This week, I feel like writers have been articulating an inherent push against traditional boundaries and bounds — what is art that smells? Where do we locate the human/non-human divide? What if we dissolve that distinction? What becomes of performance then? I am deeply interested in blurring the borders and bounds between human/non-human, natural/unnatural, living/non-living, as in doing we can destabilize hierarchal patterns that have been in place for decades. It sounds crazy, maybe — but consider how much one’s thought would shift if we simply de-emphasized the Human. If the Natural panorama was equivalent with a panaromic, digital experience — the immediate recoil and rejection of such a thought reveals some the depth of our quasi-relgious interpretations of “landscape.”
We began the week with a buffet of smells, as provided by Shane MacAdams’ visit to a “smell show” called Art and Scent in NYC, a show that called enough attention to smell that it affected his experience of surrounding environs. As he put it, “Any quaintness Greenpoint offers is mitigated by the realization that it’s sitting on 30 million gallons of spilled oil, that comes out in occasional farts that engulf the neighborhood.”
There seems to be an obvious connection between that undercurrent of oil and João Florêncio’s post, “Performing Ecology,” where Florêncio goes through series of snapshots (or “Scenes), describing the performance of the body in space, illustrating the connecting networks that such performances can highlight. For instance:
Scene 6. Johannesburg, South Africa. A white man in drag wears an old chandelier as if it was a tutu and struggles to balance himself on his disproportionately high high-heel shoes while walking on debris, stones, and dirt in one of South Africa’s shanty towns. Around him, workers hired by the local authority, armed with crowbars and wearing orange overalls, demolish the locals’ dwellings to allow for the construction of the future Nelson Mandela bridge. This is Steven Cohen’s Chandelier.
These scenes are not strictly about humankind. Rather, they illustrate our position in our present ecological time, a time that has been coined: “Anthropocene.” Florêncio will continue to write about this in the coming months: “I will be presenting an overview of the anthropocentric role theatre and performance have played throughout History, some of the ways in which they have been criticised and reinvented, and, ultimately, the ways in which they ought to be thought differently as a consequence of their unfolding on the broad Anthropocenic stage.”
Victor Delvecchio posted about Performance Architecture — focusing on the work of Alex Schweder and how his intervening “scripts” at the TATE altered visitors’ movement through the museum. “Having worked seven years as a mold and leak expert… [Schweder] comes to the point that buildings are alive, uprating much more similarities to our flesh than we want them to.” Schweder, who’s show at Opus Project Space in NY opened this weekend, describes the work this way:
Performance architecture is about aestheticizing the action that occurs within the building and using the building as a script for doing so. There is a whole history of architecture involving the body as an example giving a kind of history of how idealized bodies have come to inform the way we design building, building as effigies of those bodies that we would like to have; and then we occupy these bodies that we would like to have.
Juliana Driever posted a great interview with Mare Liberum, a “freeform publishing, boatbuilding and waterfront art collective based in the Gowanus, Brooklyn.” Throughout the week, I feel like there is a regular return to the idea of our environment and this interview is no exception. In the words of one ML member, Dylan Gauthier:
We borrowed the name Mare Liberum – which is latin for Freedom of the Seas – from a 17th century commentary which championed the natural rights of maritime trade and navigation and forms the basis of modern maritime law… In taking the name we oriented the collective toward a study of past relationships with the water as well as to the present environmental threat to the sea through global warming but also the exploitation of oil resources and other risky undertakings that threaten the health and stability of this water-commons. For us Mare Liberum is also a bit tongue-in-cheek, since we were interested in getting out on the water for as little cost as possible, hence our translation and our website “thefreeseas.org”.
Our Atlanta-based correspondent, Meredith Kooi posted a great essay about Full Radius Dance’s performance of Touch:
Touch, in its multiple parts involved dancers of varying bodies and abilities. As a physically-integrated dance company, Full Radius’ dancers are both abled and disabled, some use wheelchairs in their everyday lives. [Douglas] Scott first became engaged in this practice through a workshop offered at Shepherd Center, a hospital and rehabilitation center located in Atlanta that specializes in medical treatment, research, and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord and brain injuries. He realized that all bodies do not move the same way that his does and that there was opportunity to explore the “limits of physicality” with various bodies.
What’s amazing about Kooi’s description of the dance, is the way wheel chairs are fully absorbed and incorporated into the whole choreography, thereby pushing the bounds of what we might consider “body” and “non-body” (or machine). This article raises questions about how we define the body, and especially, how we might engage and incorporate the non-normative body. It reminds of Anthony Romero’s post from a while back, “What Can Be Done with Dance?” where he reminds us that most space is defined by “an athletic body.”
The week would be remiss without Stephanie Burke’s TOP 5 — a veritable road map for gallery enthusiasts. (CHECK IT OUUUT!)
Richard Holland has started a new column in the spirit of levity and delight — so keep your eyes peeled for that, and here is his first installment. It’ll be a nice respite from the Anthropocene……
(At least we can safely say, the Mayan’s were wrong)
Abraham Ritchie was inspired to post an essay about everyone’s darling THE BEAN, in reaction to a live tweet he disagreed with (that’s intended as a kind of bread crumb trail. In case you want to go back and follow the tweets, so to speak). What I’d like to repost here is an excerpt from the end of Ritchie’s essay (and please, take note of Ritchie’s use of the word “alien,” because I at least have always assumed that if the world ever does end, that thing is probably going to turn into a space ship and carry the president to safety.):
The alien form of the abstraction identifies itself immediately as Art but does not alienate, instead it draws people in through their curiosity and the work’s generosity. Kapoor’s contribution accomplishes the mission of Millennium Park, while being wholly successful on its own terms. Rather than an indifferent sculpture, this is public art that lives up to the aspirations of its genre, bringing people together and inspiring them.
Part of what is so awesome about The Bean is that it is alien, and strange, and yet it engages its audience (us) by reflecting our faces. We are fascinated by the translated-fun-house-mirror distortion.
Nicholas O’Brien asks about site specificity when applied to the digital space? How does such an application challenge traditional ideas about installation, and can we apply the same terminology Land Art employs with regard to site. Here too, O’Brien engages a virtual landscape as a literal one. In doing so it can easily feel alien, it might even reflexively alienate oneself (or me) from the supposed “natural” landscape (after all, I certainly spend more time on line that outdoors).
Perhaps it makes good sense that we begin the week in NY and end the week in LA: a successful coast-to-coast transfer. We began with smell and we end with Adrienne Harris’ post on a murder mystery game at the Getty. There is something I deeply dig about the simulacre of a murder mystery scavenger hunt — the body-lessness of the crime. The parody of real life located in the land of Hollywood. In Chicago we stand in the dregs of winter — warming days that melt and muddy the world, only to morph into freezing night that stiffen everything anew. The point is, I’m always daydreaming about California. Someone told me once that California was the future — it was as far into the future as any American could go. The edge of the West. On the edge of that coast you stare into the east, though my same friend pointed out there is an island of plastic in the way, otherwise known as the Plastic Vortex.
Artist Tony Fitzpatrick Runs for Mayor of Chicago
Read his facebook postings to follow the story but with Daley stepping down after 21 years the race begins and Tony Fitzpatrick has some fun points to be made. read more when someone makes a website for him?
British Artists Protest 25% Cut in Arts Spending
In hopes of bridging the substantial budget deficit Brittan faces the coalition government is proposing a max 25% cut in Arts spending. Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and David Hockney, counter that “radical cuts to current levels of arts funding will decimate what has been one of the U.K.’s chief success stories over the past 20 years, and will bring an end to the U.K.’s reign as a global capital for culture.” read more here
Ansel Adams Story Continues, With a Showdown
A new gallery showing is opening now with 20 prints — hand-developed and signed by Adams himself and guaranteed to be authentic by the Duncan Miller Gallery in West Los Angeles, which is putting on the show, shown side by side with prints from the embattled garage-sale find of Rick Norsigian, the Fresno resident who believes he has find of 65 negatives shot by Adams next to the more famous “Uncle Earl” Brooks, the previously unknown photographer they contend is the man who actually shot the pictures in the Norsigian find. If your a fan of Adams this would be a one day chance to make the decision for yourself. read more here
Interesting Tale of Dan Colen’s Career From Gagosian Gallery Bathroom to Solo Show
Read more here
Ireland Sparks Controversy Over Venice Biennale Choices
Emily-Jane Kirwan, a director at the Pace Gallery in New York, has been chosen as a commissioner for the Irish Pavilion in 2011, while Corban Walker, who belongs to the same Manhattan gallery, is Ireland’s official artist in Italy next year. The fight begins in 3….2…..1….. Read more here
Charles Saatchi’s Gift of His Gallery & Many of His Works to British Government an Offer too Good to Refuse or Trouble in the Making?
Charles Saatchi announced in July that he was in talks with the government to create a Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) for London. Turning over his Saatchi Gallery and 200 works of art worth a reported £25m to the British public. The offer which has been reported as a suprise to the goverment is now raising concerns about financial stability. Read more here
Danish art pranksters mock Spain’s royal family
The provocative Danish artist group Surrend have placed posters around Barcelona that mock Spain’s censorship laws as applied to the Spanish royal family. The posters depict several drawings that have been made unrecognisable by being painted over. A slogan at the top of each poster says: “Things we are not allowed to draw”. Next to each obliterated image is a sentence such as “The Royal Family having a lunch nap” and “The Royal Family having sex”. Read more here
Chicago Typefaces, Unlike Anywhere Else
The NPR picture show name dropped a blog that showcases the comercial typefaces that pepper Chicago, both new and old, and give the city some of it’s unique character. I am a bit biased but having visited/worked/lived many other places I can agree that when it comes to Architecture & public graphics Chicago is on a level of it’s own especially in the States. read more here
The 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
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.
Christopher Knight, the Los Angeles Times Art Critic has written up an interesting article on Jeffrey Deitch’s start as Director (the fourth in 30 years) and gives his point of view on where the reality of life in LA can begin to match the goals of the Museum. Numbers mater in the Art world even if we don’t want to talk about it and MOCA’s attendance has been dropping steadily for years. Couple that with the fiscal mismanagement gamble back in 2008 where they created a budget that relied on donor money to cover around 80% of the cost (money that evaporated with the crash) and things were pretty bleak.
The consensus & expectation is that Jeffrey Deitch will bring the kind of shows and energy that will rally the general population of LA and raise attendance above it’s current 600 people a day. Think about that, 600 people, more people visit this site then MOCA in a given day and MOCA is spending $20 Million a year. MOCA has a wonderful collection and this isn’t a referendum by the people of LA on Art but on the growing disconnect between Art Tastemakers and the general population. A rift that has been growing for years with little to no abatement.
It’s not just LA, we have had the same debates on hours of operation & marketing of events in Chicago for over 5 years. Christopher Knight goes on to offer his advice on what Mr. Deitch might want to examine as Director and the second I can agree with aspects of, the first not so much:
1. General admission: take it from $10 to free
I have always questioned why everything needs to be free. In my experience people have a habit of discounting what they don’t pay for and it effects the overall opinion. Work at a bar (or the music industry these days) and you can see that in action, lines and a small cover even if they are annoying increase the overall pleasure of the experience as long as guests expectations are met once they enter. Also even if the door charge is less then 10% of the budget that is still a valuable/usefull daily cash flow even for an institution of that size. Art like any other business lives and breathes on cash flow.
I would suggest price pointing it at $5 a person and make it free to seniors, students & active military (for many solid reasons not worth rehashing here). At that price it has a real value, is proportioned correctly to films, concerts & other nightlife activities and doesn’t nullify the whole selling point of yearly membership.
2. Hours of Operation: take it from closing at 5-6pm & 8pm on Thursday to more befitting late nights.
No argument but very tricky and might not be as useful as even I thought years ago. This just might be a tourist/weekday local/weekend world we live in.
The one thing that Mr. Knight doesn’t tackle is the one thing that everyone is so afraid of about Jeffrey Dietch as Director, the “curatorial” focus of the exhibits and I think more so “how they are marketed to the world”. Everyone is waiting on baited breath since it seems no one has faith that an intelligent discussion on Art can be molded into a form of interest to the general public. That is the great experiment going on in LA and if it is successful could echo throughout the American Art World as a whole and faster then you might think.