Monday, July 25, 2011

Blinky Palermo: Retrospective 1964-1977, CCS Bard, Annandale-on-Hudson NY & Dia: Beacon, Beacon NY


If you only see one show this summer see Blinky Palermo’s retrospective which is currently installed at CCS Bard and at Dia: Beacon. Go to Bard first. These are the early works 1964-1970ish when Palermo was a mere 21-27 years of age. Some of these earlier works belies Palermo’s influences; Beuys, Knoebel…but they also posses this eye gaping astonishment. Within this exhibition there are some perfect pieces of art, just so damn good it makes your chest clench. It’s a disservice to describe, just go see it. Most wonderful to see in real life are the cloth paintings, the seams, THE SEAMS. There is unimagined sensitivity and history in those seams. Then go to Dia and in those hallowed walls you can see the zippity clean, color spatial genius of Palermo’s “mature works” (he was 32ish). His German flag colored (posthumously titled) To The People of New York, 1976 is a wall poem or actually good jazz. This display is concertedly more austere but being in the Dia catacombs gives it gravitas and firm posterity in certain fields of art history which is good in this case. The Dia installation is the first time that just looking at colors made my eyes hurt, effecting retinal strobing eye ball seizures.



Instead of going on and on about the, oh my good godness of this show, I will embark instead to contextualize these works and this young German fellow with an unlikely moniker. He was born Peter Schwarze in Leipzig, 1943, was adopted with his twin brother (what in the world happened to that twin?!) and his name became Peter Heisterkamp. He was taken under the tutelage of Beuys when he attended the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. He visited his friend Gerhard Richter in New York in 1970 and then moved there in 1973.



Like many post WWII Germans, Palermo is said to have had a fascination with all things American. The time in which he made these works, even though mostly in Germany, was saturated by American culture and most especially its music. Who knows what Palermo was actually listening to really, but the below are a few songs that may bring to mind the time this young twenty-something was being influenced by. These songs are selected in particular to reflect my unrequited love for Palermo, as a man and as an artist.



Palermo died mysteriously in 1977 at 33 (Jesus age) in Maldives. He is now a member of the dead-too-early-beautiful-gifted art club, a club we all grossly glom onto, and like its other members, Palermo’s death is viscerally sad in that he never had time to fail and also that it was so obvious he had so much to work out and bring to the table. Some artists make it because they work hard as hell and don’t give a fuck who says otherwise. Others, like Palermo, are gifted. Can art be a gift? With Palermo as example, yes.



Now here are some tunes…


Supremes – Where Did Our Love Go? 1964


Baby, baby
Baby don't leave me
Ooh, please don't leave me
All by myself

I've got this yearning, burning
Yearning feelin' inside me
Ooh, deep inside me
And it hurts so bad

You came into my heart
So tenderly
With a burning love
That stings like a bee

Now that I surrender
So helplessly
You now wanna leave
Ooh, you wanna leave me

Ooh, baby, baby
Where did our love go?
Ooh, don't you want me
Don't you want me no more

Ooh, baby
Baby, baby
Where did our love go
And all your promisses
Of a love forever more

I've got this yearning, burning
Yearning feelin' inside me
Ooh, deep inside me
And it hurts so bad

Before you won my heart
You were a perfect guy
But now that you got me
You wanna leave me behind
Baby, baby, ooh baby

Baby, baby don't leave me
Ooh, please don't leave me
All by myself

Ooh, baby, baby
Where did our love go?



Rolling Stones, Paint It Black Lyrics, 1966

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

I see a line of cars and they're all painted black
With flowers and my love, both never to come back
I see people turn their heads and quickly look away
Like a newborn baby it just happens ev'ryday

No more will my green sea go turn a deeper blue
I could not forsee this thing happening to you
If I look hard enough into the setting sun
My love will laugh with me before the morning comes
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/r/rolling+stones/paint+it+black_20117875.html ]
I look inside myself and see my heart is black
I see my red door and it has been painted black
Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts
It's not easy facing up when your whole world is black

I see a red door and I want it painted black
No colors anymore I want them to turn black
I see the girls walk by dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head until my darkness goes

Hmm, hmm, hmm...

I wanna see it painted black, painted black
Black as night, black as coal
I wanna see the sun, blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black
Yeah

Hmm, hmm, hmm...



The Guess Who, These Eyes, 1969



These eyes cry every night for you.
These arms long to hold you again.
The hurtin’s on me yeah,
But I will never be free no my baby, no no.
You gave a promise to me yeah and you broke it, you broke it. Oh, no.

These eyes watched you bring my world to an end.
This heart could not accept and pretend.
The hurtin’s on me yeah,
But I will never be free no no no.
You took the vow with me yeah.
You spoke it, you spoke it, babe.

These eyes are cryin’
These eyes have seen a lot of loves
But they’re never gonna see another one like I had with you.
These eyes are cryin’
These eyes have seen a lot of loves
But they’re never gonna see another one like I had with you.

These eyes are cryin’
These eyes have seen a lot of loves
But they’re never gonna see another one like I had with you.

These eyes cry every night for you.
These arms, these arms long to hold you, hold you again.
These eyes are cryin’
These eyes have seen a lot of loves
But they’re never gonna see another one like I had with you.
These eyes are cryin’
These eyes have seen a lot of loves
But they’re never gonna see another one like I had with you.
These eyes are cryin’
These eyes have seen a lot of loves
But they’re never gonna see another one like I had with you.
These eyes are cryin’
These eyes have seen a lot of loves
But they’re never gonna see another one like I had with you.
Baby, baby, baby, baby.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jon Leon, Elizabeth Zoë Lindsey Drink Fanta, Content, 2011


It came in the mail, it was unexpected, it was a thin slice of a book, white with muted teal text and four circles with pong dashes. It came with a note (not to me personally) from the book’s author, Jon Leon in the form of a statement. I read the statement, it was interesting. I opened the book and inside there were black and white cropped photos, screen grabs, of Elizabeth (Berkley), Zoë (Lund), Lindsey (Lohan) Fanta (a carbonated sugary beverage) and a couple of other things. It didn’t stop time and space, but it did something. It is something that you look at and then it sort of seeps in and you are compelled to look at over and over again.


It has been a week or so since I received this unexpected book and it has stayed with me. Leon has stayed with me. The girls have stayed with me. These women are actresses of a certain type. Seen, used and a damaged by their roles as sex pots, they tier a few generations starting with Zoë Lund, who I was unfamiliar with, that stared in Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45 in 1981 (she was 19 or so) and also co-wrote and had a small part in Bad Lieutenant in 1991. She died of an over dose via cocaine at the age of 37. Her face recalls Anna Karina and Anne Hathaway but doped up and possibly just punched. Her face is different than today’s girls; it is darker with thicker eyebrows. Her face is not included as often as Elizabeth or Lindsey’s but its placement grounds the sequences giving the other images weight and mortal tragedy.


The 90s are represented by Elizabeth Berkley, specifically as her role as Nomi Malone in the 1995 movie, Showgirls. This movie scalded any remembrance of Jesse Spano of Saved By The Bell days which Berkley stared in from 1989-1993, at the age of 17. In her infamous role as this Vegas show girl, Berkley’s (then 23) performance bizarrely twisted pornography and network TV personas. In Leon’s book she is always Nomi. The money shot Leon uses most is when Berkley is licking the stripper pole, tongue out, hair curly, eyes come hither. This still is especially emphasized half way through the book where half page images become full page repetitions creating a double sided quad.


And then there is Lindsey Lohan. Oh Lindsey…The situation of Lindsey is just too much, too warped, too everything that is fucked up with everything that this is right now. All these things are too innumerable to go into here, but the fact that she is very hot and very messed up is exactly why she is in this book. Lohan is 25 years old, has been hoofing it since she was 12 and has been to more rehabs, courtrooms, and DJ booths than is ever necessary. In Leon’s book she is not playing a character but herself. Paparazzi shots made to look like movie vignettes. Her eyes are sad, her face photogenic beyond fairness. She starts the book and her company with Zoë and Elizabeth makes the book all very right now.


Lastly there is Fanta. The fourth element is visual respite, a nostalgic reference along with a few other inanimate images that effectively tunes the book in its first half.


So is this a book. It is, because its physicality says so, but it is something else too. Leon presents this as an art book and it is his “first book that is not writing.” In an interview in The Faster Times, Content’s creator James Copeland, says that Content is, “there to be a rectangular space that an individual impulse can occupy for 80 pages.” This idealization has been attempted by many others before, but here, with Leon, it is actually done. This feels like a poem, the way the images are registered onto the page, the consistency of the cropping and the cinematic mid-shift psychology. This is a flip book of a sad song you vaguely remember listening to while smoking a pack of cigarettes and masturbating in a dark humid room. This book appears to be easy but it isn’t. This book seems glib, but it isn’t. It is unnerving and smart as hell and it makes you want to have Leon ask you to walk into the ocean with him with all your clothes on or drink rum and cokes at a Latin bar. Leon’s statement that came with the book also makes Elizabeth Zoë Lindsey Drink Fanta a window into his fascinations. It speaks of his self determined dissolution within “the scene,” with poetry, with whatever idea it means to be the idea of him. Lines that stuck out to reflect this are, “But truly, it’s more interesting to be a poet who wants to be a banker, than to be a banker who wants to be a poet. I thought of all these ways I could out myself as a banker.” He also refers to Baudrillard’s Symbolic Exchange of Death:



There is fashion from the moment that a form is no longer produced according to its own determinations, but from the model itself- that is to say, that it is never produced, but always and immediately reproduced. The model itself has become the only system of reference.



Leon ends his statement with “I want everything touchable right now.” These words, this context isn’t the piece in itself, unlike the failings of some Conceptual Art, the book holds its own without the text, but the sharpness, the tightness of the way that Leon writes his poems, this statement, whatever else, transfers in this book without strain.



This is the first of Content’s quarterly series, I rarely link but you should go here, http://www.contentseries.com/ to get a copy. Also read Leon’s statement in full that came with this book, http://agioteurs.tumblr.com/post/3993585241/death-of-the-model.