Steve Bierfeldt & The Art of Answering Questions of Goverment Agents

June 22, 2009 · Print This Article

If you haven’t heard who Steve Bierfeldt is, he was flying from Lambert Airport in St. Louis to Washington D.C. on March 29, 2009. He was later detained in a small room at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and interrogated by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials for nearly half an hour after he passed a metal box containing cash through a security checkpoint X-ray machine. Mr. Bierfeldt is also the Director of Development for the PAC “Campaign For Liberty” which among other things is an advocacy group for promoting and defending the principles of individual liberty, constitutional government, sound money, free markets, and a noninterventionist foreign policy, by means of educational and political activity.

On top of that he used his iphone to record the entire interrogation, which can be heard here:

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Now this is not literally in the realm of the fine arts but it easily could have. If you spend anytime with a major art institution or business you could easily have $4,000 USD on you (from fund raising, merchandise sales, ticket sales or any other activity), could easily be asked to answer questions that officers have no legal authority to have you answer or better yet questions that have little to no bearing on the function of their assigned duties under the law.

Basically the point of this do you have the right to travel within the United States with however much money cash you want. Do you have to right to not answer questions in regard to you employment, activities, plans, political affiliations among other things? Needless to say it is not the responsibility or interest of any police officer or government agent of any department to advise you of your rights at any time. Infact the day to day operations of may departments predicates that you do not know and do not care to utilize the rights you have under law.

This is brought up to ask questions more then to give any one opinion or legal reading but it is pertinent to know two things:

1. Anything you say can and will be used against you (and never in your defense).
2. Not answering questions does not imply guilt, just that you are willing to spend time fulfilling the curiosity of agents who feel it’s their legal and moral right to have any and every point of interest answered.

To clarify those points you have the great and simple faq of your constitutional rights provided by one of Tony Fitzpatrick’s favorite groups “The National Hobo Museum” on top of that here is a very good primer on “why” saying anything less then 100% truthfully and accurately can harm you and in all even the most innocuous statement can be used against you and never in your defense (Rule 801(d)(2)(A) thrown out as hearsay).

I have seen way too many artists lack of knowledge of the legal, financial & business rights and terms used against them to exercise information or money out of them over the years. It’s important to watch after yourself since no one else will.

The Obamas are looking for art; Artinfo has some suggestions

June 22, 2009 · Print This Article

Jasper Johns, "Three Flags" (1958), courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art

Jasper Johns, “Three Flags” (1958), courtesy Whitney Museum of American Art

Which artists should the Obamas add to the White House walls? asked 21 artists, curators, dealers and bloggers–including Agnes Gund, Shepard Fairey, Andres Serrano (who suggests his own work, natch), Emilio Steinberger (of Haunch of Venison gallery) Edward Winkleman and Paddy Johnson to make suggestions. Their proposals, and the reasoning behind them, are fascinating to consider.

(Via Culture Monster).

Eyewitness Account of Barney/Peyton Collaboration “Blood of Two”

June 22, 2009 · Print This Article

OK, so I’ve been reading this list of rules for bloggers that Kathryn pointed to recently. (I guess they’re actually supposed to be ethical guidelines, but given my Catholic/Jewish background I tend to think of such things as straight-up RULES Thou Shalt Not Break). One particular ethical guideline/Rule says that bloggers should link to other sites to provide a proper frame of reference for their own work. Another one says that if a blogger covers a story or issue they are supposed to continue pursuing it rather than just letting it go.

So, in the interest of being fair, providing multiple takes on the issue, doggedly pursuing my stupid obsession du jour, etc. etc. Regarding the “Blood of Two” installation by Matthew Barney and Elizabeth Peyton that I posted about last week: I just came across a link I should share with you all, a post on written by Sebastian Puig who was ACTUALLY IN HYDRA not just snarking about it jealously from afar like I was. Here’s his dispatch on the event. The post contains lots of great pictures as well.

Just get a load of that table.

The Wedding at Cana: Peter Greenaway’s Vision

June 22, 2009 · Print This Article

Although it sounds like I won’t be missing much by not attending the Venice Biennale this year (oh hell, who am I kidding? or any year except one, when someone else was paying for it), based on some of the write-ups I’ve read, there are two events taking place there that I truly regret not being able to see for myself.

The first is Swoon’s Huck Finn-style floating barge, which I blogged about a few weeks ago and which has received in-depth coverage in New York magazine. More than I want to see the thing itself, though, I think what I really want is to be friends with Swoon and her deck mates.

Peter Greenaway at the

Peter Greenaway at the Palladian Refectory

The second is Peter Greenaway’s multimedia installation based on the Italian Mannerist Paolo Veronese’s gigantic painting, The Wedding Feast at Cana. Now, Greenaway isn’t someone I’d necessarily want to be buds with (I don’t think I could keep up), but he’s long been one of my favorite filmmakers (though I admit it seems a bit strange to talk about work like Greenaway’s in terms of ‘favorites,’ like it’s an ice cream flavor or something.) His early films, like The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982), A Zed and Two Naughts (1985), The Belly of an Architect (1987) Drowning by Numbers (1988) and his most mainstream “commercial” success, The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) are the films I know best; his later forays into installation and site-specific projects I’m less familiar with due to sheer lack of access to them.

Greenaway’s take on Wedding at Cana is part of an ambitious multi-part project in which the filmmaker/artist plans to bring nine classic art historical paintings to life in a modern context. Greenaway has already created installations revisiting Rembrandt’s The Nightwatch at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (via Greenaway’s film and an accompanying installation Nightwatching, made in 2006) and Leonardo’s The Last Supper in Milan (in a 2008 installation titled The Last Supper).

Greenaway’s “vision” of the Wedding takes place at the Palladian Refectory, the site where Veronese’s painting was first situated. Now, however, a facsimile of the work, commissioned by the Giorgio Cini Foundation, exists where the original once stood. Greenaway’s website describes the installation thusly:

“The Wedding at Cana facsimile, set in the original architectural context for which it had been conceived – the Palladian Refectory – offers Peter Greenaway the opportunity for an innovative and original interpretation via a state-of-the-art interplay of images, lighting, music, voices and sounds that will seem to emerge directly from the painting and the walls of the Refectory. The performance – a true multimedia event lasting about 50 minutes – makes spectators relive the episode of the marriage feast at Cana where Christ accomplished his first miracle, as narrated in the Gospel of John. Greenaway points out to the public the painting’s scores of characters, from the servants preparing dishes, to the banquet guests, to the guests of honor – Jesus Christ and his mother Mary – seated at the center of the painting’s architectural composition, in an on-going crescendo culminating in the narration’s crucial moment: the miracle of water turning into wine.”

Here’s a small image of the Paolo Veronese painting that’s under Greenaway’s scrutiny:


(click on the picture to be taken directly to the Wikipedia site containing a much larger file, which also gives you the ability to zoom in close on different parts of the painting).

There is an unofficial and no doubt surreptitiously shot video of the piece online to be found here; the quality is not great of course, but it gave me a little sense of what Greenaway is trying to accomplish. Better still, Roberta Smith has written a lengthy article on Greenaway’s Venice installation for the NYT today; it contains a great full-color installation shot which I’m too chicken to lift and post here. And Wired U.K. posted a brief, tech-oriented interview with Greenaway about the project last week.

I’d like to make a special request to any of you out there who went or are planning to go to Venice, saw this installation, and would care to comment on it, good or bad. Make me jealous: tell me all about the piece. What was it like? Did you think it worked? Was it smart or silly, and/or did you enjoy it?


“Second Stories: Artists Making Do & Fixing Up” at Zolla/Lieberman Gallery

June 21, 2009 · Print This Article

We thought we would try something new on the weekends. No reviews or commentary just some pictures of some of the openings we went to this weekend. Enjoy.

June 19th, 2009 – August 20th, 2009

325 West Huron
Chicago, IL 60610

For more info check out their site.