Four Single Chairs

You’ll need to sit down if you are to watch Bruce Nauman’s Mapping the Studio I (Fat Chance John Cage) (2001), where six projectors each display six hours of footage that track the activities of mice, cats, and other creatures as they run through the artist’s work space.

”What triggered this piece were the mice. We had a big influx of field mice that summer in the house and in the studio … They were so plentiful even the cat was getting bored with them … I was sitting around the studio being frustrated because I didn’t have any new ideas, and I decided that you just have to work with what you’ve got. What I had was this cat and the mice, and I happened to have a video camera in the studio that had infrared capability. So I set it up and turned it on at night and let it run when I wasn’t there, just to see what I’d get … I thought to myself why not make a map of the studio and its leftovers … it might be interesting to let the animals, the cat and the mice, make the map of the studio. So I set the camera up in different locations around the studio where the mice tended to travel just to see what they would do amongst the remnants of the work.” [source: Bruce Nauman: Mapping the Studio I]

The reference to John Cage, in case you were wondering, is from an earlier work of Nauman’s, a telegram sent to the London gallerist Anthony d’Offay in response to a request for a work related to Cage. The telegram was misunderstood and was not exhibited; still intrigued by the expression ‘fat chance’, Nauman decided to reuse the words. [source: the Tate]

Dia:Beacon

July 15th, 2019

Contemporary Among Classics

Classic art was also contemporary once.

Ragnar Kjartansson: Scandinavian Pain & Other Myths was the Southwestern US premiere of work by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson (b. 1976), presented by the Phoenix Art Museum.

It consisted of three major works: the 40-foot long neon installation Scandinavian Pain, along with The End-Venice, Kjartansson’s contribution to the 2009 Venice Biennale during which he secluded himself in a fourteenth-century palazzo and produced one painting per day for six months (the entire duration of Venice Biennale). Each painting depicts his friend and fellow artist Páll Haukur Björnsson, in a Speedo.


Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons
Dress and shoes from the S/S 2018 collection

Art on Dress: Giuseppe Archimboldo


Jan Anthonisz van Ravesteyn (Dutch, c. 1570-1657)
Portrait of an Old Woman, late  16th-mid 17th century
Oil on canvas


The third work by Ragnar Kjartansson was his superb nine-screen installation that was filmed in one take at the historic Rokeby farm in upstate New York. Named after ABBA’S final album, The Visitors, it records the performances of a group of friends, musicians and artists, playing simultaneously but in different rooms of the mansion. They all play the same song each one enriching it with their own voice, instrument and presence. Kjartansson himself performs most of the time in a bathtub. The film mesmerizes and moves audiences of all ages wherever it is shown. You can watch a recording of the recording, uploaded on YouTube by one of its many admirers.

Anish Kapoor (British, b. 1954)
Upside Down, Inside Out, 2003
Resin and paint


Phoenix Art Museum

January 30th, 2019

[All Art Has Been Contemporary]

Art

All Art Has Been Contemporary
Neon, transformer, clips; 1999, fabricated in 2011
Maurizio Nannucci

Darkness Made Visible, featuring:

Blue (1993), film
Derek Jarman

Spiderman (2015), video installation
Mark Bradford

The exhibition pairs Derek Jarman’s final feature-length film Blue (1993) with Mark Bradford’s video installation Spiderman (2015)—both riveting first-person accounts of the AIDS crisis that are distinctly subjective, lyrical, humorous, and dark. Through imageless projection and bold voiceovers, they both expose and defy the forces that have marginalized queer bodies since the 1980s.

Visual and emotional stimulation at the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

May 2nd, 2017