Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.1, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.2, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.3, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.4, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.5, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.6, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.7, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.8, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.9, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.10, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.11, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.12, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.13, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.14, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.15, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.16, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.17, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.18, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.19, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.20, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.21, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.22, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.23, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.26, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.27, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.28, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.29, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.30, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.31, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.32, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.33, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.46, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.49, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, No.51, 2002

polaroid

3.5 x 4.5 in. (9 x 11 cm)

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, 2002

installation at Corkin Gallery

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, 2002

installation at Corkin Gallery

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, 2002

installation at Corkin Gallery

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, 2002

installation at Corkin Gallery

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, 2002

installation at Corkin Gallery

Astman, Barbara

Dancing with Che, 2002

installation at Corkin Gallery

Barbara Astman

Dancing with Che, 2003

 

Dancing with Che evolved from Barbara Astman’s first visit to Havana, where images of revolutionary leader Che Guevara appear in public art, on monuments, on souvenirs, so many decades after his death. Astman is interested in the proliferation of this image, and its meaning, both in terms of this historical figure viewed as a pop culture icon.

 

Astman explores the complexity of experiencing a foreign culture, while being only too acutely aware of existing outside of that culture, the rhythms and sounds of the street, the sensuousness and spirit of the people. It is in this sense of exploration that Astman has used her own body to animate the image of Che, to attempt to re-create what she experienced in Cuba.
 

There are thirty-one murals in the series, which create a rhythm of movement when viewed sequentially. These polaroid works, the sketches for the larger works, are the artist thinking out loud. They reference her earlier self-portrait work stemming from the late 1970s.

 

“Barbara Astman’s career has spanned more than 23 years of photo-based media innovations, but has always been about more than the lure of new technology. Astman’s staged and sequential work suggests issues of identity, systems of representation, gender perspectives and the anti-narrative of popular irony.” - Ihor Holubizky, art/text 1998

 

“In the early 1980s, there was a clear delineation between what was considered photography and what was classified as art, and I felt I didn’t fit into either category. That is when I started calling myself a camera artist--one that was working within the contemporary art world as a whole.” - Barbara Astman

Whether household wares or store-bought novelty items such as key-chains, mugs, and ashtrays, much of Barbara Astman’s work involves the use of objects. Imbuing these with memories and histories by means of her artistic process, she dematerializes the material and makes personal the impersonal. In installations such as Clementine Suite (2006) and Enter Through the Giftshop (2011), or series such as Newspapers (2006) and The Red Series (1981), she explores the role that mundane objects play in forming our personal and collective histories while commenting on our consumer culture. Astman was one of the first to utilize the polaroid in her art, treating the medium more like a three-dimensional, malleable material than a flat, two-dimensional surface. She often photographs self-portraits that have been carefully choreographed, so that her image becomes removed from reality: a symbol of a constructed memory. Then, in a process of scratching into, enlarging, Xerox-ing or printing over, the photograph is further removed from a document, becoming closer to an object itself.

Barbara Astman creates photographic series that target the personal world through recollection or revelation. Her early work responds to contemporary feminist issues by incorporating humor and stereotypes to challenge the roles of women domestically and in the work place. Her large-scale photographs from the early 1980s are striking in their bold, unusual use of color and scale.

 

Throughout her career, Astman pioneered the artistic use of both analogue and digital reproduction techniques. She is among the first to discover and explore the technological practices and concepts that are key signifiers in contemporary art.

 

Born in Rochester NY, Astman studied at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the late 1960s when multi-media practices were the hotbed for artistic innovation. Astman came to Canada in 1970 during the wave of draft dodgers from the Vietnam War. Since the mid 1970s she has been a professor at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto.