Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Archive for the Historia & Memoria category

Oh Sukkuhn's "The Text Book (Chulsoo and Younghee)" at Base Gallery, Tokyo

by Suzanne on September 27th, 2011

From The Text Book (Chulsoo and Younghee) by Oh Sukkuhn - click to enlarge

In his first solo show in Tokyo, South Korea-born, Nottingham-educated artist Oh Sukkuhn (Suk Kuhn Oh) is currently presenting his Text Book series at Base Gallery.

The Text Book looks all kawaii but reveals way darker, more historically complex and socially traumatic layers upon further inspection - lessons from Korea's turbulent past and possibly even memories of Oh Sukkuhn's own time as a photographer in the South Korean army.

The series is inspired by a boy named “Chulsoo” and a girl named “Younghee” - two Korean textbook characters from the Park Chung-hee era that have survived through the mid-90s.

From the gallery's (originally Japanese) press release:

"By making “Chulsoo” and “Younghee” visible once again in his works, Oh Sukkuhn might be questioning us what the individual memory actually is or whether the memory not only stays in each of us but also prevail beyond in the nation perhaps. Works of insightful question and skepsis from the viewpoint of present-day Korean artist give us the moment to think over the derivation of our memories."

.. and in the words of the artist himself:

"I wanted to collect our memories to create a new textbook that tells about our pain, [which stems] from identity confusion, while being depicted against dismal backgrounds. [I also wanted to explore the] individual’s sacrifice; needed for rapid economic growth in Korea. At that time it was considered that social values were more important than an individual’s existence. [...]

We may not exactly decipher their actions or feelings, but we can remember parallel moments in our own lives of hurt, embarrassment, shame, or other mortifications."

Details below.

From The Text Book (Chulsoo and Younghee) by Oh Sukkuhn - click to enlarge

On show: Sep 21 - Oct 22, 2011

Address: Base Gallery, Matrix Japan S.A., 〒103-0025, Koura Daiichi Bldg. 1F 1-1-6 Nihombashi Kayabacho Chuo-ku Tokyo, Japan, tel: +81(0)3-5623-6655, email: info@basegallery.com | Map

Hours: Mon - Sat: 11 AM - 7 PM

Press release

WurzelForum discussion

David Favrod's "Gaijin" at Spazio Cerere, Rome

by Suzanne on September 20th, 2011

From the Gaijin series by David Favrod - click to enlarge

Young photographer David Takashi Favrod was born in Kobe, Japan, the son of a Japanese mother and a Swiss father but grew up in Vionnaz, in the Swiss Valais Canton - a cultural duality that has strongly influenced his work ever since.

David says of himself that:

"For a Swiss, I am a Japanese and for a Japanese, I am a Swiss or rather a gaijin."

From the Le Tremblement Du Temps series by David Favrod - click to enlarge

Not an unproblematic - and often misunderstood - word but one so very important to Japan's understanding of itself and its relations to the rest of the world, Gaijin was chosen as the title of his solo show at Rome's Spazio Cerere which opens tomorrow evening.

Gaijin is also the title of probably his most intimate and powerful series of photographs - three of which you can see in this post (I sneaked in one picture from a different series because it's so very epic). All pictures were created in Switzerland but are full of references to Japanese culture and history so that the two countries and identities become one.

Being a Swiss living abroad and looking "back home", I very much understand the gaijin aspects of this series - the Caspar David Friedrichesque melancholy and animism in the uprooted landscape, the yearning of the changing seasons, the confinement of the tiny human between mountains and valleys, forests and moors, rivers and avalanches, the maddening impossibility of a horizon, the constant threat of the skies and the elements.

From the Gaijin series by David Favrod - click to enlarge

And from an interior perspective, there is so much psychological claustrophobia and spatial morphing in what are seemingly profane living room settings. Something that Gregory Crewdson or Estelle Hanania or even David Lynch also manage to get across. David Favrod has it too - the talent to make rooms morph so that they appear haunted, wallpapers century-old and scratched, baths overflowing and floorboards creaking.

The yōkai have arrived and are spooking about with the Toggeli.

It clearly adds to the Unheimliche that three protagonists in his Gajin series are not only wearing face paint or masks but have ropes, chains of lights and plaited hair tightly wrapped around their necks.

There is ONE thing, however, that makes the inherent uncanny of his oeuvre almost unbearable for me and that's the fact that there is this picture of his dad (?) wearing a Swiss military uniform common in the 80s which looks precisely like a picture of my dad in a Swiss uniform of exactly that period. And I don't mean they look similar, I mean they look ALIKE... o_O

Details below. Please note that this solo show will only last for 5 days, so if you're planning to attend, do it sooner than later.

From the Gaijin series by David Favrod - click to enlarge

Opening reception: Wed, Sep 21, 2011, 7 PM

On show: Sep 21 - 25, 2011

Address: Spazio Cerere, Via degli Ausoni 3, 00185 Roma, Italy, tel: +39 06 45422960, email: info@spaziocerere.it

Artist's website

WurzelForum discussion

Dr. Paul Koudounaris' "Empire of Death" at La Luz de Jesus, Los Angeles

by Suzanne on September 18th, 2011

St. Pancratius, Wil, Switzerland by Dr. Paul Koudounaris - click to enlarge

Back in June this year, I suggested Paul Koudounaris' ForteanTimes article Bones with Bling - The amazing jewelled skeletons of Europe for reading and those of you who followed my order friendly invitation will be very familiar with the topic discussed here, indeed with most of the image material as well.

If we go even further back, to June 2009, some very eager WurzelForum® members might remember an article entitled Sisterhood of the Skulls about the Neapolitan caves where a cult of old women "adopt" human skulls which was also written by the great Mr Koudounaris.

The remains of St Maximus, Basilica of Waldsassen by Dr. Paul Koudounaris - click to enlarge

For the past few years, Paul Koudounaris has been traveling to churches, crypta and catacombs around the world to compile a comprehensive study of vanitas rites and memento mori decorations of our collective religiously morbid past.

In October, his efforts will be published by Thames & Hudson in a beautiful tome containing 250 full-color and 50 black-and-white photographs entitled Emipre of Death - A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses and this coming Saturday, Sep 24, Hollywood's La Luz de Jesus gallery is holding an opening reception and book signing with the artist. A bit far away from the majority of subjects of his studies, but OH WELL, we Europeans can't have everything - after all, we got most of the actual relics, so we still totally win all the way. Details below.

If you're on the East Coast and near New York, you might want to wait until October 13, when Paul will be giving a lecture at The Observatory Room and sign his monograph in an event organised by the great Joanna of Morbid Anatomy.

Holy Martyr Theodosius, Waldsassen by Dr. Paul Koudounaris - click to enlarge

Opening reception: Sep 24, 7 - 10 PM - includes book signing

On show: Sep 24 - Oct 3, 2011

Address: La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA, tel: 323-666-7667, email: info@laluzdejesus.com

Opening hours: Mon - Wed: 11 AM - 7 PM, Thu - Sat: 11 AM - 9 PM, Sun: 12 - 6 PM

Preview & press release

Artist's website

WurzelForum discussion

"The Cabinet of Jan Å vankmajer" at Kunsthalle, Vienna

by Suzanne on September 16th, 2011

The Big Adventure Story Roman 4 by Jan Å vankmajer, 1997-98 - click to enlarge

The main - and sometimes only - reason why I think it's worth putting quite a lot of time, blood, sweat, tears into this blog is because I have a fantastic readership (yes, YOU!).

Just after I posted about the Quay Brothers and mentioned Jan Å vankmajer, long-time reader and supporter Kid37 alerted me to a vast Å vankmajer retrospective currently on display at the Kunsthalle Wien that's an absolute must-see if you're a Å vankmajarian.

Meat Love by Jan Å vankmajer, 1989

The great thing about The Cabinet of Jan Å vankmajer - The Pendulum, the Pit, and other Peculiarities is that not only films will be presented but also a comprehensive selection of his graphic and collaged works from different decades.

Ossuary by Jan Å vankmajer, 1970

Å vankmajer has always been the best commentator on his own work so let's have him explain what you're going to witness in Vienna:

“Whatever comes out of my subconscious I use it because I consider it to be the purest form; everything else in your conscious being has been influenced by reality, by art, by education, and by your upbringing, but the original experiences that exist within you are least corrupted of all experiences.”

Amen to that, amen. Details below.

On show: Sep 7 - Oct 2, 2011

Address: KUNSTHALLE wien, Museumsplatz 1, A-1070 Vienna, Austria, tel: +43-1-52189-0, email: office@kunsthallewien.at | Map

Opening hours: Daily: 10 AM - 7 PM

Preview | Images | Press release

Publication: Monograph on Jan Švankmajer’s oeuvre (incl. interview) is now available. 240 pages, app. 100 images, German/English. Verlag für moderne Kunst Nürnberg.

WurzelForum discussion

Samuel Higley's "Fit For The Plough" Riddles

by Suzanne on September 12th, 2011

The Collector by Samuel Higley, oil on board, 9 x 16", 2011 - click to enlarge

Samuel Higley calls himself a "commercial artist" but as prosaic and honest that description is, it really is way too humble and limiting as his work is really captivating and he's obviously an extremely skilled craftsman.

Fit For the Plough cover by Samuel Higley - click to enlarge

He first caught my eye (ouch!) with his piece The Collector from this summer (very top).

Pick a Pocket or Three (pickpocket) by Samuel Higley - click to enlarge

For the past few weeks, he's been posting his Fit For The Plough series to his Tumblr by turning each ink drawing into an image riddle:

"The subjects are deformed suiting to their occupation. There’s a quote for each image to help guess what their occupation is. I’ll reveal the occupation the following Monday."

Left on the Shelf (librarian) by Samuel Higley - click to enlarge

Samuel's portfolio is here and if you want to follow his Fit For The Plough riddles, make sure to check his Tumblr every Monday for a new piece and the solution to the previous one.

A Fine Catch (yet to be solved - apparently, it's not a lobster fisher...) by Samuel Higley - click to enlarge

Marianna Gartner's "Intervention" at Upper Belvedere, Vienna

by Suzanne on September 11th, 2011

Girl on Couch by Marianna Gartner, oil on wood, 20x20 cm, 2009 - click to enlarge

Vienna's pompous Belvedere has started an interesting series of exhibitions entitled Interventions inviting contemporary artists to reinterpret its venerable collection of old-master works.

Canadian artist Marianna Gartner whose oeuvre naturally plays with the past and present seems like a very logical choice for the new edition of Interventions which opens this coming Thursday, September 15.

From the press release:

"For her intervention, she is going to create new paintings in which she takes up aspects from works by Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Anton Romako, Michael Pacher, and others in order to interpret them in her own artistic language."

All details below.

Bad Friedrich (detail) by Marianna Gartner, oil on canvas, 200x120 cm, 2008 - click to enlarge

On show: Sep 15 - Dec 18, 2011

Address: Upper Belvedere, Prinz Eugen-Straße 27, 1030, Vienna, Austria, tel: + 43 1 79 557-0, email: info@belvedere.at

Opening hours: Daily: 10 AM – 6 PM

Admission: € 9.50

Press release

Artist's website

WurzelForum discussion

Ralph Eugene Meatyard at Art Institute of Chicago

by Suzanne on August 26th, 2011

Untitled by Ralph Eugene Meatyard, gelatin silver print, 6 5/8 x 5 3/4 inches, date unknown © The Estate of Ralph Eugene Meatyard- click to enlarge

Ralph Eugene Meatyard is one of those artists you're almost kind of grateful they're not alive anymore (how ever short his existence was) because you just know that VICE would totally exploit his natural talent for subtly staged impromptu photography which enabled him to make the derelict seem enchanted and boy scouts sweetly traumatised.

Meatyard certainly was an interesting chap, he even

"inserted one of his own prints into his personal copy of Beaumont Newhall’s classic History of Photography, which did not include him."

(AIC press release)

The Chicago Art Institute is currently showing a grand retrospective of Meatyard's work. It opened back in July and will remain on show until September 25. Definitely one to check out.

Admission is a bit pricy with $18 but free to Illinois residents on the first and second Wednesdays of every month.

The exhibition will be traveling to the De Young Museum in San Francisco (Oct 8, 2011 - Feb 26, 2012) and finally to the Museum of Art in Philadelphia (May 19 – Aug 5, 2012) afterwards.

Further details below.

Untitled by Ralph Eugene Meatyard, gelatin silver print, 7 3/8 x 7 3/8 inches, date unknown © The Estate of Ralph Eugene Meatyard- click to enlarge

On show: Jul 2 - Sep 25, 2011

Address: The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60603-6404, USA | Map

Opening hours: Mon - Wed, Fri - Sun: 10:30 AM - 5 PM, Thu: 10:30 AM - 8 PM

Admission: $18 - and special offers for locals

Catalogue: The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated, 144-page catalogue published by Radius Books.

Press release

WurzelForum discussion | Via Daily Serving

And à propos traumatised boys: Innocence sure can be hell...



by Suzanne on August 22nd, 2011

© Wurzeltod, 2011

Lots of stuff happening (mainly of the bad and then worse kind). I have been watching lots of Gamecenter CX which I find incredibly therapeutic because it brings back so many childhood memories. I also find AD "Adventure Island 28 Hours Straight So Beautiful I Think I Cried" Urakawa immensely attractive and such a graceful gamer *cough* which might be another reason why I'm watching Arino play really obnoxious vintage games for hours on end. Oh well, we all have our weak spots.

In related old skool gaming news, can someone help Rob, Same Hat & I identify what PC88 / 98 or MSX2 game this screen shot is from. Ta!

Nothing much going on in the arts but it seems that decent exhibition programmes begin again in September, so let me just share some things that got stuck in my Twitter over the past few days.


Doubly sad times for censorship in Australia...

Robert Crumb cancels Australia show after being told he produces "crude and perverted images emanating from what is clearly a sick mind." His answer?

"I have a lot of anxiety about having to confront some angry sexual assault crisis group."

Jan Saudek photo withdrawn after child prostitution claim.
(thanks, Trevor!)

VERY sad times for the fantastic Odd Nerdrum who's been sentenced to two years in prison for tax evasion.
(via Samantha Levin)


• Will Wiles for Cabinet Magazine on The Behavioral Sink

"Elsewhere, cannibalism, pansexualism, and violence became endemic. Mouse society had collapsed."

• Mask of a 1970s-era Elvis Presley from Malawi at the Brooklyn Museum

"The painted wood mask, “Elvis” Mask for Nyau Society , was worn by a “secret society” made up of Chewu peoples during ceremonies and rituals."


Substrom made a really nice video for Clark. And by "really nice" I mean "NSFW":

"We knew our ideals were high. The lower we sink, the less we care why." (from Jeopardy by The Sound - cover art by the Stenberg Brothers):

Overtone singing with x-ray image made by the Dept. of Radiology at the CHUV Lausanne (via NotCot):

House of Beasts at Attingham Park, Atcham, Shrewsbury, UK

by Suzanne on August 1st, 2011

1 - Evacuate by Kate MccGwire, bird feathers coming out of pot - click to enlarge

When news reached me a month ago that Meadow Arts were curating a year-long site-specific group show of taxidermy, sculpture and installation art entitled House of Beasts at the breathtaking Attingham Park in Shrewsbury (Charles Darwin's birthplace - how perfect!), I knew that there was still hope that the Elder Gods can indeed hear our prayers and pleas for great art exhibitions in the UK and do receive our sacrifices.

2 - Foreground: Untitled (Sphere) by Alastair Mackie, mouse skulls, wood, glass, courtesy the artist and All Visual Arts / Background: Herd by Susie MacMurray, cut antlers, silk velvet, Meadow Arts Commission 2011 - click to enlarge

House of Beasts is way more than land-art meets Wunderkammer though - Meadow Arts have managed to create a surreal fictional space where taxidermy becomes alive and sculpture becomes organic.

3 - Refuge by Nina Saunders, taxidermy fox, upholstered armchair, courtesy David Roberts Collection - click to enlarge - click here for detail

Where Nina Saunders' little fox (picture 3) just stretched its paws and yawned, where Tessa Farmer's insect warriors battle fearlessly with their porcupine spine spears, where Daphne Wright's swan (picture 7) is drying its feathers after an invigorating swim in the River Tern, where Polly Morgan's magpie (picture 5) just picked up the phone, where Kate MccGwire's leech-like feather blob (picture 1) is spooking and creeping around the house like it's trapped in some Edward Gorey book or Ray Caesar artwork.

4 - Chandelier (Katy’s Convoy) by Nina Saunders, chandelier with taxidermy birds, courtesy the artist - click to enlarge

I've had a long love and passion for artists combining bone and filigree with taxidermy, so I immediately knew this would work perfectly at an old manor house like Attingham Park but when I saw the line-up of artists, I did need to reach for the smelling salts, it is that amazing.

5 - One for Sorrow by Polly Morgan, bakelite telephone and taxidermy magpie, courtesy the artist - click to enlarge

Featured artists include:

*INHALES* Ruth Claxton, Mat Collishaw, Tessa Farmer, Rachel Goodyear, Kathleen Herbert, Alastair Mackie, Susie MacMurray, Kate MccGwire, Polly Morgan, Nina Saunders, Anj Smith, Daphne Wright *EXHALES*.

6 - The Beast in Me by Mat Collishaw, digital photograph, courtesy Anne Faggionato - click to enlarge

Yeah, I know, right? A plethora of reasons to drag yourself to Shropshire before mid-July 2012. Details below.

Many thanks to Anne de Charmant, director of Meadow Arts for the in-situ image material.

7 - Swan by Daphne Wright, cast marble dust, Meadow Arts Commission 2007 - click to enlarge

On show: Jul 2, 2011 - Jul 15, 2012

Address: House of Beasts at Attingham Park, Atcham, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY4 4TP, tel: 01743 708123 (INFOLINE), email: attingham@nationaltrust.org.uk | Exhibition map

Press release | Exhibition map

WurzelForum discussion

The Work of Santiago Caruso

by Suzanne on July 28th, 2011

La Condesa Sangrienta, book illustration, by Santiago Caruso, 2009 - click to enlarge

Focussing mainly on exhibiting artists, I tend to not really profile as many young artists as I'd like to and it's often illustrators that don't get nearly as much exposure here as they do over on the WurzelForum.

Anyway, whenever someone whose oeuvre I've been admiring for a good while takes the time to write a lovely little email, I will obviously make an exception to the normal posting schedule and devote a little feature to said individual.

So yesterday, the great Buenos Aires born and based Santiago Caruso invited me to check out his work and even though I was very familiar with it already - thanks to the fabulous Jon Beinart - he inspired me to explore his website further and dive into his incredibly vast archive of works.

For someone who's still in his 20s, the technical versatility, the effortless switching between genres, the treatment of historical and fictional subjects alike is deeply impressive and awe-inspiring.

Invocation by Santiago Caruso - click to enlarge

You could commission Santiago to create you anything between a black metal album cover and the design for a trashy romance novel. He's done it all.

Browsing through his galleries, you'll find yourself reminded of artists as diverse as Joel-Peter Witkin, Giorgio de Chirico, Odd Nerdrum, Jan Saudek, Francisco Goya, H R Giger and Hieronymus Bosch, to mention only a few.

In a dizzying whirlwind of surrealist theatrical compositions, you'll stumble over visual themes such as Lustmord, danses macabres, anatomical écorchés, eldritch abominations and witches' sabbaths.

Personally, I always find myself immediately drawn to his trichromatic works in black/white/red; I think that's where his genius and the way his mind and hand have absorbed history and art history come through the strongest.

You can find Santiago's website here, his blog here and he's selling original works online here.

Yira, Yira by Santiago Caruso - click to enlarge

In other news, thank fuck for poeTV and Shelley Duvall: