Caustic

James Montford, b. 1951
Holocaust Blankets with Smallpox, 2015
Cotton and wool blankets, vinyl lettering

Holocaust Blankets with Smallpox is part of a larger body of work focused on the notion of who “owns” the use of the word holocaust. . . . I see this as being part of a longstanding tradition in art of addressing inequality, injustice, and intolerance, reaching as far back as Goya’s time-honored painting The Third of May 1808. As a Black Indian, the oppression I have experienced is due, in part, to the ongoing power we subscribe to hate words. I created this work to present a multilayered approach to the demystification of racial, ethnic, and gender-based discrimination.

–James Montford

RISD Museum, Providence, RI

November 23rd, 2018

 

Politics are More Scary and Hideous than Ever

The artwork was created during President Obama’s re-election campaign [description below and on gloves (zoom to read)]. If ”politics were more scary and hideous than ever” then, which words would better describe the situation today?

Jessica Deane Rosner
The Election Gloves, 2011-2013

“You would think that worrying about who is going to lead our country would make all other concerns vanish or at least fade to a pale gray. But, for me, a huge crisis only piles on top of all my other worries. I find myself anxious about cleaning my home AND what happens if Roe v. Wade is overturned.” –Jessica Deane Rosner

Created during President Obama’s re-election campaign, Rosner’s dishwashing gloves recount her daily chores, creative challenges, and personal anxieties on one side. On the other, she outlines national and international headlines, sometimes critiquing political affairs. This text, initially written in detailed diary entries, was edited and rewritten on the gloves. The faded ink and rubber deterioration remind us that everything is ultimately ephemeral. The more permanent-looking flag, a bandana Rosner bought at the Army/Navy Surplus on Thayer Street, features simplified versions of the dishwashing gloves—a metanarrative on the interconnectedness of personal and political obligations.

Paired with:

Dr. Martens
Men’s Shoes with Flag
Pattern, ca. 1990

RISD Museum, Providence, RI

November 23rd, 2018

Shit Happens

One hundred thousand. Shit that could have been avoided.

Images from Disappearing Acts, a Bruce Nauman retrospective that was presented in two parts, in MoMa and MoMA PS1.

”Disappearing Acts traces what Nauman has called “withdrawal as an art form”—both literal and figurative incidents of removal, deflection, and concealment. Bodies are fragmented, centers are left empty, voices emanate from hidden speakers, and the artist sculpts himself in absentia, appearing only as negative space. The retrospective charts these forms of omission and loss across media and throughout the decades, following Nauman as he circles back to earlier concerns with new urgency. Presented in two complementary parts, at The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, this is the most comprehensive exhibition of the artist’s work ever assembled.” [source: MoMA]

Last photo (not) showing the Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh; I wonder when (or even if) will we ever see crowds like this anymore…

October 19th, 2018

Out of the Box

15 untitled works in concrete, 1980–1984

“The fifteen concrete works by Donald Judd that run along the border of Chinati’s property were the first works to be installed at the museum and were cast and assembled on the site over a four-year period, from 1980 through 1984. The individual units that comprise each work have the same measurements of 2.5 x 2.5 x 5 meters, and are made from concrete slabs that are each 25 centimeters thick. Funding for the project was provided by the Dia Art Foundation.”

Are they only fifteen…? One loses count after the first pair or three… It took us an hour to complete the walk; looking back, they stretch as far as the eye can see. And, despite their, well… concreteness, they seem lightweight, blending into the landscape as if they sprouted from the earth, growing organically, effortlessly, in their own time. Nowhere does there seem to be so fitting a place for these squares than here – Judd knew exactly what he was doing.

The Arena, 1980–1987

“The Arena was built in the 1930s as a gymnasium for the soldiers at Fort D.A. Russell. After the fort closed in 1946, the gym floor was torn up for the wood, and sand was laid to provide an indoor arena for horses. In the mid-1980s, Judd restored the building, which was largely dilapidated. Judd left the long strips of concrete that had originally supported the wooden floor, and filled the intervening spaces with gravel. For practical considerations, Judd poured a large concrete area by the kitchen at the south end, and a smaller area at the north end of the building’s interior. These two areas comprise half of the total area of the building. Judd also added a sleeping loft and designed the outer courtyard, which includes areas for eating, bathing, and a barbecue.”↓↓

Robert Irwin
untitled (dawn to dusk), 2016

“In July 2016, the Chinati Foundation opened a new large-scale artwork by Robert Irwin. It is the only permanent, freestanding structure conceived and designed by Irwin as a total work of art.

Irwin had been developing and refining a design for the long-abandoned former army hospital site since 1999. Situated adjacent to the museum’s campus, the site was a C-shaped concrete structure, lined on all sides with a long sequence of windows that surrounded a central courtyard.

The building is formally divided in half, with one side dark, the other light. Inside, transparent scrim walls are stretched taut from floor to ceiling in black or white respectively, bisecting each long wing and capturing the always-changing natural light. The connecting corridor has a progression of scrim walls that sequentially cross and fill the space, with an enfilade of doors for passage.”↓↓

It has been one of the most rewarding, unforgettable ”museum walks” we could have ever hoped for. Not the most comfortable perhaps, as a large part of it involves field walking, with rattlesnakes and cacti being an integral part of the ecosystem, extra-ordinary nonetheless.

**

Dress appropriately: boots, long thick trousers and long sleeves will do the trick.
Beware of what you don’t see: some cacti have two kinds of thorns, those you see and can avoid touching but also those tiny, hair-like, invisible ones called glochids that will stick to your skin even if you don’t touch the cacti and will sting and itch for days. Worse yet, they will stick to the fabric of whatever you happen to be wearing and will only go away after a couple of machine washes.

The Chinati Foundation – Marfa, TX

October 7th, 2018

Relay with Riley

Getting things straight

Bridget Riley, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, 1983, as wall painting, Bolt of Colour, 2017

Riley’s first wall painting was made in response to a 1979 invitation from the Royal Liverpool Hospital to conceive a work for its walls. Riley devised a visual scheme featuring horizontal ribbons of color, running the lengths of the hospital corridors. The palette, like that of her paintings at the time, was inspired by a 1980 trip to the pyramids and tomb paintings of ancient Egypt. Of this color scheme Riley later wrote: “The Ancient Egyptians had a fixed palette. They used the same colors—turquoise, blue, red, yellow, green, black and white—for over 3,000 years….In each and every usage these colors appeared different but at the same time they united the appearance of the entire culture. Perhaps even more important, the precise shades of these colors had evolved under a brilliant North African light and consequently they seemed to embody the light and even reflect it back from the walls.”

Riley completed the design for the Royal Liverpool Hospital in 1983. In the years since, she has made many more wall paintings, including a work for two floors of St. Mary’s Hospital in London in 1987, with a third floor completed in 2014. In addition to these commissions, Riley has made wall drawings for numerous museum and gallery exhibitions and collections in the U.S., the U.K., and Europe.

Riley’s wall painting for Chinati will be the artist’s largest work to date and span six of the eight walls of the building. As referenced in the work’s title/description, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, 1983, as wall painting, Bolt of Colour, 2017, the mural revisits Riley’s Egyptian palette and establishes a continuity between the design for the Royal Liverpool Hospital and the new work for Chinati. It is inspired in part by similarities in size and spatial orientation in the sites of each project and affinities between the brilliant light and palette the artist witnessed in Egypt and the high desert landscape in which the Chinati Foundation is situated. [Source: Chinati Foundation]

The artwork was conceived specifically for the museum’s special exhibition building, encompassing it’s entire U-shaped enclosure. It was inaugurated in October 2017 and remained on view through 2019.

Chinati Foundation – Μarfa, ΤΧ

October 6th, 2018

The Chinati Foundation || Marfa

Marfa, a tiny and remote desert town of only about 2.000 people in West Texas, is the most unlikely  cultural centre for contemporary art I could think of. Yet, it is full of art galleries, cool shops that look like art galleries, cool artists that live and work in said art galleries, calling Marfa their home. And in the centre of it all is The Chinati Foundation/La Fundación Chinati, a contemporary art museum founded by Donald Judd.

It was in the early 1970s when Judd decided he wanted out of New York and its art scene, too constrictive for his projects, and look for a place where his work could be installed and never be moved again. In other words, he needed space.

Judd rented a house in 1971 in Marfa, took one look around and bid farewell to New York forever. He began to purchase properties in 1973, which would include living quarters, studios and ranches where his work would be permanently installed, every move leading to the purchase of a 340 acres of land on the site of former Fort D.A. Russell, in 1978.

The Chinati Foundation opened to the public in 1987 as a museum hosting permanent collections of works by Donald Judd as well as by his friends, Dan Flavin and John Chamberlain (with 25 sculptures in a renovated wool warehouse in downtown Marfa). Judd later expanded the collection to include works by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Richard Long, Roni Horn, David Rabinowitch, Ilya Kabakov, and Ingólfur Arnarsson. Following Judd’s death in 1994, the museum completed additional projects: an installation of poems by Carl Andre (1995); a gallery of paintings by John Wesley (2004); and Robert Irwin’s untitled (dawn to dusk) (2016).

The Chinati Foundation is open year-round, but if you love mingling with the art crowd – or are fond of crowds in general – you may want to time your visit to coincide with the Chinati Weekend, an annual weekend-long event, the one time of year when all installations are open for self-guided viewing and the museum presents special exhibitions, talks, and performances, all free to the public.

Photography in the galleries is not permitted ”to preserve the quality of experience for all visitors”, but there is always a way to sneak-a-pic, as a keepsake. I was also fascinated by the character and monumental size of the buildings themselves, all which house permanent art installations. Needless to mention, we needed two days to see everything.

Marfa, TX

October 6th, 2018

You can go to hell — I’m going to Marfa

With Davy Crockett’s more famous quote in our minds we hopped on a cab to La Guardia, then on a plane to Atlanta, followed by another plane to El Paso; two planes, one airport car rental and twelve-and-a-half hours later, we arrived in the middle of nowhere and into a Twilight Zone episode about a giant art gallery that had mysteriously appeared in the desert. Was this a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity, or just another sleepy small time Texas town? The answer was left open to our imagination. We had three days to find out and not a moment to lose.

Episode 1 – Prada

Marfa’s charming weirdness extends beyond it’s boundaries. Just off US 90, about 26 miles northwest of the town, expect the unexpected.

Prada Marfa is a permanent installation by artists Elmgreen and Dragset.

Built in 2005, with the intention to let it fall into decay, it has since been broken into, its contents stolen (the very night it was completed), vandalised, graffitied, created controversy when Playboy erected a 40-foot-tall neon bunny nearby, attracting the attention of the Texas Department of Transportation, became an Instagram sensation and reclassified as a museum, with the Prada Marfa as its only exhibit.

Both the bunny and Prada Marfa were considered illegal advertisements according to the 1965 Highway Beautification Act and the reclassification of the structure as Museum would exempt it from the signage rules. The bunny has since been removed.

Episode 2 – Marfa

Tough to Get Here. Tougher to Explain. But Once You Get Here, You Get It.

Marfa Visitor Center, inside the Historic USO Building.

Episode 3 – The Notable Features

The Hotel Paisano, aka headquarters for the cast and crew filming Giant in the summer of 1955.

The Art Deco Palace Theater, aka Marfa Opera House. Later, it became a movie theatre but has been closed since the 1970s.

The Marfa Water Tower and the Presidio County Courthouse. Both can be seen from almost everywhere in Marfa, since they are the tallest structures in town.

Marfa, TX

October 6th, 2018

Rockaway! 2018 || Narcissus Garden by Yayoi Kusama

Fort Tilden

”Comprised of 1,500 mirrored stainless steel spheres, Narcissus Garden landed in a former train garage that dates to the time when Fort Tilden was an active US military base. The mirrored metal surfaces reflect the industrial surroundings of the now-abandoned building, drawing attention to Fort Tilden’s history as well as the devastating damage inflicted on many buildings in the area by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Narcissus Garden was first presented in 1966, when Kusama staged an unofficial installation and performance at the 33rd Venice Biennale. The silver spheres, originally made from plastic, were installed on the lawn in front of the Italian Pavilion, reflecting the landscape of the exhibition grounds. Kusama herself stood among them, barefoot and dressed in a gold kimono, alongside yard signs inscribed with the words “Narcissus Garden, Kusama” and “Your Narcissism for Sale.” Throughout the opening day of the exhibition, Kusama remained in the installation, tossing the spheres in the air and offering to sell them to visitors for 1,200 lire (approximately $2) each. The action, which was viewed both as self-promotion and a critique on the commercialization of contemporary art, would later be seen as a pivotal moment in Kusama’s career as she transitioned from installation toward the radical, politically charged public performances that would be the focus of her work in the late 1960s in New York City.”

The installation was presented by MoMA PS1, free to those whose way brought them over to the faraway Rockaway.

August 25th, 2018

A/D/O || ENVIRONS

A/D/O is a space set up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for the local creative community. It takes its name from the Amalgamated Drawing Office, a team led by Sir Alec Issigonis that built the very first MINI in 1959.

Spirit of the City was a modular system of revolving mirrored columns set on a grid configuration.

The installation ”explored the physical and emotional response that individuals experience when navigating urban environments” i.e. offered infinite instagrammable moments to a young hip crowd.

By United Visual Artists.

A/D/O and environs – a walk in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

August 21st, 2018