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June 28, 2004

Back From an East Coast Swing

Got home from the East Coast last night at around midnight and I feel like I could kind of use another vacation.

9 days and 2200 miles (a stunning proportion of which I racked up just searching for parking in the East Village) after heading to Boston on 3 hours of sleep and with only the sketchiest of plans, I return bearing countless blisters, a wicked one-armed suntan, one $90 speeding ticket from the Ohio Turnpike and zero tolerance for draconian parking regulations. And after 13 hours of driving yesterday and a full night's rest, I find myself still recovering from some ill-advised rounds of Connecticut Rules Beirut on Saturday night.

At any rate and in brief, art in NYC and beyond: Byzantium: Faith and Power (1261-1557) at the Met was spectacular; ditto for August Sander; beyond Anish Kapoor at Barbara Gladstone, Chelsea was an absolute bust; Between Past and Future: New Photography and Video from China at the International Center of Photography was pretty decent (it will come to Chicago Oct. 2, 2004-Jan. 16, 2005 at the MCA and the Smart Museum, then on to Seattle, Berlin and Santa Barbara); free admission to the Boston MFA made for a delightful day—meager on the Modern but the old European stuff impressed (I was particularly thrilled to see this bit of Mannerist brilliance), and on temporary exhibition the work from rubbish artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster was pretty much just that with one exception: I found the piece "Real Life is Rubbish," a rubbish pile which casts a photo-detail silhouette, to be pretty fantastic.

Major regret: as I cruised out of CT west on 84 after a really late start yesterday morning I came upon Exit 11: Beacon without a minute to spare. Had I known it would be on my way things might've been different, but for now Dia:Beacon will have to wait. That's a lack of planning for you.

"Back From an East Coast Swing"
Posted by Dan at 02:30 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

June 19, 2004

Heading East

I'd like to apologize to myself and to anyone out there about the paucity of real art-related posts lately (though I think this artblog comments tussle might count). Well, the dust will collect for a bit longer as, following Josh Marshall's lead (yeah... not really), I'm taking off for a week, heading to Boston and NYC where, among other things, I hope to hit up the Byzantine show at the Met (and I see they've got August Sander too... nice) and, I suppose, buzz through Chelsea. If any of you all've got anything by way of hot tips or cool art picks, please see the email address above (i.e., dan at yadda yadda).

In the meantime, I commend to you the following...

Via my Moms (a Rev working on her Doc), the current issue of CrossCurrents, The Passion of Cinema: Religion, Film and Visual Ethics. I haven't read any of it yet, but it looks interesting and timely as scholars of religion and culture tackle some issues of cinema in a classical Cultural Studies fashion: "If Only You Could See What Iíve Seen Through Your Eyes: Destabilized Spectatorship and Creationís Chaos in Blade Runner" by Jenna Tiitsman, "Tarantinoís Incarnational Theology: Reservoir Dogs, Crucifixions, and Spectacular Violence" by Kent L. Brintnall, plus a pair of essays each on Mel's Passion and Hiroshima on film.

Some things that have been rotting in my bookmarks for some time (a couple I've actually read, a couple I have not): Eberhard Ortland on aesthetics and Walter Benjamin, James Elkins on the theory of the gaze (PDF, Googlized HTML version here), medievalist Monica Brzezinski Potkay on Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae and its ignorance of the Middle Ages, Lawrence I. Lipking from 1983 on poststructuralism and the status of theory.

And for those in the Chicago area, in the galleries (I had intended some capsule reviews, but should've been in bed two hours ago so... behold a brief listing): Serial, group show at FLATFILE Photography with Liz Nielsen, Nora Herting, Ryan Zoghlin, Paho Mann, Karen Hanmer, Liz Cockrum, and video by Eric David Hamilton, through July 3; Rhonda Gates, "Atmospheric Conditions" at Zg through July 3; Bill Gross' "Monochrome" and Tom McDonald's "Imperial Tin-Knocker" at Aron Packer through July 10; Lee Godie, "French Impressionism from a Bag" at Carl Hammer (with photos by Steve Kagan) through July 3; David Graham, "Declaring Independence" at Catherine Edelman through July 3; and Daniel Roth, "Cabrini Green Forest" at Donald Young through June.

Good night and see ya real soon.

"Heading East"
Posted by Dan at 01:23 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

June 18, 2004

Dick Cheney, Skeptic in Chief

Cheney blames the press for being too lazy to see through his lies and innuendo. "We have never been able to prove that there was a connection there on 9/11... The press is, with all due respect there are exceptions, often times lazy, often simply reports what someone else in the press says without doing their homework." Perhaps we have some seeds for bi-partisan agreement.

"Dick Cheney, Skeptic in Chief"
Posted by Dan at 02:30 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

June 17, 2004

Kissinger by Proxy

As reported in the Nation and the Times, a big brouhaha over a Foreign Affairs book review by former Council on Foreign Relations Latin America expert Ken Maxwell.

Maxwell's review and summary of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability edited by Peter Kornbluh drew a 1,500 word response from Kissinger's former Asst Secretary of State and current vice chair of Kissinger's consulting firm decrying the notion of U.S. involvement in the overthrow of the democratically-elected Allende government as a practice of "mythmaking" lacking any "smoking gun" to support it and suggesting that Maxwell (in summarizing Kornbluh's work?) is biased. Maxwell responds with some suggestions of his own:

It is certainly true that the Chilean Communists were no Thomas Jeffersons; that Allende bears much of the blame for the Chilean economy's tailspin; that Chilean society was bitterly divided; that the Chilean armed forces, not those of the United States, overthrew Allende; and that this story cannot be told only in terms of U.S. involvement. I said so very pointedly in my review. But to claim that the United States was not actively involved in promoting Allende's downfall in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary verges on incredulity.
There is a way to clear the air. Some countries have established "truth commissions" to look into such matters. In the United States, however, the record has been extracted painfully, like rotten teeth. Accusations of "mischievous nonsense" do not help. Whether or not these difficult legacies should be buried or debated is, of course, a matter of judgment. Rogers evidently believes they are best left undisturbed. My own belief is that we should seek to learn from the past if we have the wisdom to do so.

Maxwell's rebuttle drew a further response from Rogers in which he tacitly suggests that the Council distance itself from Maxwell and his views. Then the debate was cut off, as Foreign Affairs editor James Hoge refused Maxwell the customary final word. The Times reports that a response from Kornbluh was also refused publication. The Nation on weight thrown around behind the scenes:

High-ranking sources at the council say that Kissinger and Rogers applied enormous pressure, directly and indirectly, on Foreign Affairs editor James Hoge--and on the council itself--to close off the debate. Neither Rogers nor Kissinger is a stranger to the institution: Rogers served three terms on its board of directors; Kissinger has been affiliated off and on since 1955, and he currently co-chairs a task force on US policy toward Europe. Maxwell notes that the institution's new president, Richard Haass, who succeeded Leslie Gelb in 2003, "is very much anxious to engage him." Maxwell declines to elaborate on the specific ways Kissinger and Rogers exerted their influence, but he does allow that "they know how to act in these matters, and they bring heavy guns to bear."

Maxwell has since tendered his resignation from his endowed chair on the Council. From the Times:

"There is a question of principle at stake here," Mr. Maxwell wrote to Mr. Hoge. "It was made abundantly clear to me, as you know, that there was intense pressure on you, on Foreign Affairs and on my employer, the Council on Foreign Relations, from Henry Kissinger and others, to close off this debate about accountability and Mr. Kissinger's role in Chile in the 1970's."

Again, from the Nation:

In his resignation letter to Hoge, Maxwell wrote, "I have no personal ax to grind in this matter, but I do have a historian's obligation to the accuracy of the historical record. The Council's current relationship with Mr. Kissinger evidently comes at the cost of suppressing debate about his actions as a public figure. This I want no part of."

"Kissinger by Proxy"
Posted by Dan at 11:43 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

June 14, 2004

Art Chicago Back Under the Big Top in '05

For the 2005 installment of Art Chicago, Thomas Blackman will move the annual fair from its previous home at Navy Pier (having been held inside in the Pier's Festival Hall since '95) to a 125,000-square-foot tent at a yet to be determined downtown location, where it plans to return for at least 5 years. It is also slated for mid-July, a couple months later than in the past.

As for the reasons why, according to the Sun-Times it's mostly a matter of timing and logistics:

The change of venue was necessary, Blackman said, because the show needed to move away from its traditional timing in early May, a period when many top collectors and dealers are involved in the recently expanded art-auction season at Sotheby's and Christie's in New York. The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, he said, has been unable to provide a different set of dates at the heavily booked Navy Pier and McCormick Place.
"We've been hamstrung by the success of those buildings," said Blackman, who operates Art Chicago through his company, Thomas Blackman Associates. "It just seemed to us that it would be better to try and seek another venue that would be more flexible so that the fair could continue to be strong."

Likewise, from the Trib:

"There were some timing issues we were trying to resolve with the fair for about four years," Blackman said. "Some were with the contemporary art auctions in New York. Major, catalytic changes were necessary, and the Pier was unable to help us. Now we will be able to take advantage of what Chicago has to offer in the summer, as well as conflict less with all the other shows in America and Europe."
Blackman said finances were not a reason for his departure from the Pier -- site of art expositions in Chicago since their beginning 25 years ago. "We owed about $250,000, which had to be paid before the fair this year. We'll know what the outstanding bills for this year are soon, and they'll be paid too. That's not the issue here," Blackman said.

But, judging from Crain's today, it sounds a little more like TBA got booted:

Navy Pier is seeking a new operator to run Art Chicago, a major annual art fair held there, leading the show's manager to move the event elsewhere.
"It's unfortunate that it had to come to this," says Thomas Blackman, who has booked Art Chicago in its current format since 1994.
A spokeswoman for the Chicago Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, known as McPier, says it is soliciting proposals from would-be operators of a new art fair on the pier. The bids are due June 22, and a decision is expected by summer's end. She wouldn't say why McPier no longer wants Mr. Blackman to run the event.
Mr. Blackman said McPier officials cited concerns about back rent and how slowly he repaid it.

The upshot is that Chicago may now be seeing two competing annual fairs where it's struggled to support one—not to mention the Stray Show. (This brings to mind this discussion at Artblog, considering apparently different circumstances in Miami.)

"Art Chicago Back Under the Big Top in '05"
Posted by Dan at 08:54 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

I'm just a nut who couldn't build a barbecue

Homer Simpson in Mom and Pop Art

Lisa: Well, Dad, if the museum didn't inspire you, maybe you should do something really radical like Christo.
Homer: Is he that jerk that revealed the magicians' secrets?
Lisa: No, Christo is a conceptual artist who does huge outdoor projects. He once wrapped the Reichstag in plastic.
Homer: Not the Reichstag!
Lisa: [excitedly] Oh, yes, and he also set up hundreds of yellow umbrellas along the California highway.
Homer: Why did he do that?
Lisa: To make the world a more magical place, I guess. [sadly] Although they did blow over and kill some people.
Homer: Killer umbrellas! Of course! Exquisite.
Lisa: No, Dad, no, my point is you have to do something big and daring!
Homer: Big? Daring? Lisa, that's it! I've got an idea for a wonderful art project that'll make everyone love me again. Step one: steal all the doormats in town.
Bart: Are you sure this is art and not vandalism?
Homer: That's for the courts to decide, Son.

"I'm just a nut who couldn't build a barbecue"
Posted by Dan at 05:39 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

June 12, 2004

Smarty-pants Blogger on the Air

For those with their radios tuned to the Chicago area and those who can listen online, Professor Juan Cole will be appearing on WNUR's This is Hell (89.3 FM) this morning. He will discuss, among other things, his recent TomPaine.com article, The Resolutionary War. (Note that I think they'll keep an archive of the show streaming for at least week or so, round abouts here.)

Of minor interest: This is Hell has got to be the first place I ever heard the term 'weblog' used; as I recall they used to check in with Robot Wisdom on a regular basis [update: Robot Wisdom's Jorn Barger was at one time a contributor].

"Smarty-pants Blogger on the Air"
Posted by Dan at 09:33 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)

I get my arts news from variety show hacks

Coverage of Ronnie's funeral Friday left this broadcast TV slummer with little by way of choice for viewing over my late-morning bowl of Cocoa Puffs. Driven into the dregs by whatever horseshit was issuing from Margaret Thatcher's sphincter of a mouth, the options appeared to be limited to Telefutura's gossip show La Oreja, a Benny Hinn infomercial and the Wayne Brady Show.

As I frankly can't understand the hubbub over Gloria Trevi (as I don't understand Spanish) and I'm not really in the market for a messiah, I braved the Brother Brady badlands (how's that for alliteration?), tuning in just in time to see Wayne's interview with Teri Horton, a truck driver who purchased a painting from a thrift shop a decade ago that has now been authenticated (though not without controversy) as a Jackson Pollock. Linkage: the story from AskART; also at the Age [via AJ], the Observer, and Anderson Cooper.

Horton found the 4 x 5 canvas in a southern California thrift shop and thought she'd buy it for a friend who was down in the dumps, noting that it'd make for a good joke because "she doesn't like abstract." Haggling down to $5 from an outrageous asking price of $8, she threw it in the back of her truck and hauled off to deliver it.

Apparently adding to the humor, the friend's trailer naturally hadn't a door big enough to fit the canvas through, let alone a wall to hang it on. (Obviously Ms Horton was not aware that she could just trim it to fit.) So after a good laugh they determined to lean it against the trailer and call up some people to throw darts at it. Fortunately they "drank some beer and forgot," and the painting was thrown into storage to await discovery by a friend's daughter's art historian boyfriend. Millions of dollars are to be had.

"I get my arts news from variety show hacks"
Posted by Dan at 03:19 AM | Referenced URL's | Comments (4)

June 7, 2004

Still Alive

So I've been sort of out to lunch lately, busy looking for some studio space, sleeping a lot (which was real nice, I tell you what) and sorting through various levels of cerebral noise concerning art and the image in society. I'd promise some posts of substance (and I really hope I can flesh/flush this stuff out in an articulate manner), but I've made that mistake before, only to fall through on said promise. For what it's worth, my mind's been abuzz (between reading, working and Seinfeld reruns, not to mention the Stanley Cup Finals) with thoughts of, among other things, Abu Ghraib, the professionalization of art, and the art market and vulgar commercialism (on the heels of the art fairs and auction week). More to come... possibly.

For now, some minor snark. On the Rock beat:

Firstly. (Old news, as in November '03 old) "Subculture hacker" Malcolm McLaren brings his romanticized revolutionary shtick to bear on hacked Gameboy chip music. I know not of which I speak when it comes to the subculture he's 'unearthed,' but you have to figure any scene is maintaining its underground cred on borrowed time once McLaren and Wired get their hands on it.

How out of touch/disingenuous is McLaren? To wit: "The next record was an EP - an extended-play 7-inch - by a Stockholm artist called Role Model. The last time I had come across this format was in the 1960s, when I bought my first Rolling Stones record." Of course such EP's are hardly the rarity he makes them out to be—every two-bit emo outfit from Akron to Ann Arbor has some material out on a split 7-inch with some other no name punks. But as Malcolm would have it, vinyl fetishism is something new, as if an indie scene obsessed with retro authenticity, not to mention turntable-centric DJ culture, hasn't maintained an anachronistic love for these black platters from the first whiffs of Compact Disc ubiquity.

Secondly. Okay. I thought this ad campaign got nixed after it first aired, so I didn't really sweat it. But I just saw an ad again the other day, so am forced to comment: what the fuck is up with the Ban deodorant riot grrrl ads? Are they pandering to the Avril set or what? Some time ago, while studying magazine ads for a graphic design class, I came across a Pringles ad from Teen People that featured a skinhead punk in full regalia attending some alterna-teen's birthday bash. This was funny. It was subtle, had no real logic to it and no doubt floated by unnoticed by most Teen People readers. This Ban thing is less funny than simply bizarre. (Of course Ban is no newcomer to the girl power bandwagon.) Link: I am so great: Ban these nuts.

Plusly. Whose payola is crudding up my airwaves with that godawful new Lenny Kravitz song/video? Yesterday it even managed to infiltrate the rarefied turf of Byron Allen. Is nothing sacred?

Where are we runnin'
We need some time to clear our heads
Where are we runnin'
Keep on working til we're dead
Where are we runnin'
Ooo wee ooo wee oo
Where are we runnin' now

Where indeed, Lenny?

Finally. Jim Derogatis' and Greg Kot's Sound Opinions on XRT features special guest Wayne Kramer of the MC5 tomorrow night. The MC5 are probably best known as the logo on that t-shirt Rachel wears in an episode of Friends (and subsequently in the opening credits). Less well known is that they were also a pretty damned fantastic band (latterly pigeonholed as proto-punk) hailing from Detroit Rock City. Hopefully Jim and Greg will be able to chat him up regarding his legal entanglements with Chicago-based Future/Now Films over their documentary (ahem, rockumentary) MC5 * A True Testimonial, but I'd imagine he might be reticent to discuss it. You can read the full tale of suits and counter-suits here for a fee of $1.95, get a free nibble here and here, and follow a bit of the back and forth here and here.

Jim and Greg, faces made for radio and print, also host a half-hour televised version of their show, Sunday nights on Channel 11. I think I'd pay good money to watch these motherfuckers kick out the jams in the crowd at a show. Check out Derogatis rocking the skins Soviet style.

"Still Alive"
Posted by Dan at 04:21 PM | Referenced URL's | Comments (0)