Ethically Compromised and Culturally Richer: Basel 2012

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"What strip mining is to nature the art market has become to culture." Robert Hughes

This is the quote I was turning around in my mind as I flew towards Miami. Your virtuous young narrator had a lot of preconceived ideas about this colossal, annual art happening. More specifically, I was expecting a total shit show, with a who's-booth-screams-louder mentality and corporate tie-in's down to the toilet paper level - all in the neon-lighted, silicon-augmented context of South Beach, Miami. A place fittingly described in my Wallpaper guide book as 'a sunny place for shady people.'

Fresh from the emphatically not-commercial Documenta exhibition in Kassel, Germany, your virtuous young narrator arrived with a lofty air of skepticism about this base spectacle of consumerism and celebrity. A thin veneer allowing for unguilty participation in activities that fundamentally offend ones better judgement. There aren't many opportunities to see this scope of work, I reasoned and I have good friends flying in from all over who I'm happy to see. As one gallerist later put it, 'a nice chance to see some art, go to some parties and get a tan before the holidays.'

I arrived at the (not quite) freshly opened Freehand Hostel in Miami, helmed by the hotel group behind the NoMad and the Ace New York, featuring a maritime-meets-flea-market ambiance by the gifted interior designers Roman & Williams. We had secured a private 'quad' for our variable group, with bunk beds and a sleep away camp for 20-somethings vibe. In the morning, I borrowed one of the communal red beach cruisers and made my way down to the press preview of the main Art Basel show. I checked in, received my credentials and sat uncomfortably through some profuse thanking from the mayor and entirely unmemorable comments from the directors and a wealth management fund or something. By the time the show opened at 11, the motley cast of press, adorned in wreaths of ostentatiously colored credentials, were drinking complimentary champagne beside a gaudy cigar brand pavilion and perusing artist-embellished luxury-brand racing cars.

Allora & Calzadilla / Gladstone Gallery

It's with mild exaggeration that one could describe the full scope of Art Basel and it's countless satellites as byzantine. Art Basel being the official epicenter, orbited by fairs like Nada, Untitled, Pulse, Art Miami, Design Miami, Scope, Miami Project and Aqua; and permanent collections like the Rubel, Margulies and De La Cruz; and museums like the Bass and Moca; and special installations, exhibitions, conversations, screenings and events in myriad hotels, stores, clubs, mansions, boats, airstreams, and airplanes.

Your virtuous young narrator began methodically traversing the fair, row by row, sparingly rationing attention for the pieces with the loudest siren song. Several hours later, feeling significantly reduced, I recessed for a bathroom break, some deep breathing and a recalibration of what could realistically be accomplished in my time here. I gave up on my methodical approach and proceeded with a liberating, follow the wind, work, crowd, light, feeling, friend or pretty girl approach - which closer resembles the way I proceed through life.

The art was world class. Established artists shown beside emerging artists and galleries from every corner of the world. Almost on par was the people-watching and eavesdropping. Fashionable art world insiders, wealthy collectors, celebrities, aspiring artists, scenesters, snowbirds, obvious locals (with tanned, overflowing breasts and muscles), and beautiful and seductive gallerinas with names like Salame (I'm not making this up).

 Jason Middlebrook / Dodge Gallery

I collected some memorable vignettes and impressions; A tour of shiny, wide-eyed sexagenarians nervously fingering their pearls as a docent/consultant type assured them you can find an Anish Kapoor in the dining room of any serious collectors home (I heard the same anecdote a half an hour later substituting fireplaces for dining rooms). A technical and tedious conversation about a Bill Viola new media piece, centered on logistical installation, maintenance (tech support?) and international tax code. A fairly constant ratio of 2:5 people on their cellphones. Unprecedented, for me at least, volumes of floral print and loafers. And children, seeming to enjoy the art and experience exponentially greater then their adult counterparts, in sync with the child-like abandon requisite to create great works of art in the first place.

Regretfully, all of the illuminating 10am conversations between the directors of the worlds finest art institutions were invariably slept through. My Basel was an ebb and flow of dilatory, diurnal culture consumption and nocturnal moral negotiation. Exclusive events seemed to overshadow art as a conversation topic. It felt as though many conversations were a variation on the theme of exclusivity, espoused to status, in a self-policing, relationally-determined social hierarchy. From the hysterical throngs of guests throwing designer-purse-embellished elbows, vying for entree through the velvet rope, to admonitions like 'to really experience the fair you have to get into the closets, all the best work is kept in the closets,' this refrain kept resurfacing like a ritornello. As unpleasant as it may be, there is a genuine reason for this exclusivity. In a word, finiteness. There are only so many works of enduring beauty and significance to collect, only so much space at that momentous party, and only so many places in those of upper echelons of social strata that shape the contemporary art landscape.

Jon Kessler / Salon 94

In this frenetic milieu, I found moments of absolute serenity. Glithero's Lost Time installation of hanging illuminated pearls reflected in a cool black pool at the design Basel show - tucked away in dark stillness from the anxiety-generating opening ceremonies. 12 Gordon Park prints at the Margulies collection that say more about civil rights in America, than I learned in my entire formal education. Adarsha Benjamin's Kurt Cobain-centric performance, featuring a superlative cast of artist friends and a resounding battle cry to choose love over fear. A saintly portrait of Marina Abramovic, in breathing white linen, cradling a goat, that will likely reside permanently in my mind. And many other moments of joy and fascination. Dap's impeccably curated selection of art books. Meals at the wondrous Haitian eatery (and informal cultural center) Tap Tap. Unscheduled and regenerative dips in the glowing, saline Atlantic. A forward looking exhibition of GIF's staged in a giant pitch-black warehouse space. Jon Kessler's insane mind. A swirling, stop-and-go Kentridge video piece. 4am, shiny, undulating disco bliss at Chez Andre. And plenty of impromptu conversations and jaunts with new found friends.

Your virtuous young narrator's Basel experience concluded with a slippery, alcohol-lubed nocturnal capitulation into a hazy cab ride towards a strip club in downtown Miami hosting a closing party. Not long after, fending off lap dances and watching naked daughters and sisters rub against one another in a violent precipitation of dollar bills and brown liquor. Sigh. Onwards, through my sui generis moral Manichaeanism, ethically compromised and culturally richer.

And now I sit and reflect in McNally Jackson bookstore on a crisp and chilly afternoon in Nolita, listening to baroque classical music, sipping hot hibiscus tea and typing these impressions. Outside, familiar faces, in their familiar context, walk by on Prince street and I idly envisage my return next year.

Text and photography by Perry Shimon for Pas Un Autre. See more photographs below. 

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Brice and Regis Abby

Snarkitecture's Drift Pavilion for Design Miami

 Art Basel Main Fair 

Marina Abramović / Gagosian Gallery 

Taryn Simon / Gagosian Gallery

Rad girls outside Moving the Still GIF Exhibition 

Glithero x Perrier-Jouet / Design Miami

Holton Rower / The Hole Gallery

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Beautiful young lady at the Design Fair behind a Corbusier mural (super cool parents not pictured)

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Beach Babe

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Ed Ruscha  / Plane Text 

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Onlookers

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Retna / Michael Kohn Gallery

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Adarsha Benjamin / KURT / Olympia Theater  

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Gordon Parks / Margulies Collection 

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Fried Yucca, Okra and Plantains, Avacado Salad / Tap Tap Restaurant

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International Art Police, issuing citations for infractions like 'excessive tax on audience time,' 'famous artist, but not for this one' and 'who cares?'

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Steve Powers / Joshua Liner Gallery

My dOCUMENTA (13) by Perry Shimon

Documenta is a contemporary art exhibition that happens every 5 years for 100 days in the decidedly uncool town of Kassel, Germany. Armed with a map, a new friend and a bicycle, I set off on a tour of museums, galleries, train stations, bakeries, hospitals, libraries, planetariums, back alleys, parks, public squares, contentious religious sites, campy hotels, department store windows and nondescript, unmarked sheds to engage with art of nearly every conceivable medium. There are hundreds of artists who participate under the curatorial purview of Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the past head curator for P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center and Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art in Turin.

Experiencing the expansive breadth of the work could very well take the full 100 days and I spent 4 days there, which allowed me to see the majority of the show and much of it in haste. Walking into the Fridericianum, the central museum of the Documenta which houses the 'brain' of the exhibition, I got a feel for Carolyn's distinctly light touch - works like “I Need Some Meaning I Can Memorise (The Invisible Pull),” by Ryan Gander, which is nothing more than a cool breeze blowing through the cavernous gallery and Ceal Floyer's 'Til I Get It Right,' a warm, scratchy, saccharin loop of 'so I'll just keep on…til I get it right." These pieces set the tone and my expectations for the show; restrained, intelligent, subtle, poetic, conceptual, lyrical - a change of pace from super-sized commercial art fairs, Deitch grandiosity, YBA-ness, Louis Vuitton Collaboration's and the such. What followed next, was a sprawling, city-wide, choose-your-own-adventure. The sheer amount of relationships between artists, viewers and spaces is immeasurable, that is to say, there are infinite ways to experience the documenta and what follows here are my most resonant impressions and pictures:

Sitting in a wooded patch of Karlsaue Park encircled in the sound cathedral created by Janet Cardiff and George Buress Miller. A cleansing rain washes away a soaring airstrike and blooms into a transcendent choral piece which blends into the light filled spaces between the gently pendulating leaves.

The metronome of Kader Attia's slide projector, firing images of extra occidental masks, objects, scarification, deformation and repair in concert with western faces, deformed and mutilated, in the dark shadows of colonialism. 

William Kentridege's locomotive, swirling, immersive, existential, mathematical, fantastical Refusal of Time; hommage to Georges Méliès with a Loie Fuller phoenix rising and a dramatic procession of silhouettes summoning Kara Walker and Plato.

Geoffry Farmer's field of American LIFE. 

Opening a door and walking into the pitch black of an unmarked shed in the lushly green courtyard of the Hugenottenhaus. Inching forward into the complete darkness that begins to hum with the sound of layered voices warming-up and then erupting into a celebratory a-capella arrangement of Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys. The paling of the dark and recognition of the dancing and singing performers around me. The joy of dancing and harmonizing human voices. The new visitors cautiously inching into the complete unknown. The feeling of seniority, knowing, belonging. The quickness of the cycle. (Tino Sehgal)

Rabih Mroué's pixelated, obsessive exploration of technology's role and implications in the Arab Spring. 

Entering the baroque orangerie, ambling through the Cabinet of Astronomy and Physics and happening upon the love machine synthesizer, lovingly constructed by the finnish philosopher-composer Erkki Kurenniemi, which requires the touch of 2 or more people to generate sound. The inborn ability of his machine to bring together complete strangers in giddy wonder and human touch. People from disparate ages, countries and social strata holding and touching each other in different ways to change the tones. The universality of music. The power of human touch. 

Goshka Macuga's bright and ethereal mash up of history and medium, arcing around the broad rotunda of the Fridericianum - self-referential, anachronistic and vertiginous

Listening to the almost uncomfortably candid thoughts of Janet Cardiff in my ears, as I followed her augmented video tour of the old train station on an iPhone.  Experiencing the very real, ebb and flow of station as I simultaneously experience Janet's augmented, non-temporal, immortalized experience of the same space - Perplexed staring from onlookers - Wandering through the back staircases of the station. 'No matter how much you love someone, no matter how hard we cling to hold onto them, we will always be separate from them.' - Jeers from a young man I cut off stepping back into the realtime flow of station - Standing in a carnally vacant, digitally augmented corner, with tears in my eyes, watching lilliputian dancers in a pas de deux expressing that echoing, magnificently lonely sentiment. 

Text and photography by Perry Shimon for Pas Un Autre

Studio Visit With Artist Richard Goldberg

Richard Goldberg is an artist based in San Francisco. I was lucky enough to be invited into the inner sanctum of his studio which holds nearly three decades of his incredible, and mostly never seen to the public, oeuvra. His drawings, paintings, and three dimensional sculptural objects are created with a plethora of mediums and cover a broad range of subject matter ranging from the darkly humorous and extremely violent. Richard Goldberg's website is currently being developed and will show almost his complete works up to date and in color.  See more photos after the jump.

Love Land Invaders

Love Land Invaders is brought to you by the ingeniously creative minds of Cologne, Germany based artists Lagoi & Lace. Inspired by "entertainment and pop/music culture, Japanese culture, nudity and porn, fashion, design and art," Ralph Lagoi and Kate Lace create surreal worlds with vibrant, luxuriously psychedelic palettes that contain a certain pop art poetry that is half cartoonish and half brilliantly absurd, but that collectively represents a broader philosophy of freedom, love and art. Love Land Invaders, one of their latest, wildly inventive photographic stories, was shot in Japan's stunningly decorated love hotel rooms and includes specially designed masks, jewelry, clothing and ribbons. Even the artists themselves posed for the photographs – transforming themselves into elaborate characters with names like "Miss Takehito Quadruple," "Mister Hyde Dobuita Speertraeger," "Mr. Seiuchi Sivuch," "Shika Shika Chan" and "Miss Ayanami Oenshi" who each represent different ideals of beauty - like the the beauty of dark elegance, the beauty of a gentleman, the beauty of play, the beauty of wilderness, and the beauty of pink. Its the kind of blatant campiness that can make one overlook its originality, but if you see if for what its worth you'll notice its extremely original artistic merit as a bold statement on the glossy, hyper-surreal, absurdity of post-modern contemporary art. It brings to mind the the balloon statues and installations of Jeff Koons and art of Murakami as larger than life statements of a philosophy that Lagoi and Lace call Luxurious Pop

Be sure to visit the psychedelic world of of Lagoi & Lace to see much more mind-blowing imagery.....

Munch Ado About Nothing

Edvard Munch (pronounced Moonk) is best known for The Scream – the painting itself is an expressionistic exclamation point marking an emotional era in art. After walking through the recent Munch exhibit at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, The Scream seemed to me to be the culmination of a life's work; an exasperated attempt to express the entirety of life's frustrations and anxiety. The exhibition portrayed the work of a man gripped with the beauty and fatality of every moment. Images of vampires, sick women, and the famous painting entitled "two lonely ones" standing by the water's edge (pictured below).

Munch was also obsessed with self-portrait photographs. I was overcome with a sense of earnest loneliness walking past his 4 x 6 washed out photos of Munch in bed, or gazing sternly out the window, or of his own profile. Was he trying to see if others' saw his paintings like he saw them: full of color, visceral objects in constant motion, jumping off the frame, still for a moment, and then gone?

He seemed to be overwhelmed with the beauty and solitude in life – using color and exaggerated reference points to impose a sense of urgency, of tragedy and stillness at the same time. Figures with faces stand out in great detail – serving as the proverbial punctuation marks, while the supporting roles stand as auxiliary auras – holding still in space. Munch instills the unbelievable power to feel within one figure the emotion of the entire room – with empathy to the all-to-common human experience of standing alone in a room and with many.

Edvard Munch: The Modern Eye just concluded at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, but will resume at the Tate Modern in London this summerfrom June 28 to October 14, and in the meantime Edvard Munch's Masterpieces is on view now until May at the Munch Museet in Oslo, Norway which houses a majority of his works including 1,100 paintings, 4,500 drawings and 18,000 prints. Text by Angelina Dreem for Pas Un Autre. 

Photo by Angelina Dreem

Looking Forward: ART IN 2012

Terry Richardson, Untitled (red lips), 2011

As everyone looks backward – best album, film, book, art exhibition of 2011 – Pas Un Autre looks forward to a few important and exciting exhibitions held around the world in 2012. As you'll see – there will be a trend in Japanese contemporary visual art and Japanese artist's getting their due in major museums, Damien Hirst attempts to take over the world with spots, British artist Gillian Wearing taps into the human psyche, and Terry Richardson has his first solo exhibition in Los Angeles. 

1.  The first exhibition of renowned Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama's work at a Los Angeles museum. Fracture: Daido Moriyama, which is on view from April 7 to July 31 2012 at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,  highlights the raw power of Moriyama’s work through a selection of photographic prints and books spanning four decades, as well as an installation of more recent color prints.

2. In 2012 British artist Damien Hirst will take over the world with his famous "spot paintings."  From January 12 to February 18 at all ten Gagosian Gallery locations around the world, from Madison Avenue to Hong Kong to Geneva, will be presenting the exhibition Damien Hirst: The Complete Spot Paintings 1986–2011.

3.  Japanese artist Yayoi Kusuma, famous too for her repeating dot patterns, but also for her painting, drawing, sculpture, film, performance and immersive installations, will be having a major retrospective at the Tate Modern in London. Kusuma, who grew up in rural Japan and became the center of the New York avante-garde art scene in New York in 60s and has spent the last few decades in a psychiatric institution in Tokyo, will be having a series of major retrospectives in the coming year.  Kusuma's retrospective at the Tate Modern will be on view from February 9 to July 5 2012.

4. Turner Prize-winning British artist Gillian Wearing’s photographs and films explore the public and private lives of ordinary people. Fascinated by how people present themselves in front of the camera in fly-on-the-wall documentaries and reality TV, she explores ideas of personal identity through often masking her subjects and using theatre’s staging techniques.From March 28 to June 17 at the Whitechapel Gallery in London presents a major exhibition that surveys Wearing’s work.

5. Terry Richardson’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, titled Terrywood, presents over 25 of his latest photographs. Inspired by the multiple facets of Hollywood life, Terrywood unveils a series of images of the famous locale, as seen through Richardson’s eyes. Terryworld meets Hollywood, as the local characters, familiar landscapes, and architectural details, now verge on having a new identity. With images such as Untitled (Hollywood), and Untitled (Nude), both photographs of the proverbial chintzy signs that are ubiquitous throughout Hollywood, Richardson illustrates his proclivity for branding whatever subject matter he approaches. Terrywood will be on view at the OH WOW gallery on La Cienaga in Los Angeles from February 24  to March 31, 2012.

LOWLIFE, a Memoir by Scot Sothern

California, 1986–When I pulled off the freeway into San Diego, I had a single twenty dollar bill in my wallet. My car, a 1973 Toyota station wagon, rattled my teeth and died in idle. At stops I had to divide my right foot: heel on the brake, toes revving the accelerator. I had barely enough gas to get back to Los Angeles. See more after the jump....

On El Cajon Boulevard I drove slowly and studied the street walkers. In their eyes I could see desperation-induced madness, premature death. In my eyes they could see my craving for the nasty little secret I kept from friends and family. I could give my twenty dollars to any one of these women. I could buy a quick sex fix and she could buy enough crack to put a smile on her face for an hour or so.

In the passenger seat, belted and buckled, frail and beautiful, my four-year-old son, Dashiell, slept curled around his best friend, a pillow-sized stuffed facsimile of Hulk Hogan. It was Sunday night and my weekend with my little boy was over.

When we arrived at his mother's house, Dash awoke. He cried and clung tightly, arms around my neck. He didn't want me to go. His mother Sylvia, my ex-wife, was happy to see me go, but first she wanted money. I made lame excuses. She called me a jerk and pried our son from my embrace. I took my twenty dollars and drove back to El Cajon Boulevard.

Cruising nighttime byways for an adrenaline high, Scot Sothern first patronized the marketplace of curbside prostitution on a prurient whim. Diving to the murky depths of sexual obsession he resurfaced five years later, shell shocked, and without excuse. While there, trusty Nikon in hand, Scot snapped what he saw: full-frontal X-rated realities, fine-art documents, black and white, pathos and pizzazz.

LOWLIFE is an illustrated diary of dysfunction; the confessions of a befuddled baby-boomer maintaining a precarious connection to propriety and fatherhood while side-tripping into noirish infatuations. These stories and images, shot mostly in Southern California between 1986 and 1990 record the existence of the many disenfranchised Americans, men and women, hawking body and soul for the price of a Big Mac and a fix, struggling in a culture that deems them criminal and expendable.

On view starting November 5 (on view until December 3) at the Drkrm Gallery in Los Angeles presents Lowlife Photographs and Literary Vignettes by Scot Sothern with an opening night book signing of Lowlife the book, a limited edition monograph published by Stanley Barker UK now publishing. 

Chasing Shadows by Santu Mofokeng

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They are strewn like litter across the floor in my office. Others are kept in cabinets, and a few are in frames. Whatever lies, deceptions or promises brought them into being, I wonder. I am referring to the products of my gaze, refracted and reflecting, somewhat muted, not unlike light dancing on the surface of the dirty puddle that is my memory: Images of people in moments of contemplation, performance, confrontation and perhaps celebration. My exploration and participation in the fictions we call relationship and community. And of environments, real and imagined. Insignificant experiences, selected and isolated from tedium, moments reduced to mere appearances, simply as surfaces reflecting light, arrested and stored in the long memory of film. A brooding corpus of so many episodes remembered and forgotten.

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This anthology of photographs was initially conceived as a metaphorical biography, though I now have reservations about that conception. The bias for the dark, the bizarre and the allegorical in the work is my entire fault. For, like Ezekiel in the Bible, I embrace the apocalypse. I can easily blame my mother and father for my obsession with meaning and purpose, and the fact that I find beauty without truth unsatisfactory. Except, I suspect the problem lies elsewhere. It is located somewhere between 1956 and now.

These photographs explore a part of me which I have so far neglected in my work, – my spirituality. There are several reasons why it was ignored: ambivalence, embarrassment, fear of the political and other implications or perhaps the deflection of my gaze. This exhibit is an attempt to come to terms with my schizophrenic existence. The expression I take as a title for this exhibition, "Chasing Shadows" has quixotic connotations in English, but in African languages its meaning is antithetical.

"...while I feel reluctant to partake

in this gossamer world, 

I can identify with it."

"Shadow" does not carry the same image or meaning as seriti or is'thunzi. The word in Sotho and Zulu is difficult to pin down to any single meaning. In everyday use seriti or is'thunzi can mean anything from aura, presence, dignity, confidence, power, spirit, essence, status and or wellbeing. The words in the vernacular also imply the experience of being loved or feared. One's seriti / is'thunzi can be positive or negative and can exert a powerful influence. Having a good or bad seriti / is'thunzi depends on the caprice of enemies, witches, relatives both dead and living, friends or associations, and on circumstance or time. Having and defending one's own seriti / is'thunzi from evil forces or attacking the seriti / is'thunzi of one's perceived enemies preoccupies and torments many African people. Those Africans who disdain these notions are at least aware of seriti/ is'thunzi. Especially the elite, when they engage in conversation with white South Africans, they often deny this black African consciousness.

I grew up on the threshing floor of faith. A faith that is both ritual and spiritual – a bizarre cocktail of beliefs that completely embraces pagan rituals as well as Christian beliefs. And while I feel reluctant to partake in this gossamer world, I can identify with it. It does not strike me as 'peculiar'. Yet, I still try to avoid being trapped in its hypnotic embrace, which seems to mock my carefully cultivated indifference and self confidence. I feel ambivalent about my ambivalence, embarrassed at my embarrassment.

This project has steered me to places where reality blended in freely with unreality, where my knowledge of the photographic medium was tested to the limit. While the images record rituals, fetishes and settings, I am not certain that I captured on film the essence of the consciousness I saw displayed. Perhaps, I was looking for something that refuses to be photographed. I was only chasing shadows, perhaps.

Text by Santu Mofokeng, 1997

Santu Mofokeng, Shadow Hunter is on view now at the Jeu de Paume in Paris - The exhibition and the accompanying book bring together a unique selection of the photographic essays made by Santu Mofokeng over the last thirty years. Well-known from his projects Black Photo Album/Look at me: 1890-1900s, Township Billboards: Beauty, sex and cell phones, Trauma Landscapes and Chasing Shadows, the South African artist took the opportunity of the invitation for this show and the production of his first comprehensive monograph, to delve deep into his artistic archive. "Santu Mofokeng, Chasing Shadows – 30 years of photographic essays" presents a selection of more than 200 images (photographs and a slideshow), texts and documents. The photographic essays he composed over the years, some of which are a life-long work in progress, range from the Soweto of his youth, from his investigations of life on the farms, the everyday life of the township and in particular, representations of the self and family histories of black South Africans, to images from the artist’s ongoing exploration of religious rituals and of typologies of landscapes, including his most current project Radiant Landscapes, commissioned specially for this retrospective.

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Car Fetish

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Superflex, Burning Car, 2008

When I think of car fetish I immediately think of David Cronenberg's 1996 film Crash. Its the erotic tale of a group of sexual outsiders who get their rocks off in car wrecks. One scene in particular, where Rosanna Arquette's character, who wears fish-nets and leg braces–obviously the result of some previous dalliance gone awry, and Holly Hunter's character get it on in the back of an old car.  Theres a word for this kind of fetish–its called paraphilia, or an attraction to objects.

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Andrew Bush, Man (possibly someone in character) traveling northwest at 60 mph on U.S.

The automobile is the foremost cultural touchstone of the 20th century, reflecting the social and cultural development of the western world and beyond. Both technical device and instrument of locomotion, it offers the most highly developed and widespread interface for human-machine interaction – while also functioning as a carrier of meaning, an individualized living room, a medium for escapes great and small, and a means of distancing oneself from others and of creating a personal profile. The attraction of speed and the new feeling of time and space ushered in by the advent of the automobile had a formative influence on (urban) perception and the rhythm of modern life in the early years of the 20th century. The view through the windshield still drives our outlook on life today, as well as coloring the cinematic perspective on reality. An exhibition "Car Fetish," at the Museum Tinguely in Basel, demonstrates the wide range of art influenced by the automobile. Around 160 artworks are featured by more than 80 artists, among them Giacomo Balla, Robert Frank, Jean Tinguely, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Chris Burden, Damián Ortega, Richard Prince or Superflex.

On view until October 9, 2011 at the Museum Tinguely in Basel, Switzerland www.tinguely.ch

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Arnold Odermatt, Wolfenschiessen, 1964

[ESSAY] The Cruelty of Humanness

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If we could partially gauge an artist’s worldview from his or her art, there is little romance to be derived from Belgium artist Wim Delvoye’s prospect. Neither is there room for hypocrisy in his work. As viewers, we have no escape, but are instead confronted with what Delvoye (born 1965 in Wervik, Belgium) once described as “a cruelty of the body” in the ways he portrays and represents humanness - ways that are often blunt and blatant, lacking in subtlety or diplomacy.

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He’s made friends perform explicit sexual acts in medical clinics and had them recorded with X-ray scans, which were then sandwiched between colored glass to make windows in the tradition of medieval stained glass. Instead of human flesh, you see skeletons engaging in kissing, fondling and pleasuring each other. It’s a rather unfamiliar sight, yet it’s both realistic and real. Delvoye runs a pig farm in Beijing and sells tattooed pigskins and stuffed, tattooed pigs. And above all, he has made machines that digest food and discharge excrement. “If you really want to show a portrait of mankind, you have to look for the humanness.” And for that matter, Wim Delvoye’s works revolve around two pivotal axes: “one is the world of the frieze - decorative, the elegance of arabesques; the other is excrement.” The artist, however, sees little difference between the two: “The ornament, to an extent, is a form of waste.”

Cloaca, probably by far Delvoye’s best-known work, is a large-scale installation that duplicates the functions of the human digestive system and exists in a variety of models and incarnations. To put it simply, Cloaca is a machine that eats and shits. When exhibited, regular food is prepared by chefs and fed regularly (usually twice a day) into the workings of the machine, or should we say, the human machine. It then dutifully extrudes the remaining solids onto a conveyer belt, which is finally vacuum-packed and sold in plexi cases for $1,000 each.

“If you really want to show a portrait of mankind,

you have to look for the humanness.”

Cloaca was not simply a meditation on waste. The fact that a machine that produced shit was accepted and highly valued in the art circle was rather a provocation to an art world that had become increasingly commercialized since the mid-1990s, with the arrival of the Internet boom and dotcom economy. During an era when everything could potentially carry a price tag as an art object, Cloaca and its wide acceptance and popularity were a parody of the art system itself and what was considered valuable at the time. It mocked the very structure that supported its presentation and operation. Dan Cameron, former Senior Curator of New York’s New Museum has written of Cloaca, “by replicating one of our most crucial biological functions, Delvoye forces viewers both to consider our social discomfort with such functions and to question the elaborate cultural mechanisms that we have constructed to keep them from view.”

With another ongoing project, his “Pigskins” and “Stuffed Tattooed Pigs” series, Delvoye once again challenged the level of tolerance and the notion of worthiness in both the art system and our societies by tattooing patterns on live pigs and selling both tattooed pigskins and stuffed pigs as his artworks. His act of tattooing pigs has caused reactions and strong opposition from animal right activists in Europe, and he has since re-established a pig farm on the outskirts of Beijing, which he calls Art Farm. What makes the whole operation even more thought provoking is the fact that these art products are still exhibited and consumed in the international art context. While Delvoye found it impossible to continue having pigs tattooed withoutcausing controversy in Western societies, does their status as artworks make the products of this operation immune to criticism and allow it to acquire a certain positive value within the system again? Delvoye, however, wouldn’t want us to continue turning a blind eye to the underlying currents of such a mechanism, and instead brings it to us without disguise. Art Farm is a documentary of the full operation of his pig farm in China, shot on video from three different angles. We can’t pretend to know the easy part - the beautiful pigskin - without knowing how it has been made. There is no illusion or mystery left.

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In addition to the three-screen video projection of Art Farm and some of his tattooed pigskins, Wim Delvoye will also share with us various sardonic products of his confrontational engagements with the art world andsociety in his exhibition at the Beijing branch of Galerie Urs Meile, Beijing-Lucerne. In his incessant interrogation of the limits and accepted order of the art system, Wim Delvoye has proven himself capable of creating objects and sculptures that appear to be eye-catching and even ornamental, yet at the same time address important issues Delvoye would like us to think about as we attempt to understand how the art world operates and to consider the multiple facets of our own existence.

Clio (2001-2002) and Terpsichore (2001-2002) are among the selection of works presented in the exhibition. These two works come from a series of stained glass windows incorporating images of X-ray photographs of cavorting couples that is part of his body of “Gothic Works”. Named after the nine muses of Greek mythology - Greek goddesses that ruled over the arts and sciences and offered inspiration in those subjects - this series involves Delvoye’s friends performing sexual acts in medical X-ray clinics and being captured on X-ray film, reduced to nothing but pure mechanical and graphic patterns. Another important branch of Delvoye’s “Gothic Works” is also presented in Beijing with Concrete Mixer (scale model 1:4) (2010) and Cement Truck (scale model) (2008). They are steel sculptures with meticulously carved, Gothic-style patterns.

The notion of the interchangeable nature of what’s useful and what’s useless continues to inform Delvoye’s manipulation of used objects. He transforms things that seem useful in everyday life into purely decorative items that then carry a different value from their everyday uses. Such items then become less useful in a practical context, but they are assigned a visual and artistic value in the art context. He has used car tires handcrafted with intricate designs that turned them into purely beautiful objects.

With his work, Delvoye continuously exposes us to the humanness of both the physical body and our social structures, particularly those sides that are not always pleasant, warm or generally considered constructive, but are equally valid and relevant to our being. Delvoye makes bare the less visible threads of our social fabric by giving them a place in the art context, and grants them a cultural and thus monetary sense of worthiness, simultaneously contemplating and revealing the mechanisms of the cultural industry. Loosely grouped to give a first impression of some of Delvoye’s important practices, this solo show offers barely the tip of the iceberg in terms of introducing the complex oeuvre of one of the most prolific artists of the last decade.

Text by Carol Yinghua Lu

Written on the occasion of Wim Delvoye’s solo exhibition at Galerie Urs Meile on view until July 31. www.galeriursmeile.com

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Model as Muse: The Kate Moss Portfolio

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Glen Luchford, Kate Moss, 1994

Ephemeral, unique, stunning, imperfect, a blank canvas. These are all words that have been used to describe Kate Moss, the original “waif” who helped effect a watershed change in fashion in the early 90’s and continues to inspire a slew of diverse, evocative visions from some of the most highly-acclaimed photographers in the world. Moss’s is arguably one of the most controversial, intriguing, mesmerizing and instantly recognizable faces of our era. Simultaneously plain and gorgeous, Moss is exalted by photographers for the striking presence and personality she brings to the photographic medium, as well as her unmatched ability to morph into anything—femme fatale, elegant society woman, innocent child, tomboy, seductress, goddess.

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Bruce Weber, Kate Moss, 1997

Model as Muse: The Kate Moss Portfolio opened this past Thursday, May 13th at Danziger Projects’ new location in Chelsea. The intimate, two-room gallery displays the work of 11 of the world’s leading fashion photographers, including Annie Leibovitz, Glen Luchford, Terry Richardson, Mario Sorrenti, Mario Testino, Juergen Teller, Bruce Weber, Inez Van Lamsweerde, Vinoodh Matadin and Herb Ritts, each of whom captured the unusual, captivating British icon at different points throughout her illustrious career. The portfolio includes never-before-seen shots of Moss at the beginning of her career in 1988, Chuck Close’s faceless nude daguerrotype diptych, one of notorious team Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott’s famed glamour shots from the 2008 issue of Interview magazine showcasing its new layout, several photographs of Moss at the age of eighteen on her first trip to New York, and countless other breathtaking works.

“I think that Kate Moss is not so much a model or a supermodel, but an artist-model. There is a quality that she has that inspires photographers to do their best and create something that is both the epitome of their style and also takes them as far into [the place] where art meets fashion and where fashion meets art,” said James Danziger, owner of the gallery and curator of the exhibit.

Model as Muse:The Kate Moss Portfolio is now on display at Danziger Projects, 527 West 23rd St, New York. www.danzigerprojects.com

Text by Annabel Graham for Pas Un Autre

(Annabel Graham is a photographer and writer based in NYC, she has worked for Interview Magazine as well as the Paris Review, and she is a regular contributor to Pas Un Autre, visit her blog Can I Borrow Your Fire)

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Glen Lemuel, Kate Moss, 1988

Mein Kulturkampf: Andres Serrano Vs. The Jesus Freaks

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Last Sunday French Christian fundamentalist vandals went on an all out attack on a photograph by artist Andres Serranoat the Je Crois Aux Miracles (I Believe in Miracles) exhibition at the Collection Lambert, a contemporary art museum in Avignon, France. The photograph, Piss Christ, an image of Jesus Christ on the cross submerged in the artist's own urine, was damaged "beyond repair."  Other photographs were damaged and museum guard's lives were threatened.  If this was the middle ages Andre Serrano would undoubtably be burned alive at the stake, or...crucified. Religion and culture has always been an oxymoronic, delicate, and oft times violent affair, but spite begets spite and the holy war against sacrilege in art will always wage, and with no real front lines, as well as mass confusion as to who is the real enemy is, will never be won nor lost.

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Andres Serrano is undoubtably a "shock artist" and his images are bound to illicit a response; whether good or bad depends on the viewer. Serrano's photograph Blood and Semen III - the title speaks for itself - was used by Metallica for their 1996 album Load. Is it disgusting, beautiful or both?  Serrano, who was born in 1950 in New York City, is half Honduran, half Afro-Cuban, and interestingly was raised a strict Roman Catholic. Serrano did not start making art seriously until he was 28 years old and has since exhibited globally with multiple career retrospectives.  Serrano's art has had many close calls, but never as violent as last Sunday's attack.

If tens of thousands of years of human civilization haven't proved that we are a depraved species fighting back desperately our primordial urges, we have a long way to go.  In the 1990s Andres Serrano was a pivotal figure in the culture wars that waged between conservative America and the National Endowment of Arts as to whether tax payer money should be allocated to support artists like Serrano. But it begs the question: who are the real radicals and when does this brand of blatant censorship infringe on freedom of expression?

In Andres Serrano's case he can rest assure that as long as he keeps dipping figures of Jesus Christ in jars of  his own urine the mob will always be at his door with pitchforks. But, in the case of those that can appreciate the aesthetic and visceral significance of Serrano's art, amen to you.  After three days of forced closure, despite repeated death threats, Piss Christ is miraculously on view again, albeit severely damaged.

Je Crois Aux Miracles exhibition is on view at the Collection Lambert in Avignon, until May 8th - ww.collectionlambert.com

Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre

Ecce Homo, 1988

PICASSO AND MARIE-THÉRÈSE: Crazy Love

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"You have an interesting face. I would like to do your portrait. I have a feeling we will do great things together." - Pablo Picasso

In 1927, on a street in Paris, Picasso encountered the unassuming girl, just shy of eighteen years old, who would become his lover and one of modern art’s most famous muses. “I am Picasso” he announced. The name meant nothing to Marie-Thérèse so he took her to a bookshop to show her a monograph of his paintings and asked if he could see her again. Flattered and curious, she agreed, and thus began a secret love affair that would establish Marie-Thérèse as the primary inspiration for Picasso’s most daring aesthetic experiments in the decade to come.

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More than any other woman that Picasso desired and painted, Marie-Thérèse, with her statuesque body and strong, pure profile, fueled his imagination with a luminous dream of youth. Although her first appearances in his work were veiled references with her initials forming spare linear compositions, such as in the earliest work in the exhibition, Guitare à la main blanche (1927), the arrival of the blond goddess’s likeness in his art announced a new love in his life. In portrayals, Picasso would stretch her robust athletic form to new extremes, metamorphosing her in endlessly inventive ways. She became the catalyst for some of his most exceptional work, from groundbreaking paintings to an inspired return to sculpture in the 1930s, according her an almost mythic stature and earning her immortality as an art historical subject. Yet her true identity remained a secret from even Picasso’s closest friends. Even after Marie-Thérèse bore their daughter Maya in 1935, Picasso would continue to divide his time between his professional life as the most famous artist in the world, and his secret family life, spending Thursdays and weekends with her and Maya and amassing a trove of love letters and snapshots exchanged while they were apart.

Following the critical and popular success of Picasso: Mosqueteros in New York in 2009 and Picasso: The Mediterranean Years in London in 2010, Gagosian Gallery in New York is pleased to present the next chapter in an ongoing exploration of Picasso’s principal themes. Picasso and Marie-Thérèse: L’amour Fou brings together the paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints inspired by one of Picasso’s most ideal models and enduring passions. The exhibition is curated by the eminent Picasso biographer, John Richardson, together with Marie-Thérèse’s granddaughter, art historian Diana Widmaier Picasso, who is currently preparing a catalogue raisonné of Picasso’s sculptures.

"....I have a feeling we will do

great things together."

The exhibition spans the years 1927 to 1940 and includes several works never before seen in the United States. The curators have assembled the group of more than eighty works to show a rarely articulated range of Marie-Thérèse’s influence within Picasso’s imagery, beyond recent headline-grabbing portraits. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with a new biographical essay by John Richardson, and Diana Widmaier Picasso’s revelatory essay exploring Picasso’s portraiture, which includes dozens of never before published photographs of Marie-Thérèse from the family archives. Elizabeth Cowling, Professor Emeritus of History of Art at Edinburgh University and co-curator of the historic exhibition “Matisse Picasso” (2002-03), has contributed an essay that examines the dissemination of images of Picasso’s sculptures through the art journals of the period.

To show Picasso’s work in a downtown contemporary art gallery creates a context that evokes the original challenges that his art presented in his own time while celebrating its enduring significance in our own. Under the direction of Valentina Castellani and installed in a dynamic transformation of the 21st Street gallery by architect Annabelle Selldorf, this unprecedented exhibition of the period will reveal Picasso’s secret muse and his l'amour fou Marie-Thérèse in a dramatic new light. www.gagosian.com

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NOBUYOSHI ARAKI, It Was Once a Paradise

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It Was Once a Paradise, Japanese photographer Nobuyoshi Araki’s new series of photographs, shown as 40 diptychs, is a bi-polar collision of the id and superego. In his new, as-yet-unseen series, which will be shown later this month at Reflex Art Gallery in Amsterdam,  Araki “addresses the complex relationship between loss and desire, which translates as despair and hope, separation and symbiosis, the internal and the other.” Nobuyoshi Araki, who is now 71 and has published over 400 books of photography, has had a life long fascination with sex & death in his work.

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In his new series, Araki’s diptychs are a contrast of two independent, but mutual worlds. On one side are black and white photographs of close-ups of his Tokyo balcony, a place that was once his own private world shared with his late wife and cats - a sanctuary  now overrun with the despairing, assemblage of toy monsters and dinosaurs - symbolic of a certain infestation of deep melancholy and, seemingly, a realization of mortality. On the other side of the diptych is a color image of a beautiful, nude women, intricately tied up - adumbrative of the eternal, erotic, technicolor Oz of sexual desire.  In Japan, Kinbaku, or ’the beauty of tight binding’ is the intricate art of bondage of which Araki is somewhat of a master.  It can be concluded though, that a true elucidation of the meaning of Araki’s photographic oeuvre is not entirely attainable - which is a testament to their beauty and vast psychological complexity. Araki is, after all, an artist. Nobuyoshi Araki, It Was Once a Paradise will be on view from April 23 till July 16 2011 at the Alex Daniels - Reflex Gallery in Amsterdam. There will also be a book published in conjunction with the exhibit. www.reflexamsterdam.com

Text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper for Pas Un Autre

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DAVID BENJAMIN SHERRY: Form Forming Formation

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Touched by the Hand of God

David Benjamin Sherry, whose solo show is opening at OHWOW gallery on April 30th in Los Angeles, is a photographer on the rise, and maybe acid. Sherry's brilliant photographic machinations include strikingly prismatic still lives, tableau vivants, all with electric colors, and as a testament to the electricity of his images, all are analog C-Prints - which means he uses film.

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Spectral Red, Give Me Head Till I'm Dead

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Making Sure White Sand Dunes Stain

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Manorathadayaks

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Self Portrait as the Born Feeling Begins

The upcoming exhibition, Form Forming Formation, is a solo presentation of David Benjamin Sherry’s photographic work that studies "concepts of geometry, science, color, materiality, and the course of change." David Benjamin Sherry: Form Forming Formation is on view April 30 - May 27, 2011 at OHWOW gallery in Los Angeles. www.oh-wow.com

The Mystery & Ambiguity of Christer Strömholm

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left + right: Foire de Pigalle, Paris, 1955*

Originally published in 1967, Poste Restante has become one of the most collectible photography books from the mid-twentieth century, ranking alongside the better known publications of Robert Frank and Ed van der Elsken. Strömholm’s photographic autobiography details his extensive travels across the globe in a book constructed as an Existentialist diary. Juxtaposing the urbane and the macabre, combining portraiture and street scenes with abstract photographic fragments, the book uses metaphor and visual pun in an unrelenting stream of consciousness. In its sequence and design it is a book which pre-figures much of contemporary photographic publishing and art practice.

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left: Jacky with dog, Paris, circa 1950 right: Cobra, Paris, circa 1960**

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left: Stockholm, 1976 right: Merciful sisters, 1976***

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left: Ingalill, Paris, 1979 right: The Kiss, Paris, 1962****

Poste Restante by Christer Strömholm will be available this April by Steidl books. www.steidlville.com

* Pigalle - The show occupies an essential place in the work of Christer Strömholm who photographs cinema and theater posters and produces a series on the Pigalle square. He likes fixing his attention on the spectators who introduce new points of view and invites us to imagine scenes beyond the picture.
** Place Blanche, 1956-1962 - The series Place Blanche, created between 1956 and 1962, is dedicated to the transvestites and the transsexuals of this Parisian district. Strömholm does not pose his models in the nude. Never a Peeping Tom, he knows how to protect mystery and ambiguity.
*** Polaroïds , 1976 - About twenty Polaroids created by Strömholm in 1976 present the assemblies of images and objects and constitute so many visual plays on words that reveal the profound influence of surrealism on Strömholm.
**** Paris - It is by the end of the 40’s, at the college of Beaux-Arts in Paris, that Christer Strömholm dedicates himself completely to photography. Far from the humanism of Doisneau or decisive moment of Cartier-Bresson, he develops a subjective and eclectic photography that refuses any anecdote and any hierarchy among the subjects. In addition to portraits stolen from the street, he multiplies the photos of objects. Strange and ghastly rubbish, these last ones return to the surrealist found object and evoke the recovery of the new realists to whom Strömholm was close.

Wim Delvoye's Sexrays

Wim Delvoye

Wim Delvoye, born 1965, is a Belgian neo-conceptual artist known for his inventive and often shocking projects. Much of his work is focused on the body. He repeatedly links the attractive with the repulsive, creating work that holds within it inherent contradictions- one does not know whether to stare, be seduced, or to look away. Wim Delvoye has an eclectic oeuvre, exposing his interest in a range of themes, from bodily function, to the Catholic Church, and numerous subjects in between. He lives and works in Belgium, but recently moved to China after a court of law judged his pig tattoo art projects illegal. Delvoye is additionally well known for his “gothic” style work. In 2001, Delvoye, with the help of a radiologist, had several of his friends paint themselves with small amounts of barium, and perform explicit sexual acts in medical X-ray clinics. Wim Delvoye then used the X-ray scans to fill gothic window frames instead of classic stained glass.

Wim Delvoye's Sexrays
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Delvoye suggests that radiography reduces the body to a machine. When he was not an active participant, Delvoye observed from a computer screen in another room, allowing the subjects enough distance to perform normally, although Delvoye has described the whole operation as "very medical, very antiseptic." Delvoye also creates oversized laser-cut steel sculptures of objects typically found in construction, customized in seventeenth century Flemish Baroque style. These structures juxtapose "medieval craftsmanship with Gothic filigree." Delvoye brings together the heavy, brute force of contemporary machinery and the delicate craftsmanship associated with Gothic architecture. www.wimdelvoye.be