Monday, April 28, 2014

The Personal


I’m too busy to blog.  I usually am but really, this week I am too damn busy to blog.  Hence this is getting posted at 9~pm and I still haven’t had a bite to eat.  Waaaah, blah blah life is hard.  Get over it.   Anyways.  Today, I started thinking about the idea of the personal and tonight I am still on that thread.

The personal is the new form.  It’s not so much about sincerity but it is something akin to that.  Perhaps.  People, art, all this that is happening, is reflecting more on the inner then it has in some time.  It’s not emo.  It’s not a form that is pinnable in some word or aesthetic or some defining way but it is happening and it is happening a lot. 

It is how people’s art, way of living, is grounded in, based out of, coming from background.  Background is earned because it is accumulative.  Specific.  This is where the personal comes in.  It is a source of authority that is only granted by that person who has lived it so it is always and forever valid. 

Artists use this as a source to work out of, from, refer to.  It can be coded.  It can be explicit.  Most visual artists use coded methods.  Writers and musicians tend to be more direct.  But even in the directness there is an abstraction to it. 

I went to a reading the other night and it had some literary people and some vaguely to not at all acting as readers.  In almost all of them this form of the personal was the primary form.  Things like ‘I am a man, I am a woman, I am a duck in a basket held by a dog,’ were quite possibly things that were passable to be considered writing because the personal is a type of ‘fuck it’ form.  As I said everything is valid because who am I/we to say that that women or man is not a man or woman or duck? 

There is an easiness to this form but it is liberating.  It is dangerously naive and forgiving.  But maybe that’s the beauty of it.  Maybe.  I tend to think easy is good but sometimes easy is actually very bad.  I guess at then end of the day it all comes back to the person, the artist, whomever it is that is using the personal as tool.

We live in a time where everything is so visible in its capacity for exposure.  We think that to expose is to reveal.  But it isn’t.  Most of the time the revelations are performances.  Minor attempts to captivate.  This works though.  Sometimes surprisingly so.  It is what is happening though, regardless of success or failure rates.

I participate in this too.  I behave in this way too.  We all are.  We all need to because it is the form of now.  At least it has been for a little while/will continue to for a little while.

I’m not actually saying much here or remarking on much here.  More, I am just saying what has been on my mind for the past few hours.  And that darlings, is of course personal.

Below is a song by Sinéad O'Connor.  It is the song I like to sing when I am a good and drunk and near karaoke.

It is to me an epitome of this personal even when it is fully realized in its cliché.

"Nothing Compares 2 U"

It's been seven hours and fifteen days
Since u took your love away
I go out every night and sleep all day
Since u took your love away

Since u been gone I can do whatever I want
I can see whomever I choose
I can eat my dinner in a fancy restaurant
But nothing
I said nothing can take away these blues

`Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares 2 u

It's been so lonely without u here
Like a bird without a song
Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me baby where did I go wrong

I could put my arms around every boy I see
But they'd only remind me of you
I went to the doctor and guess what he told me
Guess what he told me
He said, "Girl, you better try to have fun no matter what you do."
But he's a fool

`Cause nothing compares
Nothing compares 2 u

All the flowers that u planted, mama
In the back yard
All died when u went away
I know that living with u baby was sometimes hard
But I'm willing to give it another try

Nothing compares
Nothing compares 2 u
Nothing compares
Nothing compares 2 u
Nothing compares
Nothing compares 2 u

Monday, April 21, 2014

Recommendations for this Week: Spectacle Theater, Micheal Manning, Dimes, Sam Lipp, People of 2morrow

Dimes NYC

People love it when you shit talk versus posi-talk.  Cattiness is a sign of mental flexing albeit in direct correlation with emotional insecurity.  This cantankerousness seems to be weather inclined; dark days equal dark moods.  Luckily spring is here (sometimes) and this extra Vitamin D makes me, and the rest of the city, much more pleasant and excited about all this living life thing. 

Below are some recommendations for this week.  There is so much one can do when the mood is right and the weather is on your side.

MOVIES - Spectacle Theater, 124 South 3rd Street, Brooklyn NY 11211

I have remarked on this little theatre in Williamsburg briefly before but I have to again recommend it.  It is a small space off of Bedford and it is charming in its collective feel and its love of off-the-grid cinema.  It is like sitting in a friend’s slightly renovated living room but there are nice strangers and a sense of camaraderie with them.  They show things that only the deep-deep cinephiles probably know of at a passing glance but it is not hoity-toity in this populace unknowing, instead it’s like an invitation of enthusiasm and sharing.  Each week they have a program of movies at set times.  This week I will be seeing Le Camion by Marguerite Duras, 1977.  There is a love of film occurring here and anything that sincere is enjoyable to participate in.  Films are five dollars, you are invited to BYOB and it is a perfect date place. 

ART - Michael Manning, WILD FUSION: Vol. I – Total Collapse at American Contemporary, 4 East 2nd Street, NY 10003, Opening, Thursday April 24 6-8pm

Michael Manning makes paintings by using a touch screen and having them digitally printed on canvas and then having clear acrylic painted on top of them.  They are abstractions.  They are colorful.  They are easy yet complicated.  They are pretty.  They look like they smell good.  They are riffing on painting but are completely serious about painting.  Some people will hate them right away.  Some people will love them right away.  Some people would think it is office art.  Some people will think it is the best realized evolution of abstraction.  Go see this show because Manning is a type of artist that you will keep seeing.  You will keep seeing his name and his work and it doesn’t matter if you like it or hate it because you will keep seeing it regardless.  I like it.  I like Manning as a person very much as well.  See this show.  Buy something if you can afford it.  It is a part of this next big thing happening without all the hoopla.

FOOD - Dimes, 143 Division Street, NY, 10002, M-F 8am-11pm, S+S 9am-11pm

This cute tucked away stop on Division Street in Chinatown-esq area is so healthy-yummy that it is surprising.  Owned by very hip chefs, Sabrina De Sousa and Alissa Wagner, Dimes serves up veg heavy, clean and balanced meals for a very manageable price.  I little while ago I remarked on LA and it’s healthy food and especially these bowl things they have.  They have bowl things at Dimes!  This restaurant is the most LA-ist I have ever been to in NYC and that is a compliment for sure.  The portions are just right.  You look at what everyone around you is ordering and your eyes get big and mouth wet and you ask, ‘what is that?’  It is small and it can get packed quickly but it is worth it.  It is mildly too-cute-cool-trendy with its general vibe and selling ceramics and this and that but it feels honest for the place.  I highly recommend you go with a friend or a date for brunch, lunch or a cozy dinner.

ART - Sam Lipp, My Hamster Cage at Bodega, 167 Rivington, NY 10002, Opening Sunday, April 27 6-8pm

This will be Bodega’s second exhibition at their new location and the first solo show.  As remarked before, Bodega has good art taste and Sam Lipp is a measure of the vibe going on here.  I have no idea what will be in the show.  The press release is a story (love those) and there is only a vague teaser image, which doesn’t give you much to go on.  I can’t wait to see it.  It’s one of those things where you know it will be good but also don’t know why you feel that way.

CLOTHING - People of 2morrow, 65 Franklin Street, Brooklyn 11222, M-Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 12-7pm

I had to kill some time before a studio visit last week and I was in Greenpoint.  I came upon a shop on Franklin and I popped in.  It is an open nice feeling store.  It has that succulents, rocks and candles decor which is a little too familiar these days but when I shuffled through the racks I was very surprised indeed. Instead of seeing dull, familiar vintage pieces that were way overpriced (as I was expecting), the racks had surprising and unique finds that were very reasonably priced.  This is clean vintage.  The clothes are pressed, clean and ready to wear.  It is obviously well selected and with great care.  I was in a flurry trying things on.  It is a mix of vintage and designer.  I purchased three things, including the best Burberry top I think ever created.  I can’t wait to wear all of them and I spent less then a hundred dollars.  Pop in if you are in the area; new clothes are always a deserved treat.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Philly Art Land

Marcel Duchamp, Why Not Sneeze, Rose Selavy?, 1921, painted metal birdcage, wood, marble cubes, porcelain dish, thermometer, cuttlebone

I went to Philadelphia PA this past weekend and I have to say, I had a great time and learned a lot about this City of Brotherly Love.  I am familiar with Philly as I grew up in New Jersey equi-distant from it and that other city, New York.  I have been to it more times then most cities and have had groups of friends and acquaintances that sometimes/still call it home but this last trip was eye opening because this time around I made it a point to actually look. Below are some highlights/lowlights gathered from ~24 hours in Philly Art Land.

Space – Oh my god, like oh my gawd.  The amount of space that you can get for living and studio space is insane.  I mean actually INSANE, like somebody sedate me because you have got to be joking insane.  The insane part is of course how cheap it is.  Inexpensive is not the word to use, cheap is.  How insanely cheap are we talking about? I saw a space that was around 3,000 square feet for $300 a month.  I’m not exaggerating.  It was actually that big for that little.  Studios here can be large and not just a bit larger then what you can get in NYC but six times as large.  They are also in these fantastic old buildings that used to be one thing or another and it still has a charming preserved thing going on because no one has any money to renovate.  Hard wood floors, weird beams, dusty machines and pulleys that seem to never end are scattered wonderfully in these spaces.

Apartments are like this too, mouth wateringly big and hearing that an artist, waiter, or other creative type in their late twenties to mid thirties owns their own house not uncommon.  It is truly baffling the square footage one gets for a buck in this city.

Poor – So very related to the above is that Philly is a poor city.  Yes, all cities have poor pockets, yes, Philly has a thriving center and some of the most expensive neighborhoods sprinkled about it but the places where artists have studios, where pop-up/collective spaces are and where many live is in poor areas.  Buildings look vacant, sidewalks broken, no one is outside.  There is a sense of desolation and that desolation is felt more because this is a big city, a wide city and it seems to sprawl for blocks on end.  Going out at night on foot is a no-no in certain areas.  It is not so much the poorness of an area but the eerie silence, the bombed out feeling of a place that seems to set stage for bad things to happen if you happen to be on that stage aka street. 

It is perplexing to see this in a city that has some neighborhoods and institutions that are incredibly wealthy.  It is a continuation of the history of oppression in this country and how it is manifest through race and economy.  It is there.  It has always been there.  Being far away from it or even near but unseeing doesn’t make it not there.

Artists have always migrated to poor neighborhoods because they are poor and need space.  Sometimes when this is done strong enough and long enough it can revive a place.  Sometimes it is done so well that it speed balls gentrification and another cycle of dislocation.  Will that happen in Philly?  I’m not sure.  I haven’t seen it yet but who knows that is possible in a city so full of empty buildings. 

Food  - Philly food it yummy.  It is fat food but who cares, enjoy it while you are there.  There are cute restaurants here and there and it is at these places people converge.  You don’t see anyone on the streets but enter a food place and it is filled with people from all walks of life.  This is nice to see and seems like an oasis of social interaction.  My friend took us to a place called Pisano’s it has sandwiches.  Those sandwiches are yummy and will put you in a food coma. 

Art Scene – I was defiantly not there long enough to get any real sense of a scene or to even explore it but luckily I had a most fantastic host/guide (Jamie Felton) and she brought me to this that and other things and it made me say, “Philly is great” a lot during the trip.  In most instances, the schools and its graduates in cities like Philly spur art scenes.  Some artists come to Philly from nearby states.  Some stay after they receive a degree.  There are a few schools and networks nearby but it feels tenuous.  There does seem to be lifers though.  Philly is a place where if you stay you really stay.  It is an identity to be from Philly vs. just another bob in the scene like in New York.  Those that do stay seem to have influence and generosity.  Small ponds are not bad if the pond is fresh and nurturing. 

Philadelphia Museum of Art – One of the main reasons I wanted to come to Philly in the first place was to re-see the Duchamp collection there.  I also wanted to see the Barnes but that was all booked up.  Marcel Duchamp left his work to this museum under the unmatchable leadership of Anne d’Harnoncourt and it is a gift to art lovers.  In addition to this amazing holding is the rest of the museum.  I saw mostly the modern wings and some extensions here and there going back and forward in time but all of it was just incredible to see.  There are master works that you think, ‘wow this is here?’ and then there are such surprises and new pieces that it made me giddy. 

More then what they have is how they show it.  The building is grand but it has this casual grace that can only be described as American although it is revival this and that.  The rooms, proportions, and flow of the space is superb and the lighting just right.  There is an intimacy but also a reserve.  Also the placement of the art in conversation with each other was smooth and enhancing.  Very smart, very good job whoever did this latest installment. 

Sometimes people in New York feel spoiled and then unappreciative of all the art that they have just a few subways stops away.  Philly may not have as many places but this museum is rich with the best things and it presents and preserves it much better then most. 

So there’s my brief summery about Philadelphia.  I know it seems far away but truly if you have not been or have not been for a while, go.  Sure, it may have only been a ~24 hour trip but it was fun, packed and invigorating for every minute of it.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Jordan Wolfson and His Casual Intimacy

Jordan Wolfson, installation still, Raspberry Poser (2012) at David Zwirner, 2014

The other day I walked around Chelsea and I looked at a lot of art and most of the art had me so underwhelmed that it made me vaguely cranky.  But maybe my crankiness was due to how I started my art walk that day.  I started at David Zwirner at Jordan Wolfson’s show.  It is a three-part affair, a video called Raspberry Poser (2012), some wall sculptures, and an animatronic sculpture (Female figure).  It was very good, at least the parts I saw, and it had me cranky because it was so effecting that seeing many of the other shows later that day in Chelsea seemed useless and dull. 

Jordan Wolfson is young, born in 1980, and he joined Zwirner in 2013.  Joining Zwirner most certainly means something and that something means amazing art future but in this instance Zwirner having an artist like Wolfson also reflects certain things.  Wolfson is known for his animated works that are heavily created by computer-based rendering.  This is a new form.  A form that a lot of young artists, many younger to much younger then Wolfson’s 33ish years, but Wolfson just does it way better.  The way better is not so much in the use of technology but in how he uses it with content of imagery and ‘narrative.’ 

His probably most associated character is a comically exaggerated Shylock Jew which is in his 2011 Animation, masks and this is a perfect place to start if you don’t know Wolfson’s work at all.  Here you will see what I am talking about re: way better.  He uses animation/video to accentuate, confuse, or lead away from what is being said.  It is unnerving and anticipatory with a clingy tainted hypnotic pull. 

This pull is in Raspberry Poser as well.  This 13~ minute video is lighter in some ways then his previous videos as it mixes a variety of video form such as traditional video, hand drawn animation as well as rendered animation and image culling.  The video has him as a proto punk looking bemused around New York and Paris and climatically humping some grass.  There are montages of lifestyle displays of furniture, cityscapes and connotative interiors.  Throughout these scenes there are two reoccurring characters, a casually self-mutilating cartoon that is reminiscent of School House Rock styling and a spoinging 3D red abstract form that is actually a HIV virus.  Think red rubber mixed with identity crisis Koosh ball.  Oh, I almost forgot, there is also a floating animated condom with red candy hearts that floats around in a very relaxed sort of way.

So these are the characters/visual settings.  The video proceeds to travel through this referred landscape and it has a sense of the linear but this obviously isn’t that important.  There is music, Mazzy Star, Beyonce, and other recent pop songs that make the visual travelings easy, paced and collective.  The kid cartoon has fits of disembowelment, the virus bounces on this or that high-end couch and Wolfson as punk chats in black face and tries to look very dirty.  It is not a single character, setting or song that makes Raspberry Poser so fascinating.  It is the compilation effect, the deck of cultural cards being shuffled in an almost cathartic way.

So what is it all about?  Oh, you know, nothing, everything, love, death, sex, life, you know, all of that.  I say it like this because this is how Raspberry Poser feels (how many if not all of Wolfson’s videos feel).  It presents the external in a very internal way.  It is intimate but so distanced that it seems voyeuristic.  There is a perviness about his work in this ‘you know you like it’ type of way and for some reason you realize that yes, you do.  This is the brilliance of Wolfson.  His work makes you feel uncomfortable.  In that discomfort there is confusion, and in that there is actually potential for resonance, meaning, impact all that stuff that art is supposedly supposed to do. 

I wasn’t able to see the much talked about (Female figure) because I didn’t have an appointment and I’m a plebian so I have to make an appointment.  Apparently it is booked through next week so this will probably not happen.  Anyways though, it is worth a trip to Chelsea to just see Raspberry Poser.  Really, I just can’t stop thinking about it and everything else seems dull in comparison ever since I did. 

On a final note, I think it should be remarked upon how Wolfson is a new breed of artist and an evidence of a shift in art.  I was reading Calvin Tompkins recent profile on Ryan Trecartin in The New Yorker and I couldn’t help but compare the two, Trecartin and Wolfson.  They are basically the same age and grew up in this wedge of time where they are not “digital natives” but close enough to it that they are completely transforming/creating the technology/art thing.  Them being in this pre-internet-everything is possibly why their work has so much more heft then many younger artists working in these shared mediums.   

Trecartin is a mischievous Buddha god that is art sanctified for certain but already, at least to me, he seems familiar.  His work is about the chaos of outside inside, projecting and reflecting, becoming and being the internalized external.  Brands, chaotic dystopia of the suburban, and role-playing to be embodiment are his devices in creating his type of visual language.  Wolfson on the other hand is hyper personal, to an exaggerated point that it becomes mute.  He uses the language of commerce and capital signifiers but there is a casualness, a nothing ephemerality that makes these things seem important but also meaningless.  Everything is expendable.   I think Wolfson’s sort of world, vibe, this casualness of intimacy reflects our ‘now’ acutely and with an unsettling smugness that is not so much about spectacle but more about this joyful nothingness we find ourselves happening to exist in.