Filmmaker Dave Altizer’s short mini-documentary Porcelainia features Bobby Jaber, an educator, scientist, and artist. After Jaber retired from teaching chemistry, he was able to focus his energies on porcelain work, specifically geometric designs based on molecular shapes. Jaber’s approach to his work is inspired by his scientist/artist predecessors, most notably Buckminster Fuller, inventor of the geodesic dome. Though he’s had a little financial success with some of his work, Jaber is clearly motivated by love and dedication to his craft. Be sure to stick around after the credits to catch Jaber’s priceless reaction to current technology.
Europe-Europe is a series of porcelain figurines created by the collective AES+F – a group made up of the artists Tatiana Arzamasova, Lev Evzovitch, Evgeny Svyatsky, and Vladimir Fridkes. A first quick glance they may seem like typical decorative figurines. However, it soon becomes clear that something is terribly/wonderfully wrong. The collection, exhibited together in a case, seems like an orgy – people caught in various sexual situations.
Yet, something else makes this series especially interesting: the characters are often thought of disliking or even hating each other in real life situations. A Neo-Nazi strokes the locks of a Hasidic Jewish boy, sweat shop workers pet their capitalist supervisor, a police officer fondles a rioter. While these can easily be read as a playful and optimistic depiction of global unity, a sinister feeling lingers on these figurines. It seems as likely that these hateful feelings are depicted as a sexual tension. Political power struggles are illustrated as sexual power struggles.
Penny Byrne transforms vintage porcelain figures and other found objects into work that makes a humorous or political statement. Though the themes of her work are dark and heavy, the lightness and treatment of the porcelain contrasts this, formulating a new perception of these themes. As a respected ceramic conservator and restorer, she claims that what she is doing with these “sacrosanct” found figures is quite inappropriate with respect to her field of work. Byrne lives and works in Melbourne, Australia.
The work of Laurent Craste lies at the crossroads of two mediums. It participates in the world of visual arts, but never crosses its borders. This is explore in his use of ceramics. The form, linked by tradition to crafts, requires a technical knowledge and know-how so restrictive that artists are prompted to remain within canonical forms, never pushing their limits. In this series of ceramic sculptures, Craste has used porcelain vases, representative of certain upper class tastes, and laid into them with a variety of blunt objects, essentially critiquing the fusty conservatism of both this group and the medium itself.
Tricia Cline’s delicate sculptures in porcelain reveal a world where the lines between animals, nature, and man are blurred.