Posts tagged with "art":

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Fire On The Mountain

It's not every day that a scary fire burns within a few miles of a major cultural institution. Well in LA it sort of is, but that's beside the point. A recent drive on the 405 Freeway revealed to us what all the news reports are saying: There is a biggish blaze burning just one hill over from the Getty Center on LA's west side. The smoke is thick and brown, and on first look bulged out at the top, not unlike a mushroom cloud. Yikes. Helicopters are running regular passes over the thing, which is spreading in thin lines along the mountains facing the Getty, moving southward down the Sepulveda Pass. But fortunately it appears that firefighters have it under control (in California terms a 10-acre fire is only a mini conflagration), despite a forced evacuation of the Getty and nearby Mount St. Mary's College. Stay tuned... We hope we don't have to see if all that marble and granite will hold up to a good ol' California disaster. And for now, the biggest concern of drivers on the 405 is the threat of imminent traffic. Now that's scary.

Going Up

During our interview with André, the renowned hotelier talked about how he likes to give each of his hotels its own personality, a reflection of himself. Well, as the hotel continues its soft opening, it has gotten another personal touch, namely the above video by Marco Brambilla installed in the elevators. If you can't already tell, it's a trip from hell to heaven in concert with the elevator's ascent up the Standard New York's 20 stories. Which begs the question: If you're staying on the lower floors, are you trapped in purgatory?
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Get Set, Go, Party

Yesterday, we posted the feature from our current California issue, "On Their Mark," about a new show at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego highlighting seven local firms. While sending over the pictures of the exhibition, Mix: Nine San Diego Architects and Designers, that went into our slideshow, the fine folks at MCASD also sent along these nice photos from the opening party, which were taken by Lauren Radack. In case, like us, you couldn't make it. (And if you know anyone in these photos we may not have mentioned, do tell).
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At Home in Dystopia

Friend of AN Jeremiah Joseph visited an exhibition of interest in New York's gallery district. Et in Arcadia Ego, a new exhibition at the Thornton Room in Chelsea, examines the intersection and overlap of natural and man-made landscapes. With the title, roughly translated from Latin, “I am in pastoral utopia,” the show, curated by Blanca de la Torre and Juanli Carrion, could easily devolve into a Nature equals Good, City equals Bad equation. Instead, the way the six artists explore the topic is not so divisive or stale. The work tends to engage the subject from the side, generating surreal results. At the end any answers are farther off than before viewing the work, and this ambiguity is show’s strength. It prevents the viewer from standing too sure-footed and jumping ahead to conclusions and prejudices. In the modest gallery space, Chus Garcia-Fraile 's video Protected Zone is projected in the front window. In the piece, an escalator is placed in a lush forest, running like a waterfall in reverse. The device sits seamlessly in the forest. The viewer knows these components should not co-exist, save perhaps in some Wow-Me mall in Dubai where ski-slopes and the world's largest-something-or-other are commonplace. But here the relationship is eerily correct. Recalling the tension of Michael Heizer's Double Negative—platonic geometry thrust into a rustic landscape—two clearly opposing conditions go deep into dialogue (or not) with each other, forcing us to decide which reading is correct—nature, man-made, or a combination.
Carlos Irijalba's video Twilight uses artificial light as a gateway into natural and synthetic landscapes. The video begins with the viewer above an empty soccer stadium where an array of stadium klieg lights flicker on as twilight arrives. With gentle thrumming of the city beyond, the lights run through varying colors until they hit their hottest white light. Dropping down and hovering above the perfectly manicured grass pitch, the light and flora are shown in their most synthetic and controlled states. Relocating to a forest at twilight, a generator rumbles on and the same array of lights reveals a very different context. Standing like the Monolith from Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey the lights are clearly alien among the trees and insects. What does the light Monolith bring to the forest? Simple illumination? Does it turn the forest into an overly dramatic movie setting or bring an impending sense of destruction? Or perhaps a sense of detached and bemused sentimentality? With a different sensibility, the photographic works Catastrophes by Christoph Draeger recall newspaper disaster images. With child-like earnestness, the images show the apparent aftermath of a plant explosion and a tornado strike. The cheekily morbid images, familiar at first glance, quickly reveal they are deliberate constructed narratives. Both pieces in fact are careful staged and photographed models. The fabricated horrors are so thoroughly executed it is difficult to suppress a smile at their morbid nature. But this inversion of bleak sadness leads to a pause. How often do we gloss over these situations in the media with a mild sense of loss, but a greater sense of relief because they are far away? Draeger directly engages the terror, readdressing them as modern fables and foibles. We look at the images as a whole and then trace through to see how they are made. In the deep scanning and study we see fresh the nature and complexities of real world catastrophes. By far the most architectural and accessible but also most troubling piece is J.G. Zimmerman's Dystopia Series: Suburbia (above). In a 24 minute video satellite images of suburbs run by leisurely, hypnotizing as the landscape morphs from one familiar suburban fabric into the next. Initially appearing like a lazy Google Earth, the video is actually a deftly crafted piece of art. By specifically removing details and cues of inhabitation—there are no cars or people—we are left only with houses, streets and a smattering of grass and trees. It would too easy to jump to the conclusion that a suburban existence equals the Boring Life, but the artist sidesteps this reactionary reading. Recalling photos by Hilla and Bernd Becher studying industrial archetypes Zimmerman bends our perception of reality. Even while carpet-bombing the landscape with familiar suburban quadrants, we see an odd duality of sameness and differences everywhere. The effect is spellbinding and disturbing leaving us wondering what is real and what is simulacra – in both the video and real-life. Rob Carter's Landscaping II is a large-scale print of plants growing literally up and through folded, cutout images of traditional buildings. A recurring theme for Carter, nature reclaiming urban territory, in the piece he places two different scales together (real life plants within the tiny pictures of historic buildings) and allows the intermingling to commence. There is no good or bad, winner or loser, only a snap shot of a process. Shot strongly in black and white and printed large scale, the picture is harder to decipher then if it was shown in color and in 1:1 scale. Carter obscures legibility, creating a situation where he and the audience are both first time viewers of this creation. Everyone, artist and viewer, have wait for allow the process to unfold. And all we can do is to try to understand the equilibrium, if there is one, and ponder where the process might lead us next. Et in Arcadia Ego runs through May 23rd at the Thornton Room, 150 West 25th Street, New York City.
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Graffitigate

As Gothamist and Curbed have pointed out today, workers up on the High Line have begun removing one of the elevated track cum park's dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of graffitos, as seen in the picture above. Everyone seems to be worried about this one mediocre piece, but it's our sorry job to report that the tragedy goes far deeper than that. When we took our tour of the High Line a few weeks ago, one of the most striking things was the impressive graffiti covering the neighboring buildings. With the exception of all those shiny new buildings, it seems every spare brick and beam within arm's reach of the High Line had been coated in decades worth of Krylon. Having glimpsed all this hidden treasure, the obvious question to our journalistic minds--after we got over being awestruck by it all--was what's gonna happen to all this, well, art? One of our chipper tour guides answered something to this effect (and we're paraphrasing here): "As you can imagine, the city doesn't look too kindly on graffiti, so it all has to come down. We'll be painting over it. The city doesn't want to be seen as condoning or encouraging graffiti here. Or anywhere else, for that matter." It's probably too late to save the graffiti, so the best we can hope is that someone's documented it for posterity's sake. We're sure it would make a nice coffee table book, seeing as how it's been deemed unsuitable for public consumption.
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P!LA: Painting Sound, Ben Ball, Vampires, & MMOs, Oh My!

Though I already gave Mike the Poet pride of place, he was far from the only show in town Thursday night at Postopolis! LA. When I walked into the conference room--things had moved inside because the roof bar had been buffeted by a freezing wind all day--I saw a cluttered screenshot from World of Warcraft, something that had my inner-geek (aren't we all?) terribly excited. Indeed, Ben Cerveny of Stamen Design was talking about, among other things, deriving real life planning and tracking systems derived from more mediated sources, like MMOs. The talk was rather technical, and combined with my tardiness, I was kind of lost. Still, the potential is intriguing, especially after poking around Stamen's website. One of the examples Cerveny gave was the potential of cellphone apps. He proposed a program that would project one's preferences onto a wall, usually calibrated to some set of sounds and colors. When one person comes into proximity with another, it would create a cacophony or a melody between the two, depending on their settings. Another was a replacement for the personal library. As books decline in the digital age, Cerveny proposed a projection, ironically or not, the projection of one's digital self. "We're losing out real digital culture," he said. "Book-lined walls are being replaced with blank white ones, maybe a few modernist baubles." Whereas Cerveny and Stamen's work is about as technical as it gets, Steve Roden's is almost ambivalent to its very existence. A trained painter, Roden is seemingly obsessed with transforming one mode of experience, one sense, into another. His first, and probably best, example is how he found a piece of sheet music in his grandmother's attic. "I've never been able to let go of it," Roden said. But Roden does not play the music. Instead, he meticulously broke it down into its component scale--E-G-B-D-F, etc.--and then came up with a numbering scheme. That then gets plugged into a paint-by-numbers system that developed dozens of paintings. "I don't know how to read or play music," Roden emphasized. And yet, another major project was his installation for Alvaro Siza's Serpentine Pavilion in 2005. Roden, with the help of lay assistants working at the pavilion, mapped the structure in a rainbow of five colors, then transformed it into a painting, which, when he looked at it, resembled the scheme on a Tyco xylophone. He decided to turn the painting into a "player piano strip" that led to a recording played over an hour in the space. He played a minute of the composition. It had a haunting beauty for someone who seemed as though he could care less about what he was doing. Perhaps that was the genius of his art. Someone who cared very much, perhaps too much, was Gary Dauphin. An LA resident, Dauphin apologized for giving a presentation largely about New York, namely his home-hood of Fort Greene. As a gentrifier myself, Gary's talk about the cultural vampirism of gentrification really hit home. Dauphin argued that gentrifiers, specifically in Fort Greene but also beyond, are not always (white) outsiders, but generally ethnic (black/Latino) educated returners who make way for their new friends and thus feel guilty for it. The same goes for vampires, at least in the popular culture of Buffy/True Blood/Twilight/Blacula. More often than not, the story is about the "good vampire," the vampire who is trying to get beyond his vampirism, drinking synthetic blood or animal blood and not that of humans. When I asked if there was a solution to either problem, the answer was no. Finally, Benjamin Ball of Ball-Nogues Studio. I shared a beer with Ben afterwards--more on that later--but his talk was mostly on what he's done and everyone knows--Maximillian's Schell, P.S. 1, Venice--and what's yet to come--a teepee in Woodstock, a bird installation at Johns Hopkins Children's Hospital.
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Artists to Redesign Biennale Facilities

The Venice biennale was founded in 1895 in one of La Serenissima’s few green spaces, the Giardini di Castello. It has occupied a random series of buildings in the park, which include national pavilions (the Belgians built the first in 1907 and the U.S. joined the party in 1930) and an undistinguished hall called the Italian pavilion since the late 1930s. Today the organization that operates the biennales (art, architecture, film etc.) announced plans to change the name of the Italian pavilion in the giardini to the Palazzo delle Esposizioni della Biennale and upgrade its aging infrastructure. While these changes will be welcome by the public, the spaces are all being designed by artists, not architects. The Italian pavilion will be enlarged with a new café designed by Tobias Rehberger, educational space by Massimo Bartolini, and a bookstore by Rirkrit Tiravanija. This pavilion will now be open to the public all year as the biennale’s archives will be moved into the building and entered through the elegant sculpture garden designed in 1952 by Venetian native Carlo Scarpa. The grand and spectacular biennale exhibition space the Arsenale, a short walk from the giardini will also receive a new bridge and entrance at the Giardini delle Vergini and its exhibition space enlarged from 800 to 1,800 square meters. The biennale organization stresses that the renderings of its new facilities are still tentative and may change and one may only wonder if they chose artists, rather than architects, to design their new facilities because of the confusion sowed by architects in the biennale who have long shown a preference to exhibit art not buildings.
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Legoland, NY

For those of you who haven't already seen Christoph Niemann's great blog for the Times, "Abstract City"--the expat illustrator renders the city we love in terms of its subway lines and coffee stains--today's post proves to be his best work yet. At least that's the case for those of us whose obsession with architecture began with a pile of LEGO bricks many years ago. (Guilty as charged.) Here are a few of his more architectural pieces, but be sure to check them all out, as his clever renditions are just too good to be missed. Talk about (de)constructing New York.
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Texas Tea

It's hard to imagine an industry by which humans could have changed the natural landscape more so than through the business of getting crude out of the ground, refining it, and shipping it around the globe. Which makes the oil industry a perfect subject for the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), a Culver City, California-based research organization that conducts studies into the nature and extent of human interaction with the earth's surface. And where better to examine what oil hath wrought than in Texas? Beginning on January 16th and running through March 29th, the CLUI will exhibit just what it has learned in the Lone Star State with Texas Oil: Landscape of an Industry at the Blaffer Gallery, The Art Museum of the University of Houston. The research on display at the exhibition was gathered over the past year while the CLUI acted as the University of Houston Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center’s first artist-in-residence. The show will open with an aerial video, picturing fly-by views of the expansive stretches of the region's oil refineries. In addition to this projection, the gallery's walls will be decked with photographs and texts that describe many different sites across the vast state, from west Texas oil towns such as Odessa and Kermit to petrochemical processing centers on the Gulf Coast. The CLUI's photos pay special attention to places where evidences of previous uses or historical events underpin the oil industry's installations. And if you do find yourself in the Bayou City this spring, be sure to call the Mitchell Center's hotline (713-743-5548) for a boat tour of Buffalo Bayou.
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Brilliant Bamboo

Morigami Jin's Reclining II

It’s hard enough to see all the gallery exhibitions devoted to architecture in any given New York City week, but if I also try to visit design shows, it takes every waking moment. (I missed the top floor of MoMA’s Home Delivery show, for god’s sake, even though I caught the prefabs on West 54th Street.) New Bamboo: Contemporary Japanese Masters at the Japan Society is a show I read about in the A/N diary and kept thinking: “I should run up and see this.” Well, it closes on Sunday, and I would have never gotten there if New York sculptor Stephen Talasnik had not reminded me that I had promised to look at his bamboo pieces. I ran up this morning, and the show is indeed full of the most extraordinary bamboo designs—from Talasnik’s Bunraku-inspired black basswood and bamboo sculptures, suspended over the central water fountain, to Kawashime Shigeo’s delicate constructions and Morigami Jin’s inwardly-folded Reclining II. For the young architects who think they are creating folded baroque shapes for the first time on CNC milling machines, note well: These objects are all hand made. There is so much more to see, but you need to get there before Sunday afternoon at 5:00! 

Stephen Talasnik's suspended fountain sculptures
 
Kawashime Shigeo’s Drawing to the Sky
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Pop Art

While pop singer George Michael spent 2008 loitering in public restrooms, making cameo appearances on British television, and touring the world, he somehow found time to join his boyfriend, Kenny Goss, in planning a foray into architecture. The Art Newspaper reported in December that the couple announced that they will be building a 10,000-square-foot gallery in Dallas, Texas, in which to display their extensive collection of contemporary British art.

Goss, a Texas native, was a cheerleading coach and sport-clothing executive before hooking up with Michael. The pair has been collecting contemporary British art for the past 11 years and now own more than 500 works, valued at more than $200 million. The collection includes pieces by Damien Hirst, Tracy Emin, Chris Ofili, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Angus Fairhurst, Gilbert & George, Bridget Riley, Gary Hume, Mark Titchner and Michael Craig-Martin, among others.

In June 2007, Goss and Michael launched the Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas, and opened a 6,000-square-foot space to exhibit their collection. The foundation also offers a resource center with a library and archive of research materials for students, educators and aspiring artists, as well as a scholarship program for the benefit of Texas high school seniors. Since 2007, the foundation has awarded more than $30,000 in scholarships to visual arts and music students enabling them to pursue a higher education in the arts.

The new facility, to be designed ground-up by Dallas-based firm Buchanan Architecture, will provide more space to exhibit the couple’s permanent collection, as well as travelling shows. A design for the project has yet to be released and a representative of Buchanan Architecture told AN that they were still in the process of land procurement.

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Voluntary Prisoners of Downtown Miami

Contemporary art curator and AN colleague Leanne Mella has organized a potent and compelling exhibition entitled The Prisoner's Dilemma for the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, known as CIFO, in downtown Miami. With noble intentions, given the socio-political climate of the recent past, the work in Mella's exhibition showcases the ways in which artists respond to the exercise of power in contemporary life. The politics of the show are highly nuanced, visually stunning, and often quite poetic. As the exhibit's introductory text explains:

"The works in this exhibition comment upon, confront and challenge strategies of totalizing power and social control. Issues of powerlessness, exclusion, conformity, marginality, transgression, subversion, escapism, transcendence, protest and resistance are all inventively addressed in this selection of works. 

These works and their expansive forms convey a great sense of scale, immediacy and connection to the viewing subject. Perhaps, because they are intentionally immersive in an age when conventional cinema has relinquished much of its phenomenological power in favor of media miniaturization and portability as represented by the rapid proliferation of DVDs, iPods and YouTube viewership.”

The show features work by leading artists such as Alexander Apóstol, Judith Barry, Paolo Canevari, Stan Douglas, Jimmie Durham, Cao Fei, Regina Galindo, Carlos Garaicoa, Thomas Hirschhorn, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Carlos Motta, Shirin Neshat, Julian Rosefeldt, and Eve Sussman and many more. The CIFO building itself, in the gritty warehouse district and designed by local architect Rene Gonzalez, is also impressive, as it breaks away from the cool neutrality of many exhibition spaces and presents us with a hot tropical jungle facade and a large garden patio for social gatherings in the middle of an otherwise nondescript urban environment. The show will be on view through March 1, 2009. If you are going to be in Miami this winter, this exhibition is a must see.