About Me

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MICHAEL SCHREIER Michael Schreier is a professional artist and photographer who has dedicated his considerable professional career to the celebration of both the public and private hero. Recent work includes Storyteller, Waiting for Words at the Ottawa Art Gallery, curator Emily Falvey, 2009, and the curating of the exhibition Dave Heath, A Heritage of Meaning, 2013 at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Selected works are represented in both public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the National Archives Photography Collection, the Agnes-Etherington Art Centre, the Canadian Portrait Gallery, Visual Studies Workshop, (Rochester, New York), Light Works Workshop, Syracuse New York, Carleton University Art Gallery, and the University of Ottawa Library Special Collections.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Cursor on image for detailed viewing

Also please note any ghosted text will connect you to web link 

offering further information, eg. Nathan Lyons, and Allen Ginsberg

Post #18


[ˈʊmziːdlʊŋ  ]

noun, feminine: resettlement , relocation

(with social, geopolitical implications, a rupture, 

can also offer poetic, philosophical consideration.) 

Part 1:

 Photographic vision incorporates the notion of resettlement. With selective framing, the photographer simultaneously chooses to offer and to eliminate elements from their surroundings. The ensuing "umseidlung" might represent a less severe and furthermore, an existential appreciation, not associated with a political, genocidal or social upheaval.

Passport Photos
from a series,2018,
Maggie Wesley

 Dave Heath may have been intuitively aware of the complexity that this moment could present: as the young lad quietly acknowledges, the other two pass in silent reverie; a third settles into anonymity. Consequently and beyond that sense of a captured intimate grace, the beholder could be challenged to consider his or her vicarious participation. We might be reminded of another classic tradition within the photograph's lexicon, the equivalent. For, as Heath has included this image in an extended portfolio/work, " a  Breath of Kisses "  he continued to mine that fertile arena within the contemporary zeitgeist, embracing silence, anonymity, the value of exchange: Heath, proposing an urgency for acknowledgement, 
[even that of the beholder].

In concert, Hugh Edwards, Curator of Photography, Art Institute of Chicago has eloquently underscored, Heath's... "A Dialogue With Solitude"...

"When we have finished with this "Dialogue With Solitude" we know another of those rare works of the last few years which contemplate humanity's weaknesses, helplessnesses, hostilities and irresistible attractions, to draw from them a new understanding which may be more lasting than our illusions." 

" Disenchantment, strife and anxiety enshroud our times in stygian darkness. Pressed from all sides by the rapid pace of technological progress and increased authoritarian control, many people are caught up in an anguish of alienation. Adrift and without sense of purpose, they are compelled in a dialogue with the inmost depths of their being in a search for renewal; the burden of anarchy rests heavily upon them."  

"A Dialogue with Solitude"  Dave Heath 

The street dance, a contemporary masque, [by virtue of its urban umbilical,] provides a connecting moment imbued with social import; however at the same time, its disengagement. In order to appreciate the spirit of the work, the beholder is left with the task to reassemble. In the tradition of the social landscape, 
Lee Friedlander, Lisette Model, Tom Gibson, Gary Winogrand offer their unique perspective. 


Balthus: circa 1933

Image result for balthus

Robert Frank is situated somewhere in the middle, that while reflecting a country in dire emotional crisis, he commands an introspective gaze which for the most part can be attributed to the poet philosopher. "The Americans" embraces a wanderer's spirit associated with  the writings of Kerouac and " The Beat Generation and the Angry Young Men." It is neither coincidence nor serendipity that both Frank and Heath make reference to Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, among others, each engrossed in the nomad's search for place, and a rootlessness governed by an emotional need to reject the poets contradiction".

Tears for an Empty Desert
Michael Schreier
Drawing by Hilde Schreier

(Here, for your interest is the live reading "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg:)

Dave Heath, embracing an empathy for privacy and the grace of the privileged moment, nurtured his bias as both poet and witness; directing his attention to intimacy, the beholder and the beholder beheld. As the street guarantees both a point of entry and of exit, it  is also a place to be seen and by virtue of a mutually understood silent agreement, to watch, both in transition and engagement; always affirming the outsider's will to participate. 

Vienna, City of Thoughts, Michael Schreier, 2009
Drawing by Hilde Schreier

Dave Heath, Philadelphia, 2015
 Michael Schreier

Part 2:

Gaile McGregor outlines in her critical work, 

"The Wacousta Syndrome, An Exploration in the Canadian Langscape." 

(The coinage " langscape " far from adventitious, is meant to underline the extent to which nature, like other aspects of reality is not simply perceived, but socially constructed.) Gaile McGregor

"This brings us back to allegory again providing the best conventional structure within which to comprehend a double reality. Philosophy aside, in the end the Canadian manages to unify his divided response by utilizing forms in which the signifier ( both unsystematic and opaque)  and the signified (an ideal of order possibly but not necessarily corresponding to anything real) may be simultaneously disassociated and conjoined."

Michael Schreier

(my reference to Macdonald's Tangled Garden)
Trans Canada 2018
Image result for the tangled garden
J.E.H. Macdonald,
1873 - 1932

The Tangled Garden, 1916
oil on beaverboard
121.4 x 152.4cm
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Gift of W.M. Southam, F.N. Southam and H.S. Southam in 1937 
in memory of their brother Richard Southam

Gaile McGregor's use of the Canadian novel  "The Wacousta "  ( Wacousta)  provides a complementary reflection to American, James Fenimore Cooper's  "The Leatherstocking Tales". As the frontier is [successfully?] settled and its indigenous tribes brought to knee, circumstances may demand a fortress mentality, further stylized, through metaphor and imagery. She underscores the value placed on memory, that of another place and its influence on the present; attributing this a leitmotif for Canadian Voice.

"... to be simultaneously disassociated and conjoined..."  Gaile McGregor

For the artist, the above echoes the value of the muse as one is transported, while for the migrant and the refugee, it rests as a reminder of loss and a vulnerability towards any potential settlement. How can one contribute an archive, history to a frontier and including a foreign place?

 For the poet, an "umseidlung" is the necessary rupture to provide passage and to give value to both the exterior and interior identity; for the immigrant, refugee it is also the struggle for continuity; a rightful urgency to belong.


Sunday, 1 October 2017

Post #17, The Gaze of Orpheus: veil removed.

(Cursor on images for detail,)

The Gaze of Orpheus

(All drawings by Hilde Schreier)

From Dread to Language, an essay found in the remarkable book, The Gaze of Orpheus by Maurice Blanchot, strikes at the very foundation of creative voice.

" It is comical for a man to recognize his solitude by addressing a reader and by using methods that prevent the individual from being alone"
Maurice Blanchot

Allow me to suggest, is it not truly ironic to assume a beholder present in the observation of a work, consumed by the notion of solitude? Considering it is here, as recounted in the classic Greek myth, Orpheus and Eurydice, Orpheus's plea to the King of Hades that Eurydice be allowed to return to the upper world, that we witness the ultimate hubris: in glancing back hoping to guarantee for himself, her presence in returning, Orpheus actually jeopardizes and destroys that possibility; the King of Hades having insisted that he, Orpheus, not look back at her as she begins to surface? 

                                       (Morton Feldman composition for Philip Guston)

Disappearance of memory, the resonance of time, and I was invited for a bowl of soup and conversation. We reminisced  the early years our families had connected, the bridge games shared and then the inevitable conversation back to homeland and one's private "heimat". Heimat, the German word for one's homeland, more than just a territory, but a place governed by the nurturing of sanctuary coupled with a profound understanding, awareness and longing for continuity.

Touching on a son lost in contemporary bewilderment, Bill proffered this gift of thought, an image allowing me to see a moment of recall for which I had only superficial access. It was enough, for at that moment there was a link between time, present and time speculated: she looked out from another past conviction, kept for him on a mantle and accessed only, by memory and that certain desire to the impossible return.

                                                                The Secret Life of Objects
                                                                              Robert Cummings,

Several years ago I had the opportunity to view Cy Twombly's  epic work Treatise on the Veil, a work dedicated to composer Pierre Henry. I had used Pierre Henry's master composition, Le Voile d'Orphee as an introduction to my course, Images in Motion, an exploration in sound production. Both Twomblys' and Henrys' works speak to the frailty and urgency for continuity, lost in a memory's passage. The coherency of a sound trace is threatened by the texture of concrete utterance and noise becomes its loss. Pierre Henry, and Dziga Vertov both embraced the values and experience accorded a flaneur, a wanderer absorbed by a quotidian's silent grace: similar in spirit perhaps with the travails offered a photographer. 

The next two images are dated according to time line, the same day and an hour+ apart. Intuitively, did the first experience have some influence on my sensitivity concerning the subsequent image? 

Simply the residue of "nothing" or perhaps the nothingness of object-hood. Maurice Blanchot resting at the nuanced entry to the post-modern period, encouraged the insight of so many following, including Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault and Jacque Derrida. I return often to these writers as they challenge the veracity of truth, the event, evidence and if all should be in doubt, the fundamental belief in continuity. They have given a profound declaration to the value for the muse, its presence, clarity and above all its frailty for doubt.

Gilles Deleuze
              " Not only does the past coexist with the present that has been, but...it is the whole integral past; it is all our past, which coexists with each present. The famous metaphore of the cone represents this complete state of coexistence"

(This extracted from Memory, History Forgetting, Paul Ricoeur, The Historical Condition, Forgetting.)

While "storytelling" may play well into this scenario: it is assumed that a spectator, an audience, and or witness may have experienced similar circumstance, guaranteeing perhaps some semblance of mutual place. However, all that this may lead to is a cautious sense of ownership, autonomy and a false belief in the value of colonialism. As control, order and finally rectitude might play a critical role in an artist's vision, the truth however for the beholder may actually provide a false pretence, as the poet rests in a place of "nothingness". As previously mentioned, Gaston Bachelard's "Poetics of Space" occupies a critical place in this drama, "the silence of the room revisited".

Finally, and as an alternative to Cartier Bresson's Decisive Moment may I suggest, the "Privileged Moment". Historically, Bresson's missive relied primarily on the rationalization of an event or circumstance, that the artist/photographer must be sensitive to all that occurs within the frame, as a graphic concert leading perhaps to some more profound truth. The time component in the photograph becomes fractionalized. I would like to suggest that a moment of clarity is reached not through recognition, but by a much more subtle element, empathy. This post began with an appreciation, reflection on solitude providing insight and continuity. Now the critical element empathy is only to be reached through conversation, whether silent or otherwise embraced.  

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Post #16

(Cursor on the image for a detailed viewing,
all drawings, Hilde Schreier,
all  images copyright Michael Schreier)

'Curiouser and curiouser!' cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English). 

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

                                                                           "Tears for an Empty Desert"

                                                                                                       (Double-page layout, artist's book, Michael Schreier)

                                     Post #16, is dedicated to my mentor, and close friend,                                                                                              
                                                      Jim Borcoman, Curator Emeritus, 
                                                          National Gallery of Canada.

Following closely on the heels of the previous post, #16 might be considered a continuation. My intention throughout the structure of Camera Obscura is to offer cross fertilization, and while it may result in repetition, either of image and or of concern, it is intentional. And with respect for Carl Chirenza's previously expressed concerns, I have often returned to an image for its structure and additional thematic vitality, having always understood the relationship between image and text as being complementary. 

 Alice's musings, Curiouser and Curiouser, echoes my empathy for Lewis Carroll's understanding that an artist's sensitivity for the unknown, and the portal is critical in serving the mystery for poetry and thought. 
I remember one of the first observations Jim Borcoman offered me concerning both a photographer's perspective, intent, and the photograph, is the attention to be accorded the edge rather than the center. Certainly the process of photographing requires a sensitivity to that which occurs outside the frame and understanding its influence on the final subject represented. The photographer is required by process to select from the quotidian and the rationally perceived. And in so doing, an abstraction is both linked, yet independent of evidence and fact: passage underscored.

 The history of photography has referenced the equivalent, equivalence,and as so eloquently highlighted by Nathan Lyons , a process of notating, a Notations in Passing. Dave Heath's  A Dialogue With Solitude extends meaning and intent towards a deeper experience, a reflective attitude that may actually challenge one to reconsider Robert Frank's The Americans an "on the road" suite rather than as a social document: even as both attitudes might be interconnected.

                                                                ...the writers pallet...

Frederick Sommer occupies a profound niche, embracing music, drawing and photography. He enjoys that space within, a space so necessary for the poet, where one can challenge one's own sense of place and existential breath.

palpable, with feel-
words at the departure-

Paul Celan

                     (I would suggest the reader cursor,double-click on these images, and highlighted Paul Celan

The introductory poetic muse by Pablo Neruda with added meaning for the double page spread from Tears for an Empty Desert, suggests the existing nuance between reader and author. Rational thought remains only slightly traceable, as the reader experiences either doubt, or affirmation. 

Michelangelo Antonioni's Red Desert as described, can certainly reflect our contemporary environmental issues, challenges and possibilities for adaption. There may however be a much more subtle challenge offered: that is access to the privilege of original thought. I am to consider the vulnerability for empathy regarding another's perspective or witnessing for truth.We are given the option to accept the challenge or to acquiesce, as  Antonioni might suggest, " burn in the silence of our own making."  This is how I understand the poet's dilemma: that there is never a guarantee, or completed circuit confirming a witnessed event. Returning for a moment to Lea Dunning's painting "Idle in Paris", (corrected title, "34 Rue du Fer a Moulin"), while invited at the edge, I am clearly denied access to the distant space, blocked by the table, chair and the sitter. 

His transparent tracing suggests that they, [in themselves], may have, or are about to appear/disappear. Echoing the implied urgency in Red Desert, it is not whether one can clean or readjust, but why is there such a disregard for the vulnerability of voice and humanities's required utterance?

As Leo Stein has surmised in his "Appreciation: Painting, Poetry and Prose"

"Structurally man is just one of the facts in the universe, but compositionally he is its center. His feelings, his desires, his hopes cause him to arrange things so that he can get at least a moment's satisfaction from these interests. If he gets from them the satisfactions as though he had altered the world of real things beyond the periphery of his inner life, he is sentimentally, pathologically falsifying the world, and confusing the realms of poetry and prose."

The illusion of being "centered" within a postmodern reality however, offers contradiction as it nurtures the artist. Within the clear reality of the simulacra where truth is no longer obligatory, how can we believe in its rendition.