Off-Topic invites artists, curators, writers, and cultural workers to discuss a subject not directly related to the practice of making art. We would like to welcome Elijah Burgher as our latest guest. Earlier this week Elijah participated in the magic-themed Cabinet of Curiosities at the MCA, hosted by Bad at Sports’ Duncan MacKenzie.Â His Off-Topic post takes the form of a narrated YouTube tour of his favorite group Coil.
COIL ARE MY FAVORITE
On November 13, 2004, Jhonn Balance died after falling from a second floor landing in his home. His death effectively ended the mighty Coil, which he had founded in 1982 with Peter â€œSleazyâ€ Chistopherson. Along with Psychic TV and Chris & Cosey, Coil rose from the ashes of Throbbing Gristleâ€”Sleazy is a member of TG, who recently resurrectedâ€”and, with Current 93, Nurse with Wound,
Death in June, plotted a new course for the various strains of experimental music that issued from the first wave of industrial music in the mid-to-late 70s. For more information about the bandâ€™s history and recordings, look at the Threshold House site, Brainwashedâ€™s Coil page, or the brief entry on them on the Disinformation site.
Coil are also my favorite. I love a lot of things, and have named possibly hundreds of artists, bands, filmmakers, books, etc. as my â€œfavoriteâ€ at one time or another. When Claudine asked me to write an Off-Topic post for the BaS blog, I knew I wanted to write about something that I loved, and considered Swansâ€™ Children of God, Dennis Cooperâ€™s George Myles cycle, and Pasoliniâ€™s Salo, the latter of which Iâ€™ve seen too many times to justifiably claim anything resembling mental health. But Coil really are my favorite. They are what I listen to when I work in my studio. And I have a Coil t-shirt that I consider a good luck talisman and wear when I feel particularly stressed out or sad. They inspire exactly this type of ecstatic, pathologically intense fandom in their followers. For this blog post, Iâ€™ll be leading you through some of my favorite songs by the band.
Balance had long suffered from alcoholism and drug abuse, which contributed to his untimely death. Since we started with news of his death, here is â€œHeartworms,â€ where he reflects self-deprecatingly on his addictions, intoning â€œthereâ€™s too much blood in my alcohol.â€ (Also I stole the name of my drawing blog from a lyric in this song: â€œGhosts vomit over me.â€) An enterprising YouTuber has added a super 8 short by Derek Jarman for visuals:
I first heard Coil when I was a teenager and a big fan of industrial music. I loved Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Pigface, and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. Originally, I had picked up their cd, Loveâ€™s Secret Domain, because Iâ€™d buy anything Wax Trax put out. It came out in 1991, so I must have been 13 or 14 since I didnâ€™t buy it too long after it had been released. That record soundtracked much of my high school years, from toothy teenage blowjobs to acid comedowns watching the dancing patterns of my bedsheets, and numerous late night sessions hunkered over my journal writing bad poems and drawing cute boys. I remember playing their track â€œThe Snowâ€ on repeat. It is now a veritable classic of early 90s house music, albeit still somewhat anomalous for the genre. Here is the â€œAnswers Come in Dreams IIâ€ remix from â€œThe Snow Epâ€: [Read more]
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Not to be confused with tfw Kevin Arrow blows your mind with some Obsolete Media Miami.
TFW: You’re For Real Over Art Basel
But you can’t look away because art?
Last year we lamented the Art World Spring Break that is Art Basel, and unsurprisingly, this year the focus remained on pretty much anything else BUT the art (see this utterly riveting article “In Miami, Booth Furniture as Compelling as the Art” in the New York Times). Add to this year the eerie and uncanny feeling that we were experiencing more of the week via Instagram than IRL and you find there really is no need to make the trip. You’ve heard it all already– it rained a lot, someone was stabbed, and the US’s biggest art mall remains unfazed.
Self-portrait as this girl in a Neo Rauch painting.
Epic rainstorm kept patrons trapped inside the Perez Art Museum Miami after the evenings festivities ended.
So why write about it at all? A fair question, unfortunately without an answer other than to highlight what WTT? found compelling and noteworthy. (Oh yeah, and for the photos. Mostly for the photos.) If it makes you feel any better, we actually decided to bring the WTT? column back after a letter from Duncan and the stirring Homeroom program, “Self-Portrait in a Kanye Mirror” last Tuesday at the MCA (more on that later), so we’ll try to keep this one brief.
Best text I received the entire week: “We are looking very birdcage, you won’t miss us.”
Coral Morphologic naturally kept us mystified with this work at Miami’s SwampSpace.
Sofia Leiby preparing the evening before her first Miami solo at Michael Jon Gallery next to the McAurthur Milk Factor in Little Haiti.
The ever fashionable Lizzie Newberry at the opening for “redew”, a beautiful exhibition of Miami woman artists presented by Maggie Knox in Little Haiti.
Virgo performing at the opening for “redew”, by Maggie Knox.
Highlights: The schadenfreude I experienced when the “monsoon” (in my mom’s words) literally rained on everyone’s Basel parade. Did you come here to “work”, or what? Also, The Littlest Sister Art Fair (and panels) at Spinello, Anselm Kiefer at Margulies Warehouse (a seriously WTF moment of awe), Coral Morphologic’s installation at SwampSpace, bbgrl Sofia Leiby’s exhibition at Michael Jon, the multicolored breakfast at The Sagamore Hotel (what was up with that art tho?), ceviche, and nearly everything at the Artist-Run Satellite fair in North Beach (hey, not mainland, but at least it’s north of Arthur Godfrey). Snacks.
With artists Misael Soto and Reed Van Brunschot with Van Brunschot’s installation at Spinello’s reprisal of its popular Littlest Sister Art Fair in Little Haiti.
One room of many giant Anselm Kiefer installations at the Margulies Collection.
Pro Tip: Limón y Sabor.
Artists Liz Ferrer and Efrain Del Hierro outside of the Ocean Terrace Hotel, the location for the Artist-Run Satellite Fair.
David Rohn left us breathless after this gorgeously draggy performance at Fantastical Vizcaya on December 5th.
NoLa artist Local Honey inside “Stupid Bar”, part of Baltimore gallery Open Space’s space at Artist-Run fair.
Sweet piece by Derrick Adams in Rhona Hoffman’s ABMB booth.
“Where the snacks at?” The Sagamore Hotel Brunch.
Artist Carol Ferdinand showing tourists how Miamian’s do rain in front of a José Bedia sculpture by the Sagamore’s pool.
Also was very feeling Martine Syms thoughtful, haunting “Art on the Move” project, NITE LIFE, at Locust Projects and on buses and signs around Overtown (pairs excellently and unfortunately with the news that David Beckham is building a soccer stadium there after richer neighborhoods turned him down. “This will be the most responsible stadium development in Miami history,” said no one truthfully ever.).
The beginning of Rashad Newsome’s “King of Arms Miami” parade in front of the de la Cruz Collection in the Design District.
Totally perfect giant post-it note by April Childers in the Penelope room at the Artist-Run fair.
Tapestries by SAIC Alum Robin Kang also in the Penelope room at Artist-Run fair.
Wish I could buy this Jenna Ransom drawing in The Alice’s Artist-Run hotel room.
Tara Long (aka Poorgrrl) performing at the ICA Miami party in a sad Drake t-shirt by Chicago artist David Leggett.
Can we talk about Hernan Bas for a second? Ok. Thanks.
Martine Syms’ bus wrap spotted by Locusts’ Amanda Sanfillipo.
Last but not least, Rashad Newsome’s weirdly under-attended and overly-awesome “King of Arms Miami” Parade in the Design District on Tuesday, Dec 1st. The FMU musicians were rad, Newsome’s lambo was out of control, and the voguing group from NY brought it despite the lackluster crowd, comprised of what seemed like more cameras than people, a pissed off looking Jeffery Deitch and our small group. The annual TM Sisters beach hang on Monday night. Oh, and one more, the performances at Vizcaya!
Trippy install of Robert Chase Heishman photographs and Lauren Clay wallpaper at LVL3’s Untitled booth.
Chicago fashion playboy, Vincent Uribe of LVL3, impeccably matching the gallery’s booth at Untitled with work by Lauren Clay.
Keijaun Thomas and I spent some time in the beautiful curated SEDIMENT presentation in the Artist-Run fair, “Gravity Assist,” featuring none other than lost Chicago boy, David Moré!
This article continued in the third column.
The Weatherman Report
Several Circles, 1926, by Vassily Kandinsky because wtf is going on with the weather rn.
Allison Glenn presents her Kanye Self-Portrait at the MCA on Tuesday night.
Reflections of Self-Portrait in a Kanye Mirror
Homeroom Channels Doctor West at the MCA
Free Tuesdays are generally bustling at the MCA, though I was still surprised to see that nearly 20 minutes before the much-anticipated Homeroom’s School Night: Self-Portrait in a Kanye Mirror was set to begin on Dec 15th, the (Wolfgang Puck?) Cafe was already filled to capacity, with overflow seats starting to fill up in the central hallway of the museum.
Billed as “a multimedia info show with artists and educators who assemble to reflect on the art and life of Kanye West through the lens of their own personal Yeezus” the evenings event featured Krista Franklin, Allison Glenn, and Lisa Yun Lee with Kevin Coval, J. Johari Palacio and Anthony Stepter. And reflect they did.
Fred Sasaki of Homeroom opened the evening with his own personal Yeezus demons, cracking self-deprecating jokes about his unending love for Kanye and his own son’s disapproval of rap music. The vibe was right as Sasaki led the crowd in taking Kanye-inspired “I am a god” selfies and in singing bars of West’s hit “Runaway”. While the roster was pretty long, the guests were stellar and each presentation was just how I like it, short and sweet. The first speaker up, Anthony Stepter, made a compelling attempt to equate his life with Kanye’s, referencing the artists fateful car accident that launched his career. Next was Allison Glenn on Kanye’s “interruptions” as they relate to her own practice as a curator and writer.
Jesse Malmed and I make our best “God” faces.
Following Glenn was what (almost) seemed to be a spontaneous audience performance of a mash-up of Kanye lyrics. Next, coming to the stage to the tune of West’s “Mercy”, J. Johari Palacio presented a light and amusing stream of consciousness on Kanye’s presumed internal monologue, while Lisa Yun Lee opted to use the opportunity to discuss everything from conservative conceptions of “Black Excellence” to misogyny in rap music. While Lee was riveting, she was unfortunately paired with Kevin Coval, who’s spoken word poetry alternating with Lee’s speaking felt awkward. Fortunately, Krista Franklin was there to bring it all back together, offering her own poetic read of Kanye in her piece, “Devil in a New Dress, Or Making Paper with Kanye West.” Stunning.
After the presentations a surprisingly poignant Q&A followed, with Stepter describing his own “constructed” understanding of race in response to a statement from an audience member on anti-Black sentiment. Afterward, many at the MCA adjourned to the Soho House, where J. Johari Palacio satisfied everyone’s need to listen to Kanye songs over cocktails and good conversation. A+++. We heard that audio should be available soon if you weren’t able to attend in person. Pair that with the special mix Palacio created for the evening and enjoy your own KW AP.
After the program ended, Sasaki confided that the School series has a cathartic effect over his personal obsession. While he may have let go of Kanye after last night’s event, he only reignited our own interest in the controversial figure– currently bumping Johari’s mix and thankful for Chicago. 😉
Reading is Fundamental
Because we hate Top 5 lists but love books.
The Papi Project by Oli Rodriguez.
The IRL book culmination of Rodriguez’s ongoing interdisciplinary project including 3D photographic sculptures, video, photography and performance that investigates technology, gay/queer hookup culture and loss through the artist’s attempt to seek out men who had sexual relations with his own father. We *think* the book is available for purchase at David Weinberg, which recently hosted a portion of the project in the “Pearly Foam” exhibition curated by Meg Noe.
Shallow Wounds: Two Accounts of Art Basel 2015. In this collaborative essay WTT? kindred spirits and fellow Miami natives, Rob Goyanes and Dave Rodriguez, expound on the oft felt Basel-related ennui, more flat tires, and Stitches getting punched in the face.
Lori Waxman’s Best of:
We’re super not into pointless lists (*cough*Newcity*cough*), so good news to us (and art writing in general) that Waxman’s waxing on Chicago art in 2015 is a meaty and thoughtful review of her favorite projects of 2015. We were particularly tickled to see Trunk Show’s delightful missives getting love from Lori. We’d also like to add that their twitter, written from the perspective of the 1999 green Ford Taurus him(?)self, is also pretty hilarious.
T around Town
Chicago, it’s been too long!
Because we all know that reviews are boring as fuck.
Alex Bradley Cohen drawing my portrait during his residency with Alberto Aguilar for Next Art Now in the Leo Burnett building. Catch boy wonder, Cohen, at his opening for Trunk Show at Tusk this coming Saturday afternoon.
Speaking of TS, we hope you caught their installation of work by Scott Wolniak in Brandon Alvendia’s “The Great Good Place” exhibition at Threewalls which closed Dec. 12th.
Chelsea Culp breakin’ all the rules at the opening for “The Great Good Place”.
An oldie but a goodie. Bodies at the Center, a performance by Gregg Bordowitz and Marissa Perel presented at the Chicago Humanities Fest in partnership with the ADA 25 Chicago on November 7th. These powerhouses got us thinking and it hasn’t stopped.
We’re still hung over from the overabundance of beauty (and wine) at Inside/Within’s first curatorial presentation, “asperity economy asymmetry austerity intimacy,” at The Franklin this past Saturday, Dec. 12th. Pictured is Chelsea Culp’s “Untitled (Sporty Spice)” on loop girl.
Another clutch work (get it, bananas? 😛 ) by Maddie Reyna in “asperity economy asymmetry austerity intimacy,” at The Franklin this past Saturday, Dec. 12th.
The cuties of No Coast (Aay Preston-Myint & Alex Valentine) at the Medium Cool gift fair at Prairie Productions on November 21st. Affordable work by Latham Owen Zearfoss and Math Bass? Please and Thank You.
Our everyday #WCW’s, Emily Green and Kate Bowen of ACRE holding down the bar at the opening for “Tele Nature, Post Ecologies” at ACRE Projects on November 8th.
November 8th also marked the return of long-dormant New Capital in Garfield Park. Reopening in a newly renovated space with work by Rebecca Beachy, “Inherencies” was a fittingly ritualistic treatment of the gallery space, utilizing burned animal bones and other natural materials to christen every inch. On view through February 2016.
A detail of work by Beachy embedded into the walls of New Capital.
One of the best exhibitions in our recent memory (where you at, Top 10 lists of 2015?), “Twin Rooms” curated by Ionit Behar and Pinar Üner Yilmaz at Julius Cæsar. Work by Bailey Romaine (and Assaf Evron sound piece in the back!).
More work by Bailey Romaine in “Twin Rooms” curated by Ionit Behar and Pinar Üner Yilmaz at Julius Cæsar on November 15th.
Robert Smith III and Jesse Malmed show off their red coats during a late late night shift of Pope.L’s “Cage Unrequited” at the MCA on Nov 21-22nd.
New work in “Post Self”, a collection of other people taking images by Nicholas Frank on view at Western Exhibitions.
Two Milwaukeean’s walk into a gallery. Alec Regan with Nicholas Frank at the opening for “Post Self” at Western Exhibitions last Friday.
Alberto Aguilar (framed by Elsworth Kelly) discussing his work “Room for Intimacy” in the Education Wing of the Art Institute at a private reception for the installation last week. The gave a detailed explanation of the installation before handing the room over to museum education associates for their use.
If you missed Wolfie Rawk’s excellently spooky subterranean video installation “The Island” you have one final chance, TONIGHT at Learning Machine. The closing will feature performance by Sofia Moreno and Rosé Hernandez so don’t be late.
Are the most interesting conversations around socially engaged art happening in your newsfeed?
While we appreciate the effort from Chicago magazine and Jason Foumberg, the recent article “How Chicago Artists Responded to the Laquan McDonald Video” was anemic at best. The fire-y headline left us wanting more. Most lacking was any actual response by artists to the recently released video of the police shooting. It is mostly milquetoast responses by some [highly regarded] Chicago artists. There are some proverbial “shots fired,” wherein [Chicago-ish?] artist and provocateur Pedro Velez calls to Chicago’s main man, Theaster Gates, to make a statement on the situation. Gates apparently declined to comment.
While the Chicago Mag piece tamely leaves it at that, an interesting Facebook thread on Foumberg’s wall continues the conversation with quoted artists Dawoud Bey, Kate Ingold, Robb Stone and Velez adding additional context to their short statements in the article. Regarding Velez’s opinion on Gates, Bey writes “I also disagree with Pedro’s putting Theaster on the spot…as he has in other instances in the past. Not to slight anyone else, but Theaster’s tangible contribution to the city and his own community speaks volumes for his deep engagement.” A lively conversation ensues covering everything from Joe Scanlan’s lecture at UC, to Kanye West’s honorary doctorate at SAIC in 2015.
Meanwhile, in a strange and parallel universe, Chicago Tribune did manage to get a response from Theaster Gates for an article in the paper’s Lifestyle section titled “How to be a good neighbor with Theaster Gates” (can’t make this shit up). The piece does dance around some political concerns, like when Trib’s Lisa Skolnik asks, “I’ve heard you don’t like the word “gentrification.” What term do you prefer?” to which Gates responds “…I hope that what I’m doing is ethical redevelopment…”, but loses me when the “lifestyle” questions come out. Favorite mode of transit? “Roller-skating; I have Chicago Skates classic rink skates.”
MIAMI BASEL RECAP CONTINUED…
Chicago’s very own Sarah & Joseph Belknap with 100% brand new stellar-inspired work at Brooklyn-based Common People’s presentation for Artist-Run fair. Shout out to S&J for camping in the mangroves and for the empanadas and tequila shots!
We were really into this fashionably haphazard installation, “Beast Boutique” by Jennifer Avery at yellow peril gallery in the Artist-Run Satellite.
Avery actually met and married James Swainbank outside of the fair. Covered here by Michael Anthony Farley for AFC.
Speaking of AFC, we loved this dart board by Chicago artist Macon Reed in their “DYKE BAR” at the Artist-Run Satellite.
Local favs, GucciVitton branching out at DesignMiami as Giovanni Beltran with furniture by Jonathan Gonzalez in the curio section of the fair.
With Emily Green, Keijaun Thomas and Efrén Arcoiris at the SAIC 150th Anniversary at the Sagamore Friday Dec 4th.
J. Rip making deals for Green Gallery. Can’t get enough of that amazing lamp in their NADA Booth.
Lowlights and letdowns included Art Basel Miami Beach’s Most Anticipated Collaboration (according to NYT) between Ryan McNamara and Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange). I don’t think the point was to be as boring as humanly possible. I felt pretty bad for Hynes, who seemed to be the most nonplussed of all. Maybe they jinxed themselves with that Coral Castle pic. The Nari Ward show was sick tho (s/o to Diana Nawi for the great work). Never enough snacks. Visiting artists’ instagrammed obsession with the hologram lady at Miami International Airport. The Braman’s massive campaign contributions to Marco Rubio (they are, btw, the family underwriting the ICA Miami) and republicans in general. Wynwood, always. Being barraged by that image of the bleeding woman in the Nova section of ABMB (can I get a trigger warning?!). That I had to choose between taking a falafel pita from Pita Plus or a Publix sub back to Chicago on the plane with me (went for the falafel FYI).
Did the mystical powers of Coral Castle and/or Edward Leedskalnin’s ghost jinx this hotly anticipated collaboration?
So I guess my Basel was ok? At least I finally figured out how to deliberately lower my expectations, and how to change a flat tire (thanks Misa & Domingo). Until next year.
A serene moment with work by Leyden Rodriguez Cassanova at the Miami Center for Architecture & Design before leaving.
My favorite floor. MIA’s public art installation by OG Miami goddess, Michele Oka Doner.
One of our favorite parts of our favorite Miami fair, the Artist-Run Satellite at the dilapidated Ocean Terrace Hotel on 74th street was how the artists and spaces delt with the bathrooms in each suite. These are two of our favorite examples.
Lee Heinemann’s bathroom install presented by Platform Gallery.
Ningún Solicitar’s chaotic bathroom, part of their “Ningún Solicitar Hotel” installation.
Clear Acrylic Art Work
What can we say? We are from Miami, after all.
Nari Ward, Naturalization Drawing Table (2004) on view at PAMM.
Acrylic column by Jason Gringler in the recently closed exhibition New Destruction with James Bouché.
The most must-have accessory of Art Basel Miami Beach 2015
On trend at the Sagamore Hotel brunch crepe line.
Outside of the Hynes/ McNamara performance at PAMM.
Aside from their seriously crucial position in ceviche mixtos, Shrimp are experiencing a revival at the end of 2015.
Delicious and desirable Shrimp Brooch by Brittany Kowalski, available at TUSK.
This super freaking adorable guy (did I just call a shrimp named Cthulhu adorable?) is the star of Jack Schneider’s exhibition at Pilsen gallery Born Nude and the subject of this Hyperallergic review by Kate Sierzputowski.
Header image features a detail image of Sunday Painters, originally conceived by Chelsea Culp and Ben Foch for The Hills Esthetic Center and re-staged on the occasion of “The Great Good Place” curated by Brandon Alvendia at Threewalls.
Hey! We’re back by somewhat popular demand (aka Duncan said so). And we learned how to make video gifs! We hope you enjoyed this super belated edition of the T. Let us know what else you want to hear about by emailing us or hit us up on the tweeter y’all!
The Internet is as anarchist zone where virtual creolization and dissolution of cultural boarders can occur ad infinitum facilitating intellectual freedom by masses access to global commodity culture. Yet a typical and altogether problematic West/ East and first world/ third world dichotomy emerges when considering Cuba’s use of the Internet, highly moderated by the government, to the proper “West’s” open and constant access. Two exhibitions, In the Absence of a Body (February 2015) and Cuban Virtualities (December-February 2014), explore the complex semantics of freedom through virtual mobility and emigration asserting but also blurring this traditional dualism. Cuba as a country has a unique relationship with digital technology as connectivity and access are largely withheld from general populations and heavily moderated by the state. Historically, Cubans also faced impingements upon travel, mobility to the U.S. through the embargo, and immigration. For these reasons, America could be characterized as a designated promised-zone that, if ever reached, would help to facilitate liberation. The Internet and digital media can be seen as another gateway to mobility and freedom. The artists Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera (In the Absence of a Body) and Susana Pilar Delahante Matienzo (Cuban Virtualities) reverse this traditional dichotomy by drawing the audience attention to the artificial promises of these thresholds and desired states. While not present directly, the post-Snowden discourse that ensued after the wikileaks scandal offers another enforcing layer that freedom and endless free-speech in the West might in fact have much more in common with Cuba’s overt censorship.
During In the Absence of a Body the artist, Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera, explores his current status as a Cuban émigré in the United States. With a childhood marked by the Cuban embargo and the collapse of structures in 1991, Diaz-Perera has in many ways broken through the invisible iron wall and reached the ultimate post-modern utopia through travel as an artist: acceleration and mobility. Yet, it seems that he commiserates this freedom because he is cut off from his family and political moments. It is for these reasons that his installation takes on the appearance and the motif of the prison cell where he has taken up occupation for the twenty-day duration of the show.
In Diaz-Perera’s installation and performance, he is invisible from the audience’s gaze yet present behind the false wall of the Chicago Artists’ Coalition gallery space, where he pulls a make shift levy system attached to a microphone. The undulating pulling motion causes the microphone to thud loudly against the wall— a rhythm reminiscent of a beating heart or an internal pounding of the head when the body’s equilibrium has been overturned. Diaz-Perera’s performance is reminiscent of Vito Acconci’s Seed Bed and other early performance artists such as Valley Export’s early occupation of architectural spaces. It is the austerity of The Silence (…) is overrated, part of the larger installation of In the Absence of a Body, that links it immediately to 1960’s and 70’s performance artists and also connects Diaz-Perera’s work to earlier generations of action-based performance artists such as Tania Bruguera (Cuba) and Regina José Galindo (Guatemala).
The Silence (…) is overrated, a performative gesture, is founded between two auditory documents from activist figures that have also suffered a loss of voice and silencing by the government. The audience is asked to kneel in order to hear the audio from the two activists figures inviting them to make a choice between hearing what officials call dissident speech and what others call proclamations of freedom. When the viewer makes the choice to kneel down, he or she is confronted with a strange dialectic between being in a position of crouching that can be used as a tool of political torcher or the spiritual position of prayer. This dialectic is mirrored by the artistic choice to only include two voices and accounts: that of Tania Bruguera, a performance artist living in New York but from Cuba, and Assata Shakur, an American and member of the former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army who resides in Cuba as a political refugee. Both attest to their homeland as a place of surveillance and political assailant on free speech and property. Particularly, Bruguera testimony demands that the government release performers and the artist’s property, which were seized in the unrealized performance #YoTambienExijo (I also Demand) in December 2014.
There are no images attributed to the sound that the viewer hears through headphones. Instead a black monitor screen with white text that translates the speech either English or Spanish depending on the language of the speaker. This suggests that experience and testimony can always be mirrored into another lens by language and through this simple refraction can turn into incriminating testimony. In this case, it is Shakur attesting to the hegemony of the American police mirrored against Bruguera’s assertion of Cuba as a police-state. The black TV-monitor is oddly reminiscent of a narrow window, the type of geometric form that one would find in a gothic cathedral, and yet in reality is a threshold for a virtual world that has been foreclosed.
Yet to view Diaz-Perera’s work as a closed circuit triangulated work would be to miss the political context or the absent link. This missing link is Bruguera and her uncompleted and censored work #YoTambienExijo (I also Demand). Writing on the failed work’s reception, Coco Fusco discusses #YoTambienExijo, a performance that was planned to take place in Revolutionary Square in Cuba but was censored by the government, as a work that neither the Cuban world nor the Western world understood because of the restricted means of communication and organization imposed by the Internet. The plan for the performance, Fusco explains, was to place a large microphone within the public square for citizens to step up and call the government out for its crooked and what Fusco calls “draconian” censorship. Instead, Cuban citizens criticized Bruguera for creating a grand gesture that was completely out of touch with the possible realms for real subversive actions. Exhibition planners of Cuban Virtualities, J. Gibran Villalobos and Wil Ruggiero, explain that Cuban artists toe the line between political action and submission so that this vacillation between two oppositions could somehow function as a safety net against incrimination. Diaz-Perera hints to this paranoid conflicted zone and space by borrowing key motifs in his In the Absence of a Body. His overturned microphone becomes a direct referent to Bruguera’s unrealized performance that in many ways was supposed to fill in what she presumably deemed as a public space vacant of expressed concerns. Yet, since Bruguera lives most of her time outside of Cuba, she is seen as a cultural elite and her extreme plans for the performance in December of 2014 only exacerbated an already heated situation. Therefore, Diaz-Perera’s work can be seen as a complex meditation but also response to Bruguera’s failed gesture. In his iteration, the microphone itself has lost all of its utility and can only create a deafening music.
Cuban Virtualities, a traveling exhibition that was on view at Sullivan Galleries from December-February, explores the individual’s relationship to the Internet. Unlike Diaz-Perera’s work, which questions the role of the émigré caught between two opposing yet similarly violent worlds, Cuban Virtualities focuses on individual’s access to the Internet and how this can be a tool for political expression. Cuban Virtualities suggests a similar US/Cuban dualism as the viewer experiences the works from a point of estrangement.
Geert Lovink authored a 2014 article in Journal #54 of e-flux where he claims that the digital world had returned to a point pre-1984, which he then explains as the year before the apple computer had been introduced and marketed to the individual. Before, he states, computers were large expensive machines for corporations and were not associated with file sharing programs, chat rooms, and borderless connections between individuals. Geert Lovink writes “Now, thirty years later, the computer is once again the perfect technical instrument of a cold, military security apparatus that is out to allocate, identify, select—and ultimately destroy—the Other.” Lovink is writing for a journal based in the U.S.—the proper West— that unlike the Cuban artists at hand, enjoys a very specific so-called freedom.
On the island where the artists of Cuban Virtualities live, their experience of the Internet is radically different than that of the United States. The Internet is overtly monitored, withheld, and often times not available to the individual. In Cuba, the Internet never reached a post-1984 position, yet that is not to say that individual expression ever suffered, rather that individual expression on the Internet was always elevated to political action. For instance, in Mirror of Patience, Susana Pilar Delahante Matienzo is present in the gallery through a live feed. Exhibition organizers J. Gibran Villalobos and Wil Ruggiero explain the huge monetary negotiation that had to take place in order to allow Matienzo to be present in the live feed. They explain that ultimately a company called ONCuba Magazine provided sponsorship for a network connection to broadcast with SAIC.
In the live feed, which was ultimately only possible at certain points in the exhibitions duration because of cost, the artist calls out to the viewer and asks him or her to place his or her hands on the backlit projection screen in order to mimic her actions. While playing the game, the viewer wonders if he or she has been dubiously tricked into staring into an unknown or othered reflection of the self. During the opening night, Matienzo waited for participants to come interact with her. Many looked on her with caution and often would utter anemic laughs while shooting glances to the virtually present artist. Often times Matienzo would laugh herself and ask— “who is there”— unable to see beyond the shallow range of the web cam.
Mirror of Patience, conceived by the artist in 2013, at first seemingly places the viewer and artist on a level playing field. Upon closer inspection, while the gallery has unlimited Internet access, the artist is only able to use the Internet through a special sponsorship she was able to receive because of her status as an artist, someone who in Cuban society has much more mobility and capital power, Villalobos and Ruggiero explain. In a post-Snowden cultural climate, Matienzo use of the Internet is a testament to the remaining possibility of dissident action. Yet, one is all too aware that the gesture is not utopian, she is not celebrating the world without borders but pointing to the artifice of the image of a timeless and borderless space.
Glenda Leon’s Inversion also muses on structures of meaning. In the single channel video, the artist scrapes the ink off a 100 dollar bill and then snorts the particles that remain after her intervention. This could be interpreted as a metaphor of the Internet, for accessing the Internet in 2014 or 15 is to reach a promised utopia but when one scrapes the surface, this essential freedom seems to fall apart. Cuban citizens can create a simple act of protest out of a simple action of hacking, and yet these actions and words are always being archived, cross-listed, and can and will be used against them.
In the CAC take-away pamphlet, Diaz-Perera describes how he was born in Havana, Cuba in 1991 “at the beginning of the Special Period, an economic crisis resulting from a combination of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S. Embargo, and the internal systemic controls.” Most of the artist in Cuban Virtualities also lived through this Special Period where power structures crumbled and the nation was isolated by the embargo. In many ways, Cuban life has been defined by the cross-pollination of U.S. and Cuban relationships and the continual reconfiguration of identity through absorption of other cultures in colonial periods. Yet in a sense, these other cultures, specifically American in this incident, have been an imposition. Villalobos’ comments on Mirror of Patience as a “laying bare” of the reality of this co-dependency or in other words, the hell that connectivity can usher in as one side waits to begin to continue to communicate. It is in fact this waiting (awaiting) for information, for a sentence, or for connectivity, the same game that Diaz-Perera also plays in jest, that turns the would be freedom of emigrating or live-stream into the first of many entrapments.
 Cuban Virtualities: curated by Rewell Altunaga and Liz Munsell, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; organized at SAIC by Gibran Villalobos (Dual MA 2013) and Wil Ruggiero
 Zygmunt Bauman explains one of the attributes of power in post-modern or liquid modern times is the access to mobility and the rate of this acquisition: “Velocity of movement and access to faster means of mobility steadily rose in modern times to the position of the principal tool of power and domination” (9).
 Fusco, Coco. “The State of Detention: Performance, Politics, and the Cuban Public.” e-flux.com. N.p., 6 Jan. 2015. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.
 Lovink, Geert. “Hermes on the Hudson: Notes on Media Theory after Snowden.” e-flux.com. N.p., Apr. 2014. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.
In the popular imagination, bookshops in Notting Hill may be where bumbling Englishmen meet Hollywood filmstars. Last night it was where a bumbling art writer, played by myself, got to meet some of the UK’s most successful bloggers.
The venue was Book and Kitchen, who deserve props for the bohemian setting, mean jazzsoundtrack and fantastic three course meal. Since there’s no such thing as a free meal, we bloggers were encouraged, between mouthfuls, to discuss our medium of choice.
You can check out the results on @blog10, an enterprising venture by a PR agency called Marmalade. There was a lot of talent and success in the room: from a book blogger who’s landed a UK and US publishing deal (Ann Morgan) to a young vlogger who has the brands queueing up to feature on her profit-making lifestyle blog (Abisole Amole).
Thankfully, eclectic London blogger Katie Antoniou had plenty to say, recalling the time when blogs first emerged as the honest antidote to “bullshit” editorial. (Integrity, it seems, is still a blogger’s best friend, even in the current climate of bribery and gifting.) “I don’t have the ego for journalism,” she explained, which seemed to resonate around the table.
Rona Wheeldon has a niche even more obscure than contemporary art. She is a flower blogger, who waxed lyrical about the potential for filming posts and hosting a YouTube channel. “Vlogs can show emotion!” she insisted, even though last time I checked, the written word can sometimes do the same.
Things turned comic when book bloggers Morgan and Kim Forrester revealed statistical spikes from wayward web users who stumble upon their sites in search of resources forsex tourism. We laughed about it, but it was a reminder that despite its academic origins, the web is still not the best place for serious discussions. Nevertheless, with their literate audiences, both bloggers have built readership and communities within their crowded field.
Indeed it was widely reported that finding an audience and a network of peers could still be the number one reason for starting a blog. Even if in recent years comments are very hard to come by (“Who’s got time to comment?” we asked). Time is an increasing issue, as one faces the introduction of a two speed internet where large web corporations choke smaller players. Morgan raised fears of losing the level playing field bloggers now enjoy.
Several of us bemoaned the encroachment of social media ads and promoted posts. The latest platform to introduce ads appears to be Instagram. Starbucks and UK supermarket Waitrose had reached out to a couple of the photobloggers among us. Although to be fair, their presence wasn’t totally unwelcome. Amole revealed a thriving existence of the coffee giants’ #redcups hashtag. She is relaxed about it.
As the meal drew to a close we took questions about blogging from twitter. One eager user requested three tips from each of us in turn. Find a niche. Use social media. Build a brand. The wisdom was flowing by this point. But perhaps interiors blogger Kate Baxter had the last word. Don’t get into blogging to get free stuff or money. It probably won’t happen. You may however one day be invited to a West London blogging salon. Things could be worse.
“Out of the Mouths of Artists” is a new bi-monthly series on the Bad at Sports blog. The series presents a space for guest artist bloggers–of varying career statuses–to write, to reflect, to pontificate on their current situations, failures and/or successes, and ideas on what it means to be an artist. “Out of the Mouths of Artists” also gives readers a glimpse into artists’ portfolios and studios.
“Perfect Strangers” on ABC Television Network, 1986 – 1993.
The Man who saw the Man who saw the Bear
Guest Post by Michael Gimenez
For my first trip to the United States in the summer of 2000, I accompanied a contemporary dance company on tour in several Michigan towns as their photographer. I was afraid to live this journey through the visual prism of thousands of hours of American television series and movies that had saturated my mental images. I promised myself that I would look at each thing with virgin eyes, cleaned of any cinematographic references. Upon landing in Chicago, the view offered up and framed by the plane window struck me: I clearly remember having the impression of traveling through a TV screen, materialized by a yellowish haze and a myriad of swimming pools.
My very first vision of the American territory was exactly like a thousand other shots I had seen on television series. An aerial shot above a sunny metropolis.
Baseball fields. Traffic. Highways. Reflections. Skyscrapers. That was a bad start.
Twelve years later, some of which were spent in the School of Fine Arts of Montpellier in France and some producing art in Prague in Czech Republic, I planned a second trip to the United States. I had decided to fulfill a desire growing inside of me since first viewing motion pictures that had been made in the U.S.A.—a desire that 95% of French boys from my generation secretly wished to achieve. A road-trip across America. Skyscrapers. Spanish moss. Dusty roads. Red sunsets. Close encounters?
Gimenez’s close encounters at Devil’s Tower
July 2012: Before I leave, my friends tell me that during their stay in a campsite a few hours from New York, they saw bears sneaking around their tent and eating their food. They tell me to be careful because I will probably cross paths with some during my trek.
For this trip, I also aimed to start a film project questioning why we still want to see and represent Native Americans as imaginary Indians. For this reason, I decided to stay a few days on the Pine Ridge reservation in Wounded Knee, which would be my last stop before dropping the car off that I had borrowed in Chicago. Wounded Knee is a highly symbolic place within Native history. It’s where more than 150 men, women and children were massacred in 1890, and it later became the catalyst of the American Indian Movement. The day before I hit the road to Wounded Knee, I looked at one of the movement leaders’ Wikipedia page—born in Pine Ridge, activist but also movie actor, Russell Means. I was surprised to see a date of death beside his name, thinking that it was a mistake. I was immediately stupefied to learn he had died that very day. For lack of meeting Russell Means in person, I would go to his funeral. He had returned to the reservation to die. A missed encounter.
September 2012: While I’m stopped in Marfa, Texas, the young French girl who is hosting me tells me all about the beauties of Big Bend Park, where she and her friends had met a bear, and how it was wonderful.
I recently started creating 3D models of edifices and monuments to incorporate into Google Earth. I started it somewhat spontaneously after finding out that the factory chimney towering over my hometown of Rive-de-Gier, which is classified as an historical monument, didn’t exist in this virtual world. The chimney is more than a century old and is as high as the hills that surround the industrial valley where I grew up. At one point in history, it was the tallest chimney in all of Europe, standing 360 feet tall. The landmark is visible from many spots over town, even from my parent’s house. My dad worked in the metallurgic factory connected to the chimney for 45 years.
Currently, I am finishing a model for the gate and memorial of the Wounded Knee cemetery. Next, I will make the Haymarket Square Memorial. On May 1st of this year, I found out that International Workers’ Day originates from the workers’ struggle to install an eight-hour shift right here in Chicago, back in 1886. Many of them were killed. These types of edifices also need to exist on the virtual globe.
Gimenez’s 3D sketch model of Wounded Knee
Mid-September 2012: While crossing the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, I give a ride to Native hitchhiker who is going back home to Kayenta. When he gets out of the car, he tells me to be careful because there are a lot of wild animals on the road. I won’t see a single one.
For the past three months, I have been working on a documentary about a movie that made a mark on me when I saw it in the nineties, and didn’t receive fair recognition. Clearcut is a great thriller, but it primarily presents an unseen and non-stereotypical characterization of Natives. The Canadian film was actually made by Polish director Ryszard Bugajski. In April of this year, just before leaving for Chicago, I met and interviewed Ryszard in Warsaw. His analysis regarding the way his film was received in North America—very well by Native people, very badly by Canadians—was revealing for me. He defended the proposition that a European person would actually be in a better position to depict a sensitive and typically American issue like Native genocide. Ryszard himself had to flee Poland to Canada to escape the Communist regime; he knows about oppression. Empathetic, but impartial. Free of guilt.
Graham Greene in Bugajski’s “Clearcut” film of 1991.
End of September 2012: I’m in California, halfway into my road trip. The grizzly waving on the state flag is the only bear I have seen so far.
The more I learn about the United States, the better understanding I have of European history. Because I lived in Central Europe for several years, I can now see the Polish, the Czech and the Hungarian influence on the construction of American history (especially on cinema) and on Chicago, which houses the largest Polish community in the U.S. and the artists’ neighborhood Pilsen.
October 2012: I stay for a few days in Yellowstone Park, set on seeing a bear. Bears are extremely active in the fall because they have to fill up before going into hibernation. The park is overpopulated… with warning signs explaining how to hide your food and stay alert, et cetera. Instead, I venture off treks with my camera as my only weapon. Not a single fur.
I also approach my work by focusing on new formats generated by what we call “the Internets”. I make use of different on-line media (comments, forums, YouTube, Google Earth, newspapers, etc.) as raw material to incorporate in my installations. For instance, in the installation Punctum Remotum, I wrote a short novel narrating various YouTube videos. And in the video Drammatical, I transformed the user-comments of an online USA Today article into a multi-dialogued video.
November 2012: Just before I return to Europe, a friend takes me to the Chicago Zoo so I can at least see a real-life bear on American soil. It’s already very cold, and the zoo seems to be asleep. Most of the animals are trying to keep warm. We finally reach the bear neighborhood to find the other side of the fences completely deserted. We run to the polar bears’ swimming pool—it’s empty. Even the polar bears are cold in Chicago? Anyway, they’re invisible. At least until spring.
Today, two months after landing in the Windy City for the fourth time, I’m starting to seriously get used to the idea of living, working and creating in this city. Then my girlfriend is offered her dream job—a job that will take us away for three years to Glasgow. Scotland. Back to Europe.
I look at the red carnation that has been poised in a glass jar on the kitchen table for more than two weeks. Its petals haven’t quivered. In this country, flowers don’t rot. The red flower is mocking me as if she knew she was just a picture. Eternal. Virtual.
Now, I think back to a typically French expression used to define a person who speaks of things about which he doesn’t know: “the man who saw the man who saw the bear.”
Prints. Photo courtesy Gimenez.
Michael Gimenez (b. 1977) received a MFA from the School of Fine Arts of Montpellier, France. Recent exhibitions include ‘Rio, Ano Zero’ at 37a Mostra Internacional de Cinéma, São Paulo; ‘Global Locals’ at Galerie NTK, Prague; ‘Drammatical’ at ETC gallery, Prague; ‘Exuvies’ at Galerie 35, French Institute, Prague; ‘Punctum Remotum’ at Galerie Living-Room, Montpellier; and ‘C’est mieux si on reste amis.’ at Galerie Saint-Ravy, Montpellier. See more of Giminez’s work at www.michaelgimenez.com.
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