19 December 2017

le t


ge sans 


18 December 2017

What's up for five more days, v. XLVII

I should chime in here to mention that Serkan Özkaya’s reconstruction of Duchamp’s Étant donnés as a camera obscura is open til Satuday at 54 Franklin.  Convinced that the light of the diorama beyond the eye holes projected an image in darkness, he naturally received no cooperation from the folks at the Philly museum, so he remade the entire work.  Duchamp welcomed interpretations of his works that he didn’t intend, but Özkaya has managed to produce, for himself, the gallarists, the adoring critics, and the contributors to the literary journal devoted to the discovery, a matter of faith: did he or didn’t he mean this?  I count myself amongst the faithful: he was, during these years, keeping regular company with Man Ray, with whom he endlessly discussed optical and cinematic devices, suggesting cinematic projects early on that didn’t come to fruition.  He produced films like Anemic Cinema, but as with the chocolate grinder and the bicycle wheel he was interested in the machine itself.  Save for an installation manual, he left no explanations of the work and kept it a guarded secret, but the title came from his Green Box notes of 1912-15.  Cabanne wroteGiven.. is neither painting, sculpture, environment, nor an exercise in mechanics or optics. It offers a synthesis of several recurrent themes in Duchamp’s work” but the camera obscura angle commences a whole new realm of speculation about it’s meanings.  I didn’t see the face (below) as Duchamp as Rrose Sélavy so much as I saw, standing in the dark room for a while, a ‘portrait’ of works by two friends: the faces of Brancusi’s marbles and the African masks photographed by Man Ray, illuminated by a lantern of what d’Harnoncourt and Hopps called ‘the allegorical view of human forms as the molds for invisible aspirations (gas).’

I first saw the David Smith show at 548 22nd right after arriving early and waiting an hour and a half for Yayoi Kusama, a line of two blocks mostly consisting of new outfits donned for the Instagram, about which the staff lectures the viewers ‘take the picture immediately; the time inside goes fast.’  Whatever concessions this show has to easily absorbed psychedelia it is real art and worth waiting for.  The paintings on 19th street of her micro/macroscopic imagery can be seen by those in a hurry, I think, a rope separating them from rooms promising Infinity, while the uptown gallery of dot paintings is a quiet place to think.  I see the Infinity Rooms primarily as collective portraiture for the internet age.  A sculpture of hers is in the Delirious show at Met Breuer along with two scrolls of Spero’s Artaud Codex.  Nothing is really “Must see,” one would be forced by such a voice to “Think” of infinity were it possible, an impossibility that is in general what I make the trip up for - other people’s tragic consciousnesses.  But, as David Smith appears in the topic sentence, one predicts that I will lament (or rejoice) how quiet the show seems after the Yayoi scene two blocks away where the line ends.  Predictable, but astonishing nonetheless - the Smith show is a huge offering of his early sculptural paintings and painterly sculptures.   As it is the early work of a vital mind, you don’t have to recall earlier works to verify that it’s ‘real art.’  At 541 22nd do check out Rita McBride’s Particulates early and often - it will be there til June.  On 24th there’s Pistoletto til Friday, Pace’s tribute to the 1964 collaboration between Richard Avedon and James Baldwin which displays no quotations from Baldwin, and til Jan 9, Jim Shaw’s Hillary Clinton as Mad Meg.. 

..along with various contortions of Trump’s face, a tribute to Courbet, Titian, The Cute Behemoth and religious ceremonies at 519, and Anna Conway’s narrative tableau at 514 West 26th til Saturday.  At Goodman Guiseppe Penone places fossils and grains of sand next to their reproductions.  But most of all, if you haven't seen the landscapes from the last five years of Arshile Gorky's life, mostly from private collections, put that at the top of your list (32 e 69th til Sat).

17 December 2017


ike po

peo po


as & m

05 November 2017

What's up for one more day, v. XLIV

A reminder to readers that two Piri' Miri Muli' recommended shows that were the second and third links at the bottom on 28 September (after the frequently and aptly praised, now closed, Kara Walker show) are ending this Sunday.  Recently I did in fact revisit them both in the same day.

The estate of Afro-Cuban artist Belkis Ayón (1967-1999) helped organize a retrospective of her work for the Fowler at UCLA and it's had a few months at the Museo del Barrio. It is rare to see something this unique: collograph prints, all black and white after early stabs at color, of the mythology of the traditionally all-male Abakuá secret society, comprised of Nigerian emigrés living in the west of Cuba.  Princess Sikán finds the magic fish that can bring peace and prosperity to the world by embodying an ancestor's voice, she is forced by her family into hiding but conveys the secret of the fish to her boyfriend from the enemy tribe, for which her family hands her over for sacrifice. The fish died, the boyfriend tries to craft a drum to conjure the voice and, thinking her blood would help, kills her, and when it didn't help a male goat's skin formed the drum, leading to the society's rituals.

From the beginning she was identifying her individual experience in the figure of Sikán, its feminization of Christian sacrifice hit home by the setting of Cuba, and the citation of the particulars of her life within the myth accelerated in the years before her mysterious suicide.  Cristina Vives, her friend who curated the show, recalls "as for the critical commentary to date, most of it is regrettably devoted to narrating the Abakuá myth.. The art establishment can make or break and artist.. Belkis was simultaneously 'made' and 'broken.' For Belkis, a change was necessary, and she needed to divest her work of the Abakuá myth in what was tantamount to a form of exorcism.. She did everything she could to achieve and to have us come closer to a level of social performance that was ultimately impossible.. She was excessively idealistic.. not well prepared to accept mediocrity.. questioned each of her actions and works.. immensely frustrated when she had to acknowledge that the reality she hoped for doesn't exist."

Nlloro (Weeping), 1991

Also, the poet Franck André Jamme made several trips to India over the course of of sixteen years to find in Rajastan the tantra paintings he was looking for, so you can see a selection of them in one room at 33 Orchard.

Moorkerjee and Khanna explain “as images of primal energy yantras reveal the varying scales of reality which denote cosmos, infinity, time, space or the play of polarities.. ‘Transcending the tattvas [elements] is the Bindu' (Yamala) .." the central point that serves as “the vehicle of the mind, an area which is the meeting-ground of subject and object." Here one finds a four painting suite of The Expansion of Bindu, beginning with such a point and accumulating images left to right.


Another depicts the three gunas (luminosity, dynamism, and inertia) in differing colors; two others are ‘an exercise to identify the precise shade of color’ in groups of three, and another illustrates ‘energy traveling through, and regulating the colors of the world.’ Jamme filled a whole book with paintings he found of Shiva lingas; here there are two including one containing 'the dance of the atoms; also the alliance between Vishnu and Shiva.’ A black square with a triangle depicts Kali, the goddess of temporality about whom Ramakrishna said “You see her as black because you are far away from her. Go near and you will find her devoid of color."

Poems of Jamme's from Charles Borkhuis' translations:

' S C O R


26 October 2017

What's up for two more days and an hour or so, v. III(c)

I have been offline for four days or so, which was, as usual, pleasant. Last week-end I visited the room of Carlos Ginzburg at Henrique Faria (35 67th, 4th Fl) which I had previously seen while it was being set up.  In it, he revisits his photographs from India and Nepal from 1982 ten years after moving to Paris and embarking on an anti-travel series inspired by Lévi-Strauss' Tristes Tropiques.  Having just read Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre’s new book Enrichissement: une critique de la marchandise, also heavily influenced by Lévi-Strauss, Ginzburg applies their critique to the foundations of conceptualism, likening current intensification of producing nothing, but linking third world producers and their regional heritage to consumers to Duchamp’s creation of the readymade.

21 October 2017

What's up for six more days

My tragic case of missing Stalker in the theaters was partially compensated for yesterday evening as the new 4K restoration of The Sacrifice is at Walter Reade, thrice a day through Thursday the 26th.

As the trailer suggests this is one of the great soundtracks of film, and in addition to the music and water dripping you get the wind rustling through the vegetation of the Swedish meadow while the characters discuss philosophy, like that scene in Andrei Rublev I think of every time I see wind blowing ferns. Critics have always viewed it as a Bergman pastiche while Tarkovsky's protests on the matter (Bergman is not mentioned in reference to the film in Sculpting in Time) are earnestly stuck on his perceptions of the religious and philosophical differences between him and Ingmar.  He uses Bergman’s island (or a stand-in), Bergman’s actors, Bergman’s cinematographer and production designer (whose interiors Tarkovsky meticulously tinkered with), and Bergman’s shots and soundtrack, mostly as I recognized: Persona and Through a Glass Darkly.  The foghorns of Persona and Through a Glass Darkly are heard constantly, as in Red Desert by Antonioni, also an influence on Tarkovsky. More than Picasso reworking Manet and Velazquez this is analogous to Rouault using Gustave Moreau’s palette and studio. von Trier's Melancholia is a mercenary copy of the surface elements and plot. Tarkovsky: "The Sacrifice is a repudiation of commercial cinema.. I have no doubt that the poetry of the film is going to be a specific reality, that the truth that it touches will materialize - will affect my life. Once (one) has grasped truths of that order.. they overturn all his earlier ideas about how the world is.. Pushkin saw the capacity to look into time and predict the future as a terrible gift, and his allotted role caused him untold torment."

19 October 2017

What's up for three more days, v. XXXVII

Lonnie Holley, The Seer
When I first set foot inside the High Museum in Atlanta, I could tell there was something wrong with it.  Of course one never knows the grisly details at those moments, but they are deftly supplied in Andrew Dietz’ The Last Folk Hero, a 342 page Piri’ Miri Muli’ recommended page-turner I was able to read in one sitting. Collector Bill Arnett made the mistake of going to a dinner for a Chinese porcelain collection garnered for Atlanta society by Kissinger et al because he was freeloading at a restaurant he liked, got conned into looking at the porcelain by a potential buyer, and when he told the truth about the overvaluation and misrepresentation of the works he faced universal scorn and imminent legal threats.  Arnett got a Smithsonian director-to-be to look at selected pieces in the plaintiff’s, Charles Abrams’, company, who verified Arnett’s appraisal, was thanked and had the lawsuit dropped, but became a ‘pariah’ in the art world that surrounded the High, his donations to the High placed on his porch in crates while he was on vacation.  Today the strength of the High is precisely Arnett’s main specialization: local outsider art out of which he nurtured and represented Thornton Dial and Lonnie Holley.  A quick Google search of Arnett gets you Morley Safer’s smear piece on 60 Minutes without any rebuttals I could find save for Dietz’ book, which seeks balance and finds it imho.  Safer’s hit piece on Arnett offers nothing but the malice of a mediocre artist who made a lot of money being a mediocre TV journalist, who waxes righteous amid petty crooks that weren’t big enough to be protected by the network (the flick The Insider portrays the tip of this iceberg).  Dietz notes that Dial was bewildered by the 60 Minutes segment, as both artists have a strong relationship of trust with Arnett.

I saw the retrospective of Holley in Atlanta and a concert he gave there one evening with father and son Arnett in attendance, in which Holley’s music and keyboard was combined with soprano Jayme Alilaw.  I was skeptical of the collaboration but it worked.  I noticed a harmonious but understated relationship at the event between Holley and the Arnetts (father and son), like friends giving each other space, though I had no knowledge of their back story at the time.  The free event was somewhat crowded but most of the local audience left while Holley was performing, but Piri’ Miri Muli’ strongly recommends not passing up any opportunity to hear Holley perform, as there is no vocalist quite like him.  He is said to improvise all his performances, and I witnessed him preparing for it earlier in the day by listening to music on tape.

Holley, seventh of 27 children, reunited after a stint in reform school with his grandmother who searched scrap yards for saleable material.  He started making art out of the scrap immediately and brought works to the Birmingham Museum of Art in 1981, leading to a spot in a touring Smithsonian show. Arnett had heard of him and was reluctant to rep him, but upon visiting his residence was blown away.

I believe that one of the traps artists and writers outside NY, Paris, Berlin, etc. fall into is wanting to supply an easy explanation for their works, rather than produce something that initially eludes the audience in a way they nonetheless appreciate and sometimes revisit.  Most of the works in the Atlanta retrospective were accompanied by an stablizing description as to what they meant, often relating to character development, values, or political issues, but the ones I liked was the steel sculptures of faces interlinked in the manner of Picasso, which Holley relates to African traditions “A lot of these things I’m doing now is part of my appreciation of my ancestry..”  I said hello while he was listening to his audio recording and told him I liked these and that I liked his works that were harder to understand at first, hoping I may balance out the other feedback he gets.  He replied “Thumbs up! Thumbs up for Mother Universe!" correctly identifying me as a spirit of the universe. To my delight the Fuentes show (55 Delancey) contains several large scale steel sculptures of interlocked faces as well as wire sculptures which includes a fragile and visually pleasing model boat, all from this year.  Lonnie adds his voice to those who say in reference to the seasonal storms “we’re developing a sort of devastating development right now because of our Ozone layer” and wants the public to consider that the steel in US highways is “now rusted to pieces and it’s becoming an egg shell.”

14 October 2017

I applaud the sentiments of Michael Moore’s statement on Weinstein, as Godard touches on Howard Hughes’ antics in Histoire(s) du cinéma, among the precursors to and templates of Harvey’s fetishistic hotel suite A-List assembly line.  Not privy to what is going on with Moore’s Trump documentary which The Weinstein Company has rights to and the topics broached therein, Piri’ Miri Muli’ can nonetheless assume Michael was in a tough spot, adding to the fact that he’s performing solo on Broadway in the evenings. Weinstein had Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 on the Disney budget, and then got it out despite Disney trying to bury it.  Moore’s Trump documentary is going to get out somehow, and right-wing websites were trying to smear Moore by association. I have no idea what Harvey’s thoughts of Moore’s Fahrenheit 911 were during production, but taking a project that no studio would touch made Harvey a lot of money, and he no doubt relished having the final cut.  Seeing it on the first day in a packed suburban theater has not, so far, been forgettable for me, and the money it made was a boon to documentaries of different stripes.  Moore notes that he was the only director to sue Harvey after getting stiffed on the film, but they were able to do business again. Harvey donated to Liz Warren once, but was a big Hillary supporter, and Bernie and other progressives were nowhere in his funding radar.

My favorite films of 2000-2010 had relatively few US titles, but during the early-to-mid 90s a lot of talent was making use of Harvey’s Miramax and a lot of that was excellent.  The old intro, which I liked for some reason, triggers the memory of being in a cinema and thinking you were going to see something novel:

The films, though, were often male adolescent narratives that related self-referentially to the code of the latent or foregrounded fetish eroticism of Hollywood films. The Weinstein Company films I’ve actually watched were 2014's Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’ documentation of the Snowden leak, 2013's Art of the Steal, a necessary intervention in the Philly art scene, one Woody, and Moore’s 2007 Sicko, which had an under-credited effect on American healthcare policy. Miramax’s last good year was 2008, three years after Harvey left, with Reprise and Happy-Go-Lucky making my list but the Disney division saw a quick quantitative and qualitative drop-off of titles after that. Mind you, I am sitting down to new films but mostly foreign and a few other US indies and sometimes sporadically enough to bring forth the tragedy of missing the Criterion restoration of Tarkovsky's Stalker in the theater, but I hopefully will see it projected someday and it looks great on dvd. The timing of actresses finally turning on Harvey may be vaguely related, as a few reporters have suggested, to where Harvey is in his career and the quality of his recent output... a Tom Stoppard script turned out to be a bubble in the last straw.  I'd like to see the actresses use their platform to focus on NBCUniversal burying the story, but NBCU is still in a position to retaliate.

Ronan Farrow’s revenge against Woody and Harvey is real-life drama.  Hollywood consists of monsters and formulas.  von Stroheim’s best films and megalomania methinks tops Woody’s and I don’t know whether Eric would fare better or worse in today’s world.  Harvey appreciated the French New Wave, which was in many ways inspired by Agnes Varda’s La Pointe Courte and the lectures of Henri Langlois, who said that the quality of audiences are formed incrementally by the quality of the films they’re watching.  During the 90s some good indies, many by Harvey, would do well in the box office but after 9-11 the studio junk took over, and box office data strongly suggests the American audience similarly declined. 

It’s possible that the outcome of this drama will be that the studios and the formula will choke what’s left of independent film.  This is where my own prescription would differ slightly from Moore’s.  We will no doubt see the media conglomerates trumpeting diversity and gender balance, but the potential of a new wave of female auteurs can only be realized through a de-monopolization of the distribution companies’ control of the theaters, television, and home marketing.

07 October 2017

Carlos Raquel Rivera, Puerto Rican, Huracan del Norte, 1955

02 October 2017

..if hope were little
and poorly drawn and if the word
were not an act, those these lines
would not be a poem.

-Joan Brossa

Sardana (Circle of Feet), 1972
"It would be easy and .. unjust to all of a sudden blame the ignorance of our past on those who, born after the civil war, might have never had the possibility to know exactly our special characteristics.. Catalonia, in the words of Nicolau d' Olwer, 'has the good fortune of being at once liberal and traditionalist, because its true tradition is freedom'.. An awareness of our spirit and the fight to preserve it and set it as a guide for humanity seems to us a proper and universal mission for an artist, and a fully progressive cause.. The best artists and writers of the world - a list would be interminable - have understood and loved the Catalans and have always stood in solidarity with them." (Antoni Tàpies, 1971)

The Catalan Spirit, 1971

01 October 2017

30 September 2017

After visiting the Whitney yesterday I changed three sentences from the Oiticica post, transcribing the exact quote from the Tropicalia card:

“The Whitney’s curatorial description card for Tropicália says “Tropicalia represented a political and aesthetic position against both the social conservatism of the right and the left desire for a 'purely Brazilian' art free of postcolonial oppression," neglecting to say that the movement occurred during a US-backed military coup that caused many of its practitioners to leave the country.  Are they attempting to say Oiticica and Caetano Veloso were okay with all or some 'postcolonial oppression?' a statement that would be factually inaccurate as it is absurd.”


“Their "protest" show is a characteristically all-American affair with no references to current wars”

I seriously don’t want to ever go to that museum again.  I would like to see it turned into a chicken farm so as not to disturb the meatpacking district further.  People can pay a nominal admission to visit the chickens and lounge on the balcony eating rotisserie, and the chicken farmers will have to treat the chickens well for the gawkers. They can also have a floor for tofu production.  I thought of pigs but there are no doubt many Jewish and Muslim donors that ponied up for the building.  Then when people talk about how great Shanghai etc are, New Yorkers can say they have a chicken farm designed by Renzo Piano.

28 September 2017

What's up for three more days and an hour or so, v. XIV

Piri’ Miri Muli’ readers may know I haven’t been a fan of the Whitney, but they have this Hélio Oiticica retrospective that seems to be mostly put together by the Carnegie in Pittsburgh.  Someone’s giving me passes so the question of whether the scant gallery space found in such a large building is worth the $25 doesn’t arise, but now’s the time to go if you hadn’t seen the Hélio show in Chicago or Pittsburgh. In fact, until this show I hadn’t even been to the new Renzo Piano construction, replete as it is with balconies that afford tourists and urbanites the ability to look down on the tourists and urbanites on the High Line soon to be looking down on art/lifestyle inspired gentrification projects carving up the Meatpacking Districts.

Their "protest" show is a characteristically all-American affair with no references to current wars. On the top floor you have a circle of Calders dominated by a wine bar in which crowds of people stand around waiting for a staff member in a laboratory cloak to show up and tap a half dozen kinetic works.  Like most American art museums, the selections from the permanent collection are strongest in outsider art; the insider art appears to have been chosen by the editors of Art in America. The all-American works are joined by a George Grosz print created when he was in Germany, decrying nationalism, thus projecting the museum’s nationalism on the viewer so scolded, like when US presidents sanctimoniously bully pulpit against their own policies.

But there is this Hélio show!  I strongly recommend arriving as the museum opens, going straight up to the Hélio floor, turning right and going to the shoe removal area, then looking to the right hand side of the Eden installation for a rack of Parangolés (cape like attire made for Carnival) to wear while walking around Eden and Tropicália, installations evoking “the Dionysian space" of the Morro de Mangueira, as both are much more enjoyable with the Parangolés on.  This rack is not to be confused with the room of Parangolés with a mirror straight ahead from the entrance in which you are not to leave the room with one on, which I found out when I tried to wear a cape while lying on a hammock on Cosmococa Hendrix room (“CC5 Hendrix-War, 1973”).

The Whitney’s curatorial description card for Tropicália says “Tropicalia represented a political and aesthetic position against both the social conservatism of the right and the left desire for a 'purely Brazilian' art free of postcolonial oppression," neglecting to say that the movement occurred during a US-backed military coup that caused many of its practitioners to leave the country.  Are they attempting to say Oiticica and Caetano Veloso were okay with all or some 'postcolonial oppression?' a statement that would be factually inaccurate as it is absurd.  The American museums’ current embrace of Brazilian art and music comes during the presidency of Michel Temer, currently enjoying an approval rating of less than 3% and known by leaked documents to have been a CIA informant, who has himself stated that his predecessor’s, Dilma Rousseff’s, impeachment by corrupt senators despite the fact that the Senate’s own investigatory board found the president not guilty, as told to The Americas Society in September 2016, was a “process (that) was established which culminated with me being installed as president of the republic” because of her resistance to “widespread cuts to social programs and privatization,” and this past April confirmed Rousseff’s account that her impeachment was opened by a legislator, Eduardo Cunha, in retaliation for an investigation into his bribery by the state oil company.  During this last month of Helio’s three-venue US tour the CIA’s hand-picked president was indicted for heading Cunha’s racketeering operation.

A friend of Veloso convinced him to use the name of Oiticica’s installation for his song, which starts with the spoken word rendition of the Carta de Pero Vaz Caminha “When Pero Vas Caminha discovered that the Brazilian land was fertile and lush, he wrote a letter to the king saying that all that is planted grows and flourishes. And the Gauss of that time recorded it.” Augusto de Campos called it "our first Pau Brasil song"

Veloso said “all of that Tropicália thing was formulated inside me the day I saw Terra em transe,” Glauber Rocha’s film in which Paulo the Romantic poet and Sara the leftist revolutionary go to work for Felipe Vieira, who after being elected governor breaks his promises and is overthrown by a right-wing coup; the film was released three years after Brazil's military coup ousted liberal president Joao Goulart.

Robert Stamm wrote in 1974Terra em transe points the way to a possible political cinema which avoids the twin dead ends of a condescending populism on the one hand and an aridly theoretical reflexivity on the other.” No surer evidence of this can be found than in how the New York Times’ Roger Greenspun went to great pains to bury the film in 1970: “To a degree, the failure of "Earth Entranced" results from its unwillingness to accept the fictional logic of its melodramatic plot. But to a greater degree, that failure rests in every scene, in the development of every idea, in every decision about placing and moving the camera and composing each individual shot. Where you can sense the movie going wrong most significantly is not so much in the gratuitous complexity of the larger moments.. as in the rhetorical emptiness of the smaller moments.”

CC5 Hendrix-War here joins CC1 Trashiscapes, featuring pictures of Buñuel as well as his friend Luiz Fernando Guimarães (right) in a Parangolés which the Hirshhorn re-enacted five years ago, as the two Cosmococa rooms from the five he created during his New York years, which were all shown together twelve years ago in Rio.  A visit confirms that two are much, much better than zero, but the other three are CC2 Onobject with Mondrian-colored foam forms dedicated to Yoko Ono, CC3 Maileryn, a room full of balloons dedicated to Ms. Monroe featuring Heidegger’s What is a Thing?, and CC4, a swimming pool dedicated to John Cage’s Notations.  The ‘Block’ in the series title Block-Experiments in Cosmococa- program in progress is a stated reference to Haroldo de Campos’ book of poems Galáxias (“BLOCOS: they relinquish the defined sequence.. they even benefit from the random sequence and their shifts”), also stated is the reference to Decio Pignatari’s beba coca cola (below). “I don’t care about the the integration of the arts, I simply don’t see where there’s a difference between them.”

Even if you miss this Hélio wrote “The main point in considering an EXPERIMENTAL activity is in not limiting such an activity to its originators but of creating multiple let-outs for collective and individual participation as an experimental exercise in liberty.”  Helio financed his stay in NY those days by dealing cocaine, and his inclusion of the powder (much cheaper then) can be seen as a reference to South American kitsch akin to the parrot in Tropicália, as Quechua music included in the soundtrack evokes the sacred use of the plant, and to an object entered into consciousness on top of sight, sound, and the touch of the hammocks and nail files.. the sound of the swimming pool which he considered Cagean.  Two years before the project, he wrote to a friend from New York ‘i don’t know what is going on here, but there is such a bourgeois art scene, conformism and reactionarism going on, unbelievable’ and upon returning to Brazil he managed to quit the blow.

As the autumn months are upon us, I shall return to this space soon to note this, that, this, that, this, that, this, that, this, that, this, that, and the other things.


Blessings this Durga Puja

04 September 2017

Just as matter cannot be added to or subtracted from the universe, or energy destroyed, so with something real, that is, real in the sense you understand it and understand it. When will you realize that your dreams have eternal life? I of course don’t mean that you are a moonstruck dreamer, but that they do exist, outside of you, without your having to do anything about it. Even if you do something it won’t matter. And it is possible that you will always remain unaware of their existence; this wont matter either, to them, that is. But you must try to seize the truth of this: whatever was, is, and must be. The darkness that surrounds you now does not exist, because it never had any independent existence: you created it out of the spleen and torment you felt. It looks real enough to hide you from the light of the sun, but its reality is as specious as that and a mirage. The clouds are dispersing. And nothing comes to take their place, to interpose itself between you and the reality which you dreamed and is therefore real. This new arrangement is already guiding your steps and indicating the direction you should take without your realizing it, for it is invisible now; it still seems that it is lost for there is of course no tangible evidence of it: that happens only once, it is true. But now to have absorbed the lesson, to have recovered from the shock of not being able to remember it, to again be setting out from the beginning - is this not something good to you? You no longer have to remember the principles, they seem to come to you like fragments of a buried language you once knew. You are like the prince in the fairy tale before whom the impenetrable forest opened and then the gates of the castle, without his knowing why. The one thing you want is to pause so as to puzzle this all out, but that is impossible; you are moving much too quickly for your momentum to be halted. How will it all turn out? What will the end be? But these are questions of the ignorant novice which you have forgotten about already. You think now only in terms of the speed with which you advance, and which you drink in like oxygen; it has become the element in which you live and which is you. Nothing else matters.

(John Ashbery, from The System, 1972)

17 August 2017

’t ch
ange his
tory eye
can f

et eye
d po

can’t re
ty th wake

n'd im
her eye

24 June 2017

I don't like to have too many videos embedded to slow the download, but it's Terry Riley's birthday..

..also the news of Mills College's decision to deal with their administration's fiscal mismanagement by reportedly canceling the remaining two years on Roscoe Mitchell's tenure contract forces yet another upload in this space..

Mills Music Center Chair Chris Brown posted this month: "effective this July. I am requesting that letters of protest for this action, and support for Roscoe in his position at Mills be sent to the following administrators as soon as possible":
Beth Hillman, President of Mills College email: ebeth@mills.edu
Chinyere Oparah, Dean of Faculty email: jcoparah@mills.edu
Katie Sanborn, Chair of the Board of Trustees email: ksanborn@mills.edu

What's up for one more day..

Georgina Keenan at Issyra Gallery, 300 Observer Highway, Hoboken, is entering its last day (Sunday, gallery opens around 3pm; (917) 922-2690) but rumor has it there will be a similar show there in October. I saw it rather late in the run and have been busy, but wish I had posted earlier as she not only my sister, but quite a wonderful, emotionally supportive sister, so I am quite biased. There is a picture of me at the age of two and two thirds beaming in joy when she was brought back from the hospital and my position remains unchanged.

Her take on the Tantric mandala is to make mandalas and rose windows out of Playboy centerfolds that have succumbed to her hole puncher.  Also on display are at least two of her embroidered gloves, mixed in with the work of Senagalese painter/ gallerist Issa Sow.  I saw the show after zigzagging Chelsea and witnessed the opposite of a drop-off, most impressed by both artists. 

Her husband the bassist Dan Cuddy’s songwriting saw an uptick of notoriety two years ago when Yo La Tengo included “the gliding, roomy cover of the obscure “Automatic Doom” (by their psychedelic Hoboken friends the Special Pillow)" (Spin) on their Stuff Like That There cover album to go with compositions by Hank Williams, Sun Ra and The Lovin’ Spoonful.  There was a wonderful performance on the CBS site from a broadcast on This Morning, recorded and filmed by people who do that sort of thing for a living, but I can’t find it now and am left with someone who turned on their phone at Loew's Jersey Theater..

Also I found at least two DIY internet covers, of which this one is noteworthy..

Is there an automatic doom that's waiting for you?
Can there already be a bullet with your name emblazoned boldly?
As you lead your life with anxious and repetitive behavior
Automatic doom

Is there a magic floating chalice waiting for you?
And would you be depressed if you determined that your quest is over
And you lead your life with anxious and repetitive behavior
Automatic doom

Is there a crystal cosmic sparrow floating away?
Is there a neo-pterodactyl coming to prey?
Are you prepared to see the bad things that you say emblazoned boldly
In gold letters on your tomb?

12 June 2017

Lorca's birthday was last week, and..

..I had found a live clip of Morente’s 'Campanas por el poeta' with the Bulgarian Voices, then it was taken down, since then someone uploaded it anew

along with 'Cantar del Alma' which occurs earlier in the Lorca album, so you may want to listen to it first if you have time for both.

08 June 2017

02 June 2017

Xenakis' birthday was Monday

I have stopped taking an iPod around as I am trying to preserve my ear drums. One area of concern was my affection for La Légende d'Eer, which I especially enjoyed in public places.  

The five quotations included by Xenakis in the original program:

Each group would spend seven days in open country, and on the eighth, they had to break camp and head out for four days to finally reach a place where one discovers, stretching all across the sky and over the earth, a beam of light straight as a pillar, akin to a rainbow, but much more radiant and pure. – Plato, The Republic

note: The first quote is the source of the title Xenakis chose for the musical component of the Diatope.  It concerns a soldier named Er who returns from the dead and describes what he saw on the other side.  The vision culminates with Er’s sighting of the "Spindle of Necessity,” a great shaft encircled with eight rings representing the eight celestial spheres known to ancient astronomy.  On each ring is perched a siren singing a tone corresponding to the circumference of its orbit and together forming a cosmic harmony.  Seated on thrones amidst the sirens are the three Fates, or “daughters of necessity,” who accompany with their voices the harmony of the sirens: Lachesis, singing of the past, Clotho of the present, and Atropos of the future.

From there emerged a crying out, indistinct, one I likened to a voice of fire,  just as there emerged from the light…a holy Word blanketing all of Nature, and the purest of fire was thrust out of the humid natural world toward the sublime area above. – Hermes Trismegistus, Pymander

For indeed, what is man within nature?  A void in the face of infinity, a whole before the void, a center between nothingness and wholeness…unable to perceive the void from whence he came, nor the infinity in which he is submerged. – Blaise Pascal, Pensées

Christ went on: “I traversed the worlds, I ascended into the suns, and soared with the Milky Ways through the wastes of heaven; but there is no God. I descended to the last reaches of the shadows of Being, and I looked into the chasm and cried: ‘Father, where art thou?’ But I heard only the eternal storm ruled by none, and the shimmering rainbow of essence stood without sun to create it, trickling above the abyss. – Jean-Paul Richter, Siebenkäs

In the first stages of the explosion, the general distribution of the star’s energy closely matches the distribution known for theoretical black holes at a temperature of 12,000 degrees Kelvin.  In the case of SN 1970g the radius was measured at 3x1014 centimeters, in other words, as large as the orbit of Uranus.  Once the supernova’s radius is known, it is possible to determine its absolute luminosity.  For SN 1970g, this was calculated at 1042 ergs per second, or one trillion times that of the sun…  During the 30 days following the explosion, the radius of the surface from which the light was emitted increases at a near-constant speed of 5,000 kilometers per second.  At the end of this period, the star’s photosphere, in other words, its visible surface, reaches a radius of 2x1018 centimeters, a much larger radius than that of our solar system. – Robert P. Kirshner, Supernova

25 May 2017

Mickey Roker 1932-2017

I have fond memories of Mickey Roker and the house band, as the heyday of Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus suited some suburbanites for whether in the old city for an ‘art’ film unavailable on the Jersey side or not the location was more easily driven to from elsewhere in town, hard to get confused by ‘get on Third Street til you see it’ after which an employee guarded the cars in the parking lot before much gentrification in the area.  In those days I recall remarking to the proprietor of Serengeti in Pennsauken, NJ amid its demise ‘I’m not going to say South Jersey does not deserve a jazz club..’ at which time he interjected ‘I’ll say it!! South Jersey does not deserve a jazz club!!’  I was still drinking beer and there was hard bop coming from those who grew up in it.

14 May 2017

What's up

In one of her most powerful works, Regina José Galindo responds to the May, 2013 acquittal of Efraín Ríos Montt of whom “in his first six months in power, 2,600 Indians and peasants were massacred, while during his 17-month reign, more than 400 villages were brutally wiped off the map” (Blum) and as Allan Nairn reports “made systematic the massacres that were taking place in the countryside..  where, at that time, the majority of the Mayan population was concentrated” and whose conviction for an 80 year sentence ten days earlier was “pushed” by “the Mayan population.” As Goya’s “Bury Them And Keep Quiet"from Disasters of War represents “cadavers.. unclothed.. their classical presentation with accentuated foreshortening contrasts ideal beauty with the tragedy of death” so Galindo characteristically lends hers in a rural field in the Pays-de-la-Loire region of France until an excavator removes a square of earth around her, symbolically opening the mass graves and externalizing the alienating effect of injustice on her. 540 West 28th Street til May 27.

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Farmacopea, 2013. from suelta suelta on Vimeo.

Nancy Spero’s War Series at 528 w26th til June 17 was not shown together during the period she created them, the late 60s and early 70s, in NYC until a small gallery hung them in 1983. The works collected here involve war as a corporeal experience but emphasizes the mechanized attack on the body in Vietnam with drawings of bombs and helicopters, which she tried to depict from the perspective of the victims, likely influenced by Artaud’s premonition of drone warfare in To Have Done With the Judgment of God “..Huge armies of tanks, airplanes, battleships/ that served as their shield..” as the series preceded the Artaud paintings and Codex Artaud. Included is Female Bomb, allegorizing female encouragement of war, and a large scale installation of the Maypole which revisited the series during the Iraq War.  Also a month before Puerto Rico’s fifth plebiscite on its political status, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz presents two paintings by Elizam Escobar, jailed in the US for alleged bomb threats on behalf of independence with her videos (not the one above) including one of a woman’s Voudou dance casting a spell for the “total and absolute destruction of the machinery of war,” Taíno objects and an early Ana Mendieta film at the Museo del Barrio til May 15.

Kiefer, watercolor, 2013
21st St: If my post from three years ago “The the Île-de-France inspires a war with Van Gogh, whom Artaud called ‘bodily the battlefield of.. the problem of the predominance of flesh over spirit, or of body over flesh, or of spirit over both..’ with Monet near by. Provence gets you Van Gogh and Cezanne: Picasso holed himself up there to do battle with Manet and Velazquez; Kiefer ties the landscape in to controversial aspects of German history" assigned to Anselm Kiefer a relatively limited function, also in relation to the “painterly focus on nature (that) helped revitalize figurative painting" I noted earlier that year, he has traversed those limits in dramatic fashion with perhaps his best show ever, til July 14 at no. 522.  Eric Fischl’s evokes Trump-era “Late America” at 550 til June 24. At 521 til June 10 I presume Martin Boyce photographic series “Partial Eclipse” was an homage to the final sequence of L’Eclisse, as the Antonioni influence has been suggested before and both Boyce and Antonioni have cited the influence of de Chirico. Antonioni followed de Chirico in lending his own neurosis to the cityscape while Boyce’s images come off more strictly referential.

Untitled (Ritual)
Raymond Pettibon used the 19th St. Zwirner gallery as a studio to supply new works for the fourth floor of the New Museum show, and ‘got an extension’ from the original opening date for this show, which turned out to be one of his best as well, til June 24.  24th: Robert Longo at 519 til June 17, Gerhard Demetz at 524 til June 3, Ray Johnson at 523 til June 17.  Lygia Clark at 531 is all Concretist.  Also on 26th, two floors of Henry Moore with views from two decks on the 10th floor, 521 26th til June 30. At 526 W 26th, Suite 718 Walther takes up Chinese performance photos including Ai Weiwei dropping a Han Dynasty urn "praised as an ironic commentary on the nationwide destruction of China's cultural heritage during the country's economic boom" but as with Yves Klein throwing gold in the Seine and people selling their feces, I see this as braggadocio about one’s own prices, much as I respect the courage of his activism in China. The Ethiopain Elias Sime's recent works from electronic waste exported to Africa (til June 17 at 533 26th).  Magnan Metz at 521 has four Mendives in the back. Leonora Carrington steals both current Surrealism group shows: The Artist Traveling Incognito (1949) at 568 25th til June 17 and The Garden of Paracelsus (1957) and 1964's Untitled (Ritual) at 744 Madison Avenue, 3rd fl. til June 2.

Loos' plan for his grave
A reenactment of Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley’s 1992 installation Heidi, Midlife Crisis Trauma Center and Negative Media-Engram Abreaction Zone, originally made for a group show in Vienna when McCarthy was 46 and Kelly 36, is up til June 30 at 76 Grand St., including the chalet, a large Austrian landscape by each artist, kitsch Austrian postcards, two installation tables, and the hour-long film featuring at one point a voice over of the architect Adolph Loos' writings “The modern man who tattoos himself is a criminal or a degenerate. There are prisons in which eighty per cent of the prisoners are tattooed. Tattooed men who are not behind bars are either latent criminals or degenerate aristocrats. If someone who is tattooed dies in freedom, then he does so a few years before he would have committed murder. The urge to decorate one's face and everything in reach is the origin of the graphic arts. It is the babbling of painting. All art is erotic... But the man of our own times who covers the walls with erotic images from an inner compulsion is a criminal or a degenerate... I thought I was giving the world a new source of pleasure with this; it did not thank me for it. People were sad and despondent. What oppressed them was the realization that no new ornament could be created” with the visuals of Loos’ design for his own cube-shaped grave being drawn onto the right buttock of a Heidi mannequin.

Satyajit Ray wrote "it was probably the partition that brought (Henri Cartier-Bresson) to India, but he soon found himself confronted by a second political event - the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.." a floor of the Rubin is devoted to selections from Henri Cartier-Bresson's India pix til Sept 4 including the three famous shots of the Kurukshetra refugee camp are here (I, II, III) and the Punjabi refugees in transit.  Absent is the group shot at the table of  “Kashmir. Srinagar. July 1948. Sheik ABDULLAH, Prime minister of Kashmir since the Maharajah ceded the territory to India, puts improvement of the lot of the poor Kashmir natives above religious differences. Although he is a Moslem, he stands for friendship with Nehru's India. Here (in sheepskin hat) he talks to members of the UN Commission sent to investigate the position in Kashmir,” who officiated the marriage of Alys and Faiz Ahmed Faiz in 1941. They feel the need to qualify the deifying exuberance of Henri's note “While Sri Ramana Maharshi is dying in his last incarnation, and thus becoming a god, his favorite peacock (the gift of a rajah) strolls the ground of his last earthly home" and separate the shot from another of his mourners, (three related pix elsewhere) but you can't make everyone happy, and there are plenty of original prints of viewers' favorites here like the dawn prayer in Srinigar, the Jaipuri carpet maker "telling the children in a chant what colors to use,"  "Great care of all sarts of diseases," and the various 1966 classics from Ahmedabad (above right).  Y. G. Srimati sang bhajans by Gandhi's side as a teenager and her contemporary takes on Hindu tantric iconography are at the Met til June 18.  Jyoti Bhatt is also well known for photographs of rural Indian life, but it's his paintings and prints that highlight DAG Modern's selections from the Group 1890 (41 e57th 7th fl. til May 31), which didn't stay together long, including a late 1970s print that seems to be both a parody and encouragement of cultural pilgrimage to India:

Jyoti Bhatt, Beginning of the Journey, Etching, 1978

Last but not least, Acquavella has reunited all but one of the twenty-three Constellations of Miró (18 e 79th, til May 26, one owner backed out at the last minute) and seeing the originals in a group is essential by all meanings of the word, including that this is one of art history’s supreme attempts to represent essence, “the floodgates from which spurt, all one bound, love and liberty.” (Breton) Speculation on why Miró went to Fascist-controlled Mallorca in 1940 with ten gouaches for reference that he could have left with his dealer and a stack of paper mirrors the writer: the family man says he went for the family (so say the curators); the cynic (like Paul Hammond, in an exceptional essay introducing his translations), the Romantic, the nature lover, the mystic, the Catalan nationalist, the accusatory Marxist/ anarchist, etc. all recite their respective explanations.  As is often the case, I find Tàpies most persuasive: “Against a universe created and controlled by God, Miró offered us the continuous, changing, and infinite flux of nature. Against immutable laws, he offered us the spontaneous rhythm and ebb-and-flow of the waves of the living world. Against all that was closed and filled with taboos, he offered us clear open spaces. Against the monstrous pride of the powerful, he showed that we are all equal because we are all made of the same flames of stars.  To the dispossessed he showed that the whole richness of the universe was in them. For things to grow and get better he told us that love ought to impregnate all. What we had been sold as sin, perversions, and weakness of the flesh, he told us was often something beautiful, as great and powerful as the forces that rule the pull of constellations. He told us that we had to return to the search for purity and innocence of the first day; that we had to find again the unpolluted source if we were not to lose ourselves within a pretentious, spurious, and mendacious society; that life was struggle and above all renewal; that, under the axis of the Mediterranean sun, self-assured good sense had to be balanced with a healthy and irrational pagan exaltation...

“Joan Brossa.. said back then.. ‘Let’s step out of the corners! If this curtain falls again, nothing in art will receive any light and everything will darken at the high level of art, amid boulders.. NOW we sense Miró’s triumph. He has fully awoken to the highest reality..’”


Hammond notes the books he had in Mallorca were ‘Saint John of the Cross, Rimbaud, Hölderlin, Saint-Pol-Roux,’ and that he wrote in his notebooks he wanted ‘Apuleius, Shelley, Carroll, Engels, Jarry, Peret,’ and that “it appears that Miró arrived late at Constellations as his generic title for the series. It is something of a misnomer; or rather, another overarching image might have been used, something invoking water or effervescence perhaps.” This suggests Rimbaud‘s “Elle est retrouvée. Quoi ? - L'Eternité. C'est la mer allée/ Avec le soleil// Ame sentinelle,/ Murmurons l'aveu/ De la nuit si nulle/ Et du jour en feu.//Des humains suffrages,/ Des communs élans/ Là tu te dégages/  Et voles selon.” may have influenced the spirit of the content.  Hammond says there is no indication that Miró sketched the works first.

This would have been a much better show if André Breton’s poems were included, to replicate the historic presentation of both at Galerie Berggruen, Paris in 1959.  I tried to pretend that there was something to be said for the works to stand alone, but the second time I saw the show I was torturing myself trying to remember lines from the poems. Guston managed to get Clark Coolidge’s poems into the Morgan by putting them in the drawings (pdf), but in this case Breton’s poems were written 17 years after the paintings were finished.  I will limit myself to two of Hammond's translations:

Morning Star

It says to the shepherd: "Come closer. It is I who used to draw you as a child to those deep caves where the receding sea docks the eggs of storms that the wreck, with its myriad lowered eyelids, polishes. In the unique oblique light, as the hand is laid on the superb fossils lying by the road that seeks itself in the dynamited mountain, you burned to see spurt up the rib of a coffer of ancient handiwork that might contain (it's no problem to force it) all that is blinding in the world and that streams forth. I give it to you because it's you just as each day is so that your furrows warble and that, more flattered than all the rest, your companion might smile when finding you once more."

The Beautiful Bird Revealing the Unknown to a Pair of Lovers

The benches of the outer boulevards cave in with time under the embrace of lianas softly lit up with lovely eyes and lips. While to us they appear free and easy those ardent flowers continue to flutter around and melt into each other. They traduce in concrete terms the adage of the mythographers that gravitational attraction is a characteristic of space and carnal attraction the daughter of this characteristic but which altogether omits to mention that it is up to the daughter to dress the mother for the ball. One breath is all it takes to liberate those myriad egrets bearing achenes. Between their flying up and coming back down along the endless curve of desire all the signs encompassed by the celestial score are written down.

12 April 2017

10 April 2017

What's up for six more days..

Two excellent, politically charged shows ending this week in Chelsea, and one recently opened: Sue Williams at no. 555 w21st is the one of the three reacting to Trump’s inauguration but though she titled a 2016 canvas (not in the show) “Trump Not Funny,” the works here don’t directly reference him or cast him as a regrettable aberration from a peaceful norm but rather chronicle her emotional relation to the norm, with a large canvas bearing the inscription “All Roads Lead to Langley” (below, words at bottom)

and a five part series i. Revere, ii. 2 Horses, iii. Curtain, iv. Ronald Reagan & William Casey, v. ...Sat There Weeping, Weeping...

iv. Ronald Reagan & William Casey

Down 21st Albert Oehlen is using the large Gagosian space for an ATM with large, identical canvases (like Schnabel's recent show at Pace) but get up to 568 West 25th as also ending are four large paintings and other works by Shiva Ahmadi, who grew up in Iran around ‘kitsch’ Persian miniatures she hated but turned to the medium in American art school after the Iraq War invasion. Her works depict Middle Eastern hero worship but convey the playfulness of human life stained with blood.. monkeys symbolizing figures that beckon the political or religious leader with balloons that become bombs.  Also here is one of her first forays into animating the monkeys and balloons.

Shiva Ahmadi, The Mesh, 2016

Up til May 13 at 515 w27th is a series of three Max Ernst sculptures from 1967 he titled Big Brother: Teaching Staff for a School of Murderers which contains Big Brother, Séraphine Cherubin and Séraphin le Néophyte, like Ahmadi conveying a distressing social order.  Down at 300 Broome in a group show there's examples of different phases of Roy De Forest's "Nut Art" through this week..

Roy De Forest, Untitled, 1978

Two worthwhile shows in the Upper East Side are ending this week: (1) a collage group show at 64 e77th including two enjoyable Picassos from 1916-18, a copy of Ernst’s La femme 100 têtes, and a cleverly made Cindy Sherman film; (2) a recreation of Agnès Varda’s exhibition of photos before she made La Pointe Courte, as well as several videos of hers and assorted Vardanalia at 19 e66th, Near the Varda is early Mimmo Rotella at 130 e64th. I haven't seen Lygia Pape at Met Breuer yet but that's there.

The show of twelve Tàpies paintings at 980 Madison 3rd floor til April 22 is quite a good selection from mostly after Franco died and his works became more contemplative - I like all his periods but he entered a visionary phase from the late 1980s on.  Though I haven’t blogged about him much, Tàpies is my favorite post-WW2 painter.  Perhaps I will type more about these, but you get that I think you should see this.

Antoni Tàpies, Jo Parlo amb la Mà (I Speak to the Hand), 1999

Also Werner’s presentation of early Jorg Immendorff is a once in a lifetime insight into the development of one of the most influential post-war artists.  Here again I may type more, but this show demonstrates that in addition to his later works' influence on Neo Rauch, he gave his teacher Beuys the idea for chalkboard works.  Though the Beuys-formed German Student Party at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf had already taken up changing admissions policies, Immendorf’s neo-Dada 'LIDL' action in December of 1968 in which he created a cardboard classroom encouraged Beuys while getting them in further hot water with the administration, after which Beuys allowed all rejected students into his class which led to his dismissal two years later, 4 e77th til May 13.