Friday, May 30, 2008

Who Sings You?

David Byrne on the NYTimes online front page

Hey! After way too much quiet there are a slew of new posts up over on my Creative Time blog. A bunch of CT alum activities PLUS a self-priming-pump-primer for David Byrne's Playing the Building that opens on Saturday. I am, like, stoopid psyched about this installation.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


This Google search originating from Baghdad showed up on my StatCounter today. Click to enlarge.

Graffiti of the Day.

The wall separating Ramallah from Modiin. Photo by Rina Castelnuovo.

And the article that it accompanies is pretty great as well . . . in the Times today.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Incoming. David Byrne's latest project for Creative Time, Playing The Building, will open on Saturday afternoon. This must be the place.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dick Sutcliffe, RIP.

Dick Sutcliffe, the creator of Davey & Goliath has died. He was the only person other than my grandmother to ever teach me anything on a Sunday morning.

Friday, May 23, 2008


The Liam Gillick show at Casey Kaplan Gallery should not be missed. I've got a wicked sinus infection and I'm sleeping most of the time, so I'll say more later when I'm, like, awake.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

No Fun Fest 2008. One Stop.

Age of Enlightenment, Traumatology, 2xc20 (edition of 33)

Just to make it easy, here are the quick links to my No Fun Fest 2008 blatherings. The only real drag this year was that my back spazzed out just before the fest so I didn't make it too late into any of those dark nights. But seriously, I was still able to take in over 30 acts in three nights so no complaints. I mean, like, none.

No Fun Fest 2008, first night.
No Fun Fest 2008, second night.
No Fun Fest 2008, third night.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe Review @ ArtCal Zine.

Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, Up, detail

My review of Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe's miracle of a show at Alexander Gray is up at ArtCal Zine. Somehow it got all tangled up with Bowie, Eno, and Fripp in 1976 Berlin. Don't you wonder sometimes?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Not Urs. Not Gavin. Not Tony.

It's soooooooooooooo fun when Roberta Smith lets loose. Awesome, as a matter of fact. She couldn't be more on the money with her review of the downright talmudic Who’s Afraid of Jasper Johns? at the Tony Shafrazi Gallery. Rabbi Basquiat speaks across the pages of recent art history with Rabbi Pruitt. Twisted scripture.

Do. Not. Miss. This.

Rob Nadeau at Gotham Digest.

Rob Nadeu, Wood Sheddin'

My take on the work of Rob Nadeau and his amazing show at Mixed Greens just went up at Gotham Digest. Go see this show! Like, now!

No Fun Fest 2008. Stop.

Shallow Waters: Screaming and desperate. Just like us. "We will die from hunger." Brilliant.

The Cathode Terror Secretion: Brutal, devastating Power Electronics. Ooh, this night is shaping up to be the best. Filthy.

Werewolf Jerusalem: One of the sets I was looking forward to all weekend. Did NOT disappoint. Planes of 30- to 100-grit sandpaper moving parallel through the air. No throbbing. Just clear, direct lines of the harsh. Crushing.

Halflings: Spaced out noise frolic. House of horrors with plenty of trick doors. A tangled and tasty assault.

Edwige: Like a plane crash . . . from the first moment of unexpected descent to the last burning ember.

Ahlzagallzehguh: For all the bodies that were flying on this one I was kind of bored. Furious in a mild kind of way.

Sudden Infant: Reminded me why I've always thought Nine Inch Nails to be such a chickenshit. The body led the way on this one. Literally. Contact mikes on and in his body, breathing at and feeding off the audience. Highlight: Chastising one of the chuckleheads . . . "There is a little child. There is a little child. There is a little child. . . ."

ffh: Truly great set. Wiped the floor of the second stage with all the acts that had gone before. No histrionics. No theatrics. Just pure focused hate.

Lasse Marhaug + Dror Feiler: Dror Feiler greeted the audience with this (or, approximately this): "I don't come to your country much. When I try to use your transit system . . . It doesn't work. I think I don't like your country. But. I like you. I think you should make some more noise. And destruction. To destroy the system." And then they did. My back was totally giving out and I knew that this was the perfect way to end the night early. Gone.

No Fun Fest 2008, first night.
No Fun Fest 2008, second night.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

No Fun Fest 2008. Caution.

Afternoon Penis: It might be tempting to draw a line from Afternoon Penis' percussive inventiveness back to Angus MacLise, but I'd stop the line before I got back that far and let it rest on Jamie Muir of early King Crimson or Frank Perry's work in Ovary Lodge. Thrilling set with the only member of AP improvising with himself and the accident of delay. Plus, for his second song he used a Slingerland kit to lay his fills underneath the looped madness above.

Pax Titania: A rough use of sequencers that sent me directly to the merch table after the set to find anything I could by this guy. Utterly engrossing.

The Nevari Butchers: The cellist was like Janos Starker on viagra and mescaline. Mix that with Aaron Dilloway's ferocious electronics and you've got a winner.

We interrupt this post for the Best Shouted Line of the Night from a Fest-Goer: "Quit playing Radiohead . . . GODDAMNIT!" Yeah. For some reason they kept playing Radiohead between sets on Stage 2. Obviously, it didn't go over so well.

Eskimo King: Glacial chaos sourced from acoustic guitar that was then underlayed with electric guitar machinations. Massive and gut churning. Made Fennesz look like such a lightweight.

Nautical Almanac: Kinda boring and hysterical at the same time, even with the visuals. Although it would have helped if the Knit had turned off its stupid purple laser lights. The video reminded me of Jason Cosco's work on quaaludes minus the porn. There should have been more porn, and better plink distortion.

Baby Cobra Headsz: Exactly what the crowd did NOT want. Which is part of why it was so refreshing. The duo dared to start to their set with actual beats. The beats eventually mutated into a noise workout and the audience was back in their comfort zone. Quite obstinantly BCH then launched into a twisted electropop ditty. People were starting to leave. This was hilarious. Drums and guitar were used by the band to put the nails in their own coffin. But that was ok, because these guys hammered hard. A pity that so many of the exitors missed such an excellent and explosive set.

Keith Fullerton Whitman: Like Async Sense but with more terror and reverb. Edgar Froese's Aqua was also brought to mind as well, the way the sequencer tumbles over and folds back into itself. So engrossing that I could barely remember the set as soon as it was over. I was in it, dissolved. Set of the night!

Cornucopia: Tectonic plates shifting. Distressed tones shot through the middle of deep throbbing drones. One of the best performances of the evening.

The Skaters: Well, now. That was scary.

Emeralds: The performance I was most looking forward to Saturday night went way beyond my expectations. I never thought that drones that were so beautiful could be filled with so much aggression and muscle. Euphoric.

Carlos Giffoni: Giffoni's performance felt like an ode to German legends Cluster (Who played later that night.). That doesn't mean it was some kind of nostalgia session though. It's a natural extension of the analogue explorations Giffoni's been pursuing over the last couple years. And more than anything, what always lays at the foundation of CG's work is solid composition. He never ceases to amaze me.

Alvars Orkester: Nothing new here, but a nice, simple slab of noise. No complaints.

Demons: Oh. Hell, yeah! Last year Rodger Stella was involved in the performance most related to space travel. With Stella on board, Demons turned in more a journey than a song. Totally enjoyable. Totally tripped out.

No Fun Fest 2008, first night.
No Fun Fest 2008, third night.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

No Fun Fest 2008. Go.

Workbench: Mike Bernstein's Workbench project never disappoints me and tonight was no exception. A nice launching point for the festival, the sequencer lines blunted into drones. An invitation of sorts.

Sickness: I missed Sickness's set at last year's No Fun, and I've now lived to regret it. Wicked low-end mixed with mid-range discomfort and just enough high-end to accentuate the filth made for a lively set. Has Sickness been listening to mid-70's dub? He employed some cliff-hanging dropouts that exploited the space between like King Tubby at his most torturous. He had the crowd looking down off a very steep precipice.

Failing Lights: Un-fucking-believable. I've always like his work, but this went further than before. A slow storm coming at you that you suddenly realize is a swarm of KILLER BEES and they're totally stinging you in the balls. Jaw-dropping.

Sewer Election: I love when an act isn't afraid to go exactly where the music is taking them, even when that means a short set. Sewer Election's brevity was equalled only by the power in his music. Wait. This is boring. Let my notes take over . . . "Fucking short set. Fucking awesome. Feigned disinterest when crowd is shouting for more. Breaking down. Then WHAM . . . flattens crowd with short encore. Crowd still wants more. Even SHORTER encore. Maybe 30 seconds. Crushing." There. That was better.

Dinosaurs with Horns: A little too much like a Terre Thaemlitz set that I saw at Cloudwatch in Baltimore 13 years ago. Not that the Thaemlitz wasn't good (Love him.), but this is 13 years later. An odd fit. An off night? They're kind of legendary so I'm bummed to have said that. I don't know. Maybe it was me.

Jason Crumer: Oh, man. Burn it down. Crumer knocked me out with last year's cassette and his recent CD for Hospital productions. I was, to say the least, in high-anticipation mode for this set. This is everything that noise can be, filled with unexpected turns. Caustic threatening drones blow into a full-on noise assault that blows into a groin churning buzz and then back and through again. We're walking on a wasted land here, and my feet are burning. Glorious. My favorite set of the night.

Thurston Moore + Nancy Garcia: I'm kind of a goof when it comes to Sonic Youth. I like them best when they're a) at their poppiest or b) apart. Thurston Moore was the known entity (That should not be misinterpreted as "predictible".) of last night's set with Nancy Garcia. Nancy Garcia. Um. OK. Wow. Like an unhinged and way less classical Sussan Deyhim in both dance and voice. Like Mo Tucker on drums. Like Patti Smith on guitar. Like nobody else with her feet stomping against the wall. This duo put in a grinding set of music and performance. Truly a collaboration. At one point near the end the two were rocking back and forth at each other and they looked like they were home. Which is exactly where they took us.

Greg Kelley: Well, here's a new way to abuse your trumpet. Play it with an Office Duster. The results weren't especially exciting as far as the end results, but I could hear Miles Davis turning in his grave and Jon Hassell wishing that he had thought of that. And that can only be a good thing. The set certainly made me want to hear a little more of where Kelley might go with this. Also a good thing. Plus, I loved that he wore a sports jacket for the performance.

Burning Star Core: Hmmm. Even when C. Spencer Yeh fails it's more interesting than most artists on a good day. Unfortunately that was the case for BSC's first and third songs Friday night. Intriguing, but neither really took me all the way to that special Burning Star Core place. The second song, however, was like a Carravagio thrusting its way out of the canvas at you. Jesus. Totally absolutely utterly definitely positively mesmerizing.

Handicapper Hornz: "New York's Alright...If You Like Saxophones"

No Fun Fest 2008, second night.
No Fun Fest 2008, third night.

Friday, May 16, 2008

No Fun.

I'll be doing all three nights of No Fun Fest starting tonight. Hopefully reporting on it like last year, but no promises. All depends on my head and what's left of it. Most looking forward to . . . Burning Star Core, Damion Romero, Jason Crumer, Failing Lights, Carlos Giffoni, Emeralds, Illusion of Safety (Um. Legends much?), FFH, Werewolf Jerusalem (Stoked much, Brent!?!?!?!) and of course, the gloriously named Afternoon Penis.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Adjusting Vision.

Well, that's one way to put it. Money quote from the Times: "AND so it will go."

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hiding the Bodies in Our Backyard.

I am fucking seething. It's bad enough that the fuckers won't show us the bodies. Now they won't even let us have art address the fact that there are bodies. I wrote about Susan C. Dessel's utterly urgent installation, Our Backyard: A Cautionary Tale, when it was up at Dam, Stuhltrager in 2006. It's been showing at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences. Judging from the photos on their site it's an organization that supports art and tennis. Well, they've censored Dessel's piece and here are photos that the artist sent me this morning. And here are the LIBF email addresses to which you can write. I wrote this in about 3 minutes before work. I'll continue this later.

OK. Lunchtime. Returning now. Read James Wagner on this. Read what Ed Winkleman has to say.

I've been thinking about this all morning. Maybe, just maybe, this is fucking perfect. I'm not saying that the LIBF's reaction is appropriate, but it does speak to a certain power that the art holds. In Dave Hickey's The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty he writes about Jesse Helms' reaction to Mapplethorpe. The war Helms waged against the work wasn't fueled by his misunderstanding of the images. To the contrary, Helms absolutely got it. He understood the power of their beauty and the influence wielded therein. Hence the sweaty, red-faced battle cry. That "supporters" of the LIBF were willing to go to the extreme of threatening to end their "support" of the institution so quickly just means that the work cut to the center of their hollow little bones. Surrounding the work with what looks like a medical scrim perfectly mirrors our country's refusal to look at what we've done. We want our wars to be clean and clinical. No bodies. No shame. No eyes. No memory. This is George Bush's 8-year Oedipal wet dream. Good luck cleaning the sheets.

When I first saw Our Backyard: A Cautionary Tale I said, "When they start hiding the dead it falls to artists to dig up the bodies and throw them back on the road, and Dessel has a strong arm." Trust me, kids. A scrim won't stop this work. Killing it will only make it stronger.


Seriously. Auction previews are awesome. Phillips Saturday. Christie's Sunday. Plenty of killer art to be seen as it floats between collectors. PLUS, it's fun to laugh at the rich. Although the auctions can sometimes hurt. Some woman poured her aching heart out to me on the stairs because of an if-only moment she had just experienced with a Jules de Balincourt that was up for auction that she could have had for a song back in the day. What a drag. And what made it worse was that she really seemed to like the piece. I have a feeling that she was more upset that it wasn't on her wall than the fact that she could have resold it for 4 gazillion dollars. She totally got my Cool Award for the day.

Banksy, trapped in a John McCracken . . .

Worst Schnabel EVER. Make it stop, Poppa. Doesn't this look like something that Dusty would buy?

Overheard 5-year-old kid critique of the day: "It needs a spider." Heh-heh. Too cute. I'm sure Jim Hodges will get right on that.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

NonStop Action!

Ellis G. is all, like, "Fuck it."


John Armleder w/ Jean-Michel Basquiat reflected

If you're in town on Sunday you gottagottagotta check out the contemporary art auction preview at Phillips de Pury. OMG. Soooooooo many good pieces. One of the most yummy previews I've seen at Phillips in awhile. A couple Basquiat jaw-droppers. Worth checking it out just for those. Even Julian showed up. The guy, I mean. Nice PJs, dude.

Andy Warhol and Banks Violette

Assume Vivid Astro Focus

Simon Doonan

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hanon Reznikov, R.I.P.

I was sad to see Hanon Reznikov's obituary in the the NYTimes yesterday. I almost never go to the theatre, but last autumn I went to see a reading of Rosalyn Drexler's Sweet Tooth at The Living Theatre on the Lower East Side. The play was given a sweetly caustic reading by a group of the actors that included Reznikov and his widow, Judith Malina (pictured above with Reznikov). After years of taking their show on a very long road the couple moved back to New York in 2007 to save the city and, specifically, the Lower East Side from itself. You can see the couple doing a staged reading about that very endeavor here.

Friday, May 09, 2008

René Smith at Gotham Digest.

My piece for Gotham Digest on painter extraordinaire, René Smith, is up and ready for consumption. Y'all know my affection for her painting and curatorial skills. It was a kick to be able to go to her studio and write about it.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Drawing Narrative.

By the River of Babylon

If you're visiting Philly in the next month you should make the effort to check out The Drawing Narrative, a group show at Jenny Jaskey. If you live in Philly then you have no excuse. One of the participants in the show, Rubens Ghenov, blew my doors off with the work he had in last summer's excellent René Smith-curated Out of Me, Out of You. The rhythm of narrative, weight, and texture makes his drawings completely irresistible. I fell hard and I fell fast. The Drawing Narrative opens Thursday, May 8, and I'm pretty sure it will kick your ass.

Na Banguela do João

Love Among The Ruins.

I'm never gonna be able to say more about the miracle that is Zoe Strauss' work than I did here, but that doesn't mean I'm not going to remind you of it a couple times a year. Especially when she kicks my ass all over again with her sweeping, massive, heart-bustin' annual tour de force, I-95 show. Like she do. She do.

One of the fabulous things that happens every year is that some of the photos find their perfect pillar, the textures of the concrete and paint bleeding into and out of the photos. Here were three of my favorite visual mix moments. (Here's last year's classic.)

And then, 4 pm. Total score!

There were a couple on my list, but I couldn't stop looking at this one. The color. The failed promise of text. At 4 pm, I took that puppy home.

BONUS TRACK: Albert Yee's fabulous post on I-95. Righteous!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Swastika Girl vs. Gossip Girl.

OMFG. Gossip Girl totally wins. This is pretty funny. And kind of odd. One of my most consistently and creepily clicked upon posts via Google searches is the one that contains the image below from the final day of the Assume Vivid Astro Focus show last June. Well, Swastika Girl, there's a new sheriff in town and her name is Gossip. In the last few days there've been massive hits from people looking for something/anything about Gossip Girl's "controversial" billboard ad. (Sorry culture soldiers, but the ad is a mirror, not a flute.) The search leads them to my short post about René Smith's kickass paintings appearing on Gossip Girl the other week. At any rate, Swastika Girl is getting trampled by fictional teenagers right now. And that is an awesome thing. As is my constantly beginning sentences with the word "And."