The Battle of Trafalgar Square Continues

July 23, 2010 · Print This Article

Yinka Shonibare Nelson Trafalgar PlinthThe fourth plinth in London’s Trafalgar square has been on our radar for a while and I am sure will continue to be so since the British government plans on using it as a compliment to the Turner prize or so by using it as a soapbox to debate and showcase contemporary art.

The current work  that is on display at the plinth, Yinka Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle is slotted to be taken down in 2012 and the fight to see who gets the spot in time for the Olympics has begun. Here is a quick rundown of the shortlist via UK’s The Independent (my money is on Katharina Fritsch) :

Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset A sombre wit underpins the serious nature of work by the Scandanavian couple who have collaborated since they met in 1995. They have made work in memory of gay victims of the Nazi regime and, in 2005, they built a Prada boutique in the middle of the Texan desert. Whatever their proposal for Trafalgar Square, we hope they don’t lose their sense of humour.

Mariele Neudecker German born, 45-year-old Neudecker made her name with sculptures of landscapes, placed inside glass vitrines. Self-contained worlds, that come out of the Romantic tradition in art – although her work is anything but traditional. She used the cry of seagulls on London’s Millenium bridge in 2008. And she sank a boat and a house underwater that question our relationship with the environment.

Allora & Calzadilla Allora and Calzadilla are an artist couple who live in Puerto Rico. Their work is usually political and they have a strong reputation in the UK. At the Serpentine gallery in 2007 they made a large chamber, like a war bunker, and inside musicians played military music. They work in many mediums, using film, sound, sculpture, performance and photography.

Hew Locke Locke’s work explores colonial themes in an exuberant kind of pop art. He has played with ideas about the British royal family. Princess Diana became a voodoo doll and he covered a figure of the Queen Mother with skulls. He critiques the past, looking at how our world interrelates: from African wars to empire, pop culture to Shakespeare.

Katharina Fritsch Like the Surrealists, Fritsch is known for artwork that makes the familiar appear strange and uncanny. Born in Germany, Fritsch has represented her country at the Venice Biennale and had major exhibitions at London museums. Giant rats and monochrome men wearing suits appear in her work, which have popular as well as critical appeal. She is a mature artist and her proposal will be polished and spectacular.

Brian Griffiths An eccentric sense of adventure runs through sculptures by Griffiths. A graduate of Goldsmiths college, the British artist has used old furniture to construct an elaborate wooden gyspy caravan. His work plays with myth as well as history and his sculpture comes from an imaginary world as fantastical as a child’s. No doubt, his proposal for the Fourth Plinth will be made from old junk but his idea, we hope, will contain a touch of magic.

  • Also Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) has been greenlit to start construction on it’s $150-plus million development project in University Circle later this year and be completed in 2012. Read More Here
  • We talked a while back about the Guggenheim’s Youtube partnership entitled “Play” where artists were invited to submit their videos to possibly be part of a juried exhibition later this year in every one of their museums. Well that jury list has been announced: Takashi Murakami, Ryan McGinley, Douglas Gordon, Marilyn Minter and Shirin Neshat, artists known for their work in a variety of mediums; Stefan Sagmeister, a graphic designer; Laurie Anderson, the performance artist, musician and filmmaker; the music group Animal Collective; and the filmmakers Darren Aronofsky and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Read More Here
  • Sorry but I have a hard time calling something revolutionary or defying categorization when it’s been done for over two decades in general and over a decade by Michigan Avenue Ad houses. Its akin to saying an artist doing Matrix style bullet time video leaves you speechless if it was done in 2040. Film is sequential still frames that create motion, find something to write about NPR that is actually Art if you want to be breathless NPR not a music video esque work done in After Effects. It’s only slightly annoying when Artists speak of their work as revolutionary, interdisciplinary or an exciting hybrid that redefines a genre since it’s hard to promote as a artist but it is greatly annoying when a publication ruberstamps such hyperbole as true. I know it’s the NPR blog but….. still. Don’t Read More Here

Guggenheim Says Pitch Us Your Great Idea Via Youtube

June 18, 2010 · Print This Article

The Guggenheim as of this past Monday has begun accepting submissions for a video art exhibition in October that will be at all of the foundation’s museums: the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York, the Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin, the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

The catch is they want all submissions via Youtube.

The plan titled “YouTube Play” is planned on being a  biennial event to discover innovative work outside of the contemporary art track. Deadline for submissions is July 31st and will go before the Guggenheim curatorial staff. Submissions will be trimed to 200 from which 20 will be chosen via a jury of diverse disciplines.

The final 20 will then go on simultaneous view at all the Guggenheim museums. The 200 will be promoted on the YouTube Play channel.

All in all this will help bump the visability of  the Guggenheim, give Youtube some cultural cachet and remotely possible, court the Guggenheim some atypical advertisers which are becoming more and more sought after players.

There is concern from various sections that this type of potpourri art that is only good for a short time and then tossed out, doesn’t build a common voice in the greater art discussion, doesn’t build artists and allow them to grow and doesn’t give institutions any foundation for future work. As much as I am more egalitarian on this subject then many I whole heartedly agree that it’s just junk food.

I agree with the Guggenheim’s response that if this was the only thing they did it would be an issue but it isn’t and honestly this is better then a motorcycle exhibit potentially in the long term.

I still think largely the issue that is the elephant in the room is the general populace is caring less and less and the numbers on multiple fronts reflect that and even pandering doesn’t work.

This Youtube Play is little more then a American Idol, Art/Design Star attempt on a zero budget and maybe something good will come out of it? I am still interested more so to see what MOCA will produce in the months to come. I feel that is the most intelligent and serious test case for this debate in play.

I don’t see institutions solving this problem, nor more focus on curatorial practices sadly. We are at a back to basics issue in my mind and the first group of banded artists that can properly create remotely unified work that speaks to the general public on a regional level while having some teeth and is smartly marketed will be the spark that can get things rolling again on a mass level.

I almost caught a glimpse of that in 2008 with the election, the general public seemed to remember the power of the visual image and joyfully get caught up in it. I would love for something other then politics or sex to do that but it’s still interesting.

Midweek Clips 9/23/09

September 24, 2009 · Print This Article

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Bravo’s “Art Star” reality show hasn’t even hit the air waves yet, and already we’ve got another art contest on our hands. Our vote for most ridiculous news of the week comes with the Guggenheim’s announcement of Rob Pruitt’s “First Annual Art Awards,” modeled after Hollywood’s Oscars. Pruitt  conceived the awards to celebrate “select individuals, exhibitions, and projects that have made a significant impact on the field of contemporary art during the past year.”  Oh, and just to keep things bubbly, the star-studded list of presenters will include boyfriend-girlfriend art/fashion design couple of the moment Nate Lowman and Mary-Kate Olsen. There’s a formal dinner afterwards, and after that an after-party and, and….oh, just click on the link and read the rest for yourself (including the video of the nominee announcements). I can’t take anymore. The rest of our midweek round-up, some of which is actually meaningful (though you’ll have to be the judge of that) as follows:

*Art Institute of Chicago appoints Alison Fisher as the Harold and Margot Schiff Assistant Curator of Architecture in the Department of Architecture and Design. Her focus will be on the Art Institute’s architecture holdings from 1850 to 1945, and she will oversee the drawings, models, and archives of Frank Lloyd Wright, Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan and other American architectural masters.

*Artist Mark Bradford among those awarded 2009 MacArthur Genius Grants.

*Bill Viola changes mind, decides to meet with Pope for Vatican cultural dialogue on the relationship between faith and art.

*Franklin Sirmans appointed chief curator of contemporary art at LACMA, succeeding Lynn Zelevansky.

*Proposed Pennsylvania budget agreement extends state sales taxes to arts and cultural performances and venues but exempts movies and sports events; Philadelphia arts leaders organize in protest.

*Brandeis committee recommends keeping Art Museum open, but punts on the issue of the proposed sale of its collection.

*NEA Chair Rocco Landesman explains reasoning behind demotion of communications director Yossi Sergant.

*Paul Chan’s “Top 5 Things That Will Get You Arrested in Minneapolis” aka Top 5 Things We Should Do Together To Make Something Interesting.” (Via Eyeteeth).

*Virtual flip book: View all 160 pages of Proximity magazine in less than 20 seconds. Then go buy the real thing. It’s a good issue, as always.

*A visit to an exhibition about the history of Ikea.

*Artnet writer Grant Mandarino provides Cliff’s Notes on the new Fall art magazines.

*Chicago job posting: Projectionists and room monitors needed for upcoming College Art Association (CAA) Annual Conference in Chicago. If you’re interested, see here.

Fridays Links Roundup

June 19, 2009 · Print This Article

On this weeks roundup we check out the conservation of contemporary art, AFC’s recap of Venice and Basel, and most importantly cats getting stoned via boing boing. Hope everyone has a great weekend and maybe well see you at galleries tonight.

Friday’s Links Roundup

May 22, 2009 · Print This Article


Has anyone gone to see the new Star Trek movie? Nichelle Nichols was a totally better Uhura than Zoe Saldana. She just looks so bad ass in that pic.

Here are some of the stories from this past week. Have a great three day weekend!