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.
by Richard Holland
I had kids for many reasons, they are wonderful. One of the fringe benefits is that they enable me to spend lots of time rediscovering cartoons I’ve loved in the past and exploring the current crop of offerings. I was always more Warner Brothers than Disney, but Disney has some excellent and at times charmingly subversive offerings. The best of which is today’s delightful thing: Phineas and Ferb. It is a thoroughly entertaining mix silliness, fun, with plenty of allusions and clever asides to keep adults on board. The premise is simple as laid out in the ska-power-pop-punk theme song, Phineas and his half brother Ferb are going to maximize every moment of their summer vacation, usually in the form of building something outrageous, as their disgruntled sister tries and fails to out their mischief to Mom. There is a side plot every episode pitting their pet platypus (in his closeted secret life) against his nemesis Doctor Heinz Doofenshmirtz. It is pleasantly formulaic and never becomes rote or unimaginative. Bonus in that the line “and giving a monkey a shower” in the theme makes Hank laugh every time without fail.
So, having a lousy day, bored, disgruntled. Here you go, and this episode even has a contemporary art theme:
Ever fantasized about being interviewed by the venerable Richard Holland and Duncan Mackenzie of Bad at Sports? No? Well….maybe you’re feeling bored and just need something to do tonight? Okay, good enough! Come hang out with Duncan and Richard from 5-7pm tonight at the Sullivan Galleries at SAIC, where our podcasters-in-chief will be ready and willing to interview all comers. So come! Talk to Richard and Duncan about your art, your life, your secret hopes and most shameful desires. Get it all out there and off your chest. Interviews may be broadcast on a future episode of the podcast…you never know. This is part of the Summer Studio program taking place right now at the Sullivan Galleries, and there are a bunch of other acts, I mean artists, who are opening up their on-site spaces for you to check out as well. The full lineup includes the aforementioned Bad at Sports along with Elise Goldstein, Georgia Kotretsos, Diego Leclery, Adia Millet, Jennifer Mills, Libby O’Bryan & Elissa Papendick, John Riepenhoff, Miller & Shellabarger, Cauleen Smith, and Marjorie Welish. Hope to see you there!
Over the past two months everyone at Bad at Sports has been in a frenzy preparing for the exhibition, “Don’t Piss On Me And Tell Me It’s Raining” at apexart in New York. The show was a bit of a last-minute golden opportunity, so details have been scarce, but we now have the full scoop on what’s in store, and it’s pretty awesome. (You can keep up with Meg, Duncan, Amanda, Tom and Richard throughout the show’s installation and opening events by following Bad at Sports on Twitter and the hashtag #basapex.) The exhibition features over 100 objects, images and ephemera that will serve as a visual complement to Bad at Sports’ considerable audio archives, submitted by Bad at Sports contributors and guests of the show, including:
Carol Becker, Britton Bertran, Temporary Services, Adam Brooks and Mathew Wilson, Ivan Brunetti, Tom Burtonwood, David Coyle, Death by Design, Elizabeth Chodos, Miguel Cortez, Tony Fitzpatrick, Rob Davis and Michael Langlois, Jeremy Deller, Lisa Dorin, Jim Duignan, Dan Devening, Cody Hudson, Jason Dunda, Fendry Ekel, James Elkins, Anthony Elms, Pete Fagundo, Mary Rachel Fanning,Tony Feher, Rochelle Feinstein, Pamela Fraser, Liam Gillick, Helidon Gjergji, Michelle Grabner, Dylan Graham, Madeleine Grynsztejn, Sarah Guernsey, Terence Hannum, Anni Holm, Brian Holmes, Astrid Honold, Christopher Hudgens, Meg Onli, Amanda Browder, Tom Sanford, Duncan MacKenzie, Christian Kuras, Ben Tanner, Scott Hug, Richard Holland, Carol Jackson, Paddy Johnson, David Jones, Alex Jovanovic, Atsushi Kaga, Mark Staff Brandl, Vera Klement, Peter Saul, Gregory Knight, Monique Meloche, Leo Koenig, Chad Kouri, Steve Lacy, Caroline Picard, Jose Lerma, Laura Letinsky, Kerry James Marshall, Ed Marszewski, Eric May, Dominic Molon, Anne Elizabeth Moore, David Morgan, Julian Myers, Gavin Turk, Liz Nofziger, Jamisen Ogg, Neysa Page-Lieberman, Trevor Paglan, Raymond Pettibon, John Phillips, Allison Peters Quinn, Lane Relyea, Lawrence Rinder, David Robbins, Thomas Robertello, Julie Rodriguez Widholm, Elvia Rodriguez, Nathan Rogers-Madsen, James Rondeau, Marlene Russum Scott, Alison Ruttan, Dan S. Wang, Stephanie Smith, Deb Sokolow, Scott Speh, Chris Sperandio, Lisa Stone, Shannon Stratton, Randall Szott, Christine Tarkowski, Tony Tasset, Tracy Marie Taylor, Ron Terada, Philip von Zweck, Hamza Walker, Chris Walla, John Wanzel, Chris Ware, Oli Watt, Tony Wight, Anne Wilson, Jay Wolke, InCubate, Curtis Mann, Michael Velliquette, Clare Britt, Shannon Stratton, Damian Duffy, William Conger, M N Hutchinson, Mark Francis, Annika Marie, the artists of Blunt Art Text, and more.
The exhibition also features three related exhibition talks, all of which are free and open to the public. They’ll all be rebroadcast on upcoming episodes of Bad at Sports’ podcast, for those of you not able to catch the events in NYC.
Thursday, April 8, 6pm. On the eve of Deitch’s departure from New York, Carlo McCormick will talk to Jeffrey Deitch about his time and legacy as one of the most visible, dynamic and controversial players in the New York art world.
Wednesday April 28th, 6pm. Tom Sanford will moderate a panel of five other painters who will talk about painting, including: Kamrooz Aram, Holly Coulis, David Humphrey, Dike Blair and Deborah Kass.
Tuesday, May 18th, 6pm. Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts is a membership organization for those who make experimental or conceptual work with obsolete technology.
You can download the exhibition brochure, which features a conversation between co-founders Duncan MacKenzie and Richard Holland about the history of Bad at Sports, here.
Last but not least, the all-important details on the opening reception! This Wednesday night!
Don’t Piss on Me and Tell Me It’s Raining
Organized by Bad at Sports
Opening: Wednesday, April 7th 6-8pm
291 Church Street
New York, NY 10013
Tomorrow afternoon (Thursday March 11th), our own Duncan MacKenzie and Richard Holland will moderate a roundtable discussion at the Chicago Comics Symposium, hosted by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). The evening’s events start at 4:30 pm and go on ’till 7:00. The event is FREE and is located in the SAIC Ballroom at 112 S. Michigan Ave. But wait, there’s more! This is a two-day symposium exploring Chicago’s place in the comic book scene so there’s another round of events taking place on Friday March 12th, also from 4:30-7pm.
Full information can be found below. It’s free, it’s (mostly) in the evening, so nothing should stop you from going on over and soaking it all in!
The stubborn work ethic of Chicago’s comic scene will be explored in the first ever Chicago Comics Symposium, hosted by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) on March 11th and 12th 2010. Through panel discussions with over fifteen local comic makers, the Symposium will investigate the city’s influence on the comic making process, tackling the sad, serious, and silly topics that reign supreme in the realm of sequential art. All events are free and open to the public.
CCS will be comprised of four separate panel discussions with multiple artists on each and will be moderated by some of Chicago’s greatest thinkers, critics and (of course) readers of comics. The questions posed to the Windy City makers will address many issues including: the tasks of self-publication, the changing cultural status of comics and the difficulty of representing identity. The queries will oscillate between common knowledge and the complexity of the nitty-gritty details, giving equal enjoyment opportunity to new readers as well as true-blue comic connoisseurs.
Comics are infiltrating movie-theaters and chain book stores, sustaining independent comic shops and edging their way into academia. Comics are made any and every where, but Chicago has a distinct community of hard working doers, makers and shakers. The event will attempt to unite and uncover the inner workings of Chicago’s comics.
Attracting artists who currently live and work in the city, as well as former Chicago residents, the Symposium will bring together the old, new, big and small. Attendees include: Sarah Becan, Jeffrey Brown, Christa Donner, Surabhi Ghosh, Beth Hetland, Nicole Hollander, Paul Hornschemeier, Joey Jacks, Lucy Knisley, Ian McDuffie, Bernie McGovern, Anders Nilsen, Laura Park, John Porcellino, and Jeremy Tinder.
The Chicago Comics Symposium
Hosted by The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Thursday-Friday, March 11-12, 4:30-7pm
SAIC Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Ave.