- Letter from the Poetry Editor
- Sexts from Patricia Lockwood
- Poems by Erik Stinson
- Excerpt from my Novel Screenburn by Lance Wakeling
Tim Davis, Cornelia Rutgers Livingston, (2003)
Paradoxically, exhibiting artists that rage against the institution within the institution is both non-ironic and particularly vogue. Unlike the institutional critique of the late 1960s and 70s, which had the exceedingly explicit dynamic of the artist versus institution, those roles today have become less clearly defined. Consider Creative Time, the New York based public sculpture non-profit headed by Nato Thompson and Anne Pasternak, which has recently extended its brand to support the occupation of other institutions as an institution itself. Thompson and Pasternak called for the take-over of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Lent Space last December in an open letter posted on occupyartnyc.org, signed also by art world professionals, listing their institutional affiliations beside their names. And how could one forget the sophomoric hullabaloo surrounding Take Artists Space last October, in which artist Georgia Sagri botched an occupation of the Soho nonprofit Artists Space, all the while admitting that powerful commercial galleries such as Gagosian would be a better target for their concerns, though less sympathetic to their efforts than non-profits. Sagri is now included in the upcoming Whitney Biennial. How an artist negotiates contextualization as fuck-it-all raucous, while cosmopolitan and strategic enough for institutional recognition remains to be seen.
Institutional critique dates back to the late 1960s and 1970s when both government and private support of American public institutions existed on a different plane than it does today. The NEA’s annual budget peaked in 1992 at $176 million, and thanks to the “culture wars” of that period, is about half of that today considering inflation. Offering both historical and contemporary perspectives coming from the lineage of institutional critique is Spies in the House of Art, recently opened at the Metropolitan Museum. (The exhibition’s press release erroneously states that the show begins with the dawn of artists working with the subject of the museum, which they locate in the 1980s, though that would likely make Belgian institutional critique pioneer Marcel Broodthaers roll in his grave. It also purports to study the “secret lives of museums,” which sounds better as a movie tagline than a curatorial thesis.) Nevertheless, the juxtaposition of the more aggressive work of institutional critique greats such as Andrea Fraser with the less full-on work of younger artists such as the British filmmaking duo Nashashibi/Skaer illustrates how thoroughly conversations surrounding institutional critique have become neutralized, which is arguably due to the recent passing of art world power from museums to galleries acting as international chains such as the aforementioned Gagosian.
Thomas Struth, The Restorers at San Lorenzo Maggiore, Naples, (1988)
For her 1989 video “Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk,” Fraser dons the character of the upper-class museum docent Jane Castleton, who bears a striking semblance to Parker Posey’s yuppie, catalog-shopping, Starbucks-loving character Meg Swan in “Best in Show.” Castleton guides us around the Philadelphia Museum of Art with a running commentary on the obvious class differences of several works...
Pronunciation Book is a youtube channel that was registered on April 14, 2010, intended as a resource for "correct" pronunciations of a variety of words that were complex, foreign, or otherwise difficult to pronounce. Each video had a distinct aesthetic, consisting of a still frame with the word being pronounced spelled in a simple, black, sans-serif font on a white background with a copyright date and the channel's URL. Each word was repeated three times with different emphasis, and videos lasted no longer than 15 seconds. The videos are simple, even artistic in their presentation, reminiscent of On Kawara's date paintings from his Today series, each word concrete yet abstracted from its context. Early traffic was no doubt driven by sincere users looking for the proper pronunciation of various words. Indeed there exist a number of youtube channels that serve precisely that purpose, many of which are geared toward ESL viewers; but for whatever reason, Pronunciation Book rubbed many the wrong way, and soon the videos became a popular destination for trolling, spam, and rage. The comments section of each video range from angry corrections of the given pronunciation to outright mockery in the form of re-spellings, dislikes, sarcasm, and a strong undercurrent of racism and xenophobia. Commenters often defended regional pronunciations and accents, or simply mocked the need for such a guide in the first place.
Pronunciation Book would seem to have tapped into an essential truth of the Web and all it's presumed meritocracy: act like you know more or are better than people, and be prepared to drown in a sea of rage. Perhaps the most sophisticated response to the channel came exactly one year later in the form of a separate parody channel titled Pronunciation Manual. Pronunciation Manual adopts the visual ...
Alexandra Gorczynski, Bathroom in the Dark, 2011
March 23rd, 2011
Early mornings were never my thing. I mean, it’s not that artists are lazy. Or out drinking late most nights. Or not out last night, a Tuesday. Hungover. I go out with the dog. It’s still basically dark. A kind of dark blue fog, super cold and grey. A couple are out early, two middle aged men bundled up and both smoking with thick leather gloves. They are sitting on a bench in front of the takeout place on the corner. It’s way too cold to be sitting outside. I hear one say to the other as I pass them, “do you want the thing or the other thing.” And I think, this is true partnership, to have thoughts coalesce around the same object. Not a shared thought, but a coming together. The muffin or the bagel. Privileging someone else’s desires for a subjectless thing. Generosity. Just as likely the better looking half of an egg and cheese sandwich. I go in the store and order one for myself. Salt and grease.
Today in 1923 Tennessee became the first state to outlaw the teaching of evolution. Today in 1933 the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, granting Hitler total power. Fittingly, today is miserable. Still basically dark, hail. The never ending domino fall of winter storms.
March 29th, 2011
I live in America’s most bug infested city. There are bug infested mattresses all around my neighborhood this evening. It’s trash night and everyone has put the big stuff on the curb. Not just bug-ridden mattresses, also rugs, rotting Ikea cushions from a few seasons back, clothes of all kinds. I drop off my sheets at the laundry across the street and six o ...
Still from Animation, masks (Jordan Wolfson, 2011)
The central figure in Jordan Wolfson’s Animation, masks (his video which showed at Alex Zachary Peter Currie until recently) is only visible to his torso, like a Jack-in-the box. He’s a caricature who lip-syncs borrowed text while making gestures and expressions that seem cinematically familiar. He's not comprised of anything; rather, he's composed through appropriation.
The character repeats and repeats Richard Brautigan’s Love Poem, heralding a morning without falsehood. In the piece's most powerful segment, he's the face for two emotional and articulate individuals whose frank sexual conversation showcases the distance between lovers who, even with their privileged understanding of one another, can't bridge the difference between empathizing with someone and embodying oneself.
Still from Animation, masks (Jordan Wolfson, 2011)
That sliver of difference between subject and object and the impossibility of fusing within and without defines the piece. Wolfson has created a compelling synthesis of consumption where the distance between an observer to their object of attention or affection is small but vast. An adept receiver of popular culture exists under his character's mask of mimicry and enactment; one who inhabits references by parroting them. Animation, masks is that absorptive sponge's clearly rendered dream.
Recently added to the Artbase: IHSE by Esther Hunziker
IHSE is a series of autonomous architectural buildings. Each photo shows a geometric figure, which overrides the forms of classical architecture. There is no roof nor a base, no top or bottom. The buildings float in the void. Architecture which looks like concrete capsules through which one can move into a different space-time continuum. The interactive online version of the photo series IHSE, responds to the mouse movements of the user. You hear a spherical, meditative sound in the background. Architectural buildings float slowly in empty space and endlessly multiply themselves out of themselves. They grow to a certain size until they divide into two. By moving the mouse the user can intervene in this process, slow down or accelerate the growth and turnaround the direction of the IHSE travel.
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