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Triple Candie currently has a show up of "approximations" of Cady Noland's work. Noland is an influential installation artist who reached the top of the art world and "dropped out" about 10 years ago; the gallery has re-created some of her work, based on documentary sources but without consulting or notifying the self-disappeared artist. The "approximators" also published detailed notes of where they fell short in the installation process, both in finding information and relocating materials. From the press release it is obvious the project was conceived in a spirit of admiration for Noland and an intellectual fascination with "compromised forms of representation"; the eloquent commentary below by Amory Blaine (who I suspect is one of the creators or somehow involved with the project, although the gallery says it doesn't know who s/he is), describes the show as "part ghost story, part lament."

By contrast, critical response has been harsh and negative. Without any evidence to back it up, the New York Times and Village Voice interpreted the phrase "without consulting or notifying the artist" as "done against the artist's wishes" (not the same thing--what are these critics, mind readers? as Atrios would say, time for a blogger ethics panel). The Voice said Noland should "get a lawyer and get medieval on Triple Candie." Another scolding defender of Cady Noland is critic Brian Sholis, who is taken to the cleaners by "Amory Blaine" (a pseudonym from F. Scott Fitzgerald) in a colloquy from Edward Winkleman's blog, which I have reproduced immediately following Sholis' blog post.

BRIAN SHOLIS (from his blog) on Triple Candie's "Cady Noland Approximately" Show:
Far be it from me to police what a gallery chooses to exhibit, but it seems to me that making an exhibition-of-photocopied-reproductions-as-homage in the spirit of one artist [Triple Candie's David Hammons show --tm]—an exhibition that leads even the Times to wonder if the artist is involved [but wait--the Voice said Hammons was "livid" --tm]—is one thing. It is far different, and less malicious, than re-creating the artworks of an elusive artist, no matter how poorly and with how much transparency. As someone said last night at dinner, "This show cannot even begin to look like a Cady Noland show. Cady has very specific reasons for installing her objects the way she does; the relationships between them are of equal importance to the sculptures themselves. This cannot be re-created by others' hands." Hammons is enigmatic, and his relationship to exhibitions and the market can be seen, in some way, as part of his oeuvre; Noland's relationship with the art world is much closer to a categorical "no." In my mind, the differences between those stances outweigh the similarities described above.

AMORY BLAINE said... (all quotes from this point forward are from a comment thread on Edward Winkleman's blog)
Too bad Brian Sholis has bought in bulk the preciousness that the art market demands in shunning the Triple Candie project. Too bad he thinks that "cognoscenti" and "the public" are one and the same.

>>If these aren't Cady Noland sculptures, and those responsible for creating them aren't willing to claim them as something else (à la Sturtevant, or some such), then what are they?

They're approximations, Brian. One thing that you get to do when you make things in a new way, you get to name the terms. It seems that approximations may have both named and unnamed collaborators.

This show is a gesture whose faults are outweighed by the complexities of its combined virtues. It is part ghost story, part lament. Its honesty might very well be a little too intense for some to handle, but for those with a taste for that, it will taste sweet. That the beginning of Mr. Sholis's blog is laced with a threat of legal action from the artist is plenty to go on. Any writer who's first thoughts of a show include litigation should be put in the stocks. Your Fucking Face, indeed.
4/23/2006 03:12:03 PM

BRIAN SHOLIS said...
I guess I should clarify the first sentence of my post: I was not suggesting that Noland would threaten legal action. In fact, after hearing from people who know her better than I do (I've only met her once, and corresponded with her briefly), I don't think she'll do anything at all in response to the exhibition. When I wrote, ". . . that will be very short-lived if Cady Noland responds to this exhibition the way she has to exhibitions that include artworks she actually made," I was referring to the numerous recent instances in which Noland has harangued gallerists that have chosen to exhibit her work, or convinced dealers who asked for her permission to give up on including her in their shows. It has more to do with respecting Noland's wishes than any legal action. (I know of no instance where she has threatened or taken legal action.)

As I noted at the end of my post, we "need instead to stoke Noland's desire to collaborate with a gallery or institution on an exhibition of her own work." My condemnation of the Triple Candie exhibition—which I am eager to see—stems more from a disappointment in the Harlem non-profit's misunderstanding of Noland's feelings. I think Noland is one of the most important artists of her generation, and it pains me to think she might slip from our consciousness (hence "Why We Should Talk About Cady Noland"). That Triple Candie's exhibition might increase her reluctance to show her work again is in my mind a true shame.

I have the same desire that Peter and Shelly have. I just feel—again, without yet seeing the exhibition—that they have gone about achieving it in the wrong way.
Best, Brian
4/25/2006 10:40:23 PM

AMORY BLAINE said...
This trend of caring about artists' feelings is interesting and new. The other trend, however, of writing on things one hasn't seen, is not very new or interesting.

There's nothing complicated in wanting to make something contentious? It's a whole lot more complicated than serving up pablum, or offering something tried-and-true. What irritates me about some of these reactions is the knee-jerk argument of "wrongness". Are you offering that there is some objective "right"? Is that "rightness" comprised of adulation, supplication, inaction, and silent reverence?

No thanks, I don't go to that church.

And I would think that, like the Unauthorized Retrospective, this exhibition was done in the only way that triple candie could do it. In no time, with help from friends, and with very little money. I think that it's a tribute to the currency of her work that a group of people would go out of their way to make a gesture that would attempt to somehow fill the gap of her absence (a futile but encouraging effort) and bring her name out of their throats in a clear and ringing tone. More like a barbaric "Yalp" than Neil Simon's whispered "Cancer".

If anything, this show is an entreaty to Cady Noland. As much a curtain call as "Why We Should Talk About Cady Noland". It's just that it's not words, it's concrete. It's confusing. Damned ambivalent.

Looking at knock-offs is not interesting? Why not? Is it due to an overbearing sense of "the original", of some "authentic" experience? I think it is a reverence for a brand. Then there can be no satisfaction, even if the pieces were 1:1 exact replicas with no observable difference from the products straight from Ms. Noland's studio. What you're after is an interaction with your fetish object. This has absolutely nothing to do with the ideas behind Cady's work. You're only seeing what's not there. Like a petulent child who didn't get exactly what they wanted for Christmas, you're spoiling what fun is to be had for the rest of us. Mature. Adult. Human. Beings.

Boycott Triple Candie? That has got to be the most obscenely stupid thing I have ever heard. What are you going to do? Stop not giving them money? Stop not bringing all your friends to the openings? Stop not helping them install shows? Great. I can't wait to not see you around there anymore. With friends like you, who needs friends?

It saddens me to see fans and writers and critics displaying such a lack of flexibility when it comes to engaging the topic of replication, reproduction, approximation in absentia, ... alternative modes of production, folks. It's not like we haven't been here before. A million goddamn times.

What interests me is how exciting this feels. I haven't been this excited about a show and its ramifications in a very long time.
4/28/2006 06:09:28 PM

BRIAN SHOLIS said...
Hi Amory,
[...] My "caring about the artist's feelings" stems from the ramifications of this exhibition on Noland's desire to continue making (and exhibiting) her own art. What gives me most pause about "CN Approximately" is not the questions of replication, reproduction, and approximately that it raises, but rather this--admittedly nebulous and arguable--negative impact on Noland's production. For those fans of her work who hold on to the hope that she may one day reverse course and exhibit, any narrowing of the horizon of possibility is painful. For this reason I still wish that this show had not taken its current form.

Nonetheless, I agree that the thorny issues brought up by this show are productive complications, ones both exciting and well worth thinking about. I don't, however, think that this was the "only way" Triple Candie could have put the exhibition together. For clarification's sake, I never suggested boycotting the show or that looking at knock-offs is not interesting; I believe those are responses to another person commenting on this post.

At this point I have to recuse myself from further posts on this thread, as I was traveling this weekend and have personal- and work-related obligations this week that will keep me from my usual blog-reading. If you'd like to continue this conversation, however, feel free to write me (my e-mail address is in the right-hand column of the site linked to this profile). I'd be happy to keep talking (although perhaps at a slower pace) . . . especially after I have seen the exhibition.
Best, Brian
5/01/2006 12:52:26 PM

- tom moody 5-16-2006 4:11 pm [link]