Posts Tagged “Art”

08w27:1 Banana

by timothy. 2 Comments

One banana: $2,500 | Oliver Moore
Is a banana art? A passerby walking along Granville Street in Halifax might now have reason to think so. Because in the window at Gallery Page and Strange sits a humble banana. At first glance, it appears to be a forgotten part of someone’s lunch. Perhaps set aside because it’s still a bit green and not really ready to eat. But on closer look the passerby will notice a tag alongside the piece of fruit. The artist is identified as Michael Fernandes. The work is called Banana. The price is $2,500.

08w19:4 Elephants

by timothy. 0 Comments

Wash Your Clothes: Elephants Can Smell You a Mile Away | Henry Fountain
“Lucy A. Bates and Richard W. Byrne of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and colleagues have demonstrated that using odor and visual cues elephants are able to classify subgroups within a predator species. The species in question? Homo sapiens. In a report in Current Biology, the researchers describe their experiments in Amboseli National Park in Kenya. Elephants in the region encounter different ethnic groups, including the Maasai, whose young men spear elephants, and the Kamba, agricultural villagers who pose no threat at all.”

Serra’s Monumental Vision, Vertical Edition | Steven Erlanger

08w17:2 The Artist Statement of the Year

by timothy. 0 Comments

Found it yesterday via Andrew Sullivan (who’ I’m loving for Obama-mania analysis). Sullivan linked to the Perez Hilton site, which in itself is a gold mine for the comments, such as:

Disgusting! says: Stupid stupid attention seeking bitch! This made me feel sick to my stomach reading about her yesterday. Regardless of whether its real of fake, shes put the whole thing out there. You art school bitch, next time you go for your 5 mins, have a think about what your stupid actions could do. I know a couple of women who went through heart breaking miscarraiges and it has scarred them for life. Hope you get lynched, you cold blooded witch.

Buffy says: What a complete and utter sociopath

cambel says: I weep at the complete intellectual vacuum this shows in our elite universities. Not only did what she said dance around subjects like Michael Flatley, the fact is she could have said the same thing in 2 paragraphs. What you see with her is somebody who is used to having teachers say “Please turn in a 15 page paper by Friday” She only has 9 pages of info but she inflates, repeats, and mixes the wording and language to produce the extra 6 pages. Unfortunatly, after years of doing so she no longer has the ability to express herself any other way. It’s sad, I almost feel like I’m reading something written by somebody with Downs Syndrome and a spell checker.

wow says: First of all Gere, that’s getting extremely annoying.. stop promoting your crap site here.

second, what was this biyatch blabbing about? im sorry i didn’t have my dictionary handy… was she explaining herself or trying to cram as many SAT words in one essay as possible?

devan in canada says: SHE’S AN IDIOT….half of what she is saying is lifted directly out of feminist theory textbooks and great lecturers on the ideas of bodily ownership, expression and freedom.

i’ve heard all of this stuff before, but with more meaning and sincerity behind it. not just from some girl in leopard shorts and fringy boots trying to be radically female.

she’s just another hack, trying to be original and thought provoking, but instead she has ended up looking like another silly art student with a outrageous idea and no strength to hold it up

Stupid Bitch says: She could have gotten her point across simply by stating “I was bored and lonely. Not all this bullshit trying-to-impress-the-reader jargon.

adriana banana says: HOW FUCKING SAD… This bitch is sick, first of all I don’t understand all of the long ass words she is using, but I’m not dumb enough to realize that even though she comes around as really smart, she is the MOST ignorant person I’ve heard of… I can’t believe this bitch, I never damn anyone, but this person deserves to die. Ew, She makes me so fucking sick

Aliza Shvarts’ Artist Statement | Perez Hilton & Friends
“Just as it is a myth that women are “meant” to be feminine and men masculine, that penises and vaginas are “‘meant’ for penetrative heterosexual sex (or that mouths, anuses, breasts, feet or leather, silicone, vinyl, rubber, or metal implements are not ‘meant’ for sex at all), it is a myth that ovaries and a uterus are ‘meant’ to birth a child. When considering my own bodily form, I recognize its potential as extending beyond its ability to participate in a normative function. While my organs are capable of engaging with the narrative of reproduction — the time-based linkage of discrete events from conception to birth — the realm of capability extends beyond the bounds of that specific narrative chain. These organs can do other things, can have other purposes, and it is the prerogative of every individual to acknowledge and explore this wide realm of capability.”

08w17:1 Luc Tuymans Fail

by timothy. 1 Comment

This totally confirms my art-world cynicism. (Via Boing Boing)

Further, Tuymans image is apparently this one (a screencapture from Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil at 29:50):

Fucking Monkies from Chris Marker’s visit to the Japanese sex museum

Luc Tuymans’ ‘relevant’ version from the above video

John Ralston Saul, in Voltaire’s Bastards (p497-498):

“The official artists do amuse the court of critics, experts and social followers. In a way they are more conservative and patronizing than the official artists of the late 19C. Take Lichtenstein, for example, who was pushed to paint blown-up versions of comic strips when, in 1960, one of his sons pointed to a Mickey Mouse comic book ad said, ‘I bet you can’t paint as good as that.’ He painted an outsized picture of Donald Duck. In 1962 he caused a sensation in the art world with his cartoon-based show at the Castelli gallery in New York. In November 1963 Lichtenstein said, ‘My work is different from comic strips – but I wouldn’t call it a transformation…. What I do is form, whereas the comic strip is not formed in the sense I’m using the word; the comics have shapes, but there has been no effort to make them intensely unified.’ 19 This may sound surprisingly pretentious from the mouth of the leading pop artist, but Lichtenstein, after all, for a good part of his life was a university professor of art. On the other hand, copying comic strips made him rich and famous. This process had to turn, however, on one shared assumption – that Lichtenstein was an artist, while the cartoonists were not.”

“There could be no clearer example of how completely the craft and art functions have been separated by Western society. In hijacking the secondary idea of personal artistic merit, the artist himself loses track not simply of the technical craft so essential to earlier painters, but of the real relationship between the painter’s image and the public. Lichtenstein ripped off the true public images – the comics – while denigrating them and thus amusing his fellow experts. Like most people caught up in the abstract reality of ritual, they assumed quire naturally that the cartoon was just an amusing tool to be manipulated by their talents. There really isn’t much difference between Marie Antoinette’s bon mot over bread and brioche and Warhol’s soup cans. They are both expressions of clever artificiality, not of intelligent relevance. “

08w08:1 Preview: The Cdn Art Reel Artist Film Fest 21-24 Feb 2008

by timothy. 2 Comments

The Canadian Art Reel Artists Film Festival, 21-24 February 2008
screening at the Al Green Theatre, Miles Nadal JCC
750 Spadina Ave (at Bloor), Toronto

In his as-yet-untranslated book Formes de Vie (1999) Nicolas Bourriaud makes the argument that Duchamp treated the gallery as a film camera, a box in which the gallery ‘recorded’ the work and in so doing made it art. Throughout the 20th Century, the dominance of film as a medium has seeped into our consciousness to such an extant that it seems that all art today works in cinematic terms. The spectacle, the grandeur, the big budgets … the gallery has become a film set and must borrow from the film-production’s capacity to make the impossible real. Take for example the open pits of crude oil shown in There Will Be Blood – accurately reflecting the lack of environmental concern of a century ago, and yet filmed in 2006 under conditions that were probably heavily controlled and legislated behind the scenes. Also consider something like Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth, where the Tate gallery undertook intentional damage to the foundations of the building and displayed it with an aloofness which makes it seem no big deal.

But the ugliness of its construction is as hidden as that which goes into the manufacture of our consumer goods by foreign wage slaves. We are only asked to marvel at the gleam, and not think of the grime.

I raise these points as an introduction to the blending of the cinematic and locational art forms, which is annually celebrated by the Canadian Art Foundation’s film series of artist documentaries. This year’s selections have a common theme of monumentalism, and the documentaries give us insight and access to the grime behind the gleam of art-stardom. Having watched previews of most of the films in this year’s series, (I was provided with all but four of the series’ screeners) what follows are reviews and reflections on them.

Jeff Wall | Jeff Wall – Retrospective 58:42 dir. Michael Blackwood (2007)

Peter Galassi and Jeff Wall
Peter Galassi (L) and Jeff Wall (R)

This film is an hour long eavesdrop as Wall walks through his 2007 retrospective exhibition at MOMA with its co-curator Peter Galassi. The format makes it a little boring at times – but it’s worth it if you’re at all interested in his work, and Wall gives wonderful insights into what inspired his classic pieces. It can be said that he’s a painter using photography to make his images, which are so composed and choreographed to assume the one-off aspect of a painting, albeit made in a medium which ensures a maximum reproducibly. Looking at Wall’s backlit images I was reminded they are precursors of the digital photographs we are all getting used to. One imagines that many HD-flat screen panels will be used to display future photography, as luminous and well resolved as a Jeff Wall. It makes his work seem almost prescient in that regard, and makes the technology behind it seem merely primitive rather than gimmicky or even as sophisticated as it appeared ten years ago.

Philip Johnson | Philip Johnson: Diary of an Eccentric Architect 55:00 dir. Barbara Wolf (1996)

Philip Johnson and Rem Koolhaas
Philip Johnson and Rem Koolhaas in the rain
This film is essentially a grand tour of Johnson’s sprawling estate in New Canaan, Connecticut, which was used as a literal field of experimentation by the architect. Johnson gives tours of the projects he undertook on his land over fifty years, meanwhile the film documents the construction of one such experiment, a building inspired by Frank Stella (who comes to see the work in progress), and which when completed is visited under umbrella by Rem Koolhaas. Once painted, it looked magnificent. I appreciated the inclusion of a scene where the construction workers quarrel with the managers, who are quibbling over ten-grand. ‘Ten thousand dollars is a drop in a hat. I see your place over there, you’re not working for $25/hr with guys making $12/hr, and think you’re going to live on that’. This sentence encapsulates what’s wrong with startchitecture to begin with, and for me is the key-phrase of the film.

As we go forward, this documentary may become one of those historical curiosities in which the rich playboy gives a tour of his Versailles and the interconnected social and environmental repercussions are totally ignored. Johnson (who I’ve most often seen in a suit at the office commenting in documentaries on the work of other architects) here is seen as a full resolution person, who had lived a blessed life of success and had reached an age when he couldn’t help but take it all for granted. His personal art gallery, brilliantly designed to exhibit many large paintings in a small space, consists of work that he needs explained to him by an assistant who first appears in the film sitting in the gallery in such a way that I mistook him for a Duane Hanson. Had The Simpson’s Mr Burns been written as an architect, he would have been modeled on Philip Johnson, and this Mr Burns would return the affections of his Smithers.

Bas Jan Ader | Here is always somewhere else 70:00 dir. Rene Daalder (2006)

Still from a Bas Jan Ader Film

Bas Jan Ader died the year I was born, and yet he has the best artist website I have ever seen, the result of some benefactor buying up his estate in recent years. As a part of this media revival, Rene Daalder was asked to make this film by Ader’s widow. (The trailer can be seen on the Ader website here). This film was a little slow getting started but got more interesting near the half-way mark. One of the nice things about this feature is how Daalder revisits some of the locations Ader used for his art-films, which have been so transformed in the intervening years as to have become unrecognizable.

Featuring interviews with people inspired by Ader’s work, including Tacita Dean, we learn much about his background, and the similar background of Daalder, who attempts to tell Bas Jan’s story by giving us insight into his own. Before he too immigrated to Los Angeles, Daalder began as a film-maker in Holland (one of his early films’s stared Rem Koolhaas, thirty years before getting his rainy day tour at Philip Johnson’s) before leaving after his first ‘most-expensive Dutch film ever’ failed at the domestic box-office. The result is a story of a small group of Dutch expatriates who ended up in L.A. trying and make their fame and fortune in Hollywood. With the exception of Koolhaas, they succeeded while remaining obscure. For example, one of the actors in another early Daalder film was Carel Struycken who I was familiar with as Mr. Homn, Lexanna Troi’s butler from the Star Trek episodes I watched as a teenager, and who also starred in the Adam’s Family movie as Lurch.

Wikipedia states that Ader’s work began to be revived in the early 1990s, and I first learned about him through the Phaidon Conceptual Art book, published in 1998. Richard Rorty described genius as the coincidence of one’s personal obsession meeting a public need. Throughout the 1980s, Bas Jan Ader was to a small group of Dutch men just that friend who disappeared at sea. As one says early on in the film, ‘I didn’t know I was friends with a myth’. This myth was constructed in the early 1990s, which is to say that the public need for Ader’s obsession only began then, this public being an art-world increasingly interested in the type of work Ader produced. As a video artist, his work can be seen throughout the movie (and on his website), and on the one hand it can seem both boring and absurd (what’s up with all the falling?) but on the other it can seem interesting and profound (the sea captain who had thought about it a lot). Ader’s work is a reminder to artists that there’s an potential audience for anything, but it may take twenty years after your death for the public’s interest to coincide with your obsessions.

Richard Serra | To See is to think 44:33 dir. Maria Anna Tappeiner (2006)

In Sheila Heti’s interview with Dave Hickey, he says of Richard Serra that ‘he’s totally not hip, can’t speak without drawing’. Throughout this film Serra is seen carrying a sketchbook, and only once to we see him actually using it. I’ve often thought that Serra’s work will survive for as long as there’s no iron shortage, but give us another couple of hundred years of material squandering, and then will see if this stuff is really worth something as art. Serra’s obsession with drawing allows one to see his sculpture really as a drawing in itself – only he is marking three dimensional space with the material of steel, rather than working with graphite or charcoal on two-dimensions. This image illustrates this for me: a simple line drawing, highlighting the space of the sky, consisting of one of Serra’s steel sheets seen edge-wise. (Of course, this interpretation is aided by the framing offered by the film camera).


Serra’s work makes me question wether things like Stonehenge were really about the stars and the Equinoxes. Perhaps they too liked to mark space with massive objects? I hope that Serra’s work, if it survives future material scarcity, will never be interpreted as astrological charting. That would make our culture look unimaginative. It’s worth persevering the memory of these rusted pieces of steel as attempts to mark the landscape in a creative way, although here I’m again reminded of what bothered me about Johnson’s estate. The land was fine as it was, and along came some egotistical human set about ‘improving’ it by dumping a hunks of rusted metal in it. I don’t think we’ve (as a culture) quite figured out the balance between imagination and destruction.

Anish Kapoor | Art in Progress: Anish Kapoor 27:24 dir. John Wyver (2007)

Anish Kapoor discussing the maquette for his installation
Anish Kapoor discussing the maquette for his installation of Svayambh

This documents the Kapoor retrospective which opened three months ago (Nov 2007) in Germany. Kapoor is one of the bigger names in sculpture right now, but he’s another reminder that artists these days (when they are successful) make big work that highlights vulgar industrial excess (a block of red wax weighing 45 tons and measuring 10 x 4.5 x 3.5 meters. WTF?) and it’s all ok because there’s enough money in the world, it’s affordable to these aristocrats, and besides, what else are we going to do with 45 tons of red wax? Cover cheese with it?

Kapoor emphasizes that his work is about color. The monumentalism of its material just seems like a paradoxical cheap trick: an expensively produced contrivance. Like, this is what it takes to awe people today – not fragility, not the delicate, but the heavy metal (Serra) in your face ear-bleeding loud message. The red wax is awe-some because it’s big.Kapoor’s ____, 2007

In a world where the British-American Empire is guilty of war crimes while we face environmental catastrophe, this type of work just pokes my cynicism. When the process is supposed to be an important part of the work, and when that process is fictionalized (as it appears to be in this case) than what is the work but bullshit? Asking me to imagine the process just renders such installations as the set-design for an unmade film that it so often appears to be these days. With that in mind, I’d much rather walk through the set of the now-filming Star Trek movie than look at a giant block of red wax smeared against a gallery’s wall. Then again, if I saw this is person I might disagree with what I’ve just written.

Sam Wagstaff | Black White + Grey: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff 72:15 dir. James Crump (2007)

Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe

As Philippe Garner (Director of Photography at the London Christie’s) says near the end of this documentary, ‘It horrifies me to think that there’s a generation growing up now in photography that doesn’t know who Sam is. And yet his legacy permeates the field, there’s absolutely no doubt about that.’

Featuring an extensive appearance by Patti Smith, roommate of Maplethorpe and part of the relationship wherein Maplethorpe took advantage of his wealthy sugar-daddy Sam Wagstaff, this is also a reminiscence of the New York 1970s art-scene and gay-demi-monde. What I most appreciated learning was that Wagstaff was responsible for a vast bulk of the collection of Getty Images.

There was some structural problems with this film’s editing, near the middle it became too crowded with interviews and from that point began to seem incongruous. Nevertheless a nice history of a man who helped change the direction of art through his curation and who amassed one of the most important photo collections in the world.

Phyllis Lambert | Citizen Lambert: Joan of Architecture 52.00 dir. Teri Wehn-Damisch (2006) Citizen Lambert

One scene of this I recognized as something I’d seen on TVO’s Masterworks last year – a scene where Phyllis Lambert-neé Bronfman is walking through a Mies van der Rohe building and showing disgust at the curtains put up in its lobby. If I remember correctly, that scene was originally from a Mies-centered documentary. One of the fellow-architects interviewed for this portrait of Lambert (ridiculously modeled on Citizen Kane for god-knows-what reason) stated that architecture as we know it today would not have been without Lambert, primarily because when her family wanted to build their corporate phallic symbol in New York, she reviewed the initial design and convinced them to hire Mies instead, the result being the Seagram building. This resulted in a collaboration between Mies and Phillip Johnson, reputations established and architectural history writ. Considering how devastating architecture has become (the renegade architect Christopher Alexander having declared most of it ‘insane’) Lambert’s role is either a good thing or a bad thing considering which side your on.

Rodin | Rodin: The Sculptor’s View 53:00 dir. Jake Auerbach (2006)

Interviews with contemporary sculptors on the legacy of Rodin. This is really for sculpture geeks. Featuring Antony Gormley, Marc Quinn, Rachel Whiteread, Rebecca Warren, Barry Flanagan, Tony Cragg, Anthony Carro and Richard Deacon. (I just copied that from the blurb, incase those names spark any interest on your part. Honestly, this one I found the least interesting, since I’m not a sculpture geek. It’s just sculptors talking shop, with requisite cinematic close ups of Rodin’s work).

Tickets and times for the screenings available at the links listed above.

08w07:1 'Jack who?'

by timothy. 2 Comments

I was at this panel discussion in 2005, and was glad to see its transcript on the CCCA site when I remembered the quote in bold below. My recent research has led me to find this at this time and it is for this reason that I am posting it on Goodreads at this relatively late date. – Timothy

Isaacs Seen | Panel Discussion: Make the Scene: Get Critical
University of Toronto Art Centre Thursday, June 23, 2005, 7 – 8:30 pm
Moderator: Sarah Milroy | Panelists: Harry Malcolmson, Barry Lord, Joyce Zemans
“[Barry Lord]: ‘And of course we know Av, with the kind of promise he gave to the work of Joyce and others, was part of that. But one of the really big changes, one of the big improvements certainly, is that nowadays that kind of article would not be written, because we all take it for granted that there are serious women artists. Just to add just a line to what I was driving at in referring to the need for biennials and retrospectives, the tragedy is to go into a young artist’s studio and see real talent and real passion and real commitment, real capability, and see a link with other Canadian artists. So one says ‘That’s really pushing farther than Jack Chambers did on that line’ … or whoever you happen to recognize. And he looks at you blankly and says ‘Jack Who?’ We laugh at that, but that’s terrible. That is an absolute tragedy because it means that we are losing the potential for a Canadian tradition. And if we want to talk about loss, I think that in that period we had a grasp, suddenly, that there was something that was ours and that you could build on it, you could run with it and go with it. Many fall by the wayside. It doesn’t mean that every artist who plugs into it is able therefore to become great. But the point is simply that it is a terrible thing when an artist is working in a vacuum, and of course we know the they are never working in a vacuum because we have an enormous power to the south of us which is always telling us about the Judds and the Warhols, and what have you. So that young artist doesn’t know about Jack Chambers, and he sees himself in relation to Warhol or whatever, and that’s what he sees as his tradition or her tradition. And that is a terrible shame bbecause it is a loss of the potential of a real tradition that we can build, we have the potential to build, if our private and public institutions will do the job of making everybody familiar with the tremendous accomplishment we have. Even just looking at this exhibition, you can see that Meredith is a pretty damn fine painting. That’s pretty major stuff. I want to see a retrospective of Meredith. I wrote about him at the time. I thought he was really major. We can’t judge it until we see that retrospective.'”