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.

Monday, 19 December 2016

...between the book and leaving the book...

#13

(cursor on photograph for detailed view, 
note: unless otherwise indicated all photographs,

by Michael Schreier and drawings by Hilde Schreier,
reproduction, without permission, prohibited.)





...between the book and leaving the book...
          
                                                                
                                                     The Book of Questions
                                                                                                                        Edmond Jabès




Can one grant that initially, there was the "word" given as a sound, and then, challenged, with an intent to garner meaning? I would suggest the passage, from an "understood" to further understanding provides a foundation for the image maker. It can be considered a trust between experience, knowledge and truth and although one can declare the non-existence of truth; yet, " how can that be believed.?" Perhaps, the non-existence of truth, a "post-truth", significant of our immediate moment in history, may be accurately rendered as a consequence of disillusionment.



         
                                                          ...a consequence of disillusionment...

Is there an association between the sublime and, "to sublimate" and further, is it not in the belief of the sublime that one progresses? Yet any suggestion  that an ascension towards a higher understanding and an acceptance that one is quite prepared to sublimate, might become suspect. The nexus between reason and passion becomes disparately clouded. 

  
The gallery/book, and the above selected photographs have proffered an access to passage from history to the presence. The included, time line, offers evidence, a confirmation of an event, 05..10..16, 11..36..47,  yet what is understood and critically, what is its link to history?




"The fact that the word needs to go from one to the other to be confirmed or contradicted and developed shows the necessity of the interval. The power to speak is interrupted, and this interruption plays a seemingly subordinate role, that precisely, of subordinated alternatives. A role, however, so mysterious that it can be interpreted as carrying the mystery of language itself: pause between phrases, pause from one speaker to the other, and pause of attention, of understanding, which doubles the power of expression."

Interruptions
Maurice Blanchot


Trans. Rosemarie Waldrop and Paul Auster

   
Art is born in conflict, life and death in opposition, each mirroring
the other, interchangeable. Art is born in sorrow, nostalgia and
madness. Art is born on the threshold of silence. Art is born in
the reclamation of that which is lost. Art is born in the chimera
of hope. Art is born as the tragic expression of the profound 
laughter of God's melancholy.

We are the present
Bound in this moment of life's reality
To a task;
An action borne from an unseen past.

We are the present
Compelled by life's disorder
To order;
In action borne toward an unknown future.

                           We are the image makers
                           Beguiled by our fictions,
                          Through creation cursed
                          With the mystery.

                                                         ____Dave Heath
                                                         
                                                         Dave Heath's Art Show

I have returned to this credence, offered by Dave to his students as a way to assist their efforts, to underscore the very nature of art making, an embrace for philosophical, spiritual truths in which verity can be challenged for a deeper understanding. It is for me appropriate to return to these thoughts as I notice with some regret such a plethora of contemporary art making, governed seemingly by expediency and an urgency to be noticed. Dave's thoughts return me to a moment of profound consideration for that illusive gift of knowledge given and challenged through the ages, by those who have touched on a level that continues to motivate my own search.





                                                                  The Veil of Orpheus, 
                                                                           Harold Budd










Thursday, 9 June 2016


Post  # 12


From an urgency to utterance, through studio muse towards an audience:

( A Memento Mori)

(cursor on photograph for detailed view, 
note: unless otherwise indicated all photographs,

by Michael Schreier and drawings by Hilde Schreier,
reproduction, without permission, prohibited.)



Some years ago I reflected with a close friend, wondering what I would be doing now, if I had grown up in Vienna. The answer, quickly returned, "why, you would be an artist". There is certainly truth to this, while recognizing that my cultural imperative, influence, might be very different. Clearly my concerns for a sense of place, the nurturing of voice, the poetics of thought, the value placed on passage with the memory of one place, while the being in another, might be very different. And yet perhaps not.


So it begins with introspection, then to utterance including a speculation for argument and then a return to silence as truths revealed offer little but further introspection: a cycle to confirm.

It has been some time since I have either considered writing or visiting Camera Obscura. Partially the result of a personal challenge to consider more deeply one's muse, however, more urgently an attempt to understand both the embrace of loss and the requirement to let go, hoping that memory would confirm a deeper continuity. It is with great sadness, yet with a quiet acknowledgement of all gifts garnered that I dedicate this posting to Dave Heath, my mentor, and above all, my close friend. 

Dave died on his birthday, June 27, 2016.

                                                     




                                                           I include the following discussion between Dave and I,
                                                              (with appreciation to SPAO, and Michael Vuckovic)
                                                                Dave Heath, Michael Schreier, In Conversation

(For your reference, The following exchange between Dave and I was initiated as a result of Post#10

The Beholder, beheld:
The Reader, read.)

On May 3, 2016, 12:23 pm Dave Heath wrote:

i'm not sure my readings are astute.it is of interest that some find the work
"obfuscating". i do not find that so. for me, it is the density of your thinking which i often find difficult to enter.
you are more of a "philosopher",word oriented. thinking that is dense like celan, like the 20th century atonal music that you like. i have sometimes wondered if the structure of your thinking is based on the density of your first language, German. i have often wondered that the books from my library that you read from are books of ideas/words, of some poetry(celan, jabès) but not others, nothing from the visual books. i have long said that photographers enter the medium through one of two doors:text (for instance nathan, (lyons)) or visual aesthetic, (Weston, Edward)

to wit, from your blog:


i am more inclined to see clifford still in "temes"

walker's photo structurally is of clarity and precision, like the grid layouts of philly and manhattan...like his subway series "many are called" wherein the quotidian populace live "lives of quiet desperation. i took his photo as the basis of "beyond the gates of eden"


though I may often find it difficult to enter your thought, I have always thought you brilliant, continue the work as you live it

regards, dave

My answer:
May 3, 2016, 12:52 pm

Thank you for your kind thoughts and insight...I do read a great deal from the visual section of your library...it certainly sources/influences my work...but I suspect at this point in my life/thinking I am deeply involved with two specific notions, that of doubt and the other, an authority for voice. When I see the profundity of your insight, in your work, and others, I question whether I have anything of real substance to offer...Temes to me underscores a confusion that I have sometimes speculated is part of the "Story of Babel" for in that myth rests not only the notion of language but the privilege  to utterance and the struggle for source...What has always struck me about the Evans photograph and his work is the depth to which he goes in recognizing the integrity of the vernacular and the anonymous. I see the window display as a tower built on the subtlety of trace and individual gesture. I also certainly absorb Nathan's text and Weston's visual aesthetics but for me there is a much deeper reflection and that is the right to existence and continuity, that in my own being I find I am challenging. Similar to my experience when one has a deep sense of loss, the very nature of validity is challenged. I have no memory other than through the story's that my parents told me, of my early years in Vienna...and when I came to Canada I could not speak as I did not yet have the language,

...that little boy in the doorway...


is of me the first day that I could actually, in English tell and share with my father,  my day's events...previously and until that day, he would not listen if I spoke in German...the link to atonal music, to the theater of the absurd, my appreciation of DAda and my understanding of Duchamp's contribution and numerous other elements stem from these early ruminations. Out of coincidence, the first and only play that I directed...The Bald Soprano by Ionesco, was his first play that he wrote to learn English...the humor and contradictions are the result of that dilemma...I am also a deep fan of Clifford Still...currently listening to Arnold Schoenberg...I find your work "Beyond the Gates of Eden" a very quiet reference to the "Tower of Babel" and the, as you suggest, quiet desperation of lives attempting to garner voice...your insights have always fueled the very nature of what I do and on many levels you are one of the few who really understands....

with tender thoughts, always, Michael





                                                                                    Pierre Henry : Le voile d'Orphee II




Friday, 29 April 2016



Post  # 11


Words yet to Come


(cursor on photograph for detailed view,
note: unless otherwise indicated all photographs,
by Michael Schreier and drawings by Hilde Schreier,
reproduction, without permission, prohibited.)





Storyteller/ Waiting for Words
Artist book: 2007-8

Michael Schreier

I have always interpreted Carl Jung's definition of a Night Sea Journey as a necessary place/attitude that an artist might embrace at a time of deep introspection. One may become occupied by doubt and uncertainty, perhaps even challenging a sense of place and possibly one's accomplishments. My regard for such a deep challenge provides me with the necessary energy and guidance for clarity: as it may also become a component in my work. The above layout from Storyteller/ Waiting for Words, An Artist's book: 2007-8 illustrates my suggestion.  



Detail from Intro: Layout
(cursor on image to detail text)



The above two details underscore the subtlety offered in the complete image. Clearly, the reversed illegible text presents its source somewhere behind the beholder. A further complication arises as one notices that the perspective tends to the right and into the distance. As an aside, notice that this perspective will marry virtually with the space suggested by a mirrored spacial movement offered by the photograph of the store window/blue rectangle space: its perspective also moving into the distance. The two might meet behind the central image of the ceramic women figure?! Further study of the surface of the glass reflecting the text reveals a rubbing, a smudge, probably a sloppy window cleaning effort. A deeper study of the lower corner of the text image may reveal a shadow form cast by and echoing the shape of the ceramic figure. I leave the reader with any implications arising from these formal traces. I would however as I have tried to emphasize in previous posts reiterate that a photograph offering detailed information may actually propose a more complex truth. Although a cloak of certainty has somehow always been presumed as the photographic process renders accuracy, it  has however, over the course of photography's short history just as quickly been questioned.



Tabula Rasa #1                                      Table 1                                    Tabula Rasa #2
                                      Michael Schreier                                 Gerhard Richter                          Michael Schreier
                                             2009                                                     1962                                         2009



                       Anecdote: Robert Rauschenberg, Erased Drawing

Notions of erasure as a creative gesture are not new as a painter may draw over, erase a previous gesture. Rauschenberg's interest to erase a de Kooning drawing happens at a very interesting moment in American history as Joseph McCarthy revs up his insidious efforts, directing his notorious witch hunts throughout the american cultural fabric. My understanding for the erased drawing comprises a profound sense of irony as certainly Rauschenberg would have to decide to what extent evidence should be retained and destroyed, almost a foreshadowing: the completed erasure in 1953 introduces with some irony the initiated McCarthy hearings of 1954.

(Please allow me to acknowledge a mistake made in the initial posting, It was not Eugene McCarthy but Joseph McCarthy that was involved with the Anti-American hearings. Much appreciation to Dave Heath for pointing out the mistake!, now corrected)



                             
                                                                       Christopher Lea Dunning, "from an Artist's" book.          

Christopher Lea Dunning is a close friend, colleague, compatriot who has for a number of years insinuated himself into Art History publications. Cursor on his above name and you should arrive at one of his remarkable works, Insinuating Oneself into History. The work speaks for itself. These references to erasure and "collage" emphasize both an artist's need for linkage and continuity as well as challenging the very nature of truth and witnessing, the value, duration not only of utterance but the broader archive of humanity's guarantee for voice. 




As history compels itself to the surface of time, to compete with the quotidian  can one really acknowledge the value of witnessing? Artists over the years have struggled with both their conscience and ethics, finally relying on an artwork's profound implication for guidance. Implications guided not strictly by formal gesture, abstraction  and rendering but by the very desire for continuity.


As Edmond Jabès has so eloquently challenged in The Book of Dialogue, translated by Rosemarie Waldrop,

                                
Hidden language, not that of the hand or eyes, a language beyond
gesture, beyond looks, smiles or tears that we had to learn! Ah, what
desert will revive it now?
We thought we were done with crossing the desolate stretch of
land where the word had dragged us, making us and our wanderings
bear amazed witness to its perennial nature.
And here silence leads us into its glass kingdom, vaster yet at first
sight, breaking all trace of our passage.
...primal silence which we cannot escape. 

  

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Post  # 10


The Beholder, beheld:
(the reader, read)


(cursor on photograph for detailed view,
note: unless otherwise indicated all photographs,
by Michael Schreier and drawings by Hilde Schreier,
reproduction, without permission, prohibited.)



                
                                  From Series; Camera Obscura               Hilde Schreier                     From Series; Corner room
                                                    2016                                      circa 1995                                    2016
                                            Michael Schreier                                                                         Michael Schreier


Disturbances in Reading, Palimpsest

Michael Schreier, (artist book),
Blurb.ca


 "It is time I get a name fit to live in," he had written me.
"The one I have used so far is the name of my absence."
"I need my life in order to write, but did my life want
to be written?" he asked.
"Every life is the writing of a life," he was told.

The Book of Dialogue
Edmond Jabès

Translated by Rosemarie Waldrop


I began this post wanting to offer some clarification, perhaps some additional references, that might make for an easier or less confusing reading. It has been suggested that my reflections have tended to the opaque, dense and perhaps even the esoteric. I have never wished to obfuscate but simply to reach a more exacting and responsible reading both for myself and for my reader.



                                                             "It is time I get a name fit to live in," he had written me. 


The above photograph was taken at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico. Visitors were invited to offer marks to this panel, signatures, dates, scribbles, whatever they chose to trace. I spent time studying this photograph, intrigued    with some poetic license    by its subtle reference to Walker Evans:


Further study, of the Mexican photograph, (serendipitously) revealed the word "temes". Susan Blackmore makes reference to "temes" as the basis of technology. How ironic that this word should appear on an anonymous panel with vernacular markings. It seems that the profundity in this accidental marking could imply that the basis for technology might just include an urgency to voice and mark-making. Certainly Walker Evans in his critical work American Photographs, with text by Lincoln Kirstien, underscores the value for the quotidian and vernacular gesture.


An aside:

A friend of mine studying Hebrew indicated that the graffiti on the wall can be loosely translated as "lushi" meaning to knead, 
as in bread, before baking in an oven. 

This double-page spread is taken from my artist's book, "Storyteller/Waiting for Words"

Taking on the formal costume of utterance is no easy task. Utterance embraces a series of sounds placed within a designated structure, to be recognized initially as word and then as sentence. I am not aware as to when abstract thought-perspective was initiated. One does however eventually embrace rational and abstract voice, both within the social and the privatized experience. Walker Evans' Studio suggests humanity's collective library, each one embracing and challenging continuity within Babel's unreachable intention to assemble and to recognize.


The three photographs in the introductory layout are all taken in library, museum or gallery facilities. Each offers a distinct reference to both the beholder and the beholder beheld. The beholder embraces the outsider vantage point while at the same moment being beheld. The larger image from Palimpsest recognizes a rich still life, while reflecting its viewer's presence. That shadow however assumes a peculiar attitude, framed by an outside frame, (shadowed), it ascribes to a similar position as the artist in Durer's woodcut previously discussed in Post #9. It is suggested that the shadow will never attain a presence inside the garden/still-life, exiled. It seems to me that this offers an understanding for knowledge...that one can attain a certain amount of clarity that is then immediately rendered  in doubt and further more, inaccessible.

"Erlaubt"/allowed 
and then, 
disavowed.



"The one I have used so far is the name of my absence."



From Series: Corner Rooms
(con't)
2015-16
Michael Schreier

Balance, Transition and Continuity remain, for both author and reader/beholder, integral to voice and clarity. As Jabès asks in Dialogue...but did my life wish to be written...I suggest this is the fundamental question to be asked. In fact we are given this question throughout our history even though, at times, its answer may not be as clear. Certainly in the last number of years as my work progresses it reflects two elements: the first a conviction towards trying to understand and then a profound embrace for doubt. I am motivated to trust my intuition while at the same time measuring each garnered instinct and trace for any sense of credibility. Perhaps that's why Duchamp proposes a time element for the viewing of the Small Glass. 

And finally Jabès offers;

...Every life is the writing of life... 


                                                                                                                                           



Next

Post  # 11


Words yet to Come




Storyteller/ Waiting for Words
Artist book: 2007-8

Michael Schreier

                                                                 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Post  #9

Uncertainty and Doubt within the Theatre of the Moment


(cursor on photograph for detailed view,
note: unless otherwise indicated all photographs,
by Michael Schreier and drawings by Hilde Schreier,
reproduction, without permission, prohibited.)






Albrecht-Durer-Draftsman-Drawing-a-Recumbent-Woman-Woodcut-1525-Graphische-Sammlung-Albertina--1024x352.jpg (1024×352)



Uncertainty and doubt, two critical incentives when combined with the "theatre of the moment" may motivate an artist's work: initially privileged, later shared with another. As well, constantly changing rules of representation can be adjusted according to specific demands, some governed by a sense of place while technological invention may provide additional and welcomed assistance. Albrecht Durer's use of the window-grid establishing perspective could reflect an accuracy that for some might guarantee clarity for a more authentic and perhaps truthful experience. We can appreciate Canaletto's use of the camera obscura: his attention for a rendering of increasingly complex details. Each of these perspective interpretations proffers an accurate, although anonymous, witnessing of space associated with an implied moment in time. 






                                                                                        Blue    light, library (office), she, 
                                                                                           Vienna walk, 2007
                                                                                              Michael Schreier

                     
While studying Durer's etching, I have come to realize that, apart from its illustrative function, Durer offers three distinct vantage points: the artist at his table studying his muse while resolving perspective issues; the reclining woman resting introspectively without regard for the artist's attention; and then the beholder of the work, witness to an event. The beholder's vantage, on the edge of the proscenium, echoes the artist's position using the frame as a suggested window to privacy. The grid-frame provides a viewing of minute separate elements that in reality are contiguous. It offers a similar attitude as the camera, selecting from the broader and extended moment. More importantly however, both artist and beholder have the privilege of familiarity, seemingly more complex than a simple study for perspective rendering. This image reminds me of both Duchamp's Étant Donné and of Nobel laureate  Yasunari Kawabata's novella House of the Sleeping Beauties. When studied in this context, the work offers a very different and more profound understanding of the human theatre. It may also introduce ethical concerns.






Wine for the Architect

1992
National Gallery of Canada
Michael Schreier


Theatre, conversation, and the directive may be inextricably linked. A moment in time is recognized, a directive given and then photographed. My intent with Wine for the Architect was a simple acknowledgment, not an observation, similar to my portrait of Lea included in the introductory layout to this post. The directive offered was " please, just stay like that". All participants are aware of the process as it happens. Does this mean, as Michael Fried has suggested in Absorption and Theatricality, that these moments although referring to absorption remain theatrical? Do the protagonists assume a pose of absorption rather than being absorbed? I am not certain whether this issue is so critical as to differentiate the value of experience, reducing the value of one while elevating the other. These moments occur sometimes casually but always offer a consideration more profound and inaccessible. What remains paramount for me is that the beholder is now, by proximity, complicit in the event observed. An artist always reflects the beholder's role either as a silent witness or as an active, although virtual, participant. It may also be true that he/she the artist remains the beholder, beheld.



Disturbances in Reading, Palimpsest

Michael Schreier, (artist book),
Blurb.ca



Post  # 10


The Beholder, beheld:


(cursor on photograph for detailed view,
note: unless otherwise indicated all photographs,
by Michael Schreier and drawings by Hilde Schreier,
reproduction, without permission, prohibited.)


      

Disturbances in Reading, Palimpsest

Michael Schreier, (artist book),
Blurb.ca

Friday, 25 March 2016

Post #8



The Portrait and a Theatre's Silent Hero

(cursor on photograph for detailed view,
note: unless otherwise indicated all photographs,
by Michael Schreier and drawings by Hilde Schreier,
reproduction, without permission, prohibited.)





Disturbances in Reading, Palimpsest 

(available at Blurb.ca, Michael Schreier, 2014)

Original artwork, collection of the artist, Michael Schreier



                                           Head by Franz Xaver Messerschmid                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ( Double Page Spread, Disturbances in Reading, Palimpsest )      





 Portrait of an Old Woman                                          Anonymous Street Portrait
                                                        Peter Paul Rubens                                                     Michael Schreier
                                                          circa 1615                                                                    2004



I am most grateful for Max Kozloff 's insight, particularly his critically acclaimed work, The Theatre of the Face, Portrait Photography Since 1900 and his essay Photos within Photographs published in the anthology, The Photographer's Choice, edited by Kelly Wise, circa 1975. 

Let me begin with the mirror image in the introductory layout for it is here that one may understand the significance of absence, the beholder outside of his own frame and moment, the opposite to what was reflected in the discussion concerning Duchamp's Small Glass  in the previous Blog #7. In emphasizing the relationship between, the exterior of circumstance, the constructed theatre, with the intensity of the interior    the reflected unknown might just invite drama through absence. Ruben's Tronie encourages an attention not only upon the magnificence of detail and craftsmanship but also the suggestion of space through focus with a subtle transition to distance, depth of fieldThis nuanced rendering personalizes the portrait. It may be placed into the theatre of the implied history painting, actually allowing a beholder's embrace and formal caress. Her intimacy, strangely enough, is relegated primarily from outside her privilege. I am effectively invited in without any understood social ritual. On the other hand, in Messerchmid's head, I am given drama without plot, isolation of expression without context    a representation within the unknown. 

My thoughts concerning the portrait will focus on two very specific issues: its role or direct engagement with the beholder and the subsequent implied theater/storytelling. 



                                        Artist, Thomas Ruff                        Artist, Hilde Schreier                    Artist, Michael Schreier
                                                1998                                         circa, 1995-98                                        2010 


To begin, all five selected portraits have two critical elements in common: they may be considered as anonymous portraits and they engage the beholder directly.

"I don't believe in the psychologizing portrait photography that my colleagues do, trying to capture the character with a lot of light and shade. That's absolutely suspect to me. I can only show the surface. Whatever goes beyond that is more or less chance."


Why Photography Matters As Art As Never Before 
Michael Fried.  


Storyteller/Waiting for Words

Artist's Book 2008-9
Michael Schreier

It is not so much the "light and shade" of a portrait that guarantees character but the individual's identity founded on privileged experience. All portraits are governed by the directorial mode, the directive offered by the artist to the sitter and then the assumed posture and pose offered to the beholder. I would suggest that there is no such attribute as neutrality. When one is required as Ruff demands, to empty one's mind of all perspective, he/she would experience imposed control and consequently either challenge his instruction or acquiesce. Certainly, it makes me consider that victims of genocide have experienced such an "emptying" either self-directed or imposed.  I believe that a tronie offers an artist two specific elements: the formal rendering and the immediate psychological description to be incorporated within the future history painting. Within the current postmodern theatre Ruff's emptying results in a contemporary metaphor reflecting control and power. I as the beholder feel reluctantly and uncomfortably complicit. All artists define their ethics and none can claim in my opinion a neutral democratic position. I do not believe such altruism exists. It is precisely an artist's responsibility to govern voice; the contemporary street theatre in its anonymity may actually arise from an iconic mythology, as the hero remains silenced. 





Post  #9

Uncertainty and Doubt within the Theatre of the Moment




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