Friday, August 24, 2007

Surprise! I've spent my vacation actually vacationing.

My article on Foto: Modernity in Central Europe, 1918 - 1945 appears in this week's Washington City Paper.

Read it here.

Pictured is Leni Riefenstahl, Hitler's favorite film director/nature girl, responsible for Triumph of the Will, the infamous propaganda film glorifying the 1934 Nuremberg rally.

The film is loaded with the same kinds of juxtapositions and imagery as the NGA show: Identification with both the quaint old customs and costumes of the region and with the rapid militarization and mechanization of society. Hitler is always shown larger than the throngs of uniformed, regimented German citizens he surveys.

In one scene, he addresses the labor corps, young men who supposedly work on infrastructure projects--but who basically look like soldiers, except that they drill with spades instead of guns. Of course, Weimar Germany was limited to a standing army of 100,000 troops--so the shovels and the crossed-shafts-of-wheat insignia of the Reichsarbeitsdienst were something of a ruse. In a few short years, a lot of these men would be on the front lines, holding rifles.

My favorite use of this footage: Monty Python's sketch about joke warfare in WWII, The Funniest Joke in the World. In it, the Pythons recaption an exchange between Hitler and some creepy, bright-eyed, grinning RAD youth.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday was my final day teaching art theory at the University of Maryland--at least for the foreseeable future. It was a good day. I'm happy to say that this group of kids has been the most engaged and conscientious bunch I've had in a long time--which gives me a little pang of regret, I suppose. But only a little one.

It's been a disorienting three weeks, and the blog has been gathering dust. I've just had entirely too much on my plate, and I haven't been able to figure out where to carve out the time for writing. Now that the two-job commute has officially ended, though, I suspect this will be less of a mystery.

I have been writing for print, mind you. I've got a review of the Foto show at the National Gallery waiting to go to press--it was held this week, but will presumably run next week instead. I may take a stab at putting together a slideshow to accompany the article for the CP site, too, if time allows.

Catching up: I saw Negativland at the Warehouse Theater way back on Sunday, August 5th. Sadly, I was only able to catch the first of their two sets that evening--the show was delayed by a little over an hour due to P.A. problems.

I don't know if the show sold out or not, but the line to get in wound its way through the bar and out the door.

Although I only saw one Christianity Is Stupid t-shirt in the crowd, I felt pretty certain that I knew who the longtime fans were: They tended to be older, paunchier, balding. Occasionally bearded; often nerdy. My people.

The band provided pinata blindfolds--cheap little masks made from loops of colorful paper. Most chose not to wear them. Why the masks? Well, there wasn't so much to see, aside from the glowing On Air sign, or Mark Hosler shuffling frantically through books of CDs, or the migratory patterns of Don Joyce's tapes, which slowly made their way across the table, from left to right, as each piece of audio was played in sequence. How's that for stage presence?

The show was called It's All in Your Head FM. Its premise: Now that the death of broadcast radio appears imminent, maybe radio listening audiences--and advertisers--are ready to accept the possibility that there is no God.

The skits and speeches were the show's highlights. In one notable Firesign Theater-esque sketch, two characters attempt to shave a female chimpanzee at the National Zoo in order to show the uncanny similarities between men and monkeys. Pretty funny stuff.

As for the future: Next week I'll be on vacation--off to upstate New York again. But unlike Tyler, I won't have any celebrity guest bloggers here to entertain you.

I'll have internet access up there, and I'm definitely planning on having time on my hands. So look for some posts on current or soon-to-be-closing shows. I've been itching to do some reporting.

Final note: My band, The Object Lesson, is playing this Saturday at DC9. We go on first, so come early! Have a drink with me. Hey, playing music is the closest thing I have to a social life, so come help me make the most of it. Added bonus: Getting to watch me make loud noises with sticks.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I know, I know; I went and got a job, and now I've left you alone and cold and miserable.

Well, maybe not cold--certainly not in D.C. in August.

Sweaty and plagued by mosquitos, maybe.

I've been shuttling back and forth between the Arlington Arts Center and my very last class at Maryland--ever--all week. Two hours every morning at my new workplace, then drive drive drive for my 12:30 date with pedagogy: A three and a half hour theory extravaganza. It's a little overwhelming. But it'll only be this way for another two weeks, I swear.

Lenny posted about one of the things that's going on right now at my new place of work. Arlington to Aachen: Imaging the Distance is officially open. Mind you, the reception won't be until September...but in the meantime, come see what the Germans are up to--aside from obsessing over Joseph Beuys. Downstairs, you can get a sneak peek at the American art we'll be sending over to keep those Aachen folks company.

This week in the CP: A music pick. Novelty! I've got 250 words on the Negativland show at the Warehouse Theater this Sunday. Seat Bee Sate: Play Black Sabbath at 78, please.

Planning to see a couple of shows this weekend--maybe Ryan Carr Johnson in that big group show over at KNEW gallery. Some other things as well. I'll be posting about my travels next week.