Posts Tagged ‘artists’
Monday, April 13th, 2009
so I’m a subscriber to this e-list and we ocassionally forward each other notices about events and art happenings and opportunities in the arts and general going-ons in New York City. One just came in, and it reads a little something like this,
Spindle 7 is an ongoing performance in which I bring my drop spindle on the #7 train during its run in Queens. As I spin wool, I invite other passengers to comment and participate, teaching them how to spin and giving out homemade spindles and fleece along the way. Part counterpoint to the sea of iPods, iPhones and other electronic gadgets on the train, part conversation starter among the diverse communities who use the #7, and 100% fun, Spindle 7 is funded, in part, by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
So there’s that phrase ‘part counterpoint to the sea of iPods, iPhones and other electronic gadgets”, and frankly it disturbs me.
As a matter of fact, this email about happenings in the city I read on my electronic gadget, a phone which downloads emails while I’m walking so I can read them while I wait for and ride the train. It’s how I multitask. This way I can stay informed of as many events and activities in the city as possible.
And I’m concerned with what is implied by ‘part counterpoint’. That phrase imposes faith in an idea that proclaims everyone on the subways are e-Zombies and somehow gadgets do not Connect Us.
Case in point: when in the history of NYC’s subways have you ever seen anyone carry a photo album onto the subway and share it with their fellow straphangers? When? I’m talking analog color-negative prints behind those sticky clear cellophane pages in 3-ring binders. Have you ever seen that on the subway, do you ever think that existed? Could you imagine someone pulling out their point-n-shoot film camera and wanting to share their celluloid film with their mates, as they pop open the back only to expose the film and lose their memories. Sounds pretty ridiculous, right?
Now, conversely, how often have you looked at someone’s digital photos, shared memories, discussed collectively-shared moments thanks to your gadget containing documentation of said memories? Sure a parent may carry a single solitary picture of their child in their wallet but I currently carry 200 images of some of my best friends and moments in my gadget.
‘Part counterpoint’ reminds me of groups of people that are antagonistic towards sub-groups of other cultures simply because they don’t take part in that culture, and more often than not because they do not understand it.
I understand that MOST people employing these gadgets don’t use them the way I do, don’t connect to networks the way I do or multitask to the same mechanisms I do, but ARTISTS need to stop positing their ideas in opposition to a popularly held belief or format. Tell me actually what are you doing! Don’t tell me you’re doing this in ‘counterpoint’ to that, actually tell me WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? I’m tired of artists, Artists (with a capital A it appears as though you have more Responsibility), assuming a critical position of technology or groups of people that use technologies as somehow being un-connected to their analog world. Tell me less about that and more about you.
Don’t get me wrong, I truly dislike people listening to iPods on the subway. You miss announcements (I saw that happen yesterday), you miss people telling you you’re beautiful, and you’re unaware when someone yells, “There’s a Gorilla on the train! RUN!” But artists need to be more particular with the language they choose, else it comes across as a type of plebean antagonism.
And no I do not know this artist.
And yes I do love the 7 train.
Wednesday, March 4th, 2009
As I’m just about to cram two duffel bags full of Everything I Have here and hop the trains, I stumble upon this work by Simon Evans currently on view at the James Cohen Gallery in NYC. Ahhh it reminds me why I’m happy to be headed back east. Even though the artist is from England you simply don’t have the density of shows like this in St. Louis; a relatively small or low-key show by comparison to your museum-class exhibitions (still at a classy Chelsea gallery, it’s all about sliding scales!), that is able to make headlines at this and many other blogs. That density which allows you to choose from the diversity of work available, or even just to react to and make a comment on.
Well, frankly, no way in hell could this work depict me in any way!
Of course it resonates with me. Hell it speaks directly to me! I got a lot of shit!
Unfortunately for me, this would be only page 1 of 316! No way could I cram everything I own on one piece of paper, unless that piece of paper was the size of a football pitch. But then it might just be easier to transport everything and simply lay it all out, rather than attempt to visually depict it for viewing inside a gallery. To be honest I’m a wee skeptical of work like this. After all this piece was fabricated with ‘Pen, paper, scotch tape, white out’ – are those materials depicted in the work? What about your shoelaces; are they not separate from your shoes? I just bought a pair of shoelaces this past week. Does that mean right now they are their own autonomous object, but as soon as I thread them into my kicks they lose their identity to the more-prominent apparel? Actually, I can guarantee you the shoelaces I bought will forge their own identity!
I’m just about sick though of seeing British artists interpreting the London Underground tube map. Even though Simon Evans uses woven paper to convey his message and that’s, well, that’s awesome! Still, Simon Patterson’s The Great Bear just about did it for me, and I don’t feel the need to routinely recycle this idea, no matter how witty and clever your station names are (Architects Rectify Their Bodies). Plus Patterson’s work was circa 1992! It seems to be something that plagues any British artist named Simon I reckon.
His works like Green City are what really do it for me however.
Very large-scale and nearly borderless drawings using pen, scotch tape and correction fluid on paper, an aerial depiction of a sprawling city fabricated in Simon’s mind – I think I see London, I think I see Toronto, I think I see NYC housing projects. And the Green suggestive of architectural/environmental trends of this era. But wouldn’t it simply be easier to paint everything green? That would be a Green City after all.
Saturday, December 27th, 2008
I saw this piece several months back at Artists Space in NYC (sure enough there’s a photo in my Flickr). A really engaging piece that asked WHAT KIND OF HOUSE DOES A MAN WHO HAS LIVED IN A 6′ X9′ BOX FOR OVER 30 YEARS DREAM OF?
As it is completely pissing outside I’m tidying up some e-business and stumbled upon old links and saved data that I horded months ago and packed away for a rainy day. First I found a downloaded mov file (which I’ll direct you to in a bit) which triggered my memory of the exhibition. A quick google search returned the House That Herman Built site, which I wasn’t previously aware of. That mov file, a CAD video with narration by Herman can be found at this link. As I sifted through the website I was also unaware that artist Jackie Sumell’s piece is also currently on view at the Prospect One Biennial in New Orleans! I’ll be visiting New Orleans very soon, so whereas I usually end up missing about 99 in 100 biennials I am really looking forward to this one – and Herman if you’re in town (he grew up in N.O.) I’d like to buy you a drink!
Sunday, December 14th, 2008
These fantastical, one could say phantasmagorical, images of New Orleans as taken by Frank Relle are post-Katrina documents of what’s been left behind, abandoned, and in some cases simply overgrown in Relle’s hometown.
I’ll be visiting New Orleans sometime in early January and I’m psyched to see this city, as unfortunate as the situation is – although I don’t think I’ll quite have the lenses embedded into my eyes that Relle sees the world through. (I think there are things you can ingest to achieve these effects however)
[compare with Robert Polidori's After the Flood images]
Thursday, December 11th, 2008
Across the street from what appears to be a community home for old foggies or some sort of hotel for traveling shoe salesmen, and sandwiched between multiple abandoned buildings and an auto body & paint store and a Jiffy Lube, located inside a highly discreet brick building typical of your Manchester Avenue and South Kingshighway Boulevard intersection, you’ll currently find the best damn show in town (clarify: the brick is discreet, the building itself is discreet, the monstruous vinyl high-contrast diamond-encrusted basketball banner is NOT discreet!). You have 10 days left to see it.
White Flag Projects is a gallery that was definitely not here the last time I visited St. Louis (sure enough they began operations in Sept 06, I was last passing through in August of that same year – although I remember reading about them in Megan and Murray’s blog from their time in the STL). The press release claims this is their most ambitious exhibition to date. If it wasn’t I’d be scared! Anything more than Brock Enright’s impressive array of scatological object installations and my eyes might be bleeding.
The space itself is gorgeous, a huge cavity of a space with just the right amount of Industrial Light & Magic: huge I-beams overhead, gorgeous natural light flooding in, an iron spiral staircase, an impressive back area office space. The works. Very impressive to see a space of this magnitude and professionalism set up camp in St. Louis, especially in an area of the city otherwise overlooked and overshadowed by car traffic that is usually only ‘passing through’.
First thought, How the hell did all of this stuff get in here? Visions of Enright (the name of my middle school in north St. Louis) driving cross-country with a Ryder truck full of football helmets, fake blood, tin-foil, mechanical gadgetry and his own sadistic version of Tin man come to mind.
Second thought, What the hell is going on with all of this stuff!? Closer inspection of a hand-drawn map of the installation gives nearly every object or array of objects in the space its own title. Over 70 works with titles ranging from “Tin man holding himself up”, “Punchy face”,”Log used to throw through wall to reveal a girl in a rabbit suit masturbating” or “Collection of things that come after you” suggest Enright’s fascination with the interstitial space of sex & violence, of nightmares and the images and signs used to represent them. Others are suggestive of Enright’s working methods, in that he gathers work as he moves along and around, culling work over time: “St. Louis bread” was clearly conceived, bought, and installed-abandoned during his time in the city; “Debris from 8 events” is clearly borne from past performances, detritus from old work given a new life.
Third thought, What do you find yourself attracted to? A punching bag? A pants-less plastic doll bent over staring back at you? Black & white photocopies of brains mounted on cardboard? A shoddy shelving unit nearly collapsed and wrapped in tin-foil, possibly the only thing keeping it standing? Or those almost-unifying objects, the seeds of some sort with dozens of razor blades jammed into each one, and mounted all around the place, like a raging virus enlarged for us to see or a latent grenade’s potential vectors of explosion. In writing about the show, you’ve learned a little bit about what I’m attracted to!
You have 10 days left to draw from and leave your own imprint in the show. Literally. The entire room is coated in dust from the construction of this arena of phantasmagoria, and footprints are everywhere, including that of a lady (I presume) wearing what appear to be size 13 stilettos.
visit White Flag Projects
[and thanks to Juan from Boots Contemporary, another great non-profit on Cherokee Street, for pointing me in the right direction!]
Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
The beginning of a multi-month journey to my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, with expected travels out of the city, to visit nearby (in the American sense of driving cross-country, nearby is within six hours!) friends and family; to venture to an abandoned family home; to assist my parents with their own health and hopefully enlighten them to alternative modes of living from those they’ve been repetitiously executing for decades.
My father recently had a “massive heart attack”, his first major malady, which I would say arrived quite early, before late-life has really begun, largely due to stress which unexpectedly struck his own family in the past year. His stubbornness (which I find cute) and unwillingness to discuss his personal ailments (sometimes not so cute), and my inability to do anything about his condition over the phone, has prompted me to uproot my own life, to disrupt my own patterns and repetitions, to assist my parents and in doing so better consider my own future age.
My final days in New York City were both relaxed and feature-packed, and I’d like to take this moment to extremely thank Alison, Cassie, Richard, Mark, all the Stipanovic family, my sister and the various people I mingled with and met during my final days and hours which reminded me before I left of the reasons why I’m certain I’ll be returning and calling one of the outer boroughs “home” once more.
After casting my ballot – and certain of the outcome – I proceeded to my friend Alison’s very homey home, the type of place after my eviction I found myself somewhat yearning for, and not at all typical of New York living. The type of home where days after Halloween, pumpkins are easily left on the front porch to collapse and continue looking beautiful! The type of home that will be an absolute delight in the dead of winter after a night fall of snow to wake up inside! The type of home where roommates actually yearn to do their dishes and keep the place looking spectacular! Homes, like these:
(see more domiciles of South Brooklyn on my Flickr)
Walking the entire perimeter of Greenwood Cemetery with Alison’s roomy Mark included an excursion into the cemetery proper:
This place is amazing, and grand! Grand both in acreage and the monumentality of some of these tombs and gravestones. Mark and I toured a mere nugget of a corner on the map on this place, and were well-occupied for over an hour, our time spent scaling hills, finding hidden footpaths, creating our own genealogy of the dead, and inpsecting the overall superb craftsmanship of this place. Bonus: views of Red Hook – “there’s THE Ikea!” and Lower Manhattan are available.
Monk Parrots can also be found at the Cemetery’s north entrance and they’re an absolute delight to watch build their nests and listen to them communicate with one another, and in the overcast day their green feathers were darker than usual and had an almost metallic sheen to them. Really wonderful bird!
(see more photos from Greenwood Cemetery on my Flickr)
I couldn’t leave without paying a visit to Olja, Robi, and Bartol himself, who debuted on this blog a month ago now. The image above was the eve of his 1 month anniversary. Did you know babies can grow 5cm and gain 2lbs. in that short a span of time? Isn’t that nuts? Merely from feeding on breast milk. I mean, HOW? The human body’s engineering at such a young age is truly astounding.
(more of Bartol the Big Boy)
A visit to Hunter College’s MFA Open Studios introduced me to the work – and the man – of Darren Jones. While the above picture is a work that wasn’t on display at the event, it is from a series of similar works that forced me to engage in a conversation with Darren, albeit quickly, about his work. In the work I saw which was still in progress, Darren culled discarded balloons from seaside beaches. The balloons were weathered, worn and decrepit. Their once-humorous or cheerful slogans had turned into cracked skin which was flaking off. Bunches were tethered upside-down and hung from meat hooks, their collective form suggestive of the type of pitiful shape a cow or lamb might take after it’s throat has been slit and its body drained of blood, removed of all life and energy, before it is processed into meat for edible consumption.
Other than Darren though I must say I was quite disappointed with the open studios. Or rather not “disappointed” as much as not ultimately satisfied. Granted I didn’t have significant time or interest to engage everybody in a 60-second interview, but there wasn’t much in the way of developed work from the more-senior graduates, instead they were largely repeating tried and true techniques. Most graduates seemed to be trying to force their work to exist in their studios. Few merely let the work exist as it is.
And what I’ve always found odd about these engagements is how I seem to be more enthralled and captivated by places outside of the gallery, or in this case outside the studio:
This hallway area has always been an interesting area to engage, as it is noticeably large, usually unoccupied or at least sparsely filled, and yet always manages to achieve being more interesting in composition and arrangement from the junk left there than the work available in the many-numbered and expensive studio spaces occupied by fine art graduates. There was some sort of sound installation emitting from the lockers on the left, so I can’t say for certain that this wasn’t entirely devised, but I understood the sound work to be more of a site imposition rather than an element of a larger site specific work.
After culturally digesting graduates’ art practices until the last minute, the following night, or morning of the next-next day, a 3am departure from NYC’s Penn Station took me to Washington DC’s Union Station, one of these monumental depots of yesteryear that managed to avoid being torn down and replaced with some “modern” atrocity.
From DC I departed for the longest leg of my journey, a 24 hour and 25 minute train ride that cut through Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana before its final termination in Chicago, Illinois. I took the Cardinal not the Capitol trip from DC, which should you ever take westbound I recommend sitting on the right side of the train. I made the mistake of choosing the left side, and the train was full so I couldn’t relocate, and wound up having sun in my face for a good 5 or 6 hours as well as missing all the good views. Still, there were moments to be enjoyed:
panning while traveling at 70mph is so much fun!
My arrival in Chicago was short, with a mere couple of hours to kill. I deposited my luggage in those wonderful new storage lockers in Chicago’s Union Station, proceeded to Daley Plaza (I lived in Chicago for a year so I know the downtown area quite well) to see the large Christmas tree that is being constructed from many many single pine trees before meeting up with Leslie (a Chicago native) whom I befriended on Halloween back in Brooklyn:
the eventual tree can be seen in the background, that “tree” is already constructed from about 8 single trees.
the significant guy-wires and steel framing (clever design) used to fabricate this sensation.
the future christmas tree trees!
Leslie and I met up for a quick drink, with the weather the way it was (Chicago-cold) meant a shot of whisky and a beer. Drink! Hurry! My train is about to depart! I arrived back at Union Station with literally “one minute” to spare, as the conductor told me and shoved the train doors closed behind me right after I boarded – before I was seated the train was moving!
the final leg of my journey took me through the heartland of America, with the train for some time traveling parallel to Route 66:
Route 66 is the paved road in the foreground there. And you can see the signage on the barn in the midground. All in all I’d have to say the train is a wonderful way to travel, and Amtrak conduct a brilliant service and strive to accommodate everyone accordingly. My only argument is the lack of wifi on the trains for us e-commuters, while the train crew itself have a locked WEP-encrypted network to access (via satellite no doubt). Otherwise if you have the time, it’s a wonderful way to travel, and extremely easy on the pocketbook I might add – cheap, like $3 above $100!
And now I find myself sitting in the room I spent a large portion of my early adult life in, having not been here for any extended time in over 7 years. Life in London followed by life in NYC has meant I haven’t had much time to get away from the demands I surrounded myself with. Of course I have goals I’ve set to achieve while here, both personally and professionally, and am looking forward to the time ahead. There’s a lot of work to do, and I’m certain a lot of fun to be had as well. But first, publish!
Category friends, journeys | Tags: Tags: artists, Brooklyn, Chicago, DC, friends, journeys, Leslie, Olja Stipanovic, St. Louis,