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Newspaper Diary: Trompe l'Oeil Photographs by Joanne Leonard
Joanne Leonard's "Newspaper Diary: Trompe l'Oeil Photographs" exhibit at the University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities April 5-May 31, 2012.
Newspaper Diary J O A N N E L E O N A R D Ne w s p a p e r D ia ry Tromp e-l’Oe il Photo graphs J O A N N E SPONSOR CATALOG CONTRIBUTORS The University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities Wendy Kozol Professor, Department of Comparative American Studies, Oberlin College Amanda Krugliak Curator, Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan L E O N A R D April 5 – May 31, 2012 Curator’s Statemen t Amanda Krugliak J oanne Leonard is an artist who has art professor at the time (most were men) past and present, real and imagined. (fig. 1) that spoke of empowerment, feminism, the The materiality of her photographic collages cataloguing the small details, the countertop, strength and potential impact of our own juxtaposes the flat, two-dimensional surface toys strewn about the floor, a lover asleep on stories, ideas, and imaginations. It wasn’t until with the luridness of unexpected combinations. the bed, the dream of a window, and the house years later that I recognized her tremendous A hint of color, texture, pattern, a passage of not quite ready for company. Both the act of influence on my own artistic practice. I had text ignites the images, alluding to that place photographing and the resulting images of this carried her with me. She taught me that value of seismic instability, where all breaks away. inner world serve as record of the human trace is inherent in one’s life and work, but it is also and the value of our own human experiences. dependent on a constant vigil and endurance… Leonard continues the conversation. The Her photographs are as much about what a commitment to the process of becoming. significance of our books and correspondence, always offered a view into the room, matters as the mattering, profoundly personal and conversely startling in their entirety. our histories, our love letters, our rituals are in or complacent, rather in a state of response. doubt. These brave new works initially reside in Her own narratives and the reign of the world’s the present. They are modern and unaffected, was her student at the University of Michigan, events are in overlay, deeply relevant to the somehow reassuring. We can almost picture just beginning to explore my own voice as a collective shifts of society. the artist herself drinking her coffee, reading I first met Joanne Leonard in the 1980s. I young woman and an artist. She was perhaps the first person I’d ever known and the only 2 Joanne Leonard’s work has never been static In Newspaper Diary: Trompe l’Oeil Photographs, Newspaper Diary Leonard’s use of collage reiterates this back and forth between public and private, the Times, placing cuttings of the newspaper against the pages of her favorite art book. Before long, through a carefully considered themselves become object. The uncanny sleight of hand, these trompe-l’oeil relationship between visual representations photographs defy all presumptions and decades apart suggests that our uniqueness constructs of time, upending any notion we is more likely and predictable than we have about history and our place in it, or think, like a roll of sixes in a game of dice, some record left for posterity’s sake. These or the Jack of Spades in a deck of cards… compositions exist only in the photographs; noteworthy, but not beyond replication. they are props, mise-en-scènes. And in this We live in a world full of black holes, discovery comes the wrenching acceptance twitters and texts, and the big bang. Perhaps of what we desperately try to save and what in some alternate universe there exists we inevitably brace ourselves to lose in the another version of us, with a different end. midst of it all. fig. 1 Newspaper Diary offers no absolutes but harsh realities of the times in which we live, some measure alluding to continuity…what and the inevitability of a tomorrow that may complex conceptually. Each photograph came before, “it is what it is” and a life after not remember what mattered. Yet, in the captures the translation from idea to volition. this one. deliberateness of these photographs that are The works in Newspaper Diary are highly The gravity of the book, the image, and the Joanne Leonard matter-of-factly catalogs paper succumb to the impermanence of this time line, capturing for a moment the things. As a final record, the photographs poignant immediacy of the everyday, the already recollections, Leonard also embraces humanity and a certain resilience. JOANNE LEONARD 3 Encounters with the Everyday: Joanne Leonard’s Newspaper Diary: Trompe-l’Oeil Photographs Wendy Kozol A n aerial view of the Japanese coastline stages “momentary collages” that exist devastated by the 2011 tsunami only temporarily for her trompe-l’oeil prints. uncannily resembles a color woodblock Headlines appear across pages of books as print of the Great Edo Earthquake of 1855. if to catalogue the growing obsolescence (fig. 2) Compositional similarities between a of newspapers while the dirty or damaged Gainsborough painting of two young girls and a edges of public library books that signal both news photo of an African mother and her two age and heavy usage resist the temporal young children from Antananarivo, Madagascar, specificity provided by newspaper datelines. (p.8) seem at first to promote fantasies about Beyond a record of current events, Leonard’s childhood innocence. Until, that is, one fig. 2 reads the newspaper caption about the abuse 4 assemblages provoke emotional, aesthetic, and political encounters between public and private of the five-year-old girl by an uncle. A publicity of sorts as a similar throng gazes up at Christ worlds, and between historical and present shot of Pope Benedict XVI with Rabbi Arthur hovering in the sky. (fig. 3) time, that underlie the quotidian experiences of Shneier in front of a throng of rabbis taking Catching the eye through unexpected, their picture emerges out of the decorative sometimes witty or disturbing, and often borders from a facsimile medieval manuscript poignant juxtapositions in Newspaper Diary: has used photography, collage, and other whose facing page provides an ancient mirror Trompe-l’Oeil Photographs, Joanne Leonard mixed media to create visual narratives of Newspaper Diary reading the newspaper. For the past four decades, Joanne Leonard female subjectivity that explore the joys and artistic vision as she utilizes autobiography to pains of domestic intimacies. This “intimate explore the layered twists of intimate desires, documentary approach” provides multi-layered daily life, and painful loss. In this way, Leonard studies of the social, emotional, and sensual consistently explores feminist concerns about pulls and pushes of motherhood and family life. embodiment, power, desire, and inequality. Relentlessly self-reflexive, Leonard explores the Newspaper Diary pushes the boundaries politics of the private sphere through close-up of Leonard’s previous interests in public images of bodies and faces that accompany and private spheres. The tug and pull of written memories of hopes, struggles, and temporalities locates the immediacy of news disappointments. In the past decade, Leonard’s events within a historical gaze that contrasts work has increasingly moved towards ephemerality with durability. At the same time, explorations of the intersections of memoir and color, composition, and other aesthetic features Rather than attempt to document “the real,” public histories. She uses collages of drawings, reveal historical influences on contemporary Leonard’s trompe-l’oeil pictures re-present photographs, and print material to visualize a ways of seeing. The swirls of smoky red and reproductions, facsimiles, and copies. Visual fragmented and non-linear family history that orange colors in a 2010 news photo of a fire witnessing in Joanne Leonard’s world, then, is is anything but singular or private. Visually in northern Arizona parallel those in J. M. W. always a mediated experience in which history lyrical, Leonard’s art typically has an edge that Turner’s famous 1835 painting The Burning of and the present do not so much clash catches your breath. Memory is crucial to her the House of Lords and Commons. (p. 11) as mingle. fig. 3 JOANNE LEONARD 5 Amid Leonard’s meticulous cataloging of the intersections of the local and global, 6 and the Haitian earthquake. Similarities in composition, lighting, or The emphasis in Newspaper Diary on the aesthetic politics of looking becomes starkly one trompe-l’oeil photograph features a other formal elements speak across historical evident in the picture of a Haitian man covered news picture of a barn fire in which the particularities. Through such dialogues, in gray ash lying dead on a stretcher in the exposed black frames of the structure signal Newspaper Diary raises questions by means aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake that its imminent collapse. (fig.4) Opposite, the of aesthetic pleasure to draw out empathetic killed thousands. (p. 9) What startles the eye, spidery limbs of an abstract black sculpture by engagement with social struggles. The rhythmic and the imagination, though, is the similarity Venezuelan artist Gego (Gertrude Goldschmidt) beauty of linear structures in the picture of in the pose of the earthquake victim to that resonates with the fragility of the barn’s Chinese child gymnasts (cover and p. 10) at first of the brightly colored painting of a crucified blackened frame. Moreover, the many glance seems intent simply to be a visual echo Charlemagne Masséna Péralte, a Haitian shadows created by the wire sculpture give of the musical notations on the page behind. nationalist who opposed the US invasion in the appearance in the reproduction of a blur. Leonard’s push here towards abstraction 1915. In works like this one, Leonard uses the Throughout the exhibition, such references produces an aesthetic encounter that language of visuality to provoke an emotional to the transitory nature of human existence disconcertingly aligns the pleasures of the gaze as well as political encounter with histories remind us of local moments of change and with the jolt of recognition that these young that stretch well beyond the immediacy of loss that occur alongside more monumental children are hanging upside down in physically contemporary natural disasters or social crises. global events like the Japanese tsunami demanding, if not painful, positions. Newspaper Diary Along with confronting the emotional toll of fig. 4 against a stormy sky. (p. 12) Leonard placed daily news as those encounters are weighted this delightfully clichéd photograph on top of down by aesthetic and social histories. a copy of Alice in Wonderland, open to a page Contrasting the durability of books with with an illustration of the Mad Hatter’s tea the ephemeral qualities of the newspaper, party. Visual wit compels political commentary Leonard emphasizes both the impermanence in works like this one, where the top ledges and continuities that structure acts of visual on the podiums appear like reverse or upside- witnessing. As we move between historical down top hats in an echo of the Mad Hatter’s. documentation and ephemera, these trompe- Having just lived through the first decade of l’oeil photographs of no-longer-extant collages the twenty-first century, this reminder of going resonate with palimpsests of loss and pain as down the rabbit hole may need little more well as the joys of the everyday. social change, humor also slyly inserts itself commentary even as the affective impact once into this exhibition. For instance, a trompe-l’oeil again shifts us uneasily between the profound photograph reproduces a 2008 news picture and the quotidian. of Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and Newspaper Diary forms a visual archive President George W. Bush standing behind two that mobilizes repetition, association, and tall podiums, appearing small and insignificant connotation to catalog visual encounters with JOANNE LEONARD 7 8 Newspaper Diary JOANNE LEONARD 9 10 Newspaper Diary JOANNE LEONARD 11 12 Newspaper Diary JOANNE LEONARD 13 14 Newspaper Diary JOANNE LEONARD 15 16 Newspaper Diary JOANNE LEONARD 17 Ph oto Ca pti on s All images: Joanne Leonard Newspaper Diary: trompe-l’oleil photographs, ink jet prints, 24” x 37” These images represent a selection from the Newspaper Diary exhibition in the Institute for the Humanities gallery in 2012. 8 Picture from Antanarivo and Gainsborough December 1, 2006, news photo: Mother and children in Madagascar, Lynsey Addario, New York Times. Book reproduction: The Painter’s Daughters Chasing a Butterfly, Thomas Gainsborough, ca. 1756 in The New Child: British Art and the Origins of Modern Childhood, 1730-1830, by James Christen Steward (University Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, Berkeley, in association with the University of Washington Press, 1995). 18 Newspaper Diary 9 Haiti crucifixes 10 Music and boys 11 Turner and fire 12 Bush and Angela Merkel (earthquake victim on bars (cover image) with top hats (lecterns) June 22, 2010, news and murdered Haitian June 12, 2008, news August 11, 2010, news photo:“Smoke and hero) photo: President Bush, photo: Gymnasts 4 to January 15, 2010, news photo: “A body in Port au Prince, Haiti, covered with dust from collapsed building,” Damon Winter, New York Times. Book reproduction: Crucifixion de Charlemagne Péralte Pour La Liberté, Philom Obin painting, 1948 in Peintures Haïtiennes by Warren E. Leon (Delroisse, 1978). Flames in Northern 7 years old in Zheijiang Arizona,” Matt York, who met with German Province, China testing Associated Press. Chancellor Angela their talents at a sports Book reproduction: Merkel….responds to school, Reuters. The Burning of the Tehran’s nuclear program, Book reproduction: House of Lords and Johannes Eisele, Reuters. Numbers: The Universal Commons, J.M.W. Book reproduction: Language by Denis Turner, 1835, in The Nursery “Alice” by Guedj (Harry N. Abrams, Turner by Barry Lewis Carroll and Sir 1997). Venning (Phaedon, John Tenniel (Mayflower 2003). Books, 1979). 13 Madame Curie and women in science December 19, 2006, news photo: “Women in Science, the Battle Moves to the Trenches,” Max Whittaker, New York Times. Book reproduction: Madame Curie in her Laboratory, 1912, in Madame Curie: A Biography by Eve Curie (Doubleday, 1937). 14 Anne Frank’s tree October 2, 2007, news photo: “A New Wave of Support for Anne Frank’s Ailing Tree,” Herman Wouters, New York Times. Book reproduction: Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary - A Photographic Remembrance by Ruud van der Rol and Rian Verhoeven (Viking, 1993). Figures within Essays 15 Bronze baby and Julia from Joanne’s Being in Picutures 16 Diego Rivera and 17 Fork-making machine factory in Slovakia and Russian montage November 25, December 30, 2011, 2006, news photo: February 13, 2011, news photo: Bronze Trnava, Slovakia news photo:“Worker statue of Eros sleeping, Peugeot factory, at the Sherrill 3rd century B.C. to Didier Mallac, New Manufacturing early 1st century York Times. Book flatware factory in A.D., Metropolitan reproduction: Sherrill, N.Y., which Museum of Art Rogers Detroit Industry, closed its doors eight Fund, 1943. Book Diego Rivera mural, months ago,” Dick reproduction: “Julia, 1933, in Diego Blume, Post Standard. half asleep” in Being Rivera: The Detroit Book reproduction: in Pictures by Joanne Industry Murals by Leonard (University of Michigan Press, 2008). 1 Cat’s tongue November 12, 2010, 2 Tsunami and fire 1899 and 2011 3 Haggadah with Pope and Rabbi 4 Burned barn and Gego sculpture news photo: A Study of March 12, 2011, news April 19, 2008, news April 14, 2011, news Cat Lapping, NewYork photo: Natori, Japan, photo: Pope Benedict photo: Barn blaze Times photos from “House swallowed by XVI met with Rabbi Arthur in Salem Township, video by Reis, Stocker a tsunami set off by an Schneier at the Park East Michigan, Salem et al, courtesy, MIT earthquake,” Kyodo News Synagogue in Manhattan, Township Fire and Science. Book via Associated Press. Chang W. Lee, New Department. Book reproduction: Kitten’s Book reproduction: York Times. Book reproduction: plate First Full Moon by Kevin Japanese kawaraban (tile- reproduction: Sarajevo 6, wire drawing, 1977 Henkes (Greenwillow block printed newspaper) Haggadah by Eugene (untitled) by Gego Books, 2004). showing the Great Edo Werber (Prosveta,1983). in Gego: Between Earthquake, 1855 in Transparency and the Electrification of Divine Wind: The History Invisible (Museum of Linda Bank Downs the Entire Country, and Science of Hurricanes Fine Arts, Houston, 2006). (WW Norton, 1999). Gustav Klutsis, 1920, by Kerry A. Emanuel in “Soviet Practice (Oxford University Press, 1919-1937,” by M. 2005) Tupitsyn in Montage and Modern Life 19191942 (M.I.T. Press, 1992). JOANNE LEONARD 19 Joanne Leonard Joanne Leonard is a photographer, photo- From an early point in her years of collage artist, teacher, writer, and feminist image making, Leonard used photo collage whose work has contributed to a wide variety to (con)textualize her own photo images, of fields from fine art to autobiography combining them with news photos as in studies. Her work has been included in the the 1970s collage Red Triptych. Journal of a San Francisco Museum of Art’s Women of Miscarriage (1973), a wordless journal made Photography (1975), Lippard’s From the Center entirely in photo-collage, and Julia and the (1976), Janson’s History of Art (1986), Gardner’s Window of Vulnerability, a 1980s photo collage Art Through the Ages (1991), Hirsch’s The expressing anxieties about the threat of nuclear Familial Gaze (1996), and Chaney’s Graphic war, are works that furthered her explorations Subjects (2011). In 2008, her gorgeously of photos from everyday life and images from produced visual memoir Being In Pictures: world news in television and print. Sixty works Joanne Leonard’s studio at 1250 Main Street, Ann Arbor An Intimate Photo Memoir, with foreword by created from 1990-92 make up Not Losing her Now her Newspaper Diary, a series begun in Lucy R. Lippard, was published by University Memory. These works overlaid photographs of 2005 and continuing, suggests her expansive of Michigan Press. In the 1960s and ‘70s she women in Leonard’s family with dialogue from engagement with the daily newspaper and a taught in the San Francisco Bay area including broadcasts of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas vast archive of images in books. at San Francisco Art Institute and Mills College. hearings. A small cache of news clippings from She is Distinguished University Professor 1877 play a central role in Leonard’s film-like Emeritus at the University of Michigan, where Reel Family, a twenty-two-foot-long translucent she taught for thirty-one years. collage made in the year 2000. Ne w s p a p e r D ia ry CURATOR Amanda Krugliak PUBLICITY Stephanie Harrell CATALOG DESIGN Savitski Design ÂŠ 2012, Regents of the University of Michigan J O A N N E L E O N A R D