Barbara Astman, untitled (telephone and coffee mug), 1981Colour print.
Whether household wares or store-bought novelty items such as key-chains, mugs, and ashtrays, much of Barbara Astman’s work involves the use of objects, which she imbues with memories and histories in an attempt to “dematerialize” her materials and make personal the impersonal. In installations such as Clementine Suite (2006) and Enter Through the Giftshop (2011), or series such as “Newspapers” (2006) and “The Red Series” (1981), she explores the role that mundane objects play in forming our personal and collective histories while commenting on our consumer culture. Astman was one of the first artists to use the Polaroid in her art, treating the medium more like a three-dimensional, malleable material than a flat, two-dimensional surface. She often photographs self-portraits that have been carefully choreographed, so that her image becomes abstracted, a symbol of a constructed memory. Then, in a process of scratching into, enlarging, xerox-ing or printing over, she manipulates the photograph, emphasizing its quality as an object even further
Steeped in African-American history, Carrie Mae Weems’s works explore issues of race, class, and gender identity. Primarily working in photography and video, but also exploring everything from verse to performance, Weems has said that regardless of medium, activism is a central concern of her practice—specifically, looking at history as a way of better understanding the present. “Photography can be used as a powerful weapon toward instituting political and cultural change,” she has said. “I for one will continue to work toward this end.” She rose to prominence with her “Kitchen Table Series” in the early 1990s, whose photographs depict the artist seated at her kitchen table and examine various tropes and stereotypes of of African-American life. Most recently, her achievements were recognized with a “genius grant” from the MacArthur Foundation.
Donata Wenders , Studie II, 2017, Photogravure
Donata Wenders , Studie X, 2017, Photogravure
Francisco Toledo ,Femme au crabe (Fond blanc)Print
Francisco Toledo has dedicated his multi-disciplinary practice to the preservation and promotion of the arts and crafts of his native state, Oaxaca; Toledo has produced paintings, lithography, engravings, sculpture, ceramics, and designs for tapestries made in collaboration with artisans in Teotitlan del Valle. Toledo was greatly influenced by European artistic traditions—particularly by Jean Dubuffet, Joan Miró, Paul Klee, and Francisco Goya—as well as folk art. His hybrid style is characterized by its exaggerated and fantastical forms, with an emphasis on geometry and texture. He has depicted subjects both observed from nature and borrowed from dreams. Toledo’s mentor, Rufino Tamayo, credited him with the innovation of a new school of expression.