"Grass Mud Horse" is slang for "f*ck your mother," which the Chinese use online to avoid censors. Looks like the artist had fun filming this clip.
Scopophilia, the title of photographer Nan Goldin's latest exhibit at Matthew Marks, means "the love of looking." In 2010, Goldin was given permission to photograph throughout the Louvre while the museum was closed. Consisting of over 400 images, Scopophilia juxtaposes famed artworks from the Louvre's collection alongside autobiographical pictures of Goldin's friends and lovers. New photographs of paintings and sculptures from the institution and photos taken throughout Goldin's prolific career are grouped together into a mesmerizing 25-minute slide installation.
Organized into themes of love and desire, Goldin explains, "Desire awoken by images is the project's true starting point. It is about the idea of taking a picture of a sculpture or a painting in an attempt to bring it to life," (from the show's press release). Goldin succeeds spectacularly -- her photographs of sculptures look alive, her pairings of classic paintings with her contemporary portraits are striking, and her slide-show is compelling (I watched it twice). Goldin's Scopophilia will give you "the love of looking" too. Learn more at Matthewmarks.com. Through December 23rd.
In the spirit of All Hallows' Eve, check out Mourir Aupres de Toi (To Die By Your Side), a delightful video short directed by Spike Jonze and created by designer Olympia Le-Tan (known for recreating first-edition book covers of classic titles for her wonderful collection of handbags). Featuring stop-motion animation of 3,000 charming felt pieces meticulously hand-cut and embroidered by Le-Tan, the story takes place inside a Parisian antiquarian bookstore after hours. With Jonze's signature playful, funny, and slightly dark touches, characters come alive, rip themselves off their book covers, flirt, and fall in love. It's a whimsical love story set within a perfect, enchanted storybook land. Learn more at nowness.com.
This past Saturday, I headed up to Queens to check out MoMA PS1 before the party crowds converge for the kickoff for the popular Warm Up music series starting its 14th(!) season on July 2nd. There's a whole lot of video art currently on view at PS1. In the first floor galleries is Ryan Trecartin: Any Ever, the artist's first large-scale exhibition in New York. Trecartin created seven immersive environments filled with household and office furniture, gymnasium bleachers, gym equipment, airline seats, and more, to screen his series of seven films. Each darkened room features a large screen projecting his films with ample seating and puffy headsets scattered about. The films deal with tweens, identity, and "transumerism"—"consumerism driven by experience," (from the exhibit's notes). The colorful, psychedelic films were shot in Miami and cast with friends, artists, young actors, and Trecartin himself. The actors voices are altered to sound like the high-pitched, squeaks of Alvin and the Chipmunks - magnifying the young age of many of the actors and emphasizing their vacuous tween jabber. Watching Any Ever feels like a trippy, bad dream one might have after a long, hot night of consuming way too many sugary, alcoholic drinks. Learn more at ps1.org. Through September 3rd.
Up on the second floor is Laurel Nakadate's Only The Lonely, which reminded me of that girl in school who tried to be rebellious by flirting with older men and getting herself into some bad situations. Nakadate meets male strangers and asks them to take her to their home to make a video. The first of these works, Happy Birthday (2000) features three separate, ordinary, older, mostly non-creepy-looking men whom take Nakadate to their respective homes in Connecticut to have a pretend birthday celebration with her. Nakadate's only instruction to the men is to sing Happy Birthday to her as she lights up candles on a birthday cake. She then cuts into the cake and sits awkwardly with each man as they eat it. Her second video piece involving strange men she picks up is titled Oops... I Did It Again (2000). Nakadate again finds three men in Connecticut to go home with—this time to reenact the dance from the Britney Spears' video of the same name. Equipped with a Hello Kitty boombox (of course) to blast the annoying pop tune (which will be stuck in your head the rest of your time at PS1), Nakadate dances around the men in their cramped homes. Two gamely dance along with her while one stands stiffly and uncomfortably motionless. In one of her Exorcism pieces, Exorcism 3 (Dancing in the Desert for Britney) (2009), Nakadate dances suggestively in a bikini top and cut-off shorts in Salt Flats, Utah in an "attempt to exorcise Britney Spears' sadness." 365 Days: A Catalogue of Tears, is a year-long (started on January 1, 2010) photographic series in which Nakadate shoots herself in various states of undress, crying. Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind features five large-scale shots of Nakadate's panties flying out a train window taken while she traveled across the U.S. to Canada on an Amtrak train. In Good Morning, Sunshine (2009), Nakadate shoots three young women in their bedrooms as she instructs them to undress. Only The Lonely looks like the sexually-charged shenanigans of a young girl trying really hard to be provocative. It also feels like it exploits its older, male participants—the ones who may actually be lonely. Learn more here. Through August 8th.
Up on the third floor is Nancy Grossman: Heads, leather-wrapped sculptures of heads created by the artist from the 1960s - 1980s. Carved of wood and covered in scraps of leather from clothing, boxing gloves, or equestrian gear, the heads are said to be self-portraits though they do not resemble the artist. Inspired by the 60's, Grossman's heads were a response to the "violence and upheaval of the era and address the anxiety and turmoil in contemporary society." The 14 fascinating, carefully crafted pieces are very masculine and look like S&M masks. An old, unsexy visitor tried impressing his young, female companion by telling her he had a similar mask. Haha, ew... Learn more here. Through August 15th.
And out in the PS1 courtyard is the twelth annual Young Architect's Program winner, Interboro Partners of Brooklyn. For this summer's project, Interboro Partners created Holding Pattern, featuring rope and sails forming a white canopy fluttering above a collection of picnic tables, chaise lounges, ping pong tables, a foosball table, a sandbox, wading pools, a lifeguard chair, chess tables, trees, and more. While these items will undoubtedly get much use over the summer months, they will all be recycled after the Warm Up series wraps up. The objects will be donated to the community to various local businesses and organizations including a taxi cab company, elder and day care centers, high schools, a ballet school, a library, a greenmarket, and the local YMCA. Learn more here. Through September 26th.
Dancing in a Lincoln Center ballet performance at age eleven left an indelible impression on Lorna Simpson. Momentum, Simpson's current show at Salon 94 Bowery features large-scale serigraphs printed on felt inspired by the artist's ballerina past. Recreating imagery from postcards from the 1960's in gold ink, Simpson's works show interior and exterior scenes of Avery Fisher Hall and The Metropolitan Opera House. Inspired by her memories of performing on stage, Simpson's nostalgic works depicting water fountains, chandeliers, empty theater seats, and the iconic buildings illuminated at night, look majestic and haunting.
Playing on a small flat-screen t.v. inside the gallery as well as on a large screen in the street-level window facing the Bowery is Simpson's new video, Momentum. Just under seven minutes, the video features a cast of dancers painted in gold body paint from afro wig to pointe shoes, alternating between twirling and pirouetting energetically to just standing around in long moments of repose. According to the show's press release, "the video's narrative structure... fragmented by moments of inactivity" mirror the artist's "memory of the event." By filming the golden dancers, Simpson "illuminat[es] the tenuous relationship between memory and event, performance and spectatorship." Learn more at salon94.com. Closes June 18th.
Known for her intricate cut paper silhouettes depicting disturbing scenes of violence and racism, Kara Walker's new body of work consists of a series of graphite drawings and hand-printed texts on paper. Dust Jackets for the Niggerati-and Supporting Dissertations, Drawings submitted ruefully by Dr. Kara E. Walker, on view at Sikkema Jenkins, was inspired by the artist's "search for understanding of the way that power asserts itself in interpersonal and geopolitical spheres," (from the press release).
Exploring the African American experience of migrating from the south to the north, from the country to the city, Walker uncovered "a cycle of destruction and renewal that is embodied in the move... as well as the destruction of an 'old' Black identity and the emergence of a 'New Negro' identity." Of course most people experience a transition when they move to a very different and new environment, but the subjects in Walker's work also leave behind a dark, oppressive history marred by slavery and racism.
In collaboration with Sikkema Jenkins, Lehmann Maupin's Lower East Side space is screening three new video works by Walker. Fall Frum Grace, Miss Pipi's Blue Tale, the title of the exhibit and the show's centerpiece, is a shadow puppet film which follows the heroine Miss Pipi in various scenes of beauty, violence, and sex. Miss Pipi, a white Southern woman, must be protected by the Mandingo stereotype— or the "presumed hyper-sexuality of black men." The video Levee casts a long, dreamy, meditative gaze on the landscape in Friars Point, Mississippi at sunset while Bad Blues is a short film showing the artist singing a funny diddy about a black woman having "The Blues." Walker states that these works were inspired by her trip to the Mississippi Delta where she visited "thinking about the terrors of Jim Crow and slavery, yet the silent indifference of the landscape and the economic stasis, lack of mobility, and the persistence of a racist memory in the area was what stuck." Walker delivers thoughtful, intelligent, powerful works that tackle troubling themes that many would rather ignore or forget. Learn more at Sikkemajenkinsco.com, Lehmannmaupin.com and see my 2009 post on Walker here. Through June 4th.
Clockwise from top left: A Dream Deferred; Kiss; The moral arc of history ideally bends towards justice but just as soon as not curves back around toward barbarism, sadism, and unrestrained chaos, 2010
Hiraki Sawa's installation O immerses viewers in a serene, dreamy environment that "abstracts the notion of time by the simultaneous depiction of interior and exterior spaces, meditations on the moon and the earth, and suggestions of the present and distant past," (from show's press release). On view at the James Cohan Gallery, the sound and video installation consists of three large-scale projections displaying beautiful images of vast landscapes and ocean scenes, flocks of flying birds, and the interior of an unoccupied house accented with the artist's animations of birds, a moon, a ferris wheel, and a rustling tree. Ten small monitors scattered throughout the darkened main gallery play black-and-white videos of everyday items like a bell, cup, mug, pitcher, lightbulb, and top spinning around and around as if possessed by an otherwordly force. All the trance-like imagery is hauntingly punctuated by audio emanating from custom-built speakers. Created by the Organ Octet, minature organs soundtrack the larger projections while the sounds of tinny or ceramic objects whirling on hard surfaces accompany the smaller screens.
The Japanese-born, London-based Sawa's elegant and meditative work converys both natural and supernatural elements, creating an enchanting and mesmerizing atmosphere. Learn more at Jamescohan.com. Through March 26th.
I know the week just started, but if you haven't got plans for Friday yet, you should head over to Paula Cooper's 534 West 21st Street gallery and stake out a seat for Christian Marclay's brilliant new 24-hour video work The Clock. The gallery has been converted into a darkened theater complete with a wide screen and rows of couches to showcase Marclay's fascinating piece that "draws attention to time as a multifaceted protagonist of cinematic narrative," (from the press release). The artist cleverly edited together excerpts from thousands of films from just about every genre and period to create a fabulous 24-hour montage which is synchronized with real time. Countless film clips referencing time, either visually or verbally, are arranged chronologically and paced to correspond with every minute of a 24-hour day. No need to flash the light on your cell phone to check the time in the gallery-cum-theater because the exact time is given throughout the film via actors stating the precise time or by shots of grandfather clocks, cuckoo clocks, wrist/pocket/Mickey Mouse watches, digital/wind-up alarm clocks, clock towers, Big Ben, etc, displaying the exact local time.
I checked out The Clock last Friday at 8:00 in the evening. The room was pretty full but my friend and I managed to grab seats up front. From the moment we sat down we were mesmerized. Scenes from old and contemporary, classic and commercial movies were spliced together to form an amazing and hypnotic composition. Moments of characters waiting, passing the time, asking for the time, discussing the time (all in evening scenes of course since it was after 8pm) were interspersed with quick clips of assorted timepieces from assorted films counting down the minutes, ie: 8:01, 8:05, 8:30, 8:50, etc. Though I could have sat there transfixed for hours, by the time 9:15 was displayed on the screen, my friend and I knew we had to pry ourselves away and head for dinner - but not without swearing we'd be back to see more.
This mammoth piece of work is wonderfully addictive and will undoubtedly keep film fanatics busy playing "name that movie." In under an hour I caught quick glimpses of a few of my favorites—In the Mood for Love, Trouble in Paradise, Last Year at Marienbad, To Kill a Mockingbird, and saw tons of others that piqued my curiosity. Screen legends like Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Gregory Peck, and Gary Cooper shared the screen alongside contemporary stars like Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Depp, John Travolta, and Cher. Just trying to remember the 75 or so minutes that I saw makes my head spin. It was visual and pop culture overload - in the best way!
Throughout the course of the exhibition, Paula Cooper Gallery will show 24-hour screenings every Friday through Saturday (starting at 10:00am Friday morning running straight through to Saturday at 6:00pm). Watching the time pass has never been so entertaining. Check out Marclay's masterpiece while you've still got time! Learn more at Paulacoopergallery.com. Through February 19th.
Screengrabs of stills from The Clock taken from Paulacoopergallery.com.
Thanks to Mother Nature's dumping a whole mess of snow on New York City and making it a slushy, treacherous mess, for once I am not anxious to get home and am selectively snowbound in Boston (where they are more adept at handling the aftermath of blizzards). Staying in Boston, I was finally able to head to the ICA and check out the museum's excellent Mark Bradford exhibit. The first survey exhibition of Bradford's work, the show has on view paintings, sculptures, videos, and an installation created by the artist between 1997 and 2010.
The Los Angeles native scours his Leimert Park neighborhood for materials to use in his works—old posters, advertisements (for cellphones, cars, movies...), billboards, and signs are layered and layered along with wrapping paper, perming papers, and pages from newspapers and comic books to create his intricate, multi-layered, abstract canvases that explore pop culture, "class, race, and gender in American urban society," (from museum's website). The ICA describes Bradford as an "archeologist of his own environment" using found materials which he "layers, embellishes, erodes, and reconstitutes" along with string, twine, and other supplies purchased from Home Depot, to create stunning and evocative abstract works. Learn more at icaboston.org. See my post on Bradford's current exhibit, Alphabet, at The Studio Museum in Harlem here and the artist's website at pinocchioisonfire.org. Through March 13, 2011.
I was glad to see that the ICA also joined a group of U.S. cultural institutions in screening David Wojnarowicz's 1987 film A Fire in My Belly to protest censorship. Created in response to the AIDS-related death of his partner and fellow artist, Peter Hujar, the thirteen-minute video is "an artistic meditation on life, death, faith and suffering," (from ICA's website). On November 30th this year, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery famously pulled a four-minute edit of the video from its exhibit Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture after receiving complaints about the piece from the Catholic League and after the GOP threatened to take away the institute's federal funding. The Catholic League finds a scene in the film showing ants crawling on a crucified Jesus figure offensive and have described the piece as "hate speech." The Smithsonian's removal of the work sparked outrage with The Andy Warhol Foundation threatening to cut their funding to the museum unless the film is reinstalled and artist AA Bronson requesting the removal of his own work - Felix, June 5, 1994, featuring an image of his partner, Felix Partz, shortly after dying from AIDS-related complications - from the exhibition (a request the Smithsonian has refused to grant).
New York's PPOW Gallery, which represents Wojnarowicz's estate, disagreed with the Smithsonian's decision to remove the video from Hide/Seek and organized panel discussions regarding the museum's move and screened the video in its Chelsea space along with making it readily available to view online. Many museums and galleries have been screening the video as well in a show of support.
David Wojnarowicz was a prominent NYC artist and activist during the 1980s. He died of AIDS-related complications on July 22, 1992 at the age of 37. As if foreshadowing the current controversy regarding his work, in 1989, Wojnarowicz stated in an interview: "Animals allow us to view certain things that we wouldn't allow ourselves to see in regard to human activity. In the Mexican photographs with the coins and the clock and the gun and the Christ figure and all that, I used the ants as a metaphor for society because the social structure of the ant world is is parallel to ours," (excerpt from PPOW's press release). A Fire in My Belly will be on view at the ICA until January 2, 2011. Learn more here. The video is also screening in the lobby of the New Museum in NYC until January 23, 2011. Go check out A Fire in My Belly if you can, and if not, you can watch the surreal and haunting video below (courtesy of PPOW).
Elizabeth Dee has set up shop in the old Dia Center on West 22nd Street again, this time occupying only the 10,000-square-foot second floor which is filled with works by artist/philosopher Adrian Piper. Past Time: Selected Works 1973-1995 is a "solo historical exhibition by Adrian Piper centered around rarely seen bodies of work made during the period widely regarded as her most difficult, confrontational and influential," (from show's press release). The New York-born/Berlin-based Piper's installations, serial sculptures, wall works and videos tackle politics, race, and identity.
Piper's "Conceptual use of the frame and grid" incorporates self-portraits, family portraits, archival photos, and text printed on graph paper into triptychs (or larger grids) that explore "race, racism, neoliberalism and the Right." Her black-and-white images and red, typed text create strong visuals and moving narratives, especially in Ashes to Ashes (1995) and Decide Who You Are #15: You Don't Want Me Here (1992). Vote/Emote (1990) features four, black, walk-in cubicles each with a silkscreened lightbox showing a vintage photograph. Inside each "voting booth" is a binder filled with pages with the phrase "List your fears of what we might know about you:" printed on top. Pens are provided allowing visitors to write down their answers. Piper's scuptural series What It's Like, What It Is #2 (1991) strays from the artist's grid-based work, featuring life-size, cut-out photographic figures "sourced from movements in American History, from the civil rights era to the early 1990s." The seven cut-out figures, ranging from businessmen to a rallying or protesting crowd to a menacing-looking group of men, have the word "Forget" emblazoned across them in red type. The gallery is also screening 20th Century Video Set, a collection of Piper's "time-based works for camera."
Piper's imagery packs a punch, but paired with her text, it becomes indelible. The artist's work is intelligent, personal, political, and powerful. Learn more at Elizabethdeegallery.com. Check out the website for APRA, the Adrian Piper Research Archive, which the artist founded in 2002, "after being diagnosed with a progressive, incurable and fatal medical condition" (from the site). The condition fortunately disappeared two years after Piper moved to Germany in 2005. Past Time: Selected Works 1973-1995 runs through December 11th.