Wednesday, May 09, 2007

More Jackleg

This week's Athens Flagpole has lots of coverage of the Georgia Museum of Art's Jay Bolotin exhibition The Jackleg Testament. One of Bolotin's woodcuts became the cover:

The relevant section of Beth Sale's article which includes a mention of our permanent collection woodcuts:

Every now and then, someone comes along and changes the way things are done. Dreaming and then making that dream a reality are what makes an artist. Sometimes the dream takes years to come to fruition. Sometimes it requires inventing new ways of creating. Sometimes it requires new ways of displaying.

The Woodcut Bible: Jay Bolotin’s woodcut film titled The Jackleg Testament, Part One: Jack and Eve is currently on view at the Georgia Museum of Art (GMOA). The film is Bolotin’s variation of the Book of Genesis, reinterpreted as an imaginative, dark tale of theatre and adventure, involving Eve, Jack (a Jack-in-the-box freed from his box), and a godlike figure called Nobodaddy (a reference to the poetry of William Blake). Bolotin created the film by making woodcuts of the characters, landscape elements and props, and scanning them into a computer for manipulation. The woodcuts used in the production of the film are displayed in the exhibit as a supplement, offering “behind-the-scenes” access, which works on two levels. Images used to make the film are on view, as well as the plates used to create the woodcuts. Examples of large circular woodcut plates help the viewer identify the process required to make the finished product. These plates, along with the large wooden sculpture of Daniel Boone, were not originally part of the traveling exhibit; they were selected by Curator of Exhibitions Dennis Harper for inclusion in the GMOA show. The sculpture of Daniel Boone is included in the film, although the inclusion is in reference only, and serves as an example of the solidity of the world Bolotin has created. Bolotin created a woodcut of the sculpture and included it in the plot of the film. “A portfolio of prints that outlines the narrative” is also included in the exhibit. While “claymation” (stop motion animation using clay as the image-making medium) has been used for decades, this is likely the first film created using woodcuts. Bolotin, who first used the term “Woodcut Motion Picture,” is credited as having forged a new path. He wrote the script and the musical score, and performed music and the voice of Nobodaddy. The film also features the vocal talents of Karin Bergquist, and opera singers Monte Jaffe and Nigel Robson. Layers upon layers of literary and biblical references are woven into the script and imagery.

References were taken from William Blake, Shakespeare and the Bible; and literary puns and allusions are scattered throughout the film. Bolotin quotes Nietzsche in the prologue: “We were fashioned to live in paradise and paradise was destined to serve us. Our destiny has been altered; this has also happened with the destiny of paradise not stated.” Watching the film is “like reading James Joyce,” says Harper.

For example, Bolotin titles one section of the film where Eve catches the apple “the Beginnings of Irony,” alluding to both the irony of the biblical story and the first example of irony used in the film. (See this week's cover.) The imagery is dark and morose. The sound track is operatic. The characters’ movements are peculiarly like paper dolls, with only the heads and upper limbs moving. The film alternates between color and black and white, adding to the unique quality. The Georgia Museum became involved in the preparation for this traveling exhibit when the film was still in its early stages, through the introduction of a mutual friend. The hour-long film will run continuously throughout the duration of the exhibit, starting on the hour. Just in time for the summer, sit and watch the film in the cool, dark, air-conditioned museum. The exhibit will be on display through July 8. There will be an opening reception for the summer exhibitions on Friday, May 18, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Keep your eyes open for a local musical performance by Jay Bolotin. See or call 706-542-GMOA.

Carved in Wood: Also on view in the Georgia Museum of Art is an exhibit of woodcuts dating from the late-15th century to the 20th century, from the museum’s permanent collection. These prints were chosen by Dennis Harper to illustrate the history and process of the woodcut. Included in the exhibit are Japanese Ukiyo-e prints, such as Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” from the “36 Views of Mt. Fuji.” The iconic look of woodcuts is seen in Emile Bernard’s “Christ, or Crucifixion” from 1894. A page from Wassily Kandinsky’s collection of poems and woodcuts called “KlĂ„nge” (translates as “sounds”) is in the exhibit. Leonard Baskin’s “Florentine” from 1952 shows a dark angel with wings. The variety of woodcut images in the exhibit provides an overview of the technique. Visit to see more.

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