Sunday, February 27, 2011

Glenn Ligon's Retrospective at the Whitney

Conceptual artist Glenn Ligon, whose midcareer retrospective, “Glenn Ligon: America,” opens at the Whitney on March 10. Taken from “Melanctha,” a 1909 novella by Gertrude Stein about a mixed-race woman, “negro sunshine” is the kind of ambiguous phrase that Mr. Ligon, who is black, uses to speak of the history of African-Americans. “I find her language fascinating,” he said of Stein. “It’s a phrase that stuck in my head.”

Horse Play

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ernesto Pujol

Following up on our reading of Ernesto Pujol's manifesto on contemporary arts education, take a look at the description of the Field School at his site to get some sense of his own solutions to the problems he describes.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

John Akomfrah: Nine Muses

The film is one of the bravest films I’ve seen, like a labyrinth turning in and out upon itself as it questions the immigrant experience (which is Akomfrah’s own tale, as an African from Ghana). He looks at the migratory impulse, identity, history and cultural assumptions through the medium of memory’s accompanying song. Mnemosyne’s protagonist is the opposite of the hero of Christopher Nolan’s film Memento (2000), who was an amnesiac with a short-circuiting brain disorder. Our Mnemosyne protagonist remembers everything. What he is can’t be seen in tattoos or with a cursory glance. He is a blue and yellow coat in a white blizzard.

Conflict Kitchen and The Waffle Shop

I thought I'd share these two great examples of social art. Both are ongoing ventures by Pittsburgh artists Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski. Jon was a Falk visiting artist last year at UNCG.

What I like most about these pieces is that they are amazing projects with or without an art context. From my experience with The Waffle Shop and Conflict Kitchen, the vast majority of the patrons were from the non-art public. I believe this is where the brilliance lies.

Monday, February 21, 2011

David Hammons

A remarkable show of David Hammons at L&M Arts...

Chris T. posted this review of the show last night to my FB page--definitely worth a read.
I'm completely fascinated by Hammons' recent work work:
1. by the way they somehow elude the categorization of painting and yet are some of the most interesting painting I've seen in a long, long time.  In the first few moments of looking at them, I had this barrage of thoughts, wow, this completely changes my notions of what I thought painting could be--in fact, painting can be so much more!  My own notions have been so limited--the boundaries are wide open once again.  Hallejuah!  (or something akin to that exclamation of supreme delight...) 
2. by the way they are adamantly abstract, utterly, heart-wrenchingly poetic and deeply aesthetic--conjuring all kinds of affinities with what we assume poetic abstraction to be at first--and yet, they do not really reside where we think they should reside in the end.   They flirt with race and politics, attaching the complexities of race and politics to an appropriately complicated form.
3. by the way they teach me how to see painting, aesthetics, abstraction, and politics-as-dealt-with-by-art anew--

Orgy Anyone?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Privacy and Public Struggle

It may be a bit hard to follow, but this article by Ta Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic raises a point about visibility and identity that I think is directly related to last Thursday's discussion in class. The incident he's discussing was an assault on CBS correspondent Lara Logan during the demonstrations/celebration in Cairo following Mubarak's resignation. The story has since been politicized in some exceptionally ugly ways, but Coates is talking more generally about the trade-offs between personal privacy and the public struggle for equal treatment.

Coates is a very thoughtful young writer, and he maintains one of the internet's most informative and well-behaved comments sections. He's also written at great length on his blog about Civil War history, slavery and the antebellum South, for anyone interested in digging into those topics.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Poor Farm

I am always interested in anything Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam do together art-wise--the Poor Farm Experiment adding to their already fascinating roster of art-space projects.  Though the Poor Farm site is slightly opaque, I do recommend that you look up their summer school reading list--all the articles can be downloaded for free.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Awoiska van der Molen

I was thinking that Jessica and Hannah may be interested in this work, especially since the darkroom is an important part of her photographic process:

The focus of my photography lies within situations and locations remote to the
everyday hectic life. I photograph mostly at night when my senses are not
distracted by daily influences of an urban environment. Under such circumstan-
ces an intangible, ethereal aura of a certain location can catch my attention:
an absent presence of elements.

I try to translate the intensity of such atmospheres to black and white images
that are simultaneously topographical and psychological landscapes.
I move along the edges of anonymous cities or let myself be absorbed by remote,
exotic, natural landscapes. Landscapes where almost no architecture appears.
I focus on earth and soil: the essence of our origin.

Later, the printing of gelatine silver prints in the darkroom becomes an important
part of the process. This way, the isolation and concentration I experience while
photographing get transferred to the darkroom.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Annie Lapin

Almost a total wreck--wonderful.

More images here.

Annie Lapin, Tag Team Begetting and Forgetting, 2008, casein and oil on panel, 56"x44"

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Painting and Politics

Just this week, Gainesville State College instructor and painter Stanley Bermudez demonstrated that political provocation is hardly limited to performance and activism, when his painting Heritage? was removed from a faculty show after a wave of local criticism.

I'm honestly not going out of my way to look for these stories, but the current political/cultural moment keeps throwing them out there. We seem to be replaying the 1980's culture wars – the NEA battles, Karen Finley, Andres Serrano, Robert Mapplethorpe and North Carolina's own Jesse Helms(JStor id and password required) – with a new cast of artists and a range of new and old opponents.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Socially Engaged Art, Critics and Discontents: An Interview with Claire Bishop

What criteria should we use to evaluate socially engaged art?
London-based critic Claire Bishop recently raised provocative questions and poked at the critical status quo about the discourse surrounding what she term, "relational" practices — socially engaged art, community-based art, experimental communities, dialogic art, littoral art, participatory, interventionist, research-based and collaborative art.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Something in the reading that Donovan provided for tomorrow's class made me think of the Yes Men. Their work often features outright deceit, along with plenty of embarrassment and awkwardness. They do, however, always "kick upwards" when it comes to the power relationships into which they insert themselves.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kathrina Grosse

What do you guys think of her work?

Good formalist abstraction is sometimes made by young painters too

I happened onto Meghan Brady's paintings in something of a happenstance way--she's young and is just getting going it seems, but her work is pretty memorable to me because I so rarely get excited by a new painter these days!  The work is varied and unexpected and breathes life into something as seemingly tapped out as good-old-formalist-abstraction.  Don't you just know the best abstraction is being made by women these days?  Some that come to mind at the moment:
Rebecca Morris
Erica Svec
Carrie Gundersdorf
Orly Genger
Michelle Grabner
Sigrid Sandstrom
Lisa Sigal
Now what's that about?

The top image: Untitled (yellow), 2010, oil on canvas, 40.5"x30"
Middle image: Jackrabbit, 2010, oil on canvas, 18"x14"
Bottom image: Gambler, 2008, oil on linen, 16"x16"

Also worth taking a look: Brady's drawing blog.  Collage and all kinds of informality abound.