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tom moody

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While I'm retooling my response to Jim Lewis's Slate piece on William Eggleston, too-hastily posted a few days ago, I'm putting up a color photo I think we can safely say Eggleston didn't pave the way for, acceptance-of-color-wise or any other way.

LISELOT VAN DER HEIJDEN, "Road to Victory," 2003, color photoprint.

I missed van der Heijden's 1996 show at Momenta Art, which would have provided a context for this singularly strange image (though I kind of like the mystery of it). You can buy a raffle ticket and get a chance to win this gem at the gallery's annual benefit.

- tom moody 2-23-2003 12:38 am [link]

Knob Twiddlers 2, 2002, rotated 90 degrees

Machine I built and photographed many years ago, "sampled" for artwork at top.

Detail, Designers Republic CD cover for The Infiniti (aka Juan Atkins) Collection.

- tom moody 2-21-2003 6:59 am [link]


You may have read about the the proposed defilement--sorry, redefinition--of Central Park by Christo "Unstoppable Force" Javacheff, better known as Christo. For two weeks in 2005, he and his wife Jean-Claude are going to put wavy orange banners all over the property that will flap kitschily in the breeze. Not content just to harass the city's artistic and intellectual rank and file with cattle pens and marksmen on rooftops during the recent protest, Mayor "Call Out the Cops" Bloomberg is now encouraging this egomaniac to hang his laundry all over the park. (Think I should write for the Daily News?--no, they probably supported the cattle pens.) For a better, more thoughtful critique of the project, I recommend Alex Wilson's excellent essay, which also gives a good capsule history of the park and puts Christo in the context of his betters, Frederick Law Olmstead and Robert Smithson.

I just learned from that Art Spiegelman (Maus, Raw) left the New Yorker because of editor David Remnick's baby blanket handling of Bush & Co. Very cool. Spiegelman's wife Francois Mouly still works there, though. I wouldn't mind too much if she vamoosed; I've never been crazy about the illustrations she picks as art director. Anyway, now Ted Rall will have to find someone else to accuse of powermongering in the cartooning world.

- tom moody 2-21-2003 1:36 am [link]

I keep thinking about Jim Lewis' Slate piece on William Eggleston, which I posted about earlier. It bugs me that he called Eggleston the Father of Color Photography, who paved the way for acceptance of color in the work of Nan Goldin, Mitch Epstein, Richard Prince, and Andreas Gursky ("though not [acceptance of their] work itself"). First, because these four artists are completely unrelated to each other, and to invoke them as Eggelston successors and then de-invoke them in the same sentence makes my brain hurt. Second, because the Father pronouncement subscribes to the "great men" theory of history, and overlooks other developments around the time of Eggleston's "breakthrough" show in 1976 that were also bringing color to the fore. Third and last, because the essay emphasizes the casual, snapshotty side of Eggleston's practice, making it seem like that, too, was hugely influential, when in fact it's the artist's formalism that's the most interesting thing about him. I put up a longer version of these thoughts but it's currently in the shop getting a theoretical tuneup. Check this page later, and I should have everything more carefully worked out. In the meantime, please see my essay on One Hour Photo (a movie now out on DVD!) where I mention Eggleston in passing as a "vernacular formalist" and touch on some of the things I'm thinking about in my response to Lewis. [OK, my rant is out of the shop and it's here.]

- tom moody 2-19-2003 10:10 pm [link]

- tom moody 2-18-2003 5:20 am [link]

Here's the inside-the-beltway perspective on yesterday's protests from Josh Marshall. While quite good on many issues, he's part of the elite urging us on to war without having any connection to it, in terms of having to fight, or having a loved one fight, or seeing the devastation we'll be wreaking firsthand:
I haven't had much time to catch up on the news today. But clearly these worldwide anti-war protests are a big deal. I'm not sure what they'll accomplish, however, beyond telling us what we already know: that the idea of an American invasion of Iraq is very unpopular around the world [and here, dude], and growing more so. We can debate whether this matters, whether 'they' are right [they are], whose fault it might be in the US [George Bush's], how 'we' should react [by bringing our troops home], and so forth. We can debate all that. But the underlying point seems undeniable. The protests aren't the evidence, just a symbol. Look at the polls in other countries.

I'm sure he's thinking, "If only those millions would read Kenneth Pollack's book, they'd all be convinced that pre-emptive war is good."

- tom moody 2-16-2003 8:43 pm [link]

I attended the big New York antiwar protest today. Started at the Public Library in a "feeder march" that never made it to the main rally at 49th and 1st Ave. The cops were ready with barricades and equestrians, keeping the enormous crowds moving uptown on the big avenues and not allowing people to move crosstown on the east-west streets. I made it as far as 3rd Ave and 53rd, then heard I would have to walk all the way up to the 70s to cross over to York, and thence downtown to the rally. Word on the street was that the barricade "pens" at 1st and 49th didn't seem very full, because the bulk of the protestors had been kept away from the rally for "crowd control" reasons. To revert to the Sixties lexicon, I can only say "Oink Oink." The spirit of the crowd was very humorous and upbeat despite the obnoxious police presence. Lots of families and well-mannered, creative people think this war is a crappy idea!

A few more photos are here (click on thumbnails to enlarge).

- tom moody 2-16-2003 12:59 am [link]

I'm in a mild state of shock: my review of the Xtreme Houses book was censored by! Here's what I wrote:
Archiporn subverted, January 14, 2003

Within the comforting scheme of the shelter mag "livestyles of the cooler than you" compendium, this book slips in a lot of pointed politics. Atelier van Lieshout, for example, upends notions of private property and public propriety with its communal settlements and sexual recreation centers; its mini-state of AVL-ville, in the port of Rotterdam, was apparently so threatening to the commonweal that it was forced to shut down. Many of the architects are ardent recyclers who make buildings out of such castoff consumer materials as shipping containers and automobile tires. Just as artist Michael Rakowitz taps into the heating ducts and hidden crevices of cities for his temporary dwellings for the homeless (when landlords' backs are turned), Xtreme Houses uses the glossy book format to slide agitprop under the radar of the big business/publishing Monoculture. For those who would confine politics to specialized journals and photocopied broadsheets, this may be disturbing. Also, the book is not typographically cute or "webby," as one writer stated. It has text on the left, pictures on the right, and clear captions; Wired magazine circa 1994 it's definitely not.

During the vetting process, the editors changed the phrase "sexual recreation centers" to "inapropriaterecreation centers" (sic). Not only did they alter the meaning, they added a misspelling and a typo! In case you're wondering what I was talking about, here's the relevant passage from page 96 of the Xtreme Houses book:
[In Atelier Van Lieshout's] buildings, often the bed provides a starting point, as in La Bais-o-Drome, a mobile home dedicated to "loving." At its core is a voluptuous bed littered with ultra-soft pillows and beside it a minibar stocked with mood-enhancing drink. In a similar project, Commune Bed (1998), AVL produced a bed large enough to hold a full scale orgy. Lining the sides of this bed were holsters carrying a selection of pornographic magazines, an assortment of sex toys, plus an array of drink and drugs to help cajole things along.

Compostopia features a large bed with the capacity to sleep at least ten people, but here the bed looks very utilitarian and implies rest rather than recreation. As well as providing sleeping quarters, the Compostopia construction comprises a small vegetable garden, a makeshift gym, washing facilities, a compost toilet, the produce of which can be used to feed the garden. In Sportopia, a variation of this assemblage, a cage was added for the practice of sadomasochistic sex. Here the effluent from the toilet can be recycled by channeling it into the cage to satisy any visiting coprophiliacs. The basic structure is made from scaffolding poles allowing it to be easily erected at any location and in many different combinations.

The irony here is that the book flew under the radar of the big business & publishing Monoculture but my review didn't.

Update, 2012: I resubmitted this review with compromise language and the revision was accepted:
Atelier van Lieshout, for example, upends notions of private property and public propriety with its communal settlements and semi-ironic "sexual recreation centers"; its mini-state of AVL-ville, in the port of Rotterdam, was apparently so threatening to the commonweal that it was forced to shut down.

- tom moody 2-14-2003 7:49 pm [link]