ASMRt – Josh Smith

area man visiting josh smith show at the brant foundation, via the brant foundation, but presented in bing results as the artist

A friend and colleague recently said I had a very soothing voice, I should do a podcast, and I couldn’t tell if that meant I was talking too much, or being too dadsplainy, or perhaps he was right? I generally trust his judgment, but the reason I created a podcast read by a robot is because I could not get past the annoyance all audio performers apparently deal with, of hearing a recording of one’s own voice.

Anyway, I joked that I’d make an ASMR art video, ASMRt, and the name was so damn catchy, I knew at that moment I had to do it. But what to say? What to read? Yesterday the perfect text fell from heaven [actually, Contemporary Art Daily]: the press release for Josh Smith’s first New York show since leaving Luhring Augustine for David Zwirner.

One thing led to another, and now here is a recording of me laconically reading press releases for fifteen Josh Smith solo shows between 2007 an 2019. It was recorded on June 11, 2019 an iPhone in two conference rooms at the Cleveland Park branch of the DC Public Library. Text sources are linked below. My first regret will probably be hosting this mp3 myself. My second will probably be not releasing this as an album.

Download ASMRt-Josh-Smith.mp3 [mp3, 29mb, 1:01:12]

UPDATE:

all y’all actually listening to the whole thing and going, “the second hour was supposed to be blank.” No.

Continue reading “ASMRt – Josh Smith”

M-A-C-H-U P-I-C-C-H-U

Machu Picchu, do you, like Constantin Brancusi, consider the base an integral part of your sculptures? Or did you place your work, the world’s first portrait bust of Mickey Mouse sculpted from cheese, on an intact wheel of Wisconsin State Brand cheddar cheese so that it would, as the publicist claimed, weigh 1,000 lbs?

Is a question Snow White did not ask the sculptor at Sardi’s that morning in July 1971. Some extended footage of this press event to promote Disney On Parade, a touring theatrical production not involving ice skating, which I may or may not have seen as a child, was surfaced by the enthusiast/historians at DisneyAvenue. It baffles me in unexpected ways.

Sure, there are Paul McCarthy ways, but the film’s rough, unstaged, even amateurish vibe reminds me of early 90’s chocolate and finger-chopping videos more than the sprawling deluxe porntasmagoria of Park Avenue Armory-era Snow White.

Maybe it’s realizing the parallel professionalizing paths McCarthy and Disney have traveled that capture my attention. Having recently experienced a Disney cruise, I can honestly say almost every detail of this footage makes me cringe and fear for these people’s jobs. After I’ve been outraged at the apparent lack of attention to detail, or even of preparation.

Who was running this event? Did no one know where or how the cheese sculpture would move? Does no one have a mark? Did Snow White not have an inkling about what to say or do? When she improvises(?) a conversation with Mickey and Goofy, does she not know these performers are supposed to not talk? The action is driven almost entirely by instructions from the assembled press, who just want to get their shots, print first, maybe, then TV? Is that alright?

Let’s spend a tiny moment on Snow White here. She is wearing a watch. She has an office. She talks about phone conversations to publicists. Though there is a translator between them, she knows enough Spanish to translate the sculptor’s answers for the press, similar to how she interprets Mickey’s mute, mime answers to the questions she maybe should not have asked in the first place. Whenever discussing the subject at hand, a sculpture made of cheese, she only mentions its materiality, its cheeseness: that it melted, that people–and anthropomorphized dogs–want to eat it.

The first thing Snow White says is to Mickey: “There you go, Mickey. A self-portrait of yourself! Can you imagine that?” Well, if he made it, yes? But no. She immediately crosses awkwardly in front of Mickey and the sculpture, to shake the sculptor’s hand: “Thank you very much!” She’s soon told to move because lighting, and then she’s told to interview the sculptor.

The sculptor who is himself in an elaborate costume. He works, he says, in stone, wood, bronze, and now cheese. It took him three 8-hour days to complete. The cheese got soft in the heat, which made things difficult. The sculptor’s name is Machu Picchu. Reader, I think it was not. But in the end, this is the performance, character, and narrative which most fascinates me.

Gee, why would I think Machu Picchu was a character? He and the wtf angle on the sculpture in this vintage press photo I just stumbled across on eBay made me look. I did not buy.

How did Disney come to the place where a pseudonymous Spanish-speaking sculptor has his first work in the medium of cheese, a 1,000-lb. head of Mickey Mouse, wheeled into a Broadway restaurant by three unrehearsed performers is the best way to promote a traveling character revue? What is his experience, this ungoogleable artist whose authorship Snow White attacked repeatedly?

Other segments of this PR footage show characters entertaining a group of boys in Boys Club t-shirts on the empty floor of Madison Square Garden. A range of costumed characters meet an audience assembled, as their posters tell us, by the New York Metropolitan Area’s McDonald’s restaurants. Donald Duck and Goofy clown around mutely with a Herbie The Lovebug–who has very non-canonical eyes, eyebrows, and flimsy teeth. A lot of legwork went into preparing for this publicity campaign, and this footage resulted.  As Rauschenberg didn’t say, there is art in the gap between image and experience. Or was that Duchamp’s infrathin, between content and perception? I wish we lived in a world where it didn’t feel obscene not just to remake this sculpture, but to break down, study, and restage this entire video, line for line, gesture for gesture, shot for shot, frame for frame, for a live audience.

Rare Footage of Disney on Parade (1970s) – DisneyAvenue.com [youtube]

Wouldn’t You Like To Be A Tania, Too? [UPDATED]

This is supposedly 4/15? uncredited image bettmann via getty

You know what I have never seen? An original “WE LOVE YOU TANIA” poster. Which might be easier to explain than you might think. If my own vintage photo captions are to be trusted, the photo of Patricia Hearst reborn as Tania of the Symbionese Liberation Army was only released on Wednesday, April 3, 1974, less than two months after her kidnapping. It accompanied a tape recorded statement by Tania, which was delivered to the offices of leading San Francisco counterculture/rock radio station KSAN, Jive 95. The photo ran on the front page of newspapers across the country on April 4th. [If I recall his Guggenheim clippings collection correctly, On Kawara read about it in the Washington Post.]

Getty’s original caption for the above image says, “Posters reading ‘We Love You Tania’ appear on bulletin boards at the University of California campus 4/15,” the day “she was identified by the FBI 4/15 as one of four armed women who took part in the robbery” of the Hibernia bank across the bay in San Francisco.

But the posters above and below Tania show events on April 11 and 7, respectively. So it seems more likely to me that Hearst’s Berkeley classmates posted their flyers–and they were photographed–soon after the Tania image was released, not, as it sounds, in celebration of the hours-old bank robbery. So this is a very narrow window in which to celebrate Tania’s revolutionary activities without celebrating her crimes. Or without at least using the security camera still of her from inside the bank.

An uncredited photo of unidentified people with an uncredited painting, image purportedly bettmann, via getty

(Original Caption) Someone waiting in line to watch the Patricia Hearst trial 2/23 brought in a huge drawing depicting Patricia Hearst holding a weapon copied from a photo taken at the University of California at Santa Cruz, uses her head in the drawing for a photo.

Is it possible for a photo archive to be even less helpful in its archiving? The only thing Getty managed to record about this photo of an extraordinary life-sized cutout painting (not a drawing) on board of the Tania portrait is the date (February 23, 1976).

I can find no source for the claim that the Tania photo was taken at UCSC, and a great deal of documentation that the SLA didn’t get farther than Daly City before the Tania photo was released. And though it is unspecified, this installation photo must have been taken outside the Federal Courthouse in San Francisco. Was it the painting itself, perhaps, that came from Santa Cruz? [update from a new source: it was apparently the young woman in the cutout who was from UC Santa Cruz: one Jean Finley.  It also says the drawing (sic) was brought by “someone,” and that the Tania photo comes from the Hibernia Bank robbery. Boomers made news hard.]

The photographer, and more importantly, the artist who made the cutout painting, and most importantly, the current status and location of the cutout painting at this moment, are all unknown. If you are the boatshoed man on the right, or know him–he would be in his mid-60s now–please do get in touch. There are works in progress.

UPDATE: The internet is not canceled yet.

Within hours of posting this, Bean Gilsdorf tweeted that perhaps this woman posing in the Tania painting was Jeanne C. Finley, the artist, filmmaker, and California College of the Arts professor who had attended UC Santa Cruz. A couple of quick, shocked, and bemused emails later, we knew. That is her, and the artist who painted that thing is Alison Ulman. Here I quote Finley:

[T]he fact of that image is that it is an incredible artwork by my very best friend from childhood, Alison Ulman, that she did when we were in college at UC Santa Cruz back in the truly experimental days of that institution.  Alison was obsessed with Patty Hearst and we both attended the trial.  She created that work as a public artwork (long before the idea of social engagement ever was a thing) that the public would engage in while they waited in line to get into the trial. On one side was Tanya with the 7-headed cobra, on the other side was Tanya as a debutante.  Everyone wanted to have their photograph done on the 7-headed cobra side!  We had to get in line at about 1am and sleep on the sidewalk until dawn because there was so much public interest in attending the trial and it was a great way to pass the time.
If you try to google Alison all you’ll find is this 15-year-old website.  (http://endlessprocess.com/) …She is an amazing artist, and lives a most unconventional life…not one that really intersects anymore with the art world, but that is really the art world’s loss.  We’ve been best friends since 2nd grade where we lived two blocks from one another and spent every day together as kids.  We decided we wanted to go to college together so we both applied to UC Santa Cruz because we read that there was co-ed nude sunbathing on the dorm roofs.  Santa Cruz was really hard to get into then, so the other artists in art school with us were all pretty amazing people.  I felt so lucky to be there and have the freedom to be an artist and do things like this with my best friend.
The art world’s loss indeed, but an amazing story about an interesting project at a fascinating moment in time. Thanks to Ulman, and to Finley, and to Gilsdorf for bringing it all together.

Untitled (unnamed.jpg), 2019

unnamed.jpg, 930x1212px jpg displayed at 786x1024px, press release for David Hammons’ show at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles, 18 May – 11 August 2019, via email

David Hammons is having a show. And the gallery, Hauser & Wirth in Los Angeles, sent out a press release. I marveled at it this morning, but it wasn’t until Powhida tweeted [d’oh, deleted!] about framing it that I realized it needed realizing.

The press release is a jpg titled, unnamed.jpg. It is 1212 x 930 pixels and 72px/inch resolution. In order to print it at that size, I converted it to a pdf 12.92 x 16.83 inches. I haven’t figured out quite how to print that yet, but it has only been a few minutes, so maybe chill or take care of it yourself? I’ll take a crack at it tomorrow.

untitled_unnamed_jpg.pdf (2019) [greg.org]

Destroyed Andy Warhol Fences

Warhol Museum’s 1997 re-creation of Miss Dior window display for Bonwit Teller, as seen in Adman: Warhol Before Pop, at Art Gallery NSW in 2017

Gene Moore was the creative director for Bonwit Teller, and then from 1955, after Bonwit’s owner Walter Hoving bought it, for Tiffany & Co. next door. Moore hired Andy Warhol, among others, to create window displays along Fifth Avenue. Moore’s book was quoted by warholstars.org:

[Warhol] never pretended a difference between what he did to survive and what he called his art. To his credit, I think it was all the same to him. He was a very busy young man. I used Warhol’s art in several of my perfume windows at Bonwit’s. In July 1955, just before my work began at Tiffany’s, I made some wooden fences, and he covered them with graffiti for a series of windows. They were fun, full of a childish playfulness.”

re-fabricated Warhol perfume fence for Bonwit Teller, also from Adman at Art Gallery NSW

I haven’t given two thoughts to those Warhol Fences in 20+ years, since seeing one at a Warhol fashion flotsam show at the Whitney. Which turned out to be a refabrication cooked up by Warhol Museum director Mark Francis? And which turned up again, alongside another one, in Adman, a 2017-18 show of Warhol’s commercial work.

Bonwit’s loves Mistigri, a Warhol window display from Jun 1955, photographed by Virginia Roehl, from the Dan Arje collection at The New School

Which, now I am actually kind of interested in bringing back destroyed artworks. And in Gene Moore and his artist colabos. And in the amazing vintage photos a reader just sent me of several more of Warhol’s window display perfume fences, which are awesome?

lmao Arpège feels like such a grandma fragrance, so perfect. image: Virginia Roehl in the Dan Arje papers at The New School

I can’t find it now, but someone, either Moore, or Dan Arje, the Bonwit’s assistant art director whose archive is now at the New School, said how easy it was to work on windows with Warhol. He never froze, never panicked, never stalled, but got right to work and cranked out that art. And these fences show it. They feel instant, sprung fully formed from the artist’s head–and pen–like a Keith Haring glowing baby.

Ma Griffe Birds, 1955 image by Viriginia Roehl for Bonwit Teller’s Dan Arje, via The New School

Which isn’t the same as improvised or conceived on the spot. Installation views of the Adman show include sketches for the Miss Dior fence, so a lot of it was clearly worked out in advance. Credibly repeating one of these wall-sized drawings seems like it would be very hard. But I want to see those birds so bad I can taste it.

Bonwit’s Loves Ma Griffe [birds] [newschool.edu]
Bonwit’s Loves Mistigri [cats]
Bonwit’s Summer Sorcery…Ma Griffe [boats]
Bonwit’s summer sorcery… Arpège by Lanvin

Previously, very much related: The Tiffany’s Windows of Matson Jones

The Mondrian Room Collection

 

Piet Mondrian, Colour Design for the Salon of Ida Bienert, 1926, image via e-flux for albertinum

As soon as the e-flux header gif started flashing I knew what Heimo Zobernig was up to in Dresden:

In the Albertinum he is presenting a selection of recent paintings from this series as well as a new spatial installation in the atrium. The basis for this work consists of design drawings produced by Piet Mondrian in 1926 for a room in the home of the Dresden art collector Ida Bienert, which are on view in the exhibition entitled “Visionary Spaces” in the Albertinum. Whereas Mondrian’s design was never actually implemented, Zobernig’s installation in the original dimensions of that room can be entered and experienced as a cubic sculpture.

Yes, but what? Never realized? Never realized in Frau Bienert’s Haus, maybe.

In 1970, Pace Gallery produced a full-scale version what was then known as Salon for Madame B. based on the sketch above, which they purchased from Mondrian’s friend and heir Harry Holtzman. The room was constructed in spectroscopically color-matched Formica by the American Cyanamid Corporation, which simultaneously launched “The Mondrian Collection” of Formica. After its commercial debut in New York, Mondrian’s Formica Room traveled to Chicago, where it went on view at the Art Institute.

1970 photo of Piet Mondrian’s Salon for Madame B., as realized by Pace Gallery and the Formica Corporation

Six years ago I found a vintage photo of Mondrian’s Room, and I tried tracking it down, to see if it still existed. Pace was singularly unhelpful with even the most basic information, so I dropped it. But it has be out there somewhere; Formica is plastic, and we know how long that sticks around. In the mean time, there’s a new version in Dresden, so project usurped, if not mystery solved.

installation view of Heimo Zobernig’s Piet Mondrian: a spatial appropriation, 2019, at the Albertinum in Dresden, image: @mariahuberpod

Heimo Zobernig: Piet Mondrian, a spatial appropritation, Mar 2 – Jun 2 2019 [albertinum.skd.museum]
@mariahuberpod’s are about the first images of the room to appear on IG [instagram]
Related: Mondrian’s View With A Room, NYT May 10, 1970 [nyt]

Untitled (Plaque d’Orléans), 2019

Untitled (Plaque d’Orléans), 2019, 17.7 x 23.4 cm, enamel and hammered, engraved, and silver-plated bronze, now ed. 12, but only 1/12  has this sweet patina and provenance. image: sothebys.com

In 2015 Sotheby’s auctioned a medium-sized trove of stuff from the former royal family of France, the House of Orléans. Included was this silver-plated and enameled bronze plaque, which featured the crowned coat of arms of the Princes d’Orléans, a bunch of repoussée auricular swags, and thirteen engraved signatures.

The plaque is believed to have been created for the cover of a photo album to commemorate the 1931 marriage in Palermo of Henri, comte de Paris (22yo) to his cousin, princesse Isabelle d’Orléans-Bragance (19):

Les signatures sont très probablement celles de Henri (comte de Paris) et Isabelle (princesse d’Orléans-Bragance, comtesse de Paris), Valdemar (prince de Danemark), Aage, Axel et Eric (princes de Danemark, comtes de Rosenborg), Amélie (princesse d’Orléans, reine du Portugal), Jean (futur grand-duc de Luxembourg), Margrethe (fille de Charles, duc de Vestrogothie et épouse du prince Axel de Danemark), auxquelles il faut ajouter quatre signatures non attribuées, Marguerite, Patrice et deux fois Marie.

It seems pretty wild to me. There was no foolin’ around with the coat of arms, obviously, but everything else seems to have been improvised in the extreme. The signatures–all first names–are distinct in their style, and wild in their placement. Those swags look like doodles come to life. It’s like the young wedding party drew up a souvenir themselves on the spot, and handed it off to the silversmith, a melange of extravagance, intimacy, and whimsy.

I knew a woman who was a bridesmaid for Grace Kelly, and received a customized photo album of the event. I later saw a similar album from another wedding party member turn up at Glenn Horowitz in East Hampton. Which makes me wonder if there are indeed multiple albums from Henri & Isabelle’s wedding, sitting in the bibliotheques of the descendants of various cousins royal. And if so, do they have these plaques, or something related? Was this a proof, a spare, a prototype?

Part of me wants this to be a unique object, and thus, a unique work, declared from afar, and sitting in the collection of some unsuspecting aristophile or decorator. But I’m also happy to declare it a multiple. Assuming this one’s from the happy couple, eleven in the edition remain to be fabricated. RSVP.

Previously, and intriguingly related:
Untitled (We Privatized All of Versailles), 2017
Paul Revere (Attr.), Time Capsule Plaque, Silver, Engraved Text, c. 1795

White Flag, 2018

White Flag, 2018, Encaustic, oil, newsprint, and charcoal on canvas, 78 5/16 x 120 3/4 in. (198.9 x 306.7 cm)

“One night I could not have dreamed that I painted a large American flag, but the next morning I got up and I went out and bought the materials to begin it.” Those materials included three canvases that the artist mounted on plywood, strips of newspaper, and encaustic paint—a mixture of pigment and molten wax that has formed a surface of lumps and smears. The newspaper scraps visible beneath the stripes and forty-eight stars lend this icon historical specificity. The American flag is something “the mind already knows,” but its execution complicates the representation and invites close inspection.

By draining most of the color from the flag but leaving subtle gradations in tone, the artist shifts our attention from the familiarity of the image to the way in which it is made. “White Flag” is painted on three separate panels: the stars, the seven upper stripes to the right of the stars, and the longer stripes below. The artist worked on each panel separately.

White Flag, 2018, I: Encaustic, oil, newsprint, and charcoal on canvas, 41 3/4 x 64 3/8 in. (106.1 x 163.6 cm). II: Encaustic, oil, and collage on fabric mounted on plywood, 22 1/2 x 32 1/2 in. (57.2 x 82.6 cm)

After applying a ground of unbleached beeswax, the artist built up the stars, the negative areas around them, and the stripes with applications of collage — cut or torn pieces of newsprint, other papers, and bits of fabric. The artist dipped these into molten beeswax and adhered them to the surface. The artist then joined the three panels and overpainted them with more beeswax mixed with pigments, adding touches of white oil.

cf. Study for White Flag, 2018, Crayola washable marker on coloring page, 8 1/2 x 11 in. (21.6 x 28 cm)

Fountains For The Next 100 Years

Out with the old Fountain

Well, Marcel (or Baroness Elsa), your Fountain changed the course of art for a century, but it’s time to move on. There’s a new Fountain in town. Correction: Fountains.

The old Fountain, a urinal on its side, since lost, was captured in a single photograph by Alfred Stieglitz. The ex-post-facto Stieglitz of our future’s Fountains is @SqueezyMcCheesy. Who did not, AFAIK, attend Betsy DeVos’s niece’s wedding, but did drop by the 2016 ranch dressing pop-up shop for the Cartoon Network comedian Eric Andre.

in with the new Fountain image: @SqueezyMcCheesy

The ranch dressing fountain appeared at the pop-up shop exactly two years ago tonight, and then, like the urinal a century ago, it disappeared.

That shape. That surface. That material. I mean just look at it. The sound you hear is not the ranch dressing pump; it is Paul McCarthy weeping. He was so close, and yet.

Paul McCarthy’s Chocolate Santa, 2007, via maccarone

Where the ersatz backdrop for Fountain (1917) was a painting by Marsden Hartley, the new Fountain was shot in front of a banner with Andre’s catchphrase, “Ranch me, Brotendo.”

image: theculturefiles.com

If we only had ranch dressing Fountain to guide us in making art for the next 100 years, we would be busy. But pretty damn white. Fortunately, there are other Fountains. Behold Fuente de Queso.

What other food can be melted and dribbled in shiny, pulsating skins over a tower of stainless steel domes? What can’t, right? [I just googled ‘soylent fountain.’] Let’s fount’em all. And like our every food, our art will be liquefied and pumped and recirculated through an endless, nauseatingly spectacular cascade. How will we even notice?

Destroyed Felix Gonzalez Torres Billboard

A couple of months ago while looking at those Danh Vo Japanese plate editions, I came across Blake Byrne, an LA collector who had sent one to auction.

That led me to Open This End, a 2015 traveling exhibition from of works from Byrne’s collection, organized by various college museums and his Skylark Foundation. One stop was Ohio State University, which housed most of the show at the Urban Art Space, except for this: “Just off campus on the façade of the former Long’s Bookstore on the corner of 15th Ave and High St, is a work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled (For Parkett) (1994).”

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, “Untitled” (for Parkett), 1994, a billboard edition of 84+15 AP

Which made me wonder how that worked? Actually, I’d wondered for several years how Felix’s Parkett edition billboard worked in real life. It comes rolled up in eight big, silk screened panels, and once it’s installed in a site, that’s it; it’s permanent. So far, my attempt, begun in 2012, to document all 84+15AP editions had gone nowhere. But now I had a new datapoint. Maybe. How does a one-and-done billboard in a traveling show from a private collection work?

“Untitled” (for Parkett), 1994, installed on at Ohio State University in 2015 for Open This End, image: c.2015 GSV

Sure enough, here it is on Google Street View in 2015, facing the OSU campus entrance right by the Wexner Art Center. Let’s scrub forward to see how it has held up?

“Untitled” (for Parkett) 1994 nowhere to be seen at Ohio State University, image: c.2017 GSV

Oh.

I emailed Skylark Foundation executive director Barbara Schwan to find out what happened. She looped in Joseph Wolin, curator of Open This End, to explain. After much consultation with the Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation and Parkett, Byrne donated his edition of the billboard to OSU, where it was installed for several months on a building that was slated for demolition.

When the building came down, the billboard came down with it. Wolin wrote:

We were told, I forget if it was by Parkett or the Foundation, that this was one of the very few times, if not the only time, the billboard had been installed as a billboard, so we were pretty excited about that. Blake himself had acquired the work at auction and had it rolled up in storage for many years, so for me it felt rather wonderful, if bittersweet, to be able to realize it as the artist had intended. Apparently, when the work is installed indoors, as in Parkett’s exhibitions, the panels are often just pinned to the wall and rolled up again after.

So many questions answered, so many questions raised. Six years ago I lamented that “Untitled” (for Parkett) is “doomed by its own nature to exist in a state of fungible incompleteness, or worthless realization, or inevitable destruction.”

Which, thanks to a generous donation and successful realization with full knowledge of its destruction, we realize is a feature, not a bug. I hope more owners of “Untitled” (for Parkett) follow Byrne’s lead by realizing their billboards and letting time take its toll in public rather than in storage. It is what Felix would have wanted.

Previously, related:

You Don’t Complete Me, Or Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” (for Parkett), Part 1
Infiltration & Replication, “Untitled” (for Parkett), Part 2

Some Objects At Topaz Internment Camp

Workers Wanted sign made from scrapwood at the Topaz Internment Camp, image: UofU Library

While reposting those old Daddy Types entries about the US’s imprisonment of Japanese American citizens, I came across a couple of  images of Topaz, Utah that were new to me. They were added to the University of Utah Library’s collection in 2012, and originated in a 1987 documentary about Topaz produced by KUED, the local PBS station.

The top image is sort of mundane, but the form of this make-do scrapwood sign just sticks with me. That might be an actual blackboard, or maybe not.

1944 photo from the Topaz Internment Camp in Utah showing the prison’s service flag. Each of the 325 stars represents a detainee serving in the US military. image: UofU Library

It doesn’t stick with me like the object in this image, though. Four unidentified people standing in front of the Service Flag for the “community” of Topaz, which included one star for each detainee serving in the US military. 325 at the time this photo was taken. Soldiers serving while their families were in prison because of politicians’ racial bigotry and fear.

KUED Collection of Topaz Camp photographs at the University of Utah Library [lib.utah.edu]

Pablo Picasso’s Guernica Facsimile Objects

Guernica or no? Experts suggest this is not the photo facsimile installed for testing at the Reina Sofia, but the real thing. image via kingstitt

Guernica is a big painting, 3.5m x 7.75m, which spent much of its early life on world tour, and which was parked at MoMA at Picasso’s request, from 1943 until a democratic Spanish government was able to bring it back in 1981. Including a couple of construction-related rehangs, MoMA packed and moved Guernica twenty times during its stay. Still, for touring exhibitions organized by the Modern in the 1940s and 50s, they sent a scaled down, but still large, photograph of Guernica instead.

Exhibition requests blossomed for Nelson Rockefeller’s authorized, full-scale tapestry replica of Guernica, which he commissioned in 1955. Like the photos, the tapestry became a stand-in for the original, expanding and amplifying its reach.

Two other tapestry versions were eventually produced, which ended up in museums in France and Japan. Rockefeller loaned his to the United Nations, where it’s gone on to have its own loaded history.

[Goshkua Macuga borrowed the Rockefeller tapestry for a 2009-10 show at the Whitechapel Gallery which referenced Colin Powell’s 2003 war speech at the UN where he covered the tapestry while lying about Iraq.]

Guernica photo replica on exhibit in 1975 at the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Museum, image: ngbk.de

A nearly full-scale photo replica of Guernica was the center of a left exhibition in Berlin in 1975 organized by the neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst.

photo replica of Guernica on the floor of the Reina Sofia in 1981, image: archivocs estatales via mrs

The last, best photo replica of Guernica is probably Spain’s own. The Reina Sofia created a full-scale, multi-panel photo of Guernica in order to test the exhibition design and installation of the painting in the Casón del Buen Retiro in 1981 [top, above, below].

Parts is parts, war is war. Guernica photo replica being assembled at the Reina Sofia in 1981. image: archivos estatales via mrs

I have not seen any mention of any of these photo replicas still existing. A full-scale prop version of Guernica appeared in a scene in Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 film Children of Men, and points to the very recent development of printing technology that allows a 3.5m tall image to be reproduced on one panel.

Which, I think I must now do if I can’t find these earlier photo versions. And even if I can.

[Shoutout to @br_tton, who was on the trail of the Reina Sofia’s photofacsimile as recently as this week and as far back as August 2014. Most of the rest comes from the Reina Sofia’s own minisite, Rethinking Guernica, which has an extensive of chronology of Guernica-related institutional documentation, though much less from their own institution.]

Previously, related: Gerhard Richter Facsimile Objects

A Brief History of Blogging About America Imprisoning Children, 6/X

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the family prisons. image: ICE

I’ll be honest, when I first heard that the ICE immigrant family detention centers full of Central American refugee kids and moms had animal-themed cell blocks like red bird and blue butterfly, I imagined they were using Eric Carle drawings, and I got a dark, blogging thrill.

But no. The South Texas Residential Center in Dilley, the largest family detention center in the world, run by the for-profit prison contractor, Corrections Corporation of America, was too cheap to license Carle’s work, and just used random clip art instead.

ICE, ICE, babies.

Also, the government’s punitive detention of these people is shameful, and it can’t end soon enough. Most of these families are fleeing war, violence, and abuse in their home countries and have already qualified for refugee hearings the US, but remain in these remote prisons, guarded by actual prison guards, temping in khakis and polo shirts, as a feeble deterrent to other refugees.

Home of the free, land of the brave. image: Bob Owen for San Antonio Express News

I resisted comparing ICE’s outsourced prisons to the desert detention centers Japanese-American families were forced into during WWII, even when I saw Bob Owen’s photo in the San Antonio Express News, which is a damningly straight-up evocation of Dorothea Lange’s photos of the War Relocation Authority’s internment camp at Manzanar, California.

Dorothea Lange, flag and barracks at Manzanar internment camp, July 1942

Ansel Adams also took photos at Manzanar, which he published in a book, Born Free And Equal, alongside a text that reads today as disturbingly upbeat in its praise of the gumption and loyalty of American citizens forced into desert prisons. I’ve always viewed Adams’ project as a protest, a condemnation of the injustice visited upon Americans because of the racist fears of their neighbors and political leaders. But that is over-optimistic hindsight. Re-reading Adams’ text now is pretty depressing. To think that it’s all the Constitution and fundamental principle that wartime white America could handle at the time.

Dilley want to build a playground? image: Will Weissert/AP via themarshallproject.org

At least it helps make sense for how this country could get so cross-wise with its own professed ideals today; we really have not changed that much at all. And when I tried to put some evolved distance between the ironies of Adams’ treacly government-reviewed-and-approved fluffing and this account from inside Dilley, I couldn’t. So here it is:

While children wait for their mothers to talk to lawyers and legal aids, they are usually watching kids’ movies dubbed in Spanish, namely Rio or Frozen. The children of Dilley, like children everywhere, have taken to singing Frozen’s iconic song “Let It Go.”The Spanish-language refrain to the song “Libre soy! Libre soy!” translates to “I am free! I am free!” It’s an irony that makes the adults of Dilley uneasy. Mehta recalls one mother responding to her singing child under her breath: “Pero no lo somos” (But we aren’t).

Do you know the chorus of “Let it Go” in Spanish? I did not, but it is one helluva song for kids to be singing in a corporate prison in 2015:

Libre soy, libre soy
No puedo ocultarlo más
Libre soy, libre soy
Libertad sin vuelta atrás
Y firme así me quedo aquí
Libre soy, libre soy
El frío es parte también de mí

I am free, I am free
I can’t hide it anymore
I am free, I am free
Freedom without turning back
And I’m staying here, firm like this
I am free, I am free
The cold is also a part of me

‘Drink more water’: Horror stories from the medical ward of a Texas immigration detention center [fusion.net]
which is basically a re-reporting of this: Immigrant families in detention: A look inside one holding center [latimes]
Ansel Adams, Born Free And Equal, 1944 [loc.gov]
Related: Translating “Frozen” into Arabic [newyorker]
“Let it Go” in 25 languages [youtube]

[Originally published on Daddy Types on July 23, 2015 as Libre Soy, Libre Soy]

A Brief History of Blogging About America Imprisoning Children, 5/X

image: KQED

Dave Masaharu Tatsuno ran the dry goods store at Topaz Mountain, where Japanese Americans from the Bay Area were imprisoned during WWII. And he took a bunch of 8mm home movies, using color film which he’d pick up on buying trips back east. And then he edited the movies together into Topaz Memories [or Topaz, which is how it was listed when it was accepted onto the National Film Registry], a film/presentation which he gave at organizations around the country after the war.

Or maybe beginnin the 1990s, I haven’t watched the end of the local PBS documentary on Tatsuno, produced after his death in 2006, to figure it all out yet. I was so amped up by these detainee-made sleds at 20:05, I had to post them right away. That’s Bill Fujita, Tatsuno’s brother-in-law, pulling David Fujita and Tatsuno’s oldest son Sheldon in 1943.

The Tatsunos were expelled from their home when Dave’s wife Alice was nine months pregnant, and their second son Rod was born at the Bay Area assembly/processing center at Tanforan race track. Their daughter Arlene was born at Topaz.

Dave Tatsuno: Movies & Memories [kqed’s youtube channel via kqed.org]

COMMENTS:

My grandfather was a teacher in central Utah and volunteered to help teach the children there. He was appalled that these good people were interned (imprisoned) and admired them for how hard working and intelligent they were, and also for the patriotism to put up with this. I never knew this until I read his journal after he passed.

Ironically, he was a German immigrant whose travel to America was sponsored and encouraged by his Jewish employers who seeing the infant Nazi movement told him that if they were his age they would go to America.

They lent him the money on his word that he’d pay them back, which he did. I don’t know what happened to them.

Back to Topaz, that place is literally in the middle of nowhere desert.

[Originally published on Daddy Types on March 29, 2013, as Topaz Mountain Sleds by Dave Tatsuno and Bill Fujita, with a relevant comment included here.]

A Brief History of Blogging About America Imprisoning Children, 4/X

You’d think that as a parent, I’d be less surprised by now at the constant discoveries of the extent of my own ignorance.

And yet.

Last night, while surfing through the archive of the War Relocation Authority’s nearly 7,000 photos of WWII Japanese American internment camps for “furniture,” [right, I know.] I was confused by the number of search results that included George Nakashima and his daughter Mira.

 

Mira spends a lot of time with her father in the workshop, has learned to use a hammer, drill, end plane, scorns miniature tools.” image, Gretchen Van Tassel, via UCB

The internment camps only imprisoned Japanese Americans on the west coast; Nakashima, modernist woodworking master, lived in New Hope, Pennsylvania, so he should’ve been totally unaffected.

But then, these Nakashima photos, which are all from 1945, have captions like, “The Nakashimas, formerly of Seattle and Minidoka.”

As if anyone is from Minidoka.

And it’s only then that I looked at Nakashima’s bio, and sure enough, the architect, his wife Marion, and his newborn daughter were expelled from Seattle and detained at Minidoka, Idaho in the Spring of 1942. It was only through the protracted petitions of Antonin Raymond, an architect and former employer, that the Nakashimas were able to leave the camp for Raymond’s farm in New Hope.

The picture above, by WRA photographer Francis Stewart, shows George Nakashima at Minidoka in the Fall of 1942, “Constructing and decorating model apartment to show possibilities using scrap materials.” Which, just. Wallpaper made from bookpages and blueprints and a proto-Conoid table made from prison scraps. This room should be in the Smithsonian.

The irony, if that’s the right word, is that it was at Minidoka that Nakashima met Gentaro Hikogawa, an issei hotel manager three years older than he, who’d immigrated from Shikoku to Tacoma. Hikogawa was also a master carpenter, who taught Nakashima Japanese joinery and rural handtool techniques that formed the foundation for Nakashima’s philosophy and later innovations.

Speaking of which, here are two photos of 3-yo Mira Nakashima posing next to two beds her father made, one for her, and one for her doll, in her bedroom in New Hope.


War Relocation Authority Photographs of Japanese-American Evacuation and Resettlement, 1942-1945
[oac.cdlib.org]

[Originally published on Daddy Types on September 3, 2012, as George Nakashima and His Family Moved To New Hope in 1943]