Monday, August 13, 2018

Trend Forecast: Fall 2018

I was talking about trends in art vaguely the other day and it seems like a quick exercise that I can do for this thing today. I am sooo on vacation mode so sorry everything has been so phoned in but moop, it’s August. Everyone needs a break!

So in no particular order and in no particular sense, here goes some things I think may be in our out in the coming months.

In – Babies:  Everyone is having babies. Or maybe I am just at that age range, or maybe artists who I know are. Anyways, it’s cute, I hope that the mother artists won’t fall off or decline. Fingers crossed.

Out – Dystopia:  Okay, okay we get it, things are super dark right now, duh, and I think it was good that artists took some time to delve into that (and they still should) but we need a bit of a breather and some levity. Not escapism per se (because that’s another form of distraction/oppression) but just ease up and make some light in all this darkness.

In – Flowers:  Well, I think still-lifes in general. Flowers, fruit, all the venitas stuff. A good way to be both symbolic, highly skilled and frankly pretty.

In – Vegetarian:  Never really out but sometimes it swings more and I think it’s due time again. It’s about the environment ya’ll.

Out – Alpha Males:  Hahahahaha.

Out – Group Shows:  I think they have truly become the cliché that they are and now they know better then to exist. Now, it’s the two-three person show max sort of vibe.

In – 2000s:  I am too old for these trends (I lived it mannnn!) but it’s sorta funny. Like how, why, did Sketchers become ‘cool.’ I die now.

Out – Institutional Racism:  Still happening, will be for maybe forever but it suckkkks and at least people are like, yup, that sucks.

In – Color:  Will Black and white ever be out? NEVER! But color is back! In art, clothes, all of it.

In – Works on paper:  Watercolors, drawings, even dare I say, printmaking, is in-in-in. Or will soon be popping again. I feel like people don’t have the urgency to prove things in scales and materials in the same way and that’s a good thing, or at least refreshing.

Out – Resin:  It’s bad for you, and there is just too much of it. I mean, there are a handful who work with it really well (continue please) but for the rest of you, please stop!

Out – Intellectual Snobbery:  Being like actually smart is so always in but being quotational is so passé and eye-roll. Like does anyone even metion e-flux anymore? Haha. But seriously people, be smart, read.

In – Privacy:  So much is exposed these days that privacy is really hot.

In – All Things Asian:  Very partial about this one (duh) but yeah, Asia is where it’s at and it is seeping (slowly) into mainstream and it will change everything.

Out – Podcasts:  I do one but yeah, I know the end is nigh.

Out – Tattoos:  Sorry kids but ya just did it too darn much.

In – Body Hair:  Gals, let those pits and legs fur out!

Out – Saddies:  We get it, your sad. Use it as source material or shut up about it.

In – Voting:  Took a long ass time but finally, voting may actually be seen as cool and hopefully everyone participates.

Out – Toxic Masculinity:  We know you are a victim of the system as well but jezz! Get your shit together and wake up!

Out – Victimization: Sort of the same as the above but flipped. Empathy is a two way street.

In – Venmo:  Or other apps to pay/request money. Hello micro-entrepenurs and the end of cheap ass friends who dip on the bill.

In – Alice Aycock:  And her ilk. Just you wait and see!

Out – Decadence:  We see you. We all see you.

Out – Judgement:  Open minds, open hearts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Love as the Practice of Freedom - bell hooks

Oh my god, I completely forgot to blog on Monday. Forgive me. I’m off work, in vacation mode and I’ve been reveling in my lack of structure.

Below is something to fill in space till next time. Happy summer.

“Love as the Practice of Freedom”
bell hooks

Social commentator, essayist, memoirist, and poet bell hooks (née Gloria Jean Watkins) is a feminist theorist who speaks on contemporary issues of race, gender, and media representation in America. Her many books include Ain't I a Woman (1981), Talking Back (1989), Killing Rage: Ending Racism (1995), Outlaw Culture (1994), and Remembered Rapture (1999). In Black Looks (1994), she writes, "It struck me that for black people, the pain of learning that we cannot control our images, how we see ourselves (if our vision is not decolonized), or how we are seen is so intense that it rends us. It rips and tears at the seams of our efforts to construct self and identify." In Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations (1994), hooks advocates a "progressive cultural revolution" by means of repudiating all forms of domination in a "holistic manner." In order to decolonize our minds, suggests hooks, we must begin to "surrender participation in whatever sphere of coercive hierarchical domination we enjoy individual and group privilege." In the essay that follows from that book, hooks proposes an "ethic of love" as the means by which we might be guided to turn away from an ethic of domination.

In this society, there is no powerful discourse on love emerging either from politically progressive radicals or from the Left. The absence of a sustained focus on love in progressive circles arises from a collective failure to acknowledge the needs of the spirit and an overdetermined emphasis on material concerns. Without love, our efforts to liberate ourselves and our world community from oppression and exploitation are doomed. As long as we refuse to address fully the place of love in struggles for liberation we will not be able to create a culture of conversion where there is a mass turning away from an ethic of domination.

Without an ethic of love shaping the direction of our political vision and our radical aspirations, we are often seduced, in one way or the other, into continued allegiance to systems of domination—imperialism, sexism, racism, classism. It has always puzzled me that women and men who spend a lifetime working to resist and oppose one form of domination can be systematically supporting another. I have been puzzled by powerful visionary black male leaders who can speak and act passionately in resistance to racial domination and accept and embrace sexist domination of women, by feminist white women who work daily to eradicate sexism but who have major blind spots when it comes to acknowledging and resisting racism and white supremacist domination of the planet. Critically examining these blind spots, I conclude that many of us are motivated to move against domination solely when we feel our self-interest directly threatened. Often, then, the longing is not for a collective transformation of society, an end to politics of dominations, but rather simply for an end to what we feel is hurting us. This is why we desperately need an ethic of love to intervene in our selfcentered longing for change. Fundamentally, if we are only committed to an improvement in that politic of domination that we feel leads directly to our individual exploitation or oppression, we not only remain attached to the status quo but act in complicity with it, nurturing and maintaining those very systems of domination. Until we are all able to accept the interlocking, interdependent nature of systems of domination and recognize specific ways each system is maintained, we will continue to act in ways that undermine our individual quest for freedom and collective liberation struggle.

The ability to acknowledge blind spots can emerge only as we expand our concern about politics of domination and our capacity to care about the oppression and exploitation of others. A love ethic makes this expansion possible. The civil rights movement transformed society in the United States because it was fundamentally rooted in a love ethic. No leader has emphasized this ethic more than Martin Luther King, jr. He had the prophetic insight to recognize that a revolution built on any other foundation would fail. Again and again, King testified that he had "decided to love" because he believed deeply that if we are "seeking the highest good" we "find it through love" because this is "the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality." And the point of being in touch with a transcendent reality is that we struggle for justice, all the while realizing that we are always more than our race, class, or sex. When I look back at the civil rights movement which was in many ways limited because it was a reformist effort, I see that it had the power to move masses of people to act in the interest of racial justice—and because it was profoundly rooted in a love ethic. The sixties Black Power movement shifted away from that love ethic.

The emphasis was now more on power. And it is not surprising that the sexism that had always undermined the black liberation struggle intensified, that a misogynist approach to women became central as the equation of freedom with patriarchal manhood became a norm among black political leaders, almost all of whom were male. Indeed, the new militancy of masculinist black power equated love with weakness, announcing that the quintessential expression of freedom would be the willingness to coerce, do violence, terrorize, indeed utilize the weapons of domination. This was the crudest embodiment of Malcolm X's bold credo "by any means necessary."

On the positive side, Black Power movement shifted the focus of black liberation struggle from reform to revolution. This was an important political development, bringing with it a stronger anti-imperialist, global perspective. However, masculinist sexist biases in leadership led to the suppression of the love ethic.

Monday, July 30, 2018

What's Up With The Art and Food Trend?

Is it just me or does there seem to be an overflow of art/food related events, pop-ups, gatherings, theme based eves and all the rest? I’m such an actual participator in it, so I can’t say I’m surprised, but it has become soooo on trend that it makes me pause and wonder…

The hopeless contrarian in me always wrinkles the nose when there is just too much of anything happening all at once (especially in the arts) and this new trend; the intersecting of art, creativity, expression, community and food, is just too glaring to ignore.

Of course, of course, food and art have always been entwined or adjacent in some ways. It’s the first subject matter humans actually thought fit to draw on cave walls and it the always-accommodating subject for still life or symbolism. What is fascinating to me about today’s trend though is the idea of ‘community.’

These feeding/food centric events are mostly a way in which people can coalesce and share in something together. The fact that it is food makes the accessibility level low if not always equal. The idea of lifestyle being refined, educated, and elite in some way can be accessed by food more swiftly and cheaply, thus making it a wonderful medium to work with.

Not all food is trying to be superior but there is still always this idea of ‘lifestyle.’ The way one lives is no longer satiated by the exteriority of things. Clothes, labels, ugg so passé. The market of goods and access to them has become so overpopulated that it no longer has the sparkle of uniqueness or rarity.

Food on the other hand is so de rigueur. It can be molded into a story, an experience, it is a door to histories, and a laboratory to futures. It is ingestible alchemy that makes us feel imbued with life, energy, and power because it is literally our source of energy.

We can also indulge in food, eating in a way that is not permissible in other material forms. We NEED to eat, so the act of doing the necessary in a stylized and experiential way comes with little guilt. But gluttons, beware. Other food trends like mukbang can also reflect our times but in possibly more perverse and twisted ways. Instead, the art/food/lifestyle is far more evolved and practically free of moral quandary (on the surface).

So what are these food events and why are they arty? Well because back to that word, community. Art world or art affiliated people that have varying skills from truly cheffy to proficient home cooks organize an event and the attendees are basically all artists or art professionals. There is a love of natural wines, prix fix menus, flowers, and vague mood lighting.

They also cost money. Most are around $25-$40 per person with add-ons of drinks and extra dishes. They are usually in private spaces and require an RSVP. The money, I imagine, goes to the ingredients in large part but have no doubt, there is some profit being made. Probably not a lot in early events but the end game is never really just to squeak by… To counter this ask of money, which can be sacrilegious to ask of ‘the community,’ most events give some of the proceeds to an organization working on behalf of a hot topic issue. Right now it’s border and immigration policies.

I think this is a great gesture. I truly do. But there is something to be wary of when making money requires an asterisk of any sort. But I guess that’s the reality of things and better something then nothing right? Actually, I think it’s a win-win in my heart of hearts but something deep in me still whispers (no…).

Enough of the self-conversation though!

I’m not sure how long this trend will last. It might be here for a while or just another few months. We will see the burn out or the growth as it comes. I really do enjoy it though. It’s like we are all tired of just standing in a room drinking, being hot and not actually seeing any of the art anymore so we said screw it, let’s eat! We want to be more civilized! We want to support people whose skills are ingested and not just put into a storage spaces. It’s a fun thing but am I suspicious? Not sure why, but yes, I's just a gut instinct but perhaps it's just a whole lot of hot air.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Jonathan Gold

This immensely life loving food writer passed away this weekend. Here is a review or two to remember his wit and panache for language.

Jonathan Gold's 99 Essential LA Restaurants
NOVEMBER 12, 2008 – LA Weekly

If there were such a thing as a Los Angeles cuisine, I suspect it would probably be a lot like what they serve at Houston’s, which is to say the market-tested version of the grill-happy, big-flavor, salad-intensive cooking pioneered decades ago at places like the original Spago.

We can examine the way local food has insinuated itself into the national food culture, and we can name dozens of local dishes, including L.A. galbi, California rolls, Caesar salad, gourmet meatloaf, designer tamales and McDonald’s fries, which are prepared all over the world. We can look at the way that farmers market produce has become so essential that certain carrots and berries have achieved something close to celebrity status, or we could look at the continuing importance of Urban Rustic cuisine, where entertainment executives pay big money for the privilege of eating like Tuscan peasants. There is the vitality of our immigrant communities, of course, and the quality of Asian and Latin-American food rarely approached in other parts of the country, and the continuing abundance of small-plates restaurants geared to the palates of promiscuous aesthetes unable to commit to a single entrée.

Even more so this year, there is the rise of the hypermasculine restaurant, where chefs take the same kind of fierce pride in their arcane meats and cheeses they probably used to take in their record collections. Their whites are always stained with blood, and they exult in the hard labor and difficult conditions of even the modern restaurant kitchen. I include women in this formula: One of my favorite new hypermasculine restaurants, a Skid Row breakfast dive called the Nickel, is actually owned and run by women.

So what is an essential Los Angeles restaurant? It is where your scrambled eggs come flavored with hyper-reality, where the plums are the sweetest, where you occasionally have to be reminded that you are neither in Osaka nor Guadalajara nor Panicale, that you are sometimes most in L.A.

Where Does a Restaurant Critic Go When He's Not on the Clock?
FEBRUARY 1, 2012 – LA Weekley

I am often asked where I eat when I am not on the clock, when the agenda includes neither distant anticucherias nor Korean silkworm soup. And the answer I have not quite given, although I probably end up there once a week, is the Pasadena takeout stand Burrito Express, although if pressed I will also profess my admiration for the roast beef grinders at nearby Connal's, the Armenian sujuk sandwiches at Torino and the spicy takeout salads at Garni. It's not a bad neighborhood in which to be hungry.

Burrito Express probably is most famous for a scheme it once had for FedExing burritos to homesick Angelenos around the country, for its rice-laden Ito Burrito, named after the O.J. judge, and for a saucy, overstuffed mess called the JVC. You could get enchiladas, taquitos with truly dreadful guacamole, or nachos. A sign advertises tortas, although I have never seen anybody actually order one.

What Burrito Express does best is the old-fashioned L.A. burrito: honest beans, a bit of cheese and a spoonful of stew. Will it make you forgo the considerable pleasures of Al & Bea's, Lupe's #2 or even J&S? Is it a deadly bludgeon in the war against the atrocities of Fresh-Mex, Mission burritos or food-court wraps? Not quite. But the tightly wrapped burrito, especially when the filling is long-simmered green chiles with pork, is exactly the size of lunch.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Jasper Spicero, The Glady Day

Currently on view at the Times Square Space is Jasper Spicero’s exhibition The Glady Day. I had heard that he had a show up in New York somewhere but I’ve been apt to keep things off my radar of late so I was pleasantly pleased to find that it was a few floors down from another totally unrelated visit in the same building.

What is this place? Was the first thought that came to mind when entering the building that is right smack dab in the middle of the cultural/consumer hellscape that is Times Square. It is the expected architectural expression of steel, glass, AC and corporatized sterility and polish. The show is on the 11th floor and there are student workers that card scan you up and down the elevators.

What is this place? Is asked again when you arrive on the 11th floor. It is exactly what you think a floor in this type of building would look like. Grey, blue, carpeted office space, which is both non-descript and non-offensive. The rooms’ layout and pre-fab design remain intact and inside the rooms there are sculptures, objects, and arrangements of what may be called moments. Some are empty. Some are vaguely taped shut so you can only look from outside in. You think, ‘institution,’ very quickly by the impact resistant meshed glass, the slightly low height of the space and the carpeted muffling of sound.

The vacancy in the space is permeating; perhaps stifling at points and that is sharply contrasted by the views outside which are the ghastly overabundance of tourism. The bareness and quietness in the rooms and the objects feel like things left behind. Like when one moves out of a space and means to get what was left behind but somehow forgets or doesn’t bother to. Themes and colors are repeated in the works as well. Blues, birds, things made of wood, and fabric all interlock and create visual and narrative repetitions.

In addition to the works in the rooms, there is the central brain of the show, the video The Glady Day that is about a boy and presents a third party observational witnessing to a form of therapy. The video was made with Wills Baker (who also co-curated the show with Tiffany Zubludowicz) and is supposed to be the key to all that surrounds it, but for me, it was a bit flat. It felt a bit too intentional and there was something simply dull about it, but perhaps that’s my lack of imagination. Regardless of my opinion, it is important and the structural skeleton in which the objects and the entire installation relies.

The most compelling section was the room adjacent to the video area, which felt like an opened out doctor’s office/waiting room. There were charming and enlivening paintings on the wall that were apparently made by prisoners. There was a reptile, bird skeleton like chair, a bird with a necklace around it’s neck and metal scissors open to cut on a desk.

This balance of alive/dead and untouched/touched is extremely effecting in this show. The blur of what is a trace and what is just in wait of action makes the objects, the rooms, and the space, feel inhabited. The press release goes into Spicero’s interest in the ideas of institutionalized/ing of spaces and this fascination translates very succinctly in this show.

The idea of a branding/culting of selfhood through the programming of identity and how space infers and creates that sense of self knowledge is linked with the tonalities of uniforms, objects and structures in a way that is both passive and pervasive. I’m not sure what the whole situation is regarding Times Square Spacethe hearsay behind it may add another complicating layer…but nonetheless I have to commend this show as it feels like it is exactly were it is supposed to be.