Dennis Adams (b. 1948) is an American conceptual artist whose work includes photography, text, and installation. Adams is best known for his projects involving structures placed in urban bus shelters, uncompromisingly inserted into the public sphere. These politically charged photographs and their accompanying texts are not used to make overtly ideological statements, but are open-ended in ways that challenge viewers to test their own convictions.
From his photo-text canvases in the 1960s to his video works in the 1970s to his installations in the 1980s, John Baldessari’s (b.1931) varied work has been seminal in the field of conceptual art. Integrating semiology and mass media imagery, he employed such strategies as appropriation, deconstruction, decontextualization, sequentiality, and text/image juxtaposition. With an ironic wit, Baldessari's work considers the gathering, sorting, and reorganizing of information.
Horace Bristol discusses his long career in photography, which began with shooting for Life and Fortune magazines in the 1930s. His photojournalism took him to the Dutch East Indies and post-war Japan. His documents of Depression-era workers famously inspired John Steinbeck to write the classic The Grapes of Wrath. “I felt I was not an artist but a worker, so as a photojournalist, I had a job to do,” Bristol says.
Produced by the Fellows of Contemporary Art on artists exhibiting in a Pasadena Armory exhibition.
Kevin Jerome Everson’s prolific body of work is grounded in formalism and combines scripted and documentary elements. The subject matter is the gestures or tasks caused by certain conditions in the lives of African-Americans and people of African descent, often working class. The conditions are usually physical, social and economic circumstances, or weather. His films suggest the relentlessness of everyday life--along with its beauty--and present oblique metaphors for art making.
Los Angeles-based, Kaucyila Brooke (b.1952) makes what she describes as, "wall size photographic sequences in comic-strip format that consider lesbian relationships within American popular culture." Produced over the past five years, Brooke’s large-scale photo-text installations look at aspects of lesbian culture and alternative communities. Wry and often quite critical, they probe some of the ways lesbian relationships both challenge and reproduce the power relations and narratives of the wider culture.
Rudy Burckhardt (1914-1999) was best known as a photographer and filmmaker. He moved to New York from his native Basel in 1935 at age 21. He shot portraits of many artists for Art News during the 1950s and early ’60s, capturing their work methods in candid and intimate photos. His films, frequently portraying cityscapes and urban life, include The Pursuit of Happiness (1940), Under the Brooklyn Bridge (1953), What Mozart Saw on Mulberry Street (1956), Square Times (1967), and Inside Dope (1971).
This compilation features several of Cohen’s pieces from the late 1980s and early 1990s: a paean to both the physical and mental aspects of the New York City landscape, an exploration of cinematic genres from narrative to music video, a sensual and romantic portrait of swimmers at a water hole, and a sound and image piece inspired by a telephone confession line.
In ten-minute segments devoted to three photographers (Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, Laurie Simmons), MICA uses video to mirror the photographic techniques of each artist. For example, Sherman tells a faux interviewer about her work, while morphing into the different "B-movie" characters represented in her photos.
Utilizing a mix of documentary and improvisational styles, the portraits featured in these three videos highlight the often forgotten, the marginal, those on the edge of society. The portraits are equally grotesque, comic and tender, and Cumming’s photography is characteristically unblinking and relentless.
Robert Cumming (b. 1943) is an American photographer/sculptor/bookmaker who borrows from the artifice of theatrical sets to construct his elaborate and often absurd images. He has also published several books of photography and narration. Central to his work is his desire to remind us that we are looking at a photograph, and not at the thing being photographed. His captions sometimes draw on a photograph's narrative aspects or are used to mislead the viewer.
Dark Sun Squeeze is a darkly meditative exploration of a sewage treatment plant, revealing the hidden rhythms and bizarre journey of raw human waste. The images of flowing waste speak of decay, destruction, of madness inherent in excessive consumption. At the same time they reveal the redemptive side of detritus, its regenerative potential, the sublime that exists in the abject.
“Paweł Wojtasik delivers the final word on the absolute value of news, money, politics and just about everything else.”
-- Holland Cotter, The New York Times, Oct 1, 2004
This three-DVD collection features 18 titles, 10 years of videography, and over six hours of material by Donigan Cumming.
"Cumming has said that it is his intention to question, "the myth of the innocent, invisible photographic witness." Borrowing from what he calls, "experimental ethnography," Cumming consciously positions himself not only as investigator, but also participant, caretaker and friend. Thus his examinations of human frailty are always tempered by a compassion that stems from his own involvement in the situations he records."
A domestic portrait rendered at miniature scale, Dust Studies brushes along the edge of what can be seen. Staying close to the ground to collect what gathers there, the film looks deeply for everyday things and finds them drifting in the pleasant, meandering headwaters of a young child's language.
Note: This title is intended by the artist to be viewed in High Definition. While DVD format is available to enable accessibility, VDB recommends presentation on Blu-ray or HD digital file.
Small biographies and musing generalizations--men’s relations to each other and their lives. There is hope and loneliness, companionship and isolation and the simplest of filmic elements to contrast the complexity of human emotions. The delicacy of the formalist writing moves the listener from intimacy to universalism and back again, swaying gently to and fro like the rocking of a ship. The minimalism of the photographic presentation allows the viewer to recognize the humanity in each individual document of a body.