A. The Death Instinct and the Life Instinct:
The Death Instinct: separation, individuality, Avant-Garde par excellence; to follow one’s own path to death—do your own thing, dynamic, change.
The Life Instinct: unification, the eternal return, the perpetuation and MAINTENANCE of the species, survival systems and operations, equilibrium.
– Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Manifesto for Maintenance Art, 1969!
Publications discussed here (an asterisk means it came out less than 365 days ago):
- Let It Sink by Jim Joyce (victimsofmathematics at gmail, 2013)*
- Filmme Fatales Issue 1, ed. Brodie Lancaster (filmmefatales.com, 2013)*
- Cha-Ching! by Ali Liebegott (City Lights/Sister Spit, 2013)*
- Collisions by Brendan Monroe (brendanmonroe.com, ??)
- Life Form by Amélie Nothomb, trans. Alison Anderson (Europa Editions, 2013)*
- Rumspringa by Tom Schachtman (North Point, 2006)
Right now I’m taking a class with some painters—mostly we read, and talk—and the other day, we were talking about endings. For painters, I’m learning endings mean say, photography, and intubated paint, and Rodchenko. I’m a writer so I started thinking about Samuel Beckett, the Independent Press Association, Kathy Acker’s parrots and pirates, her red/read. But more generally, meditating to “This body will be a corpse,” and to be fair that really just used to crack me up. It is very hard for ex-Sad Teenage Girls like myself to meditate to that, because for so long we were like “Yes I know, hurry up already.” Read more
This week: This week we talk with artist, writer, and WhiteWalls co-founder Buzz Spector!
Buzz Spector is an artist and critical writer whose artwork has been shown in such museums and galleries as the Art Institute of Chicago, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, and the Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA. Spector’s work makes frequent use of the book, both as subject and object, and is concerned with relationships between public history, individual memory, and perception. He has issued a number of artists’ books and editions since the mid-1970s, including, most recently, Time Square, a limited edition letterpress book hand altered by the artist and published in 2007 by Pyracantha Press and ABBA at Arizona State University in Tempe. Among his previous publications are Between the Sheets, a limited edition book of images and text published in 2004 by The Ink Shop Printmaking Center in Ithaca, NY, Details: closed to open, an artists’ book of photographic details from images in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection, (List Art Gallery, Swarthmore College, 2001) and Beautiful Scenes: selections from the Cranbrook Archives (Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI, 1998).
Spector was a co-founder of WhiteWalls, a magazine of writings by artists, in Chicago in 1978, and served as the publication’s editor until 1987. Since then he has written extensively on topics in contemporary art and culture, and has contributed reviews and essays to a number of publications, including American Craft, Artforum, Art Issues, Art on Paper, Exposure, and New Art Examiner. He is the author of The Book Maker’s Desire, critical essays on topics in contemporary art and artists’ books (Umbrella Editions, 1995), and numerous exhibition catalogue essays, including Conrad Bakker: untitled mail order catalogue (Creative Capital, Inc., 2002) and Dieter Roth (University of Iowa Museum of Art, 1999).
Spector’s most recent recognition is a 2005 New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA Fellowship. In 1991 he was awarded a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship, and in 1982, 1985, and 1991 he received National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Awards. He is Dean of the College and Graduate School of Art in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.
This week: We talk to Maud Lavin about her most recent book and more!
Lifted from elsewhere:
In the past, more often than not, aggressive women have been rebuked, told to keep a lid on, turn the other cheek, get over it. Repression more than aggression was seen as woman’s domain. But recently there’s been a noticeable cultural shift. With growing frequency, women’s aggression is now celebrated in contemporary culture—in movies and TV, online ventures, and art. In Push Comes to Shove, Maud Lavin examines these new images of aggressive women and how they affect women’s lives.
Aggression, says Lavin, is necessary, large, messy, psychological, and physical. Aggression need not entail causing harm to another; we can think of it as the use of force to create change—fruitful, destructive, or both. And over the past twenty years, contemporary culture has shown women seizing this power. Lavin chooses provocative examples to explore the complexity of aggression: the surfer girls in Blue Crush; Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect; the homicidal women in Kill Bill and artist Marlene McCarty’s mural-sized Murder Girls; the erotica of Zane and the art of Kara Walker; the group dynamics of artists (including the artists group Toxic Titties) and activists; and YouTube videos of a woman boxer training and fighting.
Women need aggression and need to use it consciously, Lavin writes. With Push Comes to Shove, she explores the crucial questions of how to manifest aggression, how to represent it, and how to keep open a cultural space for it.
An email just popped into my inbox announcing that during the month of August, the University of Chicago Press is giving away free e-books of Spiral Jetta: A Road Trip Through the Land Art of the American West, the terrific road trip/memoir hybrid written by Erin Hogan (yes, the same Erin Hogan who’s a PR honcho at The Art Institute). Spiral Jetta is a first-person account of Hogan’s “pilgrimage” to see the masterworks of earth art: Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels, Michael Heizer’s Double Negative, James Turrell’s Roden Crater, and Walter de Maria’s Lightening Field (she also makes a stop in Marfa).
I don’t always plug the U of C Press’ freebie selections (though they’re always worth checking out) but this one…this one you gotta take advantage of, if you haven’t already purchased Hogan’s book (you should! you should!). At the risk of coming off as if I’m trying to kiss some Art Institute ass, I can’t recommend this book strongly enough. It’s really in a category all its own–part memoir, part art history lesson, part field guide.
I read the book several years ago, not long after it first came out, and I remember feeling a sense of trepidation starting out because a) I am not into memoirs and b) I don’t read art books for pleasure. But I decided to give this particular one a try because the premise was intriguing–let’s face it, not many of us have the chance to see so many famous works of land art in person, and I thought it might be interesting to at least do so second-hand, by riding around in someone else’s eyes. And Erin Hogan’s eyes, as well as her narrative voice, turned out to be wonderful company. She’s intelligent, has a wry sense of humor, and seems completely unpretentious. She’s just a really swell literary companion; reading Spiral Jetta felt like I was making a new best friend. There’s an intimacy that comes with reading first-person memoirs, and I liked Hogan’s companionship so much I found myself wanting that road trip to go on forever. I actually felt sad and even a bit lost when I finished reading the book, because I knew that Erin and I wouldn’t be hanging out anymore. (Don’t worry, I have resisted the temptation to stalk Ms. Hogan and convince her to be my new best friend IRL. I think literary fantasies should remain literary fantasies, no?).
At any rate, your experience of the book will certainly be different from mine, but I promise reading Spiral Jetta will be worth it – and it’s a relatively short read, at about 176 pages. (You can read an online excerpt here, and an interview with Erin Hogan here). And for all of August, it’s free, goddammit! So go download it already. It may even inspire you to make Hogan’s journey across the landmark land art of the American West your own.
Can I Come Over to Your House?, the anthology commemorating the first ten years of The Suburban, has a strange power to make its beholders confess to their unwavering love of co-founder Michelle Grabner. “I know I’m impulse buying, but I have to get this because Michelle Grabner is my hero,” a buyer admitted before purchasing a copy. A few days earlier another artist had disclosed that she “wanted to impress Michelle Grabner” while she fondled the stout red volume. Some visitors have taken to staring deeply into the cover and clasping their hands around the book. I try not to interrupt them.
I was surprised to hear this outpouring of devotion to Grabner from so many artists. I thought I was the only who dreamed of being her best friend. Everyone loves Michelle, especially those who “hate” her, and this little book reminds us why. The encyclopedic publication features contributions from the art world’s heaviest hitters from James Welling to Olivier Mosset to Wade Guyton to the Midwest’s patron saint of art David Robbins. Anyone who had ever exhibited under the umbrella of The Suburban was asked to submit four to six images and a brief text that “would best represent” their practice.
Karl Haendel’s provocative text, Questions For My Father begins, “Why did you decide to have children? What if I came out retard? How close did you come to hitting me?” Amy Granat opts for the traditional artist statement, while David Hullfish Bailey provides two (three?) artist statements AND an essay by Danish curator Jacob Fabricius. Novelist Jonathan Safran Foer gives us no words and only images. If an exhibition at The Suburban is “more closely related to what happens in your studio” as Grabner said in a recent interview, then Can I Come Over to Your House? successfully translates that practice to print in this thousand page guestbook-cum-sketchbook.
Can I Come Over to Your House? is available at Golden Age in Chicago. Visit The Suburban this Sunday for the opening reception of Jeff Gibson and Geoff Kleem and come to Golden Age on September 25th for the launch party of Can I Come Over to Your House?.