Nick Cave’s Soundsuits

October 29, 2008 · Print This Article

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photo via Jack Shainman Gallery

Last week I posted a link to Art 21′s blog interview with Jenny Holzer. This week they have a brief interview with Chicago based artist Nick Cave. If you are not reading Art 21′s blog I would highly recommend it. Below is an excerpt from A21 describing Cave’s Soundsuits.

” Nick Cave’s Soundsuits are fabulous creations made of thrift store finds, twigs, plastic bags, discarded thcotchkes, and just about anything else that strikes his fancy. Children loved seeing his work and guessing the materials they were made from, and seeing a video presentation of people inhabiting them. They enjoyed learning about his process, too. Often, Cave’s Soundsuits are assembled by a multigenerational, multicultural group of volunteers in his Chicago neighborhood.”

Check out Nick Cave’s interview here.




Chicago Gallery Review: October 08′

October 29, 2008 · Print This Article

Carrie Schneider @ Monique Meloche; Lora Fosberg @ Linda Warren; Amy Mayfield @ threewalls

Artwork copyright the original artists; text and documentation copyright Paul Germanos.

Friday, October 17, 2008, Chicago:

Carrie Schneider @ Monique Meloche

“ognuno vede” — Niccolo Machiavelli:

As I ride east, the sky fades to red behind me.
And according to no particular rhythm, drops of rain infrequently appear on the visor of my helmet.
Bike parked, block walked, I cross the threshold of Monique Meloche Gallery and find the photography of Carrie Schneider.

Schneider’s prints are large — an easy meter on any given side — and in full color.
The subjects are human figures, and products of human artifice, as found in landscapes of great natural beauty.
OK.

Meloche’s exhibition program has seemed at once gutsy and cerebral, demonstrating a sustained interest not only in the sensual human experience of the world, but also favoring a cool, museum-like intellectual framing of contemporary issues.
And so I suppose there’s something here in addition to pretty scenery and clever portraits.
Clue: the consistently idiosyncratic aspect of Schneider’s photography is the focus upon some type of covering.

Carrie Schneider @ Monique Meloche

The human figure in the piece entitled We, and the canoe in Dazzle Camouflage, are draped with a Riley-like, black-and-white canvas.
But “dazzle” is a reference not to Op Art, rather a battlefield technique that disrupts an opponent’s perception through the use of striking, high-contrast patterns wholly unrelated to the object so treated.[1]

Carrie Schneider @ Monique Meloche

Certain of that, conscious of the fact that Carrie Schneider’s work has, for several years, evidenced an artistic strategy concerned with ambiguity,[2]
it seems likely that her first solo show is in large part an exploration of the tactics of camouflage.

Continuing to view the work, continuing to think about camouflage, the self-portrait beneath a mask of juniper boughs in Queen of This Island seems not unlike a ghillie suit:
that covering of organic materials drawn from the environment into which one desires to blend,
most familiar in the form of a rude crown of grass and twigs ringing the helmet of military snipers.[3]

Carrie Schneider @ Monique Meloche

The application of such substances to the human figure is a familiar process in Chicago:
A photograph of one of Nick Cave’s “suits” hung on the same gallery wall a few short months ago;
and while not “wearable,” and more distant (ten to twenty years prior) historically, there is also the example of Tom Czarnopys’ cast figures encased in bark.

Maybe most notable in their exploitation of camouflage have been local artists Tom Burtonwood & Holly Holmes.
In their piece Price War!, as see at the Consuming War exhibition, B & H applied a non-threatening commercial pattern to threatening, military shapes.
Later reversing that figure/ground relationship at artXposium 2.0, B & H applied a threatening military pattern to a non-threatening commercial shape in their piece Urban Camo Santa.

That Burtonwood and Holmes examine the relationship between commerce and war is writ large for all to read.[4]

Coyly, Schneider looks out from her work: young, beautiful and self-satisfied.
She’s not really hiding.
What is Schneider’s interest in camouflage?
In both her projected and also in her printed films, the message, the revelation, is delivered by means of the obscurement.
What is she attempting to communicate?

Lora Fosberg @ Linda Warren

Communication:

There are times when the clarity and simplicity of an artist’s message, amplified by the means of delivery,
overwhelm and even stupify the viewer.

In the past, Barbara Kruger’s bold font has seemed to shout at me;
Jenny Holzer’s animation and projections have quite literally circled menacingly, and towered ominously above me.[5]
I’ve been told that this confrontational mode of delivery was carefully chosen for the purpose of forcing certain issues into the public consciousness.

But, fighting — and the work of Kruger and Holzer alluded to above is combative — with the weapons and armor
of the enemy, they, at times, appear to belong to his camp…to be propagandists.

Exposed to loud noise, I cover my ears; in the presence of a bright light, I shield my eyes.
But when someone whispers, I draw near and listen.
And seeing something delicate and small, I’m inclined to study it with care.

Lora Fosberg @ Linda Warren

And so it is at 1052 W. Fulton Market: I find myself drawn into Lora Fosberg‘s text-ladden pieces at Linda Warren Gallery.
And I attribute my reaction to her subtle treatment of the material.
Admittedly, I’ve tended to recoil when confronted by large amounts of text in what is nominally visual art.
But Fosberg’s words and phrases are well-integrated with the purely aesthetic elements of her design.

Lora Fosberg @ Linda Warren

Fosberg shows a deft hand when practicing the craft of draftsmanship.
Clean, sure strokes of brush and pen define figures with what appears to be little effort.
I’m caught unaware by the content, having been more-or-less lulled into a receptive state by the combined effect of the subtle tones of her palette, the easy grace of her execution, and the modest scale of the pieces on display.
Fosberg’s made visible dialogues, dialogues that, in her own words,
“suggest the familiar while maintaining ambiguity.”

Lora Fosberg @ Linda Warren

As in Schneider’s show, here there are figures active in a landscape.
But Fosberg’s models aren’t literal representations of herself;
and they aren’t looking out of the frame at me — seeking my attention and approval.
No, the subjects of Fosberg’s ink and gouache caricatures are busily about their given work.

Amy Mayfield @ threewalls

Internal dialogue:

Amy Mayfield @ threewalls

Up the stairs, down the hall, to threewalls I go.
It’s the crazy aunt’s attic in which I’ve found voodoo dolls, horror films, and even whole trees.
Tonight a heavily embroidered curtain hangs between the body of Amy Mayfield‘s installation and the external world of the gallery’s front room.
Passing through that membrane I entered a hot vermillion space.

Amy Mayfield @ threewalls

fornus, fornax, fornix

Mayfield has wholly invested herself in the process of transforming the back room of the gallery:
choosing to place some found objects, fabricate other pieces, and treat the environment as well.
The surfaces — from the tiles beneath my feet to the walls on which framed items are hung –
are well-painted, sometimes thickly, sometimes possessing a glossy sheen.

Amy Mayfield @ threewalls

Rising up from the floor are foam concretions that resemble stalagmites,
the floor having been re-tiled with brightly colored geometric units of her own creation.
It’s the contrast between the line quality of those two things that really strikes me.
There’s a wild, almost schizophrenic, swing from style-to-style, piece-to-piece;
the unifying compositional element being the vivid color that she favors.

Mayfield, like Schneider and Fosberg, I think, is involved in a process that is somewhat autobiographical.
Schneider, as a model, quite literally appears in her own work.
Fosberg presents artifacts of thought processes.
Mayfield manifests externally some internal space, viscerally fusing the physical and psychological.

+ + +

It says something good about the scene in Chicago that it’s now possible
to experience, back-to-back, strong shows by three women at different
points in their lives and careers. Go and compare:

Amy Mayfield @ threewalls through Nov 15, 2008

Lora Fosberg @ Linda Warren through Nov 29, 2008

Carrie Schneider @ Monique Meloche through Dec 6, 2008


[1] See: The “dazzle” cars of Patricia van Lubeck, circa the early 90′s.

[2] See: Comments on Schneider’s Derelict Self series, 2006-2007, made by
Aura Seikkula, curator of the Finnish Museum of Photography.

[3] See: False Colors: Art, Design and Modern Camouflage by
Roy R. Behrens,
Professor, Art and Design, University of Northern Iowa (noting especially the text’s cover art) for more on the relationship between art and camouflage.

[4] See: Camouflage at London Imperial War Museum, 2007;
“The first major exhibition to explore the impact of camouflage on modern warfare and its adoption into popular culture.”

[5] See: Jenny Holzer: Protect Protect @ MCA through February 1, 2009.

Written by Paul Germanos




C-Monster on The 2008 California Biennial

October 28, 2008 · Print This Article

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I’ve been a little too busy today to update . So instead of reblogging the current art news I am going to redirect you to C Monster’s list of the most “stoneriffic pieces” in The 2008 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art

Check it here




Obituary: Ben Schaafsma

October 27, 2008 · Print This Article

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via New City:
Ben Schaafsma, an independent curator and art activist, passed away on Saturday, October 25. He was 26 years old.

Schaafsma was an exceptionally ambitious and motivated organizer of the arts community, establishing non-profit art institutions at almost every turn. Perhaps his best-known and longest-running effort was the Institute for Community Understanding Between Art and The Everyday (InCUBATE), founded with Abigail Satinsky and Roman Petruniak. The Logan Square storefront houses an artist residency and a grant program, among many other activities, that, at their core, serve to support artistic endeavors.

Schaafsma often sought to solve funding issues using creative and non-traditional means. InCUBATE’s Sunday Soup program awarded a monthly grant to an artist from monies earned through a soup subscription. A local artist or activist cooked soup to be sold, and diners voted on who would win the grant. This type of self-supporting endeavor exemplifies Schaafsma’s efforts to build and sustain community.

In 2007, Schaafsma was the Public Art Curator for Around the Coyote’s Fall Festival. He interpreted “public art” as a way to bring the public together in social spaces, such as spontaneous film screenings in the Polish Triangle, and interactive sculptures in Wicker Park.

Schaafsma earned a bachelor’s degree in Art History and Urban Planning from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he was born and raised. There, he co-founded G-RAD and the Division Ave. Arts Cooperative, alternative community outreach centers.

At age 9, Schaafsma cataloged his personal collection of books, magazines and VHS tapes, and built a library in his basement for neighborhood kids to use. “Not until recently did I identify this experience as such a formative one in relation to my current personal interests and practice,” wrote Schaafsma in an essay on founding InCUBATE in “Phonebook,” a directory of alternative artistic spaces. The self-made library “gave us access to a pool of new ideas and things that weren’t available to us individually.” In sum, “we were able to…create our own collective knowledge.”

In 2008 he earned a master’s degree form the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Arts Administration and Policy.

Schaafsma co-curated “Other Options” in 2007, a touring exhibition that explored connections among activism, economics, and art making, and self-referentially questioned the nature of the “Nonprofit Industrial Complex.” The exhibition, recently hosted by New York City’s Eyebeam, intended to better understand the relationships between artists and funding sources. Schaafsma was well-versed in both theoretical and concrete issues of budgeting for the arts—both financially and as a life practice—and he could express his concerns in cogent and thoughtful ways. These issues were clearly his passion.

Schaafsma helped artists realize their creative projects without having to rely on traditional means—the mysteriously bureaucratic systems of museums and granting agencies. Instead, Schaafsma envisioned realistic ways to assist artists and connect their practices to everyday existence. Schaafsma was especially interested in promoting artists who likewise used the public and social spaces as their medium.

Schaafsma recently moved to New York to work as the Program Director at the Elizabeth Foundation. He was injured in a car accident on October 22, and passed three days later. Schaafsma will be buried in his hometown in Ada, Michigan. (Jason Foumberg)




Jerry Saltz on Frieze

October 27, 2008 · Print This Article

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via New York Magazine:

Two weeks ago, the Death Star that has hovered over the art world for the last two years finally fired its lasers. It was October 15, the day the stock market fell more than 700 points—again—and a month after Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch collapsed and Damien Hirst pawned off $200 million worth of crapola on clueless rubes at Sotheby’s. Against this backdrop, at 11 a.m., the gates of London’s Frieze Art Fair opened, and in streamed the international traveling circus of bigwigs, collectors, curators, advisers, museum directors, trustees, models, movie stars, and critics like moi.

Talk of financial doom filled the air. Karl Schweizer, UBS’s head of art banking, told one reporter, “We are in a liquidity crisis.” Money manager Randy Slifka added, “There is blood on the streets on Wall Street.” Collectors talked about “sewing up our pockets.” Yet much of the art world was playing on as if nothing had happened. A German dealer told Artforum.com, “This economic mess will all be over by January.” Christie’s Amy Cappellazzo spun her house’s recent sales: “If you bought something, you bought something real.” In truth, most of the speculators are buying something real bad or badly overpriced.

In fact, though, things were different. Those of us who have frequented Frieze could see that something was off. Dealers and assistants who in recent years were always busy with clients now stood or sat quietly. Sales were happening, but slowly, one at a time. The claim of “It’s sold” was replaced by “I have it on several holds.” Although the megagalleries like Gagosian and White Cube teemed with moneyed types and very tall women in very high heels, many younger dealers looked perplexed. A gallerist who entered the field in the go-go aughts and who had sold only two pieces by 5 p.m. that first day asked, “What’s going on?”

As I made my way through the 152 booths, I thought about the moment in Titanic when the designer of the doomed luxury liner warns Kate Winslet to find a lifeboat because “all this will be at the bottom of the Atlantic.” When I tried this idea out on attendees, several said I was “a buzzkill.” I asked, “Isn’t the buzz already beginning to disappear?”

If the art economy is as bad as it looks—if worse comes to worst—40 to 50 New York galleries will close. Around the same number of European galleries will, too. An art magazine will cease publishing. A major fair will call it quits—possibly the Armory Show, because so many dealers hate the conditions on the piers, or maybe Art Basel Miami Beach, because although it’s fun, it’s also ridiculous. Museums will cancel shows because they can’t raise funds. Art advisers will be out of work. Alternative spaces will become more important for shaping the discourse, although they’ll have a hard time making ends meet.

As for artists, too many have been getting away with murder, making questionable or derivative work and selling it for inflated prices. They will either lower their prices or stop selling. Many younger artists who made a killing will be forgotten quickly. Others will be seen mainly as relics of a time when marketability equaled likability. Many of the hot Chinese artists, most of whom are only nth-generation photo-realists, will fall by the wayside, having stuck collectors with a lot of junk.

Much good art got made while money ruled; I like a lot of it, and hardship and poverty aren’t virtues. The good news is that, since almost no one will be selling art, artists—especially emerging ones—won’t have to think about turning out a consistent style or creating a brand. They’ll be able to experiment as much as they want.

But my Schadenfreude side wishes a pox on the auction houses, those shrines to the disconnect between the inner life of art and the outer life of commerce. If they don’t go belly up or return to dealing mainly with dead artists, they need to stop pretending that they have any interest in art beyond the financial. Additionally, I hope many of the speculators who never really cared about art will go away. Either way, money will no longer be the measure of success. It hasn’t made art better. It made some artists—notably Hirst, Murakami, Prince, and maybe Piotr Ukla´nski—shallower.

Recessions are hard on people, but they are not hard on art. The forties, seventies, and the nineties, when money was scarce, were great periods, when the art world retracted but it was also reborn. New generations took the stage; new communities spawned energy; things opened up; deadwood washed away. With luck, New Museum curator Laura Hoptman’s wish will come true: “Art will flower and triumph not as a hobby, an investment, or a career, but as what it is and was—a life.”