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Calling Beauty

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Matts Leiderstam, Paris, 1999, ReturnedBureau for Open Culture
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  
The Bureau for Open Culture presents Calling Beauty, a partner exhibition to Descent to Revolution. The exhibition is located in the Crane Center at the Columbus College of Art and Design and will be on view from February 17 - April 10, 2010. The works within this exhibition are organized around the four genres of representational art: still life, nude, portraiture and landscape.
 
Susan Sontag wrote an essay called "An Argument about Beauty" offering the question of whether or not beauty "has turned on itself." This essay evaluates how beauty has historically been associated with high culture, class and refinement. Though this essay is not what this exhibition is based off of, the works present in the exhibition show a clear relationship with these historical origins of beauty and how they have influenced contemporary art today by addressing what could be, or is considered beautiful.
 
Thorsten Brickman has 13 prints on show. He "photographs himself in extraordinary costumes that he creates from cast-off clothing and household objects." These costumes that are created "echo the formal conventions of classical portraiture." 
 
Moyra Dave from New York City offers prints that include postage, writing and tape. These are portraits that were taken on a trip to Paris and mailed, creating "battered monuments to time, memory and distance." The physical journey these portraits have made are physically evident. 
 
Ellen Harvey from Brooklyn offers three paintings from her series My Colllection, Inadequately Documented. The oil paintings, done on wood panel, were created from poorly photographed photos of herself. In the photos the flash obstructs the view of the artist and the elements within the picture. The paintings, identical to the photographs, offer a ludicrus idea of documentation.
 
Ryan McGinley offers 3 prints from a series called I know where summer goes. These prints are nude-based, an obvious traditional norm, but the shots are not stereotyped or culturally based forms of beauty. They are portraits of youngsters frollicking during the summer. 
 
Elizabeth Gerdeman from Columbus suggests that "art should not deceive us into thinking we are somehow making contact with nature or even with ourselves." With latex paint she has created a landscape full of gestural lines and overlaps offering a historical and contemporary representation of nature. 
 
Matts Leirderstam from Stolkholm has a grand slide projection and installation on view that includes 5 prints from series "returned" This installation is based on "symbols and codes in art history and in homosexual culture." Stolkholm painted copies of Spring or the Earthly Paradise by Nicolas Poussin and abandoned these copies at specific locations in the parks where unspoken codes lead to associations between gay men. "A photograph is the only trace of the copies and the action"
 
Darren Waterson creates abstractions that express a possible brink of consciousness. These oil paintings "relinquish the recognizable forms drawn from the external world in favor of complex improvisations that mirror internal worlds."
 
Eve Sossman and the Rufus Corporation created a 10 minute video called 89 Seconds at Alcazar. Made in 2004, this high definition video installation brings to life the masterpiece painting, Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor), by Diego Velazquez. This video is a perfect recreation of the 17th century Spanish interior and costume design and suggests what may have gone on specifically at the time of this painting being painted. 
 
When viewing this exhibition, ask yourself what beauty is. What defines beauty? Are the societal norms that are subliminally taught to us throughout our lives beauty? Is beauty based on historical norms, something which shapes and defines throughout time, but leaves out uncertainties? Is beauty an everlasting, or ever-changing subject to you?
Moyra Davey, Photographs from Paris, 2009 Bureau for Open Culture 

For more info: Visit the Bureau for Open Culture on the web.

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