Los Angeles

Neal Rock: Herm 0714 at Loudhailer Gallery

The latest exhibition of work by Los Angeles-based artist Neal Rock, currently on view at Culver City’s Loudhailer Gallery, asks viewers to consider artistic materials in a fresh and interesting way, but falls somewhat short conceptually. Rock’s abstract, sculptural works combine found components, such as insulation material, with layered experiments in oil paint, silicone, and printing. These idiosyncratic objects are tantalizingly ambiguous in tone but clearly delight in the possibilities of texture, color, and material combinations. At times, they are baffling: The silicone looks hefty, shiny, and dense, like glazed ceramic, yet the objects affixed to the wall seem to float weightlessly.

Installaton shot, "Neal Rock: Herm 0714," Loudhailer Gallery, July 19 - September 6, 2014. Photo courtesy Loudhailer Gallery and the artist.

Neal Rock: Herm 0714; installation view at Loudhailer Gallery, July 19 to September 6, 2014. Courtesy of the Artist and Loudhailer Gallery.

Most successful is Rock’s demonstration that the idea of an artistic medium is best understood as encompassing both material and process—as the intersection of inert substance and physical action. He achieves this by using paint as both a tool for mark making and as a material or armature on which to print, paint, and construct. It is not only used as paint in the traditional manner, but also as a canvas and a sculptural material to be molded and shaped. This contortion is a physical exertion as well as a visual experiment with color, abstraction, and patterning. Rock has, in this work, moved from applying paint directly onto silicone to using a screen for printing the pigment; this allows the artist to create tension between regular patterns and the natural contortion of the supple silicone. Examples of both techniques are present in the gallery, to great advantage.

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Salzburg

#Hashtags: Touching in Fleeting Contact

#JenniferAllen #SommerakademieSalzburg #cities #public #private #surveillance #circulation #socialmedia

Sommerakademie Salzburg, also historically known as the “school of vision,” opened its doors in 1959 to anyone interested in studying art. Now entering its 61st year, the academy attracts a broad range of practitioners to participate in courses taught by artists and cultural theorists. This year’s public program was entitled Cities—Spaces for Art and Living, and I was especially drawn to Jennifer Allen’s talk, “The End of Privacy and the Fate of the Public Sphere.” Although I recently relocated to Berlin, I spent the previous three years living in San Francisco—a city that has undergone tumultuous changes as a result of the third wave of tech gentrification. My response to Allen’s talk on privacy is certainly colored by interrelated topics like affective labor, the relationship between technology and the arts, and gentrification, all of which are ongoing conversations within the Bay Area arts community.

Jennifer Allen discusses the role that pilgrimage and cult value play in public art.

Jennifer Allen discusses the role that pilgrimage and cult value play in public art.

Allen began her presentation with the premise that she no longer believes in the divide between public and private space. “Sure, the traditional divisions between public and private still exist—from abstract laws to concrete fences,” she concedes, “but the virtual realm of digitization can permeate both abstract and concrete barriers, like magic dust or voodoo.” Allen’s argument extends claims made by artist Seth Price in his now-canonical text Dispersion—written “way back in 2002” before the age of YouTube, tablets, and smartphones. More than a decade later, when even my grandmother uses Facebook on a daily basis, it’s not only “digital natives” who prove Price’s assertion that “collective experience is now based on simultaneous private experiences, distributed across the field of media culture, knit together by ongoing debate, publicity, promotion, and discussion.”[1] Yet if our notion of collectivity has expanded—now extending from the town square to the deep web—Allen argues that our notion of public art largely has not. To support this claim, she sketches a line from the classical monument—linking the genealogy of public art to Abbé Henri Grégoire’s conception of the “national object[s],” which, he writes, “belonging to no one, are the property of everyone”[2]—to incursions of private, customized gestures into public space. One such gesture, a work by Swedish artist Lena Malm titled Have You Wondered How Many People Have the Same Name as You? I Did (1994–99), entailed the artist poring over the phone book and other public records in her native Stockholm, looking for other individuals with her name; her labors resulted in a lunch for fifty-five Lena Malms at the Moderna Museet, which Allen likened to the analog version of a Google (image) Search. Other examples, like the artist and architect Vasiliki-Maria Plavou’s work Locus Erectus (2013) treat the physical and digital public as “continuous” spaces. In this work Plavou feeds algorithms of her physical and virtual observations of a gay cruising zone outside of Athens into her computer to generate a digital design for a drilling machine that would enable her to penetrate this forbidden territory. Allen considers these works self-portraits executed in public, noting that they often extend beyond the realm of media into the virtual. Allen considers these works self-portraits executed in public, noting that they often extend beyond the realm of media into the virtual.

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Summer Reading

Happy Labor Day!

In honor of Labor Day, we’re taking the day off! See you tomorrow, when we kick off an impressive lineup of exhibition reviews, essays, and interviews from around the world.

Wish you were here! Love, DS

Wish you were here! Love, DS

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Summer Reading

Summer Reading: Bajagic vs Novitskova

As the editors of Art Practical and Daily Serving get ready to take their end-of-summer vacations, we find ourselves swapping reading lists—the articles we’ll dive into once have some uninterrupted time to catch up on what our colleagues have been writing. We’ve gotten so excited about what’s on our lists that we want to share them with our readers. Between now and Labor Day, Daily Serving will feature the efforts of our fellow chroniclers of art and culture as part of our Summer Reading series. Today we are pleased to bring you an excerpt of Sean Joseph Patrick Carney’s in-depth case study on “the ethics of lateral appropriation.” This article was originally published in January 2013 on the Portland art site Justice League PDX, and we thank the editor and the author for making this series possible. Enjoy!

Screen grab by Darja Bajagic, posted September 2011 to Tumblr.

Screen grab by Darja Bajagic, posted September 2011 to Tumblr.

Every artist who is under the age of forty that I know of, or know personally, appropriates quite regularly in their practice. It’s a result of myriad factors, perhaps the most obvious of which is the ubiquity of the internet as a matter-of-fact aspect of our everyday lives. I, too, regularly appropriate images, video, and sound elements from popular culture into my own work and rarely think twice about the larger implications of these actions. When an idea or image reaches a certain level of public visibility or cultural presence, it is, in my opinion, open for fair use. Perhaps what gives me peace in regards to this is that I feel that the action of appropriation is evident in my second-usage; nobody is likely to assume that I’m claiming that I shot footage of dozens of infants learning to swim, or that I am the composer who created the ludicrous “duhn, duhn” sound from Law & Order.

Appropriation is generally deemed ethical when the original work is transformed in some capacity. There’s much debate about what constitutes transformation, exactly, but I’ve always considered that recontextualization itself is tantamount to transformation. At the heart of recontextualization is an understanding of the original context from which an image or idea comes, and an intentional change of context by the artist. It’s fair to say that even the smallest change can give something an entirely different meaning, and much of the history of contemporary art is hinged on artists doing just that. The digital realm is a seemingly limitless expanse of fodder for future appropriations, and many of us comb it regularly in the pursuit of things to sample, remix, rework, and ultimately recontextualize. The assumption though, that whatever is online is fair game, does, in some instances, create problematic situations.

One such situation arose recently when Estonian-born, Netherlands- and Berlin-based visual artist Katja Novitskova appropriated an image from Montenegrin-born, United States-based visual artist Darja Bajagic and exhibited the work in an exhibition, MACRO EXPANSION, at Kraupa-Tuskany in Berlin in November of 2012. The image used was not originally credited to Bajagic in the context of Novitskova’s exhibition, causing a tension between the two artists and raising some germane questions about the way that we as visual artists reemploy imagery and ideas. For context, it is relevant to note that Novitskova encountered the image in the feed of her Tumblr dashboard–the interface of the social networking micro-blogging site on which the aggregated content of a user’s followed blogs appears.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Reading

Summer Reading: My 1980s and Other Essays

As the editors of Art Practical and Daily Serving get ready to take their end-of-summer vacations, we find ourselves swapping reading lists—the articles we’ll dive into once have some uninterrupted time to catch up on what our colleagues have been writing. We’ve gotten so excited about what’s on our lists that we want to share them with our readers. Between now and Labor Day, Daily Serving will feature the efforts of our fellow chroniclers of art and culture as part of our Summer Reading series. Today we are pleased to bring you an excerpt of Lesley Moon’s review of Wayne Koestenbaums book My 1980s and Other Essays. This article was originally published in The Art Book Review on June 17,  2014, and we thank the editors for making this series possible. Enjoy!

Image from The Art Book Review.

Image from The Art Book Review.

I can look at a clock and only see the time; maybe I do not even see that, but only notice the shapes on the dial; or I see nothing. On the other hand, I may be seeing clocks potentially, and then I allow myself to hallucinate a clock, doing so because I have evidence that an actual clock is there to be seen, so when I perceive the actual clock I have already been through a complex process that originated in me. So when I see the clock I create it, and when I see the time I create time too…
—Donald Winnicott, Home Is Where We Start From

My 1980s contains 39 essays in its 315 pages. I found the book on my dining-room table sometime last autumn. It wasn’t intended for me, but Warhol’s Polaroid of Debbie Harry’s over-the-shoulder blue eyes called from the cover. I took it and have been reading it since then, having finished two weeks ago. After jamming through the varied and brilliant table of contents, I cracked its pages somewhere in the middle to read “Warhol’s Interviews.” Concerning Warhol and others, Wayne Koestenbaum praises many modes of diectic disfigurement—masks, hirsute disguises (and men, elaborated in his essay on Cary Grant), underdoing it, grids, thick paint, abstraction and other dynamics of resistance that can morph depending on their context. At the same time, he writes from a deliberate first-person position (positioned-to first person).

Koestenbaum recounts his inner experience with tenacious specificity, recording far more than most can hope to have the attention to realize. Miraculously there is a pleasant drift to his reflective ambulation: no pressure. Everyone is granted volition. His analysis comprehends the language of the body—registering gestures and gaits with absorptive rhythm. It is easy to see his connection to Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, to whom he dedicates the essay “A Manual Approach to Mourning.” As readers we are constantly buoyed by self-deprecation, opera, porn and poetry, much pleasure. Tedium is oblated by an advocacy for affinity, and his chatty sensibility. Somehow Koestenbaum’s convincing declarativeness still has me relaxed.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Reading

Summer Reading: The Influentially Lewd Allure of Robert Heinecken

As the editors of Art Practical and Daily Serving get ready to take their end-of-summer vacations, we find ourselves swapping reading lists—the articles we’ll dive into once have some uninterrupted time to catch up on what our colleagues have been writing. We’ve gotten so excited about what’s on our lists that we want to share them with our readers. Between now and Labor Day, Daily Serving will feature the efforts of our fellow chroniclers of art and culture as part of our Summer Reading series. Today we are pleased to bring you Andrew Berardini’s essay on the work of artist Robert Heinecken. This article was originally published in Issue #44 of Mousse Magazine, and we thank their editors for making this series possible. Enjoy!

Robert Heinecken. Recto/Verso #2, 1988;  Courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Mr. and Mrs. Clark Winter Fund.

Robert Heinecken. Recto/Verso #2, 1988. Courtesy of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Mr. and Mrs. Clark Winter Fund.

In a dentist’s office, underneath a shadow cast from a fluorescent light on a sickly pot of browning philodendrons atop a chipped coffee table, sit stacks of old magazines. Dog-eared and well-thumbed, rustling with their cheap paper, clad with gaudy covers begging questions and enticements for a passerby to peek into their pages. Time and GlamourGood Housekeeping and MademoiselleGolf Digest and Sports Illustrated, a smattering of titles beginning with “Popular.” Flipping through, the nervy bruxists and trenchmouthers fidget until summoned for their scrapings and cleanings, analgesics and block injections, skimming headlines about the White House and the Kennedys, 100 Great Recipes and 100 Gifts from $1.00 to $10.00, Trimmings to Make Parties Fun for Hostesses Too and When He Caught Me in Another Man’s Bedroom. Amidst all of these tidbits and news items, tawdry page-turners and housewifely time-savers, the publishers tuck in a healthy swath of advertisements, the difference between ad and article often fluid. But within these sundry, expected, and quotidian distractions from impending root canals, there appear other unsanctioned pictures.

Across from a duo of models tautly clothed in the latest Parisian fashions, a couple of quite naked ladies, tan lines ablaze, lean in for a carnal smooch. Overlaying the bottle blonde in the brown, boat-like sedan of the Pontiac ad beckons a big-chested lass in negative exposure, naked except for a pair of knee-high go-go boots. Does one imagine an aged dowager keeling over in disgusted shock, a pizza-faced teenage boy with maximalist orthodontia vibrantly sweating as he runs through various plans to casually pocket the magazine for closer, handier examinations? Does it startle, quicken pulses, titillate pink parts, provoke outrage? Does it do anything, or is it just passively accepted, not even seen, a picture received only subliminally by that patient idly flicking through? Sneaking doctored magazines into doctor’s offices and newsstands was only one of artist Robert Heinecken’s punkish tactics from the 1960s till his illness and death in 2007. This ex-marine fighter pilot and full-time prof enjoyed sticking his sticky fingers into the content and form of received culture, all those bombarding images selling us this and that, and usually sex (lust rarely being free for anyone in the Christian, patriarchal, and bourgeois circumstances of postwar America). He did this without using a camera but using the images themselves, beginning with a series of twenty-five photograms from 1964–68 titled Are You Rea after a chopped headline that numerous critics suggest could be “real” or “ready” and to the artist might have been a Duchampian pun on Man Ray. (Both Marcel and Man alongside László Moholy-Nagy were early inspirations.) In this attractive portfolio, reprinted from photographic paper into lithographs, the facing pages in a magazine superimpose their negative images, conflating the two in weird, often suggestive ways. Though his works could be occasionally ham-fisted or literal (one image he slipped into popular magazines was a particularly violent shot from 1971 of a grinning Cambodian soldier hoisting two decapitated heads), the artist mostly avoided letting his work fall into didactic investigations into media power by locating his inquiries in desire, his own desire. Even his breakdowns of news anchors and politicians sometimes have smeary Vaseline on the lens, diffusing and mixing in ways that feel lurid, though sometimes spooky. You can almost tell that the best works are the ones that got him off the most.

Read the full article here.

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Summer Reading

Summer Reading – Your Everyday Art World: Glasgow to Los Angeles

As the editors of Art Practical and Daily Serving get ready to take their end-of-summer vacations, we find ourselves swapping reading lists—the articles we’ll dive into once have some uninterrupted time to catch up on what our colleagues have been writing. We’ve gotten so excited about what’s on our lists that we want to share them with our readers. Between now and Labor Day, Daily Serving will feature the efforts of our fellow chroniclers of art and culture as part of our Summer Reading series. Today we are pleased to bring you an excerpt of Lane Relyea’s essay on “networked culture” and nascent art scenes. This article was originally published on August 13, 2014, in East of Borneo, and we thank their editors for making this series possible. Enjoy!

Installation view of “Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s.“ Photo by Paula Goldman. Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.

Installation view of Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s. Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Photo: Paula Goldman.

In the catalogue for the 1996 show Life/Live, a survey of ’90s art in the U.K., curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist wrote that “artists’ initiatives” were one of the main “reasons for the extraordinary dynamism of the British art scene.” Two years later, Obrist found himself similarly weak in the knees when confronted by the scene in Los Angeles. While interviewing recent CalArts alumnus Dave Muller about his ongoing project Three Day Weekend, Obrist confided, “When I made studio visits in L.A. earlier this year I found that the dialogue between artists is stronger than in New York. It actually reminded me of the Glaswegian situation where spaces like Transmission go hand in hand with lots of other artist-run initiatives.”

Muller generally agreed. “The issues that Three Day Weekend might bring up through its sheer existence—the nomadic, DIY, temporality, situational/context, non-monumentality—I see as being topics pertinent to my immediate generation.” In many respects, Los Angeles and Glasgow couldn’t have been more diametrically opposed. Rusting Glasgow on the one hand, trying desperately to deflect tourist money its way by selling nostalgia for its ye-olde maritime industry, versus L.A. on the other, global behemoth of such virtual industries as media and finance, with its aerospace futurism and showbiz culture and seeming lack of any past. In terms of their art scenes, though, both cities had long experienced marginalization. Los Angeles suffered under New York’s shadow, much as Glasgow felt eclipsed by London’s, both deemed provinces, quirky at best, otherwise just sparse and irrelevant.

Also like Glasgow, in the mid-’80s L.A. began to invest heavily in the arts as a way to shore up its global reputation. In 1986 the Museum of Contemporary Art opened (its name changed from the originally planned Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art, thus “signifying that it would present art from an international rather than regional perspective”), and a year later the city hosted a sprawling, big-ticket international arts festival. As with the “Capital of Culture” campaign in Glasgow, in L.A. the response was admiration from afar and disillusionment locally. “Potemkin Village,” scoffed Linda Frye Burnham in the L.A. Weekly. The city, she lamented, “touts itself as the next capital of art, but treats its artists like illegal aliens… We adulate state-supported geniuses like Pina Bausch and Maguy Marin, whose spectacles are the product of healthy arts environments elsewhere… [while] L.A. artists are in a desperate state, fighting over scraps, without career opportunities, funds, or housing.” But of course local artists weren’t the ones the festival’s sales pitch was aimed at.

Read the full article here.

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