Blogs mnartists.blog Emily Gastineau

Emily Gastineau is a dance and performance artist and Project Assistant for mnartists.org.

2013-14 McKnight Photography Fellows: Photobook Now Available

The McKnight Artist Fellowships have marked career milestones and supported major projects for many Minnesota artists. Established in 1981, the foundation’s fellowship program is one of the oldest and largest in the country, providing artists with unrestricted funds to study, reflect, experiment, and explore – an increasingly rare and valuable offering in today’s arts landscape. […]

The McKnight Artist Fellowships have marked career milestones and supported major projects for many Minnesota artists. Established in 1981, the foundation’s fellowship program is one of the oldest and largest in the country, providing artists with unrestricted funds to study, reflect, experiment, and explore – an increasingly rare and valuable offering in today’s arts landscape. mnartists.org has overseen six rounds of the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Photographers, supporting mid-career artists residing in Minnesota who use photography as a primary means of personal, creative expression. Annually, four photo fellows are selected, each of whom receives a $25,000 award and opportunities to connect with national critics and curators, and to produce an artist book for publication. This year marks the last fellowship cycle of photography as a stand-alone discipline: beginning in 2014, the McKnight Artist Fellowship for Visual Artists was restructured to include photography among other visual arts media and, going forward, eight Visual Arts fellowships will be administered annually by the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

The four McKnight Photography fellows for 2013-2014 were selected from among 108 applicants: Anthony Marchetti, Paula McCartney, Mohamud Mumin, and Alec Soth. The three arts professionals who served as jurors for this last round were Anne Havinga, Estrellita and Yousef Karsh Senior Curator of Photographs, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Sarah Meister, Curator, Department of Photography, Museum of Modern Art, NY; and Hank Willis Thomas, Photographer. The fellows worked with Scott Nedrelow of Location Books to produce an ebook containing work from their recent projects and essays by Lesley Ann Martin, Executive Editor at the Aperture Foundation.

The 2013-14 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Photographers ebook is now available for iOS (download it here) and as a PDF. A preview of the photos and essays included is offered below.

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Anthony Marchetti, 2014

Anthony Marchetti

Anthony Marchetti is a Minneapolis-based photographer who focuses on the relationship between humans and the built environment. He is the recipient of two Minnesota State Arts Board grants and a two-time Bush Artist Fellowship finalist. This is his second McKnight Fellowship. His new project explores his maternal grandmother’s flight from Hungary near the end of World War II.

Lesley A. Martin assesses Marchetti’s recent project:

During the past few years, the photographer has retraced the possible route taken by his Grandmother through former Mitteleuropa, assembling a series of tantalizing details of place, the lush textures of real life absent the bracing presence of fact… These scenes, while wholly “real” as seen by the camera, become richly fictive in Marchetti’s cinematic reconstruction of his grandmother’s story. He is careful not to peer too balefully at what must have been to his grandmother, a tale best forgotten, allowing for an approach that is both indirect and obsessively concrete. Most critically, it is an approach that never gets locked into the traditional documentary stalemate, but rather leaves the past open for continual reassessment.

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Paula McCartney, cover and detail from Book of Trees, 2014

Paula McCartney

Paula McCartney makes photographs and artists’ books that explore the idea of constructed landscapes. McCartney earned an M.F.A. in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute and has previously received grants from the Aaron Siskind Foundation, the McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board. Her first monograph, Bird Watching, was published by Princeton Architectural Press.

Martin creates a chronological taxonomy of McCartney’s production of photobooks:

What follows is a record of McCartney’s production of books over more than a decade. A close read of this output, volume by volume, offers insight into faber librum photographicus’s use of the book form as a means of encountering a print; of installing a body of work; of creating a vehicle for both personal and public consideration of images; and of the cross-fertilization of book and photograph fully-realized. What is also notable as a constant over the course of McCartney’s output is an interest in the dialogue between natural and artificial worlds and the creation of a personal, symbolic vocabulary that is able to bridge the two and that continues to be enlarged upon with each new volume.

Mohamud Mumin, Badra Ali, 2014

Mohamud Mumin

Mohamud Mumin holds a bachelor of science degree in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota. A self-taught photographer, Mumin harnesses photography’s capacity to facilitate dialogue across barriers and cultures. In his most recent body of work he centers on the Somali community in Minnesota, as they negotiate and redefine their essence and boundaries of their identity. Mumin’s recent work, The Youth/Dhallinyarada will be on view at the Frederick R. Weisman art museum through January 2015.

From Lesley Ann Martin’s essay on Mumin’s body of work:

The strongest of photographic projects are driven not just from a set of community obligations. They come from a highly personal set of questions that the artist feels can best be responded to and explored via the visual image, the collection and assessment of data visual and otherwise. In his newest series, published as Xusuus Sahmis/Scouting Memory and created as part of a recent McKnight Fellowship, Mumin expands his project to focus on portraits of women in the Minnesotan-Somali community. To date, he has photographed six young women in the same manner as the men depicted in The Youth/Dhallinyarada.

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Alec Soth, 2014

Alec Soth

Alec Soth’s photographs have been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including the 2004 Whitney and São Paulo Biennials. Survey exhibitions of his work have been exhibited by Jeu de Paume in Paris (2008), Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland (2008) and the Walker Art Center (2010). In 2008, Soth started his own publishing company, Little Brown Mushroom. Soth is represented by Sean Kelly in New York, Weinstein Gallery in Minneapolis, and is a member of Magnum Photos.

In lieu of an essay, Martin and Soth opted to publish an interview, the full text of which will appear in The PhotoBook Review in November 2014. An excerpt of the portion that appears in the ebook:

LAM: Via books from established publishers, posts on your own blog, Instagram, publishing yourself and others via the Little Brown Mushroom imprint, or most recently, workshops about storytelling for the non-storytelling pre-disposed, you have continued to push beyond prior applauded forms and to accept new challenges. How do you choose the form for a particular body of work, and when do you know it’s time to move on?

AS: It really depends on the projects. I do a lot of smallish-side projects: zines, online slideshows, that sort of things. This sort of activity is analogous to a band playing in the garage. It is meant to be quick, dirty and a bit out of control. These should be ended fairly abruptly to avoid from scrubbing away their essential spirit. My larger projects are more like studio albums. These projects take years. Generally I work on them until I’m sick of them, and then work some more.

Grand Rapids Border Control: Interview with Pitch Night Winner Bjorn Sparrman

Last month, mnartists.org collaborated with ArtPrize to help fund an ambitious public art project by a Minnesota artist. Supporters flocked to the Walker Cinema to hear five artists present their proposals, each of them allowed five minutes and five slides a piece to present their ideas. After the pitches, the artists fielded questions from audience members […]

Last month, mnartists.org collaborated with ArtPrize to help fund an ambitious public art project by a Minnesota artist. Supporters flocked to the Walker Cinema to hear five artists present their proposals, each of them allowed five minutes and five slides a piece to present their ideas. After the pitches, the artists fielded questions from audience members and a jury of experts, ranging from the practical to the conceptual.

For the uninitiated: ArtPrize is one of the largest art events in the world, attracting over 400,000 visitors last year. The festival transforms downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan for three weeks, covering parks, restaurants, stores, museums, and sidewalks with art.  Its structure fosters a tension between professional and populist views of art, awarding large cash prizes to artists selected both by jury and by popular vote.

After some deliberation, the Pitch Night jury selected The Grand River Checkpoint Project by artist Bjorn Sparrman to receive $5000 and a coveted venue at the sixth annual ArtPrize.  His piece will be installed on Gillett Bridge, a major thoroughfare in the midst of the festival, from September 24 to October 12, 2014.

mnartists.org asked Sparrman a few questions about the ideas behind his piece.

Entering Western Grand Rapids

Photo courtesy of Bjorn Sparrman

What’s your previous experience with ArtPrize?

I’ve attended ArtPrize most years since it began back in 2009, but this is my first time participating. I went to college in Grand Rapids, and as a young artist, ArtPrize was overwhelming: the crowds, the diversity of the works, the spectacle. Now that I’ve had some separation from the city and ArtPrize, I feel this is a good time for me to return and participate.

Describe your winning project. What’s the elevator pitch?

I will be erecting a border control checkpoint on the Gillett Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that spans the Grand River and connects the eastern and western sides of the city. There will be a guardhouse womaned by a Gillette Bridge Border Control Officer. Along the bridge will stand several signs, some that demand “NO PHOTOS” or “NO CELL PHONES”, and others stating, “You are now entering/leaving Eastern/Western Grand Rapids.”

How do you hope the public interacts with your project? What do you want them to experience?

The piece will bring up a lot of different images and memories for different people, some of which might be very difficult or saddening. However, I do know that everyone will be forced across this border together. If there is something specific I want people to experience, it is a feeling of temporary equality within communal constraint. I am anxious to see the various kinds of responses. There is definitely a bit of shock value.

Gillett Bridge Border Control

Photo courtesy of Bjorn Sparrman

Tell us about the political implications of the project – it seems to work on several levels.

I want the border to act more as a political/national backdrop which people traverse, or are forced to traverse. We cross these kinds of borders every day. I’m just making the experience more visible. When I was thinking about the bridge and the river, I could only see fit to amplify and play with the implicit border and movement of people that was already there.

How do you think your work be read within the context of the whole festival?

I must admit that the idea came from a somewhat cynical view of ArtPrize, and of large festivals in general. You go and take pictures of the spectacular artworks. You’re encouraged to vote for your favorite pieces with your phone, but the border I’m installing will have signs expressly prohibiting photography and cellphones. Pedestrians have so much access to the city during ArtPrize, I want to make sure they aren’t taking it for granted.

What’s coming up next for you, and how can we learn more about your work?

I’ll be moving to Massachusetts this fall to begin working on a master’s degree at MIT through their Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) program. I currently have a small exhibition in a Copenhagen storefront, but if you can’t make it there, you can see my work at: greenlocomotive.wix.com/beta

Pitch Night

Photo courtesy of Emily Gastineau

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