Monday, November 26, 2012

Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, New Museum, New York, NY

Rosemarie Trockel is an artist’s artist and although I’m not an artist, I am a huge fan of her work and that makes the disappointment of her current exhibition at the New Museum even more awkward. Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos, is a three-floored exhibition, including some stairways, and it is a mini-retrospective in some ways.  It formulates itself as a survey not only of her own work but also of her influences.  It is within the formulation that the failures occur and most surprisingly in the arrangement, display and general installation, which you think would not be the biggest issues when a museum is the presenter.

Throughout the show, which is curated by Lynne Cooke in collaboration with Trockel and with additional support by Massimilano Gioni and Jenny Moore, there are systems of seeing and of contextualizing that hark on ways of presentation found in science, academia, and other forms of institutionalized display.  This reliance on these methods inadvertently, or possibly advertently, sucks out much of the magic and the humor that makes Trockel so formidable in her own influence.  This technique was first seen on the fourth floor which is oddly the way shows start, from the top down.  Here there are a collection of zines, books, pamphlets and drawings by Trockel that ranged from 1980s to the 2000s and they are a fine selection to view as they show her wit and her unhinged imagination with words, images and quick release of both.  The somber display of a considered height with a slight slant to the shelf with a painted brown back runner and clear acrylic case, was highly practical yet sufficiently dull.  Display of such materials always seems to be problematic at best but there was something notable in the full embrace of that tendency for failure here.  Also, the use of books, as a tool of subversion but also as a tool of authority to the artist and to the contents and gestures, made heavy imprint in the way the rest of the show could be viewed.

The rest of this floor has some very nice sculptures in ceramics with fantastic glazes, like platinum, as well as the use of furniture as sculpture.  The ceramics are hung mostly on the wall and they are great to see but they seem lost and somehow just arranged in an unimagined way.  The sofa sculpture and the platform with fabric draped over seems off in contrast with the ceramics, it’s like a home furniture display that forgot the big ticket items.  This odd lacking of something carries throughout the exhibit including the third floor that has Trockel’s knit canvases. She is well known for these yarn paintings and these are always wonderful to see in real life as the tactility and hues of them are as engaging as the concepts behind them.  The selection is a bit uneven and it feels as if they had to work with only what was available versus what may be the best. The works that have unknit yarn stretched over the stretcher bars to create a minimalist string painting were notably uninspiring.  In addition to Trockel’s work, this floor also included the work of Judith Scott, an outsider artist who makes wrapped abstract forms out of yarn, string and other fabric remnants. Her work is very-very good regardless of her labeling and the inclusion of many strong works by her is fitting but the combination of Scott’s and Trockel’s yarn works in the same room as it was installed felt like a hindrance to both women.  Also, Scott’s pieces were so strong it almost seemed to suck the light away from Trockel’s.

The finale on the second floor seemed to be the brain of the show.  Here the “cosmology” of Trockel’s influences converges in addition to some of her more stellar pieces.   One method of this display recalls the fourth floor’s old timey scientific display, which mixes Trockel’s own curiosities of flora and fauna with those wonderfully detailed naturalism illustrations. The systems of categorizing, labeling and ordering through the scientific methodologies of the past are heavily emphasized.  This again brings to point the act of legitimizing, of giving the author, in this case Trockel, authority over her subject, or the ideas behind the visuality of it.  This is in no way a fault but there is something too transparent in the act that lacks surprise to any degree.  In the other side of this floor are large rectangular clear boxes that act as curios of her influences that range from spectacular outsider artists like James Castle and Morton Bartlett to contemporaries and nearly forgotten aesthetic compatriots.  The objects are interesting; the gathering of them impressive but again the display seems to vacuum seal any life away.  It is not all terrible though, within the suite of collected specimens there are standouts, one in particular, a large crab on top of a clear box that has her signature fabric patterns, is one the best objects around.  This is the problematic aspect of this entire show. There are so many incredible pieces but somehow not arranged in a way that lets them act that way. 

This is a show that has all the components for a fabulously successful exhibition.  The work is there; the ideas are there, the timing is just right, as Trockel’s name and influence has been in resurgence over the past few years.  She is a fantastic, smart, worthy to be recognized artist who will continue to be an artists’ artist so the concern of her legacy is not tainted.  But, it is incredibly frustrating to see all these good parts, all the makings of a show that could re-spark or introduce for the first time her work to a new generation.  The show did not fail so much as just fizzle away into dullness.  I love Trockel’s work, her punk attitude, but if I hadn’t already and this was my first dose, I would have just blinked the whole show away.  The show’s overall structure is smart and makes more then perfect sense with Trockel’s art and life, it does invigorate many of the most important things about her own work and hopefully next time this is presented or re-imagined there will be a balance of the formulas with the aesthetics, because if one thing is for certain about Trockel, it is that she makes wonderful things to look at and to puzzle out what it all means.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Breaking Up Sucks

There is nothing crappier to have to go through then a breakup.  There are various degrees of suckage dependant on time together, seriousness, feelings felt but no matter how you bake it, it is just the worst.  What’s funny about the whole thing is that everyone feels the same, at various degrees, of the same emotions and symptoms that occur from a breakup.  It consumes the mind and makes the simplest of things seem like great feats of accomplishment, like waking up, eating, sleeping, putting on clothes.  There is something assuring but also annoying that everyone feels the same things and that you know, they know, everyone knows that it will get better and you will get over it and things will just be just fine with time and distance.  But still you have to go through it to get to this golden place of emotional sunshine and god dang does going through it suck.  I have gone through this many times in the past and will probably go through it many times more (dear god I hope not) and watching friends both gals and guys go through it really makes one realize that as much as you can empathize with another human being and try to comfort them we are all singular universes within ourselves.  All we can do is get through it, help out when we can for those going through it and to know that life is a mess but worth it.

Below are some tips on breaking up how tos, dos and don’ts.  I’ve done or broken all on them myself at some point or another so don’t feel bad about it if you do too.  May we all find love or something close to resembling it one day.

Cry A Lot – It will help you fall asleep eventually.

Drink with Friends – Drinking by yourself will only lead to trouble.

Talk with Friends, Especially of the Same Sex – Commiseration is key to survival.

Don’t Drunk Call – Never

Don’t Drunk Text – Ever

Makeover – Face, hair, clothing, anything to make you feel like the not you that was with them.

Don’t Beg – Never a good look.

Don’t Be Cruel – Even if you’re the dumper, be nice, it’ll make things go quicker.

Don’t Ask For Favors of Ex – Makes them think there is a possibility for a second chance, which there isn’t.

Don’t Hang Out with Ex’s Friends – Even if you developed a friendship with them during tenure with ex, they are NOT your friends.  They are their friends. 

Listen to Music – Sad love songs or otherwise.  It’ll make you feel like you are not alone.

Eat Spicy Foods – Helps if you have no appetite.

Eat Sweets – You deserve it.

Clean Apartment – Results you can see.

Call People – Anyone, everyone.

Tell Everyone You Know – So that it sinks in as reality.

Make Out With A Stranger – One that you would never want to make out again with.

Stay Home – No one wants a sad person at a dinner party.

Stay in Bed – You deserve it.

Watch Movies – In bed preferably.

Walk – Helps to think, fresh air is good.

Exercise – I don’t but I heard it helps.

Read – Fiction.

Take Lots of Showers or Baths – Hot water = remember the womb time.

Go on Dates – Even if you don’t want to or like them, it will help you remember you a’ight.

Hug A Cat – If you don’t have one, borrow one.

Watch Cat/Animal/Cute Things Online – Works every time.

Go See Art – Makes things seem small.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Things I Want

It’s going to be my birthday soon. 31 ya’ll.  Gah! Luckily, I’m Asian so I look somewhere between 16 and 45 at any given time dependant on what I wear and what mood I’m in.  It’s also holiday shopping season, or feels like that on the retail streets of this city, and although I hate going into stores and purchase gifts online the week before x-mas, I still have the itch to buy stuff, for myself usually, with all the “Sale!” displays around.  Retail therapy isn’t really my thing but it helps sometimes when you feel the vast bleakness of it all and you just want something, anything to wear, hold, or use to make your face, body, lifestyle seem enriched or slightly less meaningless.  Below is a list of things I want, in object form and otherwise.  Most times I want to get rid of all that surrounds me, to be a little monk in a cave, but I’m a gal living in this time and space and there are so many things that sparkle and so many personalities to become.  Until the day I really say, “goodbye world” via old age, alien invasion, natural cataclysm or a jump off the GW bridge I will always want stuff to make a newer, better, more actualized version of myself that I will be happy to replace with new stuff and thoughts as my whims demand.   Enjoy, get paid, and remember money can’t buy you happiness.

Fancy Bag – I want a big fancy, New York worthy running around bag that will last for 100+ years and can fit my lunch, New Yorker and a cat if I need to emergency escape this city.  Where is this bag?  Where is this perfect big black bag?

Winter Boots – I need winter boots that I can walk around in, like walk miles and over bridges in.  Black size 5.5 women’s.

Vacuum - I have 2 cats.  I have broken 3 vacuums via vacuuming their fur.

Down Comforter – I have no insulation in my bedroom so winter is cold as heck up in here.  I want a fat hot goose (no synthetics) comforter, Queen Size, ethically sourced.

Socks – One can never have too many winter socks.

Knives – For the kitchen.  Good knives are like good make out sessions for food.

Basketball Tickets – Knicks and at least 1 Nets game so I can see the new stadium.

Hockey Tickets – Hockey boys are sexy.

Opera Tickets – Never been.

Symphony Tickets – Never been.

Gold Earrings – 14k or above only.

Art – I want a few sculptures and paintings that are not too crappy.

New Cabinets – I hate my kitchen cabinets, staring at them right now makes me sad.

Plants – That take care of themselves and give me cleaner oxygen.

Cabin in the Woods – For sexy weekends, alone time, making God’s Eyes and chopping wood.

Beach Vacation – For sexy time, water therapy, pretending to be in a music video and cultural domination guilt.

Learn How to Speak Another Language – And then never speak it.

PhD – Seems useful.

French Press – Mine leaks too much.

New Glasses – Something from Maison Martin Margiela’s new line.

Music – Someone/everyone download music and put onto my computer and i-phone while I sleep please.

Fancy Underwear – But made of 100% cotton.

Adjoining Apartment for My Cats – I’m a hostage to them in my own.

World Peace – Just in case.

Christian Dior’s Spring 2013 Ready to Wear Line – Ya!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Anyone living in the NYC tri-state area has been consumed with all things Hurricane Sandy for the past week.  Starting dimly last Sunday and then going full force on Monday, Hurricane Sandy, and its up to 90 mile per hour winds, swelled sea levels, flattened coastlines and shut down power for millions.  Anyone who has been around knows all this and the degrees of the storms effects range from nearly nothing, like my own personal case living in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn which had power and all else throughout, to extreme, as was felt in low lying areas throughout the region, some still having no power or basic essentials to date. 

Having a full week to reel and wait for the storm’s effects to surface and to subside caused a minor case of cabin fever and also a sense of surveying disaster exploration mode.  I walked over the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan a few times throughout the week to see the aftermaths in various neighborhoods including the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Ground Zero, Times Square, and Chelsea.  It is in Chelsea that the storm’s effect on the art world was starkest.  Some galleries, mostly the coveted ground floor spaces, that are located from the West Side Highway up to 10th Ave between 19th-29th streets had water lines up to four feet, cra-zy.  Walking around, going in and peaking into gallery spaces totally wreaked that are venues for the crème de la crème of the contemporary art felt heavy, odd, and more then slightly unbelievable. 

I don’t know what is going to happen because of the demolished state this storm left these galleries, and others in effected downtown areas, I can’t get my brain around it.  I don’t know how it will change the short term or the long term of individuals, businesses, or careers for all involved but things will definitely change for sure.  There is a reflexive critique for some about how the art world is, the way that it seems stacked and indebted and moneyed and so far from an ideal that never existed.  There is at times a wish that the art world would change or that something would make it right or for it to be flushed out somehow.  This is vaguely alluring in this situation but seeing the total seriousness of it all and how terribly sad it is for art, for people, and for livelihoods makes that wish feel so very juvenile and indecent. I hope that these galleries will grow stronger from this, I have an inkling they will. The meaning of art, the landscape in both physical and psychological terms will all shift from this storm though, at least in New York’s centricity and specifically Chelsea as the art district.  It will be interesting to see what happens, what grows, moves, or folds because of this. 

One last thing on this whole storm thing.  Disaster Tourism.  The overwhelming need, desire and physical participation to be at the center of a disaster so there can be a collective and mementoed experience of being a part of and having authority in the history of an event or a situation. I’m guilty of this to degrees myself; this is not to disclaim that.  I do believe that volunteerism is necessary.  Lives were lost, homes destroyed, people need help but there is something also in the fervor, tone and manner in which this is at times done that seems very polluted with self satisfaction and mob mentality.  We have so little to believe in these days, I guess the quest to participate at the locusts of disaster is as honest a place as any to feel that forgotten kick of survival instincts.  Call me jaded, call me a jerk, call me whatever it is you want to call me for mentioning this but I can’t help feel that there is something very unsettling and possibly even morally dangerous about how some of these acts and some of these efforts are manifested.  Maybe this is all practice for the coming apocalypse.  If it is you can all say I told you so.