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With Inger, artists' book made in collaboration with The Donut Shop

At the core of ‘With Inger’ is a chance encounter with a three-ring binder of 35mm black and white contact sheets dating from the early 1970’s. Aimée Beaubien combines her own photographs with those of a stranger. Guided by the photographs of Inger Helene Boasson, Beaubien builds bridges between past and future via the visual records of two women, unknown to one another. Through an unfolding visual expedition of the geographic, architectural, and social landscape of Iceland, Beaubien’s artists’ book embodies an incomplete archive while conjuring a woman whose works were left to the historical periphery.

‘I really didn’t know what to look for when I landed in Iceland for the month of June. Inside the reading room of a museum I systematically surveyed the names written along the spines of three-ring binders. Working my way through an army of men lined up for days and years - really wanting to find a woman represented on the shelves of contact sheets - I randomly pulled binders out to study the range of work. More than two-thirds of the way through, I almost started over, almost gave up. And then I found you.’

In an edition of 25 copies, this is the second limited edition artist book made in collaboration with The Donut Shop.

BOOK DETAILS

41 pages / 91 folds
1 unique dye sublimation print
Edition of 25

Printed on Neenah Classic Crest - Solar White + Neenah UV/Ultra II
3-Ring Bound
Printed with Canon imagePress C800 Color Digital Press

Botanical Speculations

Botanical Speculations

Chapter Four

Gusts in the Hothouse: Aimée Beaubien

  

Wild,fast-growing vines creep about the garage,slink through the yard, climb upand aroundthe side of our Chicago home.I track their invasive movements.My studio is on the first floor of our house and steps away from the garden.On occasion, I yank out a stranglehold of thickly entwining morning glories, pluck their heart-shaped leaves off and roll rambling trails to dry into large tumbleweeds before they choke too many other plants in our tiny backyard.

I take photographs.I make prints.From my prints, I continue to reconfigure subject matter while reworking images. While examining hand-woven structures, I photograph grass baskets and continue returning to a growing collection of images with the impulse to cut my grass basket photographs apart in order to weave them back together.

 When I first started pushing my cut-up photographs into sculptural forms, I grabbed what was within reach to prop material up during construction. In the process of making, I reached for things in my home like cups, colanders, mixing bowls and vases. Very quickly things from my domestic space travelled with my work and into exhibitions; including a growing collection of lemons that had dried before their sourness could be squeezed. 

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[Fig.4.1] Aimée BeaubienChitter-burst-tangle-swell(detail), cut-up pigment prints, wooden dowels, ceramic bowl, glass bottles, ceramic jugs, needle point foot stool, wooden table, and miniature clothespins2015courtesy of the artist Aimée Beaubien

Depictions of a multi-dimensional world rendered flat in prints reach new expressions as I weave visual impressions together. Drooping, pitched and placed.Sloping, jutting, braced.Holding, planted and spread.Leaning, shooting, bedded, staked.My pictured plant forms are constructed through processes of translation, revision, cutting and reassembling; reflecting on the complexity of the garden and of the photographic encounter. 

 Some qualities of the garden run parallel to the nature of photography: both can be defined by interactions of the scientific, the accidental and the temporal. My approach to building installations feels similar to how I treat my tiny backyard garden. My garden in life, and in the life of exhibitions, is much like a large-scale canvas to explore the potentials of wild compositional experiments.

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[Fig.4.2] Aimée Beaubien, Hothouse Cuttings(installation view), cut-up pigment prints, color laser prints, paracord, miniature clothespins, hammock swings, grow lights on fabric cord, dried lemons and limes, 2018, courtesy of the artist Aimée Beaubien

 

Gardens portray time.Interdependent systems grow, bloom, intertwine and die. With live plants coexisting in my studio with photographs of plant matter, I began to incorporate dried botanical elements into my installations. Death is steeped in photography and dried plants alike. 

 Photography images the world as beguiling fragments.Our contemporary lives are lived in a series of interrupted fragments. Sampling and re-mixing are interwoven throughout our daily experiences.Cut-up techniques are employed in literature, music, cinema, visual art and popular culture.

Moments drift. I crowd in with my camera to draw connections through different conditions in a manner that I imagine in which information travels through systems and bodies. The act of replacing a complete image in the process of inventing a new one seems analogous to the ways that I process information and reconstruct memories. I think I know something but that thing and my relationship to it continues to transform.

Working in an exploratory manner,I place myself somewhere not entirely familiarand crowded into situations where I learn as I go.During a residency at the Roger Brown home in New Buffalo, Michigan, I learned that, at one point, Roger had a collection of 50 different varieties of roses on his property.I look with photography. While I looked out of Roger’s windowsI re-assembled ribbons of cut photographs into flexible interlocking structures,mimicking the plant movements in front of me. 

Many photographic gestures can be traced back to photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot. Geoffrey Batchen wrote of Talbot’s photograph of honeysuckle from 1844: “Talbot crowds his camera into the bush of flowering honeysuckle, resulting in a remarkably three-dimensional picture. Looking at this image, we feel as though we too are peering into these branches, our field of vision totally filled by its light-dappled petals and stems. The photograph is at once realist and abstract, and thus points to a paradoxical aspect of photographic vision that many future practitioners would also learn to exploit.”[1]

Throughout the seasons and over her lifetime, my great-grandmother Gertrude photographed the changing conditions in her garden.The many ways that she used her camera to look closely to discover a jack in the pulpitand to hold onto ephemeral matter—like her short-lived blooming peonies—have always loomed large in my imagination. Often my great-grandmother included detailed information about what was not available in her front facing views: “Here’s a picture of my mums.They were 4 inches across.Everyone stopped to look at them!”[2]

I have a timeline of photographic processes over Gertrude’s lifetime and fragmented views into her enduring fascination with the things that grew around my great-grandmother.Her color palates, eccentric compositions, and written observations of what wasn’t picturedwere my first point of photographic contactand remain my most enduring guide.I remember hesitating a long while before declaring the garden as subject,the garden as point of departure.I am an artist with 1970’s toile wallpaper of romantic pastoral scenes still hanging in what is now the entryway to my studio.I am an artist working with family photos.I am an artist photographing flowers. While these categories may only suggest my gender,they do not attest to my dedicated experimentation with the flexibility of photographic imagesand the materiality of photographs for over three decades.My earliest photographic impulses came of a desire to draw attention to how pictures are constructed. 

 I use photography to record my responses to present conditions in color, pattern, structure, and place. I continue to photograph in my garden, my mother’s garden, as well as public and private gardens while keeping my great-grandmother’s observations in mind.An anthropologist approached me after I presented some of my plant related works at the Botanical Speculations Symposium.[3]She spoke of research about photonic sensation and photonic choreographyas it relates to what she could see demonstrated in the ways that I make my work. 'add period'Charles Darwin was entangled in the daily rhythms of life. His home and garden were experimental spaces where he entered into what has been called a sensory partnership with his subjects.He moved and was moved by subjects in nature.

My work is driven by the transformative potential between image and material, and by the generative and cumulative strategies of making. I use photography to hold onto a short-lived and waning bloom as others have before me. Comprised of partial views, my constructions make physical seams visible where fragments meet and overlap.Collage and sculpture are intertwined in their material making for me.Photography optically frames and records traces of materiality,object becomes image, and then cut-up and woven back into an object again.

I use collage to investigate oscillations between photographic depiction and material form.What may be perceived in my entanglements slips between recognition and abstraction:from a sky, an apple in a tree, into topography.I take whatever I have pointed to with my camera and convert it into tangled inventionsthat overlap and intersect;upending conventions of foreground, middle-ground, background;and flipping expectations of subject, object, and motion. Experience morphs into fields of color and pattern and back again.

My studio is marked by cycles of processes at various stages of development. Hanging dried and drying plants mingle with huge tangles of cut and woven photographic pieces. Matter dangles down from the ceiling in states of progress and decay. Marked by seasonality, by various internal cycles of life moving at different speeds, gardens are conveyors of time from the evolutionary to the ephemeral.I photograph the ever-changing conditions in my studio, as plants dry and projects grow.

Each fall microscopic cells designed like scissors appear where the leaf stem meets the branch to push the leaf away. I excised leaf shapes from my photographs, leaving their rectangular backgrounds intact. The negative spaces within these remnants become an evocative frame suggesting the inevitability of fallen leaves while also resembling dappled light through a canopy of trees. As I stack and bind remainders together, I am reminded of the collection of pages in a book. It is noted that in 1,789 poems, Emily Dickinson refers to plants nearly 600 times. The herbarium collection she created contains more than 400 plant specimens. Archeologists have been uncovering and restoring Emily Dickinson’s garden in an effort to better understand her personal physical world and source of imagination.[4]

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[Fig.4.3] Aimée Beaubien, Cuttings (detail), 142 page spiral bound artist book, 2017, courtesy of the artist and the Donut Shop Aimée Beaubien

Gardens are collections.They are nature gathered together in public space or private refuge.Interdependent systems grow, bloom, multiply, intertwine and die. Photography is used for many purposes that extend far and wide.Concentrated material investigation guides new developments in my work.I use photographic paper as sculptural material testing the flexibility of printed images. With photography, I weave visual impressionstogether.

What is building inside my studio is connected to what is happening on the outside and inside of our tiny garden. The excitement of spring’s arrival in my garden inevitably makes its way into my work as moments from my everyday have become integrated into the structures of my sculptures and installations.I interact with familiar photographic observations and push them into something else.Forward or backward, reaching or touching, pulling between inside and out.I think I know somethingbut that thingand my relationship to itcontinues to transform. I put things together with photographs because they are charged with the specificity of a caught momentthat is inherently associated with the medium.

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[Fig. 4.4] Aimée Beaubien, Collecting Within(detail). Artist book with a stack of 60 accordions in origami cube, 2017, courtesy of the artist Aimée Beaubien

 

When vines started growing on one side of our home, I followed their growth patterns. In my garden installations, cut photographic forms interweave, encircleand hang; trail in ribbon-like shredsand become wild ornamental outgrowthsas I move with and am moved by living forms. The vine wrapping around our home finally reached my second-floor bedroom and climbed into my dreams.I could feel the vine pass through the window just one foot from where I sleep and enter into the left side of my body while woven elements from my work travelled in from the right to meet somewhere in the middle for an entwining dance.

As objects from my home have made their way into my work, I have found parallels to respond to in different exhibition environments. Each new version in an ongoing series of Hothouseworks offers a garden space defined by interactions of order and disorder. Bold leaf shapes and twisting ribbons of color entwine, dangle, cluster and creep in makeshift exhibitions. The conditions of different exhibition sites inform a new chain of experiential shifts between visual representation and the physical encounter. Gusts in the Hothouse was a completely enclosed terrarium for my garden photos. I placed grow lights and a household oscillating fan inside the glass box to keep my double-sided photographs gently swaying with movement and suggestive of living things soaking up the magenta glow.

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[Fig.4.5] Aimée Beaubien, Gusts in the Hothouse,2016, cut-up pigment prints, paracord, miniature clothespins, grow lights, oscillating fan, 2016, courtesy of the artist Aimée Beaubien

InCamera Lucida,[5]Roland Barthes wrote about his relationship to a photograph of his mother when she was a child and standing in a glassed-in plant conservatory.This winter garden photograph that we never see, is the catalyst for a deeply personal investigation into the nature of photographs that includes meditations on the relationship of images to death, time, memory and desire.I re-photographed a teeny, tiny photo Gertrude took of a woman in a flowing flower print dress,absorbed in a weepingcherry tree. Then I cut and wove it together with photographs that I had taken over 20 years ago in the Palm House Conservatory at the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna. 

 

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[Fig.4.6] Aimée Beaubien, Taken, cut-up pigment prints, 2017, courtesy of the artist Aimée Beaubien

Gardens are solace: of leisure, labor, and our attention.They are displays for botanical taxonomies, for our fascination with nature and our desire to order it. In 1989, I walked with my mother through Claude Monet’s spectacular garden where he lived and worked from 1883 until 1926. I look closely into an amazing garden my mother continues to create and think that I see glimpses of the interior life of someone I find hard to know. I recognize patterns in the things I photograph. A still image is never really as static and frozen as it may appear. 

Different seeing areas in the brain map the scene to string together movement, color, depth, and shapein order to organize an impression informed by the many observed parts. I reorganize available visual information, modifying the experience and speed of recognition.How much can I cut away?What will agitate associations? I put things together and tear them apart in performances of revision.I vacillate between producing connective momentsand making active gestures extending marks across the field of view,often creating turbulent conditions. 

Directed by experience, feeling, thought and uncertainty;between the focus on the line and the focus on the edge and the field of focus presented in the photograph.I construct collisions between what appears on the surface of imagesand what is made absent through acts of incising and extracting.

One image becomes the starting point and then I build picture-relationshipswhile drawing connections between different pictured conditions.Often there are pictures inside of pictures and shapes that I have reshaped.I travel through illusionistic planes to create these tangles, knots, and webs,as I weave an emotive fabric together.Through it all, I continue to manipulate my photographs into becoming a series of moving parts,pushing their capacity to change and to transform experimenting with the many ways that I can alter the sensation of reading a photo. 

Where does meaning appear on the surface of things captured?Propelled by the provocative nature of the push and pull between recognition and abstraction,I fill openings, re-write moments and rework experiences, as is often the case in the act of recollecting.While the individual photographic components may be easily reproduced it is my hand that makes each of these thousands of cuts.I never bring all of these elements together in precisely the same manner more than once.

Subjects are veiled, environments turned upside down, cut open and apart. Before cutting up any photographs from Gertrude’s archive, I transcribe all of her captions.On the back of her fading, partial view of Hawaii from October 1965, she wrote: “Put these rainbow pictures together and you see whole rainbow.”[6]I keep looking for all of the others. While photography offers a realistic window onto the world I continue changing the shapes of my windows.

Q&A 

Giovanni Aloi:How are your intricate installations stored after they come down, and of course you can reverse that question, how are they set up? They look extremely laborious and delicate. So, that's my question ‘A’. My question B which is “what's the role of beauty, in a classical sense, in your work?”

Aimée Beaubien: I've lots of different storing methods. A lot of things are affixed to my ceiling. Oh, I will say that I was the first artist to ever deliver artwork in giant garbage bags to the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, and the curators thought it was hilarious. So, yes, there's artwork all over the place in bags, underneath, and on top of things, everywhere. I do reuse all materials, and so I am always trying to take things apart and put things back together and find new ways to push the material around. 

Our relationship to beauty isn’t purely subjective when external influences shape beauty standards. While my work possesses characteristicsof beauty I haven’t felt compelled to isolate a flower to proclaim its supreme beauty. Rather, I build lush, layered environments and create a complex of interconnectedness that embraces the complicated nature of beauty.

Audience:Plants have been objectified in the history of representation — this applies to painting as well as it does to photography. Does your work comply or challenge past notions of objectification?

Beaubien: I use my camera to look closely at plants. Through this open-ended close-looking approach I create collections of printed records to look at again and again. Often, I distort scale relationships, push color around and cut my notations up to completely reorganize the material and experience. I weave together prints on paper to build a series of interdependent components used to construct immersive environments. These paper-objects are not fixed in order to explore alternative configurations for each exhibition. I pay attention to plant movements and explore potential sensations through the many ways that I weave my impressions together. While observing plants and following vines, I think about ways to translate their gestures and patterns of growth through the conditions that I create. 

Aloi:What are the specific technical challenges that working with collaged three-dimensional pieces entail? I am thinking more specifically about the materiality of the photographic medium, its durability, and fragility.

 Beaubien:At first, I built terrible fragile sculptures of woven photographs that teetered and wobbled on precarious stacks of furniture. Only the tension in the weave of the prints held my photo sculptures together making everything ridiculously difficult to transport. Now I make components that are much easier to move around and manipulate in direct response to each specific exhibition space. I play with weight and balance while constructing makeshift networked systems. Everything I make is laborious. The processes I naturally gravitate towards require time, energy, patience, and skill. I have tested many different inkjet paper types to determine what materials hold up to a certain degree of handling required in the making of my layered installations. Some physical stresses can be too much for the paper to bear. Through experimentation, I continue to discover crucial make-or-break thresholds in my studio to be better prepared for what may occur when on location installing new works.  

Audience:What plants do you grow in your garden and what framework of ideas justifies the inclusion of some plants and the exclusion of others? Do you have favourite plants? 

Beaubien:A scraggly rose, hens-and-chicks, bee balm, daylilies, mint, wild strawberry, Queen Anne’s lace and moss were in the yard before we arrived and have a strong will to survive. We transplanted much from the first garden I worked on with my husband when we moved about a decade ago. Spring flowers may be my favorite after extra-long cold seasons in Chicago. During the waning days of winter excitement builds with the first emerging crocus followed by patches of daffodils, hyacinth, tulips, allium, bleeding hearts and every year I regret having not planted more bulbs. We introduce a little something here and there to see what might happen in relationship to already established Solomon’s seal, lungwort, brown-eyed Susan, clematis, peonies, purple coneflower, lupine and varieties of hostas, columbine, sedum, lilies, ferns, and hydrangea. Pots are placed on shelves running along the length of the garage and are filled with herbs and some annuals. A wild grape vine from three houses over began wrapping itself around our garage a few years ago and now climbs one side of our home. I fight with morning glories throughout the growing season but let some grow along our shared fences. I track their growth patterns and yank them out in bulk whenever their stranglehold on neighboring plants appears to threaten. Some of our oldest plants were gifts from friends splitting specimens in their thriving gardens. We never have a master garden plan but after answering this question I actually have greater appreciation for what is happening in such a tiny city yard!

 

 








[1]Batchen, Geoffrey, and Fox Talbot, William Henry (2008) William Henry Fox Talbot.Phaidon Press

[2]Handwritten on verso, c-print, circa 1950’s, from archive: Gertrude Bastien, born 12, Mar. 1985, died Sept. 1982.

[3]“Botanical Speculations Symposium.” School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 29 Sept. 2017, 

www.saic.edu/academics/areasofstudy/artandscience/conversationsonartandscienceseries/events/botanical-speculations-symposium.

[4]Farr, Judith (2016) The Lost Gardens of Emily Dickinson, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press) 

[5]Barthes, Roland, and Howard, Richard. (1981)Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. (New York City: Hill and Wang)

[6]Handwritten on verso, c-print, Oct. 1965, from archive: Gertrude Bastien.

Curator's Choice, Issue No.13 Top 100

AINT—BAD

AIMÉE BEAUBIEN

Published on December 5, 2018 

by Kayla Story

Aimée Beaubien lives and works in Chicago, IL. Her photo-based collages, sculptures and installations explore collapses in time, space, and place, while engaging the complexities of visual perception.  Beaubien experiments with perceptual shifts between the depicted and the touchable. Solo and two-person exhibitions include oqbo galerie, Berlin Germany; Gallery UNO Projektraum, Berlin, Germany; The Pitch Project, Milwaukee, WI; BOX 13 Artspace, Houston, TX; Johalla Projects, Chicago, IL; and Demo Projects, Springfield, IL. Group exhibitions include Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; UCRC Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA; Art Exhibition Link Castello di S. Severa, Italy; Bikini Berlin, Berlin, Germany; and Antenna Gallery, New Orleans, LA. Her work has been reviewed in publications such as Art in America, Art on Paper, and Art Papers. Beaubien is Assistant Professor of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

I embrace the documentary capacity of the camera, recording what I encounter. Since its origin, photography has been used to capture, preserve, and accumulate information: arresting fleeting phenomena as visual records. My approach to photography is iterative, recombinant, and gestural. I ask questions that re-imagine photography. I explore generative and cumulative strategies of making, fascinated by the alterations of format, context, scale, experience and site.

Photographic paper is my sculptural material. Through it, I experiment with perceptual shifts between the depicted and the touchable. My images become printed photographs, then sculptural forms. Cutting, weaving and reassembling, I transform my photographs into complex sculptural interventions that disrupt the rectilinear format and traditional conventions of photographic display. These collage-based sculptures and installations are interative, growing and altering within new architectural contexts.

My recent work reflects on the garden and the photograph as parallels: aesthetic spaces where the impulse to collect confronts ephemerality, and taxonomic order meets unpredictable elements. In my garden installations, cut forms interweave, encircle, and hang; trail in ribbon-like shreds; and become wild ornamental outgrowths mapping associations between the garden, the ephemeral, and the photographic.

I am captivated by many different types of collections, from the significant objects curated and presented by museums to idiosyncratic displays in homes. My photographs are often made in institutional exhibits of art and artifacts, in quirky home museums, in urban plant conservatories, and in my domestic space. I often allow everyday objects from my domestic space to become integrated into the structure of my sculptures and installations. I am fascinated by the translational spaces between image and material. Surrounded by suspended, propped, and perched objects, I reflect on our entanglements with the objects and images we collect.

To view more of Aimée Beaubien’s work please visit their website.

Curator's Choice, Issue No.13 Top 100

Details :

8.25″x10.75″, 256 pages,
Perfect Bound
Edition Size 1500
ISBN : 978-1-944005-18-4
Printed in the Netherlands

Introduction by : The Editors

Guest Curators and Interviews by :

Alan Rothschild
Amy Elkins
Anna Skillman
Heavy Collective
Jennifer Murray
Kris Graves
Michael Itkoff
Paloma Shutes
Paul Kopeikin
Rachel Reese
Robert Lyons
Small Talk Collective
Susan Laney
Zemie Barr

PICKUP YOUR COPY TODAY!

Read More!

Filed under ArticleCurator's ChoiceIssue No.13 Top 100

Tagged aimeebeaubienchicagoartistIssue No.13,photoinstallationphotoweaving

With Inger, artists' book made with the Donut Shop

At the core of ‘With Inger’ is a chance encounter with a three-ring binder of 35mm black and white contact sheets dating from the early 1970’s. Aimée Beaubien combines her own photographs with those of a stranger. Guided by the photographs of Inger Helene Boasson, Beaubien builds bridges between past and future via the visual records of two women, unknown to one another. Through an unfolding visual expedition of the geographic, architectural, and social landscape of Iceland, Beaubien’s book embodies an incomplete archive while conjuring a woman whose works were left to the historical periphery.


BOTANICAL SPECULTATIONS

Book Description

Ground-breaking scientific research and new philosophical perspectives currently challenge our anthropocentric cultural assumptions of the vegetal world.

As humanity begins to grapple with the urgency imposed by climate change, reconsidering human/plant relationships becomes essential to grant a sustainable future on this planet. It is in this context that a multifaceted approach to plant-life can reveal the importance of ecological interconnectedness and lead to a more nuanced consideration of the variety of living organisms and ecosystems with which we share the planet. 

In Botanical Speculations, researchers, artists, art historians, and activists collaboratively map the uncharted territories of new forms of botanical knowledge. This book emerges from a symposium held at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in September 2017, and capitalizes on contemporary art’s ability to productively unhinge scientific theories and certainties in order to help us reconsider unquestioned beliefs about this living world.

Chapter Four .............................................................................................. 49

Gusts in the Hothouse

Aimée Beaubien

SOME RECENT FINDINGS // Curated by Andrew Kensett

Some Recent Findings

The twenty-four artists represented in this portfolio consider two acquisitive potentials of photography: to collect visual records of experience and to produce objects that may themselves be collected and circulated. Their artworks constitute findings both in the sense that their content is, in one sense or another, found and in the sense that they represent new knowledge generated through experimentation. They stretch the capacity of photographs to take on and lose meaning—to cross-contaminate with new environments, materials, images, and perspectives and to be changed in the process. These artists assert that a photographic object and the image it bears can never exist in isolation. Its meaning is made through memories, memes, histories, and fictions. 

Some of the artists represented here assert the presence of photographs by incorporating them into sculptural installations and still life arrangements. Many have used analog, experimental, and hybrid processes to reproduce and transmute their images, encouraging particular readings of their content and calling attention to their corporeal qualities. (If one personified the photographs, these transformations would be harrowing: they have been cut, cloned, spliced, burned, and slopped with chemicals.) Others included in this portfolio use photography to examine various archives, which range from institutional to personal and contain both photographic and non-photographic materials. Still others probe photography’s evidentiary role; photographs are deployed here both to question the historical record and to lend credibility to fabrications. All of these artists understand that a change in a photograph’s context, a transformation of its physical form, and an alteration of its image content may each equally influence its reception.

These twenty-four artworks prompt questions. Why do we consider images ephemeral? Why should we think of ourselves as permanent, and the pictures we create, live with, and leave behind as transient? Isn’t it much more often the case that we make appearances in the lives of photographs? That they, these immotile and more or less durable things, will outlast us, as long as there is somebody new around to look?

—Andrew Kensett

Included artists: Noritaka Minami, Jo Ann Chaus, Yajing Liu, Veronika Pot, Marcus DeSieno, Andy Mattern, Elizabeth Albert, Dominic Lippillo, Jeroen Nelemans, Fatemeh Baigmoradi, Edouard Taufenbach, Paulo Simão, Arden Surdam, Martin Venezky, James Reeder, Nancy Floyd, Aimee Beaubien, Alyssa Minahan, Larson Shindelman, Aline Smithson, Tamara Cedré, Amy Friend, Jessica Buie, Tianqiutao Chen

Meet Aimée Beaubien, Artist and Assistant Professor

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Today we’d like to introduce you to Aimée Beaubien.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My great-grandmother cutout her face from a snapshot and attached it to the body of a topless woman advertising control top pantyhose for plus-size women. She placed this provocative collage at eye level on her refrigerator in an effort to manage her desires. I remember making things with my great-grandmother from the many materials that she creatively repurposed. Over one summer break, we constructed an extra special pillow for her cat Ting-a-ling stuffed with cat hair saved from regular brushing sessions. During another visit, we cut apart her wedding dress to make a new wardrobe for the doll from her childhood. As a result of these primary experiences, I have been cutting apart my photographs since the 1980’s to test the flexibility of images in an effort to understand the power of photographic representation.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My family was highly mobile; we never lived anywhere for very long. This lifestyle has always been difficult to explain. So many things were confusing from move-to-move and from state-to-state. Chicago is the longest I have lived anywhere, a place where I continue to learn how to connect with others and maintain meaningful relationships. Over the years, I have met many artists with numerous relocations in their personal histories. The process of acclimating to new environments may have provided some kind of unintentional training to look closely, to discover creative ways to process personal observations and experiences. If it is easy to make things then the struggle can be finding value and an appropriate context for what is produced.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Artist and Assistant Professor – what should we know?
I am an artist and a professor. I have always felt compelled to know why people make things. While working in my studio I remind myself of the advice that I share with my students in order to feel more emboldened to keep taking chances. Every day I think about what a photograph is and delight in the surprises and slipperiness of an ever-changing medium. Through many years of experimentation, my collages have grown from flat wall-based works into cutup photos in relief. My images printed on photographic paper are now the primary material I use to build sculptural forms and site-specific installations.

Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business? If so – who are they and what role did they plan / how did they help.
My parents encouraged me to find a boarding school after I transferred to three different schools for ninth grade. I very happily spent my last two years of high school living at a boarding high school for the arts on a lake in the middle of nowhere. We spent our mornings in academic classes and afternoons until lights-out working in our chosen area of concentration. So many decades later this is still my favorite way to divide the day. I landed in Chicago as a sophomore to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) where I have now been teaching for twenty years. Generations of amazing talent have passed through SAIC. I am grateful to be surrounded by amazing alumni, students, staff, and fellow faculty that contribute to a dynamic and inspiring interdisciplinary environment. Who deserves credit – everyone who has helped along the way – too many to name and no way to have done this alone – thank you!

Contact Info:

 

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WE LIKE SMALL THINGS V.2

Filter Photo is pleased to announce our second exhibition of small works, we like small things v.2

Join us for a public reception concurrent with our other exhibitions, Re/member/construct and Next, on September 28th,  6 – 9 pm during the 2018 Filter Photo Festival and Expo Chicago’s Art After Hours.

Juror Aimée Beaubien writes,

“This is quite a large collection of small works for we like small things v.2. It started with an open call to create a studio-like environment with all types of two-dimensional photo-based works, no larger than 10 x 10 inches. Having visited many artists’ studios I know that my gravitational pull is always towards that notational wall completely jam-packed with open-ended visual conversations about what could be: dizzying, overwhelming and alive with possibilities. What I have drawn could have easily shifted and transformed limitlessly after having been presented with so many exciting pathways through the submissions. In one deep dive some photographs lingered in my imagination and began connecting to others and in short order, a collection of images was strung together”.

Participating Artists

Sarah Baranski - Jess Benjamin - Raegan Bird - C. W. Brooks - Joan Lobis Brown - Billy Buck - Jesse Butcher - Chad Chatterton - Liz Chilsen - Gina Costa - Maria Dunaevsky - Malcolm Easton - Nicholas Fedak II - Adam Frint - Alissa Godina - Nadide Goksun - Alice Hargrave - Sharon Hart -  Paul Jett - William Jordan - Michelle Keim - Daniel Le - Haerim Lee - Yshao Lin - Liu Liu - Dan Lopez - Jennifer Lothrigel - Carissa Meier - Frederick Nitsch - Jessica Pierotti - Sarah Pollman - Valentina Pozo - Erika Raberg - Monica Rezman - Travis Roozee - David Rothenberg - Rana Siegel - Jake Silby - Rebecca Sittler - Chris Staats - John Steck Jr. - Olivia Swider - Amanda Taves - Jamie Tuttle - Antoinette Viola - Serinah Yeo

Exhibition Dates: September 21 – October 27, 2018
Festival Reception: September 28 | 6 pm – 9 pm
Location: Filter Space 1821 W. Hubbard St., Ste. 207
Gallery Hours: Monday – Saturday 11 am – 5 pm

Salon 2018 Fellowship Awards

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The Salon journal issue was developed to extend additional Publication Fellowship opportunities beyond the scope of our regular article collections. It follows the tradition of the annual group exhibition and features a single catalog essay by the guest curator. Open to American artists at all career stages, the goal is to present a cross-section of vital practices shaping contemporary art on the periphery of mainstream, commercial artworlds. This year's iteration of the Salon will introduce the work of 33 artists working across media and disciplines, emerging from top MFA and residency programs or holding university faculty positions.

ABOUT THE CURATOR

Guest curator Lisa Volpe is a photography scholar serving at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and has been a regular contributor to Peripheral Vision since the first issue. Prior to moving to Houston, Volpe held curatorial positions at the Wichita Art Museum, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. She is an historian deeply committed to working with living artists and to contributing to current discourses informing contemporary art. 

ARTISTS AWARDED PUBLICATION FELLOWSHIPS ARE:

Kate Aitchison · Shiva Aliabadi · Paolo Arao · Molly Aubry · Karen Azarnia · Aimee Beaubien · Ligia Bouton · Jackie Brown · Thomas Condon · Julia Couzens · Priscilla Dobler · Carolyn Doucette · Vincent Falsetta · Jezabeth Gonzalez · Jamil Hellu · Elizabeth Hibbard · Kevin Hoth · Sophie Kahn · Sun Young Kang · Rebecca Kautz · Yeh Rim Lee · Wen Liu · Andy Mattern · Sherwin Ovid · Monika Plioplyte · Brittany Ransom · Nate Ricciuto · Yoshie Sakai · John Schlesinger · Hannah Thompsett · Sarah Tortora · Wade Tullier · Zhiyuan Yang

Follow along on Instagram @peripheralvisionpress as we share each fellow's work. Profile pages will be published on the website in the coming months.

Scott Gleeson, Publisher

Spoke Installation in The Washington Post

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In some residential neighborhoods, art is bigger than ever. Large murals, sculptures and installations help buildings stand out and give them an identity

By Audrey Hoffer

JULY 12, 2018

Gigantic, colorful murals and art installations are popping up in the most unlikely places.

In Crystal City, Va., four 12-story buildings are wrapped in designs painted on transparent vinyl panels.

In Baltimore, a 20-foot-high cement wall is painted with portraits of beloved local historical figures.

And in Scottsdale, Ariz., huge red, yellow and blue toylike sculptural pieces are scattered outside a residence.

Across the country, the face of residential neighborhoods is changing, as developers team with artists to make their buildings stand out with original artwork. These aesthetic projects are altering the normal expectations of what a neighborhood looks like, and what developers are spending their money on.

“We’re always looking for what differentiates our buildings and neighborhoods, what will make people want to live in them, what will make them inspiring,” said Brian Coulter, chief development officer for JBG Smith in Chevy Chase, Md.

No Kings Collective painted this mural on the underpass beneath the building at 1851 S. Bell St. in Crystal City. Above left, a mural by Jason Woodside on Jefferson Davis Highway and 23rd Street in Crystal City. Above right, a mural by Juan Pineda on 23rd and Clark streets in Crystal City. (Calla Kessler/The Washington Post)

When JBG Smith acquired four buildings in Crystal City — a mixed-use neighborhood of government-occupied buildings, tall residences and street-level restaurants that didn’t exude excitement — company officials wanted to add color and vibrancy.

JBG Smith called on Peter Nesbett to serve as creative consultant and tap his Rolodex of artists who could enhance the street’s visual appeal.

“The Crystal City panels are a fantastic opportunity to explore art at gargantuan levels for the aesthetic improvement of an existing neighborhood,” Nesbett said. He brought on board artists Tim Doud and Adrienne Shisko to create the mural building wraps.

“We pride ourselves in considering the total environment. We think a lot about the space on the ground, 20 feet out and 20 feet up — bottom of the building, street level, entry doors — because that’s people’s viewpoint. That’s why we also painted sidewalks, crosswalks and driveways. We wanted to provide unexpected moments as people walk around,” Coulter said.

Annapolis artist Jeff Huntington painted this multi-portrait of Francis Scott Key, Billie Holiday and Edgar Allan Poe on a concrete wall around the Anthem House, an apartment building in the Locust Point neighborhood of Baltimore. (Younts Design Inc.)

Aconcrete wall rings Anthem House, the nine-story apartment building at the gateway to the Locust Point neighborhood in Baltimore.

“We saw the wall as an opportunity to bind the building with the neighborhood and celebrate the city’s history,” said Rohit Anand, principal in the Tysons Corner, Va., office of KTGY Architecture and Planning, and the building’s architect.

The developer hired Annapolis artist Jeff Huntington to paint a multi-portrait mural of Francis Scott Key, who composed the national anthem in Baltimore, and city legends Billie Holiday and Edgar Allan Poe.

“Art has the opportunity, if done right, to become part of the building and neighborhood’s identity. It can become iconic. People will say, ‘I live in the mural building or meet me by the mural,’” said Anand.

In Evanston, Ill., John McLinden, managing partner of Hubbard Street Group, grappled with a concrete embankment across the street from the 12-story Centrum Evanston residential tower.

The 16-foot-high-by-90-foot-long wall surrounded a transportation hub.

“We went to the city and the neighbors and asked to take ownership of this wall,” McLinden said. “We hired artist Shawn Bullen. We worked with him on themes. He sent us sketches. We said, ‘Go for it.’ ”

In Evanston, Ill., artist Shawn Bullen painted a fast-moving train, the Chicago skyline, the Grosse Point lighthouse and a gigantic bee pulling the train on a wall across the street from the 12-story Centrum Evanston residential tower. (Hubbard Street Group)

The result is a collage of images — a fast-moving train, the Chicago skyline, local landmark Grosse Point Lighthouse and a mammoth bee pulling the train. “It exudes energy and is uplifting. I do believe that the best real estate developers create value and a sense of place,” McLinden said. “Art gives our building an identity and makes it distinctive.”

Public art doesn’t only take the shape of murals. “We look at our properties as laboratories to try out different kinds of art, like ceramics, kinetic pieces or sculptures, because a mural isn’t always the right answer,” Coulter said. Inside the glass-walled street-side corridors of the Crystal City buildings, artists Maggie O’Neil, Dominique Fiero and Peter Chang of No Kings Collective created glass transparencies and textural installations.

Rob Bond, president of Bond Cos. and principal of Morgan Bond Co,, put more than 35 art pieces in communal places inside the 15-story residential tower Spoke in Chicago.

Nick Fisher painted dog portraits on the wall of the dog wash room of Spoke, a residential tower in Chicago. Aimee Beaubien decorated two walls and the ceiling in the lounge. (Jim Tschetter with IC360 Images, YoChicago.com)

For example, artist Aimée Beaubien decorated two walls and the ceiling in and around exposed pipes, in the family lounge, with an installation of turquoise, green and teal leaves with pink splashes.

And, in the dogwash room, artist Nick Fisher painted portraits on the wall of more than a dozen dogs, with names including Bessie, Lancelot, Toogs and Chilbert IV.

“I wanted to have fun with the building. I wanted a wow factor and something for people to talk about,” Bond said. “Art should be considered a building cost, as any other hard construction costs, like steel and brick.”

Developers find the money. “Art is easy to fit into the budget when you make it a priority,” McLinden said.

In Chicago, Related Midwest decorated the street-facing lobby of the 60-story luxury apartment building OneEleven with artist Diana Thater’s nine-screen, layered-video projection. “It’s a museum-quality piece practically right on the sidewalk and visible to all walking by,” said Ann Thompson, senior vice president of architecture and design.

“Art is a point of differentiation in our development projects. Just like a single-family home doesn’t feel like a home until you put art on the wall, so our projects don’t feel complete without an art component, she said.

Garages are usually overlooked as uneventful spaces. The 30-story Landmark West Loop residential tower in Chicago includes a six-floor garage at its base. Related Midwest decorated it with Venetian glass-tiled mosaics. But instead of hiring an artist, officials worked with several dozen local teenagers from After School Matters to design, create and install 20 mosaic wall hangings.

In Los Angeles, the 30-foot-by-50-foot facade of Next on Sixth, a seven-story apartment building in Koreatown, faced a traffic intersection at a 45-degree angle. “It was the focal point of the intersection, and at that scale filled the skyline for pedestrians and motorists,” said Kevin Farrell, president and chief operating officer of Fifield Realty Corp.

Farrell hired art consultant Warren Brand, founder of Branded Arts, a company that organizes art projects for real estate developers, architectural firms and communities. Brand recommended artist Sam Rodriguez as the best to create art to fit the location’s culture.

Rodriguez painted a girl’s face. “Look carefully at her nose,” said Brand. “You’ll see a Korean symbol, which stands for flower. You can also see her eyes are two colors. The image is subtle, but the message is that this is a diverse and blossoming community.”

“At the reception for the mural’s public opening, more than one person said to me, ‘I feel like the building has always been there.’ It immediately became part of the landscape,” Farrell said.

The art consultants hired by developers serve as the nexus to artists. They represent new business lines branching out of the real estate industry.

Curator Engine, the link between local artists and developers in Phoenix, recommended artist Joe Pagac to developer Nate Stum of Live LMC to paint this Maria Callas mural on the rear facade of the building. (Ryan Parra)

Curator Engine in Phoenix, founded by Tim McElligott, is a link between local artists and developers.

After receiving an MBA at Arizona State University, McElligott wanted to start a business building careers for art students and local artists. He looked for opportunities to sell art at a price point enabling artists to make a living. Curator Engine identifies residential development projects and makes it easy for developers to incorporate art so their projects stand out.

In Scottsdale, Ariz., developers are required to contribute 1 percent of the value of their construction project — whether for residential, commercial or government buildings — to the city’s art program, said Kim Curry-Evans, director of Scottsdale Public Art. About 115 public artworks are on display.

Oversize toy building blocks by artist Christopher Weed are spread around the Soho Scottsdale property, a luxury live-and-work community. And one floor of the facade is covered with a mural — evoking the human connection to technology — by artist Lauren Lee.

There seems to be an appetite for public art when it’s offered. “I’ve found that neighborhood groups love it, local officials are in agreement, everyone says, ‘Let’s see how we can make this cool.’ It’s nice that we can have a love fest over art,” McLinden said.

 

“Many people make decisions in an urban landscape, and there are opportunities to introduce artists into the formula. When developers understand this dynamic, it can be a big plus to the community, as well as to the artists,” said Nesbett, executive director of Washington Project for the Arts.

Coulter of JBG Smith said, “Our commitment to creativity runs deep. It’s not a gimmick where we put murals on a building and check an art box. At the end of the day, if we do it right, the art fires all our cylinders — people want to pay to live in our buildings. It’s good for our investors, and our company is successful.”

Credits: By Audrey Hoffer.

CARRIE SECRIST GALLERY - SUMMER GROUP SHOW

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TRUTH CLAIM

July 14—August 18, 2018

Carrie Secrist Gallery is pleased to announce our summer group exhibition TRUTH CLAIM featuring six Chicago-based artists who challenge pre-conceived notions of photography as a defined entity. This exhibition opens July 18th through August 18, 2018 with an opening reception taking place July 14 from 5 – 8PM. Featuring:

Kioto Aoki
Aimée Beaubien
Stephen Eichhorn
Alice Q. Hargrave
Mayumi Lake
Barbarita Polster

The term “Truth Claim” is formally known as a proposition or statement that a particular person or belief system holds to be true. Within the realm of photography, this term challenges the belief that traditional photographs accurately depict reality (Tom Gunning). Further, Gunning states that truth claim relies on both the indexicality, or the physical relationship between the object photographed and the resulting image, and the visual accuracy of photographs. This exhibition expands on these concepts by presenting artwork in a variety of different media that incorporate photography, but also evolve from it.

Each artist in TRUTH CLAIM contributes artwork that in some way pushes, pulls, cuts, abstracts, clarifies, elaborates upon, and explores the medium of photography. Light, sound and objects highlight the physical properties of photographic components by distilling the medium in order to extract its essence. The traditional formats of both analog and digital share equal footing with found images and physical materials that re-consider objecthood versus subjecthood. Here, the philosophical condition of what the truth is hinges on the concept of perception as a tool to measure veracity. This challenge to convention then sets the stage for a re-definition of a medium revealing how the artist’s hand is both limited and limitless in its ability to fool the eye while suggesting ways in which images may reflect truth beyond what they depict. What happens to the integrity of an image when it is unbound from its original form?

Kioto Aoki’s (Chicago) light boxes and sculptural accordion books push and pull analog modes of image making into alternative representations. Aoki’s self-reflexive imagery, with the artist both in front of and behind the camera, explore modes of perception, particularly in regards to movement and the nuances of time, light and space as universal experiences. 

Aimée Beaubien (Chicago) creates colorful floor to ceiling installations made from her cut-up and woven back together photographs taken of gardens, which are interspersed with organic material, magenta grow lights, paracord and functional hammocks. This immersive environment emphasizes the role that a photograph has as an integral part of a larger concept as an experiential function of discovery.

Stephen Eichhorn’s (Chicago) series of found cut-out natural minerals offers a new consideration of nature and the elements that comprise the current Anthropocene era. Recomposed and delicately arranged on colorful monochromatic pantone paper, Eichhorn’s compositions are built in a manner that belies their origins while amplifying their re-presentation to suggest a sensation of nostalgic wistfulness.

Alice Q. Hargrave (Chicago) combines enhanced traditional nature photography, archival sounds of endangered birds and the sound wave recordings of those birds printed on large swaths of silk. This mediated environment within the gallery setting creates a visceral moment that simultaneously suggests the inevitability of impermanence and a connection with the world around us.

Mayumi Lake’s (Chicago) wall relief sculptures are autobiographical representations of a cultural belief system of a mythical Tibetan flower that symbolize the time where soul floats between life and death. Using scanned and printed elements of vintage Japanese girl kimonos that are augmented with hair, plastic toys and flowers, sequins and imitation gold leaf, these “blossoms” incorporate low-tech processes with personal, albeit, celebratory effect.

Barbarita Polster (Chicago) conceptually collapses photography, performance, video, language, and architecture into and onto sculptural forms in order to tackle the concept of thought production and it’s relationship to physical spaces within the human perspective. Ultimately taking the form of utilitarian structures (a fire escape, L platform lattice, tower crane), these foamcore “models” encourage interaction while questioning the power of inaccessible systems.

******

Kioto Aoki is a conceptual photographer and experimental filmmaker who also makes books and installations engaging the material specificity of the analogue image and image-making process. Her work explores modes of perception via nuances of the mundane, with recent investigations focusing on perceptions of movement between the still and the moving image. Aoki received her MFA and BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently a 2017-2018 HATCH artist in resident at the Chicago Artists Coalition.

Aimée Beaubien is an artist living and working in Chicago. Her sculptural photo-based collages explore collapses in time, space, and place, while engaging the complexities of visual perception. Solo and two-person exhibitions include oqbo galerie, Berlin Germany; Gallery UNO Projektraum, Berlin, Germany; The Pitch Project, Milwaukee, WI; BOX 13 Artspace, Houston, TX; Johalla Projects, Chicago, IL; and Demo Projects, Springfield, IL. Group exhibitions include Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; Evanston Art Center, Evanston, IL; Bikini Berlin, Berlin, Germany; and Antenna Gallery, New Orleans, LA. Her work has been reviewed in publications such as Art in America, Art on Paper, and Art Papers. Beaubien is Assistant Professor of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Stephen Eichhorn lives and works in Chicago. Eichhorn creates intricately detailed collages of new micro-ecosystems. Using collected historical botany textbooks and publications, Eichhorn painstakingly cuts out and layers plant parts and minerals to wood panel, brass, and other materials, often to profound and mesmerizing effect. He has had solo exhibitions at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus Ohio (2017), Elmhurst Art Museum, Chicago (2012), CES Gallery, Los Angeles (2014), Johalla Projects, Chicago (2014, 2016) and Ebersmoore, Chicago (2012, 2011). His work has also been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York (2011), Josée Bienvenu Gallery, New York (2008) and Heaven Gallery, Chicago (2009, 2008). Eichhorn received his BFA from School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006

Alice Q. Hargrave is a photographic and video artist based in Chicago. Her research-based work reflects on the notion of impermanence: environmental insecurity, habitat loss, and species extinctions. Paradise Wavering (Daylight Books 2016) and it’s accompanying solo exhibition traveled to multiple venues including The Hyde Park Art Center Chicago, University Galleries at Illinois State University, Gallery 555 Boston, The Center for Fine Art Photography Fort Collins CO and Pictura Gallery Bloomington IN. Hargrave’s work is included in several permanent collections such as The Museum of Contemporary Photography, The Art Institute of Chicago Artist Book Collection, The Ruttenberg Collection, Nuveen Corporation, and Hyatt Corp. Her work is exhibited widely: The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Yale University Art Gallery, The Smart Museum, The Tweed Museum of Art MN, Art Metz, France, The Griffin Museum of Photography MA, 516 Arts Gallery Albuquerque NM, Newspace Center for Photography Portland OR, among others. She has received many awards, been published and reviewed in several journals such as Huffington Post, BBC News, and Artnet. She received a University Fellowship to obtain her MFA from The University of Illinois, Chicago. Hargrave is currently a professor at Columbia College Chicago.

Mayumi Lake (b. Osaka, Japan) is an interdisciplinary artist, whose work delves into childhood and pubescent dreams, phobia and desires. She employs herself and others as her models, as well as dolls, toys, weapons, vintage clothes, and altered landscapes as her props. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, and has published 2 monographs from Nazraeli Press. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Fine Arts, Huston, Asia Society, Joy of Giving Something Foundation, and more. Lake received her BFA with a focus in Photography and Filmmaking and an MFA in Photography from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Barbarita Polster (b. Cleveland, OH (1987); l. Chicago, IL) is an artist who loosely draws upon her own multiracial background to inform questions of the unassimilable and ontologically complex, using speculations of physical space as a model for these concerns. Recent solo exhibitions and performances include: Critical Practices, Inc., New York, NY (2018), Sharp Window, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL (2018), GLASSBOX gallery, Seattle, WA (2016); Forum Artspace, Cleveland, OH (2016); and William Busta Gallery, Cleveland, OH (2014; 2013). In addition, she has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including exhibitions with Field Projects Gallery (NYC) at Tiger Strikes Asteroid’s Artist Run – Satellite Miami, Punch Gallery (Seattle), AIR Gallery (Brooklyn), and the Cleveland Museum of Art. She was awarded the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland Neznadny + Schwartz Visiting Curator Selection by João Ribas, Deputy Director & Senior Curator, Serralves. In 2016, she was the recipient of a King County 4Culture Tech Specific Grant. Polster received her MFA in 2018 from School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA in 2010 from the Cleveland Institute of Art.

In Real Life, curated by Tom Burtonwood

In Real Life

Aimée Beaubien, Nick Bontrager, Tom Burtonwood, Assaf Evron,

Burton Isenstein, Christopher Meerdo, Rosalie Yu

June 2nd-July 13th, 2018

Artist’s Reception:

Saturday, June 2nd

Noon-5 pm

“In Real Life” is an exhibition of work made by artists concerned with the translation of the physical into the virtual and back again. They are invested in the production of art works and experiences to produce outcomes that probe and examine our relationship to the real and how we perceive it to be. While the pursuit and accordant unraveling of artifice is nothing new the current anxiety surrounding “fake news” and the malaise around what is presented to us as real opens up fertile ground to mine new modes of representation. 

Volumetric image capture and reproduction represents an evolutionary moment for photography and other types of technical image making mediums. One that is tied inextricably to the history of the mechanical image but also points to many possible new futures in terms of interaction, and simulation. Central to this shift in types of representation is a set of technologies commonly referred to as 3D scanning. 

Quietly and without great fanfare we are seeing image, object and time based media production collapse into singular streams of productive behavior. Scenes and surfaces are being generated from technical apparatus and fabricated without intervention from the hand of the artist. It is within this context that a new form of representation is evolving, a form of volumetric photography, that exists in many different versions congruently – as image, as form, as experience, as data, as transmission, all at once.

Platform Gallery, 904 Sherman Ave, Evanston IL

Gallery Hours:

Tuesday, June 5   12-5 pm

Saturday, June 9   12-4pm

Tuesday, June 12   12-5 pm

Saturday, June 16  12-4 pm

Tuesday, June 19  12-5pm

Saturday, July 7  12-4 pm

and by appointment

In the Garden: An Interview with Aimée Beaubien BY KAYL PARKER

PELICAN BOMB | MARCH 16, 2018

As part of our “Queer Tropics” editorial series, Kayl Parker talks to artist Aimée Beaubien about her foliage-filled installations made from cut-and-collaged photographs.

EDITOR'S NOTE

Aimée Beaubien is an artist living and working in Chicago, Illinois. Beaubien is Assistant Professor of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where I studied under her in the photography department. She utilizes photography and sculpture to blur the lines between media, while challenging the characteristics artists often automatically assign to each. Beaubien creates large-scale, immersive installations made from cut photographs and other objects. These pieces are often woven together and hung to overwhelm the room as well as the viewer.

In the last year, Beaubien has shown work at Riverside Arts Center, Riverside, Illinois; Gallery UNO Projektraum, Berlin; and Platform, Evanston, Illinois. She recently released Cuttings, a limited-edition artist book in collaboration with Jennifer Keats and the Donut Shop in Chicago.

Last fall, we sat down to talk about her work.

—Kayl Parker

Kayl Parker: I’d like to begin by talking about the source imagery for your large constructions. Where does it originate, or how do you generate it? Where does that process start?

Aimée Beaubien: Primarily, I’m using my own photographs. I also have a huge archive of photographs from my great-grandmother constantly circulating in my consciousness. I’m always thinking about them, looking at them, and sometimes incorporating them into my work. But it is really 99 percent my own photographs.

The work that opened up this new way of working started when I had the opportunity to be an artist in residence at the Roger Brown Study Collection in Chicago a few years ago. I was photographing in the collection for over a year, and I was really attracted to the idea of learning about this artist through the things he chose to surround himself with in his home space, his domestic space, and his studio space. And his home on Halsted Street, have you ever been there?

KP: Yes, a few times.

AB: It’s a two-flat, sort of like what I have set up here with the studio on the first floor, living areas primarily on the second floor. Things from his domestic space infiltrate the studio space, so there’s this migration of really interesting materials traveling upstairs and downstairs. And what I love about his collecting style is that it was so democratic, low culture with high culture, works by his friends, advertisements, vernacular things. It was a really exciting experience to fantasize about who I thought he was and how his collection affected him.

I was also thinking about my great-grandmother, because she was a collector too. She survived the Depression so she was constantly recycling materials, and we were constantly collaging things together. I think she is my primary influence. In 2016, I had the opportunity to do an installation at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) in Chicago for an exhibition celebrating their collection. I started thinking about the different types of histories and personal and institutional collections.

I also had the opportunity to go to Brown’s home in Michigan. There’s a whole bunch of biographical information available to read while you’re staying there. He had 50 different types of roses on that property at one time. Even the garden was an extension of his collection. The collecting was compulsive and it happened in every aspect of his life.

I have all these photographs from my great-grandmother. She was constantly photographing her garden throughout the seasons, so I’ve always casually photographed my mom’s garden. In 2013, I just switched gears (snaps) and thought this could be my primary material. I could expand the idea of the garden as a collection.

I love the idea of going to someone’s garden and trying to get a sense of who they are through the way they tend it. My mom’s really hard to get to know, so I feel like I can know her better through the way she manages and cultivates this natural-looking space.

KP: So the garden is a personal history?

AB: Totally! It’s funny, my husband and I got married in our backyard garden in Wicker Park, and when we moved later we transplanted a whole bunch of those plants. They’re a reflection of ourselves, I think.

KP: I’ve never thought about the garden as an extension of the human that owns it, but it makes sense.

AB: The other thing I’m always paying attention to is how these life cycles are very similar to photography. I think about my great-grandmother and her impulse to capture something ephemeral, like a bloom or blossom. She wanted to hold on to it. Having cut flowers in her house isn’t enough, she has to preserve it in a photograph.

KP: It’s often hard to pinpoint a medium with your work. The final pieces sort of dance around the line of photography and sculpture. Is this ambiguity important?

AB: It’s a complication that has been persistently looming over me. Where am I in this art world? So many people assume with collage work that the artist is primarily working with appropriated material, so when I was a young artist I had to assure people that not all collage is found material. I didn’t feel so much pressure to determine what kind of artist I was outside of school, but being a professor in a photography department, I felt then like I always had to reassure people that I know how to use a camera and work in a dark room. That’s my background and training. I’m interested in pushing photography outside of these predetermined forms and seeing how flexible it is, because I think photography is very malleable.

When I was documenting my collage work, I would get super frustrated, because it would look so flat. You couldn’t really see the ways I was joining two radically different pictures together, it just seemed like a photoshop trick. So I thought, how can I photograph this so it looks more dimensional? Which led to, why don’t I just make the works themselves more dimensional? At first I just had things in a little bit of a relief off the wall, and then I just really needed to get into space. I’m not a sculptor, so I was teaching myself all these things, giving myself simple problems, or a simple question that was actually a much more complex problem, like how do I make a photograph stand up on itself? (laughs)

In the process of doing that, I was naturally pulling things from my domestic space to prop them up while I was making. I think it helped having spent so much time with the Roger Brown stuff; I began thinking these things could become an integral part of the sculpture. They make sense. So a lot of this stuff is pulled from my garden into my studio space. I let things dry, or they die. I used to be a monochromatic artist, and in my very first sculptural installation, I embraced color, and my color just went wild. I put a whole bunch of dried lemons in it, because I love the idea of these super sweet photographs with this sour presence of the dead lemon.

KP: People tend to speak very differently about photography than they speak about painting or sculpture, as if it’s a lowbrow art form, somehow less masterful—which circles back to your need to convince people that you were personally generating the photos you used. They weren’t all found; they were yours, original. In a way, we have to consistently validate photography as a fine art form.

AB: I joined a critique group that was all photographers, as a kind of test. Can I convince very conservative photographers that what I’m doing has meaning and value in the photo world?

KP: It’s a challenge. I think about all the critiques I had in the photo department at SAIC, and there are always people who are purists.

AB: And I value that. I teach that. I feel like it’s so much easier now that there are many artists working with photography in bizarre ways. It’s helped me in that I don’t feel alone.

KP: So many of your installations create spaces with loose narratives. Do you have a final form in mind before you start, or is the process more fluid than that?

AB: These are all new muscles I’m trying to build, so I’ve started out with very specific ideas in mind. What I consider my very first installation element was in a show at Johalla Projects where I built this vine-like structure climbing up a wall. I was basically imitating the way this wild rogue vine has crawled around our house, covering the side of our house from two doors down. I love seeing how plants travel through the neighborhood. I wanted to replicate the feeling of those movements and gestures.

I had also been reading J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World, which imagines this post-apocalyptic world that has been completely flooded. London is underwater and vegetation is crazy out of control, jungles growing over architecture. For an installation at Demo Project, which was in an actual house, I imagined building this platform of furniture oddly stacked up, and then a beanstalk just growing all over it. Again, that was coming primarily from the book, but also this vine.

And then the next big installation was at the MoCP. I felt the pressure to respond to what has been an anchor in igniting my imagination about the history of photography, specifically William Henry Fox Talbot’s work photographing his collections. He has one [photograph] with shelves and articles from China, so what I tried to conceptualize was creating a china cabinet or cabinet of wonders in this architectural niche [at the museum]. I cut vessel forms into all the photographs I’d taken in the Roger Brown house of his objects. I liked the idea that a photograph is a vessel. I was creating a weird china cabinet in that space. I knew that this would be the primary element, I had that all visualized before I did it.

Because I really want to stay sensitive and responsive to the actual space. I can’t control my response. I can’t create that in the studio, I can just approximate it.

KP: By creating the pseudo-landscapes or jungles in your installations, how do you hope the viewer relates to or inhabits the space of the work?

AB: Ideally, I would love people to feel like they are inside of it. Some exhibition spaces can’t accommodate that, but I’m hoping that people feel they can walk inside. I know from having studio visits that a lot of people have the impulse to touch things, which I’m totally okay with. This is all material that I handle without gloves, so as long as they’re not pulling, tugging, bending, it’s fine. I keep thinking about working with stronger material.

KP: I judge artwork on the initial visceral reaction I have to it, like a first impression. So if I feel the urge to touch it, I almost feel like it’s more successful as a piece.

AB: I love when people come in here and just sort of gasp, and say “Whoa, this is amazing.” That’s what I’m going for.

KP: The first reaction I had to these hanging pieces is to point out all the visual parts I’m drawn to, which might not be constructive. But it’s almost as if you have to experience this initial awe, because it is aggressive. That visceral reaction can force you to zoom in and question what you’re looking at.

AB: That’s what I actually love, the idea of watching people encountering the work for the first time, and they don’t know what they’re looking at. They don’t come with any preconceived ideas that they’ll be seeing photographs today. What am I looking at? What is this? I think there is enough material information available that you can figure it out.

KP: Do you want people to see your hand in the artwork? Do you hope some of that personal history is showing?

AB: That’s an interesting question. I do value that I am making all these cuts by hand. I could probably have this all laser cut, but I want to make my cuts in direct response to the photographs. I thought about having all the vinyl pieces cut with the laser cutter, but it just didn’t make much sense to me when I’m so much more adept with an X-Acto. I can really be in the moment making decisions, on the print instead of a file. All the mark-making, knowing that it’s me or my hand behind it makes it more meaningful to me. I’m not sure if it comes across to the viewer.

KP: I think it reads as organic. I think if you did everything through a computer, it would be noticeable. You can see your hand cutting out something more organically than with a digital selection tool.

AB: It’s funny. I did an installation in Houston, and a friend of mine took the installation down for me. He saw me put it up, but he said he really didn’t understand it until he took it apart. He said, “I kind of feel like I’m inside your brain.” Which I think is cool, but why did it have to wait until he was actually de-installing? I guess the way that I approach work is I firstly take it all in, but then I try to figure out how it was all made. That’s just part of my viewing process.

KP: That might be an artist thing, because we all want to know. And it’s not always incredibly important to consuming the work, but it does inform the experience.

AB: Definitely. And honestly, this is so snarky of me, but a lot of people are cutting paper now, and I can always tell when it’s laser cut. I shouldn’t be so prejudiced. (laughs)

KP: I do the same thing, I really do. I think artists all do it to a certain extent, and maybe not even consciously all the time. I do it now when I watch movies even.

AB: Oh yeah! We can’t suspend our disbelief.

KP: It’s the plight of the maker, right?

AB: I’ve been pulling these long days in the studio, and I’ve been having these really intense dreams. I always have very intense, vivid dreams when I’m stressed out, especially. I had these vines, the vines again, they’re coming across my body and weaving together. I could feel tendons and muscles weaving together, and it was crazy. I would move, and then I would think, “that wasn’t the right move,” and readjust in response to the way these things were weaving through my body.

KP: So your work is you, your work is fused literally to you.

AB: At the moment it is! I’m totally obsessed with this weaving thing, and I’m not sure where it’s going to go. That’s part of why I’m excited by it.

Twist Affix opening at the Riverside Arts Center's Freeark Gallery October 29th

twist affix

“Leaning, shooting, bedded, staked, staying. Drooping, reclining, pitched, and placed. Sloping, jutting, braced. Holding, heaped. Planted and spread. My recent collage-based installations map networks of meaning and association between the garden, the ephemeral, and the photographic. Qualities of the garden run parallel to the nature of photography: they are spaces defined by interactions of the scientific, the accidental, and the temporal." -- Aimée Beaubien

Teetering between cultivation and wildness, Aimée Beaubien's solo exhibition Twist Affix at the Riverside Arts Center's Freeark Gallery takes the form of verdant mesh curtains made of interwoven strips of color photographs, taken in her own backyard garden in Chicago and her mother's garden in Florida.  One curtain bisects the front gallery and is lit and shadowed to dazzling effect with intensely colorful hothouse grow lights.  

Beaubien says of her unique, recombinatory approach to photography and sculptural process: "my collage practice is driven by the translational space between image and material, and by generative and cumulative strategies of making. I embrace the documentary capacity of the camera, recording what I encounter. My images become printed photographs, then sculptural forms. Cutting and reassembling, I draw with scissors. Within the visual and temporal entanglements of my installations, perception slips between recognition and abstraction: from a sky, a topography, or a textile, into fields of color and pattern and back again."

Beaubien sees the garden as a type of collection, noting that gardens "are the products of migration, accumulation, curation, and caprice. Culled from the orderliness of scientific taxonomies, we assemble our gardens for aesthetic pleasures, and for contact with wildness." Beaubien's hanging gardens at RAC thus extend and expand upon her longstanding interest in idiosyncratic collections and collecting practices, from the objects held in specialty museums like the Roger Brown Study Collection--which inspired Beaubien's project "Collecting Within," shown at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in 2016 --to the quirky displays of personal artifacts found in ordinary people's homes, including her own. 

For press inquiries and high-res images contact Freeark Gallery Director Claudine Isé:  cise[at]riversideartscenter[dot]com.

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The Riverside Arts Center Freeark Gallery + Sculpture Garden
32 East Quincy Street, Riverside, IL 60546
708-442-6400
www.riversideartscenter.com

Gallery Hours: Tue - Sat 1-5pm. Closed Sundays, Mondays and major holidays.
All of our exhibitions are free and open to the public.