Poetic Responses: Fay Ray's "I Am The House" @ Shulamit Nazarian In Los Angeles

fay ray pearls.jpg

text by Claressinka Anderson
 

I

How to be of a structure –
to inhabit it in your bones,
your skin,
to live with it in the murky
blackness of a concealed post and beam?

Hanging a cross around my neck,
I press my naked body against the X of a window frame,
place between my legs the harvested corn from your garden,
remember the women before me,
this kitchen,
their feet
stoic on unstable ground.

Their eyes sliced open –

an eye for an eye –

for an egg­­.


II

Chain and hook my body,
tether it to the walls,
to the bed where I sleep and

dream of tiny hands,

of a body that doesn’t know birth,
of a mouth that eats pearls for breakfast –

tiny iridescent moons
that deliver calcium for a skeleton.

I lick the surface of a shell,
place my tongue at the edge of its
salt     smooth     pink
and listen for butterflies.

And in that shell I do not hear the sea,
but the quiet desert
full of sand and stars.


III

Tonight for dinner there is corn –
kernels of metallic memories,
they float into the wonder of a sky
where light itself is a wormhole
gobbling confessions.

Delicious secrets in an
attic full of mercy,
concealed by
a pull down staircase,
I place my foot on its tender rungs,
ascend each ligament one by one,
all the way up
to drink with the moon –


I am, I whisper, 

I am

I am

I am.

Poetic Responses: Friedrich Kunath @ Blum & Poe

IMG_3605.JPG

text by Claressinka Anderson

 

I

You write my thoughts on the sea,
through a door filled with black rainbows -
I chase them across the waves,
grasping for their curved,
downy arms.

Arms that cup my face and
pull me down on a bed of memories.
Weaving their tales of longing
with painted fingers,
they place their hands in
melancholy pockets.

What is the smell of regret?
A little like salt and aniseed,
a little like Heathcliff sailing
on a Turner sea.

He follows regret
to the cliffs of Big Sur,
where Casper’s Wanderer waits
above the Sea of Fog,
an amethyst Buddha at his feet.

Together, they sit and cry on a shrine
of forgotten sentences -
in their tears the shape of a
country lost,
no longer theirs.

They watch the clouds pass through time –
a white head of curls
glowing through a dazzling sky.
Somewhere, on the shores of Venice, California,
Hamlet still longs for Ophelia.

II

Searching for a history
that doesn't exist here,
I play the piano to my shadow
until we both disappear.

Slipping into sheets of paint,
I look for my past and
hold it close,
entwine my legs with its awkward shape.
In a large bed,
loneliness can be so seductive.

Dressed up for the masquerade,
so dashing in your velvet suit -
everyone wants to dance only with you.
I give you my hand, but you are already goodbye,
there is always something to leave behind -
and tonight,
you leave a sock for me.

Sunshine doesn’t belong in a jar of secrets -
in my world,
everyone cries and laughs at their own absurdity.
Here, we are forced to love our fate,
sugar cones and sun rays
doorways and letters,
words hiding in a cloud.

When I left, you asked if you could come too.

And in that blackness there is only feeling,
in that blackness,
there is only dust.

 

Poetic Responses: Analia Saban @ Sprüth Magers

text by Claressinka Anderson Pugliese

 

Her fabric ensnares you
in this velvet house
of skin,
of blackness.
She is trickster,
moving towards a
beguiling destruction,
steady with restraint -
a dancer poised for collapse,
each perfect limb folding in on itself.

She wears a corset of cement,
her pointed toe balanced on a spider web of stone,
inching delicately across the tight rope.
Ascending the stairs,
she showers in the bathroom,
a hair woven through luminous skin.
A boundary here,
between what is seen and not seen –
a pulsing body wrapped in burnt paper,
glowing on black waves.

Outside her window there is only night.

You cannot enter,
(come in)
touch her and you’ll find she’s smooth,
run your finger along her origami moon,
caress her absent cheek.
A folded sphere -
is there such a thing?
Perhaps you will find it here,
setting over a draped horizon.

 

Minimalism –
such beauty breaks the heart a little.

Poetic Responses: Mai-Thu Perret At David Kordansky Gallery

text by Claressinka Anderson Pugliese

 

I have no face –
a target for my blood
or the history of
(candy guns and)
art,
to suck and lick.

My clothes pristine
for this face off –
hold the gun to my head,
march the valley,
cut a diamond
on this wicker warrior.

My body, my work –
the ceramic sheath of it,
the stones that birth
a perfect fight,
are smashed smooth,
crumbled,
reborn beneath
the weight of white.

Stand proud oh
Adam, oh Eve –
pull me up from the well.
You are unheimlich,
incessant,
painting in these
veins of clay.

Follow the way of words,
stepping from letter to letter –
soft to hard,
glazing a wave,
a hole -
fingers in and of
the texture of a sentence.    

You are fired skin
(obliterate)
and polished calf,
you are stones of red, of silver,
of black.

You are sinews woven in a thread of hair,
a handful of clay,
an indentation of bullets,
of fingers.

There is no formalist blanket
in your sky of frothy stars –
you are beauty,
(fighter)
you are guerilla,
(celestial)
you are moon clouds,
(watching)
you are blue, blue, blue.

10 Magical Objects From The Enigmatic Mind of Architect and Designer François Dallegret

Text by Keely Shinners

Design is important because it reinvigorates our everyday objects with new life. A good designer does not just make a bed; he makes a bed into a crucifix made out of sot polyurethane. A good architect does not just redesign a basement; he turns the basement into a drugstore/nightclub. We are speaking of the multi-talented architect and artist François Dallegret. The French-born, Montreal-based designer studied architecture at the famous Beaux-Arts in Paris before he tired of their strict, conformist imaginations of what spaces and objects might look like. Since the 60s, Dallegret has been experimenting with futuristic and imaginative concepts and materials, creating multifunctional furniture, strange machines, walking cakes, jumping spheres, electrical and inflated garments, and more. On the occasion of the architect's latest exhibition in Los Angeles, here are ten of his most whimsical and fantastic creations:

1. LIT CROIX

Dallegret made the "Cross Bed" in 1977 out of soft polyurethane plastic material as part of a series for his creative company God & Co. 

2. LE DRUG, A PHARMACY/NIGHTCLUB

After becoming bored of the conformist Parisian architecture scene of the early sixties, Dallegret left for New York and then onto Montreal. There, the owners of a chain of pharmacies commissioned a young Dallegret to design and build a café-bar underneath one of their stores. For Le Drug, Dallegret enveloped the harsh solidity of the basement walls with a surreal, white plastic overcoat, creating the illusion of a single, continuous surface throughout. The project was dismantled after two years for the expense of its maintenance; one can only wash the black scuffs off an all-white plastic dance floor for so long.  

3. LE CHAISSE RESSORT

Despite its rigid and static visage, the Chaise Ressort is immaculately designed to react and adjust to the sitter's weight and posture. To lie in the Ressort ("spring" en français) is to feel weightless, "like an astronaut in a lunar module." 

4. COSTUMES FOR A TV WESTERN

Dallegret served as the art director and designer for the short-lived  "2020 West," a comedy-adventure about a man who roams a futuristic American West. Dallegret, in charge of set design, costumes, and presentation photography, created a strange, half-nostalgic, half-science fiction world, "rich, alive, and animated." Production for the television program was never finished.

5. LA CHAISE ENCEINTE

The "Pregnant Chair" was made in Montreal in 1965, and was recently exhibited for its whimsy and innovation at the Architectural Association Gallery in London. 

6. COURBE FRANÇAISE

 

The "French Curve" reflects the shape and design of the Stade de Taillibert, as well as le Mât, constructed just before the Olympics in 1976, and is perhaps a commentary on the exponential costs of those architectural feats.

7. PLOOK

Out of a chromed plastic helmet, metal pipes, corks, and a motor, a 27-year-old Dallgret created this strange machine/toy to walk in slow, turtle-like fashion across the room, simply by a twist of the button on its back. 

8. THIS COMMUNICATION DEVICE

The Atomiseur is a mold for a flag mast cap in solidified glass powder, becoming a simulation device for idealizing communication

9. KIIK, A STRESS REDUCTION HAND PILL

The advertisement for "Kiik" reads, "KiiK is a unique, functional product to help cure body discomforts and mind obsessions. This hand pill is recommended for breaking all habits ‘bad or good.' Use it to stop smoking or start drinking." KiiK was a prototype by  Dallegret for one of three 17 foot long elements in a project for a children’s playground at the University of Chicago for architect Walter Netsch.

10. TUBULA, A RACECAR MADE OF AIR DUCTS

Tubula is an "Automobile Immobile" made from aluminum tubing found in air ducts, slipped together. The "automobiles" came in blue, silver, and gold. 


François Dallegret's "The World Upside Down" will be on view from May 19th-June 26th at WUHO (Woodbury University Architecture) at 6518 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles. Text by Keely Shinners. Follow @AUTREMAGAZINE on Instagram. 


Jeffrey Deitch On Artist Tom Sachs

text by Jeffrey Deitch

 

         “How did these get here!?” I was shocked to see a pile of stickers on my gallery reception desk in the Spring of 1996 with the outrageously provocative phrase “Nuke the Swiss” printed above a red cross. “They were left there by that funny guy who comes in here all the time,” my staff explained. A few weeks later, I was there when the culprit walked in, smirking as he handed me a fresh stack of Nuke the Swiss stickers. His engaging manner somehow neutralized the egregious content of his free art. This was my first introduction to Tom Sachs, who twenty years later, still visits during his walks around the neighborhood, and who continues to perfect his fusion of radical conceptual performance, Modernist idealism, bricolage and provocation.

         Tom and I have discussed presenting his work in my gallery since 1996, but it took twenty years to realize an exhibition. There were several false starts. In the late 1990s, Tom amused himself by setting up a contest between three art dealers who were keen to show his work, Angela Westwater, Mary Boone, and myself. He even published a zine about the “competition.” He decided that Mary Boone was the winner and rewarded her with a solo show. I opened my copy of The New York Times on September 30, 1999 to see the astonishing headline, “Art Dealer Arrested for Exhibition of Live Ammunition.” Tom had placed a vase full of live 9-millimeter cartridges on Mary Boone’s reception desk for visitors to take home as souvenirs. Mary was hauled off to jail for unlawful distribution of ammunition and resisting arrest. She was also charged with possession of unlawful weapons and possession of stolen property for another piece in the show, which featured homemade guns. I was lucky to have dodged a bullet. There was much more water under the bridge, but I will save those stories for my memoirs.

         Last year Tom called to invite me for a tea ceremony. He had transformed a section of his wunderkammer studio into a subversion of a Japanese tea house, constructed with Con Edison excavation barriers and Blue Foam instead of rice paper and bamboo. I was deeply entranced in Tom’s remix of the tea ceremony when he stunned me by lifting the lid of a lacquer box that I assumed would contain an exquisite tea biscuit. Instead of a biscuit, it was a perfectly measured line of cocaine. The ceremony was confounding, but the taste of the carefully sourced matcha was transporting.

         Some months later Tom told me the good news that his entire tea house along with its extensive Japanese garden and his bronze bonsai tree (made from 3,500 casts of Q-tips, tampon cases, tooth brushes, and enema nozzles) would be the focus of a major exhibition at the Noguchi Museum. In addition, his Boom Box retrospective, which had been enthusiastically received in Austin, would be coming to the Brooklyn Museum. Tom suggested that maybe now was the time to present the gallery show that we had been discussing for twenty years.

         Tom’s proposal for our gallery show was Nuggets, a presentation of his Sachsified versions of Modernist masterpieces. The doorbell to Tom’s Center Street studio is marked “Brancusi.” Appropriately, the major work in the exhibition is Tom’s response to Brancusi’s Le Coq, perfectly crafted from plywood, resin and sheet metal screws, rather than marble. In Michel Gondry’s film Be Kind Rewind, the protagonists, video store clerks played by Jack Black and Mos Def, remake their favorite movies in the vacant lot behind the shop after they have inadvertently erased the store’s inventory. Their “sweeded” versions of movies become more popular with their customers than the originals. In his way, Tom has been “sweeding” the icons of modern art and consumer culture his whole career. We will find out whether the audience prefers Tom’s reboot of Brancusi to the real thing.

         There is an aesthetic equivalence in Tom’s world between icons of modern art and icons of contemporary consumer culture. Tom’s sculpture of a laundry basket, meticulously crafted out of plywood and resin is mounted on a museum pedestal with the same reverence as his Brancusi. He worships the brilliantly efficient design of the lowly cinder block as much as he admires a stacked sculpture by Donald Judd. My favorite “Nugget” is Tom’s astonishing and functioning exact size reconstruction of a photocopy machine, perhaps the true icon of Post Modernism. Tom’s work embodies a contradiction at the core of his unique aesthetic: his veneration of the purity of modern art and industrial design and his love of bricolage and handicraft. His works are fabricated with the combination of industrial rigor and hand made artistry that have become his trademark.

         The works in Nuggets span the spectrum of Tom’s artistic, cultural and sociological interests, from Brancusi to McDonald’s. Among the resonant works are his Kelly Bag in plywood, canvas, steel, resin, latex and nylon and his plywood, latex, and epoxy milk crate, with steel hardware, his homage to a masterpiece of modern design. There is also Nutritional Facts, a giant wood burned chart of the nutritional content of the full McDonald’s menu. The works are presented on pedestals like rare tribal sculpture in the Metropolitan’s Michael Rockefeller Wing.

         Tom Sachs is one of the rare artists who does not just create works of art, he has constructed an entire aesthetic world. His studio is a bricoleur’s dream factory, itself one of his greatest art works. From his distinctive handwriting, to his influential films, Tom is always making art. Tom Sachs’ official biography articulates his unique approach to his work:

         Sachs is a sculptor, probably best known for his elaborate subversions of various Modern icons, all of them masterpieces of engineering and design of one kind or another. A lot has been made of the conceptual underpinnings of these sculptures: how Sachs samples capitalist culture: remixing, dubbing and spitting it back out again, so that the results are transformed and transforming. Equally, if not more important, is his total embrace of "showing his work." All the steps that led up to the end result are always on display. This means that nothing Sachs makes is ever finished. Like any good engineering project, everything can always be stripped down, stripped out, redesigned and improved. The reward for work is more work.


Tom Sachs "Nuggets" will be on view until June 4, 2016 at Deitch Projects, 76 Grand Street, New York. Text by Jeffrey Deitch. Photograph by Oliver Maxwell Kupper


What To See and Do, and Where To Stay, In Dubai During Art Dubai 2016

When most people think Dubai, they think money, flash, grandeur and excess. In fact, there is a theory that the word Dubai literally means “money” – from an old Arabic proverb, "Daba Dubai,” which translates to, “They came with a lot of money.” So it makes perfect sense that Dubai has become a major force in the art world with galleries, such as our friends at Carbon 12, that are popping up in the industrial region of Dubai known as Al Quoz. This is a mirroring of the art scene that is currently growing in the industrial regions of Los Angeles, London, New York and even Miami. In Dubai, much of this growth is thanks to Alserkal Avenue, an arts hub that fosters and provides architect designed warehouses to galleries and creative institutions. And this week marks the start of Art Week in Dubai, with the central focus being on the Art Dubai, the foremost art fair in the region that is currently in its tenth year. We asked Nadine Knotzer and Kourosh Nouri of Carbon 12 to provide a list of things to do and see, and where to stay, in Dubai during Art Week. 

1. Place To Stay: The Mina A'Salam Boutique Hotel 

Located next to the Arabian Gulf, this gorgeous boutique hotel has a more intimate vibe than many of the other hotels in the Dubai region. Click here to book a room. 

2. Get Energized for the Fairs and Galleries at Urban Yoga 

Art Week can be stressful, so we recommend Urban Yoga, a loft style yoga studio overlooking Dubai, to get energized and inspired. Click here to for classes and schedule. 

3. Go See Ghazel’s Show Mea Culpa @ Carbon 12 Gallery

Ghazel is back at Dubai’s Carbon 12 from March 14th to May 1st, 2016, and so is her tongue-in-cheek, vehemently insightful work commenting on the state of the world and pushing the boundaries of art. The solo exhibition, Mea Culpa, revolves around the map motif used in diverse, sometimes derisive, ways. Click here to for more info. 

4. Take A Stroll Through the Gallery District @ Alserkal Avenue

After visiting Carbon 12, take a stroll through Aserkal Avenue to visit many of the other galleries and project spaces. Must see: Zahra Al-Ghamdi's 'An Inanimate Village' installation, pictured above. Learn more here

5. Cocktails On The Beach at Jetty Lounge at One & Only Royal Mirage

Sit down for a cocktail by the beach at the Jetty Bar at the One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai. You can make reservations here

7. Lunch @ The Concept Store and Healthy Cafe Comptoir 102 For Organic Bites

If it's lunch you are after, visit Comptoir 102, a healthy cafe and concept store that has organic bites and brilliant design selections. 

8. Visit The Main Art Dubai Fair 

Art Dubai is the leading international art fair in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. The tenth edition of the fair takes place March 16-19, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Visit Carbon 12's booth, B1, where they will be exhibiting 6 artists from their roster, including a new video by Anahita Razmi. Click here to learn more about Art Dubai. 

9. Visit The Elyx Bar During Art Dubai

Inspired by Elyx House New York, Elyx Bar has now come to Art Dubai 2016. From March 15th to 17th, Fort Island will play host to the pure raw aesthetic known as Elyx. Art, luxury & flavor have a new temporary address. Experience quality cocktails, great tunes and immerse yourself in the world of raw luxe that is Elyx. Open from March 15th - March 17th, 9:30PM onwards. 

10. Locals Favorite: Eat Dinner At Flooka, A Lebanese Fish Restaurant

Make reservations at Flooka, a Lebanese fish restaurant that is a local's favorite. Click here for reservations. 

A FOMO Sufferer's Highlights During Armory Week In New York

text by Keely Shinners

Art Fair weekend in New York is a dream for the travelling collector, but a thorn in the side of the press. How does one feel like she has seen all the best work without running around to galleries and exhibitions like a mindless consumer? The feeling only elevates when you’re a girl like me, stuck in Los Angeles, living vicariously through Instagram feeds. New York art fair weekend FOMO is real and poignant. To organize and categorize, I make lists. I make a folder on my desktop labeled “new york art grrrl shit” and dream about “being there.” If you’ve got FOMO too, check out this list of seven amazing pieces from this year's art fair weekend:

1. Tony Gum “Twiggy” presented Christopher Moller Gallery at PULSE Art Fair.

In these portraits, Tony Gum, hailing from Cape Town, reimagines herself as Twiggy, Frida Kahlo, and the Virgin Mary. Her work is innovative, questioning the politics of visibility and reproducibility (which proves especially poignant, as she is the only African artist to exhibit at PULSE this year) but not devoid of humor and humanness. Her Instagram from the other day reads, “If you’re at the @pulseartfair, come through so that we can do humane things like chatting, hugging, and dancing.”

2. Namsa Leuba “Sarah, from the series NGL” at Echo Art’s booth at the Armory Show.

Leuba’s work explores African identity through Western eyes. She has her finger on the pulse of the innovation and vibrancy of Africa’s art and fashion worlds. The series “NGL” focuses on a collaboration with Art Twenty One in Lagos. Leuba does an amazing job of capturing and translating the vibrations of the Lagos fashion and art world to New York.

3. Macon Reed “Eulogy for the Dyke Bar” installation (and real bar!) presented by Mackin Projects at PULSE Art Fair.

Despite so-called “victories” for lesbian, femme, and bisexual women this year, traditional strongholds for queer-girl culture are closing down. As the lesbian bar is threatened with extinction, Macon Reed recreates an empowering, generative, and reformative space. With real drinks!

4. Adriana Marmorek “Brasier Girasoles F (Triple D)," made of glass, on view with Nora Haime Gallery at PULSE Art Fair.

With a glass Triple D bra, Marmorek channels both the beauty and the fragility of the feminine. That which supports the woman, that which makes her beautiful, is also that which might break her. Her work is not all forlorn; the glass is also easily broken.

5. Wallpaper by Michel Auder and paintings by Alex Chaves at Martos Gallery booth at the Independent Art Fair.

Chaves’s watery, impressionistic still lives paired with Auder’s wallpaper gives one the comforting feeling of being at home, or at the very least, a home once dreamt of. But there is also something defamiliarizing about their work – the cinder block on the table, the acute intricacy of the wallpaper pattern. Here, we are once at home and somewhere strange.

6. Chris Johanson and Johanna Jackson, “Untitled” at Fleisher/Ollman booth at the Independent Art Fair.

Johanson and Jackson’s painting looks like 2016 invited us into her medicine cabinet. Aesthetically, there is order, form, complementary colors. But a closer look between the apothecary bottles reveals a hot dog, an impressionistic lightbulb, and an 8-track. Once again, we are confronted with the colorful absurdities of our time!

7. Patti Smith “18 Stations” at Robert Miller Gallery

Though not part of a fair, Patti Smith’s third solo show opened this weekend at Robert Miller Gallery. Smith exhibits emotional, black and white photographs from her familiar haunts: the Greenwich café where she starts her day, Rockaway Beach, where she seeks repose. Like her music and her prose, Patti Smith’s photographs have an emotive tactility, like the memory of a place you have loved for a long time, a place you’ve never been before.

8. Genevieve Gaignard “Muscle Beach” at the SPRING/BREAK Art Show

In the middle of the New York minute, we get a smoggy breath of LA. Genevieve Gaignard’s installation feels like stepping into the kitschy apartment of your washed-up television star aunt’s Pasadena apartment – living room beauty parlor and all. Her self-portraits, which dot the walls of the installation, explores the LA alter ego, with our narcissism, our nostalgia, our desire to be “looked at” but also to be hidden. If anything, go for the cat knick-knacks.

At War With Popular Culture: Kate Durbin Is Kicking Ass On the Front Lines

photograph by Jessie Askinazi

photograph by Jessie Askinazi

text by Luke Goebel

I won’t pretend to know visual art, as that is my sister’s side of our art cult/community URANUS which is being formed in Landers, Ca, but I am versed in the wheelhouse of parlance—I mean I drive the language barge to sea and back, communing with the whales. Kate Durbin is someone who I first encountered through her art work, visual art and conceptual art shows, although she is perhaps as prolific and successful in her written work as she is in the conceptual art communities. This interests me immensely as I know so few artists who occupy both territories and bring a conceptual and critical theoretically informed and cultural critique to conceptual art and poetry.

Durbin’s work first came across my radar through social media, seeing works from recent shoes of her such as “HELLO, SELFIE! NYC” which featured Durbin looking very serious in a clear Hello Kitty adorned smock with identically dressed, for lack of my better words, fembots, covered in Hello Kitty stickers on their exposed skin and each rocking a red bow in the hair, except Durbin, each with a diversely different build and body shape, with a kitten print on the crotch of their white underwear. They are wearing only a pair of white kitten print panties and a white sports bra like top. The show was performed in a public space, before the locked gate of a storefront, and the models are all holding a very serious expression regardless, or rather intentionally, with their turquoise and hot pink lipsticks. The models took real time selfies and posted them for one hour on social media, and the show was purportedly focused on creating a “New form of passive aggressive performance art, reveling in teen narcissism and the girl gaze. Inspired by surveillance culture, Hello Kitty, Apple products, the teen girl Tumblr aesthetic [we will return to this], Miley Cyrus…”

I feel like I have been seeing these iconic images from Durbin for years, although perhaps I have not. Her name especially sticks out to me because of the strain Durban Poison, which is spelled differently of course. Yet, her art does have a sort of intoxicating, heavy sativa, altering effect on my mindstate. While I would usually find myself turning away from anything with the word Miley Cyrus in the artist’s statement, Durbin’s work seems hyper-intentional, socially critical, radicalized, and affronting. I also see and sense with Durbin a constant effort, work, and drive to make and to present. It is only after investigating and engaging more with her that I find this to be absolutely correct. I do not know how she manages to be as prolific, as funded, and as consistently engaged as she is.


"...she is driven, accomplished, and kicking ass on the badass front lines of war with pop culture, gender, and drivel—making it new, pointed, and barbed and in formations of attack as well as celebration...."


Somehow our ropes have crossed through various friends, interests, and even housing needs. She has a great, large space and office/studio for sublet which is where a great deal of my current novel in progress is set. To be completely transparent, or rather more transparent, I was to interview her but I fell through twice on my end of the bargain. The interview was to focus on her new iPhone app, called ABRA, which we will be getting to in a bit. I haven’t forgotten to talk more about TEEN GIRL TUMBLR AESTHETIC either. Having failed her twice without warning on the interview front, she texted, “This is too many reschedules for me. Sorry.” Now that might seem like a bit of nothing, a scraplet of word matter, but the truth is that is quite the perfect response to the constant presence of flakes, or better yet, people, who are too thinly spread to come through on their promises to you. If you work in the art world, or the literary world, or the industry of film, et al, by now you know what it feels like to be promised things that don’t materialize—interviews, edits, features, representation by agents, meetings, and to have the person fall though, repeatedly reschedule, etc., and one of the great tasks we all face is how to respond to these folks and their soul-crushing failure to let you know you matter at fuck all! When they flake, how do you strike the perfect tone of 'I’m so annoyed at you but I’m going to be the big person' and smile through it while still setting my limits so my soul isn’t crushed by forced passivity, which I effectuate only to try and get what I need now and or later. Well, that’s exactly the way to do it—steal her response.

“This is too many reschedules for me. Sorry.” It makes them want you. In the written word, Kate Durbin has two collections of poetry, has founded and runs Gage Stigmata: Critical Writings and Art about Lady Gaga, which has been featured in NPR, Yale’s American Scholar Magazine, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, and by tweets from Gaga’s stylists as well as visual artists, et al. Her Tumblr Project, Women As Object, created an online archive of Teen Girl Tumblr Aesthetic (see), and led to a live performance by Durbin as Bellyflop in LA and two video performances and several artist talks. Her book, The Ravenous Audience, was selected for publication by Black Goat, and imprint of the incredible press Akashic Books. The book was blurbed by a friend, poet laureate of the United States POTUS Juan Felipe Herrera. It was glowingly reviewed in Rain Taxi and elsewhere and is a work dealing with coming of age and myths and various media dealing with female archetypes. Her next collection E! Entertainment consists of “meticulously reworded transcriptions of reality television shows… Keeping up with the Kardashians, Real Housewives of Soup Kitchens, the Real Lives of Housewives of Gypsy Tweekers." They are revisions of transcripts of reality television as well as courtroom trials of Lindsay Blowhand, Amanda Knox, and Anna Nicole Smith. For this book Durbin has been hailed as “pop culture’s stenographer.”

Needless to say she is driven, accomplished, and kicking ass on the badass front lines of war with pop culture, gender, and drivel—making it new, pointed, and barbed and in formations of attack as well as celebration.

Her app, ABRA, is something really interesting and new from Durbin and her collaborators, Amaranth Borsuk and Ian Hatcher, which took six years and countless collaborators to create. It’s a bit difficult to explain how it works and what it does in an article. I also have already used up a fuck load of your attention span if not all of it. But the app basically presents to you texts, poems, living poems that are randomized, and you interact with these words, replacing words with your own creations, moving words around, selecting bits of texts to morph the poems. It would be a hell of a thing to explore in the sunshine stoned for a little while, or to use while writing your work, crafting poetry, a novel, a text message. The sorts of words that come up and the quality of the poems that are offered up and that morph from your engagement with the app are really actually quite intriguing, lovely, well made. It’s the first generator that I have explored that begins with quite marvelous arrays of meaningful poetry and morph into user-directed and meaningful, i.e. not slop, new poems. The interface within the app is seamless, if not delightful to engage with. It really is a very well made and sexy app and it’s worthy of downloading, playing with, stealing from while writing, and now I will take a few words from the app for you readers, “Ball is sticks ass butt her given a girdle of stretch to cheek eeeeeeeeeeeeeee! bare hind water mark falt boat fur below odd a fussy hussy was he under where…” And there are buttons to change, to MUTATE, GRAFT, PRUNE, ERASE, and CADABRA as well as a wheel at the bottom of the words to run and watch the words change and be replaced and deckle and it’s actually quite a lot like tripping.


You can download Kate Durbin's app, ABRA, which is described as "a magical poetry instrument/spellbook for iOS," hereText by Luke Goebel. Photograph by Jessie Askinazi


[ART REVIEW] The Bathhouse Show in Tokyo Japan

text by Yuki Kikuchi

I met Dorothy at the first ever Hunx and His Punx show here in Tokyo. After the gig we found our way to a local bar where we bonded over beers, and Dorothy spilt her heart out about losing touch with good friends and her anxieties about what the future held. Her earnestness in that moment made me aware of the difficulties of leaving home and living alone in a foreign country - especially while trying to follow one’s dreams.

That was already two years ago now.

After a time she became friends with gallerist Ella Krivanek, who came from Australia to work in Japan.  During her time in Tokyo, Ella established a non-profit, contemporary art gallery, Space Space, while Dorothy worked as an artist and writer for Wooly Magazine. Combining their efforts, they spent nearly half a year planning The Bathhouse show: a one-night event combining music and art, held in an abandoned bathhouse scheduled for demolition. They transformed the huge building for the event. The first floor, which was previously the public bathhouse, became a space for bands to play and the dilapidated apartments above became an art gallery.

Their event captured that indefinable something that makes Japan “cool”, which we as Japanese tend overlook because it has become part of our everyday. Everyone at the show existed within the same chaotic moment, sharing a sense of excitement created by the tense juxtaposition of the casual atmosphere characteristic to Americans and Australians, and a brittle anxiety brought on by Japan’s deep sense of social order.  

The bands that performed on that night, and the art in the apartments above were of course spectacular. Playing their foreignness to their advantage, Ella and Dorothy were able to bring out a huge variety of people.

The bathhouse was torn down the next day. There is nothing left of it now. Ella returned to Australia the following month, and Dorothy to America soon after. I have no idea when they will have their next event here in Japan.

The only thing that I can be sure of is that the event was poignantly moving. It had the ephemeral beauty of a firework, which sparks with acute exhilaration, then drifts into darkness, leaving behind a bittersweet feeling. Ella and Dorothy worked hard to create something new, something that isn’t definable yet…

Thanks to their efforts, I feel that on that day I glimpsed what true art really is. What does it take to bring in a new era? Is it technology, talent, or could it be money?

I have always believed that it is passion.

Your Must See Art Guide During Zona Maco México Arte Contemporaneo 2016

This week, Mexico City will be awash with patrons of the art, artists, galleryists, gawkers, wannabes and creative adventure seekers. Opening on Wednesday, February 3rd, Zona Maco México Arte Contemporaneo will be ground zero for one of the world’s most important art fairs and by far the biggest in South America. Founded by Zélika García 2002, Zona Maco as built a bridge between Mexico’s capital and the world’s leading artistic institutions. Surrounding the fair, though, will be a number of exhibitions, events and satellite fairs, including the Material Art Fair and the Idex Book Fair at Museo Jumex. You can also catch highlight exhibitions by the likes of Yoko Ono, Adam Green, and Los Angeles based artist on the rise Ariana Papademetropoulos. Here is your #mustsee art guide during Zona Maco 2016. 

1. A Brilliant Activation of Allen Ginsburg's Poem Howl At Museo Jumex

Within the exhibition space Ruppersberg Allen: What is A Picture, Allen Ginsburg's poem Howl will be activated by voice, thus emphasizing the presence of the language in the exhibition and specifically in the work The Singing Poster, which illuminates the poem into prismatic colors and block text. The reading will occur on February 6th, 2016 at Museo Jumex between 5 and 8pm. 

2. Gary Baseman Teams Up With 1800 Tequila For A Second Time To Create A Customized Decanter 

Artist Gary Baseman is currently in Mexico City for a private event that will be held for the unveiling of the collaboration on February 4th. You can stay up to date with his travels in Mexico City by following his Instagram

3. Check Out Gagosian's Booth At the Index Art Book Fair

Gagosian's bookish side of their art empire is always sure to delight and the Index Art Book Fair is a must stop on your art tour of Mexico City this week. The Index Art Book Fair opens on February 4th and closes on February 7th at Museo Jumex. 

4. Check Out The Smoke Room Booth At The Index Art Book Fair

Launched in 2013 and based in Toronto Smoke Room aims at publishing the work of young photographers and artists. This week during the Index Art Book Fair, you can check out not so young, but young at heart Brad Elterman's new zine/book No Dog's On The Beach. 

5. Ai Weiwei Takes On Surveillance and the Police State

As part of London based gallery Lisson's booth, Chinese artist and "dissident" will be have his piece Surveillance Camera with Stand Marble - a testament to freedom of expression. Lisson's booth will be on display for the duration of Zona Maco from February 3 to February 7, Centro Banamex, Hall D, Mexico City, Stand #e200
 

6. Yoko Ono "Earth Hopes" At the  Museum of Memory and Tolerance Museum

The conceptual artist Yoko Ono will come to Mexico City on February 2, to inaugurate the exhibition on Earth Hope at the Memory and Tolerance Museum. The exhibition will explore her work and her dedication to giving women a more empowered voice. The Memory and Tolerance Museum is located at Plaza Juarez, Centro Historico | Frente al Hemiciclo a Juárez de la Alameda central, Mexico City

7. Artist and Filmmaker Adam Green Is Part of A Group Exhibition At One Reed

On view starting February 6, 2016 One Reed Gallery will present Mutatis Mutandis: ICON Symbol with artists Adam Green, Aurora Pellizzi, and Cisco Jimenez. The exhibition will explore symbols, mythologies and other tripped out modes of thought and thinking. One Reed is located at Building Humboldt - Article 123, No.116 Centro, Cuauhtemoc, Mexico.

8. The Material Art Fair Is Going To Be Off The Chain

The Material Art Fair is a little bit like Zona Maco's badass little brother or sister, featuring up and coming galleries that are down to get weird and dangerous. Indeed, MAF exists a little bit outside the status quo and its a great balance to the sometimes stodginess of mainstream art fairs. The Material Art Fair will open with a private vernissage on February 4 and will run until February 7, 2016, Melchor Ocampo 154-A Col. San Rafael, Del. Cuauhtemoc México

9. Sade Gallery Will Present Los Angeles Based Artist Ariana Papademetropoulos

Sade gallery will be presenting Los Angeles based up-and-coming artist Ariana Papademetropoulos' work at a booth at the Material Art Fair. Look out for this amazing showing of work by this incredibly exciting painter. 

10. Rirkrit Tirivanija: Universal Fantastic Occupation at the Jumex Foundation 

Thai artist Rirkrit Tirivanija has installed ping pong tables in the courtyard of the Museo Jumex and invites you to play. See this exhibition while you are in Mexico City at Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 303, Ampliacion Granada, Miguel Hidalgo, 11529

The Best Gallery Exhibits Of 2015

text by Adam Lehrer

Counting down your favorite gallery exhibits is much harder than putting together any other list. It’s not like your favorite music that you can hear again and again, or your favorite films and shows that in most cases you can go back to when you need to or want to, and it’s not even like a play where you most likely will have the opportunity to experience it again. A gallery show is a singular experience, and seldom do people go more than to passively glance at the work, schmooze with other high society types (note: I am not a high society type, I am a poor person that often rubs elbows with these people hoping they never get around to asking what a critic makes these days), and grab a drink. That means for the gallery exhibition to stick with you, it has to manifest as a transcendent experience. The best exhibits give you a feeling, and whether or not that feeling is the one proposed by the artist is beside the point. The art is your experience, and it belongs to you. 2015 has been, admittedly, a great year for art across almost all mediums. Bear in mind, I’m only including exhibits I’ve actually seen; thus, there will be a lot of New York-centric stuff.



1. Mark Bradford, Be Strong Boquan, Hauser & Wirth

Mark Bradford was recently featured in a T Magazine piece along with fellow artists Theaster Gates and Rick Lowe. The article celebrates the artists and their adherences to using art to a higher social calling. Bradford is not afraid to imbue his work with big concepts, as evidenced by his fall exhibition at Hauser & Wirth. In a collection of paintings and a video project, Bradford explores the early AIDS crisis and our government’s response to it, juxtaposing the horror to the jubilation of 1980s club culture. The exhibit’s most talked-about piece, Spiderman (2015), is a response to Eddie Murphy’s homophobia and misogyny in his 1980s stand-up classic Delirious. In the piece, an unseen black comedian makes jokes about Eazy-E’s battle with HIV and the black community’s encounter with AIDS, while a laugh track plays underneath. The piece implicates the viewers and their complicit laughter. Be Strong Boquan is not an easily forgotten body of work. Click here to see our full coverage.

 


2. Wolfgang Tillmans, Polymerase Chain Reaction, David Zwirner

Operating as a photographer since the early ‘90s, Wolfgang Tillmans has never felt as relevant as he does now. And that is saying something, considering he has been rightfully respected as one of the world’s foremost fine art photographers for over a decade. Tillmans is heavily featured in a stunning new issue of Arena Homme + with two full interviews and a slew of images culled from his amazing 2015 David Zwirner exhibit, PCR. Featuring 100 of Tillmans’ recent images, the installation is emblematic of Tillmans’ unique relationship to space. The exhibit itself was a considered artwork, with Tillmans using each image to create one solitary piece. It was an utterly expansive work, covering the entirety of Zwirner’s New York location’s first floor. Tillmans’ imagery of life: partying, suffering, joys, and pain; is juxtaposed by his references to time. All of this happens in a unique realm of the infinite. Click here to see our full coverage.


3. Agathe Snow, Continuum, The Journal Gallery

Agathe Snow has too often been relegated to the descriptor, “Dash Snow’s ex-wife.” The legacy that her late ex-husband left behind is one that surely shadows the fascinating body of work that Agathe has created. In Continuum, Agathe made great use of the Journal Gallery’s unique space with its 30 ft-high walls being met to the ceiling by her gigantic papier mâché sculptures. The sculptures themselves can best be described as totems, portals to a world beyond our own mortal lives. A startlingly personal show for an artist who has faced much loss in her life, Agathe was able to create an exhibition that was tactilely brilliant and emotionally resonant.


4. Mike Kelley, Kandors, Hauser & Wirth

Hauser & Wirth is my personal commercial gallery of the year, and the late Mike Kelley (my personal number one all time artist) had some of his later life work shown, specifically the Kandors. Some artists think sporadically, stacking multiple ideas into a single show. Kelley is more in-line with the obsessive artists that generate a quantity of ideas after the one. The one in this case, is Kelley’s take on Superman mythology, specifically Superman’s home city of Kandor that was shrunk to globe size by the villain Brainiac. The exhibition begins with a set of illuminated sculptures glowing in neon that all depict the various ways that Superman’s home planet was illustrated in various different series of the comics. The show culminates with Fortress of Solitude, a life-sized rendition of Superman’s secret cave with the retrieved Kandor globe where he would go to ruminate on his relationship to the Earth and his condition of being a part and apart from it all the same. It jibes with the narrative of being an artist in the contemporary world, as evidenced by the short film shown at the end of the exhibition, which uses Fortress of Solitude as a set. There will never be an artist like Mike Kelley again. Click here to see our full coverage.


5. Elmgreen and Dragset, Past Tomorrow, Galerie Perrotin

“Norman Swann’s Family Fortune is Long Gone,’ reads the opening line of a book written by Danish artists, Elmgreen and Dragset, accompanying the duo’s exhibition of the same name at Galerie Perrotin earlier this year. The labor that goes into Elmgreen and Dragset’s work is astounding enough, but the duo must be credited for creating a whole new form of storytelling. The exhibition is literally an interpretation of the home of unseen character Norman Swann, and as you walk through it, it becomes a mystery that can be solved. It is an engaging form of art, but what is at the root of Elmgreen and Dragset’s exhibition is a rumination on inconsoloable loneliness and regret. Though Norman isn’t real, we feel for him, or for whomever he actually is. The exhibition engulfed me in a profound state of empathy.


6. Jeffrey Gibson, Jeffrey Gibson, Marc Straus Gallery

As Jeffrey Gibson has come to embrace his Native American ancestry more in his work, the other elements of his work have become more effective: politics, music, subculture, queer theory, art history, and more are all given a unique perspective. Though it shouldn’t be surprising to have a Native American take on these subjects, it is simply due to the fact that I have not ever been exposed to it. If that is my fault or the educational system’s fault I am not here to say. I can say that I am a massive fan of Gibson’s work. His use of fabrics and beads are always given a contemporary feel, and his series of punching bags that are all applied the titles of various outsider sub-cultures (Goths, punks, etc..) look like nothing else available on the art market.


7. Isa Genzken, David Zwirner

I have been fascinated by German artist, Isa Genzken’s interest in clothing and how it relates to the sculpture of the human body. On May 1, in Berlin at Galerie Bucholz, Genzken had a honest-to-goodness fashion show with models of both genders wearing clothes she created in 1998. The paint splattered and mightily distressed garments stretch the boundaries of good taste while making us ponder the fact that if perhaps some mighty atelier sewed these, we might consider them to be the highest of fashion. At her recent exhibit at Zwirner, Genzken draped life-sized mannequins in similarly distressed garments as well as other human-shaped sculptures. Along with the fashion show, it seems Genzken is now more than ever looking to address how we sculpt our own bodies in image. Some of the mannequins wear Genzken’s personal clothing, denoting a kind of self-portrait or a need to understand her own shape. Not to mention, I met Kim Gordon at the opening, so it’s hard not to look back on the exhibit with a smile. Click here to see our full coverage.


8. Justin Adian, Strangers, Skarstedt Gallery

What I love about Justin Adian’s work is its juxtaposition. He has this very design-oriented and art deco-inspired clean aesthetic derived from his unique process of stretching canvases over shaped foam that at the same time captures his youthful love of what the pretentious art world would consider “low culture:” punk rock, horror films, Black Flag. Adian said at a seminar for his recent exhibition, Strangers, that he has never moved on from something he loves or finds interesting. From hardcore to Frank Stella, he just keeps adding references to his œuvre. Much has been said of the Texan artist’s thematic similarities to Texan minimalism. They aren’t untrue either, as Adian infuses a healthy amount of humor into his singular style. What separates Adian most from Texan minimalism is that narrative has a powerful place in his work. Adian does have stories in mind when he creates, and went as far as to include a booklet of short stories to accompany this exhibition. Click here to read our coverage.


9. Scooter LaForge, How to Create a Monsterpiece, Howl! Happening

Scooter LaForge had the biggest year of his career. First, Walter Van Bierendonck elected to use LaForge’s prints for his SS 2015 collection that saw LaForge working on an installation at the London Dover Street Market location. Then, after creating one off wearable art garments for Patricia Field for some years, high fashion and streetwear retailer VFiles brought LaForge in to do the same for their clientele. Finally, he just collaborated again with Pat Field on another installation at DSM’s New York location that offers a Pat Field-curated vision of fashion. All the work in fashion has exponentially increased interest in LaForge’s art resulting in four solo exhibitions this year. His show at Howl! Happening felt like the tip of the iceberg, using the gallery’s impressive space to show off all the work that he has accomplished in creating these past few years. His paintings, sculptures, and garments were all shown as a single body of work with identifiable imagery and characters. It also marked LaForge as the first contemporary artist to show at the gallery, putting him in the lineage of important downtown New York artists. Howl! Happening had a very first impressive year, with major shows by Lydia Lunch, Arturo Vega, Clayton Patterson, and Tim Clifford. The spirit of New York lives in this organization.


10. Jose Parla, Surface Body/Action Space, Mary Boone Gallery and Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery

Jose Parla’s paintings are marked by decay, history, and emotion. The massive body of work that is Surface Body/Action Space that needed two galleries to host the large body of canvases tells a story that is both personal to Parla and to the viewer. It can be any story, and you can attribute what you need to it for your own purposes. Parla is able to make rust and decay look beautiful, or perhaps make you realize that deterioration is beautiful. He has exponentially matured artistically, but the essence of freedom within the work remains the same.

[REVIEW] Mark Bradford's 'Be Strong Boquan' at Hauser & Wirth Addresses Eighties Club Culture, the AIDS Epidemic and Cultural Taboos

text by Adam Lehrer

The color palette used by Los Angeles-based abstract painter Mark Bradford for the work in his stunning new show at Hauser & Wirth, Be Strong Boquan, is different than the palette that comes to mind when I think of his other work. While some paintings make strong use of the dark and austere colors most associated with his work, there are also bright pinks and yellows. Despite the vivaciousness of these colors, there is still a physical menace that emanates through them. Walking through the exhibit, I was reminded of that indescribable feeling that courses through your body just before you realize that you are full-blown sick: goosebumps on your arms, chills running through your spine, the inability to make a fist, a feeling of faintness.

The feeling elicited was not at all unintentional on the part of Bradford. Bradford has the uncanny ability to filter societal woes through abstracted images. In Be Strong Boquan, Bradford tackles issues personally important to him: society’s false representation of the queer identity, the brutality of the 1990s race riots in Los Angeles, and the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. The show seems emblematic of the fear of the deterioration of the body, and the militant efforts to destroy the bacteria and disease that infect the body.

Despite the heavy subject matter of his work, Bradford’s persona is anything but dark. Standing at about 6 ft. 5, Bradford has no problem talking about his work. In fact, he revels in it, and loves gauging the reactions of those that observe and examine it. He did just this the day of his opening. Walking a group of collectors, admirers, and journalists through the exhibition, Bradford illuminated on some of his conceptual choices for the show. These are some things I learned about Bradford.

Bradford harkened back to 1980s club culture for the show, capturing the exuberance of the scene, contrasted with the AIDS epidemic that was slowly, and later quickly, killing off the peoples that made the scene exuberant in the first place:

“In this show, maybe I was thinking about this space being the Roxy a little bit, but then I was also thinking about nightlife and what was on the horizon as far as the epidemic that was on the horizon, as in the AIDS epidemic. Interestingly enough, Hauser and Wirth kept all the roller skates from the Roxy and they shipped them all to my studio about a year ago and I kind of hung them from all the rafters and would roller skate around to find something abstracted in the social.”

When you walk into the exhibition, the first thing you will hear is the song‘Grateful’ by 1980s Disco performer Sylvester that is accompanying the piece ‘Deimos,’ a video installation. It gives you the feeling of the substances just starting to wear off and the lights going out at the club: the possibilities of the night coming to a screeching halt. Of course this is amplified when you realize the rest of the exhibition deals with possibility snuffed out by disease. Fitting then that the exuberant track is being performed by a musician who tragically lost his boyfriends to AIDS, neglected to get treatment himself out of devastation, and slowly saw his own body deteriorate.
“The song is ‘Grateful’ by Sylvester, I think Sylvester was in many ways ahead of its time. Anybody who lived through that time is grateful, I feel, just to be here.”

Though the exhibit does not explicitly depict the human body, the body is ominously present in each of the paintings and the sculpture.
“The marks that you see are cells that I looked at under a microscope that just became marks. The show does have to do with the body even though the body isn’t present. It’s more like a ghost body.”

He is interested in the time it can take for a monumental social plague, such as AIDS, for people to come together and speak out against the plague in a social setting. “With the AIDS crisis in the ‘80s, it was pure dying. It was almost political, God came down and brought this disease and it just wiped everyone out. In the ‘90s it started to get political. I’m interested in the military terms we use when it comes to things that deteriorate and infect the body. “We have to wipe this disease out.”

He has become interested in processes that involve waiting and time, particularly his stain paintings that make use of tracing:

“I used to work at a hair salon, and I used to trace the prices on the wall. Sometimes I reduce my palette. It’s like when you have a heavy meal so next you want to eat a salad and drink some tea. Sometimes I feel like my work can be so heady, so material. So I’ve been doing the stain paintings, where I use a reduced palette and it can become all about the trace and all about the times. You do the paintings in about a two-hour time. As this aged black paper, you pull it off, and it leaves traces. I like that even though it’s a very reduced palette, it has a lot of depth.”

The final piece in the exhibition, ‘Spiderman’ is a play on the black comedy best exemplified by Eddie Murphy in the 1980s. Murphy and other comedians often used homosexuality as joke material. The piece features video and the voice of an unseen comedian, a transgendered man. The piece forces us to confront our complicity in hate speech by laughing about dark jokes concerning Eazy E’s homosexuality (“Only Eazy-E can make AIDS gangsta,” says the unseen comedian) and the black community’s battle with AIDS. Bradford is interested in comedy’s ability to offend while simultaneously getting people to talk about uncomfortable issues.
“I remember watching Eddie Murphy’s ‘Delirious’ in the early 1980s. I wasn’t really interested in Eddie Murphy, really. But I’m always interested in the developing of the social contract. Like the “n” word. It is a part of the social contract now, but there was a time when it wasn’t taboo. When does something stop being taboo? I remember Eddie Murphy making jokes, “faggot look at my ass.” Everybody was just laughing! I thought if this is the early part of the AIDS epidemic, and this is now part of the social contract. What I often find is I like to turn comedy around. Like making the man the butt of the joke. I wanted to address social change. I do think there are things that just aren’t appropriate, like calling black women bitches and ho’s.”

Bradford’s work is compelling in its aesthetic beauty contrasted by its conceptual heaviness. He doesn’t know how to make art any other way.

“I’ve seen a lot of hard stuff in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of beautiful stuff in my life.”


Adam Lehrer is a writer, journalist, and art and fashion critic based in New York City. On top of being Autre’s fashion and art correspondent, he is also a regular contributor to Forbes Magazine. His unique interests in punk, hip hop, skateboarding and subculture have given him a distinctive, discerning eye and voice in the world of culture, et al. Oh, and he also loves The Sopranos. Follow him on Instagram: @adam102287

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11 Things You Need To Know About The Artist Known As H.C. Westermann

"See America First," a comprehensive exhibition of sculptures and drawings by the late, great H.C. Westermann, is on view now at Venus Over Manhattan. The installation features a wide range of Westermann's work, spanning from 1953 to 1980. Here are 11 Things You Need To Know about the artist before you visit the exhibition:

1. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps

Westermann served in World War II on the aircraft carrier Enterprise, weathering kamikaze attacks by Japanese fighter planes. He also served in the Korean War. Thus, much of Westermann’s work draws on the idea of a nostalgic and romantic America, one that yearns for a return to traditional values.

2. He was a carpenter

Before his service, Westermann worked in the logging industry of the Pacific Northwest, where he picked up woodworking and handyman jobs. Westermann used the skills he learned as a carpenter to create sculptures that confronted the realities of his time at war and the post-war psyche of America in the 40s and 50s. Mr. Westermann once said he wanted his constructions to look like they’d been made by a mad cabinetmaker. 

3. He started out as a painter

Westermann attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on the GI Bill, where he studied painting. His paintings combined geometric abstraction with surrealist images, inspired greatly by the work of Paul Klee. After college in the mid-1950s, he turned to sculpture. 

4. A cross-country road trip inspired an entire series of creations

Mr. Westermann and his wife (painter Joanna Beall) embarked on a cross-country road trip in 1964, which inspired a series of cartoon drawings in 1968. These drawings, entitled “See America First,” were the inspiration for the newest showing of his work at Venus Over Manhattan.

5. His letters to his dealer included wild drawing and fantasies

Several wild and beautifully illustrated personal letters to Westermann’s long-time dealer Allan Frumkin are included in the newest exhibition.

6. He regularly made art as gifts for friends

The exhibition includes a box with sergeant stripes inlaid in its lid’s underside that he gave to the Los Angeles painter Billy Al Bengston as well as a relief carving he made for the West Coast Funk artist William T. Wiley. “For Baby Ed from Cliff” is a small, rustic rocking horse that he gave to the Pop artist Ed Ruscha.

7. He inspired a generation of underground artists

Westermann’s work challenged the pop art status quo of the 1960s. Movements such as the Bay Area’s “Funk Art” scene and the famous Chicago Imagists Hairy Who were inspired by Westermann’s art.

8. He was featured on the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” album.

In 1967, he was one of the celebrities featured on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely hearts Club Band. Mr. Westermann appears in the third row alongside George Bernard Shaw and Albert Stubbins.

9. He refused to comment on his work

When asked to interpret an object of his, Westermann said, “It puzzles me too… How can I explain a work like that?”

10. He was given a retrospective at the Whitney

In 1978, Westermann was given a full-fledged retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Reviewing the Whitney exhibition, John Russell wrote in The New York Times: ''There is in his work a combination of fiendish invention, boisterousness, naivete and a high-souled ethical overdrive. He never evades a question, and he doesn't mind coming on like an unreconstructed preacher.''

11. His Views On Art and Death Were Profound

Westermann died of a heart attack at the age of 58 in Danbury, Connecticut in 1981. Of life, he said, ''I feel that life is very fragile. We're all just hanging by a thread; it's very spooky. I can best come to grips with it by doing my work. I guess that's why I'm an artist.''


"See America First" is on view now until December 19th at Venus Over Manhattan, 980 Madison Avenue, New York, NY. Text by Keely Shinners


5 Favorite Works from Input/Output Auction Presented by Artsy and Sotheby's

text by Stas Chyzhykova

Artsy's inaugural online auction with Sotheby's closes tonight. Input / Output features phenomenal pieces by leading emerging artists and contemporary art's pioneers. I am sharing my 5 favorite works from the sale that are collector "must haves:"

1: Richard Prince's Untitled (Portrait) from his recent Instagram series has already become iconic following the block-buster solo show at Gagosian London. In this new body of work, Richard Prince—the master of reappropriation—uses the “selfie” as a central framework. He elevates this ephemeral imagery to explore issues around the “cult of the self,” while subverting the fleeting nature of social media. By adding his own comments to each work—often pulling phrases directly from television advertising—he incorporates another element of “self” into the portraits. The series was recently exhibited at Gagosian Gallery in London. Bid here

2: Robert Heinecken, a precursor to appropriation and one of the most significant figures in contemporary photography, founded the photography program at UCLA. A work from the very same edition, Cybill Shepard/Phone Sex, was included in Heinecken's retrospective at MoMA in 2014. In this sculpture, Heinecken takes advantage of the flagrant presence of commercially produced, life-size cut-outs. He humorously manipulates the pop culture imagery, exaggerating its provocative nature to lay bare the ties between photography, sex, and consumerism. Bid here

3: The inclusion of Mark Flood's Apple 6 comes on the heels of his recent solo show at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. Flood's works are in the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art; the Menil Collection, Houston; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Apple 6, a large scale painting, is a reminder of Apple's un-disputable impact on our every day life and culture. Bid here

4: Michael Manning Full Forever; Let Her Go is a captivating diptych that was originally created using touch-screen tablets and image software such as Photoshop, and then translated into 3-D. Manning was recently included in the New Museum's exhibition "First Look: Brushes", focusing on artists who paint with the computer. Bid here

 

5: Parker Ito embraces technology and the Internet, disrupting the trajectory of traditional art-making. Due to its highly reflective and textured surface the artwork changes color depending on the viewer's vintage point and if photographed with a flash. In “The Agony and the Ecstasy” series, Parker Ito explores the gap between digital and physical engagements with works of art. Capitalizing on the reflective quality of 3M Scotchlite fabric, Ito’s work resists photographic documentation and takes on new life when translated from the gallery space to the computer screen. Bid here. 


Text and list by Stas Chyzhykova of Artsy. Input / Output is closing tonight, Friday, October 30th, at 9PM PT, so now is your last chance to bid. All works will be on view at Fused Space in San Francisco from October 22 to October 30, 2015.


6 Things We Learned About Artist Justin Adian From His Talk During His Exhibition at Skarstedt Gallery

photograph by James McKee


Artist Justin Adian titled his recently closed show at Skarstedt Gallery ‘Fort Worth’ after his hometown. The show features Adian’s bold organic paintings created by stretching oil enamel-painted canvases around foam cushions then mounted on wood. Some people would argue that Adian’s work is abstract, and they’d be right most of the time. But Adian also engages in pop culture iconography; one painting references Raymond Pettibon’s infamous Black Flag logo. Adian doesn’t so much mash-up high and low as he does reject high-low as a concept. Good art is good art.

What is a major influence on the show is the Texan town that it is named after. Not only in its referencing of Texan Minimalism but there is a mellow vibe to Adian’s paintings in the show. Looking at them almost strips back your inhibitions and stresses more than they force the viewer to ponder the meanings in their minds. There are references to design and architecture, and it appears like Adian is perfectly fine with his work being seen as something of an interesting object in the background of a space.

On Wednesday night in October, Adian sat down with art historian Alex Kitnick to discuss some of these concepts. What was interesting is that Kitnick, a tried and true art historian, seemed to have difficulty relating to Adian and his huge breadth of pop cultural influences. As a result, the conversation never really took off like it could have. Nevertheless, here are six things we learned about Justin Adian at his discussion of ‘Fort Worth.’



1. He considers his work to be paintings, but they usually start as drawings

“They start as drawings. I think of the final products as paintings, but as the material grows they increase in lines and negative space.”



2. Raymond Pettibon is everything to him, and he loves referencing Pettibon in the work.

“One of the artists that I loved before I ever got into art was Pettibon. I wanted to make an homage to the Black Flag bars but in pink. It’s called ‘Slip it In,’ after my favorite Black Flag record.”

3. He utterly rejects the delineation between high and low art.

“Everything in the work is just stuff that is in my head whether it be minimalism, counter-culture, or music. I’ve never grown out of any of my interests, my interests just grow.”


4. When working for a “White Cube” exhibit, his work comes out a bit more slick than usual.

“These works are pretty slick for me. When it comes to these Chelsea shows I tend to make these slicker and more gentle pieces.”


5. He uses boat paint, as in paint that you use to decorate your boat.

“This is all boat paint, so it’s really shiny. It elicits weirdly northern European commercial colors.”


6. His next show will be far less slick.

“I am working on stuff that will entail much more aggressive gestures, like two panels on a face, so it will be coming out at you and pushing back at the piece.”


Justin Adian's "Fort Worth" has closed, but you can check out images from the exhibition here. Text by Adam Lehrer. Follow Autre on Instagram: @autremagazine


A Beautiful Bouquet of Rebelliousness: Ten Things You Need To Know About Artist and Former Andy Warhol Superstar Brigid Berlin

Brigid Berlin Untitled (Self-Portrait Double Exposure), ca. 1971-1973

Brigid Berlin is an American legend. Deranged and beautiful, her life is a head on collision between high society decadence, urine soaked carpet fibers and methamphetamine filled veins, forming a beautiful bouquet of rebelliousness. On view now at Invisible Exports, an exhibition explores the life and ephemera of this strange specimen, from her polaroid’s of Andy Warhol’s factory and the New York avant garde to her obsessive audio recordings to her wonderful tit paintings that make for fine framed prints on any discernable gentleman or gentlewoman’s desk. Just who is Brigid Berlin? – She is a rebel in the purest form. She is an artist and a documentarian. She was once a part of Andy Warhol’s circle and entourage. Today, Berlin is alive and well and, no doubt, as weird as ever. Here are ten things you need to know about Brigid Berlin.

1. Her Parents Were Socialites and She Grew Up In A World Of Manhattan Privilege

Polaroid of Gerard Malanga and Brigid Berlin by Andy Warhol

Her mother was Muriel Johnson "Honey" Berlin – on her deathbed she was still ordering outfits from Saks. Her father was Richard E. Berlin – chairman of the Hearst Media empire for 32 years. Sometimes she would pick up the phone and Richard Nixon would be on the line. On one occasion, Lyndon B. Johnson accompanied the young Berlin to a rehab in Mexico. 


2. She Rebelled Against High Society By Over Eating

Brigid Berlin Untitled (Self-Portrait Double Exposure with Refrigerator), ca. 1971-1973

Her mother tried to give her a dollar for every pound she lost. Honey Berlin would also take her young daughter to get shots of amphetamines and dexedrine from various doctors around New York city to speed up her metabolism. Brigid was also sent to a school in Switzerland to lose weight, but she would steal other girls’ money and go on pastry binges. 

 

3. Brigid Meets Andy Warhol and Becomes A Central Figure of His Entourage

In 1964, curator Henry Geldzahler tok Brigid to meet Andy Warhol at his silver factory. Berlin would wind up collaborating with Warhol on multiple projects. She starred in Andy’s films Chelsea Girls and Ciao! Manhattan. Brigid also worked at the front desk of the factory well into the 80s taking phone calls and transcribing interviews for Interview Magazine. 

3. Brigid Berlin Becomes Brigid Poke After Giving Out Doses of Meth and B12

Gerard Malanga & Brigid Polk - 1969

Around the time that Berlin met Warhol, she was living in various rooms of the Chelsea Hotel. It is there that she earned the name Brigid Poke because of her habit of doling out “pokes,” which are simply injections of B12 and methamphetamine. In the quasi documentary film Ciao! Manhattan, directed by Warhol, Berlin can be seen shooting up whilst giving an interview. 

4. Brigid Found A Blank Diary Notebook and Turned It Into The "Cock Book"

Berlin’s “cock book” is one of the most famous pieces of ephemera from the sixties. After finding a blank notebook, she would go around to places like Max’s Kansas City and Andy Warhol’s factory and had some of the most famous artists and figures of the time draw phalluses. Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Peter Beard, Basquiat, Leonard Cohen and more contributed. Artist Richard Prince bought the cock book at auction for $175, 000. 

5. Andy Warhol Once Told Everyone That His Works Were Actually Made By Brigid

In one of Andy Warhol’s famous practical jokes, he tells Time magazine in an interview that his paintings were actually made by Brigid. People took it very seriously and the value of Warhol’s work decreased significantly. Both Warhol and Brigid were forced to retract their statements. 

7. She Would Obsessively Document Her Life and The People In It

From the sound of her own peeing in hotel rooms to polaroid portraits of some of the biggest names in art and the social scene, Berlin would capture everything. She also used reams of tape to record audio from the goings on inside Warhol’s factory. Some of those recordings were used in the Velvet Underground’s album Live At Max’s Kansas City. 

8. Brigid Became Known For Her Tit Paintings

Untitled (Self-Portrait as Mermaid), ca. 1971-1973

While Andy Warhol was using silkscreens to interpret pop culture, Berlin was dipping her breasts into ink and paint, and then transferring them to canvas and paper to create a unique series of “tit paintings.” Many of these tit paintings can be seen at Invisible Exports as part of the exhibition, It’s All About Me

9. Needlepoint Became A Medium That Brigid Would Use Later In Life

Installation view Glenn Horowitz Bookseller

Taken from the salacious and trashy covers of the NY Post and Daily News, with headlines like “I Snorted My Dad” and “Bad Heir Day,” Berlin would create amazing needlepoint pillows. They were the kind of thing you’d find in cheap craft shops and are typical of the time passing handiwork that members of the upper crust turn to during the twilight years. Ten years worth of Berlin’s needlework pillows were shown last year at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller.   

10. You Will Soon Be Able to Purchase A Book of Her Polaroids

Untitled (Self-Portrait with Eyes), ca. 1971-1973

Currently available for preorder, Brigid Berlin Polaroids captures a large selection of her personal collection of Polaroids for the very time. From the introduction by director John Waters, “Brigid was always my favorite underground movie star; big, often naked, and ornery as hell...The Polaroids here show just how wide Brigid's world was; her access was amazing. She was never a groupie, always an insider."


Brigid Berlin "It's All About Me," curated by Anastasia Rygle, will be on view until November 15, 2015 at Invisible Exports, 89 Eldridge Street, New York, NY. Follow Autre on Instagram: @AUTREMAGAZINE




[REVIEW] Greater New York Survey at MoMA PS1

Text by Adriana Pauly

On Sunday MoMA PS1 finally opened the doors to its awaited exhibition Greater New York and let anxious New Yorkers roam through the galleries. The exhibition has been co-curated by Peter Eleey, Douglas Crimp, Thomas J. Laz, and Mia Locks and encompasses the works of 150 New York based artists. Stepping away from the traditional focus on youth the fourth iteration of MoMA PS1’s landmark exhibition aims to balance our desire for the new and nostalgia for the past.

With a significant percentage of works dating before the 2000s, such as Henry Flynt’s 1979 documentary series of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s SAMO tags or Jimmy De Sana’s 1970 and 1980 documentation of the East Village punk and sex scene, the exhibition seems to seek to return to a grittier New York. Overall, there is a focus on documentary within the older works, bringing a loss of interest in durational investigations to light in todays New York art scene. The only exception are the moving photographs of Deana Lawson, shot over a number of years by correction officials at a prison in upstate New York, documenting same family’s visits.

Another constant in the exhibition is a focus on collections such as Nancy Shavers presentation of found objects or the tabletop sculptural installation by Liene Bosquê. Made out of hundreds of souvenir architectural miniatures the artist recreates an urban grid made purely out of kitsch objects. A more literal manifestation of a collection can be seen in the installation by the husband-and-wife duo Marco Romeny and Alisa Grifo called KIOSK.

One entire gallery of the old school building is dedicated to figurative sculptures. Tony Matelli’s male and female nude people are juxtaposed with more amorphous and indigenous works by Jeffrey Gibson as well as free interpretations of figurative sculptures such as Hayley Silverman’s noodle bowls. The landscapes created within each bowl are filled with various little figures, they are oddly grotesque and fall in line with a prevalence of kitsch notable in other works.   

Overall, the exhibition successfully gives a vast overview of the evolution of New York’s contemporary art scene, yet it is disappointingly shallow at times and fails to create a true impact on its visitors. Most works are easily consumed and do not reflect the struggle and tension that is involved in becoming an artist in New York.


Greater New York will be on view until March 16, 2016 at MoMA PS1, 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY. It will accompanied by a series of performances and video screenings. Photographs and text by Adriana Pauly. Click here to see more photos of the survey.  


[ART REVIEW] Kamil Franko At New Release Gallery

by Adam Lehrer

I went to Paris for the first time when I was 16-years-old on a student trip. It was my first time in Europe, and the whole time I was in something of a transcendental lull. I was already heavily into art, music and history, and I remember the whole time being taken into a state that wasn’t quite awake but certainly wasn’t sedated either. I did the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. I ate baguettes and drank booze for the first time. It was one of those experiences when the reality lines up perfectly with your imagination and a specific tranquil state is elicited. And then, I was on the subway when all of a sudden my eyes burst with tears and I fell to the floor violently ripped out of the bliss. I later found out that the police used tear gas to stop a thief. This is all coming to mind as I am looking at the formidable paintings by Copenhagen-based artist Kamil Franko at the opening of his show ‘Love and Violence’ at Erin Goldberger’s new gallery New Release Gallery. Franko’s paintings appear to be marked by tranquility as they are moments of sharp violence.

The lovely and brilliant Goldberger is best known amongst the New York art world as director of Bill Powers’s Half Gallery. The opening was packed with young art kids in a way that I haven’t seen in New York in years. It feels like Goldberger found the perfect time and the perfect Chinatown location to open a downtown gallery that could serve as a new Ground Zero for the new generation of artists in the city.

Kamil Franko’s work, while paying heed to the traditions of great painters, has a style that feels explosive and fresh. Franko piles paint on top of one another forming a thick and physical void separating the viewer from the imagery. The imagery contained within those paintings is at times both tranquil and violent. “I don’t think it’s about being between good and evil,” says Franko. “I think it’s a borderland between two polarities.”

Franko’s paintings are as much about creation as they are about destruction, and that dichotomy lives within his technique as much as it shows within his content. “I added paint carefully in creating the canvas, and at the same time I demolish it or remove it,” he says. “The motif is in the method. For example, I took a drone as a symbol for some destructive elements with an ominous presence of both beauty and ugliness.”

Franko is, for lack of a better term, a “painter’s painter.” He created the works contained with ‘Love and Violence’ during a period of isolation he underwent for three months in Budapest. He wasn’t even creating these paintings for the sake of a show, as there was no such show to be making them for. He literally paints just to paint. How many artists are like that are out there these days? Goldberger then contacted him via email to discuss putting together a show for her brand spanking new gallery. Franko credits that isolation with propelling his work forward. “After three weeks you’re asking yourself what the fuck are you doing here,” he says. “When you are alone in your head it seems to calibrate clearer ideas. You can focus when not disturbed by your environment.”

Franko’s work, at times both dark and hopeful, speaks to a bright future for art and proves a most appropriate show to open Goldberger’s new gallery. The time is right for a young gallerist to show off work by young artists, and I think I can speak for all of the young art community of New York when I say, “We are ready for this.”



Adam Lehrer is a writer, journalist, and art and fashion critic based in New York City. On top of being Autre’s fashion and art correspondent, he is also a regular contributor to Forbes Magazine. His unique interests in punk, hip hop, skateboarding and subculture have given him a distinctive, discerning eye and voice in the world of culture, et al. Oh, and he also loves The Sopranos. Follow him on Instagram: @adam102287

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[REVIEW] Bettina WitteVeen "When We Were Soldiers...Once and Young" Art Installation at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

text by Adam Lehrer

German-born artist Bettina WitteVeen, a self-described “Buddhist and pacifist,” believes that war and violence are not the innate genetic traits that we are so often led to believe that they are. On the contrary, she believes that human violence is an aberration of the human spirit. “I’m a very strong believer that we are not actually hard-wired towards war,” says WitteVeen. “I believe we need to understand war to abolish it and that we can.”

WitteVeen’s new public art installation, ‘When We Were Soldiers… once and young,’ features dozens of inflated photographs carefully placed within an abandoned hospital in the Brooklyn Navy Yard that served as an infirmary for soldiers from the Civil War to World War II. The photos, some of which are characterized by natural beauty and others that are marked by brutality and dread, find a fitting spiritual home within the hospital. The abandoned hospital is full of history and ghosts of yore. Even without the photographs it carries a pervasive sense of existential dread. The photographs then provide a vivid illustration as to why this old facility gives you that sense of fear.

The exhibition is broken into two parts. The upstairs part focuses on the soldiers and their physical recoveries, offering vivid details of the ravaging that the human body endures during war: photos of men without limbs, men hanging on barbed wire in the trenches, explosions and more. WitteVeen deliberately avoided shocking imagery, “Because shocking imagery forces people into their fight or flight reflexes,” she says. But despite that notion, there are quite a few brutal images displayed amongst the installation.

Much of the installation has to do with war’s corruption of the human spirit. WitteVeen talked about what she calls the “Bezerker Mode.” She believes this is when the soldier has lost his capacity for patriotism and wanting to honorably defend his country and instead has grown to enjoy the killing and the violence. How does this happen? “This state is generally brought about when a soldier loses a comrade in battle,” she says, “The bezerker state is elicited when the vengeance instinct kicks in.”

Moral degradation in its many forms goes hand in hand with war. Curiously, beautiful images of poppy flowers are shown in the installation. Poppies and opium to WitteVeen are extremely loaded motifs in this scope. “I wanted to contrast the beauty of nature but also show the violence when war collides with nature,” she says. “Opium kills the pain, and it is for the killing of the pain that we go to war, which we then need more opium for.”

The downstairs part of the installation focuses on the persistent mental effects of war, “I wanted to focus on the long-term plights of the citizens,” says WitteVeen. One room is extremely bright, with the centerpiece image featuring a young woman of an undefined era. WitteVeen tells a harrowing story of the girl, who she elects not to give the name of. This girl was raped when she was 12-years-old, and though she found happiness and marriage, the trauma never left her. She developed a light allergy that would eventually lead to her suicide. Though the story is not directly related to war, WitteVeen comments on the use of traumatic violence (such as rape) and its use as a weapon. This brutality completely destroys the individual