Historical Curiosities and Mind-bending Shorts at an Animation Festival

From Takeshi Murata’s Donuts (courtesy Eyeworks Festival)

LOS ANGELES — Every year, the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation travels to several cities across the US, screening a curated program of animated shorts for fans of animation or just plain cool stuff. Based in Los Angeles, the festival has become a vital source for experimental cartoon filmmaking in a relatively short amount of time since its founding in 2010. This month, venues in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York will be hosting 2018’s Eyeworks festival.

The festival presents new works but also brings out older animated shorts, both from veteran animators and from obscure figures. And they dig deep; one short is from a 1987 public television documentary about William Carlos Williams, animated by Maureen Selwood to illustrate the process behind the poem “This Is Just To Say.” Other historical curiosities include 1985’s Calculated Movements, an early computer-animated film by Larry Cuba which turns a simple visual program into an elaborately choreographed dance of abstract visual objects, and Mary Beams’s 1976 film Paul Revere Is Here, which plays audio of real-life visitors to Boston’s Paul Revere statue over an animated silhouette of the landmark.

From Larry Cuba’s Calculated Movements (courtesy Eyeworks Festival)

This year, the festival is honoring Japanese animator Naoyuki Tsuji, whose works have a distinctive tactile, handmade aesthetic comparable to that of Don Hertzfeldt. Tsuji uses a dry-erase method, meaning he animates his shots and scenes by reusing the same canvas — drawing a frame, photographing it in 16mm, then erasing the frame and drawing the next sequence on the same material. As a result, his characters seem to be followed by their own ghosts as they act, their movements recorded in an eerie series of images. Recurring motifs include mirrors, demons, clouds, and dreams, all interacting in ambiguous shorts that are ineffably sinister, entrancingly beautiful, or both.

Other contemporary selections demonstrate some of the most mind-bending animators working today. In Takeshi Murata’s Donuts, footage of a strip mall is warped and distorted, a slow pull out of the camera revealing that it’s all part of a massive fractal-like structure. Cheng-Hsu Chung’s Adorable embarks on a journey through queer spaces with a protagonist exploring his sexuality; as befits the subject matter, it uses extremely fluid animation, with figures not so much moving as they do pour themselves from one place to another. Theo Chin’s Pinakothek, framed in extreme widescreen, features a search through a cyberspace art archive in which 2D-animated characters wander a 3D space. Oliver Laric’s Betweenness is a series of line drawings, some of them simple, others complex, all of which smoothly morph from one form to another.

Each short is entirely distinct from the others, representing the infinite possibilities of the animated canvas. The Eyeworks Festival is an event unlike any other, and anyone living close to one of its locations should drop in.

The 2018 Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation will take place November 3 at REDCAT (631 W 2nd St, Los Angeles), November 10 at the Block Cinema (40 Arts Cir Dr, Evanston, IL), and November 26 at Pioneer Works (159 Pioneer St, Red Hook, Brooklyn).

The post Historical Curiosities and Mind-bending Shorts at an Animation Festival appeared first on Hyperallergic.

Original source: https://hyperallergic.com/468911/eyeworks-festival-of-experimental-animation-2018/

Artists Reinterpret Classic Fairy Tales, from Rapunzel to Snow White

MK Guth, “Ties of Protection and Safekeeping” (detail) (2008) Synthetic hair, flannel ribbon, and ink, 1,800 ft., configuration variable. Courtesy of the artist and Elizabeth Leach Gallery, © MK Guth, photo by YoungDoo M. Carey, 2018.

Once upon a time, the original versions of fairy tales, as recorded by the likes of the Grimm brothers, were indeed, well, grim. In an early adaptation of Cinderella, the evil stepsisters, in a misguided attempt to fit into that famous glass slipper, cut off parts of their own feet. In more recent, Disney-fied revisions of classic fairy tales, however, such elements of horror have been censored — and in the process, strong heroines have also been diminished.

The 21 artists featured in Dread & Delight: Fairy Tales in an Anxious World, on view at the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, restore complexity to fairy tale narratives. Centuries-old stories take on new relevance in these multimedia works: artists explore contemporary social issues by deconstructing and reassembling imagery from tales like Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Cinderella, and Hansel and Gretel. They go beyond dispelling the myth of a helpless princess waiting to be rescued from her tower; racism, sexism, poverty, and LGBTQ inequality are among the cast of shadowy villains depicted here. While happy endings are certainly present, the exhibit reinstates the balance of dread and delight inherent to these classical stories — a duality at the core of why folklore and fairy tales are so enduring.

Setting a dramatic tone for the exhibition is a Rapunzel-inspired installation by multidisciplinary artist MK Guth, called “Ties of Protection and Safekeeping,” originally created for the 2008 Whitney Biennial. To make this collaborative piece, Guth asked people to write answers to the question “What is worth protecting?” in black ink on strips of red flannel. Guth then wove these ribbons into a synthetic blonde braid almost 1,800 feet long, which is hung in swags from hooks on the ceiling.

The height of this powerful installation alludes to a tower. Red ribbons rain down from golden tresses like prayers from a Wishing Tree. The fabric is ripped and the edges left raw. Guth chose red, a primal color of blood, anger, and power, rather than maiden white. The participants’ words are handwritten, not cleanly printed like a storybook. Free-hanging phrases such as “honey bees,” “dreams,” and “microbial diversity” can be easily read; interrupted sentences such as “My wife, her fragile…” and “A black girl’s dream/…/nightmare” tease us with the mystery of how each phrase is completed, hidden as they pool onto the floor.

Xaviera Simmons, “If We Believe In Theory #1” (2009) Chromogenic color print; 40 x 50 in. (courtesy of the artist and David Castillo Gallery, Miami © Xaviera Simmons)

Just as Guth prompted her participants with a question, artist Xaviera Simmons created a dialogue with her subjects while creating her series of three large chromogenic color prints, inspired by Little Red Riding Hood. In each photograph, a different child poses in a field of grass before an arc of trees. Each wears the same red cloak and carries a wicker basket. While shooting the photographs, Simmons asked the children to show her “where the wolf was.”

Their responses draw us in as witnesses to their playtime. While the boy pictured in “If We Believe in Theory #2” has his head thrown back dramatically in soft-focused fear, the girl in “If We Believe in Theory #3” points to her imagined wolf with a sense of willpower and a look of determination, well-suited to overcome her challenger.

Like fairy tale illustrator Arthur Rackham did in 1909, Simmons makes each child appear diminutive in the context of their surroundings. However, this is no gnarled Forbidden Forest. Simmons chose to picture the children in manicured grass; the trees could be the backdrop of a suburban housing development. There is no obvious threat here, no literal “wolf” — it is either all psychological, or, darker still, implies more sinister societal dangers lurking.

Timothy Horn, “Mother-Load”, (2008) Plywood, painted steel, aluminum foil, polystyrene foam, hot glue, acrylic medium, rock sugar, and shellac; 6 x 9 1/2 x 5 1/2 ft. (Courtesy of the artist © Timothy Horn, photo by Jason Schmidt)

In “Mother-Load” — an impressively executed, pumpkin-orange carriage sculpted from materials including aluminum foil, hot glue, and crystallized rock sugar — artist Timothy Horn alludes to issues of poverty, both in his use of unsophisticated materials and his inspiration beyond Cinderella. The piece draws from the real-life rags-to-riches tale of Alma Spreckels (1881-1968), a poor laundress who married into a sugar fortune.  Despite her great wealth, which was used to found San Francisco’s Legion of Honor museum in 1924, Spreckels was still ostracized by high society. At six feet tall, Spreckels, known as “Big Alma,” would not have fit comfortably inside Horn’s child-sized coach, echoing her exclusion.

“Les Flâneuses,” a mixed-media work by Ghada Amer, juxtaposes the unyielding innocence of Disney’s Snow White with sexually charged imagery. The eye goes immediately to an embroidered cartoon portrait of the familiar Disney character and her animal friends. Visible around her, though, are the outlines of provocative models, sourced from pornography. Like Herrera, Amer rewards the studious viewer as faintly painted faces rise out of the background, like an Old Master’s ghostly pentimenti.

Works inspired by Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast are notably absent from the exhibition. Visitors are introduced instead to two largely unknown tales — All Fur and Fitcher’s Bird. These stories not only provide enigmatic creative fodder, but also serve as grisly examples of the earliest versions of fairy tales.

Anna Gaskell, “Untitled, #35 (hide)” (1998) Chromogenic print; 36 7/8 x 49 in. The Des Moines Art Center, Iowa; Paul and Anastasia Polydoran Collection © Anna Gaskell, photo by Rich Sanders.

Photographer Anna Gaskell explores “All Fur,” a more malevolent take on the classic Cinderella story. Her haunting yet elegant chromogenic color prints are touched by an unknown horror that is revealed only by reading the displayed text: there are overtones of  incest in this censored fairy tale. In the shadowy, tense interior of Gaskell’s “Untitled, #35 (hide),” a seated young woman is clad in a sleeveless white shift, looking through her dark hair. Her outstretched legs are bound by tights to create a yonic triangle.

In the exhibition catalog, curator Emily Stamey defines fairy tales as “wonder tales that originated in oral folk traditions,” and notes that “many of the artists whose work is featured in Dread & Delight may not have been familiar with these early iterations, yet their work often resonates deeply with their more troublesome content and tone.” These artists give a voice to the subconscious that insists on reinstating the role such wonder tales originally served.

Ana Teresa Fernández, “The Ice Queen” (2013) Studio performance (still). Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco © Ana Teresa Fernández

Dread & Delight: Fairy Tales in an Anxious World is on view through December 9, 2018, in the Bob and Lissa Shelley McDowell Gallery at the Weatherspoon Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (corner of Spring Garden and Tate Streets, Greensboro, NC). The exhibit then travels to the Faulconer Gallery at Grinnell College, Iowa, from February 2 through April 27, 2019, and to the Akron Art Museum, Ohio, from June 29 through September 22, 2019. Organized by the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Dread & Delight is curated by Dr. Emily Stamey, their Curator of Exhibitions.

The post Artists Reinterpret Classic Fairy Tales, from <i>Rapunzel</i> to <i>Snow White</i> appeared first on Hyperallergic.

Original source: https://hyperallergic.com/465883/artists-reinterpret-classic-fairy-tales-from-rapunzel-to-snow-white/

Jim Carrey’s Grotesque Caricatures of the Trump Administration

Stage 4 America (courtesy Maccarone Gallery)

LOS ANGELES — Jim Carrey, famous for his rubbery mugging in comedy films in the 1990s and early 2000s, has become an unlikely political provocateur in more recent years. At first, this mostly took the form of unfortunate advocacy for anti-vaccination causes, although there was also the scathing gun control video he made with Funny Or Die in 2013. But since the 2016 presidential election, Carrey, like many celebrities, has found fresh political fervor, and he’s channeled it into a new venture as a cartoonist. He posts his drawings often enough that sometimes we can’t go more than a few days without the entertainment press noting his latest work. Now, Maccarone Gallery in Los Angeles is putting on an exhibition of Carrey’s work.

Father’s Day 2018 (courtesy Maccarone Gallery)

IndigNATION collects Carrey’s political cartoons from the past two years. Often drawn and put online rapidly in response to whatever new Trump administration scandal is making the news, they represent a greatest hits view of the nonstop parade of the bizarre that has been American politics since 2016.

Giuliani Doesn’t Bleach the Bottom Teeth (courtesy Maccarone Gallery)

While caricature of public figures is usually a given in this genre, Carrey’s drawing style takes this to the extreme, rendering the politicians he dislikes as outright grotesque. Interestingly, the drawings also fit perfectly in line with Carrey’s well-known style as a physical performer. One could easily picture Ace Ventura or the Mask making any of these ridiculous exaggerated O-faces. There’s even a kinship between the “birth” scene in When Nature Calls and Trump’s posture below.

The Great Spewdini (courtesy Maccarone Gallery)

Carrey doesn’t bother with speech bubbles or labeling everything to hammer in whatever message he’s sending. Each piece is just one blast of rage, and often contempt. He’s like a rodeo clown sticking up the middle finger. Whether Carrey’s art is actually good is a separate matter. This kind of intense commentary coming from a celebrity still mainly known for geniality is startling, if nothing else.

I Scream You Scream Will We Ever Stop Screaming (courtesy Maccarone Gallery)

IndigNATION: Political Drawings by Jim Carrey opens at Maccarone Gallery (300 S Mission Rd, Los Angeles) on October 23 and continues through December 1.

The post Jim Carrey’s Grotesque Caricatures of the Trump Administration appeared first on Hyperallergic.

Original source: https://hyperallergic.com/467019/jim-carrey-art-maccarone-gallery/

Member Spotlight: An Interview with Illustrator Ilya Milstein

Jeff Hamada: I know you were born in Milan, but grew up in Melbourne, can you paint us a little picture of what life was like for young Ilya Milstein?

Ilya Milstein: My family moved around a lot and travelled a great deal, which was an extraordinary luxury and fed my imagination. I was neither particularly athletic nor sociable, so I became obsessive about my hobbies. Pop culture during my childhood felt so lurid, plastic, fast-paced and vapid, so I was really nostalgic about the past. I liked Mad Magazine, and quickly found through their omnibuses that I preferred the 1950’s issues (I was probably the only Melbourne child in the 90’s making jokes about George Metesky). That led me down a trail of Harvey Kurtzman, EC, and eventually underground, alternative and early newspaper comics. By age 18 I had drawn around 1000 pages of comics, self-published many zines, and made a few hundred paintings. I was also hugely into old European cinema. Overall I suppose that I was a bit eccentric, but one’s youth tends to feel normal as it’s experienced.

JH: Are there lots of artists and creative people in your family? Were you born into what you’re doing now?

IM: My relatives are almost entirely entrepreneurs or scientists, so I developed my interests independently of family tradition. However, I’m of the mind that artists don’t have a monopoly on creativity, and believe that my parents are extraordinarily creative people who probably would’ve been gifted artists had it not been for their slightly conservative upbringings. Perhaps partly because of this they were extremely encouraging of both my sister Anouska’s and my self-expression, and it’s no coincidence that I’m now an artist and she’s a gifted interior designer.

JH: You’re living in New York now, have you lived there long enough that it feels like home?

IM: I’ve only lived here for 18 months, but one of the most exceptional things about the city is how hospitable it’s always been to hard-working immigrants. Given its scale and variety it’s highly pliable to whatever one’s interests and proclivities might be, and given its diversity practically anyone can assimilate. Also, even if New York can sometimes be hard, it always gives you reminders of how wonderful it is.

JH: How would you describe your visual style, and what was the process like, finding your own voice as an artist?

IM: Nostalgic, detailed, warm, often funny.

Because I spent most of my youth drawing feverishly without calculation, my artistic voice perhaps wasn’t “found” inasmuch as it’s a natural extension of my being, like one’s handwriting style. However, the process of my adult artistic development wasn’t totally smooth. Because it took me a long time to realise that illustration could be a career (my professional worldview was parochial owing to a deficit of artists and designers in my young life), I initially studied architecture, dropped out, then studied contemporary sculpture because my only artistic friends were contemporary artists. Although a lot of this work was exhibited in great galleries and museums, I felt totally lost and fraudulent that whole time, and was deeply unhealthy. Returning to drawing was almost an act of self-acceptance, and a crucial lesson in the importance of being honest to oneself in one’s art.
I’m glad, incidentally, that there were diversions along my path – I think that having a few hard knocks (if you can recover from them) is one the best things that can happen to one’s professional and personal development.

JH: I grew up reading Tintin and you’re obviously inspired by cartoonists like Hergé, I’m wondering who’s inspiring you these days? Who should we be following on Instagram?

IM: I’m probably more inspired by Hergé’s inspirations (like Frank King and Gluyas Williams) and his disciples (like Mark Smeets and Rutu Modan) than Hergé himself. While he’s undeniably a technical lodestar to me, I find his depictions of race and gender so problematic that I don’t really think about him.

I love the “Ligne Claire” style because I think it reduces figurative image making to its barest constituents – a consistent line and flat, naturalistic colours – while remaining engrossing. The economy of it is magical and timeless – I feel that at best I’m an insignificant part of a lineage that includes Ancient Egyptian painting, Japanese mokuhanga and Aztec codices.

My favourite artist right now is the French cartoonist Yves Chaland, who produced a remarkable body of work in the 1980’s. In an implausibly short period of time he produced around ten comic albums, several monthly strips, and became the most in-demand advertising illustrator in France. In 1990 he died in a car crash at the age of 33. His final album F-52, which concerns his recurring character Freddy Lombard (a kind of debauched, scurrilous version of Tintin) might contain the finest illustration and colouring that I’ve seen in comics. Were it not for his untimely death his potential would’ve been limitless.
I think that everyone on Instagram should follow @streetview.portraits.

JH: Working with you on this project for the Vancouver Art Book Fair was one of the quickest and easiest projects we’ve done! Maybe you can say a few words about how you took the little direction I gave—which was just a ‘weird assortment of people’ and the other idea of animals in a book club—and turned it into the final tote bag design.

IM: Thank you, it was such a delight working on it with you! Because the Vancouver Art Book Fair and its demographic are open-minded I felt comfortable doing something eccentric (while retaining a certain softness), so I conceived the tote in a very fast and intuitive way, similarly to how I work in my slightly demented private sketchbooks. When sketching I like to begin with an idea and then slightly pervert it, so the animals of your prompt became people wearing animal masks, which then also led to Noh masks. There’s something theatrical and bacchanalian about a group of people wearing masks, so I located them in some kind of party set on a pile of enormous art books – thus characters dancing and kissing. Finally, rendering the books realistically seemed to just miniaturise the characters, so I chose to depict the oeuvres of certain artists (Kahlo and Picasso) as icons on the book spines rather than conventional text to give these objects a sense of otherness.

JH: How has your creative approach has changed over the years?

IM: Turning a hobby into a full-time career necessitates one to professionalise their creative approach. I’ve really liked doing this – approaching one’s work with a business mind can both demystify process and shine lucidity onto what might’ve previously been quixotic. Furthermore, working as I do with tight deadlines prevents you from being allowed to have creative blocks. You learn to train yourself to think quickly and always find solutions to problems. Sometimes that means that your work isn’t as good or inspired as it could be, but it’s important to remember that nobody does their best work all the time, and learning what you don’t like doing is crucial when you’re forming a voice. It’s better to make bad work than not make work at all.

JH: What are you most proud of at this point in your life? This doesn’t have to be art-related, but it could be.

IM: When you’re an artist you spend a lot of time alone in your own world, so it’s easy to become solipsistic and self-absorbed. I think that starting the ongoing process of learning how to become more mindful, kind, and a better son/brother/friend is probably the thing I’m most proud of.

JH: What’s one thing you want to accomplish this year?

IM: I started working as an illustrator full-time in January of this year with a thin folio, and was understandably concerned about my prospects. Since then I’ve signed with one of my favourite agencies, had my work published in both my favourite newspaper and my favourite magazine, worked with two of the five biggest tech companies in the world and done ridiculously fun things like the collaboration with you, so the year’s really exceeded the wildest dreams I had for it professionally. Personally, that kind of workload takes a toll (I routinely work seven day weeks), so I’d like to figure out a better life-work balance and make more time for my own projects. Apologies for the humblebrag.

JH: And what about in your lifetime?

IM: To lead a rich, varied life, to travel a lot, to be surrounded by loved ones, and to give back in meaningful ways.

Ilya Milstein’s Website

Ilya Milstein on Instagram

Original source: https://www.booooooom.com/2018/10/19/an-interview-with-illustrator-ilya-milstein/