September 2007

Monthly Archive

Cage’s Secret

Posted by ben on 28 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: celebrity sightings, music, performance art, renegade performances, sound art


Posted by ben on 27 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: sound art

For those of you who enjoyed Kevin Concannon’s lecture on Yoko & John last night, check in with this article he wrote on sound art: Cut and Paste: Collage and the Art of Sound.

The Büchel Case

Posted by ben on 27 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: arts organizations, renegade performances

A lot has been written about the dispute between Christoph Büchel and MASS MoCA, so I won’t bother to summarize here (check out this post at a Walker Art Center blog for background). The ultimate resolution will have important implications for artists and museums, so it’s worth keeping an eye on. Tyler blames both the artist and the museum for the dust-up; the artist for being a jerk and the museum for not realizing this project would be a fiasco from the beginning (especially considering what a jerk Büchel is).

I wanted to note a couple of interesting tidbits about the case. First, the “final straw,” when the museum decided to break up with Büchel, was an item he requested that the museum procure: “the fuselage from a large jetliner, like a 767, that Mr. Büchel wanted to be burned and bomb-damaged and then hung from the ceiling.” Second, the fact that the judge in the case has deemed that the museum is a collaborative partner with Büchel, giving them at least some claim to the copyrights to the work (is this a first?). I don’t think MASS MoCA will actually try to claim any ownership of the work, but the precedent could prove consequential.

Canonball Conundrum in Crimea

Posted by michelle on 26 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: arts organizations, responses/reviews

RogerFentonThere’s an amazingly long winded Opinion piece by weirdie documentary filmmaker Errol Morris in today’s NYTimes. Morris fixates on a pair of famous photographs taken by Roger Fenton during the Crimean War. The salted paper prints are currently housed in the Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin. The entire article hinges on the ostensible staging of two photos in the “Valley of the Shadow of Death.” After reading a presumptuous Susan Sontag reference to these photos, Morris hopped on a plane to Crimea to investigate. The end result is an absurd conversation, with people measuring shadows and counting cannonballs along a roadside ravine in Crimea. I plucked this Fenton photo [circa 1855] from the Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs archive, it is entitled “The Sanitary Commission.” *Note the cannonball in the foreground.

Tuesday Poem

Posted by ben on 25 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: poetry


To Regino Sáinz de la Maza

Never finding itself,
traveling through its own white torso,
the air made its way!

Soon it was clear that the moon
was a horse’s skull,
and the air, a dark apple.

Behind the window,
with whips and lights, I felt
sand struggling with water.

I saw all the blades of grass arrive
and I threw a bleating lamb
to the little teeth and lancets.

The first dove, encased
in feathers and plastic,
flew inside a single drop.

The herd of clouds
stayed asleep, watching
the duel between rocks and dawn.

Here comes the grass, son.
Its spit-swords ring
through the empty sky.

Hold my hand, love. The grass!
Through the house’s broken windows,
the blood unleashed its waves of hair.

Only you and I are left.
Prepare your skeleton for the air.
We’re the only ones who remain.

Prepare your skeleton.
Hurry, love, hurry, we’ve got to look
for our sleepless profile.

— Federico Garcia Lorca (trans. Greg Simon and Steven F. White)

Bruce Nauman Squared

Posted by michelle on 24 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: art paparazzi, arts organizations, responses/reviews


Seems like Bruce Nauman’s Square Depression is the darling of the mega trifecta of biennials in Europe right now. Glasstire also seemed drawn to this image. Perhaps it is the longevity of the work at the hands of American artist Bruce Nauman that keeps his creations piquant. Nauman originally designed this “negative pyramid” in 1977. Abraham Orden at Artnet gives a vivid, succinct observation of this city block-sized sculpture. Somehow the pictures don’t convey the convex element of the work. Has anyone seen photos from the center of this piece?

Days of Delays

Posted by michelle on 22 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: announcements, upcoming events

chrisauterpinJust a reminder that the Sala Diaz Fundraiser at Hermann Sons Bowling Rec Center has been postponed until November 10th. The fundraiser was originally set for Sept. 29th but the bowling place has an air condition unit that’s das kaput. While they are fixing technical difficulties, this should give you plenty of time to buy a table or help out with the event. After 12 years, it’s time to say thanks Sala Diaz. In keeping with the latest full disclosure heat wave, I must say that I have a solo show at Sala Diaz in November. It is called Dead Reckoning. You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your nose’s friends. However, you can go Bowling in the Wind. Press Release follows:

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RED HOTonomics

Posted by ben on 21 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: responses/reviews

luobrands.jpgThe MFAH’s new exhibit of Asian art, RED HOT, is essentially a study in economics. From the collector-as-investor approach of the Chaney family (from whose collection the show is drawn), to the collector-as-curator approach of MFAH, to the capitalism-comes-to-the-east themes of much of the work, it all boils down to a commentary on the flow of money. And of course, the discussion is framed by those who stand to make the most money out of the show.

The Beijing-based Luo Brothers are prominently displayed with their Welcome to the World’s Most Famous Brands series (shown to the left), an exploration of the clash of western brands such as Coca-Cola with traditional Chinese iconography. The Luo Brothers use traditional craft techniques such as wood carving, but finish the work in a way that makes it look almost plastic.

Many of the Japanese artists have thrown themselves into capitalism and consumer culture to a degree rarely seen even in the United States. Artists working for the Japanese art corporation Kaikai Kiki are prominently featured, with two large works by Mr. and two by Chiho Aoshima. Aoshima joined Kaikai Kiki with a degree in ecomonics under her belt, but no formal art training. Both artists explore the fantasy worlds of graphic novels and anime, with a focus on the fragmented, shifting context of a culture that thrives on a never-ending stream of new information. In Mr’s large painting of the Akihabara district in Tokyo, for instance, a dizzying array of costumed characters run through the district, many carrying little worlds in their thought bubbles, creating a chaotic system of divergent contexts. Tellingly, next to the Kaikai Kiki work, a display of Japanese consumer fads such as Speed Racer and Hello Kitty toys gives the ignorant viewer proper context.

wang_web.jpgEven when works in the show deal with more universal issues, such as Do Ho Suh’s Karma or Suling Wang’s Open Paths of Origin (shown to the left), the context of the exhibit leads consideration of this work into economic themes. As I discussed Do Ho Suh’s Karma (installed next to the Kaikai Kiki work) with a friend, the conversation kept coming back to economic systems, although the work on its own addresses broader issues of the relationship between the individual and society. Although the concept of karma is, I suppose, a kind of economic system, I think the placement of the work next to Mr’s Penyo-Henyo encourages a narrow reading.

Of course, there’s plenty of interesting work I’m not able to touch on here, and the exhibit is very dense, even cramped. The pieces in the RED HOT exhibit do address important cultural issues from a range of viewpoints, and much of the work is strong; but I have to wonder whether the economic framework set up by the collectors, who are the de facto curators, gives us a distorted view of what is happening in the Asian art world. Or, alternatively, whether it gives us an accurate view of the impact that Western collectors have already made on the art scene in Eastern Asia. In which case, we must wonder to what extent it really is a distinct scene.

And with that Heisenbergian conundrum, I conclude my thoughts on RED HOT.

Mariana Yampolsky at Instituto Cultural de Mexico in SA

Posted by michelle on 18 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: art paparazzi, responses/reviews


Since we seem to be on the subject of Mexican American art, I stopped by the Instituto Cultural de Mexico in Hemisfair Plaza. It’s a beautiful, spacious building anchored near the Tower of the Americas. The photos on display as part of Fotoseptiembre are black and white images of remote places throughout Mexico. Mariana Yampolsky’s ability to frame fragile subjects in desolate landscapes truly resonates in this overview of her work at the Instituto. Her work dwells in the quixotic realm of fellow photographer Graciela Iturbide, whose work was celebrated at the University of San Marcos’ Wittliff Gallery earlier this year. The Instituto also has an amazing group show called La Caja Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, curated by Martha Papadimitriou. Pick up a catalog to read an insightful essay by author Luis Carlos Emerich in which he explains how the conceptual premise for the show, The Box {La Caja}, “seems to act countercurrent to the formal museum because it forgoes its sanctuary nature.”

Grand Opening Of Mexican American Cultural Center

Posted by michelle on 15 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: art paparazzi, arts organizations

mexicanamericanToday was the grand opening for the Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin. Read more about the show in the Chronicle. Just a year after the festivites for the University of Texas’ Blanton Museum of Art, there hasn’t been too much coverage or puffery like the ballons desai before the big blowout for the Alameda Smithsonian and aforementioned Blanton. The latest installation of Young Latino Artists, YLA #12, coincided with the Grand Opening of the MACC today. This year’s show, “Embracing Chaos,” features Gerald Lopez [ Corpus Christi], Jesus de la Rosa [McAllen, TX], Chuy Benitez [Houston], Anna Pilhoefer [El Paso], Lucilla Flores [Austin] and San Antonio’s own Enrique Martinez.

The Mexic-Arte Museum in Austin initiated this annual YLA exhibition to support emvergeoning artists. The YLA show has evolved into a career checkpoint for most young Mexican American artists in Texas. We’ll post a review later this month.

In the meantime, let’s see if this new Mexican American Cultural Center can evade the perpetual drama that seems to be debasing these cultural institutions’ initial intentions.

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