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Clegg & Guttman
Sparse, trendy artworld crowd, enclosed by large portrait photography on the walls. In the middle of the room oversized portfolios that had to be handled by two or more people if one wanted to review them. Martin Guttman, with a grin stamped on his face, made the best of it by helping Andrea Rosen inspect portfolios in an intimate tete-a-tete at the dead center of the gallery. Andrea enjoyed the spotlight and had come attired to enjoy it: high heel open sandals, obnoxious mini skirt and techno-kid Adidas top on which her grey tressess cascaded. Not being so outfitted, I had a hard time co- opting the help of art world aquaintances into inspecting portfolios with me.
Jacky McAllister, Ann Chu and Anwroy turn me down as they busily ran around or perhaps just ran away. Meanwhile, a flim was shown: a series of short sequences of individuals putting their hands over a lit candle, as close as they could until they had reached the threshold of pain. The film was stating the obvious: pain is subjective. But, no one on screen displayed any sense of humour--only macho faces that did not look at the camera. If I had been asked to do this gesture--I would have put my hand a full yard above the candle and smiled at the camera, for this type of gesture I would have ended up on the cutting room floor. The artworld crowd did not seem to care about any of it and seemed oblivious to the humid heat of the gallery. They were bored, I was bored, they stayed, I left.
Clegg e Guttmann
False Perspective. Reflections on Clausrophobia, Paranoia and Conspiracy Theory.
At 7.30 p.m., the Galleria Lia Rumma in Milan will inaugurate the exhibition of Clegg & Guttmann’s work commissioned especially for the gallery.
Michael Clegg and Martin Guttmann, Israelis by birth but Americans by adoption, have concentrated on making photographic images together since 1980. They were both born in 1957 and are students of Joseph Kosuth; their work includes individual and group portraits, landscapes and still lifes. As heirs and torchbearers of the sixteenth and seventeenth century tradition of portrait painting, Clegg & Guttmann have extended the concept of the portrait to the extent that they treat each of their photographs as a social portrait, a piece of evidence from which a segment of reality can be grasped. By applying such a broad definition to the notion of the portrait, they have focused their attention in recent years upon the theme of the library, considered as a place that represents memory as well as individual and collective knowledge.
Their installation "False Perspective" will transform the gallery, creating a radical change in the perception of space by means of a series of devices inspired by the principles of illusion through perspective.
Clegg and Guttmann will separate the space into two parts. The first will contain a series of three-dimensional trompe l’oeil "bookshelves" which portray sections of shelving from libraries in Milan, New York and Berlin; the shelves contain books on subjects related to different disciplines (geometry, architecture, psychology, linguistics, political theory and religion), although all are concerned with the theme of illusionism.
In the second part, which is constructed according to the principles of theatre set design, the same features create the optical effect of expanding the space in the gallery. "Knowledge sculpture" - the term given to the "bookshelves" by the two artists - refers to the range of possible meanings connected to the theme of false perspective, and alludes to the difference between the visible and underlying reality.
Clegg and Guttmann have worked with the Galleria Lia Rumma since 1984.In September 1999, the Museum of Trento devoted a retrospective to their work entitled "Portraits, Still Lifes and Landscapes, 1985 - 1999".