The “How Our Laws Are Made” infographic above is well-executed and fairly clear, if a little busy (GOOD); the Pulp Fiction one below is neat but, as one commenter points out, the story makes more sense the way it unfolds per Tarantino’s script (Flowing Data).
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Art vs. Art:
Greater New York at PS1: I only got around to seeing about half of the exhibit when I stopped by PS1 last week, but I’m sure I’ll have many opportunities to revisit and engage with the work over the next few months, especially once Warm-Up is underway. Nevertheless, I would imagine that Greater New York stands for everything that Jeff Koons’ BMW Art Car (below) is not. (NYT)
That said, I thought that Koons’ art car (unveiled at the Centre Pompidou) turned out fine, though I was a little disappointed to learn that “the design isn’t actually painted on the car; it’s a vinyl wrap covered with two layers of clear coat. BMW says the wrap was lighter than paint and it could be applied much more quickly. That was a key consideration because Koons had just two months to complete the project.” (Wired)
“It is like going to the war.” –Marina Abramović on performance art
UPDATE: Klausie (sort of) blew it (Animal via Art Fag City & Linda Yablonsky on the Givenchy gala for ArtForum: “the fashion mob was tweeting like mad”)
Marina, saintlike, abstracted, ensconced in a monochromatic robe (in one of three patriotic colorways) with the functional slouchiness of a Snuggie.
'ó'quentiño' by Irene Regueiro, Patricia Alambiaga Arnal, Lebymar Blanco Pérez, Elena Bàez & Nela Sanchez
But her costume has nothing to do with allusion or somatic comfort; it’s closer to the Zen of a color field, aiming for the very same transcendence through an entirely different medium.
Seeing the other people you come to that state where you start to feel unconditional love for the total stranger. That is what happened to me. My entire heart opened to the level that was incredible. You see them and by being still they become eyes like the door of the soul, you really start knowing them on the most intimate level. That is why people avoid looking in the eyes, especially here in New York. I looked by now, 1,565 pair of eyes. This is enormous amount of eyes. It was so touching to see I knew the people so intimately but never spoke word with them.
As Hrag Vartanian points out, MoMA itself stakes a claim to authorship in The Artist Is Present (after setting a precedent with the @ sign): the exhibition existed as much in the digital space as it did IRL, where a web cam evolved into a kind of meta-art, largely through social mediametastasis. The microsite was an exhibit about an exhibit—an anti-Chatroulette, if you will—while the Flickr feed of Marco Anelli’s unmistakable portraits could easily make for a post-hoc catalog and future exhibit. (H.V.’s excellent recap on Hyperallergic has spared me the need to eulogize the exhibit.)
First of all, I am not ashamed to admit that I knew very little about Marina Abramović before my first visit to MoMA’s comprehensive survey or her life and work two and a half months ago. Since that fateful first exposure, I have grown quite sympathetic to her work, which I would describe with adjectives like “raw,” “visceral,” “somatic,” ad infinitum.
While it’s probably too much to expect that the actors would reperform any pieces from the Rhythm series, it’s definitely illuminating to see certain pieces in the flesh, so to speak (namely Imponderabilia, with its ephemeralinteractivity, but others as well). At least, it is for those who are unfamiliar with Marina’s particular brand of performance art—including myself, the first time around—i.e. the vast majority of MoMA’s visitors.
Marina & Ulay, Reunited
Unfortunately, the pieces executed by Marina’s minions are, in many ways, a novelty: the more you know about the artist and her oeuvre, the less successful the reperformances become. I found that they were far less impactful the second, third, fourth, etc. times around; the sheen of originality quickly fades once you recognize that the anonymous faces are rotating between the five ‘live’ works on the sixth floor. By the third time I visited the exhibition, I was far more concerned with where Marina and Ulay went when they walked off the screen in [the video of] Relation in Space (in which they repeatedly walk into one another) than the four people in the 8-foot cube behind me (reperforming Relation in Time and Point of Contact), taped off to demarcate its artness, hermeneutically if not hermetically sealed.
When I first saw this on T Magazine, I thought it looked like a movie trailer… turns out, it is.
In other words, the work on the sixth floor relies on an element of unpredictability that constitutes the essence of performance art. I distinctly remember when my first encounter with Luminosity, shortly after the exhibit opened in March. The white light is strangely forgiving: she struck me as painted, photorealistic, timeless in the split-second before I realized that she was not just an image but a real person. If that naïve (in a good sense) suspension of disbelief cannot be underestimated, it is precisely because it will never happen again.
Of course, the inherent ‘unrepeatability’ of Abramović’s work only underscores the singular nature of performance art. Again, although some have questioned the authenticity of reperformance—to the effect that any attempt to do so somehow devalues the work itself and Marina’s legacy—I think there is something to be said for the sheer novelty of reperformance, where ignorance is bliss.
Date: May 23, 2009
To: K. Biesenbach
From: M. Abramović
RE: Retrospective at MoMA
I decided that I want to have a work that connects me more with the public, that concentrates … on the interaction between me and the audience.
I want to have a simple table, installed in the center of the atrium, with two chairs on the sides. I will sit on one chair and a square of light from the ceiling will separate me from the public.
Anyone will be free to sit on the other side of the table, on the second chair, staying as long as he/she wants, being fully and uniquely part of the Performance.
I think this work [will] draw a line of continuity in my career.
Hence, the true power of Marina presented herself: that of an artwork unfolding in real time. It was neither a performance nor art by most definitions of either word—performance suggests action and art suggests meaning—but, insofar as the medium is the body itself, it was Performance Art, reduced to its essence: presence (not unlike Tehching Hsieh’s “Lifeworks,” which also bear MoMA’s stamp of approval).
A friend and I agreed to get to MoMA early in hopes of earning an audience with her inimitable highness Marina Abramovic on a Saturday morning two months ago. Unfortunately, there was already a substantial crowd—to the extent that they let people into the foyer (between the ticket check and stairs to the atrium) 20 minutes before opening—by 10 AM (when we had agreed to meet at MoMA), despite the gorgeous weather, semi-early arrival and the ‘magical’ tourist attraction up the block.
Street art’s symbiotic relationship with the Web makes you wonder whether the genre’s broad popularity stems from the fact that its characteristic features—swift execution, quicksilver response to pop culture and politics, the dominance of quotation and commentary, snarky attitude, fragmented statements embedded in the world rather than meant to stand apart from it—actually reflect the way that plugged-in people process information, more so than “traditional” art. There is something particularly contemporary about street art’s whole M.O., in this sense.
There are euphoric moments and then intensely sad feelings of heaviness. Whatever you’re feeling becomes intensified. Certain truths about things I need to fix in my life are revealed to me. Marina says that in her own life she’s not so disciplined—that the performance gives her structure.
[As Prokhorov] explained to “60 Minutes,” “I don’t use a computer. We have too much information and it’s really impossible to filter it.”
You know what? He’s not necessarily wrong. Do we REALLY need all this information? Like, right now—you’re reading this column and hopefully enjoying it, but ultimately, could you have survived the weekend if you missed it? I say yes. Just about everything online fits that mold—you have to sift through loads of bad writing and irrelevant information to find the occasional entertaining/funny/interesting thing, and even then, it’s not something that’s making or breaking your week. Ever been on a vacation and had little-to-no Internet access that week? You survived, right? Maybe the big Russian is on to something.
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Candy reminds us of the postmodern notion of self-creation—the way we don social signifiers with the same ease as clothing, constructing our selves bit by bit from cultural cues and images. Rather than the solid frameworks we cast them as, our selves are more like sweaters we put on and take off. When it comes to social identity, we’re all a wee bit in drag.
The problem of negative externalities [refers to] costs that accrue when the self-interested actions of one person leave bystanders worse off. The biggest example of a negative externality is global warming: When we burn carbon-based fuels, we benefit ourselves while imposing a great cost on billions of other present and future inhabitants of the planet.
When we think of still lifes, we think of paintings that have a certain atmosphere or ambience. My still life paintings have none of those qualities, they just have pictures of certain things that are in a still life, like lemons and grapefruits and so forth. It’s not meant to have the usual still life meaning.
Roy Lichtenstein Still Lifes
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May 8, 2010 – July 30, 2010
Once again, it’s too nice out to sit in front of a computer screen, so we’re going with assorted links today… A few interesting stories, including an article on the future of digital journalism. *UPDATED on 5/16 with even more recommended reading.
Individual organisms are surrounded by a moving layer of warm moist air. Even trees are surrounded by such a layer. It is produced by the metabolism of the individual tree, creating heat and water, and this production is a feature of all living creatures. In humans the layer is constantly moving upward over the body and off the top of the head. Thus, organisms do not live directly in the general atmosphere but in a shell produced by their own life activity. It is, for example, the explanation of wind-chill factor. The wind is not colder than the still air, but it blows away the metabolically produced layer around our bodies, exposing us to the real world out there.
The retrospective has a personal resonance on several levels: I’ve become increasingly interested in photography, journalism and photojournalism in the past couple years; his photographs of early and mid-century China are vaguely nostalgic (probably because I recently spent a couple months living in Beijing with my grandparents, who lived through it); and I recognized HCB’s portrait of Sartre from a book cover.
Discovered while eating a turkey hoagie and contemplating the meaning of life at a roadside stand. Also, admit it: he’s cute as a goddamn bug!
Liu Bolin at Eli Klein: an excellent show despite the blue-chippy crowd at the opening. It might be more of the same and it probably has a certain loaded cultural content that can only be appreciated as someone who has recently spent time in China, but I would still say that the pieces in On Fire are visually compelling even without the political subtext.
His works have been communicated via emails, blogs, magazines and journals on a massive scale.
Liu Bolin’s earlier Hiding in the City photography series, in which he paints himself into the urban landscape, was inspired by the Chinese government’s demolition of the Suo Jiacun Artist Village in Beijing in 2006. He drew attention to great landmarks in China, both old and modern, while highlighting the lack of recognition which was paid to the citizens that built them. He portrayed the tragedy of the increasing insignificance of the individual in China as the government focused on presenting a modern commercial and industrial image. Rather than trying to fight, people attempted to hide and adapt to these forced changes.
Jan Fabre – "Skull" (2001); Fabián Peña – "The Impossibility of Storage for the Soul I (Self-Portrait)" (2007)
Of course, people have always used natural materials to make their art, for the simple reason that until recently nature was all they had, said Ellen Dissanayake, a scholar on the evolution of art [who notes that] from the beginning, art demanded transformation. “Even in hunter-gatherer societies, they tend to make their stuff look not organic,” she said. “When they’re painting, they’ll use geometric shapes, make a row of triangles or circles, as though to show humans are more than nature.”
As Ms. Dissanayake sees it, when people make art, or “artify,” they follow several “aesthetic principles,” whether they know it or not. “They simplify, repeat, exaggerate, elaborate and manipulate expectations,” she said.
Leslie Buck passed away this week at the age of 87. Born in 1922 in what was then Czechloslovakia, he survived Auschwitz and Buchenwald, where his parents were killed, and came to New York after the war. He started a paper goods company with his brother Eugene and in the 1960’s set out to corner the city’s hot cup market. Since so many of the city’s diners were owned by Greeks, he decided to design a cup using the colors of the Greek flag. He executed the design himself, and despite his lack of formal art training, it was an instant, and enduring, success.
While the Greek elements unironically evoke mythology and classicism, Buck’s “Anthora” has achieved NYC icon status through sheer ubiquity.
I Lego NY by Christoph Niemann for the New York Times
If Starbucks represents America’s corporate muscle and the likes of Stumptown, Blue Bottle et al find an audience among foodi-elitist connoisseurs, the Anthora is the mark of true blue everyman: Anthora’s richness lies in its cultural heritage, which at once captures the spirit of the country and its greatest city (that’s right, I said it).
As a recent transplant, I find that Buck’s design is iconic in a fundamentally different way: it is a relic of Old(e) Noo Yawk, a winsome vessel of unassuming kitsch. Major cities the world over have signature buildings, bridges, parks, landmarks, taxi cabs, subway iconography, but where else can you stake a claim to a local coffee cup?