the ARTistry of ARThistory occasionally done ARTfully

Archive for October, 2007

Sydney Street Art

Posted by gninja on October 24, 2007


A nice and short glimpse at some Sydney street art, narrated by curator Chris Tamm.

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Review of “Newsroom 1986 – 2000”: What Is Roberta Smith Going on About?

Posted by gninja on October 20, 2007

At the Mary Boone Gallery now is an exhibition that sounds, well, very good.  In Newsroom: 1986 – 2000, artist Aleksandra Mir turns the gallery into her own newsdesk, churning out on a daily basis repurposed headlines and spreads that showed up in local papers from the above-mentioned years.


In the words of Mir herself:

News becomes history as soon as it is reported. What fascinates me in talking about history is the paradoxical movement backwards while obviously propelling ahead with a story into the future. The 15-year time period covered in this show is of a recent past, a past that still unites many New Yorkers in recognition of a city at once familiar and long gone.

The NYC tabloids New York Daily News and New York Post serve as practical tools that unite the population around shared joys and fears; they help spread the city’s gossip and form its identity. Whether one buys them or not, a glance at the headlines while passing by a deli or waiting for a bus is enough to be connected to the diverse masses that make up their readership. Never mind if what is reported is mostly disaster or scandal. In retrospect, news before 9/11/2001 makes this megalopolis look like a quaint town full of petty crooks, with this accident or that occasional murder resulting in the loss of a single life. A rape in Central Park and a love triangle on Long Island were the two longest running news stories of New York in the 15 years leading up to the end of the millennium.  

By remediating these printed works as hand-crafted images, Mir imbues the original with the heavily (and heavily-apparent) subjective that is often so ignored by readers of the original.  Everything about the process and product of Mir’s work serves to accentuate what is the true method of newsmaking, allowing its hypermediation here to serve as the primary commentary on it and indictment against it.

And, yet, this all seems to be beyond critic Roberta Smith’s point of tolerance:

I’m all for artistic license, but this may be may be taking a few too many liberties with our memories, or, failing that, the front-page form. After “Money,” Ms. Mir hopes to show series on food poisoning and on AIDS and then end the exhibition next Saturday on a high note: sports triumphs.

Oh, good, I’m glad to see that the leading art critic for the NY Times is “all for artistic license.”  So pleased she fulfilled that prerequisite.  And it doesn’t seem to be a mite unusual at all that a woman writing for a newspaper might feel threatened by a critique on the medium through which she speaks.

Horror!  Gasp!  Scandal!


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An Exhibition So Big It Can’t Happen Again

Posted by gninja on October 18, 2007


(Michelangelo’s Manchester Madonna)

This sounds like the coolest thing… ever.  At the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857, an astonishing 16,272 works were assembled for a mass audience.  16,272.  All works were gathered from the private collections of very wealthy individuals and placed in display.

According to the journalist who wrote the piece:

This, then, is Manchester’s legacy. A century and a half ago, a few far-sighted wealthy individuals coaxed a lot of other wealthy individuals into letting the masses get a look at their priceless art. Having given it the once-over, the people decided that great art was simply too precious to be hidden away for the rich, and in a fairer world would just have to be shared with the rest of the nation.

Sounds like a little too touchy-feely a conclusion to me.  Especially after mentioning:

The organisers had, it was true, decided to base their event in the leafy surrounds of Old Trafford, well away from the belching chimneys of the city centre, but that was hardly the point. It was one thing for better-off folk in the shires to enjoy artistic treasures, far from the grime and sweat of the factory floor, but quite another to start introducing it to the impoverished masses. (And they were definitely impoverished: life expectancy in Manchester at the time was just 26, the lowest of anywhere in the UK. It was not uncommon for mill workers to live 12 to a room.)

So, when it was all over, with the glass palace dismantled and the artworks taken down, art historians – as snobbish a bunch, some of them, as the southern toffs – tried their best to forget it had ever happened.

Mostly I mention the article because 1) I would give quite a lot to have seen that exhibition and 2) with prices for museums (at least here in NY) like the MOMA, Guggenheim, and The Frick being so high, I wonder how public art really is.  Sure, moreso than when it was almost exclusively in the hands of private collectors, but certainly not as much as we like to tell ourselves it is.

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Shibboleth at the Tate Modern

Posted by gninja on October 11, 2007


A giant crack in the floor as the Tate Modern’s newest installation, by Columbian sculptor Doris Salcedo.

Quoted in the Guardian:

A spokeswoman for the Tate says firmly that it will never divulge how the piece – the eighth in its annual Unilever series of works commissioned specially for the Turbine Hall – was made. “The artist and Tate are not going into great detail other than to say we opened up the Turbine Hall floor in order to create a cavity,” a spokeswoman says. “The work was made with utmost precision according to drawings by the artist, and nothing was accidental.

I think this secrecy is great.  It challenges the viewer to question the artifice of the piece and focus instead on the natural world dominating the very domain of artifice.  This is what the Tate would look like in The World Without Us.

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Apparently Images of Sex Are New in London

Posted by gninja on October 10, 2007

 From The Guardian:

That means, come Friday, the first ever mainstream exhibition devoted to sex will be unleashed upon an unsuspecting British public. 

And what an unsuspecting public they are!



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