City Nocturnes

The Nigerian writer and photographer Teju Cole’s novel Open City (2012) is a flowing palimpsest of connections between history and culture, past and present which pass through the protagonist’s mind as he walks across Lower Manhattan. Set in New York, but could equally be applied to any city, the book is a juxtaposition of urban and personal experience which leave …

Feminist Avant-Garde

‘They changed your way of thinking.’ The Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s was the title of an exhibition held in the Kunsthalle, Hamburg in March 2015: a timely show of significant works made in the 1970s by a range of feminist artists. Timely because, increasingly these artists are being recognised in contemporary exhibitions and collections of twentieth-century art and therefore …

Mapping the Terrain

Ways of mapping seem to have become a potent area of consideration recently. Ever-changing urban environments and technologies that facilitate new ways of comprehending them perhaps constitute the background to a range of recent projects that probe the ‘lost dimension’ of space and our place in it. According to some, the ordering principles of maps offer a possible antidote to …

Urban Grit: a (psycho)geography

Over the last 5 years there seems to have been an expanding production of publications, exhibitions and artists’ monographs on the subject of the city and its growth or decay. Perhaps this is in response to or a way of dealing with unprecedented accelerated urbanization on a global scale. The Global Cities Index of 2014 cited London, New York, Paris, …

Archive Fever?

The nature of the archive seems to be a compelling concept in current thinking about culture. Collections, images, files and documents of all kinds, objects, records, recordings – traces which constitute archival material have to be accumulated to be constructed and given agency by others. Something about the idea of the original constitutes an authority of primary research which can …

The Unbearable Presence of Objects

Some interesting equivalents of the ‘object’ have emerged recently in contemporary art and the ways it is displayed and curated. At a recent MA seminar some of these were discussed. The object, it was agreed is a concept worth attention, whether in painting, sculpture, time-based media, performance or photography. Indeed, on 17 July, curator and writer Antony Hudek will give …

Drawing on Landscape 1

‘Gestures, marks, semblances of representation, cinematic painterliness: abstract climates – colour-filled, chilled, panoramas of remembered experience.’ These poetic ideas are drawn from recent commentaries on the relationships between landscape and painting embodied in an exhibition exploring conjunctions between Helen Frankenthaler’s and JMW Turner’s work; a film by Mike Leigh about Turner; and an exhibition citing the transitory elements of nature …

Projection, Condensation, Substitution and Displacement

From a Freudian perspective (The Interpretation of Dreams, 1900) projection, condensation, substitution and displacement form the basis of dream analysis. Unacceptable elements of the self are projected onto other objects; omissions and fragments of ideas and images become fused together in a process of condensation; a repressed idea is transformed via another image through substitution and a shift of emphasis …