According to an interview between Francesco Bonami and Hans Ulrich Obrist in TAR MAGAZINE, Bonami claims that the younger curator  has published over 300 books, is addicted to drinking dozens of espressos per day, and hates standing.

I think I’m doing OK with just a few coffees a day, but I would love to be as prolific as Hans.  Maybe I should increase my intake, but maybe Bonami just has a tongue for hyperbole. I’m going with the latter.

Posted in curating | 1 Comment

the body as the entire world

Joanna Newsom’s February 2010 release on Drag City Records, Have One on Me, is no longer new news, but given the length of the album—its 18 tracks clock in at two hours—it requires a long, simmering listen. The album’s widespread reception in The New York Times and Frieze exposes Newsom’s crossover appeal and like Rodarte, whose fashion lines translate better in an artworld context than in terms of ready-to-wear street style, Newsom has been embraced in the arts, her elusive narratives and neo-Baroque orchestrations are motifs already familiar to contemporary art.

Newsom’s lyrics concern themselves with the stuff of pop songs, of love and loss, but they are enrobed with complex rhymes and fanciful metaphors that border on children’s fables—however tinged with the sorrowful fates of her “baby birch,” “kingfisher,” and “dog-sized horse.”  All the various events described by Newsom  focus on the body as a full vessel of complicated emotions, with bones as “soft as chalk,” a heart as “heavy as an oil drum,” and a pliability that allows her to be folded in the “cupboard with a bottle of champagne” by a former lover who still haunts her.

The concept of the body, however small, as containing the whole world is Newsom’s contribution to a year of turning inward, usually with an attempt, however unrealizable, with obtaining empathy with others, i.e. Marina Abramovic. The body as the entire world, although by no means a novel approach to songwriting, is one that converges the seemingly unceasing political and social disasters of our time with our just as significant disasters enacted on a personal scale.

Posted in art, fashion, music, reviews | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

ART PAPERS excerpts

Excerpts from exhibition reviews of the Soap Factory and Midway Contemporary Art in the May/June 2010 issue of ART PAPERS (At the time, I must have been preoccupied with fragility, performance, and fantasy.):

Language feels awkward, an ill-formed means of transcendence from this space with no verbal guidelines, just visual cues.

And yet, maybe these relationships, these meanings between objects, are mere phantoms, just the lies we tell ourselves to make sense of our surroundings.

Posted in art, reviews | Leave a comment

on writing

Usually, I hesitate to say that art writing has rules, but there are some glaring mistakes that should be avoided or else your writing will, at the very least, lack conceptual heft and make you seem unaccustomed to writing about the world of images. However specific and nitpicking some of my advice may be,  word choice is something to mull over if you want to have gripping and forceful prose. For Rule #1, see the previous post.

Rule # 2: Exhibit versus Exhibition

My preference for using the noun “exhibition” in contrast to “exhibit” is more than just a stylistic preference.  In terms of art, exhibition is more palatable for me because an exhibit can refer to any public display of objects, such as at a trade fair or even a primary school science fair. Another dilemma that stems from using “exhibit” is the confusion that can arise from this term since it is both a noun and a verb.

In terms of remaining consistent with the terminology common to the rest of the art world, no one in museums or galleries refers to “exhibit catalogues,” but rather “exhibition catalogues.”  Historically, the Crystal Palace was held at The Great Exhibition of 1851, not The Great Exhibit of 1851.  The Exhibitionist is a new and exciting journal published “by curators for curators” and I love that the title playfully touches on the commonalities among curating, performance, and extravagant displays of self-publicity.

From the Oxford Dictionary of English (2nd edition), to exhibit is to “offer, furnish, administer; submit to view, display.” Exactly. Stick with “to exhibit,” but leave “exhibit” at home when you’re out at the museum.

Posted in art, reviews | Leave a comment

interview preview

Excerpt from an upcoming essay for that includes a short interview with the curator Sid Sachs, Director of the Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia:

Q: Why do you think there’s so much interest right now in art of the 1960s?

A: I think it is cyclical. It is now long enough that the artifacts have been fully codified into a canon and now young researchers (and dealers) are looking for other avenues to approach the art of that period. As the artists pass away, foundations establish databases which allow for easier access. Collections of previously marginalized works such as the Silverman Fluxus collection for example, can be purchased by or donated en masse to museums. The period can now be looked at literally from a historic distance.

Posted in art, curating, reviews | 1 Comment

art or terror

Don DeLillo’s short story “Baader-Meinhof” was first published in 2002. Like the two unnamed characters in the text who cannot escape the lure of Gerhard Richter’s Baader-Meinhof painting series, returning to the museum day after day as if caught in a trance, my thoughts for the past few days have been haunted by DeLillo’s story and the seriousness it casts upon art, intimacy, and the terror that comes from, quite simply, just being alive.

Deborah Treisman, in discussion with Chang rae-Lee in The New Yorker‘s Fiction Podcast, commented that Don DeLillo, for a time, would make two piles for story ideas: one called “art,” the other, “terror.”

“Baader Meinhof” was published in The Guardian in April of 2002.

Chang rae-Lee read aloud “Baader Meinhof” for the April 2010 edition of The New Yorker Fiction Podcast.

Posted in art, literature | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

visit me at NEXT


Jesse Butcher, Jill Frank, Jaime Lynn Henderson, Tibi Tibi Neuspiel, Corkey Sinks, Casey Jex Smith

Goffo at NEXT Invitational Exhibition of Emerging Art
The Merchandise Mart, 7th Floor, Booth 9052
April 30 – May 3, 2010
Opening Preview: Thursday, April 29

Fair Hours: 11am – 7pm Friday, Saturday; 11am – 6pm Sunday; 11am – 4pm Monday

CHICAGO: Concertina Gallery is thrilled to participate in Goffo at NEXT Invitational Exhibition of Emerging Art. In Concertina’s curated booth, Indulgences, the historical forces of the art market are revealed through an original patron of the arts in the Western world—the Christian church. The works in Indulgences (the title a reference to the act of paying, whether in confession or currency, for salvation) each examine religious iconography’s long presence in art history and everyday life, oftentimes emerging from the most banal situations.

Jesse Butcher
’s installation consists of a handmade roadblock, lacquered black, with the word “Messiah” stenciled on the work’s glossy veneer. This text is a reference to David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidians, who carried a business card inscribed with the name “Messiah,” suggesting a form of self-marketing appropriated from religious power. In Sistine Chapel, Jill Frank worked with high-school students to recreate Michelangelo’s renowned commission for the Papal Chapel. In staged, photographed form, the famous pose between God and Adam takes on a sincere but awkward elegance, speaking more about the act of re-performance than the original event.

In his Assassination Sandwich series, Tibi Tibi Neuspiel playfully juxtaposes iconographic historical figures with an unusual display format: an incredibly realistic piece of handmade beeswax toast. For Indulgences, Neuspiel has painted a series of toast pieces where an image of Jesus seemingly emerges from the charred surface, eliciting a long string of unexpected associations from viewers, and perhaps conjuring the feeling of a miraculous apparition in the most unassuming of places. The oversized God’s Eyes created by Corkey Sinks examines how religious imagery infiltrates even the all-American cultural mainstay of summer sleep-away camp.

Jaime Lynn Henderson’s bible scenes explore the difficulty of abiding by Christian principles in the midst of contemporary temptations. Casey Jex Smith, a practicing Mormon, blends religion with autobiography in his playful collages. Jex Smith’s fragmentary images, culled from children’s illustrated bible workbooks, portray abstract, surreal worlds where religious content becomes transformed into fantasy.

In Indulgences, religious iconography manifests itself as a site to question and reveal the extent that Christian archetypes have informed artist practices and markets throughout time, but also its particular relevance to current art production. As religious imagery converges with the contemporary art market at NEXT, parallels between the sacred space of the white cube—the art fair—and Christian spaces of worship come to light.

Posted in art, curating | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment