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SANDY SKOGLUND Larry Qualls andy Skoglund is one of the creators or re-inventors of a genre of art based in photography that involves the construction of theatricalized settings within which costumed figures are posed interacting in various ways that suggest both ordinary social intercourse and something quite a bit more complex and terrifying. For her work over the past few years, Skoglund has created sculptural tableaux, stage sets, in which various actions are performed by a carefully posed mixture of live actors and mannequins of various sorts. Her photographs document these sets in which Skoglund has carefully arranged the live actors; these images may actually be a part of the tableaux in gallery installations. In the displays, there are generally only the mannequins, which in more recent ones have been animated. Deriving both from the current artworld emphasis on the sculptural environment -the installation-and from early photography's concern with the mise en scine, Skoglund's work comes as close as any to what Richard Kostelanetz once called "the theatre of mixed means." The works imply a complex narrative structure and make explicit, sometimes delightfully funny, commentary-often through various puns made visual-on contemporary life and culture. Her work, unlike the theatrical tableaux that were so popular on the nineteenth-century stage, do not represent freezes in the narrative; the narrative is all contained within the picture. As an example, in A Breeze at Work (1987) Skoglund created an extremely ordinary office, a generic workspace with virtually no designer touches. Within this ugly space, in the photograph documenting the event, two women are at work while a man, presumably the boss, stands looking on. And yet the office, painted entirely in a shade of rust-brown, is overrun by falling leaves in an intense shade of blue. When the environment was shown at the Damon Brandt Gallery in New York, all the furniture was overturned and the people were missing. All that was left was nature's deconstruction of what passes forquotidian life. ForFox Games(1989) Skoglund formed twenty-two red foxes from clay and cast them in polyester resin; the foxes were posed among the tables of a totally grey restaurant, where one live couple was being served by a waiter. For the installation, the photograph was hung beside the set, but the colors of the foxes and the restaurant were reversed (and the live people were missing). 102 0 In the installation of The GreenHouse(1990), there was a photograph on one wall of the space showing the tableau which the viewer was seeing, but with two human inhabitants in green bathrobes. In this installation, all architectural and decorative elements were covered in the kind of green grass mats often used to line graves at funerals. Within this green world were placed thirty-three life-sized mannequins of dogs ofvarious breeds, twenty-two ofwhich were a bright purple (the rest were green). There were also giant green bugs around the room. (The mistress of this installation when it was shown in New York was Clara, Janet Borden's own mutt, who had free run ofthe place.) Three different tableaux were in her 1992 installation at the Borden Gallery; in each a different kind of food encrusted everything. Skoglund, who first achieved notoriety in the late 70s with her ultrabright Cibachrome parodies of food photography, coverd everything in The Cocktail Partywith cheese crisps; she actually painted all these Cheez Doodles a bright orange to achieve the look desired. In the photograph of the scene, there are a number oflive actors in stylish clothing coated in the snack food. The mannequins in the installation were animated to raise and lower their arms, just as though they were at a party. In another ofthe tableaux from this installation, everything was covered in raisins (Atomic Love), while in a third section a chair covered in strips of uncooked bacon and hanging from a motor on the ceiling revolved before a wall covered in strips of bacon (all the bacon was coated with clear epoxy resin). Sandy Skoglund's work has been included in numerous international exhibitions from the Pompidou Centre in Paris to the Fort Worth Art Museum in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 102-106
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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