Monthly Archives: September 2013

Postmodern Photography

Niya's View

Signs of a Struggle: Photography in the Wake of Postmodernism

Photo by Niya Sinckler.

The Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington has lots of works which feature artists creative styles of artwork using themes of challenge, humor and irony to portray their ideas regarding postmodernism.

As you enter the photography room, artist, David Hockey displays: Photography is Dead. Long Live Painting 1995 (See Below).

Photo by Niya Sinckler.

Then walking along there are other intriguing artists. One which stood out was Anne Hardy Untitled IV (Balloons) 2005. (See below). My favorite!

Photo from Anne Hardy Site.

Then the most magical photograph was by Sarah Charlesworth called Gardens of Delight, 1988. There this keyhole where you can look into a new dimensional world (See Below).

Photo from Sarah Charlesworth Studio Site.

This exhibition is on from 11 August to 27 November 2011 in Gallery 38A. The admission is free…

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from aestheticamagazine blog

6.Untitled IV (balloons) -¬ Anne Hardy, courtesy Maureen Paley, London and ArtSway


Signs of a Struggle: Photography in the Wake of Postmodernism | V&A | London

Text by Matt Swain

This display, which is a forerunner for the V&A’s forthcoming exhibition Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990, explores photographs that make reference to themselves as well as other media, demonstrating the longevity and pervading influence of Postmodernist photography over a 30 year period starting in the 1970s. You can read a preview of the upcoming show in the current issue of Aesthetica which is available here.

The images, which can initially seem superficial, link eras and media ensuring that there is a translation beyond surface depth. They all carry a strong sense of individual style with the duality of connection, this being the crucial link to their place in time as well as the here and now. Scenarios are built or staged and then quite wilfully destroyed, existing only for the purposes of that photograph. The works here, almost 40 photographs, are loosely arranged by theme and are by some of the most influential Postmodernist artists, demonstrating a wide variety of styles and techniques.

David Hockney’s Photography is Dead, Long Live Painting (1995) successfully sets the tone, showing a Get Well Soon card containing a photograph of sunflowers next to Hockney’s painting of them, effectively posing the question as to whether a painting of something can ever be more beautiful than a photograph. Richard Prince, who has been taking sections of advertising images from posters and magazines since the 1970s and making “re-photographs”, is represented here with the Marlboro man in Untitled (Cowboys) (1986), questioning consumerism and the environment in which such advertisements are seen.

Cindy Sherman’s renowned conceptual self-portraiture is exemplified in Untitled (1979) featuring Sherman as a Marilyn-style Hollywood star, captured on camera by the paparazzi. It is a defining moment in what it seeks to be, representing femininity in popular culture and displaying a typically classic sense of modernity. One Flesh (1985) by Helen Chadwick also addresses femininity albeit it from a different perspective, showing mother and baby with a golden placenta floating above, a Renaissance-style collage on cheaply produced photocopies in red, gold and blue, confronting conventional ideas about the human body, the sacred and the feminine.

Throughout, styles clash and mingle. The component parts are familiar but we see them reassembled in new ways, giving them new meaning or multiple meanings and forcing reappraisal, igniting our imagination and suspicion. Peter Kennard’s Haywain with Cruise Missiles (1980) invades Constable’s idyllic vision with a missile launcher on top of the horse-drawn cart. Tess Hurrell’s Chaology no 1 (2006) effectively shows a flimsy, handmade model from cotton wool and talcum powder imitating a nuclear explosion. Ann Hardy took months to create her post-party scene for Untitled IV (2005), and then subsequently destroyed it. The interpretation of the creation remains on the surface, discarded urban objects contrasting with balloons, an unsettling, unfinished and recently vacated chaos.

Arguably the most effective work here is Claire Strand’s Signs of a Struggle (2003), from which the display takes its title. This series of images fascinatingly builds scenes in living rooms, streets and gardens, an allegory of potentially paranormal activity and faked police crime scenes, staged yet utterly convincing. It is this authenticity that makes this real but fun. You are the outsider looking in with the clear knowledge that it is staged.

The later images possess a certain subtlety and humour not always apparent in some of the earlier works but it all somehow feels contemporary, raising questions about how photography is represented and about the meanings within the various layers. Almost without noticing, we are all becoming more accustomed to the idea of looking at two or more irreconcilable ideas as one and making sense of them. Despite some recent debate to the contrary, Postmodernism is alive and well. Who knew that obvious artifice, beautiful fakery and pastiche could be so enticing?

Signs of a Struggle: Photography in the Wake of Postmodernism continues at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London until 27 November 2011

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Untitled IV (balloons) Ann Hardy (2005) Courtesy Anne Hardy, courtesy Maureen Paley, London and ArtSway

– See more at:

Creative photography, all you can and can’t expect about postmodernism

Have it ever occur to you that the criminal scenes, with their sense of secrets and mystery, could be one of the best objects for postmodern photography?Clare Strand is a photographer who belongs to the everyday, yet “her images evoke the mesmeric, the talismanic and the unsolvable”. She is inspired by scientific and crime scene photos which serve as evidence.This is a photo of a crime scene which sets a tone of creepy weirdness. The chair lying down contradicts with the scene and breaks the false calmness, which intrigues curiosity and imagination about what has happened here.

via Creative photography, all you can and can't expect about postmodernism.

Creative photography, all you can and can’t expect about postmodernism

Creative photography, all you can and can't expect about postmodernism.

Clare Strand

Signs of a Struggle: Photography in the Wake of Postmodernism – 11th August to 27th November


Clare Strand

‘This display explores photographs that make reference to themselves, other media and texts, and demonstrates how such Postmodernist approaches to photography have persisted for over 30 years.  Cindy Sherman and Richard Prince, alongside more recent work by Anne Hardy, David Shrigley, Clare Strand and others.’

The object and contemporary thoughts in 1987 from an article by Luke Gibbons in CIRCA

Notes I Have Made From Peripheral Vision, an article by Luke Gibbons, Circa Art Magazine, no. 35 July/August 1987.

I came across this article accidentally the other day, the whole thing is worth quoting but I am just going to pick out a few bits that seem relevant to where I am now.


“When the universal pretension of high modernism were revealed as Coca Cola in disguise, the search was on for a new source of integrity and value to legitimize contemporary art.”
He continues how Ireland’s role, at the periphery of world art, gives a piquancy and ‘native imagination’ to the jaded palette force-fed on international modernism.  It is refreshing to see provincialism as something positive rather than a derogatory term.

          “One of the ways in which universal aspirations were given concrete form in abstract expressionism was, as we have seen, the suppression of content, and all reference to the external world.  A painting, to adapt Archibald Mac Leish, should not mean but be.  Like the mythic cowboy or frontiersman paintings represented nothing but simply stood for themselves.  It was this prospect of concentrated vision, of an object freed from meaning (and by extension language) which allowed critics like Greenberg to argue that under high modernism, paintings achieved a ‘presence’, a kind of irreducible ‘aura’, which prevented their appropriation as commodities.”

He continues how abstraction by Irish artists is influenced by the ‘linguistic’ basis of Irish cultural identity even its non-verbal forms.


He Quotes Tanya Kiang’s discussion of Umberto Eco’s The Name Of The Rose, which addresses itself to where language ends and the visual begins.

     “Eco himself is probably the foremost theoretical exponent of this problem, and in his work on semiotics, he argues that, in the last resort, even pictorial representation does not escape through the nets of language, but in encoded within a signifying system.”

Kiang continues that in novels the narrative and word has primacy over the image, the setting is invested with meaning so by resisting interpretation, refusing to act on signs, the investigative strategies of the (male) protagonist is frustrated.  When the novel is transferred to cinema the plenitude of images pulls in one direction, suspending the progression of the action to satisfy our desire for spectacle, while the narrative seeks to get on with the story.  The visual surplus of the ‘authenticating’ details – the settings, costumes, surface textures,- upsets the narrative economy of the film.

She continues that significantly it is the sensual presence of women which intrudes most on the action,  with the camera savouring every redundant detail  She quotes from William Adso’s master that “whatever happened in the kitchen has no bearing on our investigations”.  It is as if women by conniving in visual pleasure, have no part to play in any narrative.

I must look up all this but it seems to connect with Cindy Sherman who is an artist that will feature in my thesis and my practice this year.


Gibbons continues:

          ”Women in Vermeer’s pictures are silent and composed, and thus appear to be removed from language, but invariably they are engaged in reading or writing.  As in one of Cindy Sherman’s ‘film stills’ we get a glimpse of an unknown narrative, a kind of clandestine meaning which eludes the boundaries of the frame.”

In Pat Murphy’s film Anne Devlin and the film of The Name of the Rose a series of tableau effects impedes the flow of the ‘master narrative’ yet are not just visual excess. They are dramatic hieroglyphs, which escape the notice of those who take them for granted, but are positively inscrutable to the outside who wish to force them to give up their secrets.  The movement of the film from word to image, narrative to spectacle, may echo Greenberg’s ideal of unalloyed vision, except that silence is not a refusal but rather a condensation, an intensification, of meaning.

Luke Gibbons is particularly interested in the developing interface between the ‘traditional’ visual arts and contemporary visual media.  I think that is one of the directions I am exploring.



Notes for me to further explore:

Umberto Eco The Name of the Rose

Pat Murphy Anne Devlin

Tanya Kiang

Whatever happened in the kitchen has no bearing on our investigations



this is a nice reminder of the possibilities there are to do with film. I will never be that teche or have those facilities but there is nothing to stop me doing something a bit similar using final cut pro