27 April 2014

houses in art

It's Sunday afternoon at the Scholes Library of Ceramics. The issues of Kunstforum International are proving to be an interesting trove of information as well as NACO records, new and updated. Issues 182 and 184 focus on houses in art: as object, as subject, as inspiration, as shelter, as part of social practice.
This work entitled Soap City (II) by Werner Alt in 2001 caught my fancy. A medieval town made out of soap. The red in the illustration in Kunstforum is much more saturated and orange and the houses are more yellow, looking more cheese-like. Perhaps the red houses belong to the 1%. Watch that you don't slip into the drain during an evening walk, one of the delights of visiting a medieval town center. This image is from the kulturatlas-oberfranken website.

And there was also an article in issue 184 on provisional architecture by Jürgen Rapp that is subtitled "Kioske, Baracken und Container."

25 April 2014

cultural heritage

There was an an article in the paper I was looking at while eating breakfast this morning that talked about damage to Palmyra, Syria, from the Syrian Civil War. War wreaks its havoc on our cultural heritage and, once gone, the objects cannot be replaced. I feel especially sensitive about Palmyra since the illustration of egg-and-dart molding that I shared with the tattoo artist before he inked my arm was from Palmyra.

One of the 50th-anniversary articles on the World's Fair of 1964-1965 reminded me that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey archives had been destroyed in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

And on it goes: Nineveh used by U.S. as military camp during Iraq War; the destruction of the National Library in Sarajevo. Just a couple from recent history. Someone said not too long ago that while a lost generation of people is horrifying, there is the possibility of recovery. Lost archives, artifacts, and buildings are gone forever. Some documentation or reconstruction may give us a sense of the original. Some reconstructions are an interesting riff on the original.

Of course, it's not only war, terrorism, and vandalism that destroy our heritage. We sometimes willfully take down Pennsylvania Station in New York City or the Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago. I don't consider myself a knee-jerk keep-it-all preservationist anymore. In most building demolitions, we at least think about whether the building, parts of it, or the stuff in and around it should be retained or reused.

20 April 2014

1968: Nam June Paik, Charlotte Moorman, at New Paltz

So there I was, minding my own business in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. The Gregory Battcock Archive installation by Joseph Grigely was capturing my attention for a variety of reasons and then .... there .... on the wall was a poster for the Intermedia '68 tour by Nam June Paik and Charlotte Moorman to some SUNY campuses, including New Paltz. It's the lower framed item on the right wall in the picture above, image from the Grigely page on the Whitney Biennial website. Attending that concert is one of the most memorable, still in the mind's eye, occasions of my undergraduate years at New Paltz State.

The concert was so memorable for all the right reasons and for one more. At some point during the concert, a student, thinking this was participatory theater, threw a cymbal back on stage. All stage action stopped, Paik ordered that the student leave the auditorium. It may have seemed like chaos in the spring of 1968 but it was scripted theater and music, aka intermedia.

13 April 2014

querelle posters

Separated at birth? No, appropriation. The upper picture is the theatrical release poster for the Fassbinder film Querelle (1982) from the Wikipedia page. The lower picture is a mock poster for the film by Francesco Vezzoli, part of Cinema Vezzoli which was to show at the vintage United Artists Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, early 2014, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art. That's what it says in the September 2013 issue of Art news, the text of which also appears on The Gravity Arts. The current information on the MOCA website looks like Cinema Vezzoli opens in a couple weeks at MOCA Grand Avenue and runs through the summer.

Brad Davis, OK. Josef Albers? I might have to come out to L.A. to see the Vezzoli exhibition.

10 April 2014

imperfections and outliers

"Emilio had a scorch mark from the iron on his otherwise spotless shirt. It made him look quite fetching. A minor imperfection is always so seductive, especially if it hints at a story -- the faint trace of a scar, the most discreet of limps. The flawless tea-bowl is less beautiful, after all, according to the Japanese, than the tea-bowl with a slight distortion to its roundness, just as a full moon is less beautiful than a half-moon glimpsed through cloud, a cherry-tree in full bloom less beautiful than cherry-trees about to blossom, pristinely raked pebbles less beautiful than pebbles strewn with faded flowers. Emilio may well have less appealing imperfections (less accidental ones -- that is, more willed) but in the bar in the late afternoon light as he came towards us with his tray of sparkling glasses the mishap with the iron was working to his advantage."

I was reading this passage on page 131 in Night Letters by Robert Dessaix as I waited for the Bergren Forum to begin. This week's topic was outliers and the speaker was adjunct instructor of sociology Kelly Kirtland, studying for her doctorate at Cornell. Perhaps (non-criminal) outliers are more interesting because of their flaws even if they may play havoc with your sociological study.

This bowl is by Kohei Nakamura; image from http://www.art-it.asia/u/admin_ed_contri7/lNzJdw39a8pA76rF0Dcu