MoMA’s Feminist Future: A Picture Of Eileen Gray

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WPS1 has posted the audio for MoMA’s recent symposium, “The Feminist Future: Theory and Practice in the Visual Arts.” Listening to a panel discussion with no access to the visuals can be a tough sell, but the two talks I heard were frankly awesome:
Artist Coco Fusco’s performance as Sargeant Fusco sounded fierce and relevant, while the Guerrilla Girls, bless their hearts, sounded a bit out of touch.
The killer, though, is Beatriz Colomina’s discussion of Eileen Gray and Le Corbusier. The thrust, if you will, of her presentation was that Corbu essentially raped Gray’s most important architectural work, E.1027, a house she built in Roquebrune/Cap Martin on the far side of Monaco, by putting murals depicting Algerian concubines throughout the house.
It’s obviously more complicated than that, and I find it remarkable that so little of what she talked about is generally known. I’ve heard people who should know better dismiss and diminish Gray’s work as recently as 2004.
Anyway, what’s also remarkable is that E1027 is still a deteriorating ruin. When I lived in Monaco in 1995-7 and set out to find it, no locals could figure out what I was talking about. The most comprehensive images I’ve seen from that era are on flickr, a photoset made by Daniel, an Irish architect, who hopped the fence in 1997 when the house was a squat [the last owner had been murdered a couple of months prior.]
I can’t find any images of Gray’s last house, Lou Perou, which was done near St Tropez, either. And I can’t find any word on the status of her own house, Tempe a Pailla, which was inland, up the mountains from Roquebrune & Menton in the village of Castellar. How is it that no modernist pilgrims have tracked and documented this stuff?
Listen to ‘The Feminist Future’ on WPS1 [wps1.org]
E1027: A Photoset by It’s Daniel [flickr]
update: Tropolist Chad points out that Colomina’s talk is an architectural classic. here’s the text of “Battle Lines: E.1027,” from 1995, for example, a lot of which she also presented at MoMA. As Chad puts it, “Of course, if I had to pick a dozen such texts to keep bandying about, that one would be near the top of the list. ” As Tropolism pointed out in Dec. 06, Colomina’s paper was also reprinted in the first issue of Pin-Up Magazine.
later update: Guy points out that Lou Perou is included in Caroline Constant’s 2000 monograph on Eileen Gray from Phaidon. I put it on my to-get list from the storage unit…

Proof of Concept: Il Heliostat di Viganella

The idea to use a large heliostat to deliver winter sunlight to a small village deep in a valley of the Italian Alps, was a success:

The mirror — 870 meters, or 2,900 feet, above Viganella and measuring 8 meters wide by 5 meters high — is motorized and constantly tracks the sun. Computer software tilts and turns the panels throughout the daylight hours to deflect the rays downward. But from Viganella’s main square, bathed in reflected sunlight, all that is visible of the false sun is a bright glare from the slope above.
“At first no one believed it could be possible, but I was certain. I have faith in physics,” said Giacomo Bonzani, an architect and sundial designer who came up with the idea of reflecting sunlight onto the square and made the necessary astronomical calculations. The project languished for a few years until funding — about €100,000, or $130,000 — came through last year from private and public sponsors.
The mirror was designed by Emilio Barlocco, an engineer whose company specializes in using reflected sunlight to light the entrances to highway tunnels. He read about Viganella’s plight on the front page of the Turin daily La Stampa and offered the village his expertise and services. “Whenever you do something for the first time, you’re either a pioneer or stupid,” he said. “We hope we’re the former.”
A concrete plinth was anchored to the rock face of the slope above Viganella to serve as the mirror’s base. The mirror panels were flown up by helicopter. The software that tracks the sun’s rotation is so sophisticated that the rays can be directed anywhere by the computer, which is in the town hall. “If the church or the bar in the town next door has an event, like a baptism, or a wedding, we can shoot the rays there,” Midali said. “It’s very versatile.”

When I first thought up a project to do this in 1999, even when I started talking to Olafur about it in 2003-4, I didn’t even know I was talking about a heliostat. But now with the Wikipedia, and the advent of the Solar Positioning Algorithm and the more comprehensive libnova celestial mechanics library–and the successful testing in Viganella, of course–my excuses for not building me one of these are rapidly diminishing.
Computer age brings sun to village in shadow of the Alps [iht via tmn]
Previously: On an Unrealized Art Project

Aqua Teen Hunger Farce

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I was beginning to think everyone in Boston, and most everyone in the media, and most certainly everyone in the cable news industry, was a freakin’ idiot. [cf. nearly every angry, belligerent comment by an embarassed official; the smartass reporter asking the tagger when he was gonna get a haircut; the Department of Homeland Security reassuring us that there were “no credible reports of other devices being found elsewhere in the country.”]
But the Boston Globe’s Brainiac blog, co-written by Joshua Green, has saved the day, navigating a level-headed reportorial and analytical path through the fog of media. Good stuff.
Fortunately for Berdovsky and Stevens, the other level-headed Bostonian is the judge, who immediately questioned the applicability of the hoax-related statute. These charges will be dropped and the hysterical politico-media motivations behind them will be recognized. Eventually. Their haircut press conference was almost pitch-perfect. [In contrast, the sudden and total disappearance of Interference, Inc., the ATHF street agency, strikes me as kind of spineless.]

mooninite_closeup_make.jpg

Meanwhile, even as I roll my eyes as the corporate co-optation of street art tactics, I have to admit, I love these Mooninites devices. They’re gorgeous. Graffiti Research Labs, which propagated the LED Throwies idea, took a swipe at the poseur-ish Interference. But I don’t think it’s really fair.
I’m reminded of something Marc Schiller, at Wooster Collective, told me when I wrote about corporate-sponsored street art in 2005 [oh, we were so innocent then]: “Once something’s out there, what matters is how well it’s done.” [nyt]

Ongoing Make coverage of the Mooninite devices, including beautiful closeups–and hopefully, someday, schematics and kits
. [makezine]

Super Columbine Massacre NYT!

The constroversy over Peter Baxter’s decision to pull Super Columbine Massacre RPG! from Slamdance’s Guerilla Gamemakers Festival hit the New York Times this weekend, and Baxter has yet another explanation for his actions.
This time, it’s not complaints by a sponsor, hypothetical complaints by a sponsor, or even his own personal distaste for the game. It was, as he explains to Heather Chaplin,

because of outraged phone calls and e-mail messages he’d been receiving from Utah residents and family members associated with the Columbine shooting. He was also acting on the advice of lawyers who warned him of the threat of civil suits if he showed the game.

Uh-huh.
Chaplin writes of SCMRPG!’s “champions” and “detractors,” which I think misses a major point. In the glare of attention and the fallout surrounding the game, and certainly around the decision to pull it. It’s pure media Heisenberg: as events unfolded and garnered more attention, everyone–Baxter, Danny Ledonne, the game’s creator, other designers who pulled their games in protest, and observer/critics–adjusted their own positions and justifications for their moral stances in light of what new had transpired.
Greg Costikyan posted a reader’s refutation of his legitimating defense/review of the game which is at once perceptive [and not just for using the twee critspeak, “games qua anything”] and entirely beside the point. Whatever Ledonne’s ex post facto interpretations of his game, the argument goes, his earliest discussions of it were not ironic metacommentary; they were the rantings of a dumbass who was wallowing in the Columbine killers’ actions. The game isn’t a self-consciously retro exploration of society, but an amateurish hack by a guy who didn’t know how to change the default settings on his RPG gamemaking software.
Conclusion: SCMRPG! sucks as a game and should never have been juried into the competition in the first place. Which sounds true, but irrelevant to this situation.
Sundance’s jury let in an exploitative, sensationalistic, controversy-seeking POS starring Dakota Fanning this year, but you didn’t see Redford pulling rank and yanking the film. It just got the critical drubbing it deserved and will presumably slip into oblivion as it should.
Instead, the fact that a POS like SCMRPG! got into the competition at all should spur debate over the critical standards for judging games, which seem poorly thought through at best. Get a smarter jury, one which isn’t just interested in flamethrowing qua flamethrowing by introducing a crap game to the competition.
But the combination of as-yet unformed critical consensus about what makes a “good” game or a game “good,” combined with Baxter/Slamdance’s knuckleheaded, ass-covering conservatism only strengthens the case that games need a new, different venue of their own. Whether it’s a festival, a competition, whatever, is up to the gameworld to decide.
As for SCMRPG!, I’m still inclined to cut Ladonne some slack. If Trey Parker and Matt Stone had turned tail after their musical Cannibal! was rejected from Sundance, there may never have been a South Park. And there may never have been a Slamdance, for that matter.
Artists are not always clear or conscious of what goes into their work, and they’re certainly not in control of the response it engenders when it gets into the world. Whatever the merit (or lack thereof) in SCMRPG!, it still resonates because of its uncanny similarity to a scene in Gus Van Sant’s Elephant. The two killers-to-be are loafing around a basement bedroom. One plays the piano [fur Elise] and one plays an RPG on a laptop. It was an effortless kill’em game set in an empty desert.
The targets were dressed like the characters from Van Sant’s Gerry. After expressing surprise that anyone had noticed, the producer of Elephant, Dany Wolf, told me that they had to create their own game [using the Doom engine], because they couldn’t find a company who’d allow their video game to be used in the film.
Video Game Tests The Limits. The Limits Win. [nyt]

Agnes Martin Documentary at Film Forum

There are very few artists I’d like to see a documentary about. For one thing, the narrative arc of a movie is usually ill-suited to either an artist’s story/ideas or to the experience of the work itself. And no one can hold still, for fear, I guess, of boring the viewer, so there are invariably lots of slow pans, zooms in and out, dolly shots through empty galleries [if the budget’s high enough to lay track, though I’ve seen a cameraman improvise a dolly by sitting in a mail cart.]
And their ostensible populism usually results in a grating boosterism of PBS or the Hagiographic School, whereby the case must be made for the Artist As Genius. [Damn populist medium again, but the October-y intellectual monkey tricks of art critical dialogue never seem to find their way into documentaries. It’s as if everyone figures they need to dumb it down, or maybe it’s just impossible to edit paragraph-long sentences into anything remotely watchable.]
Which is all a long way around to saying that Agnes Martin is one artist I would love to see working and hear talking, and not just because I miss her in some irrational, oddly personal way. [I never met her.] I have some old lecture notes from a talk she gave at ICA or someplace, and they are windswept-free of pretense and the cruft of art criticism and history.
From the review of Mary Lance’s documentary, “Agnes Martin: With My Back to the World,” which she shot over four years, starting in 1998, Martin sounds like a refreshing, invigorating, and lucid counterpoint to the careerist whirl of the art world today. [And on top of that she sold tons of work.]
Anyway, Lance’s film opened yesterday at Film Forum, and it’s paired with a documentary about Kiki Smith. Lance will conduct a Q&A after the 8pm screening Friday [tomorrow].
Previously: Im Memoriam: Agnes Martin

What’s The Edition Size? Is It Available?

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Awesome. Just. Awesome. A couple who lives in the Rockefeller Apartments across 54th St from MoMA was watching the museum test the projections for the their upcoming Doug Aitken installation.

Your Video Art Here
[flickr via curbed]
One of my early formative MoMA shows was Gabriel Orozco’s Projects series in 1993, where he ran a scroll made of pages from the phone book down the center of the esclator handrails, and where he placed oranges in vases and cups in the windows of various Rockefeller Apartments residents.

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A Day In The Office In The Gallery

For the 2006 Turner Prize exhibition, artist Phil Collins had Tate Britain set him up with an office in the gallery, where he and two hired researchers worked every day on Phil’s next project: “finding people who feel their lives have been ruined by appearing in reality television shows.”
Collins used the media hype around the Turner competition itself to garner the attention of his intended subject/collaborators. And according to the firsthand account of Lena Corner, one of the researchers, the strategy succeeded brilliantly.
She wrote about her experience of being on display while trying to actually get work done for The Independent last fall. It’s an uncanny parallel to the spectacle and exhibitionism Collins & Co. were researching, though fortunately for Corner she seems to have suffered no lingering effects.

Gillian, the cleaning supervisor, pops in. Apparently the cleaners have been too scared to empty our bin in case it’s an artwork. In 2004 German-born artist Gustav Metzger created a piece of “auto-destructive art” for the Tate. One element was a bag containing rubbish that he had collected from within the gallery, but a cleaner mistook it for a bag of rubbish and threw it out. Metzger declared the piece to be ruined. No wonder the cleaners are a little nervous.

Turner Prize: Inside one of the installations [independent.co.uk via cerealart’s blog]

The DaVinci Code Code

With six trans-oceanic flights last month, I ended up seeing The DaVinci Code with the sound off at least two dozen times. The only thing that surprises me about this Reuters story is that it’s taken this long for other craven museums to get into the movie tie-in game:

In the next two years [the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay] will between them underwrite screenplays by seven critically acclaimed international filmmakers for films to be shot — at least partly — inside their walls.

The Louvre is co-financing and co-producing a film by Taiwanese director Tsai Ming Liang, which will be shot entirely onsite.
Meanwhile, to comemmorate its 20th anniversary, d’Orsay is “working with” [?] director/producer Francois Margolin’s company Margo Films to make four $3mm films starring Juliet Binoche [?], and directed by Olivier Assayas, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Raoul Ruiz, and Jim Jarmusch.

“Though it’s probably not conscious, the ripple effects from presenting an image beyond museum walls is about branding — the art collections and the museum — to potential visitors from around the world.”

says Margolin, just before I smack him on the forehead.
Museums getting key parts in films [thr.com]

Quinze Love

Arne Quinze has a posse. The Belgian self-marketer began his cross-country promotional tour for the launch of the new Lexus flagship at Burning Man. Though he didn’t really mention the tie-in to anyone there at the time, he sure has mentioned the Burn since, and how 2-4,000 people a day would come out to the deep playa to visit the Belgian Waffle.
Oddly, there was no mention at all of Lexus again when Quinze and his firm’s US “agent” Antoine Debouverie, spoke last month at Miami Basel to a breathless David Weinstein on WPS1. The Lexus circus had come to town during the fair, and a P.S.1 staffer named Zorana Djakovic arranged for the “emerging master” to be interviewed about his art on ABMB’s official art radio station.
You can hear the whole interview, it’s only 12 minutes long, but here’s my transcription of part of it:

Zorana Djakovic: What do you think, can you imagine one of Arne’s wooden constructions at the courtyard of P.S.1 during the Warm-Up?
David Weinstein: That’s the Warm-Up architecture project at PS1; there’s a special architecture project for the environment for the summer dance parties. It’s a competition, and there’s a reward, but this would be wonderful there. And beautiful with the old building.
Antoine Debouverie: Have you seen it lit up as well? Because when you put together and create that organic, wooden shape with soft lighting and music, it becomes an incredible communal space.
At Burning Man there were 40,000 people there. We were not advertised anywhere. We were not on the agenda, for what parties at what times, you know? We just did it for ourselves, alright? And every night, I guarantee, there were like five, ten thousand people who would converge to our space to experience the space, the lights, and you know the communion that this piece produces.
DW: I can tell you, our staff was thrilled immediately by this piece, and I urge people to go take a look at it. Our description here leaves something to be desired.

Indeed. And to think the title of my first, naive post about the Uchronians was titled, “Uh-oh, I Hope P.S.1 Doesn’t Find Out About This.”
WPS1: Beyond Burning Man: Arne Quinze [pronounced KWIN-zuh, apparently. Now I’ll have to change all my too-clever titles.]
previous greg.org over-coverage of Quinze Milan, Lexus, Burning Man, and the Uchronians

Nam June Paik’s Early Work

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I used to live downstairs from Nam June Paik. I was too starstruck to ever talk with him at length, but we had friendly chats when we’d see each other in the stairway of our Little Italy loft building.
Once, I did manage to tell him how much I admired his pieces in the John Cage show that was going on over at the Guggenheim SoHo [“Rolywholyover: A Circus,” still one of the most brilliant and exciting museum exhibitions I’ve ever seen. Incredible catalogue, too.] My favorite was and is TV Buddha, a nearly perfect conceptualized work comprised of a carved Buddha statue , a video camera, and a television. The statue sits enlightened and silent, endlessly watching itself on the screen.
TV Buddha is made even better by the allegedly offhand way it was created, as “wall filler” for a 1974 gallery show in New York, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Paik was just being reflexively modest when the work was praised.
He made many versions and variations on the TV Buddha theme over the years, and I’d also imagine it could come to feel like a zen trap, a polite rut, especially for an artist whose work betrays an abiding affection for baroque dadaism and psychedelic media cacophony. TV Buddha feels like a kind of contemplative road less traveled.

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The road Paik took instead, was the one he named, the Information Super-Highway, which was signalled by another seminal early piece, the 1973 TV show/control room happening/video art work, Global Groove. Produced with John Godfrey at WNET in New York, Global Groove is at once freakishly prescient and contemporary, and hilariously of its time.
It opens with the bold promise that we’re living with right now: “This is a glimpse of the video landscape of tomorrow, when you will be able to switch to any TV station on the earth, and TV Guide will be as fat as the Manhattan telephone book.” Which is promptly followed by a groove challenged pair of disco dancers and every psychedelic FX trick in the 1973 TV producer’s book. It’s at once funny and sad to realize Global Groove‘s aesthetic has become the lingua franca of Manhattan’s public access TV world. Hell, it’s probably the same mixing board Paik & Godfrey used.
Paik’s TV sculptures and giant video walls which are so popular/populist with museums and lobby decorators feel like continuations of Global Groove‘s groove, but it doesn’t scale. Paik foresaw our TV-webby mediascape and reveled in it; I just wish and wonder if somewhere in Paik’s mature-to-late career, away from the bombastic over-commissions, there’s some underappreciated body of work that might enlighten us as to how we can live in this worldwide web.
See a photo of the first TV Buddha and watch the first few minutes of Global Groove on Mediakunstnetz.de [mkz]
There’s some Paik-related material on YouTube, but not as much as you’d hope [youtube]

“those blank looks, it seems, won out”

The funniest line so far from coverage of Miami Basel. It’s from New York Mag’s “Basel Blog,” which reports that collectors have moved to buying work by safe artists from established galleries. Which is probably what it looks like if you airdrop into the art world and the only people you can identify are Larry Gagosian and Aby Rosen. They get namechecked in basically every post. Seriously.
Doing Good At Ralph Lauren, &c. &c. [nymag’s basel blog]

Wooster Collective’s 11 Spring Street Open House

Sara and Marc are so awesome.
The global street art blowout at 11 Spring Street organized by Wooster Collective opens tomorrow, and it runs through Sunday, 11-5 each day.
Artists from all over, including some who installed their work on the exterior of the once-enigmatic NoLiTa loft building, have been making new work inside. On Monday, demolition and condo conversion begins, though much of the art work may actually remain. From the NYT:

On Monday work will begin that will eventually seal most of the interior artwork behind pipes, wires and drywall.
“In a way the art is all going to disappear, but it’s also going to be sealed up in this incredible time capsule,” said Mr. Schiller.

It reminds me of the Warhol hidden somewhere in LeFrak City. Back in the day, Samuel LeFrak commissioned a then-still-unknown Andy Warhol to decorate the kitchen and bathroom of a model apartment in the then-new Queens apartment complex. The model was painted over, and then it was lost. Somewhere, in one of the 5,000-plus apartments, buried under nearly half a century of tenement white, is the first Warhol installation. And soon enough, the works of some of the world’s greatest street artists will be buried under some hedge fund dude’s sheetrock.
Last Hurrah for Street Art, as Canvas Goes Condo [nyt]
Wooster on Spring: The Ultimate Art Time Capsule [woostercollective, which also has extensive coverage of the 11 Spring project]
Fortune, 1989: Lost and Found, LeFrak’s Warhol [cnn.com]

I’m Back. Did I Miss Anything?

Sorry, I was out of town. Did anything happen art-wise while I was gone?
On the film/editing front, the votes were in, and I’m pleased to announce a new addition to the greg.org team: a husky MacBookPro and a couple of new external drives for the road.
Thanks to everyone who shared their advice and insights. Ultimately, it was the memory and video processing requirements of Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro [and the slightly unwieldy size of the 17-inch version] that made the decision.

Arty Like It’s 2001

Roll up a host of moribund art magazines.
Start an art news portal.
Launch a big, glogsy new magazine about the [sic] Biennale Lifestyle.
Buy an art fair.
It hurts to say it because I have friends there, but am I the only one who thinks everything LTB does is like five years behind the actual art world it’s chasing?
Rather than be an also-ran in every possible endeavor, why not take some time to think and get ahead of the game? Make a difference and stake a claim and support something that no one else is, or that no one else can see? Rather than be the artnet of 1997, why not be the artangel of 1993? Or the early Lightning Field-era Dia of 1977, or of Chelsea-settling 1987, for that matter? Or the Lannan Foundation of whenever?
Because as the NetJets guy in Miami’ll tell you, the one thing the art world is not short of is ambitious multimillionaires jonesing for an audience.