from the editor
Under no circumstance did I set out to write this weeks letter about art fairs. Our recommendation this week, with the warranted reservations and skepticism, of Frieze New York amounted to enough thinking about the unfettered marriage between art, commerce, and internationalism that fairs represent for me. Whenever money is perceived to tread too closely to art we tend to get squeamish, and art fairs are adept at making even those amongst us with cast-iron stomachs a little queasy. However, fairs (and anti-fairs) are the new norm, even requirement, for the players in the commercial art world, to say nothing of the artists who have to produce the work exhibited in them.1 Dallas, Brussels, Basel, Miami, New York, name the place and it’s likely they’ll be playing host to a fair at some point throughout the year. Fine, I’m not going to my hackles up over it. Fairs represent one slice of the art world that I can choose to participate in or not, simple as that; albeit keeping in mind that my complicity comes with consequences. The most dismal repercussion of the art fair explosion is how they’ve become the touchstone for criticizing the whole of contemporary art and artists— ‘art is for the 1%,’ ‘artists are rich,’ ‘dealers are greedy,’ ‘contemporary art is bad,’ blah, blah, blah. It’s okay not to like art fairs, but let's not pretend they’re representative of every artist, dealer, exhibition and institution out there.
Supplemental materials abound. Endless guides to ‘surviving’ fairs are published and distributed as if wandering the plushly carpeted exhibition halls while consuming champagne amounted to navigating a war zone. How to guides (tedious enough already), rules for finding success in the art world (equally dull) and lists of perceived trends spawn from the lens of the fair at a rapid pace. Therein lies the source of my reluctance to address art fairs at all—too much noise. I’ve been reading David Toop’s book Haunted Weather: Music, Silence and Memory (2004) this week and stumbled on a passage that resonated with me. Toop says, ‘ Evanescent and thick with layers of substance and deep meaning, sounds are difficult to describe, which is why so much music criticism resorts to the material that surrounds sounds—social context, politics, mysticism, biography, trends, money, gossip—rather than discuss sound itself.’2 It’s not difficult to substitute ‘art’ for ‘sound’ in this context and arrive at much the same conclusion.
The question for me is one of reconciliation. How do we speak about the actual complexities and meaning of art objects while acknowledging that fairs, biennials, the market, politics and social context are, for better or worse, an inseparable part of that conversation? Simply dismissing the many frameworks that surround art objects as irrelevant is short-sighted, if not willfully ignorant, while pantomiming the singular importance of such frameworks is equally problematic and worse, eventually induces a deep sleep. Neither extreme is a place we want to get bogged down in.
Are you still with me? Criticism’s role in the current state of art world affairs is one of the subjects of Chicago-based artist and writer Patrick Bobilin’s provocative and engaging Long Read. Boblin’s censure of the bland internationalism perpetuated in part by web-based publications and the ‘biennialization’ of the art world is happily in my mind as I run down this weeks issue for you. Austin has a knack for atypical exhibition spaces and is currently hosting events all-over town by performers, filmmakers and visual artists as part of the annual Fusebox Festival. Artist and ...mbg staffer Emily Ng writes about Files Desks Chairs curated by Katie Geha, Sterling Allen and Travis Kent which finds its home in the old TOPS office supply warehouse, also the Fusebox Festival Hub, in East Austin. Down I-35 in San Antonio writer Wendy Atwell gives Tony Feher’s current project in the Hudson Showroom at ArtPace her attention. Across the Pacific writer and curator Mayumi Hirano lends her keyboard to Kota Takeuchi’s Open Secret at XYZ collective (SNOW Contemporary) finding an artist navigating a path between aesthetic, social and political values. Our Project Space this issue comes from San-Francisco-based artist Jeff Eisenberg whose drawings and sound installations address issues associated with the built environment and architecture; fringe communities, niche cultures and marginal systems; utopian strategies and superstitious forebodings.
Finally, I’m very excited to announce that ...might be good’s big-brother, testsite, is having an opening on Saturday, May 5th for New York-based artist Tamy Ben-Tor and writer and curator Noah Simblist. Be there.
As you wind down from a busy art weekend, either on a ferry from Randall’s Island, a bicycle ride home from an opening, or in a car with your friends consider sharing your thoughts with us. We can be reached anytime at: email@example.com.
Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of ...might be good.
1. Peter Schjeldahl’s article, ‘All Is Fairs,’ in the of the May 7, 2012 issue of The New Yorker is worth a read in regards to this sentiment.
2. David Toop. Haunted Weather: Music, Silence and Memory (London: Serpent’s Tail, 2004): 107.
#artworldproblems: Ghetto Child
by Patrick Bobilin
Hennessey Youngman, It's a Small Small World, April 3, 2012 at Family Business, New York.
As a 24-hour Facebooker, psychotic tweeter, part-time electronic musician and all-around digital native, I’m probably the least likely candidate amongst my friends to call the internet a ghetto. But as art criticism has rapidly disappeared from print (aside from art world specific publications), I find it alarmingly short-sighted to see how quietly-into-the-night criticism was herded over to a completely new medium, almost entirely without question. Like Dylan going electric, David Lynch working with video and James Franco’s art career, significant shifts in media definitively transform the shape of the message. What ends up in print left on the train, at the laundromat or sitting on the café table is undeniably different that what ends up in a Twitter feed or as a Tumblr meme. Before any new trajectory is planned it would be important to account for how print and digital criticism can utilize medium specificity given their respective fixity and placelessness, the importance of cultivating “regional dialects” and how images that are generated by exhibitions (and circulated digitally) are also generative of exhibition practices.1
What a curator like Charles Esche so diplomatically terms as the “planetary consciousness” of 2012’s art world, I would call “globalized capitalist” in the old-fashioned Reagan/Bush/Clinton tradition. The uniform use of English in the art world and the prevalence of left-leaning publications like e-flux2, the biennializing of artistic production in art schools worldwide3 and the promotion of cosmopolitanism amongst curators4, historians and critics amongst others, have contributed to a two-way mirror of false unification in art world politics, practice and actual material production. Art begins to look like Art whether you see it in Korea, Venice, Sharjah or the Americas. Contemporary art looks like an eternal meme because of the ubiquity of contentless gestures, the art-not-art “casual sculpture” that I would argue as embodied by a gesture that appears constantly in university galleries, alternative spaces and museums of contemporary art—a stick, often painted but sometimes not, leaning against a wall.
The internet has medium-specificity, something long understood by both educated and casual hackers, veterans of Arpanet and the more savvy of the younger branch of the millenials. It should not be a contradiction to be a digital native and an advocate of criticism in print. Rather than having all critical material being dumped into the annals of Google, weekly printed columns of art criticism can be an important localized cultural pulse or at very least a magnet for a richer discussion than what can be found amongst the merely descriptive material of most online—and what is left of printed—criticism.
One of the arguments that I use to uphold the importance of printed art criticism is the power of short-range broadcast media. Short-range broadcast media, by its very definition—I’m talking here of newspapers, radio, public access T.V.—addresses a geographically limited audience. For this reason, working within this media (with any degree of success or receptiveness) requires taking into account the audience and to offer locally relevant discourse. Just as the art installation has marked its territory through its specific dealings with space and bodies than that of the art object which can be displaced, transported and commodified in a very different way, the “site-specific” criticism of online publication is inevitably bound to function differently than criticism that is invested in cultivating regional dialects.
I would never advocate a “dumbing-down” of ideas, nor would I suggest the erection of rigid theoretical or intellectual territorial boundaries, the hyperbolic antithesis to irresponsible academically-promoted cosmopolitanism. Something close to Kenneth Frampton’s “Critical Regionalism”5 could be a useful and important conceptual foundation for distilling “regional dialects” in contemporary art. Instead of encouraging artists to create for the general audience of an international biennial, an important role for critics could be to mark out the emergent “regional dialects” that arise over time from either individual or groups of artists working within a given geographical context for a certain amount of time. I don’t mean to mythologize or exoticize the geographical, or exalt the superficial uses of urban/rural images but to say that the regional and local inevitably find their way into the work of any artist. Although the digitally published text is jettisoned to a utopian nowhere, accessible to anyone anywhere (except perhaps China6) the writing and the work that it discusses are nevertheless generated from some aggregate of locally-derived phenomena.
This isn’t some conservative call for the nostalgic age where great writers like Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin or even Baudelaire published cultural criticism in popular media. For all the perennial Chicken Little-ing and the claims of doomsayers suggesting that any medium could ever be eradicated, we still have trains, radio and even major record labels. But all these forms have been forced to adapt to a changing landscape, whether socio-economic, geographic or technological. But instead of adapting, becoming sharper and more assertive, contemporary art criticism has become coy when it comes to judgment and raising its collective hands to the sky and asking “What can be done?!” I’d like to offer plainly, “Try short range broadcast media.”
In “The Politics of Installation” Boris Groys describes art fairs and exhibitions as no longer for a cultural elite or in service of art buyers and instead a part of mass culture as administrated and organized by the artist.7 For Groys, installation becomes political in the artists’ use of public space populated with bodies to generate site-specific work that cannot be exchanged. The artist in this case refuses the elite, who would once be responsible for the purchase and exchange of artwork. The artist, through an administration of space, generates a democracy through authorship.8
However, through the propagation of images of shows from an unlimited geographical range of exhibitions, the general neutrality of exhibition spaces and the absence of any spatio-temporal significance in images of artworks, internet art criticism can exhibit a tendency to cater to an elite. With sites looking as neutral as gallery walls, images without any spatial specificity are able to be removed from a context and arranged alongside other images just as paintings can be purchased from galleries and arranged along with any of the buyers’ home furnishings. The ideal .jpg of a painting is unmarred by specific lighting conditions or its location in space. Any shot of the work in space is typically only supplementary and shown in an effort to describe the scale of the given artwork.9 By not being able to quantify and therefore propagate the experience of installation work, work that can be bought and sold, travel, move and be removed from the context of its exhibition, becoming an easier subject for internet art criticism to deal with and an easier material for curators to pick up by the handful, so to speak.
Art that can be distilled and reduced to a single image subjects itself to the tenets of commodity exchange. In this way, there is almost no difference between looking at an artist’s website, looking at installation images on a gallery website and visiting the gallery itself. Through long-range broadcast media, attempts to discuss exhibitions that are geographically or temporally remote to the viewer/reader have necessitated this format of documentation. Writing that doesn’t pique a viewer interest or warrant a visit to the exhibition alongside images that tend to summarize the work(s) of art on exhibit tend to be generative of exhibitions that are disappointing in their use of actual exhibition space. The same becomes true of a discursive/review cycle dependent upon the cycle of a monthly international publication over that of a weekly local discourse. The exhibition becomes merely a foundation for the creation of installation images that generate more physical exhibitions for the artist, the visitation to which becomes completely secondary. Having access to images of inaccessible places is a useless and inert state of affairs which can generate only further inertness. Reading about exhibitions in Tokyo is interesting but if the only interaction a viewer can have is remote (in such cases as when there is no local art criticism) the critics’ job becomes to merely describe with one or two .jpgs and 500 words that can and—perhaps should—do nothing more than read like the opening of an uninteresting short story.
Boris Groys describes the installation as dependent on institutional support for generating frameworks to house the work or for the work to react to. The kind of short-range media I describe would similarly depend largely upon a complex and reliable institutional support coming likely from an extremely large publication/network/station. Net criticism could be described as more like painting than installation in that as painting’s only demand is that canvas continue to be woven and oil continues to be refined; art criticism online is dependent upon domain hosting. This accounts for much of the utopian feel of online criticism. As someone vehemently opposed to the market and having directed a vocally anti-capitalist gallery devoted to the experiential, I’m skeptical of running for cover under the umbrella of an institution. But there are institutional frameworks that offer something locally important and an active critical discourse in a large publication (the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer or the Baltimore Sun for example) would be able to trace the history of these cities and their cultural output—keeping them from being merely jumping off points for artists who as of now are pressured to embrace the real-estate nightmare and ever-present gentrification of New York City. Local cultural criticism from this standpoint is as green as rooftop gardening, sustainable and perhaps better for the local economy. By taking action and fracturing the already fractured “art world,” regional dialects would enrich the greater discursive framework so long as the short-range broadcast always attracts the useful interfering noise of the wide-range broadcast.
This digital native culture, with ever cheaper and constantly obsolescent devices, supposedly short-attention spans and the speed of networking, searching and reposting, may not believe in the future in the way that previous generations did—the generations that clamored for more, better and faster then blamed the surprisingly well-adjusted millenials who find themselves born into it. This essay risks nihilism at this point, but I assert with complete sincerity that, just as theater can offer a different experience than cinema and just as the physicality of audiocassettes saw its long-deserved renaissance alongside the release of the iPod touch, there are things that the daily newspaper has to offer that the constantly aggregating and personally tailored Google search can’t. Cultivating regional art dialects will further enrich and perhaps shock the system of contemporary art back into a place that can be responsive to critical—critical as in temporally urgent—needs as opposed to making broad-stroked attempts to connect to a falsely uniform international taste. Thanks to networked communication, an international art world is always at hand in enriching ways, but unfortunately, despite 2.0’s offering of an incredible amount of user-generated content, the relationship is by definition lopsided. The international can be seen by the local but the local is all but invisible to the international. Though it can and will be archived and stored both digitally and physically, the material publication of the newspaper has a social finality, definitive broadcast range and limited temporality, the appeal and importance of which can begin to reveal themselves when forced into the harsh light of contemporary media practices that demand print media adapt and provide something that digital information technology cannot.
Patrick Bobilin is a Chicago-based artist, educator and director of Noble & Superior Projects.
1. Beyond the boundaries of digital work and “internet aware art”, the seemingly “ideal” exhibition, installation image or .jpg of a specific work lacks any visible mark or geography.
2. Many of the e-flux ilk discuss a specific art world jargon called “globish” that describes the English that circulates around the art world—Jennifer Allen’s essay “Speak Easy” (http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/speak-easy/) is almost frightening in its warm embrace and unquestioning forgiveness for the propagation of the colonizer’s language.
3. Students are constantly asked to think of what a work would look like in a gallery, to be able to speak to some kind of general audience while also creating works that are both personal and universal, without even a rudimentary idea of the myriad politics of exhibition practices (and often without being taught the differences between galleries and museums)—Boris Groys’ “The Politics of Installation” is more elucidating in 10-pages than this authors’ 7 years of arts education.
4. Martha Nussbaum’s “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism” validly argues against nationalistic pride and instead advocates goodwill and good citizenship that allows for an individual to be at home anywhere and subvert arbitrary difference in favor of acceptance—however, in curatorial practice, cosmopolitanism has become a vehicle for elitist jet-setting, superficial pseudo-ethnography of international art scenes and has re-inscribed the class boundaries that have long plagued the art world.
5. “Towards a Critical Regionalism”—here Frampton uses the example of air-conditioning and central heating as offering architects and planners to ignore the environmental realities of a region in their design. Frampton also mentions the use of artificial lighting in art galleries as muting the poetics of light and space possible by the introduction of natural light in exhibition spaces.
8. There is the undeniable necessity of an institutional support structure in most cases, but more artists are working outside of those physical and bureaucratic frameworks.
9. Brian O’Doherty “Inside the White Cube” describes the aesthetics of installation shots. Your humble author would describe a few that should bring an image to the reader’s mind—Pensive Young Woman, Bespectacled Man Holding Drink, and occasionally, Child Pointing in Awe.
Files Desks Chairs
TOPS Warehouse, Austin
Through May 12
by Emily Ng
Files Desks Chairs (exhibition view)(from left to right) Christian Heidsieck, Michael Bell Smith, Megan Carney. Courtesy of the artists. Photo credit: Morgan Jones.
Art venues take many different forms. From the apartment gallery to the posh commercial downtown space to the dazzling architecture of large institutions, each act as empty arenas for exhibiting artwork. For the majority of venues, the idea is to mimic the white cube, paving away the insides until maximum surface area is achieved and everything is as flat, white and clean as possible. Counter to that tendency is Files Desks Chairs, a group exhibition organized by Katie Geha, Sterling Allen and Travis Kent. Located in a former office supply warehouse, the unorthodox nature of the space requires both the organizers and audience to engage the work simultaneously with the venue.
Pacing the viewer, the warehouse provides a backdrop that dramatically changes the context of the work. Segregated from the larger area of the warehouse and installed in a series of smaller window-filled spaces, each room contains different groupings of artists. Walking through the exhibition feels like an act of exploration; a hunt for the work. The many windows in each room help break up the compartmentalized nature of the building, sometimes acting as mirrors that reflect the space you’re in and at other times allowing you to peek into adjacent rooms. This effect ties in nicely with the overall themes of abstraction and perception contained within both the individual pieces and the space itself. The anticipation of the journey throughout the exhibition is not just to view the work, but to understand the space in relation to it. A flickering light becomes a light installation, a piece about the senses then just another flickering light.
While viewing Patrick Arnold’s series of small sculptural paintings, the cloud-like images giving off a meditative aura reminiscent of staring up at a slow-moving sky, you can catch a glimpse of Rachel Hecker’s work through a shared window. At first glance, Hecker’s work appears to be warehouse detritus. Incomplete grocery lists, phone numbers jotted down on business cards or receipts and random words written on hotel stationary are the source imagery for Hecker’s paintings. Meticulously rendered, the replicas are blown up to massive proportions with Post-It notes standing three feet tall and business cards as big as coffee tables. There is beauty in the simplicity of the work, imposing a poetic earnestness onto normally inconsequential objects. Their effectiveness is heightened by the nontraditional hanging and gives the work a performative element—as if at any moment someone might walk in and add to the growing pile of handwritten notes.
This provisionary feel follows you throughout the exhibition, questioning the notion of what type of environment is required for artwork to be viewed in. In many ways, much of the work looks very much at home in the warehouse, Mark Flood’s Student Lounge perhaps benefiting the most from the environment. Lit only by the eerie glow of black lights, are Flood’s spray-painted mantras, stenciled on black poster-board and scattered throughout a large, disorientingly dark room. The room is unfinished and raw with exposed ceilings, support beams and small alcoves that give it a labyrinth-like effect. Loaded phrases such as “BRING A GUN” and “FUCK THE RATIO” creep out of the darkness with intensity, confronting you head on. Displaced from a gallery setting, the experience is visceral and more like that of searching for the bathroom in a sleazy club, or the basement of an obsessive mind. In an adjoining room, you dead-end into the solace of Dani Leventhal’s 54 Days this Winter 36 Days this Spring for 18 Minutes. A collage of disparate moments in time, Leventhal distills hours of footage filmed from her own life, creating a poignant montage of human banality. The process of walking through Flood’s work to reach Leventhal’s video is an appropriate transition, the jarring juxtaposition of each artist’s work informing the other.
Primarily grouped by artist, the photographs of Megan Carney differ in that they are found dispersed throughout the exhibition, providing a somewhat needed thread between each of the exhibitions groupings. As the only photographs in the exhibition, they act as a commentary on the space, abstracting physical representation and questioning what is real and what is a facade. Based on the photographic representation of familiar objects you trust that the images are grounded in fact, however, through the camera’s manipulation or at times a touch of post-production, the images flatten and the surfaces become questionable while visual blemishes ride the line between the intentional and the accidental. Though the boundaries of the site may have been pushed further by the inclusion of more sculpture and site-specific pieces, the overall exhibition is an exceptional demonstration of culling together a diverse group of artists in an unusual venue to create a significant exhibition. Smartly curated, Files Desks Chairs is well-integrated and considered, gaining texture from the unconventional framework and reminding us of what can happen when you step out of the white cube.
Emily Ng is an artist and Production Associate at Fluent~Collaborative.
Artpace, San Antonio
Through April 29
by Wendy Atwell
Tony Feher, Thomas Hoving (exhibition view), 2012, Mixed-media, Dimensions vary, Originally Commissioned by Artpace San Antonio. Courtesy of the artist and The Pace Gallery. Photo credit: Todd Johnson.
Mysteriously named after the former director of the Met who helped invent blockbuster exhibitions while sourcing the black market for acquisitions, Tony Feher’s exhibition Thomas Hoving could be from an episode of a reality T.V. show challenging an artist to transform a space on a cheap budget with as few materials as possible. In his installation at Artpace’s Hudson (Show)Room, Feher covers a selection of glass windowpanes with blue Scotch brand painter’s tape in precise grids, crosshatched and starburst patterns. Fluorescent colored polypropylene string hangs in beautiful arrays from the ceiling, creating what seems like a fifth dimension. Beads made from cut-up sections of PEC and PVC tubing are strung and grouped together on nylon cords. A cluster of three different plastic PEC drinking bottles, filled with blue, orange and fluorescent yellow colored water, glistens near a window.
The orange and blue pipe beads hang like a display of giant necklaces against a wall. An unexpected beauty and complexity comes from these Home Depot materials that Feher metes out with control and economy. Feher’s austerity is a rare and valuable asset amidst our current quagmire of material and informational abundance. His work creates a space that inspires the viewer to pay attention to presence and perception. Though we are post-Minimalism and post California Light and Space, Feher’s installation calls to mind elements from both of these eras. In the middle of the room, the colored string hangs in an upside down concentric semi-circle, as if the lines from a Frank Stella painting, c. 1967, had escaped into free space.
Though many contemporary installation artists incorporate everyday objects into their work, Feher’s application differs from, for example, the brilliantly ordered mayhem of Jessica Stockholder. His precision is lifted out of chaos into a distinctly other realm, more in keeping with the clear, geometrical drawing directives of Sol Lewitt.
However, like much contemporary installation art, Thomas Hoving deceivingly appears “high” with materials sourced from “low.” The guiding rule appears to be formalism, and, as with Stockholder, Feher sources whatever he needs to achieve his vision. Feher’s work seems less about the material itself than the transformation of the space that it conspires to achieve. Donald Judd admired the “independent color” of Yves Klein’s paintings that Feher’s blue tape recalls. Though far from the decadently rich and soft pigment used by Klein, the tape glows in the same hue.1 Feher’s is an honest media, true to its time, and, in its configuration, it performs the miracle of tapping everyday objects to make art historical connections. One can’t help but recall Judd’s theory of specific objects: a non European look, unmodulated color, three dimensions, new materials and "singleness," defined as “work that isolated a single element, such as color or texture or a new material.” Feher’s materials are a world away from Judd’s expensively fabricated fluorescent Plexiglas, polished brass and anodized aluminum. Fifty years later, Feher’s installation utilizes Judd’s ideas, while extending out into the notion of the ready-made. How does one consider “singleness” when the room itself becomes the object? Maybe, to borrow from Thomas Hoving’s lively parlance regarding his approach as museum director, it’s whatever makes “the mummies dance.”
Wendy Atwell received her M.A. in Art History and Criticism from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She is the author of The River Spectacular: Light, Color, Sound and Craft on the San Antonio River.
1. All references to Donald Judd are taken from Leider, Philip. “Perfect Unlikeness,” in Artforum, February 2000.
SNOW Contemporary, Tokyo
Closed April 1
by Mayumi Hirano
On August 28, 2011, a worker of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant appeared on a surveillance camera monitoring the sites ravaged by last year’s tsunami. Clad in a thick, space-like protective suit, this man approaches the camera from far in the background while constantly checking the positioning of his body within the camera frame. He slowly turns his right arm, points his finger to center of the camera and stands in position for about 15 minutes before walking away. He then reappears in front of us, this time at a closer distance, and points at the camera again. This scene was broadcasted on the Internet in real time, and unsurprisingly, the finger-pointing worker caught the attention of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) officials within seconds. In response to the press conference by TEPCO following the event in which they clarified their intention not to identify the culprit, the finger-pointing worker posted a statement on his blog about this action. In his statement, the worker credited his mysterious action as an homage to Vito Acconci’s 1972 piece, Centers, opening up the dialogue surrounding the event into the realm of art. This re-enactment of Acconci’s work goes beyond the system of art and crosses into different territories by way of the internet—from the nuclear plant to the headquarters of TEPCO, the Cabinet and the unknown public; from Fukushima to the world.
In his exhibition, Open Secret, Kota Takeuchi brings the recorded footage of the TEPCO worker’s action into the gallery space, suggesting a relationship between the identities of the finger-pointing worker and the artist himself. A headset is installed in front of the projection, which allows one person at a time to hear the sound of the site worker’s troubled breathing recorded under his protective suit. In contrast to the unlimited access to the recorded video on the Internet, the exhibition is able to make the experience more intimate by setting up a one-on-one relationship between the piece and the viewer. In addition to the finger pointing to us, the suffocating sound through the headsets confuses the experience of watching and being watched even more.
Discussion About a Box, another central piece in the exhibition, also touches upon issues of surveillance and identity by limiting its own accessibility. Simply composed of a chair and a paper cup at one end of a string telephone, the work invites the viewer to converse with the artist, who is sitting on the other side of the string outside of the gallery. From the street, you can see only his back in a telephone booth-like shack, so the two interlocutors never see one another, but share only the sound conveyed through the vibration of the string. This brings the two into a psychological proximity reaching far beyond the mere exchange of information. The viewer gets to ask anything they want to the artist, while they are given no way to identify the person on the other side as Kota Takeuchi.
Including several other works made after 3.11, Open Secret presents an eclectic set of media ranging from recorded video streaming on the Internet, live chat and blogs, to photographs, sketches and personal dialogues. The sphere of information technology represented here in the white cube sheds its practical use and reveals itself as a set of artistic tools. Takeuchi uses this mix of media strategically to not only mark his body movements or actions, but employing them as a tool to reach beyond the art community into the larger public sphere. This triggers a viewers’ reaction by utilizing mediums of self-expression that they have easy access to—Twitter and comments on YouTube. Seeing this “action-reaction” reciprocality as key, Takeuchi attempts to reposition art within the conventional geography of social, political and aesthetic values.
Mayumi Hirano is Curator / Program Coordinator of Koganecho Bazaar, Yokohama.
Project Space: Jeff Eisenberg
In my work I explore a number of concerns: Issues associated with territorializing, the built environment and architecture; fringe communities, niche cultures and marginal systems; utopian strategies and superstitious forebodings. I’m interested in the different ways that these topics can intersect and become expressed through the images, artifacts and detritus we associate with them. I’m also intrigued with the idea of how unrelated groups with radically different ideologies and agendas imprint their values onto the objects and environments that make up their daily lives, examining how their different cosmologies often and oddly converge. Within my own practice I try to create work that embodies a number of these possibilities simultaneously and produce projects that suggest multiple and sometimes conflicting ways to be understood.
Jeff Eisenberg received his MFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2005 and currently lives and works in San Francisco. His most recent exhibitions have been with Helmuth Projects, San Diego, and POVevolving, Los Angeles, as well as regularly showing with Swarm Gallery in Oakland, CA. In addition to his own work, Jeff frequently participates in a number of collaborative projects, most recently as co-curator for “Building Steam”, a year-long series of audio projects and sound installations hosted by Swarm Gallery and partially funded with a Southern Exposure Alternative Grant, 2010-2011. Currently, Jeff is in residency at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art.
Frieze New York
Randall’s Island, NY
What’s left to write about art fairs that hasn’t already been written? Their formula, and the resultant criticism, is fairly established at this point: main fair, satellite fairs, schmoozing and a smorgasbord of ancillary lectures, projects and events meant to legitimize, or at least provide a semblance of equilibrium, for the unfettered capitalism on display in the booths. Did I mention parties? If galleries making money, or the commodification of art that fairs represent isn't all that shocking (which in this context it shouldn’t be), than our unquestioned willingness to embrace the marriage and attend the ceremony maybe should be (especially for the artists amongst us). Frieze comes to New York’s Randall’s Island this year with a temporary exhibition hall designed by New York based architects SO-IL, dedicated ferry service (graciously included with your ticket cost—lest we forget that art fairs are a franchised business unto themselves), and a schedule of talks by an international who’s-who of curators, artists and academics. Boasting the opportunity to see work by over 1,000 international artists from over 170 of the worlds best contemporary galleries, Frieze looks to bring ‘an international focus to the dynamic contemporary art scene in New York.’ It’s hard not to be highly skeptical, even cynical, when met with language like this coming from an art fair. The commercial context of fairs and the type of work that is required to be present at them is taken for granted at this point, so why not embrace the legitimizing—albeit meaningless—vocabulary of less money-oriented approaches? With these things firmly in mind, I’ll be boarding an East River ferry this weekend and if nothing else, enjoying a nice view of Manhattan.
Eric Zimmerman is an artist and Editor of ...might be good.
One Night Cheap Hotel
Super 8 Motel, Austin
April 26, 2012
The idea of a pop-up exhibition is certainly not a new concept. This scrappy, DIY breed of exhibition is proof that art shows can happen on a minimal budget, provided you have a space, artwork and maybe a few refreshments for opening night. Perhaps it’s the recessionary economy, but pop-ups have been becoming more and more popular, finding temporary spaces in empty storefronts, unleased condos, buildings about to be torn down and in the case of One Night Cheap Hotel, three rented rooms of a Super 8 Motel. Curated and organized by artists Ricky Yanas and Teresa Cervantes, the renegade art show included a selection of works from young Austin artists with mediums ranging from painting, sculpture, photography and site-specific installation. The work itself—although there were some decent pieces—was not the point. An experimental event, Yanas and Cervantes are interested in testing limitations in a subtle and non-confrontational way. The motel was not informed of the one-night event, the work was installed in one afternoon (with no damage to the rooms) and the guest list was open. The thrill was that everyone was in on it—even the handful of unwitting visitors that were actual patrons of the motel, drawn in by the crowd of people. Unexpected and surreptitious, One Night Cheap Hotel was a stimulating change of pace from the usual opening night. And if you missed out—light that fire under your art butt and let us know where to meet you.
Emily Ng is an artist and Production Associate at Fluent~Collaborative.
The 2012 Drawing Annual
Opening Reception May 4, 7:00 - 11:00PM
The 2012 Tiny Park Drawing Annual is a group exhibition focused on drawings and the concept of drawing, in the widest terms. The show includes 3-D work that incorporates drawing; drawings made by drilling holes in paper and drywall; and photographs of line drawings made with string. As the name indicates, we hope to have a similar show once a year.
Opening May 5
The Texas Prize celebrates talented Texas-based artists who have made significant, innovative contributions to the state’s contemporary art scene. Eligible artists must have resided in Texas for the past three years and not had a solo show at a major museum. An internationally-respected jury selects three finalists for each Texas Prize exhibition, which involves publication of a full-color catalogue and the chance to win the $30,000 AMOA-Arthouse Texas Prize, the largest regional visual arts award for emerging artists in the country. In the fall of 2010, AMOA-Arthouse announced the three finalists for the 2012 edition of Texas Prize: Jamal Cyrus (Houston), Will Henry (Houston), and Jeff Williams (Austin)
Jeana Baumgardner and Maggie Kleinpeter
Opening Reception May 4, 7:00 - 11:00PM
Jeana Baumgardner and Maggie Kleinpeter met and became friends in New York City in 1998. Both found themselves approaching painting in a similar way, using formal abstraction as a foundation to explore the absurd, the whimsical, and patterning in landscapes. After graduating and losing touch for a few years, Maggie and Jeana both coincidentally moved to Austin in 2010. Serious Whimsy features recent paintings by the artists.
Opening Reception May 10, 6:00PM
Ana Fernandez re-contextualizes her San Antonio neighborhood, weaving elements of romanticism and the paranormal into large scale paintings. Each mysterious home portrait is strewn with clues that decorate each home’s exterior.
No Dough Art Show
Opening Recption May 12, starting at 8:00PM
Starving Artists unite! Come celebrate downtown with a fête for the ages to support Austin's amazing art community. Featuring local artwork, live music from The Nouns and Chalk, poetry, dancing, horseback riding, homebrew and full bar for 21+. Everything is by donation.
The Human Touch: Selections from the RBC Wealth Management Art Collection
Opening June 10
RBC Wealth Management, headquartered in Minneapolis with local offices in Austin as well as many other U.S. and international cities, began collecting contemporary art in the early 1990s as a way to distinguish itself from other financial management firms. Committed to representing the diversity of the communities where they do business, they focused on the human figure in all its variety.
Austin on View
This Is It With It As It Is
Through June 16
Lora Reynolds Gallery is pleased to announce the group exhibition This Is It With It As It Is. We are excited to be exhibiting new work by four Los Angeles-based artists: Math Bass, Eve Fowler, Dashiell Manley, and Barry MacGregor Johnston. In addition, Bass, Manley and Johnston will give performances in conjunction with the Fusebox Festival.
Medium Small at Big Medium
Through May 4
A group show including work in all media. Also check out Tim Harding in the Project Space.
ART from the Ashes
Through May 5
In September 2011, the most destructive wildfire in Texas history raged through Bastrop County, TX. The Bastrop County Complex Fire destroyed 1,667 homes, burned 33,033 acres, and claimed two lives. This blaze devastated the region's signature Loblolly pine population and further compromised the habitat of the endangered Houston Toad. ART from the ashes takes its mission to Texas to support the Lost Pines Recovery Team's restoration efforts for the Lost Pines Region of Bastrop County, TX. The exhibition will showcase over 70 works of art donated by Texas based artists and ART from the ashes.
Through May 5
Lora Reynolds Gallery is pleased to present Untitled Project: RECORD SHOP [45s], Conrad Bakker’s newest body of work. Bakker will turn our project room into an ersatz record store by displaying more than 30 LP covers—all shaped from wood and painted with oils.
FILES, DESKS, CHAIRS
Through May 12
FILES, DESKS, CHAIRS takes TOPS, a former office supply warehouse, as its organizing principle. Brought to you by SOFA Gallery in conjunction with the Fusebox Festival and the Austin Art Alliance.
Max Warsh & Vanesa Zendejas
Through May 12
This exhibition pairs the photographs and collages of New York artist Max Warsh with the sculptures of LA artist Vanesa Zendejas to investigate abstraction and built spaces. Creating compositions from pictures of bricks, tiles or cast ornamentation found on building facades, Warsh’s works utilize the repetitive visual language of mechanized processes to create optically charged images.
Mixed Feelings: 2012 MFA Studio Art Exhibition
Through May 12
The phrase “mixed feelings” is often used to describe an emotional response that is confusing or unclear. It refers to a state of ambivalence, in which one experiences simultaneous conflicting feelings toward a person or thing. It is in this murky territory that a struggle to understand something takes place—an effort to consider multiple aspects of one’s relationship to a subject in a way that is balanced and true.
Through May 17
Julia Oschatz’s video Venus explores the odyssey undertaken by a lone figure in the process of an infinite, Sisyphean journey. A strange hybrid creature, the “Wesen,” serves as an alternate identity for the artist and a manifestation of the futility of some tasks. Without eyes, the gray wolf/man travels through a cosmic void filled with a single planet from and to which it jumps. While on an infinite and circular loop, the creature displays common human expressions of confusion and humility.
Through May 19
The Okay Mountain Collective is proud to present Leif Low-beer.
Art on the Green
Through May 20
Art on the Green encourages visitors to explore the unique setting of Laguna Gloria with its 12 acres of grounds on Lake Austin, and outdoor sculptures which are part of AMOA-Arthouse’s permanent collection. For the exhibition, nine Texas artists and designers will create minature golf holes that respond to the site and encourage a diverse audience to go outside and play. A bonus tenth hole will be located on the rooftop of the Jones Center, linking this exhibition to both museum locations.
San Antonio Openings
Opening Reception: Friday, May 4 7 - 11pm
Cathy Cunningham-Little continues her exploration of light. You are invited to recall her 2011 Blue Star Contemporary Art Space project, Breathing Light, and come by for further reflection. Or if you missed that show, please step out of the shadows and give us a visit. See you soon!
New Works Now
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 10, 6-8:30pm
New Works Now in our Hudson (Show)Room features five former International Artists-in-Residence from Texas: Alex de Leon (1996), Katrina Moorhead (2005), Katie Pell (2006), Juan Miguel Ramos (2002), and Lordy Rodriguez (2001). These Artpace Alumni will present recent work inspired by the importance of place and its relationship to nostalgia, identity, and our evolving sense of community.
San Antonio on View
Through June 30
TEN THOUSAND WAVES was filmed on location in China and poetically weaves together stories linking China’s ancient past and present. The work explores the movement of people across countries and continents and meditates on unfinished journeys. Conceived and created over four years, Julien collaborated with some of China’s leading artistic voices.
Through December 15
The Linda Pace Foundation presents an exhibition of new photographs, Flanagan - Tiravanija, by Chicago-based artist Adam Schreiber. Using collections, warehouses, and archives as his subject matter, Schreiber’s work examines the effects of time, history, and physical context on our civilization’s evolving understanding of particular objects.
Houston on View
Through June 16
The Lawndale Artist Studio Program Exhibition featuring Seth Mittag, David Politzer & Anne J. Regan
Through June 16
Isometric Solutions to Contemporary Economic Dilemmas will be a full scale installation populated with 2D and 3D representations of economic data. It will show how vulnerable graphics are to unwelcome interpretation based on misguided geometry, Masonic lore and common sense.
Travis McCarra & Michael Gonzales
Through June 16
#everyoneisanartist uses Twitter to create an installation allowing the audience to simultaneously act as generator and spectator to this constantly changing piece. Online and physical visitors will be encouraged to "tweet" works in various media formats via hyperlink containing the Twitter hash-tag #everyoneisanartist within Twitter's 140 character limit. The received message will be processed, stored, and linked via a custom coded application.
Through June 16
TrendFACTORY is a community-driven, multi-participatory installation. Artist, Leslie Mutchler, will be exploring issues related to hand(craft), the physicality of labor, and the repetition of memes in the virtual world through hand-manufactured objects.
Dallas/Ft. Worth Openings
Opening May 12
The Nasher Sculpture Center has invited internationally-renowned Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto to create a new work for one of the large, Renzo Piano-designed galleries at the Nasher Sculpture Center.
Heyd Fontenot Margaret Meehan, and Stephen Knapp
Opening Reception: May 12, 6-8pm
For his second solo exhibition at Conduit Gallery, Heyd Fontenot will incorporate his trademark figurative portraits into a more complex pastiche of images. With images of Victoriana, pugilism, medical anomalies and barren landscapes, Hystrionics and the Forgotten Arm proposes a choreographed fight outside the circled square. Margaret Meehan’s drawings, photographs and sculpture-based installation lets innocence collide with the monstrous, evoking race, gender, and empathy for otherness. In conjunction with Master Glass 2012, Massachusetts based sculptor Stephen Knapp will install one of his well known Light Paintings in the Conduit Gallery Project Room.
Opening Reception: May 12, 6-8pm
Jackie Tileston continues to bring a global sensibility to her work by drawing from many different cultures. Her cosmopolitan background lends authority to her painterly affirmations of the medium's innate capacity to absorb, transform and interpret the global nature of contemporary society.
Dallas/Ft. Worth on View
Through July 8
Rendered with a naturalist’s sensitivity and incredible precision, the works often present fantastic vignettes of animals ensnared in strange, sometimes devastating circumstances, or quietly poetic scenes that evoke the beauty and tragedy of nature, as well as our own human condition. Often shocking in their realism and precise details, the works take months, sometimes years, for the artist to fabricate, making new work by Swenson incredibly rare. For Sightings, Swenson is creating an installation of new work for the Lower Level Gallery, a space which the artist can tightly control to create the appropriate theatrical setting for experiencing his work.
Dallas/Ft. Worth Closings
Through May 5
Marty Walker Gallery presents a site specific gallery installation of murals and paintings by award-winning artist Wayne White, known for his signature punchy word combos injected into the “sofa-art” scenery of found thrift store lithographs.
Marfa on View
Through July 8
The ongoing dialogue between the digital and physical worlds provides the backdrop for Data Deluge, an exhibition that presents a selection of sculpture, furniture, painting, photography, video, sound and works on paper by artists who shape Web-based and software-generated data into art.
Amie Siegel: Talking Art
May 5, 2:00PM
Artist Amie Siegel speaks about her multi-media installation Black Moon on view this summer at the Jones Center. Her slideshow will put this apocalyptic, cinematic remake in context with her previous films and photography.
New York City Events
Opening May 4
Solo booth with DANIEL HEIDKAMP
Call for Entries
Art Fag City
This week Art Fag City makes a call for pitches. If you've got a burning idea that needs to be written down, we want to help you make that happen. In particular we're looking for interviews and news stories from around the country. We're also looking for submissions from those with a particular fondness for pixels. Net art nerds, we're looking at you.
Call for Artists
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Art
Deadline May 21, 5:00PM
Austin,Texas – The City of Austin Art in Public Places (AIPP) program seeks to commission an experienced public artist to participate as part of the design team for the Consolidated Rental Car Facility (CONRAC) Art in Public Places project at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The selected artist will collaborate with the design team to create integrated artwork for the new facility and add an artistic perspective to the overall design.
Deadline May 31
The Linda Pace Foundation is seeking an intern eager to gain knowledge and experience in a private non-profit art foundation environment. The internship is offered during the summer and/or fall months (July–December 2012) and is ideal for beginning professionals or graduate students. The internship is compensated, and requires a commitment of 8-16 hours per week. Students need not receive credit if they do not wish to do so. To apply for this internship please submit via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) a cover letter with address and contact information; college transcripts; and written recommendations from two professors or collections professionals.
Deadline May 31
The curatorial intern will work with the Linda Pace Foundation staff on the collection, exhibitions, and programs. Applicants should possess an undergraduate degree in art history or a related field, have excellent written and oral communication skills, computer proficiency, and research skills. Candidates should possess knowledge of business protocol; excellent organizational and interpersonal skills; and a proven track record of prioritizing and completing multiple assignments. To apply for this internship please submit via email (email@example.com) a cover letter with address and contact information; college transcripts; and written recommendations from two professors or collections professionals.