Monday 29 February 2016

Ernest Cole

Ernest Cole at Moderna Museet, Stockholm.
Ernest Cole grew up in a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Pretoria. His classification as coloured, rather than black, was a crucial distinction in the apartheid system of South Africa at that time. It meant he had more freedom to go where he wanted and take freelance assignments as a photographer for various magazines and newspapers.
In the early 1960s  he started documenting the life of the black population under racist segregation. He was inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson and his book about people in Moscow. This project eventually resulted in the book House of Bondage, published in 1967, portraying, amongst other things, the harsh existence of miners, the constant passport controls, the long and tiresome commutes, the black servants in white households, the street children - the Heirs of Poverty, as Cole called them.

Cole had to leave South Africa in 1966 so that he could publish his book. It was immediately banned in his home country, forcing him to live in exile for the rest of his life. He settled in Europe for a few years, but eventually ended up in New York, where he lived until his death.
The photographs we saw are stunning and they give a powerful picture of what it was like in South Africa under apartheid. I'm sorry that my photographs of the photographs are not of better quality, but it's difficult photographing images that are behind glass.








Thursday 25 February 2016

Fantasma - Andrian Villar Rojas

Fantasma (Phantom) by Adrian Villar Rojas

at Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

Two hundred pieces presented on a high podium in a separate gallery in the Museet. The platform was so high that, standing on tiptoe, this was the best view I could get.

So, I asked Ken to take a few photographs, and the results were more pleasing and visible.

Working with a team of collaborating artists, engineers and sculptors, Rojas compares his role to that of an artistic director or leader of an ensemble. He describes his practice as an organic process and is known for his site-specific works in clay as well as organic materials that disintegrate with time.

The size of the large podium appears to challenge any notion of human beings as the measure of all.

The collection of the complex pieces on the podium originally belonged to Las Teatros de Saturno, a project that Rojas and his team developed in Mexico City.

Needless to say that I was only able to photograph the objects that were on the edges of the podium, but given that we were able to walk around it, I managed to get quite a few. So, here are some of the individual pieces:

He seems to have a definite penchant for sneakers as they kept appearing in the most odd places in this installation

Mutant watermelon: dry watermelon skin, coloured plaster stuffing

The Peeing Girl was originally imagined as a kind of avatar or ghost wandering through his Return the World installation but Rojas eventually set the idea aside.