Paul Sietsema explores what it means to make art today—amid the barrage of images; the telescoping of past, present, and future that instant access to information seems to provide; and the ease with which digital means can present alternate realities. As the artist explains, “capturing an image is a less significant event than it used to be,” and Sietsema’s efforts are focused on returning significance to the activity of image-making.
Sietsema begins with traditional media—photographs and other items, including cast-off paintings from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—that refer to specific bodies of knowledge (such as art history), realistically rendering them in meticulously worked drawings and sculptures. He then films these various sculptures, a process that can span two to five years, arranging and comparing the original images and objects with the ideas, information, and knowledge associated with them to explore how imagery and material affect our understanding of culture and history. Sietsema’s complex working method reflects his belief that the purpose of an artwork is not to transmit but to mediate information or meaning in a way that matches its cultural and temporal context. This flattening out of history makes the subjects of his work accessible to the viewer in unexpected ways, suggesting new stories and connections over time.
This exhibition is the most comprehensive to date for the artist, who lives and works in Los Angeles. It brings together three films—Figure 3 (2008), Anticultural Positions (2009), and the recently completed At the hour of tea (2013)—along with drawings, paintings, and other works on paper.
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
220 E Chicago Ave
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