Archive for April, 2009

BrooklynNavyGraveYardSale !!!!

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Yes! Alright! Sweet. Three things this week are worth celebrating.

First, and as a follow-up, Maison des Cartes, the shanty timeshare project by Lisa Kirk, has launched! It is now installed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Vanguard wayfarers who purchased week-long shares (through Invisible-Exports) will now have the shanty at their disposal. What will they do there? Nudist séance? Pig Latin Yoga? Megaphone Bible study? Plushie Russian roulette? I know what you did last summer…

Maison des Cartes, Lisa Kirk
Maison des Cartes, Lisa Kirk

Second, artist Frank Haines makes his NYC solo debut at Lisa Cooley, with his Form is the Graveyard of Consciousness. Let’s meditate on that for a while.

Frank is genuinely on his own trip, solidifying his work into Symbolinamilist* painted sculptures, drawings, and even an hour-long recording of music he composed. Frank has selectively performed with Chris Kachulis as “Blanko and Noiry” at A-list venues, including The Slipper Room, the NADA Art Fair, and Gavin Brown’s enterprise. So how will his solo show look? I’m betting on “Sol Lewitt goes Cult of Cthulhu.”

Invitation by Frank Haines
Invitation by Frank Haines

Third, Everything Must Out Going opens at Asia Song Society, the Chinatown gallery owned by Terence Koh, self-anointed “Naomi Campbell of the Art World” (Then who is Farrah Fawcett?). For two weeks, ASS Gallery transforms into a boutique bookstore/outlet/chop shop, the inventory of which comes with the prestigious provenance of an artist’s personal collection. Think dog-eared monographs, sassy zines, weird necklaces, and limited edition socks. Artist-donors include Wade Guyton (super hot), Tauba Auerbach (hot), Matthew Brannon (eh), Kathy Garcia (hot), Eileen Quinlan (don’t know), and scores more. Designed by architect Rafael de Cardenas, Everything Must Out Going is the conception of ASS Director Liz Lovero (hot enough and hot, respectively).

Hilarious flyer
Hilarious flyer

*Symbolist + Minimalist

IMAGES: Kent William Albin, Lisa Cooley, Asia Song Society

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Op Posits a Tract

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Xylor Jane opened her third solo show at CANADA last week. Based in Massachusetts, but from San Francisco, the last place I saw her work in NYC was at Deitch Projects, where it was included in Constraction, curated by Kathy Grayson.

All of the new paintings are on wood panel, and most are square in shape. Each hosts grid systems of spectral color that build fields of shimmering and vibrating shapes, or tightly periodic cellular units and patterns. The latter approach, seen in Gates, one of the strongest pieces, is like a perpetually repeating Tetris game filtered through a broken record/ broken record/ broken record/ broken record.

Xylor Jane, Bombinating
Xylor Jane, Bombinating

The geometric incandescence of these paintings beacons you toward them, and they tease you with promise of pattern, inviting and luring you into the flickering fields to track the patterns, to see where and when repetition occurs. And as you begin to perceive the formulas that foster repetition, you begin to detect numerical forms rendered in round pixels of color, usually bold and from the tube, or iridescent and mixed with silver. Looking closer, you notice the neatly drafted grid lines spanning the panel surface. And closer still, you notice tiny handwritten characters, usually numbers, which perhaps guide the artist through these dense matrices of Skittles and braille. This gives these painters’ paintings some sugar for Conceptual-minded viewers, because those eggheads get a chance to peek into the thought process that generated the paintings.

Some paintings reflect themselves: in a binary manner, the left side mirrors the right, or top to bottom [(or vice versa) (or vice versa), respectively]. Others unfold into quadrants, each reflecting its border neighbors. This relationship between quadrants restricts randomness, chance, and arbitrary decisions. The pixels were plotted according to a system, and repeat in neighboring quadrants, reflexively bound and determined to their location.

Xylor Jane, Selfsame
Xylor Jane, Selfsame

But how does Xylor Jane decide on her sequences of colors? According to the artist, the ROYGBIV spectrum coincides with calendar dates and prime numbers. Some paintings even scroll lists of prime numbers. I don’t know exactly how she connects the numbers and dates to colors, but it is apparent that she has a system, and that is good enough for me. The paintings function to track and document passage of time, or progressions of numbers. (How great that this show follows on the heels of the recent show and review of On Kawara’s One Million Years, experientially tedious but historically necessary.) Thus, the paintings gradually reveal both sequence and development, yet they also preclude development within themselves, because the grid/quadrant/reflection rules restrict all ranges of variation possible. Each section can be only what the others determine it to be.

They make you dizzy and confused, and never settled with your perception of the painting. Unable to conclusively locate their edges, we are handicapped; the painting might as well be moving on its own. The optical dazzle identifies these paintings as Op, and therefore psychedelic. (David Rimanelli wrote in Artforum (May 2007) about Op art and 1960s psychedelia.) On a trippy vibe, the paintings reach for otherworldy engagement. But they simultaneously keep a foot in another extraterrestrial system, that being mathematics. Math is prior to perception and its independent relations persist whether or not we are paying attention. Xylor’s work contorts to straddle both psychedelic para-perception and rational epi-perception. The paintings are like talismans of extraempirical dimensions. Maybe that’s why the show is called N.D.E., standing for Near Death Experience: the show takes us to the precipice of alternative realities.

Aaron Johnson, Bad Precedent, 2007

In that same Artforum article, David Rimanelli designates the apparent Op resurgence as a “blip.” But is there a substantial Op art revolution? Constraction was just once example. Deitch offers another with the current Ben Jones show, and earlier projects by Assume Vivid Astro Focus (Happy Birthday, Eli!). Painter Aaron Johnson uses op patterns. Ara Peterson’s painted wood sculptures induce vertigo as much as wonder. And up-and-coming David Malek opens a show next week that looks likely to Op all the place.

David Malek, Astronaut Food, 2009
David Malek, Astronaut Food, 2009

Akiyoshi Kitaoka, Animal Collective,
Akiyoshi Kitaoka, Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion album cover

Bradford Cox, Deerhunter Cryptograms album cover
Bradford Cox, Deerhunter Cryptograms album cover
IMAGES: CANADA Gallery, Stux Gallery, Smith-Stewart Gallery, Anonymous

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A Little Action

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Nobody cares about your precious objects. And while your show sits idly for a month at an empty gallery, gathering dust, 30 other shows will have come and gone. Those galleries and alternative spaces were crowded each night with provisional, experimental projects that burst open and shimmered for one day or night. They converge, rather than emerge, existing more as participatory group play done for the process, not the result. No goals loitering on the horizon. Teleological creativity is so Old Testament. Now, groups of people can join in the fun, and the art is about the doing together, rather than the done alone. So stop priming all those canvases, and put your power tools on eBay.

Artist Lizzie Wright Polishing Pennies
Artist Lizzie Wright Polishing Pennies

That seems to be a paradigm, maybe powered by the desperate instability and uncertainty of the conventional distribution system. Nothing is really selling, the gallery might not be open next month, and who can afford cadmium colors or bronze fabrication? (I mean, just look at these horrible photos. I’d like to replace my stone age Canon poop-and-shoot, but gadgets don’t grow on trees.)

DiSoRgAnIzEr: Artist Jacob Robichaux
DiSoRgAnIzEr: Artist Jacob Robichaux

Jacob Robichaux embodied an epicenter of creative activity last night at Museum 52, the cool gallery succeeding Participant, Inc at 95 Rivington, next to the synagogue that collapsed about two years ago.

Artist Scott Hug w/ local heartthrob Alex Hudson w/ Jake Ewert's corduroy painthing; (r) Artist Daphne Fitzpatrick
Artist Scott Hug w/ local heartthrob Alex Hudson w/ Jake Ewert

Jacob’s solo debut at the gallery last year, …bell, string, whistle, cube… featured sculptures, collages, and sculptural paintings, “painthings” (as coined by the indispensable Sam Gordon), each of which was then selected by a peer, who would enact a performance based on/inspired by that particular piece. What a smart way to ensure that dialogue circulates around one’s work, while constantly revitalizing an inevitably stationary show. Another example would be Richard Aldrich’s sound performance, which I wrote about here a few weeks ago; that exemplified collaboration and casual performance embedded in the commercial space of luxury goods. Or the current Laura Parnes show at Participant, marked by screenings and readings. Or the recent Paper exhibition at Artists Space, perforated by weekly performances. An older one would be A.L. Steiner’s panel discussion in the project room at John Connelly Presents, during her show, One Million Photos, 1 Euro Each (Minimum Order), or her co-labia-rative project co-founded with Nicole Eisenman, Ridykeulous, which hosted a freewheeling performance/exhibition night at the very same space, when it was still Participant, Inc. (Gee, Participant must be onto something!) You could note scores of other artists who insist that the gallery be a relational, performative space, and not just an exhibition room. Personally, I’m excited for TM Davy’s upcoming night at Envoy Gallery.

1. Harry Potter, 2. Artist Julia Goldman, 3. Museum 52 Director Liz
1. Harry Potter, 2. Artist Julia Goldman, 3. Museum 52 Director Liz

So Jacob’s night, DiSoRgAnIzEd, was the penultimate twinkling link in the chain of one-offs happening at Museum 52 as it leaves Rivington St, roams in a holding pattern and eventually settles into a new space, rumored to be the space formerly known as the seminal Rivington Arms. DiSoRgAnIzEd included penny cleaning, popcorn popping, web surfing, a dance class, and many other events, in the midst of casual, disheveled objects, art or art-related. For example, the accomplished and essential sculptor and painter Lucky De Bellevue hung a recent rejection letter from the Guggenheim Foundation. The work in the show was intimate and “submitted for the approval of” the immediate community/scene, compounding the communal atmosphere electrified with collaboration.

What
What's Poppin? Artist Elizabeth Reddin @ Popcorn bowl; dogs need art, just like humans.

So I’m tossing out all my brushes and gesso. Objects completed in solitude are relics, while the real action is in the real action.

You Can Dance if You Want To: Artist Mariah Robertson leads a dance class
You Can Dance if You Want To: Artist Mariah Robertson leads a dance class
IMAGES: Michael Bilsborough

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Fortune: Teller

Sunday, April 26th, 2009
“Art is anything you can get away with,” said Marshall McLuhan.  So that could get us looking at the boundaries of how outlandish an object or gesture can go without leaving the province of art.  Or it could be a way of reserving art creation for the elite, who have access to resources that you and I don’t.  For example, Juergen Teller gets access to the Louvre, to a screen legend, and to the #1 model in the world.  He went to the Louvre, and all you get are these grainy photos.
Now that we are officially into autumn, we must find the show of the season.  What is autumn?  Brown leaves?  Whatever! Only in Vermont.  Jewish new year?  Maybe, but then we also have Chinese New Year and Everyone-else New Year in January.
Autumn in New York is Fashion Week!  The papers report from the runways, Marc Jacobs is coronated again, and office PCs are tuned into style dot com.
Fittingly, no pun intended, the show of the season should be of and about fashion!  Hence, Juergen Teller welcomes us to Paradis, his fifth show at Lehmann Maupin Gallery.  Herr Teller tours the Louvre with screen legend Charlotte Rampling and cover girl Raquel Zimmerman.
http://models.com/model_culture/50topmodels/top50.cfm?fnumber=5&lnumber=1
It looks chilly and boring.  I’d rather join Godard and Ana Karina.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM6igESrqMk
Instead of playing Snap the Whip, the famous women sit around, looking on.  Are they depressed?  But it isn’t winter yet!  Bored?  No way, not at the Louvre!  Maybe they know their own fabulosity, and so don’t have to demonstrate it through effusive body language.  After all, “his photographs do not present a standard of beauty but are more akin to a tribute to women and the human form,” according to the gallery P.R.  But that’s hard to swallow when we’re looking at the #1 fashion model in the world.  She isn’t top of the heap for her personality.

“Art is anything you can get away with,” said Marshall McLuhan.  That could mean a lot of things.

It could get us surveying how outlandish an object or gesture can go without leaving the province of art.  Or it could be more about access, a way for the elite and endowed to utilize their exclusive resources.  For example, Juergen Teller gets access to the world’s most visited museum, to a screen legend, and to a super-famous model.  He went to the Louvre, and all you get are these grainy photos.  He even gets to shoot with flash!

Common people looking at Teller
Common people looking at Teller

This is the show of the season, given that we are officially into autumn.  What is autumn?  Brown leaves?  Whatever! only in Vermont.  Jewish new year?  Maybe, but then we also have Chinese New Year and Everyone-else New Year in January.  Autumn in New York is Fashion Week! The papers report from the runways, Marc Jacobs is coronated again, and office PCs are tuned into style dot com.

Fittingly (no pun intended) the show of the season should be of, for, and by fashion!  Hence, Juergen Teller welcomes us to Paradis, his fifth show at Lehmann Maupin Gallery.  Herr Teller tours the Louvre with screen legend Charlotte Rampling and cover girl Raquel Zimmerman.  Hot!

Don't just stand there/ let's get to it
Don't just stand there/ let's get to it

Actually, it looks chilly and boring.  I’d rather join Godard and Ana Karina in Band of Outsiders, 1964 – the year Teller was born.

Band of Outsiders, 1964
Band of Outsiders, 1964

Instead of playing Snap the Whip, the famous women stand around, looking on.  Never let them see you sweat.

Winslow Homer, Snap the Whip, 1872
Winslow Homer, Snap the Whip, 1872

Are they depressed?  But it isn’t winter yet!  Bored?  No way, not at the Louvre!  Maybe they simply know their own fabulosity, and so don’t have to demonstrate it through effusive body language.  After all, Teller’s photographs “do not present a standard of beauty but are more akin to a tribute to women and the human form,” according to the gallery P.R.  But that’s hard to swallow when we’re gazing at the #1 fashion model in the world, nude.

How you can Tell(er): overexposure, lots of noise
How you can Tell(er): overexposure, lots of noise

The press release also claims that Paradis blurs the distinction between his commercial and non-commercial work.  Except that the work was originally commissioned for an elite French magazine and will have a third life in a limited-edition book currently in gestation.  Ch-ching!

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Keen of Pop?

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

I always wondered what this day would be like! With a world-wide famous star’s death, what could I say? Should I connect it to art and talk about Keith Edmier, who collaborated with her to produce a hot-or-not couple of sculptures?

And then came the bigger news! Jaw still sore from dropping. The King of Pop, the simultaneous culmination of disparate genres, subcultures, and concepts – R.I.P.

Being “death,” it was inevitable, of course, and in his case already a time-stopping advent with irresistible, yet unspoken anticipation from generations of audiences. Then again, he seemed like some otherworldly prodigy orbiting beyond the earthbound struggle between youth and age, for whom plastic surgery and maniacal oblivion defeated wrinkling and sagging, meted out to the rest of us commoners, in gradually disfiguring a previously angelic face.

Pointilistically styled, he was perpetually enshrouded in sunglasses, transfiguring that incognito device into icon-making accessory. Presiding over armies of howling Japanese teens, he transcended “man” and shimmered as “bejeweled Merlin from outer space.” He gave the slip to physics, stunningly striding forward while sliding backward; and he taunted gravity by leaning 45 degrees. Moonwalker was clearly fictional, yet it paradoxically confirmed Jacko as a palpable phantasm, a human-turned-demigod. Preternaturally gifted, benevolent, humanistic, and prophetically post-racial, was he an emissary from the heavens, or the evidence of boundless human potential?

Then it got weird. The rest was a mind-boggling barrage of profligacy and perversion that bowled us through Macaulay Culkin, Neverland, out-of-court settlements, ancestral demigod Elvis Presley’s daughter, inexplicably conceived babies, babies recklessly dangled from balconies, the twisted remnants of a human face, and thousands of offensive jokes ready to occupy a coffee-table book, quickly followed by Volume II.

Michael Bilsborough, Munch&Macaulay Mash-up

So it’s no wonder Jacko became an icon of contemporary art, so fixated on irony, race relations, political correctness, dystopic pop culture, and the technology-compatible body.

We could start our timeline with Andy Warhol’s Michael Jackson, which might set a new auction record for Warhol, if the recent eBay activity is any indication,

Warhol, Michael Jackson, 1984

followed by Jeff Koons’ hysterical, life-size porcelain Michael Jackson with Bubbles,

Jeff Koons, Michael Jackson with Bubbles, 1988
Jeff Koons, Michael Jackson with Bubbles, 1988

which requires a note about Richard Phillips nine-foot tall canvas Jacko (after Jeff Koons),

Richard Phillips, Jacko (After Jeff Koons)
Richard Phillips, Jacko (After Jeff Koons)

and then some prescient female artists tuned into a new Jacko generation,

as Meredith Danluck debuted a Michael Jackson video about meeting the King of Pop,

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

and Dawn Mellor revealed a life-long oeuvre of diva-worshipping MJ drawings in a show at White Columns, Other Peoples Projects – Studio Voltaire, London,

Dawn Mellor's MJ drawings
Dawn Mellor's MJ drawings

but only after Tara Mateik’s must-see PYT

\’ >PYT’ >PYT

Oh, and then there’s the cut-up by the venerable Mark Flood!

After Mark Flood
After Mark Flood

I’m writing this in mourning, so please forgive and notify me: no doubt I’ve omitted many other examples of Michael Jackson art. Where do we go from here? I imagine his corpse will be taxidermied, cryogenically frozen, hawked on eBay cell by cell, or submerged in a tank (like the basketballs, not the sharks).

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