Marco Breuer doesn't like to interfere with the way people see his pictures.
For instance, what do you see in the image below?
We'll get back to what it is in a moment, but in the meantime meet Breuer, an academically trained photographer who decided a few years ago he wanted to follow his own path.
"I think that photographers tend to find the longest way to the image," he says. "What I am after is the other end of the spectrum, the shortest way, the most direct, immediate interaction with photographic material."
In other words, Marco Breuer usually doesn't use a camera. He says his work really goes back to the idea of a photogram. He tends to work directly with photographic paper, stressing it, as he calls it with abrasive materials, or even a heat gun to create his images. Sometimes this is done before the paper is processed, sometimes after.
Several of Breuer's images are on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts beginning this weekend. It's simply called "New Pictures:2"
The images are all very different. There is the swirling image above, but there are others with intricate patterns scratched into their surface.
"I want these images to read photographically," he says. He creates images in one way, but due to the way people tend to see photographs, they can appear to be something else.
For instance one piece looks as if it is textured like a rug, until you get close-up and see the lines are the result of pieces of fluff and other material produced by scoring the paper before processing. The image is quite flat.
"What I don't want the images to be is kind of a check list," he says, meaning people should not be able to readily identify certain things in the images. "There always remains a degree of openness in the whole matter."
Breuer takes this almost to extremes. He has had a long standing rule that his own face does not appear with his work. He's a photographer who sees problems in having his own image appear with his work. He chuckles a little when asked about it, but then explains
"From my own experience there are certain artists that I wish I didn't know what they look like. I wish I had never seen a photograph," he says. "I just want to experience the work. And so a while back I made the decision that for myself I would just take my likeness out of the equation. What I have to say is in the work, and there it is."
Breuer's process is ever-evolving however, and this is true of this show.
After the exhibit has been open for about a month, Breuer will return from his home in New York state to redecorate the gallery where his pictures are now on display. He'll paint all the walls, which are currently creamy white, with black paint, creating a giant blackboard. He says he'll use chalk to "join the dots," fill in more information about the images. All of the pictures will be in the same place, but everything else in the show will have changed.
He did give me a small preview of what that might reveal.
He says the image above was created through putting photographic paper in a plywood box, with a lens attached to the front. (He points out that he does sometimes use what is essentially a camera.) He then attached L.E.D.'s to his finger tips. The image was created by the movement of his fingers as he loaded a 12 gauge shotgun. It's a snippet of information which, at least for this viewer, entirely changes the perception of the image.
We'll run more of my interview with Marco Breuer on the air next week.(1 Comments)
Posted at 5:36 PM on February 19, 2010
by Chris Roberts
Every artist dreams of carving a living out of their creations. The Twin Cities-based founders of the "New Land of Milk and Honey" have infused that desire with a collective mindset and utopian spirit. 26-year-old knitter and sewer Annie Larson, and 29-year-old metalsmiths Erin Smith and her 32-year-old brother Brett have been dreaming up 'New Land' for the last year and a half. Larson actually met Erin Smith at Target, where they both worked as clothing designers. Smith still does. 'New Land' is an extension of what they've built for themselves outside their corporate identities, a small but growing community of supportive, self sustaining artists.
"We've all expressed this need to be able to create freely, and to be able to sustain ourselves through exercising a certain craft, or skill or trade or anything," Larson said. "So I think that we're all just relying on this idea of having continuous creative support from other people to make it happen."
If this sounds like a flower-powered fantasy, think again.
"I did not put the hip back into hippie," said Erin Smith.
But the Smith siblings and partner Annie Larson admit "The New Land of Milk and Honey" is informed by American utopian traditions and values. Larson herself grew up in western Wisconsin, where a lot of hippies converged in the 1970s and started an informal communal farming movement.
What do Larson and the Smith siblings want the New Land of Milk and Honey to be? What would it look like? How would it function? Will it be a commune? A farm? A physical store? A web site? Larson, who makes eye-poppingly colorful sweaters, pants and dresses, says it's too early to answer those questions, but she and her partners are open to anything. As an independent craftsperson trying to make it on her own, the idea of linking up with a network of like-minded artists is appealing.
"It's the peace of mind and ease of knowing that you can present an idea to any of your creative partners or collaborators and at least know that they will give you honest feedback about it, they will encourage you to take it in a different direction, they'll be critics of your work, they will help you with things," Larson said. "Knowing that that community exists, we just need that, we can do it without it."
Larson, Erin and Brett Smith, and founding members Ann Marie and Adrian Freeman, are summoning all who might be interested in the New Land of Milk and Honey to the Soap Factory tomorrow night (Saturday, Feb. 20th) to 'experience' it. There will be choreographed movement, video, what organizers call "demonstrations in enlargened creativity, chrono biology, New Gyroscopics, immersive knit environments," and what have somehow become symbols of the 'New Land' ethos, Segways!!!