Friday, November 30, 2007

What should you do when the pick you're writing for a show turns out to be an anti-pick?

Well, you can at least be funny about it.

Read Kriston's incisive yet silly review of Meat Market's Hogg and Pony show here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

On Monday, Richard Lacayo over at Time pointed out the latest departure from the NGA fold: Senior Curator for sculpture, Nicholas Penny, will be heading back to his native UK to take the top post as Director of the National Gallery in London.

Read all about it here and here.

No need to read too much into a move that Penny's apparently been hungry to make for awhile (he was in the running for the same gig back in 2002)...but again, there's been something of an exodus of curatorial talent from D.C. of late.
I've been a little under the weather, and I'm smack in the middle of installing HOPE AND FEAR at the AAC, too. So please forgive the lack of activity here this week.

HOPE AND FEAR is curated by my predecessor in the AAC curatorial post, Carol Lukitsch, and includes some great pieces by Michael Platt and Janis Goodman, among other things. The opening reception is next Friday, December 7, from 6:00 to 9:00. Stop by, say hi, and you might even get to meet my mom--who's visiting that weekend, and who, like her son, is also an artist/curator. Funny family, those Cudlins.

Right now I'm also working on a year's end piece for the CP--Kriston takes the gallery beat; I survey the museums. I'm also back in the studio, working on some pieces for a group show in January. More details on that as they become available.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy week-of-Thanksgiving!

I can already smell the tofurkey.

It's been a busy week at the AAC, and, correspondingly, a slow week on the blog. I'm officially declaring the rest of the week an H&S holiday.

Hope you don't have to drive or fly too far...please come back Monday for some new posts.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sorry for the lack of posts; it's been a busy, jet-lagged week.

Just so you know: Tomorrow, from noon to 4:00, we'll be having a
0 Project event here at the AAC: Speakers' Corner, during which anyone can take the mic and say whatever happens to be on his or her mind. Basically, it's a big free-speech extravaganza. There will be a couple of camera crews, so come say something for posterity.

If the weather's nice--okay, if it isn't punishing--we'll be outside.

Below are some long-promised shots of the Ludwig Forum's collection. The rest will have to wait until next week.

Peter Ludwig: The man behind the collection.

Gerhard Richter's color charts--auto body paint on canvas. The window in Cologne Cathedral was modelled after these.

A wacky Bruce Naumann piece--is there any other kind?--dedicated to John Coltrane. The side facing the floor--and therefore not visible--is mirror-polished.

Is that...Kara Walker???

Nope. Try Henrik Schrat. Who knew that Walker didn't have a patent on silhouettes-as-art?

The piece on the left, however, really is Jenny Holzer.

Jasper the friendly ghost.

Mona Hatoum. A light bulb in the middle of the room slowly ascends and descends, causing the gridded shadows to creep up and down the walls around you.

Can't remember this artist's name...but there was a whole series of knitted clothes here, each for a different bird species.

Not pictured: Jeff Koons's penis.

Oh, it's that guy again.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Arlington to Aachen: Imaging the Distance opened on Friday night at the Ludwig Forum. About 200+ people turned out for the show; afterwards, everyone involved with the project attended a dinner downstairs in the Restaurant Parapluie. Below I've posted some photos.

Saturday I checked into a hotel in Cologne--and finally indulged in some honest-to-goodness sightseeing. After a week at Aachen's Ludwig Forum, I took a trip to the Peter Ludwig contemporary art mothership: Cologne's Museum Ludwig. There I saw a show of black and white pictures by Cologne-born photographer and theatrical designer Chargesheimer, a group of videos by Corinna Schnitt, and, of course, the permanent collection. The Picassos and avante-garde Russian art appeared to be MIA, but I did see a surfeit of Pop art--Rauschenberg, Johns, Rosenquist, and a Claes Oldenburg piece with which I was unfamiliar: The Mouse Museum, a large, darkened, walk-in curio cabinet shaped like the Mickey Mouse head-and-ears logo, and full of plastic food, sex toys, and children's baseball paraphernalia.

Also on view there were some studies for Gerhard Richter's new stained glass window in the Cologne Cathedral. The window is based on Richter's 1974 piece, 4096 colors, and was unveiled a couple of months ago. The sight of a 1200 square foot Richter color chart glowing overhead--in the heart of a mammoth seven-and-a-half century old church--is undeniably jarring, and more than a little wonderful.

Tomorrow I'll have more photos, and reflect some on the shows I mentioned above.

Andreas Magdanz and Stephan Morsch examine Evan Reed's Arlington House.

From left to right: Artists Maria Karametou, Mona Sfeir, and Amy Glengary-Yang.

In my last post, I erroneously referred to Mona's piece as Flying Carpet--that was the title on her loan form, but neither of us can figure out how it got there. Anyway, the actual title is Return. Now you know.

Blurry shot of gallery-goers enjoying the work in Hans Niehus's space.

Untitled light sculpture by Tobias Danke.

Caroline Danforth, undoubtedly conversing in fluent German with the invaluable Holger Hermannsen.

Closeup installation view of Caroline's 5" X 5" aerial landscape paintings.

Chawky Frenn and his retinue.

Harald and Holger toast a job well done.

From left to right: AAC Executive Director Claire Huschle; LF Director Harald Kunde; Stephan Morsch and his family; the top of Chawky Frenn's shiny bald head.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Installation for the Arlington to Aachen show is nearly finished. Below are some photos of work in progress.

Beautiful, rainy Aachen.

The artwork finally arrives from customs.

How much art did we ship to Aachen, exactly? Just a few metric tons.

Evan's house takes shape.

Installation view of Mona Sfeir's Flying Carpet.

Maria Karametou.

Amy Yang's Phosphorflock. Yes, those are my disembodied legs in the mirrored pedestal--topped off by a glowing sea urchin.

Amy Yang, her sister, and the amazing, ever-patient Holger.

Heinz and his crew: Very professional; very fast.

The house of Dr. Kosters.

German artists Hans Niehus, Andreas Magdanz, and Stephan Morsch.

Director Harald Kunde with Hans Niehus.

Evan and Mona.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I misunderstood Holger when he told me that the Ludwig Forum's collection is 16,000 pieces deep: It's actually a collection shared between several institutions, and the Forum only has about 3,000 pieces for itself. Still, it's pretty terrific stuff.

Had dinner last night at the house of Dr. Gertraud Kosters. Frau Kosters's house is beautiful--an old farmhouse and barn gorgeously converted and brimming over with art. When I say dinner, I suppose I mean soup, potatos and wine: Being vegan in Germany doesn't do you any culinary favors. (Having said that, the soup was amazing--pumpkin, ginger, I don't know what else.)

Three of the German artists--Andreas Magdanz, Stephan Morsch, Hans Niehus--were appalled to learn that I've been here a week, but still haven't seen anything aside from the Ludwig Forum. (The nice art is certainly a consolation, but, no, no sightseeing yet, just lots of phone calls, e-mails, and installation pressures.)

Stephan and Andreas threatened to kidnap me and take me across the border to the Netherlands today. I think they were kidding, though.

I think.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The network was down yesterday here at the Aquis Grana, but today I’m finally able to access it—so here is my first post from Aachen, city of Charlemagne, hot springs, countless cigarette machines, dreary skies that threaten rain for days on end, and, of course, the Ludwig Forum für Internationale Kunst.

The Ludwig Forum is incredible. Really, I had no idea of the size of their space or the depth of their collection—they have a library, a restaurant, a performance space, and 16,000 or so works of art, depending on how or what you count. Wander through the first floor exhibition spaces and you’ll run into works by Jasper Johns, Gerhard Richter, Robert Rauschenberg (they loaned a piece to the combines show), Jenny Holzer, Naim Jun Paik, Jeff Koons, Duane Hansen, Warhol, Baselitz…the list just goes on and on.

There are also a number of German artists in the collection whose work I continue to mistake for that of certain American artists. “Maybe every American artist has a German doppelganger…or maybe it’s vice-versa,” Mona pondered at one point yesterday.

As soon as I’m able to offload some pictures from my camera, I’ll post them, and go into more detail about what I’ve seen.

There have been some challenges getting the exhibition together, but I don’t need to go into detail regarding that here. Suffice it to say that Holger Hermannsen and Harald Kunde have been patient, gracious, and pleasant to work with. Holger is a thin, soft-spoken, unassuming guy, and I get the sense that he’s the glue holding the whole place together. Harald, meanwhile, is the intimidating voice of authority—as Holger put it, “he can convince collectors that not loaning work to us for shows will damage their reputations.”

Incredibly, the Forum’s staff is about the size of the Arlington Arts Center’s—about five people deep, although they also contract out for security guards.

Today, once I check in at the Forum, depending on what there is to do, I may head off with Evan Reed to check out a few museums elsewhere. He made the rounds in Dusseldorf yesterday, and came back with a camera full of great pictures. Evan observed that the Germans have a culture of collecting, much moreso than we do—every little town seems to have a pretty impressive Kunsthalle or museum or two, and a cathedral full of relics. Sacred objects, old and new.

More later, including pictures.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Men in period dress--all of whom look suspiciously similar--wearing animal masks. Zeppelins milling about. Really, really long panoramic photos--think wider than widescreen. All of this can only mean it's time for another show from collaborators Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick.

Like previous Kahn and Selesnick projects, the objects and images in this show construct an alternative history based loosely on real events--in this case, an iceberg running aground in 1923 off of the coast of Lubeck, Germany. The two artists use this as a jumping of point to examine contemporary crises--global warming, end-of-times rhetoric, inflated currencies.

I last saw Kahn and Selesnick at Irvine's old location in Dupont circle, with their show about lunar expeditions, real and imagined: The Apollo Prophecies. What struck me about that show was the gulf between the beautifully realized 12" X 84" black and white prints--depicting a lost, pre-WWI lunar expedition, pining for a mysteriously foretold Apollo 11 mission--and the crude, Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque props with which they were paired.

Eisbergfreistad doesn't share that disparity. In fact, as handsome as these elongated color prints are, they seem a bit familiar. Sure, there are some arresting images: The card players in Card Game sit in the shadows of a city made from melting ice; they fritter away their presumably now-worthless spoils--hoarded during fears of an impending apocalypse. They all wear overcoats and animal masks, vaguely recalling the monstrous appearance of generals and businessmen in drawings by German artist George Grosz--say, Die Stimme des Volkes, die Stimme Gottes (1920), from the NGA's Dada exhibition.

But still more evocative are the drawings, paintings, and documentary evidence. As Boston Globe writer Mark Feeney points out, a grid of black and white photographs in the show nicely recalls New Objectivism--modern photography from between the wars, as recently highlighted in the Foto show at the NGA. There's also a deck of hand-painted playing cards, featuring medieval-looking imagery--long-legged birds nesting in overcoats; strange thorny vines unfurling against the clear blue sky. Piles of Notgeld have been cast into wheelbarrows, or sewn into winter coats. In Kahn and Selesnick's world, the special Eisbergfriestadt currency, of course, became so inflated as to be utterly worthless, save for generating warmth as either clothing or fuel for fires.

Like the Apollo Prophecies, Eisbergfriestad manages to make the not so distant past seem strange and fantastic, and points out how fluid history is--how our understanding of it is constantly reshaped by events in the present tense. The irony of the iceberg incident in Lubeck, as Kahn and Selesnick point out, is that in a sense, it really was a harbinger of disaster: "Lubeck was the first German city to be fire-bombed in World War II - and, despite being rebuilt, is in danger of flooding due to global warming." In other words: There could be icebergs in Lubeck again soon.

Pictured: Installation shot from Pepper Gallery, Boston, RadfaB, 2007, (Wheelbarrow), wood wheelbarrow and notgeld, 50" X 63"; Card Game, 2007, archival pigmented print, 10" x 72"
Wrote a post this morning on Kahn and Selesnick at Irvine; I'll have that up at some point before the day's end. My thoughts on Lori Nix at Randall Scott will follow.

I will be in Aachen, Germany next week--from the 4th to the 11th, Sunday to Sunday. We're installing the second half of the Arlington to Aachen: Imaging the Distance exchange show at the
Ludwig Forum.

One of two things will happen: I will either keep you updated as to my adventures in Aachen, day by day...or the blog will go silent for a week, and I'll have a flurry of posts when I return. Planning on the former, not the latter, but all will depend on the viability of my less-than-cutting-edge laptop.

The laptop is actually significantly better than my PC at home--yet when the woman doing our tech consult at the AAC saw it sitting on my desk, she laughed out loud. For awhile.

Bear in mind that less than a year ago, when I started this blog, I was using a Windows 98 machine and dial-up. That's me: rubbing two sticks together in the electronic wilderness.