The Bad at Sports podcast has been going strong for over six years and thus far has produced–wait a sec, are you f*%king kidding me?– 322 *weekly* podcast episodes??! With a new podcast released every week?! Each featuring an interview with a different artist or maker hailing from parts all across the Western Hemisphere? Uh, that’s pretty extraordinary. Over the last six-plus years of existence, Bad at Sports has talked to hundreds of artists, from local upstarts to living legends. Because B@S is constantly putting out new material, it’s easy to forget that they’ve built up a massive audio archive of material that is virtually unrivaled (William Furlong and his amazing Audio Arts casette tape magazines, of course, is the grandaddy precursor to Bad at Sports’ project). In honor of B@S’ sixth year of life on this planet, we’re going to start digging through the podcast archives on a weekly basis to highlight key episodes from the past. This, in addition to the new podcasts that the B@S team continues to create and upload for your listening pleasure each and every week.
So, please to enjoy the following selection from Bad at Sports archives, recorded in 2007 and featuring an interview with Jeff Wall that took place just prior to the opening of Wall’s retrospective exhibition at The Art Institute of Chicago.
“I was … looking at the exhibition and I realized, what I feel about many of my exhibitions…that no matter how well installed they are, no matter how well lit and if the rooms are great, and all that…a lot of the time my pictures just don’t look very good together. No matter how well you hang them they often just don’t really go together. It’s hard to make what I would call a really successful show as an event or as a circumstance, because they’re very singular, each one: and each one has its own structure, its own space, its own colors, its own light, or whatever. And they don’t go in groups. At least, they only go in groups more or less. I don’t see it as a virtue or a negative thing either, it must just be how I see, or how I do things. I really see my pictures as singular. I don’t have any interest in making variations on a theme, or any of those kinds of things that tie pictures together. Each one does come from a real experience. I used to think about it [in terms of] genre, but I don’t think about it like that anymore….Genre means something known. When you think you know something, you create limitations.” – Jeff Wall, interviewed by Duncan MacKenzie for Bad at Sports
Next up in our Mantras for Plants series, artist Heidi Norton and I interview Cris Merino, Isa Merino and Carol Montpart, the directorial team behind The Plant Journal, a biannual magazine based in Barcelona, Spain (The journal’s editor is Cris Merino, and its art directors/graphic designers are Isa Merino and Carol Montpart). The Plant Journal’s editorial statement describes the publication as follows:
Besides providing botanical contents in a simple, personal and cozy way, The Plant Journal offers to plant lovers a new look on greenery by featuring the works of creative people who also love plants. As a curious observer of ordinary plants and other greenery, the magazine presents a monographic on a specific plant and brings together photographers, illustrators, designers, musicians, writers and visual artists, both established and emerging, from all over the world, to share with The Plant Journal their perceptions and experiences around plants.
We love that their focus is simply on “plants,” yet that subject alone can take them in an infinite number of cultural directions. Also note that Plant Journal’s Spring/Summer 2011 issue features the mind-blowing photo-collages of Chicago artist Stephen Eichhorn! You can subscribe to this print-only journal by going here. We want to thank Cris, Isa, and Carol for answering our questions!
Heidi Norton: How was The Plant Journal conceived? Who are your readers? What types of people, places, things are featured?
Editors: We suppose everything began when we realized that every time we had to make a gift, it was a plant. And our friends do the same with us. Plants arrive to your home, you care of them and you establish quite a special relationship with them. Furthermore, as we love publications, especially in paper, we thought that it will be a beautiful idea to create a magazine completely dedicated to plants, since we didn’t find any that gave plants the relevance and the approach we had in mind.
The magazine is addressed to people more or less like us, who enjoy plants even if they seem incapable of keeping them alive, people who feel inspired by greenery and whose creativity is open to establishing connections with plants. That’s why in The Plant Journal you can find photographers, illustrators, designers, chefs, etc. Probably they are also our readers. On the other hand, since plants spread out whenever they want to without asking anyone’s permission, we look for them wherever they are, in their own natural habitat, but also in our cities, homes, offices, etc.
Claudine Ise: Yes, I really like how you use the subject of plants as a jumping off point to talk about a range of subjects — music, art, film, and other areas of culture. The essay that looked at how houseplants were arranged in some of Eric Rohmer’s films as a way to investigate his approach to formalism is a great example of this. Can you talk about how you solicit articles for the journal – what kinds of essays hold appeal?
Eds: We were thinking about the connections between cinema and plants, so we looked for Lope Serrano (from Canada productions www.lawebdecanada.com). He writes articles for a cultural magazine from Barcelona, and we knew about his vast visual and cinematographic knowledge. And it was Lope himself, during a chat, who suggested the connection between the ethical and aesthetic formalism of many of Rohmer’s films and the plants that appear in some scenes. As we admire Rohmer’s films, we loved this approach. The result is a very academic and didactic article that completely fits with the aim of the magazine. But in general, there’s a little bit of everything in the articles. There are some that are proposed by its authors and others cases when we explain a general idea to the writer and then, after exchanging ideas, we reach an agreement. In the case of sections such as “My plants by” or the interviews, our work is about finding the right person. That’s why it is very important for us to have a wide network of contributors who share our interests.
HN: The introduction that you use to promote the journal states, “providing botanical contents in a simple, personal and cozy way.” Can you explain what you mean by “cozy”? I ask because, there is something “cozy” about plants, an unpretentiousness that makes places, objects, spaces, and materials more accessible.
Eds: With ‘cozy’ we want to emphasize and vindicate the affection for plants. At least in Barcelona, people don’t use plants as much as we would like in the way that you explain. So we think it’s not always obvious that plants are cozy by nature. You sometimes have to stop and think about it, and that was one of the reasons to create The Plant Journal. We had an example of this a few days ago. We created an installation with plants and macramé for the magazine launch party in Otrascosas de Villarosàs gallery in Barcelona. The space also contains the meeting room for an important advertisement agency, with its typical big table and nothing else. Well, yesterday Marc (who is responsible for the space) told us that since plants were there, people want to have the meetings next to them, and they even asked him to leave them there. That’s nice, because plants have made that room a better place. And nobody there thought about it until now! That’s why we thought we must emphasize the coziness of plants.
CI: Your journal’s content isn’t available online. Do you think it’s important, conceptually or otherwise, that the journal remain a paper publication that is circulated “on the streets,” as opposed to via cyberspace/the internet?
Eds: As we love publications, we like to go to a bookshop or a newsstand, choose a book or a magazine and then read and enjoy it calmly in your place. You can get it back whenever you want to, you can collect them, write on them, cut them out, etc. It might be fetishism or nostalgia, but we think that the experience of paper is more accessible, relaxed and intimate. It is obvious that the Internet offers a lot of opportunities for a publication (starting with the production costs, always more expensive in paper), but we never doubt it: the magazine is printed in paper, an object that in addition is beautiful. We will create some different contents for our site, but they will be more casual and fast consuming contents specifically created for the Internet. For us, it is priceless: the Sunday aperitif with the daily papers and that feeling is something a screen will never give you, no matter what the possibilities that an iPad can give to you.
HN: What things are inspiring you today, right now?
Eds: We are now very interested in rediscovering traditions that seem to be ignored because of the high-speed way of life and the anxiousness for new stuff. That means we get inspired by and enjoy cooking for friends, going on a trip looking for mushrooms in the countryside, caring for our little gardens, knitting macrame, etc. All kinds of domestic, simple and everyday activities that make your life better. As music, cinema, arts and books also do.
Photos from Artissima, Turin’s contemporary art fair
“We make money not art” has uploaded a few of the many images they took at Artissima, Turin Italy’s contemporary art fair. If the photos shown are indicative of the rest of the show it looks to be something not to be missed. Read more here
This week in “Can’t Muster the Engergy to Not Even Care About This” is a toss up
Cant decide which is of less interest, work begins on Lady Gaga’s 8 wax figures at DC’s Madame Tussauds or Sophie Crumb (daughter of Robert Crumb) releases a book of drawings that make her father look like Albrecht Durer. Read more here & here
Someone is selling off their VIP Access to Art Basel Miami Beach
Someone has put their VIP packet up on Craigslist for a minimum of $500 which gets you access to all the major events hosted by Art Basel and the Satellite Fairs. It doesn’t get you into the Delano Hotel though unfortunately you still need an even rarer commodity to do that, an actuall young & sexy woman on your arm to get the pleasure of paying $16 for a mojito. Buy your way in here
The British Government denys export license in effort to keep a Turner Painting Sold in Auction to Getty Trust in British Hands
The British government has announced Wednesday that the required export license for “Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino,” which Turner painted in 1839, will be held up through Feb. 2, and potentially until Aug. 1, to give potential buyers who want to keep the painting on British soil a chance to match the J. Paul Getty Trust’s bid. Read more here
Rochelle Slovin Director of Museum of the Moving Image To Step Down After Renovation
Read more here
Amedeo Modigliani Nude Painting fetched a record-setting price of nearly $70 million
A wise woman with striking red hair told me a few weeks back that the nude is coming back stronger then ever and she may just be right. Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu assis sur un divan (La Belle Romaine) [Nude Sitting on a Divan (The Beautiful Roman Woman)], a canvas from an important series of nudes, drew five telephone bidders into a heated competition at the fall sale of impressionist and modern art ultimately selling to an anonymous buyer for $68.9 Million US. Read more here & here
The LA Times Wrings it Hands over Art Walks
The LA Times asks do Art Walks help or hurt the local scene, they might as well ask does wine production effect gallery openings; its a zen question that keeps getting asked and its ultimately pointless. Just be glad people show up at all since the overlap between the two worlds is so small if it was a Venn diagram it would look like a pair of spectacles. Read more here
The Art Newspaper Asks Does Sex Sell at Frieze
Read more here
Written and overseen by Meg Onli, our beloved BAS teammate, Black Visual Archive is a terrific new blog/website dedicated to contemporary black and post-black visual culture that launches this week. What’s more, the website is designed by another invaluable BAS colleague, Martine Syms, who as you all know also runs Golden Age. I love the crisp look of this site, and the range of subject matter, which promises to be pop-y, eclectic, smart yet fun, too. Right now, Black Visual Archive has a beautifully written review of Kerry James Marshall’s exhibition catalog Mementos from his 1998 exhibition at the Renaissance Society in Chicago, which looks at the thematic and conceptual implications of the book’s design and content. They’ve also posted on a performance of Nina Simone’s “Feelings” at the Montreau Jazz Festival and the Berry Brother’s Fascination’ Rythym. A brief excerpt from “Kerry James Marshall | Mementos” follows:
Historically, a souvenir painting is a literal interpretation of an event, however, instead of painting the march from Selma to Montgomery or a portrait of the Little Rock Nine, Marshall’s “Souvenir” paintings all depict the interior of a middle-class household. In Souvenir I, (1997) the home becomes sanctified with the souls of black folk who hover above a couch. Their visages, reproduced with screen-prints, which are a sharp contrast to Marshall’s hand, are of deceased men, women and children with angel wings. In gold glitter the phrase “in memory of” is scrawled just below them. Is this our souvenir? The ability to ascend to a higher social status? Are these men and women our post-Movement saints? Powell notes, “one gets the sense that the ‘Souvenir’ paintings have just as much to do with process of memorializing as they do with the ‘idea’ or ‘theme’ of the memorial: painting likeness and building effigies to the one-time mortals-but-now-gods; creating a functioning, commemorative alter in one’s home; and constructing a hierarchy of African-American sainthood.”
There’s much more to come, so check out the site on a regular basis, or subscribe to the RSS feed for more.
I got nothing but sillyness for y’all today, sorry. I’ve been working really hard lately, honestly! Which is probably why I’ve found this website, Is it Art or Fart?, so entertaining. It isn’t new or anything (though it’s new to me), but what is new is the fact that the makers of this irreverent yet actually pretty darn smart website have just published a book based on their project, which documents various phenomena they call ‘fart’:
“coincidental moments in everyday life that, when isolated and named by artist, bear uncanny resemblance to art seen in museums and galleries around the globe.”
A stack of records evokes a Dave Muller record painting, the residual matter torn from billboard paste-ups a Mark Bradford drawing, that sort of thing. Apparently, it’s fairly easy to find likenesses to Laura Owens’ work in the world art large. I don’t get the sense that the people who run this website accept outside submissions, though it would be cool if they did because then there’d be even more fart for us to enjoy.
Not quite as clever in concept or execution, but still related to the general idea, is the website Is This Art? which has an accompanying iPhone app. The idea behind this site, which was co-produced by Deeplocal, the Mattress Factory, and NY art blogger C-Monster, is that you take a picture of something that you’re not sure is art but maybe actually is, then submit it and the app renders its verdict. It’s a lark, like so many apps are: funny for a few minutes–and the app is free so what the hell–but it runs via a Magic 8 ball-type interface that spits out one of a predetermined set of answers randomly, so that the same picture submitted twice will get two different answers. While fooling around with the app, I took an iPhone snapshot of this thrift store painting, which received the response ‘My mother would think this is crap, therefore THIS IS ART.’ A picture of my husband’s black crocs, which I suspected would receive an affirmative nod because it could, under certain conditions, be thought of as an update on Van Gogh’s 1887 A Pair of Shoes, received this feedback: ‘This piece is modernist after modernism without being post-modernist, therefore, THIS IS ART.’
I actually think the app might have been right about that one. If nothing else, I’m pretty sure it’s fart.