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Beth, week 5: catalog entry

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Still at Sissinghurst. zzzzzzzz. They call it Sissinghurst Castle, but seriously, where's the castle part? Some writer lived here and they said something about Virginia Woolf who we learned about last semester, remember? I wasn't really listening. Tomorrow we finallyfinallyfinally get to go up to London to see some play at a theee-ah-tuh. Looks lame, though. BTW I'm pretending to work on my essay so I might have to stop quickly, and this will have to be short because we have to meet in the oast house in a minute. That's the thing I told you about that kind of looks like a windmill and has something to do with beer. I kept saying oats but that biotch told me I was wrong. Anyway, this other lady came up to me and asked if I would write about what we've been doing here on this study abroad trip. She heard that we were learning about the garden and writing about what we see. Mike said it was ok and that I could do it instead of writing a poem about Sissinghurst, or else I could do both and he'd give me extra credit. Well I'm not doing a stupid poem, right?

The lady wanted to know how an American high school student liked this place and stuff, but then she showed me a kinda creepy picture that I'm supposed to think about as I write. It's some old lady standing in the White Garden here at Sissinghurst. Seriously, I told you about that part, and in this pic it isn't even white! There are like no flowers in it and this old chick is just staring at something. It looks like she's trying to figure out how to get through a maze but everything is so short she could just step over it. And it's black and white! Freelz! Who shoots a picture of a garden in black and white? Check it out here.

This lady said if what I write is good she'll include it in the thingy they're printing to go with some exhibition. It's kinda funny cuz I've been here for only like 6 days, I really don't know what's going on, and something I write might be printed! I feel all official.

LMFAO! Zach and Justin stripped and peed into the canal this morning - they looked just like statues! Caitlin took pics - she said she'll put them up on FB. Hope they're not banned. Ooh Zach. Totes adorbs, right? My laptop is screwed so I hope you get this cuz I dropped my bag when I tripped yesterday. These sidewalk things that go all over the place are bumpy and I wore my fab orange platforms. Duh. I don't know why they don't just make these smooth like normal sidewalks. They could be sued! I swear this country is so OLD.

Did you see Caitlin's pic of the kittens yesterday? Presh! That was over at the oast house. Gotta go. I'll be back in the 612 next week already! It's going so fast!



Beth Dow, The White Garden, Sissinghurst (from In the Garden)


This was written in response to the thoughts our group generated while looking at Lorna Simpson's Wigs. Please click here to see the piece this letter addresses.

Emily, Week 4: Catalogs

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Robert Irwin Kenneth Price
LACMA, 1966
Written by Philip Leider


Because the foundation of Irwin's work is the experience, to the point where he refuses to publish images of his paintings, I was curious to see how an imageless text intended to accompany his show tackled the challenge of an "audacious" artist intent on following his own aesthetic principles.

Leider's interpretation strikes me as sublime, tracking from an overhead perspective of the emergence of conceptual art ("away from the critique and back to the point of it all,") to a sophisticated defense of its precepts, down to a virtual guide on how Irwin created a piece for the individual experience. He has created a tidy mental environment in which one can either prepare to see or reflect upon the show, but still leaves the visitor space to explore and be challenged. As he summarizes, "what stays in the museum is only the art object, not valueless, but not of the value of art. The art is what has happened to the viewer."

Roxanne Jackson: We Believe in Something
Minneapolis Institute of Arts MAEP show, 2009
Written by Christopher Atkins


Three years on, I haven't forgotten the violent simplicity of Jackson's show at the MIA. She laid bare the constant struggle between death and life of all higher life forms, roaming the land in search of whatever sustenance we lack. The sculpture was primal and occasionally horrifying, acknowledging the cultural disconnect modern society has created with these natural processes.

Atkins' accompanying text was an eloquent and insightful overview of the show and Jackson's philosophy and conceptual inspiration, giving her pieces a broad scientific perspective of savagery in a human context. I'd argue that his interpretation leaned heavily on the instructional, almost as though the show were intended to support a curriculum ("Death and the Human Experience," perhaps) instead of the 'stories' explaining the sculpture. He also could have provided a more specific cultural context for the show, making connections to other artists or artistic philosophies. Though a few images were poorly chosen, the catalog itself feels well-designed and evocative of the show's spirit.

Mara: Week 4 Catalog Entries

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Judy Pfaff (The Art of Judy Pfaff)
This catalog is so dynamic and vibrant, which is such an excellent match for Judy Pfaff's work. The cover is a bright chartreuse, the images extend to the edge of the pages, and the essay is conversational and engaging. The catalog acts as an overview of Pfaff's oeuvre with glimpses of works that lead to the current exhibition of Judy Pfaff's drawings, sculptures, and prints at the Elvehjem Museum of Art. This catalog represents the artists in a complete and interesting way, text is kept to a minimum and the work vibrates off of the pages.

Kiki Smith: A Gathering 1980- 2005
Kiki Smith A Gathering.pdf
This catalog is simply exquisite (in my humble opinion). A catalog of Kiki Smith's touring exhibition Kiki Smith: A Gathering 1980-2005, this text acts as a well planned and thoughtful overview of Kiki and her artwork. The introduction lays groundwork for the artist's background and influences while the articles by Linda Nochlin and Marina Warner bring out thought provoking comparisons and analogies present in Kiki Smith's work. There is a chronology of her life and several images from early in her career to the present. The catalog is an intimate look at Kiki Smith and provides an intelligent outlook on her work.

Lorena, Week 4: Catalog

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Telling Stories

Link to Carrie Mae Weems work

The text of Rituals and Revolutions weems016.pdf

Link to Ellen Rothenberg

I found a small exhibition catalogue published by the Boston University Art Gallery. It featured the work of Carrie Mae Weems and Ellen Rothenberg. The exhibition titled Telling Stories, examines the concept of memory and history. The exhibition challenges the idea of the master narrative and the role ideal historian as the impartial observant. The photographs and narratives portray how history has shaped the identity of women through oppression and how the master narrative has silenced the stories being told by women from different classes and the third world. The role of Carrie Mae Weems and Ellen Rothenberg is to interrogate, resist and manipulate what we perceive to be history.

Ellen Rothenberg's Beautiful Youth shows propaganda photographs used by the Nazi to urge young women into serving the third Reich. The construction of identity of women is demonstrated how the publications use women by their physical appearance, showing them strong and youthful. A nationalistic pride and joy to serve their country is demonstrated and demanded from to the women, and the use of the stereotypical Aryan woman who represents beauty, charm, nurture and empathy is used as a mechanism to persuade. The photographs are seductive by showing their smiling mouths, smooth young faces and white skin. The propaganda images aim to show that even at the midst of war, life can remain stable if women do their part. Rothenberg enlarges these photographs and crops them. The graininess, fragmentation and enlargement of the photographs reveal the Nazi construction of the ideal woman. By cropping the image just to the tasked being done, Rothenberg emphasizes the underlined relationship between the happy servant woman to her country and the country's agenda. There's also a worktable with severed hands and fingers, and aprons hanged on the wall. The worktable is aimed to represent the production of women, and the severed body part is the fetishization of women and the aprons are meant to be seen as the natural role of women in Third Reich.

Carrie Mae Weems

Ritual and Revolution is a series of digital photographs printed in muslin cloth. The photographs depicted on the cloth range from classical temples, African slave sites, European Palaces and Maya ruins. As the viewer walks through the exhibition, they are supposed to feel the vastness of the accomplished happened in those sites, yet the struggles of the conquered had to endure in those sites. Weems uses her voice to become the narrative and the speaker of the silenced. Weems uses herself as a witness to reclaim what she sees the great moments of history. Weems becomes the voice of the survivals using the words "I was with the ancient ruins of time...when you stormed the Bastille & the hideous mise en scene of the middle passage..In the death camps, etc." She continues with " I saw everlasting death...I saw you and your father..I saw your fear of pleasure, etc." The gaze of the artist becomes our historical lens to the buried stories untold.

The catalog is simple, small and printed with a soft cover. The catalog has everything that I think makes a catalog successful. Good, detailed images of the work in the exhibition with the labels of information. The introduction essay written by the curator gives a great background of the artists' work and how they started to be interested in the subject of memory and history. It also gives background and key information of the history of what the work is about. The essay is easy to read, well written, and it explores the theories and artist intentions of the work. It is not redundant and gives the necessary information to understand the work. I supposed it is also easy to like the catalog if you already like the artist's work.

Lighter, Wolfgang Tillman



Catalog Scan: Tillmans.pdf

The catalog for the exhibition Lighter by Wolfgang Tillman exhibits his retrospective work of over the last 20 years; since the beginning of his career when he was making photographs for magazines of the punk scene and street culture to his Lighter and Paper Drop series. The catalog includes installation photographs taken by Tillman himself and by other hired photographers by the museums. As a result of this, you see his photographs installed in different environments, and how the environment affects the read of the work. It is a large book of about 400 pages, hard cover; it including three opening essays about Tillman's work. The topics range from the concept of the photograph as the object itself, the way Tillman treats the space with his photographs and what happens when the photograph is liberated from the frame. The writing is dense, sometimes can be very abstract, and at times difficult to follow, yet if you know Tillman's work you can somewhat grasp the concepts and ideas of what the essays are talking about.

The majority of the photographs on the book include installation photographs of the work. There are some few photographs that shows the photograph itself. This shows how much the space is part of the actual work. It also shows the relationship of the photographs to each other, and how one affects the other. The amount of work on the book is overwhelming, and they all start to blend the more you look at the book. I like Tillman's work, and I like the book as an idea. Yet, I think a much better approach would had been to include the installation shots, but also include prints of his actually work as well. Both would have made each other stronger, since his photographs (especially his latest work) are very formal, and show already the photograph as an object. In this book form, the photographs become an object, represented as objects printed in an object. (The book) If I had gone to the exhibition, I wouldn't have felt necessary to buy the catalog, because I had already experienced seeing the work with the space. The idea of over and over representation of this idea seems redundant.

Kevin, Week 4, Catalog

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James Turrell: The Wolfsburg Project is really beautifully done - the layout is simple and it features five substantial essays about his work. So, if I had time right now to sit and read the whole thing, I think I'd come away with a strong sense from multiple perspectives of his art over the course of his career. The photography is excellent, especially given that his work seems difficult to photograph well.

I chose pages that discuss his early work because I was especially glad that there was a biographical element to the discussion of his work, and it was valuable to me to see his evolution as an artist over more than forty years. As a cinematographer I can relate to his early experiments with color and light, and it puts his whole career into perspective for me.



Bill Viola: Survey of a Decade is more problematic. It goes into detail about a number of Viola's prominent works, so the content seems strong enough, but the design of the book is weak - it seems to me that poor choices were made for the font and the layout - the lines seem crammed in which makes it a claustrophobic reading experience. This compromises my response to the work, and in a way, underlines the complicated reaction I have to this artist overall - the ideas are great but the execution can be kind of frumpy, in my opinion. I'm not sure whether it's an aesthetic choice on his part, whether it's specific to the time period and the technology of its era, or whether I'm just being unfair about the video sensibilities of the 1980s.

Erin, Week 4: Catalogs

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Sigmar Polke.pdf

Northern Clay Center.pdf

(My responses are in the the attached files. Thanks!)

Chris, Week 4, Catalog/uge

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The District Six Public Sculpture Project, Cape Town, South Africa

This catalog begins with an introduction to the logistics of the exhibition which opened the latter part of 1997 on a piece of land, "District Six", overlooking Cape Town South Africa. The introduction is followed by an array of short essays which walk the reader through a history of District six and the lives of its inhabitants. The remainder of the catalog consists of pictures of the artists work, writings/statements by the artists, and reviews of some specific works.

Here is a condensed version of District Six history for you:

District Six is an area poised on the sloping landscape overlooking downtown Cape Town and the Atlantic Ocean. In 1966, The South African Government declared this prime piece of real estate a white residential area and began to clear it of any inhabitants not fitting this description. Around 60,000 residents were displaced and buildings were bulldozed. After the fall of the Apartheid Regime, a majority of the land was cleared again. The government has been working to return the land to those who were displaced. The current process of restitution has been a difficult and time taking process. District Six is to this day mostly a grassy hillside sprinkled with traces of life, overlooking Cape Town.

Here is an official link to a brief overview of the sculpture project:

Here is an excerpt.pdffrom the catalog.

The logistical introduction of the catalog is a helpful entry point to the project in that it details the scale of organization and community involvement this exhibition required. The Author's description of how various committees, organizations, artists, public figures, and community members played a role in the project is reminiscent to that of attitudes put forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The selection of essays and short stories which follow the intro set a mood and give context to an emotional place and process. I begin to develop a sense of irony from the project and how it relates to the irony of restitution. One author states how moving back to District Six is undesirable and it is insulting for others to think they should again inhabit the land.

The catalog is very "heavy" and is filled with somber pieces which are professed to be about loss and void and memory. The project is said to be a final protest to the tragedy of their forced removal (most of the works were bulldozed for new construction months after the exhibition). It reads to me like a diary, a fragmented collage of emotions, memories and memorials.

A fun catalog...

Toilets of the World (link) - Morna E. Gregory and Sian James

This catalog is a survey of toilets from around the world. The samples provided range from the most extravagantly crafted porcelain urinal mounts in Tokyo, to a hole in the ground surrounded by thatched grass in one of India's national parks. Toilets of the World begins with a short(ened) list of English names for toilet. Well over 200 thrones are pictured and labeled with geographic location and a brief insight into the significance of their existence. 6 sections provide continental dividers between often distinct and disparate bathroom cultures. As the back cover professes, "Here, at last, is the ultimate book for the smallest room in your home."

Jim, Week 4, Catalogs

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The catalog for the Vija Celmins exhibition touches on biography of the artist, methods and modes she works in, conceptual content, and context of her work withiin the art world (and real world) at the time it was created. The pamphlet that I uploaded contains a small excerpt from a book which goes more in depth. For example, in the book, there is an image of a Gerhard Richter painting, with a brief discussion of how other artists were painting from found photographic sources at the time. It also contains full color images of every piece in the show. (I didn't scan the book because it doesn't quite open totally flat. I didn't want to force it because it's a really nice book which is now out of print.)

The Edward Hopper catalog, for a retrospective of his work at The Whitney in 1980, is quite different than the Celmins catalog. Because this was a major retrospective of a very prolific artist, the catalog is basically a textbook about Hopper. I scanned only two pages of text which represent my favorite part of the book. You will notice headers for "architecture" and "cities" followed by comments on these topics influenced and revealed themselves in Hopper's work. These are only two of many subjects approached this way in the catalog. I think this format is perfect for briefly and succinctly covering Hopper's vast bodies of work. This section was preceded by some pretty boring biographical stuff and an equally boring foreward by the director of The Whitney about how proud he is to bring you this show, how important his museum is, blah blah etc.

Beth: Week 4, Catalogs

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Jason Fulford
The Mushroom Collection
Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2011
This catalog accompanied an exhibition in the New Pictures program of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts earlier this year. When Fulford was given an envelope of annotated mushroom photographs, he used these images as springboards to create new associations and make new images. This new collection became his book The Mushroom Collector, published in 2010. As ideas and associations continued to pop up like, er, mushrooms, this project expanded into other mediums. The MIA asked Fulford to stage interventions within the permanent collection in conjunction with his exhibition, and this interactive catalog was published by the museum. The catalog includes 30 perforated, adhesive stamps with images from the exhibition. These stamps are meant to be removed and affixed on top of "X" marks printed throughout the catalog, including on the cover. This participatory nature allows the reader to make her own associations between the fragments of image and text printed on the pages.

This is an unconventional exhibition catalog in that it is a direct extension of the exhibition and other previous iterations, and works to help people understand the visual and intellectual concepts at play by inviting people to be direct actors in creating their own interpretations. Since I only got one copy of the catalog, I never used the stamps as intended, which also allows me to change my associations each time I view it.


Tacita Dean
Tate Gallery, 2011
This is the catalog that accompanied Dean's 11-minute silent film project in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern Gallery last year. The volume functions as a plea to stop the rapid dismantling of the manufacture and processing of analogue film in favor of digital technology. In the beginning is an introductory essay by Nicholas Cullinan, followed by a long, detailed essay by Dean on the motivations and processes behind her film. This is an impassioned volume, and Dean has enlisted 81 other contributors to support her case that film is it's own specific medium, and that digital is a completely different animal. There is room for both, and need for both.

I loved reading the pieces from her contributors, which range from curators and conservators to directors, cinematographers, and artists. The catalog also includes a short strip of film to give the reader a real chunk of the medium to handle and consider. There is a circle-the-wagons feel to this book, and it's refreshing to see such passion for the medium I love.


2011-2012 McKnight Photography Catalog
Rochester Art Center, 2012
McKnight photo catalog.pdf
This is the catalog for a current exhibition that includes my work. I chose it because I just got it, and its form is typical for this type of fellowship exhibition. In this kind of exhibition, the only thing the artists and their work have in common is that we received fellowships from a foundation. There is a short piece from Kris Douglas, the chief curator of the art center, followed by an introductory essay by Darsie Alexander that sets up the sections on individual artists, and works to find threads we have in common. Artist sections begin with essays by Lisa Sutcliffe, introducing this new work created during the fellowship period and finding a place for it in the medium's history.

A simple catalog like this does what it needs to do. It is clearly designed, written, and edited, and its ultra-conventional format supplements the photographs yet doesn't attempt to compete. There are times that I just want a catalog to be a record, and this one works that way. Plus, both Darsie Alexander and Lisa Sutcliffe were involved!