April 23, 2004

NY, NY, A Minimal Town

It's a fine hook to hang a puff piece for the Guggenheim's minimalism exhibit on: Tour the city with the curators and uncover the minimalism all around us. Should be ideal; so why would I rather take my chances on the Baghdad-Najaf local?

Is it the idea of riding around in a van all day? The constant competition for most nerve-fraying whine between Nancy Spector's 3-month-old baby and chief curator/clotheshorse Lisa Dennison? ("There is a very real danger that I will start to shop, so we'd better be brief.")

No, it's the depressing realization that these supposedly high-octane New York artminds, augmented by artist and prolific writer Liam Gillick, couldn't have come up with a more unimaginative, uninformative itinerary. With the exception of Donald Judd's own studio/house in SoHo, their minimalist sites barely warrant looking up as your cab goes by.

Jil Sander (by Spector's husband) instead of Calvin Klein (by maxi-minimalist and Judd cut-and-paster John Pawson)? The window at the Time Warner Mall instead of the Rose Center Planetarium (which did clear-glass curtainwall first, infinitely better, and happens to be by an actual architect)? Richard Meier's silly Asia de Cuba or whatever the hell it's called? (My guess: Lisa's idea.)

And the piece de resistance: the Seagram building instead of something actually minimalist, like _____(I'm thinking.) This minimalist braintrust actually drinks the Miesian Koolaid, that it's all about "structure as the expression of the buildng." Mies was as much about decoration as the next classicist, it turns out, as the renovation of his IIT in Chicago proved. His structure was a veneer on top of the actual structure: aestheticized, artificial, techno-classicist.

[Update: I am not all right on this Mies nonsense, but it turns out I'm even lazier than a vanful of curators. And I'm too bored with their conceit to care. If you're really interested in minimalism and the grid and its influence on the city, go read the chapter on how laying out the grid led to the development of the skyscraper in Koolhaas's Delirious New York.

Police arrest 2 under new 'anti-camcording' law 15 Apr 2004 10:07am EDT - By Jesse Hiestand The MPAA announced Wednesdaythe first arrests under a new California law targetting movie pirates who use camcorders in theaters. Min Jae Joun was arrested on suspicion of violating the anti-camcording law after theater personnel saw a red light from his camcorder during an April 10 screening of The Passion of the Christ at the Pacific Theatre at the Grove in Los Angeles. Joun's next hearing date is May 5 in Los Angeles' central arraignment court. Also arrested on suspicion of the misdemeanor charge was Ruben Centeno Moreno, who allegedly recorded The Alamo on April 12 at the Pacific Winnetka Theatre in the Chatsworth area of Los Angeles. A projectionist observed a light from the video camera and confirmed it using night-vision goggles, according to the MPAA. No hearing date has been set yet for Moreno. [via IMDb]
If you can actually tell me which of the three highlighted parts of this story is the craziest, I'll paypal you a dollar.

Related: Jon Routson got a good, if cautionary, review for his current show of bootlegged films-as-art.

Dan Flavin at the Prada Foundation, image: nytimes.comWTF? Herbert Muschamp in today's NYT Magazine: "[Miuccia Prada] has made the world safe for people with overdeveloped inner lives. [I guess, by selling bagsful of $480 polo shirts to armies of style-free mooks and molls from Manhasset.

[And by commissioning some hapless fop to recreate--and gut of all meaning beyond hip association through sheer and empty aestheticization--an actually controversial and culture-changing documentary by Pier Paolo Pasolini, which had already just been remade a couple of years before by some Italian TV producer.]"

Anish Kapoor, Unity, image: Anish Kapoor's design for a memorial to the 67 Britons killed on September 11 was selected for inclusion in the British Memorial Garden, which will be created at Hanover Square in lower Manhattan.

Unlike the much-publicized [mea culpa], frenzied competition for the WTC Site Memorial, Kapoor's memorial design was selected the old-fashioned way: The British Memorial Garden Trust invited "twelve of Britainís most celebrated and critically acclaimed artists" to submit proposals, and, voila, nine months later (and six months overdue), the winner is announced. Without a peep from the US media, as far as I can tell.

Kapoor will create a 6m black granite monolith with a highly polished rectangular chamber in the center, which, the artist says, "reflects light so as to form a column, which hovers, ghost-like, in the void of the stone.

"This very physically monolithic object then appears to create within itself an ephemeral reflection akin to an eternal flame."

Kapoor's intensely fragile sculptures of raw pigment can be seen at the Hirshhorn Museum and at my friend's house, where he has a little note for the cleaning lady reminding her not to dust, for heaven's sake.

[via archinect]

Ever the arts enthusiast in search of a common man constituency, Tyler Green wrote an op-ed for the WSJ that gamely proposes to take the Whitney Biennial on the road, to the people--in the "hinterlands."

And what could be wrong with that? Besides going to bat for the perennially controversial-at-best biennial? Besides coming off as populist and condescending toward your biennial's flyover audience?

Well, there's playing right into the middle of the WSJ's own FoxNews-like editorial slant, for one. Tyler shouldn't be surprised when the comments he received were at odds with the crusty, Moral Majority-form letters the Journal itself published. Tyler lobbed one over the net, and the Journal's know-nothing niche shot it down like the pigeon his editors knew it would be.

She slept through the almost the whole thing*. Until we walked into the Cecily Brown gallery, when she started screaming at the top of her lungs. On this advice, we cut our visit short, leaving via the elevator so as not to disrupt the Julianne Swartz sound installation in the stairway.)

* Truthfully, she also shattered the misty calm of the Gran Canaria forest in Craigie Horsfeld's video room with a post-bottle burp worthy of a trucker.

">Riot, by Joy Garnett, image:
The artist Joy Garnett just had a show called "Riot" at Debs & Co, lushly painted figures in caught in moments of distress or violence. Then she got threatened with a lawsuit by a Magnum photographer for referencing a 1978 image of a guy throwing a Molotov cocktail. Of course, the irony [?] is that, as Garnett says, "my work is ABOUT the fact that images are uncontrollable entities. It's about what happens when you remove context and framing devices." Which means, of course, it's about getting sued.

Congratulations, Joy. I hope you get sued again real soon.

Related: The Bomb Project, an archive of "nuclear-related links organized for artists."

March 18, 2004

Sun Set

Olafur Eliasson's The Weather Project closes this weekend, image:

This is the last weekend to see Olafur Eliasson's installation, The Weather Project in the Tate's turbine hall. The museum's keeping the hall open until 1AM on Friday and Saturday, apparently because they're unsatisfied with only 2 million visitors.

For added enjoyment, the Guardian published a diary from the Tate's manager, the one who had to deal with troupes of Santas, didgeridoo players, a man in a canoe, and people hooking up under the mirrored ceiling.

[3/20 update: Michael Kimmelman interviews Olafur in his Berlin studio about TWP. Re the headline, the Arts & Leisure section closes on Tuesday night. Great minds, etc., etc. "The Sun Sets at the Tate Modern]

Tyler has compiled a convenient checkist for making a complete and utter ass of yourself at The Armory Show this weekend. For [my] entertainment's sake, please follow every piece of advice.

still, Winchester, 2003, Jeremy Blake,

Editor Tim Griffin introduces In Conversation, a new feature in this month's Artforum, artists talking to artists. To start: Jeremy Blake and John Baldessari, two artists with deep interest in the intersections between painting and ______(cinema, photography, technology, text, conceptual art). Both artists also have deep, abiding interest in film as well, which explains why this turned up on

One great thread: Baldessari's contested label as a Conceptual Artist.

JOHN BALDESSARI: Well, in the late '60s, I was introduced to some painter at Max's Kansas City and he said, "Oh you're one of those �write-abouts'?" I said, "What do you mean �write-abouts'?" 'You know, critics write about your work.' To him, that's what made a Conceptual artist.
Related posts from Feb. 2003: Jeremy previewing his Winchester piece last Feb and his haiku-like shorts for the Punch-Drunk Love DVD.

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Since 2001 here at, 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 that time.

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