May 26, 2015

Recitation

While I knew the basics of its origins, I did not know that qur'an means "recitation". From Oxford Islamic Studies:

Most members of the early Islamic community, including Muhammad, were illiterate. The new scripture was known as the qur'an (recitation) because believers learned it by listening to public readings and recitations. Many of Muhammad's followers committed the passages to memory. But the Prophet also commissioned many scribes to preserve the messages in writing. They recorded the words on a variety of available materials, including paper, stones, palm leaves, and pieces of leather.

...

By the time of Muhammad's death, several of his followers had memorized the entire Qur'an. Many of them, however, were killed in battle. Fearing that knowledge of the Qur'an might be lost, the leaders of the Islamic community decided to collect all the revelations, from both written and oral sources, and to compile an official version of the sacred text.

I was looking this up because several religious traditions include the public reading of sacred texts. When Okwui Enwezor introduced the concept behind the public reading of Karl Marx's Das Kapital at the Venice Biennale, he chose Sikhism:
Taking the concept of the Sikh event, the Akhand Path (a recitation of the Sikh holy book read continuously over several days by a relay of readers), Das Kapital will be read as a dramatic text by trained actors, directed by artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien, during the entire duration of this year Art Biennale.
This reading, Okwui explained, was the center of the center of the Biennale, and was inspired by the 1974 Biennale's condemnation of the [US-backed] coup in Chile on Sept 11, 1973 and its oppressive aftermath:
The dedication of the program of events to Chile and against fascism remains one of the most explicit attempts, in recent memory, by which an exhibition of the stature of the Art Biennale not only responds to, but courageously steps forward to share the historical stage with the political and social contexts of its time. It goes without saying that, in view of the current turmoil around the world, that the Biennale's Eventi del 1974 has been a curatorial inspiration."

"In response to this remarkable episode and the rich documentation it generated, the 56th International Art Exhibition: All the World's Futures, will introduce the ARENA, an active space dedicated to continuous live programming across disciplines and located within the Central Pavilion in the Giardini. The linchpin of this program will be the epic live reading of all three volumes of Karl Marx's Das Kapital (Capital). Here, Das Kapital will serve as a kind of Oratorio that will be continuously read live, throughout the exhibition's seven months' duration."

"Designed by award-winning Ghanaian/British architect David Adjaye, the ARENA will serve as a gathering-place of the spoken word, the art of the song, recitals, film projections, and a forum for public discussions.
And so the linchpin of the Biennale's central programming space dedicated to the Biennale that courageously stepped forward to explicitly attempt to share the stage with the political and social context of the time is a religiously inspired recitation of a venerated text.

I had barely finished watching Enwezor say these words at the Biennale Press Preview when it was reported that Venetian government officials had ordered the Icelandic Pavilion to close immediately, because they disapproved of Christoph Büchel's artwork, The Mosque. The full title is The Mosque: The First Mosque in the Historic City of Venice, but the website for The Mosque, which was created in collaboration with the Islamic Communities of Venice and Iceland, calls it Misericordia Mosque & Islamic Cultural Centre Venice, after the deconsecrated Catholic church Iceland rented for their pavilion.

The Mosque was contested before it opened, for the two weeks it was open, and for the several days it has been closed. Icelandic Art Center officials say the city kept changing the terms and throwing up successive obstacles beforehand, and were determined to shut it down. In the face of this resolve, it seems almost irrelevant to debate whatever pretexts were finally used. Büchel saw this coming when others did not. A sympathetic local law professor told the NYT:

Venice is without a doubt the most tolerant city in Italy and proud of it, and so I think it's the wrong place to make this kind of statement."

Mr. Büchel said he had seen little evidence of such tolerance in his dealings with the city over the mosque.

Similarly predictable and irrelevant: answering the moralistic scolding and second-guessings of art world critics eager to disapprove of Büchel's confrontational hyper-realities.

Büchel's art didn't float an argument or evoke a narrative; he made a real situation. The Mosque posed a non-hypothetical moral test, which politicians and pundits alike are lining up to spectacularly fail.

The worst failure of all, though, would be the Biennale itself. Would be, or already is. Eiríkur Thorláksson, the Chairman of the Icelandic Art Center, said:

Most disappointingly, the administration of La Biennale di Venezia, an institution within the City of Venice, has not supported this artistic endeavor in the way that would have been expected for an organization of its stature and proclaimed advocacy of contemporary art.
The Times reported that neither Enwezor nor Biennale president Paolo Barrata had made any public statements of support for Büchel or The Mosque, even though the Icelandic Pavilion is part of the official Biennale program.

If Biennale officials are indifferent, they are complicit in The Mosque's unjust and unwise censorship. If they are actively maneuvering to thwart The Mosque and keep it closed, they are betraying the very mission Enwezor announced for himself and his exhibition, and hollowing out its lofty pretensions. If they are constrained by some unseen political situations, they should call it out.

But what Enwezor could really do is embrace The Mosque, and make its successful realization the center of his Biennale. I don't presume to know how to achieve this. My first impulse was to move The Mosque to the ARENA somehow. But the actual Venetian Muslims attending and operating The Mosque are not actors or props performing their prayers for an art world audience. They have autonomy. So ask them. Have Büchel ask. Maybe it'd work somehow. Or maybe the pavilion could reopen without the spectators. Why does The Mosque have to be a spectacle? The important thing now is that it's there.

May 21, 2015

Due Diecimila

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Diecimila, 1977, Chris Burden, 1977, ed. 35, Crown Point Press, image: contemporaryartnow

In 1977 Chris Burden made his first print with Crown Point Press. Turning the intensive printmaking process into what David Platzker called, "hands-off performative activity," Burden asked Crown Point to perfectly replicate an Italian 10,000-lira note.

The 10,000-lira note had Michelangelo's portrait on it, and required seven-color photoetching front and back, plus handmade paper that included the security watermark. Diecimila was printed life-size, but on a much larger sheet of paper. Most images of the print don't show the sheet, but it feels like an important element.

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I hadn't known of Diecimila before, but beyond the recreation, this sheet size caught my eye. It was similar to the way I made Untitled (Tanya), the photocopy & graphite edition of Cady Noland's photocopied drawing Tanya. If I find out I've inadvertently repeated a Chris Burden joint, I swear, I'm going to get into my handmade bike-car and drive away.

And speaking of repeating, Diecimila was repeated in a digitally produced facsimile sequel in 2010 by none other than Jonathan Monk, who never met a 1960s or 70s-era artwork he didn't like enough to repeat it.

Monk's Diecimila was published by MFC Michele Didier in the same edition size, same, portfolio--and with Chris Burden's signature. Monk signed a separate certificate.

Besides the printing technique, the one sure way you can tell Burden's Diecimila from Monk's Diecimila is that Monk's are available, and Burden's are sold out.

Diecimila, 1977, Chris Burden [crownpoint]
Diecimila, 2010, Jonathan Monk, EUR3000 [micheledidier.com]

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The third edition of Paul Soulellis's Library of the Printed Web is out, and it looks fantastic in many forms. What started as a tabloid zine is now, with Printed Web 3, a sprawling, multi-platform, medium-jamming festival of publishing. 147 people responded to Paul's invitation by submitting 329 files, which are now being released in a variety of print and digital formats, at prices ranging from free to entirely justified. Each one looks as interesting as the next.

I've already scraped rhizome.org, which is presenting all the files in one giant Apache directory, in the order they came in. And I've ordered the full set of sorted print-on-demand zines. And I'm thinking of pulling the trigger on the limited edition, full-color hardcover Chinatown Edition, a handbound/POD hybrid which comes wrapped in a digitally printed neoprene book blanket.

A what?

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Yes, and in fact, there are digitally printed neoprene book blankets available separately, too, which feature a small selection of the images. I'm stoked to find that my submission, Untitled (Andiron Attributed To Paul Revere, Jr.) is one of the ten neoprene options. And the only reason I might not get that one is because doing so might deprive the lonely andiron of the company of a(nother) sympathetic steward. Won't you help?

There's even a 5.5mb, 147-frame GIF. Printed Web 3 is dropping IRL this weekend at Offprint London. Everything else is below. Congratulations and thanks!

Check out all the instances of Printed Web 3, by Paul Soulellis [newhive.com]
Previously, related: Untitled (Andiron Attributed To Paul Revere, Jr.), 2015

We'll talk about this in the morning.

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Chris Burden, Modified Moon Piece, 2010 image: manpodcast

MORNING UPDATE A WEEK LATER, BECAUSE APPARENTLY IT TAKES LONGER THAN ONE NIGHT TO PROCESS THIS

November 2011: This was sitting right there in the first episode of Modern Art Notes Podcast, waiting. And even though he wouldn't tell me who the guest was, Tyler had been goading me before the launch, that I better listen, there is a surprise. Because he knew about the satelloons.

And I did not know about Chris Burden's unrealized 1986 proposal for The Moon Piece, which is basically to launch the biggest possible spherical inflatable mylar balloon satellite into orbit.

Which was basically the same idea I'd had four years earlier. Or nineteen years later, depending on who's counting.

Or was it? Maybe it's fine? Maybe it's different? Relationship status: it's complicated. Green teed the question about Burden wanting to build something like the Eiffel Tower. And in discussing The Moon Piece Burden said it could be a giant spherical balloon or an even more "giant parabolic mirror you could control." Which, if you made it about "the size of Lake Havasu," [78 km2, btw. -ed.], you could use to "light [all of] New York from above."

So maybe it's not a satelloon at all, then. And he's talking about something permanent, and big enough to light cities from space. This sounds like the Russian thing. Except it can't be, at least not originally. Green cited a 1988 interview with Paul Schimmel as the source for this proposal. And solar mirrors didn't really show up until the 90s. Russia ran a proof-of-concept solar mirror program called Znamya from 1992-99 which, it was hoped, would boost solar power production and bring light to darkest Siberia. But it only had one success: a 20-meter-diameter mirror launched in 1992 which produced a 5km-wide beam as bright as the full moon. Later, scientists at Livermore Lab proposed massive solar mirrors as one extreme technological approach to geo-engineering humanity's way out of the climate change crisis. So this solar mirror aspect is different, maybe an adaptation, an addition, and it shows the artist was keeping tabs on things. But Burden's original The Moon Piece idea is/was a satelloon.

It turns out Burden first pitched The Moon Piece in a letter to Edward Fry, who was co-curating Documenta 8 (1987) The letter was [first?] published in the appendix of the amazing 2005 monograph, Chris Burden. [Which I bought in 2008, but didn't read all the way, even after getting more into his work in 2009.]:

[The satellite's] "only function and purpose would be to reflect light back to earth. This special satellite would function much in the same manner that our present moon reflects sunlight. I foresee that this huge satellite could be manufactured out of fairly inexpensive, highly reflective Mylar film and be carried into outer space in a deflated state (like an uninflated balloon).

...

The Moon Piece will be highly visible to the naked eye and appear, in relation to the pin points of starlight, as a bright automobile headlamp moving rapidly across the night sky, one-fifth to one-tenth the size of the moon. The most sophisticated and the most primitive of cultures will be aware that something has changed in the heavens.

...

This is not simply a conceptual project. This project is technically feasible and to function as a work of art it must be actualized.

...

Obviously more research and information needs to be done on the specifics of the Mylar balloon such as size, thickness of Mylar, weight, etc., but I believe that The Moon Piece is physically and financially feasible given enough energy. If this idea, of putting into orbit a highly reflective satellite that would light up the heavens, could come to fruition I believe it would well be worth the effort.

On the one hand, it's nice to feel like you're on the same wavelength with someone whose work and career you admire. On the other hand, damn.

echo_satelloon_color1.JPG

But some things stood out. Like Burden "foreseeing" the possibility of the satellite's existence, and not knowing any of "the specifics." Is it possible that Burden really did not know that these exact objects had already been created and deployed in the 1960s, when he was a teenager? I can't believe it. Was it not important to his concept, or his pitch, to reference their historical sources, or their current non-art uses? Apparently.

And he adapted The Moon Piece, which began with the assumption that after 20 years, an inflatable satellite could be bigger, and after 30 years it could be bigger still. Or it could use future-state-of-the-art technology and be a mirror as big as a lake. Burden's constants were big, reflective, and in space. But other than that, the 2010-11 version didn't sound any further along than 1986's.

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A few months later (in 2012) I was working on making and showing a satelloon at apexart in New York, and I uncovered aspects of satelloons and their history that mattered. The concept had originated with none other than Wernher von Braun, who proposed, not a new moon, but a new, "American Star" which would awe the lesser nations into supporting the US in the Korean War. Von Braun wrote that in a widely published Time | Life book on space travel. Burden's language about "primitive cultures" knowing "something has changed in the heavens is straight from von Braun's pitch. The NASA engineer who had claimed the most credit for Project Echo came up with the idea at von Braun's V-2 rocket conference. It was OK'd after Sputnik because US military leaders wanted a visible satellite would normalize people to the presence of spy satellites and surveillance.

This is context I only pieced together after five years of researching. Burden missed or omitted not just this, but the very existence of Project Echo, when he proposed Moon Piece for Documenta1. Would it have turned up in Kassel? How would that've gone over? I can't even imagine.

Except that I did, and I still do. My apexart experience has made me very wary of satelloons, which are seductive, but also politically problematic. Their beauty and surface make them impossible to ignore, which makes it worse. I've also found that where I once felt daunted and insecure about having the same idea as a major artist I admired, I am OK with it. Partly because I realized my project is better.

And that, plus a $25,000 Marquis Jet card, can get you to Basel. Burden nailed it the first time: this is not a conceptual project, destined merely for Hans Ulrich's files. It must be actualized. And so it's especially unfortunate that Burden, whose genius was superlative physicality, can't see The Moon Piece in the sky himself.

After hearing about The Moon Piece, Green's follow-up question was whether Burden would be OK with people "mining his files" to produce his unrealized projects "after you're no longer with us." It's a conversation that obviously sounds very different now than it did in 2011, which is just one reason it's taken me more than a week to write this blog post. "if somebody wanted to do that after I'm not around, that'd be fantastic," Burden said. "I think that's why people become artists, you know. To have a life beyond them. I mean, it's a way to become immortal."

echos_sandia_life64.jpg

The Project Echo satellites stayed in orbit for five and eight years before gravity pulled them into the earth's atmosphere. It's not quite immortality, but it's a start.

Related, devastatingly: Chris Burden dies at 69 [latimes]
2007: If I were a sculptor, but then again
2013: Exhibition Space [apexart.org]
Listen to the entire discussion between Chris Burden and Tyler Green on Episode 1 of MANPodcast [manpodcast]
Or listen to the 3:00 MANPodcast excerpt where Burden & Green talk about The Moon Piece [dropbox, 4.6Mb mp3]

[1] What did Burden end up showing in Documenta 8, anyway? I have found him listed in the participating artists on Documenta's own site, as showing "audio". Of Burden's four pre-1987 audio works, only The Atomic Alphabet and Send Me Your Money, both 1979, seem likely. For his part, the artist's official CV only mentions Documenta 6, in 1977. Fry was the American co-curator on both.

ANDR TEST ITEM - DO NOT BID OR BUY - SPEED TEST DO NOT TOUCH - BH001.JPG

When I asked a recent buyer of some eBay Test Listings prints how he'd found them, he explained he had been searching for some items to boost his feedback ratings. I marveled how, within their own context, these dollar photos functioned just like more expensive transferring social capital to their collectors.

[It also made me wonder about monetizing this mediated reputational currency; maybe each cash-flow-negative transaction should be viewed through a customer acquisition cost lens, and the whole project reconceptualized as a startup. Old habits die hard.]

This unanticipated parallel to IRL art practice was fresh in my mind when I read Mike Pepi's review of the situation of Surround Audience, the New Museum's current triennial exhibition. Pepi argues that the solipsistic, theory- and commodity-driven artmaking context, and the exhibition form itself, are as poorly suited to presenting ideas and discourse as the single-voiced descriptive magazine review is at interpreting them.

Something like the Triennial deserves to be interpreted using methods that at first might contradict the delivery vessel of the exhibition.

What future are we creating when we double down on the hollow notion of singular judgment spreading forth, unidirectional and divorced from the connections now forged by a pervasive exchange of information? Our critical tools are just as responsible for art's caboosed condition.

Then I read David Salle talking to Michael H. Miller about the current art world's numbers games:
And now we're in a situation of measuring the success of something by the audience size. Which is for me, personally, the beginning of the end, because that was always the thing that set art apart from other areas of culture, there was no equation between quality and audience size.
And quantification and the interpretive value of data and its manipulation, and, as I think about the takeaways from these eBay Test Listings--and the point, frankly--it suddenly occurs to me that I've overlooked one crucial aspect of the project: the feedback. Which constitutes a very medium-specific form of review for the images, the objects, the project, the experience.

So I've collected it here:

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UPDATE/CORRECTIONS

One benefit of MoMA's historically grounded exhibition of The Migration Series is a broader look at Jacob Lawrence's work and the context in which he made it. Which includes floating this picture to the surface: Lawrence and fellow sailors posing with one of the paintings he made while serving in the US Coast Guard during WWII. [via @rebeccaonion and @thebenstreet]

There sure is a lot going on in that photo, and given the racial segregation and discrimination that still held sway in the US military during WWII, it feels frankly fake. But there it is. And it turns out Lawrence served on the USS Sea Cloud (IX-99), the first integrated ship in the Navy (and Coast Guard, obv) since the Civil War. IX-99 had once been the world's largest private yacht, the Hussar, and was designed by & built for Marjorie Merriweather Post and her husband EF Hutton, and later rechristened the Sea Cloud when Post married Joseph Davies. [The Sea Cloud is still in service as a crazy-luxe, old-school masted cruise ship, and every yacht-flaunting collector who hasn't ridden this thing up the Grand Canal for the Biennale should hang his head in rubber dinghy shame.]

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Well, OK, this one's not lost: Embarkation or possibly Landing Craft, gouache and watercolor on board, Collection USCG Museum

Lawrence was already well-known as an artist when he was drafted in 1943, and his commanding officers recognized this, and made painting part of his official duties, first as a public relations specialist on the Sea Cloud, and then as a combat artist on the USS Gen. Richardson. Lawrence returned to civilian life in late 1945. His War Series paintings, created on a Guggenheim grant in 1946-7, are in the Whitney collection, and are on view right now on the 7th floor. But almost all the paintings he made during the war itself are missing.

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This one, either. Also, it is amazing:No. 2 Control Panel, Nerve Center of Ship, gouache and watercolor on board, Collection USCG Museum

Numbers vary, but it appears Lawrence completed at least 48 paintings while in the Coast Guard. Eight were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in October-November 1944, alongside the complete Migration Series. [This was the museum's first solo show for an African American artist.UPDATE: Actually, not. See note at bottom of the post.] The Coast Guard now has only two [above]. Another painting, signed "Jacob Lawrence, USCG," was donated to the Albright-Knox by dealer Martha Jackson's family in 1974. And I think that's where we are right now/the last 40 years.

A history written in the early 90s by Lt Commander Carlton Skinner [pdf], who conceived of the Sea Cloud crew integration experiment, mentions 17 paintings, with one surviving. Milton Brown's catalogue for the Whitney's 1974 Jacob Lawrence retrospective says Coast Guard records put the number at 48 paintings, with almost none of the titles or descriptions matching up to any of the photo documentation.

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Seaman's Belt, 1945, was probably painted on the Gen Richardson, not the Sea Cloud. Martha Jackson Collection, Albright Knox Gallery

Skinner says the artwork got lost in the great demobilization shuffle after the war, when paintings just never came back or got tracked after the Coast Guard's traveling exhibitions. Brown says records for the works stop at 1961, though, and hypothesizes that they were scattered, uncatalogued, to be hung in various Coast Guard facilities. They could also have walked or been tossed out; Lawrence's intentionally flat style doesn't read as traditional, high-end Art, and his gouache on paper and panel might not hold up in a non-museum setting. I find it unlikely that no one has researched the paintings or tried to track them down in over 50 years, but so far, I'm coming up empty.

In any case, I'm posting the known images and titles on Lawrence's wartime paintings after the jump. Let's find these things, hm?

[CORRECTION Thanks to Anna Monahan of the Phillips Collection for pointing me to the actual first solo exhibition of an African American artist at MoMA: the 1937 show of sculptures by William Edmondson, a self-taught artist in Nashville. As it turns out, Edmondson's show was held at Rockefeller Center, in a temporary space during the construction of the Goodwin-Durell Stone building. It's amazing to me that I'd never heard of this period, or this space, even though I just now found a photo of it in Art in Our Time, a history of itself MoMA published in 2004. Will look into it.]

The Lost Wartime Paintings of Jacob Lawrence, by Capt. Carlton Skinner [uscg.mil, pdf]
1974 Whitney catalogue for Jacob Lawrence [archive.org]

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This post is for the archivists out there, and is inspired by putting away sweaters and Paul Soulellis's Rhizome post about zip files.

In September 2010 I wrote about what I called the Gala-as-Art Movement.

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installation image of Untitled (#rank Gift Bag) via hyperallergic

In December I presented an expanded history of Relational Aesthetics For The Rich at #rank, Jen Dalton and William Powhida's Art Basel Miami Beach follow-up to #class. Both #rank and #class were done for Ed Winkleman Gallery. #rank was actually part of Seven, the independent satellite exhibition. I later put a poorly edited audio/slideshow version of the Gala As Art on Vimeo. I expect I will edit the transcript and images into book form as well.

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I decided at the last minute to create an edition for the #rank event, and that the most appropriate form was a gift bag. I was reminded of how, staying true to its gift bag nature, I had not explained the edition, and had not identified it as an edition per se, even though, if you looked, there were clues. Up until now, this Hyperallergic photo of Veken and Jesse Lambert was the only public documentation of this edition.

Then I was putting some sweaters away this weekend, and I found a bag of leftover parts from editions that had gone uncollected after the event. I will now describe the edition, its elements, and its development.

The impetus for an edition was the gold-leaf chocolate lips dessert edition created by Kreemart for Marina Abramovic's The Artist Is Present after-gala. I put edible silver leaf on red wax lips, and repackaged them. I also bought edible gold leaf, which, having never bought it before, I found unexpectedly expensive. I tested with the silver and found it satisfying, but I did not return the gold.

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The lips alone were insufficient, however, and thus the gift bag idea was reached. The color theme came from the silvered lips, which, as the colors of a Diet Coke can, also evoked the autobiographical. I wanted to add a tchotchke, like a LIVESTRONG bracelet, but the lead time was killing me.

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I decided to publish the supporting media for the project the way Doug Aitken had made an artist book for his MOCA Happening. I thought of burning a bunch of DVDs, but I didn't want to get all designy. I thought of a customized USB stick, but again, I had too little lead time. These two objects merged into one, though, when I found a silicone bracelet with USB memory embedded. I signed and numbered the band, and named each drive with its edition number. I remember after the event, hearing people not realizing it was a USB stick, and thinking oh well, no one gets it, and no one will ever see it.

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In the few minutes between finding these USB bracelets and opening one again, I imagined publishing the whole thing as an e-book, or a PDF. I'd remembered more texts and fewer videos. Which is why Soulellis's zip file art publishing stuck in my mind. But that's the beauty of zip-based publishing: it can take anything. And so they're here, as Gala-as-Art_Gift_Bag.zip. The contents are as seen in the screenshot above.

The bag also contained a card, in the format of a gala invitation, in which all the artists mentioned were listed as benefit committee members. I have not found the leftover stack of these cards, which were hastily and unsatisfyingly produced on the ground at some Kinko's in Miami Beach. But when I do, I will document it here.

The bags are similarly suboptimal, looking nothing like their pictures in the Oriental Trading Co. catalog. The silver mylar, however, is just right, and should be properly considered by future historians of the exhibition history of satelloons.

Untitled (#rank Gift Bag) is the second time I've introduced an artwork in the context of a presentation. Instead of site-specific, they're situation-specific. In each case, I took Cary Leibowitz's practice to heart, and signed something "so you won't throw it away." And yet even considering fluxus and James Lee Byars and the stuff I've got socked away in storage, I expect that few if any examples of either piece have survived in the wild. I also expect that it doesn't matter.

So while this doesn't reconstitute the works, and I'm not inclined to do anything with the leftovers, when it comes to ever discussing the works and their experience, I have changed my position on whether you really had to be there.

Gala-as-Art_Gift_Bag.zip [dropbox]

Previously: An Incomplete History of The Gala-as-Art Movement [greg.org]
The Gala As Art As Slideshow [ibid.]
The Gala As Art, greg.org, at #rank 2010 [vimeo]
Why Ed Winkleman did #rank at the Seven Miami Art Fair [hyperallergic]

April 24, 2015

SUPERFLEX Haacke Tack

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SUPERFLEX, Supercopy Haacke Hermes, 2015, installation shot at von Bartha, Basel, courtesy the artists

While William Pope L.'s Trinket keeps blowin' in LA, SUPERFLEX is showing this piece in Basel.

The Danish colabo is opening a show at von Bartha that includes Supercopy Haacke Hermes, a revision of Hans Haacke's classic Blue Sail (1968) made with fake Hermès and Gucci scarves from Thailand.

With this piece, we read, SUPERFLEX "continue to confront issues of copyright, intellectual property and trademark infringement."

A more mercenary SUPERFLEX might also confront issues of aspiration and capitalism by stitching together a collector's own collection of Hermès scarves and selling it back to her for 50x more.

Or they could start selling sponsorships. [YOUR LOGO HERE]. Doesn't being in Basel just get your transactional juices flowing? I am feeling it!

SUPERFLEX's Euphoria Now! is at von Bartha in Basel from 25 Apr through 11 Jul 2015 [vonbartha, thx publicists!]

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I'm always a sucker for a monochrome, and this imposing Man Ray photo posted at grupa ok a little while ago is no exception. Their title for it is Ma Dernière Photographe, which gives it some added gravitas. Even though it is tiny, 20x13.7cm, (8x5.5 inches).

But the date is 1929, and Man Ray definitely kept on working after that. So if he once thought it was his last photo, it wasn't. Maybe it was just his latest at the time.

When she showed it at Basel and in a monotone group show last fall, though, the Paris dealer Natalie Seroussi listed the title as ma dernière photographie, which syncs with the inscription. It turns out to be similar to a title Man Ray gave to another 1929 photo, both Rayographs, actually, which sold at Sotheby's in 2009. According to Man Ray scholar Steven Manford, that image was published in 1938 with the caption, "La Dernière Photo de Man Ray."

Rayographs, or photograms, are unique camera-less prints, where objects placed on photosensitive paper appear in negative. Except in this case, where Man Ray put nothing on it. So it's either a picture of nothing, or, more accurately, of everything.

UPDATE: OK, I decided the images are the priority, and getting them out there, so they're all relisted and ready to go, including exciting groups of ducks, frogs, fruit, monochromes, and office cube minimalism.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to get high-handed about arbitrary-seeming market-related rule-driven art practices. After almost six weeks and nearly 100 prints shipped, eBay suddenly dropped the hammer on my Test Listings series. 35 listings were canceled without warning tonight, and I spent an hour bouncing around eBay's call center to find someone who could explain what happened, and how to fix it.

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Apparently the main problem boils down to having actual items to sell in the test listings category, which is for testing only. But the content from test listings (image and title and description texts) apparently triggers an automatic rejection if you try to list in a mainstream category like art > photographs. Calling something a "test," or using the word "test" in your title is enough to keep a listing off the site. But that's eBay's tautological problem. They also actually ban listings "where the value is placed on an intangible factor," like, no joke, "someone's 'soul'".

I had a couple of confounding discussions with CSRs about appropriation, context, and an awareness of the process of selling. I was asked how I could possibly claim I was actually selling an object, and that I wanted someone to buy it, when my descriptions clearly said "NO ITEM" and "DO NOT BID OR BUY." And how could I think it's not confusing that I put, "Actually, there is an item, and you can buy it." right underneath it?

ANDR Test Auction DO NOT BID OR BUY - SME JSS Related 2.JPG

And who would even try to sell an image that had DO NOT BID OR BUY printed right across the middle of it?

"Is this your image?"
"It is now."
"Then you can change it so it doesn't say that, right?"
"Does eBay have any other instructions for how I should change these artworks?"

Was a real conversation I had with one Resolution Manager, after he'd already told me to change the title of the works, too.

It was a challenge to explain the project in this situation, to someone who had no interest or expertise in the art context, and whose job was to maintain the integrity of eBay's transactional experience. Even though I had been instructed by an eBay CSR to list my items in the testing category, I was clearly selling, not testing. And the way I was selling would disrupt the expectations of someone shopping in a normal part of the site. Which, of course, was my entire point. Which he accepted and rejected at the same time.

Maybe I'm the one who needs to pay attention to the context. eBay is full of art ridiculousness, more or less interesting, and apparently, I'm just wanting to add one more.

Matt Latourette reminded me of the 2014 4chan stunt listings to sell posts, then screenshots of posts, then making-of screenshots of posts, &c. which culminated/dissipated into Hyperallergic selling a blog post about the whole thing.

vendi_vendi_ch-aga-ll.jpg

And @yunginstitution linked to this kind of thing, where an Italian creator of unabashed fakes hopes that kerning and an amazing incantation of a copyright disclaimer will keep the reaperbots at bay:

The work is not supplied with certificate of authenticity and warranties (as has never been evaluated, estimating expertise) and then, having regard to the recognition and similarity to the style of the author, is proposed as a copy of copyright, false copyright, in the manner of the author, under Article 8 of the law of 20 November 1971, n.1062 (Official Gazette No 318 of December 17) (according to law "dl 41 22/01/2004 art 179)
"a copy of copyright, false copyright, in the manner of, full of grace..."

do-not-buy-this-shipping.JPG

I guess my interest is primarily not in becoming an eBay crank, nor in reverse engineering the site's unwritten policies and assumptions about selling. But I am still fascinated by the images and language of not-selling, and the aesthetic decisions being made in these unimaginably rare situations where marketing, promotion, strategy and enticement aren't just absent, but avoided. And the implications of this for art are still worth considering even after Armory Week.

I'll revise this tomorrow, but, in the mean time, I have published a list of all the items eBay terminated, with their titles and (now defunct) item numbers. This will serve as a Googleable registry/reference for these works as I try to figure out whether and how to relist them. And then I'll think about what to do with the prints for the two dozen new test listings arriving this weekend.

UPDATE You know what, enough nonsense, the images are what interest me, so I'm stripping out all the text and title stuff and just relisting all available prints. They'll all be properly titled when they're shipped out, according to the registry below. Bid and buy with confidence.

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Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

recent projects, &c.


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eBay Test Listings
Mar 2015 —
about | proposte monocrome, rose
bid or buy available prints on ebay

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It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

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Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

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"Exhibition Space"
Mar 20 - May 8 @apexart, NYC


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

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