20 June 2018

What's up for four more days..

"The whole, as-yet-unformed modern myth rests at its origins on two bodies of work that are almost indistinguishable, by Alberto Savinio and his brother, Giorgio de Chirico" Breton wrote in the Anthologie de l'humour noir which quoted Savinio's explanation of metaphysical painting "Unlike the days in which abstraction reigned supreme, our age tries to draw the complete metaphysical elements out of matter itself (things). The metaphysical idea would pass from the state of abstraction to that of the senses." Friday and Saturday of this week are the only remaining days to see Savinio at CIMA, which had previously presented de Chirico.

Prometheus, 1929

Salvinio's familial and archetypal imagery prompted Breton to redeliberate on Freud: "In these two brothers, humor surges from their intermittent but very acute awareness of their own repression." "Prometheus" (above) is commonly viewed as a deconstruction of masculinity perhaps reflecting on, though he was in Paris at the time, Mussolini's recent establishment of supreme authority. Immanuel Kant in 1755: “There is such a thing as right taste in natural science, which knows how to distinguish the wild extravagances of unbridled curiosity from cautious judgements of reasonable credibility. From the Prometheus of recent times Mr. Franklin, who wanted to disarm the thunder, down to the man who wants to extinguish the fire in the workshop of Vulcanus, all these endeavors result in the humiliating reminder that Man never can be anything more than a man” was Mary Shelley's inspiration to subtitle Frankenstein "The Modern Prometheus," the name Kant gave to his essay.


One theoretical riposte to Savinio's Metaphysical aesthetic is from Bruce Chatwin: "Authoritarian societies love images because they reinforce the chain of command at all levels of the hierarchy. But an abstract art of pure form and color, if it is serious and not merely decorative, mocks the pretensions of secular power because it transcends the limits of this world and attempts to penetrate a hidden world of universal law." Pace bills, up til August, “a return to Michal Rovner’s unique, abstracted language” but if there is a hierarchy depicted in her videos of the multitudes at a distance it is that of the human world over nature. "Mordechai Omer notes that Israeli artists who are successful abroad are always the object of unpleasant criticism here. Aside from that, (Rovner's) engagement in political subjects related to Israel infuriates artists who work and show here, as if it were a superficial and irrelevant invasion of an area that is no longer hers." Also from Israel, the denizen Melanie Daniels (537b West 23rd til June 23) quickly names Daniel Richter and Doig as her primary influences when asked: “Daniel Richter: he’s the best living painter as far as I’m concerned. I can look at as his works for hours and they just keep unfolding.” I pretty much agree with this as I have looked at Richters for hours but I don’t try to decide between him and Clemente. Daniel and Peter’s visual techniques are here applied to caricatures of utopian societies. 

Tali Keren
But clearly the impetus for the Piri’ Miri Muli’ Nations in Focus feature of the previous paragraph is Jerusalem-born Tali Keren’s installation at the Goethe Institut’s 38 Ludlow gallery, which uses drone technology to illuminate the rejected great seal of America designed by Kant’s Prometheus, Mr. Benjamin Franklin, depicting Moses parting the Red Sea in Exodus.  Keren is a portraitist of Christian Zionism, about which Anita Schapira wrote in Israel a History “It was the Protestants who discovered the Bible and extolled its importance in educating the younger generation. Even the idea of the Jews returning to their ancient homeland as the first step to world redemption seems to have originated among a specific group of evangelical English Protestants that flourished in England in the 1840s; they passed this notion on to Jewish circles.”  Keren traces the movement to the translation of the King James Bible into English in the 16th Century. Kovel briefly mentions several cultural examples predating Herzl’s campaign including George Eliot’s 1876 novel Daniel Deronda.


In American culture, especially since 2003, the rationalizations for war differ based on the audience, and diplomatic, electoral and media discourses maintain the pretense of a War on Terror that is not a war of religion.  I stated this to Keren and she said she’s been watching Fox News nonstop and the wars are commonly referred to as religious. Included in the back room are three audio recordings, including the testimony of Brandon Bryant, a rural American that took a drone operator job and later testified that his colleagues learned their craft on video games, that many of them believed devoutly in Christian Zionism, and that the use of drones to kill unknown people in foreign countries was indiscriminate.  In her video New Jerusalem, she produced a chamber piece performed for Jerusalem’s mayor and city council in which the cantor sings a libretto made up of the classified 1967 plan to maintain a Jewish majority for the planned capitol. As with her use of propaganda in the Great Seal and a US-Israeli national anthem for which the audience was made to stand, she reveals the dominant ideology that is hiding in plain sight.

Also ending Saturday downtown are two short Eugenio Dittborn films in the basement of 47 Walker along with new Polke-influenced paintings of his (above), characteristically air mailed to the host gallery.

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