Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
*update (june 08, 09) I ran into Daniel again and he is now claiming that the bikes will be temporarily displayed throughout the city, and locked in place. He will be showing them soon as an entire group.
Be on the lookout, local artist Daniel Saldana, known most prominently in our community for his unfathomably plated metal objects, has taken to turning his excess metal into art bicycles, and leaving them about town. I’ve seen them left up at SAMA, and Blue Star now, both times without a camera on my person. I caught him at Red Dot with his newest creation, this time, chained to the pole outside. Previous bikes were left to be picked up by lucky takers, and ostensibly this new one, I was told was “not finished,” and would be given a similar fate after completion. If you have other images of these art bikes in their native habitat, give em up, via our contact form.
Last Friday night I was assigned a real doozy of an assignment for the San Antonio Current, Wrestling 4 Christ (..errr warriors 4 christ?) an event that sits in a church parking lot and claims to both spread the word of Jesus Christ, and offer free live wrestling to the community. Since that story and those images have yet to go to print, I’ll refrain from posting them here. While waiting for the event to begin, I noticed a tall skinny blond guy, looking a little bit out of place with the crowd, walking with a pad and pencil in hand. Not sure yet who was writing the wrestling story, I quickly scanned my internal archive of SACurrent writers who I’ve met or seen in person, and came up blank. After sitting a little to far away from all of the gathering crowd, I decided to make my way closer and maybe see what kind of christian wrestling gossip I could catch up on. I found a rock wall to lean on a hundred feet from the ring, turning my head, I noticed the writer who I had previously thought to be out of place. I asked him who he was writing for and he said something to the effect of, nobody, himself, a comedy book, etc.. He was from Britain(the Isle of Wight), and had just gotten to San Antonio the day previous. He mentioned that he had come to town just for the wrestling event, and I thought for a second he must be a real religious wrestling zealot. After continung our discussion, I decided there was no way he could really be that much of a kook, he seemed pretty level-headed really… what was the deal? Johnston walked up (the SACurrent writer for the story) and I soon lost track of my discussion with Adam. We all turned our attention to getting inside of the backstage trailer full of Christian wrestlers. Once inside, coated in the dank smell of sunday school portable turned middle school locker room, Johnston asked Adam specifically what the book he was writing was all about and if he had a publisher? In a quiet way Adam tells us he is the maker of “The Girl of My Dreams.com,” and had embarked on a worldwide hunt for a girl he woke up one morning and drew a picture of after seeing her in a zombie killing dream. He had received some sort of lead that his girl might be here, in San Antonio, at the Wrestling 4 Christ event. What a journey! Me and Johnston felt ridiculous elation at meeting such a one-off traveler. He was leaving in the morning, on a train to Washington. He was even wearing a neon green wrestling jumpsuit under his clothing, perhaps to flag her down? Finally, He mentioned to us the connection between his website, and “the NY Girl of my Dreams guy, who broke up with his dream girl after only 2 months..” and what he thought of that, “..Lame, wheres the story in that?”
I left Adam after watching most of the wrestling, my girlfriend wanted to get dinner, and I had the shots I needed. Wrestling, even the pseudo-safe Christian type makes me squirm to watch. I’m such a pacifist, I stand there watching, cringing in pain and thinking to myself, “isn’t somebody going to stop that guy?” Adam seemed to think I was going to miss out, and Johnston got some fabulous quotes out of the backroom sweaty guys for the upcoming story.. I don’t think I’ll ever understand what the draw is..but I hope it gets Adam one step closer to his Dream Girl.
“Art and money never touch. They exist in parallel universes of value at comparable levels of cultural generalization: Art does nothing to money but translate it. Money does nothing to art but facilitate its dissemination and buy the occasional bowl of Wheaties for an artist or art dealer. Thus, when you trade a piece of green paper with a picture on it, signed by a bureaucrat, for a piece of white paper with a picture on it, signed by an artist, you haven’t bought anything, since neither piece of paper is worth anything. You have translated your investment and your faith from one universe of value to another.” — Dave Hickey, Dealing
“According to this system, bodies act as if there were no souls (though this is impossible); and souls act as if there were no bodies; and both act as if each influenced the other.” — G.W. Leibniz, The Principles of Philosophy, or, the Monadology
There have been a few little dust-ups in the art world lately regarding conflicts of interest among art critics. Edward Winkleman has the skinny on a feud between art critics Tyler Green (of Modern Art Notes) and Christian Viveros-Fauné (formerly of the Village Voice). Green likes to split his blogging time between criticism and more journalistic pursuits, such as scooping the big papers on the departures of major museum directors. He also likes to call out arts writers for lacking journalistic integrity. After Green pointed out that Viveros-Fauné is a director of the Volta art fair, and an organizer of Chicago’s Next art fair, Viveros-Fauné was canned from his Village Voice position over what was seen as a conflict of interest. Of course, Viveros-Fauné then accused Green of being a self-promotional wanker (spelling Green’s name with an extra ‘e’, presumably to thank him for leaving the accent off Viveros-Fauné in an interview published on Modern Art Notes).
Now this battle has broadened a bit (the comments on Winkleman’s post give a good idea of the range of opinions), and people seem to be dividing into two camps: art critics should follow journalistic standards; or art critics should do whatever the hell they want, they will be judged according to the quality of their writing, period.
When it gets down to it, the art community is entering a phase of commercialization that makes this a very difficult issue to address. As more money flows into the contemporary art world, and as people start to see art as more of a financial investment, the problems that Tyler Green addresses become much more important. Investors want transparency and high ethical standards. However, this commercialization has met with resistance in some quarters, among people who feel that art should be free of the taint of commerce as well as the kind of compartmentalization that these ethical standards often bring.
Artists want to be free to write about art, open their own art spaces, curate shows with artists they respect (often their friends) and ultimately participate in the art community on multiple levels. Everyone who writes for this blog, for instance, also produces art, and two of us have directed gallery spaces while writing about art. The idea of keeping these functions totally separate is, for many of us, antithetical to the freedom and openness that art allows.
So where do I stand on this? Well I’ll just say that I think it’s a good debate to be having. But before addressing the ethical issue per se, we need to clarify our positions on the relationship between art and money. To the extent that art is a commercial endeavor, Tyler Green is right: we need clearly defined roles that prevent conflicts of interest. To the extent that art is about investigating new ways of seeing the world, these roles have the potential to trap us in an overly calcified artistic space.
Update: Tyler Green comments to clarify that he does not see this as a feud between himself and Mr. Viveros-Fauné.
Some of you may have been a bit surprised to see Emvergeoning turn into a platform for a political campaign yesterday (I must admit I was a bit surprised myself, despite my own flirtations with political themes). Yes, the contemporary art community in San Antonio seems to be coalescing around Obama’s campaign, but what does this really have to do with the artistic project, especially considering our previous criticisms of politically driven art?
Let me try to explain why this presidential campaign is relevant to Emvergeoning’s overall mission. In a nutshell: we are here to open up the dialog that exists within the San Antonio art community, to help draw new voices in, both from the local community and from distant cities. We want to bring more people into the conversation. This is, I think, exactly the kind of change that Barack Obama is offering America: to break down barriers in the dialog. No, he’s not going to instantly launch the United States into a post-racial, post-partisan social dynamic. No, he’s not going to end corruption and corporate influence in Washington. But Obama does represent our best chance to mollify the cynicism of our political discourse, and move partisan bickering a little closer to sincere and honest dialog.
As an example, look at Obama’s strategy while working to expand health care options in Illinois. As reported by health care expert Jonathan Cohn in the New Republic, Obama worked to build a coalition of health care activists, doctors, and hospitals, while holding direct talks with insurance and business lobbyists. Because he brought all interested parties on board as he crafted a health care task force, “He could not be accused of partisan aggression. But he got his way,” according to John Bouman, director of the Shriver Center on Poverty Law.
Contrast this approach to Hillary Clinton’s when she headed the Task Force on National Health Care Reform created by then-president Bill Clinton. The task force’s members and meetings were kept secret, so that by the time the plan was unveiled, the task force had already been sued for violating regulations related to government transparency. Meanwhile, a number of fellow Democrats crafted their own, competing health care plans, while conservatives and business interests lined up an intense PR campaign to kill the idea.
These episodes exemplify the approaches of the two Democratic candidates, one of whom works closely with both allies and opponents to build consensus through open dialog, and one of whom works within a tight political network to push things through. It could be argued that Hillary Clinton has learned her lesson from her health care debacle, if it weren’t for her campaign’s use of some of these same kinds of tactics in this primary season. Her insistence on seating the delegates from Florida and Michigan after agreeing with the Democratic National Committee’s decision to strip these states of delegates smacks of cynical political manipulation, and threatens to create an enormous rift within the Democratic party.
I don’t have much hope that Obama will be able to live up to all of his soaring rhetoric; but I do know that that rhetoric is supported by a strong record of good judgment and open discourse. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of his opponent. It is for this reason that I see Obama as a candidate who is aligned with the goals of Emvergeoning, goals that I think are also central to the task of contemporary art.
The New York Earth Room by Walter de Maria
Cities & The Dead
What makes Argia different from other cities is that it has earth instead of air. The streets are completely filled with dirt, clay packs the rooms to the ceiling, on every stair another stairway is set in negative, over the roofs of the houses hang layers of rocky terrain like skies with clouds. We do not know if the inhabitants can move about the city, widening the worm tunnels and the crevices where roots twist: the dampness destroys people’s bodies, and they have scant strength; everyone is better off remaining still, prone; anyway, it is dark.
From up here, nothing of Argia can be seen; some say “It’s down below there,” and we can only believe them. The place is deserted. At night, putting your ear to the ground, you can sometimes hear a door slam.
— Italo Calvino, (trans. William Weaver)
This 1993 article / interview from Art in America about Richard Prince’s use of images of women deals with some important issues, including perception, appropriation, and feminism.
BW: You’re talking about the humor of the jokes, but a lot of them are incredibly hostile as well.
RP: Yeah. The comedians that I’ve met are certainly not the happiest people in the world. But that’s not really what I’m about, this kind of hostility or anger or tragedy. l’m mostly thinking in a very boring way. It’s really about going into the studio every day and working, so many of my concerns are really formal, straight-out, boring problem solving.
BW: I guess what I’m leading up to is that a lot of women think that your anger is directed at women.
RP: I like women. I have no problem with women. I’ve heard this and it upsets me to a point, but actually I think it’s a rumor. I know lots of women who like my work and understand it. I think that’s a generalization. There’s nothing directed against women.
BW: Maybe you could talk about another series that enraged a lot of women: the so-called biker chicks.
RP: Well, as far as the biker chicks are concerned, I just wouldn’t mind being one. I’ve never said that before, but I think that’s what I really feel. There’s a certain kind of desire and a certain amount of passion. I like what I think they look like, or perhaps what they are. I think many of these pictures have their own egos and they have an imagination of their own. That’s my own particular reaction. I also think the biker chick is perhaps a more realistic representation than the Grace Kelly girl-next-door. I mean, the biker chicks are the girls next door. The title of the series, “Girlfriends,” is a nonfiction title; those girls are girlfriends. The pictures are taken by their boyfriends and published in a magazine. It’s not like a cult or anything. There are four or five of these large-scale, mass-market publications. Maybe I like women like that.
The San Antonio Museum of Art recently acquired this Armando Morales painting called Trapiche (Moulin a Sucre) (although the museum seems to be referring to it by the English translation of the title, The Sugar Mill). This 1991 oil on canvas showed up in a Sotheby’s auction in 2003, and this was their description:
In Trapiche (Moulin a Sucre) Armando Morales seems to break with his own tradition of presenting the jungle as timeless and dislocated. In fact the painting belongs to a series executed between 1991-92 based on sketches of buildings on the border between the natural and civilized worlds. As in other paintings in the series, Morales forces the viewer to cross these boundary lines through a series of intersecting axes: the unexpected break in the forest wall that permits a view through to the open sea and distant horizon; the plume that rises from the sugar mill’s chimney to join the clouds that form a second skyline; and of course, the elongated tree trunks that terminated in a billowing foliated canopy.
On Thursday, November 29, Marion Oettinger (SAMA’s curator of Latin American Art) will read from a Gabriel Garcia Marquez essay on Morales to celebrate the acquisition. The reading will start at 6 pm, and is free to the public.
Seems Myspace is good for something..the other day my friend Julia sent along a bulletin making mention of a new project titled “Casa Segura.” I thought it quite relevant to our present locale and situation (you know..those fancy new solves-all-problems border fences?) . from the website :
Casa Segura (Safe House) is an artwork that combines a small public access structure on private land in the Sonoran desert in Southern Arizona with a dynamic bilingual web space that facilitates creative exchange, dialogue, and understanding. Located north of the Mexican border, Casa Segura engages three distinct groups: Mexican migrants crossing the border through this dangerous landscape, the property owners whose land they cross, and members of the general public interested in learning more about border issues and the intricate dynamics at play in this heavily trafficked region. It is a conceptual project that contrasts existing conditions with new choices that can positively transform how individuals on both sides of the divide engage with and perceive one another.