San Francisco

Artist Project: Live Radio Auction

From our partners at Art Practical, today we bring you Live Radio Auction, a project by Wonderment Consortium—the artist team of Packard Jennings, Steuart Pittman, and Scott Vermeire. This essay was commissioned by guest editor Jonn Herschend as part of Issue 5.5, Slapstick and the Sublime, and originally published on July 10, 2014.

Live Radio Auction appropriates a format from rural American radio stations in which the DJ auctions items over the airwaves and the public calls in to bid on the objects as a way of raising funds for the radio station. In rural America, the items auctioned are usually intended to be desirable and are donated by local businesses. Live Radio Auction bends that idea by harvesting the auction items from a local thrift store, the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse, with a keen eye set to the ordinary, the obsolete, and the nearly valueless objects one might find, like used shoes, damaged cookware, or a fire extinguisher in need of a refill—the detritus of our long-forgotten yesterday. All proceeds from the auction go to the thrift store.

The auction is a slow burn. Sitting in a booth, the DJs look at a pile of objects and slowly, endlessly describe them over the airwaves to their audience. Sometimes people call and bid; sometimes they don’t. Either way, the DJs are left to describe a rug as best as they can: its feel, its color, its shape, its size, its application. They might discuss suitable placements or purposes for the object, or times and experiences in their lives in which a similar object might have been an accessory to a memory, just filling time with words, seemingly endless words, describing something the audience can see only in their mind’s eye, much like a very boring baseball game heard over the air. Except that instead of a game, it’s a desk lamp, lightly used, with a starting bid of two dollars.

Read the full article and listen to Live Radio Auction here.

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Toronto

Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Francis Bacon and Henry Moore are known for producing curvilinear compositions and contorted human forms that often double back upon and swoop around themselves. In contrast, the Art Gallery of Ontario’s dual retrospective of the artists, titled Terror and Beauty, takes a distinctly linear approach. Passing over divergent biographical information about the artists (such as that Henry Moore was the son of a coal miner from northern England, while Francis Bacon was born to prosperous English parents living in Ireland), the exhibition aims above all to illuminate how a shared historical and cultural context, which included the World Wars and the milieu of economic austerity that followed, proved formative to the development of the artists’ signature styles. In doing so, the show highlights similarities in Moore’s and Bacon’s works that are often overlooked by accounts that dwell on the fact that Moore worked in sculpture and Bacon in painting.

Francis Bacon. Lying Figure in a Mirror, 1971; 
oil on canvas; 
198.5 x 147.5 cm
. Museo de Bellas Artes Bilbao 
© Estate of Francis Bacon / SODRAC (2013)

Francis Bacon. Lying Figure in a Mirror, 1971; 
oil on canvas; 
198.5 x 147.5 cm
. Museo de Bellas Artes Bilbao 
© Estate of Francis Bacon / SODRAC (2013).

Many of the works in Terror and Beauty were on view earlier this year at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford as part of an exhibition titled Francis Bacon/Henry Moore: Flesh and Bone. While the collaboration between the British institution and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) indicates a shared interest in underscoring the links between these two artists, the two museums seem to project slightly different narratives. Whereas the Ashmolean exhibition begins with the characterization “…these two great figurative artists whose careers have rarely been linked until now,” positioning the exhibition as a novel curatorial statement, the AGO forthrightly undercuts such an assertion with a large-scale timeline on the wall of the first gallery that maps when and where the artists were born, trained, exhibited, and died. At a glance, this timeline may seem to chart more divergence than overlap between the artists. Yet, as a viewer wades through the copious information on display, points of convergence and interlock emerge—some in the form of major global events like the Blitz in London, which both artists endured, and others more intimate, like group exhibitions that happened to include works by both artists. Indeed, the number of times that Bacon’s and Moore’s works have been exhibited together reinforces the notion that the two were in fact involved in a longstanding artistic conversation, of which this exhibition is only the latest and most explicit chapter.

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Los Angeles

Yvonne Rainer: Dances and Films at the Getty Center

Contained within two rooms at the Getty Center is a lifetime’s work by conceptual art, dance, and film pioneer Yvonne Rainer. Dances and Films showcases the Getty’s complete archive of Rainer’s work—with journals, photographs, sketches, choreographic notation, films of performances, and a complete retrospective of her avant-garde films. In our contemporary world, where performance art (and art in general) is dominated by celebrity and personality, it is a welcome change to see that there are other ways of making art that do not rely so heavily on self-consciously contrived personae or the artist as celebrity. If anything, Rainer’s works strive to erase individual personality and her own charisma in favor of communication about a humanity that lies deeper than ego.

Yvonne Rainer. Rehearsal for Parts of Some Sextets, 1965, Gelatin silver print, 23.5 x 20.5 cm. The Getty Research Institute. Photo: Al Giese.

Yvonne Rainer. Rehearsal for Parts of Some Sextets, 1965; gelatin silver print; 23.5 x 20.5 cm. The Getty Research Institute. Photo: Al Giese.

Rainer studied under Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham before creating her own choreography, and was a founding member of the experimental and influential Judson Dance Theater in New York in the early 1960s. The show begins with a 1966 article on Rainer from the New York Post titled “Rebellion in the Arts,” published after her Parts of Some Sextets (1965), a performance that involved ten dancers and mattresses and a lot of “pedestrian” movements, or movements that come very naturally to a human being: running, jumping, falling, and walking. The Getty presents photographs of rehearsals and the performance, as well as Rainer’s own writings on the piece that include complicated lists and movement diagrams. The dancers did not have music to guide their rhythms, and learning the dance was incredibly difficult—Rainer wrote that some dancers “ended up memorizing [the steps] by rote, like multiplication tables or dates in history.” Of the piece, she said she “wanted it to remain undynamic movement, no rhythm, no emphasis, no tension, no relaxation. You just do it, with the coordination of a pro and the non-definition of an amateur.” She was trying to remove all personal affectation or theatricality from the work and let the human body move on its own. The next year she created her most famous work, Trio A (The Mind Is a Muscle, Part II) (1966), of which there is a looped video of Rainer performing the entire piece, one steady flow of movements.

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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 »

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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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Pittsburgh

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.

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