Stephanie Syjuco Artist Lecture Tomorrow at UIC’s Gallery 400

March 29, 2010 · Print This Article

San Francisco artist Stephanie Syjuco will lecture tomorrow (Tuesday March 30th) at 5pm at Gallery 400 as part of UIC’s ongoing Voices lecture series. According to the artist’s website, Syjuco is also slated for a solo exhibition at Gallery 400 in September of 2010. Syjuco’s work resides in the realm of the copy: the bootleg, the body double, the knock-off. Commissioned for a piece to be presented at last year’s Frieze Art Fair in London, Syjuco set up a booth and called it COPYSTAND: An Autonomous Manufacturing Zone, where she and other artists busily produced small-scale reproductions of lesser-known works based on other famous art works: third generation copies-cum-tchotkes priced at a fraction of the price of the original. Described on the Frieze Foundation website as a “parasitic workshop,” Syjuco’s copy stand apparently did brisk business at the fair.

COPYSTAND: An Autonomous Manufacturing Zone, at Frieze Art Fair

Recently Syjuco was featured in a solo exhibition titled notMOMA at Washington State University at Pullman, which closed last week. For this show, Syjuco teamed up with Washington State University art students to recreate, by hand, famous works of art from MoMA’s permanent collection. “A fully handmade show,” as Syjuco’s statement describes it, “notMOMA attempts to bridge a gap in students’ understandings of “high art” and invites them to access the works via their own do-it-yourself collective vision. Whether considered copies, translations, or even mis-translations, all resulting works are unique expressions in their own right. As an illicit travelling exhibition “borrowed” from their collection, notMOMA creates a dialogue between WSU’s art department and an inaccessible, perhaps reluctant art institution located on the other side of the country.”

Partial installation view with student-made notMOMA exhibition with approximations of Pollock, Calder, Oldenburg, Richter, Hesse, Warhol, Gober, Mondrian, Eames, and more...

Syjuco also recently started an extremely cool website, particulated matter, that provides a centralized collection of artists books made through print-on-demand processes. She links entries to the publication’s homepage, where they’re available for purchase or download.

Syjuco’s lecture definitely seems worth checking out. The talk will be held in the Gallery 400 Lecture Room, 400 South Peoria Street, and admission is free.

Richard Flood Describes Arts Bloggers As “Prairie Dogs”

March 29, 2010 · Print This Article

Hee. This is good.  Hyperallergic reports that New Museum Director Richard Flood had a few choice words to say about arts bloggers and Jerry Saltz, during a talk he gave at the Portland Art Museum on “Creating Networks: The New Internationalism.” From Lisa Radon’s post on Hyperallergic:

“I just found out about blogs three months ago,” Flood said referring to the time questions were being raised, particularly by Tyler Green on Modern Art Notes and James Wagner on JamesWagner.com, about ethical conflicts for the New Museum regarding Skin Fruit. “The internet is still a ghetto.” Flood said he was trying to learn more about them via Lauren Cornell (executive director of Rhizome, affiliated with New Museum since 2003), but he says:

‘Blogs are like being out on a prairie and one prairie dog pops up; none of the others can see it, but they can feel the movement in the earth. So another pops up. And another. They are not communicating with each other. They have no idea. History means nothing to them. Truth means nothing to them. They have no mechanism in place for checking [facts].’

In the three months since Flood has become aware of blogs, it’s surprising that he appears not to have noticed the hyperlinking that is integral to the blog as a tool for communication. He might not be expected to be aware of the dynamic back-channel communications among arts bloggers via twitter and other platforms, but the linking is front and center. But the analogy shows a more fundamental disdain for the practice of online arts journalism. A blog is just a tool, a platform. It’s what’s built on that platform that we should be talking about, and that may be a gossip rag or it may be considered, rigorous, accurate reporting and/or criticism.”

Go on over and read the full post here, it’s an eye-opener. Very good editorial response by Radon, as well.  Jerry Saltz posted something about it on his Facebook page, and there are some comments there too, natch.

Sooo cute!!

Brooklyn Performance Artist Goes Eye to Eye with Marina Abramovic

March 29, 2010 · Print This Article

Performance artist Anya Liftig costumed herself as Marina Abramovic’s double (long blue dress, sideswept braid) and sat across the table from Abramovic all day long last Saturday, March 27th, during Abramovic’s marathon performance piece “The Artist is Present,” part of her current retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Liftig considered her action to constitute a performance of her own, and even has a title for it: “The Anxiety of Influence.” Bombsite has an interview with Liftig here. An excerpt:

Tatiana Berg: When I read reviews of “The Artist is Present,” writers often describe Abramovic’s piece as her “interacting” with her audience, which I think is a misnomer. The performance is really as far from interaction as you can get, since in the museum setting surrounded by guards on all sides—who won’t even let you take a picture—the audience’s available set of actions is very limited. So rather than interacting with Abramovic, it’s more like she’s inviting the audience to sit there and contemplate themselves, not her.

What I liked about your performance was that you totally played by the museum rules: no one said you couldn’t be dressed a certain way, no one could say you had to get up and let someone else have a turn. Did you nevertheless feel like a transgressor? A museum interloper?

Anya Liftig: I did feel like a transgressor but I love the subtle art of subversion—playing with ideas from the inside out. As I was sitting there, I felt like that was one of the strongest elements of Marina’s piece. She is attempting to “interact” with the audience, but really, the endeavor for empathy is one of implicit sadness, as we connect and miss one another. It is not meant to be read at face value. It also brings up the role of the artist, how they connect on an individual, emotional level with others when they are constantly being observed and commented upon by the masses held at bay by the guards.

Read the full interview on Bomb’s website; it’s really interesting and, based on the interview, Liftig seems to have approached her action with sensitivity and thoughtfulness rather than as a cheap stunt.

By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943

March 29, 2010 · Print This Article

I love sifting through online image archives, especially those of a historical nature. I’ve been going through the Library of Congress’ collection of posters from the Works Progress Administration and thought I’d share a few of the ones that caught my eye for one reason or another. The collection consists of 908  posters produced during the period 1936 to 1943 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. Of the 2,000 WPA posters known to exist, the Library of Congress’s collection is the largest. They include silkscreens, lithographs, and woodcut posters designed to promote health and safety programs, cultural programs and art exhibitions, travel and tourism, educational programs, and community activities.  Click on the image to be taken to its LOC link.

Chicago will control syphilis : You may have your blood test free and confidentially at one of the following stations : Chicago Board of Health, Herman N. Bundesen, Pres. Federal Art Project, WPA (1938).

Girls - are you interested in a job? : Find out what an occupation has to offer you in pay, employment, security, and promotion : Free classes in occupations. Poster for Illinois branch of the National Youth Administration, 1937.

Poster for Illinois State Employment Service promoting jobs for women as domestics.

Poster for the Brookfield Zoo, showing hippopotamuses superimposed over outline of Africa. 1938.

Don't Mix 'Em. 1937. Robert Lachenmann, artist.

Art week, Nov. 25 - Dec. 1, 1940 : Buy American art.New York : New York City W.P.A. Art Project, 1940.

National Letter Writing Week: Oct. 1-7. Chicago : Illinois WPA Art Project, 1940.

International exhibition of water colors : The Art Institute of Chicago - March 23 - May 14 1939.

NYC WPA War Services, 1941-1943. Herbert Bayer, artist.

Hot (okay maybe only lukewarm at the moment) Topic Alert: the Crisis in Art Criticism

March 26, 2010 · Print This Article

Jenny Holzer, Television Texts, 1990. © Video Data Bank Chicago.

This week New City published an essay by its arts editor Jason Foumberg on the state of art criticism amidst the rise of blogging, online websites, and other forms of interactive media titled The State of the (Visual) Art. I didn’t read this as a piece on the status of art criticism in Chicago per se, as I think some may have, but rather as about the difficulties of defining (much less practicing) this thing called ‘criticism’ at all in online, social-media driven contexts. Foumberg’s essay is part of a larger series of articles at New City that are exploring the state of criticism in the age of Yelp!,  Amazon book reviews, and other online social feedback devices. The other pieces can be found here, here, and here (this last one is about Yolp!, a Jersey Shore parody of Yelp that’s really funny). The comments that ensue are interesting, but there aren’t a lot of them and there’s not too much back-and-forth…yet. But today Christopher sent me a link to Michael S. Thomas’ blog Stagnant Vowels, in which he’s posted a response, of a sort, to the New City article, which immediately bumped Mr. Foumberg’s piece up to “hot topic” status in my mind. (Thomas’ response might itself almost qualify as a good old-fashioned Rant, and as I’ve said before, I am to rants as a moth is to a flame….Jason, in contrast, doesn’t rant: he muses.).

In his post, Mr. Thomas, who was the director of the well-respected and now defunct Dogmatic Gallery in Chicago, calls us out over here at Bad at Sports for basically being slutty opinion mongers on a par with t.v. talk show pundits. He writes:

“The flux or crisis isn’t with experts or authority per say, its in the distribution of opinion as though it were reasoned discourse. It’s in the ongoing creation of model’s for the dissemination of hyperbole without rational checks or balances. Whether it’s Glenn Beck, or Jon Stewart, or Bad at Sports these models can do much to obfuscate legitimate dialogue if not entirely cripple its formation.”

I have to assume he’s talking about our blog in particular, as the podcast’s one-on-one interview format is pretty much the antithesis of opinion journalism. But I want to know — where is all this ‘legitimate dialogue’ (emphasis on the word ‘legitimate’) that we in particular are guilty of obfuscating? Tell me where it’s happening, and I’ll gladly get the hell out of its way!

In all seriousness, though, I don’t at all disagree with Thomas on his larger point. In fact I think most of his post hits it right on the mark, particularly in his assessment that lack of editorial oversight might be precisely what makes online art criticism so problematic (I’m paraphrasing his argument, but that’s what I took away from it). Thomas finds fault with the recently launched Chicago Art Magazine for precisely these reasons, and although I shall remain neutral on the matter of his specific target, I tend to agree with many of the larger arguments he’s making. Such as this one:

“But I would argue that without editorial oversight or a progressive long term vision for growth, an endeavor such as this one is hopelessly mired. After all criticism and opinion are not the same. Amateur criticism is little more than the ALL-CAPS and bold fonts version of a comment roll, and paying said amateur is in no way a transformation of this reality. So what makes a misinformed critic not, a knowledgeable and, or an opinionated amateur? Time, energy, condensed thoughts, research, an apishly large library surrounded by lovely black and white photographs of water fowl, and other bric-a-brac? No its constancy and persistence in the pursuit of understanding and conveying the qualities that define the arcane and metaphorical reality of objects and their surroundings.”

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