The two spring exhibits currently on display at the Tufts University Gallery consequently form an interesting dichotomy; though one examines the world of young girls today and the other questions societal restrictions on their more mature counterparts, both "Girl Culture" and "Time Signatures" question our perception of the female form and force viewers to examine the societal pressures that shape the lives of all kinds of women. "Time Signatures" is the work of artist Barbara Zucker. The project's roots go back to 1989, when Zucker began a series of work called "For Beauty's Sake," which was based on the processes involved with plastic surgery. But her artwork evolved into something else in 1998, when Zucker began taking photographs of herself and of other mature women and then translating their facial wrinkles into prints and three-dimensional sculptures. The pieces that resulted from her project, perhaps fittingly, don't quite look as one would expect them to. They are twisted and curling, balancing against the walls, made out of rubber and metal and even Plexiglas. One stands over five feet tall in the center of the room, matching the height of the subject who donated her photograph for it. "They all started out right side up. I was being literal and dutiful," Zucker said. "But then I decided that they should go whatever way they look good. They evolved into moving parts that could change according to the space." The sculptures are all created from photographs, and stay true to the wrinkles in the faces of the pictured women. The subjects include Zucker herself (part of the back of her neck is on display on the left-hand wall of the exhibit) and several of her friends, as well as one piece that was made from a picture of artist Georgia O'Keefe. "I came up with the idea that wrinkles, fissures, lines on faces - female faces - are not in and of themselves ugly; it is the culture that tells us they are ugly," Zucker said. Zucker also created a 15-foot-tall piece specifically for the exhibit entitled, "Lilian's Face Flowing," with the help of a grant from the Artist's Resource Trust of New England. Her newest creation was made onsite and hangs cascading down from the second story of the Remis Sculpture Court. "I lurk in the margins. I do want to make a difference, no matter how small," Zucker said. "I would like women to feel better about the complex, amazing maps of their faces. And I would like men to like looking at these women, too. But equally, I want to flay my skin, and rail against the ravages of time." "Girl Culture," the first exhibit to open this week in the Aidekman Arts Center, was put together by award-winning photographer Lauren Greenfield as part of an attempt to examine the daily lives of girls everywhere. It consists of 58 photos and a series of corresponding interviews that provide a vivid look into the world of young women today. The series of photographs captures the lives of girls across the country and presents a wide cross-section of American females. Greenfield's youngest subject, six-year-old Lily, claims Britney Spears as her role model and shops for clothes in the ritzy Rachel London's Garden. Her statement says that, "I really want to be a teenager. Now. Really fast." In another shot, attendees at a weight loss camp wait uncomfortably on the beach in their bathing suits. Statements from some of them describe how, even in the camp setting, the thinnest and prettiest girls became the most popular. Further along in the series, four girls, barely old enough to be teenagers, pose in heavy makeup before their first dance, looking like they belong more in "Vogue" than in middle school. Greenfield captures the rituals associated with the everyday lives of girls everywhere, from daily routines of putting on makeup three times a day to the elaborate preparations involved in getting ready for one's high school prom. Rather than glorifying these rituals, Greenfield's works always question if too much importance has been put on looking good and fitting in, and the subjects of the photographs grow more serious as one moves farther into the exhibit. The vivid, often emotionally raw statements from many of her subjects compliment the photographs and often reveal another side to the pictured girls. These are the stories that rarely make the cover pages of a newspaper or magazine, but they are real and present in the lives of young women everywhere. The darker sides of culture and peer pressure today are often hidden away or ignored, but Greenfield shows absolutely no hesitation in bringing avoided issues to the forefront. Her photographs show teenage mothers and a 24-year-old anorexic, made so anxious by the thought of weight gain that she has to stand backwards on the scale. It is also hinted that this cycle, as condemnable as it is, is self-perpetuating. A statement from a young girl that appears at the beginning of the exhibit, talks about how she wants to become a topless dancer when she grows up. Later, 24-year-old Leilani describes how she was forced to choose between working as a topless dancer to put herself through college and her place on the school's track team after her coaches found out and disapproved. These issues are not easily confronted, but Greenfield's simple, freeze-frame style captures many of her subjects in their most real moments. Her effort to photograph girls as they really are provides an accurate look into the culture of girls and young woman. If Greenfield's work questions the state of young girls today, then the second new exhibit in the Aidekman gallery celebrates and challenges how we perceive the women that these girls will one day become. Artist Lauren Greenberg speaks tonight in the Cohen Auditorium at 7 p.m.
Walking into Gallery NAGA, coolly removing the Beatnik shades and preparing to play art critic for the day, there's a disconcerting surprise. The moving holographic images on the walls portray lifelike images: a man kneeling down closely observing the room, and a family of three smiling in greeting. At first, this voyeurism is unnerving. But as the realistic eyes of these holographic portraits invite examination, they also welcome viewer engagement. These are the exhibited holographs of Harriet Casdin-Silver, one of a dual-artist exhibition at the NAGA Gallery on Newbury Street this month. The two types of work featured in the exhibit are unconventional and unique. Casdin-Silver is an 80-year-old master artist, and co-exhibitionist Reese Inman makes her gallery debut. Though both artists are at very different, if not opposite, stages in their artistic lives, they both incorporate the conventional arts as well as the use - and even the abuse - of technology. Casdin-Silver is recognized worldwide for her innovative use of holography, and the exhibit also includes some of her more recent photography prints. She has bravely expanded the boundaries of holographic art by portraying images that convey a sense of sincerity and compassion. A particularly touching hologram image of a couple sitting together captures the precise moment when the man lays his head on the woman's shoulder. Since the only times one ever really sees holograms are on credit cards and such, viewers will be astounded by how moving Casdin-Silver's illusions can be. After looking at Silver's "Holographic Portraits and Other Work" exhibit, viewers move beyond a wide column that almost divides the gallery in half and arrive among walls covered by the work of Reese Inman, whose underlying messages aren't so easily grasped as Casdin-Silver's. By combining her background as a computer programmer, designer, and artist, Inman creates the "Algorithm Map Series." This series consists of a number of square panels with an array of multi-colored dots arranged in algebraically significant patterns. It is a wondrous blending of mathematics and art and is a powerful message of the "technology overload" in our modern society. On the surface, Reese's work is a bunch of painted dots, but her work is much deeper than that - almost esoteric. Granted, many may characterize art in general as an obscure field, but even an ardent lover of the arts could struggle to understand the meaning behind Inman's work. A quick trip to the curator's information booth provides a guide to Inman's seemingly random dots. Upon closer inspection, there is a rhythmic flow to each painting, created by individual software that allowed Inman to create a unique algorithmic pattern. More people than mathematicians can appreciate that. With a little research, it's easy to have respect for Inman's challenging and risky nature. Overall, the exhibit was probably not the most riveting gallery experience, mostly due to the minimal selection displayed for both artists. Although it is understandable given the size of the gallery and exhibit, the small collections don't allow viewers enough time to immerse themselves in the artists' work. Despite this, however, Gallery NAGA is undoubtedly enjoyable and thought-provoking.
With the advent of visual media in the last century many artists have emerged from behind the canvas to become public figures, even icons, in their own right. The new exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art(ICA), "Likeness: Portraits of Artists by Other Artists," explores this phenomenon, creating a role reversal in which the artist is the subject. Composed by admirers, friends and peers of the artists, the gallery walls hold the countenances of familiar figures like Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, David Hockney and Chuck Close, as well as those of less well known faces. Each work plays off of the collaboration between the two artists and, through medium and content, seeks to deliver its own message about art and self. Deborah Kass's 1994 collaboration with Cindy Sherman provides what is perhaps the most complex and intriguing portrait of the show. On a large silkscreen ink and acrylic diptych inspired by 1960's pop art, Sherman's face stares back at you under the guise of Liza Minelli. Famous for her self-portraits, in which she arranges herself into different characters, Sherman comments on society's stereotypes and preconceptions. Her portrait, though initially startling, asks the viewer to question the idea of celebrity. Andy Warhol, the man who called himself a "superstar" and his studio a"factory," sits in the same room in a piece by Richard Misrach. The portrait, a bullet-hole riddled photograph of Warhol in a Vidal Sassoon ad, interestingly references both Warhol's actual shooting and the irony of his position as a pop-culture icon. As one might expect, the attempted collaboration of two artists in the production of a single work can be difficult. Three primary options are available to the artists: they can choose to collaborate equally, be truly loyal to the subject's style, or rely on the vision of the artist. The artist has to decide what style, medium, and format will most appropriately reflect his peer and will produce his desired statement. Portraiture and viewer interest in images of human beings have existedfor millennia, in every imaginable form. From honest and intimate, to deceiving and propagandistic, according to the individual goals of the creator, they are windows into the consciousness of both the painter and the painted. In the ICA, one will find media ranging from photography to watercolor, with executions even more far reaching. As you might expect, most of the pieces in the show put a twist on the idea of the traditional portrait. For example, Heather Cantrell's photo of well-known feminist Mary Kelly shows her seductively lounging by a pool, showing how even photographs can mask reality. David Robbins, on the other hand, decides to use a basic approach to hissubjects in "Talent" (1986). Lined along the wall are head shots of variousartists, mimicking those in actors' portfolios. "Contemporary art," he observes, "is kind of intellectual show business." He reminds us that artists can be both intellectual commentators and publicly recognized figures. Not only does "Likeness" have a great collection of work by noteworthy artists, but it also makes you think about the core ideas behind them, showcasing the many paths artists have taken over time to answer questions about their purpose, their place in society, and the degree to which their work should be associated with their identity.
It turns out that Kill Bill's Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are not the only ones educated in the way of the warrior. Since the rise of the warrior class in twelfth-century Japan, samurai were fascinated by the sport of falconry, the training of hawks and falcons to kill smaller animals for them. But Japanese interest in the falcon did not stop there. These birds of prey developed into a much larger symbol within society. Artwork that explores the falcon's relevance to Japanese society is now on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, in an exhibition entitled "Pursuits of Power: Falconry and the Samurai, 1600 - 1900." With the appointment of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1603 came the Edo (Tokyo) period of Japanese history. This period marked, among other things, progress in economic development, urbanization, foreign trade and stability. And it is due to this time of relative peace that the samurai educated themselves not only in martial arts, but in literature and the arts, and began commissioning and collecting artwork themselves. In this artwork, the falcon and hawk came to represent the authority and power held by the Samurai. On the museum wall hangs a series of large flat wooden panels covered with cloth, which are decorated with ink drawn scenes. When viewed in order, these panels make up a hunting tale. The narrative style of story-telling is used often in the artwork of this period, and is effective in portraying the partnership established between the warrior and falcon, a physical and mental balancing of power that the samurai came to be known for. Edo was the center of all art and commerce during these years. In order to foster growth in Edo, provincial rulers were required to spend every other year there, and brought artwork back to their respective provinces. Visitors can view popular prints called Surimono, which were privately commissioned during this period. These prints celebrate the intellectual power that flourished with Japan's developments. They contain images and scenes, typically of falcons or hawks in nature, which are accompanied by literary references and puns that have some correlation to the image. Unfortunately the museum does not offer translations, and a working knowledge of Japanese characters is necessary to interpret them. Other birds appear in the artwork of this period as well, and are presented in the exhibit as a symbol of change. Birds depicting a panoramic scene on an elaborate hand scroll situated in the center of the room reflect the different seasons in which the warriors hunted. For example, the presence of chicks would mark spring or early summer, as this was the time they were taken from the wild for use in falconry. Temporal change is not all that is mirrored, however. The exhibition draws a parallel between the falcon's evolution into a symbol of authority in Japanese artwork, and the shift of the government from a physical power to a political one. As the political economy developed, so did the art and culture. Two 6-panel folding screens, used to divide rooms during social events, stand side by side in a glass case, on each panel the image of a different bird of prey. Owned by a warrior, the screens showcased the number of birds he had obtained and trained and were symbols of his status. When falcons could not be afforded, such panels as these would be an admissible backup. And like every glory-signifying symbol in society, falcons and hawks became popular emblems on clothing and accessories (see Woody Allen's "Picking Up the Pieces"). Silk embroidered hawks decorate robes called uchikake, typically worn by warriors' wives. Jewelry and figurines are also on display. This exhibition is a great example of how the tracing of one object or symbol can uncover much larger trends in society. The political shifts in Japan during the Edo period and the relationship that existed between art and society at the time are well represented by the falcons presence in Japanese artwork.
On her new album "Love, Angel, Music, Baby" (LAMB), Gwen Stefani rocks like it's 1989. Stefani is a child of the '80s, and through her solo debut the rock princess tries to revive the decade mocked for its materialism, bad clothes, and worse music.
Listening to Britney Spears for the music is like watching a porno for the plot.
Holiday displays have already begun to light up around the country, but lighting exhibits of a different sort are currently being featured at two museums in the Boston area. The work of Cerith Wyn Evans, a Welsh installation artist, is being featured this winter in dual exhibitions at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the MIT List Visual Arts Center.
Though war is something that few of us have ever experienced outside of action movies and media coverage, students can come face to face with the horrors of war at the opening of the Tufts Gallery's newest exhibit. "Envoys of War: Images by Group VII Photojournalists" showcases the work of five photographers: James Nachtwey, Ron Haviv, John Stanmeyer, Christopher Morris, and Alexandra Boulat. The opening reception tonight will begin tonight at 6 p.m. with a lecture by photographer Peter Howe and Fletcher School Professor Hurst Hannum. "Envoys of War" tries to put a human face on conflicts that are often dehumanized by the media. War, the exhibit tells us, is not a distant force which cannot affect us, but is incomprehensibly overpowering and personal, destroying individuals even as it breaks down and reforms nations. The five photographers whose work is on display are clearly no strangers to war. Their pictures come from Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq, following deadly conflicts around the world and making the human impact of war more accessible to those still on the home front. All five are founding members of VII, a photojournalist agency that was started in 2001 in order to independently document conflict and injustice in the first years of the 21st century. The "VII" in the group's title refers to the seven photojournalists originally involved in the organization; they have since been joined by two more. VII announced its formation on Sept. 9, 2001, two days before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks struck New York City. Two days later, James Nachtwey took VII's first photographs of war when the World Trade Center was attacked, only blocks from his Manhattan apartment. Nachtwey's work is poignant and ethereal. He captured the World Trade Center collapsing with an enormous cloud, the foreground framed by the cross of a church a few blocks away. In another photograph, firemen stride over the wreckage in New York City, their forms barely visible through the dust clouding the sky. Following the attacks, Nachtwey went to Afghanistan and Iraq as a photojournalist. His work in late 2001 documents a critically wounded Taliban soldier, left gushing blood by the side of the road as forces loyal to Americans walked by to watch him die. A photograph from Iraq in 2003 shows a man pushing a gigantic head of Saddam Hussein down the streets of Baghdad in a homemade cart, stolen from a statue that was toppled by invading American forces. Ron Haviv has documented conflicts all around the world; his work on display dates back to the civil war in Yugoslavia in 1991. His haunting images capture Bosnians ducking out of the way of sniper fire, interrupted from a peace rally in Sarajevo, and the bare remains of a Kosavar Albanian who was burned by Serbian forces in 1999, his body nothing more than a white outline against the sterile ground. All of the conflicts documented in the exhibit have made the news in their day, but the images captured by the photographers communicate far more than words without pictures ever could. John Stanmeyer, working in Indonesia and East Timor in 1998, memorialized the struggle there, photographing a single protestor as he stood alone against a mass of riot police. Christopher Morris's work in Chechnya forces a human quality on the soldiers there, capturing them in faux Gucci sweaters and "England" t-shirts as they wait by the side of the road with their weapons. In 2003, Alexandra Boulat traveled to Iraq in order to photograph the upcoming war. Though her work mostly centers on landscapes and inanimate objects - a Baghdad sky dark with oil smoke and candles sent by peace protesters down the Tigris River - the actions of individuals just off screen bring a haunting human face to the conflict. Aside from the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, in the modern era, a foreign war has never been brought to American soil. As a result, those of us who live thousands of miles away from deadly conflicts have a hard time imagining what it must be like for the individuals who must live entirely mired in them. "Envoys of War" documents the faces of individuals who have suffered in conflicts around the world, but it also functions as a physical embodiment of its title. The photographers whose work is on display are quite literally the envoys of war, the messengers who seek to communicate just what it is like to live in a world where death is not a distant figure lurking on the horizon, but rather is solid and present. The exhibit is being hosted in honor of the 20th anniversary of EPIIC, a program within the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership. Though few will ever see deadly conflict take such a personal role in their lives, putting a human face on its results may help to better understand what sort of impact war can cause. With such haunting, poignant images as its messenger, the effect is not something that visitors to "Envoys of War" will easily forget.
Religion and art are often intertwined. It's difficult to imagine the great churches and synagogues of Europe without picturing the beautiful paintings housed within them. "Michelangelo's Ceiling" painted on the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel is world renown. Many great pieces of the past reflect the divinity that inspired them.