July 2007

Monthly Archive

Blake’s body identified

Posted by ben on 31 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: r.i.p.

As regular readers of Modern Art Notes know by now, the body found off the coast of New Jersey last month has been identified as Jeremy Blake’s using dental records. Something tells me this tragedy will be discussed for many years, from many different angles — but most likely we’ll never know what was at the root of the apparent double suicide.

I agree with some that Theresa Duncan’s blog seems like some elaborate message, full of hints and subterfuge, but perhaps it’s just the sort of text that lends itself to that kind of reading. In any case, as MAN notes, the final post on her blog was written by Glenn O’Brien, who is also writing the text for the catalog of Jeremy Blake’s show at Corcoran in October.

UPDATE: For those unfamiliar with Blake, here is his obit at NYT, and his page at the Kinz, Tillou + Feigen gallery. Theresa Duncan had a lower profile, but here’s an interview with her in LAist.

Bergman, Antonioni, RIP

Posted by ben on 31 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: r.i.p., video/film

Monica Vitti in Red Desert

Now the news comes that Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni both died yesterday. While I have found much to admire in Bergman’s work, Antonioni will always hold a special place in my heart. I considered his film Il Deserto Rosso (Red Desert) to be the pinnacle of art for a period in my adolescence. It is a near-perfect expression of the disconnection, emotional instability, and confusion of this stage of life. But more than that, I think that this may have been the first work of visual art that made me understand how powerful the intersection of aesthetics, psychology, and philosophy could be. Of course it is not just visual — the poetry of the dialogue, the strangeness of the music, the striking imagery, combine to express not just a mood, but a metaphysical statement.

At the end of this film, the main character (played by Monica Vitti) tells a story to her daughter:

“There was once a little girl who lived on an island. Being with adults bored and frightened her. She didn’t like kids her own age because they pretended to be adults. So, she was always alone playing with cormorants, seagulls, and wild rabbits. She had discovered a tiny beach far from the village, where the sea was transparent and the sand pink. She was so silent there. She would leave when the sun disappeared. One morning she saw a sailboat. It was different from the other sailboats that usually passed by. This was a real sailing ship! One which must have seen all the oceans and storms and had maybe gone around the world. From afar it was magnificent. Up close it was mysterious, with no one to be seen on board. For a while it was motionless. Then it turned and sailed out as it had come in. The little girl, used to man’s strange mentality, was not really surprised. But, as she turned away… wait. One mystery was perfectly normal… but two? Who was singing? The beach was deserted, as usual, yet the voice was there… now closer, now further away. At one point it seemed to be coming from the sea. Beneath the rocks… many small rocks… that she had never noticed… and they looked human. And at that moment the voice was very soft.”

“But who was singing?”

“They all were singing.”

Update: Sorry, I can’t help it. I just came across another quote from this film. This one always gave me goosebumps.

Giuliana: I feel my eyes tearing up. What should I do with my eyes? What should I watch?

Corrado Zeller: You ask what you should watch. I ask how I should live. It’s the same thing.

Diggly Wiggly 2007 photo recap (Dignowity Hill Pushcart Derby, San Antonio TX)

Posted by justin on 30 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: adventure day, art + bikes, art paparazzi, arts organizations, design, in yo face, mustaches, opportunities, party photos, performance art, possibilities, responses/reviews, rock!, silliness

Everybody has their own story about who won this year, Please post yours in the comments below.

All of these photos (and bunches more with labels) are located here.

click on the link below for more action!

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Excuse me while I kiss the Cy

Posted by ben on 30 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: foamers, silliness

twombly kiss

The BBC reports that a French woman decided to kiss a Cy Twombly painting in Avignon, leaving a lipstick stain on the $2 million work.

“I left a kiss,” she told La Provence newspaper on leaving the police station.

“A red stain remained on the canvas… This red stain is testimony to this moment, to the power of art.”

Speaking to French news agency AFP, she said the artist had “left this white” for her.

Somehow, I doubt that this is quite what Twombly had in mind…

[via Design Observer]

What is going on?

Posted by ben on 29 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: net.art, r.i.p.

a magic storyJust like everyone else, I don’t really know what to make of the Theresa Duncan apparent suicide and the Jeremy Blake disappearance (which is widely assumed to also be a suicide). The MSM is not offering much in the way of confirmed facts. And some of these “facts” appear to be speculation or exaggeration. The whole thing seems very fishy, and responsible news organizations would be wise to steer clear of the whole mess until the facts are known. Needless to say, Emvergeoning is not a responsible news organization.

So, with all due respect to Ms. Duncan and Mr. Blake, I’m going to link you to some strange analysis of this case from Dream’s End. Even just looking at Theresa Duncan’s blog in a cursory manner, there is much to ponder. It just doesn’t add up.

I don’t have time to read, much less analyze all of this, and I really don’t want to seem disrespectful. At least one person is dead, possibly two, and all of this analysis may be focusing the wrong kind of attention on their lives and deaths. It’s just a very strange case, and I thought y’all would like to know about it. I’ll post updates, but probably not do much analysis. It’s just too complex, and I have too many other things to deal with.

Here are the posts at Dream’s End so far:

This is Not a Game: The Mysterious Death of Theresa Duncan, Part 1, Part 2, Part 4 (which also contains Part 3).

Edit: Ok, well, those Dream’s End posts do get pretty wacky, and some of connections being made there are kind ridiculous, but in a nutshell: something doesn’t add up here.

In Search of the Miraculous

Posted by michelle on 28 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: r.i.p.


I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts about the tragedy surrounding artists Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake. The way Blake apparently pushed himself out to sea is puzzling. It shares the poetry of a similar act by Bas Jan Ader [though his coda was unintentional]. In hindsight, all three artists investigated emotional landscapes that sometimes prove to be unnavigable.

tea party

Bas Jan Ader, Tea Party, 1972

[photos: Galerie Chantal Cruesel, Patrick Painter Editions]


Posted by ben on 24 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: design, tattoo

True Love Map

I just discovered another incredible niche blog, strange maps. Here you’ll find everything from a map tattoo, to a map of New Jersey constructed using only Bruce Springsteen lyrics, to a speculative historical map of Australia. I’m also grateful to strange maps for turning me onto Cartographismes, a French blog dedicated to reproducing the lovely and intriguing imaginary cartographies of its author.

cobalt club polychotomy

Posted by justin on 24 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: art paparazzi, bird flu, possibilities, responses/reviews, silliness, wordy




Garbage Peephole

Posted by michelle on 22 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: art paparazzi, sneak peeks


Zane Lewis strikes again, this time hitting the lovely white walls of the Mark Moore Gallery in Santa Monica, California. If you’re in the LA area, the show is called Ultrasonic International II and it runs until August 25th.

Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be artists

Posted by ben on 19 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: announcements, arts organizations

… but for those of you foolish enough to indoctrinate your youngins (ages 7-10) early, SAMA’s offering a Summer Youth Program that’ll help your kids “begin to understand how the museum collection can serve as a learning tool while encouraging the exploration of new ideas and concepts. In addition, students will learn to develop a sense of life-long experimentation, enhancing their abilities to think critically.” Yikes! Well, at least it’ll get ‘em outta the house…. The program runs from July 23 – 27, 10am to 3pm. The instructor is Sabra Booth, longtime San Antonio artist and teacher.

Sound Trip in NYC

Posted by ben on 19 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: adventure day, music, rock!, sound art

Emvergeoning’s NYC correspondent fvc sent the following account of a day on which mushrooms threaded together Max Neuhaus’ Times Square sound installation and the Boredoms’ recent “77 Boadrum” concert in a park under the Brooklyn Bridge. As luck would have it, I happened to get ahold of a recording of this very concert through another friend. Follow the link at the bottom of the post to download the MP3. Photos provided by generous Flickr users.

Several weeks ago some friends were sitting around at my apartment on a hot lazy sunday afternoon. They wanted some weed so they called a guy who sent his runner over with a briefcase of pot, hash, mushrooms, pills and powders, each in at least 2 or 3 varieties. The dealer even had a neat “menu” with descriptions of everything for sale. Drugs are a very professional service industry in Manhattan, if you have the right numbers.

Everyone bought some weed and then the dealer gave a 20 sided die to J — who called the number three and then tossed the die — a three. So he won a bag of mushrooms. After the sun set and we had gone to go look for a place to eat dinner, the mushrooms where left behind. They sat around my apartment for almost a month.

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Matrix Ping Pong

Posted by ben on 18 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: performance art, silliness, video/film

A lot of you have probably seen this, but it is too funny to pass up. Plus it’s time for a new post, and I have nothing to say. (A post on Alberto Mijangos’ T-shirt series is forthcoming, however…)


Posted by ben on 16 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: responses/reviews

I’ve decided to do a series of three posts on Alberto Mijangos‘ work over the next week or so. This, the first, includes images of paintings from his “Chones” series. (For the gringos in the audience, that means “undies”.)

This series of paintings was a primary focus for Mijangos at the end of his life. Painting abstract underwear was a way for Mijangos to deal with the demagoguery, hypocrisy, and self-righteousness that pervades our politics (by “our politics” I mean the politics of the human race). These parts of our clothing that are most hidden and most easily soiled by embarrassing breaches in self-control, represent the obscure, dark side of the human personality; but at the same time, they represent a beautiful vulnerability and honesty. Here’s Mijangos discussing the Chones paintings in his 2003 interview with Smithsonian:

Well, it’s a situation about honesty, a situation about — communication with honesty, talking directly to another human being and really looking at that human being as a spiritual being, and to deal on those terms of I am talking to you with all my honesty and I’m talking to your spiritual being which is beautiful and perfection, and in that communication there’s an incredible experience of really, really admiring what creation is all about.

Sometimes I remember talking to my son and my son will look at me like his father and I would look at my son like my son. Not long ago my son, who is 40 years old, I went to him and I told him, I don’t know you as a human being. I know you as my son, but I want to know you as a human being. And he says, “I want to know you as a human being, too.” And our relationship changed incredible. Now we know each other spiritually and it’s no longer that situation about seeing objects or seeing a table like a table or seeing a cat like a cat. It’s totally different. We have that opportunity and we lose that because of what’s going on in the world, so we cover ourselves. We don’t want anybody to see our Chones.

Mijangos’ style of heavily layered expressionism allows him to convey basic forms that are simple and bold, but also imbued with the scuffs and marks of a complex personality that has lived in the world and is being revealed with honesty. These layers suggest the levels of experience, feeling, and thought that comprise a personality, and are expressed through the image of the underwear: the layer beneath the layer, which is itself stained and frayed. Coming up next: the T-Shirt Series.

Habitat by Alberto Mijangos

(More images below the fold)

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What I Meant to Say

Posted by ben on 14 Jul 2007 | Tagged as: responses/reviews

Last night I made it out to Vtrue in time to catch whimsical but seamless ceramic sculptures by Pattie Chalmers. Drawing from fables and foibles, Chalmers’ cartoon-like characters are honest and simple without seeming trite. Mr. Disappointment (detail below) holds a bouquet of flowers and a lonesome visage, recalling an especially pathetic R. Crumb character.Mr. Disappointment by Pattie Chalmers

But the installation is filled with other characters, several of which radiate satisfaction. Gracie, on the opposite end of the stage from Mr. Disappointment, looks out at the observer with the newfound clarity of her glasses, eating honey sandwiches.

[Note: All photos in this post by Justin Parr]

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