Wednesday Clips 3-9-10

March 10, 2010 · Print This Article

Pamela Fraser, Untitled (Double Orange), 2009. From "Pamela Fraser: Works on Paper" at Golden, through March 27, 2010

A few noteworthy links and stories for your midweek perusal…plus a freebie at the bottom.

****College Art Association (CAA) has made eighty-one audio recordings from the panels at last month’s conference in Chicago available for download. They’re kind of expensive ($149.95 for the complete Set of CAA 2010 Conference Recordings on Interactive MP3 Audio CD-ROM or MP3 download; $24.95 for an individual panel MP3 download), but if you couldn’t come up with the cash to attend the conference in full, like moi, this could be a great way to access the panels you missed in person. I’ll be choosy, but will most likely buy at least one.

****“Palestinian Avatars”: This is fascinating; apparently, the movie Avatar and its indigenous aliens the Na’vi have been appropriated by Palestinian rights activists, who painted themselves blue and wore costumes inspired by the Na’vi during a recent protest in Bil’in, a Palestinian town divided in half by the wall. This post on Provisions Library provides further background along with some pretty brilliant analysis: “The most striking aspect of this re-appropriation of a distinctly American, Avatar meme, is the irony. And right across the barbed-wire fence opposite from Bil’in are Israeli soldiers whose weapons supplied by American taxpayers. So, as Joseph Nye would explain, that’s an example of U.S. “hard power.” Then, on the other side, the Palestinians to score by appropriating imagery siphoned with sophistication from the mighty currents of American “soft power.” Wow. Elsewhere, you can find additional photographs of what’s been dubbed the “Palestinian Avatar”  protests here, along with a video of the demonstration.

****Artnet’s Charlie Finch asks “Who is Dakis Joannou?” Finch speculates that Joannou’s future as the Chairman of J&P (Overseas) and J&P-AVAX, both publicly traded Greek companies, “could yield two divergent prospects for a complex, interlocking business, dependent on amortization and wide debt-to-capital ratios. The first is that Dakis is smart enough and aggressive enough to take advantage of buying opportunities during a worldwide recession and increase his bottom line significantly. The second is that J&P is so overleveraged and so dependent on the luxury market that it is at serious risk of default, should its capital pipeline dry up. J&P’s low stock price would indicate a potential problem in this area.” If it’s the latter, it’s probably safe to assume that Joannou may indeed peel off some of that Skin Fruit in the not-so-distant future.

****Ikea plans to commission major works by contemporary artists Piotr Uklanski, Jeppe Hein and Jim Lambie for its “airport-sized,” Moscow-based development slated for  2012.

****Auction sales for work by African-American artists surged at recent Swann sale, and the market for art by African Americans continues to grow.

****The Grand Rapids Art Museum will present GRAM and Ox-Bow: Joint Centennial Celebration Exhibition and Artist Series this summer. 30+ artists from throughout Ox-Bow’s history will be featured at the Grand Rapids Art Museum in a special exhibition. (via Curated).

****I Like Your Work: Art and Etiquette: a pamphlet published by the contemporary art journal Paper Monument, addresses the topic of “manners in the art world” via interviews with 38 artists, critics, curators and dealers. Read this excerpt, a series of questions about art-world politesse posed to artists Michelle Grabner and Ryan Steadman, online here.

****Ohhhhh. So. Incredibly. Beautiful: An Elizabethan Bestiary: Retold. Go click on this one right away, you won’t be disappointed.

****I am not one of those women who is “into shoes”, but Dezeen’s top ten list of past shoe features makes me wish I were a bit more of a fetishist when it comes to this particular area of my body. Though no way in  hell would I ever wear these french bread loafers.

****Jokes: Philosophical Thoughts on Joking Matters, by Ted Cohen, is now available for free download at The University of Chicago Press website – for the month of March only. (The Chicago Blog). The U of C Press offers a free downloadable book each month, so check back to see what else they’ll have available for you in the future!

****An exhibition of Grateful Dead paraphernalia opens at the New York Historical Society…and no, its not that kind of paraphernalia.

****And finally….all you need to know about Professional Female Stoners. This is not, unfortunately, a description of an up-and-coming growth sector in the jobs market.




Jeff Koons Has a Bad Case of ‘Radical Scopophilia’

March 1, 2010 · Print This Article

“Just what the hell does ‘radical scopophilia’ mean anyway?”, you might have wondered, if you happened to have read the New York Times article on Jeff Koons’ private collection that ran in last Sunday’s Arts & Leisure section. I chuckled a bit when I read the phrase, which New Museum curator Massimiliano Gioni used to describe Koons’ visual approach to art as well as, I gather, the intense visual pleasure Koons derives from his own personal collection. Here’s the key excerpt:

“I like this type work,” [Koons] said simply about the Courbet, then pointed to a brown patch on the bull’s fur vaguely shaped like the state of New Jersey and explained that he stares at the patch often and wonders whether it might represent “some form of, you know, soul or really a personal part” of Courbet’s own being. His main fascination with Knüpfer’s “Venus and Cupid” seems to be the spilled chamber pot at Venus’s side. Looking at a Manet nude, he talks about his appreciation for the “lack of violence” in Manet’s work and refers on separate occasions to a crease in the nude’s stomach, which he believes resembles a long-tailed sperm.

Lisa Phillips, the New Museum’s director, said in an interview that one reason she and the museum’s curators made the unusual decision to hand the Joannou show over to Mr. Koons was precisely because of his unconventional and compulsive way of looking at art, what the New Museum curator Massimiliano Gioni calls his “radical scopophilia.”

In work sessions as the show came together, Ms. Phillips said, he would use examples of work, new and old, “pointing to things that often would be the peripheral things in them, things that you might not see that were actually the things that were the most interesting to him — a monkey under someone’s foot, something like that.”

It’s interesting, to say the least, that Gioni chose this particular phrase to describe Koons’ eye (as it were), given that Koons’ approach to art is idiosyncratically a-historical in its embrace of visual pleasure. Gioni uses the term ‘scopophilia’ to describe a gaze that is voracious in its viewing habits, that takes what it wants from each work of art it encounters. But what Gioni doesn’t seem to get (or at least wants to skirt, by way of his pointless and uber-pretentious insertion of the term ‘radical’ in front of it), is the fact that, although scopophilia is a psychoanalytic term employed by Freud to describe a ‘love of watching,’  the term was also taken up in the 1970s and thereafter by feminist film theorists to account for the predominance of a specifically ‘male gaze’ in classic Hollywood cinema. (Think Hitchcock’s Psycho, then go read Laura Mulvey’s classic essay ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ to see what I mean). Scopophilia implies an active male gaze and a passive female subject. It’s a type of gaze that has, of course, occasionally been reflected in the history of Koons’ own work, most notably Koons’ “Made in Heaven” collaboration with his ex-wife Ilona Staller.

I’m all for voracious looking, and I don’t mind a little a-historicity in the name of visual pleasure, either.  But I don’t at all care for the way that Massimiliano Gioni’s stray quote, and its placement in this article, serves to whitewash the history of important work done by feminist film theorists in this area. Gioni’s blithe attachment of the term “radical” to his use of the term scopophilia only makes it worse. Please. There’s nothing ‘radical’ about the fetishistic power dynamic at play in the scopophilic gaze–or at least, in a straight man’s version of it. It’s the opposite, in fact.

The question is whether it is accurate or not to describe Koons’ curatorial eye as ‘scopophilic’ in nature. That I don’t know. One would have to actually see the show he curates, and the bulk of his collection in person, and, you know, brush up on your feminist theory a bit before you throw around terms that have a fair amount of history behind them, before hazarding a worthwhile opinion on that matter.

Jeff Koons in his Upper East Side Home, via New York Times

Tony Perkins in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho"




Is the $100,000 Ordway Prize Too Much?

November 18, 2009 · Print This Article

I’d never heard of the Ordway Prize until a few weeks ago, when two highly respected Chicago-based arts professionals (artist Tania Bruguera, who also lives in Havana, Cuba, and Hamza Walker, curator at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago) were included on this year’s list of finalists. The Ordway Prize is a relatively new award, established in 2005 as a joint effort by Creative Link for the Arts and the New Museum. The selection process for the Ordway Prize is outlined on the New Museum’s website as follows (excerpt):

The prize acknowledges the contributions of a Curator/Arts Writer and an Artist whose work has had significant impact on the field of contemporary art, but who has yet to receive broad public recognition. Finalists for the Ordway Prize are midcareer talents between the ages of forty and sixty-five, with a developed body of work extending over a minimum of fifteen years.

Now, it’s always great to see behind-the-scenes culture professionals get recognized for their outstanding work. This goes double for curators, who get paid relatively little and yet play such a critical role in bringing art to the public.  So if a little cash gets thrown at said curators while recognizing their contributions to the field, that’s nice too. I’m not of the view that culture workers need to be poor to have integrity. That said, however, I think that $100,000  is an inordinate amount of money given the fact that a) the prize is unrestricted and b) this year’s nominees, as well as past Ordway Prize winners, are institutionally-affiliated curators as opposed to those working independently and earning income on a project-by-project basis. Read more




Generation OMG!

April 14, 2009 · Print This Article

Yonger than Jesus at the New MuseumIs it sacrilegious to open a show titled “Younger Then Jesus” the week of Easter?  Presumably that was the provocation, along with the very idea of a generational show for artists under 33 at the New Museum.  After seeing the show, I can’t say there’s a strong argument for a generation of like-minded artists, but I believe we’ve come to expect pluralism.  For that very reason, most still shoot arrows in the dark towards some answer about what artists of the present moment are doing.  Everyone hits a different target.

My projection about our generation — I myself am younger than Jesus — was not even to be found in the New Museum exhibition.  The only thing that the New Museum seems to deserve some credit for is posing a question about the present moment at an opportune time. Coupled with the collapse of the art market, it is not inappropriate to be thinking, “What now?”  And that can very easily translate into “What IS now?” The New Museum, however, did not seem to have the answer.  (Which is actually just fine).

Here’s how others summed up Generation OMG as represented by the New Museum show:




What We’re Doing This Weekend 4.9-4.12

April 9, 2009 · Print This Article

Thursday (today!)

  • Mechanisms for Validation (Please, please just love me, or at least tell me I’m pretty, but I’ll settle for confirmation that I’m smart)

April 9th, 7pm

threewalls
119 n. peoria #2d
Chicago, IL  60607

Moderated by our very own Duncan Mackenzie

“Join us for this threewallsSALON to discuss the means by which artists and practices are validated in the contemporary art world, where that validation comes from and how it is bestowed.” via their website

  • The Generational: Younger Than Jesus

4/8/09 – 7/5/09

New Museum
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

“For “Younger Than Jesus,” the first edition of “The Generational,” the New Museum’s new signature triennial, fifty artists from twenty-five countries will be presented. The only exhibition of its kind in the United States, “The Generational: Younger Than Jesus” will offer a rich, intricate, multidisciplinary exploration of the work being produced by a new generation of artists born after 1976.” Via the New Museum website

[Tim says] This show opened earlier this week, but I did not get a chance to see it.  Billed as the “signature triennial,” the New Museum still seems to be in heavy competition for attention amongst the heavy hitters at Whitney and P.S.1.

Friday

  • Five Dollar Store

April 10, 2009
7-12 pm
2106 S. Kedzie Flr. 3
Chicago, IL 60623
Curated by Mortville. More info at the 5 Dollar Store Blog.
One night-only special event – Artists make items for a convenience store, most cost 5 bucks or less. Yay cheap art! [Claudine]
  • Intervals: Julieta Aranda

April 10 – July 19, 2009
The Guggenheim
1071 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY USA 10128

In Aranda’s presentation, four conceptually related works propose an alternative notion of temporal experience as a shifting and unquantifiable state, liberated from rigid conventions of measurement.

[Tim says]
In case you can’t tell yet, my event calendar is usually determined by the artists that surround me.  Julieta Aranda is one of the artists behind e-flux and an editor for their journal, although I have not seen much of her given that she has been installing this show, finally opening on Friday.  Tyler Coburn mentioned Julieta Aranda as an artist to watch in the March issue of Art Review.

  • You are Young: New Sculptures by Ali Bailey

    7-10pm
    GOLDEN
    816 W Newport
    Chicago, IL 60657

    “Ali Bailey’s most recent work describes fictional scenarios that hint to a collective memory or experience while addressing multiple themes of chance, failure, melancholy and loss. Bailey’s body of work utilizes a wide range of materials from industrial plastics and polyurethanes, to plaster, oil paint, and found materials. In a similar vein as Chicago artist Tony Tasset, Bailey forces one to consider the history of sculpture: carving, forming, molding, and the ready-made. Bailey uses his own symbols of adolescence and transience to reveal a tension between a unique experience and a shared consciousness.” via the gallery’s press release

    Saturday

  • Unbuilt Roads Presented by Hans Ulrich Obrist

    OPENING Sat. April 11, 2009
    6-8PM

    e-flux
    41 Essex Street
    NYC NY 10002

    Based on the book Unbuilt Roads:107 Unrealised Projects, Hatje Cantz (1997)
    edited by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Guy Tortosa

    From the e-flux announcement:
    From April 10 to July 19, 2009, the Guggenheim Museum will inaugurate Intervals, a new contemporary art series, with a multipart installation by Julieta Aranda (b. 1975, Mexico City).

    [Tim says] This is the first official exhibition opening in E-flux‘s new project space at 41 Essex street.  This is also the first time in a few years Hans Ulrich Obrist has done a project in New York.