Ian Wallace, Clayoquot Protest, (August 9, 1993), 1993
Just as the name suggests, Clayoquot Protest, (August 9, 1993), 1993 by Ian Wallace is an artwork about a protest. It shows protestors protesting in Vancouver Island about the cutting down of old forests on the island. This artwork is unique in that it has a photo on its top right corner and the other sections are covered by what appears as plywood surfaces painted in different colors. This is what Wallace calls photo-laminate. Looking at the artwork, one may wonder why the artist decided to cover most part of its surface by the plywood and only leave a small section for the photograph. The main idea behind this artwork is to show that even though the photo only covers a small surface, its aesthetic value is still superior to painting on the plywood or monochrome.
Ken Lum, Felicia Maguire Moves Again, 1991
Like the title suggests in this artwork too, we see a woman lifting a big suitcase on her right arm and walking along a street, suggesting that she is moving. She is in front of her brother, who is also carrying a large bag. The artwork is clearly a photograph, with a large black writing “Felicia Maguire Moves Again” on a red surface on its left side. The emphasis on the woman in the foreground suggests that she is Felicia and the fact that the faces of the children behind her are unclear shows the artist’s intention to focus the viewers’ attention on her. Another strange thing about Felicia is that only one of her eyes is visible. The font used is slightly Spanish and the name Felicia suggests that she has a Latino origin, but her last name suggests Irish heritage. By having children of mixed heritage moving by themselves in the streets of Canada and having their faces barely visible, the artist was possibly trying to highlight the economic challenges that people, especially children, of foreign origin face in Canada. Having their faces down suggests that they are not proud of what they were captured doing, and the fact that they had to lift the heavy suitcases suggests that they could not afford to hire cars to transport them.
Jeff Wall, Pine on the Corner, 1990
This photograph is of the north-west corner at William and Salsbury. It is an artwork but a close look at it shows that everything in it is so normal. Rather than capturing scenes with some attention grabbing objects to convey specific messages, the artist decided to give a normal presentation of the world as it is with no much explanation being required. It was taken on a crisp morning with fresh snow visible on the mountains in the background. There is a Volkswagen on the street and a power line connecting the house at the corner, with a leafy pine tree in its open compound. The tree was perhaps intended to show the aesthetic value they add to the environment.
Jeff Wall, Morning Cleaning Mies Van der Rohe Foundation, 1999
Morning Cleaning, Mies van der Rohe Foundation is a bright and colorful architectural photograph that appears as a transparency in a light box. It is a photo of the German Pavilion’s interior, in Barcelona. As the title suggests, the minimally-furnished space is being cleaned by a man and the bright light in it suggests that it is early in the morning. It has a gleaning steel pillar in its foreground, almost vertically dividing the composition in half. The walls being cleaned are glass-paneled and the glass are symmetrically patterned (Conley). The clear and crisp lines of the building’s architecture are illuminated by the morning sun, which has also produced clear shadows on the left wall. While commenting on the photograph, the artist said that the man in it was a real cleaner doing exactly what he used to do at that time of the day. He however admitted to have worked with the cleaner to arrange the picture to come out as he wanted. He called this ‘near documentary’ (Sanger).
Rodney Graham, Vexation Island, 1997
Rodney Graham’s Vexation Island (1997) is a short film that only lasts for nine minutes. The artist poses as a sailor in the 17th century, lying unconscious on a beach in an area of tropical climate. He appears to have been hit by something on his head, as evident from the large bruise on his forehead. Besides him, the only other objects in the scene are a palm tree and a parrot. The moment he wakes up, a coconut drops from the tree and accidentally knocks him out again beginning the endless loop. The film is carefully made to capture the lonely tropical environment that the actor awakens to slowly, with great reluctance to move into action. As he eventually wakes up, he first investigates his downfall. In spite of the short length, the film successfully conveys a message of restlessness and futility.
Rodney Graham, Phonokinetoscope, 2001
Rodney Graham’s Phonokinetoscope 2001 is a short film that lasts for just 5 minutes. In it, the artist rides a Fischer Original bicycle in Tiergarten, Berlin while taking LSD to the soundtrack of a vinyl LP recorded song. One important thing about the film project is that it is driven by the turntable, with its starting point being the time when the needle is placed on the disc and its end being when it is removed. The ride is resembles the famous 1943 bicycle ride by Albert Hoffman after an LSD experimental dose. The visual details and the images are observed to repeat endlessly in the film to show the many art and literature works and to display a world rich with subtle meaning (Richon and Howard).
Liz Magor, Palm Pet, 2016
This art, like other art works by Liz Magoe, comprises of objects we encounter in real life. It is made up of a doll that is positioned on top of a box. The box is positioned in a manner that resembles a bed with its top well spread to ensure that it is comfortable enough. The doll lies on the box like a normal baby, enjoying the comfort and stares directly at the viewer in a manner that raises questions about the intention of the artist in positioning it that way. The background is totally white, which makes it hard to tell whether the objects are just hanging on air defying the gravitational forces or they are resting on the floor.
Bernd & Hilla Becher, Framework Houses, 1959-1973
This work of art is an architectural piece. It displays 12 different objects, each of which is clearly different designs of different sides of a house. In each of the objects designs, different structural components are either added or eliminated to present the different ways that the house can be structurally designed and supported. Some of the sides have both doors and windows whereas others have either doors or windows, or neither. It is evident that the designs were not of the same side of the house, judging from the surrounding terrain and vegetation. In some cases, the land slopes to the left or to the right whereas in others, it is level. The background vegetation of each scene are also different.
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Work Cited Conley, Christine. “MORNING CLEANING: JEFF WALL AND THE LARGE GLASS.” The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, Wiley-Blackwell, 12 Nov. 2009, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-8365.2009.00715.x. Richon, Olivier, and Howard Singerman. “Rodney Graham.” The MIT Press, The MIT Press, mitpress.mit.edu/books/rodney-graham. “Rodney Graham's Vexation Island (1997).” Musings, benjaminharrismusings.blogspot.com/2016/01/rodney-grahams-vexation-island-1997.html. Sanger, Alice. “'Morning Cleaning, Mies Van Der Rohe Foundation, Barcelona', Jeff Wall, 1999.” Tate, Tate, 2010, www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/wall-morning-cleaning-mies-van-der-rohe-foundation-barcelona-t12294.