Thursday, May 31, 2007

Upside Down.

Andrew Sullivan has been all about the fonts lately, and today he posted one of my favorite album covers of all time, Angel's On Earth As It Is In Heaven. Bob Petrick was the design genius that created the logo that works pointing north or south. Can you feel it?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Let The Power Fall.

Just when you think that Marilyn Minter has it turned up all the way to 10 you find out that she has another stack of Marshalls hiding behind the curtain and she's waited until now to press the "Power" button. Witness her new edition (60) for Parkett, another c-print of Pamela Anderson. On the heels of her amazing print at Smith-Stewart last month this photo pushes out the magnetic poles of our collective consciousness even further. Let what might fall between fall between. The bubbly wet naked cliches pull against Anderson's age, freckles, and the true awkwardness of the shot. The longer I look at this photo the more grenades I see being lobbed at our bunker of conditioning. The shadows. The hair. Her eyelashes, especially the right one. The way the bottom and side crops shift the focus from the flesh to its secret physics. The more this photograph falls apart the more it comes together. The center is so not holding.

Color me in awe all over again. (And speaking of color, how great is it that the bubbles reference Minter's most recent palette? I have to say, I think it's pretty great.)

Hat tip to Art & Sex & Music via my main man, Cesar.

New Bar To Open In DUMBO.

Galapagos is moving to DUMBO. Will it help? I ask that question in all directions, not including the one that includes self-server "real-estate king", Jed Walentas. This makes him look good all around, especially when he uses the phrase "burgeoning arts community" to sell another billion dollar condo overlooking the lovely BQE.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Red Shift.

Daniel Zeller's new show of drawings opens tonight in LA at Daniel Weinberg Gallery. I fell in love with Zeller's work when I saw his show at Peirogi back in 2003, and then it happened all over again in 2005. I find his excursions into the topography of beauty absolutely irresistible. I've never seen the red this pronounced, the veins this exposed. Let it bleed, baby.

Another Angle.

Yeah. Lately, I've been slightly obsessed with the Dubuffet near work. I don't usually walk on this side of William Street, so when I did the other day I was struck by one more miraculous angle to see this thing.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Just In Case.

Joanna Malinowska, In Search of the Miraculous, Continued... Part II

Here are my two latest posts about visual art as opposed to the art that becomes visual in my head. I'll post last night's No Fun wrap-up tomorrow night. Here's the latest Heart-Shaped Box. And then here's my post on the wondrous work of Zoe Strauss.

No More Fun.

The last night. I missed American Band + Air Conditioning and Deathroes, and I left before Thurston Moore hit the stage. But whoa. Another amazing night.

Ludo Mich - Embarrassed to say that I didn't know anything about this Fluxus artist. Spoken word and wild vocalizations that led the crowd down a dark path. Unsure at first, the entire room was sold by the end.

Stegm - Prurient's Dominick Fernow joined Ryan Bloomer of Stegm for a performance so intense I almost burst into tears at the end. Physically overwhelming. Hell, yeah.

Leslie Keffer + Rodger Stella - What it would be like if your spaceship had a rusty hull and about 80 million miles into your journey a girl power disco party broke out. Awesome.

Enema Syringe - When Merzbow teamed up with Pansonic a few years ago everybody was disappointed with the results. If they had made an album as ferocious and loose as this set and thrown in Alan Vega for good measure everybody would have been a lot happier.

Aaron Dilloway - The tectonic plates are shifting and you're running down the faultline. That's what this set was like. Glorious abstraction. Dilloway left nothing on stage.

Burning Star Core + Zaimph - This was one of the collaborations I was most looking forward to. BSC's direction is never stable or predictable and that's why I like it so much. Zaimph's assured and hard-edged drones were the perfect foil for their pounding and loping drives. This was a transporting set. The perfect way for me to end 4 nights of noisy bliss.

All gone.

Night 1

Night 2

Night 3

Sunday, May 20, 2007

More Fun In The No World.

I missed Gastric Female Reflex, The Rita, Demons, and Sickness. Mia and Jason reported that The Rita was the one, which doesn't surprise me. They don't make too many missteps on tape, so that wasn't a big surprise.

Slogun - I caught the last 10 minutes of Slogun and crew, but what a 10 minutes. Much hate was being spewed at the crowd by a revolving line of collaborators on the mike. The wall of sound behind them was pretty unstoppable. When it was all over they were booed, but I think that it actually might have been a respectful answer to their call out. In response to the boos the most vehement mikeman lept into the audience. I'm pretty sure that everybody moved out of his way. Ouch.

Religious Knives - I've discovered that one of the rules for my enjoyment of a set is I shouldn't be reminded of Ryan Adams. Religious Knives broke this rule when one of their intros sounded exactly the beginning of Adam's Burning Photographs. Totally distracting. They need some broken machines. I did, however, enjoy the parts that reminded me of Iron Butterfly. That's always good.

Ju Suk Reet Meate and Tom Recchion - There's one record in my collection that I turn to when I'm in a listening funk. It's Tom Recchion's Chaotica. He and Ju Suk Reet Meate of Smegma turned in a stellar set last night. The night before Smegma had thrown it down hard in the dj booth mixing some nasty ass hip-hop with P-Funk followed by the kind of singing and songwriting that John Ashcroft made famous. Tonight's performance was a tripping barrage of churning collage. Legendary status reinforced. Possibly the longest applause of the festival. Well deserved.

Keiji Haino - The dulcimer abuse was perfect in development and duration. Haino's guitar sounded like what it would be like if the earth's core knew how to play the instrument. Soaring and overwhelming. The sound manipulation and shrieking went on too long for my taste. I think that Haino took it where he wanted to. Much respect for that, but I think that I, along with the rest of the audience, could have taken about 15 minutes less of it.

Merzbow - Lived up to my expectations, but no "and then some." To be clear, my expectations were really high. Really high. Akita delivered in spades, and offered some nice twists and surprises. I was knocked out, but my last thought before I hit the floor was "Carlos Giffoni's set the night before was more thrilling."

Night 1

Night 2

Night 4

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Too Much Fun Too.

Charlie Draheim - Within seconds Draheim found the limits of what I'm able to listen to. I'm not saying that it's bad. It's actually pretty astonishing and filled with fury and life. The crowd was blown away. I just don't like the whole piercing high end attack. That's my problem. Not Charlie's. A bit like Cindy Sherman's work in that I understand and appreciate it, but I don't like looking at it.

Princess Dragonmon - There were bubbles. There was a big bottle of blue liquid consumed by the band and some daring audience members. There was a space age beach ball that eventually made it's way into the crowd. An agressive robot appeared. Started fighting with the crowd. Crowd tore robot to shreds. Unrelenting music that I can't remember anything about except that right now as I'm trying to remember it I'm thinking of a cheesier and more aggressive and more sci-fi Hawkwind. Yes, I said "more" to all that. Space ritual, baby. Irresistible and well mental.

Grunt - Dom had warned me about this one. Went way beyond my wildest expectations. Grunt overcame the first sound snafu of the festival to deliver a set that plastered my ass to the wall. Utterly convincing vocals. The exact opposite of those of Hair Police the night before. While HP's vox actually made me laugh out loud, Grunt had me wishing I had worn a pair of those special astronaut diapers. One of my favorite performances of the festival. Whew.

Mouthus + Axolotl - For no particular reason I've always been resistant to checking out Mouthus, and after seeing them play live I'm filled with nothing but regret about this. Actually had me rocking back and forth in my seat the same way I did 25 years ago when I listened to Coltrane's A Love Supreme for the first time. One really can't ask for more than that. Amazing. They all hugged each other at the end. One.

Anti-Freedom - Absolute punk chaos . . . glorious confusion . . . Anti-Freedom is thy name. Much beer was sprayed, and it was the band that started it. And they finished it as well. By the end of the show Aaron Dillloway, Thurston Moore, Hive Mind, Dead Machines, Orphan Fairytale and cast of others had been dragged onto and pushed across the stage. Someone (it might have been the singer, it might have been the drummer, it might have been the dude standing on stage drinking beer for the duration of the performance) yelled to the audience "Raise your hands if you don't like freedom!". In this Bushy age of filthy double-speak and hate we all knew what that meant. Our hands stretched to the sky.

Raionbashi & Kutzkelina - Wow. Was NOT prepared for this one. Started off with malevolent droning environmental recordings, broke into some low-end noise, and then . . . then . . . YODELLING! And here's the kicker. It worked. If there was ever a moment that could have induced massive booing, this was it. Yet, everything was put together so well, so perfectly executed, it had the opposite effect. Absolutely rapt attenention from the audience. The yodelling eventually made it's way into a delay machine which led back to the drones and noise but the finish was pure yodelling bliss. One of the biggest audience responses of the night and possibly and partly out of shock. Incredible.

Carlos Giffoni - I always forget how truly great Giffoni is until I see him live. OK. I don't every really forget it, but let's just say that my perception is augmented by his live performances. This set was like stepping into one of the darker Rothko paintings while it's being hit with direct sunlight. Galvanizing. Truly, truly great.

Sissy Spacek - A real disappointment, with the John Weise connection and everything. I'm totally down with a set that lasts 4 minutes, mostly filled by the space between the 16 second long songs. But it you're gonna do that you better bring it. And I think that they would have had it not been for the singer. Boring.

Incapacitants - I haven't seen this much damage done onstage in a long time. Two Japanese bankers, probably in their mid-50's, walked on stage with their little back packs. They poked around their equipment to get ready for their set, barely shot a glance at one another, and BAM! Like an acid-baked steed of wild horses they were OFF! Bodies immediately began to fly giving security their biggest workout of the festival. I now understand Carlos Giffoni's willingness to actually reschedule the dates of the festival in order to accommodate the Incapacitants and their Japanese banking holiday. From the word, "Go." these guys were relentless. Full-on, devastating, and pure. I'll never forget this.

Night 1

Night 3

Night 4

Heart-Shaped Box

I'm reposting the May-June H-SB because I've pretty much rewritten the entire thing. Go see everything.

Alexander Gray Associates
Kathe Burkhart, May 16 - June 23
There's an acting exercise where one actor stands behind another. While the main actor is reciting from the script the second actor says what the character is really articulating. I was thinking of this when I saw Kathe Burkhart's paintings Wednesday night. Burkhart takes that shadow position but she doesn't limit her viewpoint to the internal workings of Liz Taylor or the character she's playing. It might be Taylor but it might also be the culture's projections onto the actress and her performance. This show feels like an uneasy birth, and considering the moment in time it addresses that's appropriate. Hell. We're still cleaning up the delivery room, and we might have lost the baby.

Little Cakes
Christopher Martin's SHAPESHIFTERS, through May 20 (Tomorrow, last chance!)
So often at Little Cakes I find delicious stories. Christopher Martin's show of paintings, light boxes, and dioramas is no exception to that rule. The dioramas felt like a less threatening Sendak, possibly because you could manipulate the characters. The paintings followed with more rich story play. However, my favorite part of this show was the geometric light box abstractions. To be viewed backed by black or white lights, they look like worlds forming, the occasional representational form trying to make it's way out of the box.

David Lemelas.
Opened last night. Haven't seen it yet.

Outrageous Look
Diane Dwyer, April 28-June 10
When I walked into this opening, my immediate reaction was, "Hmmm. OK. These are pretty.", but that was about it. But then I walked into the back room where the paintings were generally smaller and there was less of a crowd. Things started to turn towards the miraculous at this point. When I walked back out into the main gallery the work opened up completely. I was floating. That's about when gallerist Brook Bartlett approached me at the opening, the first thing she said to me was, "Are you OK? You look vaklempt." Yeah. I was. This is an unsettlingly beautiful show. Go.

Venetia Kapernekas Gallery
Joanna Malinowska, May 3-June 2.
First of all, I love the carpet. More galleries should be willing to install carpet when it augments the feeling of a show. Brilliant. At the opening I fell in love with the video In Search of the Miraculous, Continued... Part II, where a boombox sits on an arctic tundra looping Glenn Gould. Mesmerizing and beautiful. (There's a great print that accompanies it too!). When I went to see the show a second time I spent more time with Bering Strait in 14761 B.C., a video of the artist experiencing a guided-imagery meditation wearing snow shoes. I wasn't preprared for how much I was going to like this, but pretty quickly I settled in with the artist on her journey. It feels very much like a painting at points, partly because it's impossible to detect movement. Sometimes that's intentional. Sometimes not. It's a piece filled with surprises. And I have to mention the Arctic Elvis. This piece is alternately hilarious and heart-warming, and possibly sad at times. The viewer is never quite sure. A warm twist on the phrase, "cold comfort." Wonderful.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Too Much Fun.

I had actually planned on not posting anything this weekend because I'm attending all four nights of the No Fun Fest, but I've changed my mind. My response to noise and sound work is closer to my reaction to art than it is to music, so I'm pretty comfortable discussing it here. Here's the first night's round-up.

Orphan Fairytale - An unexpected treat. Had never heard of her before. What was once ethereal is now edging toward full nightmare territory. REALLY strong set filled with slow surprises.

Oscillating Innards - Nothing new, but who cares. Blistering walls of sound and solid composition. Thrilling.

Evil Moisture - I don't remember this set. Did they play? Maybe I was downstairs. Wait. I remember now. They did a really short set but it was excellent. I think. No. Wait. Yeah. I totally can't remember.

Lambsbread - Y'know when bands do that big extended crescendo at the end of a song? That's how this crew begins the song and then they don't let up the pressure until they're done. Drums, bass, and guitar and they all play like they're Keith Moon. What a fucking blast.

Hive Mind + Damion Romero - Powerful drones that slowly bludgeoned my skull with a shovel and then buried me with it in the backyard. There will be no autopsy.

Yoshimi + Kim Gordon - OK. It just makes me feel good about life to know that there are two people on the planet who do their job this well. Yoshimi's attack on the skins was muscular and free. Gordon's bass playing followed no rules and possibly made up some new ones. And oh, that voice.

Hair Police - Shockingly unconvincing. I like them, but this is the first time I've seen them live. Reminded me of what I think a Ryan Adams set would be like. Flashes of brilliance between too much mediocrity encouraged by a crowd who knows how they're expected to respond. I left before they were done.

Pain Jerk - I was REALLY sorry I couldn't stay for the set by this noise legend as I would have liked to end the night on an up note, but I have to go to work tomorrow.

Night 2

Night 3

Night 4

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Significant Other.

I need to start somewhere else for this one . . . Saxton, Pennsylvania to be specific. I came across this Katy Grannan photo on Artnet a couple years ago. It was taken not far from where I grew up in western Pennsylvania. To be honest, I'm not very patient when it comes to photography. In this case, though, I knew the subject. Iconically, at least. In this shot, Grannan told the story of not just this young woman, but of hundreds of women I knew growing up there. I still love this photo. It's an amazing photograph. I get that, but I also pretty quickly became aware of a sense of the "other" in Grannan's work the more I investigated. The elements of staging and voyeurism got in the way for me. I realized that it was an issue that pushed me away from most work like this. I was thinking about this back in March when Grannan did a big editorial for the NYTimes Magazine. My strong, but predictably tempered, reaction to those photos was set in stark contrast to a response I had experienced just the day before when I came across a post on photographer and installation artist Zoe Strauss's blog.

Katy Grannan, Jada, Sugar Camp Road, Saxton, Pa.

Strauss had just learned of the death of one her subjects, Monique. I sat in my apartment and read the post and I wept. I've probably looked at Grannan's photo more than Strauss's images of Monique. As much as I understood Grannan's photograph, I came to realize that it was Strauss's images of Monique that had penetrated more deeply. When I saw Monique's story through Strauss's eye, it entered my story. There was no Other. There was no distance. A part of me wished there had been. I ached a little bit for the distance of Grannan, Arbus, or even Goldin. No such luck. If I wanted to truly appreciate Strauss's work everything was going to have to come in. In fact, it already had. Horror had opened the door for beauty. Looking at that second photo of Monique is tough, but it's also difficult to see the image honestly and not notice that flowing blue just behind her, all tangled up with the living.

In her portraits, what comes through the lens is Strauss's sense of oneness and, more importantly, the responsibility that accompanies it. We're all in this together, kids. Whether the portrait is of the desperate scene in Camden Crack or the more poised and posed moment found in Vanessa, one gets the feeling that the photographer is occupying the same exact place and time as the person on the other side of her lens. Strauss isn't capturing the moment as much as she is sharing it with her subject. She just happens to be the one with the camera.

Strauss's photography isn't limited to portraits. Her found text, abstract, and landscape photographs betray a keen understanding of form. Often they serve as a counterpoint to the intimate subject matter of the portraits, but they can be just as heartbreaking sometimes and certainly just as political. Witness Mom Were OK [sic] from the series of photographs she took in the Gulf after Katrina. The way the perfect lines of the building are crushed by the weight of carrying those nine blue letters. Seriously. Sometimes this is like open-heart surgery.

All of these photos lead to one thing, Strauss's ecstatic public art project, the I-95 show. For 3 hours, once a year, the photographer posts about 230 of her images on columns underneath the I-95 underpass in south Philly. It's open to the public. High quality Xerox prints of most of the photos on display are available for $5. At the end of the day, everybody is allowed to pull down their favorite print and take it home. These prints are archival ink-jet, and they are free for the taking. Now this is public art. (Art market. Fuck you.) The show is a constantly unfolding maze of juxtapostion with photographs leading the viewer from one to another, sometimes with a soft nudge and sometimes with a jolt or a jostle. Always with a kick.

My first encounter with Zoe and her art was at the last Whitney Biennial. I heard her laughing and shouting around the corner. Roberta and Libby had gone into the room where she was readying her slideshow, and they were all celebrating Zoe's inclusion in the exhibition. Zoe was extremely excited about having a bench for people to sit on while they watched her photos come and go. My second encounter was later that day when I returned to get a closer look at the slideshow. Zoe was sitting on that same bench with an older woman, chatting away. Observing the familiarity and warmth, I assumed it was a proud relative who had come to show their support. Later I found out that I had been completely wrong. Zoe had just met her.

It's that same warmth and openness--combined with an unstoppable eye--that allows Zoe to bring us all together in a shared moment: subject, photographer, viewer. With Zoe Strauss, there is no other.

Zoe Strauss opens tomorrow, May 17th, at Silverstein. The opening reception is Saturday night, and Strauss will be offering color photocopy prints for $5.

UPDATE! Stopped by Silverstein last night and they had just finished hanging the show. Even with tools and ladders strewn about it looks AWESOME!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Total Omen Alert!

10th and 24th, Saturday.

It's official. The art market is stalling. At least for these poor bastards it is. Nobody offered to help. I took pictures. Ah, the sense of community in the art world. It was a perfect afternoon in Chelsea.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Paul Kasmin Gallery, Thursday, 1:30 pm Click on the pic to get a good look at the bored workers.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Four Trees.

At lunch today I was walking across Pine Street and I passed Jean Dubuffet's Group of Four Trees. I was struck by the contrast of the sculpture's black and white with the lush green of the trees near it on the plaza. I had to go back to work and grab my camera. No doubt, lunchtime is my favorite period.

Kilimnik and Washburn At The ICA.

Karen Kilimnik's survey at the ICA in Philadelphia is appropriately and gloriously disorienting. Her work attacks on so many fronts that it's difficult to keep up, which is always half the thrill. Kilimnik has been working through some messy, overwhelming times, and she's quite happy to be our mirror.

Her use of the space in the main gallery is daring. I'd never seen it so empty.* By the time I walked to the next gallery though that emptiness was gone, and it's because of the room the artist has placed in the middle of the space. It reminded me a bit of Cornelia Parker's Cold, Dark Matter: An Exploded View, captured motion bursting outwards. That small room reaches out to the bloody walls that surround it.

Here's a view of the inside of the room with the world's coolest art security guard, Linda Harris, in the middle of it.

And here's one of the bloody walls, Manson-style. The show is replete with images of "shocking" American violence, and the pop comforts that we devour from the same plate. The only thing that Kilimnik seems surprised (and disappointed) by is our lack of surprise. Karen don't like Mondays. And she's shooting them down, one popular culture nightmare at a time.

*This emptiness seemed to throw the Inquirer's Edward J. Sozanski into a tizzy so deep he wrote an astonishingly pointless and pig-headed review. Wow. He's given new meaning to the phrase, "dead tree media".

Quite simply, Phoebe Washburn's installation for the ICA's ramp project series is one of the best things I've ever seen in the space. The little hallway of a world she's created here is irresistible. As much as I wanted to make my way to the second floor of the Kilimnik show, I found it difficult to leave the warm environs of Washburn's wood aquatic. There were so many angles to hold. (Pause. Get all glowy with the memory.) The artist has covered the ramp with wooden slats, inserting aquariums for relief and light. It was especially fun to look out at the street through the water and, yes, the golf balls. God, I loved this piece. Obviously, I enjoyed the Kilimnik, but this is the one I carried home. Amazing.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Love The Look. Try The Taste.

A coupla new posts over at my Creative Time blog. First, a gallery hop in Williamsburg. Then the ever-flowing font of genius via chance that is the 59th Minute project. Eve Sussman's The Rape Of The Sabine Women condensed and surrounded by the lights and text of Times Square.

Special note: The 59th Minute is one of my favorite Creative Time projects and to celebrate their 33rd anniversary, over the next two months, they'll be showing a retrospective of 59th Minute films from the past 7 years. Rock and roll.