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September 6, 2014

Jack Pierson: Tomorrow’s Man

A Scrapbook Study of Masculinity from the American Artist

“Kids these days don’t get things that are harder to come by than a Google search. People had to maraud around to find magazines like this in the 1950s and 60s, in their smalltown drugstores or porno shops,” says Jack Pierson of the appeal of mid-century, physique-focused magazines such as Tomorrow’s Man. Reappropriating the publication’s title as well as its retro bodybuilding aesthetic for his book project of the same name, Pierson takes viewers on a dizzying visual journey of homoerotica. For the second edition, previewed here, Pierson referenced his own vast archives and championed the work of gay artists as well as his own students: highlights include sci-fi-imbued illustrations courtesy of 1970s Playboy contributor Mel Odom and surreal assemblages from the New York-based artist Tibi Tibi Neuspiel. The resulting visual remixes rebel against the photobook format, leaving work straddling page breaks and genre definitions. “I’m hoping to do a dozen of these each term, and part of the idea is to keep some people consistent throughout the whole thing, so that it gives a feeling of addition and subtraction,” he says. “Hopefully something radical will happen along the way.”

Tomorrow’s Man 2 is published by Bywater Bros Editions September 30. The book will be launched at the Whitechapel Gallery during London Art Book Fair, from 26 through 28 September.

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Spotlight

Jenny Holzer: Light Stream

Documenting the Neo-Conceptualist's Largest Kinetic Work in Hong Kong

New York artist Jenny Holzer’s LED slogans rise and fall to a John Cage soundtrack in today’s short from director Ringo Tang. Using an aesthetic that mixes Bladerunner’s visions of the postmodern megalopolis with The Matrix’s cascading waterfalls of code, Tang has constructed a video montage of Holzer’s latest polychromatic show Light Stream at Pearl Lam Galleries in Hong Kong. “I want to share the way I feel about her work with more people,” says the filmmaker, “and make them think more deeply about the value of the world.” Holzer first rose to prominence in 1982 when she showed her text works on the massive Spectacolor screen at Times Square, becoming part of a highly influential generation of female artists including Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman and Louise Lawler. “Light Stream” is her largest ever LED installation, comprising of three of her own classic texts—Truisms, Survival and Living—which appear in both English and Chinese and dance around her spiraling minimalist sculptures in eight-hour cycles of mechanical writing. “I became addicted to electronics,” says Holzer of her attraction to working with LED. “I just like looking at them, and making them do tricks.”

Why do you like to use such a variety of materials?
Jenny Holzer:
I like to provide different opportunities for people to read. When someone traces text cut in stone with their hand, that’s a very different experience to when one sees something in light flashing by. I might choose stone if it’s a text that’s meant to be immemorial, but if it’s a series of poetry I might want to use projected light. When a poem in light caresses a building, or floats across a river and glides over trees, it can be just right.

How do advances in technology change the way you work?
JH:
First I started with street posters because they were available to me and seemed to make sense for the sentences I was writing. After I did that anonymously for a number of years I had, really almost by accident, a chance to put something up on the big sign at One Times Square. So I had to think about what the change meant when I went from an underground medium, the poster, to an official one, the LED that’s typically used for advertising or the news.

What inspired “Light Stream”?
JH:
I wanted a piece to occupy space. My first electronic signs were very simple ones that would hang flat on the wall and I could program them on my kitchen table. I wanted to make this one more sculptural, to have a physical presence, probably because I was looking back to minimalism and my admiration for Donald Judd. I arranged my sculptures in arrays; some look like the human body, like ribs for example, other times it’s more about geometry. My next installation is the first that will wrap all the way around, so the text can break loose and go crazy. But I haven’t shown it yet; it’s still in the laboratory!

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Spotlight

Thomas Struth: Imagineering

The German Art Photographer Ventures Into Sites of Scientific and Creative Endeavor

Strangely unpeopled pictures of Disneyland, California, nestle up against images of a research and medical facility in Berlin and the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in this series from Thomas Struth. The photographer turned his penetrating eye to these places of human invention to try and probe a question that has been on his mind for the past few years: “Why do large groups of people agree more easily on finding scientific, creative or technological solutions than in the political or social fields?” Struth is internationally acclaimed for his images—from street scenes to architectural photographs, family portraits to troops of tourists captured gazing at the masterpieces in the Museo del Prado—and has had major exhibitions of his work displayed at MoMA, MOCA and London’s Whitechapel gallery. “The absence of people is to highlight that it was created by the human imagination. I wanted to photograph the evidence of what people had once only imagined in their heads, which then materialized in one way or another,” he says of shooting today's beguiling group of pictures. “They are waiting for people to enter the frame.” 

Thomas Struth runs at the Marian Goodman Gallery January 10—February 22

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