Cameron Jamie’s alternative forms of communication | Wbactive

Cameron Jamie’s drawings, currently on view in five rooms of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, are perhaps best understood in the context of experimental music. Music, then, in which improvisation is a method of creating alternative modes of communication and a form of ethically repositioning our art experience. It’s no coincidence that Jamie, whose works on paper seem to translate the freedom of sound into visual form, grew up surrounded by avant-garde musicians like Sun Ra and Blowfly.

Cameron Jamie, ‘Shaking Traces’, 2022–23, exhibition view, Museum der Moderne Salzburg. Courtesy: the artist and the Gladstone Gallery, New York / Brussels / Seoul / Los Angeles; Photo: Rainer Iglar

Bringing together 27 years of drawings, monotypes, photocopied handmade books, lithographs and ceramic drawings, Shaking Traces showcases Jamie’s exploration of the visceral aspects of being human. For example, six large-scale drawings displayed on wooden panels and leaning against the walls reflect the height and shape of the artist’s body. The largest piece on display La memoireinterne (Internal Memory, 2007) is an enclosed drawing resembling a body on an autopsy table or the reclining figure in Andrea Mantegna’s Lamentation of Christ (1480). The physiological references are also visible in the artist’s wall-based ceramic works, in which deep thumbprints ripple like vortices in the glazed clay. Sweet Ch’Boogie (2018), for example, resembles the fossilized bones of an extraterrestrial being.

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Cameron JamieSweet Ch’Boogie, 2018, ceramic and glaze, 96.5 × 67.5 cm. Courtesy: the artist and kamel mennour, Paris

Another constant trope in Jamie’s practice is the reduction of the human form to something resembling a head on a twisted spinal cord. Sometimes we see something animalistic—perhaps a horn or a beak—as in the chaotic mauve monotype sugar fairy (2014). On others, entrails appear to flow out of loosely formed bodies (Smiling disease drawing VII, 2008). Again and again there are allusions to masks and rituals, which are also recurring symbols in Jamie’s cinematic and photographic work, such as sick claus (2003), his documentary on Krampus rituals. Jamie’s work emerged from the mundane conformity of suburban California – a zombie-like context he described in 2001 art forum Interview with Gary Indiana as “a maximum security prison” – from which his abstract characters slip.

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Cameron Jamie, sugar fairy, 2014, monotype, 71 × 50.5 cm. Courtesy: the artist

Jamie’s processes aim to manipulate and deny the structural boundaries of traditional media. There are large monotypes in which watercolor and pencil have been compacted onto a two meter long sheet of paper with a 12 ton press, with the grain of the wood still visible in the final impression. The darker, smaller, untitled drawings on handmade paper, made in Berlin circa 2013, are covered in coffee, ink, and stains that hint at the experimentation of Jamie’s studio practice. His use of non-traditional techniques – such as shaving with disposable razors or using kitchen knives to scratch the side – means his drawings often border on relief sculpture.

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Cameron Jamie, ‘Shaking Traces’, 2022–23, exhibition view, Museum der Moderne Salzburg. Courtesy: the artist and the Gladstone Gallery, New York / Brussels / Seoul / Los Angeles; Photo: Rainer Iglar

The focal point of the exhibition are two showcases in which the entire personal collection of Jamie’s photocopied books from bookseller Walter König is displayed. These 50 or so small, copied documents, which record the artist’s diary-like, daily drawings, form an encyclopedia of linework and approach. Though it initially appears to have the DIY energy of a punk zine, the depth of toner, staple placement, and positioning and bleed of the copied images—which are often layered on top of one another in tightly rendered compositions—show how meticulously they were put together . At times they reflect the tension between Hanne Darboven’s hand-made and mechanical reproduction calendar book (1992) or Ian Burns Xerox book (1968).

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Cameron Jamie, ‘Shaking Traces’, 2022–23, exhibition view, Museum der Moderne Salzburg. Courtesy: the artist and the Gladstone Gallery, New York / Brussels / Seoul / Los Angeles; Photo: Rainer Iglar

Presenting a comprehensive overview of Jamie’s expansive approach to drawing, “Shaking Traces” reveals the artist’s exploration of the improvised, intuitive line as a means of developing a language of artistic, aesthetic and—like the sonic vocabulary of free jazz—social resistance.

Cameron Jamie’s “Shaking Traces” can be seen at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg until February 5, 2023.

main image: Inflorescence structure V2018, monotype in watercolor, chalk and pencil on lanaquarelle paper, 1.7 × 1.2 m. Courtesy: the artist and the Gladstone Gallery, New York / Brussels / Seoul / Los Angeles

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