Shepard Fairey Backlash?

March 27, 2009 · Print This Article

barack-is-hopeAre we in the midst of a Shepard Fairey backlash? Not exactly, but there is some sort of reassessment going on. The L.A.-based political poster artist designed an iconographic image that reverberated nationally, along with other forms of viral street art that have been piquing the interest of city dwellers for years–but the question that’s being debated at the moment is whether Fairey’s output makes for good art, or even good design. This comes in the wake of Fairey’s 20 year survey exhibition at the ICA Boston, along with news that he has won the Brit Insurance Design of the Year award (chosen by a panel that included MOMA architecture and design curator Paola Antonelli).

Reviews of “Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand,” at the ICA have been middling to negative. In his review of the show this week, for example, the L.A. Times‘ Christopher Knight delivered a clear-eyed and even-handed assessment of Fairey’s ouevre:

“The 39-year-old designer … possesses a  limited pictorial vocabulary, while the grandest curatorial claims made for the nearly 250 examples in the galleries are unsupportable. But the 20-year success of “Obey Giant” can’t be denied, nor can the efficacy of its strategies in establishing “Obama Hope” in the public consciousness. If neither adds up to major art or effective counterculture politics, both are plainly worth considering.” (Read the full article here).

In a post last Tuesday on the blog New Curator, A.D. Jacobson was more critical of the institutional cynicism motivating Fairey’s survey than he was of Fairey himself:

“this entire show seemed like a set up to me, not even getting into the fact that the BPD arrested the guy on the way to the show. (Yeah, what better way to boost the rebellious cred than getting arrested. Brilliant!!) The images were of the highest production value, but even he will tell you, this ‘aint art.  Not when you’re doing avatar stencils for Joey Ramone and saying things like ‘I’m not a musician, but I’m still gonna rock it hard as nails.’”

It’s not only Shepard Fairey-as-artist who’s being dissed, it’s Shepard Fairey the designer. In an article for the London Times ot Poster of the Year. Or Ad Campaign of the Year. And the prize’s self-defined role is to reward the most “innovative and forward thinking” design. This poster is neither innovative or forward thinking, certainly not compared with last-year’s winner, the bargain-basement laptop in reach of the world’s poor, designed by Yves Béhar” (read the full article here).

What I find most interesting is how all the Fairey take-downs seem to mirror Obama’s own “coming down to earth” transition in national press coverage of late, and I’m not just talking about Fox News. Even so-called liberal media outlets like MSNBC have their pundits training a colder, harder eye on the President, as his budget proposals, his stated commitment to health care and his nods to arts funding come under fire, often from both sides of the political spectrum. It seems that buoyant moment when a single iconic image and the word Hope could move a nation is over. In the worlds of art and politics alike, now it’s time for deeper scrutiny, (hopefully) more intelligent debate, reassessment and repositioning.

Cue Soul II Soul: “back to life… back to reality.”


What We’re Doing This Weekend: 3.27 – 3.29

March 26, 2009 · Print This Article

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FRIDAY

Green Lantern
Without You I am Nothing: Cultural Democracy from Providence and Chicago
03.27.09 – 04.25.09
1511 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Second Floor

“Without You I am Nothing: Cultural Democracy from Providence and Chicago is an exhibition of works on paper that are not intended for public consumption but to create small venues for public participation.”
Kavi Gupta
Vaguely Paperly
Mar 27 – May 9, 2009
835 W. Washington Blvd.
“Vaguely Paperly,” a group exhibition curated by Chris Johanson brings together a diverse group of artists who create works on paper utilizing varying mediums and techniques. The artists in this exhibition approach paper as a painting surface as well as a sculptural medium and address issues of re-use, repetition, memory, and personal politics.”

Rhonna Hoffman
Spencer Finch
Light,Time, Chemistry
3/27/2009 – 5/2/2009
“photographic device composed of mirrors and duct vents that extends out through the gallery window and allows a view of the sky from indoors.”
Roots & Culture
1034 N MILWAUKEE
CHICAGO, IL 60622
March 27th- May 2nd: “I Don’t Believe You” new work by Jamisen Ogg and Oli Watt
with Lauren Anderson in the Noble St. Gallery
SATURDAY

Golden Age
THE BOX GAME
1744 W 18th Street
Chicago, IL 60608
Saturday March 28, 7-10PM
“Artists Lukas Geronimas and David Horvitz have created a touring game-cum-performance entitled The Box Game, in which YOU decide ‘What’s in the Box?”

New York City Gold Coast
Elizabeth Weiss
March 28th
55 W. Chestnut St. APT. 2205, Chicago, IL 60610
“New York City Gold Coast presents a solo exhibition of new works from young artist Elizabeth Weiss. you can’t just change your mind, a series of paintings, drawings, and sculptures hopes to explore questions of cognition and understanding with playful, casual, formal relationships. Opening reception March 28th 6pm-9pm. you can’t just change your mind, you can’t just change your mind, you can’t just change your mind.”
*image: Angelina Gualdoni, Blush, at Kavi Gupta this Friday

Let the Right One In

March 25, 2009 · Print This Article

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About a month ago I was able to catch a showing of the Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In after much nagging from my film buff sister. Adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s 2004 best selling novel Låt den rätte komma in, the film centers on the relationship that forms between Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) and the undead Eli(Lina Leandersson).

Oskar a 12-year old who spends his days being bullied at school and his nights imagining revenge. He meets Eli another outcast who has recently moved next door to Oskar. Set in the suburbs of Stockholm in the mid 80’s, the frozen landscape becomes the perfect setting for the sudden rash of murders. The film is remarkably beautiful but also is playful with its use of vampire folklore. Finally we see in a film what happens when a vampire enters a room uninvited. Hands down the best contemporary vampire film I have seen.

*Note: I rewatched the film this weekend after I picked up a copy at Target. I thought I had seen some subtle changes in the conversations but didn’t think much of it. The consumerist yesterday posted an article about the dumbing down of the subtitles. Hopefully they will release a copy with the original subtitles soon.

Southern Graphics Council: Global Implications Conference Begins Today

March 25, 2009 · Print This Article

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If you listened to this weeks epically long show then you might know that the Southern Graphics Council:Global Implications Conference starts today. If your into printmaking and are in the Chicago area go check out the conference this week, and say “Hi” to Duncan.

Southern Graphics Council: Global Implications Conference

March 25 – 29, 2009 / Chicago

“Printmaking is the artmedium that is most responsive to changing technologies, while also retaining many otherwise obsolete techniques. As print artists, we find ourselves uniquely situated. We employ the latest digital imaging tools and centuries-old techniques for hand mark-making. We make exquisite, precious objects and democratic gestures. We are able to share our imagery and processes with anyone, anytime while also creating community, dialog and collaboration in our own shops.

As our world becomes increasingly interdependent, local practices are at once threatened, celebrated, worthy of preservation and dangerously divisive. As printmakers, our medium is likewise evolving, its borders increasingly permeable. Our traditions are a source of strength, but also a source of isolation. We now realize that our resources are limited, that what is done in one location will probably affect someone, somewhere else.

The 2009 Global Implications Conference features exhibitions, demonstrations, lectures, panel discussions, private collection viewings, and special events at over 40 locations around Chicago.

Keynote speakers include Kathan Brown, Enrique Chagoya, Anne Coffin, and Jane Hammond.”

For more information including the schedule go here.

Art Pros and Their Internets

March 24, 2009 · Print This Article

Jerry Saltz's Facebook commentsYou gotta love being friends with Jerry Saltz on Facebook.  I’m not friends with Jerry Saltz IRL (In Real Life), but who isn’t friends with him on Facebook?  And here’s why:  32 Comments in 53 minutes to a question that I myself am already exasperated with  (Bad at Sports Episode 85)!

Meanwhile, there are only 23 other Google Reader Feed Subscribers to Cory Arcangel’s Delicious posts.  Here’s some of the gems that guy has drolled up from those internets:

a disturbingly accurate art history lesson from jmb courtesy of Battlestar Galactica

this is totally unreal

Old Nytimes story about an all latin listserv in the 90’s. wicked.

this is some serious next level stuff (thx jonah)

johannes p osterhoff gets his shield on

Kurt Cobain Hot Water Bottle Cover