Marina Knows What She Is Doing.

At the invitation of Jeffrey Deitch, Yvonne Rainer has seen a rehearsal of Marina Abramovic’s performance art project for this year’s MoCA Los Angeles gala. And in a new letter to Deitch, she has refined and reiterated her condemnation of it as an exploitative and “grotesque spectacle [that] promises to be truly embarrassing.”
Would that it were actually embarrassing to the people involved, and to Marina herself. Rainer goes to great, cordial lengths in her open letter to Deitch [reproduced below] to separate her criticism of the gala from Abramovic’s work. While generous, I believe this is incorrect; the only context in which a revolving human head centerpiece on a $100,000 table could be realized is as an artwork. I mean, Abramovic’s certainly not claiming this is just edgy party decoration, is she?
If that were so, the case for embarrassment would be easily made. No, I think the reason this rankles so much is precisely because the gala does take on the mantle of art–and the stamp and stature of the artist. It’s not possible to say that this gala is not art; it is art you cannot afford to experience. It is art that you find humanly, ethically, and socially objectionable. And it is being produced and shown for money in one of our [sic] most reputable museums, by an artist who shows and is celebrated in similar institutions.
That’s a reality of the art world as it’s currently constructed.

Last year between the blog post where I declared the Gala as Art Movement and my presentation on it at #rank, I found two things: 1) Abramovic was deeply engaged in the luxury/sensual/sensory spectacle that is the gala experience’s stock in trade. And 2) Doug Aitken’s MoCA gala Happening was, on one level, a critique of the real estate and cultural forces which used art and museums to shape Los Angeles to serve their own needs. And that critique was utterly and completely subsumed by those very forces, probably without Aitken realizing it.
The Gala is bigger than any artist’s attempt to subvert it from inside the party tent. Aitken tried and failed, but I think Abramovic is just fine with it.
Yvonne Rainer Blasts Marina Abramović and MOCA LA [theperformanceclub.org]
Previously: An Incomplete History of The Gala-as-Art Movement [greg.org]
“Relational Aesthetics for the Rich, or A Brief History of the Gala as Art” [vimeo]
Yvonne Rainer’s revised letter to Jeffrey Deitch, along with its growing list of signatories, is after the jump.

Continue reading “Marina Knows What She Is Doing.”

Creative America

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This interior shot of Fuller/Sadao’s US Pavilion at Expo67 almost has it all: installation view of the giant paintings Lichtenstein, Newman, Warhol and Johns made for Alan Solomon’s American Painting Now; plus a giant photomural of the moon, perfect for posing in front of.
There’s another photomural, earthrise from the moon, on the other side, which was a backdrop for the lunar landscape diorama. You can see it in Carl Harstad’s photo:
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And the satelloon-like weather balloons were just out of both pictures’ edge. Fortunately, Bob Charlton’s mother captured them below:
American Pavilion - Expo '67
The underside approach for the lunar platform has this awesome installation [image from fan train’s flickr], a series of panels or canvases with abstracted elements of the American flag. It’s a little Ellsworth Kelly, a little Helio Oiticica, and a little Richard Lippold at Lincoln Center, all rolled into one piece of exhibition filler created, I assume, by Cambridge Seven.
American Pavilion
This other photo from Carl Harstad of the Hollywood section of Cambridge Seven’s exhibit features, what? I don’t know. I’d guess it’s left over from Joseph Manciewicz’s disastrous Cleopatra shoot, in front of a giant, multipanel headshot of Humphrey Bogart.
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Cambridge’s exhibition carried the overall title, Creative America, and I think it very successfully steamrolled everything–paintings, photomurals, dioramas, film props, spaceships, cultural effluvia–into a single, unified, spectacularized drive-by aesthetic experience. And it was all done by and for the US Government. As I go on about reconsidering ‘non-art’ things like photomurals and satelloons in an art context, I keep coming back to the Expo67 pavilion. At one point, it was all art, or something like it. And vice versa.
[note: I’ve seen it elsewhere, but I took that top photo from former USIA design director Jack Masey’s powerpoint deck on the history of postwar World’s Fairs, which he presented last October at the National Building Museum. I’m about to listen to his archived talk now.]

What I Look At Many Days: Gerhard Richter Colour Charts

I am aware of the work of Pablo Neruda Gerhard Richter.
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I have not been reading Gerhard Richter: Writings 1961-2007 straight through, of course, but it’s been with me a lot lately. And it’s kind of annoyed me that there is not really anything about this incredible photo, showing part of the installation of Demonstrative 1967, Galerie Heiner Friedrich’s weeklong exhibition at DuMont Publishers, down the street from the inaugural Cologne Art Fair, from which he had been excluded.
In addition to Richter, the display included works by his Capitalist Realist cofounders Sigmar Polke [I think that’s a raster bild there on the left] and Konrad Lueg [the inflatable cube structures], as well as by Blinky Palermo, Reiner Ruthenbeck, the British painter John Hoyland–and Cy Twombly.
Now about that Richter. That giant color chart painting which looks like a folding screen. For a while, it threw me off precisely because it looked like a folding screen. Considering 1967 was also the year Richter started working with glass panes and doors and other materials that related to a painting plane but were not, I was wondering if this painted, free-standing panel object embodied some lost chapter in the color charts’ “pop meets abstraction, quietly upends both” story.
Orrrr maybe, the painting was just too big to go on that wall, and Blinky needed that other wall, and Lueg’s balloons block everything anyway, and what the hell, it’s a week, and an art fair.
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Ten Large Colour Charts/ Zehn große Farbtafeln, 1966, via gerhard-richter.com
Because there is no color chart folding screen. That work is Ten Large Colour Charts (1966), a ten-panel painting in the K20 collection in Dusseldorf. It is one of the earliest color chart paintings Richter ever showed, but it’s probably the first that many German art worlders ever saw. [Eighteen Colour Charts was the first first shown, in Richter’s one-person show at Friedrich’s Munich gallery in May 1967.]
Anyway, point is, or one point is, I think, that looking at Richter’s color chart paintings, and his 4900 Colours grids before that, and his Cologne Cathedral stained glass window before that, and so on, changes the way you look at the world. And by you, I mean, of course, me. It changes the way you look at color samples, whether in the paint store, or at the moment, in a grid laid out on a governmental stylebook website.
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And it’s not just a matter of this looks like that, or not entirely. Because there’s also the context in which Richter painted his color charts–and the larger biographical/political context that shoots through Richter’s entire practice. That Demonstrative 67 photo is in a spread with what may be my favorite snapshot in the Writings book: on the right there, not Table, 1962, CR-1 [!]–which, if Christopher Wool can take up painting with that thing already in the world, color charts are not gonna hold me back–the one on top, with the caption, “Polke and Richter families, 1965.”
Oh, just drinking some tea with the kids and Uncle Rudi.

On Robert Breer, Floats, Rugs & Flags

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I’ve had Michelle Kuo’s interview with Robert Breer [artforum, nov 2010] open in my browser tabs for months now, ever since Steve Roden posted about his incredible little toy Float, which was sold at MoMA’s gift shop in 1970, at the same time one of Breer’s original Pepsi Pavilion Floats had been liberated from Expo’70 in Osaka and set loose in the Abby Aldrich Sculpture Garden. [A PDF of The Modern’s Aug. 25 press release for the piece, titled Osaka I, said the toy Floats would be sold for $7.95, or two for $15,” in the Museum’s Christmas Shop.]
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Kuo’s is one of the best interviews I’ve seen with Breer; most never got past the basic, “how did you get into animation?” “So you lived in Paris on the GI Bill?” chestnuts. With what is now a terrible lack of urgency, I’d made a few attempts to track down Breer this year, in hopes of following up with him about what he’d probably consider the least important aspects of his creative practice: the commercial work and product design and TV animation [including still unidentified segments on The Electric Company] he would bring up–and then insist be kept separate.
Because Breer’s consistently innovative filmmaking and playfully minimalistic/animalistic sculptures–and the fact that he did his most monumentally awesome art work for Pepsi–hinted at the potential relevance of the work he kept in his commercial closet.
Which, amusingly, is not really the point, except to say I want to find a Float of my own, please.
No, the immediate point is, wow, how awesome is Breer’s 1966 sculpture, Rug? This was the work that introduced Breer’s sculpture to me, at a show that also opened my eyes to the revelatory breadth of his filmmaking. It was recreated for the first time in decades in 1999 at AC Projects. Their small second floor space in off-Chelsea was creeping and crawling with little Breer sculptures, while the Mylar Rug slowly shifted around in place. The other works felt alive, droid-like. Rug‘s movements were creepier, more ominous, like something was alive underneath it.

Good for the Walker, it looks like they acquired the mylar Rug [there are others, in other colors/materials] just this year.
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Anyway, while poking around GB Agency, Breer’s Paris gallery, I came across this sketch, dated 8/71, which includes an incredible proposal for a Rug piece made from an American flag. [The text underneath reads, “float flat on floor (flags) + motors”.] The storyboard-like drawing not only ties Breer’s sculptural and animation projects together nicely; the other three sequences–“cloud in sun,” “bushes in breeze,” and “daisies”–help site Breer’s work in observation, duration, and the natural world. Which may have mitigated the political implications in 1971 of something lurking under a crumpled US flag.
In any case, I expect, if not exactly look forward to the day when, this work will be realized for a future Breer retrospective.

Miami Seat: Mari Thirteen By Jonathan Monk

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Add Jonathan Monk to the list of artist Enzo Mari fans. For the Brussels gallery D&A Lab’s show at Design Miami Basel Miami Wynwood Art Week Whatever Fair last month, Monk created Mari Thirteen, an edition of Mari’s autoprogettazione chair, Sedia 1. The design calls for 13 pieces of wood, so Monk used thirteen different types of wood, none of them pine: Koto, Padouk, Ash, Maple, Oak, Cherry, Pearwood, Wengé, Afzelia, Ovang, Mahagony, Birch and American Nutwood.
As I understand it, there was one set of 13 chairs to be sold individually for like $9,000 apiece, and one set of 13 to be kept together. No doubt destined to surround some Russian oligarch’s beach-cast, triskaidecagonal Max Lamb dining table.
D&A Lab’s owner Isolde Pringiers says of the project:

Jonathan Monk’s interpretation is just one possible version of the ‘Sedia 1′ of Autoprogettazione and hence in essence is very much part of and a continuation of Enzo Mari’s project but with the appropriation layer, typical of Jonathan’s work. With Autoprogettazione Mari went a step further than Ikea in his time in democratizing design. It broke down barriers in terms of what established design and good taste was. Monk, on the other hand, crosses back over those boundaries in as much as his interpretation offers a fully finished, conceptual object which is anti-Ikea. Enzo Mari offered the liberty of the project and Monk fully indulged.

Which, wow, I think I take issue with just about every single aspect of that statement.
Monk Makes Mari at DesignMiami [designmiamiblog.com]

Sgarbian Backdrops

The near-universal consensus from the VIP opening was that the Italian Pavilion exhibition curated by art critic/Berlusconi apparatchik Vittorio Sgarbi was an unalloyed, over-politicized disaster. Yet so far, I have seen very little substantive criticism or engagement with it. Rome-based art theorist Mike Watson’s column in Frieze is a so-far-rare exception:

…the show appears to have resulted unwittingly from the congruence of a cultural elite who lack political power and a political elite who lack culture, highlighting the negative aspects of both – although ultimately it is the clumsy Berlusconian presence which comes off worse here.
In Italy, a country with a deep cultural heritage, the fine arts are the final refuge from a philistine tendency that affects everyday life with an alarming pervasiveness. Yet it appears that the systemic contradictions which plague the Italian political and cultural sphere – and which serve to keep the powerful grinning their stricken grins – have now invaded the fine arts.

Oddly, when I first started liking this quote last week, it was partly because I’d read it as “the fine arts are the final refuge for a philistine tendency,” an Italian play on patriotism as the last refuge of scoundrels. I imagined a demagoguing, pseudo-populist media mogul’s flailing administration wrapping itself in a fresco at Venice. But apparently not.
Instead, Watson maintains the notion of art as a “refuge from,” a world apart from the [real] world. Watson says this philistine affront occupying “the centre of the most prominent cultural event in the art world’s calendar,” demands “an appropriate response.” But what? A sternly worded petition? Some scathingly derisive remarks over dinner in Basel? Art world folks can tweet their outrage all they want, but when the smoke from Sgarbi’s stinkbomb of a show clears, they’ll still be inside their gilded cage refuge.
The Physiognomy of a Nation [frieze]

Rauschenberg Currents Event

Robert Rauschenberg’s massive 1970 silk screen edition, Currents sure is hard to miss. And not just because it’s 18 meters long.
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MoMA’s copy from the edition [of just six] has been wrapped around the corner of the second floor galleries for a while now. Which may have helped coax Peter Freeman into bringing out another of the screenprints last week for Art Basel.
But it’s also at the end of the Rauschenberg’s segment in Emile de Antonio’s documentary, Painters Painting [above], which I rewatched recently. Bob unfurls it with a slightly soused, earnestly glib voiceover about how, even though there’s so much information packed into a daily newspaper, most people don’t read it. But if someone spends $15,000 on the info, the artist can get him to pay attention. Or at least not wrap the fish in it and throw it out.
Which is ironic, I guess, because I’ve found that the size and visual uniformity has caused me to stroll by Currents without ever even slowing down. I register it as reworked newspaper content, on a giant roll, just like the real newspaper itself–but I don’t slow down to look closely. I mean, really, at that scale, how much of my time does Rauschenberg really think he’s gonna get?
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So maybe it was because I’d just run into Richard Serra moments before in the atrium, or because I came at the work head-on this time, instead of from the side. But I’d never noticed, for example, that there is a news photo of a frontloader bringing a massive fir tree trunk to the Pasadena Art Museum for Serra’s 1970 work, Sawing: Base Plate Template (Twelve Fir Trees)
Above it and to the right, I’d swear that row of tract houses is a Dan Graham photo.
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And hey, there’s a story about construction progress on Expo 70 in Osaka, where E.A.T., the collaborative Rauschenberg founded with Billy Kluver, was creating the Pepsi Pavilion, and where Rauschenberg was still thinking he’d show his own work, a plexiglass cubeful of bubbling drillers’ mud called Mud-Muse, which he’d developed with Teledyne for LACMA’s Art & Technology show and the US Pavilion.
If I can spot these now-obvious contemporary art references in Currents, what else must be lurking in there? Was incorporating other artists’ images Rauschenberg’s way of tipping his hat to artists and work he liked, or was he assimilating and subsuming it in his own, sprawling scroll? Was he engaging in a dialogue with the Conceptual and post-minimalist kids coming up or putting them in their place? Or trying to put himself in theirs?
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The most intriguing references now, though, turn out to be a little trickier. There are multiple instances of diagrams showing hands throwing the OK sign which remind me of nothing so much as the sign language woodblocks used in the prints at Jasper Johns’ latest show at Marks.
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Shrinky Dink 4, 2011, intaglio print, image via
I remember thinking immediately of Rauschenberg when I saw the mirrored newspaper transfer appearing in the upper left of this Johns drawing, Untitled, 2010.
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Rauschenberg began using the technique in the mid-60s, and it’s all over Currents. Remind me again how long MoMA’s had their print on view?

Fuller Fly’s Eye Dome Gets Miami Makeover

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So everyone dutifully reproduced the press release about Craig Robins putting Buckminster Fuller’s 24-foot version of the Fly’s Eye Dome through a “historic restoration” by boat fabricator Goetz Composites, yet no one seems to have followed through with picture of the completed job. Well here you go, from Goetz themselves.
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In 2008, Max Protetch exhibited the fiberglass dome, a prototype manufactured in 1976-7–which used to be described as a 26-foot diameter dome, btw–at La Guardia Place in the Village. The photo below is from his installation at Protetch: Beacon last year.
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Said the press release:

Eric [Goetz] and his team, working with Daniel J. Reiser and John Warren who fabricated the original structure with Bucky, have gone to extraordinary lengths to engage this process with the same meticulous detail as a world-class fine art restorer.

Which is apparently not the same thing as restoring a world-class work of art, or even a piece of design, where the patina is to be preserved, even treasured, but more like a Pebble Beach concours-style project, where you chrome-plate all the screws.
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Maybe it could be argued that stripping off the blue paint on the inside brings it closer to its “original condition.” But looking at the raw fiberglass interior of the 33-foot dome Jack Lenor Larsen installed at Longhouse Reserve in Easthampton, I wonder if original originally meant something else.
Larsen’s dome was first loaned to him by Fuller’s daughter Allegra Fuller Snyder. It was constructed by John Kuhtik, whose company Emod had by then been working to produce the Fly’s Eye dome “for nearly a decade”, presumably with Fuller’s blessing and involvement.
Anyway, I guess I’m stoked that Protetch hustled and saved one of Fuller’s rare artifacts, even if saving it means stripping it of its history. I’m sure it’ll look shiny and fantastic in Miami.
Restoration of Buckminster Fuller’s iconic Fly’s Eye Dome at America’s Cup [archdaily]

The US Expo 67 Pavilion Has Seven Fathers


I’m getting pretty comfortable with my love affair/obsession with the US Pavilion at the Expo 67 in Montreal. I mean, it’s got Buckminster Fuller; Alan Solomon curating gigantic paintings; photomurals; and satelloons, what’s not to love, right?
So seeing Design for a Fair, the 1968 promo short film by Peter Chermayeff is awesome just as it is. The vintage footage and photos are some of the crispest I’ve seen, and it really is pretty crazy on a whole bunch of levels that this thing existed at all.
But maybe the greatest thing–even better than the giant graphic designed flags that look like a lost Ellsworth Kelly, as if there wasn’t enough giant, escalator-optimized, actual art already–and even better than the sheer soft power/propaganda play that was so drop-dead awesome it won the future for the day–is the voiceover.
Because the whole thing really sounds like Chermayeff’s idea. Every last bit of it, dome to nuts. It’s fantastic. Chermayeff, of course, is an architect and exhibition designer, and his former firm, Cambridge Seven Associates, or C7A, was contracted by the US Information Agency to produce the US Expo entry.
And so, as Chermayeff tells it, they knew they wanted a 3/4 geodesic dome, so they ordered one. And they wanted some giant art, so they ordered that. And the moon stuff, and the Hollywood and all the happy parts of American culture.
Now I don’t doubt a thing; I’m sure that’s exactly how it all went down. It’s just that that’s not how it’s typically remembered. Architects only remember Fuller; the art world only recognizes Solomon and the artists, not the venue or the show or the implications of it; and everything else is artifact and prop. [And the poor lunar photomural, I’ve hardly found anyone remembering that at all.]
The historical focus is either on the general awesomeness of the spectacle and mood, the political context and propaganda, or on the parts in isolation. What Design for a Fair reminds me of, though, is the visitor’s experience, the carefully orchestrated messaging, and the reality that it was orchestrated by a contractor working to a brief provided by the USIA. It was a government-funded gesamtkunstwerk, a massive piece of installation art before the fact, and probably one of the most cost-effective public diplomacy efforts of the Cold War era. It literally seems unimaginable today.

Live From The Gramery Hotel

Warm nostalgia apparently equals d-bag public access video + time.
Reading Andrew’s report from the Dependent Art Fair, I kept flashing back to the Gramercy, and all the art in the bathrooms, and on the beds, and the insanely crowded hallways.
And whaddya know, there’s a link to a 1995 Gallery Beat episode from “the Gramery Hotel,” where those asshats wandered in on work by unknown artists like Mark Dion, and Tracy Emin, who was not quite protected by the utterly baffled Jay Jopling.
I’d totally forgotten how much I hated that show. And now I’ll probably end up watching the entire archive.

Classic Gallery Beat TV [gallerybeat.net via 16miles.com]

I’ve Got Mail

I order so many random books, usually from random independent or used booksellers on Abebooks, that don’t arrive with anything like the robotic precision and up-to-the-minute email notification of Amazon, that I never know what’s come in the mail until I open it. And sometimes I’ve forgotten what I even ordered.
Today’s haul was exceptional, though:
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Centerbeam is the 1980 report/documentation for a project that, as far as I can tell, was the largest contemporary public art event ever undertaken on the National Mall: Centerbeam and Icarus, a collaborative experiment/performance organized by MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies, under the direction of Otto Piene.
Centerbeam was unveiled at documenta 6 in 1977, and restaged on the Mall in the summer of 1978. It involved video, lasers, giant inflatable sculptures, smoke machines, sound art, a technotopian extravaganza that was apparently a raging success, but also, from the pictures, might have been a hot mess. Not that those are mutually exclusive. Anyway, I thought I’d bought this book a year and a half ago when I first wrote about Centerbeam, but I had not.
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The catalogue for the
Musee d’Orsay’s Leon Gimpel exhibition arrived, from Italy, and wow, it’s beautifully produced. The images that get widely reproduced are some of the most arresting, but just a quick look makes me very excited to study Gimpel’s work more closely. The text is only in French, which probably means it won’t get the US distribution presence it deserves. [It looks so easy to buy on Amazon.fr, though.]
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And last, whoa, what an incredible surprise: Enclosure 3: Harry Partch? What the hell is this? Experimental composer Philip Blackburn is the last in a series of Partch devotees who labored to publish the visionary composer/ex-hobo’s archive. Most of the Enclosure series is video and audio of performances of Partch’s music, but Enclosure 3 is a dense, daunting, but engrossing facsimile edition of the notes, drawings, clippings, photos, manuscripts, and correspondence Partch kept for himself. It looks utterly fantastic.
I think my version was published in 2005, but the copyright is also from 1997, and there’s only the barest hint at the process of putting the book together. It’s pretty raw. But gorgeous. I’d seen it mentioned on some hip curation webshop, one of those Nieves-type outfits, but when I couldn’t figure out which one it was [turns out it was collectionof.net], I ended up ordering it [much more cheaply] via some Amazon merchant.
Well, my copy arrived, it’s awesome, and it turns out to have come from Squidco, an “improvised, composed experimental music” specialty shop based in, of all places, Wilmington, NC. Who knew, right? Squidco publishes a lot of writing and reviews of experimental music on Squid’s Ear, wow, reaching back to 2003. I had no idea, but now I do, and I’m glad.

On Frieze At 20

Frieze has been around 20 years? That’s crazy. I feel so old.
I’m really liking the dips into the archives by invited Big Thinkers. Jens Hoffmann’s picks focus on biennials and such. My favorite has to be Jenny Liu’s firsthand report of the Sixth Caribbean Biennial, a giant critique-in-a-boondoggle-in-a-biennial organized by Maurizio Catteland–and Jens Hoffmann:

The idea of a biennial without art could have been cool in a marvellously vacuous sort of a way, puncturing the self-importance of the art world by grotesquely aping it. What we got was a furtive and ungenerous gesture, a covert V-sign flipped at the art world behind its back, when more balls could have made it a divinely impudent mooning in its face. As a critique, the Caribbean Biennial was neutered when the organisers and some of the artists felt the need to prescribe the biennial’s public perception and hide the vacation at its heart. The art was so profoundly and deafeningly absent that some artists took to thinking of themselves as both art stars (whose reputations needed protecting) and art civilians (with commensurate expectations of privacy), while curators took on the role of embarrassed publicists and the spectators of poor cousins at a wedding. There’s something sad about so cynical and ambivalent a gesture as the Caribbean Biennial: one would think that a critique of one’s own practices would be ethical, even idealistic. Here, the humour was both a performance of aggression and a weapon of despair, another cheerless rehearsal of irony and parody.

I still talk to people about the Caribbean Biennial all the time, though as time passes, I have to keep reassuring myself that it actually happened. Or didn’t, as the case may be.
But I still remember it as a sly, subversive prank, and Liu’s obviously generous but disappointed review reminds me that it was less romantic than I want it to be. Seriously, guys, how could you let Jenny down like that?
Trouble in Paradise [frieze]
frieze.com/20/ [frieze.com]

‘It’s The First Time In History All These Four Artists Are Gathered Together.’


I cannot believe this has under 1,000 views. I’m only about 8:00 into this YouTube video, and already, Viktor Pinchuk is my hero. While anyone with a yacht or a palazzo could assemble a tranche of the art world powerful on the Grand Canal, only Pinchuk’s inspiring artistic vision can bring them all to Kiev. Well, I’m pretty sure it’s his vision they’re coming for.
Come for the vision, stay for the historic chance to have Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Andreas Gursky, and Takashi Murakami together on stage, answering incisive questions from Ryan Seacrest’s Ukrainian doppelganger. And the pitch for free Prada.
Ah, yes, I just got to the end: “Thank you to the thousands, the hundreds of thousands watching online!” It Gets Better!
Cinthia Marcelle receives Main Prize on FGAP Award Ceremony [ThePinchukArtCentre’s YouTube channel, via Gavin Brown’s GBlogÉ, pronounced like the French, Blo-ZHAY]

On Stage

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In 2002, as I was still trying on various kinds of public writing, I tried to capture the transformative experience of listening to–no, experience is the better word–On Kawara’s One Million Years.
That post was even titled like a screenplay: “Setting: Fredericianum, Documenta II, Kassel.”
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image via mightymac
In April 2004, South London Gallery staged a week-long, round-the-clock marathon reading of One Million Years in Trafalgar Square. Many passersby unfavorably compared Kawara’s volunteer readers in their glass box to David Blaine, who had, just a few months before, spent 40 highly publicized days in a plexiglass cube suspended from a crane next to the Thames.
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In 2009, when David Zwirner staged a reading/recording of One Million Years, Brian Sholis wrote touchingly and with great acuity about the experience of reading the years 79,936 AD – 80,495 AD with his then-fiancee.
And yet only just now, somewhere between finding Jerry Saltz’s characteristically gossipy, angst-ridden account of reading in the same show, and watching this comical YouTube video of Martin C. de Waal, a Dutch club kid/stylist/Orlan-style conceptual self-portraitist and his dance remix singing partner Marina Prins [!] getting all dolled up for their reading on the open platform at the Stedelijk–the one we’d been standing on a few weeks ago–do I realize the powerful performative essence of Kawara’s piece. And with less than a hundred of an anticipated 2,700+ CDs burned, it’s barely even begun.

The effect of living in a post-Marina world, I suppose