Archive for February, 2008
And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh. –Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
When I read Roberta Smith’s description, in todays New York Times,
of the small army of assistants to the artist Cai Guo-Qiang–Mr. Cai
puts large sheets of paper on the floor, distributes some combination
of gunpowder and/or fuses across the paper and then lights it all,
after which the assistants rush to put out the small fires which have
ignited on the paper itself–it cracked me up! Imagine the sight, a
room full of blue, sulfurous smoke and a half-dozen m.f.a. students
running around stamping out little fires with their soon-to-be-ruined
Mr. Cai’s work reminds me that Democritus and Heraclitus
were both right; we are at once pathetic and pitiable. But we are
hilarious as well. Mt. Rushmore? It’s
a caricature of hubris and it’s really funny! Or Warhol’s “Empire”?
Sadistic and terrifyingly boring and bust-a-gut funny! Thank you Mr.
Cai for taking up this honored tradition.
Mr. Cai’s bravado illustrates how in the western
world, where anything seems possible, much of our privileged,
existential angst can be traced to the ongoing
problem of keeping our Franklin/Covey® ‘To Do’ list up to date;
schedule the meeting, pay the bills, buy the groceries, fill the gas
tank, finish the novel, call mom. It’s frantic. It seems really
important. We court misery and worry ourselves sick. And eventually we
need meds. [some of us, anyway.] And this is all exactly like Mr.
Cai’s work. The
tyranny of absolute freedom, theoretical or not, wreaks havoc among
every one of us not singularly motivated by financial gain. Remember
John Kennedy Toole’s Ignatius Rielly, from ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’:
“Employers sense in me a denial of their values.” He rolled over
onto his back. “They fear me. I suspect that they can see that I am
forced to function in a century which I loathe. That was true even when
I worked for the New Orleans Public Library.”
“But Ignatius, that was the only time you worked since you got out of college, and you was only there for two weeks.”
“That is exactly what I mean,” Ignatius replied, aiming a paper ball at the bowl of the milk glass chandelier.
“All you did was paste them little slips in the books.”
“Yes, but I had my own esthetic about pasting those slips. On some
days I could only paste in three or four slips and at the same time
feel satisfied with the quality of my work. The library authorities
resented my integrity about the whole thing. They only wanted another
animal who could slop glue on their best sellers.”
“You think maybe you could get a job there again?”
“I seriously doubt it. At the time I said some rather cutting things
to the woman in charge of the processing department. They even revoked
my borrower’s card. You must realize the fear and hatred which my weltanschauung instills in people.” Ignatius belched.
Slap me in the face if that ever fails to make me laugh!
Thank you John Kennedy. Thank you Andy Warhol. And thank you Cai
Guo-Qiang. You crack me up, even those flying Fords in the SAM lobby.
[I know I’m supposed to be thinking about the ubiquity of violence,
post 9-11, ruminate on the mediation of extreme brutality and terrorism
by technology, etc. But they just look so…hammy! Thanks again.]
I fell in love with the creative simplicity of the design of the new H1 residence by Brio54, a new Arch. firm made up of partners Gernot Bruckner and Philip Macari. These are still in design development with construction slated to begin later in the spring. Be sure to check out their site for detailed descriptions of all the mechanicals and such:
from the always fabulous Inhabitat: "As soon as we saw them, we instantly fell in love with Brio54’s new set of prefab residential prototypes. A young, design-driven development firm, Brio54’s
mission is to provide sustainable, affordable design while delivering
high quality construction. Home buyers of all types will delight in Brio54’s
wide variety of offerings – whether you live in a suburban area, are
looking to refurbish or rehab, or have an empty urban infill lot.
Brio54’s first prefab prototype, the H1, (pictured above) is currently
in the final stage of planning, and construction is slated to begin
production in the spring of 2008.
Found this in my inbox. It looks like a good one to check out if you’re going to be in Chi-town this spring. Might even be a reason to plan a trip! Though it looks to be traveling a bit later in the year…
A traveling exhibition organized by iCI, New York
Touring January 2008 through December 2009
Curated by Susan Hapgood
On view: January 26 – April 13, 2008
Chicago Cultural Center
From the press release: "
iCI announces the tour of Slightly Unbalanced,
an exhibition of works by artists who have focused on neurosis of
various kinds in their work, using themselves and the people around
them as fodder for their investigations. During the past fifteen years,
inspired by the work of several prominent older artists, a younger
generation has expanded the contemporary art vocabulary to encompass a
subject that is now well known to the general public. The exhibition
brings together 35 works by 18 artists or artists’ groups who make use
of psychology as a kind of lingua franca—we all know what the symptoms
of neurosis are, if not the particular diagnoses."
Artists in exhibition
Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn
Ward Shelley and Doug Paulson
Not to be missed…
Art. The only profession in which idleness is an asset is the
artist’s. It takes time–distance some like to say–to make something
interesting, unusual or unexpected. This is one of the reasons that
great art is rare; it takes time, a lot
of time (and not a little talent). It cannot be scheduled, regimented,
put on a calendar or
charted by project management software. It is not some romantic notion
of inspiration we are
talking about, but a kind of lack of industry.
Lou Reed quoted Andy Warhol’s refrain, "All that really matters is work." (‘Work’ on ‘Songs for Drella’
) And he was right. But a large part of what Warhol called ‘work’ is
not the physical production of objects as might be assumed. Producing
an object is but the last five or ten percent, for me anyway, the
flowering of a plant whose root system is deeper and wider and has
taken longer to manifest than is commonly acknowledged.
Additionally, one of the greatest things about most art today is
that it is worthless, at least according to the principles by which
most ventures in
the west are measured: it can’t be processed, incorporated, unionized,
depreciated, consumed, added to or subtracted from? [this argument is
not the Platonic/Aristotelean split in which Plato dismisses art as
mere imitation while Aristotle champions it as a means of conveying
universal truths, this little riff has more to do with economics than
philosophy, though the slope is slippery] Obviously, this is not the
art that is stolen from museums or auctioned at Sotheby’s. We are
talking about the world of objects and ideas that are never
commodified, that never make it into the history books, but that make
up the vast majority of art that is produced every day–the painting
you saw at a swap meet, the novel that came and went and was never read
again, the poem by that unknown poet you heard that one time downtown
and will never forget, but which will nevertheless go on to be
forgotten by ‘history’. Its ‘worthlessness’ is the very thing that
makes art so important in a world of de facto global capitalism.
On one end of the spectrum, Duchamp plays chess; on the other, Chihuly
fills the world with glass, glass, glass…the rest of us fall
somewhere in between. I make art and I run a business, several business
ventures actually. I am married, have children, need exercise,
nourishment and sleep. I want a house, a car, a TV, maybe some nice
shoes–all that bourgeois shit. I want to feel good about the work I
do. For me and for many of the artists that I know, ambition and
idleness are constantly at war. Does this seem odd? It shouldn’t. It is
a cliché. Finding the balance– the sweet spot between the joy of the
creative process and the rest of life’s joys–continues to elude me.
In the classic "The Poetics of Space", Gaston Bachelard wrote that,
"To say that one has left certain intellectual habits behind is easy
enough, but how is it to be achieved? For a rationalist, this
constitutes a minor daily crisis, a sort of split in one’s thinking
which, even though its object be partial–a mere image–has none the
less great psychic repercussions." He was laying the ground work for
his definition of the transsubjectivity of images, what he called a
"phenomenology of the imagination", but what he described resonates
with my own daily experience.
My "minor daily [psychic] crisis" is also a kind of transsubjectivity,
not of images but rather of consciousness, a way of being in the world;
a subjectivity that is not fixed but fluid, fickle and unpredictable.
It could also be called a kind of schizophrenia, which is kind of a
relief, and kind of fucked-up.
"The Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) is pleased to announce Susan Silton’s Inside Out,
a site-specific architectural intervention and installation in two
parts. The work, based on Silton’s investigation of the stripe as a
social and cultural signifier, includes what will be the PMCA’s first
site-specific installation: the museum’s exterior will be wrapped in a
multi-colored, striped industrial tarp modeled after fumigation tents
commonly seen in the Los Angeles landscape. The museum’s interior
Project Room will contain an installation composed entirely of striped
goods, everything from housewares to clothing to art objects—a
commentary on the stripe’s ubiquitous presence as a seductive
consumable. In its entirety, the exhibition considers the curious
evolution of the stripe—from its use as a transgressive signifier in
the Middle Ages to its more recent associations with power, style,
commerce, and abstract painting."