I experienced this today on a weird wading walking type of thing..
Puttering around the San Francisco/Bay Area art scene a few years ago, I always enjoyed finding residual artifacts made by the ever elusive Carolyn Ryder Cooley. Her work melts curious, sometimes precarious performances with elaborate costumes and an abundant array of forest fauna drawings. She now lives and works in Albany, NY and recently curated this interesting group show called Vestuary Operatics. An intriguing aspect of this show rests in the local art community’s ability to revive a forgotten architectural gem, in this case, the long abandoned St. Anthony’s church in Albany. Here are a few more examples of Cooley’s carefully crafted scenes:
Rell Ohlson brings saturated color to the Austin scene and she’ll be showing new works at the resuscitated space known as Rose Amarillo later this summer. Ken Little plans on renovating his warehouse to open up a new art space in downtown San Antonio. More news on that during Contemporary Art Month. Check out Rell’s video animation collaborations with Josh Rios, it is Mystically Gay.
I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with several friends involved to various degrees in the art world about the verbalization of art. I think I first became really aware of this phenomenon when I started going to Artpace openings. They require artists-in-residence to publicly discuss their work both at the beginning and at the end of the residency. In addition, the curator writes a few paragraphs about each resident’s installation which is posted on the web site and provided in pamphlet form by the entrance to each gallery. The effect of this prominent placement of explanatory remarks on the work is, in some cases, to create a fractured experience of art.
It’s a complicated problem, and probably one that I will be returning to, but I’d like to make a few comments on the effect of this tendency to wrap visual art in language. A lot of art critics have expressed distaste for “wall text” in museums and galleries. Two that I can think of off the top of my head are Dave Hickey and Tyler Green. I feel that the need to clothe visual expression in language distracts from the nature of the work — and forcing artists to write statements and discuss their work publicly has the perverse effect of rewarding artists for their verbal skills, when of course, the reason they became artists is usually because their ability to express themselves visually is stronger than their ability to express themselves verbally.
Historically, at least in America, the tendency to depend on verbal explanations of artwork seems to come with the rise of the Modernists. As noted in the Tyler Green post linked above, Alfred Barr pioneered the idea of using wall text at MoMA. Around the same time, it was Clement Greenberg, through his critical writing, who really shaped public perception of the work of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, and others. Not coincidentally, this the same time that visual art began to move more explicitly into the philosophical realm, a trend which became more and more prevalent up into the 1970s.
Last night I was discussing some of this with Kate Green, Artpace’s outgoing curator, and she pointed out that there really aren’t any art critics these days that have anywhere near the authority of Greenberg or Rosalind Krauss. In other words, the critics now seem to follow the trends determined by a robust art marketplace rather than creating those trends. The most recent major art critic to shape public perception of art we could think of was Dave Hickey, who I realized later, played an important role in marginalizing the critic. Hickey, along with Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe and others, have advocated for a more aestheticized visual art, and pushed for a move away from the academic, conceptual art of the recent past. I think we are finally seeing the fruits of their labor; although in many settings (including Artpace) art is still packaged to some extent in linguistic trappings, this is beginning to seem more and more anachronistic.
Magma is a French prog-rock outfit that formed in 1969. Although they are known for epic orchestral arrangements inspired by Carl Orff, I love this stripped-down vocal, piano and bass version of Otis from 1981. Founding drummer / singer Christian Vander sings about the destruction of the earth in a language he constructed called Kobaïan. Buying Magma CDs can get pricey, but I just noticed their albums are dirt-cheap on iTunes.
Annie Simpson drew a lovely rendition of three sheets to the wind amidst a plethora of works for sale at Arthouse‘s 5×7 fundraiser last week. The San Marcos based artist earned an MFA from Yale and participated in the first Texas Biennial but I haven’t seen too much of her other work. I love this drawing, I should have bought it. Everything is $100 and I highly recommend going to this show in Austin simply because this exhibition supports one of the best contemporary art spaces in Texas.
Design Observer gives us Love Letters to Sub-Antarctic Islands.
A little sample:
I know you probably don’t think of me too often. It’s okay. I’m sure you’re occupied with all of those science teams and feral cats. It seems like you’re always surrounded by a hundred other things. Your own little archipelago.
You’re a French possession, but I wish you were mine.
What do Cai Guo Qiang, Joseph Beuys & Mircea Cantor have in common? Wolves and coyotes.
This installation inhabited Guggenheim Berlin late last year. It’s an astounding example of Cai Guo Qiang’s visions.
Mircea Cantor’s video installation in the Hudson Show Room at Artpace resonates with tension.
I Like America and America Likes Meat.
Our Favorite San Antonio Art-rock icons Buttercup recently celebrated the release of an ep called “Captains of Industry.”
The show was a rousing bit of fun, following up with an amazing backmassage from a man wearing a t-shirt that said “300 lbs of poetry.” (Thank you Richard!)
Check out a mass of arty-rocky photos on this here fancy flickr doo-dad .
Heres a sneak preview :
Bad news on the architectural front in Tokyo. According to Architectural Record, Kisho Kurokawa’s cubic creation, built in 1972, will cease to exist in the high rent Ginza neighborhood. The interior design gives it such a dated yet idealistic expectation for the future. It’s unfortunate that some of these individual units can’t be extracted as architectural artifacts, particularly since there’s a trend to create tiny, customized houses such as Tumbleweeds.
I just found this video of Charalambides’ March performance at Salon Mijangos on YouTube. Lee Jackson (Dallas-based music writer for Foxy Digitalis and Broken Face) has a few kind words about the show in his SXSW recollections as well.