On Cows. No, Seriously. On Cows

Banksy's painted cow, a la Warhol's cow wallpaper, image: ananova.com[via WoosterCollective] Banksy, a prominent London street artist, has moved his work into a gallery for the weekend, and some people are pissed (in the American, not British, English sense of the word). Banksy tagged some live barnyard animals, and an animal rights protestor chained herself to the pen, temporarily leaving the foxes of England defenseless.
Meanwhile, in the US, when artist Nathan Banks painted words on the sides of cows and transcribed the poems they produced as they wandered the fields, no one raised an eyebrow.

Well Hung

When our DC neighbors’ rather inconsiderately left their wireless networks turned off this morning, I ran over to the Hirshhorn to see their new, temporary installation of the permanent collection. It’s pretty fresh, with room to breathe. A lot of wall and floor space is devoted to newer work, which had always gotten short shrift in the Hirshhorn’s rather staid, historical hang (like a history teacher in May, having to cover “WWII-to-present” in a week).
There are moments of real enjoyment, if not brilliance, but the limitations are the collections’ (pretty good, with a few greats), not the curators’. Turning from the all-black wall (Ad Reinhart, Frank Stella, Richard Serra) to find a rarely seen Robert Smithson spiral sculpture perfectly framed in the doorway is awesome, even if it doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
Maybe it’s my skewed NYC perspective, but the installation takes a luxurious approach to space; Wolfgang Laib pollen carpet has a huge gallery to itself. In an equally giant Ann Hamilton room, ceiling robots periodically sent sheets of white paper fluttering to the floor. Some tourists frolicked in the resulting paperdrifts, flailing goofily to catch the falling sheets. Their photosnapping attempts to capture what is, essentially, an experience, didn’t fare much better.
It’s always good to see a Tobias Rehberger, even if it’s taped off like a crime scene; and they thankfully purged a lot of the tchotchkes that made the sculpture hallways so avoidable.
One thing I don’t understand, though, is the Hirshhorn’s embarassing practice of selling its old mail. Seriously. There are two milkcrates in the giftshop, full of minor auction catalogues, reports, and obscure 1970’s exhibition brochures from other museums. Priced are based solely, it seems, on binding type. It’s enough to make me take a stand, Tyler Green-style: lose the trash bins. Or, at least, start throwing out more interesting stuff.

On PS1

First, thanks to most of you for not coming today. It was kind of nervewracking, but my gallery talk went okay. There was a group of a dozen or so people who stuck through the whole thing, but a small mob would materialize whenever we’d stop to talk.
Two things that helped the crowd: Richie Hawtin didn’t open the Warm Up Series, he headlined it. That, and many of the galleries were air-conditioned.
James Turrell Sky Room at PS1, image: ps1.orgAnyway, I hung out for the whole show, listening in the VIP room as a couple of dj’s compared notes on musician-friendly daycare. Then, as Richie went on and the and dusk arrived, I joined an eager crowd in James Turrell’s skyroom. [Actually, I jumped to help a friend move some pedestals out of the room, and I had it to myself for a few minutes while everyone else cooled it in line.]
Seventy-plus people, jammed, jabbering into the room. It took about twenty minutes, but peoples’ energy changed, and the room grew quiet. For the rest of an hour, thirty or so people sat and watched the sky change color. To a scratchy techno beat.
I drove home. At a light near the 59th St Bridge, I glanced around, and saw the man in the car next to me, a very normal-looking guy in his thirties, crying to himself. He caught me looking, I furrowed my brow in some kind of concern, and he nodded once. When the light changed, he turned, and I got on the bridge, wondering.

A Reminder: Other things to do at 3:30 on Saturday

If you’re debating whether to join me at PS1 for my gallery tour among the selected exhibits, remember that many other things are going on at the same time:

  • at PS1: Richie Hawtin cracking open the Warm Up Series
  • at Film Forum: The Band Wagon, “the greatest of movie musicals” (it starts at 3:15)
  • at Anthology: La Commune (Paris, 1871), Part Two, “the Best Film of 2002” (3 hours, starting at 3)
  • Take this time to figure out Richard Linklater’s Waking Life, then let me know what you come up with. I’m watching it right now, finally, on HBO6. The animation’s interesting, but frankly, I there’s no accounting for it.
  • The New York Times will be published and available throughout the day.
  • There’s a rice pudding restaurant on Spring Street, too, which is open, but honestly, if you’re debating between me and a bowl of friggin’ rice pudding, do us both a favor and stay in Manhattan.
    Conclusion: unless you’re a slave to movie musicals, documentaries or rice pudding, I’ll see you there.
    [update: At GreenCine, David puts La Commune into annoyingly chilling perspective. If you’re only going to see one 6-hour film this year, make it La Commune.]

  • An Eye for Collecting: Museum Tours @ P.S.1

    I’d say “Come to my museum tour this Saturday,” but I just realized they booked my talk against Detroit Techno-god Richie Hawtin (aka Plakstikman), who’s performing in the Warm Up Series. I have no illusions.

    On the occasion of the exhibition Site and Insight: an Assemblage of Artists, P.S.1 offers a series of museum tours, each led by an emerging collector or a curator for a private collection. Site and Insight is curated by Agnes Gund, one of New York’s most prominent collectors and patrons. Ms. Gund’s curatorial selections are informed by her experience as a collector and thus reflect her unique relationship to art and to artists.
    These museum tours invite young collectors or curators of collections to present their views on works in P.S.1’s summer exhibitions and to provide insight into the processes behind collecting contemporary art. Led through the galleries by a collector, participants are introduced to the issues, questions, concerns, and inspiration which face a collector when viewing new work. The “collector’s eye” will be a new lens through which to experience contemporary art at P.S.1.
    All events take place at 3:30pm and are free with museum admission ($6)
    Sat., July 5th: Greg Allen (collector)
    Sat., July 19th: Emily Braun (curator of the Leonard Lauder Collection)
    Fri., August 1st: Agnes Gund (collector and Site and Insight curator)
    Sat., August 16th: Anne Ellegood (curator of the Peter Norton
    Sat., August 30th: Bill Previdi (collector)

    Frieze Mag’s SMS Reports from Venice

    The Venice Biennale is opening right now, and the artworld (minus 1 or 2) is trying to crash each other’s parties. Far from regretting not being there, I am getting a full Biennale experience, thanks to Frieze Magazine’s, SMS reports. For the second morning in a row, we were repeatedly startled awake by my cell phone vibrating across the room.
    Here’s one from yesterday: FriezeSMS Venice 03: Text message codes: Pav=Pavilion. Gia=Giardini. Ar=Arsenale. IO=Invite Only. Pa=Party.
    And this morning, a splash of a review: FriezeSMS: Not even the Op Art effect of the glittering lagoon prepares you for Ofili + Adjaye’s luminescent rooms. Paradise is within reach. Sun Factor 40…
    Last Biennale, too, we waited until later in the summer, avoiding the art masses, at least. Here’s my Sept. 7, 2001 post about the visit, from back when the weblog was young.

    Meteorite Mashes Marfa Minimalist Masterpiece, Maybe?

    Donald Judd, image:chinati.org

    Mmmm? In Art Papers, the artist Evan Levy tells the story of visiting The Chinati Foundation, Donald Judd’s minimalist mecca in Marfa, Texas. He found “a flaw, a missing corner, in one of the concrete sculptures,” which Judd placed in the field beyond his converted army warehouses. Later, Levy discovered a meteorite nearby, and wondered if it’s “the only intergalactic rock to have struck a work of modern art?” He built a show around it, apparently.
    It sounds implausible to me, and not just because he was supposedly forbidden to take any pictures of the sculpture. (I have all kinds of pictures from my trip to Marfa.) But ask him yourself next week. He’s giving a promisingly titled artist’s talk, ennui & asteroids, Sunday June 14th at 2pm at the Sandler Hudson Gallery in Atlanta.
    [Bonus alliterative update: Memories of Making Movies in Marfa]

    Cremaster Roundup

    The Cremaster Cycle is now playing in LA, Berkeley, SF, and Chicago. Wider exposure goes hand in hand with wider discussion, as these two very interesting links show:
    Mario and Matthew, image: gamegirladvance.comWayne Bremser’s article, “Matthew Barney versus Donkey Kong”, for the video game magazine GameGirl Advance takes a look at video game character, mythological, spatial and narrative elements in Cremaster 3. That’s the one where Barney’s character scales the levels of the Guggenheim, passing various obstacles along the way. The hermetic logic of Mario’s quest stacks up well against the esoteric, Freemason-inspired obstacles the Entered Apprentice confronts in C3. Bremsen loses me a bit, though, in his critique of the current Guggenheim installation-as-interface.
    I once compared Mario to Gerry, Gus Van Sant’s nearly dialogue-free desert movie, which is similar to C3 in another way: some people had a hard time staying until the end. Anyway, the idea that everything we need to know, we learned playing Super Mario holds great appeal for me.
    For a very thoughtful, engaging, film-savvy discussion, check out Scott Foundas’ interview with Matthew Barney on Indiewire. While all the hype’s about finally being able to see the Cycle in “proper” (i.e., numerical) order, Foundas puts forward an interesting argument for watching them chronologically. The ambition and production values evolve, obviously, but you can also see shifts in the visual language Barney references, from sports broadcasting (C4, C1) to narrative film (C2, C3).
    Once the films are done, the tendency is to see them as the objective; their form overpowering their function (at least for Barney). His discussion here of the films as object generators sounds more persuasive and interesting than in any other interview I’ve read. And this explanation of the limited edition laserdisc distribution model puts the horse back in front of the cart

    Barney: Part of it had to do with figuring out a way to fund it. Looking to the thing we knew best, which was how to edition and distribute artwork, that’s what we did. We made an edition of 10 out of the [first] film, divided the budget by 10 and sold it for that. So, at least the film would break even and the work that was generated out of it could start to fund the following film.

    Photos–new & old–from off the Japanese Grid

    panawave and mirrors, image:mainichi.co.jp

    Unless I missed the evite, the world didn’t end Thursday. (And even if it did, Armageddon’s no reason to stop weblogging.)
    The Pana Wavers above are using mirrors to deflect scalar waves, not just to create wonderful photos. There are more in Mainichi Daily News‘s Pana Wave photo special. [It reminds me that our inaugural Netflix movie was, fittingly, Agnes Varda’s wonderful obsessed-with-death-in-long-lost-Paris film Cleo de 5 a 7, the Criterion edition. Varda uses mirrors beautifully through most of the film, at least until the superstitious Cleo breaks one. It’s 1960, B&W, and all the cars in Paris were Citroens. Heaven.
    Anyway, here are a couple of 1959 (!!) photos I said I’d post, from Yukio Futagawa’s stunning Nihon no Minka, a painfully rare book on Japan’s long-lost rural architecture. They’re old, but eerily topical: a rural road, a house with a powerline. Is it just me, or does reliving the 1950’s suddenly not seem like a bad thing, at least aesthetically?

    Nihon no Minka, 1962, by Yukio Futagawa, BSS
    Nihon no Minka, 1962, by Yukio Futagawa, BSS

    I [Heart] New York T-Shirt, by Maurizio Cattelan

    I [Heart] New York, in Arabic, Maurizio Cattelan, image:printedmatter.org

    I probably shouldn’t post this until I get mine, but the artist Maurizio Cattelan created this shirt in a limited edition of 48. It’s for sale at Printed Matter, the cool-since-a-long-time-ago artists’ bookstore in Chelsea.
    Update: Jeff Jarvis wondered, rightly, if the shirt actually said “I” and “New York” (the heart, I can read). An interesting question, and not. It wouldn’t be beyond Maurizio to use illegible/nonsensical script. As it turns out, at Social Design Notes, John recreated a flyer he saw in the EV around Sept. 11. To this unaccustomed eye, the scripts are, indeed, different. But whether it reads “New York,” “NY,” “Now Yak,” or “Newark,” I can’t say. FWIW, Japlish or Engrish, the Japanese mangling of English is a more powerful phenomenon than the corollary, Americans randomly tattooing themselves with Japanese characters they don’t understand.

    Aum2: Electromagnetic Boogaloo — A Look at Pana Wave

    I’m busy with some offline writing (just wait and see), but in the mean time, I felt the gaijin‘s obligation to provide some context for the recent one-eyebrow-raising >> reach-for-the-doorlocks reports of that road-trippin’ Japanese cult, Pana Wave Laboratory. Their site is only in Japanese
    Panawave, image: rickross.comFirst the bad news: despite the promising name, the cult makes its money from herbal supplements and water purifiers. So no trip-hop CD is in the works.
    Now that that’s out of the way, the world will end tomorrow. “[Armageddon] will be caused when electromagnetic waves strike the Japanese archipelago and the delicate gravitational balance between the Andromeda nebula and other nebulas is altered,” warns Chino, Pana Wave’s leader. (from a great Mainichi Daily News article, with pictures. SMH has another caravan pic. Cult critic Rick Ross has a Panawave news page. This message board is for people waiting for Zeta Planet X to arrive and reverse the earth’s poles. It’s due tomorrow, too. Busy day.)
    Did I say tomorrow? Japan’s 12 hours ahead of the east coast right now, so it may end by lunch. Chino didn’t say what timezone she’s calculating from.
    TV Asahi screengrab of the Yamanashi-ken domeIn neighboring Yamanashi, Pana Wave built a complex of Armageddon-proofed Fuller domes (Erecta, the manufacturer, issued an online disclaimer.) and filled them with animals (13 dogs, 70 cats, crows, a mini-pig, and an iguana). But then they went on the road, MDN reports, to save Chino from deadly EM waves. These aren’t normal EM waves, though, they’re called scalar waves, theorized by Nikolai Tesla. They’re produced by power lines, which Pana Wave has painstakingly sketched out. In grand Japanese tradition, Pana Wave also created a simple, explanatory cartoon of friendly EM waves combining into evil scalar waves (the mean red one says, “I’m a scalar wave!”). Interestingly, at the April 2000 INET-Congress in Bregenz, Austria, one Prof. Konstantin Meyl announced he’d actually produced scalar waves using Tesla’s methods. (See a critique here.)

    grabbed from panawave.grp.jp grabbed from panawave.grp.jp

    Pana Wavers wear all white and drape white cloth all around them, deflecting scalar waves with mirrors. Chino et al are seeking a place, any place, where they can escape what they see as an ecologically disastrous paved, wired grid. Right now, they’re draped out in Hachiman, a tiny rural town in Gifu, an area of central Japan where I happened to live (another story). Here is an official Powers of Ten-style map of Gifu, which, coincidentally, places Hachiman at the center of the world.
    [The mountainous regions of Gifu have some of the last, best examples of classical Japanese farmhouses, known as minka. The greatest architecture photo book I know is Nihon no Minka, by GA’s Yukio Futagawa. Around 440 pages of gorgeous 1950’s B&W photos of traditional Japanese architecture, 99% of it gone by now. Remarkable images of unpaved roads, thatched roofs, and nearly power-line-free vistas. Published in 1962, and reworked in 1980 into Traditional Japanese Houses. I bought the only original I ever saw, at Roth Horowitz. When it was still on Thompson, Perimeter had the reissue. If anyone has the original, it’d be Book Cellar Amus in Osaka. That guy has everything. If the world doesn’t end, I’ll scan some images.]
    Tama-chan, from the Guardian

    Of course, no apocalyptic cult story would be complete without a media-darling seal. Tama-chan wandered into a polluted Tokyo river last August, and became a cuddly symbol of Japan’s need to face its environmental problems. Pana Wave revealed they were behind controversial failed attempts to capture Tama-chan, who, Chino warns, is the only one who can save us now. [hmm Leia wore white, too. Coincidence?]
    Wave UFO, Mariko Mori, image: kunsthaus-bregenz.at

    In the mean time, the art world’s own Tesla Girl, the heiress Mariko Mori, just opened Wave UFO at 56th & Madison. She’s collecting brainwaves and projecting a mind control video inside this pod. From the brochure: “Wave UFO seamlessly unites actual individual physical experiences with Mori’s singular vision of a cosmic dream world.” It was first exhibited at the Kunsthaus…in Bregenz.
    On a different (?) note: For an absolutely riveting collection of interviews with both survivors and attackers of the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo subway gassing, read Haruki Murakami’s Underground. One reviewer says, “Unlike a journalist, Murakami doesn’t force these searing narratives into tidy equations of cause and effect, good and evil, but rather allows contradictions and ambiguity to stand, thus presenting unadorned the shocking truth of the diabolical and brutal manner in which ordinary lives were derailed or destroyed.”

    Things you should see, if only it weren’t too late

    Daisy Cutter, detail, John Powers, image:irobase.com

    See Landscape Escape a group show at the Crosby street SlingShotProject. Of special note: John Powers’ headscratchingly beautiful sculpture, Daisy Cutter (above); Raphael Renaud’s paintings of Marseilles, Cairo, Sao Paulo (which reminded me a bit of RIchter’s late 60’s Townscapes); and John Cliett’s memorable (literally) photos of deMaria’s Lightning Field. Read an incredible interview at Cabinet about taking them. Unfortunately, the show closed Sunday.

    Mommy, Robert Melee, image: artnet.com

    See artist Robert Melee’s incredible performance, This is for you, starring a diverse troupe of dancers made up like the main subject of Melee’s video, photographs, and installation works, Mommy. Mommy is played (to frequently disturbing effect) by the artist’s mother. It’s at Judson Memorial Church on Wash. Sq., at 8pm. Tonight. So you missed that one, too. And the Costume Institute Ball’s over…
    OK, here’s one you still have time for. Check out the addition to my Amazon lists, Books I’ve Read by Tycoons I’ve Known [with props to Monkey Disaster’s Lists-As-Entertainment program]

    Movie and Art Roundup

    I’m in the last minute throes of editing the AM screenplay before dropping it off for a serious reading. Here are some movie and artsite suggestions to occupy you. A little “Look over there!” handwaving, so you won’t notice a slight drop in posting in front of you.

  • A Mighty Wind is pretty damn good. But just as the line is very fine between driving an 80’s Volvo and driving an 80’s Volvo ironically, the distinction between a folk music reunion concert parody and a PBS fundraising drive is almost imperceptible. (two words: bladder management).
  • We saw the poster for it at the movie theater and dismissed it ‘cuz I’d never heard about it, but reading the story behind The Real Cancun made me, um, free my mind. 1) it’s made by Real World creators Bunim/Murray, which is about as much credibility as you can hope for in the reality genre, and 2) the reason I’d never heard of it is because they shot it a month ago and finished editing last week. It opens Friday. I’m sure it’s already out on DVD, though, somehow.
    Some fine art weblogs have come my way:

  • artnotes, by one Ariana French, who comments on a steady stream of interesting artists and happenings, and
  • Esthet, a Tokyo-oriented, photo-oriented weblog. Esthet’s Lil is inspired by a photography collector I also admire, Thomas Walther. Walther has an first-ratecollection of work by famous artists and photographers, but his eye also wanders to anonymous, “artless” snapshots, which more than earn a place alongside the “great” photographers’ works. There was an exhibition at the Met, and a book, which rocks. [thanks, Jason and Tyler]
  • PQ+ a photo and poetry and speaking out site by photographer and artworlder Paul Khan. Here he is visiting Takashi Murakami’s Hiroppon studio in Brooklyn, for example.
  • On The Cultural Price Of Homeland Security

    In an article in the Village Voice, Kate Mattingly gives new details of a disturbing casualty in the US government’s campaign for Homeland Security: the increasing difficulty and expense of securing visas for international artists and performers is keeping more of them out of the US and causing arts organizers to give up scheduling non-US programming.
    Here’s the visa application process under the Dept. of Homeland Security:
    New background checks >> bigger backlogs >> longer/impossible turnaround times >> fallback to once-optional, prohibitively expensive Premium Processing Fees >> non-profits sunk by $1,000/petition fees originally meant for the tech industry >> artists may not get approved anyway>> dance, music, art, film, theater organizations give up programming international talent.
    An example cited in the article: Visa applications for an 11-engagement BAM Next Wave Festival cost $29,304, compared to $600 in peaceable 1988, with the possibility that some artists are still denied visas.
    One of the first to pay the cultural price of harshened visa policies was last year’s New York Film Festival. As I posted then, Abbas Kiarostami was prevented from attending his film’s US premier, and the Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki decided to boycott in solidarity. (“If the present government of the United States of America does not want an Iranian, they will hardly have any use for a Finn, either. We do not even have the oil.”)
    When the photographer Thomas Struth spoke to a small group of collectors and curators in February, he wondered aloud about the possibility of the highly influential people who participate in the art world–collectors, trustees, sponsors, artists–working in concert to prevent the war in Iraq. Private opinion over the war was probably too divided for such an effort to be made, though.
    But creating an effective and affordable way for internationally recognized artists and performers to visit the United States and contribute to our own cultural production seems like a cause worth working the phones for.