Archive for October, 2009

His and Urs

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009
The talk of the town – in the WSJ, the New Yorker, New York Magazine – is Marguerite de Ponty, the solo show “introspective” of Urs Fischer at the New Museum.  The artist takes on the three floors (and ceilings) of exhibition space.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704024904574475312171391366.html
The mouthpiece of the show – and organizer – is Massimiliano Gioni, Director of Special Exhibitions and cocurator of “Younger than Jesus.”  The show originated from “Jet Set Lady,” the 2005 solo show of Urs Fischer at the Trussardi Foundation, where Massimiliano Gioni is artistic director, alongside Laura Hoptman, a Trussardi advisory board member by night, Senior Curator at the New Museum by day.
The main attraction is A technical tour de force that required more than 25,000 photographs and over twelve tons of steel, ” according the the New Mu.  It includes about 50 shiny stainless steel boxes bearing silkscreen prints on all visible sides.  It’s an assortment of objects depicted from all three Cartesian axes, x y and z.
The boxes, engineered in Zurich, are immaculately seamless and the prints masterfully applied.   There seems to be no room for error, and one wonders how the printmakers juggled the images, which demand vertical and horizontal orientations.  Moreover, how did the photographers shoot, scan, and splice these dimension-defying captures?  It’s especially excited in the photos of photos, such as the Installing the heavy cubes required wizardry, too: preparators were not allowed to touch the sculptures.  So they unsheathed them from their crates and slid the plinths from underneath.  But how did they mount the vertical “chain” piece to the ceiling?
Meanwhile, the monumental molten crags on the third floor reveal seams where the component pieces conjoined.  Why would a precisionist perfectionist like Urs Fischer permit this?  Don’t we lose our illusion when we see the stitching?  Maybe it’s a trick to remind our eyes that the towering turds are more than surface, even if that battered surface fascinatingly reports the thumb impressions that shaped it in its fetal stages.

Dearth 'vator
Dearth 'vator

Opening today is the new hotness, Marguerite de Ponty, the solo show “introspective” of Urs Fischer at the New Museum.  The artist has his way with the three floors (and ceilings) of exhibition space.

The showman, mouthpiece, and organizer is Director of Special Exhibitions and cocurator of “Younger than Jesus,” Massimiliano Gioni, 35, older than Jesus.  The show originated when Gioni and Fischer erected Jet Set Lady, Fischer’s seminal 2005 solo show at the Trussardi Foundation, where Gioni is artistic director, and where Laura Hoptman, Senior Curator at the New Museum, is a Trussardi advisory board member.

This is a good time for Gavin Brown.  Fischer is the second artist from Gavin Brown’s Enterprise to have a solo show at the New Museum.  Brownian Jonathan Horowitz just concluded And/Or at P.S.1 and his soul- and gallery-mate, Rob Pruitt, is hosting the First Annual Art Awards this week at the Guggenheim.

P.S. Wish “good luck” to SVA alumni “and/or” faculty who are nominees: Elizabeth Peyton, Mary Heilmann, and Jerry Saltz.

Urs Fischer at New Museum
Urs Fischer at New Museum

The main attraction ($$$) of Marguerite de Ponty (a pseudonym used by Mallarmé when writing on fashion) is “a technical tour de force that required more than 25,000 photographs and over twelve tons of steel,” according the the New Mu. Sounds pretty MACHO for an institution founded by feminist Marcia Tucker.

Cary Leibowitz, Marcia Tucker Puffy Print, 2007
Cary Leibowitz, Marcia Tucker Puffy Print, 2007

It includes about 50 splendid stainless steel boxes, silkscreened on all visible sides with photos of an assortment of objects, depicted from all three Cartesian axes, x through z.  Despite the roid-rage marketing, the installation invokes non-Hulk Hogans: Guyton/Walker + John McCracken + Warhol + maybe Cady Noland in a good mood.  -And Robert Morris cubes, Judd boxing, Picasso cubism, Duchamp readymade, Dutch still life. With flat images adhered to flat, reflective boxes that all share axes, it’s a vista without perspective – no transverse lines, like drawing with an Etch-a-Sketch.

Artists Frank Benson and Xavier Cha
Artists Frank Benson and Xavier Cha

Only 40 visitors are allowed in at once, but it’s worth the wait in line, because population control is to labyrinths what rent control is to apartments: you feel good about staying for a long time.

The boxes, engineered in Zurich, are immaculately seamless.  There seems to be no room for error, and one wonders how the printmakers, in Austria, juggled the tumbling vertical and horizontal orientations.  Does this site help us? The effect is especially exciting in the photos of photos, such as the giant Ashanti, who looks real from the front, but surprises us as a cardboard cutout.  Look closer, and the cardboard’s crumbled corners and scored surfaces revolt against the surgical, sterile surfaces.

Hunk Hendrik Gerrits with Peres Projects' Sarah Walzer
Hunk Hendrik Gerrits with Peres Projects' Sarah Walzer

Preparators were not allowed to touch the sculptures, so they unsheathed them from crates and slid the plinths from underneath.  But how did they mount the vertical “chain” piece to the ceiling?  If you see Hendrik Gerrits, who oversaw the installation, you should ask him.  He looked really relieved last night.

His and Urs
Sincerely Urs

In contrast to the rigid order below them, the monumental molten crags on the third floor are all accident.  Yet they reveal seams where the component aluminum sections conjoined.  Wouldn’t that bother a precisionist perfectionist like Urs Fischer?  Don’t we lose our illusion when we see the stitching?  Maybe it’s a trick to remind our eyes that the towering turds are ugly on the inside, too – even if we want to stay with the fascinating thumb impressions on the surface.

Now that's what I call ART
Now that's what I call ART

That’s right, foxy; I’m talking to YOU!

IMAGES: Michael Bilsborough

Ch-Ching, Singh!

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Alexandre Singh, Assembly Instructions (lecture), performance with two OHP projectors and transparencies, 2009
Alexandre Singh, Assembly Instructions (lecture), performance with two OHP projectors and transparencies, 2009

Congratulations to SVA alum Alexandre Singh!  He is one of the 8 artists selected by the Rema Hort Mann Foundation for the 2009 Visual Arts Grant.  Each recipient gets a big check for $10,000 to be used however he or she pleases.  Alexandre starred in this blog recently (Showroom Dummy, 2009).

From approximately 110 artists nominated by art world professionals, the 7 other recipients are Jennifer Cohen, Alexander Fleming, Alice O’Malley, Matt Sheridan Smith, Rashaad Newsome, Mary Reid Kelley, and Rona Yefman. To be nominated for the grant, an artist must be based in NYC, must not be a student, and must not have had a solo show at a commercial gallery before nomination.  (Take note, young artists aching for a solo debut; it pays to wait!)  (Take note, young artists looking for a great gallery; two winners are represented by Lisa Cooley!)

Alexandre Singh, The Marque of the Third Stripe, wood, chipboard, vitrines, belgian waffles, adidas trainers, plaster and 80 mins video, 2008
Alexandre Singh, The Marque of the Third Stripe, wood, chipboard, vitrines, belgian waffles, adidas trainers, plaster and 80 mins video, 2008

Nominees must also be on good terms 🙂 with the selection committee, the members of which parse through the A-list nominations: Lauren Cornell of Rhizome, who also helped curate Younger Than Jesus; Susan Hort, Stefan Kelmar of Artists Space, Tina Kukielski of the Whitney Museum, and Matthew Lyons of The Kitchen.  In recent years, that supreme court has also included judges Lia Gangitano of Participant, Inc, Massimiliano Gioni of the New Museum, Matthew Higgs & Amie Scally of White Columns, Carter Foster & Gary Murayari of the Whitney Museum (Gary is now curating the next Biennial), hypercritic Jerry Saltz, and João Ribas, who recently advanced from the Drawing Center to the MIT List center.  Read his interview with the Horts at Flash Art.

Right-hand Man: João Ribas
Right-hand Man: João Ribas

Personally, this blog thinks they are all beautiful, smart, witty, sexy, talented, stylish, well-groomed, skinny, fabulous, glamorous, wonderful, great……..

The Rema Hort Mann Foundation is unique for several reasons.  It is one of the few private foundations offering grants to emerging artists, its prize is unrestricted and unconditional, and the odds of winning are high for nominees.  But above all, and in its own words: “The Rema Hort Mann Foundation was established in 1995 in loving memory of Rema Hort Mann who passed away from cancer at the young age of 30. In her life, she was passionate about supporting young artists and later to individuals she met while undergoing treatment.”

Michael & Susan Hort, Susan Sarandon in Stepmom and Jonathan Horowitz' Video
Michael & Susan Hort (l), Susan Sarandon in "Stepmom" and/or Jonathan Horowitz' "The Soul of Tammi Terrell" (r)

SVA alumni are familiar with the generous Rema Hort Mann Foundation.  It has rewarded SVA’s grads many times in the past: Lane Twitchell (MFA, ’95), Sarah Sze (MFA ’97), Mika Rottenberg (BFA, ’00), Aïda Ruilova (MFA, ’01), and some clueless mama’s boy (MFA, 06).

Check out Susan and Michael Hort in this video.


Nu MUSEO

Friday, October 16th, 2009
KS: I’m struck by your commitment to rendering blood on the print exactly the way blood would spurt, or in the case of the vinyl floor piece, as if a body has been dragged across it. And in fact, a body will be literally dragged across it.
That’s Katie Sonnenborn talking to RObert Lazzarini in the new issue of MUSEO about his new bloodstained wallpaper prints.  The prints are the result of Lazzarini’s visual arts fellowship at the Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University.  “The deathly object is something that I think about quite a lot,” he says.  Katie asks him about this preoccupation, but Lazzarini seems more interested in formal issues.  That’s fine, for now.  It is interesting to hear him explain the decisions behind his current show at the Aldrich Museum.
We also get great interviews with Shana Moulton, and with Roxy Paine, whose giant aluminum environmental sculptures must have a great tan after laying out in Madison Square Park, and then migrating to the roof at the Met.
And the great innovation of the new MUSEO is a site-specific project curated by the marvelous Timothy Hull, artist and egyptologist, and MUSEO honcho David Shapiro.  From the curators:
“For this project, artists were asked to create “screen captures” of images using their desk-top as a substrate. It is reasonable to assume that many artists have multiple folders, images, screen wallpapers and open windows on their desktop at any given time. These ephemera of the desktop can either be functional, aesthetic, or both- constantly changing and shifting in meaning and intent as well as position. The screen capture (screen cap) is a tableau of a particular moment in time- on a very private medium: the personal computer. The purpose of this project is to either gain insight into the private, ad-hoc composition of a desktop or to push the boundaries of the discursive arrangement of images and other digital ephemera on the desktop as composed specifically by the artist.”
Fifteen artists submitted screenshots of their computers.  We get behind the scenes to see layers of windows, desktop backgrounds, google search results, and dazzling Photoshop abstractions.
Are they photographs?  But there is no object for light to sculpt.  Collage?  They are layered, but “collage” is etymologically obligated to pasting or gluing, neither of which happened here.  Maybe performance?  Process?  I like Devon Costello’s ersatz Kandinskys, Robert Melee’s couch potato, and Jimmy Joe Roche’s multimedia terrordome.

Robert Longo, The Ascension (for Glenn Branca album), 1981
Robert Longo, The Ascension (for Glenn Branca album), 1981

KS: I’m struck by your commitment to rendering blood on the print exactly the way blood would spurt, or in the case of the vinyl floor piece, as if a body has been dragged across it. And in fact, a body will be literally dragged across it.

Robert Lazzarini, blood on wallpaper (blue gingham), 2008
Robert Lazzarini, blood on wallpaper (blue gingham), 2008

That’s Katie Sonnenborn talking to Robert Lazzarini in the new issue of MUSEO about his new bloodstained wallpaper prints.  He made them during his visual arts fellowship at the Neiman Center for Print Studies at Columbia University.

“The deathly object is something that I think about quite a lot,” he says.  Katie asks him about this preoccupation, but Lazzarini seems more interested in formal issues.  That’s fine, for now.  It is interesting to hear him explain the decisions behind his recent exhibition at the Aldrich Museum, called Guns and Knives.

We also get great interviews with Shana Moulton, and with Roxy Paine, whose giant aluminum environmental sculptures must have a great tan after laying out in Madison Square Park, and then migrating to the roof at the Met.  Check out Maelstrom.

And the great innovation of the new MUSEO is a site-specific project for the MUSEO website.  Open Apple Shift 3 is curated by the marvelous Timothy Hull, artist and egyptologist, and MUSEO honcho David Shapiro.  From the curators:

“For this project, artists were asked to create “screen captures” of images using their desk-top as a substrate. It is reasonable to assume that many artists have multiple folders, images, screen wallpapers and open windows on their desktop at any given time. These ephemera of the desktop can either be functional, aesthetic, or both- constantly changing and shifting in meaning and intent as well as position. The screen capture (screen cap) is a tableau of a particular moment in time- on a very private medium: the personal computer. The purpose of this project is to either gain insight into the private, ad-hoc composition of a desktop or to push the boundaries of the discursive arrangement of images and other digital ephemera on the desktop as composed specifically by the artist.”

Screen capture by Robert Melee
Screen capture by Robert Melee

Fifteen artists submitted screenshots of their computers.  We get behind the scenes to see layers of windows, desktop backgrounds, google search results, and dazzling Photoshop abstractions.

Screen capture by Ben Weiner
Screen capture by Ben Weiner

Are they photographs?  But there is no object for light to sculpt.  Collage?  They are layered, but “collage” is etymologically obligated to pasting or gluing, neither of which happened here.  Maybe performance?  Process?  I like Devon Costello’s ersatz Kandinskys, Robert Melee’s couch potato, and Jimmy Joe Roche’s multimedia terrordome.

KITT to the rescue
KITT to the rescue

Pose a Strike!

Saturday, October 10th, 2009
Artist epicenter
Talent shows
Magazines
Journals
Collaborations
Life of the party
Self-portrait
Documentary
Claude Cahun
“Under this mask, another mask. I will never finish removing all these faces.” –Claude Cahun
Activist, publisher, photographer, video artist, performer, organizer, muse, stylist, artist epicenter, model: K8 Hardy has worn many hats.  And wigs and unitards.
Fittingly, her show at Reena Spaulings Fine Art includes about 30 photos of herself in some kind of drag. The photos are self-portraits, in theory: the artist has turned the camera toward herself and made conscious decisions about how her image will be captured.
Except that from beginning to end, we lose a sense of her “self” in the freedom march of potential other “selves,” which we know can’t really be authentic “selves” because they are temporary, fleeting masquerades – each just the interim between the others – and not the steady core that we elevate as the “real self.”  Will the real K8 Hardy please stand up?
No.
But there’s this platform in the middle of the gallery.  You can stand there for all to see.
So maybe they are more like “documentary.”  After all, the acquisition of vintage, thrift, and obscure garments – enough to dress the Halloween Parade – is a lifelong, unrelenting compulsion.  To pose in her clothes is not just about working a look; it’s about  the clothes indexing the ever-expanding collection; it’s about pointing to a decade-long hunting trip by sharing its prizes.
But if you want to be materialistic, maybe you could say that they are still-life photos.  After all, the garments are arranged into outfits, which implies calculation, coordination, and set-up; and not a random sampling of her closet.
“invent her own position as subject and elaborate her own set of images – different from the image of the exposed female body, yet as empowering as that image is…for her male colleagues.”
Proudly carrying the flag of feminist heritage, K8 wrestles with the volatile, indeterminate conditions of gender and identity.  In many of the photos, gender is debatable, or even incidental.  Instead, we get tangled in the layers of culturally coded clothing.  “What is that trying to say?” might precede “Who is that person?”  Just like seeing somebody in a Star Trek spacesuit or Ninja ghi.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKvjZUAPve4

“Under this mask, another mask. I will never finish removing all these faces.” –Claude Cahun

K8 Hardy at Reena Spaulings
Disheveled, shelved: K8 Hardy at Reena Spaulings

Activist, publisher, photographer, video artist, performer, organizer, muse, stylist, artist epicenter, mud wrestler, concert promoter, model: K8 Hardy has worn many hats.  And wigs and unitards.

Fittingly, her show at Reena Spaulings Fine Art refers to her autobiographical past and her conceptual current in its title: To All the G#%$! I’ve Loved Before.

Her first solo show in NYC, and closing tomorrow, the show includes sculptures, publication, and primarily, about 30 photos of herself in some kind of drag.

K8 or Dye
K8 or Dye

The photos are documentary/ self-portraits, in theory:

“Documentary,” in that the acquisition of vintage, thrift, and obscure garments – enough to dress the Halloween Parade – is a lifelong, unrelenting compulsion, so costumed K8 is not just about working a look; it’s about indexing a decade-long hunting trip by sharing its ever-expanding chest of prizes.

“Self-portrait,” in that the artist has turned the camera toward herself and made conscious decisions about how her image will be captured.

Except that from beginning to end, we lose a sense of her “self” in the freedom march of potential other “selves,” which we know are anything but that, because they are temporary, fleeting masquerades – each just the interim between the others – and not the immobile core that we try to excavate as the “real self.”  In fact, some photoes keep you on your four toes by substituting another model in lieu of K8.  Does K8 matter?  Will the real K8 Hardy please stand up?

Flashback from Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe

No, she refuses.

But there’s this platform in the middle of the gallery.  You can stand up high for all to see!  Please hurry; the show ends tomorrow!

Jack Pierson, "Black Jackie," 2001-6
Jack Pierson, "Black Jackie," 2001-6

Rosalind Krauss invokes Susan Suleiman while writing about Claude Cahun, who could be K8’s great-grandma in art lineage. (Cindy Sherman could be her Mom and Leigh Bowery her other Mom.)  Suleiman called for a pioneering woman artist who would:

“invent her own position as subject and elaborate her own set of images – different from the image of the exposed female body, yet as empowering as that image is, with its endless potential for manipulation, disarticulation, and rearticulation, fantasizing and projection, for her male colleagues.”

Maybe that’s who the stage is for, which K8 has installed in the gallery?  “We are not sure if or how it will be used,” cautions her press release.

Proto-K8, Claude Cahun
Proto-K8, Claude Cahun

Of course, Claude Cahun went further by changing her name to that of an imaginary Jewish man, despite the rampant anti-semitism soiling France.  Kate’s name is less ethnic and more adjective.  To follow Cahun, she would need to take on a fearsome, alarming, or unsettling name.  K8 Hussein.  Or K8 Bush.

Still, she proudly bears the pageant sash of feminist heritage, because K8 screams “Vive la résistance” as she wrestles with the volatile, indeterminate conditions of gender and identity.  In many of the photos, gender is debatable, or even incidental.  Instead, we get tangled in the layers of culturally coded clothing.  “What is that trying to say?” might precede “Who is that person?”  Something weird happens when “the look” smothers its wearer.  Essence precedes existence.

Gerhard Richter, Onkel Rudi, 1965
Gerhard Richter, Onkel Rudi, 1965

But then K8 the author leaps into the spotlight with her subjective ray-0-gram interventions of sunglasses, a lace bra, and a defiant middle finger.  K8 reminds us that while actor, crew, and location all coalesce into a cast of androgynous, flamboyant extras, the artist is still the director.

Dan Graham, Figurative, 1965
Ray O' Gram: Dan Graham, Figurative, 1965

Mechanical Animal

Sunday, October 4th, 2009
The fifth installment of MoMA’s Performance Exhibition Series is the North American premiere of Mark Leckey in the Long Tail (2009) by Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey. The British artist, 45 years old, looks great.  With his coiffed long hair and manicured beard, he looks like a Northwestern folk singer.  Leckey fans might associate him with flamboyant patterns and pink pants, but the lecturer Leckey appeared on stage in a smart, modest ensemble befitting a young professor: maybe semiotician chíc?  And he’s lost weight, according to my Leckey insider.
“Part lecture, part monologue, and part living sculpture, the work traverses the history of television and broadcasting, incorporating the role of the BBC and the icon of Felix the Cat, while simultaneously addressing the “long tail” theory of internet-based economics,” says MoMA.
The well-rehearsed event begins with a demonstration of the mechanical scanner, which Leckey has recreated for the performance.  The mechanical scanner was the apparatus predating the televised broadcast, and an early instance of the dematerialized subject, preparing audiences for digital imaging, Lawrence Weiner, iTunes, flash drives, and Mike Teavee in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
The lecture continues into a description of The Long Tail theory, illustrated with a simple diagram, somewhat sperm shaped.  This theory describes the way mass markets and fringe markets are distributed to their respective consumers.  Given that consumable products and goods are gradually becoming dematerialized into digital formats and platforms, and given that these platforms can be inexhaustibly reproduced and redistributed, often for free, then it follows that fringe consumption can spread to infinity.  A good example is the downloadable torrent.  When you want to download the Sonic Youth discography, you just need to find the torrent online.  That massive file, with scores of albums and live recordings, gets disassembled and dispersed among tens, scores, hundreds, then thousands of “seeders.”  Then when you want to download it, you receive the bits of file from those seeders, until the download completes, at which point you become a seeder yourself, unless you delete it from your library, which would make you a “leecher,” because you aren’t giving back to the economy from which you are taking.  The more demand there is in downloading a file, the more  supply there will be, with time.
Leckey then connects this to “swarm intelligence,” in a monologue amped up with cool audio effects and droning synth sound.  We learn about stigmergy, feedback loops, and ley lines as Leckey describes example after example of ways that we get out of the universe what we put into it.
It’s a cosmic karma of consumption.  And it’s especially relevant to an artist like Mark Leckey, whose earlier video and installatio work deals heavily with subcultural behavior and signifiers.  Internet communication helps subcultural participants to find each other with ease, which increases their solidarity.  What happens, then, when the Long Tail of fringe and subculture is able to grow and grow and grow, never expiring, never disbanding, never vaporizing?  So Leckey’s anthropological practice moves from empirical field studies to speculative theory.

Mark Leckey in the Long Tail (2009)
Mark Leckey in the Long Tail (2009)

The fifth installment of MoMA’s Performance Exhibition Series is the North American premiere of Mark Leckey in the Long Tail (2009) by Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey. The British artist, 45 years old, looks much younger than he is.  With his coiffed long hair, manicured beard, and gaunt limbs, he looks like a Northwestern folk singer.  Leckey fans might associate him with flamboyant patterns and pink pants, but the lecturer Leckey appeared on stage in a smart, modest ensemble befitting a young professor:  semiotician chíc?  And he’s lost weight, according to my Leckey insider.

“Part lecture, part monologue, and part living sculpture, the work traverses the history of television and broadcasting, incorporating the role of the BBC and the icon of Felix the Cat, while simultaneously addressing the ‘long tail’ theory of internet-based economics,” says MoMA.  It’s sort of a TED lecture for the 300 audience members who attended on one of the three nights at the Abron Arts Center.

The well-rehearsed performance begins with a demonstration of the mechanical scanner, which Leckey has recreated for the event.

The Mechanical Scanner, 1929
Ready for my Close-Up: The Mechanical Scanner, 1929

He explains that the mechanical scanner was the apparatus predating the televised broadcast, and that its initial test-drive in 1929 with a Felix the Cat doll was an early instance in the timeline of dematerialization, preparing audiences for digital imaging, Lawrence Weiner, iTunes, flash drives, and Mike Teavee in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Mike Teavee Gets Transmitted
Mike Teavee Gets Transmitted

The lecture continues into a description of The Long Tail theory, illustrated with a simple diagram, somewhat sperm shaped.  This theory describes the way mass markets and fringe markets diverge and feed into each other.  Leckey extrapolates: Given that consumable products and goods are gradually becoming dematerialized into digital formats, and given that these platforms can be inexhaustibly reproduced and redistributed, often for free, then it follows that fringe consumption can copied, copied, and spread to infinity.

Felix Felix Felix
Felix Felix Felix

A good example is the downloadable torrent.  When you want to download the Sonic Youth discography, you just need to find the torrent online.  By now, that massive file, which contains scores of albums and live recordings, gets disassembled and dispersed worldwide among dozens, hundreds, then thousands of  torrent enthusiasts, nicknamed “seeders.”  Then when you want it, you find it online, download it, and begin to receive the bits of file from those seeders, until the download completes, at which point you become a seeder yourself, unless you delete it from your library, which would make you a “leecher,” because you aren’t giving back to the economy from which you are taking.  It also works with movies, video games, and other media. The more demand there is in downloading a file, the more supply there will be, with time.  –At least until the Feds and Hollywood flex harder.

Leckey then connects this to “swarm intelligence,” in a monologue amped up with cool audio effects and droning synth sound effects, part of his constructive invocation of special effects.  We learn about stigmergy, feedback loops, and Ley lines as Leckey describes example after example of ways that we get out of the universe what we put into it.

Mark Leckey in the Long Tail (2009)
The Man: Mark Leckey in the Long Tail (2009)

Internet communication helps subcultural participants to find each other with ease, which increases their solidarity.  What happens, then, when the Long Tail of fringe and subculture is able to grow and grow and grow, never expiring, never disbanding, never vaporizing?

The Stage: Mark Leckey in the Long Tail (2009)
The Stage: Mark Leckey in the Long Tail (2009)

 

It’s a cosmic karma of consumption.  And it really matters to Mark Leckey, whose earlier video and installation work deals heavily with subcultural behavior and symbols, especially his Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, 1999, which appropriates documentary video of British youf revelers and ravers in signature apparel and body language as they dance in nightclubs, synergistically generating an environment in which they can each subjectively dissolve into oblivion.  That’s the Golden Rule of the Dance Floor: The more you go nuts, the more I can go nuts, and the more we both enjoy vaporizing into a tingling sensation of ecstasy.

The Fog: Mark Leckey in the Long Tail (2009)
The Fog: Mark Leckey in the Long Tail (2009)

So Leckey’s anthropological practice moves from empirical field studies to speculative theory.  What will happen to the cultures he’s commemorated?  What will happen to his work?  And because I’m recording it, is this blog post part of the art?

The Stage: Mark Leckey in the Long Tail (2009)
The Stage: Mark Leckey in the Long Tail (2009)

And how about Leckey’s style of research-based projects that exude earnest interest, and not glib irony?  Leckey conveys that the material is genuinely cool, readily available, worth sharing, and highly transcontinental; it is not esoteric, inaccessible, nor rarefied.  There’s no self-conscious tail-eating.

Felix, 2007 and I Must be Dreamin,' 2007 by Joyce Pensato
Felix, 2007 and I Must be Dreamin,' 2007 by Joyce Pensato
IMAGES: Michael Bilsborough, except for Felix and Wonka pics