MBG Issue #146: Titanium-clad CAD fish fantasy

Issue # 146

Titanium-clad CAD fish fantasy

April 23, 2010

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John Kelly in Paved Paradise Redux.

from the editor

Continuing its pedagogical journey, in this issue, ...might be good brings you teachers in a museum and a museum in a teacher's office: a review of Substitute Teacher curated by Stuart Horodner and Regine Basha at The Atlanta Contemporary and an interview with artist Michael Corris, who recently opened the Free Museum of Dallas in the Office of the Chair at Southern Methodist University. Horodner and Basha's exhibition poses the question, "if a museum is an educational space, what kind of substitute teacher is an artist?" while Corris's Free Museum asks, "how can a museum inside the academy (and I mean really inside, not just kind of) affect the space of education?"

Michael David Murphy's review of Substitute Teacher is also interesting in relationship to John Kelly's thoughts on drag in this issue. Whereas Murphy wrangles with the lack contained within the idea of substitution, Kelly's discussion of shape-shifting speaks to the possibilities that the substitute may embody. I haven't completely wrapped my head around this one yet, but the idea of the substitute as a productive persona is certainly worth chewing on.

Also in this issue, don't miss a review of Adam Schreiber's first solo show in a New York gallery and an interview with Sina Najafi of Cabinet.

Claire Ruud is Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative.


Michael Corris: On the Free Museum of Dallas

By Claire Ruud

Krazy Kat.

Two weeks ago, artist and Chair of the Division of Art at Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University Michael Corris opened the Free Museum of Dallas in his office.

...might be good [mbg]: What kind of art is possible in the Office of the Chair?

Michael Corris [MC]: The question of possibility leads quickly to the question of permission. The Office of the Chair is the site of administration, a place where permissions are granted or denied. It is a site of dialogue, of negotiation. So one response might be to say: the kind of art which is possible is simply a subset of the kind of activities, ideas, procedures, policies, et cetera, which may be sanctioned by the Office. However, the Free Museum of Dallas is about denying the warrant that traditionally accrues to the Office of the Chair. It is the seat of administrative authority, but also something else. This something else is not just a supplemental field of practice over which the Office of the Chair holds dominion; rather, it is a counter-practice or counter-sociality that registers a kind of contempt for the entire notion of a seat of administrative authority. So, the Free Museum of Dallas aims to free the Office of the Chair from itself. This is not to say that the business of the Chair is necessarily prevented by the coincidence of the Free Museum of Dallas. But if something of the authority of the Office of the Chair is not changed in some way—that is, if something is not lost and gained at the same time—then the Free Museum of Dallas is nothing but a bit of decorative frippery. I suppose the kind of art that I would like to see as being possible in the Office of the Chair would be that art which might warm the cockles of Friedrich Nietzsche’s heart.

mbg: And equally importantly, what kind of art isn’t possible?

MC: This reminds me of Ad Reinhardt's inventory of negation; what art is not is easier to define than what art is. The kind of art that isn't possible in the Free Museum of Dallas is the kind of art that doesn't find the bi-stable duck-rabbit amusing and profound at the same time.

mbg: Before the Free Museum, what kind of work did you do in your office?

MC: Everything necessary to prepare as quickly as possible for the transformation of the Office of the Chair into the Free Museum of Dallas.

mbg: Now that you’ve turned the Office into the Museum, what kind of work will you do in the office?

MC: Everything necessary to ensure the continuation of the Office of the Chair as the Free Museum of Dallas. Beyond that, everything necessary to secure further spaces (physical and conceptual) throughout the building and Dallas as the Free Museum of Dallas

mbg: How many square feet is the Museum, anyway?

MC: To paraphrase Norbert Wiener, how could one ever hope to count the number of clouds in the sky? How many square feet is a relationship? Can a social project be a commodity?

Claire Ruud is Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative.

John Kelly: On portraiture & "drag"

By Claire Ruud

John Kelly, Fruit Boy 2 from the series Cara Viaggio, 2006 - 2008. Courtesy the artist.

Next weekend, artist John Kelly will perform Paved Paradise Redux, a widely acclaimed piece in which he inhabits the persona of Joni Mitchell in concert, as part of Fusebox 2010. Over the course of his career, Kelly has performed everywhere from La MaMa to the Whitney and explored such characters as Egon Schiele and Jean Cocteau. In anticipation of his Austin appearances, …might be good caught up with him by email to ask about portraiture, drag, Joni Mitchell and his current and future projects.

...might be good [mbg]: Last year in your solo show at Alexander Gray Associates, you filled the gallery floor to ceiling with self portraits—often portraits of yourself as another person—from the past three decades. The show gave the impression that self portraiture has been a staple of your practice as an artist. Can you tell me a little bit about how self portraits fit into your larger practice, both practically and conceptually?

John Kelly [JK]: My work has generally stemmed from observations of myself as myself, or consideration of some character, whether real or imagined. I think this initially occurred as I realized I had the ability to alter how I looked, both from augmentation—makeup, costume—but also from the inside—shifting my DNA, in a way, through intention. A projection of the self into another self; what actors do all the time, and what I have done intuitively.

So, conceptually, I free myself up by shape shifting and record the process. Practically, I then take this possibility to the next place: how would I—or a particular "character"—move, sound and register through dance, song and some combination of dramatic spectacle.

mbg: How do you understand the relationship between self portraiture and your performances, many of which rely on inhabiting the persona—in some sense, creating a portrait—of someone else?

JK: In a self portrait I have generally recorded my image as I have observed it in a mirror or interpreted it by studying a photographic reproduction. But I have also at times merged these two notions by thrusting my mirror-recorded image into interpretations of photographic reproductions of other "realities"—self portraits as Dürer, as La Gioconda, as Bellini’s Portrait of a Man; the goal is the image of my body in their garb assuming their pose in that particular setting. The self co-exists with the idea—or reality—of another.

In performance, I can function as myself, i.e., John Kelly steps in front of an audience and does something. But as I have generally preferred to flourish within role-playing, I wind up co-existing with the idea—or reality—of some other "self" in the form of a "character." The idea provides the shape, but remains an inert idea, like a photograph. My persona and an idea can exist separately, but when they join, something happens. My energy breathes life into an idea.

mbg: You told The New Yorker that when you started doing drag in the 80s, “it was the most fucked up thing you could think of,” and it was, in part, a way to express rage. Between now and then, the place of drag has shifted in the mass media. I’m thinking of To Wong Foo and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in the 90s and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” on TV today. In your view, how have the meanings of drag changed since you started doing it?

JK: It’s not so much that the meanings have changed; it’s just that the possibilities that have always been there, usually "underground" or "outsider," have been marketed to, noticed and embraced by a broader public on its very predictable (and in my mind limited) terms. I was hopeful that "Drag" could now be acknowledged as meaning many things, but I’m not so sure it can. The problem is that most people, when faced with a gender leap, whatever its quality, pedigree or uniqueness, tend to relegate it to "impersonation," "drag performer," "transvestite." Though these may in fact be accurate monikers on some basic level, they can corrupt the capacity to accept art. All manifestations of "drag" are lumped together and then loaded with assumptions, phobias, condescension, fears and prejudices. These reactions say more about the viewer than the performer. However, the curiosity, wonder, glee and celebration of the genre can also occur. Gender blurring can still function as a potentially useful and powerful tool. But it also remains a slightly suspect endeavor, and the artist who messes with people’s rigid gender assumptions risks shallow and dismissive branding.

When Drag came out of the closet, it also got watered down for menace-free mass public consumption. Either heterosexual men compelled to use drag as a tool to get closer to an amorous crush or his kids (Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire), or sensational clown drag (the films you mentioned), which is more about the artifice and not particularly sensual, where the idea is layered on to the point that the person underneath, the potential source of humanity, nuance and poetry—recedes. Generally, the man portrays the powerful woman; the vulnerability of a man is not meant to penetrate the veneer of the woman. For me, vulnerability is a crucial component of a complete, fleshed-out and interesting character.

Menace and unpredictable human possibility, even if coupled with glamour, is more interesting to me than makeup worked up into some deafening din. "Beauty" can be surface and safe; it can also be deep and poetic.

mbg: You’ve been doing Paved Paradise Redux, the performance you’re bringing to Fusebox, since 2007. I’ve seen you say that it’s your “Bolero”—a popular piece that has enabled you to pay your bills. Are there other reasons you want to keep performing this piece?

JK: Well, it’s been a mixed bag for me. It’s an insane technical tour-de-force, sixteen songs sung in three vocal registers, conversational speeches, complicated guitar tunings and fingerings and a dulcimer (that Joni gave me). I love diving into its challenge, and I am very proud of it, and see it as a major accomplishment.

But it often gets stuck in the "drag" discussion. I cannot tell you the number of articles or reviews that have included the phrases "not a drag," or "phony Joni." These are not necessarily negatives, but they do relegate the work into the "doing drag," "doing Joni" or "who else do you do," box. There is too much focus on the wig, the dress. For me it’s acting, singing, role-playing and conjuring. When Cate Blanchett played Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes film I’m Not There, it wasn’t called "drag," it was considered acting. I also think the notion of portraying Joni Mitchell, singing her songs while playing her legendary guitar tunings, is in itself incredibly audacious and conceptually quite Dada-esque. The fact that I performed for her—and made her cry—blows me away and remains a highlight of my life.

mbg: As I understand it, you became friends with Joni Mitchell through Paved Paradise Redux. How has your relationship with her changed the performance?

JK: It definitely has. It has made me feel more responsible, as Joni is not an abstraction—she is a friend who I care about deeply. I also admire her work, and like any great work, it can be revisited and experienced—by both performer and audience—as new, always hearing something different, or noticing something as if for the first time.

mbg: Right now, you’re working on a performance entitled The Escape Artist inspired by Caravaggio’s life, but if I have it right, you won’t actually be performing as Caravaggio. How did this performance evolve?

JK: In the past I have made works that trace the life of an artist like Egon Schiele, whose life read like an unimaginable screenplay, and I also looked a bit like him. I was moved to travel through his experience both as a man (by choreographing his carbon footprint), and as an artist (by concocting various ways of replicating the process of painting and drawing live onstage).

I had considered portraying Caravaggio, but I decided that I probably look nothing like him—he was short and dark, I am tall and Anglo-Saxon—though I could pull it off. But the other concern I had is that there is so little known about his personal life aside from the court transcripts, the scandal and the myth. The most we can know about him is through his paintings, and what better source? So I decided to bring to life the figures that populate his paintings.

While I was a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome three years ago, I embarked on a different visual art practice, attempting to reconcile ephemeral performance and a tangible practice. I set up a video camera in my studio and improvised video vignettes in which I played with figures from Caravaggio’s paintings. Initially, I did this in order to get photographic images, but realized I was developing a separate body of video work on its own. Since then, I have been writing songs and pairing them with the video. But I was searching for a dramatic context with which to include these video/song pairings. I decided to use my experience of a broken neck from a trapeze accident (in 2002) as the bedrock for these flights of imagination, art history and out of body travel. So my inhabitations of Caravaggio’s characters—Bacchus, Matthew, John the Baptist, Magdalene—will be experienced by a man in a neck brace on a gurney in a hospital emergency room at 3 a.m. on a Friday night.

mbg: What else are you working on right now?

JK: I am currently an Armory Artist in Residence at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. I have a beautiful room called Company K, which is also called the "millionaires room" because it was home to a company of rich soldiers and is lined with 120-year-old wooden lockers inscribed with their names and rank. As this is still a functioning regiment—they just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq—and as I am an artist working out of this reality, I decided to create something site specific. So I plan to make a series of fifty black and white, ink on panel portraits of soldiers that have been discharged as a result of the "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy. On each of the portraits I will include both their enlistment and discharge dates. Funny, with this policy it’s not a dishonorable discharge unless you dispute it. But it is an enforced discharge. The irony is that part of the military "code of honor" is to tell the truth.

I am also planning a revival of my Egon Schiele work Pass The Blutwurst, Bitte at La MaMa this December. It is the piece that put me on the cultural radar screen in the late 1980s, and Ellen Stewart talked me into reviving it. It freaks me out a bit, as Schiele died when he was 28, and I am now 50. But I think I can pull it off—it’s a dance theatre work for five performers, with a lot of movement and only one song. Sarah Bernhardt played Joan of Arc when she was 54. Oh yeah—she also "did drag"—Hamlet and Pierrot.

Claire Ruud is Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative.

Sina Najafi: On Cabinet magazine, critical writing & ethics

By Claire Ruud

Cabinet Flag.

Sina Najafi is a co-founder and the Editor-in-Chief of Cabinet magazine. …might be good caught up with him last month while he was in town as one of Arthouse’s Visiting Lecturers.

…might be good [mbg]: I’ve heard that one of the reasons you founded Cabinet was to fill a gap you saw somewhere between journalism and academic writing. You saw that in Europe public intellectuals could publish in popular newspapers in a way that they couldn’t here in the States. Since then, have you perceived a shift in the presence of the public intellectual in the U.S.

Sina Najafi [SN]: Here? No. It is shifting in Europe though, unfortunately for the worse. I think today there is less space for the public intellectual even in Europe, at least in newspapers. In Sweden, which is where I was before I moved to this country in 1995, there were four newspapers. Two of them were tabloids, and a friend of mine was editing the cultural pages of one of these tabloids, Aftonbladet. They were publishing interviews with intellectuals like Paul Virilio and Baudrillard. That blows away the content of the cultural pages of the New York Times, for example. In Europe at that time, it wasn’t unusual for academics and other public intellectuals to write for newspapers in a way that was both smart and jargon-free. These types of intellectuals cared about trying to engage in a larger cultural conversation and I felt like the New York Times—well, I have not read the New York Times for a long time, actually—

mbg: Really?

SN: I can’t read the Times anymore—I get most of my news online from European newspapers like the Guardian or Dagens Nyheter in Sweden—but when I still used to read it, people like Stanley Fish and Edward Said used to write for it sometimes. Then after a while Said’s views were considered too radical for the Times and they dropped him. On the whole, the cultural pages of the Times are—or at least were when I used to read it—highly disappointing.

There are not enough non-academic venues in which intellectuals can publish. For that reason, I think, they end up being sequestered in academic journals, where they write in a particular mode, and their language atrophies. It’s very sad because what those specialists know can and should be of interest to a much larger audience. However, writing for a larger audience requires a different type of language that you have to practice to become good at. So, we thought of Cabinet as being—and this was one of the impetuses for starting the magazine—a place where we could encourage that mode of writing. About a third of our articles are written by academics. Many academics in the United States are dissatisfied with what academic writing offers them, so we’ve not been turned down by many—unless they’re about to get tenure and they know that, in that last stretch, writing for Cabinet won’t be considered relevant by their tenure committee. Other than that, most people are very happy to have the opportunity to write for our audience. Our audience is fairly small; we sell about 13,000 copies of the magazine and it’s usually estimated 3 people read each sold copy, so we’re looking at around 30,000 people. But that’s a lot more readers than the journal of 18th-Century French Studies, or wherever academics might usually publish.

mbg: Do you find that academics are well-prepared to write for Cabinet’s audience, or do you have to work fairly closely with them as an editor?

SN: Well, we interview a lot of academics, in part because I find that the interview format allows them to speak very naturally in much more accessible language. They do write for us as well, and sometimes we have to edit vigorously to push them towards a language that’s jargon-free. However, the academics we approach to write for us may be from a self-selecting pool. We can already see that their mode of writing is going outside of the traditional bounds of academic writing. There’s exuberance there, there’s speculation there, and you can see them busting out.

mbg: As an editor and writer myself, I think a lot about what “critical writing” is or could be today. What part of critical writing do you think Cabinet is doing, or is it doing critical writing at all?

SN: I’ll tell you components of critical writing that we are not interested in. The idea of critical distance is something we are definitely not interested in; this idea that I somehow survey the object of contemplation from a particular distance, which is the right distance, and from this right distance that is only available to certain people, I can then make judgments that are true or valid in some way. That we don’t like. We prefer the person who is too close in some way, who is passionate and makes no claim to being at just the right distance, the person who in some way acknowledges that her insights and blindnesses are deeply related. But we also prefer the person who is too far, who is too distant to have any engagement at all, including the act of judgment, and is providing almost a cold description of an object that most people would want to pass judgment on. I say “almost” because I don’t want to pretend that neutral description is possible, but there is a permanent delay in reaching a conclusion in this second mode of writing that I think is worth holding onto.

There are also certain genres that we are not interested in. All those catalogue essays, for example, I don’t know who reads them, to be honest. They have a certain mode that you know in advance—you know what they’re going to say and how they’re going to say it. I’m being grossly unfair here; there’s lots of fantastic writing in catalogue essays, but as a genre I feel it has no audience, and for good reason. We also don’t have reviews, for example, in the magazine because when we started to think about reviews we kind of fell asleep. People should trust tedium as a guidance system for what is good or bad. I don’t know many artists who are excited to read those big long articles in the middle of most art magazines, and if art magazines aren’t read by artists, then something’s going on. Part of what we wanted to do with Cabinet was bring different modes of writing —including new experiments in critical writing — and see if we could help dislocate some of these sedimented tendencies.

mbg: So is there anything left to keep from critical writing?

SN: From critical writing in the dominant mode? Yes, there’s carefulness and specificity, and that has to co-exist alongside the potential for abandon, exuberance, speculation, adventure. At Cabinet, we’re looking for writing that is anchored somewhere; we like the text to hit ground at some point and have traction. It’s not about creative writing, otherwise it becomes an exercise in just making stuff up and I don’t think that’s ethical or interesting in the context of our pages. I’m a traditionalist in this sense: academics have produced all sorts of great texts about the world and how it became what it is, and we have to take that work on board and think about it.

mbg: Okay, so you’re talking about a kind of faithfulness to facts and histories of ideas that results in specificity. Where does critical processing come into this?

SN: To take an example, if we have a fictional dialogue between Robert Smithson and Andy Warhol walking through New York—a text that Saul Anton wrote for us in 2001—we want the conversation to stage exactly what those artists could have and could not have said. This requires thorough familiarity with their work and writings, absorbing it, and then producing wholesale something that is built on all that research but doesn’t end up just rehearsing the same positions. The dialogue genre will itself produce new knowledge and insights into the two artists.

Many texts that we normally think of as being critical share a strategy: they aim to show the reader the falseness of some other person’s position by carefully dismantling it. It’s in part a game of intellectual one-upmanship. These are very authoritative modes of passing judgment, and they have a lot to teach us, but these are exactly the modes of engagement that we try to sidestep. There’s a place for those traditional modes of critical writing, but we’d like to be a venue for modes of writing that undermine themselves, that are at times excessive or not appropriate, and they certainly don’t worry about decorum, or how things should be done. They might even undo their own authority by overreaching or by refusing to gather things up in the right way. They definitely shun disinterestedness as the primary criterion for criticality and they want to interact with the object in as many different interested ways as possible. They are experiments or essays in a deep sense, and they might fail, which is ok.

mbg: So I have a couple different questions related to what you’ve said so far. You mentioned that artists don’t read art magazines very much. Anecdotally, this feels right to me. But I wonder whether you have any hard evidence about how much more artists read publications like Cabinet.

SN: Hard evidence? No. Scanning through our subscriber list, I’d guess that roughly half of our readers are artists, just from the names I recognize. But then I have a skewed set of friends, you know? [laughs] Not knowing your readers is very helpful because the moment you start imagining the reader, you risk attempting to cater to that reader. When we’re editing a text, we never imagine, ‘will readers understand this?’ ‘will readers like this?’ ‘will readers be disappointed?’ None of those questions ever enter our heads.

mbg: What are the questions that enter your heads when you’re putting together an issue?

SN: Do we enjoy this? Are we learning something from it? Can we understand everything we are editing? We think of ourselves as the first readers. We’re a large group, so hopefully it’s not just one ego being refracted.

mbg: I’ve always wondered how you come up with the themes of issues.

SN: Sometimes one of our editors will suggest a particular topic. That happened with “Electricity” and “Ruins,” for example. Other times, the topic comes out of conversations between me, my colleague Jeffrey Kastner who’s senior editor of the magazine and is in the office with me, and one other editor who randomly walks in. “Insecurity,” for example, came out of a conversation in that way. And sometimes people from outside have suggested themes to us. “Shame” was suggested by a reader who was a professor at the New School.

mbg: How do you decide whether an idea is a workable topic for an issue?

SN: We would like the topic to be large enough so that it can extend into all the sorts of nooks and crannies of culture. Some theme ideas, even though we liked them, seemed too specific to two or three disciplines, at least given the amount of time and energy we have to devote to each issue. We also would like the topic to be untimely. If everyone is talking about a particular topic, we definitely prefer not to do it. We prefer something that has fallen out of favor or is marginalized. We liked “Shame,” for example, because it was important in 18th-century philosophical discourse before guilt sidelined it in the 19th century. We’ve in fact only done one issue that was timely, which was the “Animals” issue. We were doing an issue on “Evil,” and mad cow disease was happening. Those scenes of cows being burnt in England were so incredible that we decided to postpone the “Evil” issue and do an issue on animals. That was the one time where we responded to something happening in real time.

Part of this is just functional. It takes roughly nine to twelve months for us to go from an idea to getting it together to publishing it to getting it back from Belgium where we print. Something that is timely would be untimely by the time we get to it. The other part of it is that if everyone is talking about something, I don’t see the point of being one more person talking about it. There are so many things to talk about.

mbg: Your upcoming issue on education seems pretty timely.

SN: To be honest, that’s a reason why we are uncomfortable with it. We’ve even thought about canceling it but we’ve already put it in the distributor’s catalogue and received submissions for it, so we’re going to go ahead and do it.

mbg: And you recently had a show touching on the topic of education at your space—videos of classrooms by Darcy Lange. Do you think of your space as an opportunity to be more timely?

SN: No, though Lange’s work is of course about pedagogy and education. In the 70s, he made a series of works in Birmingham and Oxfordshire in which he would put his camera in a classroom and film the whole class and then show the tape to the teacher, and tape the teacher watching the tape and having a discussion about his or her performance. Then he would show the tape of the classroom to the students and tape them watching the tape and having a discussion about their performance. I think it’s an incredible body of work and one that had never been shown in the United States.

mbg: How do you understand the relationship between the space and the magazine?

SN: Some of the shows have come out of the magazine. Recently we showed work by Victor Houteff, a Seventh Day Adventist from the 1930s who founded the group in Waco that was later taken over by David Koresh. Houteff’s paintings were part of his evangelical work and they’re amazing—many of them offer strange timelines of history understood through Houteff’s particular religious framework. We showed them in the magazine in 2001 and we all loved them, so now, nine years later, we decided to show them in the space. I don’t know many places that can show this kind of historical material on its own. Our shows will go back and forth between contemporary artists—our next show is with Mark Dion—and historical stuff.

mbg: So the shows are just based on whim?

SN: They’re based on what is interesting and would be great to see and learn from. Whim, in some sense, in that if we ever tried to get a grant for the space, I don’t know how we would describe the program, but not whim in the sense that we of course think that the work we show is absorbing and compelling.

mbg: How do you fund the exhibitions?

SN: We have a budget of about $2000 a year for it.

mbg: No.

SN: Yeah.

mbg: So the work and labor are all donated?

SN: Well, for example, with Darcy Lange’s show, they sent us the DVDs from New Zealand and uploaded the scanned pictures for us and we printed them out on a donated Epson printer and mounted them ourselves. The whole show cost $250, and I think it was a great show.

mbg: And you use the same space in which you produce the magazine, eliminating those costs.

SN: Yes; whoever is in the office working also oversees the gallery. That’s the only reason why we can pull it off. I love having no budget on certain things. I love the fact that at the end of this year we’ll probably spend less than $2000 having done about eight shows. I like the ethics of being tiny. Olafur Eliasson will forgive me, but his waterfalls piece is antithetical to what the ethics of the art world should be, I think. With that much money, you could have 1,000 great art projects instead. That’s one a day for 3 years. Those kinds of enormous projects should be rejected out of hand. I’m not saying it’s comfortable to do things with the budget we have, and I’m not saying it’s fair to everybody who participates because we can’t offer any fees, but all the participants know that we’re not getting any money for it either, so in that sense we’re not abusing them, or if we are, we’re abusing ourselves first and inviting others to join us. If it’s unethical, it’s a shared unethics.

mbg: As you’re talking about ethics, I want to go back to something you said earlier. You mentioned that what you called “creative writing” unethical in the context of critical writing.

SN: Not creative writing per se, obviously, but creative writing in the mode that we are interested in at Cabinet. We want to look at historical materials and the pre-history of the contemporary. If we un-tether the texts completely from the factual and historical, if the speculative, the imaginative, the creative, the unbound, the adventurous become our only guidelines, then we would end up with what I mean here by creative writing. We want an attention to style, and we also like to offer the freedom to mix genres and voices within the same text, but we also want to always signal our commitment to the factual and historical and the idea that there is some stake there that needs to be taken seriously.

mbg: I have another question about ethics. I get why the idea of a Cabinet of Curiosities is attractive for its rich juxtapositions, but I sense some ethical danger here, too, given the place of such cabinets in the history of colonization.

SN: There are dangers in what we’re doing. Historically, certain types of curiosity, women’s curiosity for instance, has been highly regulated and censored. And of course, with the figure of the collector, there is the danger that the objects, whether textual or actual artifacts, are simply there to reflect the collector himself.

But dilettantism is another way to discuss this. If you learn a little bit about something, this may seem like dilettantism from the specialist’s point of view. But gaining little bits of knowledge about many things can also be an additive process whereby you start to care about the histories and the artifacts that surround us. You begin to think, “my god, this window next to us, when did this become the dominant way to decorate a window frame? Where is this wood from and who made this thing?” All of these little bits of knowledge become a way of thinking around the social, material world around us. Those little bits of history, I think, if offered to you in the right way, can help to shift your perspective. We become more careful about thinking about why the world is the way it is. In that sense, I do think what we’re doing at Cabinet is ethical.

mbg: I think you’re right, in an ideal world that’s how the magazine functions. It doesn’t always function that way, though. Cabinet’s aesthetic seems to play right into a trendy, mostly cosmetic antiquarianism right now. I still read The New York Times, and last summer they printed an article about the “new antiquarians,” 20- and 30-somethings in Brooklyn who are collecting relics of a colonial past, but are completely disassociating these objects from any kind of historical, political context.

SN: Well, first, I think collecting objects is a little bit different than putting texts together around ideas. Texts are harder to fetishize than objects. Second, that is a trap that we have certainly fallen into at times: a bad issue of Cabinet may have too many articles about “19th century fads,” as one of our editors put it. That’s a danger, but I hope that a good issue of Cabinet is not just about antiquarianism. And I hope that many of our articles can be read as a pre-history of what happens today and help us understand our relationship with the world today. Sometimes this is explicit in the articles, and sometimes it’s not, and we’re trusting the readers to make the connections. If they don’t, that’s a failure of our part and we need to then address that in some way.

mbg: Or also a failure of all texts in some way. You can’t, of course, guarantee the reader will read the same thing you wrote.

SN: Which is maybe why it’s best not to think too much about the reader. [laughs]


Substitute Teacher
Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Atlanta
Through May 16, 2010

By Michael David Murphy

Andrea Fraser, Little Frank and His Carp, 2001, Video, 6:00 minutes. Courtesy of the artist and Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York.

By their very nature, substitutes are poor approximations. Like Sweet-N-Low, or a hair metal cover band, substitute teachers are among the most maligned dopplegangers, offering the thin promise of a good time, a fleeting pleasure in the absence of Old Familiar.

Substitute Teacher at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center is exactly the kind of show you want to see at the end of winter, when your thinking process (and low expectations for another group show) could use a good cranial power wash.

A group show of twenty artists curated by Regine Basha and Stuart Horodner, Substitute Teacher portends an effortless learning, a study somewhere between playing hooky and hiring your own personal test taker. The included artworks combine to create a new "new," a pedagogy in which letters might be signs and signifiers, but they also just might be letters, too, arranged into the perfection of a prisoner's last words, or a visual pun on the spine of a paperback book.

Brody Condon's Without Sun (2008) video, an aggregation of online clips in which psychedelic trip participants attempt to recount their experience while under the influence, succeeds as beautifully as its participants fail into speechlessness. Condon's video, which has also been performed live, by actors, might be a kind of Rosetta Stone for human learning—Here Is The Mystical Amazement, Let Me Tell You. Humans created language for some reason, right? Experiencing the other worldly (and describing it) has to rank right up there with avoiding Mr. Sabre Tooth on reasons why humans learned to speak and yell.

Eroticizing the everyday (if your everyday includes an audio tour of Guggenheim Bilbao) Andrea Fraser's Little Frank and His Carp (2001), just might become the most memorable museum tour you've ever witnessed. Pound-for-pound, Fraser's "audio erotic" amble through Bilbao's architectural splendor might be a true contender to Gehry's titanium-clad CAD fish fantasy.

As you might expect, a show about learning is also one of the best collections of text art I've ever seen in one location. Glenn Ligon's Condition Report (I AM A MAN) (2000), a dual reproduction of a classic placard from the Civil Rights Movement, looks at the inconsistencies and imperfections of its own recreation. On the left of the diptych is a reproduction of the sign, and on the right, a self-critical analysis of the sign's fault-lines, fissures and "hairline cracks." Ligon's diptych shows us that the flaws that complete the work, are the flaws that make the work work, that let the man be a man.

Paul Ramirez Jonas's Album Fifty State Summits (2002) crests one wall of the gallery, a compilation of highs completely unlike Condon's. A grand visual documentation of bagged peaks, Ramirez Jonas's effort yields a work-in-process that's as much about the process of getting there as it is about what it means to stand atop. The album's empty spaces (Brasstown Bald in Georgia is apparently on the schedule) are evidence of intent, the inclusion of omission.

Paul Ramírez JonasAlbum Fifty State Summits, Kansas, 2002, C-print, 20 1/2 x 16 3/4 inches. Courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates, New York.

You could say "Substitute Teacher Makes the Grade" but to conclude with cliché would undercut the strength of the exhibition's effort. From the smallness of Brian Dettmer's "power fragments" in his painstakingly altered books, to the "I love doodle bug, too" in Luis Camnitzer's massive set of Last Words (2008) from death row prisoners, Basha and Horodner have created one of the most valuable kind of art-going experiences, the kind when you come away knowing more than when you started, yet not knowing how, exactly, it happened.

Michael David Murphy is a writer and photographer in Atlanta, Georgia. Michael's essays and photographs have been published worldwide in People Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, San Francisco Magazine, The National (Abu Dhabi), MSNBC, USA Today, BBC2, 8, & Wired.

Lance Letscher
D. Berman Gallery, Austin
Through May 15, 2010

By Katie Geha

Lance Lestcher, The Perfect Machine, 2010, Collage on mixed media, 40 1/2 x 72 x 25 inches. Courtesy the artist and D. Berman Gallery, Austin.

The protagonist of Lance Letscher’s recent children’s book asks himself a question: “What is the perfect machine?” It is a question that pervades Letscher’s recent exhibition at D. Berman Gallery, a collection of collage works that also serve to illustrate the book that shares the exhibition’s title The Perfect Machine. Frenetic abstract assemblages in children’s block colors cover the walls of the galleries. Peeking through and behind these more formal geometric abstractions are images of shifts and gears, cut-out ransom note letters, and sections of children’s books from the 1950s and 60s. The works create a tension between the handmade and the machine-driven––the human impulse to create and the mechanical directive to produce.

Letscher is known for taking mundane everyday objects and creating an arrangement of abstract formal beauty. The works exhibit a ruddy geometry as the materials he chooses are often worn down old record covers, the boards of rummage sale books or used magazines. These found items, arranged so meticulously and obsessively by Letscher, recall the best of outsider art. Yet there is no dark underbelly of madness to this work—it is as light and airy as a child’s tale (even a collaged gun looks innocent and banal in this exhibition). The images of gears and shifts that radiate out of the pieced together cardboard squares aren’t referencing the mechanization of society a la Hannah Höch, but rather merely exist as the very things that they are—the inside stuff that makes a machine run.

Lance LestcherYellow Cottage, 2010, Collage on board, 11 1/8 x 8 1/4 inches. Courtesy the artist and D Berman Gallery.

The works in the exhibition, some larger and looser with scribbles and roughed up empty space, some smaller and denser with a flurry of letters, images and color, stand perfectly well on their own. However, combined with the narrative of the young boy “whose head was filled with ideas” and who wonders “Could a tree be a machine?” the works elucidate a deeper connection between the mechanical and human. Throughout the tale, the boy examines different types of machines: a walking machine, a city with wheels, a gun, a windmill. In the end, the boy wakes from a dream and asks, “What can write a book or paint a picture? Can’t I do all these things?”

It’s a sweet tale of self-discovery, the realization that machines, like picture books and collaged images, are also human made. The perfect machine is revealed to be the imperfect human. Is this message too sweet? Are the works depleted of a richer, more complex reading due to their association to a child’s book? Perhaps. I certainly would like to see what happens when the machine/human goes awry. Does the gun ever go off accidentally? What happens when the train goes off the rails? The works, at times, can feel sterile; frenetic without any real movement. A more pressing question might not be “What is the perfect machine?” but instead, “Can the perfect machine make compelling art?”

Katie Geha is pursuing her Ph.D. in art history at The University of Texas at Austin.

Adam Schreiber
Sasha Wolf Gallery, New York
Through May 1, 2010

By Nicole J. Caruth

Adam Schreiber, Whitehouse Switchboard, 1969 - 2001, 2010, Inkjet print on archival paper. Courtesy the artist and Sasha Wolf Gallery, New York.

Adam Schreiber’s small solo exhibition at Sasha Wolf Gallery is largely inspired by his research at three archival facilities: the Lyndon B. Johnson Library & Museum, the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, and J. J. Pickle Research Center. The connection between these annals is, to an Austin outsider, as much a mystery as the artist’s photographs. Schreiber’s mixed bag of images—an old switchboard, a model moon, a set of toothbrushes with a presidential seal, a nigh-lit stadium and a forest landscape, for instance—look entirely unrelated rather than, as the exhibition title Anachronic implies, out of chronological order. This might compel one, just as archives do, to dig.

However, the history behind Schreiber’s subjects is only slightly more engaging than the photos themselves. [1] Upon consultation of this history, Schreiber’s photographs, like the scrambled pieces of a boxed puzzle, start to make sense in view of the bigger picture. His rejection of linear and written narrative affirms the obvious: how we view objects is largely a result of how they’re framed.

Nothing speaks to this more than View from the Window at Le Gras, 1826 (2009), an image of the first known photograph taken by the Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and held in the Ransom Center collection. Displayed underneath multiple frames, including one made of Plexiglas and airtight steel, Schreiber’s framing of the image adds yet another layer and removes the viewer further from the object. The act of preservation, then, obscures rather than reveals. In our present moment of digital and increasingly unrestricted images, the impermeable bubble around Le Gras is a portrait of progress that makes you kind of chuckle.

Adam SchreiberUT, 2007.

Archives are often filled with mundane things that, when taken out of the context, are utterly meaningless. Schreiber’s inkjet prints—on archival paper no less— present objects and structures so plainly that they are doubly mind numbing. General Motors (I), 1939, and General Motors (II), 1939 (both 2009), two anonymous white prototypes set against a white background, is where Anachronic starts to get stylistically interesting. Metallic tints, stark backgrounds, or hints of red light cast objects such as these into a futuristic and paranormal realm. UT (2007), and 2000 (2010), two different construction sites or quasi landscapes, are creepily empty. In science fiction horror films, these would be the moments when everyone has vanished and you, the viewer, are made to feel like the last human being on Earth. These ghostly scenes might in fact symbolize the greatest fear of technological advancement: that humans will no longer be necessary.

At times Anachronic looks too much like an archive filled with individual characterless objects. Where the exhibition does well is in the mysterious atmosphere created by the entire group. And that is precisely the nature of archives.
[1] In 1949, the University of Texas at Austin purchased the Pickle Research campus, a place where pioneering discoveries were made in nuclear physics and space flight. The acquisition was made with the help of Lyndon B. Johnson, merely a congressman at the time, who would, during his Senate years, nurture the United States space program. In 1957, the same year that Johnson passed the landmark Civil Rights Act, the Harry Ransom Center, named for the former chancellor of the University, was officially founded. In a trivial but strange coincidence, Johnson became the thirty-sixth President of the United States on Ransom’s fifty-fifth birthday. The President would later ask a group of individuals to support the construction of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library on University grounds. Ransom was among this group of allies.

Nicole J. Caruth is a freelance writer and curator based in Brooklyn. A regular blogger for Art21, her writing has been published by the Studio Museum in Harlem, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, NYFA Current, CUE Art Foundation, and Gastronomica. Her personal blog, Contemporary Confections, merges two of her greatest loves: art and sweet foodstuffs.

Marlys Dietrick & Meg Langhorne
Three Walls Gallery, San Antonio
Closed April 22, 2010

By Wendy Atwell

Marlys Dietrick, Detail of What Beats What, 2010, Gouache on Bristol board and paper. Courtesy Michele Monseau.

Anima, an intimately scaled exhibition of gouache paintings by Marlys Dietrick and Meg Langhorne, is as alluring and lethal as a coral snake. Dietrick and Langhorne, both San Antonio-based artists, use a deck of cards and mandalas, respectively, to create visual meditations on mortality and the ambivalent bond between humanity and nature. Their beautifully painted, intricate images engage the mind and eye like a bejeweled Bond girl counting cards in a Monaco casino.

Dietrick’s oversized cards playfully combine references to lotería and the Tarot deck. Like a sinister game of rock-paper-scissors, What Beats What (2010) is a colorful contemplation of death in 52 ways, with endless permutations. Dietrick paints different pictures on each card’s face, categorically distributing potential demises among them. The suits are laid out on in four horizontal rows of thirteen on an open-framed, tilted viewing table. Hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds: each contains its own share of natural disasters, dangerous flora and hazardous fauna; aces are high and twos are “wild.” Earthquakes, tornadoes, and fire contrast with magnified images of viruses and bacteria. Viewed as a whole, the deck prompts the question, what’s going to get you in the end?

Dietrick treats her weighty subject with a delightfully black sense of humor. Humanity accounts for a paltry four cards, though humans are indirectly implicated in other cards such as “Warming Earth,” “War,” and “Species Extinction.” “Human” cards include images of praying hands and an illustration of a girl in a pose in which she appears intellectually stumped. “What me worry” is the label of a card featuring the familiar, idiotic, smiling, juvenile face from Mad Magazine. “Omnivore” is a 1950’s style housewife advertising a plate of food. The deceivingly glib containment of fatal threats within a deck of cards conveys modern humanity’s often blithe ignorance of the interconnection of species and our dependence on Earth’s resources.

In ecosystems, pieces fit together like a puzzle. Langhorne’s two elaborate mandalas, Croak and Rise (both 2010), reflect the symbiotic, cyclical relationship between the species and the planet. Langhorne’s design of abstracted forms and geometrical patterns combines and equalizes the various elements—earth, man and nature—as if to set the balance right again. In Croak, a frog sits in meditation with rainbow-colored rays emanating from behind, encircled by ghostly frogs linked together against the scene of a pond beneath a starry sky. Rise features the haunting silhouettes of vultures. In the mandala’s corners, black wings form a circle that leads into clouds and sky, which in turn surrounds a central design of vultures, strips of blacktop, electrical posts and sunsets.

Meg Langhorne, Croak, 2010, Gouache on Bristol board and paper. Photo: Ansen Seale.

Langhorne’s mandalas are symmetrical like a kaleidoscope, further abstracting her subject matter like toy objects refracted in a mirrored field. The mandala serves as a visual model for a thought process, creating a loop-like repetition of Langhorne’s subject matter: nature’s beauty, potential metamorphosis and transformation, and the ending result of death, which is in turn a life-giving source for carrion eaters.

Our biological origins bind us to the animal world despite the fact that we think beyond it. Death remains a mystery until it happens, with all of the possibilities looming before us. The paintings of Dietrich and Langhorne remind us that we are rooted in this present, along with animals. The shuffling of the deck is an apt description of Darwinian law. The hand you are dealt in life is played out with heartless logic, but you can always hope for a wild card.

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

Announcements: exhibitions

Austin Openings

Jenny Hart
Domy Books
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 1, 7-9pm

"These are drawings based on year-book photos of various students from my high school. I grew up and attended school in the same town throughout my life and went from daycare to graduation with many of the same kids from this farming town. Despite the access FaceBook offers, I have no idea where most of these people are today." – Jenny Hart

Opening Reception: Sunday, April 25th, 6-9pm

Adrian Landon Brooks (Austin), Marie-Claire Bozant (Seattle), and Sylvana Lacarra (Argentina)

Low Lives 2
Opening Reception: Friday, April 30, 7-10PM

In partnership with the 2010 FUSEBOX FESTIVAL and New York City based artist/curator Jorge Rojas Co-Lab presents Low Lives 2 featuring: A 2010 Streaming Class Portrait, a performance by Mike Smith and his students, and Low Lives, a one-night exhibition of live performance-based works transmitted via the internet and projected in real time at numerous venues throughout the U.S. For more info, click here.

Austin on View

Marina Zurkow
Women and Their Work
Through May 27

Using vivid animation, Marina Zurkow creates a colorful cast of characters who inhabit a drowned world. In the carnivalesque Slurb ( a word that collapses "slum" and "suburb") Zurkow designs a haunting ode to the rise of slime, a watery future in which jellyfish have dominion. Conflating time, this work refers not only to a future apocalypse but to the present world where extreme weather events occur regularly, ocean temperatures are rising, and the seas are increasingly acidic and hostile to most sea life. Few but the indomitable jellyfish are currently flourishing. And as New Orleans reminds us, the deluge is already upon us.

Lance Letscher
D Berman Gallery
Through May 15

d berman gallery is pleased to present Lance Letscher’s The Perfect Machine, an exhibition of new collages and collaged objects by this internationally-celebrated artist, in conjunction with the publication of his uniquely imaginative children’s book of the same name. Works from The Perfect Machine explore notions of locomotion, technology, and the creative impulse at the heart of human nature through intricately composed collages. Book signing with Lance Letscher on Saturday, April 24 at 1pm.

Roy McMakin
Lora Reynolds Gallery
Through May 15

Lora Reynolds Gallery is pleased to announce their second solo exhibition of new sculptures and photography by Seattle-based artist, Roy McMakin. For this exhibition, In and On, Roy McMakin conceived four pieces that meticulously intermingle elements of sculpture and furniture. Each work imbues the artists distinctly minimalist tradition. Two pieces espouse found furniture with McMakin's own sculptures, a more prevalent practice by the artist in recent years. His photographic series, Net Making, also included in the exhibition, skillfully illustrates McMakins relentless attention to detail.

Austin Closings

Luke Savisky
Austin Museum of Art
Through May 9

 AMOA's New Works exhibition series introduces fresh contemporary art by innovative Austin artists. The upcoming show will feature installation artist, Luke Savisky, who uses light and projection to explores ideas of perception, exposure, surveillance, and perspective. Click here for a video of a previous installation in downtown Austin.

Dallas on View

Andrea Rosenberg
Barry Whistler Gallery
Through May 29

The Barry Whistler Gallery in Dallas presents Andrea Rosenberg's: The Printed Image. The show includes etchings, lithographs, monoprints, and spit bites.

Houston Openings

Emilie Halpern & Eric Zimmerman
Art Palace
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 8, 6-8pm

Art Palace is pleased to present new work by Los Angeles based artist Emilie Halpern and Austin artist Eric Zimmerman in their first two-person exhibition of their work. Entitled Cosmos, the exhibition pairs Halpern's striking photographs and sculpture with Zimmerman's painstakingly rendered graphite drawings, etchings, and sculpture. A collaborative work utilizes each of the artist's voices as they read from Carl Sagan's text Pale Blue Dot. The alternating sentences loop endlessly through a pair of Califone tape recorders placed side by side on a circular gold foil blanket. (From the press release)

Dan Sutherland
Moody Gallery
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 1, 6-8pm

Moody Gallery is pleased to present Headlands, an exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by Dan Sutherland. In this work Sutherland builds and dismantles imaginary structures that evoke architecture, landscape, and still life, creating complex (and often impossible) spaces replete with allusions to painting's history. Headlands marks Sutherland's second one-person exhibition at Moody Gallery. He has exhibited in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and extensively in Texas since 1991. Sutherland lives and works in Austin and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin.(From the press release)

Houston Closings

Anthony Goicolea
Houston Center for Photography
Through April 25

HCP´s Main Gallery features Anthony Goicolea´s Related, a web of personal narratives about the Cuban-American´s familial, religious, and cultural heritage. The artist strings together a complex series of dialectics denoting his experience of cultural dislocation, assimilation, and desire to maintain ancestral histories.

Andrea Dezsö
Rice University Art Gallery
Through August 8

For her installation Sometimes in My Dreams I Fly, Andrea Dezsö will expand upon a technique she uses to make her distinctive “tunnel books.” Small, handmade books that reveal three-dimensional scenes, tunnel books are created from layers of paper that are individually drawn, cut out, and painted. Each layer is then stacked one in front of another in a collapsible case to create a miniature world with depth and detail that draw in the viewer. At Rice Gallery, Dezsö’s tunnel books will become life-size, with tunnels as wide as six feet. The individual “tunnels” will be placed just behind Rice Gallery’s large front glass wall, creating portals a viewer can peer into but enter only with their imagination. The human scale will be a departure point to another reality. Explains Dezsö, “I want to transport the viewer, as when you pass by a house and look into a window and see a different world from your own.”

Leslie Hall and Laurel Nakadate
Art League Houston
Through April 25

Art League Houston and the FotoFest 2010 Biennial are pleased to partner in presenting Medianation: Performing for the Screen, curated by Gilbert Vicario, and featuring the work of media and performance artists Leslie Hall and Laurel Nakadate.

Road to Nowhere?
Winter Street Studios
Through April 25

Natasha Egan’s selections explore the United States at the close of the “American Century” as the nation negotiates its transition from Cold War superpower to an embattled, economically fragile nation. Ms. Egan says, “The artists in this exhibition address a repertoire of diverse but related themes including politics, surveillance, race, war, and economic insecurity. While the work is oftentimes critical, a quintessentially American optimism is evident.” Ms. Egan’s selections include: Sheila Pree Bright, Jeff Brouws, Tim Davis, Myra Greene, Eirik Johnson, Jason Lazarus, An-My Le, Nic Nicosia, David Oresick, Trevor Paglen, Greta Pratt, Michael Robinson, Jason Salavon, Victoria Sambunaris, Christina Seely, Paul Shambroom, Greg Stimac, and Brian Ulrich.

Marfa on View

Camp Bosworth
Marfa Book Company
Through May 16th

The Marfa Book Company will host an opening reception for "Ballad of Chalino Sanchez," an exhibition of works by Camp Bosworth. "Ballad of Chalino Sanchez" is a continuation of Bosworth's work, representational sculpture and relief in a variety of woods, in a style that fits, uniquely, somewhere between fine and folk art. The works represent a significant and thematically unified response to the culture, mythic and historical, of the Border, specifically the culture of narco-trafficking and agriculture.

San Antonio on View

Wayne Thiebaud
Lawrence Markey Gallery
Through May 21

Lawrence Markey Gallery is pleased to announce an upcoming exhibition of charcoal still lifes by renowned artist Wayne Thiebaud.

Psychedelic: Optical and Visionary Art Since the 1960s
San Antonio Museum of Art
Through August 1

San Antonio Museum of Art mounts an exhibit of psychedelic art from the Op Art of the early 1960s to the abstract and visionary works of today. Curator David Rubin takes the lead in what he calls the first-ever look at the development of a “psychedelic sensibility” in contemporary art of the last 40 years.

Announcements: events

Austin Events

Sustainable Architecture in Vorarlberg: Slide Show and Talk with Ulrich Dangel
Domy Books
Thursday, May 6, 6-8pm
Admission: free

Vorarlberg’s successful combination of a simple, yet sophisticated regional building style with sustainable construction methods has culminated in a model for architecture worldwide.This book presents particularly successful projects of various typologies from recent years and portrays their development from design idea to built detail.

Lance Letscher Talk and Book Signing
d berman gallery
Saturday, April 24, 1pm

Lance Letscher’s The Perfect Machine is an exhibition of new collages and collaged objects by this internationally-celebrated artist, in conjunction with the publication of his uniquely imaginative children’s book of the same name. Works from The Perfect Machine explore notions of locomotion, technology, and the creative impulse at the heart of human nature through intricately composed collages. Meticulously mining his vast trove of cast-off paper ephemera, such as book pages, scribbles, old magazines, and record covers, Letscher deconstructs and recombines these elements into dizzying works of colorful geometry.

Avant Cinema 3.8: Caroline Koebel
Austin Film Society
Screening: Thursday, April 29, 7pm
Admission: $4 AFS Members / $6 General Admission

Perhaps best known to the Austin audience as “Booboo” in Spectres of the Spectrum (1999, Dir: Craig Baldwin, DP: Bill Daniel), Caroline Koebel—a recent transplant from Brooklyn—has been exhibiting her experimental films and video art internationally since the early 1990s. Informed by conceptual art, film theory and feminism, her work provokes new modes of aesthetic and critical engagement with such subjects as early cinema, commodity culture, and the maternal eye.The event will take place at Austin Studios Screening Room, 1901 E 51st St (use Gate 2 under the giant water tower). Click here for details.

Cloud Eye Control: Under Polaris
Salvage Vanguard Theater
April 29, 30, and May 1, 7pm
Admission: $12-20, available online and at the door

3 performances at the Salvage Vanguard Theater by Cloud Eye Control, presented by Women & Their Work & the Fusebox Festival. In their latest mix of projected animation, theater and live electronic music, Cloud Eye Control charts an epic journey across a vast arctic expanse-a sublime icebound landscape illuminated under the ethereal lights of the Northern sky. A woman disguises herself as animals to help her survive the elements, and in the process, learns about the delicate interdependence between humankind and nature. Cloud Eye Control is a Los Angeles-based performance collective comprised of Miwa Matreyek, Anna Oxygen and Chi-wang Yang. Music by THE NEED (Radio Sloan & Rachel Carns). Click here to see a clip of their performance.

Announcements: opportunities

Call for Artists

Extremely Shorts Film Festival
Aurora Picture Show
Early Deadline: April 30, Late Deadline: May 10

Houston's Aurora Picture Show invites artists to submit video shorts. Extremely Shorts is a juried festival that features films under 3 minutes long. Audience awards cash prizes. Entry is free and with and Aurora membership, you receive a voucher for one free entry for Extremely Shorts. All videos are 3 minutes or less-- click here for submission guidelines and entry form or here for the voucher.

Employment Opportunity

Dallas Contemporary Executive Director

Joan Davidow, Executive Director of Dallas Contemporary, is retiring after nine years in her current position. She will assume the title of Director Emeritus upon her retirement and continue in a consulting role until the end of 2010. Education and Experience: 10+ years in arts organization, 3-5 years leadership role including capital campaign or major gift funding, national and international arts and industry relationship access and network, masters degree preferred in Fine Art, Art History or Museum Management. Please email directorsearch@dallascontemporary.org for more information on the position.

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