Artists producing ephemeral artworks documented by photographs

Creative Arts Today (page 166) introduces me to other two artists whose work is concerned in different ways with landscape and photography.

Aleksandra Mir: First Woman on the Moon (1999)

Creative Arts Today sees this work as a critique of large earthworks projects

The primary source for information on this Swedish-American artist is her own website which documents at length her projects:

https://aleksandramir.info/ (Accessed 22/05/2017)

A section of her website retells in compelling way the story of First Woman on the Moon (2009), how the event-installation was born and developed, and what it has become of it in the following years. It shows the original video, several photographs and texts:

https://aleksandramir.info/projects/first-woman-on-the-moon/

As Mir told an in interview, the meanings and interpretations of that project are open-ended:

The work is open-ended. I received both congratulatory telegrams from Australian gender studies departments, as well as hate mail from American feminists who opposed my conflation of gender issues with imperialism (The use of the American flag in Holland). I also received severe protests from the Association of Autonomous Astronauts, contesting NASA’s monopoly on space travel, and saying that my work was showing the mere impotence of regular people’s capacity for space travel, as I wasn’t really intending to ‘go anywhere’ but muck around in the sands. I get all sorts of readings and that is my point, keeping the ball in the air. If the work can serve you in any way and you can kick the ball further, it is relevant. (Accademia del Giglio, 2009)

‘The project’s scale recalls the monumental ambitions of 1960s Land Art, though the emphasis here is on the involvement of the local community and the media.

First Woman on the Moon looks back at the space race as a chauvinist power play, showing how the meaning of any event can be manipulated through media representation. The video mixes knowingly ‘cheap’ footage of the event with clips aired by Dutch TV stations, and the soundtrack features original NASA communications and excerpts from Kennedy’s 1961 speech. Mir also sent the video to figures such as astronaut Neil Armstrong and science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, whose replies are reproduced here.

My work is often described as ‘feminist’’ Mir has said, ‘but … the content of my projects almost always pulls in the opposite direction, showing frailty, vulnerability and pathetic incompetence towards the status quo … I guess ambivalence is always part of a good artwork.’ (The Tate, What’s on)

 

 

Keith Arnatt (1930-2008): Self-burial (Television Interference Project) (1969)

On a much smaller scale than land art already considered, this work is made up by a sequence of nine black and white stills, showing the artist slowly disappearing into the ground. (Creative Arts Today, page 166)

Self-Burial, 1969

At: http://www.keitharnatt.com/works/w20.html (Accessed 22/05/2017)

‘This sequence of photographs was broadcast on German television in October 1969. One photo was shown each day, for about two seconds, sometimes interrupting whatever programme was being shown at peak viewing time. They were neither announced nor explained – viewers had to make what sense of them they could.’ (The Tate, Art and Artists)

 

Bibliography

Alexandra Mir’s website: https://aleksandramir.info/ (Accessed 22/05/2017)

Accademia del Giglio (2009) ‘Venice Biennale 2009: interview with Aleksandra Mir’ In: http://www.adgblog.it 28/05/2009 [online] At: http://www.adgblog.it/2009/05/28/venice-biennale-2009-interview-with-aleksandra-mir/ (Accessed 22/05/2017)

The Tate:  http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/display/aleksandra-mir (Accessed 22/05/2017)

Keith Arnatt’s website: http://www.keitharnatt.com/works/w20.html (Accessed 22/05/2017)

The Tate: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/arnatt-self-burial-television-interference-project-t01747 (Accessed 22/05/2017)

 

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