Sunday, January 28, 2007

Kristian Burford & Marcel Duchamp

2 male artists of differnt art historical eras conversate in their interest in narrative, spectacle, and fantasy:

Kristin Burford's "Rebecca" is shown at I-20 gallery, a theatrical setting enclosed behind doors that is peekable through a small crack. I tried to open it further but it was glued to be a non-functional stationary door. As the viewer/peeker I was presented with an amorous scene that had nothing really to do with a sexual encounter as it seemed but a display of a paralyzed woman role-playing with 2 girls not present in the scene who dressed up Rebecca as a ballerina. The indifference of her body, her imminent complacence is as idle and sexual as Duchamp's victim wax figure in "Etant Donnes" but lacks the violence and mystery that Duchamp instills into his similar installation.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hey,Hot Shot! at Jen Bekman

jen bekman's "Hey, Hot Shot!" winter annual show opened wednesday night and what a delicious treat it was indeed. I've discovered a delightful and gratifying amount of information about what jen bekman does and how this show came about. If I am correct, she has a website where photographers can submit their work and participate in a competition which leads to seasonal exhibitions which then leads to those photographers being represented by the gallery.
There is an abundance of great work from past hey,hot shot! shows such as Dylan Chatain's exploratory photographs of people and their surroundings, pictures he must have taken while traveling around the country. They seem to comment on spontaneous and curious encounters with hidden natural beauties embedded in obscure locations where garbage, McDonalds, and people abound. It's a complacent mixture of poverty, idleness, sunlight, greenery (images of country), and claustrophobia (images of people in elevators). I found an aesthetic voice in each picture that was reflective and innocent, that each picture was as pure and literal, what you see is what you see. Here are some images:

In the current show there didn't seem to be a unifying theme, a little about massive consumption of objects and information found in the works by kate bingaman-burt, whose statement explains it all:

statement :: obsessive consumption
I documented my purchases for 28 months. Every purchased item was photographed at the point of sale or soon after. Every receipt was archived and tagged. All of the documentation was uploaded to my website I created a brand out of the process to package and promote - an infinite loop of consumerism was born.
In September 2004, I started collecting all of my credit card statements each month (six total) and am copying all of them in pen and ink every month until they are paid off. I have drawn 144 statements as of October 2006. I do this as penance for my sins.
In February 2006, I started drawing one item that I purchased everyday. I have no plans to stop.
I created Obsessive Consumption, the brand, the company and the website, to showcase my love/hate relationship with money, shopping, branding, credit cards, celebrity, advertising and marketing. Personal consumer spending and monthly credit card statements ferociously fuel my work.
Obsessive Consumption is about making the mundane special. I am taking a mass produced product and personalizing it. The consumer is no longer faceless.
Obsessive Consumption conforms to the cliché that shopping is a favorite past time of society. Obsessive Consumption is repulsed and grossly fascinated by the branding of consumer culture. It wants to eat the entire bag of candy and enjoy the sickness that it feels and hour later. It doesn't want to be an outside critical observer. It wants to be an active participant. Obsessive Consumption wants to be serious. Obsessive Consumption wants to have fun. Obsessive Consumption wants to document and create from experiences through this over stimulating, nauseating world of consumer culture.
Obsessive Consumption was created to showcase my love/hate relationship with money, shopping, branding, credit cards, celebrity, advertising and marketing. The work is inspired by the ever ubiquitous, generic, delicate, sometimes stomachache inducing credit card statement, craft as activism, and general consumerism.

I find myself suffering all the time with this need to consume as much information as I can and to take that information and turn it into something productive such as posting on this blog. So in this sense, I obsessively connect with kate and I adore her over-productively in multiple channels of expression. Here's an example of her credit card bill drawing. how exquisite:

Monday, January 8, 2007

Material for the Making at Elizabeth Dee

Group show at Elizabeth Dee curated by new director Jenny Moore include works compiled together based on the theme of memory and subjective reality, re-presentation and re-making of things and memories that have already occurred and existed before.
Strongest work is Shaving Cream Series, a strip of small Polaroid photographs mounted horizontally by Gail Thacker, which includes images of performance artist Rafael Sanchez covered in shaving cream frolicking around with a swimming ducky float around his waist and a hat adorned with what seems to be a wired sculpture resembling baby toys that hang over a baby crib and rotate as it plays music and lulls the baby to sleep. It seems to recall psychoanalytical references of oedipal desires, fear of circumcision (the body lathered in shaving cream preparing to be razored), objects of infantile dependence such as the float and the crib toy. Gail Thacker manipulated the surface of the photographic material, rematerializing and texturing it through a "curing" process which makes it hazy and out of focus, much like our memories that are never truly rendered to the detail of its actuality.
In the back room is Kerry Tribe's video Near Miss, a recreation of an actual incident where her car spins on the highway in the middle of a snowstorm. I did not realize it was a set up recording until I came back into the main room and there was a photograph of the production process, the car mounted on top of a platform with a snow making machine and bright lighting. The video stirs the urgency and anticipation of an accident with the steady rhythm of the windshield wipers, as if to negate and comfort the anxiety of the viewer. In the end the car makes a slow, barely noticeable spin.
Kori Newkirk is well known for his use of pomade (a waxy hair gel) in paintings and other mediums. With themes of race and the transience of a short lived life he creates cut out snowflakes pasted around the gallery, scattered in different sizes but all in the same color black, against the white wall, seeming to hint at race differences between white and black. It reminded me of the appropriation of meaning Masaru Emoto gives to his snowflakes be exposing them to human conditions and emotional verbage.
Weakest work IMO was Mai Braun’s sculptures made of materials that have been deconstructed and reproduced to become an artistic object molded by the hands of the artist. A formless pastel yellow blob sits on a pedestal, an oversized textured snot meant to be abstract and unique in its “creating a symbiotic relationship between the image that inspired it and the form that follows after”. It is interesting that she has used found objects and gave them a new life as non-functional commodities but the lack of substance in the resulting form was tasteless and mute.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

More Highlights on Dia

Some more reflections on my recent visit to Dia:Beacon…
There was the general theme of geometric abstractions, of calculated and crispy clean shapes with a limited outsource of energy minus John Chamberlain’s contorted automobile parts, which were nothing but streaming color and vigorous movement.

The most mind-boggling works must be Sol Lewitt’s Drawing Series… , composed of 14 large wall drawings executed by a dozen or so assistants working on location at Dia. These obsessive and deliberate works reflect the Conceptual artists’ notion of executing an idea or concept onto a tangible surface. Squares and lines create gridded patterns on the wall arranged in colors limited to graphite and primary shades of red blue and yellow. They are at once visually engulfing, with viewer (me) hypnotized by the realization of a simple idea made existent in a serial manner. The determination to create these grids were rubbed off onto me and I am considering creating the same works with the guide of Lewitt’s instructions. That was his point, that it’s not the wall you take home but the conceptual idea he created. The drawings are merely the documentary evidence of Lewitt’s idea reduced to a written set of instructions, realized recently from concepts created in the 60’s.

Dia has exhibited extensively on Agnes Martin’s minimal stripe paintings in here they stood out as most gentle and feminine, differentiating from other geometric works such as Blinky Palermo and Robert Ryman. Large squares and horizontal grids were colored by soft pastels, barely significant lines drawn with graphite, serene and ephemeral in execution. I wonder why the initial graphite sketch weren’t erased one she painted over with these light colors, creating a second dimension of textured canvas and creating a music paper rendition of painting. Colors were neutral and peaceful creating a very subdued and almost ambivalent environment but simultaneously expressionistic. The delicate and painterly compositions creates a meditative and emotional environment distancing itself from the cold and rigid and mechanical works of fellow Abstract Expressionists and Minimalists.

Blinky Palermo’s series of mechanical abstract paintings titled To The People of New York City is composed of 39 individual paintings in varying sizes divided into 15 parts painted on aluminum panels and disposed onto the wall in calculated arrangement and placement. Colors were limited to red yellow and black arrangement in horizontal 3 part grids, usually 4 in a row in various combinations with equal distancing between them. They were repetitive and serial and captivating for this reason, the effect of the banal, the everyday experience of wake, work, eat, sleep expressed in this dedication as referred to the title. There is no gestural activity except but the slight slip of paint upon close observation between 2 colors, otherize a regularized and inflexible system occurs that is mechanical and inexpressive, reminiscent of a flag of some nonexistent country.

Gerhard Richter’s installation was comprised of large glass surfaces mounted and angled from the wall at various angles, all a consistent opaque gray, reflecting the surrounding environment but simultaneously silencing what enters the medium. There are 6 large panes in total intimidatingly surrounding the viewer in unison and consistency. Light from the ceiling window was reflected off the surface casting looming shadows and brightening with crystal focus on other parts. It is an example of the artist’s notion of painting as either a window to reality or a mirror reflection of the self. There is no sign of expression of pictorial language in and of itself and engages only with the viewer and its immediate surrounding. A contradiction between opacity and reflection, Richter’s Six Gray Mirrors offer no definite conclusion as to whether we should or shouldn’t regard these pieces as a window to a view of the world or as a mirror reflecting the self-conscious presence of whatever subject engaged with the artwork itself.

Fred Sandback’s signature use of string as art and the framing of non-space, negative space is displayed here in a rather hectic arrangement, scattered between multiple galleries, attacking the walls, floors and ceilings in a hap hazardous manner. Sandback created an environment of volume-less sculpture, space less and yet full of content based on perspective and concept. The outcome is in his words a “material relationship with my environment…part of a continuing attitude and relationship to things…” , here being the work in active participation with the space and viewer. It brings to mind of concept of sculpture as installation, no longer standing on a pedestal self-imposed and irrelevant to the space it is surrounded in. Here it is no participatory and shares the same space as the spectator.

Richard Serra’s Torqued Ellipses consists of a series of gigantic steel plates lined next to each other willowing from side to side like flowers against the wind. Each shape has a narrow entrance for the viewer to step in and experience the space within the piece, and become one with the art, experiencing a push-pull relationship to the winding of the steel plate. It’s an adventurous task and certainly claustrophobic, especially once reaching the center of the piece and you realize you’re in the center of a huge contained circular sculpture. Scary. This self-consciousness and hypersensitive awareness of the viewer’s placement within the sculptures gives Richard Serra the ability to engage what in his words are “ways of relating movement to material and space”.
There were many men artists represented in this exhibition. The only female artists would be Agnes Martin and Louis Bourgeois, the latter of whom was situated in an upstairs attic-like area and works that did not communicated with the overall minimal geometric abstract theme of the works downstairs. Overall the show questions the relationship and interaction between consciousness and space, between viewer and artwork and their awareness with the space and environment surrounding them. The messages are subtle and subdued, beautifully abstract and minimal, cool and calculated, theoretical and simultaneously simple. A splendid show and a peaceful perfect one day getaway upstate.