This week’s awesomeness: 323 Projects, a gallery that’s nothing more than a phone line. This month and next, you can can dial in and get a few things off your chest to a close friend or family member — all courtesy of the artists JEFF&GORDON (that’s them, top left).
The age of the e-book has created a quandary for people who like to display the things they read (or aspire to read) on the shelves in their homes. Your e-reader may hold a PhD’s worth of Jacques Lacan tomes, but how will your dinner guests know about it? Enter the E-Book Shelf Surrogate (click the image above to supersize), introduced by Hol Art Books at the Printed Matter LA Art Book Fair. At the fair, any visitors who pick up an e-book, will also get an 11×17 print that can be folded into the model of a paper back book, so that you may chicly and casually show off your intellectual ability to your friends. All for only $15!
Tip: while you’re there, pop over to the Gagosian booth, where they’re selling a Destroy All Monsters zine with CD for $30. Probably the only thing I’ll ever be able to afford at Gago, besides the sneering condescension (which is free).
The fair is on through Sunday 6pm, at MOCA Geffen in Little Tokyo.
On Some Far Away Beach, 2012, a Coogi sweater piece by Jayson Musson. Part of the artist’s solo exhibit, Halcyon Days, at Salon 94. Through August 17, on the Lower East Side. (Image courtesy of the artist and Salon 94.)
- Honolulu: Comforts for the Soul: Arts for the Afterlife, at the Honolulu Museum. Through November 4.
- L.A.: Michael Heizer: Actual Size, at LACMA. Through September 9, in the Fairfax district.
- NYC: Ghosts in the Machine, at the New Museum. Opens today, on the Lower East Side.
- NYC: Oscar Medrano Perez, an exhibition of photography related to Peruvian human rights, at the Instituto Cervantes. Opens Friday at 6pm, in Midtown. (Medrano took one of the most poignant photos of the country’s Internal Conflict. I featured it as the top image on this post I wrote in 2009, when I visited the Yuyanapaq exhibit at the Museo de la Nación in Lima.)
- Detroit: Post-Industrial Complex, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. Through July 29. **Last two weeks.**
- NYC: Style Wars, a look at graffiti in contemporary culture (sounds interesting!) and Revolution Not Televised, contemporary Cuban art and practice, at the Bronx Museum. Opens Thursday, in the Bronx.
- NYC: Mark Flood, The Hateful Years, at Luxembourg & Dayan. Opens today, on the Upper East Side.
In a place as impossibly horizontal as L.A., it’s always nice to see the city’s highly centralized arts institutions leave their sinecures for some guerrilla activities at the fringes. For the first ever Venice Beach Biennial, the folks behind the Hammer Museum’s Made in L.A. biennial got a crew of more than 50 fine artists to go and set up some stalls amid the outdoor circus that is the Venice Beach boardwalk. I decided to forgo the map that was available at some stalls and just troll the boardwalk in a state of general cluelessness. This way, I could see how good I was at picking apart the artsy fartsies from run-of-the-mill weirdos.
I didn’t get to see everything, unfortunately. (I had a very important fish taco appointment with friends.) But what I did see convinced me that this is something that the city’s institutions should be doing more of: inserting art into the world, in ways that are confusing and disorienting. Most significantly, however, the whole exercise offered the very real convenience of conceptual art and patchouli in a single location — always a winner in my book.
This will be a tough piece to watch come together: Suzanne Lacey is doing a reprise of a 1977 work in which she tracked rapes in Los Angeles for a period of three weeks. This year, the artist, with the assistance of the LAPD, will do the same for the rest of the month of January. The L.A. Rape Map will come together in Deaton Auditorium at police headquarters in downtown as part of the Los Angeles Goes Live series of performance art exhibitions presented by LACE. Seems like a must-see to me. Get the details here. (Image courtesy of the artist and LACE.)
- S.F.: Skewville, Playground Tactics, at White Walls. Opens Saturday, at 7pm.
- S.F.: An American Language, at Guerrero Gallery. Opens Saturday.
- L.A.: Daniel Richter, A concert of purpose and action, at Regen Projects. Through February 18, in West Hollywood.
- San Diego: John Banasiak, George Brown’s Bar, at Joseph Bellows Gallery. Opens Saturday, in La Jolla.
- NYC: Giles Thompson, New and Used, at Pandemic Gallery. Opens Saturday at 7pm.
- Plus: Get my latest New York picks over at Gallerina…
I’ve got a feature in this month’s ARTnews on artists making art about the art world that often serves as a stinging critique of our little corner of human civilization. Covered in the piece are rants by William Powhida, installations by Jennifer Dalton, biennial pieces about biennials and my favorite: Joe Sola’s jump-out-the-window-during-studio-visits piece.
You can read the story online. Or, better yet, pick up the mag at your nearest newsstand.
Palas por pistolas, by Pedro Reyes, on the Lower East Side. (Photos by C-M.)
Like many people who live in New York City right now, Occupy Wall Street has occupied my mind. Like many people, I’ve been of a mixed mind about it. As has been repeated ad nauseum, there is no unifying message, no unifying issues, no unifying ethos. The protests’ goals are unclear. And the scene in Zucotti Park is a borderline circus, complete with naked-lady body painting, relentless bongo drumming and enough patchouli to gag an ox.
But as chaotic as the protests are, they have energized me — or something in me that has felt powerless before a power structure (Congress, corporations, the Koch brothers) that stacks the deck against people like myself. I’m a freelancer. I am almost 40 years old. I have almost no benefits to speak of and neither does my husband. I make less money now than I did five years ago — even though I work twice as hard. The prospect of an eventual retirement seems almost morbidly hilarious. I am, to be cliché, the 99%. Which is why I’ve supported the protests (I’ve made food donations), even if I don’t entirely know what they’re about and even if I’m not really the type to grab a sleeping bag and camp out. I also support the right of the protestors to remain firmly in place — as a noisy, irritating thorn in the side of an establishment that seems to care less and less about people like me.
All of these thoughts were consuming my brain as I paid a visit to the Living as Form exhibit in the abandoned Essex Street Market on Manhattan’s Lower East Side on Thursday. Organized by Creative Time’s chief curator Nato Thompson, the show is less a collection of aesthetic objects than a gathering of projects and project documentation that in some way speak to social action. In other words, this isn’t a show that is easy to look at. You’re not going to jet in and out and be blown away by some kaleidoscope of color or some highly photogenic installation.
Living as Form explores the ways in which many artists are engaging social issues in their work — whether its Pedro Reyes (see the image above), who collected guns and quite literally, transformed them into shovels, or Rick Lowe, who for a decade and a half, has dedicated himself to the community inhabiting a row of historic shotgun houses in Houston, a project that in every way imaginable functions like a traditional non-profit. There is a gripping video by Jeremy Deller, which recreates a historic encounter between union miners and the Thatcher government and a simple bookshelf, installed by the L.A. collective Finishing School, which displays books that have been branded “dangerous” under the Patriot Act. Some of these are obvious (The Anarchist Cookbook), others are downright befuddling (a tome about how to live off the land).
How is this art? Thompson says neither he nor the exhibit necessarily have the answer. The show is merely a way of exploring the way in which art plays a role in the lives of the many communities it inhabits. “It’s good to be aware that art isn’t universally regarded as a ‘good,’” says Thompson. “Talk to people on the Lower East Side and they might be, “I don’t want your art. I want affordable housing.” The show includes their voices, too (in the form of walking tours around the neighborhood). This may all feel a little unmoored, but that’s the point. It’s all part of the moment that we’re living in.
Living as Form will be on view through this weekend at the Historic Essex Market on the Lower East Side. Definitely go and check it out (and give yourself plenty of time when you do). Want to do a little more reading? Mira Schor has an essay on this very topic…
I did a feature story on the L.A. Chicano art collective Asco for Studio 360 (complete with reference to Chihuahua skulls), tied to their big retrospective at LACMA. It’s my first big piece for Studio 360, so please have a listen!!