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January 25, 2005

More to Come... I Swear

I promise that the quietude that has managed to reign around here of late will end fairly shortly. One more week of real-world distraction to go.

That said, I did manage to get my ass in gear recently, making it out and about to some galleries and finally getting over to the Art Institute before both Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand and Anri Sala's Focus commission, a 9-minute 35 mm film titled Now I see, disappear on January 30.

I do hope to somehow make it back there one more time, however briefly, and so will reserve what substantive comments I can muster until later. For the time being I'll leave it at this: Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand left me mildly disappointed and the Sala, rather befuddled. Viewing the latter twice through, I wondered whether I was missing something.

On her way out of the installation, one viewer remarked that she suspected it might be 'something about testosterone.' There is probably something to this but, in any event, she seemed nonplussed. Though a pamphlet with a good deal of accompanying text from curator James Rondeau is available, I feel comfortable saying—whatever my final opinion of Sala's piece itself—that it is damn near the height of ridiculousness. Again, I hope to view the film again, so... we'll see.

(Elsewhere: Alan Artner goes after the piece here, chalking up his dislike of it as a failure for popular culture. As usual, I think he overdoes it a bit.)

I also chose to face the elements head on Saturday night along with a couple hundred other brave souls to take in a evening showing of In the Realms of the Unreal, Jessica Yu's Henry Darger documentary, at the Music Box. The film was followed by a Q&A with Michael Bonesteel. More on this all some time in the not too distant future as well.

"More to Come... I Swear"
Posted by Dan at 03:28 PM


I saw the Sala when I was there last and didn't even consider it worth commenting on. Couldn't figure out why he's the cover boy everywhere. Seemed to be just a bad and over-long, over-pretentions MTV video to me. Lots of writhing and screaming.

Good to see you're getting out and about again. Now if the weather would just cooperate one of these days..

Posted by: Cynthia on January 25, 2005 at 05:01 PM

Artner's piece irritated me more than Sala's installation. An insipid and ignorant piece of art criticism that ignores real contemporary art practice, he was blinded by the very element that makes it weirdly pertinent. I urge all to go see it and I look forward to your thoughts Dan.

Posted by: Britton on January 25, 2005 at 09:22 PM

To be fair, that is Artner's general modus operandi. As far as Alan G's concerned, it's all just more entertainment and vulgar spectacle.

Britton, I'm curious in what sense you found Sala's piece "weirdly pertinent." Pertinent in an art historical sense or, rather, pertinent to the culture at large?

At any rate, thanks for dropping in and do stay tuned.

Posted by: Dan on January 26, 2005 at 08:16 PM

I couldn’t resist:

Today’s Artner confusion -

“Chicago museums own a number of Ryman's mature works, though we seldom see them because contemporary departments have been so industrious in promoting the pieces of comparative children.”


And Dan, per Sala, I was referring to the culture at large aspect of an "MTV" video/rock concert noise in the contemporary art gallery of the oh so staid AIC. Grant Wood is somewhere grimacing.

Posted by: Britton on January 27, 2005 at 12:57 PM

Chicago museums own a number of Ryman's mature works, though we seldom see them because contemporary departments have been so industrious in promoting the pieces of comparative children.

Because, after all, should contemporary departments really be in the business of showing work from artists under the age of 75?

That paragraph is directly followed by this:

That makes the present show, with the works' emphasis on surface and the painter's touch, all the more treasureable. There's no fakery. What you see is what you get.

Maybe it's just a non sequitur, but this strikes me as a rather general and gratuitous swipe at more contemporary works. Nice.

It is sometimes lamented that critics today never take on "the big issues." I wonder, though, whenever I see Artner avoiding the art itself and jumping straight to the "bigger picture," the better to flog his own prejudices. Perhaps in abler hands...

Posted by: Dan on January 27, 2005 at 04:08 PM

Referenced in this post:

Art Institute of Chicago: American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South
Art Institute of Chicago: Focus: Anri Sala
Chicago Tribune: Sala's `Now I see' appears blind to a higher aesthetic experience—Alan G. Artner
Henry Darger : Art and Selected Writings—Michael Bonesteel
IMDb: Jessica Yu
Iconoduel: This and That—Our Man Henry
Iconoduel: Up Close and Annotated: Art Institute Preview—Anri Sala
Music Box Theatre