Exhibitions Part 1-Victoria Miro and Parasol Unit Galleries

Installation Inspiration: Yayoi Kusama at Victoria Miro Gallery

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To begin my project research, I decided to revisit the works of installation sculpture artist Yayoi Kusama who is currently featuring her work at the Victoria Miro gallery in London.  Once again, Kusama presents her famous creations of sculpture and mirror rooms in which the theme explores the pumpkin form.  The exhibition brings a variety of immersive installation; one of the three featured mirror rooms ‘Chandelier of Grief’ consists of a rotating chandelier in the room’s centre as it reflects onto the mirrored walls creating a never ending pattern of the object.  Another mirror room ‘Where the Lights in my Heart Go’ is presented with punctured holes in the walls, creating the immersive illusion of stars when viewing from inside the room space.

However, it is the mirror pumpkin room that particularly caught my attention.  Kusama’s interior lit pumpkin sculptures transport the viewer on a whole new level.  What I found interesting about this installation in particular is how the luminosity of the sculptures as a repeated, reflective strikes the viewer as soon as one steps inside.  One thing that all three mirror rooms share in common is that viewers can only view inside the rooms for approximately 20-30 seconds.  This principle of viewing the work within a limited time makes the experience all the more valuable and this tactic has given me a new perspective of how installations that consist of entering a confined space would be carried out when presented to the public.

Yayoi Kusama also features several pumpkin sculptures outside of the mirror rooms within the gallery space.  This gives the audience a teaser of what they will find inside the mirror rooms, creating further suspense to the main display.  I find this an effective method of ‘build up’ of the central piece as this allows viewers to ponder the subject and encourages them to find out more.

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I found exploring Kusama’s most recent installation work very refreshing and I have found influence in how she creates an example of featuring items as individual pieces that still relate to the leading piece.  Although there is no photograph in sight, I have found my viewing experience of this show has given my ideas of using objects within the gallery space a major impact.  This comes in terms of separating images and objects but still relating them as partnered subject matter. From viewing this gallery, I feel I have learned new approaches to still life and how it can interact with the main event by ‘filling the space’ to give further establishment of atmosphere and theme.

Parasol Unit: ‘Magical Surfaces- The Uncanny in Contemporary Photography’

Stephen Shore

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S. Shore. Cabin, Badland National Monument, SD, July 14, 1973

American photographer Stephen Shore is widely known for his quaint documentary, suburban images of everyday American culture.  Following the success of his first solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Shore has featured his work in galleries and shows internationally including major galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art.  Shore has also published various books and acts as a fellowship member of the Guggenheim Foundation.  As well as working as a professional photographer, Shore is also a professor at and director within educational institutes.

Shore’s contribution to the exhibition comes as a series of various images taken in lonesome American environments. The series of five images featured brought the observation of quiet buildings, billboards, and street views set in wide spaces that brings a sense of ambiguity; there are no people in the images. Shore creates a light but also empty atmosphere as although the images appear bright and uplifting in lighting, they possess a very still and quiet atmosphere.  One could almost say the images are too quiet.  The series presents a controversial outlook in its approach toward the exhibition’s theme, however I do find the series brings a presence of absence in each image that may have the viewer question the setting.  Where are all the towns people? Is something about to happen or has it already happened?  This series also brings me back to reflect on the work of Gregory Crewdson in which Shore follows a similar example of presenting the audience with thought provoking possibilities of the narrative behind the image.

Joel Sternfeld

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J. Sternfeld. ‘McLean, Virginia, December 1978’

Fine Art photographer Joel Sternfeld works with large format cameras to create poignant documentary images of urban environments in the United States.  Following early education in the arts, Sternfeld began his career exploring colour theory in which he primarily took up street photography.  The series ‘American Prospects’ is one of his most famous works where one of the images depicts a field of pumpkins as a house fire is seen to in the background.  Sternfeld brings a sense of irony to his images as they possess hidden details that may not be all too obvious to the viewer at first.  However, upon looking closely at these details, Sternfeld relates the subject matter together as it if were a particular theme, especially in terms of colour.  For example, the fire in the image ‘Virginia’ (1978) there appears to be a dominant colour theme of orange as the fire in the background resonate with the colour of the pumpkins in the field.

In other images such as ‘Exhausted Renegade Elephant’ (1979) Sternfeld gives slight distance between the viewer and the subject matter as the viewer is made to look closer to see the occurring events in the image.  Clues of narrative events are left for the audience to discover themselves and this brings the audience to take on a detective role in learning of how the narrative events occurred in the first place.  Sternfeld is also known for capturing locations of historical events where in the Series ‘American Prospects-Strangers Passing’ Sternfeld captures both the landscape and the people he meets on his journey.

I find Sternfeld brings a noble balance between drama and simple observation as his work gives the audience something to witness, however at the same time, we are left to explore deeper to find hidden truths about the imagery that may present a different perspective on the main subject matter.  I admire how Sternfeld does this as there is no exaggeration of the narratives as we are only allowed to view the subject matter from a distance.

References

ARR Stephen Shore (2016) ‘Biography-Photographs‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.stephenshore.net (Accessed 01/06/2016)

ARR Luhring Augustine (2016) ‘Joel Sternfeld‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.luhringaugustine.com (Accessed 01/06/2016)

ARR The Photographers Gallery (2016) ‘Magical Surfaces: The Uncanny in Contemporary Photography‘ [Online} Available from: http://www.parasol-unit.org (Accessed 01/06/2016)

AAR Victoria Miro Gallery (2016) ‘Yayoi Kusama: All the Eternal Love I have for the Pumpkins and the Chandelier Grief‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.victoria-miro.com (Accessed 01/06/2016)

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