Posts Tagged ‘Gavin Brown’

Dance to the New SIC

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

The Man. The Legend.

“He’s totally crazy!” an insider confided to me. “He wrote this insane book all about himself” (which said insider admits he has never read) “and gets all his friends together to read it. That’s crazy!”

But good crazy, right?

1. Adam McEwen 2. Matthew Higgs 3. Richard Phillips 4. Stefania Bortolami 5. Sean Landers

At an event produced by Art Production Fund and White Columns, an all-star roster of art world veterans read from the revised edition of Sean Landers’ SIC, originally printed as (sic) almost twenty years ago. The daisy chain of old friends read nonstop till 2am, by which time the audience had been whittled down to a few concrete devotees, who were rewarded with delicious pizza and the remnants of the vodka open bar.

(l-r) Artists Richard Phillips, John Currin; Jonathan Horowitz, Rob Pruitt

Readers included the old bachelor-pad studiomates John Currin, Richard Phillips, and brother Kevin Landers; the stately art-world incarnate Clarissa Dalrymple; former Landers dealer Andrea Rosen; new Landers dealer Friedrich Petzel; and of course, Sean Landers himself.  Rob Pruitt was lined up to read, only minutes after the signing party at nearby Gavin Brown for his new book, Pop Touched Me.  He didn’t get to read, however, as the event’s schedule required some trimming for brevity.

The Fab Forties

Star-studded? Indeed, there was even a portrait station to capture each of the shimmering pulsars participating.

White Columns' Matthew Higgs ready for his close-up

Like a teen dunking his little brother while swimming, SIC plunges its readers into the neurotic cesspools of Sean Landers’ polarized self-evaluations. His ruminations, mostly phallocentric, regularly cover masturbation, getting laid, and the shortcomings of his own anatomy.

(l) Clarissa Dalrymple and reclining Matthew Higgs; (r) Andrea Rosen

But he also circles the pithy topics of an old friend hopelessly lost in poetic misanthropy, the welcome gentrification of his neighborhood and himself as he turns 30, a revitalizing yet anticlimactic love affair in Greece, and the gradual, painful sinking of his relationship with Michelle, his girlfriend of three years at the time.  She is now his wife, but that break-up nearly pushed him over the edge.  Luckily, there is a dramatic deus-ex-machina rescue by the tender memory of Sean’s long dead sister.

(l-r) New SIC, new SIC, old (sic)

The new version of (sic) is so heavily revised that it was difficult for me to read along in my 1993 print.  But revisions might be helpful.  The 1993 version frustrated readers because of its protagonist’s recurring self-flagellation, the manic-depressive pace, and the aimless march of unresolved conflicts. But the funny parts are hysterical and the intimate candor seems touching; and doesn’t retouching the text compromise the stream-0f-conscious spontaneity that makes it so gripping?

(l-r) New SIC, new SIC, old (sic)

I love the book. But did the evening’s stream of readers dissipate into an arduous drone? Was there nothing to look at, something frustrating for an audience of visual artists? The projection cast behind the reader added nothing but scale and light. How about an accompanying slideshow? Or intermittent projections of the handwritten manuscript?

Gavin Brown, Jessica Craig-Martin; Adam McEwen, too

And did the absence of young artists participating seem to wall up Sean Landers and his peers from the great flea market of influence? This blog praises without reservation Sean Landers as a titan of 1990s art, and for some critics, he is THE FACE of that period’s slacker art. But the phalanx of mostly heterosexual 40-somethings seemed to deny the intergenerational fertility of Sean Landers’ work…

…which should be extruded through the channels of more mixed 30- and 20-somethings. Once a 90s artist, always a 90s artist? (I sure hope not! I wish there were more artists like Sean Landers.)  What will a decade with Petzel produce?

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.

His and Urs

Tuesday, July 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

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Mechanical Animal

Saturday, July 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

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