From the Editor
by Wendy Vogel
While the disciplines of poetry, literature and visual art commingle less in the pages of contemporary art publications than in the heyday of the poet-critic of the 1950s and ‘60s, there is still a mutual admiration and correspondence between the fields. In his Art Lies Distinguished Critics lecture in October 2009, Raphael Rubinstein gave a schematic overview of contemporary poetry composed in response to visual artwork. Although the belletristic conventions of critical writing have waned in the past decades, giving rise to theoretical considerations, it’s clear that a rigorous and creative approach to merging form and content inform successful works of all artistic genres. And in some cases, radical approaches to authorship have shaken both disciplines to the core, from the appropriationist techniques of visual art to appropriative or conceptual poetry (fittingly, the introductions by Kenneth Goldsmith and Craig Dworkin to the recent compendium Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Poetry can be accessed free of charge here).
In this issue of …mbg, literary conventions and themes—especially of the poetic variety— continually appear for consideration, reworking and critique. The issue is led by an interview between Charissa Terranova and Ed Ruscha. If not a poet himself, Ruscha was certainly inspired by and inspired a generation of literary output in his flatfooted approach to modern Americana and the road. Our reviews section is anchored by two considerations of poetic works: Katie Geha parses Dan Boehl’s Kings of the F**king Sea, and Erin Kimmel writes about the Marfa Book Co. exhibition and publication devoted to the work of the late Scottish poet and artist Ian Hamilton Finlay. Also in our reviews section, Rachel Cook ruminates on Drawn from Photography, a group exhibition at the Drawing Center in New York devoted to the achingly human act of transcribing the mechanically reproduced photographic archive in detailed drawings. Lee Webster and Justin Cavin, respectively, critique the ephemeral poetics of works by Lisa Tan at Arthouse and Amanda Ross-Ho at the Visual Arts Center. And to wrap up the issue, we invited Claire Ruud, former Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative and my predecessor at …mbg, to consider Michelle Handelman’s Dorian, a contemporary update of Wildean decadence, at Arthouse.
The flip side of art’s poetics, of course, is its market. For those in New York this week for the art fairs, you’ve got a smorgasbord of events to choose from (regardless of the size of your pocketbook), including some new and exciting offerings. In addition to the older, more blue-chip fairs, the Armory Show and the ADAA Show, the New York editions of international art fairs return. Volta features an invitational-only roster of solo artist projects, Scope gathers together emerging contemporary art galleries, and Pulse offers another contemporary fair in the Flatiron district. Now in its second year, INDEPENDENT, conceived by Elizabeth Dee and Darren Flook (Hotel, London) and directed by White Columns’ Matthew Higgs, will be held in the Dia building on 22nd Street. The freshest event will doubtless be the debut of the video-based Moving Image Fair, the brainchild of Edward Winkleman. …mbg will not be present at this year’s fair, but for comprehensive coverage, my pick is Art Fag City. Paddy Johnson’s first installment on the effects of “leaner art fairs,” still rebounding from the economic crash, can be found here, and they’ll continue to post coverage throughout the weekend.
In art news closer to home, the Austin Museum of Art announced last week that they will be relinquishing their $51,840 per month lease on their current location at 823 Congress Street as of October 2011. This follows on the heels of the departure of director Dana Friis-Hansen in January, and the sale of their lot earmarked for a new building project on 4th and Guadalupe for over $21 million in December 2010. With the windfall sale as an institutional nest egg, they plan to focus their energies and funds on new programming for their existing location at Laguna Gloria. American-Statesman arts writer Jeanne Claire van Ryzin reports at length about these developments, and adds that no exhibitions are currently scheduled in the Congress Street location after New Art in Austin closes on May 22. We are curious to follow the developments of the institution and how this will affect the Austin art constellation overall. With Arthouse anchoring contemporary art’s presence downtown, the possibilities for diversifying and distinguishing AMOA’s profile is high with the potential expansion of programming at Laguna Gloria.
Wendy Vogel is Editor of ...might be good.