Notes on Artists and Art

Brief posts noting questions or comments related to artists and their work.

  • Eduardo Sarabia
    “As the creator of fake evidence for his staged, semifictional events, Eduardo Sarabia places himself within a tradition of contemporary artists who mine culture for their performance-based satire…These theatrical situations revolve around Sarabia’s Latino heritage, which he both honors and mocks through his investigation of Mexican cultural clichés about drug smuggling, banditry, and the import/export of tawdry contraband.” Sarabia is an artist who works with narrative, while incorporating fiction.
  • Mark Wallinger
    About Ecce Homo: British artist Mark Wallinger produced Ecce Homo (1999) for the Fourth Plinth in London’s Trafalgar Square as part of a program to fill a large plinth that stood empty for over one hundred and fifty years. Ecce Homo is a cast sculpture of an ethnic European male meant to represent the figure of Christ. Of his sculpture Wallinger states, “ I wanted to show him as an ordinary human being” (emphasis mine) (Gibbons). In his statement, Wallinger makes no note of the figure’s race. He assumes European, or White, as representing ordinary humanity.
    Gibbons, Fiachra. “Behold Jesus, Just Another Ordinary Bloke.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 22 July 1999. Web. 30 Apr. 2012.
  • Jennifer Linton
    “The idealized view of domesticity that informed my childhood dollhouse is reconfigured by my adult self as a place much more complex, even contradictory, in nature. In stark contrast to the innocuous role-playing of childhood — when one could ‘play Mommy’ — as an actual parent, the actions I take have real life consequences. This simple fact can, at times, be the cause of anxiety.” (Linton’s website)
  • Jesse Hemminger
    “Yes, Viewing Device #3 obscures vision, much in the same way blinders on a horse obscure vision and at the same time also focus vision. In this case your attention is being focused on a work of art.” (email from the artist)
  • Tom Sachs
    “Sachs cultivates a trashy aesthetic. Each of his sculptures is hand made by piecing together plywood, foamcore, synthetic polymer paint, hardware, and found or scavenged objects such as phone books or police barricades. There’s no Prada Death Camp nor Chanel guillotine in the gallery this time but the titles and content of some of the works are nevertheless sure to get the public’s attention. First there’s Negro Music which you could regard as interactive. It’s a big white-painted box with a retro gangsta-style boombox inside, you insert your hands inside orange rubber gloves, rummage inside the box, select a k-7 of your favourite “negro” music, fiddle with the control buttons and play the music as loudly as you wish inside the gallery.” (Sperone Westwater)
  • mwangihutter
    fence, 2009
    What can I say except that I think this work is absolutely fantastic.
  • Becher and Robbins
    German Indians
    “Also, postwar Germans, discouraged from nationalism and group ritual, sense a permission to find themselves in other ethnic groups. And, perhaps, criticism of atrocities against Native Americans also gives Germans some sense of relief from their own shame of the holocaust.”
    This seems highly ironic to me and almost funny. As Žižek says in The Christian-Hegelian Comedy (2005) Slavoj Žižek writes: “Comedy is thus the very opposite of shame: shame endeavours to maintain the veil, while comedy relies on the gesture of unveiling. More closely, the comic effect proper occurs when, after the act of unveiling, one confronts the ridicule and the nullity of the unveiled content – in contrast to encountering behind the veil the terrifying Thing too traumatic for our gaze. Which is why the ultimate comical effect occurs when, after removing the mask, we confront exactly the same face as that of the mask” (Žižek 56).
    Žižek, Slavoj. “The Christian-Hegelian Comedy.” When Humour Becomes Painful. Ed. Felicity Lunn and Heike Munder. Zurich: JRP, Ringier, 2005. 52-58. Print.
  • William Pope.L
    Broken Column, 1992–95, mayonnaise in jars, packing tape, foil.
    “I wanted to talk to each particular group and have their differences communicate, collide, disagree, augment each other. I wanted to talk about everyone, everything at once as being mutual commodities on the shelf of the marketplace.” and “For me, mayonnaise is a bogus whiteness. It reveals its lack in a very material way. And the more you apply, the more bogus the act becomes. […] What is brownness as opposed to whiteness? Mayonnaise gave me a quirky material means to deal with issues black people claim they don’t value very much, e.g. whiteness. Black folks […] are born into whiteness. On the surface, it seems wholly to construct us, and the degree to which we may counter-construct sometimes seems very limited. […] Mayonnaise was a very useful and fresh way for me to get out of this dead-end: whiteness constructs blackness. Mayo and peanut butter allow me to think about race in a more playful, strange, and open-ended way. For example, the idea that there’s a pure good blackness or a pure bad whiteness is untenable for me.”
    Pope.L refers to whiteness as a commodity that non-whites also buy. Thinking about Breitz’s strategy I wonder if I can also adopt Pope.L’s or Glenn Ligon’s strategies for talking about whiteness.
  • Kristina Lee Podesva
    Brown Globe
    Podesva says: “Brown Globe proposes a chromatically coded world in which the global and the local and the universal and the particular merge as an alternative to binary expressions in black and white.”
    She is offering one solution to the binaries and that is mixture, or admixture. Is there room for difference? Is there a problem with difference? As an individual, everyone else is an Other.
  • Candice Breitz
    Ghost Series
    Breitz, a white artist, says in Candice Breitz and Louise Neri: Eternal Returns: “An artist like Ellen Gallagher – whose work I admire very much – is as likely as I am, as a white South African, to have her work read psycho-biographically, but to opposite effect. Which is to say that as an artist of colour she might be granted the licence to use certain strategies in her work that might be denied to me. Conversely, I am aware of the invisible power and privilege that come with being white. The Ghost Series was precisely about the violence that can be performed by whiteness.” You were criticised for the way you used images of black women? “How dare you cut up and white out black women?” was the question I was asked more than once (Nobody seemed to mind that I was cutting up white women too!). To be interesting, a question like that would have to include the workings of representation: “How dare you cut up images of black women?” To assume that an image can stand in transparently for that which it represents is problematic, especially given the fact that the source images that I was using to make those early works were images that had already been heavily conventionalised and encoded (by National Geographic or Hustler or Cosmopolitan).”
    I have asked the same question. Can I use strategies that are used by non-white artists?
  • Mary Kelly
    Post-Partum Document is a six-year exploration of the mother-child relationship. When it was first shown at the ICA in London in 1976, the work provoked tabloid outrage because Documentation I incorporated stained nappy liners. Each of the six-part series concentrates on a formative moment in her son’s mastery of language and her own sense of loss, moving between the voices of the mother, child and analytic observer. Informed by feminism and psychoanalysis, the work has had a profound influence on the development and critique of conceptual art.”
    Does Kelly, who is white, understand the significance of her work in light of the construction of whiteness? Is there an analysis of how her work either orients herself, or the viewers, away from or towards whiteness?
  • Georg Baselitz
    New show at the Gagosian
    “In his new paintings, larger than anything he has done previously, Baselitz has revisited provocative aspects of his own history, such as the fractured paintings of 1966, reinterpreting them with the experience of hindsight […] In Beginging (2011), and Ist Franz Pforr in Rom? (2011), genderless, abject bodies surge with color and life …”
    Does Baselitz, who is white, also think about the colour of the bodies he represents in his works? Does anyone else (critics and reviewers) think about that?
  • Nate Hill
    The White Ambassador
    Not sure what I think of this project, although he does get a lot of response when he is in ‘black” neighbourhoods.
    White Power Milk
    White women gargle milk to purify it.
    I won’t pretend that my thoughts on this are original. Others have critiqued that it is highly sexual, pornographic, and doesn’t address male power in the project. I am thinking however, of how it might relate to Richard Dyer’s description of white women in White (1997)  as the “bearers of whiteness” (57).
  • Terence Koh
    In Terence Koh’s words: ‘I’m like the captain in Moby Dick. I’m trying to find the White Whale in the white objects, but in the end I find nothing.'” and “In Koh’s work, cultural identity also emerges from a seemingly infinite palette of possibilities: as neither-here-nor-there, as ceaseless change, as transition between Asia, America and Europe, but also as a diversion. This play on the artist’s own existence is reflected in his work in such objects as dynamic, modularly stacked display-case architectures furnished with a varied selection of white objects. On closer examination, these objects appear to be the global jetsam of all places and times, stranded high and dry in a pale, strange and often grotesque beauty. Coated in white by the artist as if by a wise taxidermist, they are presented to coming generations as scrupulously preserved treasures.”
  • Nora Howell
    Cracker Dress

    “The dresses were created to initiate a conversation about race and racism.” and “Whatever the origin of the term, I use the cracker as a metaphor for a person with white skin, hence the name of the Cracker Dress: ‘White Girl’s Birthday Suit.’
    Looking at the photos I’m not sure the dresses do what she hopes they do.
  • Hans Ulrich Obrist
    Hans Ulrich Obrist
    on “The White Website by Hans Bernhard”
    “From the empty image to the empty gallery, from the white painting to the “white cube” (O’Doherty), we see the iconoclastic gesture of modern art.” and “To be able to maintain its significance up against the sciences and their picture-producing procedures, art must look for a position beyond the crisis of representation and beyond the image wars straight into the blind spaces of the black black and the white.”
    Look for a position into the blind spaces of “black black” and “the white”?
  • David Adey
    Does David Adey, who is white, notice that the majority of the skin samples he took are from light-skinned people (also probably women)? While we collectively know that whites are overrepresented in fashion magazines, it is also apparent that racial distinctions are based on more than skin colour. Does he draw a line between where white skin starts and ends? There is a connection between this work and my Skin Tags project.
  • Do Ho Suh
    Do Ho Suh’s ‘Cause & Effect’ Artwork to be Installed at WWU
    This is what is said about it: “The mindset of the individual, coming together as a group,” and “The work is an attempt to decipher the boundaries between a single identity and a larger group, and how the two conditions coexist,” and “‘It comes from a belief that every individual is spawned from the lives he/she may have lived previously. The vertical context of the figures becomes a collection of past influences, and again, begins to define the inherent powers and energies that characterize an individual,’ he [Doh Ho Suh] said.”
    Why are all the figures male? And how much were the workers paid who produced all these tiny resin figures? What does that have to do with whiteness?

– – – – –

Visual Context

These works are related to my project visually, where I have gone as well as where I am looking to go.


  • Barbara Kruger, Power Pleasure Desire Disgust, 1997
  • Joseph Kosuth, Titled [Art as Idea (as Idea)] [meaning], 1967-68
    One and Three Chairs, 1965 (
  • Pierre Huyghe, Disclaimer, 2006
  • Nedko Solakov, El Bulgaro, 2000
  • Mary Kelly, Post-Partum Document: Documentation IV, Transitional Objects, Diary and Diagram, 1976
  • Sharon Hayes, In the Near Future, 2005


  • Thomas Hirschhorn, Jumbo Spoons, 2000
  • Mike Kelley, John Glenn Memorial Detroit River Project (Including the Local Culture Pictoral Guide, 1869-1972, Wayne Westland Eagle), 2001
  • Pipilotti Rist, Receiver, 2003
  • Marcel Duchamp, De ou par Marcel Duchamp ou Rose Selavy (Boite, Series B), Begun in Paris 1941, completed in New York 1942-54
  • Susan Hiller, Dedicated to the Unknown Artists, 1972-76
  • Charles Ledray, Oasis, 1996-2003
  • Joseph Kosuth, The Play of the Unmentionable, 1990
  • Susan Hiller, From the Freud Museum, 1991-1997
  • Carol Bove, Das Energi, 2005-06
  • Nari Ward, Reading Room, 2004
  • Mark Dion, Tate Thames Dig, 1999 (
  • Aby Warburg, The Mnemosyne Atlas, 1879?-1929 (
  • Julia Scher, Fibroid Reliquary Table #2, 1996


  • Felix Gonzales Torres, Untitled (Death by Gun), 1990
  • John Baldessari, Prima Facie (Fifth State): Warm Brownie/American Cheese/Carrot Stick/Black Bean Soup/Perky Peach/Leek, 2006
  • Byron Kim, Synecdoche, 1991-present (

Hair/Body Parts

  • Lorna Simpson, Wigs (portfolio), 1994
  • Kira O’Rielly, Wet Cup, 2000


  • Vik Muniz, Mass from the series Pictures of Chocolate, 1997
  • Glenn Ligon, Untitled (I’m Turning Into a Specter Before Your Very Eyes and I’m Going to Haunt You), 1992 (oil stick)
  • Titus Kaphar, “I still don’t know how it ended like this, but it began when one of the older women called her blackness into question,” (2007) (tar)
  • Stephen Shearer, Poems XX, 2005 (charcoal on paper) (
  • Also looking for work related to makeup

Other Visual Ideas

  • Cosima von Bonin, Tudor House, 1997 (use of fabric panels)
  • Nathalie Djurberg, New Movements in Fashion, 2006 (clay doll animations)
  • Tony Oursler, Flood or Fear with Bugs, 2009 (constructed house)
  • Mickalene Thomas, Din Avec La Main Dans Le Miroir, 2008 (use of materials as well as idea of challenging perceptions of black women)
  • Rosemarie Trockel, Freude, 1998 (cross-stitch)
  • Kara Walker, Untitled, 2001-05, set of collages on paper (insertion of black bodies into civil war images)
  • Dash Snow, Untitled (At Least They Died Together), 2007 (collaged image onto newspaper page)

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