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Lecture: Nicholas Muellner


[Note: Unfortunately, I was unable to attend Nicholas Mueliner’s recent lecture at Cornell University due to an information session held at the same time. In place of my usual lecture write-up, I will instead discuss the artist and his works based on my conducted research.]

Nicholas Muellner, a world-renown photographer and Associate Professor at Ithaca College, recently presented the body and theories of his latest works at Cornell University during a lecture entitled “Welcome to Club Scenario.”

A writer and artist, Muellner is known for his incredible writings that pair well with his visual books and photographic ventures. One of the sharpest examples of his incredible process is “Re-enactment (winter’s campaign)” (2003). Frigid, abstract winter scenes are photographed and paired with Muellner’s own internal feelings of loneliness and coldness.

Re-enactment (winter’s campaign)

As he states: “I  have recently spent a good deal of time in a somewhat distant and undeniably colder place.  This episode has corresponded with a pervasive feeling of ignorance – in my own life.”

What makes Muellner’s works particularly pleasing both aesthetically and in terms of being worthy of discussion is their transformative quality. Both his writings and his photographs do not merely portray a single subject which can be consumed and understood with a first reading. Instead, the full, collective body of his works – writings and photographs – must be taken into full consideration. The result is a truly dynamic experience that highlights vulnerabilities in the world, our human condition, and the works themselves.

I certainly wish I had had the opportunity to hear Muellner speak this past week as he works in mediums  I enjoy and with concepts I can relate well to without much effort.

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[Lecture] James Casebere: Scales and Dimensions

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 11.17.56 AMThere is nothing worse than finding out that the artist whose work you are in complete awe of is also an extremely sincere and intelligent individual. Some people just have all the luck! As I waited and prayed to find something – anything! – wrong with James Casebere, as I listened to his lecture the realization slowly crept over me: there is no fault.

I love Casebere’s work. I will talk for hours and hours about his work to anyone who will listen – and I’ve learned quickly that few will after the fourth hour. The craziest part? I never even heard of his name before his exhibition at Cornell University.

“Scales and Dimensions” presents an incredibly satiating look into the mind of the brilliant artist. He forms intricately gorgeous miniature models in environments which showcase an equal amount of attention to the atmospheric light and surroundings. The final touch is his impeccable photography. The result is simply magic.

The surreal works Casebere produces are surreal – from his hallways scenes to those of suburbia, each image is more detailed and composed than the last.  The whimsical nature of his works are of key importance to their success and seeing the models on display only help one’s appreciation for how much work must go into each and every image.

I greatly enjoyed the lecture presented by James Casebere and continue to be amazed with how tactful and genuine such a talented artist is in person.

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David Snyder

The five-gallon bucket. A metaphor for “from” in relation to words, concepts, and images – Snyder explores the way in which such a container can carry the content, if not burden, of a message.

Snyder is a not-so-surprisingly verbose speaker who engages the audience powerfully with the content of his own message: that art is the result of value. Without value in the message, how else can art be defined?  Snyder seeks to answer this by “emptying the bucket” and create oppositions of content and derived meaning.

His work, Night Conversations with None Other (2011), depicted above, perfectly embodies this notion of destabilizing content and value assumptions. The visual disarray of edits from a cabin on fire to the lot which contains the cabin, overlaid by a narrative not unlike a life coach’s cassette tape plays into the ambiguity of messages and values within the offsetting work.

Going through his thirty videos on his Vimeo account, one starts to understand a fuller picture of the man behind the works. Snyder does not seek to entertain or even provide comfort to the viewer. He instead looks to catch the viewer off guard. What ever expectations you might hold as the viewer, quickly they unravel and unravel until you are left with disarray – attempting to extract meaning from the work. What goes unspoken, however, is that this meaning one searches for is not necessarily in the work, but of  the work. One must ask why Snyder performs as he does – once this question is validated and answered, some truth may be understood.

Admittedly, for this viewer, I have yet to fully answer the question and understand fully the genius that is David Snyder.


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Alejandro Cesarco

Alejandro Cesarco genuinely impressed me by the end of his short, but well-versed lecture on his works and experiences as an artist. A native of Uruguay, Cesarco’s works are playful but laced with a dangerous imposition to the user: self-reflection. While exploring additional examples of his works, I couldn’t help but find myself at first smirking at his statement-based pieces such as When I’m Happy (2006) and Picture #8 (2007) – but then immediately feeling a feeling of emptiness. It is as if the piece leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth – purposely though so as to create tension between the viewer and the work.


“Picture #8” (2007)

Other works of Cesarco, such as his Baloise Art Prize-winning The Streets Were Dark With Something More Than Night Or The Closer I Get To The End The More I Rewrite The Beginning (2011) explore a unique narrative of a detective-like story. Playing out in a noir fashion, the installation is astounding for its ability to place the viewer in the role of an investigator propelled along his creation of a storyline thorugh simple prints and projections.

Cesarco deserves the attention and acclaim he has thus far received – I can only hope that he continues on this path of success without forgetting his roots that make him and his work impossible not to love.

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