March 29, 2012


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February 17, 2012









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December 11, 2011

A Column of (and On) Contemporary Art

A Review of Maurizio Cattelan: All at the Guggenheim

Chang W. Lee for the New York Times

Chang W. Lee for the New York Times

At risk of tritely introducing an artist by claiming that he or she needs no introduction, it so happens that Guggenheim Chief Curator Nancy Spector’s expository statement provides an excellent survey of his career, a worthy complement to her institution’s current Maurizio Cattelan retrospective.

In a sense, a major museum exhibition, even (or perhaps especially) at the Guggenheim, represents a kind of demise, Cattelan’s often-noted obsession, an expression of Heidegger’s Being-unto-Death in which the artist is ‘looking back,’ per the parlance, at an oeuvre that has ossified into something cohesive on the premise of comprehensiveness, a body of work that is consummate—immortalized—in a way that can be only defined in terms of mortality.

Nevertheless the work is not collectively bereft of the myriad meaning that it had in 1989, 1990, 1991, etc., though many of the specimens are indeed taxidermied. If there is an overall sensation that Cattelan has turned the museum into a mausoleum, it’s worth noting that it’s impossible (and futile) to determine whether the artist has done utmost respect or disrespect for the dead.

In any case, I was immediately struck by the sheer presence—i.e., the physicality—of the elaborately-suspended spectacle. The radically vertical arrangement attenuates the otherwise vertiginous nature of the atrium, allowing the viewer to see each piece from virtually every angle, a veritable infinity of perspectives and, likewise, juxtapositions that simply could never be achieved in a regular gallery space.

Indeed, the overarching sense of discovery is refreshingly more like a curio shop than the partitioned tabula rasa of, say, MoMA’s sixth floor: one encounters the smitten pope thrice over (La Nona Ora, 1999); a readymade bicycle; a particularly long-eared leporid; anti-authoritarian sentiments abound; sleeping dogs; banality revisited time and again; and, of course, the artist himself at varying levels.

The five-story spiral of Wright’s sometimes-frustrating interior imparts an anthropomorphic scale to the mass of artwork to brilliant effect, the undeniable totality made manageable as it unravels in the viewer’s two-dimensional orbit. By presenting the work as a kind of anti-architecture, Cattelan transcends—or at least annuls—the antagonism between artist and architect to realize a near-perfect stasis between figure and ground, each fulfilling the destiny of the other.

It’s not so much that Cattelan has exploited the space as an ideal (as Matthew Barney did rather callously, or at least cartoonishly, in his magnum opus), but that he has masterfully harnessed its potential as a venue. Gravity and tension cancel out as pure inertia—physically, if not quite figuratively—to incorporate the disparate objects as a self-contained system that can be circumnavigated as a world. (As in Sartrean phenomenology, Cattelan’s world is subject only to ontological inquiry; one gets the sense that not even Spector herself could convincingly justify the existence of these artworks.) Read the rest of this entry »

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December 9, 2011

The English Reveria


Metronomy’s third LP is easily one of my favorite albums of the year, something like the British version of MGMT’s Congratulations—a catchy, contemporary psych-pop album—except without the baggage of “Kids” and “Electric Feel.” The falsetto harmonizing, punchy bass and squeaky synths remain intact, but The English Riviera is, at its core, a remarkably consistent collection of crisply produced pop tunes, a testament to frontman Joseph Mount’s songwriting prowess. (Suffice it to say that the Hockney-esque album art is appropriate.)


That said, the female backing vocals are the key ingredient to my favorite tracks, “Everything Goes My Way” and “Corinne.”

» Metronomy – Corinne (3:16) – 5.8MB mp3 @ 246kbps

Although the album was released in April, I didn’t get around to listening to it until around CMJ, when I RSVP’d to see them play a free show at the Fader Fort; now that I’ve had The English Riviera in heavy rotation for the past month or so, I deeply regret missing them this year. (I recall seeing them in concert—DIY light-up shirts and all—at the now-shuttered warehouse formerly known as Studio B, back in what constitutes “the day” for a Millenial transplant, probably circa 2007…)

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October 13, 2011

Hello Track Bike in the Sun


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October 3, 2011

Oregon Conclusion

Portland-WelcomePortland-ADX1Portland-ADX2Portland-traxPortland-WallPortland-thehillPortland-moretrax Read the rest of this entry »

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September 1, 2011



» “Ed Hardy.


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July 18, 2011


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June 10, 2011



2:00 for the win:

via Prolly

The problem with bike lanes is that they represent the marginalization of cyclists as a purportedly “separate but equal” citizen: we’re given what is realistically an infinitesimally limited space to exist in terms of the law, which does not even acknowledge that right. Instead, pedestrians and cars alike stake a claim to the bike lane as their own territory—or at least a kind of bridge (or purgatory) between the sidewalk and the street—while I often encounter cyclists salmoning or simply not sharing bike lanes, as though it is a bubble for the use of a single individual at any given time. (That said, this isn’t helping.)


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June 10, 2011

Left Coast

Three months (/forever) ago, I spent ten days in the Bay Area visiting friends and family. Shit weather but good times otherwise… mostly just ate ridiculously well.


Made it up to Napa—iPod video below (looks better smaller)—but not the Wave Organ.



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