Aesthetica rounds up the latest interviews and films from across the art world. From exclusive studio visits to must-see online Q&As, these short films offer insights and inspiration. Learn more about contemporary artists working in sculpture, photography, installation and the moving-image.
“My images are not images of reality but show a kind of second reality, the image of the image.” David Zwirner’s online show features a studio visit with Thomas Ruff (b. 1958). Since the early 2000s, the artist’s photographs have drawn on material from external sources, such as images taken by a probe over Mars and interplanetary shots from NASA. His most recent series, tableaux chinois, examines the use of photographs in political propaganda. Ruff is recognised for a use of colour, scale and digital manipulation.
According to the Library of Congress, around 70% of all feature-length films made in the US between 1912 and 1929 no longer exist. In the current exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, filmmaker Garrett Bradley reimagines Black figures from the early decades of the 20th century whose lives have been lost to history. Bradley interweaves her own moving-image with archival clips, including the oldest surviving feature-length film with an all-Black cast. In this Q&A, the artist speaks to Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem.
“In scientific research, you accept the idea of failure. The idea is to have a result. In art too.” Belgian artist Ann Veronica Janssens (b. 1956) creates projections and immersive environments which play with the senses. The above piece, Blue, Red and Yellow (2001), is filled with artificial fog and coloured light. In this video from Louisiana Channel, she demonstrates the principles and processes behind her work to two professors in physics. Discover the intersecting worlds of art and science.
“An artist is not special. An artist is an ordinary person who can take ordinary things and make them special.” Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) is best known for her looped-wire sculptures. The Whitney takes a deep dive into one particular work from 1955, exploring how it was made. Educator Lauren Ridloff discusses how the artist challenged the use of traditional materials – redefining the boundaries between art and craft. The video includes American Sign Language and subtitles.
Deana Lawson (b. 1979) won the Hugo Boss Prize in 2020. In this short film, she discusses her creative process and how photography can uncover more than the eye can see. Lawson’s large-format photographs create powerful tableaux of Black life. Whilst appearing to be images of actual families, friends and lovers, her large-format works are in fact highly staged and grounded in rich material environments. “I think about that sort of miracle of light,” says Lawson. “I think about the idea that we are all light having a human experience. When I make a picture, it is about being in communion or trying to access an unseen truth.”
1. Installation by Ann Veronica Janssens. Photograph: Thomas SG Farnetti/Wellcome Images
2. Thomas Ruff, from the series “tableau chinois”, 2019, C-Print, 240 x 185 cm, © Thomas Ruff/VG Bild Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner
3. Installation view of the exhibition Projects: Garrett Bradley. Photograph by Robert Gerhardt.
4. Ann Veronica Janssens, Blue, Red and Yellow, 2001 – ongoing. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, 2020 Photo © Kim Hansen
5. Ruth Asawa, Untitled (S.270, Hanging Six-Lobed, Complex Interlocking Continuous Form within a Form with Two Interior Spheres), 1955, refabricated 1957–1958. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; gift of Howard Lipman 63.38. © Estate of Ruth Asawa
6. Deana Lawson, Oath, 2013; from Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph