemporary world.

 

Navid Memar established amata in 2015, producing theatre intellectually influenced by Robert Wilson and Jerzy Grotowski. This collection was designed in 9 parts. The first one “Hammam Khan Project” has been performed in video (picture theatre) and picture series, included below.

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Producer: amata Studio

Art director / designer : Navid Memar

Photographer: Photographer : Mahdiyar Zamzam

Editor: Ali Dolatabadi