6. I Am As You Will Be: The Skeleton in Art @ Cheim & Reid
Paul Delvaux, Squelettes (Skeleton), 1949
A lot of people rightfully have been hoping for fewer skeletons in art. I'm with them, but I think that we're all really just hoping for less crap art taking the easy way out by throwing some skulls and bones into the pot. Artists can go ahead (Ha! No pun intended.) and skull out as much as they want want if they're making great and timeless art. Perfect that plenty of the artists in this show are dead. At any rate, there was barely a clunker in the bunch in this engrossing and wide-ranging show. I think I went three times and it wasn't enough. Brighter death now!
5. High On Fire, Death Is This Communion
An album consumed with themes of death and darkness. Crushing riffs for crushing times. And certainly one of the best album covers of the year.
4. Damien Hirst, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living
It's not new, but it was my first time seeing it, and it was one of the most powerful pieces of art I saw all year. Pity it also involved one of the most bonehead curatorial moves I'll ever see in my life. I'm always amazed when someone who makes their living in the art world displays such little faith in art. I mix my praise with more kvetching here.
3. Dying Fetus, War of Attrition
One of my favorite Technical Death Metal bands dropped their most pummeling and political effort yet. And we deserved it. The band focus all their lyrical and musical powers in ripping our doped-up idiotic world a new asshole. Pass the Depends, baby.
2. Karen Finley, Wake Up
For more than a moment, Finley convinced me that Performance Art might just be the thing to save us. The first piece in the show, “The Dreams of Laura Bush”, was hilarious and caustic. The second piece, “The Passion of Terri Schiavo”, was quite simply . . . EVERYTHING. Hilarious. Caustic. Disorienting. Dissolving. Disappearing. Quiet. Raging. Sometimes it felt like a Vaudeville pit orchestra, and sometimes it felt like Albert Ayler's determined and composed flailing on his way to The One. Taking the audience along for the ride, Finley deftly wended her way to the center of a lost soul in a dying body. And I'm not talking about Schiavo. I'm talking about us. Wake up.
1. Jerry Falwell died.
And it was awesome. This Little Hitler couldn't possibly be dead enough as far as I'm concerned. Christopher Hitchens thought the same thing. To quote Tinky Winky, "Bye-bye. Bye-bye."