So I discovered the @TheRealHennessy Twitter paintings today by Greg Allen (@gregorg on Twitter). At first I thought the paintings were made by Jayson Musson. Then after a brief twitter exchange (which was of course quite funny, so I’m posting it here) I realized, I was wrong. These paintings are the work of Greg, who has simply appropriated his buddy’s tweets.
I find this work brilliant on many levels. And I expect others to have the critique that it’s not real painting, it’s not really his work, it’s feeding off his friend’s art cred, blah blah blah. Whatever. This work is funny and abstract. I’m sold.
More formal musing on the art from greg.org here:
"The series of monochrome tweet paintings, of which @TheRealHennessy Tweets, Moby is an outstanding example, presents the viewer with a strangely puzzling juxtaposition of a minimalist canvas and painted words. Although this can be interpreted as a reference to postmodern linguistic theory, the work also points to two quintessentially American features: hard-edge abstraction and popular humor. Cleverly subverting the clean and serious language of abstract painting, the tweets’ amalgamation of low and high culture characterizes @TheRealHennessy Tweet’s most iconic work. This intelligent fusion of conceptual strategies with popular cultural references, which has been the driving force throughout @TheRealHennessy Tweet’s influential practice, is perfectly merged in @TheRealHennessy Tweets, Moby. Wittingly parodying the uncomplicated jokes from vernacular literature, the artist has found a way of incorporating a difficult subject-matter - humor - into a deeply serious artistic practice.
AND THIS IS MY FAVORITE PART OF IT ALL: “The first painting is available for $1,800. Please tweet, DM, or email for further information. —www.greg.org)
Ayana Evans @yana_handbags on Twitter
4:33 pm • 18 July 2014 • 27 notes
Bear Kirkpatrick! A well-groomed artist
I hope everyone is having a lovely summer. We know Mikaela is, now that her magnificent Swedish Wooden Toy project has come to fruition. In my life, I just went to the beautiful wedding of Zoe and Bear. Zoe is a curator and blogger, not to mention the designer of one the prettiest weddings I’ve been to (I’ll get to her later), and Bear is a pretty cool artist in his own right.
I did my best to give them an appropriate wedding gift, but in the meantime, let’s take a sneak peak of an art critical look at the groom, shall we?
Bear works with portraiture, using digital programming to super-impose and reimagine imagery from ranging from the historic to the fantastical. In addition the imagery, there are also printed books available.
The subject of this image, from the Early Settlers series, is actually this weekend’s bride!
That’s her brother, in Portraits Praelium. The bird theme is recurrent throughout his work as well, having been featured in the earlier Human Diaorama series, as was active in 2012.
Bear has been well-received in various galleries, having shown in New York on numerous occasions. His glorious website, from which all these images are ruthlessly stolen, has a cohesive list.
Then there was the time they covered me in poppy seeds, Photoshopped me into a pregnancy, and then the picture got picked up by Le Monde. Stay tuned for an updated version of this post with that image in a little while!
Many congratulations to the bride and groom!
3:31 pm • 14 July 2014
SWEDISH WOODEN TOYS, LES ARTS DECORATIFS
(Paris Je t’aime, part 3)
Swedish Wooden Toys opened on June 18th at Les Arts Decoratifs in Paris, it is the exhibition to see this summer, fall and winter. It is the premier exhibition in Paris right now. It is magnificent. Tell one tell all.
A treat for any design aficionado, nostalgic adult and child. The exhibition is a library of knowledge mapping the history of Swedish toy manufacture presenting more than 250 toys from the 17th-21st century. Major Swedish toy companies like Gemla, Brio, Micki, Playsam, IKEA are represented alongside more rare items from smaller factories like Berglinds, Kometen and ACNE JR in the toy galleries of Les Arts Decoratifs.
Most of the toys are from the ‘golden age of toys’ 1860-1930, arranged in themes such as Doll Houses, The Horse, Transportation and Winter Toys showcased in a magical immersive environment of birch-trees and rainbows in cardboard created by celebrated french designer Matali Crasset. The toys will tour to New York in 2015.
Advanced amateur made toys, like the the 19th century dollhouse with an electric elevator contrast more simple ones such as a moose carved in wood. In the realm between toys and decorative household objects and representing a shift from home-made to larger scale manufacture a herd of Dalcarlian horses stand in one of the cases ready to be admired.
The exhibition is accompanied by Swedish Wooden Toys the first major publication on the history of Swedish wooden toys, published in English by the Bard Graduate Center and Yale University Press. The book features contributions by specialists such as the exhibitions curators Amy F. Ogata, professor in Design History, Susan Weber, founding Director of Bard Graduate Center and Peter Pluntky, a Swedish toy expert and collector as well as Solveig Nordh, curator of the BRIO Lekoseum, and Hedvig Hedqvist, a journalist, among others.
All of the works in the exhibition are vividly reproduced with magnificent photographs in the catalog.
As all things American the exhibition in New York at the Bard Graduate Center opening in the fall of 2015 will be bigger and, I dare say, better - showcasing one hundred more toys than the Paris exhibition!
Swedish Wooden Toys at Les Arts Decoratifs is open until January 2015.
ps. By the way, my name is in the catalog, I wokred on the exhibition as curatorial assistant for 2.5 yrs!!! HÄFTIGT!
Amusez-vous bien! / Anna Mikaela
3:12 am • 11 July 2014 • 1 note
Happy 4th of July! Here’s Some Patriotic Art
I know, I’m a dork. But, my fellow Americans, and Swedes and Brits and whoever else skims my articles, this is AMERICA. WE ARE AMERICANS NOW. Before you watch fireworks or eat cake or run off to the South of France, take a moment to reflect on GREAT AMERICAN ARTISTS. Unfortunately, my list is a little too laden with males. America will get over itself one of these days…
- Jasper Johns
Flag (1954-1955), via MoMA
Duh. Move over Betsy Ross.
- Andy Warhol
Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962), also via MoMA
Nothing says America like commercialism, mass production, catchy refrigerator magnets and muses with heroin problems.
- Jeff Koons
Michael Jackson and Bubbles, (1988), via The Whitney
Nothing else says America like balloon animals, Michael Jackson, pissing off the Louvre and getting rid of back-stock from Gagosian. Also, Lady Gaga likes him. Go to the Whitney or you’re a communist.
- Cindy Sherman
Untitled #466 (2008) via MoMA again! Do I hate myself?
Not everything born in New Jersey is good, but every once in a while you get a gem. Sherman’s chameleon-like ways are a one-woman melting pot, and have spanned decades of fascinating insights into character and presence. My favorite is the “Rich Women” series, once exhibited in situ at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich. I wrote a piece about it for Art Observed that has been lost to posterity in the blogosphere. RIP February 2011.
- Richard Prince
Untitled (Cowboys) (1992) via Gagosian
Cowboys and plagiarism anyone? Maybe just breakfast at Tiffany’s?
- James Franco
Just kidding. How is this still a thing?
- Jean-Michel Basquiat
The artist in 1985, via the Brooklyn Museum
Before the mostly-terrible Schnabel movie, Basquiat was as New York as 99 cent pizza.
Leghead is an underground kind of guy right now, but you might have seen his work. Blogger Mitch Broder does a good feature on him.
This one time I was sitting in Rox Gallery, and Leghead came in and started singing. Then he went into the store next door, swiped a mannequin and a hammer without discussion, and started louding banging outside. Needless to say, I love his work and try to keep an eye out for it out and about in downtown Manhattan. If random, kind of crazy, and really fun isn’t the best amalgamation of American values, I don’t know what is.
- Helen Frankenthaler
I shamelessly stole this image from a blog called The Artsy Ladies. You love it.
Mid-20th century America was arguably its heyday as a formidable source of art and culture. For all the Cowboys of the Abstract Expressionist movement, there were just as many women making fantastic work. Helen is my long lost secret soul sister grandmother, to put it in art historical terms.
- John Singer Sargent
Madame X (1883-84), via the Metropolitan Museum of Art
This famous piece had to be repainted, because the original had a fallen strap. Strumpet! Happens to the best of us though, on the real.
Remember the past, you guys? #history
10:01 am • 4 July 2014
Paris je t’aime (part 2)
New York is filled with artist & curator-run spaces - apparently Paris is not – which due to the French state’s generous support to the arts and museums isn’t surprising, small spaces are quickly institutionalized. Such as the Fonds régionaux d’art contemporain (FRACs) contemporary art museums funded by the state in major cities of the country.
Upon leaving Palais de Tokyo we ran into resident curator Gallien Dejéan who is also an art-critic and one of the founders of Treize, an artist/curator run space in Paris. I asked him many questions but forgot all of his answers.
Shanaynay is another curator-run space in the trendy quartier of Bellevue. I didn’t manage to get any information out of anyone at the opening of their current exhibition organized by a space in Vienna. I did however chat to one of the founders, Romain Chenais who recently opened a gallery down the street High Art, he was quite attractive and most probably straight to so I am going to keep an eye out!
In the summer time hot men trump good art.
11:01 am • 3 July 2014
HOLIDAY READING— Last Saturday, Staten Island’s LUMEN performance arts festival just held its “fifth incarnation where it all began: Atlantic Salt Company’s waterfront dock — 561 Richmond Terrace.” The festival was curated by David C. Terry and Esther Neff. And while it’s tempting to wax on about whether or not LUMEN 2014 was as good as LUMEN 2013, that debate is a bit old and really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that artists who I think are the best (and most underrated) performance artists in NYC participated yet again this year. My favs this year included Whitney V. Hunter, Ian DeLeon and Future Death Toll. I think the two are too different to properly discuss in the same post so for now I will turn your attention to Mr. Hunter. (More posts featuring Future Death Toll & DeLeon later this month.)
I asked Whitney Hunter to give me a little more insight into his project for Lumen. I was in intrigued by the poetic appeal that performer Germaul Barnes brought to the piece and wanted to know more. Ever the perfect ambassador for his own work (and YES this is a skill) this is what Hunter wrote:
1st American Shapist House for the Practice of Performance/Ritual:
SALT, a ceremony of 5 actions
Conceived by Whitney V. Hunter. Performed by Germaul Barnes.
SALT, a ceremony of 5 actions, is a “faith ritual” of the 1st American Shapist House for the Practice of Performance/Ritual. It reasserts the power of belief and faith in the transformative potential of art through the work effort and interaction with such a substance as rock salt. The sheer weight and quality of this substance presents a significant physical challenge that instigates authenticity and honesty. As a public ceremony performed at the top of each hour and for as long as the action takes, the performer confronts in real-time the challenge of duration and endurance.
I am interested in the possibilities that performance festivals and curators of performance art have in offering alternative outlets of expression through such activities as panels, writings, workshops and of course performances. These kinds of activities offer the artist the opportunity to develop his/her artistry to include both a theoretical and practical grounding. The presenting of such, often transgressive, subject matter does not come without first a question posed to the artist by the artist his/her self. Development of this kind relates directly to the Shapist aim of “creating alternative pathways of cognition through ritual-based performance,” which in essence asks the question, “why does this matter to me and how might it impact others.”
You would be foolish not too keep an eye out for Hunter’s upcoming performance at Judson @ Movement Research, fall 2014.
10:01 am • 3 July 2014
New York is killing me. Paris Je t’aime (Part 1)
As Alix mentioned I am gallivanting around Europe, recently in PARIS, below on PALAIS DE TOKYO.
Palais de Tokyo has become a monstrously large space for contemporary art with two recently added subterranean raw and unpolished subterranean floors, like a squatted warehouse or parking garage.
An excellent setting for Tomas Hirchhorns “Flamme Eternelle,” a large DIY participatory exhibition in the form of a maze-like structure of stacked car tyres, throughout which a variation of seating arrangements often constructed with the help of brown tape and a bar can be found. Several large artificial camp-fires also help fill the space. With a semi-anarchistic set-up the exhibitions programming includes lecture series that staff sets up daily with walk-in lecturers, viewing stations for pirated DVDs, a library and the artist himself. When I said that the set-up reminded me of Occupy Wall Street Hirschhorn replied, “Occupy Wall Street has copied my aesthetic.”
The Hiroshi Sugimoto exhibition also did well in the depths of Palais de Tokyo’s new space, illuminated only by the natural light of a few overhead windows the exhibition explores Sugimoto’s use of discarded materials in work which deals with re-creating different types of ritualistic objects and environments.
Skipping the post-internet-era aesthetic yet with a stripped aesthetic representation of technology Ed Atkins explores the human condition when it is at its most vulnerable; depression, loneliness, substance abuse through three projected loops of video and large text panels placed by the entrance of the exhibition. Atkins and/or his collaborators expertly master the craft of film and the exhibitions sound-system was incredible. Johan Wik is a videographer and editor turned video artist whose work I saw in Stockholm in December, it is a treat to see conceptually great video art which uses the aesthetic of commercial video, i.e. well-crafted.
IMAGES: Ai Wei Wei, Tomas Hirschhorn x2 & Ed Atkins. Credits: zzZZzzz the internet.
10:47 am • 2 July 2014
Reasons the Art World goes MIA in Summer
You may have noticed that I am the only one posting lately, and that I’m not linking to any recent publications elsewhere. That is because the rest of the wizened art world is gallivanting, while I sit at my desk musing unevocatively and pretending to look busy. (It turns out unevocative isn’t even close to a word, which makes a lot of sense in this situation, so I’m keeping it). This begets the real question: what should I be doing? Or more importantly, why is everyone gone? Here are my most fittingly unoriginal pontifications. Pontifications is also, apparently, not a word:
1. European Weather
Art Basel: No surprise there. In a galaxy far far away known as Basel in Switzerland, heiresses and bankers and fat old art dealers congregate every summer to posture their importance like cooing pigeons on a fire escape. But it’s not a fire escape, it’s a pristine, historically neutral wonderland that’s tailored to art shopping. For bonus points, mispronounce the fair as basil, like the herb. The most correct pronunciation is extremely ‘ah’-focused. Say Basel like you’re calling your butler and can’t honestly be bothered whether he brings your crumpets or not.
Basel is essentially the founding father of art fairs, a concept which has been mostly reduced to mall-like status (see misc Jerry Saltz). As you may know, Basel has outposts in Miami and Hong Kong. Miami’s the most fun.
Not this year, but next and last, the Venice Biennale also serves as a solid option. Overall, it’s really about profiting from the unusually seasonable climate Europe has to offer.
2. Asian Weather
Typhoons in Japan, Monsoons in India, and good old-fashioned blistering heat in Singapore make the greater part of the Asian continent a barrel of laughs for the summer season. If the art world isn’t shutting down because it’s gorgeous outside, it’s shutting down because there’s one natural disaster after another. I have been personally victimized by such intolerable weather conditions (but not Regina George) during considerable time in Asia, and it really makes the best and the brightest either cower in their rooms or run far far away…to Europe, por ejemplo.
3. A Taste for the Finer Things
It’s summer you guys. Sail a yacht. Fly your Cessna cross-country. Ingest hallucinogens in Mexico. Do something meaningful with your time. Whatever you do, don’t write art critical articles or be caught dead at metropolitan gallery openings.
4. Art Students
On good days, rich people buy art. On bad days, art students use fake IDs to drink all the wine in your gallery and take selfies with James Franco. On summer days, even the art students are gone, semi-pretending to be semi-responsible in very short skirts for very short internships. Everyone is gone. All is essentially lost. Go do something else.
/ Alexandra Bregman
P.S. This reminds me of the last time I offered insights into the art world. Clearly I’ve been bitter for a suspiciously long time.
1:31 pm • 24 June 2014
Check out the Alwan Art Auction at Paddle 8!
Etel Adnan, Mountain No. 2 (2014), watercolor on paper. The gentile pastels against the inky black are a breath of fresh air, only subtly figured against the rough black strokes. Artwork images via Paddle8
The Alwan Art Auction began on June 16th and will run through June 30th. The organization has partnered with Shirin Gallery at 511 West 25th Street, which will have a coinciding reception next Thursday, June 26th from 5-9pm in Chelsea. Additional supporters include AKArt Advisory, and The Committee. Ultimately the showcase is exciting, enriching, and ongoing! Check it out while you can!
Alwan’s mission is to introduce both established and new collectors to a wide array of Middle Eastern artists, and this showcase includes 30 of Iranian, Syrian, Egyptian, Lebanese, and Palestinian heritage among others.
The curatorial sampling successfully juxtaposes the ever-present pairing of culturally entrenched violence with a sense of hope expressed through aesthetic tranquility. Although much of the work incorporates weaponry, such as Jaishri Abichandri’s Two Bombers circling a white-clad hijabi with nails, and Katayoun Vaziri’s Goya in 2013, the works are offset by the more serene and generally expressive paintings of Etel Adnan.
Ganzeer, Like Water (2014), screen print.
A particularly highlighted artist in the showcase is the Egyptian Ganzeer (which means “chain” in Arabic). As a street artist, Ganzeer gained recognition internationally after the 2011 revolution in Cairo. The work deals thematically with anti-military calls to civic and social justice, and has since been featured in Bidoun, The Huffington Post, Al-Monitor.com, and Arteas. Currently based in New York however anonymously, Ganzeer is recorded as one of Egypt’s highest-selling living artists. All this gender-evasiveness leads me to think Ganzeer is probably a woman ;)
When the lovely Negin Sharifzadeh asked me to look into Alwan for the Arts’s online auction at Paddle8, I was more than happy to oblige. The recommendation of this Iranian artist (featured in the showcase), curator, and animator with great taste, trademark blue hair and a kind soul should not be overlooked.
/ Alexandra Bregman
4:12 pm • 19 June 2014
Graffiti and Street Art Mainstreams on the Market as Sotheby’s Organizes Banksy Private Sale
Graffiti and Street Art becomes increasingly popular on the secondary market, affirmed by Sotheby’s large exhibtion of 74 Banksy works with price tags between $6.700 to $840.000. “Banksy is more than just a street artist - he is a true cultural phenomenon of our time,” says Fru Tholstrup, S2’s director.
Flag On Formica (Silver)
Banksy (b. ca. 1974) is the pseudonym of the illustrious graffiti artist from Bristol, in the Southwest of England, who has managed to remain anonymous as he has risen to world-fame. Banksy often subverts classic images and includes slogans critical of war, capitalism, hypocrisy and greed in his work the he still often executes in a classic street-art manner; unsanctioned and outside of the context of traditional art venues.
Burger King c. 2006
74 original paintings, sculptures and prints have been assembled for ‘Banksy: The Unauthorized Retrospective,’ curated by his agent Steve Lazarides opening at S2 in London, Sotheby’s gallery devoted to private sales. In 2013 Sotheby’s had consolidated sales on $6.3 billion where of $1.18 billion came from private sales, an increase of 30% from the previous year. S2 was inaugurated in 2011 with a show of work by American Abstract painter Sam Francis on York Avenue, New York and has since expanded with a second location the five-story building on 31 George Street, London. Prices for the career-spanning artworks on view range from $6.700 to $840.000, some of the early works were initially sold for $50.
Monkey Queen, 2003
Banksy began as a freehand graffiti artist in 1990–1994, inspired by the Bristol underground scene of Nick Walker, Inkie and 3D, as one of Bristol’s DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), with Kato and Tes. It was during these early years that Banksy came into contact with photographer Steve Lazarides who began selling Banksy’s work (ehh the guy must be BRILLIANT). Although Banksy is often viewed as an outsider artist, allegedly Banksy “knows about the exhibition and he is not particularly happy about it,” he is highly involved in the art-world and pretty fucking £$€-ed. If Banksy solely focused on art-world criticism I would call him a hypocrite however the subjects he touches upon in his work are so much wider encompassing thems such as world-politics, consumer society, freedom of speech and leadership. His work is an important social commentary of our society today.
The sale, please don’t let the title confuse you, “unauthorized” is all about PR, upholding the image of mystery, Banksy will receive plenty re-sale royalties and Lazarides has probably included some work sold directly from the artist in there somehow, showcases key works throughout the artist’s rise, including Bombing Middle England (2000), Monkey Queen (2001), Paranoid Pictures (2003), Pulp Fiction (2004), Kate Moss (2005), and Sunflowers from Petrol Station (2005). Many pieces have not been seen by the public before, often bought shortly after they were made. Several have only been on view in public space briefly, such as Banksus Militus Vandalus (2004), which was illegally installed in London’s Natural History Museum and removed within two hours of it’s installation by officials.
The exhibition is open through July 25th, I’d say it’s worth as visit if you are passing through London this summer!
3:54 pm • 11 June 2014
The Power of a Twin Painting
This week’s big story in art theft news was the recent arrest of Patrick Vialaneix, a Frenchman who fell in love with an [alleged] Rembrandt when he was a young boy, expertly learned the alarm systems of its home museum, and smuggled the painting from home to home as he entered a very troubled middle age. No one knew that he was concealing a Rembrandt in the linen closet, not even his wife or therapist (thank you very much, informative Barnebys article…the full, real, juicy story can be found en français dans le monde).
Potentially Rembrandt, Potentially, an anonymous French artist, Child with a soap bubble, ca. 18th century via La Tribune d’Art
Great movies like The Thomas Crown Affair often speak of a kind of voyeuristic adrenaline that comes with art theft, or an insatiable greed to possess status symbols recognized the world over. In one true case of crazy Holocaust art I wrote about, the son of a Nazi official hid masterpieces in his cellar and lived reclusively off the occasional sale on the black market, desperate to maintain a distorted familial and cultural legacy.
Vialaneix showing where he hid the painting, via the Guardian
Miraculously, the statue of limitations had run out by his confession, and he got to live out the glory of remembering his feat. Only in France…
Vialaneix was atypical in comparison: first and foremost, he was motivated by a sort of bizarre self-love. When he looked at Child with a soap bubble at the age of 13, he found the painting to look so much like him that he became obsessed with it, changing the entire course of his life to possess this unseemly other version of himself.
Ok, so I haven’t stolen any paintings recently, but I weirdly understand where Vialaneix was coming from. Let’s be real. Haven’t you ever seen a painting that looked just like you?
Maybe it’s just me, since my poor pale skin looks like it hasn’t seen the light of day in about 300 years, but I often draw comparisons to 19th century and Renaissance paintings. Every once in a while I go to a museum and see an old portrait that jars my memory because it looks familiar, and beyond that sometimes, they really could be me.
Here’s William Adolphe Bouguereau’s The Little Knittter (1882), and me, ca. 1992. Then I devoted my life to obsessing over this painting, working in museums, and one specific art theft—obviously not, but totally plausible.
Editorial play has noted that the vain preoccupation consuming Vialaneix was reminiscent of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, but I think it’s really more about self-fulfillment than the primary undercurrent of hedonism in the book. While Dorian destroyed the painting to save himself, Vialaneix destroyed himself to save a painting.
Feel free to comment with your own art + self pairing ;)
/ Alexandra Bregman
10:33 pm • 10 June 2014 • 1 note
Gaitonde at the Guggenheim!
absurdly excited about looking forward to this.
10:02 am • 10 June 2014
A Guggenheim in Helsinki?
An aerial view of the harbor, via its official website announcing competition updates
This week, the Guggenheim Foundation inaugurated its first-ever architectural competition for a proposed museum space in Helsinki, Finland. While the press release reports that over 700 inquiries were made even before that point, among them internationally famous and lesser-known firms and individuals.
The event was announced at Helsinki’s Restaurant Palace on the South Harbor overlooking the eventual 200,000 square foot site, but was initiated with the City of Helsinki (and the State of Finland by proxy) in September of last year as a space for 20th-21st century art and Nordic specialization. The budget as of now stands at 130 million euros before taxes, with a combined return of 41 million in tourists, job creation, tax revenue and international presence per annum.
However ultimately productive global museum outreach may be, this raises larger questions about artistic investment internationally. Although projected as a positive local investment, there is however a residual concern about the furtive globalized branding of the Guggenheim enterprise. This development is reminiscent of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project, which stalled after the Recession despite 2006 excitement. The building remains in construction.
12:02 pm • 6 June 2014
SUNRISE SUNSET: Sterling Ruby at Hauser & Wirth through July 25th
It turns out I never really understood Sterling Ruby. Because the characteristic stalagmite sculpture is so otherworldly, I kind of just imagined a white-blond German and/or an alien creating blood-drip works in some kind of Hugo-Boss-meets-meets-Martian form of self-expression. That was apparently incorrect.
Pillars, now on view, conjure up images of a crazy albino German man slashing blood around. That is not accurate. All images courtesy of Hauser & Wirth.
Although he was born in Germany, it seems instead that Sterling Ruby, whose work in on view in SUNRISE SUNSET at Hauser & Wirth’s 18th street space through July 25th, references urban subculture. No, not Fiddler on the Roof (do not be deceived by the catchy title, although the artist was raised in Amish country…), but graffiti, gang violence, and prison.
Here’s a gem from the oh-so-esoteric press release: “Ruby’s work, which encompasses nearly every medium, voraciously cycles through the autobiographical, the art historical, and the sociological, creating layers of reciprocal influence that radiate outward. Ruby exploits tensions within aesthetic and societal systems, recreating and drawing our attention to repressive and liberated states.”
The simplest way to express this ideology is the ever-resonant artistic theme, tension—tension between the system and the artist, tension between the paint and the surface, between the surface and the interactive space. SUNRISE SUNSET is just a poetic term for that implacable ying and yang.
These looked so much better on my instagram.
While the title is allegedly indicative of otherworldly celestial bodies (ok, so maybe my Martian interpretation wasn’t totally wrong) the theme is also clearly evidenced in the works on view. Highlights include a new spraypaint diptych, SP272 (2014). The green and pink sprays are smeared with smoky black, acting visually as horizons, and metaphorically as the juxtaposition of opposing forces.
The choice of spraypaint is also relevant, as referential to the social commentary of graffiti and street art as urban monuments. Biographically speaking, Sterling Ruby lives and works in Los Angeles, having been raised in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, born on an American military base in Germany, and shown across Europe, Asia, and the United States.
ACTS/SOME RISE SOME REST, 2014, Clear urethane block, dye, wood, and formica. Pretty nice Sunrise/Sunset action if you ask me.
4:06 pm • 5 June 2014 • 2 notes
3 Films: Sex and Blood or the Lust for Life Itself
Still from Trouble Every Day
Recently re-released is prolific french director Claire Denis Trouble Every Day (2001), which was received in the U.S. with mixed reviews (Artforum). The film follows an angst-filled plight of newly-wed American doctor Shane (Vincent Gallo) traveling to Paris with his bride June (Tricia Vessey) in desperate search of a cure for a mysterious cannibalistic disease, that gets wrose as the film progresses, that he keeps hidden from the world. Denis, with the help of her long-time collaborator cinematographer Agnes Varda, uses visual imagery to conjure changes in mood; close-ups of skin, saliva and bloodied material. Shane’s search is interjected with imagery from Coré’s life, his former lover who suffers from the same disease and is beyond cure. She is locked up in a house by her husband as to keep her from seducing men and slowly devouring them in the midst of the sexual act (which happens to a gorgeous young neighbor who breaks an entry and pulls down the boards that keep her in her bedroom). Ranging from loving to distant with his new wife Shane quest goes from speaking to various researchers in different labs searching for an antidote, their working ethics of not testing the drug on humans contrast with Shane’s nightmarish reality of imagining and enacting gruesome scenes of sex and cannibalistic murder. Although Shane closes the door on his wife to angrily masturbates in his hotel room, rapes a hotel maid and burns a house down his desperate search for a normal life only raises feelings of sympathy for his character.
Still Nymphomaniac Vol. I
I saw Nymphomaniac Vol. I the day it premiered in New York, and subsequently rushed to see Vol. II when it premiered a week later. Initially I had wanted to see it in Denmark in December (in Europe it is screened in whole). Unlike the other two films (Antichrist and Melancholia) in Lars von Trier’s film trilogy humanity is portrayed as inherently good, inclusive and versatile, naturally with the directors distinctive narrative style where both the character and the plot is contradicted. Gender stereotypes are broken as Joe (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stacy Martin in her younger years) recounts her life-story based around her sexual life to Selingman (Stellan Skarsgård), who has taken her in after finding her beat-up in an alley. The story is spurred by Joe’s emotions, curiosity at a young age, anger and rebellion to the notion of monogamy in her teens, love and finally despair. As she tells the story she feels an underlying pressing feeling of guilt, for this reason Selingman tries to rectify her behaviour every step of the way often referring to religious texts, music and fishing. Before seeing the film I read Sarah Nicole Prickett’s review in Artforum, and after seeing it was gravely disappointed in it and much other press - mainly due to it’s focus on sex when the films main focus explores the human condition and society’s structures leading to inhibition (sex is only a catalyst). The film to me is inherently inspirational; a young girl taking control of her sexuality is empowering as well as the choice to live an alternative lifestyle, although Joe might have feelings of guilt she is not a victim - proven at the end of the film. A veritable grand finale that I will not spoil for those of you who are going to see it!
Still from Only Lovers Left Alive
Another much anticipated film in my calender was Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, starring Tom Hiddlestone and Tilda Swinton as unbearably cool bohemian vampires living under the pretense of dealing with toxic blood due to the evolution of healthcare and their love-driven marital union. The film follows Hiddlestone’s character, a plagued depressive musician stuck in the past living in a derelict house filled with antique objects in Detroit and Swinton who when she receives a phone call from her lover in need picks a selection of books and leaves her small room in Marrakesh to meet him in Detroit. Like in Nymphomaniac Swinton and Hiddlestone were on different sides on the spectrum in their understanding of life; Swinton inherently embraced it while Hiddlestone lived with reluctance and only through support from and because his love for Swinton. The film was however lacking, the characters didn’t evolve and the monogamous love-story governed by religion (marriage, at one point in the film they look at a 19th century photograph and reminisce their wedding day) is extremely boring, at least without the objectification of the male body (Twilight, yum). I suppose it is pretty obvious that characters that live forever without being decadent and without being penetrated by moral decadence make dull characters. Too bad Swinton’s bad-girl sister played by Mia Wasikowska didn’t play a larger role.
Although largely contrasting Nymphomaniac, Trouble Every Day and Only Lovers Left Alive all,despite dealing with supernatural or unusual ailments (cannibalism, sex-addiction, vampires) communicate and explore our lust for life, curiosity and imposed or chosen individuality.
3:32 pm • 5 June 2014