Matthew Barney Makes New Film in Detroit

October 4, 2010 · Print This Article

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A scene from Matthew Barney's new film, "Kuh." (HUGO GLENDINNING/Gladstone Gallery New York)

Detroit is really cooking lately, art-wise. Even Matthew Barney’s getting in on the action. Barney has been filming the second of a planned seven part film cycle in Detroit, and Mark Stryker of the Free Press has written an eyewitness blow-by-blow of the six hour filmed performance that took place there last Saturday. The opera is a loose adaption of Norman Mailer’s book “Ancient Evenings” (read more about the opera on the Barbara Gladstone Gallery website). Writes Stryker: “In Barney’s retelling, however, the main character becomes the 1967 Chrysler, which is reincarnated as a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and a 2001 Crown Victoria. The first film was shot in Los Angeles. Detroit, the birthplace of the Crown Imperial, is the setting for Act 2, titled Kuh. Barney has been shooting a lot of material, including a scene of the Trans Am flying to its death off the Belle Isle bridge.”

The performance began at the Detroit Institute of Arts with a screening of the film’s 30 minute prologue, continued on to a local glue factory where an aria was sung, and ended on a 185 foot barge travelling the Rouge and Detroit rivers. Read Stryker’s account of the performance/film shoot in full here.

Matthew Barney. Ancient Evenings: Khaibit Libretto, 2009 Graphite on paperback copy of Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer, on carved salt base, in nylon and acrylic vitrine; 15 1/2 x 13 3/4 x 14 3/4 inches (39.4 x 34.9 x 37.5 cm)

Is this (F)Art?

October 4, 2010 · Print This Article

I got nothing but sillyness for y’all today, sorry. I’ve been working really hard lately, honestly! Which is probably why I’ve found this website, Is it Art or Fart?, so entertaining. It isn’t new or anything (though it’s new to me), but what is new is the fact that the makers of this irreverent yet actually pretty darn smart website have just published a book based on their project, which documents various phenomena they call ‘fart’:

“coincidental moments in everyday life that, when isolated and named by artist, bear uncanny resemblance to art seen in museums and galleries around the globe.”

A stack of records evokes a Dave Muller record painting, the residual matter torn from billboard paste-ups a Mark Bradford drawing, that sort of thing. Apparently, it’s fairly easy to find likenesses to Laura Owens’ work in the world art large.  I don’t get the sense that the people who run this website accept outside submissions, though it would be cool if they did because then there’d be even more fart for us to enjoy.

Is this Art? app

Not quite as clever in concept or execution, but still related to the general idea, is the website Is This Art? which has an accompanying iPhone app. The idea behind this site, which was co-produced by Deeplocal, the Mattress Factory, and NY art blogger C-Monster, is that you take a picture of something that you’re not sure is art but maybe actually is, then submit it and the app renders its verdict. It’s a lark, like so many apps are: funny for a few minutes–and the app is free so what the hell–but it runs via a Magic 8 ball-type interface that spits out one of a predetermined set of answers randomly, so that the same picture submitted twice will get two different answers. While fooling around with the app, I took an iPhone snapshot of this thrift store painting, which received the response ‘My mother would think this is crap, therefore THIS IS ART.’ A picture of my husband’s black crocs, which I suspected would receive an affirmative nod because it could, under certain conditions, be thought of as an update on Van Gogh’s 1887 A Pair of Shoes, received this feedback: ‘This piece is modernist after modernism without being post-modernist, therefore, THIS IS ART.’

I actually think the app might have been right about that one. If nothing else, I’m pretty sure it’s fart.

Vincent van Gogh. A Pair of Shoes. 1887.

C. Ise. A pair of Crocs. 2010.

Don’t Miss: Henry Darger at Home (and) at Work

September 30, 2010 · Print This Article

Some great upcoming programming planned around Chicago Artist’s Month that I wanted to bring to your attention. This weekend, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art will present Henry Darger at Home (and) at Work, a program comprising two multi-disciplinary events about process, studio practice, and creativity in conjunction with Chicago Artists Month. The events start with a panel that includes some fantastic Chicago writers, and finish several weeks later with….a PUPPET SHOW. Awesome. You’ll find all the details below….

Intuit's Henry Darger Room Collection. Photo by John Faier.

Finding inspiration in the Henry Darger Room Collection and the texts and imagery Darger crafted within it, Intuit has collaborated with the Chicago Underground Library (CUL) and The Anatomy Collective (TAC) to examine the relationship between writing, art-making and the creative process.

In collaboration with the Chicago Underground Library, Contemporary Authors and the Artistic Process, a panel discussion of authors followed by a bookmaking project with the audience, will take place on Saturday, October 2 from 11:00am – 1:00pm. In collaboration with The Anatomy Collective, Henry Darger’s Life (&) Work, a puppet show based on the life and work of Henry Darger and the collaborative text will take place on Thursday, October 28 from  6:00pm – 8:00pm. Both events take place at Intuit, 756 N. Milwaukee, Chicago, IL

Contemporary Authors and the Artistic Process
Saturday, October 2, 2010, 11am -1pm
$10; includes admission to Intuit’s galleries
A panel discussion featuring authors John Bresland, Stephanie Kuehnert, Audrey Niffenegger and Bayo Ojikutu will explore their multi-disciplinary sources of inspiration, the role biography plays in their work and how their studio contextualizes their practice. The 45-minute discussion will be moderated by Nell Taylor, Executive Director of Chicago Underground Library, with an introduction by Thea Liberty Nichols, Intuit’s Study Center Manager, and panelists will have books available for purchase.

Immediately following the panel, Intuit and CUL invite you to participate in a collaborative bookmaking project in homage to Darger’s life’s work, the masterpiece, In the Realms of the Unreal… Audience members are encouraged to bring in an item (a photo, artwork, magazine or newspaper clipping, etc.) or use items made available to create the text and imagery for a book that, once collaged together, will be housed within CUL’s collection and serve as the inspiration for the puppet show Henry Darger’s Life (&) Work on October 28.

Henry Darger’s Life (&) Work
Thursday, October 28, 6pm-8pm
Admission is by donation
Following Contemporary Authors and the Artistic Process, Theater group The Anatomy Collective will have just over three weeks to develop an exclusive puppet show that blends the tracings, clippings, ephemera and writing generated and collected by Darger with the book collectively created by attendees of CUL’s panel. The resultant performance will showcase TAC’s talents and resourcefulness in a whimsical epic that re-interprets Darger’s (home) life and (studio) work and the readers and viewers it continues to inspire.

For further information about this exhibition or to inquire about other Intuit programs, please contact Intuit at or 312.243.9088.

Four for Fall | Centerfield on Art:21 blog

September 28, 2010 · Print This Article

Our latest post is up over at art:21 blog. This week, we look at a few of the gallery exhibitions that have opened in Chicago over the past month. A brief teaser below:

Traditionally, fall is the time when galleries launch their new slate of exhibitions after a relatively slow-paced couple of summer months. Galleries tend to highlight some of the most prominent artists on their roster around this time, but it’s also common to use the Fall slot to introduce promising new up-and-comers. In Chicago, at least, all the hoopla around the fall openings (many of which took place on a single night several weeks ago) can feel a lot like a high school pep rally: the anticipatory fall preview lists and gallery guides, the minutely detailed gallery crawl maps and the inevitable “best of” Tweets that follow are ways of rousing ourselves from the complacencies of summer in order to get psyched for the upcoming art season.

All hype notwithstanding, fall invariably works its magic on me. I struggle with lazy gallery-going during the summer (and, let’s be honest here, sometimes during springtime too) yet feel a sense of urgency about seeing everything once September rolls around. I’m pleased to report that my efforts have been richly rewarded this season. There are so many interesting shows, and quite a few really excellent ones, taking place in Chicago right now there simply isn’t space to do justice to all of them here. Let’s start with exhibitions by two artists who were recently interviewed on Bad at Sports‘s podcast. Kehinde Wiley, on view through October 23 at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, presented the latest iteration of his ongoing project World Stage: a series of portraits of young men of color from various cities around the world.  Here, we find Wiley focusing on anonymous men from New Delhi, Mumbai and Sri Lanka, as opposed to the well-known rappers and athletes that had occasionally peopled his portraits in the past. (Read the post in its entirety here).

Portraiture as Punishment?

September 27, 2010 · Print This Article

A few weeks ago here on the blog, I wrote a post about portraiture in the age of Facebook. At the conclusion of the piece, I said this:

“To whatever extent our online selves reflect our offline selves, Haugsjaa and Moore’s portraits make it harrowingly clear that our online profiles and virtual personas have, in a very real sense, escaped us. They/We are up for grabs, ready to be data-mined, added, followed, memed, and retweeted. The opportunity to have one’s portrait painted was once available only to a select few: typically, the very rich or the very poor. Social recognition used to be a privilege. So why does it now seem more like a punishment?”

After writing that paragraph, I kind of laughed at myself for being so hyperbolic with my prose, but for some reason I still didn’t want to change it. Over the weekend, I read an article in the business section of the Chicago Tribune that was pretty horrifying, and I felt that it kind of confirmed my suspicions that nowadays, having one’s photo taken might be more of a punishment than it is a privilege.

I can’t help but think that vile websites like People of Public Transit exist partly as an offshoot of virtual hangouts like Facebook, My Space, and Flickr. I find it more than a little disturbing to think that not only are our images and personas are up for grabs in a social media sense; a lot of people now apparently think (probably because of this) that it’s totally okay, and not at all morally problematic, to snap a stranger’s picture on the subway train and post it Facebook style for their own and others’ amusement.

Read the Trib’s article about what happened to CTA commuter Jennifer Fastwolf and tell me you don’t agree with me just a teeny bit. (It’s okay if you don’t though).