Having broken through the modern mosaic barrier at the Victoria and Albert Museum with a four-wheeled, two-ton protest against the death penalty, (Entering Through the Gift Shop: Carrie Reichardt’s “Tiki Love Truck” at the V&A” ), craftivist Carrie Reichardt was given the extraordinary opportunity to expand her role in the museum’s ground-breaking Disobedient Objects exhibit (July 25, 2014 – February 1, 2015) with a project that would transform the front of that venerable institution.
Asked by the V&A’s Director and Curators to create something “playful, provocative and sincere”, Reichardt designed a full-frontal installation comprising two panels and the risers of the steps leading up to the front doors of the museum.
It was a brilliant stroke by the V&A, really. Some exhibits are promoted with banners. Others with posters. With Reichardt’s mosaics, the Disobedient Objects exhibit literally spilled out of the galleries and onto the museum’s front steps. According to Curator Catherine Flood, the final visitor figures were 417,000 making Disobedient Objects the most visited exhibition at the V&A since “Britain Can Make It” in 1946.
While many of objects inside the exhibit were artifacts, The Disobedient Mosaic Intervention was artful political activism live.
The design of the two panels was a collaborative process that included the curators for Disobedient Objects, Gavin Grindon and Catherine Flood, each of whom selected a quote for one of the panels.
Reichardt’s use of digital transfers to create custom tiles for each of her mosaics is at the core of her activist aesthetic. She blends the profane and prosaic to enormous effect in these two panels. The British pound note with the visage of the Queen fills the visor of a baton-wielding riot policeman, surveillance cameras loom and England’s ubiquitous poppies bloom. At the bottom of each panel, a “groundswell” of protest from the people; at the top energy based on the conflict below radiates outward.
We love Reichardt’s idea to use the risers on the steps of the museum to display some of her favorite quotes. The format immediately calls to mind how ticker tapes and thin strips of paper attached to carrier pigeons were once used to transmit urgent news about disasters, conflicts and possibilities.
“Think for yourself – act for others” is what has driven Carrie Reichardt to take her message of art as empowerment to disenfranchised communities in Mexico, Chile, Romania and into the marginal neighborhoods of the UK. Kudos to the V&A for giving this artist and the Treatment Rooms Collective the opportunity to turn the facade of the museum into a modern day “Speakers Corner” as part of their Disobedient Objects exhibit.
Mosaic Intervention at the V&A (2014) Made by the Treatment Rooms Collective: Luke Allen, Gary Drostle, Mark Drostle, Eoghan Ebrill, Linda Griffiths, Gabrielle Harvey-Smith, Liam Heyhow, Peter Henham, Kevin O’Donohue, Carrie Reichardt, Thayen Rich, Sian Wonnish Smith, Cerdic Thomas, Liam Thomas, Karen Wydler, Mark Wydler.
Video of Reichard’s presentation on the Intervention at The British Association for Modern Mosaic’s 2015 Forum
- Previous stories about Carrie Reichardt on MAN
- Carrie Reichardt
- Disobedient Objects Exhibit (which will be traveling to Australia later this year)
Video walk-through of the Disobedient Objects Exhibit with Curator Gavin Grindon
- February 2016 interview by Rosie Osborne on Free Spirit Homes here
Entering Through The Gift Shop: Carrie Reichardt’s “Tiki Love Truck” in the V&A’s “Disobedient Objects”
In October of 2012, we were part of a lively debate at the British Association for Modern Mosaic’s annual symposium about what it would take to get contemporary mosaic art into the hallowed halls of the Art Establishment – meaning institutions very much like the venue for that meeting – the venerable Victoria and Albert Museum.
Almost two years later, “renegade potter” and craftivist Carrie Reichardt’s two-ton mosaic protest against the death penalty, The Tiki Love Truck, literally went right through the front door AND the gift shop and then over the opus criminale mosaic floors of the V&A to become a highlight of the museum’s groundbreaking exhibit Disobedient Objects (July 20, 2014-February 1, 2015).
Disobedient Objects is “the first exhibition to explore objects of art and design from around the world that have been created by grassroots social movements as tools of social change.” Curated by Catherine Flood and Gavin Grindon, the collection of 99 objects includes Suffragette teapots, hand-sewn Chilean wall hangings commemorating missing loved ones, and life-size puppets by the radical Vermont Bread and Puppets Theater.
In 2007, Reichardt was commissioned by Walk the Plank to create mosaic The Tiki Love Truck for an art car parade in Manchester. The work’s purpose changed radically when Reichardt received word that John Joe ‘Ash’ Amador, an inmate in a Texas prison Reichardt with whom Reichardt had been corresponding with for years, was scheduled to be executed. Amador asked Reichardt to witness the event and Reichardt subsequently travelled to Texas from London bringing with her sculptor Nick Reynolds. With the approval and assistance of the family, Reynolds made a death mask of Amador.
Upon returning to the UK, Reichardt dedicated the Love Truck to Amador, giving the mask pride of place on the front of the work. The artist continues to advocate strongly against the death penalty and solitary confinement of prisoners in the US.
Between October 31 and November 2nd, Reichardt turned the Tiki Love Truck into a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Shrine dedicated to the memory of her mother, Jill Richards, Luis Ramirez, Herman Wallace, John “Ash” Amador, and Khristian Oliver. With the disappearance of the 43 students in September in Iguala, Mexico, the shrine was given a second, more urgent focus.
As we write this article, it is Martin Luther King Day here in the US, and we are reminded of this quote:
The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.
Disobedient Objects has proven to be a great success for the V&A – blasting away at its image of being “England’s Attic” by showcasing works of great heart, creativity and ingenuity that are potent demands for change and, in the process, garnering strong critical acclaim for the effort (below). It is not surprising that Disobedient Objects is already slated for at least one additional international showing at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum October 30 2015 through February 14, 2016.
And Reichardt? Well, after getting through the front door of the V&A, she was asked by the curators to mosaic it. We’ll be back later this week with Reichardt’s award-winning Intervention.
UPDATE: According to Curator Catherine Flood, the final visitor figures for Disobedient Objects was 417,000 making it the most visited exhibition at the V&A since “Britain Can Make It” in 1946.
- Disobedient Objects at the V&A Exhibit — Ends February 1, 2015
- Carrie Reichardt
- Reichardt previously on MAN
- Review of Disobedient Objects from The Guardian
- Great walk-through of exhibit with Curator Gavin Grindon
- February 2016 interview by Rosie Osborne on Free Spirit Home here
We want them all. The Leopard. The Hippo. The Bear. The Llama . . . We want the whole zoological catalogue in stone by Melissa Moliterno and Andrea Poma of Aneme Mosaico.
Animals have always been the subject of mosaics.
But, Aneme Mosaico’s enchanting images were something completely new to us. Their fresh, unique approach to the subject matter immediately brought to mind the exquisite watercolor illustrations of the 1700s and 1800s.
And indeed, according to the duo . . .
“Our works are based on the careful study of the materials and colors, on the the ability to synthesize ancient mosaic techniques with the zoological catalogues of the 19th century.”
Moliterno (Cosenza, Italy 1988) and Poma (Parese, Italy, 1989) met while studying at the Ravenna Fine Arts Academy in Italy. They have both shown extensively, with Poma taking the prestigious Experimental Prize at GAEM 2013 for his innovative work Impressioni. We found this work to be a highlight of RavennaMosaico 2013. (Previous story on MAN here.)
Their collaboration in creating these glorious critters began in 2013. In 2014, they presented this body of work as Animalario in an exhibition in Ravenna. (You will want to click twice to see the large versions of these photos.)
“Pictures and stones, cement and blank papers are mixed, becoming a single entity. Our materials are chosen according to the shape, to their veining and to their composition. They are no longer regular tesserae, but anatomical ones; stones that become cheeks, paws, and ears.”
Yes, and just when you thought these works couldn’t get any more delightful, there is the panda.
Aneme Mosaico is offering these beautiful mosaics for 250Euro. We are not sure how many are left after the holidays and there are other, smaller works of birds that are equally spectacular. Please contact the artists at email@example.com with your questions. (We should probably make it clear that MAN has no financial arrangement with Aneme Mosaico at all.)
Enjoy – Nancie
Chartres les 3Rs, the organization which produces the biennial Les Recontres des Internationales de Mosaïque de Chartres (International Mosaic Encounters in Chartres), has announced the winners of the 2014 Prix Picassiette Prizes. With its self-selecting categories of Professional, Amateur Initiés (Advanced), Amateur and Youth & Groups, the event is a marvelous mash-up that places accomplished masters next to enthusiastic newcomers in the sublimely beautiful Chapelle du Lycée Fulbert.
This year, the Prix was supplemented by two satellite exhibits: Selected works by members of the British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM) and a tribute to the incomparable Ines Morigi Berti of Ravenna at Chapelle Saint-Éman which runs through January 18. Sadly, Morigi Berti, who was a revered teacher and famed mosaicist, passed away at the age of 100 on October 26th.
The Association is an extraordinarily unique organization whose 3Rs stand for Rénovar,Restaurer,Réhabiliter (Renovate, Restore, Rehabilitate). Founder Patrick Macquaire and the 3R staff are dedicated to carrying on the mosaic tradition of “The Father” of picassiette, Raymond Isidore (1900-1964) and creating an economic revival for the Chartres area. Earlier this month, Macquire spoke at BAMM’s annual Forum about the exhibition and his organization – you can see a video of his presentation here.
We thank Marquaire for providing us with the professional images of the winners seen here and send a special shout-out to the talented Stefan Wolters for his “atmospheric” photographic contributions.
- 1st Prize: Karen Ami (USA) Dialogues (above)
- 2nd Prize: Ariane Blanquet (France) Moon
- 3rd Prize: Delphine Legal Quemener (France) Pierre and Patience
- Special Mention: Dugald MacInnes (UK) Fragile Earth
Amateurs Initiés (Advanced)
- 1st Prize: Elisabeth Foucher (France) Le Poinçonneur de Lilas
- 2nd Prize: Annie Dunlop (France) Contraste
- 3rd Prize: Angela Sanders (UK) Ice
- Special Mention: Monique Duteil (France) Ko
- Special Mention: Marie-Odile Laurent (France) La Poule Aux Ouefs D’Or Musifs
- 1st Prize: Dina Angistriotu (Belgium) Mur Non Entravant
- 2nd Prize: Joelle Laudy (France) Le Migrateur
- 3rd Prize: Rosa Coupe (France) Clin d’Oeil a La Belle Dame Ancestrale Dominant La Beauce
- Special Mention: Marianne Fiette (France) Zebres Urbains
- 1st Prize: Christine Dalibert (France) “Vague”
- 2nd Prize: Gary Drostle (UK) “Shrapnel 1914 – War Is A Gun With A Worker At Each End”
- 3rd Prize: François Thibault (France) “Autoportrait D’Apres Van Gogh”
- Special Mention: Nathalie Vin (UK) “Multiverse”
Youth and Groups
- 1st Prize: Centre d’Accueil De Jour D’Yzeure Envol La Femme A La Fleur, Hommage A Pablo Picasso
- 2nd Prize: Le colectif “Projet Theodora” D’Albi-Mosaïque Projet Theodora“
- 3rd Prize (tie): A.I.P.E.I. Empro Edelweiss Empreinte
- 3rd Prize (tie): Espace de Proximite Cite Marcel Cochin RomainVille L’Asteromainville
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Association 3R and the 18th anniversary of Les Recontres des Internationales de Mosaïque de Chartres, the jurors gave prizes to two ground-breaking mosaic artists, Giovanna Galli and Gerard Brand, for their noteworthy bodies of work and personal contributions to the development of mosaic.
PREVIOUSLY ON MAN
- Following the Light: Prix Picassiette 2012 by Rosetta Berardi
- Prix Picassiette 2012 Winners Announced
- Judgement at Chartres: North American Mosaicists Win at Prix Picassiette 2010
- More Mosaics from Prix Picassiette 2010
BAMM’s Mosaic of the Year 2014: Tessa Hunkin & the Hackney Mosaic Project Change A Community With Art
The Romans would have approved.
The British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM) recently announced that Tessa Hunkin and The Hackney Mosaic Project have received the Mosaic of the Year Award for a stunning body of work that encompasses two public installations in London; Shepherdess Walk and Hoxton Varieties.
(For full view of images, please click to enlarge)
The Jury, which consisted of Dr. Will Wooten, Lecturer in Roman Art at Kings College, Norma Vondee, President of BAMM, and your editor, was in total unison in the decision to shine a a spotlight on a series of works that are not only visually brilliant – they have changed lives.
Dr. Wooten: A Tour de force in the continued refinement of a modern visual vocabulary for figurative mosaic art.
Norma Vondee: Evergreen mosaic master at her height; relentless clarification, determination, curiosity, finish and humanity.
Nancie Mills Pipgras: Brilliant modernization of an ancient aesthetic. Clear, concise, joy-filled imagery made by volunteers. Art that has changed a neighborhood.
Hunkin, an accomplished mosaic maker and author, acted as the designer of the projects, a role the Romans called the pictor imaginarius. Her love and appreciation for the critical design components of ancient mosaics has created a lively, modern aesthetic that delights and resonates. Hunkin’s Hoxton pups are the obvious direct descendants of the hounds of the 1st Century AD.
Equally impressive to the jurors was the fact that these mosaics were all made by volunteers. The Hackney Mosaic Project is comprised of local community members and clients of Lifeline, an organization devoted to helping people recover from drug and alcohol addiction. These are mosaics made by the people for the people – and they are of astonishing quality.
Signatures of the makers are always included prominently in the design of the mosaics.
Just this week, Hunkin and The Hackney Mosaic Project unveiled their most recent accomplishment – The Hackney Downs Park Pavilion. British comedian Russell Brand positively nails the spirit of the project in this impromptu dedication.
The open-air theater is a mosaic menagerie with charming bugs and beasties of all shapes and sizes.
Another joyous, welcoming environment by Tessa Hunkin and The Hackney Mosaic Project has been added to the London landscape – thanks in great part to the Hackney Council which has funded and promoted the projects. What lackluster space will these mighty mosaic collaborators transform next?
- The Hackney Mosaic Project website
- Tessa Hunkin website
- Excellent article on Shepherdess Walk by Lillian Sizemore here
- Loving local perspective by The Gentle Author on Spitalfieldslife.com
- British Association for Modern Mosaic
- Shepherdess Walk Shepherdess Walk, London N1 7JN (Northeast Corner)
- Hoxton Varieties – Sainsbury’s Local Store, 245 Old Street EC1V 9EY (Corner of Pitfield St)
- Hackney Downs Park
Even as Ravenna Italy is the eternal steward of mosaic’s Byzantine past, it is also the incubator for the art form’s dynamic future.
This is no more evident than in the Young Artists and Mosaic (GAEM) competition, a biennial contest hosted by the Art Museum of the City of Ravenna (MAR) in conjunction with the international mosaic festival, RavennaMosaico. Invited artists under the age of 40 are asked to create works that “should deal with the constitutive, formal & poetic language of mosaic.” (MAN article on 2011 GAEM here.)
This is where the very nature of mosaic is poked, prodded, and, if successful, expanded. In 2013, this included the use of nails and felt, an audience-participatory build-your-own-ceramic hamburger and a luscious video of a man and woman painting tesserae on one another – imagine those Byzantine icons coming alive. Even in the crowded traffic-jam of Notte d’Oro last October, we were mesmerized by many of the works and quite honestly flumoxed by others.
Takako Hirai (Japan) won the Traditional Technique Award for her absolutely stunning Vene which appeared to be the construction, destruction, and reassembly of an organic shape that seemed ready to depart from the wall at any second.
Andrea Poma (Italy) took the Experimental Prize for his brilliant Impressioni – a work which turned the mosaic component of “interstice” on its ear. Poma used an etched piece of glass to project the shadow of spaces between tesserae onto a wall – as opposed to those shadowy spaces being created by the indentations in a wall covered in mosaic.
These are not your nonna’s mosaics – to be sure. They are surprisingly cerebral, engaging and beautiful. But . . . are these musings on an ancient, time-consuming, historically pedantic art form relevant today? Or, as Exhibit Curator Linda Kniffitz puts it:
“Does mosaic still possess an autonomous, expressive power outside of the confines of Ravenna’s strong identity as a custodian of this ancient and highly symbolic art?”
What follows are the thoughtful and illuminating Exhibition catalogue essays by Curator Kniffitz, who is also the Director of the Center for International Documentation of Mosaic at MAR, and her co-curator for the 2013 GAEM, Daniele Torcellini, art critic and professor at the Academy of Fine Art Ravenna and Genoa. They offer knowledgeable, passionate responses to the questions above and in the process touch on art history, criticism, current art world trends, and the nature of art vs craft — all within the context of the glorious possibilities that mosaic has to offer. This is heady stuff for mosaic makers and nerds alike. Take your time and enjoy! – Nancie
Finding an Identity for Mosaic – Linda Kniffitz
When we initiated the GAEM competition in 2011, our intent was to stimulate a discourse on contemporary art in relation to mosaic and in doing so, to create a moment of comparison between makers from different schools and countries. In 2013, we received another set of very positive contributions in terms of both the richness of the visions proposed and the international provenance of the young artists.
But why indeed should we dedicate a competition to a technique that appears to be so complex and slow compared to the current trends in the visual arts that no longer envisages linearity and narration, but instead reward circularity, contamination and the use of different means of expression?
Does mosaic still possess an autonomous expressive power outside of the confines of Ravenna’s strong identity as a custodian of this ancient and highly symbolic art?
In its beginnings, mosaic was associated with the strong political purposes and economic investments (carefully chosen imagery, precious materials, highly specialized artisans, ) that forged it into a supremely stately instrument. In the last decades of the 19th century, it was rediscovered for its inherently symbolic character in an anti-Impressionist and anti-Naturalist function. The young art critic George Aurier, in championing the acceptance of Symbolism, spurred the revival of medieval visual art forms like mosaic and mural decoration.
In the 30s, the Futurist painter Gino Severini (whose name is now synonymous with modern mosaic) extolled the virtues of mosaic not for its value as a surface covering, but for its extraordinary capacity to express a synthesis – to condense an entire meaning into a single stylized, highly representative sign.
The Exposition of Contemporary Mosaics of 1959 in Ravenna organized by mosaic author and historian Giuseppi Bovini signaled the beginning of a multi-decade long discussion of mosaic and its place as an art form. In the 1990s, mosaic’s “right to be” within the contemporary artistic landscape was championed by Italian art critic, painter and philosopher Gillo Dorfles who initially defined it as a “super modern medium of expression.” In the end, however, he unfortunately came to look at mosaic solely within the context of artistic “design-object”, a phrase which smacks of refined craft.
In the twenty-first century, the time has come to circumvent all of these deliberations and endow mosaic with an identity – a term out of fashion, perhaps, but still useful. Mosaic needs an identity that must be directed and defined – squeezed for all its worth in order to extract its meaning and possible new directions. Mosaic possesses visual characteristics which capture attention because they are not accessible with a single glance; in order to really appreciate a mosaic, it is necessary to not only explore the perceived image created in the medium, but the relational properties of the individual pieces that compose the image.
In looking for an identity for mosaic, it is also necessary to clear the field of the production of many famous contemporary artists who may utilize certain elements of mosaic like fragmentation and the recomposition of elements in the construction of an image, but have not consciously chosen to create a mosaic. English art philosopher and author David Davies states that it is not possible to appreciate art in a purely perceptive way disassociated from any contextual knowledge. This is especially important if the implementation is mosaic. An artist is obviously free to express an inspiration in whatever technique he wishes thus affirming his autonomy. But, if he decides to use a technique like mosaic, he chooses an approach that has some specific characteristics that drive the work such as the synthesis and simplification of the sign, the fragmentation and recomposition of constituent elements.
All of these characteristics of mosaic can be expressed in many forms; can depart from the use of inert materials, can embrace installations and even video art. A shadow projected onto a wall from a sheet of etched glass offers the shapes of shimmering tiles. Drops of silicone, each laden with its own microstory, executes a larger narrative in the course of the tesserae. The installation of lights in a dark room provokes the same awe that grasped ancient visitors to the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia.
From a different perspective, the unconventional use of mosaic tiles to create a table of fast food that transforms the surface-observer into a product developing-maker.
These are all examples of a centuries-long journey begun with enamels, mortars and scaffolding; mosaic reinventing itself in shapes and instruments always new; it would be ill-advised to attempt an inventory.
Critical Issues – Daniele Torcellini
How could I handle a critical text on mosaic works in Ravenna in 2013? The subject of the discourse is inherently difficult.
The mosaic. Poised between ancient glories, romanticism and modernisms that reopened a road, a contemporaneity discontinuous but conceptually expanding. Even the place is not immune to difficulties. Ravenna. The privileged location; sensitive, yes, a natural observatory. But, it obscures a hazard; a codification of mosaic that does not represent all the possibilities of the mosaic. And then, broadening the field of vision, a centre emerges clearly unresolved. the mosaic, or rather, the works that are done in mosaic by those who make mosaics, or even some of an extreme derivation, choices, are almost lacking a critical approach in a systematic, recognized code.
Except for a few, and even good, isolated voices, the absence is felt of a trend in which my text will be received, making it primed for the likeminded or hardened against ideas not shared. There is no lack of theory – Filiberto Menna in The Criticism of Criticism, 1980, would be a good starting point – but of critical practice. A debate that allows collecting ideas, proposals, suggestions – that takes stock of the situation, that contextualizes, that defines the playing field, that interprets and evaluates and asks itself about its role.
To break the ice, I would like to emphasize how in this contemporary world – wherein technical boundaries are now weak, where things overrun into each other without discrimination, the admixtures kept under watch by the critics and the markets – the choice to oxidize one’s expressive aspirations around an idea – fixed, self-limiting, of dubious association as it is considered – and often wrongly – that the mosaic appears both brave (a dip back into the tank of liquid contemporaneity as a springboard for something that is not old-school and not even vintage), and not very significant in terms of the results achieved (“today you can say anything any way” is the opinion of some). But, it is a choice, that of the mosaic, which in the end appears beyond the distinctions between the liberal arts and mechanical arts – artistic techniques and decorative techniques – with all the related hierarchies of values. A visual, aesthetic and expressive and perhaps even scientific search for meaning, can be made with mosaic as with any other medium or combination of media.
One the role of the medium, even in its relation mostly to physics – of the environment in which a phenomenon plays out – my reflection would find a stopping point. The medium determines the result; it circumscribes the possibilities, insinuates itself under the skin of the message (it is the message, as Marshall McLuhan suggested, adding that the content of a medium is another medium).
And mosaic as a medium – an artistic medium – has specific characteristics that define it clearly, that trace a story and articulate a closeness, that, after all, allows moving well, more or less easily, inside them, generating waste, deviance, obsessions that are the key to reading a present and active vision. So – Hamlet’s question is raised – is it necessary that the text take a turn to a “critique of the mosaic” tout court? No. I would say not. I would try to avoid a “critique of the mosaic”. I would prefer to remain in the area of a critique of visual art, however, that knows how to direct its attention to what is created in mosaic, recovering in the same medium the parameters which are the basis of discourse.
But, this way I find myself in a flash adopting an approach of medium specificity, of an old-fashioned modernist? In debt to the views of Clement Greenberg? An approach pre-postmedial? That’s not done. I could also frame the multiple experiences that today revolve around the mosaic in the conceptual category far more fresh in coinage of metamodernism – recklessly running the risk that it appears little more than a banner with a dusting of novelty – insubstantial. So, the two theorists of the metamodernism movement, Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker, lucidly surmise the present on the pages of metamodernism.com: “The metamodern structure of feeling evokes an oscillation between a modern desire for sense and a postmodern doubt about the sense of it all, between a modern sincerity and a postmodern irony […] between control and commons and craftsmanship and conceptualism and pragmatism and utopianism. Indeed, metamodernism is an oscillation.”