Are you rea

Matthew Rana

Matthew Rana, artist and writer

Seduction belongs to artifice. It's a play of surfaces and transformation, disappearance and gestural veils. In other words, seduction is fleeting and mysterious, it takes what's visible and licks it with falsity. On a different register, pornography might be pure allegory: forced over-signification verging on the baroque. With its graphic disclosures, pornography points to an external logic, an invisible power that determines what can be seen. More simply put, it leaves nothing to the imagination. 
Unlike his more libidinally charged works that actually make use of pornographic imagery, Robert Heinecken's series Are You Rea (1964-68) seems to negotiate the tension between these two poles. In the 25 photograms, magazine pages featuring advertisements for products such as cosmetics, cigarettes, lingerie and spaghetti, are juxtaposed with images of police violence, protests and photo essays on reproductive rights. Layering image on top of image, recto and verso are flattened, so to speak, onto a single surface. The compositions are chancy and ironic; everything is inverted and continuity and scale are confused Often full of sex appeal, the images in Are You Rea also indicate a loss of coherence, a figuration that is ghostly and at times grotesque. But despite all their violence, fragmentation and internal dissonance, they seem less about critique or defamiliarization than they do correspondences. Because if archives create the illusion of totality by making gestures of equivalence between things archived (i.e., between an ordered multiplicity of things, indexed and gathered together to be read as a single entity), Heinecken's series is archival in that it suggests a deep and dark unity. 
I think this might be part of why his work still looks so fresh to me, especially the photograms. It's their insistence on materiality and distribution. What I find across the multiple surfaces, in the patterned utterances and the vulgar repetitions, is not the reality that's hidden behind appearances. Rather, it's the spatialization of circulatory and temporal relationships, of reading and discourse. If speech takes place at the intersection of material and social forces, then this is how the archive surfaces – a shifting assemblage of contradictory and inconclusive statements – iterative, synthetic, hardcore. 


Lee Godie's self portraits

by Amy Sherlock, Reviews Editor of frieze

I have always found the question, “Who do you think you are?” (used rhetorically, as an accusation) to be an odd one. The implication is that one should know oneself, or know one’s place, as if it were ever a question of knowing, and not just imagining. Nowhere can the gulf between one’s own self image and external appearances be revealed with such brutality as in the self portrait: there is no better stage for one’s self delusions. Lee Godie had more reason than most to seek the succour of self-delusion. She lived out the majority of her later years homeless on the blustery streets of downtown Chicago. A self- taught artist, she drew and sketched, hawking her wares to passing business people and leaving the proceeds in the care a nearby department store.Her self portraits, many enlivened with paint or pen, some coquettishly flirtatious, others autographed like the calling cards of a budding starlet, were taken in a photobooth in a bus station in the city, which was also the location of the locker that housed most of her worldly possessions. I look at Lee Godie in these images and I think of Vivian Leigh’s Blanche du Bois in her worn-out Mardi Gras outfit – in that scene in A Streetcar Named Desire where she is so wide-eyed and fearful and Marlon Brando’s Stanley so devastatingly handsome – wrapping herself in her airs and her rhinestone tiaras to buttress a fragile sense of self. But I don’t pity Godie. She looks mischievous; she looks happy. She wouldn’t let any Stanley try to tell her that she wasn’t a queen.

Black power salute

With the euphoria of the London Olympic games, photographs of sporting moments form fixed notions of symbolic endeavour that inspire and create role-models. The one photograph that captures this notion for me best, is the 1968 Olympics Black Power salute by athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony at the Mexico City Olympic games.

Ever since I first came across this image, it has been on my mind. Charged with human and civil rights protest, it played with the idea that Smith and Carlos gave us the answers, with just one symbolic gesture. The gesture rose questions of belief, courage, sacrifice and dignity.
Under the gaze of the world, Smith and Carlos faced their respected flag and listened to the Star-Spangled Banner anthem. They both raised a fist, coated in black leather gloves, penetrating the dark sky until the anthem had finished.
The emotional experience conveyed in this symbolic act, following years of training and commitment as athletes, will forever resonate with me.

1968 Olympics Black Power Salute, Mexico City, signed by Tommy Smith, photographer unknown / AP, gifted to Autograph ABP by Iqbal Wahhab, courtesy of: Autograph ABP

1968 Olympics Black Power Salute, Mexico City, signed by Tommy Smith, photographer unknown / AP, gifted to Autograph ABP by Iqbal Wahhab, courtesy of: Autograph ABP

Black beauty

Susanne M. Winterling, Artist

Shadows and forms seem to reach out of the frame and pass right through the installation space. A hand approaches or withdraws from a chest blemished by marks. The fragility of this skin that has just been touched or is about to be touched contrasts with the image itself, which manages to convey the opposite of fragility. The black and white photograph comes from another time and yet is so necessary in our time.The photo was shown in the exhibition Black Beauty, which included an installation in which tons of black coal slag filled the entire gallery floor, and the site-specific work Black Magic, made from vibrating black astroturf cladding the walls. The glimmering sand-like coal seemed to point to the photograph, which was placed next to the viewer’s path of the architecture. The resulting dynamic was both of lightness and heaviness, as the exhausting playfulness and desolation of the sand found a correlation in the awkward intimacy of the photograph.This ambivalence is perhaps why this photo in particular has remained with me – its violent affirmation of a skin too thin. Like a spark, the image illuminates a certain and defined materialism within the virtual flow of information and image technology. Without concrete stability, it nevertheless affirms a dynamic and thus a reality, but one that will always remain vague, even though so visceral.

Nasa portraits

by Laara Matsen, photo editor D2 magazine

Taken by fellow astronaut Jack Schmitt as a sort of snapshot, and part of NASA’s extensive and wonderful archive of space imagery, this photograph is of Gene Cernan, Commander of Apollo 17, the last man to walk on the moon. I came upon it years ago, hanging on the wall at the Museum of Natural History in New York, and it resonates with me still. A man at work, covered in moon dust, exhausted and seemingly content, the image speaks to me of the quieter side of grand adventure. Exploration of the unknown is a romantic and exciting notion by nature, and one that led me to photography (among other endeavors) in the first place, but I am especially taken and moved by the less romantic aspects of exploration: the grit of the moon dust. This is a photograph taken after a significant event has occurred, post-climactic. I am often compelled by images of such after-moments, the almost forgotten underbelly of the “main attraction”. While the factual situation documented is anything but common (gunpowder-scented moon dirt clinging to skin, walking in space, probing into mysterious and dangerous territory), there is also something immensely accessible and intimate in this photograph. The simplicity of the moment is at once direct, calm, mundane and ephemeral.

Commander Eugene Cernan After Three Days of Lunar Exploration; Photographed by Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17, December 7-19, 1972, Michael Light, fra prosjektet Full Moon. Transparency NASA; digital image © 1999 Michael Light

Commander Eugene Cernan After Three Days of Lunar Exploration; Photographed by Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17, December 7-19, 1972, Michael Light, fra prosjektet Full Moon. Transparency NASA; digital image © 1999 Michael Light