Archive for the ‘Authorship’ Category

Happy news! Artists and the people who love them meet at last, on mutual ground. No more stark, unfriendly gallery spaces where some intern behind the front desk refuses to acknowledge your arrival. No more standing around at openings with a plastic cup of lousy wine in one hand and a gussied-up Ritz cracker in the other, hoping for a chance to speak with the artist. No more stratospheric prices that make you feel like a dwarf star in the vast art world universe. Really? Really! (more…)

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rirkrit-tiravanijaI live across the street from an empty lot—two, actually. The first (let’s call it “Lot A”) is directly across the street and faces the front entrance to my apartment building. For twenty years it has been advertised as the site of a new coop building project. The ramshackle and weather-beaten plywood barrier that fronts the property is “secured” by a chained link gate with huge gaps on either side where people can, and do, enter.

The second lot (“Lot B”) is on a side street. From my fourth floor perch I look down on its cement perimeter with the embedded metal fence that marks an intended outdoor parking lot. At the front, a paved drive barely makes it past the padlocked gate before fading to dirt road and grass. In the middle of Lot B there are several mature of trees and scattered weed-bushes. Someone mows the abundant grass regularly. (more…)

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Fall of the Rebel Angels (detail)I just finished Michael Frayn’s Headlong, a novel given to me by a friend. She and I saw “Top Girls” on Broadway last year, and we were both intrigued by Dulle Griet, one of the characters in the play, and the namesake of one of Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s more bizarre paintings.

Headlong is an art history “who done it”; in this case the mystery is whether or not a supposed sixth painting in Bruegel’s series of seasonal paintings (of which only five are extant), might be languishing unrecognized in the country estate of an unsuspecting, down-at-the-heels landowner who’s looking to cash in on items he’s stolen from his dying mother. A college professor who’s just arrived with his scholarly wife and their baby to spend “a month in the country” thinks he recognizes the painting as the missing Bruegel, but keeps the thought to himself so as not to tip off the landowner. Instead, he plots to spirit the painting away and into the hands of a grateful art world, who will presumably heap laurels upon him. But first he must prove to his wife that the painting is indeed what he believes it to be. (more…)

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"The Hat Makes the Man" (1920) Max Ernst

I’m taking my first sound environment course at Hunter College with professor Andrea Polli. Our major text is Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, edited by Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner. Featured readings come from interviews, essays, magazine articles and manifestos written by theorists, musicians and sound artists like Pierre Schaeffer, Theodor Adorno, Marshall McLuhan, John Cage, Brian Eno, Glenn Gould and Chris Cutler. The readings have been a real eye-opener—or should I say “ear opener”?

I’m a visual specialist. My music knowledge is as shallow as my art background is deep. Sure, I took piano lessons as a kid. But after I learned to play Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” well enough to impress my father, I lost interest. Like a lot of people, I’ve accumulated a “personal soundtrack” based on haphazard exposure to radio stations, TV, advertising jingles, movies and live performances. Unlike most, my personal soundtrack hasn’t been transferred to an MP3 player. It resides solely between my ears, where snippets of Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” bubble up through layers of B. B. King, the “Dr. Zhivago” soundtrack and Alka Seltzer’s “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz” jingle.  (more…)

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Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

—The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot

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I recently viewed Amir Bar-Lev’s 2007 documentary, My Kid Could Paint That. It’s a compelling work that’s as painful to watch as a car wreck. It starts out as a fairly straight-forward narrative of how one anonymous little girl becomes the center of a scary media circus. However, more is afoot. Is it a story about the myth of genius? Is it a story about the meaning of abstract art? Is it a story about the role of media in the selling of art? Is it a story about art market mythology? Is it a story about parents manipulating their kid? Is it the story of a kid whose behavior changes because the camera is there? Is it a story about how the media exploits the story to create more stories? Is it a story where there is no “true” story? Is it a story about the documentarian who becomes part of the story? Is it a story about the failure of the documentary to fulfill its ethical mandate? Yes. (more…)

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Today’s New York Times Magazine (Sunday, April 6, 2008 issue) includes a full-page print ad for ABC Carpet and Home. The ad announces rug designs based on the quilts stitched by four generations of African-American women in the rural town of Gee’s Bend, Alabama (now known as Pettway). Apparently, Gee’s Bend still generates a profit for those who’ve never threaded a needle.

Some background: Gee’s Bend is a rural community built on the site of former plantation properties owned by Joseph Gee and his relative Mark Pettway. Over the years the women of Gee’s Bend—descendents of slaves and tenement farmers—have created a remarkable variety of quilts. (more…)

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