Peter W. Kimmel was born in 1958 in Linz, Austria, and began his career as the manager of a bodybuilding centre, where he learnt to use efficiently his strengths and abilities. After seven years he gave up his share in the business in order to meet up to a new challenge.
Two documentaries that are playing at the New York Film Festival deal with systemic violence through the documentary form, displaying the myriad ways film can address tragedy through the lens of memory. Death is haunting and never leaves us, but in reexamining the past we might be able to better understand the present and navigate the future.
“The Look of Silence,” Joshua Oppenheimer’s companion piece to last year’s astonishing “The Act of Killing,” takes a different approach to the same material as his previous film, which focused on the government-backed purge of communists in Indonesia in 1965. “Silence” is a more somber view of the same events that unfolds from the perspective of the victims. Oppenheimer follows Adi, whose brother was murdered by the subjects of “Killing,” while he travels around and confronts those responsible. The camera lingers on these conversations between perpetrator and victim, over and over again past the point of comfortableness, acting less a witness to what is being discussed than a tool to prod the truth out of those who are most likely to obscure it.
South Korean filmmaker Jung Yoon-suk takes a different approach with “Non-Fiction Diary.” The film centers on the crimes committed by a group called the Jijon Clan, who murdered five people and were arrested in September 1994. Their case became a media bonanza, sparking public dialogue about the corrupted moral core of Korean society. The film then expands to include two more no less horrific tragedies: the collapse of both the Seongsu Bridge in Seoul one month after the arrest, which killed 32 people, and the towering Sampoong department store, which killed 502 people and injured nearly 1,000. Using media footage from the time period along with accounts from police officers who were on the scene, the film draws links between the three events and what they reveal about the connection between wealth inequality, class resentment, and violence.
Both films speak from the present tense and in their own ways hope to affect change. “Silence” is the less subtle of the two, but no less powerful because of it. Oppenheimer seeks truth less in connections than in confessions, especially those that shock the audience, such as when one of the perpetrators confesses to drinking the blood of those they killed. But the most shocking thing in the film is a simple phrase of denial, repeated again and again: “The past is the past.” With his camera, Oppenheimer intends to rebuke that claim, no mater how painful the process seems for subject and viewer alike.
“Diary” is more restrained, not engaged in an act of simply remembering the past but in re-contextualizing it. It’s the more sober of the two works and more resonant for the questions that are asked about violence. Why are people killed? Is it because killers are “born with the seed of evil,” as one political commentator remarks in the film? Can we remove violence from its context, and what role does capitalism play in the tragedies at hand? Should the wealthy owners of the Sampoong department store, which collapsed due to negligence, be punished any differently than the members of the Jijon Clan, who emerged from the other end of the social and economic spectrum? Is one guiltier than the other?
The questions in “Diary” and “Silence” are at once obvious and complex — which is part of what makes them work so well — while the answers are so easy to comprehend and so difficult to put in words. The simple act of asking, of remembering, of taking another look, is the first step toward understanding.
— Pace Fetes Unsung Picasso Muse: In the past few years, quite a few shows have been devoted to the many muses of Picasso, but now Pace is bringing out works inspired by the artist’s second wife. Long overshadowed by Fernande, Marie-Thérèse, and Françoise,Jacqueline Roque married Picasso in 1961 and was the inspiration for many of the artist’s late works. “It is so free and full of love,” said Guggenheim curator Carmen Giménez. “Jacqueline created peace for him. That did not happen before.” [WSJ]
— Hong Kong’s Protest Art: Since Sunday’s escalation of the peaceful #OccupyCentral demonstrations in Hong Kong, protestors have begun to use the image of an umbrella — originally brought out as a way to protect themselves from pepper spray — as a unifying symbol, akin to Occupy Wall Street’s appropriation of the Guy Fawkes mask. The protestors and their supporters, who are calling for democratic elections in 2017, have created a plethora of graphic art images using the symbol (often in yellow) and uploaded them across social media platforms, many bearing the hashtag #UmbrellaRevolution. [Mashable]
— Huge Head Hits DC Mall: Artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada has installed a six-acre landscaping project on the DC mall that, from an aerial view, resembles the face of a man. Sponsored by the National Portrait Gallery, the face was created from a composite of photographs of local Cuban Americans. [Washington Post]
— Artist Buys Instagram Followers: In an effort to equalize the oft-fraught influence of social media, Constant Dullaart, with DIS magazine and Jeu de Paume, paid to flush out prominent accounts — from Gagosian Gallery to Jeff Koons — to an even 100,000 followers apiece. [ARTnews]
— New Art Start-Ups: Artolease offers US companies the opportunity to rent and display prominent artworks, while GalleriesNow.net promises an algorithm that evaluates more than just sales to determine the true “top 10” contemporary galleries. [ArtDaily, ArtDaily]
— HuffPo Cracks Art World Codes: Apparently, “Does the artist have positive romantic baggage?” is but one of 10 essential questions to consider when deciding how to price a painting. [HuffPo]
— Derek and Christen Wilson have given $1 million to Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art. [ARTnews]
— While controversy rages on about the Guggenheim Helsinki, the museum has announced a #guggathon (a Wikipedia edit-a-thon on the topic of museum architecture). [Guggenheim]
— Clearing Gallery is moving to a 5,000-square-foot ground-floor space in Bushwick. [ARTnews]
Robert Gober’s retrospective “The Heart Is Not A Metaphor,” which opens on October 4 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, is a strange and moving survey of domestic unease, seemingly pointless labor, and creeping horror, among other things. You enter the exhibition past a pair of very different works: “X Pipe Playpen,” 2013-14, a sculpture of a child’s crib bisected by an industrial pipe; and an untitled painting from 1975 depicting a suburban house, its lawn criss-crossed with ragged shadows of barren trees. The two pieces feed each other — the fairly straightforward, even bucolic scene can’t help but emit sinister vibes next to the modified baby furniture, a symbol of security gone awry. You carry that feeling of molested comfort through the rest of the show, with its sinks and legs and re-contextualized slices of mundane architecture.
In the following room, for instance: A closet from 1989, shallow and empty, its baseboard a bit dingy. Like many of the objects in Gober’s oeuvre, it’s an emptiness, a void, a lack (unless you walk inside it — then you’re the content). MoMA’s wall text describes another work in the show — a wedding dress, sans human inhabitant — as a “vessel” waiting for the “hopes and dreams of marriage.” A series of sinks from 1984 — all of them modeled on sinks that he had personal experience with, Gober clarified during a Q&A session at yesterday’s press preview — are mounted a bit too low on the wall. As the exhibition progresses we see the artist taking more liberties with those sinks — hanging them in stacks or, most successfully, burying a pair like tombstones in a patch of grass outside the gallery’s window. Along with those signature sinks, the exhibition is dotted with another of Gober’s most recognizable tropes: beeswax limbs augmented with actual human hair. (The artist didn’t make any sculptures of human anatomy until 1989, but during the Q&A alluded to the partial roots of his fascination with such forms, which often incorporate candles into the physiognomy: He was raised Catholic, a faith that had “this array of body-rich symbols.”)
One of the strangest elements of Gober’s practice is the sheer number of lovingly recreated, ordinary objects — paint cans, cat litter bags, store receipts, gin bottles — that, while impressive, never seem to fully justify the amount of intricate labor that must have gone into producing them. Why conjure an exact replica of a Table Talk brand apple pie using cast hot glass, cast plastic, and paint? Why make a wood engraving and subsequent prints simply to memorialize a urology appointment-reminder card for some guy named Keith? These items either have a buried, opaque significance, or they’re arbitrary challenges, a self-imposed mimetic assignment: The work was pointless in many ways but the thing is real, and has weight, in a way that an apple pie box sealed in a vitrine would not. These skillful, perverse objects are scattered throughout the show, often in rooms with artist-designed wallpaper (depicting a lynched man, or forest scenes, or sketches of male and female genitalia, or the river-veined outlines of states).
“The Heart Is Not A Metaphor” is also noteworthy for its inclusion of large installations, like one (with sinks, newspapers, wallpaper, and windows) that Gober made for Dia’s space in Chelsea in 1992, and another, made in response to the 9/11 attacks and featuring a statue of Jesus that spews water from his nipples into a hole in the ground (MoMA acquired the piece itself). There’s a room that focuses on Gober’s role as curator — he’s responsible for two spectacular retrospectives at the Whitney, of Charles Burchfield and Forrest Bess — and includes a show-within-the-show with work by Cady Noland and others. Not everything is pitch-perfect; the weirder or more grotesque certain later works get, the less effective they can be — like a stool sporting beeswax breasts and dangling a child’s leg. But most of the time Gober pushes adeptly against kitsch and mere stagecraft. Consider a 1997 sculpture of a suitcase that contains a grate, which opens onto a chimney burrowed into the floor, which terminates in a submerged pool of water with some sort of genuflecting marine plants. In the wrong hands, something like that could be corny as hell, but Gober nails it; the subterranean universe is so transfixing that you might even forget to Instagram it.
The small, early graphite drawings and paintings here could constitute a show of their own, from depictions of dish racks and other household products to one tiny canvas that belies Gober’s allegiance to Bess: an undefined orifice, populated by bats hanging from nails, being pried open by strange, green hands. The latter work hangs next to a sculpture of a petite bed, child- or monk-sized, neatly made. That juxtaposition is a nice summary of Gober’s retrospective in general: An invitation to relax, swiftly pierced by a jab of terror.
NEW YORK — September was a big month for José Parlá. The Miami-born, Brooklyn-based artist worked to complete an expansive mural that will hang in One World Trade Center, and he staged his second solo exhibition at Chelsea’s Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery. “In Medias Res,” which opened September 12, features new paintings, sculpture, and another large-scale mural installation. Parlá says the exhibition — whose title is drawn from the name of a writing technique — chronicles his life, beginning with his childhood and including his travels around the world.
ARTINFO visited Parlá’s studio as he was working on the exhibition and the WTC mural.
“In Medias Res” is on view at Bryce Wolkowitz through October 18.
India is set to launch a nationwide campaign to clean up the country on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, but many of the country's bureaucrats are not happy about it, writes the BBC's Geeta Pandey in Delhi.