Center Feild | Exhibiting the Intangible

April 27, 2010 · Print This Article

PhotobucketBad at sports has teamed up with art21 for a new bi-weekly column entitled, Center Field | Art in the Middle with Bad at Sports. This week Claudine is up with her post Exhibiting the Intangible

via art21

Recently, Bad at Sports was invited to exhibit at apexart, an alternative gallery space in New York known for presenting innovative thematic exhibitions and public programs. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, we as a group had to confront a few logistical as well as conceptual hurdles. First and foremost was the question of how to transfer the “Bad at Sports experience,” as it were, to a gallery setting.

Bad at Sports exists as a series of conversations and interviews that sometimes take place as live in-person events but are usually pre-recorded and streamed online or downloaded from our website. We also have a blog that focuses mostly on news, reviews, Chicago art commentary, and other fun and irreverent stuff. So the question for us was, how do we “exhibit” the work of the group, when what that work consists of is, ultimately, a dynamic, intangible and all-too human set of social relationships? Another way of putting it, offered by B@S co-founder Richard Holland: “we are a podcast and work in intangible audio, we don’t maintain offices, we go to the person we are recording, the entire show’s artifactual footprint would fit into a grocery bag and looks like a Radio Shack threw up.”

Because our exhibition would be taking place in New York, live events and interviews could not occur with the frequency that might be possible in Chicago. Thus the gallery would need to be filled with something other than conversation. As a group, we hashed over a number of possibilities. Should we hire a shrink to psychoanalyze exhibition visitors? Should we platform the space and offer it to other groups for short periods of time? Or – this one was Richard’s suggestion– should we duct tape B@S co-founder Duncan MacKenzie to the wall naked and have that be the exhibition?

Read the entire article here

Tuesday’s Video Pick | Sneaky Gays

April 27, 2010 · Print This Article

Alright, I’ll come clean, I love Glee. Maybe not love but I really liked the first season (I still have my doubts about the second season). This week’s pick was sent to me by Greyson Hong a long time ago but I forgot to post it. On this segment of  Sue’s Corner, Sue reminisces about the days when she could spot a gay a mile away.

BaS ArtChicago Coverage: Tuesday – The Cost of Doing Business

April 27, 2010 · Print This Article

Well it’s almost that time of the year again, High Holy week in Chicago where we all pilgrimage to the Merchandise Mart and endlessly complain how much we don’t want to be there. Which is kind of a shame really? The doors haven’t even opened, exhibitors are still unloading their wares (oh I’m sorry is that word verboten? 🙂 and there is already a collective shrug/ennui working it’s way from gallerists to collectors to The Tribune. I am not suprised, unaware as to why or in disagreement really. The only thing less exciting then spending money on a show during a depression (oh those words again) that is collectivly expected to be poorly attended, poorly reviewed, have low sales and be generally as exciting, sharp & sexy as a slightly used chew toy is to not have one at all and instead we all stay home cleaning our patio decks/yards. It’s not that I don’t get it, I do. Make the best of it, stay together for the kids, you go to war with the army you have not the army you want (yea don’t like the taste of that phrase do you lol).

In a little bit here I am going to lay into the Mart over something and I am sure it will not be the first or last time that either I, Meg, Claudine, The Tribune, Rhona Hoffman or some prairie dog on the net uninformed or unfairly chimes off but before I do does anyone remember the word “Fun”?

If you work in the Art world in any capacity right now you could be easily making a better salary in say Print on mean average so if you’re still here it’s because you love it, chose it & in fact tell everyone else it chose you. So if we are not going to make a fortune, redefine art for the hundredth time this Century, rock the culture with something new or even agree what is the new Deer, Squid or Skull for this year can we at least agree to have some fun? I’m not saying fiddle while Rome burns. Do your due diligence and once that is done, share a laugh, have a meal with a large group, drink, dance,  greet old friends from out of town or even Continent but cut the emo angst and smile (Even you Scott Speh).

Arts a joyful struggle, it never becomes a breeze & it is never the way we want it to be 100% so in the gap between perfection & worthlessness lets remember why we got into this and have some fun cause everyone from the unpaid gallery interns to Chris Kennedy is working hard believe it or not, I know.

Having now said that, there are reports coming in that the Merchandise Mart is looking to charge the exhibitors $49.99 a day for wifi access. Now I have personally worked to provide wifi access for over 100 exhibitors in a large space and can say it is a thankless task that is readily abused by 10% of the users, requires constant oversight if you have power fluctuations of any sort, is consistently reported down when in reality it works and the problem is exhibitor’s laptops running Chinese drivers, or Macs with more warez then actual programs.

Oh do I have sympathy but $49.99 a day let me say that again so that it sinks in $49.99 a day is “screw off” pricing that you do to chase away clients so that you don’t have to provide the service to many & the ones that you do it’s crazy profit. So is that where the business model is right now with the Mart? Are things so tight that we are looking to cut costs and services or gouge to bridge the gap? If so I am sorry for your troubles but if not this is beyond the pale pricing and even I am going to call bunk on that.

Change it before you open, it’s the best PR you can have with exhibitors stuck in one place for hours on end when you can provide reasonably priced internet. Trust me many would rather surf and email then sell, you think I’m joking but I’m not. There is no excuse for that price point unless we’re talking 10MBs up and down which I almost know we are not.

Lets do some good sales, make some good connections & remember have some fun. I’ve seen accountants smile more lately.

ArtReview Reports on BaS NYC Gallery Show

April 27, 2010 · Print This Article

Chris Bors of ArtReview reports in on the Bad at Sports gallery show “Don’t Piss on Me and Tell Me It’s Raining” which has been up at Apexart Gallery in NYC since April 7th & will continue till May 22nd. In the review Mr. Bors comments on the relationship of the Art world to the internet & blogging especially. Pointing out Richard Flood’s recent statement at the Portland (Oregon) Art Museum about bloggers being prairie dogs; popping up one after another with no communication between themselves & no (editorial) oversight. A statement that one can debate the merits of but also one that Bad at Sports for over five years has been working to prove false.

In the review Mr. Bors recounts the history of Bad at Sports, the artists it has been lucky enough to work with over the years and the work they donated to be part of the gallery show. While also commenting on one piece in particular saying:

The liveliest work on view, however, is in apexart’s window, where a monitor shows animated credits listing Bad at Sports’s contributors. Created by B@S member Christopher Hudgens in the style of designer and filmmaker Saul Bass, well known for his masterful film titles, the retro graphics, limited animation and jazz soundtrack mesh seamlessly, while managing to get in a dig at Flood for good measure.

Bad at Sports would like to thank Mr. Bors for coming out to see the show and taking the time to review it. More so we want to thank every artist that was involved in the opening which in reality is nothing but an extention of the generous giving of time, ideas & energy those same people have shared with us for over 250 hours of interviews, talks, laughs & drinking since Bad at Sports first aired in 2005.

Claire Pentecost, Compassion, and The Man In Black

April 26, 2010 · Print This Article

I visited Claire Pentecost‘s installation at threewalls over the weekend, and now all I want to do is listen to Johnny Cash. What the hell does one have to do with the other, you ask? In this, the latest example of what I have come to think of as art reviews that are not in any way, shape or form truly art reviews, or acts of criticism, or any other label you might want to put on ’em, I shall elaborate. On view through May 22nd, Pentecost’s exhibition is titled VictoryLand: you, I shall answer your letter. It revolves, and evolves, around the following question:

What is the best way to remain human? For that matter, is there any virtue or advantage in clinging to an idea of humanity that has not been automated or enhanced by the awesome mechanics of prosperity and progress? In VictoryLand…you, I shall answer your letter it gets harder and harder to tell the difference between the good life and the killing machine.

The exhibition itself was segmented in a manner that seemed to correspond, in my mind anyway, to a split between experiential modes of thinking and analysis vs. feelings and empathy. The geography of the installation at once replicates this divide and implicitly encourages viewers to reconcile the two sides for themselves, because they ultimately offer a false dichotomy. You walk in, and there’s a kind of waiting room setting with two chairs placed on either side of a small wooden table of the sort you might see in a therapist’s waiting room or a lawyer’s office. I think there was a bowl of chocolate candies on it, but my memory’s fuzzy on that part. On the table were several exhibition pamphlets with writings by Pentecost and others. It also contained interweaving narratives (via pages placed out-of-order) that described drone military planes alongside various individuals’ attempts to describe what ‘compassion’ means to them (the latter were all excerpted from material shown in a video in the next room). Next to these was a large notebook containing pages and pages filled with the artist’s research, but someone else was perusing it while I was there and I never got a chance to look through it. In the next room were two flat-screen monitors positioned on opposite walls. Each played a video consisting of a series of interviews with several well-known artists/intellectuals on the subject of (on one monitor) Compassion and (on the other monitor) Awe. I was fascinated by this portion of the exhibition, and watched each video all the way through.

In the middle of the room was a large wooden structure around which were many drawings of unmanned military aircraft used by various nations, each drawing labeled by country of origin on the back of the panel (and visible only through the slats of wooden structure). When you peered into the structure you saw a pile of wood and the reddish-brown, bushy tale of a creature that appeared to be lodged in between the pieces of wood as if it were burrowing into them, or, more likely, was in the process of being crushed by them. Radiating from the tops of the wooden structure toward the outer corners of the room were several lines of bunting with flags consisting of black and white headshots of good-looking–I would even call them glamorous or charismatic–people, each one groomed in a manner suggesting the picture was taken decades ago. Each image was sealed in some kind of yellowish plastic that was often slightly brown at the edges. Some appeared to have been partially burned.

In contrast to these faces, I found myself drawn to the much more ordinary faces of the people on the videos. Here were real, lived-in human (as opposed to televisually charismatic) faces talking about what compassion and awe meant to them. Each person appeared to be answering their interlocutor in as honest and open a manner as they were capable in that moment. I found one aspect of the interviews to be lacking, however. I wanted these people to step away from the more abstract discussion of “compassion” and “awe” with which they seemed fairly comfortable, and instead attempt to relate those words to lived experience. I wanted them to take a stab at answering these questions: “When have you personally witnessed compassion?” “When have you personally felt awe?” I wanted to connect the dots between verbal articulations of what compassion and awe are with how those concepts might be experienced on an everyday level. This seemed especially important given the utter absence of compassion that drone weapons not only signify but enable. Drones give us permission to absent ourselves from our own humanity, to abstract ourselves from what it means to be human. And the drone’s dehumanizing purview, Pentecost’s research make chillingly evident, will only expand in the coming years.

As I was thinking about all this while driving home, I started fiddling with the preset buttons on my car radio in search of something to listen to. One of those oldies/classic rock type stations had just started playing Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues, the live version from the album At Folsom, the one Cash recorded at the prison in 1968. Compassion and awe: here I found both, crystallized within a single song. Cash’s music sprung from his compassion for men who had degraded others and had experienced degradation in turn. Cash identified so strongly with those men that he saw himself as one of them. Isn’t that what compassion is? It seems like there should be a better, tougher word for it, somehow. And as for awe: that’s what I imagine the men at Folsom experienced when Cash got up on stage and sung for them. Sung songs about them. In one case, sung a song written by one of them, a man named Glen Shirley.

Yeah yeah yeah, I know that At Folsom is also a construction, and to some degree a self-conscious act of self-mythification on Cash’s part, but — and I know this point is also debatable — I don’t think it negates the fact that Cash’s performance was radically compassionate in nature. What I do wonder about though is what my current fixation on Cash’s Folsom performance means vis-a-vis my visit to Pentecost’s exhibition. Am I trying to avoid my own complicity in my country’s use of robotic military weapons by listening to Johnny Cash instead? Is it a failure on my part as a viewer (or as a citizen) that, instead of delving deeper into Pentecost’s research, I thought through her questions by listening to At Folsom all weekend? Or did the exhibition foster my sense of paralysis in its failure to articulate the radical possibilities of human compassion? Is that why Folsom Prison Blues felt more like an answer to me than a mere chance encounter?

I’m still not sure, but I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.