New York

Daughter of Bad Girls at Klaus von Nichtssagend

When asked why she had sculpted such pronounced, sugar-coated labia on A Subtlety, the mammy-sphinx recently on view at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn, Kara Walker answered, “[It’s about] ownership of the voluptuousness of an ass”; “a 10-foot vagina…is not something that happens in art often enough”; and “[It was] a fuck-you, I’m gonna do that because this is what I have…there are enough phallic symbols in the world…” Visitors to Daughter of Bad Girls—a new exhibition at Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery that positions seven contemporary artists as heirs to the fierce femmes that appeared in Marcia Tucker’s 1994 exhibition, Bad Girls, at the New Museum and Bad Girls West, its sister exhibition at the Hammer Museum in L.A. (then UCLA’s Wight Art Gallery)—are, a little disappointingly, greeted not by the vagina but by two phallic lacquer-and-ceramic sculptures of genetically manipulated Roma tomatoes by Jessica Rath. As glossy and fecund-looking as they are, these two sleek red forms give the male part undue emphasis in the small gallery space. Not all of the works in Daughter of Bad Girls go so far astray, but on the whole the exhibition cannot help but pale in comparison to the potent era of third-wave feminist art that it invokes.

Ridykeulous. The Advantages of Being a Lesbian Woman Artist, 2007; silkscreen on newsprint. Courtesy of Klaus Von Nichtssagend Gallery

Ridykeulous. The Advantages of Being a Lesbian Woman Artist, 2007; silkscreen on newsprint. Courtesy of Klaus von Nichtssagend Gallery.

Turning polite, palatable “feminine” behavior on its head with rebellious, even anarchist abandon, Daughter of Bad Girls aims to pick up where predecessors like Riot Grrrls and Kathe Burkhart left off. Xaviera Simmons, in a large-scale photographic self-portrait, presents herself sprawled horizontally on a striped picnic rug, masturbating in broad daylight. The noisy collaborative duo Ridykeulous, made up of A.L. Steiner and Nicole Eisenman, defaces a printed copy of the Guerrilla Girls’ famous poster The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist (1989), which laid out in stark terms the appalling state of female representation in the visual arts. Eighteen years on, Ridykeulous’s brazen revision of this key text, The Advantages of Being a Lesbian Woman Artist (2007), suggests feminist offspring unafraid of cannibalizing their revolutionary forebears. According to Ridykeulous’ vandalizing scribbles, “Working without the pressure of success” becomes “Working without the pressure of sucking dick.” Read More »


Help Desk

Help Desk: Friends with Benefits

Help Desk is where I answer your queries about making, exhibiting, finding, marketing, buying, selling–or any other activity related to contemporary art. Submit your questions anonymously here. All submissions become the property of Daily Serving.

A few months ago I tried to collaborate with a good friend, but we didn’t complete any work. It’s not that we spent the time just hanging out—we worked, but it just didn’t go anywhere. It seemed like neither of us could make the final decisions that would push the work in a real direction. Instead, we just fumbled around until we both lost the energy for it. But I really like my friend’s work and think that we could make something great together. Should we try again? If we do, how can we make something happen?

Allora & Calzadilla. Body in Flight (Delta), 2012; Carved and stained wood; Dimensions variable. Installation view: U.S. Pavilion, 54th International Art Exhibition, Venice, 2011. Photo: Andrew Bordwin

Allora & Calzadilla. Body in Flight (Delta), 2012; carved and stained wood; dimensions variable.
Installation view: U.S. Pavilion, 54th International Art Exhibition, Venice, 2011. Photo: Andrew Bordwin.

Ah, collaboration. There’s the oft-touted idea that two minds are better than one, but that largely depends on the minds and what they are doing collectively. Like flint and steel, they have to rub together in precisely the right way to make a spark. Without the proper friction, there’s just a bit of metal and a lump of rock instead of a Gilbert and George, or an Abramovic and Ulay.

The question is, can you force an electric arc? Is there a pat formula for success in collaboration? Not really, but by being mindful of a few basic principles of working with others, you’ll have a better chance of not watching your initial flicker of light dwindle into darkness.

To start, I want you to read “How To Collaborate Without Killing Someone” by J. Maureen Henderson. Her very first point, clarify your expectations, is crucial to achieving your aims. It’s possible that your project didn’t work out because you and your pal weren’t upfront with your intentions. If, for example, you say, “I want to complete the project by October 31 and have at least ten pieces,” that would give you a starting place from which to negotiate; your friend might counter, “I think we can do five pieces, and have them done by Thanksgiving.” In turn, this could open a conversation about media, process, and the assigning of specific duties. Remember that even though you are already friends, a collaboration is a working relationship; you should map out the responsibilities and tasks as clearly as you can from the outset.

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Shotgun Reviews

Anthony Friedkin: The Gay Essay at the de Young Museum

Shotgun Reviews are an open forum where we invite the international art community to contribute timely, short-format responses to an exhibition or event. If you are interested in submitting a Shotgun Review, please click this link for more information. In this Shotgun Review, Susannah Magers reviews Anthony Friedkin: The Gay Essay at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

Anthony Friedkin.

Anthony Friedkin. Jim, East Los Angeles, 1972; gelatin silver print. 14 × 11 in. Courtesy of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Anonymous gift in honor of Sheila Glassman.


The first question a show about documentary work made more than forty years ago should ask is, “Why now?” Ripe with current significance, if lacking in self-awareness, Anthony Friedkin: The Gay Essay misses such an opportunity to address its own contemporary relevance while trying to establish the work’s historical significance.

The Gay Essay was conceived between 1969 and 1973, when a then-19-year-old Friedkin was building his career as a photographer. Through friends, he gained access to gay communities in San Francisco and his native Los Angeles that he wasn’t a part of, but identified with as someone who felt unfairly marginalized by mainstream society. Friedkin noted at the press preview that he chose his subjects based on their willingness to celebrate an “obvious” gay identity—those who were out and proud. His photos advocate for as much, as they capture the idea of power through visibility, something underscored by the reflective title he gave the series from which the exhibition takes its name.

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Dawn Weleski

From our partners at Art Practical, today we bring you a profile of artist Dawn Weleski and her project Conflict Kitchen. Author Matthew Harrison Tedford notes, “…the sorry state of public knowledge about foreign cultures makes even a brief, thoughtful conversation between cashier and customer a monumental achievement…” This article was originally published on May 7, 2014.

Dawn Weleski. Conflict Kitchen, 2010-present; Pittsburgh, PA. Courtesy of the Artists.

Dawn Weleski. Conflict Kitchen, 2010-present; Pittsburgh, PA. Image courtesy of the Artists.

A recent poll of Americans asked a variety of foreign-policy questions regarding the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine. Pollsters also asked respondents to pinpoint Ukraine on a high-resolution world map. Only 16% correctly completed this task—but more interestingly, the researchers found that the more incorrect a person’s guess, the more likely he or she was to want the United States to intervene militarily. And many respondents were very, very far off, suggesting that Ukraine was in Greenland, Florida, Alaska, New Zealand, Madagascar, all over Brazil, and, confusingly, several random locations in the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

These hawkish voices, guided by ignorance and misinformation, are often the loudest ones, calling for shock and awe when tensions flare around the globe. Dawn Weleski, a recent Stanford University MFA graduate and a 2013–2014 Headlands Center for the Arts Graduate Fellow, aims directly at this destructive connection between ignorance and hostility with her social art project Conflict Kitchen.

Developed with fellow artist Jon Rubin, Conflict Kitchen is a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Pittsburgh that opened in 2010. The restaurant serves food only from countries with which the U.S. is in conflict, militarily or diplomatically. The current menu, focusing on Afghanistan, where the U.S. is waging the longest war in its history, offers slow-cooked lamb, kebabs, potato-leek stuffed turnovers, and a lemon-rosewater basil seed drink. Previous incarnations of the restaurant served food from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. Every several months, the restaurant closes down and then reopens with a new menu, name, and facade.

Read the full article here.


San Francisco

Southern Machine Exposure Project Event #14: Josh Greene’s Audio Tour

In celebration of American Independence Day, today we bring you a video from our friends at Machine Project in Los Angeles. In 2012, Machine Project teamed up with Southern Exposure—another great independent art space—to program a series of performances and events throughout the city. Artist Josh Greene made this museum-style audio tour for the home of Maria Mortati & Mark Glusker, allowing visitors intimate access to “everything from the quotidian and mundane to the most intense and precious.”



Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Geoffry Smalley

Geoffry Smalley’s work is rooted in early-19th-century American painting, deriving specific scenes and techniques from historical canvases and the Hudson River School. In 1836, painter Thomas Cole completed his five-part series The Course of Empire. The series documents Cole’s vision for the birth, life, and death of western civilization, from the pastoral to the desolate. Cole had a calculated optimism for life and renewal, but also a deep pessimism that civilized humanity would cyclically repeat its errors. The final painting in the series, The Course of Empire: Desolation, depicts the ruins of a once-great Greco-Roman city, complete with overgrown and decaying pillars, and a landscape returning to its initially wild state.

Geoffry Smalley. The Course of Empire-Rebuild, 2012; acrylic on Ink Jet Print; 39 x 63 inches. Courtesy the artist.

Geoffry Smalley. The Course of Empire: Rebuild, 2012; acrylic on inkjet print; 39 x 63 in. Image courtesy of the Artist.

With his painting The Course of Empire: Rebuild (2012), Smalley incorporates a printed image of Cole’s Desolation and augments the composition to include a contemporary sports stadium in the process of construction—a surprisingly fitting juxtaposition that dovetails with the grandeur of Cole’s landscape. Smalley also continues Cole’s implicit critique of civilization, but with a particularly contemporary spirit and an adept sense of humor that focuses his painterly skill on America’s obsession with spectator sports and the trappings that go along with professional sports culture.

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Marie Orensanz: Works from the ‘70s at Alejandra von Hartz Gallery

“Fragmentism searches for the integration of a part into a whole, transformed by its multiple readings, into an unfinished and unlimited object.” So declares Argentinian artist Marie Orensanz’s Manifesto Fragmentismo, which appears on a 1978 print in her current exhibition at Alejandra von Hartz Gallery in Miami. The print exists both as a work itself and as a framework in which to view the various artworks on display. The context is one of incompleteness, a word the artist has reiterated throughout her career, and the idea of fragmentism stands as a focal point for the pieces that loosely refer to some larger—but unknowable—truth. Installed in a modest-sized room within the gallery, Marie Orensanz: Works from the ‘70s features drawings—on paper and on broken remnants of marble—as well as photography, prints, and video.

Marie Orensanz. Marie Orensanz: Works from the ‘70s, 2014; installation view, Alejandra von Hartz Gallery, Miami. Courtesy of Alejandra von Hartz Gallery.

Marie Orensanz. Marie Orensanz: Works from the ‘70s, 2014; installation view, Alejandra von Hartz Gallery, Miami. Courtesy of Alejandra von Hartz Gallery. Photo: Oriol Tarridas.

The drawings and prints are conceptually and aesthetically related. Each drawing is sparse and diagrammatic, consisting of minimalistic compositions that include scattered arrays of perpendicular lines, electric schematic symbols, neatly scripted words, and blocks of shaded color. They possess contextually ambiguous names such as Transmitir la Energía Pensamiento [To Transmit the Power of Thoughts] and La Acción es la Consecuencia del Pensamiento [The Action Is the Result of the Thought] (both 1974). Likewise, two drawings on marble fragments feature mysterious combinations of mechanical symbols and scattered words.

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