Monday, July 30, 2012

Capitalism Has Taken Over My Summer So Now I Can Only Give You This:

When is it going to feel like summer?! Not in the heat wave way but as in when does this art sailboat dock in for a moment so we can shake our sea legs?  Capitalism is kicking my butt.  Another week has passed in a delirious way and I’m sorry to be so dull but I’ve got nothing in me to give that is of any use.  It’s 5:13pm, I want to watch Olympics, catch up on New Yorkers and drink a glass of wine, so to hasten all these things I offer the below, a quick-list of gossip, art world one-liners, thoughts, and a whole lot of blah-de-blahness to make this at least look long, like vertical stripes to make one appear taller. 

OLYMPICS - Sexxxxxy time for the eyes and nationalism!  A whole lotta amazingness that is human bodies, form, and the desire to achieve.  People who don’t get the awesomeness of sports need to just get a grip, take a hike and chill the heck out.  Go USA! Go South Korea! Go any country where this sort of glory has more meaning then sponsorship deals!

Older Artists Being Creepy – Being an artist does not make it okay, make you ‘outside the constructions of normalcy’ to be creepy in any way.  Also using positions of power to coerce and dominate someone is just possibly the grossest thing ever.  It’s not about a muse, it’s about creepy-creepsters-creeping.

Smiley Face on the Outside, Agg Face in the Inside – The art world is full of phony-balonies who say things like “Oh My gawd dharling, it is so fantastic to see you!!” I should know, I do it all the time.  It’s terribly gross but I try to make a sport of it, to do it at such a hysterical degree that any sane person can see that there’s something very off about it.  For most people that I actually like I will usually just raise my eyebrows or smile or make little kissy face from across the room.  This faux enthusiasm is depressing in every way really.  I am nearly at the point where I can barely muster up the voluble role I have nearly mastered and I am beyond the point of wanting to be at the receiving end of it. But what’s the other option?  To be like those academic types that laugh like this, “ah-huh, that was funny…” Never ever, but really, can we all just crank it down a notch, it’s all just getting so dull.

Lower East Side – There Are Just Too Many Galleries And Too Many Oyster Bars.

Sexist Guys – Most young males in the arts are advanced in the politics, upbringing, and unspoken rules of how to behave towards women, some may even declare themselves as feminists.  Most are super nice fellows, really, just wonderful gents, but still there are is a persistence of sexist males that still stanks up the art field.  These sort of men can be found in every subgroup in the arts; artists, writers, gallerists, staffers, curators, teachers etc.  Sure there is more then the healthy dose of “bitch” overload in the arts but men are still the masters of this universe so things are different in that regard.  It doesn’t matter if they are gay, straight, bi, trans, married, single, old, young, powerful, or upstart, they come in any form and most times the brashness of their sexism is subtle or only revealed in un-audienced flashes.  Ladies, you know what I mean, I’m sure every one of you has felt the stare, the pressing thumb, the dismissal, the proposition, or the blatant reminder by a male that is your peer, boss or mentor that if they can’t attack you or win you over in one way or another, you will distinctly be reminded that you don’t have swinging parts between your legs.   Guys, I know most of you are totally great and it is terrible that you have to deal with the bullshit behavior of your fellow males, but sorry, it’s the truth of it.

Mo Money, Mo Problems – Art and Money Make Things Funny.

Music and Art – Yes, it’s been linked and super hard trending for a while now but I’m so super over it.  Not art that uses music/sonic elements but all the shows, all the concerts, all the benefits of attachment and blending and sharing a cultural source to re-affirm the sway in certain audiences.  I know it’s obviously the best thing ever to do and is beneficial to all but I just can’t stand it!!!!!!!!!!! Well at least 90% of the way it is presented.  I’m old.

SoHo – The new Lower East Side part 2/ part infinity.  Celebrities! Uniqlo! Olives! Cobble Streets! Europeans! Puma! Mont Blanc! Super mega everything is everything again until it is nothing again is the new now.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Hamptons

I went to the Hamptons for work, it was the longest that I have been there, 5 days, 4 nights, and it was fun, odd, revealing and surprisingly full of art.  More then anything, it sheds light on what it means to be wealthy, and it makes one think about how class and money are so tightly entwined with this art business.  Albeit, this version is the living cliché, it is the version that we all want to exist because it makes the contrast of things seem starker.  In reality, this is just the mirage, the real money and the real influence; those things are tucked far out of sight.  But nevertheless the performance of it all was quite fantastic to behold and it makes one realize that New York City is the best place ever to live.  Below are a few things I saw, noticed, or just have to remark upon that was stirred by this Hamptons trip.

Art
Martos Gallery

As I said, there was actually some great art to be seen amongst the Buddha carvings and fountain displays.  One such experience was at Martos Gallery’s summer location in Bridgehampton, a large group exhibition curated by the indomitable Bob Nickas entitled Creatures of the Blue Lagoon.  The summer location appears to be the gallery owner’s home, and the work is hung, installed, placed and displayed amongst the unedited life that is lived there.  It is all very charming but it is surprisingly not gimmicky or overly clever.  There is some damn good art there and the eclectic mix of young hot things, outsiders, forgotten ones and the old guard is both refreshing and exciting to see.  The works were displayed and hung in a home that was cozy and had people wandering casually in and out and lounging about.  This is what art does when it is purchased, well 90% of the time.  It resides in the private space of someone’s every day; a home, an office, and it sits there until moved for some reason or another.  There is something direct in that acknowledgement but in this case there isn’t a reduction in that action but a heightened honesty.  It makes the art feel very present.  As if each piece was a stand-in for a friend, a guest that couldn’t make it in person but left their avatar in the form of a piece of work.  The artists and their fine selection of works can not be understated in the success of this.  For those that go out to any of the Hamptons, you must pop in, but make sure to mind the sleeping baby upstairs.

Art
Halsey McKay

Located in East Hampton just off the main road, there is a surprise of a gallery called Halsey McKay that was opened in 2011 by Hilary Schaffner and Ryan Wallace.  Both Schaffner and Wallace are New York art insiders and their taste and knowledge of what is happening in the arts is on the pulse.  They had an opening of their current show with Andrew Kuo and Sarah Greenberg Rafferty doing a combined show entitled, Friends and upstairs they had the work of Ryan Travis Christiansen entitled, Something, Something, Black Something.  I could only stay for a bit, but both shows were a friendly surprise to see in all that white pant-ed secondary market ambiance of the Hamptons.  The exhibitions were well selected and there is nothing rag-tag about the space or the presentation.  It was also slightly familiar, for someone who sees art like the above on a weekly basis, but this show isn’t for me, it is for all those that live, summer, or weekend getaway that want, need, or desire to see new and good contemporary art.  I can only imagine the hurdle that must feel like out there but thank god someone is doing it. 

Clothes

What people where in the Hamptons is just too funny!  Here are a few: Bright colors like pink, turquoise, purple, yellow; white pants; white shorts; white everything; flip flops; loafers; children in matching outfits; wearing only a sheer/skimpy cover-all over a bikini and walking where ever you damn well please; fitness clothes as outfits; tight pants that go way up woman’s butt cracks; big bangle bracelets; palm trees, alligators, etc on bright belts; dogs, dogs, dogs; small children; strollers with at least two children ages 2-6; straw hats; pastel pants; bad legs; spotted skin; collagen lips; plastic surgery face; soft baseball caps; polos.

Food

Eee gads the food is bad out there.  It is super expensive, which is the norm for beach towns but really, $13 for a wrap sandwich?!  I only had one decent meal at a place called Silvers in South Hampton, someone had a BLT and it cost $19!  The rest was all bland, blah, blah food.  Food is so easy, it’s mind boggling it can be consistently so bad.  Most who live/summer there eat at home/at the homes of others which makes sense but really, the food was hideous in every way.

Whiteness

The Hamptons is about whiteness being as white as it wants to be.  It is really a beautiful setting out there and understandable why people want to be there.  The beaches are beautiful and the whole feeling of wealth, ease, suspension of time and the possibility for a breezy fabulousness permeates.  There are few non-whites en masse, mostly they are Hispanics who are biking at 12:30am to go mop floors, as I met, or they are black security guards, check out girls at the grocery store or cleaners.  This really isn’t about white and non-white per se, as there is clearly a population of working class white locals who have their own bars, their own restaurants and you see them working for various establishments on various days.  They too are not the “whiteness” that I am referring too.  Seeing a room full of pretty, skinny, tight dress wearing young girls on one side and a smaller number of older, post 50s, rich, blazer wearing, tanned men makes you go “gah” inside but this is also a part of the game, the goal to achieve ultimate whiteness.  In this whiteness money is a concept and reality is just much different then everyone else’s.  It is truly amazing to behold, all that whiteness.  It is like performance art, it is like those novels where a wealthy woman is dumb and numb by the delirious safety of boredom.  All that whiteness on such a small stretch of sand, it is entertaining, appealing and appalling all at once. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Art News and Thoughts

 
Hi there.  It’s been another week filled with too much vino, too many cigarettes and entirely too few hours slept.  SUMMER RUULES!  But really, the world keeps turning, even if you are hung over flat out on your back trying to fill in the holes of the evening before.  The art world turns too, and there has been a bunch of things happening in the art-news world this past week that is notable.  I have included a few below along with some general art thoughts I have been thinking about/talking about.  Ahh life, it’s a crazy time to be alive.  Everyone get into everything cause in the end we all are just going to die!

Paul Schimmel Getting Fired(ish) as Director of MOCA LA– I guess it matters but is it really THAT surprising?  It’s LA, and that art world is a big bag of just not quite right.  But on a related note, John Baldessari’s resignation from the MOCA board is pretty badass in the ‘heck yeah, I’m John Baldessari’ way.  Love JB. Anyways, it is said Baldessari resigned due to Schimmel’s firing and also because of the new direction the museum is taking under the bank roll of Eli Board and the vision of Jeffrey Deitch, which includes shows that focus of disco.  DISCO for goodness sakes!  But yet again, is it at all surprising?  LA doesn’t have enough street cred to absorb the Deitch artopia that is yes oddly missed in New York, but is still nonetheless a vacant vision of what art can and should be.  Also, it is about as entertaining as a sponsored skate boarding competition, there’s something sucked dry by the enthusiasm for what was once subversive.  I have faith though; it will all iron itself out there in Los Angeles.  It will either become the thing it always thought it wanted to be or it will put some actual fire in that sunny sprawling city.  *(update Catherine Opie, Barbara Kruger, and Ed Ruscha have also resigned!)

Why Are There No Black Art Dealers? – Someone please write this article (like those who have actual journalistic skills and institutional backing).  Seriously.  WHY ARE THERE NO BLACK ART DEALERS?

Galleries Closing/Galleries Opening – The surface area of the art world is still the same at the moment but there is an odd squeezing going on.  Some galleries are closing, small apartments things, like West Street Gallery, to larger Chelsea ground floor spaces, like Meulensteen (aka failed Max Protech part 2).  Then at turn, there is the expansion of heavy weight hitters, like Andrea Rosen Gallery and Friedrich Petzel Gallery, who are expanding in largess in both square footage and also scooping up artists who have fled or were plucked from competing galleries.  The art market is a fierce competition with an eau de toilette of cultural arbitration.  Yes, this is the way it is and I’m not trying to be one of those sourpuss idealists but let’s be frank, the concentration of power and gallery-brand capital and how this immensely determines who will thrive, survive or merely hang on is getting downright nauseating.  The novelty for alternatives seems like a stupid waste of a thought at this juncture.  Ahh, survival of the fittest.  We all asked for it, no?

Bad Art Teachers - It has occurred to me that some artists who are teaching art at those coveted art teaching jobs sorta shouldn't be.  Some, not all, are not terribly good or successful artists.  It makes me think that maybe that is not the best way to go about it.  Teaching younger artists to be artists by slightly or much older artists who don’t themselves have a successful practice as artists just seems like a waste of resources.  I know tons of really awesome artists that are doing really well, on paper at least, with their careers, they are “successful” but they may not be able to make a living wage off sales of their work.  These people should be teaching the new kids in town.  And as a note, I am fully aware that the word “success” and “art” should stay far-far away from each other but you and I know what I’m talking about here.  Like there are some artists that are glorified hobbyists or are jaded and faded and only add to the crappery that clings to the arts.  Really, we should all collectively do everything in our power to not generate more bad art.

Performance Art Is A Drag - Comedy is the new performance art.

Monday, July 9, 2012

New York City Summertime

 
What time is it?  It’s summertime.  Are you stuck in New York City in the sweltering eye stabbing heat?  Are you wearing only two articles of clothing and taking cold showers in lieu of AC?  Do you only see the light of day before 9am or after 9pm? Well if so, we are on the same boat and even though it sort of stanks (especially in Chinatown) it is still a fabtastic boat to be on.  New York City in the summer is great, truly it is.  People are nicer, things are sexier, all the hullabaloo of capitalist climbing is a bit subdued, or at least more tipsy from all the daytime boozing.  Yes, there is the influx of sandal-socked wearing tourists with their hair cut and their jeans distressed in a certain way that makes you go, “gah” inside, but this is also oddly charming, all that enthusiasm for a place you call home.  So if you are not a rich bastard or bastette (nor have disposable access to those likes), and you can’t jaunt off and stay at some linen pillowed house near a body of water for days, weeks, or months on end, have no envy because you are here in New York City which has more summer time fun then a table of crabs with a mallet.

Below are a few fun things one can do, see, taste, try out that will make a city summer super fun. 


The Beach – Yes, New York has a lot of them.  Go to as many as possible.  I go to Jacob Riis, which edges Fort Tilden, and although the hipster/hippie chic of the later is a bit much for me, I hover nearby so that I can still drink some beers or vodka unremorsefully.  Vodka at the beach is swell.  Drink in small sips only though.  Bring an umbrella or a sheet to make an umbrella, make a light lunch, bring ice cubes and water, bring a ball or two and don’t forget a book.  Everyone is always happy at the beach.  The ocean is also nature’s spa treatment, sun, sand, and exfoliation.  

Walking Around Aimlessly – My new favorite thing to do.  Start somewhere, anywhere, go towards water.  Reach water and turn another direction.  The streets, shops, dogs, old people sitting about is just the most charmed thing about this town.  Buildings start feeling like people and the tiny/vast conundrum of the city is more palpable.  Doing this with one other person is ideal.  Talking and walking have a similar pace.  It gives you time to think and to process but also to progress in an unobliged sort of way. 

The Met (Museum of Art) – A good place to remind oneself of the big picture and also how art is not only for a small minority of society.  Also, every time I go, I see something new that makes me think about other things I had already been thinking about in different ways.  You also get this colossal sense of humanity in the best ways and the worst ways.  All those screaming children, the leg tired guards, the gift shop, but then you also feel the desperate need for humanity to be known, remembered.  It’s soothing in its inevitability.

Parks – Grass smells good.  Lying in the grass with a friend or two makes you feel like you are collegiate or French or mildly satisfied with the way your life has gone thus far.  Any situation where your nose is only inches from the earth is an interesting one to be in.  There is also the people watching that is more then acceptable in grass lounging situations.  Everyone is creating their own petite-fete and everyone wants to be both private and social all at once.  The only down side is that restrooms at these locals are scarce and scary. 

Rooftops – Going to a roof, any roof, in any part of the city is always a treat.  They are usually very unsafe and many times have nothing but a view and difference in perspective to give.  Some have tables, chairs, grills, and other things to make sitting and eating easier and these are fun but most times I would prefer an empty roof.  Always at night or just at dawn. 

Iced Drinks – An iced coffee is like having an i-phone, You just gotta have one!  Joking aside, it really is the most refreshing thing you can have while walking in NYC’s blazing asphalt streets.  It cools your little insides and also gives you a tweek in caffeine or in sugars.  Chewing the left over ice or letting it melt into a diluted watery version of whatever you had in the cup is nice as well.  Buying an iced drink for a pal is always one of the nicest things one can do when it is hot outside.

AC – There are places in the city that are hotter then the mouth of hell, like everywhere, but then there are surprising refuges from this that blast AC and make you realize that you’re a lil bitch and your ancestors would slap you in the face for whining about the heat.  One place with supurb AC, most of the time, is subway cars.  The contrast of waiting like pissed off animals with tons of other people in dark, smelly stations to those doors opening and you can feel the goosh of cold air coming out is amazing.  Also movie theatres are a godsend.  Dark, frozen, visual audio mind numbing makes you feel a million miles away from your hot ass apartment. Also, libraries are super great to chill out and not have Weezer and mocha-somethings invading your brain.

Sexy Time – Yes, New York has a lot of good-looking people.  I have to admit, they are not the best looking in the obvious way, like for sure Sweden and small cities in France or small villages in Malaysia or Malawi would kick our butts in the looks department, but NYC has the functional weirdoes, crazies, and stylish misfits.  Their type of sexy is not in the symmetry of their face but in a swag or a swish that clicks as hot or not in an instant.   Summer makes everyone want to be more of our animal selves and that includes more sexy-time.  It’s hot as heck but why not make it even hotter by making out with some rando guy/gal at a party, club, anywhere really.  Sweating is good for you; it purifies.  Increased heart rate is good for you; it is a mini workout without the fuss of a gym.  The discretion and knowing that it is not all that serious makes things even more fun.  If you are a long termer, have no worries, you can still partake.  Just put some kink in it.  Everyone should just giggle and flirt and let their bodies do fun animal things when it is hot.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Who is Labanna Babalon?

 
There is an article in Vice entitled, The Whore of Babalon by Liz Armstrong that introduces and interviews a girl named Labanna Babalon that has stuck with me this past week.  She seems totally insane/drugged-out at first glance but there is actually something really interesting going on.  She apparently took A LOT of acid for consecutive days and started to record herself and her cohorts doing various acid-drippy, sexually loose expressions of self.  It is kooky, and juvenile at degrees, but oddly it feels like an honest assertion of a philosophy of life, living, and perceiving that may be too off the edge for a gal like me but it is nonetheless tantalizing.

Labanna looks like she is in her early-ish 20s and she looks like a typical white girl from somewhere in America but her clothes, which look like raver-Wal-Mart-chic and her zeal and expertise in booty-popping her very well shaped posterior makes her above average.  She has sleepy eyes that seem to be drugged-out possibly all the time, but they aren’t crazy-eyes.  There is a blankness to them but also a Bambi like vulnerability.  In the interview she talks about aliens, 5D, sexual cult goddess but more then anything the idea of love and women being the transmitters of this love was the most interesting thing.  She says:

The Tree of Life is the internet, and the apple with the bite out of it is literally the computer.  Mainly what I’m doing with the whole sexuality thing is trying to take things like shame and brainwashing ideas about beauty and a woman’s “place” and use them in a positive way to combat the forces of domineering people. 

Her use of sexuality and her body is next level.  There is an overtness about it.  Like in her video La Porsha where she has My Little Pony like extensions that she is braiding outside near a rose bush and she turns herself knowingly in a way to profile her backside.  Even in this though there is a mix of self-awareness, curiosity, and a lack of inhibition that is not about narcissism or the need for the male gaze for purposes of validation of self. 

The way that she engages with the viewer is also very interesting.  It is direct, and there is a total awareness of being watched and she is not remarking or disqualifying it in any way but almost using it to cast spells on whomever is watching.  It truly feels like a portal into a land of bizarre space and time when you watch some of her videos.  There is a heightened sense of performance and clichéd dramatics in some of her videos but others mix this quite interestingly like her Underground New Age Order that has her lying on her stomach with a white facial mask and her big eyes gazing out as she recites a manifesto-cum-spoken word poetry about this Underground New Age Order.  She is like an actress playing herself playing another self that is her true self.  Everything feels like a complicated ball that both self generates and cannibalizes all at the same time.  It’s all very odd. 

In addition to her more off the cuff videos there is a music video called TH3R3S R3ALLY NO 1 LYKE ME direcetd by Angelina Dreem that has Labanna in a hotel room eating pizza, popping her booty on a bed, having friends with hair extension pasties dance and chill and a bath tub full of red blood water.  The “song” is her singing/talking over lazy beats and occasionally there are funny admissions like “yes I sell sex” and “I get fucking freaked out by myself” but there is something overall a bit sad about the video.  Somehow it makes her whole thing seem goofy, indulgent without purpose and little girl lost.  It is a music video though and those function much differently then a more intimate self-recording but this video does feel a bit reductive to the actually interesting aura that Labanna seems to posses. 

Regardless of any failure or success of any of her videos, there is something definitely potent going on.  Her use of herself and the way that she is using sexuality, femaleness, vulgarity, insanity, mysticism, and drugs does feel like it is, in it’s own way, dissolving this structure that is society, that is maleness, that is learned control over oneself to be a nice, productive, obedient person.  Her being a young, pretty woman is totally a part of the success of this, but the idea that anyone can be a transmitter and embodiment of another dimension of reality and perception is a fantastic possibility.