MBG Issue #107: The Right Kind of Nostalgia

Issue # 107

The Right Kind of Nostalgia

October 3, 2008

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Tamara Melcher, Untitled, 1965, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches. Collection of Forrest Myers. Courtesy Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art.

from the editor

The University of Texas at Austin has been a lively source of activity in the visual art community over the past couple of weeks. Tongues are wagging about the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s loan of 28 sculptures to the University through the Landmarks program, the opening of two significant exhibitions—Reimagining Space and The New York Graphic Workshop—at the Blanton and the first of this year’s Lectures on Art in the Black Diaspora. …might be good will dedicate many of our virtual pages to these events over the next month: the Met sculptures will enjoy Eric Zimmerman’s attention in our next issue and reviews of Reimagining Space and The New York Graphic Workshop will appear in early November. However, the most recent lecture in the series, Lectures on Art in the Black Diaspora, steals the spotlight today.

In the first of three lectures in the series occurring this fall, Kobena Mercer spoke under the title, “What Difference Does Diaspora Make? Art History After Globalization.” As the title suggests, Mercer discussed the consequences of globalization on the way we write art history. Here, I want briefly lay out some of Mercer’s argument and discuss its relevance to the field of contemporary art; the way we write art history always has repercussions in today’s art production, exhibition and criticism.

Mercer began his lecture by critiquing the contemporary art world’s approach to difference. To be considered fully contemporary, Mercer said, art institutions must simultaneously exhibit difference and be silent on the subject of difference. Non-inclusivity is unacceptable and multiculturalism is passé. The result of the push to include diversity and the pull not to speak about it, Mercer concluded, is the erasure of difference.

Mercer suggested that the cause of this erasure of difference was, in part, the tendency to understand globalization as a contemporary phenomenon. In resistance to the erasure, Mercer proposed a deeper understanding of the history of globalization during the modern period. This history must disassemble the concept of a singular Modernism and create a framework of multiple modernities. Such a framework, Mercer argued, could provide a richer past through which to recognize difference in contemporary art.

The concept of multiple modernities is not a new one; sociologists Shmuel Eisenstadt and David Martin, and social philosophers Charles Taylor and Peter Wagner, among others have elaborated the idea of multiple modernities. Over the past quarter of a century, their theories have challenged the assumption that the Western program of modernization produced the homogenizing effects attributed to it. In his lecture, Mercer simply encouraged art historians to take up these theories and apply them to the study of art. Off the top of my head, I can think of many situations in the contemporary art world to which theories of multiple modernities could be productively applied. In fact, the criticism surrounding some international exhibitions, such as Global Feminisms at the Brooklyn Museum last year or the controversial installation America/Americas at the Blanton, appears to be, at its core, a call for more explicit recognition of the multiple modernities thesis within the field of modern and contemporary art. By contrast, another exhibition organized at the Blanton, Geometry of Hope, has been lauded, in large part, for its particular attention to the variety of manifestations of modernity in Latin American art.

If you missed Mercer’s lecture, you still have a chance to catch the next two lectures in the series: photographer Renee Cox will speak on October 28 and painter Beverly McIver will speak on November 11. The series, now in its third year, has consistently brought preeminent scholars and artists—Adrian Piper and Charles Gaines, among others—to Austin and has drawn large, multidisciplinary crowds. Given the series’ excellent track record, we can expect Cox and McIver to be as engaging as Mercer was this week.

Claire Ruud is Editor of ...might be good.


Arthouse, Austin
On view through November

By Dan Boehl

Michael Smith, Mike Builds a Shelter, 1983, arcade cabinet, video game, 74 x 32 x 36 inches. Courtesy the artist and Dunn and Brown Contemporary, Dallas, TX.

In the winter of 2006 a World of Warcraft gamer, a young woman, suffered a stroke and died at the age of 18. She had amassed a large number of friends while playing the online fantasy game. To pay homage to her, the avatars of her warrior guild met at the young woman’s favorite spot in the game, an opening on the edge of a secluded lake, and held a funeral for her avatar. A rival clan, tipped off by a mole at the virtual funeral, ambushed the funeral goers, killing them in minutes.

Like Iraqi war footage from imbedded journalists, the massacre was recorded. You can watch it on Youtube. You can read the thousands of forum posts and blog entries either denouncing the massacre as inhuman barbarism or praising the act as a brilliant game tactic that gave obsessed gamers a healthy dose of reality. The virtual massacre straddles the gap between the real and the virtual worlds, a gap that video games narrow with every new advancement in technology and gameplay.

Reset/Play, the current exhibition at Arthouse guest curated by Marcin Ramocki and Paul Slocum, explores the inner workings of the World of Warcraft (WoW). Rather than examining the fervor and enthusiasm that WoW instills in its gamers, Alexander Galloway’s How to Play World of Warcraft (2005) investigates the mechanics of gameplay. Galloway’s multimedia work displays video recordings of the gamer’s keystrokes and mouse clicks next to prints of complex schematics that correspond to the real time WoW action. In the context of the vast amount of time, money and energy players spend on WoW, the piece seems more like a science fair dissection of photosynthesis than an artistic exploitation of mimesis in the game. Galloway’s piece deconstructs the game to show how people interface with technology, demonstrating how mundane WoW really is. But the piece fails to reveal why we are compelled to play video games or the connection the gamer has with the virtual experience.

Many of the works in Reset/Play follow Galloway’s example, choosing to deconstruct gaming mechanics rather than taking advantage of the game’s ability to catalyze our desires and imagination. In Electric Paints (2008), artist Mike Beradino takes apart an Atari 2600, affixes the electronic relays to a canvas and reconnects the relays with electric paint. Watching a monitor on the side of the painting, a viewer can play a working version of Missile Command. In his related piece Liquid Pong (2008), Beradino uses a PC, a matrix of electromagnets and a liter of ferrofluid (iron suspended in oil) to reconstruct Pong as a physical object. Liquid Pong succeeds in becoming an object of interest and beauty, but the gameplay isn’t as engaging as the original Pong. Both works show us how games function, but revealing the mechanics doesn’t help us understand the games or ourselves any better.

I’m interested in seeing game technology deconstructed, but like examining the parts of a Jarvik artificial heart, the deconstruction doesn’t explain the human drama created by the conglomeration of code, hardware, and a flat screen monitor that make up the gaming experience. In this regard, works in Reset/Play are most successful when they, like the technology used to create them, bridge the gap between game and viewer, either appropriating game mechanics and exploiting the player experience, or creating new emotional experiences of their own.

Michael Bell-Smith’s While We Slept (2004) appropriates Marble Madness, a staple of classic gaming, collaging the game’s landscape with 2D animations to create a futuristic bombing raid that destroys everything but an endless sunrise. The holocaust of a black and white landscape feels like a dated future and is awe inspiring in emotional potency. Like watching Red Dawn on a Netflix DVD, the piece embodies the apprehensions experienced by arcade-bound Cold War youths a generation before. It induces fear, but also nostalgia. I haven’t come to terms with the nuances of this kind of nostalgia yet, but it feels like the right kind of nostalgia: the past reinvented to mirror our own current political moment.

A finished game system in its own right, Return of Balance (2007) by Nik Hanselmann, Joe Mckay, and Gregory Niemeyer was created in response to the problem of how to develop a non-violent video game. To play, the gamer stands on a square balance board to control a similar square on a computer screen. By shifting body weight back and forth, the gamer smacks colored balls into a series of like colored hoops. The Nintendo Wii has now mass-produced and mass-marketed a similar piece of hardware, denying Return to Balance this particular innovation. But what is really interesting is juxtaposing the gamer’s balancing act to the meditative and slowly increasing difficulty of the gameplay. The game seeks to make the gamer more aware of the physical body, rather than immersing the gamer in fantasy. Return of Balance asks questions that merit further exploration, among them, does virtual violence inspire real violence and is computer technology teaching us to neglect our bodies and our neighbors?

How to Build a Shelter (1983), Michael Smith’s upright arcade game (in this exhibition, the game sports a new cabinet and uncorrupted code), is uncanny in its incorporation of Reset/Play’s major themes. Smith first programmed and constructed the piece in 1983, when games of its type hit the American public like the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. In the game, the player controls Mike, Mario’s hapless cousin, as he builds a bomb shelter in his basement before the nukes destroy the city whose skyline fills his living room window. Mike’s movements are impossibly slow, and he will never be able to complete the shelter before time runs out. How to Build a Shelter is complete in its synthesis of interface, political statement and objective beauty—the very paradigm of art mixed with gaming. The technology long since rendered obsolete, How to Build a Shelter asks the question: Why do we waste our time playing games when the world is being destroyed?

Reset/Play offers a well-rounded survey of a relatively new genre. The exhibition explores video games’ ability to connect virtual space and physical experience, bridging the gap between technology and our desires. As technology becomes more subsuming, it is the artist’s responsibility to highlight and expose the intersection of body and machine. Like the World of Warcraft funeral massacre, video game art can shed light on the relationship we have with games. The best work begins to reveal how these games exploit our desires and create lasting emotional experiences with repercussions beyond the limits of the game.

Dan Boehl lives in Austin and works for the University of Texas. His book Work won the 2006 Pavement Saw Chapbook Award and is available at Domy Books. Poems from his manuscript Kings of the F**king Sea are online at Sawbuck Poetry, Sink Review, and forthcoming in print from Handsome and the Okay Mountain Reader.

Jesse Amado: Fringe, Coils, a Demon and a Small Political Allegory
Sala Diaz, San Antonio
Through October 5, 2008

By Wendy Atwell

Jesse Amado, Installation view, Fringe, Coils, a Demon and a Small Political Allegory, 2008. Courtesy Sala Diaz

In Fringe, Coils, a Demon and a Small Political Allegory at Sala Diaz, Jesse Amado pries into the viewer’s consciousness, evoking the vast wound made by America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. While there is nothing trademark about Amado’s art in terms of media, this exhibition portrays Amado’s gift for brevity and beauty and the power within his restraint.

In the gallery’s first room, an installation of four sculptural art objects conspires to draw out the horror and loss of a war that remains deeply repressed in daily American life. Amado joins the subject of war with the theme of racial hatred, raised by Barack Obama’s candidacy for president. These three sculptural installations, located in Sala Diaz’s adjoining room, include rope, photographs of hanging trees and mirrors. Amado leaves these difficult subjects open-ended. This is a valuable tactic for political art, which is most effective when it performs a process similar to psychoanalysis: it reveals the shadows.

Using the 2008 book War Surgery in Afghanistan and Iraq: A Series of Cases 2003-2007, Amado performs his own surgery on the viewer’s frame of mind. The book rests open on a reference podium, with pages earmarked by the artist. Small black tabs allow the viewer to peruse endless color photographs of war injuries - entry and exit wounds, blast injuries, the birth of an infant Iraqi boy. Amado retrofitted the book with green and blue translucent plastic sheets carefully placed over the photographs, along with natural cotton cord bookmarks that appear similar to something that might be used in bandages. This bolsters the shock of the gory images and adds a layer of sensitivity to their clinical nature; the veiling calls attention to the sacred life element that is exposed, not just as flesh, blood and bone, but as the personal: somebody’s mother, father, husband, child. The heart-wrenching images of hands and faces blown off and injured children are shocking enough, but infinitely more disturbing is the reality of a need for a textbook to cover the topic.

The most poignant and quiet piece in the room is a small hat-like sculpture mounted on the wall. Newsprint, covered with the faces and names of dead soldiers, forms the pouf of a hat and a mass of black fringe falls from it. The vague shape of the hat—it could be a graduation hat or a beret—expresses the immensity of lost lives. The clump of black fringe conveys the empty pomp decorating the many hats that will now go unworn.

In the next room, a pile of several nooses lie tangled on the floor in a corner. One noose contains a doll-sized statue head of a woman who may represent Lady Liberty. Two small round mirrors are mounted at eye level on the walls above it, as a chance for reflection, to peep into one’s consciousness. Nearby are three images of hanging trees, stacked vertically. The leafless, nightmarish twists of branches stand as ghostly reminders. Hand-written on a mirror the size of a political campaign button is “A button outside the Texas Republican Convention asked, 'If Obama is president will we still call it the white house?'” Viewed in the context of the current war, this room of art stands not so much as a warning but as ill portent. Meanwhile, though Amado’s art about the war has a memorializing aspect, it also displays a loss of hope. Certainly, because of the book’s existence, it is already too late. In his press release, Amado mentions how the control of information and censorship of the war affect Americans’ freedom and fear. But Amado’s art goes deeper than to place blame; it seemed to ask, what is it about human nature that conspires with this censorship and courts ignorance?

Wendy Atwell received her M.A. in Art History and Criticism from The University of Texas at San Antonio.

David Adjaye: Making Public Buildings
Artpace, San Antonio
Through January 4, 2009

By Lauren Hamer

David Adjaye, Nobel Peace Center, 2005. Courtesy Adjaye/Associates.

In recent years, the practice of architecture as commonly represented in the media connotes a kind of intellectualized glamour and wealth rather than a commitment to public service or social responsibility. Zaha Hadid's Mobile Art pavilion in Central Park—a dismountable temporary, spacecraft-like structure made to house "art works" inspired by the ubiquitous and insipid Chanel hand bag—is a case in point. However, David Adjaye’s works on display at Artpace take no such tack. Originally organized by the Whitechapel Gallery, London, and now on its fifth stop, Making Public Buildings is a rough but intriguing review of ten of Adjaye’s works, which exhibit a range of publicly accessible (and publicly serving) programs. Residents of San Antonio, take note: Adjaye, who met Linda Pace and Artpace's executive director Matthew Drutt two years ago in London, is currently in the formative stages of a design proposal for a new building to house the Linda Pace Foundation in downtown San Antonio. For anyone unfamiliar with him, Adjaye, just over forty, has already completed a slew of private residences, art pavilions and major public buildings including collaborations with such established artists as Chris Olfili and Olafur Eliasson. In an era of architectural flash, when fashion often trumps substance, Adjaye’s commitment to public building seems commendable. What warrants interrogation, however, is both the meaning of "public building" as found in Adjaye’s work and moreover, how an exhibition of such work can remain readable to its audience.

On one broad, low pedestal a nearly identical composition of models and diagrams provides the documentation and representation of ten finished works by Adjaye. First, a rather abstracted site model, next, a highly detailed model of the final work expressing cladding choices, another site model of the immediate vicinity and, finally, a rough foam core cut away to reveal some internal arrangement and floor heights. A photograph of the finished work, a diagram of program, schematized floor plans, material samples and finally (and curiously) a cut-out photograph of an African artifact. In a sense, this arrangement displays the production process in reverse: from final building—the site model—to initial inspiration—the artifact. The walls of the gallery have been given a coat of dark, concrete grey, a color favored by Adjaye, and one which attractively sets off the pale models while facilitating the display of several video projections and color photographs. The first video, a rotating travelogue of Adjaye's own photographs, include images from Brasilia, Addis Ababa and other foreign locales likely to be unfamiliar. The photographs are shown on loop adjacent to a series of short films of Adjaye's interiors and are accompanied by ambient music arranged by the architect’s brother. On the right and far walls are more photographs of Adjaye's finished works, a useful point of reference for scale, detail and interior effects. What comes across most clearly is that although Adjaye deploys a limited number of spatial strategies in these buildings, they have certainly each been arranged to serve their users and designed with sensitivity to their environment.

Most effectively, the beautiful models of Adjaye's Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, the Stephen Lawrence center in London and the Denver Museum of Art encourage closer examination and a thorough reading of accompanying documentation. Less superficially successful works, such as Adjaye's copper-cladded public housing project, make little impact and are not flattered by the unfinished nature of the models themselves. Most pressingly, the connection between the images of African artifacts and the final site models, mirrored by Adjaye's travelogue video and the videos of his finished work, leave one wondering how these artifacts and urban environments served the architect. Have they been used to execute purely formal strategies, as seems to be the case with a mask from Sierra Leone and the cladding/fenestration arrangement of Rivington Place, or did they serve as a precedent for the conceptual development of the idea of public building? The latter is obliquely implied by the pairing of an image of a Dogon village and the design of the Nobel Peace Center. Ultimately, how the images of the mask or the village underpin Adjaye’s design process—structurally, aesthetically, or conceptually—remains unclear. Curiously disconnected from any context (with only a single line of interpretive comment), such images are part of Adjaye's ongoing documentation of African architecture and urban space, a theme warranting its own exhibition. However, their inclusion does not strengthen this show's theme of public building.

Making Public Buildings does not speak clearly or at length on the meaning of public architecture, nor is it compelling in terms of any tough aesthetic employed by either the curator or Adjaye. The greatest strengths of Adjaye's design approach, and those which have no doubt attracted the Pace Foundation, include his history of collaboration with the client, his openness to community involvement, his commitment to sustainable design and his strong background in working with artists. Without reference to the catalogue for the show, these strengths will not be apparent to the visitor. Rather, Making Public Buildings succeeds in its didactic purpose by leaving interpretation to the viewer, who encounters contents that are approachable, straight-forward and succinctly displayed. Like a visit to an architect's studio, the unfinished nature of the work encourages active interpretation rather than passive viewership. Indeed, a lack of final and conclusive statements from the architect may be precisely the point here, complementing the mix of finished and working models and their rather loose association to African precedents. Adjaye seems to suggest that a public dialogue regarding the future of architecture might require a pause in speech from the architect, a space for the public to respond.

Lauren Hamer is a freelance writer and graduate student at The University of Texas at Austin interested in the intersection of art and architecture with regard to early avant-garde movements, critical theory and contemporary practice.

Show #18: Sold on Soylent (Sculpture's Back In Town)
And/Or Gallery, Dallas
Through October 18, 2008

By Alison Hearst

Danius Kesminas and The Histrionics, Sculpture's Back In Town, 2004, A revision of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back in Town," DVD video loop. Courtesy And/Or Gallery.

Show #18: Sold On Soylent (Sculpture's Back In Town), curated by Ludwig Schwarz at And/Or Gallery in Dallas, considers divergent forms of nostalgia through works by Ann Craven, Danius Kesminas & The Histrionics and The Estate of Uma Klick. As the title suggests, this sculpture-heavy exhibition sits under the allegorical umbrella of the 1973 science-fiction classic Soylent Green. The film embodies a nostalgia for the past that is both critical and utopian—a brand of nostalgia that aptly characterizes much of the work in the exhibition. Most notably, like Soylent Green, the sculptures in Show #18 simultaneously pine for and critique the conditions of the past and recognize the impossibility of recuperating that past fully in the present.

Set in New York in the year 2022, Soylent Green explores the consequences of overpopulation, which has resulted in extreme squalor and ethical degradation. As the protagonist Sol longs for yesteryear in a suicide chamber, wistful landscape footage from the past offers an escape from his otherwise dystopic environment. This lost landscape appears completely alien to the world’s current condition. Sol’s nostalgia for the past only reasserts how unattainable it is in the present.

Perhaps the exhibition’s purest expression of the nostalgia represented in Soylent Green is Ann Craven’s painting, St. Louis Cardinal (for Dallas) (2008). The painting features a loosely painted cardinal within an ethereal, floral setting and is installed upside-down. The bird, capsized, appears as if lifelessly dangling from a tree limb. The piece suggests a desire for natural beauty and, at the same time, presents the natural world strangely askew. In the light of Soylent Green, the painting appears to be a utopian, if somewhat distorted, vision amidst an ominous (art) world.

Spanning the better half of the gallery are selections from "The Estate of Uma Klick"—a fictional body of work clandestinely created by several Dallas-based artists. The gallery materials allege that Klick, who died in 1989, was a student of Joseph Beuys. The sculptures, supposedly produced by Klick throughout the 1970s and 80s, are paired with corresponding diary entries by Klick. For example, Untitled (sitting cross) (1978) is a Japanese-style padded cushion adorned with a Swiss cross, while in Untitled (date unknown), a silver-ribboned corset is suspended from the ceiling resembling chain mail; in Untitled (1977), a birdcage houses several curved slices of rye bread. Playing with the legacy of Beuys, Klick’s works are autobiographical, shamanistic and steeped in myth. The Estate of Uma Klick both honors and belittles Beuys’s enduring influence. Moreover, Klick’s works appear remarkably akin to the contemporary collaged constructions popular today—as seen, for example, in the New Museum’s Unmonumental earlier this year. Perhaps the joke is on these artists, too, illustrating that the tutelage of tradition is often inescapable. In addition, in the context of And/Or, a predominantly new media art gallery, the works look especially satirical and outdated. In short, by referencing sculptural tradition as well as contemporary art production, the works interrogate sculpture’s current ability to play a vanguard role in art.

Also in the exhibition is Danius Kesminas and The Histrionics, Sculpture’s Back in Town (2004), a looped DVD. Sculpture’s Back in Town is fittingly installed facing Klick’s works. Featuring a video montage (mostly of sculptors in the studio) set to Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back in Town,” the piece offers altered lyrics poking fun at the stagnant state of sculpture. This work fits affably here, but does not quite offer the nostalgic complexity offered by the other works.

Nostalgia is certainly not a new theme in contemporary art. However, Sold on Soylent evokes a particular type of nostalgia: one that simultaneously unravels and embraces it subjects. The exhibition longs for a moment in which sculpture was able to be vanguard and, at the same time, recognizes the exhaustion of that moment. The artists poke fun at the traditions inherent in contemporary sculpture, questioning the presumed newness of this work and suggesting that dependence on history is inescapable. Perhaps, through a playful pessimism, these works critique the inability of sculpture to be truly new.

Alison Hearst recently received her M.A. in Art History from Texas Christian University and is a freelance writer living in Fort Worth.

Omer Fast: De Grote Boodschap (The Big Message)
MCA Denver
Through January 4, 2009

By Kate Green

Omer Fast, De Grote Boodschap (The Big Message), 2007. Courtesy the artist. Production still: Erik De Cnodder.

Omer Fast’s single-channel video De Grote Boodschap (The Big Message) (2007), currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver, is the most luscious, complex and mesmerizing work the artist has made to date. For twenty-seven minutes, panoramic shots slowly shift between richly hued, interconnected scenes—think Isaac Julien—featuring various people in an apartment building in Belgium. The fragmented drama that develops challenges the notion of a single narrative truth, a fiction that the Jerusalem-born, Berlin-based Fast has productively explored over the last five years.

Fast’s videos have ever more effectively capitalized upon our fascination with the lives of others to look at how events can be experienced and recounted in multiple ways. For his early sixty-five minute two-channel work Spielberg’s List (2003), the artist interviewed Polish extras who had worked on Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Schindler’s List and then intercut their memories of the Holocaust with recollections of working on the film, which was itself a retelling of actual events. The resulting video pays equal respect to these
first-, second-, and third-hand accounts. The artist’s next major work, Godville (2005), more dramatically highlights the interpreted nature of storytelling. The fifty-one minute two-channel video features actors from the historical recreation of Colonial Williamsburg describing their own and their characters’ lives. Seamless editing of their narratives creates persuasive confusion between the past and the present, the real and the reenacted. In last year’s The Casting (2007), a fourteen minute four-channel installation which won Fast the 2008 Whitney Biennial’s Bucksbaum Award, the artist comingles documentary strategies with the more visceral conventions of film to dynamic effect. On one side of a screen a soldier recently returned from Iraq relates two different stories while on the other the tales are enacted in vivid cinematic tableaux. The mixture of straightforward words with bold film imagery powerfully entices viewers into thinking about the veracity of verbal and pictorial accounts.

In De Grote Boodschap, Fast breaks entirely with the documentary style used in earlier works and fully engages the tropes of cinema to consider what and who to believe, particularly vis-à-vis race. The looped video rhythmically travels back and forth through time between a handful of people in three adjacent apartments, affording us the opportunity to see the same situations from various perspectives. The glue that binds this loose, racially-charged narrative is the death of an elderly woman wracked with memories of the Nazi invasion.

Among several other characters, we meet her white grandson, his black girlfriend (also the grandmother’s caregiver), and the next-door-neighbors—a flight attendant and her xenophobic husband. In one scene before the elderly woman passes, we see the grandson charming his girlfriend. The young man earns multicultural points by beatboxing and by berating his intolerant grandmother for believing his girlfriend is stealing, presumably because of her skin color. Minutes later, however, we see another side of the story. Now the young woman is checking in on the older one; their loving exchange betrays no hint of the racism alluded to by the young man. In fact, in a scene that takes place after the grandmother dies, the grandson betrays his own biases. While showing the now-empty flat to a Middle Eastern man, his nervous chatter reveals deep discomfort with “the other.” Yet just when we are ready to vilify the young man, the scene shifts to the other side of the apartment wall. Now the true racist appears to be the flight attendant’s husband, whose eavesdropping on the Arabic spoken next door prompts him to consider calling the police. Before we able to pinpoint who is the hero and who is the villain, the beguiling film begins again. Fast’s point seems to be that there is hardly any difference between the two: no one is immune from telling lies, especially when it comes to race.

Kate Green teaches modern and contemporary art history at Trinity University and regularly contributes to Modern Painters, ArtLies and other publications. She has been a curator and educator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Dia Art Foundation and Artpace San Antonio.

announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

The Activist Impulse
Women & Their Work Gallery
Opens Friday, October 10, 2008, 7-9 pm

Women & Their Work's The Activist Impulse is a meditation on how activism plays out in the work of women artists today. Curated by Regine Basha, the featured artists use video, photography, drawing and performance to explore how art can be an agent of change.

Susan Collis: Why did I think this was a good idea
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Opens Saturday, October 4, 2008 6-8 pm; artist talk at 7 pm

Lora Reynolds is moving and we can’t wait to see the new spot! What better way to celebrate than to show a solo exhibition by British artist Susan Collis, a project focusing on the transition of spaces. Collis’ pieces disguise themselves as ordinary tools used for constructing, cleaning and hanging an art exhibition. As such, at first glance the exhibition might lead viewers to believe the gallery is still under construction. Further investigation of the space however will reward the viewer, leading him/her toward Collis’ notions of hidden labor, within a complex network of contradictions and revelations.

WorkSpace: Marcelo Pombo
The Blanton Museum of Art
Opens October 16, 2008, 5–9 pm

Marcelo Pombo is one of the key figures to emerge from the 1990s art scene in Argentina, and was part of the movement know as Arte Light, which was formed by a group of artists associated with the Centro Cultural Rojas. His paintings make use of industrial paint and sparkling polishes to depict fantasy worlds that combine graphic design, comic culture, geometric abstraction, and surrealist influences. For this installation, he presents six new large–scale paintings, all commissioned by the Blanton.

Dallas Openings

Fahamu Pecou: Stunt’d Like My Daddy
Conduit Gallery
Opens October 18, 2008, 5 to 8 PM

Working as a graphic illustrator for various rap and hip-hop acts in Atlanta, Fahamu Pecou became interested in the self-marketing and persona building antics of music and television celebrities. Stunt’d Like My Daddy focuses on these themes of self-promotion and identity, specifically confronting "the imposition of stereotypes on the black male in the media, art and society."

Also make sure to catch Franco Mondini-Ruiz's installation, The Powder Room: new paintings & porcelains, will be composed of sculpture and paintings that are arranged in the gallery in a site-specific “botanica” setting similar to the folk-medicine markets that pervade his native San Antonio, Texas.

San Antonio Openings

Yoon Cho: Some Aspects of Love
cactus bra SPACE
Opens Friday, October 3, 2008, 6-9 pm

Yoon Cho’s video performance explores short juxtaposed readings from Roland Barthes's Lover’s Discourse.

Austin On View

William Cordova: pachacuti pachacuti pachacuti
Okay Mountain
On view through November 1, 2008

Join the mountaineers as they roll out the red carpet for major player William Cordova. Cordova, fresh off of his residency at ArtPace, will show several installations completed during the past couple of years. If we know Cordova, this show should prove to be quite epic.

Dallas On View

Richie Budd: New Work
Road Agent
On View through October 11th, 2008

Budd, who received his MFA from the University of Texas at San Antonio, is a current artist in residence at the acclaimed Artpace program in San Antonio. Budd’s recent work is primarily sculpture—biomorphically strange, dark, funny, and repulsive—always hinting at underlying violence and hijinks.

Fort Worth on View

Hubbard/Birchler: No Room to Answer
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
On View through January 4, 2009

This exhibition features photographs and videos by the collaborative team of Swiss/American artist duo Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler, their first major survey in an American museum.

In a career of more than fifteen years, they have become known for their picturesque, color-saturated photographic series and their deliberately slow-paced video installations, which feature slow pan shots, endless loops, and puzzling plot lines.

Houston on View

Perspectives 163: Every Sound You Can Imagine
Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
On View through December 7, 2008

Experimental musical scores are considered as works of visual art in Perspectives 163: Every Sound You Can Imagine. The exhibition traces the evolution from the first wave of experimental notation in the 1950s through its resurgence in the late 1990s, when musical notation sprang off the page and into video, photography, sculpture, and new media.

The Dead Weight of a Quarrel Hangs: Selections from The Atlas Group Archive
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
On view through November 23, 2008

The Glassell School of Art´s Core Exhibition Program continues this fall with work by the provocative Lebanese-American artist Walid Raad. Beginning in 1989, Raad produced his work under the rubric of an artistic alter ego, The Atlas Group, which he describes as an imaginary foundation whose goal was to document the Lebanese Civil Wars of 1975-1990. For approximately fifteen years, Raad/The Atlas Group collected or produced an extensive archive of audio, visual and literary documents to record the war-torn country´s history.

Damaged Romanticism
Blaffer Gallery
On View through November 15, 2008

This group show, rescheduled to open this weekend, features fifteen internationally recognized contemporary artists working in painting, sculpture, installation, photography, and video. All linked by a defiant optimism, or “damaged romanticism,” this timely show promises to be excellent.

San Antonio On View

Delusions of Grandeur
Unit B Gallery
On view through November 7, 2008

This group show plays with the phrase "delusions of grandeur" and its multiple meanings. The work explores subject matter such as the preservation of trivial items for posterity, intergalactic communication and the artist as Superman.

announcements: events

Austin Events

Activism in Art and Beyond
Women & Their Work
Saturday, October 11, 3 PM

Join Women and Their Work for a look at the state of activism. In conjunction with their 30th anniversary exhibition, The Activist Impulse, Women & Their Work presents the panel discussion Activism in Art and Beyond. Moderated by Regine Basha, the panelist, Annette Carlozzi, Tiffany Dowling, and Ellen Spiro, will give their own views on activism, how it can make real change and how activist art plays out in the world today.

Visiting Artist Series: Luis Gispert
University of Texas at Austin, College of Fine Arts
Tuesday, October 7, 2008, 5 – 7 pm

Luis Gispert's contemporary style reflects his Miami/Latino upbringing during the Cocaine Wars and the inception of hip-hop. Luis Gispert creates art through a wide range of media, including photographs, film, sounds, and sculptures, focusing upon hip-hop and youth culture, and Cuban-American history.

Political Emotions: A New Agendas Conference
University of Texas at Austin, Radio Television Film
October 3-4, 2008 9 am-5 pm

This conference explores the visual and political identity of emotion in the public sphere. Highlights include talks from several art historians, artists, and filmmakers. We're particularly intrigued by (Tulane new media professor) Michele White's talk entitled Privates and Publics: Gay Underwear Sellers, Reborn Doll Producers, and the Emotive Display of Bodies on eBay. Nice.

Dallas Events

Unit 9 and Corridor Space: Open Forum with Laray Polk
Thursday, October 2, 7:00 p.m.

Join Centraltrak for an open-forum discussion of artist Laray Polk’s graphic installation of The Beautiful Obstacle. Topics include art and politics, contemporary architecture, the military-industrial complex and the Russell-Einstein Manifesto.

Houston Events

Fame and Death: Warhol Negotiates His Demons
Blaffer Gallery
October 9, 2008 5-7 pm

Blaffer Gallery welcomes Dr. Bradford Collins, Associate Professor of Art History at the University of South Carolina. Collins's talk, which is in conjunction with the Blaffer exhibition Celebutants, Groupies, and Friends: A Photographic Legacy from the Andy Warhol Foundation, is entitled "Fame and Death: Warhol Negotiates His Demons." In light of the cancellation of the Warhol exhibition's opening due to Hurricane Ike, Blaffer invites the public to attend a reception from 5 pm until the start of the lecture at 6 pm.

announcements: opportunities

Call for Applications

2009-2010 Research Fellowship
The Harry Ransom Center
Application Deadline: February 2, 2009

The Harry Ransom Center, one of the world's foremost institutions for research in the humanities, announces its 2009-2010 Research Fellowship Program. Approximately 50 fellowships are awarded annually by the Ransom Center to support scholarly research projects in all areas of the humanities. For a full description and application instructions, please see: http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/research/fellowships/application/

Call for Entries

New Call to Artists: Northwest Recreation Center Expansion
The City of Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP)
Deadline: Midnight, October 19, 2008

The City of Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP) program of the Cultural Arts Division seeks to commission a visual arts professional to create an environment which provides transition from the exterior to the interior of the Northwest Recreation Center, in dialogue with the proposed architecture and facility's programs. The City of Austin requests qualifications from visual arts professionals who live or work within the state of Texas. For more information: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/aipp. Questions, call Meghan Turner, AIPP Coordinator, at 512.974.9314.

Employment Opportunity

Membership Manager
San Antonio Museum of Art

This position works closely with the Director of Development and Public Services to support the Museum's membership and development goals and objectives. Additional responsibilities include assisting with donor recognition and training volunteers. For full description please see: http://www.samuseum.org/getinvolved/opportunities.php Email resume and cover letter to: mary.villarreal@samuseum.org

Publications and Editorial Assistant
Kimbell Art Museum

Part-time position available to assist in editing, proofreading, and compiling Museum publications, including books, biannual Calendar magazine, in-house literature, and other Museum materials. For full description, please see: https://www.kimbellart.org/MuseumInfo/Employment-Internship.aspx Please submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to: humres@kimbellmuseum.org
Kimbell Art Museum
Human Resources
3333 Camp Bowie Blvd.
Fort Worth, Texas 76107

Public Relations and Marketing Assistant
Kimbell Art Museum

Part-time, entry-level position available. Main responsibilities include fulfilling media requests and coordinating the promotion of museum events and education activities. For a full description, please see: https://www.kimbellart.org/MuseumInfo/Employment-Internship.aspx Please submit a cover letter and resume to:
Human Resources
Kimbell Art Museum
3333 Camp Bowie Blvd.
Fort Worth, Texas 76107

Administrative Assistant
Cultural Arts Division, Austin

CAD seeks a part-time temporary employee for an administrative role to assist with all division programs, projects and activities. The position works directly with the Cultural Arts Division Manager and helps coordinate internal and external meetings and events. For more information, please contact Vincent E. Kitch at 974-9310 or by email at: vincent.kitch@ci.austin.tx.us

Call for Artists

New American Talent 24
Entry Deadline: January 10, 2009

New American Talent: The Twenty-Fourth Exhibition at Arthouse is approaching! This year's juror will be Hamza Walker, Director of Education and Curator, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, IL. The exhibition will on view from April 4-May 3, 2009 and will then tour to venues in Texas through summer 2010. Please see the online application at http://www.arthousetexas.org for more information.

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