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Whoops! Somehow I let the second anniversary of this weblog slip by--it was February 21. Thanks to Jim Bassett, the brains behind Digital Media Tree, and all the webloggers and posters on the Tree, for the feedback, tech advice, and good natured argument over the last 2 years. As I've mentioned before, I do seem to be one of the only artists in the New York art scene with a weblog, and I wish there were a few more of us. It would be nice to have discussions going on across pages, with pictures, rather than waiting to see if Artforum or the New York Times is going to say something (stuffy) on a particular subject.
There has been interest in this page outside of New York, I'm happy to say. I've had links, comments, and emails from Japan, England, Germany, Norway, and other places I'm sorry if I'm forgetting. Even if New York has limited interest in an internal cyber-conversation, I'm happy to be giving my biased translation of New York to the ouside world.
Since it's an anniversary, I offer a few of what I consider highlights from the past 48 months (most are actually since Nov. 2002, but whatever). The following pieces drew comments, public or private, or drew no comments but I'm still proud of them:
Review of One Hour Photo from an art world perspective, which started as a few notes the day after I saw the movie and ultimately jumped to its own page.
Review of Scott Hug's K48: Teenage Rebel: The Bedroom Show (and related posts discussing it in connection with Laura Parnes' Hollywood Inferno video).
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.
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.
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 Cursor.org 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.
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.]
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."
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).