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Kat Von D: Body Art

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Kat Von D is an LA tatoo artist. Rose into fame after her features in Miami Ink, she eventually moved to LA to open her own shop and acquired her own LA Ink series. Words about her talents quickly spread out, granting multiple visits from celebrities to her Hollywood shop, establishing her as a celebrity artist.

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These are a pair of work from Kat Von D. Notice how every detail was carefully crafted to bring the birds to life. However, I don’t want to talk about how talent she is (since it is so obvious) but I will discuss the relationships between artist and their clients. When studying art, we often discuss fine art and its people. A common theme is that the artist usually have full control of creativity. Yes, there were time when artists were commissioned to create art but they still have ultimate control over the final product. Modern fine artists often create the piece as a form of expression.

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Above is Marilyn Monroe depicted by Andy Warhol: marvelous and beautiful. Kat Von D also created many works using Monroe as her subject.

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How Monroe looks in these tattoos are very much different from each other let alone Warhol’s colorful Monroe. This is because tatoo, or any body art for that matter is a joint work between the artists and their client. Not only the client had to provide an idea canvass, the complexity in these tattoos required multiple session. And the work needs to be cared for during the process and afterwards as well. A tattoo only looks as good as the person carrying in. In addition, since tattoos are somewhat permanent, it often is very personal to the person. Thus, the creativity process often involves both party to create the perfect work.

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

Canadian based Cardiff and Miller is a pair of artists with works around sound and sound installation. Their approach to art goes beyond perception from sense of sight and also featured sense of hearing.

The Memory Palace

This piece was featured at the Vancouver Art Center where audience was invited to their world of imagination. Described as their TARDIS, the audience’s perception was constantly challenged by invoking both visual and audio sense. The settings allowed visitors to step in the artists’ world through imagination.

Excerpt from FOREST
This video is an excerpt for their FOREST featured at dOCUMENTA (13). The video featured a forest party. However, as the camera panning around, it is quickly realized that the party goers stay still while audio continues to progress as a party. Once again, the Cardiff and Miller challenged their audience to explore the art with their imagination instead of their sight. (Hint: simply close your eyes and have fun).

Made in L.A 2016

Now through Aug 28, the Hammer Museum is exhibiting their biennial Made in L.A. series. This year exhibition features various artists from various backgrounds but had created art inspired by Los Angeles. This iteration reflects the diversity of LA’s population and its significance in the local art scene. Amongs various art works featured at the exhibition, there are two pieces I found most interesting.


The first piece is from Kenzi Shiokava, a Los Angeles based sculptor. He was born in Japan but born Japanese. The cultural diversity is often reflected in his art. In this specific piece, the plants, doll heads and toy figures are all influenced by his Japanese roots as well as his time spent in Brazil and America. It is unknown how Shiokava obtained the material for this piece, I’d like to think the piece was a collection from his own childhood assembled to reflect who he is now.

The second artist is Arthur Jafa, filmmaker and writer focused on black culture. This piece consists of more than 200 binders of publications from all news outlets about black culture around the globe. It was simply a collection by Jafa from 1990 to 2007 and never intended to be art (and still insisted by Jafa). The collection is an extensive documentary of black culture, forming a visual hypothesis of construction subjectivity, and what Jafa has theorized as a decidedly black aesthetic.

Even though their respective culture and heritage are the center of their art works, Shiokava came about with a more personal approach by showing how he viewed his culture. On the other hand, Jafa collection featured his culture through publishing means.

Anyways, these are my favourite works featured in this excellent exhibition. I hope everyone gets a chance to see these talented local artists. The exhibition is free and lasts until Aug 28.

A Corpse at the Coast

The idea behind this set was just a beautiful summer day at the beach. However, if you noticed the corner of the picture, there is me lying there. The first thought would be why? Was I drowned? Or was I dehydrated too much? Anyway, with a closer look, it turned out I was poisoned from my own water bottle.

The initial idea was that the poison came from an apple as a reference to Snow White (which have worked much better in this scenario) but we forgot to get it. 

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol had been a successful illustrator and advertisers before exploring fine arts. He later became a prominent figure in the pop art movement.

At the beginning of his career, Warhol was advised to draw whatever he loved and he did just that ever since. Celebrities were the center of lots of his works. Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor , Elvis Presley are among Warhol’s most notable. He loved celebrities and their glamorous lifestyle. Warhol admitted, more than one occasion, that he loved the overly lavish Hollywood even though he spent most of his life in New York.

Marilyn 

Another common topic of Warhol’s works is the male body in erotic settings. Once again, Warhol art centered around what he loved, as a gay man. A fun fact about Warhol was that he claimed to be a virgin despite having multiple boyfriends. One of them, when interviewed even said the sex was great with him. Perhaps it was his public persona the virgin he claimed to be.

Nude Male Model, 1977

Not much of anything else to say about Andy Warhol as an artist. His works were quite straight forward in terms of meaning and execution, you either identify with him or you don’t. 

Instagram Thursday

Alright, everyone must have heard of Instagram at least once by now. If not, I will try to describe it as best as I can: a social media where girls show their best selfies, guys show their workout rep and Kim Kardashian shows her big … well you know what. Anyway, Instagram is a good social platform to share your story with pictures. You can say more in your description of comments but the picture is the main focus here. On Thursday, my art class set out to describe our activities as a class in one day with the hashtag #art110su16. Note that we talked and discussed online but I have not met any of my classmates so these are very new to me. Below are some of my favorites:

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No further description other than PUPPPPPIESSSS. They are soooo cute. and the flowers are pretty too.

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Yummy. Nothing beat homemade food in my book.

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Summer is not complete without a beach picture. And yoga just makes it perfect.

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Yikes. Can someone teach me how to do this? Pretty please ?

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Lisa and her daughter were out and about at the park. Nothing beats family. And those smiles just warm my heart. Absolutely my favorite of them all.

Again, we are all part of an online class and everyone could be scattered around the country for all I know. All the pictures are just a collection of what we do everyday individually. Nothing fancy, nothing special but just simple, plain old daily stuff. Yet, I felt a connection with these complete strangers: we all just try to live our lives to the fullest. We woke up and enjoyed a nice summer day with our loved ones. And I don’t know if I would ever meet Lisa and her daughter but those smiles will remain in my memory.

Marina Abramovic: Rhythm 0

This week, I was introduced to a prominent force in the conceptual art movement: Marina Abramovic. Born and raised in a communist Serbia, she lived under strict rules set by her parents. In an 1998 interview, Abramovic recalled: “I was not allowed to leave the house after 10 o’clock at night till I was 29 years old” (1). Despite such tight control from her mother, Abramovic soon proved to be a very talent artist with success of the Rhythm series. The final performance, Rhythm received critical acclaim from art critic due to its controversial nature.

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In this piece, the audience was invited to do what ever they want with her, using 72 objects she placed on a table. Art critic Thomas McEvilley wrote:

It began tamely. Someone turned her around. Someone thrust her arms into the air. Someone touched her somewhat intimately. The Neapolitan night began to heat up. In the third hour all her clothes were cut from her with razor blades. In the fourth hour the same blades began to explore her skin. Her throat was slashed so someone could suck her blood. Various minor sexual assaults were carried out on her body. She was so committed to the piece that she would not have resisted rape or murder. Faced with her abdication of will, with its implied collapse of human psychology, a protective group began to define itself in the audience. When a loaded gun was thrust to Marina’s head and her own finger was being worked around the trigger, a fight broke out between the audience factions

To me, this piece best represented Abramovic as an artist. In Rhythm 0, I see an ultimate test of physical and emotional limit. During the 6 hour performance, the challenge to remain calm and non-responsive to physical harm as well as a threat to be shot in the face is more than impressive. However, the masterpiece of Rhythm 0 lies in stimulation of the audience by Abramovic. If I were there, I would constantly ask how far the artist would let these stranger take control of her own body. By giving up her own free will, she was able to manipulate the audience to become progressively aggressive with their actions to the point of threatening her life. Would the person pulling the gun on her have done so to others? Would that person have done so at the beginning of the piece? The answer is most likely not. Yet that person did it to her only because other rituals had been done on her body, pulling a loaded pistol on her did not seem as extreme anymore.

Since then, she has accomplished more than any artist could dream of. Her most recent piece The Artist is Present at the Museum of Modern Art received lots of media attention, helping build up the fame of a very talented artist. Yet, the Rhythm series, especially Rhythm 0 remained her best achievement as a performance artist.1280px-ArtistIsPresent

The Artist is Present, 2010

(1) Thomas McEvilley, “Stages of Energy: Performance Art Ground Zero?” in Abramović, Artist Body, p. 17