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There is a place in the far North where the ocean periodically bulges up and actually breaks free of Earth's gravity. A few grazing sheep, the only witnesses, flee whenever this happens. The sea becomes a water moon, flies into the sky, enters a wormhole in the atmosphere, and returns to Earth as a floating Magrittean rock. The rock hits the ground and becomes the Earth, the sheep return, and thus are sea and land always kept in balance. Or at least that's how it seems in this Sally McKay video (be sure to watch the Quicktime--it has suitably understatedly un-apocalyptic music).
This cartoon by Gary Panter makes me laugh. I'd classify it as "stealth stoner" humor. (On the other hand, the title of the strip *is* Smoke Wagon.) I love the way he draws the protagonist bird slightly differently in every panel, with varying degrees of pen nib shakiness. By the third panel we are seriously wondering why this feathered maniac is driving a kiddie jeep from town to town. It also makes me think of the Michael Smith/William Wegman video "World of Photography," which combines wacked-out devotion to a universally available medium with a finely tuned sense of the pathetic.
The Washington Post has a story today about how hard people work at the White House and how exhausted everyone is. Bush chief of staff Andrew Card is especially praised for his "stamina." Steve Gilliard puts this malarkey in perspective:
You know I'd feel bad for them if they weren't incompetent morons getting people killed. Who gives a fuck about Andy Card's schedule. Some kid wakes up in Walter Reed and has to figure out how to live the rest of his life without a leg. So you think Andy Card really has problems?
This makes these people seem more human to the Beltway folks, when to most Americans, they could give a shit. Andy Card could quit tomorrow and be a multi-millionaire betraying America for the Bush family's Saudi friends. If he's tired, he can quit any time. Hopefully, he isn't running a scam on Wal Mart.
Thinking about buying this DVD. Looking at that picture makes me blissfully happy. I keep waiting and hoping that rock will die. That something will replace the three chords, the verse-verse-chorus, the drum-bass-lead, and the stupid iconic image of the slouching boy or girl clutching the ax as the ultimate avatar of coolness. The early '80s (documented in the film), and then again the early '90s, hinted that it was possible, but stupid cock rock cliches always come back, like the crabs. This blog page is dedicated not so much to the keyboard as an alternative, or even the "dj" (another kind of anti-authority authority figure), but rather abstract, orgiastic, authorless, soundcentric but still tuneful music, the unfulfilled promise of rave. House music, at the very least, with the dj/knob twiddler barely visible behind the record crates.
Now that that's out of the way, please note that Simon Reynolds discussed his book on postpunk last week on Slate.
More WhitCrit, this time from January Blog. I like blogs that talk about work. Yes, Midnight Dusters gets Elaine Sturtevant completely wrong, and mistakes Jutta Koether for Trisha Donnelly, but that's where commenters are helpful (they were right on top of it).
Wednesday I attended the less glamor more clamor, second, "artists'" opening of the Whitney Biennial. My first impression of the exhibition was that it was almost unbearably arch, clever, cold, soulless and ultimately depressing. I hated it. [No second impression is stated so this criticism will have to stand. --tm] The focus of the show seemed to be very much about "issues" that the art world seems to care about, not all of which are formal, but which seem to have little relevance in the world at large (witness Matthew Day Jackson's handmade, kitsch-owl commanded covered wagon with its bonnet of sewn-together state flags and undercarriage of rainbow colored fluorescent tubes). Not to be outdone, the worst work in the show was a series of large fake monoliths by Dan Colen. Giant (6 feet or so high by about the same in circumference) gray zoo-rocks covered in chewed gum wads and graffiti rest on 6" high wooden triangles carved to spell out "phrases from the street" like "eat shit and die." Everything about the objects themselves is overly precious and, like the art direction for West Side Story, completely removed from the physical reality of its ostensible subject matter.That's pretty tough, let's have some more:
Peter Doig's much anticipated paintings were shockingly old-fashioned. [Why shocking? They've always been old fashioned. --tm]
Less devastating is the continued presence of "rock art." Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla's Sweat Glands is a large video projection of a lady rocker playing a guitar around a monolithic amp. Maybe it's a 2001 reference? Who cares?
Trisha Donnelly, a performance/installation artist from San Francisco,Jutta Koether presents a big room with one panel of silver plastic curtain streamers [in] the middle of the room, a very large Marlene Dumas-ish ink on canvas of a naked woman on one wall, a silver Swiss Ball, perhaps a mirror ball? and a collection of shabbily-made flat-black wood panels with "abject teen" notes pinned to them. I wasn't present for one of the unscheduled performances, which are intended to "disrupt the temporal logic" of the exhibition.
MSPaintbrush in the news again...
It began in a lonely office cubicle in White Plains, NY...long weekends of overtime...a man had a vision that this lowly program could be used to make art...the vision spread...
Yeah, yeah, just BS'ing around. Thanks again to Paul and Lauren for making this show in Dallas happen and for making it so fun to do. I learned a lot working with them, and look forward to continuing collaborations and projects in cyberspace and elsewhere.
AFC sez, about the current Whitney Biennial:
It's hard to get past the feeling that rather than examining current trends, Biennial curators Chrissie Iles and Philippe Vergne began with a set of concerns they were interested in and then sought out artists who met those interests. There's nothing necessarily wrong with this, but it does strike me as an intensely egotistical practice to be making the claim that contemporary art making is about the things you happen to be interested in. Old school political activism is not the pulse of [the] nation.Hear, hear. No, I still haven't seen the show--take this for what it's worth as a preReview. An artist friend who had a frustrating studio visit from Vergne and Iles reports that they didn't look with their eyes, or even their ears, but with their mouths (especially him, and she deferred to him). And what is it with Europeans and the fucking spirit of '68? Catherine David took that same tack with Documenta a while back. Yes, a crazy liberating time for young Parisians, running wild in the streets, believing for a few moments in the possibility of universal socialism---GET OVER IT! I mean, Deep Dish TV? As much of their politics as I might agree with, what they do isn't art, it's political activist media. This is like Larry Rinder touching Rural Studio with the curatorial magic wand a few years ago and saying "I have the power to make you an artist." It's just not fair to people who do art 24/7 and deserve some comprehension. OK, I will shut up until I see the show. We're quibbling about the themes and the people, not the work.
Despite impressive resumes, having heard Iles and Vergne speak I find it hard to believe the curators had a real understanding of what inspired the work they managed to find. The most engaging art in the show often used recycled imagery, or constructed fictional narratives, and the curators forward increased travel as the explanation for this phenomenon. I guess artists with nominal pre-Whitney success are making a lot more money than I knew, because I just assumed travel was as much a credit risk to these people as it is to me.
Hadn't made it to Chelsea in a while and returned to find a universe of painting...and pain. The former I attribute to the hordes of well-heeled collectorbots descending on New York for the fairs and looking for "tangible product" (I know this is a frequent jab but there has to be someone we can make fun of). The latter I ascribe to our mass collective psychic residue of guilt over tearing another country to shreds with an elective, unprovoked war, combined with self-expressive narcissism as usual (the crucified Christ c'est moi).
Thus Giles Lyon channeling Steve Mumford's Baghdad Diary by way of Carroll Dunham (and Goya) at Mixed Greens; Michal Rovnar's punishing digital video at Pace recalling a fractal distillation of the oil field fires in Werner Herzog's Lessons of Darkness; bleeding bullet holes in Lucky DeBellevue's chenielle stem sculptures; Bonnie Collura's morphed figures that have grown increasingly gory and angst-ridden since she got raised to Olympian heights and then squashed like a bug by the Times (seriously, they were good, but might have done without the St. Sebastian arrows); Trenton Doyle Hancock's bone-through-the-wrist stigmata bleeding Pepto-Bismol; and that was just on two blocks.
Big shout-out to Jeff Elrod at Fredericks Freiser: punchy but elegant paintings; excellent addition of spray paint and grey check backgrounds a la Photoshop. Not Matisse with a Mac (as an old press release had it), so much as Cy Twombly. And kidding aside, that Trenton Doyle Hancock show at James Cohan (image above) is superb: a splattery gutfest with pitch-perfect balance of outsider-y collage elements and geometric tangles of bones and viscera. He takes pages from the Christian Schumann playbook, wads them up, spits on them, and glues them back on the canvas in a thousand pissed-off fragments. (Speaking metaphorically here.)