Category:documenta, et al

November 14, 2009

The Player

I can't say how I feel about Francesco Vezzoli's work; that's not how my mama raised me. I will grant though, that he's extremely smart and astute and has successfully identified an elemental dynamic of the art world and makes highly successful art that taps into that dynamic. OK, fine. his work embodies almost every superficial, vapid, self-unaware, pseudo-celebrity, luxury consumerist aspect I hate about the VIP Preview art world.

So bully for him that he's turning the MoCA gala benefit tonight into the set for a performance/piece? This faux-ambivalent account of Vezzoli, his date/star Lady Gaga, and the preparations for the event in the LA Times makes for hilarious reading. I'm sure the event will be the biggest, starchasing cluster$%#& at MoCA since Tom Ford and Naomi Campbell turned the Takashi Murakami dinner into a commemorative plate-stealing riot.

player_lacma_redcarpet.jpg

Alas, Vezzoli's use of art to hustle celebrities into working for free unfortunately reminds me of someone I actually like: Robert Altman. To shoot the benefit scene in The Player, where Tim Robbins' murderous studio honcho Griffin Mills is honored by several hundred of his best celebrity friends, Altman threw a real fundraiser for LACMA, complete with black & white dress code, then hustled all his celebrity friends to attend--then he filmed them for scale for his movie.

At least now I can finally make sense of Lady Gaga: she is post-op Cher.

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Francesco Vezzoli escorts Lady Gaga to MOCA's gala [lat]

Francesco Bonami, director of the 2003 Venice Biennale, writing for the NY Times' blog, The Moment:

...the sculptor Bruce Nauman, the Sam Shepherd of Contemporary Art, was awarded the Gold Lion for best national pavilion. (A sign that the Obama effect has lifted the ban that during the Bush era made the US pavilion "unfit" for the award.)
Really? There was a ban? Just so we're clear what Bonami's claiming, let's go to the tape:

49th Biennale, 2001: Germany won for Gregor Schneider's insane, awesomely claustrophobic house. The US Pavilion showed Robert Gober, who had been selected under the Clinton era. Clear winner: Schneider.

50th Biennale, 2003, Bonami's incarnation: Luxembourg won for Su-Mei Tse's sound installation. The US Pavilion showed Fred Wilson, who invited African street sellers to display counterfeit Vuitton/Murakami bags in the courtyard. Clear loser: Wilson. [Obviously, I would've given the award to Olafur's transformative Danish Pavilion, but Wilson shouldn't have won anything, and didn't.]

51st Biennale, 2005: France won for Annette Messager's puppet/stuffed animal thing. The US barely got its shit together in time to pick Ed Ruscha. Clear winner? None, really.

52nd Biennale, 2007: So does that mean that, if it weren't for a "ban," Nancy Spector's installation of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, which was as damning a condemnation of the Bush era and ideology as a could be imagined, could've/would've/should've won over Hungary's Andreas Fogarasi, who showed black box video of various European street scenes.

Is that what you're saying, Francesco? Are you just talking post-game smack? Was there really ban, where jurors took a brave, but apparently totally private stand--one that ended up denying an award to an artist who did speak out even after he died? Or was it the kind of stories we tell to ease our minds, like how everyone in France was in the Resistance?

But enough about muscly, young, naked performance art hustlers in Venice staging homoerotically charged events for attention and acclaim for a moment.

My friends Michael Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset just won a Special Mention Award at the Biennale for their awesome, curated installation at the Nordic and Danish Pavilions, The Collectors. Here's a picture from the Guardian:

elmdrag_nude_dude.jpg

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In 1972, the Austrian architecture collective Haus-Rucker installed Oasis Nr 7 at Documenta 5.

A steel pipe structure was cantilevered out the window of the Friedericianum, and a platform, two palm trees, and a hammock were installed. The entire thing was enclosed in an 8-meter translucent vinyl bubble.

Oasis 7 was re-created last September It was built on a fake Friedericianum facade at the Victoria & Albert Museum for the exhibition, "Cold War Modern: Design 1945-1970.

Haus-Rucker project archive [ortner.at]
Time lapse making of video: Oasis 7 in the Victoria & Albert Museum [iconeye.com]
via atelier, where I've been lifting all sorts of interesting things this week.

Last September was the first anniversary of what's now called the Saffron Rebellion, where Burmese monks took to the streets to protest the military government. As a commemoration of that movement, the Stedelijk Museum showed the first of three parts of Indian artist/documentary filmmaker Amar Kanwar's work in progress about the Burmese resistance.

The title of the project is The Torn First Pages, 2004, which is a reference to the private, anonymous rebellion of a bookshop owner named Ko Than Htay, who was imprisoned for tearing out the first page of everything he sold, pages which contained mandatory praise for the junta.

Parts of footage for The Torn First Pages come from Burmese democracy activists, who surreptitiously tape and smuggle their work to Kanwar in India.

Kanwar talks about the work with the Stedelijk curator above:

I felt that everybody who writes, be it a poem, be it a novel, be it a fashion magazine, whatever, in one way or the other is indebted or connected to Ko Than Htay, because he's tearing the first page out from any author. It's not necessarily a specific book. So in a way, I felt that artists of all kinds, writers of all kinds are connected to this. And in many ways what this is all about is your own relationship with authority and your own defiance. Your own need for defiance. Your own articulation. It's not necessarily that this articulation is going to become public or recognized. So in some way, in order to understand Burma, if one can understand Ko Than Htay and this act of tearing the first page, you can understand what's happening in Burma. And if you can understand that, you can understand your own life, regardless of where you are.

...

The Torn First Pages is about presenting evidence of a terrible series of crimes, evidence of amazing resistance. In a way, it's about saying maybe poetry also has a presence, a validity, in a court of law.

...

Everything you remember, there's a way to remember. If you remember in a particular way, if you look in a particular way, you're looking only so that it clarifies you in the present. The purpose of clarifying you in the present is only so that you can take a step forward. In that sense, the act of remembering is really the act of moving forward in time.

Longtime readers of greg.org may remember my swooning at Kanwar's work when I saw it at documenta 11 in 2002.

Amar Kanwar- The Torn First Pages (Part I), 5.09.08 - 1.10.08 [stedelink.nl]

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.

June 16, 2003

Venice: Vidi, Bitchy

The Venice Biennale is finally over open, and not a day too soon. For a bunch of whiny Americans, anyway. In the Times, Carol Vogel complains about having to see art "amid relentless heat intensified by the power needed for lighting and video installations." Meanwhile, artnet's Walter Robinson, an apparent Venice virgin, complains about having to see art in "some historic buildings," the heat and the dearth of video. [After the massive sucking sound that was 2001's video choices, less is definitely more, Walter.]

Lisa Dennison, chief curator of the Guggenheim ("Where the sponsor's always right!"), complained to the Times about the curators having too much say. [Or the Guggenheim not having enough: they apparently lobbied hard for Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle to be chosen for the Guggenheim-owned American Pavilion. Fred Wilson got it instead.]

Wilson has an African street vendor selling fake purses at the entrance to his installation of Venetian Moor-related art. Via Vogel: "Richard Dorment, an American who is an art critic for The Daily Telegraph of London, said he was speechless when he saw the pavilion. 'To put a seller of handbags in front of a pavilion is condescending to both Americans and Venetians,' Mr. Dorment said. 'This is a person, not a work of art. Where are the days when major American artists represented our country?'"

[Rowrr. Dorment apparently lived up to his name; his sniping ignores 1) the inside of the pavilion, which many people praised, 2) the major majorness of the 2001 show's Robert Gober, and 3) Maurizio Cattelan showing a buried person--an Indian fakir, whose praying hands stuck out of the sand--in 1999. And besides, in 2001, Venice was plastered by billboards for some museum exhibition which pulled the same street vendor stunt as Wilson.]

Elmgreen and Dragset, Spelling UTOPIA, image: e-flux.com Elmgreen & Dragset's e-flux poster, starring Lala, image: e-flux.com
People, if you're looking for Pitti, it's in Florence. Venetian art parties rank below even Cannes film premieres on the Burdens Likely To Evoke Sympathy scale. It's a lesson well learned by the Guardian's Cannes crank, Fiachra Gibbons, who clearly looked on the bright side in Venice. His reports are giddy fun, from his Black Power shoutout for Wilson's work, and Chris Ofili's British pavilion to his star-struck love letter to Lala, the diva chimpanzee star of "Spelling U-T-O-P-I-A", by my pals Elmgreen & Dragset. [There's something for the blogosphere to figure out: at what point does "in the interest of full disclosure" become "shameless touting of my connection to famous friends"? Ask me tomorrow when I post about my friend, Olafur Eliasson.]

As I sit here in New York, recovering from my A/C-induced cold, I'm working on an "I Survived the Venice Biennale" T-shirt, for those who truly suffer for art. Stay tuned (or feel free to send a design suggestion or two).

June 11, 2003

Utopia Station


Utopia Station is a project opening at the Venice Biennale, curated by Molly Nesbit, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. In Venice, there's a space, a Station, designed by Tiravanija and Liam Gillick, which will host a series of programs, performances, whatever, around the insistent reimagining of Utopia. Some friends, Michael & Ingar (aka Elmgreen & Dragset) emailed a heads up for their ongoing performance (today until the 15th), and it seems AgnĖs Varda will be stationed at the "entrance of her cabane ż patates (potato shack)" as well, so take your screenplay with you.

Utopia Station, Olafur Eliasson/Israel Rosenfield, image:e-flux.com

The curators also commissioned 160 artists, filmmakers, and brainy types to design posters, which will apparently be popping up beyond Venice as well. Varda's poster has her heart-shaped patates refusČes from The Gleaners; Olafur Eliasson and psych prof Israel Rosenfield's poster [above] ties in nicely to yesterday's Bloghdad.com post. [and even though E&D emailed me, and even though I recently spent a day locked in a room with all three curators, I found Utopia at GreenCine Daily.]


Last year, I wrote about the utterly moving experience of On Kawara's work, One Million Years (Past) at Documenta XI. Now, I find the brilliant art site, ubu has put out a 73-minute excerpt of One Million Years (Future) in mp3. (Heads up: it's 105Mb.)

On Kawara exhibition, image:diacenter.org On Kawara @ Dia, 1993, photo: Cathy Carver, image: diacenter.org

Originally intoned for the first time in an exhibition at Dia in 1993, "with the CD the amount of time is limited, 74 minutes [sic], and contains a set number of years (1994 AD to 2613 AD), thus transforming the infinite time of the exhibition into the finite time of the CD."

From their About page:

UbuWeb posts much of its content without permission; we rip full-length CDs into sound files; we scan as many books as we can get our hands on; we post essays as fast as we can OCR them. And not once have we been issued a cease and desist order. Instead, we receive glowing e-mails from artists, publishers and record labels finding their work on UbuWeb thanking us for taking an interest in what they do; in fact, most times they offer UbuWeb additional materials. We happily acquiesce and tell them that UbuWeb is an unlimited resource with unlimited space for them to fill.
On Kawara bonus: Dia: Beacon opens this weekend.

It may be a little overwrought ("So let's receive this Documenta as the proclamation of a state of emergency."), but Kim Levin's Village Voice review of Documenta 11 is pretty right on. I mean, she generally agrees with me, reinforcing my own innate sense of astuteness and acuity. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative processā€”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: documenta, et al

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Social Medium:
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Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
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Madoff Provenance Project in
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Chop Shop
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Armory ā€“ ABMB 2015
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It Narratives, incl.
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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
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Standard Operating Procedure
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CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
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YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
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"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
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HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
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Selected Court Documents
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