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.

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.


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Post # 15

Ordered Circumstance, 

The reflection of the muse with the placement of thought:

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

Christopher Lea Dunning's work, "Idle in Paris" has encouraged me to revisit George Steiner's  two iconic works, Real Presences and After Babel : the latter much more difficult as it has negotiated the complexity of language, semantics and the poetic of significance. In referencing "Babel's fall from grace," Steiner suggests the very basic urgency for voice, thought and continuity as Dunning's inchoate structures and discorded details resonate with appropriate empathy: consider these remarkable short works by 
Arnold Schoenberg.

                                                                                          "Idle in Paris"
                                                                           Painting by Christopher Lea Dunning

I am reminded of  Gaston Bachelard's iconic writing The Poetic's of Space,  the "room/space" as a support for the silent muse, reverie and the value for passage: incidentally all critical components for one's 
Night-Sea Journey. The window, access to the external, social world is gained only through a progressive acknowledgement of "interior" events. While staging at the edge of a theater's proscenium, Dunning asks us to consider a moment of absorbed thought. As beholder, I am made aware of an intimate space and given privileged access to its occupant absorbed in reading: interesting to note a book open on the table, while the other is being read. I am somewhat perplexed whether the book on the table is open to me or whether I am looking at its back. Now, for a moment, consider this self portrait by Austrian painter Carl Moll titled "Self Portrait in Study". In creating a character writing, he implicates the viewer in that moment of theatrical introspection, and privileged intimacy. Although while both artists offer proximity, neither recognize the presence of the beholder. In Dunning's work we are placed as previously indicated, at the edge of the proscenium. Moll offers a distanced staging, complete with curtain, props and a tiled floor describing passage. 

Carl_Moll_-_Self_Portrait_in_his_Study.jpg (1026×1080)

The irony for me is that as both artists incorporate portals for transition, Moll suggests a possible entry to a room, Dunning prefers the exact opposite, an exiting. Can it be assumed that the process of reading might involve an exiting while the process of writing implies a moment of entry? Furthermore, intrigued by numerous palimpsests, Dunning makes us aware of the internal structure of the work, perhaps a moment's vulnerability, a disturbance in reading and possible disappearance. He leaves us with the "trace" as a metaphor for vulnerability, and potential loss, the memory of a previous book to be read again. This painting is a profound reflection on passage in which the very structure offers its metaphor.

The book within the book, the event within the event, the painting within the painting, the drawing within its structure are all elements which speak to the very nature of memory, evidence and implied thought.

In "Man With a Movie Camera", Dziga Vertov, (Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera,circa 1928) defines the relationship between representation, its structure, evidence and allegory, with the quotidian. It is clear that our understanding of structure and method may provide a conviction for truth, as critically as it provides for the mystery of storytelling and abstraction.


                                                                      From the series Camera Obscura, Stations #2
                                                                                          Michael Schreier          

                                                                          From the series Camera Obscura, Stations #2
                                                                                          Michael Schreier  

                                                                                               From Series "Stations,#3"

Finally, as Plato's Cave, an allegory, perhaps instructed to resolve a searching for introspection, inside-out, it also speaks to an artist's deeper moment of clarity, "en atelier" both grounded and without gravity.  As Lea Dunning's Idle in Paris  might suggest, a moment of "idle" thought embracing all possibility, is it not in that moment of passage, suggested by metaphor and allegory, that representation,( mark-making) occupies time's embrace of change, (frankly, the antithesis of inactivity)? While a composer/film maker (as eloquently described by Sergie Eisenstein in his text Film Form/ Reflections on Sergie Eisenstein) governs the depth and duration of a beholder's experience, the visual artist on the other hand while composing without physical change, must suggest a comparable movement; as an echo becomes stylized, reflective only through evidence of its trace. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

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

Post 14

A State of Rupture in a Time of Alternative Facts

 ...with appreciation to Edmond Jabès...From the Desert to the Book...

" To Question means to break; it means to set up an inside and an outside. It means to be at times in the one, at times in the other. In an outside that would be, in relation to the inside, a backing away, a recession-the retreat- the prelude, the first threshold necessary for interrogation, a neuter space where neutrality is obsolete."
                                          The Labyrinth of the Question
                                   Dialogues between Edmond Jabès and Marc Cohen

Perhaps, surrounded by one's familiar circumstance, one may experience the depth of both clarity and doubt embraced by thought. I certainly do not claim authorship of such concerns, only an empathy for those in the past who have spoken so eloquently of both loss and of faith.

In this time of the Alternative Fact  a reassurance for truth is set adrift as nurturing rests in limbo; the concertmaster encourages a singular and in some way, cynical skepticism. While some, a few members of the popular circus may be embraced by a false hubris, the poet/artist may challenge the veracity of the charlatan's hollow echo.
                                                                                 A remarkable composition by Harold Budd:

                                                                                        Harold Budd The Whispers

                                      Hannah Hoch, Cut With the Kitchen Knife Through the last Weimar Beer-Belly Cultural Epoch
                                      in Germany, (1919-20)

The chaos depicted in Hannah Hoch's work, echoed in writings by Eugene Ionesco decry the insanity and brutality of an epoch that in some way seems to be returning. As one curator/critic questioned Joseph Sudek's remarkably intimate renderings of a window, garden as sentimental, not resonating the tragedy of the Czech crisis during the Weimar period: seemingly, to much perhaps of an idyllic garden. Such a reflection could not be further from the truth as Sudek's work, dark in tonality spoke to loss and melancholy, a world fallen from grace, and in his silent space can be found the resonance for beauty, grace and, with an almost reluctant faith.

                                                                                     Joseph Sudek, Circa 1930's

Idealism is easily coerced by pomp and ceremony, so perhaps it is through an artist's pursuit of quietude and reflection that one begins to understand the value of thought, empathy and discovers the strength to confront the doubt generated by the daily mockery prevalent in our social community.

If one cursors on either one of the my two previous interior images, one may see a set of numbers integrated with the image, numbers sourced
as the time line during which the original exposure is made. Almost impossible to realize these numbers offer a rationale to the moment and underscore the very nature of the photograph, a rupture from continuity. One may also recognize that I have intentionally printed the numbers backwards, hoping to offer a virtual transition to the other side of the picture-plain, a way of suggesting passage from one space to another. Further, I have come to consider that my entry to photography has somehow been governed, or regulated by my severance as a young child from Vienna, including the loss of my mother tongue.

                                                    (Images from my publication Disturbances in Reading, Palimpsest)

Time and Space were only their disguises'

Time and Space were only their disguises                          
Under which their hatred chose its shapes
From swords in bushes, flowers like periscopes,
And mirrors that revealed themselves as faces.

And later, clouds flew past me as I sat;
Stations like ships swam up to meet the train
And bowed; all time was equal like the sun;

Each landscape was elaborately set.

But now this blackened city in the snow
Argues a will that cannot be my own,
And one not wished for: points to show

Time in his little cinema of the heart
Giving a première to Hate and Pain;
And Space urbanely keeping us apart.

                              before April 1941
Philip Larkin
Collected Poems

Edited with an Introduction by Anthony Thwaite
The Marvell Press 1988