'Chipo, 1997' 
© Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York'

Jackie Nickerson: On Portraiture

24.07.2017 | Art , Culture | BY:

Portraiture has the power to envelop a subject, and the ability to absorb the viewer through one mesmerising shot. The quiet poignancy of the work of Jackie Nickerson aligns these two traits, her photography exploring the spatial relationships of faces to places and expressing the interaction of identity with function and form. Speaking to Twin, Jackie discusses ownership, collaboration and female representation.

What does identity mean to you and how do you try to explore this in your imagery?

Identity is quite a dangerous word. It’s used to create an otherness but I don’t look for otherness – I just look at the person. I want to see the ‘personness’, not the box they fit into. In fact, I want to break them out of the box they’ve been put into. So you are not merely looking at the likeness of someone. I guess for me it’s about having a uniqueness, a selfhood, and a self-possession that transcends the intervention of the artist. In effect, it’s about making the artist invisible and having the sitter take ownership of their own image.

You discuss your work as portraiture: what do you believe a portrait should present to the viewer?

A great portrait should stop you in your tracks and have you spellbound – like a deer in headlights. It should ask all kinds of questions.

All photos © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

‘Ruth, 2012’ © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Do you have the same desires for the outcome of your personal and commissioned fashion-orientated work?

Fine art and fashion are two totally different applications of photography, so although you’re using the same medium you need to use an entirely different approach. In fashion you have an end use, a specific use and you’re collaborating with a team of people to create this. In fine art you’re working on your own and trying to ask questions.

In your conversation with Brendan Rooney for the UNIFORM exhibition catalogue, you discussed the issues of photographers in art today: they seek inspiration from the real world yet don’t feel comfortable using the real world itself. What role do you think reality has to play in commissioned fashion editorial?

I think we all look for inspiration from things outside our immediate practice so for example a designer might look at architecture or industrial design, painting, sculpture and other art forms. But often they’re not looking for a literal translation of one thing to another, but a kind of wider context of an aesthetic or opinion. So in collaborations we can build up an impression or atmosphere that will help the designer to portray his or her vision. So for me, each collaboration is a separate conversation and working out how we can make images that respect that, and although you need to use an entirely different approach, (we’re talking about two totally different applications of photography) it would be difficult to separate the artist because I think about imagery all the time. I’m obsessed. Its just part of my everyday life.

All photos © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

‘Catherine, 2013’ © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

What are your views on the representation of females in fashion photography today?

I recently bought a couple of vintage Vogues from the 1950s and apart from the clothes, and apart from a stylistic difference, I don’t think the imagery has, in essence, moved on because

you know we are looking at a commercial application and there’s obviously a formula that works. Saying that, in those old Vogues, there was only one way for a woman to be. Now there’s much wider representation of different types of women and lifestyles. I think the attitude and personality of the model is becoming more important and we are seeing a broader definition of beauty.

Do you hold a particular affinity to the women you photograph?

It depends on who I’m photographing and what I’m photographing them for.

Can the female gaze be reciprocal? Is that the most important link between the female photographer to her subject?

I don’t think of myself as a female photographer. I’m just me.

Communication is the key. When I photograph women I want to show the strength in them. I’m not interested in models flirting with the camera. I really hate that shit.

'Monica 1997' © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York'

‘Monica 1997’ © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

What photographers do you admire, and what traits do you admire about them?

Well there are loads of them but a couple would be Dorothea Lange, Lee Miller, Joseph Koudelka, Cindy Sherman, I love these photographers primarily because they are great photographers but I love them because they all had something to overcome – Lee Miller, Dorothea Lange, Cindy Sherman – women in a man’s world, Koudelka – Czechoslovakia in ’68.

Featured image: ‘Chipo, 1997’ © Jackie Nickerson. Courtesy the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

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Anne Morris in ‘Form and Volume’

04.06.2017 | Art | BY:

What happens when you take simple objects and turn them into art? Annie Morris’ practice grew out of drawing. Her love of line develop into sculpture, painting and free-hand sewn works that exude joy. She uses everyday objects such as biro pens and clothes pegs to make pieces that brim with a personal visual language full of narrative pleasure.

The staking sculptures she has on show in Form and Volume at CF Hill in Stockholm sit firmly between the abstract and figurative. They are often human scale, or larger than life, but seem to echo the vertical stance of the human body. She reduces her forms to shapes that are circular but inanimate. She plays with gravity, creating balls of pigment and colour that seem to defy the laws of nature.

The formal nature of her stacks veer towards the language of painting. She studied with Giuseppe Penone at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and Phyllida Barlow at the Slade in London – and reflects their sense of solemnity and play, free space and steadiness.

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She uses coloured pigment, chalk and watercolour on the surface of her balls, which are intentionally hand made and uneven. Their imperfections give them a feeling joy, lightness and humour. The balls should fall apart, but Morris’ has enabled them to reach upward seemingly through hope and intention as much as anything else.

Each of Morris’ colourful combinations are unique. There is a sense of repetition and exploration in combinations that brings to mind Joseph Albers. She obsessively deconstructs and reconfigures fragments on order to create something harmonious. The stacking series slowly emerged in the wake of her experience of giving birth to a stillborn child, the resulting trauma and the relationship with her desire to have children (she now has two). These are works about hope and harmony in the face of hardship.

Morris has now begun to explore making stack works in metal – experimenting in both bronze and steel. Most recently she has been working with technicians who fabricated work for the iconic British modernist sculptor, Barbara Hepworth. A feminist aesthetic heritage runs throughout Morris’ work, yet her work is not limited by references to gender – her use of line echoes both Jean Cocteau and Louise Bourgeois. This is an artist whose ever-expanding approach is both personal and refreshingly accessible and universal.

Annie Morris is on show in Form and Volume at CF Hill, Stockholm until June 30

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Opening up to the unknown: Twin meets artist Sarah Braman

22.05.2017 | Art , Blog | BY:

Sarah Braman focusses on large-scale sculptures which interact with their surrounding environments. Born in New York, Braman has cultivated a distinct aesthetic which sees a melange of vibrant colours rendered in various materials – from perspex to scrap metal pieces. The resulting works offer captivating interplays between the private and the public, wherein exhibits invite an engagement with their surrounding space, as well as engendering emotional response. As her first solo show in London comes to a close this week, Twin spoke with Braman about creative spaces and finding the perfect object.

Your work is often large scale, and often involves familiar objects that you render unfamiliar through new juxtapositions – how do you decide what to work with?

I tend to work with what is around me, things I find at home or in the yard or on the road. I am a regular at the town dump and Salvation Army in my town. Sometimes I get a slow burn desire for a specific object and then I open my scanning to a larger periphery to try to find that thing. 

Do you feel an instinctive pull towards certain types of materials?   

Yes I have always had a love for transparency.  I guess light feels like such a gift and always changing and transparent glass or fabric allows that to do its magic. I also love everything about wood. I love its density, it’s colour. I love that when I paint on wood there is already a subject in it’s grain.  It is also true that in carving wood every piece is so different from every other. Even out of the same tree the different chunks have such a variety of qualities. And I like furniture and junk form day to day life. I like automotive parts because when they are taken in parts they work as much as pieces of architecture as the do pieces of cars or trucks.

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What has most surprised you when working? Do you often pair materials and see them in a wholly new light?

When I use a material or object and it transforms to something I don’t expect that is the best feeling. It doesn’t happen all the time but its part of why I keep making art, trying to get to those moments.

What stories and themes do you most enjoying telling or exploring in your work?

That is a really hard question. I feel like I work best when I am detaching from thoughts about what the work is or should be.  But to this same point my friend Pascal said to me recently this is an important time to take ownership of our choices.  This also seems true.  The truth is that I really don’t know what I am making, but that said; I do have desires and feeling of what I hope the work can be.  I really want the sculptures to operate as objects that exist on their own, not as metaphors or symbols or stand-ins for anything else.  I hope that the sculptures can lead the viewer into an experience that is truly abstract, that is, one that cant be described by words.  I hope that the viewer could some how be ungrounded in this experience and that while they may have feelings or thoughts looking at the piece that they are at the same time unable to tie all this together in a way that they can understand.  I guess this is all to say that I hope the work can open people up to the unknown, and more specifically, the unknown that exists in every moment of our lives.

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Who have you been most inspired by, for this exhibition and more generally throughout your career?

My mother built our house when I was about five years old.  I think the experience of watching her take down an old tabbacco barn and slowly build a house out of it has been one of the most inspirational experience in my life and in my art.  For sure being a mother and the inherent imperfection of the day to day of raising children paired with the absolute perfection of the love shared has been a guide for me in the studio.  This also is true for my relationship with Phil.  With him I think the deepest value is having someone that I feel completely safe with.  I think when I can have a place of comfort and faith to go to, it allows me to follow the work to the edge of what I understand, and get to a place that is maybe all wrong and fucked up.  After that I would say my involvement with CANADA and the artist that form that extended family.  Of course there are many artists from art history and contemporary art that influence and inspire me, but the proximity I have to the artists makes the effect and inspiration that much more intense. I could list a whole lot of artists and works of art if you think that would be helpful and interesting let me know and I will write back with that.

I’m interested in how you reconcile the more rigid space of a gallery with large-scale works. Do you feel that it inhibits the viewer’s ability to interact with them, or is it the reverse?

I hope that it draws people into an experience that is complex. Some people have said that they are intimidated at first by the presence of some of the larger works, but that as they start to walk around the pieces they get comforted by the humanity in the details and start to let down their guard and engage.

What is it about volume and scale that you enjoy? Do you begin each work with a smaller visualisation?

I almost never do small studies or small maquetts. When making large work I usually start directly with the materials/objects or use large sheets of cardboard or plywood if I am trying to work out the planes.  I think I am drawn to large scale because of the direct body experience when you are standing next to the sculpture. I like having the opportunity to surrender to the sculpture and I think the large scale helps move me towards that.

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You also established your own gallery. Given that you work so much with space and sculpture, did you seek to invest a kind of higher sense of art in the gallery itself, where each exhibitor played into   a relationship with the existing space, or do want artists to exhibit independently within the space?

The gallery was really my husband Phil Grauer’s idea. He invited a rag tag group of artists to join him in his vision. I was lucky enough to be in the vicinity at that time so I got swept up into it. It has been one of the great gifts of my life to be able to participate in his vision over the last almost 20 years.  Getting back to the question you are asking, we really try to let the artists steer the handling of the space in whatever way that they need/desire. I think if there is a larger creative desire underlying the gallery it has to do with creating a space for a web of artists to be in conversation with each other and who provide support and context for each other.

What are your future projects?

I just finished a large sculpture for a show at The Brant Foundation curated by my colleague, fantastic painter and friend Sadie Laska. It’s a small shack type structure that was made for a group of friends to play music in.  It’s also filled with books I have collected from the town dump.

I am just starting to work on a few outdoor sculptures.  One is for an exhibition organised by artist Matthew Day Jackson and is taking place in Jackson Hole Wyoming in time for the solar eclipse happening at the end of Aug.  Matthew has generously offered to fabricate the piece out there.  It is basically a glazed shipping container that is stuck in the ground at a slight angle.  It will also be a vehicle for music performance and makeshift reading room.  The other outdoor piece is for an exhibition of public sculpture at UMASS Amherst which is especially exciting for me because my son is in his final year of college there studying computer science.  And lastly I am working on a solo show for the fall for a wonderful dealer Linn Lehn in Dusseldorf Germany.

Sarah Braman is at Marlborough Contemporary, 27 Apr 2017 – 27 May 2017

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Politics, fashion, feminism and everything in-between: Twin meets Jade Jackman

17.05.2017 | Art , Blog , Culture | BY:

Female filmmaker Jade Jackman and I speak over Skype, from her apartment in Madrid – a city which she has just moved to as a result of what she refers to as “the monumental cost of living in London” and of course, Brexit. She’s recently returned from Afghanistan where she was teaching film to Afghan women reporters so they could tell their own stories and also released a short creative documentary on Yarl’s Wood – a women’s detention centre in the UK – earlier this year. Not only this but Jackman is also spearheading a project named ‘Eye Want Change’, teaching young people how to make documentaries about issues that matter to them using just their smartphones. Needless to say she is one smart, endlessly creative and inspiring woman who Twin have been eager to speak with for some time now. Jade and I Skype-d for over an hour, from East London to Madrid about protests, politics, fashion, feminism and everything in-between.

As a woman, why do you feel like it’s important to support other women in the creative industries?

It’s incredibly important — someone doing well doesn’t mean you are going to do badly. I think there needs to be more of a conscious effort for women to support other women. It is starting to happen slowly… I think it’s about getting different voices out there. One thing that’s been amazing about the digital age / internet is that women have been able to get their voices out there talking about what is important to them. It’s about making sure our voices and the way we’re presenting ourselves is seen as legitimate. I think it’s a really exciting time because we’ve got more ways to put our opinion across than ever… I guess we’ve got to wait and see with this kind of movement whether millennials (or whatever people like to call us) will pierce the glass ceiling.

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Hopefully!

I think so, I think it’s unstoppable!

How have you found being a female filmmaker? How has it impacted your journey?

I’d say for me personally it has informed what I want to talk about more than having had a negative impact career wise. I think it’s taught me or shown me the things I’m interested in. In some ways as well being a woman isn’t always negative — like I wouldn’t have been able to make the film about Yarl’s Wood in the way that I made it if I was a man, and I wouldn’t have got so close to women in Afghanistan if I had been a man. There are lots of positives I think to being a woman, it’s just making sure your ideas don’t get sidelined or focus with a soft or feminine angle all the time. But then sometimes that’s what I’m interested in; I am interested in working with women and with some of the topics I do cover it is to give a different perspective, like a gender perspective because I think it’s necessary.

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I remember when I first heard about Yarl’s Wood and what happened there I was horrified and felt powerless. How did this film come about?

I studied law at LSE at university and wanted to be a lawyer originally. It was around the time of the legal aid cuts and I wanted to use my law experience to help in some way. So during that I was planning a dossier of sexual abuse cases that were happening in Yarl’s Wood – women reporting cases of sexual assault from the guards. At the time I was quite young, I was nineteen, I hadn’t really thought about being a filmmaker then I wasn’t quite sure how to put that into film. Then I started to think about it more and more. In one of the interviews a woman calls them the invisible women and I guess I had an urge to put some visibility on them and make these women really visible as women — that’s how it started. As you can imagine trying to make a film somewhere you can’t film where video recording is illegal is almost impossible. I got a grant from Sheffield Documentary Festival in 2015 and that then I cut down on all these four hour phone conversations I’d had with women detained there and that’s how I started thinking about it. I was aware that I wanted it to look quite different visually to most documentaries. I think its because for the past two years I’ve been seeing a lot in lots of newspapers where I’ve felt really bombarded with the imagery of what refugees drowning look like and all these images of people in Calais and refugee camps are really important and valuable in some way but for me it didn’t feel real: it was like showing people in their lowest state ever and I felt like those images were almost so bad that we couldn’t associate with them. In my background I’m really influenced by music videos and fashion films and art films and I think today we are so used to seeing high quality video content and I think people are fed up of getting information from conventional news sources… it’s important to speak to people in a visually different way. If you think of Trump and Brexit the old ways of telling people information are not working, they’re failing to engage people…

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I think that gives more scope for finding something in the work to connect to, which makes resonate more and have more value. Let’s talk a bit about Great Women Artists the Instagram account that champions female artists on the social media platform, how did you get involved with them?

I’m always looking to work with women who are doing something they are passionate about. I think it makes for interesting projects and collaborations. I got in contact with them and they were saying they were doing a collaboration for International Women’s Day and I was like okay cool let’s do a video for that and explain why what you are doing is connected. Talking about this mass produced culture and imagery of women that isn’t by or for women. We couldn’t actually say we didn’t see images of women — we do, women are used to sell pretty much everything but in the same way that there’s lots of clothes and lots of brands being sold to us all the time, but those things aren’t the same, they want to collaborate with female artists because they are creating something unique by hand, more genuine imagery of something that is made by a female. That’s what got my interest. I think that I liked that they chose Frida Kahlo and Louise Bougeois who were open about being crazy and not being these ‘respectable’ women. I really admired that because there’s a certain image of a woman we have to aspire to or look to be like…That’s why I was keen to get involved with them. I really like they are planning to work with other young female artists to come. It’s out of a conventional gallery setting it’s really clever.

Definitely, and if you consider that Instagram is a platform where a lot more art is shared and consumed now, you’re more likely to see work on Instagram even if it is in galleries. You go to a lot of protests, what’s your opinion on protesting?

I am interested in politics as I’m a documentary filmmaker and I want my work to talk about things that I care about — that’s the most important thing to me. For example the next thing I want to make a documentary about is gender based violence and sexual assault. Even if I am taking a more creative approach to them I really want to talk about these issues. So, I guess protests if it is something that you’re interested in are something visual and political protests are a natural thing to end up covering because they’re energetic and visual and they also need to be documented — especially now in the digital age. A lot of what goes on online is shared through social media — a lot of the imagery we see is coming through social media of being at the protest. The kind of people you are protesting against probably aren’t going to be at the protest so someone needs to be documenting it… I guess that’s something I enjoy. Also it’s a great way for people to get together from all sorts of different places and feel connected to each other and to causes they care about.

I think too it’s important to feel heard, to have a belief that you have rights and that bleeds into the rest of your life and how you approach that what’s happening in the world.

I think what I find most important is the protests they do outside Yarl’s Wood. What’s great about a protest is the power people make. You can’t really hide from it because here are people there.

You studied Law, how did you then move from Law into documentary and filmmaking….

I studied anthropology with it and I think I always wanted to be a documentary maker but I didn’t know how because I didn’t want to make TV documentaries… so, I wasn’t sure if what I wanted to make existed I knew I didn’t want to do just fashion but I like to make things that look like fashion films so I was kind of confused when I was younger what I was interested in. For example I interned for a couple of fashion magazines whilst I was at university and I was always really interested in Pam Hogg not because I wanted to talk about the fashion or the craftsmanship but I wanted to talk about the politics — I think I’ve always understood images more than I understand anything else. I always am seeing something.

Watch Jade Jackman’s Yarl’s Wood documentary, ‘Calling Home’ here.

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Carol Bove, Venice Biennale

The female artists at Venice Biennale 2017 you need to know

12.05.2017 | Art , Blog | BY:

Bored of yet another long list of old white male artists? Fear not. There are many women on show at the Venice Biennale this year making thoughtful, complex and deeply considered work. These are ten of most exciting names at Venice Biennale 2017.

Tracey Moffatt

Australia’s acclaimed filmmaker and photographer Tracey Moffatt will be showing a new body of work entitled My Horizon. Expect a discussion of global issues around what is legal and illegal, fictive and real, lost and remembered.

Hell (Passage Series) Tracey Moffatt Venice Biennale 2017

Hell (Passage Series) Tracey Moffatt Venice Biennale 2017

Kirstine Roepstorff

Scandinavia always has to share a pavilion at Venice, but a stand out should be the wild and weird collage based works of Kirstine Roepstorff. It’s hard not to enjoy the way the Danish artist transform our image and information saturated existence into inventive collage and montage work.

Carol Bove 

Carol Bove, alongside duo Teresa Hubbard/Alexander Birchler, has created a pavilion which examines why Alberto Giacometti, despite being asked numerous times, refused to show in the Swiss pavilion Venice. The American artist’s sculptures and assemblages should make a great starting point for this instructional critique.

Carol Bove at Venice Biennale 2017

Carol Bove at Venice Biennale 2017

Geta Brătescu 

This brilliant, entirely individual older artist is exhibiting her work for Romania (Londoners should go to Camden Arts Centre to see some incredible work by her from the 1970s). She can do anything from performance to abstract painting, embroidery to sculpture Proof that artist work truly gets better with age.

Phyllida Barlow

Finally another woman is getting a chance to take over the British pavilion! No one could fill it better than Barlow, with her painted, chaotic, building sized installations and sculptures. Barlow, who taught artists like Rachel Whiteread at the Slade, really hit it big after she ‘retired’. About time too.

Installation view, folly, Phyllida Barlow, British Pavilion, Venice, 2017. Photo: Ruth Clark © British Council. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Installation view, folly, Phyllida Barlow, British Pavilion, Venice, 2017. Photo: Ruth Clark © British Council. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth

Candice Breitz 

Breitz’s film installations just keep getting bigger and better. Following a killer show at KOW in Berlin starring Alec Baldwin, and a huge project at KW Berlin with Tilda Swinton last year, Breitz is taking on the South Africa pavilion with what is sure to be brilliant work on representation and identity.

Candice Breitz, Love Story, 2016. Featuring Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore

Candice Breitz, Love Story, 2016. Featuring Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore

Martine Syms

LA artist Syms just keeps making good work. On the eve her of first solo show and feature length film at MoMA in NYC, she is also one of the finalists for the Future Generation Prize for work that takes on the structures of media and representation of Blackness.

artine Syms (United States) Lessons I-LXXV, 2014-2017 Series of 0’ 30’’ videos. Courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue Gallery

artine Syms (United States) Lessons I-LXXV, 2014-2017 Series of 0’ 30’’ videos. Courtesy of the artist and Bridget Donahue Gallery

Lisa Reihana 

New Zealand representative Lisa Reihana’s paintings feel as if the could have been made in the 18th century as much as today. The main focus of her work is a wallpaper installation based on Captain Cook’s voyages using digital audio visual animation to explore the European fetishisation of the Pacific.

Lisa Reihana, in Pursuit of Venus [infected] 2015, HD video (detail), Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Patrons of Auckland Art Gallery.

Lisa Reihana, in Pursuit of Venus [infected] 2015, HD video (detail), Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the Patrons of Auckland Art Gallery.

Barbara Walker 

Barbara Walker is one of 40 artists in this brilliant exhibition of emerging artist, curator and mentors being launched by Nicolas Serota, the Diaspora pavilion. Based in Birmingham, her drawings and paintings look at class, power and cultural difference.

Barbara Walker

Barbara Walker, ‘Private Face ‘, exhibited at Midland Arts Centre, Birmingham, May – July 2002.

Dawn Kasper

Dawn Kasper is one of the women the central (female) curators the biennale has included in the main exhibition. A performance artist based in NYC, she studied under Chris Burden and Catherine Opie in LA, and make installation based projects about fear and panic – timely for our current emotional fall out then…

Dawn Kasper On Desire or the Method, 2016

Dawn Kasper, ‘On Desire or the Method’, 2016

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