The verdict from Frieze New York? Not so bad! While the city has experienced a rash of yawn-worthy art fairs — this year's Armory no exception — yesterday saw the impressively successful debut of Frieze Art Fair on New York's Randall's Island. Combining mainstays such as Gagosian with younger, more innovative galleries such as 47 Canal, T293, and Balice Hertling, Frieze NY offered a crowd-pleasing multifaceted, international approach. Some stand-out works below.
Stephen G Rhodes, "Untitled," 2012 at Overduin and Kite. All photographs by Marcus Cuffie
While I'm familiar with Rhodes' installation work through a recent solo exhibition at Metro Pictures in New York, this collages proves his two-dimensional work to be much more pared down and sensitive to detail. Rhodes, who splits his time between Berlin and New Orleans, has gathered materials around both of his studios, using spraypainted reliefs of New Orleans flora as a background to this composition. Although the most satisfying details of the piece are lost in this jpeg, Rhodes further layers his collage with text from Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, "'Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.' -- Judge. GO OUTSIDE."
Keltie Ferris, "(*)", 2012 at Mitchell Innes and Nash
On view at Mitchelle Innes and Nash's booth is Keltie Ferris' large, graffiti-inspired paintings. While the term "graffiti-inspired" alone may be enough to turn many a viewer off, Ferris' paintings seem timely, and dare I say, internet-aware. With titles that frequently employ various combinations of punctuation marks, Ferris' paintings appear at once almost pixelated or digitally inspired as well as cognizant of delicate position that abstract painting occupies in 2012.
Sarah Braman, "Untitled," 2012 at Mitchell Innes and Nash
Sarah Braman also kills it at Mitchell Innes and Nash...
Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesmans, collectively known as JODI, are rightfully venerated for their countless contributions to art and technology, working as an artistic duo since the mid-90’s. Generally referred to as pioneers of “net.art,” that oft-misunderstood “movement” combining the efforts of artists using the internet as a medium circa 1994, JODI is revered not only for their artistic meditations on the increasing presence of new technology in our daily lives, but also for their fuck-if-I-care attitude toward both the establishments of the technology and art worlds. JODI’s famous five-word “acceptance” speech—if you could call it that—for their 1999 Webby Award in art, simply read, “Ugly commercial sons of bitches.”
Unlike an overwhelming majority of artists, and especially those in art and tech, JODI has managed to sustain a successful career for over 15 years, mounting exhibitions internationally. February 2011 saw the duo literally blow its audience in the face with bomb-like cans of oxygen at Foxy Production, accounting for one of the best performances of the year.
Yet, their recently launched exhibition at the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) finds a flashy, overly simplistic exhibition that fails to represent the deeply important perspective that JODI has come to represent over the last two decades. Comprising work made from 1999 to the present, “Street Digital” extends JODI’s focus from the desktop computer to hardware’s broader, more public landscape including cellular phones, LED signs, and iPods. A projection split into four channels, YTCT (Folksomy) (2008/2010), combines Youtube videos of “people doing weird things with hardware,” or more specifically, the video features mostly-teenage boys destroying old iPods, cameras, laptops, etc., by throwing, bashing, or hammering them. Periodically, a legitimately strange occurrence replaces the usual simple, hormonally charged violent acting-out of an enfants terrible ...
Stills from Here For You (Or My Brief Love Affair with Frank Maresca)
Having appeared as a recurring character on various reality television shows such as “Frank the Entertainer,” would you consider reality television to be an artistic medium that you work through? If so, are there any important attributes specific to it? Were you interested in reality television due to the wide audience that it could offer your work?
“Medium” is a tricky word here because most other media bear the ability to become a craft to an artist, one you can mold, shape and learn to use better and better over time. Reality TV is more like a grab bag. You never know what’s going to happen. So, if it is a medium, it is not a medium that you, as an artist, are ever really in control of. Someone else is calling the shots--the producers, storywriters and editors.
I currently think of reality TV more like a landscape, in which I can appear and reappear in different places in various ways.
I went on “Frank the Entertainer…In a Basement Affair” to just be this anomaly. To get the non-art audience who might see me to scratch their heads for a minute and say “Hey what is this girl doing here? I’m used to seeing girls that look and act like X on these shows.” And then, after I sang the dirty rap song, which was completely incongruous with the woman I had been portraying up to that point, to have audiences see that I was not who they thought I was—that none of the girls on these shows are.
Building on the last question related to reality TV, are there some instances on air in which you’re mainly acting, and others in ...
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...
Looking back at and consolidating the year in exhibitions is one of the more challenging tasks an art writer faces. Tracking trips to shows throughout the year, and more importantly, the evolution of your feelings about them, is a daunting, sometimes insurmountable task. While in Europe this spring and summer, I was lucky enough to view some of the exhibitions I found more momentous and personally resonant. Starting in Italy with the 54th Venice Biennale, I traveled up to Switzerland through Geneva and Basel, heading next to the UK and landing finally in Berlin. The list below reflects both personal favorites and those that I felt to be important in the confluence of art and technology.
Josephine Pryde, “Embryos and Estate Agents: L’Arte de Vivre” at Chisenhale, London
British artist Josephine Pryde bears the unique ability to successfully navigate both photography and sculpture, two mediums which seem almost diametrically opposed. Up until this year I’d only been familiar with Pryde’s sculptures of half-finished baskets precariously suspended by butcher hooks, shown at Galerie Neu in Berlin last year; as well as her strange, oversized macro photographs of fabric, featured at Reena Spaulings in 2009. For her presentation at Chisenhale, “Embryos and Estate Agents: L’Arte de Vivre,” Pryde presented two sets of photographs. The first takes medical images of fetuses, superimposing them in Photoshop against barren desert landscapes; the second stages stock photography-style portraits of young, alternative-looking women contemplating whether or not they’re pregnant. Beyond Pryde’s fascinating material practice is her confrontation of oft-taboo, extremely personal, female-specific issues generally elided in contemporary art discourse.
Cory Arcangel at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York / Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin
Arcangel Fever spread around early spring 2011 as his Whitney retrospective drew near, the artist being asked by a vertiginous number of New York media outlets to grace them with pre-opening press. The show sparked some lukewarm reviews