Friday, March 27, 2009

If you missed Mel Chin's lecture at the AAC on Tuesday, you can now listen to it in the player below...or download it for later consumption at your convenience here.
I failed to mention Matthew Langley's kind words about PUBLIC/PRIVATE at the AAC. Thanks, Matt! He even uploaded a little video documentation--see below:

Public/Private at Arlington Arts Center from matthew langley on Vimeo.
Sure, in the past, it's been entertaining--and almost too easy--to poke fun at the Corcoran's foibles. But this definitely isn't so funny.
Chris Rywalt set me straight: Mel's appearance at MoMa is on the site here. You just have to do a little scrolling:

Modern Mondays: An Evening with Mel Chin April 27
Mel Chin (b. 1951) is an internationally celebrated and socially engaged conceptual artist whose work encompasses several disciplines. Already well known for interventions, earthworks, drawings, and works in other mediums, the Texan artist recently turned to filmmaking. In 2007 he completed his first animated work, 9-11/9-11, which confronts a pair of historic September 11s: Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup d’état in Chile, and the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. The video will be screened twice, and a discussion with the artist and the audience will take place in between.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

During his lecture at the AAC, Mel Chin showed a trailer for his animated film, 9-11/9-11, made in collaboration with a crew of Chilean artists from Plano Visual Estudio de Animación, and featuring the music of inscrutable Icelanders Sigur Rós.

The film juxtaposes the terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001 with Chile's own 9-11 tragedy: Exactly twenty-eight years earlier, the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende was overthrown, resulting in the murder of three thousand people and the torture of thousands more during the subsequent reign of Augusto Pinochet.

I can't find any mention of the event on their website, but apparently MoMA will be screening it on April 27, so keep checking their listings...and go see it! In the meantime, you can get a taste below:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tomorrow the National Mall will be visited by a curious casualty of war: an exploded car. It will be attached to an RV parked on Jefferson Drive SW between 12th and 14th streets, and will be on view from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. It's part of British artist Jeremy Deller's project, It Is What It Is, originally commissioned by the New Museum, and made possible here in D.C. by Street Scenes and Provisions Library.

The car was destroyed by a blast in 2007 on a street in Baghdad. The street is named after a famous Iraqi poet, and was once the center of Baghdad's intellectual life, graced with cafes and book markets. The attack killed more than thirty people.

The RV also offers the chance to enter into a face-to-face conversation on U.S. involvement in Iraq. From the event flier: "On hand for discussion are Jonathan Harvey, a psychological operations officer, and Esam Pasha, an Iraqi artist now residing in Connecticut. We encourage you to come to to engage in conversations about the war, the country, the culture, the geography, or simply listen. Please feel free to bring items pertaining to Iraq as they might be an interesting place to begin."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Posting notice: We are having some serious home renovations done this week. As a result, we've packed up both of our computers (along with the rest of our belongings) and moved out of the house temporarily. Add to that all of the Mel Chin-ness that I'll be managing at the AAC, and you can expect this to be an exceptionally slow week here at H & S.

I will, however, be sitting down with Mel on Wednesday and recording a long interview about his career and current project. Expect to see that in print sometime in May.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I should also remind you of your first destination tonight: Civilian Art Projects, for Noelle Tan's second solo show with the gallery: sometime yesterday, or maybe the day before.

Also opening at Civilian: Women's Work, a show in honor of Women's History Month, featuring artists Lynn Cazabon, Hadieh Shafie, and Tory Wright.

Opening reception runs from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. See you there!
Just a reminder: Tomorrow is your last chance to see Brandon Morse and John Kirchner at Conner Contemporary. I interviewed Brandon here; Kriston Capps weighed in on his work here; and Maura Judkis considered Kirchner here.

Dawn Black's Conceal Project at Curator's Office, meanwhile, has been extended until next Saturday, March 28.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Regina apologizes for assuming the faux Gopnik on Twitter was legit. Lenny, meanwhile, decides to pounce on a "young blogger" who's "never wrong". (Obviously I'm infallible, but I don't think he means me.) Anyway, for what it's worth, Blake, I'll apologize, too, for assuming that fake Blake was the real deal.

As for Lenny's contention that the Twitter Gopnik was obviously fake...he mostly just announced whenever a piece was being published in the Post, albeit inelegantly. It looked to me like an exceptionally boring or lazy use of Twitter, and I wrote it off as someone being pushed into Twittering without necessarily wanting to. Re-reading now, though, I sheepishly admit it seems pretty damn clear that the author can't possibly be the WaPo's reporter chief art critic.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My review of Morandi: Master of Modern Still Life at the Phillips Collection appears in the City Paper's print edition tomorrow...but you can go ahead and read it online today. Magic! Read all about the man with many bottles here.

Pictured: Giorgio Morandi, Still Life, oil on canvas, 1956
Tyler gets confirmation on something people have been making noises about for a few days now: That "twit on Twitter"? It isn't Blake Gopnik. Fraud!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is done. Hearst corporation failed to find a after 146 years in the news business, the paper ran its final print edition today. This leaves the Seattle Times as the only print daily for that town. Read about their final days here.

Of course, this also means that Art To Go is closing up shop...but luckily, the blog will be moving over to ArtsJournal, where it will become Another Bouncing Ball. Visit Regina there often--starting tomorrow.
Your moment of stereotypically Irish revelry on St. Patrick's Day: The Pogues, albeit in a song confusingly indulging in a completely different set of cultural stereotypes. Whee! From their 1988 album, If I Should Fall from Grace with God.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mel Chin appeared on NPR's Studio 360 over the weekend. He spoke with reporter Eve Abrams about lead poisoning in New Orleans, and even gave her a tour of his SAFEHOUSE--the Fundred repository that Chin has built in the St. Roch neighborhood. Listen to this portion of the program in the player below:

In case you missed it: I think this would make a fine coffee table book.
Blake wrote about Cézanne and Beyond at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Sunday. One paragraph caught my attention:

The show's most notable absence may be Marcel Duchamp. The arbitrariness of Duchamp couldn't have happened without the dose of willfulness to be found in any Cézanne...To his many enemies, Cézanne seemed to put the whole world--not to mention the entire history of art--through a blender. Duchamp merely turned one toilet upside down.

I don't think Blake means to say what it sounds like he's saying here. Actually...Blake, what are you saying here? That Duchamp's entire oeuvre boils down to one readymade? Remember The Large Glass? Nude Descending a Staircase? The demented Origin of the World-inspired lifesize diorama that is L'Etant Donnés? Love him, hate him, or profess indifference, you at least have to admit that he tried on a lot of hats--and did a bit more over the course of his career than upend a urinal.

Enough has already been said about Blake and one-liners that just don't work. I think Regina got it right when she explained why he's so poorly served by Twitter, for example, and I should probably leave it at that.

But c'mon. You were at the Philadelphia Museum. I haven't been there in awhile, but unless the Duchamp Gallery was closed, it seems to me there should have been more than enough of the man's work on view--like, say, the entire Arensberg collection--to facilitate considering him more carefully.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I was talking to another curator yesterday, and the subject of this blog came up. "How do you have time to write a blog?" she asked. "I don't have time to read your blog, much less write one of my own."

How do I have time? The answer is that sometimes I don't. Hence my failure to alert you to the Kathryn Cornelius talk last night in which I participated--organized by my favorite gallerist without a gallery, Fabian Bernal.

Of course, you were probably at the James Turrell lecture at the Hirshhorn, anyway. Still, we had a decent crowd, and plenty of Kathryn's work on view, including videos playing on monitors or projected on walls all over the house.

I was pleased to be able to introduce Kathryn; I've been a fan for a few years now, and have always enjoyed writing about her work--see here, here, here, here, and here.

I tried to provide some historical perspective for performance and conceptual work; I also tried to explain the generous spirit I see at work in Kathryn's pieces. Ask Kathryn why she does what she does, and the answer she'll give you sounds almost quaint: She makes her work because she genuinely wants to improve the quality of people's lives. This to me sounds tremendously old fashioned, and makes me think of descriptions of art as a form of life enhancement given by early modern connoisseurs like Bernard Berenson. (Of course, Berenson saw art as a rarefied, academic activity, inspiring disinterested contemplation. Kathryn's work is definitely interested.)

I think contemporary artists tend not to buy into the modernist belief in revolutionizing or transforming life as we know it. I might expect someone doing Kathryn's kind of interactive, sometimes theatrical pieces to keep things firmly tongue-in-cheek, conveying a sense of the powerlessness of art, of its lack of ability to transform much of anything, save for in very constrained or controlled situations, or through deliberately goofy utopian ideas, ironically expressed.

Instead, Kathryn readily accepts the ways in which managers and office workers try to order and make sense of their lives. She's an early adopter, willing to put new technology or social networking platforms at the center of her pieces. She's also unafraid of the maxims of both corporate culture and new age self-help, and she finds a commonality between them and the language of continental theory types like Pierre Bourdieu.

A few people left her talk convinced that they'd just experienced yet another performance, and not a proper artist's talk: Kathryn offered a power-point presentation brimming over with vocabulary lessons, names of authors writing on management and communication, and exhaustive analysis of her entire body of work--which she broke down into categories based on, yes, a business book.

Anyway, my apologies if you missed it. Next time I'll try to give you a timely heads up!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Below at long last are some installation shots for PUBLIC/PRIVATE--the current show at the AAC, and, believe it or don't, my first solo outing as curator there. We'll have a special closing reception on Tuesday, March 24, featuring a lecture from Mel Chin, and the show will remain on view through April 4.

Anissa Mack, My Sister's Diary. Every week, new copies of redacted pages from the artist's sister's journal are posted onto this public bulletin board outside the center. Mack is probably best known to most folks for her 2002 piece, Pies for a Passerby.

Ben Kinsley and Robin Hewlett have received a lot of attention for their Street with a View project, represented here by an interactive web terminal and video.

Photos of Richard Saxton's M.I.K.E. (Music Integrated Kiosk Environment) project in Wisconsin.

Lisa Blas's K Street Projects, Vol. 1 - 4.

Installation view.

The Everyone That We Know News, courtesy of Philadelphia artists Chris Barr and Veronique Cote. Imagine the unholy marriage of CNN and Facebook.

Mandy Burrow creates temporary portraits that are made and meant to be seen in her subjects' homes. She collaborates with her subjects in choosing the objects with which she builds these pieces. The AAC installation features photos and recreations of several installations in the gallery.

Satomi Shirai. There are plenty of contemporary young women artists doing this sort of choreographed photography, operating somewhere between theater and journalism, but Satomi's work delivers beautifully, even if the premise is familiar.

Downstairs: Stephanie Robbins and Christian Moeller.

For Stephanie's piece, two participants face one another, each standing on a floor mounted photograph of cracked pavement. Each dons headphones that are suspended from the ceiling. During the opening, I caught a few people dancing--or at least trying to--on these.

Video of Christian Moeller's Mojo, installed in San Pedro in 2007.

Like I've said before, I'm a big Matt Sutton I'm pleased that we were able to present his Febreze Scentstories piece here. Feel free to come by, sit in the little booth, and try your hand at some creative writing, spurred on by a commercial air freshener that promises to deliver linear narrative through smells.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Busy putting out a few fires. Will post something entertaining for you tomorrow. Come back soon!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

In thinking about the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Cezanne exhibition, Richard Lacayo has posted a slideshow on the TIME website illustrating the artist's lasting influence through a series of comparisons. Hard to deny the Matisse, Picasso, and Braque affinities, and I love the way Ellsworth Kelly appropriates his trapezoidal Bay of Marseilles...but once you get past that, I get the sense that this makes for a harder sell. Contemporary art based on Cezanne merits one slide entry (Yes, the Kelly is from 2002, but you know what I mean): A Jeff Wall that, without, the artist's word that he is, in fact, thinking about Cezanne's card players, could be about any painting in the last 400 or so years on the same subject. Hey, I love Cezanne, but I'm not sure how much contemporary artists continue to wrestle with the same kinds of experiential, image/memory/perception/tradition quandaries that so absorbed him at the end of the 19th century.

Elsewhere, Kriston thinks about the current show at Curator's Office on the AiA site. I second Philip's (Barlow?) question over on Adventures of Hoogrrl!: Why is this considered NEWS AND OPINION, and not REVIEWS? Is the REVIEWS section strictly limited to the 500-or-so-word entries in the back of the print version? Well, whatever heading it's filed under, I'm happy to be able to read it there.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

For some reason, J.T. Kirkland, Chris Rywalt, Mark Boyd and I got locked into a heated discussion on Facebook (lord help us all) while J.T. was doing a little NYC gallery crawling. Since then, J.T. has posted the contents of the discussion on his blog, and others have jumped onto the dogpile.

Anyway, if you, like Chris or Franklin, would at this point like to physically throw something at Mark, now's your chance: Mark will give an artist's talk tonight at Hamiltonian Gallery, from 7:00 to 8:30. That's 1353 U Street. See you there!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I've been hearing a lot of artists and critics try to find the bright side of seeing all of the money drain out of everything. Yeah, sure, I know: A down economy can spur innovation, get artists thinking about alternative spaces, get them finding ways to keep creating independently of the demands of dealers or collectors, etc. Most of this just sounds like wishful thinking to me, and, as someone who's trying to run a non-profit exhibitions program, I mostly think having money to do things always trumps not having money to do things. It really is that simple.

Still, there are people out there carving out interesting territory in the shadows of declining institutions and disappearing capital. Take Nick Lucking and Tim Ivison, for example, and their website, SPCMKR.COM (that's spacemaker with all of the vowels removed.) I first heard about them on a badatsports podcast back in January, and haven't been able to get their idea out of my head: The two have created a forum for sharing information about informal artist residencies--work-related stays in various cities that are essentially artist-financed, and not affiliated with any institution. Here's how they've described their venture:

The program objective of is to create a forum in which cultural producers can connect to the resources they need to support travel, whether for escapism, reconnaissance, work, tourism, nomadism, or refuge. Not only does the project aim to provide the rudiments of housing through a network of available spaces, but it also encourages the sharing of tools, access to social networks and opportunities within various fields before, during, and after the exchange.

Visit their website here.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Paddy and Kriston have already told you about their involvement with this, I know, but as of today, the Art in America website is suddenly worth reading, and it's featuring some nice new content that's different from the print version of the magazine, too. Whoda thunk it? I was talking with Kriston and Jim Mahoney this weekend about AiA's low-tech tendencies, and the future of their site...and lo and behold, here it is. Read Kriston's take on Brandon Morse at Conner here. (For more info about the show, read my interview with Brandon from a couple of weeks ago here.)
Your moment of video art on the web for this snowy Monday morning: Shana Moulton's Whispering Pines 6, in which her alter ego, Cynthia, becomes frustrated by the world in general and by a missing puzzle piece in particular. She tries to find solace in purchasing an electric light-up waterfall for her home, and makes an unexpected discovery. Features odd animation and lo-fi effects. Moulton's on the roster for the Transmodern Festival, coming to B'more once again this April.

Whispering Pines 6