Archive for January, 2010

PianOH

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Check out Lady Gaga’s piano tonight at the Grammys!  Check out Elton John’s piano tonight at the Grammys!

Two-faced

UPDATE: The bespoke “two-faced” piano was designed by Terence Koh and fabricated in Los Angeles. Contrary to what you might have read on blogs of lesser repute, the upraised limbs are not “severed mannequin arms.” The 33 arms were cast from a live model and then painted and scorched. Though their arrangement on the piano appears random, the design team was careful to preserve a sight line from one end of the piano to the other. Though maybe it doesn’t matter, given the weird glitter glasses.

Reality bites

You can get with this/ or you can get with that

Air Rights

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Jaime Isenstein in "One Minute More" at The Kitchen

From the Gugg: “He considers visual art to be a microcosm of our economic reality, as both center on identical conditions: the production of goods and their subsequent circulation.” Is that accurate? What kind of goods? I always thought the economy operates on mass manufacturing, while art is commonly a distinct one-of-a-kind. Art is more like luxury goods, right? And that’s not really a microcosm of anything, just a mirror of excess wealth. I think McDonald’s burgers or Chevy trucks would be more of a microcosm.
“Sehgal seeks to reconfigure these conditions by producing meaning and value through a transformation of actions rather than solid materials.” Sort of like how you pay a hooker for a blowjob, rather than his/her lips. You can buy lips at the adult video store.

As of tomorrow, Friday, Guggenheim visitors will find a museum stripped bare by a bachelor.  33-year-old Tino Sehgal, younger than jesus, will take over the museum by emptying the walls and halls of artwork, staging two TBA performances, and subsidizing visiting crowds with 200 stooges hired to mingle with the tourists.  UPDATE: The NYT says he is 34.  My bad!

This show can be best understood through its influences.  He is a young artist, after all.  So art lovers seize the opportunity to list the inventory of gestures and exhibitions built around an empty space.  Artist Matthew Weinstein says on JSF (Jerry Saltz’ Facebook page), “nothing going on here is more radical then a sol lewitt drawing diagram, duchamp’s paris air ampule, and the entire career of john cage. and that’s fine. he’s working within a well established tradition, and adding to it.”

Magnus von Plessen at Gladstone

Saltz himself identified Gabriel Orozco’s Yogurt Cups, now at MoMA, as “an homage to the Empty Gallery as Work of Art.”  A few years ago, Ralph Rugoff curated A Brief History of Invisible Art.  Months ago, Adriana Lara appropriated the New Museum’s opening hours as her entry in its Younger than Jesus survey, as well as the daily ingestion of a banana by a museum guard, who would then leave the empty peel on the shiny floor.  In 2007, Urs Fischer excavated a giant pit from the poured concrete floor of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, literally ripping GBE a new hole.  Months before that, Terence Koh exhibited at the Whitney Museum a near empty gallery, occupied only by a charcoal-colored sphere and a Klieg light.  In 2003, Trisha Donnelly released I Am Taking Your Morning, a CD recording in which she describes how she steals every aspect of your morning: your bed, coffee, newspaper, cigarette break, etc.  In 2001, Simparch built a skate bowl at Deitch Projects, leaving the content of the show up to the skaters who made use of the space.  Since 1991, Rudolf Stingel has done show after show in New York of near-empty galleries.  You can find more examples of emptiness in each of the last few decades.

(detail)

So it isn’t new to vacate a gallery.  But then isn’t it ironic how a show that owes so much to art history is banishing the tokens of that history?  We can best explain Tino Sehgal by invoking his ancestors in the brinksmanship legacy of dematerialization and relational aesthetics.  That tale had been reported by DIA, but then muted, when DIA went so Minimalist that it closed shop!  Yet Sehgal’s response to inherited art history is to wipe the walls clean, deforming the Guggenheim into one circuitous tabula rasa.

No, no! We said "Rasa"

This is poignant – or not – when compared to other negations of exhibition.  The Met had to withdraw Picasso’s The Actor after a woman ran into it (literally ripping Picasso a new hole, ha ha).  Worse, the Met is hiding its depictions of Muhammad and deleting “Islamic” from the “Islamic Galleries.”  (Read David Shapiro’s razor-sharp response at Muse.)  If the Met can’t defend itself against clumsy visitors, at least it can try to avoid pissing off bloodthirsty Muslim extremists.  At the Met, art is concealed under duress and fear; for Tino Sehgal, it’s the anti-exhibition basis of an exhibition.  Rigorous?  Or decadent?

The empty museum isn’t the goal of the show, it’s just the means to the real goal, which is the interaction of the visitors with each other and with the space.  “Sehgal seeks to reconfigure these conditions by producing meaning and value through a transformation of actions rather than solid materials,” says the Museum.  But is that a myopic view?  Hysterical?  Art has often been exchanged as anticipated action instead of material.  Again, Sol LeWitt wall drawings…  Or an advance payment for a commissioned portrait of some old Queen or other.  How about Momus’ Stars Forever album, whereby interested parties paid Momus $1,000 to write a song about them?  Jeff Koons did, and he paid not for the song itself, but for the service of creating a song.  (And it’s a great one.)

Breakfast of Chomp-ions

From the Gugg: “a visitor is no longer only a passive spectator, but one who bears a responsibility to shape and at times to even contribute to the actual realization of the piece. The work may ask visitors what they think, but, more importantly, it underscores an individual’s own agency in the museum environment.”  In other words, we won’t have to stand there all day looking at some crusty old painting, or cumbersome sculpture made by some dead guy.  We will be the art! Us!  I’d better order some teeth whitener!

Spencer Tunick

After all, people are more valuable than art.  That’s why I’ll hang in a museum when I’m dead, and my bedroom will be Landmarked, like Benjamin Franklin’s phantom house by Robert Venturi.  Guggenheim also says that Tino Sehgal “considers visual art to be a microcosm of our economic reality, as both center on identical conditions: the production of goods and their subsequent circulation.” Is that accurate? What kind of goods? I am no Ben Bernanke, but I always thought the mercantile economy operates on mass manufacturing, while art is commonly a distinct one-of-a-kind. Art is more like luxury goods, right? And that’s not really a microcosm of anything, just a mirror of conspicuous consumption. I think McDonald’s burgers or Chevy trucks would be more of a microcosm.  -The End.

Robert Venturi

UPDATE 02-10-2010: I finally saw the show. It was incredible! I plan to post something later this week about my trip.

Oh, Me So Horn

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

The Roni Horn Nebula! Iceland, the crossroads of culture!

"Roni Horn Nebula," 2010 by Michael Bilsborough
"Roni Horn Nebula," 2010 by Michael Bilsborough

So many connections. Icelandic band Sigur Rós called in old friend (flame?) Ryan McGinley to do their album cover art when other Icelander Olafur Eliasson didn’t come through. Both artists had shows at PS1.

Sigur Rós album cover by Ryan McGinley
Sigur Rós album cover by Ryan McGinley

Ryan had a show at the Whitney, just like the equally handsome Roni Horn, who called her show “aka,” quite close to “Takka Takka,” an older album by the aforementioned band. One H and two O’s in “Roni Horn,” who takes photos of H2O, a material familiar to Eliasson. There’s even room for Björk.

Jet Set, Knows Stars redux

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Then: Louis B. Mayer Now: Jeffrey Deitch
Then: Louis B. Mayer Now: Jeffrey Deitch

On the Facebook page of Jerry Saltz, attentive artists argue the appointment of Jeffrey Deitch to the Director’s Chair at LA MOCA, a tense thriller to be concluded – OH WAIT – there’s a cliffhanger!  Monday morning’s scheduled press conference has been postponed; we’re all licking from our lips the sweat of suspenseful anticipation!

To quote Hippy Carnes (annoying rat guy) from The Abyss: “I got to tell you, I give this whole thing a sphincter-factor of about nine point five.”

Checkmate.
Checkmate.
In the discussion, an artist I admire wrote: “peter plagens once called what the new york artworld has become a kind of “poor man’s hollywood” and in certain circles he’s right. jeffery is responsible for some of that. so it’s funny that the “mayor of poor man’s hollywood” is now going to the real place.

Uh-Huh Her
Uh-Huh Her
Right! On!  If Jeffrey Goes to Hollywood (Relax Don’t Do It), then he really will be like our generation’s Louis B. Mayer.

Alternate ending
Alternate ending

Jet Set, Knows Stars

Friday, January 8th, 2010

My Two Jeffs
My Two Jeffs

Will Jeffrey Deitch become the new director of L.A. MOCA?  Rumor has it that he is among the finalists for the position.  Lisa Phillips is another.  The official announcement comes Monday.  Who will win?  No one knows!  (Hungry hungry hippos!)

Does that badge say "Skull and Bones?"
Does that badge say "Skull and Bones?"

Some sources have noted how unusual it is for a museum to hire the director of a commercial art gallery, as museums usually hire academics and curators.  But L.A. is no stranger to this:  the late  Walter Hopps, who co-founded the Ferus Gallery in L.A., later took on museum jobs.

...and when he gets here...
...and when he gets here...

From his Wikipedia page:

“In 1957 he founded the Ferus Gallery, Los Angeles in partnership with Ed Kienholz, leaving in 1962 to become the director of the Pasadena Museum of Art, now Norton Simon Museum, where he mounted the first museum retrospectives of Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp, as well as the first overview of American Pop Art, New Painting of Common Objects. His unconventional administrative skills led to him being fired in 1967. [2] He then became the director of the Washington Gallery of Modern Art

...he's gonna be pissed!
...he's gonna be pissed!

P.S. The Ferus comes back for more pretty soon, at least for a short while.