Censorship Exhibit at the Brecht Forum, by Leah Hansen

Thursday, November 8 saw the opening of “Censorship: An Exhibition Benefiting Artists in Distress” at the Brecht Forum . The reception featured plenty of food and drinks, live performances, and a raucous crowd the filled every inch of the relatively small gallery space. The featured artists hail from countries around the world and utilize an array of mediums, including drawing, painting, photography, video, and performance. The only thing missing was context.

No artist’s statement or biography appeared; no overall explanation of the show’s goal was on view. The press release for the exhibition, which can be found at freedimensional.org, explains that a few of the artists have faced political repercussions as a result of their controversial work, but nowhere at the actual show can one read which artists were censored and which are simply responding to the idea of censorship.

This creates a modicum of confusion. Though quite striking, Melissa Murray’s “Bag,” a four-foot graphite drawing of a nude woman in profile, sitting on the ground wearing a plastic grocery bag like a hat, doesn’t necessarily address censorship. Yes, nudity is frequently under attack by censors, but in this case, the woman’s arms and legs obscure any “offensive” parts. Moving on, one arrives at Sarah Valeri’s stunning painting, “Bright”. The 30-inch canvas features a lithe, androgynous child curled in a fetal position on a swamp bank. In the foreground, a dog with a frog riding on its back swims by; lily pads float around them. The painting’s sea of blue, green, lavender, and cream swirl gently together, and, coupled with the child’s morose expression, evokes serenity and sadness. But, again, one wonders how it relates to the show’s theme.

The pieces with clear ties to censorship cover emotions ranging from rage to hope to humor. Particularly humorous are the pieces by photographer “BKLYN Paul,” who attended the opening naked. In “Spring Street,” the artist appears naked and smirking in front of graffiti-covered wall that creates a stark contrast to his unclothed body. On the left, an amateur photographer is caught snapping Paul’s photo with a little digital camera and a woman on the right turns toward us with a big grin. Paul’s “Subway Series” consists of three photos of a friend riding the subway naked. Only one other rider watches with a scowl, while everyone else is clearly laughing. The laughter captured in these photos emphasizes the ridiculousness of the attempts by the FCC and conservatives to fine and jail people for even accidental flashes nudity. Meanwhile, no one in these photos appears harmed or scarred by seeing a naked man on the streets of New York.

Collages by Issa Nyaphaga and Bara Diokhane evoke potent anger at the lack of artistic freedom in their homelands, Cameroon and Senegal. Mel Smothers’ two Mao portraits (of the Andy Warhol variety), painted over with ethereal birds in flight, impart a sense of hope for the future.

While the exhibition is successful as a showcase of eclectic art, it fails to maintain a cohesive message about censorship. Background information on the art and artists is especially important in this context, as artists face the FCC crackdown on “obscene” television and radio programming, and the current administration’s attempts to repeal basic rights in the name of “combating terrorism.” Without an explanation tying this work together, it’s just a mish-mash of art—impressive art, but a mish-mash nonetheless.

“Censorship: An Exhibition Benefiting Artists in Distress” will be on display at the Brecht Forum, located at 451 West Street between Bank and Bethune Streets, through December 6. There will also be a closing celebration held on Friday, November 30 from 7 to 10 p.m., featuring live music and dance. For more information, visit brechtforum.org or call 212-242-4201.

Bette Midler's Hulaween * By Leah Hansen * October 31, 2007 * Waldorf-Astoria

Bette Midler looked stunning in her “goddess of the forest” costume at her annual Hulaween benefit at the Waldorf-Astoria on Halloween night. The Pamela Dennis-designed green dress, flocked with gold leaves and topped with a bird’s nest hat, was perfectly appropriate for the evening’s benefit for the New York Restoration Project (NYRP). Other celebrities joined the fun as well, with Michael Kors as a very believable Elton John and Susie Essman of Curb Your Enthusiasm as a spidery vamp woman. Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg got into the act (a little bit) with a set of chunky shell necklaces over his business suit.

Guests arrived in costume, took their seats at tables festooned with hand-carved jack-o-lanterns and gruesome giant rats, and were treated to a night of Halloween-themed food, a costume contest, and performances by Sheryl Crow and the Divine Miss M herself, Bette Midler.

This year’s Hulaween raised over $2 million in ticket sales for the NYRP, which was founded by Midler in 1995 to create a cleaner, greener New York City. The NYRP plants trees, restores community parks and gardens, and saves public spaces from commercial development in New York City. It recently partnered with the city’s Department of Parks & Recreation to launch MillionTreesNYC, an initiative to plant one million trees on public land throughout the five boroughs over the next ten years.

The gala also featured a live auction for trees to be planted in the winners’ names. A concurrent online auction, ending November 8, offers entertainment packages, luxury items, and personal meetings with Bette Midler, actor Hugh Jackman, or Bill Clinton, among other celebrities.

At the end of the night, guests left with gift bags from Target and the satisfaction of knowing that they did something to better the city. And as a last nod to the greening of New York, a note at the bottom of event’s program implored guests not to take decorations home with them, so that they may be recycled for next year’s gala. Truly, conscientious to the end!

 

Hunt Slonem and Sandra Li Ron Villane and wife

Photos by Marta Fodor

The Valerie Project at MoMA

PopRally presents:
 

 

THE VALERIE PROJECT

Sunday, October 28 | 8:00–11:00 p.m.

The Museum of Modern Art

11 W 53rd St, btw 6th and 7th 

Titus Theater 1

Join PopRally for a Halloween celebration featuring The Valerie Project, a unique cinematic and musical experience.

Underground Philadelphia musicians perform an original soundtrack to a rarely screened 35mm print of Valerie and her Week of Wonders, Jaromil Jires's 1970 folk-horror Czech New Wave classic. This coming of age fairytale, featuring vampires, the living dead, and pastoral landscapes, promises to awe and surprise you with its stunning psychedelic visuals and surrealist plot twists. The new soundtrack will be performed live by a ten-piece ensemble, led by members of the bands Espers, Fern Knight and Fursaxa and harpist Mary Lattimore, lending a new perspective to this spectacular film.

The party continues upstairs, where DJ Mahssa of B-Music will be spinning funky dance psychedelia.

Costumes are STRONGLY encouraged!!

Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Tickets are available at the Museum information and Film desks, and through Ticketweb.com.

Guests of this event will receive a limited-edition print specially made for the night by Los Angeles-based artist Tracy Nakayama, who was recently included in P.S.1's Into Me / Out of Me exhibition.

You must be twenty-one or older to attend this event.

PopRally would like to thank Christiania Vodka, Lagunitas Brewing Co., and Fred for their sponsorship; and Joseph Gervasi, Co-Founder of The Valerie Project.

PopRally is funded by the generous support of Katherine Farley and Jerry I. Speyer

Above: Tracy Nakayama. Print. 2007. Courtesy of Tracy Nakayama

 

 

THE THIRD MIND at Le Palais de Tokyo

Determined Indeterminancy A review of THE THIRD MIND at Le Palais de Tokyo Curated by Ugo Rondinone By Joseph Nechvatal THE THIRD MIND Le Palais de Tokyo 13, avenue du président Wilson 75116 Paris September 7th – January 8th I first want to congratulate the guest curator Ugo Rondinone and the new director of Le Palais de Tokyo, Marc-Olivier Wahler, for mounting a really high-quality group show (*) that criss-crosses an assortment of generational frontiers and stylistic barriers. Ugo Rondinone is an artist known for his talent for building systems of connections and given the visual results of this exhibit; he has, in large part, very good taste in art. I particularly enjoyed his assembling excellent works of Brion Gysin - William S. Burroughs, Ronald Bladen, Lee Bontecou, Andy Warhol, Nancy Grossman, Cady Noland, Martin Boyce, Paul Thek and Emma Kunz. I think what might be interesting about this disquieting show, is to look at how this group show differs in its conjoining (or not) from other group shows by pinning it to the collaborative work of Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs from the early 1960s known as The Third Mind. Also we can place THE THIRD MIND in the context of wider connections and ponder at what point does homage turn into exploitation? First some background. Beat writer Burroughs and the artist Brion Gysin, known predominantly for his rediscovery of the Dada master Tristan Tzara's cut-up technique and for co-inventing the flickering Dreamachine device, worked together in the early 1960s on a publishing project that used a chance based cut-up method. A cut-up method consists of cutting up and randomly reassembling various fragments of something to give them a completely new and unexpected meaning. 1+1=3 (**) In the recent biography of Allen Ginsburg, Celebrate Myself, Ginsburg’s archivist, Bill Morgan, excellently recounts some of the genesis of Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs forays into radical Dada cut-up technique and collaboration based on Ginsburg’s diary entries. Gysin in the mid 1950’s pointed out to Burroughs that collage technique has been a regular tool in painting and graphics since half a century. This came as late news to the young Beat writers of that time, so it is perhaps not surprising that Ginsburg’s first exposure to Burroughs’s use of the cut-up was met with distain – Ginsburg considered it something along the lines of a parlor trick. (p. 318) Even more, Ginsburg speculated from NYC that Burroughs had lost his mind through lack of sex (note: Burroughs lusted after Ginsburg in vain). As a joke, Ginsburg and Peter Orlovsky cut up some of their own poems and rearranged them and sent them to Burroughs with the note “Just having a little fun mother”. (pp. 318 – 319). However Burroughs was so dedicated to the random cut-up method that he often defended his use of the technique. When Ginsburg and Orlovsky arrived in Tangiers in 1961, Burroughs was working on an even more advanced use of the cut-up; he and Ian Sommerville were cutting and splicing audiotapes and Burroughs was making collages from newspapers and photographs while proclaiming that poetry and words were dead. (pp. 331-332) Burroughs however soon began work on a cut-up novel, the Soft Machine - drawing material from his The Word Hoard. (**) This manuscript was soon being “assembled” and edited by Ian Sommerville and Michael Portman; Burroughs’s companions. Sommerville was regularly speaking of building electrical cut-up machines. Burroughs would soon begin collaborating on a book project with Brion Gysin using the cut-up method; cutting up and reassembling various fragments of sentences and images to give them a new and unexpected meaning. The Third Mind is the title of the book they devised together following this method - and they were so overwhelmed by the results that they felt it had been composed by a third person; a third author (mind) made of a synthesis of their two personalities. Ginsburg remained highly skeptical for some time, but following his travels in India came to appreciate the cut-up technique; even while never employing it. Now for THE THIRD MIND show itself. Two major works (themselves multitudinal) advance well Rondinone’s thesis of the third mind. Of course, foremost is the Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs collaboration The Third Mind. An entire gallery is devoted to the maquettes for this unpublished book from the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art - and it does not disillusion the 4th mind: that of the viewer/reader. It is a golden hodgepodge feast and serves as the underpinnings of the exhibit. Then there is the glamorous video installation/accumulation of Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests from 1964-1966: a group of silent b&w three-minute films in which visitors to the Warhol factory try to sit still. Here we see an interlaced presentation that visually connects the youthful faces of Edi Sedgwick, Susan Sontag, Nico, John Giorno, Jonas Mekas, Gerald Melanga, Jack Smith, Paul Thek, Lou Reed and the distinguished Marcel Duchamp. The presentation is structurally connectivist given its 4 directional presentation as a low laying sculpture. It is incredibly enjoyable. Plus the room is ringed with black haunting photograms called Angels by the fascinating Bruce Conner from 1973-75. In terms of a more traditional synthetic associational curatorial fission, the strongest effect was achieved for me in the Ronald Bladen, Nancy Grossman, Cady Noland gallery. Everything here is screaming in harmony of power, sex and violence. The entire space felt hard as nails – most all of it a macho silver and black. Bracketing the huge gallery were long rows of Nancy Grossman’s famous black-leathered heads, aggressively sprouting phallic shapes like picks and horns. Ronald Bladen’s 1969 minimal masterwork The Cathedral Evening aggressively dominates the interior space with a mammoth triangle breach. This is backed up by his famous Three Elements from 1965. Then, giving the gallery a sense of an almost palpably Oedipal contest, is a large group of superb black on silver Cady Noland anthropological silkscreens on metal from the early 1990s. The other room that really collectively worked for me held Paul Thek and Emma Kunz. Three wonderful Paul Thek Meat Piece are there; weird post-minimal sculptures that sickly encase flayed body sections in wax in long yellow transparent plexiglas shrines that literally shine. This meat-machine mix is counter-pointed with the healing magnetic-field ephemerality of Emma Kunz’s geometric drawings, done with lead and colored pencils or chalk on graph paper. It was easy to envision some fierce spiritual forces zapping each other throughout that area. Other rooms bring the connectivest bent to a jolting halt. I simply admired Martin Boyce’s huge neon sculpture (Boyce channeling Dan Flavin), but it produced no associative effects with what else was in the room. Worse of all was a room entirely devoted to the work of Joe Brainard. What was that doing there? One strains to see (or imagine) even a 2nd mind in that space. So the unavoidable thought arises, well, Rondinone must like this stuff – so that is at least two minds in synch. But does Rondinone think there is anything still interesting in a Gober sink? His The Split-up Conflicted Sink from 1985 also played a huge flat note for me in this supposed visual symphony, as did the overly unembellished black crosses of Valentin Carron, the stupid car bashed installation by Sarah Lucas, and the cloying faux-naïve canvases of Karen Kilimnik. How to connect this boring, stupid and naïve work to the third mind connectivity theme? OK. I will. On thinking about the show on my way home, I concluded that the show’s relationship to connectivity is gravely naïve and passé (if pleasant in a quaint, charming way) in lieu of the multi-networked world in which we now reside. By now various theories of complexity have established an undeniable influence within cultural theory by emphasizing open systems and collaborative adaptability. One ponders if Rondinone has ever even heard of the theories of Tiziana Terranova, Eugene Thacker or other cultural workers involved in the issues of human-machine symbiosis as interface within our inter-network media ecology. So yes, part of the pleasure for me was bathing in this old fashioned naivety, having just spent some serious time reading and writing on the topics of conspiratorial shadow activities (****) and viral software logic based on complex inter-connectionism (*****). Placed against issues of avant-garde cybernetics, the coupling of nature and biology via code, media ecologies, distributed management teams, internet mash-up music, artificial life swarms, the political herd mind, and Negri/Hardt’s multitudes; THE THIRD MIND played in my mind like a romp through a kindergarten playpen. Nice. It felt good to forget about that pervasive nagging political/cultural feeling of stalemate created by the resilience of our current reality in that it assimilates everything. But no, Ugo Rondinone did not randomly cut and reassemble art to create a new third meaning. He did not cut-up anything. He did, like every music dj, fashion designer, and group show curator, remix contemporary expression from recent decades to permit new meanings to emerge from the mix. The ideas in the collaborative work of Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs were not needed to achieve this end - and perhaps they were poorly intellectually served here (even though it was great to see the work). There was no use of chance or randomness evident here (even the re-shuffled catalogue pages I heard was rather suspiciously non-random) that is necessary for a really unexpected – and perhaps disastrous – result. This show did not go that far. There was no randomly reassembling of various fragments of something to give them a completely new and unexpected meaning (like I saw in the show Rolywholyover: A Composition for Museum by John Cage at the Guggenheim Museum in Soho NYC in 1994). THE THIRD MIND is just a standard, but good, heterogeneous art show where the whole is greater than its parts. Which is as it must be. Joseph Nechvatal http://www.nechvatal.net (*) The show contains work from: Ronald Bladen, Lee Bontecou, Martin, Boyce, Joe Brainard, Valentin Carron, Vija Celmins, Bruce Conner, Verne Dawson, Jay Defeo, Trisha Donnelly, Urs Fischer, Bruno Gironcoli, Robert Gober, Nancy Grossman, Hans Josephsohn, Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs, Toba Khedoori, Karen Kilimnik, Emma Kunz, Andrew Lord, Sarah Lucas, Hugo Markl, Cady Noland, Laurie Parsons, Jean-Frederic Schnyder, Josh Smith, Paul Thek, Andy Warhol, Rebecca Warren, and Sue Williams. Also applause to Marc-Olivier Wahler for cutting Le Palais de Tokyo into large but manageable discrete spaces. What a relief from the prior cavernous chaos. (**) Recently I heard Martin Scorsese speak about how any editing together of two shots in a film creates a third subjective image effect in the mind of the viewer. (***) The Word Hoard is a collection of Burroughs’s manuscripts written in Tangier, Paris, and London that all together created the super mother-load manuscript that served as the basis for much of Burroughs’s cut-up writings: The Soft Machine, Nova Express, The Ticket That Exploded, (together referred to as The Nova Trilogy or Nova Epic). Even Naked Lunch was taken from sections of The Word Hoard. There was also produced a text called Dead Fingers Talk in 1963 which cotains excerpts from Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine and The Ticket That Exploded - combined together to create a new narrative. Also, via Burroughs’s artistic collaborations with Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville, the cut-up technique was combined with images, Gysin's paintings, and sound, via Somerville's tape recorders. Some of these recordings can be heard here: http://www.ubu.com/sound/burroughs.html There were also a number of cut-up films that were produced which can be seen here: http://www.ubu.com/film/burroughs.html William Buys a Parrot (1963) Bill and Tony (1972) Towers Open Fire (1963) Ghost at n°9 (Paris) (1963-72) The Cut-Ups (1966) (****) See my review of The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America by Peter Dale Scott here: http://heyokamagazine.com/HEYOKA.9.BOOKS.DaleScott..htm (*****) See my review of: IF/THEN - A Book Review of “Digital Contagions: A Media Archaeology of Computer Viruses” by Jussi Parikka here: http://transition.turbulence.org/blog/2007/09/28/review-of-digital-contagions/

Hats off to:

New Vintage Type
Classic Fonts for the Digital Age

by Steven Heller and Gail Anderson



October 2007
Watson-Guptill


Lower East Side Shop Night

What:

The owners of a selection of boutiques, bars and restaurants have decided to band together to celebrate the neighborhood with a series of monthly events. The first one will be host to designer trunk shows and exclusive sales held throughout the neighborhood. Select bars and restaurants will offer drink specials. Additionally, each store will donate 10% of the evening’s sales to the L.E.S. Girls Club of New York.


Where:

Lower East Side


When:

9/20, Shops: 6-10pm, Bars & Restaurants: 9-midnight!


Participating Boutiques:


20 Peacocks | 20 Clinton Street
Clarabella | 279 E. Houston Street
Dangerous Mathematicians | 176 Rivington Street
De Vino | 30 Clinton Street
Kaight | 83 Orchard Street
Live Fast | 57 Clinton Street
Lola y Maria | 175 Rivington Street
Michael Andrews Bepoke | 20 Clinton Street
Pear. & Plum. | 124 Ludlow Street
Pixie Market | 100 Stanton Street
Tahir Boutique | 75 Orchard Street
Travessia | 176 Stanton Street
Valley | 48 Orchard Street


Participating Bars/Restaurants:


Cocoa Bar | 19 Clinton Street
Koca Lounge | 76 Orchard Street
Salt Bar | 29A Clinton Street
Savor NY | 63 Clinton Street

info courtesy of spreedigizine

zing went out

Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years

through September 24th at MoMA

11 W 53rd St btw 5th and 6th

 

photos by Tessie K Hartman

Refugees of Group Selection at Franklin Parrasch Gallery

Refugees of Group Selection at Franklin Parrasch Gallery

Featuring:

Larry Clark, Jason Fox, Mike Kelley, Terence Koh, Catherine Opie, Peter Saul, and Jim Shaw

20 W 57th St, 7th Fl, btw 5th and 6th, 10am-6pm, Tues-Sat 

zing went out (and this is what we saw)

Roxanne, Julia, and Leah with the DietOut teamsters (Mummies eating an Octopus by Jay Stuckey)
All the food!
Julia with a Zing fan
Was he smart enough to guess how many smarties?
Roxanne drinking the night's signature cocktail: the Zinger

Michael Eastman and Virginia Lee Hunter, RULE Gallery, July 20, 2007

Michael Eastman and Virginia Lee Hunter, RULE Gallery, Opening Reception July 20th, 227 Broadway, Denver, Colorado 80203, Showing Friday July 20 - September 1, 2007, Open Tuesday-Saturday 11 to 5. Both Michael Eastman and Virginia Lee Hunter explore American culture through an investigation of landscape. Given that the current political landscape is stretched, perhaps uncomfortably, between traditionalism and multiculturalism, questions of individual identity and global American identity, Eastman and Hunter confront the paradoxes uniquely, using the camera lens to document rather than critique. “The American Landscape,” a series by Michael Eastman, captures breathtaking vistas including the open Wyoming skies, the Rocky Mountains, the Utah desert, and an old house in the expansive west. Michael Eastman mimics Ansel Adams’ awe inspiring scenes that are infinite in space and depth. Eastman’s photos contain rich colors and contrasting tones that are painterly, suggesting melancholy as well as rapture. There are exciting incongruities between the natural and the unreal. The green of the trees transforms into rolling, blanketed shapes. Dark purple clouds linger hauntingly in the skies. I did find the images to be somewhat stereotypical, picturesque American landscapes. Perhaps landscape photography produces redundancy of image, though in the case of Eastman, his photos are strangely piercing and evocative. “Carny: Americana on the Midway,” a project by Virginia Lee Hunter, commenced in 1996. The project centers on the marginalized: capturing the gypsy-like community to explore the American conception of “freak,” “criminal” and “lowlife.” These photos, in black and white and color consist of portraits of carnival employees and enthusiasts alike. Hunter captures the political and aesthetic position of “carny” as a corporeal part of the landscape, most poignantly in, “Carny’s Tattoo,” (C-Print, 1989). What is so urgent about Hunter’s work is that it portrays the two-sided aspect of an American carnival: nostalgic memories of kitsch and cotton candy; and the vibrant nomads who live and die against the backdrop of the carnival. Visit www.virginaleehunter.com for more information on the book and documentary film.