Renowned novelist J.G. Ballard died yesterday at the age of 78, after a lengthy battle with cancer. From the (U.K.’s) Times Online:
“(Ballard’s) influence stretched across a modern world that he seemed to see coming years in advance.
His dark, often shocking fiction predicted the melting of the ice caps, the rise of Ronald Reagan, terrorism against tourists and the alienation of a society obsessed with new technology.
As Martin Amis once said of him: “Ballard is quite unlike anyone else; indeed, he seems to address a different – a disused – part of the reader’s brain.”
The bands Joy Division, Radiohead, The Normal, Klaxons and Buggles all wrote records inspired by Ballard stories.
Empire of the Sun, his best known book, was something of an anomaly for being an apparently straightforward account of his childhood in a Japanese internment camp during the Second World War, where he endured near starvation, death marches and regularly bore witness to death and brutality.”
Read his obituary in the New York Times here.
Last weekend I was able to check out Steven McQeen’s highly acclaimed film Hunger. This is the first feature length film by the Turner prize winner, and it won the Caméra d’Or at Cannes this year. Although a re-examination of a deeply political history and event, I would say that the film itself is not overtly political. McQueen said about the film, “Hero or villain, that’s for other people to decide. For me, it’s one of those situations where I’m a filmmaker, and this is actually what happened in history, this is a true event. For me, this is what happened. I’m not here to judge the situation; I’m here to examine and document it.” I really enjoyed how you were shown the consequences of the inmate’s actions not just on the political level, but on a personal level. It wasn’t purely about the political protest of smearing shit on the walls of the cell, but also about the man who was made to clean the shit off of the walls. Although the content of the film somewhat agonizing to watch on a human level, it was hard to miss how beautifully composed each frame was. At one point we see Sand’s cellmate playing with a fly for several minutes. In other films the attention given to this could be jarring or to slow but it kept with the sense of slowness in the film that focused on the small gestures made by its characters. The film shifts perspective from Sand’s cellmate to Sand’s himself while he endures an excruciating 66-day hunger strike which ends his life. In a 17-minute long single take we see Sand’s discuss his plan for a hunger strike with a minister.
“That ‘Hunger’ forces us to so openly speak about the rigor of its specific filmmaking choices is perhaps the thrust of its value as a work of art, especially in a sea of films and filmmakers that either claim to approach creaky realism via the unplanned moment or efface their creation entirely. ‘Hunger’ is coolly artificial, and openly betrays its creator’s background in the art world—one could almost pull apart specific images (urine flooding from underneath the cell doors of Maze prison steadily joining into a single stream, the repeated superimpositions of birds flying through a grey sky, the constantly exposed flesh of the inmates) and array them on monitors around the walls of a gallery to near similar effect. Yet by narrativizing this collection, McQueen forces a discussion of his own stratagems (as would splitting it into pieces), a discussion that can’t help but mirror the lengthy conversation around methods and message which anchors the film. McQueen’s radical aesthetic and structuring decisions subtly re-politicizes ‘Hunger’ as a work intimately concerned with choices and consequences, the personal and political.”
Via Paper Mag:
“Several of us are banding together to start a new party – Kate Bush Night @ Sweet Paradise. We don’t know if it will be weekly, monthly, or a one time thing, but we’re giving it a test run this Sunday. We’re positioning it as a semi-tongue in cheek counter to Sway’s Morrissey night. And any excuse is a good excuse to listen to Kate Bush…”
Am I alone in thinking that whole Susan Boyle thing was a setup? Everyone’s “surprise faces” looked sort of fake to me. ANYWAY, here’s an otherwise Boyle-free, purely subjective round-up of art-world events, news stories, blog links and other stuff in Chicago and beyond that got me thinkin’ this week….
* Literary theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick dies of breast cancer at 58 (New York Times Obit.).
*Ellsworth Kelly to install “White Curve,” his largest wall sculpture to date, in the Art Institute’s new Modern wing next week. The Art Institute will also add Kellys’ “Tableau Vert” (a gift from the artist) and “Red Diagonal” (gift of Chicago collectors Howard and Donna Stone) to its collection (New York Times).
*”Class Pictures: Photographs by Dawoud Bey” opens at Milwaukee Art Museum.
*Across the board, museums face worsening crises. Artinfo.com has created a handy timeline of Museums and the recession (this last via Art21 blog; but, as blogger Kelly Shindler points out, the stats in the timeline need verification).
*More “free” stuff: Sweepstakes contest for Damien Hirst lithos and “the chance” to win his original album cover painting for The Hours (via Animal). Now point me in the direction of the Ayn Rand compound, please.
Luke Dowd: Happy Happy Sad Sad
April 17 – May 30, 2009
Tony Wight Gallery
119 North Peoria Street, #2C
Chicago, IL 60607
Tuesday – Saturday, 11 – 5 pm
from the press release:
“London-based artist Luke Dowd’s patterned depictions of diamonds engage the volatility embedded within notions of value. Using screen-printing as gesture, Dowd creates subtle gradients which imbue his images with a faux luster mimicking the qualities of actual gemstones. These painted diamonds appear to reflect and refract light, just like the real thing, pointing towards the sheen of high culture and status, both implicit and inseparable from the value system to which we collectively subscribe. However, these images are also able to extend beyond the role of pure representation, as they address the fictional nature inherent to our conceptions of value.”
Also opening at Tony Wight: Olio
April 17 – May 30, 2009
From the press release:
“The title of the exhibition makes reference not only to the heterogeneity inherent to the medium of collage, but also the heterogeneous nature of group exhibitions. Included in the show are works by Tamar Halpern, Pablo Helguera, Arturo Herrera, Shinique Smith, John Sparagana and Dannielle Tegeder.
Since its appearance in the Synthetic Cubism of Picasso and Braque, through the Neo-Dadaist assemblages of the late Robert Rauschenberg, the collage impulse has provided both an immediacy and malleability which has been frequently engaged and reinterpreted in subsequent generations. While the works in Olio are not necessarily pointed homages to earlier collage, they are each forthcoming in their indebtedness to the medium. By feeding common or popular imagery through various procedures—cutting, pasting, scanning, layering—these artists complicate the immediacy of their original materials. The resulting artworks skew our normative reception of otherwise familiar images.”
Version Fest Fundraiser at Country Club Chicago
April 17th, 2009
7:00 PM – 11:59 PM
1110 N Damen
Chicago, IL 60622
A raffle/auction party to raise funds for the 8th annual Version Fest.
Buckminster Fuller: Starting with the Universe
March 14 – June 21, 2009
220 East Chicago Avenue
From the website:
“A man of remarkable prescience, Fuller’s credo was “more for less,” and by the late 1920s he recognized the need for environmentally sound design that would benefit the largest segment of society while using the fewest resources — a decidedly contemporary concern. Believing in the interconnectedness of all things, Fuller’s ambition in life was to close the gap between the sciences and humanities for the genuine good of humankind. His work has extensively influenced the artists, designers, architects, engineers, environmentalists, and mathematicians of today.”
Opening night film: Salt of this Sea (Milh Hadha Al-Bahr)
Gene Siskel Film Center
164 North State Street
Chicago, Illinois 60601
Part of the Chicago Palestine Film Festival, which starts on Saturday and runs through April 30th, director Annemarie Jacir will be at this screening to engage in a discussion after the film.
From the website:
“In part a road movie, the story follows American-born Soraya (Hammad) from her contentious entry into Israel to reclaim her grandfather’s bank account, through stolen days of freedom on a trip to Ramallah, where the reality of her family’s missing legacy sets in. Soraya’s determination to assume a Palestinian identity and history finds an ironic counterpoint in the resolve of her Palestinian-born new lover Emad (Bakri of THE BAND’S VISIT), to leave it all behind.”