an investigative photo documentary

Exclusive 18-page photo essay from our investigative journalist team in collaboration with award-winning photojournalist Marta Iwanek. Location: Toronto, Canada Copyright Wondereur 2018.

MEET with artist Barbara Astman curated by preeminent contemporary art dealer Jane Corkin.

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WHEN doing brain surgery, you have to follow the rules, or else somebody’s life is at stake.
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WITH ART, I ALWAYS BELIEVED THERE ARE NO RULES.
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I’m not interested in going out into the real world and documenting things that I see. I do that when I’m travelling. But I like to create things that I’m imagining. If you can imagine it, then you can start to use any materials that you feel like, and combine them.
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I’ve always had an experimental approach to things, an inclination to thinking outside of the box and wanting to work with different mediums and combine those mediums.
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I THINK IT’S JUST KIND OF THE CHAOS OF MY OWN MIND PULLING THESE TOGETHER.
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In 1970, I was studying silversmithing and design at the Rochester Institute of Technology. All around me, it was the Vietnam War and student protests. I was vaguely involved but I wasn’t really as political as I liked to think I was.
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I HAD STRONG BELIEFS BUT I WAS ALSO VERY DRIVEN WITH MAKING MY ART.
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When I started using black and white copy machines to make art, I thought, ‘Wow, this is so fascinating. It’s about reproducing pieces and then I can cut them up, collage them, and lay them back down on the machine.’
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Once the colour Xerography—the colour copy machines—came out, I was just gung ho to work with that. And then, I was in New York, my friend had this Polaroid camera. And I immediately went out and bought one. So I could see how I could push it, where I could take it.
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I DO ACTUALLY GET INSPIRED BY MATERIALITY AND BY TECHNOLOGY.
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I love photography for its tenuous relationship to reality. There’s a kind of realism there—whether it is reality or not, but it connects us to it. So even if I’m creating these strange installations with coffee mugs, and key chains, and all of that, there’s still this image, and this image then does connect you to reality.
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I believe what matters is what art contributes to our society.
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What does it mean in terms of looking back historically? I think we should look at the social, political, economic as well as the cultural aspects of historical times.
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TO ME, ART IS A GREAT BENCHMARK OF WHAT HAS HAPPENED DURING A TIME PERIOD.