Category:dc

October 13, 2013

The Confederacy Is Present

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Carhartt product placement? image: @catblackfrazier

Talking Points Memo calls it "Rage & Performance Art," which is complicated only if you let it.

Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and former half-term governor and Fox News personality Sarah Palin headlined a protest at the WWII Memorial today. They were decrying the memorial's closure as a result of the government shutdown. The shutdown they orchestrated and perpetuate. Personally.

The protestors, Tea Party Republicans and truckers, siezed the barricades and marched them up 17th Street to the White House, where they waved a Confederate flag and demanded President Obama come out with his hands up.

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image: @davidfrum

On a process note, it's interesting that where Sforzian moments were once centrally conceived for and executed by professional photojournalists, nowadays photo-op political stunt events are disseminated through amateur snapshots.

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One thing that hasn't changed, though, is Karl Rove's Sforzian dictum that you should be able to get the message even if you have the TV sound turned off. And I think that comes across loud and clear.

As in this photo from [decidedly non-amateur, non-bystander] Texas Republican congressman Steve Stockman, which includes a flag behind Palin that cites John Locke's "appeal to heaven" to call for revolution against the government. [via andrewsullivan.com]

October 7, 2013

Emerge-ing

The third edition of the (e)merge art fair was held this weekend at the Rubells' hotel in Washington DC. After not being sure whether I'd be in town, I was, and I went on Saturday afternoon. I'd say it was well-attended, but not crowded.

The fair was smaller than the first/only time I'd been in 2011, with one 32-room floor of exhibitors instead of 2.5. And some of this year's exhibitors took double/adjoining rooms. And in addition to a couple of DC galleries, there were local non-profits and agencies like Transformer Gallery, WPA, and DC's Arts & Humanities agency.

Despite trying to keep up with art making things, I knew almost none of the galleries or artists I saw. (E)merge's emphasis on emerging galleries showing emerging artists felt like a self-fulfilling and self-limiting parameter that makes for a tricky situation in which to buy--and sell--art. It's a set-up that appeals almost exclusively to collectors' impulse purchase reflex, not their investment aspirations, and definitely not their craving for glamor, luxury, status, or social theater.

On the other hand, there seemed to be significantly more artists in the fair's Artists Platform, self-representing artists, collaboratives, and artist-run galleries who were spread out around the hotel's ground floor, deck, and parking garage. They were mostly solid, engaging, and interesting. Baltimore and MICA were heavily represented, the Corcoran, much less so. I left wanting to merge (e)merge with Artomatic.

But enough of that armchair quarterbacking. Here's some of what I saw that stuck with me, in roughly chronological order. It's like a timeshifted liveblogging highlight reel of my (e)merge visit.

October 6, 2013

American Decay

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From grupa o.k. comes this 1972 diagram [drawing?] by Carl Andre, Line of March, which describes a smallish floor piece. And it connects to the second inauguration, on January 20, 1972, of Richard Nixon.

Courtney Fiske blogged about finding a 1973 ARTNews article about Line of March titled "The politics of cheese." Andre had found the index card-size sheet metal pieces for the sculpture on his way to Washington, where he'd planned to protest Nixon's inauguration by installing a work, titled American Decay at Max Protetch's gallery on M Street:

The piece consisted of 500 pounds of cottage cheese anointed with 10 gallons of ketchup, resting atop tar paper, covering an area about 12 by 18 feet, with the cheese itself about 10 inches deep. Although the piece was not for sale, one collector did take home ten small cans of the Sealtest large-curd cottage cheese.

There were those who felt, on seeing the piece, that Andre had taken an obscurantist stance, but they should remember that during the campaign Nixon's lunches consisted of cottage cheese coated with ketchup. It has not yet been determined if the cottage cheese Nixon ate was Sealtest large-curd. At any rate, American Decay, which opened at the Protetch Gallery on Jan. 19, closed on Jan. 20 because of the putrid smell which permeated the premises.

I can't find photos of American Decay, but I will definitely look. It sounds gross, but fantastic.

The student of politics will also note that Nixon's inauguration actually took place on January 20, 1973, a full year after the date in the drawing above. Gilbert & Lila Sullivan had another Line of March drawing in their collection that does have the "right" date.

So now I really have no idea what this piece of paper is.

October 2, 2013

To The Sforzian Barricades!

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For a brief moment yesterday, the first morning of the GOP-instigated shutdown of the federal government, anxious confusion reigned. And as folks began realizing that in addition to the hundreds of thousands of furloughed and unpaid workers, and the halt to vital government programs across the country, Washington's museums and memorials were also closed to the public, there was a ray of hope.

A tour group of World War II veterans, The Greatest Generation, were not going to stand for this assault on our great constitutional democratic institutions. So they had someone push them in their wheelchairs into the World War II Memorial as Park Police watched from the sidelines.

Yeah, then it turns out the pushers were some of the same Tea Party extremists in the House who had voted for, nay, clamored for, the government to be shut down in the first place. Last night the likes of Michele Bachmann and Steve King were promising to personally help any veterans group fight their way back into the Memorial any day if they had to. And they just dared Pres. Obama to arrest them all. Ideally, on live cable TV.

Today, with conservative media attention riveted on this Mussolinian plaza which slices the National Mall in two like a hernia operation, Park Police decided to stand aside as congressional tour guides boldly shouted, "Tear down this fence!" and "Stand our ground!" and whatever.

And GOP chairman Reince Priebus himself stood in the glare of cameras and the afternoon sun, brandishing a GOP check and offering to pay to keep the memorial open (for vets) or, in Gawker's words, "to rent the WWII Memorial for shutdown theater," and --hey, how'd those people in the background get past Obama's Black Fence of Tyranny? It's almost like that little fence was put there, in front of the sign, and strewn with police tape, just so, just to be photographed. Can we get a wide shot on this one?

[image tweeted by HuffPostPol reporter @RyanJReilly: "'Go do your job, idiot!' -- protestor to @Reince at WWII Memorial"]

In this set-up for After Art, his slim tome of theory on networked images, Yale's David Joselit argues that art's status as a luxury commodity is not a bug, but a feature, and the art world should get with the program:

Indeed, all over the world, from Bilbao to Abu Dhabi to Beijing, new contemporary museums are being established in order to consolidate local elites, and broadcast a global image of cultural progressiveness. Commenting on the Qatar Museum Authority's staggering budget of some $1 billion per year for art acquisitions, the New York Times recently declared, "it seems clear that, just as Qatar has used its oil riches to boost its influence in the Middle East with ventures like arming Syrian rebels, its wealth is also being deployed to help the country become a force in the world of culture." It is rather breathtaking -- and enormously revealing -- that arming Syrian rebels and building a sophisticated cultural infrastructure can be so seamlessly joined in the same sentence.

Paradoxically, artists, critics and historians too often disavow the art world's capacity as an economic engine and its political power as a marker of national development. The reasons for this are obvious: if one admits the real economic and cultural power of the art world, one must also give up on the enduring myth that works of art remain apart from that world, existing in a realm of detached criticality or extra-economic authenticity. In actuality, the art world has grown enormously in the post-World War II period and in its combination of knowledge production, public presentation, and patronage of powerful elites, it has begun to resemble institutions of higher learning on the one hand, and the entertainment industry on the other. It seems to me that art's worldly power, which tends to be veiled (or literally obscene), can be harnessed better and to more progressive ends by artists.

I guess I'll have to read the book, but a term like "art world" can obfuscate a whole lot of power-related detail, of who's doing the wielding and to what end. But I suspect neither art's power nor the enduring myth are quite as real IRL as they are in Joselit's thought experiment. And I don't know about revealing, but that whole Syrian thing just gets more breathtakingly timely by the week, doesn't it?

UPDATE: Joselit's piece ends by holding up Ai Weiwei as an example of an artist who wields this kind of art world/real world power. Which, interestingly, Jason Farago mentions Ai, too, in his BBC article on the timid Metropolitan Opera getting dragged into the controversy over Russia's shameful discrimination of LGBT people. Farago compares the Met's inaction to the institutional outcries and support given to Ai Weiwei during his imprisonment. [via @karenarchey]

Which might render Joselit's notion of art world power all the more quaint, and his call for action all the more damningly empty. His book came out in 2012, but the oppression and discrimination against lesbians and gays in Russia is surely the first test of Joselit's paradigm: a fundamental "progressive end" toward which the "art world"--not just artists and institutions, but presumably, the administrators, executives, trustees, collectors, dealers, fair organizers, magazines, philanthropists, and critics--should be harnessing "art's worldly power."

How's that going? Sure, there's tepid talk of boycotting the Moscow Biennial. But has anyone checked in with the Russian oligarchs and collectors [and the Ukranian one(s), for that matter, since Ukraine has already enacted similar discriminatory measures] who collect, show and sponsor? Who chair galas and sit on museum boards and invest in art-related Internet startups? It would make for an exciting Frieze VIP preview. But I'm not waiting up.

The Politics of Information | David Joselit [berfrois.com]

Visitor posted this comment from Richard Serra's 1974 interview with Liza Bear, quoting his own statement from the catalogue for Maurice Tuchman's 1970 show at LACMA, Art and Technology, about technology being "a form of toolmaking, body extension." Also, "Technology is what we do to the Black Panthers and the Vietnamese."

He goes on to say that "It reflects my political responsibility to the public--not that I have any idealistic notions of swaying the masses through television. I think commercial TV is basically show business, and that means show business is used to reflect corporate America's interests."

Of course, one of the criticisms leveled at Art & Technology was that it was using art to reflect those same corporate interests. Tuchman arranged for 64 men of the art and industry to pair up to produce artworks, which would be exhibited at the Museum, and also the US Pavilion at the Osaka 70 World's Fair. The results were mixed at best.

Roy Lichtenstein worked with Paramount to make 35mm painting/film installations. Warhol made some wacky lenticular rain machine. Rauschenberg made a bubbling pool of lubricating mud. Tony Smith tried to make a cave from thousands of cardboard tetrahedrons. And all of it went down when opposition to the Vietnam war and Nixon and the Establishment were hitting new nadirs every day. If the show was meant to heal, bridge, transcend, or even paper over the cultural chasms between art and the American corporate machine, it has to be considered a failure.

And yet, somehow I hadn't noticed this, and I can't remember ever hearing it discussed, the work Richard Serra made for Art and Technology seems like some of the most crucial of his career. I'll look again, but in terms of the artists' own practice, I think Serra made what turns out to have been the most important art in the show.

Serra was, remarkably, the seventh artist Tuchman tried to match with Kaiser Steel Corp's Fontana mill. [Among the first six attempted matches: Smithson and di Suvero, which, sure, but also Jules Olitski and Len Lye, which, what?] He proposed work that would "be related to both the physical properties of the site and the characteristics of the materials and processes concomitant to it."

The three "categories" he envisioned were, casting, overlaying/stacking, and constructions.

And that's just what he did. Serra worked nights with the crew assigned to him to get a feel for steel in its different forms, for the site, and for the processes available to manipulate the material. After several weeks working in the skullcracker yard, where scrap steel was moved around with a giant magnetic crane for reprocessing, he used the machinery to execute 12 different constructions [or 20, depending] within two intense, final weeks. "The procedure would be to erect a piece, and, if he considered it successful, to have it recorded photographically when possible. The structure was then dismantled."

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Stacked Steels Slabs (Skullcracker Series), 1969, constructed at Kaiser Steel, Fontana, CA

The first of these pieces is probably the best-known, a leaning stack of sixteen 6-ton slabs of cast steel known as stools, the photo of which has circulated under the name, Stacked Steels Slabs (Skullcracker Series). These Skullcracker Series works became more structurally complex; Serra created loose piles of steel scrap, then propped large slabs against or on top of them.

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He made counter-balanced structures with plates jutting out in various directions. They remind me a bit of the block towers architect Eliot Noyes made to demonstrate balance in a 1955 educational film. I'm sure, of course, they were completely different.

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After a second, less successful stay in 1970, Serra agreed to return in the Spring of 1971 for the actual LACMA show. He would erect a Skullcracker Series at the museum, and also install "a piece related to his more recent thinking; the idea derived directly from what he had learned about steel at Kaiser."

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His idea was to measure a site and install a steel plate, which would be cut along the edge of the ground, thereby taking the contour of the topography into which it had been installed.

Though the cutting is, I think, unique, a form of drawing, this creation of sculpture that marks the contours of a site is immediately, obviously recognizable as central to Serra's work at the time. He was doing it at that exact moment in St. Louis with Pulitzer Piece, and in Ontario with Shift. And he says that it all came "directly from what he had learned about steel at Kaiser." [Those links are both to Tyler Green's Modern Art Notes, who's written one of the very few art-aware accounts of actually visiting Shift.]

Serra's steel mill-based practice is something else that, in the intervening decades, has become central to Serra's work. In interviews, it's usually explained by biography, by early factory jobs in college. But those jobs didn't get a mention in Tuchman's Art & Technology catalogue, and Tuchman's complicated show rarely gets credited for arranging the corporate collaboration at Kaiser Steel that gave Serra his first studio in a steel mill.

Previously, related: Stop & Piss: David Hammons' Pissed Off

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Gretchen Bender, Sensurround, 1983, silkscreen and c-print on tin

From Andrew Russeth comes Cindy Sherman's 1987 interview with Gretchen Bender, published in BOMB Magazine:

CS There's an article in an L.A. paper describing you as a TV terrorist, saying that you can attain a critical edge through overload.

GB Yeah. There are artists who talk of using silence as a weapon, an alternative and an act of resistance. That's one end of it. I've gone in the opposite direction but with the same desire. I think it's more important to mimic and provoke at this point.

CS Your theatrical pieces are counterpointed by the tin pieces, which ironically, make objects out of paradigms.

GB Either way, it's only temporarily effective. Hans Haacke uses part of the dominant high culture to criticize the function of the whole system through his object/displays. The question is--how broadly effective do you want to be? That is a difficult question with artists. Artists can be confused about their situation as a powerless elite. We operate from the protective base of the art world, a situation in which we can develop ideas but a place from which it is complicated to launch media-related art work without it getting co-opted by the very structures it criticizes. Although I use those structures. I'm resisting one channel television because I haven't figured out how to effectively communicate except in a theatrical setting.

Again, I started wanting to quote the silence and art's engagement/fear of politics, and I didn't want to stop reading. Plus, it's all talking about the tin pieces:
CS You've been criticized for being high tech, which is another way of infiltrating popular culture--using the technology that they use.

GB It's something visual artists tend to resist although that resistance is steadily breaking down. More artists are figuring out how to use computer technology . . . there's so much that's happening visually. It's strange that the art world resists using the visual tools of our time. What's that about? It is scary when you have this heritage that you invoke--art history.

CS It's supposed to be more pure if you use materials like paint or make it all yourself or use another person to make it for you.

GB The art world is trying to protect this antiquated territory and what is most disturbing about switching over to the newer technologies is that there is no authority to invoke. There aren't any guidelines to tell you that you're making 'good' art. No one knows enough or understands enough. There's so much experimentation to do, so many blind visual forays to risk, so many conceptual implications of the newer technologies to try to comprehend. Many artists aren't willing to take those risks. You don't know if you are going to be effective or not, if you are going to make silly or profound works. I think that's what terrifies most artists and I think that's why the art world is so slow to accept the culture of today.

CS You have used imagery from other people's art work in some of your own pieces. I interpreted that as reducing expensive works of art by male artists--paintings--to this disposable imagery level.

GB I wanted to use the art as signs and not as valuable objects. I decided to combine those found art reproductions as one combines words in a language or even just parts of an alphabet. I saw them as a moving language. I have been working with the equivalent flow of television. Before that, I was actually dealing with the equivalent flow of art objects. What's really being said? At the same time, I realized that because we had gotten so much of our art out of magazines and reproductions, we weren't contemplating art anymore. So I made those tin pieces to be a scan. You couldn't fall into the pieces and contemplate. I go into galleries to see shows, to be aware of what is going on and it takes three minutes to see a show. Where are we? And what are we doing? It's our nervous system--the time we live in--it's not about reverie.

...

GB Artists using media have taken on a more complicated position in the culture than painters. Painters like tradition. And I think it's a hundred, or a thousand times more difficult for a painter to make politically engaged work. They know that if it smells like art and looks like art and tastes like art--it's painting. There's not much risk in the art world.

CS Especially now, it seems really dull right now.

GB At the same time, I constantly examine my . . . I'm still operating within the art world. There is that base. Maybe it's a base to reaffirm your goals or your sanity in trying to develop ideas. You do have people who want to see you succeed in producing important work.

Silkscreen on sheet metal must have caught Cady Noland's attention. BOMB Magazine: Gretchen Bender by Cindy Sherman [bombsite]

When I started transcribing this section of Mike Kelley's 2004 Q&A with Gerry Fialka , I was only in it for the Duchamp and Cage. But I'm glad I stayed for the art, entertainment, and politics:

[49:31] Gerry Fialka: Duchamp said, "How do you make a piece of art that's not a piece of art?" Well Cage did it with music, maybe 4'33", [Kelley shaking head]
Mike Kelley: No,
GF: Well--
MK: Duchamp did never not make a piece of art, and Cage did never not make a piece of art. That's a game they played, that's a game they played to pretend they were doing something that wasn't art. Of course it was art. What else was it?
GF: Well put, let me finish. And then Joyce wrote uh--
MK: Pshhh
GF: Finnegan's Wake and invented the Internet, and disguised it as a book. And George Manupelli--
[Audience noise]
George Manupelli is someone we both encountered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who started the oldest experimental film festival in the world, the Ann Arbor F--
MK: The Ann Arbor Film Festival, which is, I tell you, I got my whole film education from that festival.
GF: It was a great place for me, too. to view experimental films
MK: They don't do things like that anymore.
GF: And he had a piece called Film for Hooded Projector, so why is it important to shake up constructed belief systems, and do we need'em?
MK: Of course. Why else would you want art?
The only social function of art is to f things up. It has no other social function. Absolutely none. That's why, if you merge it with the entertainment industry, make it about the desires of the masses, it doesn't have any social function.
Also, what that idea about art--what separates it from politics, politics has a purpose. It's about power relationships. Art doesn't have anything about power relationships. It's simply about fucking this up for the pure pleasure of fucking them up.
So it's about formal--it's about analysis, and formal, uh, uh, scrambling, and it both escapes the practicality of politics and the--what was the other side? I forget.
Audience: Entertainment.
MK: Eh?
Audience: Entertainment.
MK: Yeah, entertainment which is, drugging the masses. So art should be something in between that's not practical in terms of power relationships, because it's fantasy, but it allows for power. Because art allows for power shifts over a slow time because people's minds change. Entertainment never changes people's minds. It just drugs them to reality, and I completely agree with Marx in this, in this way.
So I'm, I'm against the idea of art being subsumed either into the political sphere, or into the entertainment sphere. I think it has to be a separate social entity, especially in America.
I think in Europe, social and class differences are different than they are here. But in America, since it's such an anti-intellectual culture, it has to be a separate milieu, that's purposely--um. What would I say? Purposely purposeless.
It has to be. Otherwise it has no social function.

Alright, I know it all looked like a black hole of boring embarrassment last week, but Amazon Art just broke through to the other side.

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Artisoo Surrogate Painting [No. 783] - Oil painting reproduction 30'' x 26'' - Allan McCollum, $193

Kriston Capps and Joy Garnett were tweeting this link to what seems to be an Allan McCollum Surrogate Painting (No. 783), a 30x26-in original oil painting, offered on Amazon by a gallery called Artisoo--for $193. Kriston pointed out that Amazon's gallery system has a forgery problem, or at least an authenticity problem. Which could very well be the case! But this is not why.

Because Allan McCollum's Surrogate Paintings are not oil on canvas, but acrylic on plaster. Or as in the case of [No. 783], which was made in 1978, acrylic on wood. They're painting-shaped sculptures, really. And what Artisoo is selling here is actually an original oil painting of the jpg reproduction of the McCollum. Artisoo is making an artwork that's the picture of an artwork that the original artist hoped would help a gallery "become like a picture."

Artisoo guarantees that your Surrogate Painting [No. 783] will be "100% hand-painted by our experienced artists. We stand by our top quality." And you can order with confidence knowing that "The original motifs presented by Artisoo are created by artists from the most prestigious art schools and academies of fine arts. [emphasis added, because, 'motifs'! -ed.]"
Chinese Paint Mill has appropriated Google Images and put it up for sale on Amazon. There are at least 18 other McCollum jpgs available as oil paintings. They all appear in the first page of the artist's Google Image results. Artisoo currently offers 8,124 other paintings on Amazon, and unnumbered thousands more on their own website. In your choice of seven sizes.

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It's the fine art equivalent of LifeSphere, the Spamerican Apparel botcompany Babak Radboy wrote about that systematically turns every public domain image into every possible Zazzle product.

At least it's trying to be. After a quick surf, I'd say that this Artisoo McCollum Surrogate Painting counts as a rare conceptual gem; easily 98% of the company's merch is Chinese Paint Mill fluff. I'd call it pure over-the-sofa art, but that'd only account for one of the eight options in their Shop By Room function.

But there's something sublime about the way a painting of a photograph of a minimalistic, monochromatic painted object encapsulates the entirety of orthodox post-war art history, collapses it, and drops it into the world's biggest online vending machine. It's painting pared down to its barest essence as a privileged cultural signifier: a decorative picture of whatever, made by hand. Painting sells its soul for Dino Sponges. But wait, there's more!

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Like any serious collector, I like to shop for my art alphabetically, which means the first post-war artist to emerge in Artisoo's stable is Anne Truitt. Artisoo offers 62 paintings with an Anne Truitt "motif," including installation shots of her trademark acrylic on poplar columns; monochromatic works on paper; sumi ink drawings; and even the barely visible washes of the Arundel paintings. Can't wait to see how those come out.

Artisoo's daring paintings, uh, interrogate the conventions of scale as deftly as the notion of medium, date, authorship, context, and form. At 30x10 inches, this painting of a Parva sculpture is easily three times the size of Truitt's original.

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Artisoo Signal - Oil painting reproduction 30'' x 28'' - Anne Truitt

In a move that feels appropriated from my own playbook, Artisoo even offers paintings of early works that Truitt destroyed, the aluminum sculptures she created in 1964 while living in Japan. Unlike Destroyed Richter Paintings, however, Artisoo's Artisoo Signal - Oil painting reproduction 30'' x 28'' - Anne Truitt ($204) does not attempt to recreate the experience of being in the original's presence; it promises only its own, bold self: a painting of a vintage Kodachrome of a nautically colored sculpture bathed in the light of Tokyo courtyard.

I'm on slow wireless at the moment, so I gave up hope of surfing through all 340 pages of Artisoo's products, and instead started plugging in names of artists I liked, or rather, artists I'd like to see appropriated by Amazon Chinese Paint Mill. It didn't really pan out. No Kosuth, no Andre, no Beuys, Lewitt, Gober, Sherman, Levine, Hesse, Newman or Prince, and no Richter. The company's web-indexical curation strategy is clearly still a work in progress. There are several dozen Johnses on Artisoo.com, though. I wonder if I could order a copy of Flag in the exact dimensions of the Short Circuit original? Yes, there's no Sturtevant.

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Artisoo Abstract Painting - Oil painting reproduction 30'' x 30'' - Ad Reinhardt, $221

There are Alma Thomases, though. And 63 Calders. Would you like a painting of a stabile? Oh, nice, there are 50 Ad Reinhardts. Those ought to be interesting. Likewise the 23 Agnes Martins.

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Artisoo Happy Valley - Oil painting reproduction 30'' x 30'' - Agnes Martin, $239

Here's a standout, though, which reveals a lot about Artisoo's practice. It's a painting called, Http En Wikipedia Org Wiki File Hamilton Appealing2 Jpg 1956, and it comes 4x-36x larger than Richard Hamilton's 10-inch paper collage.

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Http En Wikipedia Org Wiki File Hamilton Appealing2 Jpg 1956 ($125-650)

Everything about Artisoo is so immediately and obviously fantastic, I almost don't want to spoil it by seeing actual paintings. Almost.

I'm surprised to not be hearing or reading more about "Here and There," Peter Coffin's show at the Hirshhorn, curated by Kelly Gordon.

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Hirshhorn installation view via @bluelikechagall

Maybe it's the show's unusual format; with seven works, it's bigger than a project, but smaller than a mid-career retrospective, and Coffin's works are dispersed throughout the museum (and one online). Jane Holzer's copy of the eyecatching Untitled (Spiral Staircase) is in the courtyard. And my absolute favorite of Peter's work, Untitled (Designs for Colby Poster Company), is on view, all 80 posters, in the elevator landing. [The Hirshhorn apparently bought Colby Poster in 2008, which was definitely the right time to get it, but the checklist and walltext says these particular examples are Collection of the Artist. I hope there's a trivial explanation for this, especially now that Colby Poster Company is gone. (RIP). Also, has it ever been shown in the museum before? I don't think so. I would've put that thing up at the end of Warhol's Shadows instead of that Estate Edition Flavin wall. Just sayin'.]

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Donald Moffett, Aluminum/White House Unmoored, 2004, image via marianneboeskygallery

Anyway, the big news is the center of the show, a [commissioned?] project, Untitled (Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum), 2013, a 12-minute animated projection/installation on a dozen or so works from the collection. It's not so much site-specific as institution-specific and work-specific; each projection is timed and tailored for a particular painting or drawing.

When Donald Moffett first showed projected still video landscapes on paintings in 2003 (above), his silver and gold monochrome canvases served as uneasy, even dubious screens. Coffin, though, has selected a wide mix of figurative and abstract work onto which he projects Jeremy Blake-like animations that overlay their own representational/abstract painterly arguments.

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For Jasper Johns' pastel 0-9 (1962), for example, Coffin articulates each collapsed digit in turn, rendering the illegible temporarily legible. For Sargent's portrait of random London shipping heiress Catherine Vlasto (1897) [left], Coffin highlights different elements of the picture, including the piano keys, her décolletage, and the gilt frame, referencing the viewer's own reading process, the very museum experience that has been digitally usurped.

I've watched the program through several times, and I got to where I can identify and anticipate favorite passages, moments where the original artwork and Coffin's projected images work well together (or against each other.) The last 5 seconds or so of the video clip above, for example, where Coffin makes de Kooning's painting seem to blur in and out of focus, is a standout that deftly addresses the painting's abstraction.

Overall, though, Coffin's various animations don't seem designed for contemplation. Instead they fall under the rubric Gordon calls, "serious fun," a new, different, and "subversive" way of looking at traditional artworks. I imagine that for many viewers, especially those who wander in from Air & Space, Coffin's 12 minute loop will be several times longer than they'll spend strolling through galleries where they can actually see the paintings. In that sense, they're the apotheosis of a certain kind of entertainment-centric museum-going experience, just what the curator ordered.

Peter Coffin: Here & There runs through Oct. 6, 2013 [hirshhorn.si.edu]

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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.

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Category: dc

recent projects, &c.


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Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

madf_twitter_avatar.jpg
Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

chop_shop_at_springbreak
Chop Shop
at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

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eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

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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" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots


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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