When W Taipei opened in the Taiwanese capital city’s emerging Xinyi District, it set a new tone that confirmed the area’s reputation as the most vibrant and hip part of the city. Opened on Valentine’s Day 2011, it remains the centerpiece of contemporary art, nightlife and thinking in the area, and this month it launches what it says is a collaborative food design project on a scale that the world has never before seen.
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Articles on this Page
- 07/14/14--15:24: _Highlights from the...
- 07/15/14--04:14: _Q&A: Annabelle Sell...
- 07/15/14--05:37: _Archi Dior Collection
- 07/15/14--08:35: _Lumières d’eau by C...
- 07/15/14--18:46: _Introducing Artist ...
- 07/15/14--22:53: _Food Re-designed as...
- 07/16/14--07:05: _Ryan McNamara Chore...
- 07/16/14--07:43: _Crystal Bridges's F...
- 07/16/14--09:58: _Slideshow: "What's ...
- 07/16/14--10:28: _30 Years Ago, Talki...
- 07/16/14--11:01: _Studio Tracks: Jenn...
- 07/16/14--11:42: _Slideshow: Wendy Wh...
- 07/16/14--14:15: _Arch Street
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- 07/17/14--07:04: _Wendy White Channel...
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- 07/17/14--14:53: _BLOUIN Lifestyle Pi...
- 07/18/14--03:18: _Watches & Wonders 2...
- 07/18/14--06:01: _5 Must-See Gallery ...
- 07/18/14--06:31: _Slideshow: 5 Must-S...
- 07/14/14--15:24: Highlights from the Museum of FIT's "Dance and Fashion"
- 07/15/14--04:14: Q&A: Annabelle Selldorf On the New Clark Art Institute
- 07/15/14--05:37: Archi Dior Collection
- 07/15/14--08:35: Lumières d’eau by Chaumet
- 07/15/14--18:46: Introducing Artist Pia Camil
- 07/15/14--22:53: Food Re-designed as Culinary Art at W Taipei
- 07/16/14--07:05: Ryan McNamara Choreographs a Peanut Farmer's Malaise
- 07/16/14--10:28: 30 Years Ago, Talking Heads Stopped Making Sense
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“I started to cry a bit when I saw the finished result for the first time this morning,” said architect Annabelle Selldorf at the June 27 press preview of the newly expanded Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Michael Conforti, director of the Institute, also teared up as he addressed the crowd gathered to celebrate the reopening after 10 years and $145 million of time and funds were invested into reconstruction. Visitors might have similarly emotional reactions to the results, including Pritzker-winner Tadao Ando’s multipurpose visitor center, which prioritizes circulation and the views of lush hills behind the Clark; landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand’s stepped pools , which create a peaceful setting primed for meditation; and Selldorf’s redesign of the main museum building’s interior, which glorifies the Clark’s collection.
Though thorough and comprehensive, the Clark’s transformation is decidedly understated. The refrain “Bilbao of the Berkshires” was used time and again over the weekend to describe the project, but that phrase isn’t really accurate. The Guggenheim Bilbao is a monumental, sculptural showpiece that draws attention away from the cityscape unto itself; the new Clark pays homage to the surrounding landscape with understated architecture and interiors that frame views of the neighboring hillside and the art on view.
The exterior is typical of Ando’s previous work for its veneration of the raw materials used to construct the building — concrete and granite, articulated in rectangular slabs, comprise both the structure and the adornment. The Japanese architect worked here with his trademark poured concrete panels, but also used granite for the first time. The pink-hued grey stone, taken from the same quarry where granite for the Clark’s 1973 Manton Research Center building was sourced, composes a wall that delineates part of the southern perimeter of the Clark campus and contrasts with the greenery directly behind it (Selldorf is also completing a renovation of the Manton Center, due to open in 2015). Ando's structure is equal parts stunning and subtle. Much the same can be said about Reed Hilderbrand’s work on the graduated pools that now flow at the center of the Clark Art Institute’s campus, where its parking lot previously stood. Subtle, too, is Selldorf’s work on the interior of the Clark’s main museum building, which houses the majority of its collection of decorative arts from the 18th and 19th centuries, Old Master paintings, and Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. By expanding pre-existing skylights and selecting contrasting, unexpected tones for the walls — deep plum, for example, backdrops a display of decorative silverware, which sparkles against the dark hue — Selldorf staged an overhaul so well suited to the site that the results appear neither new nor invasive. Behind the effortless appearance, however, lies a great deal of work. In the following interview, Selldorf spoke with ARTINFO about how she makes elegance look so easy.
How did the gradations of the hillside landscape and the variety of flora surrounding the Clark Art Institute influence your renovation work on the interior?
You can answer that question in two ways: You can say “Not at all” and you can say “A great deal.” Both are in some way true. This is a building that was built in 1955, so there was much existing in this building that remained unchanged. But what Michael Conforti did, which I think was wonderful, is that he brought all the design teams together to discuss how you would approach the building. Tadao Ando was, of course, the lead in introducing his design of the visitor center, and introducing the diagonal that is somewhat of his signature. By the time that I came on board, there wasn’t much discussion about that, but what was a discussion was about how the landscape around the building would be perceived. And while I don’t remember now who said what, when I look at the site today, when I see how seemingly effortless the gradation work around this building and around the Manton Research Center is, I think that that’s a really brilliant thing. What they did is they brought the Berkshires in, and the way that has consequences for the building is that these views out are really a wonderful counterpart to the experience of the Clark’s art.
That was always the goal, I’m sure, when Sterling and Francine Clark commissioned the building, but I’m sure it was much more pastoral in 1955, and there were a lot less requirements for parking and for amounts of visitors.
You mentioned the sort of seemingly effortless appearance of the exterior, but of course that’s also very much the case for the interior. One might go so far as to wonder what your particular signature in the spaces is, whether or not your footprint is visible here?
That’s a very big discussion every time you renovate and restore existing buildings. I worked on the Neue Gallery in New York, and in a way it’s a bit of a similar kind of thinking. I feel that when that is your task, the most important thing is to identify what is perfect, what is beautiful, what needs to remain as is. It’s equally as important to be critical and to be cognizant of what doesn’t work and why it doesn’t work. Did it never work? Was it meant to work in a different way? Did the conditions change? And to then understand how to articulate that.
In this particular case, Michael always said, “Are you sure you want this job? Because it’s not about you.” And I always thought that that’s a funny question, because I don’t think it’s ever about the architect. Mr. Ando might disagree with me, but this does not mean that you don’t have a personality or the confidence to make interventions. It’s just how you articulate them. And I believe that this is the same in all disciplines — it’s like how you make music, how you write literature, how you paint, how you articulate anything. I feel that this building is completely different from the way it was before. There’s now a very ready and pleasant experience of the building that allows the visitor to look at art. And that was never the case. This was never before a calm and quiet space of contemplation. But it was always something that was in some ways overwhelming, because there seemed to be so much art and looking at it was confusing. And bringing that kind of order, that articulation and calm, into the vocabulary of the interior, was a matter of using the same vocabulary — the mandate was not to build a new building and create new spaces, but to sort out something that already exists and already was much revered. It was loved for the collection, and it was loved for the idiosyncrasy of the presentation. I tried to, with a light hand, rejigger everything — that’s a technical term!
You mentioned that one of the steps that you took was to better articulate the ceilings and to modulate the experience of moving from dark-colored rooms with light-colored rooms, but what are some other concrete steps that you took to make subtle but significant changes?
Well, I started with everything. There are rooms now, where there used to be just long traverse galleries, and the kind of hierarchy of rooms influences people in a very major way to stop and look before progressing to the following room. I think it gives a kind of dignity that I think is very important. In some ways, I think that’s the biggest achievement: that you have these moments where you can pause and look out onto the landscape before moving on to the following work of art. It’s all about taking a break.
But even though this is not an encyclopedic collection — it’s a private, very subjective collection — there are so many different kinds of art that come together here. Each time I come here, I think, “Oh my god, I’ve never seen this painting before!” And the pleasure of that, of giving people the idea that they can come back again and again to discover what they haven’t seen before is very important. It’s a funny thing as an architect, what I came to realize when we did the Neue Gallery, is that the sort of self-evident, seemingly effortless being in a space is something that people take note of. And it’s not about any one gesture, it’s about a bigger attitude that defies a single style or description. It’s much more intrinsic. It’s all for people, in terms of how big it is, how it feels. I’m not interested, per se, in Feng Shui, but I do believe that grounding people and giving dignity to the visitors has to be the first order of business.
The explosive, migraine-inducing polychrome advertisements flanking Mexico City’s Anillo Periférico highway offer commuters a nonpareil optical assault. But look closer, says Mexican artist Pia Camil, and you’ll find some “blind spots” that break up the visual clutter with flashes of understated beauty. See, when a billboard falls out of use in Mexico, or the rent isn’t paid, mischievous sign owners simply reshuffle the panels and leave them scrambled like some muted roadside Rorschach, known locally as espectaculares.
“When you’re driving through Periférico, it’s like billboard, billboard, billboard, and when one is abstract it’s the anomaly, a nice eye rest in this fucked-up madness,” says Camil, who spent years assembling photo archives of the city, which tipped her off to the preponderance of large-scale municipal abstractions. “I thought it was quite a nice thing to engage with and how it could immediately become a light critique on a failed capitalist economy.”
Those critiques are meant to examine the “aestheticization of failure” in the form of heavily labored, hand-dyed and -sewn canvases and curtains that give new meaning to these derelict signs. As such, they’ve become quite the spectacle themselves in recent solo shows at Paris’s Galerie Sultana, where Camil covered the entire space with six backlit espectaculares curtains. During Mexico’s Zona Maco fair, in February, she hung more curtains over various walls and windows (opposite accompanying ceramics) throughout the three-room project space at the blue-chip Galería OMR. And this month in Los Angeles, at Blum & Poe, she’s installing a more minimal exhibition—a single curtain and a couple of paintings in the gallery’s front room. A freestanding shelving unit of her design (with an attached canvas and more ceramics) will become partition walls that allow viewers very direct interaction with the work while establishing a traffic flow, so to speak, through the space.
“The fact that her work stems from her location and being inspired by the city is really important, and the dialogue between Mexico City and Los Angeles is really strong. I think what’s interesting is that she’s not only critiquing abstract and modernist work but pushing that critique to the next level,” says Blum & Poe’s artist liaison, Sarvia Jasso, who met Camil in Mexico last fall at her home studio, where the artist spends hours upon hours cutting patterns in her garage, then boiling dyes and drying canvases on her roof. “I got to see one of the curtains hung in her living room. It was quite nice because she’s very interested in the idea of the work becoming functional, so actually having it in a domestic space and her living with it also was a very interesting exploration. That curtain later went to Paris.”
Camil’s work has taken on a more rigorous, process-based approach over the past five years, during which time she’s also completed her “Highway Follies” series of shaped-canvas paintings and color-tinted photos evoking Mexico’s version of Robert Smithson’s “Ruins in Reverse” notion, as expressed in his seminal 1967 photo essay A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey: “This is the opposite of the ‘romantic ruin’ because the buildings don’t fall into ruin after they are built but rather rise into ruin before they are built.” Still, her instinct to break out of the studio and embrace the street is at the heart of her practice.
“I have a thing for construction sites,” says Camil, sipping a glass of tequila in the art-filled foyer in the home of Patricia Ortiz Monasterio and Jaime Riestra, the power couple behind OMR and the grandparents of her son, Guadalupe, with boyfriend Mateo Riestra. While her recent ascent to OMR’s vaunted Maco-timed exhibition—opposite the white-hot Jose Dávila—might seem like a form of nepotism, Camil showed for years with La Central gallery in Bogotá, staged her own shows in commercial buildings around Mexico, and first approached the gallery as a curator (showing her works alongside those of Dávila and Stefan Brüggemann) and a musician (in a month-long residency of sound-and zine-making with her former band, El Resplandor). And this happened only after years of late- night talks with Mateo’s younger brother, Cristobal Riestra, the gallery’s heir apparent, about what the five-year-old project space could be.
“It’s a relationship that was always family first. They were very prudish about my work. They knew I made art, but for five years they probably never saw anything but a few drawings,” says Camil, pointing to a Kafkaesque landscape of hers (an old birthday gift to Jaime)—marked with the phrase “He’s Not What He Thought He Once Was”—which hangs on the wall above the elder Riestra’s staircase. “I very, very consciously made a decision to operate in a place that’s not necessarily close to all these conflicting relationships.”
While the Riestra boys were born into the art world, Camil’s place in it was never a sure thing. Her parents divorced when she was young, and had it not been for her mother’s sending her to train with a printmaker at the age of 13—which later evolved into addictive life-drawing sessions—she may well have followed her dream to become an architect. With encouragement from an American history teacher, she applied to the Rhode Island School of Design, where she was accepted after initially being waitlisted.
“For me, RISD just gave the right type of mentality of things I still use to this day: how to assess your work, how to put a good body of work together, how to have the right discipline and questions for your work,” she says. “It was quite a critical school. RISD was like hard-core studio practice, especially the painting.”
That said, during a study-abroad program in Rome, Camil was given a studio but couldn’t focus, with the city’s layer cake of history beckoning just outside her door. So she assembled photo archives of the Piazza del Popolo, and when she spotted road crews repaving the sampietrini streets, she’d mark down the location and return at night to paint eyes on the cobblestones. “It was like romantic graffiti,” says Camil, who was also drawing like crazy, a practice she’s since abandoned. “In my mind, I have a personality problem. If you see my drawings, they’re very loose, wacky, very sexual, very autobiographical—and that’s a lot of the reason I stopped doing them, because it’s too invested. It was haunting me in my drawings. I would leave a drawing and I would dream of that drawing all night.”
This desire to transfer deep physical (and emotional) intensity into artwork started with hours spent in the city’s museums on weekends as a young child. “My parents brought me to some really incredible shows, and one I remember specifically was Anselm Kiefer, those pyramid paintings he did,” she says. “In Mexico, you had the murals, so it wasn’t as much the scale of the Kiefers but how fucking physical they are. I’d never seen anything that intense. I was there for hours and hours on end. I couldn’t leave it.”
For Camil, Mexico—more than any other city—has that same pull. “New York has lost it. What I like about Mexico is that it’s still chaotic and in the making, and it still has this sense of invention to it. In Mexico there’s always a sense of ingenuity,” she says. “There’s a very nice anecdote that Mateo tells me about a visit André Breton had to Mexico. He designed a chair and did the drawing in perspective, took it to a carpenter, and when he came back a few days later, the carpenter had made a chair in perspective. It’s this nice Mexican way of not seeing things for what they are.”
Whether that means espectaculares as curtains or Jacuzzi-size, sprayed-concrete sculptures of empty pools—the next project she’s contemplating—Camil’s work will always be precarious, she insists. “Precarious means you find a way to fucking do something with what you have and solve things in a creative way.”
A version of this article appears in the July/August 2014 issue of Modern Painters magazine.
Taiwan’s pop art hotel launches a food design initiative with an international design team
Titled “Food Re-design TDC X W TAIPEI,” and led by Executive Chef Colin Chun, the 4-month initiative seems a team consisting of Dutch designer Annelies Hermsen, Editor-in-Chief of GQ Magazine Blues To (Du Tsu-Ye), Carnival Vice President Stephanie Wen, and Tainaner Ensemble Co-Artistic Director Tsai Pao-Chang lead nine local designers in combining art and cuisine.
Ideas include eatable light bulbs by Colin Chun that were shown at the launch of the project. The red light bulb is made from tomato jello, the green from cucumber and herbs jello, and the white from mozzarella cheese.
“Food Re-design TDC X W TAIPEI” aims to turn the hotel’s “The Kitchen Table” restaurant into a theater, in keeping with the aesthetics of a hotel bursting with modern art, even in its core structure. Chen, who has served the likes of Hugh Jackman, Orlando Bloom, and Miranda Kerr, is aiming to present design proposals for utensils, space and dining style, as well as with the food itself.
W Taipei, designed by G.A. Design International Ltd. of London, was constructed with a panoramic view of Taipei 101, formerly the world’s tallest building. Encased in glass, it is seemingly anchored to the ground by way of a giant stainless steel piece simple called “The Chain,” which supports the entrance roof. With organic plants lining the wall of the lobby, a first step in the hotel immediately alerts the senses – and that’s before ascending to the lobby.
Light pulsates throughout the hotel, including on the open-plan ground floor, used as a meeting point for visitors to the bars and clubs of the area. Here, an installation titled “You Fade to Light” by rAndom International allows visitors to engage with light directly, utilizing custom-made software and several hundred OLEDs.
Notable art pieces in the hotels public spaces include a sculpture made of mirrored plastic and bamboo sheets that hangs from the ceiling, and Taiwanese artist Howard Chen’s “Purple Target,” a circular canvas in silver and purple dotted with thumbtacks that has become the back ground of many guests wishing to capture selfies with imaginative art.
A major feature of the W Taipei is the W Living Room, a space that by day serves as a cozy meeting space with circular day beds, by evening is alight with a fireplace and the illuminations of the outdoor pool seeping in through a wall of windows, and by weekend night turns into a disco, hosting high-profile DJs from around the world at events like Hed Kandi.
Perhaps the hotel’s most luxurious location – for layabouts at least – is the WET pool skydeck, where sunloungers and cradle-style chairs are scattered around a rooftop pool, backed by an open deck and the popular WOO bar. Art is never far way though, and at the waters edge stands a metal bubble sculpture designed to mimic water droplets, with ceramic butterflies hovering above.
With 405 rooms, W Taipei is surprisingly Taipei’s largest luxury hotel, and yet each room very much feels like its own mini-design studio. Lighting is reminiscent of Chinese lanterns, but for the most part its all about providing for the modern jetsetter, with flat screen TVs, wireless networks and charging docks for devices, all in a colorful environment that is both luxury and contemporary in feel. A neat touch is the “Where Are You” deconstructed map hanging on the wall that seems to bring the outside inside – a reminder that hotels are the temporary home of travellers.
For more information: www.wtaipei.com
Ryan McNamara has staged Whitney Houston karaoke events inside the Whitney, disrupted mundane press conferences with orchestral performance art, and created a “story ballet about the Internet” for Performa. Given that background, his current project isn't so leftfield: A choreographed procession up the High Line in which four costumed dancers recite the text of a 1979 Jimmy Carter speech. Dubbed “Missy Malarky Ying Yang” (after the name of Carter’s daughter Amy’s cat at the time), the performance breaths new life into the infamously unsuccessful text, which is popularly known as the “malaise” or “crisis of confidence” speech. ARTINFO met up with McNamara at the High Line’s new headquarters — next to the future downtown home of the Whitney Museum of American Art — to talk about the performance, which will be staged (weather permitting) July 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m., beginning at the Gansevoort Street end of the elevated path.
What was your connection to Carter’s speech itself, considering that you weren’t born at the time it was delivered?
When I was first able to vote [around when Gore was running], I became attached to Jimmy Carter — and wishing I could vote for him. Throughout that election year I collected Carter T-shirts and “campaigned” for him, even though he wasn’t running. The 1979 speech has a mythological aspect to it: Carter is building a mythology around how if we solve the energy crisis we’ll solve the crisis of confidence in America. It’s a rebirth. One of his speech writers talked about how Carter was a born again Christian — how he had not done well as a president up until that point, and how he was going to repent for his sins.
In the speech, Carter basically listed critiques ordinary Americans had made of his performance.
It was kind of amazing — he had people tell him what a bad job he was doing, and then he reported it to the country. The idea being that if we all admit our sins we can, like the Phoenix from the ashes, rise above this. Conservatives still bring the speech up as [showing how] liberals want to blame you. Carter is saying: “I can only do so much. Ya’ll need to change the way you’re living. Overconsumption is why we have an energy problem.” He’s weirdly philosophical: “We’ve learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.” Presidents don’t talk this way, and this speech is one of the reasons why they don’t.
The speech is still a negative case story for political historians.
For the 30th anniversary of it, the speech writers did op-eds for the New York Times and the New Yorker. In a way, they’re still having to explain themselves for it. But as far as political speeches go, it’s one of the best that I’ve read. This maligned speech is the one that I connect to the most. And what I find interesting is there’s a lot of messed-up juxtapositions in it: Carter’s talking about stopping overconsumption, but the American economy relies on overconsumption.
At one point he says, “We will protect our environment. But when this nation critically needs a refinery or a pipeline, we will build it.” You can imagine that someone told him: Try to sound tough here.
The version of the speech that we’re doing is abridged. Carter had a tendency to repeat himself. I didn’t add anything, but I subtracted. I’m definitely making it a little more liberal. On that line I say, “We will protect the environment.” Period. It’s my version of history, I’ll admit that.
Is this the first time you’ve made a piece that incorporated a text like this?
The genesis was in a project I did in Hong Kong in May called “Score”: 20 performances in 20 minutes with 20 performers. One was “Apology Aerobics.” We took a potpourri of different political speeches that were apologizing for wrongdoing — an affair, prostitutes — and then we did these aerobics moves to it.
What is Carter’s demeanor like during the speech? Is he very glum?
He had a guy who went on to be a Broadway director come and help him with his delivery. One of the things was that Carter had a sing-songy way of speaking. They told him to get rid of that. And he always smiles, he was famous for his giant smile. They said, You shouldn’t be smiling while you’re saying these words. But [for “Missy Malarky Ying Yang”] we’ve added syncopation to the speech, so we’re putting the sing-songy back into it.
Can you tell me about the choreography for the performance?
I was thinking: What is it to make choreography that’s not to music at all, but that would still have a relationship of moves on sound? To create a choreography for a political speech, almost a tongue-in-cheek marketing campaign for the speech. Alright, the subject matter is not so sexy, but we’ll kind of amp it up, make it a little Las Vegas. The two things are clashing. But in the same way, my interest in this speech and my love of decadence are clashing. I believe in everything Carter says here, but at the same time here we are in the visual art world, which is pretty decadent.
The dancers are going to do all of these cliches that you’re not supposed to do. We had freedom with that; we didn’t worry about being cool. It’s a political speech, so it’s not going to be cool. There’ll be a Pied Piper, town crier effect with an audience that has come to see the piece, and this other audience that is just encountering it. We’ve been rehearsing in the middle of the day, and these performers are amazing — they’re reciting, doing the movement, and negotiating the crowd all at once. I told the performers not to listen to the speech. I didn’t want them to have that context for it, I wanted it to be somewhat disconnected, so sometimes the movement relates to the words and sometimes it’s almost random, like Dada, smashing together two things that make absolutely no sense. And sometimes it’s nearly offensive...
Are you playing on the idea of the speech that people were having the finger pointed at them?
As part of the choreography there’s a lot of pointing. And I’ve definitely instructed the performers to engage with individuals. It’s not this sort of bubble that’s moving through; it’s about looking at people.
Is there a connection to the site of the High Line?
The High Line is a cross-section of America in a way you don’t get in the rest of the city. It’s really like giving this speech a second chance — going out into America while staying on the west side of Manhattan.
The costumes everyone will be wearing are covered in images of Amy Carter from the late ’70s, and the piece itself takes its name from her cat.
I’ve always loved Amy. The cat’s name, Missy Malarky Ying Yang — that’s a message from another dimension. In the ’80s and ’90s she was a somewhat radical political activist. Her sort of liberalism is a liberalism that can never be president. Missy Malarky’s the mascot, but Amy is our spirit guide throughout the performance.
— Crystal Bridges Reveals American Art Show Roster: Walmart heiress Alice Walton’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has finalized the artist list for its upcoming fall exhibition of 21st-century American Art, which includes more than 200 paintings, photographs, sculptures, installations, and performances. To choose the 102 selected artists for “State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now,” which is scheduled to open in Bentonville, Arkansas, September 13, the museum’s president, Don Bacigalupi, and assistant curator Chad Alligood traveled over 10,000 miles across the U.S. and visited nearly 1,000 relatively unknown artists. The chosen artists range from 24 to 87 years old, and include 54 men and 48 women. [NYT]
— Hong Kong and Uruguay Pick Venice Reps: Hong Kong has chosen Tsang Kin-Wah as its representative at the 2015 Venice Biennale and Marco Maggi has been selected to represent Uruguay. Tsang was tapped by the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and the West Kowloon Cultural District museum M+, which will present a series of concurrent supplemental public programs. Maggi, who is known for his drawings and installations made from found materials, is included in the collections of MoMA, the Guggenheim, the Whitney, the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, São Paulo, and MOCA Los Angeles. [Artforum, Artforum]
— Art Everywhere UK Reveals Artworks: Sir Antony Gormley and Grayson Perry gathered at Waterloo station in London this morning to reveal the artworks chosen by more than 38,000 members of the British public through Facebook for this year’s Art Everywhere exhibition, which runs July 21-August 31. Topping the list was David Hockney and Dora Carrington, whose work, along with Gillian Wearning, Gilbert & George, and Marc Quinn, among others, will be displayed on 30,000 billboards across the UK. Gormley produced a special digital artwork for the exhibition, titled “Feeling Material,” that the public can download for free. [BBC]
— How to Sell the Artist Pension Trust Works: The Artist Pension Trust, likely the largest private collection of contemporary art in the world, has brought together an impressive list of artists, but selling the artwork may be complicated. [Bloomberg]
— Italian Cultural Sites Turn to Corporate Support: Italy’s struggling economy is forcing politicians to seek corporate financial support in order to preserve cultural heritage sites. [NYT]
— Ceramicists Stand Out at the Hammer: The surprise stars of the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.” biennial have turned out to be husband-and-wife ceramics artists Michael Frimkiss and Magdalena Suarez Frimkess, 77 and 84 years old respectively. [NYT]
— The Orange County Museum of Art has begun negotiating with developer Related California about the possible purchase of the museum’s property, as it looks towards an eventual relocation closer to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Cosa Mesa. [Daily Pilot]
— New York City councilwoman Laurie Cumbo will designate $1.4 million to the Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts (MoCADA), which she helped found in 1999. [Capital]
— Musical group Air has composed music to play inside the galleries of the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille as part of its Open Museum series. [TAN]
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“Stop Making Sense,” the 1984 film that has become an essential document in the career of the genre-exploding group Talking Heads, as well as one of the most prominent visual statements of the era, is defined by a curious divide. Joined by an ever-expanding backing band, the original four members — David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, and Jerry Harrison — were pursuing a live show marked with euphoria and celebration while internal struggles were threatening (and would soon succeed) to tear the group apart.
This split was embedded in the songs themselves. Their best compositions, especially on 1979’s “Fear of Music” and 1980’s “Remain in Light,” are tightly wound and densely packed constructions, built around repetitive loops and Byrne’s distinctive yelp that was incorporating the chanting cadences of a storefront preacher. The lyrics, small cryptic Dada-like poems, were increasingly asking paranoid questions — “What is happening to my skin? Where is that protection that I needed?” Bryne sings on “Air” — about the world that surrounds us. Some of the credit for this work belongs to producer Brian Eno, who over three albums acted less as a collaborator and more as an inspiring presence, helping the band achieve a cohesive and funky sound out of scattered and disparate pieces.
“Stop Making Sense” represents the apex of the band’s sonic journey. The stage show the film captures, part of the tour promoting 1983’s “Speaking in Tongues,” was a complete theatrical experience that incorporated Byrne’s wide-ranging series of visual influences, from strange Americana to Japanese Noh theater, not to mention the extravagant live performances of space-funk pioneers Parliament (three members of the later group would join the Talking Heads on tour and are featured in the film). These visual references were explored previously in “Talking Heads vs. Television,” a rare BBC documentary produced the same year that is more experimental in nature (which you can watch here), and 1986’s “True Stories,” which Byrne wrote, directed, and starred in.
What makes “Stop Making Sense” different from the typical concert film is the direction of Jonathan Demme, who takes an unusual approach to filming the band. The director eliminates the typical crowd reaction shots, focusing on the characters on stage. Each song is a little scene, with Byrne at the center but the other members playing notable supporting roles. A narrative builds throughout the film as the concert progresses.
But in the end, the thrill of watching “Stop Making Sense” is still witnessing a band at the height of its powers, fully in control of a sound that was uniquely theirs. Watching it today, it’s as new as it was 30 years ago, still fascinating and oblique. But as the title suggests, that’s the point.
The 30th anniversary rerelease of “Stop Making Sense” is available digitally now. The film will screen at the Film Society of Lincoln Center as part of its “Sound and Vision” series on August 1, with David Byrne in attendance.
Jennifer Sullivan is a video artist, performer, and painter — if you’re unfamiliar with her work, the strange, affecting “Adult Movie” is a good place to start. She currently has paintings in the group show “Edge of Continuation” at Pablo’s Birthday on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and on August 14 she’ll be staging a performance, titled “JS/JS: Night Painters’ Pajama Party and Confidence-Building Seminar,” at Essex Flowers. (Sullivan will “portray a figure somewhere in between Julian Schnabel and myself,” she says. “Guests are invited to wear their pajamas for this evening of inner exploration.”) Here, the artist shares her studio playlist, including cover versions of R. Kelly and Rihanna tracks.
“Moving (Live),” Kate Bush
“There was a time when I almost only listened to Kate Bush in the studio, and I’ve used her music in a video and made several paintings of her as well. Her music is almost absurdly emotional, and that is the mindset I like to be in when I am painting, really fluid and uninhibited. Also, I was a member of the Kate Bush Dance Troupe for about five years, but have now retired from the group.”
Madonna’s “Blond Ambition” Tour
“When I was a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center, I got into listening to full Madonna concerts in the studio. It’s a seven-month residency in Provincetown, Massachusetts, so I had a lot of time on my hands. Madonna has been an inspiration since childhood; she’s a great role model for expressing yourself, pro-sex feminism, and chutzpah. I actually saw the Blond Ambition tour live at the Meadowlands when I was in seventh grade, accompanied by my father. Watching the faux masturbation scene with him was probably in the top five awkward moments of my adolescence! But it was an amazing show, and she was at the height of her powers.”
“Money, Power, and Glory,” Lana del Rey
“My recent emo music of choice while painting. I hadn’t been into her before but this new album really got me hooked. It’s like a mix between Billy Holiday and Lindsey Lohan. She seems completely shameless, a femme fatale for our times. I think the music relates to camp as well, which is something I’ve been exploring in my video work. It has to do with being overly honest or sincere. I’ve been thinking about Sontag’s essay again recently. I like this line particularly: ‘Camp taste is a kind of love, love for human nature. It relishes, rather than judges, the little triumphs and awkward intensities of ‘character.’”
“You Called Me Jacky,” Pipilotti Rist (music by Kevin Coyne)
“Rist has been a big inspiration, a video artist who uses music, sensuality, and her own body in her work. There’s a couple of iconic pieces in which she covers pop songs, both of which I love as well, but this one is a little less known I think, and is moving in a bittersweet way. I like the simplicity of it, the way she layers beautiful but ordinary video of train cars and skies over a very casual lip-sync performance of this song. I love that she leaves in the mistakes too. It’s an important component.”
“This Bitter Earth,” Dinah Washington, (from the 1977 film “Killer of Sheep” by Charles Burnett)
“I was recently re-watching this amazing scene from ‘Killer of Sheep.’ It’s one of my favorite movies and the specific music he chose is a really important element. The film was made while he was a student at UCLA for only $10,000. It was critically acclaimed but never got wider distribution because he couldn't afford the rights to the music, though eventually he got them 30 years later (they cost $150,000!). I’ve been watching Ken Burn’s ‘Jazz’ documentary series lately too, and I think the power of this scene relates to a Branford Marsalis quote about the blues that really struck me: ‘The blues is about sculpting meaning in a situation that seems to defy your finding meaning in it… The fact that you recognize that which pains you is a very freeing and liberating experience… When I hear the blues, the blues makes me smile.’ This transformative process is something I strive for in my work as well.”
“I’ve been making my own pop covers for many years now. Sometimes they become a part of videos and performances. At times I’ve described my whole work process as a kind of karaoke collage, combining appropriated sources and re-embodying them or remaking them with my own voice. I try to do my covers to the best of my ability, but part of what I’m interested in about them, is that it throws the differences between myself and the original into a strong contrast. There’s something very direct about just singing a song and trying to express the feeling of it that is very satisfying.”
What do churros, Salvador Dali logo design, Pedro Almodóvar, and 1980s Spanish soccer stars have in common? They’re all elements in “Madrid Me Mata,” the boisterous exhibition by Wendy White that opened this week at Arts+Leisure in East Harlem. In the modest storefront venue, new tondo paintings in customized frames are layered on top of and alongside wall stickers printed with stills from films like “Women On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” One wall is covered in printed-vinyl images: a photograph of a restaurant window that White herself took in Madrid; covers of an influential cultural magazine published in the city during the mid-’80s; fliers for a now-defunct music club, Rock Ola; an appropriated image of a 1979 work by Ouka Leele, a sort of self-portrait with a mane of lemons. The installation, White hopes, is “something associative — not a didactive narrative.” (Her concern is borderline humorous, given how colorfully packed with dissonant references the show is.) “I’ve never done anything this personal,” White said. “This isn’t my typical style, but it feels really exciting.”
White, who was born in Connecticut and is based in New York, developed a connection to Madrid through a series of solo exhibitions in the city at Galeria Moriarty, a space launched in 1981 by Borja and Lola Moriarty. The duo had seen and bought one of White’s paintings at the ARCO fair a few years back, and included it in a group show before offering the artist her first Madrid solo in 2009. What White slowly realized was that Borja and Lola had deep roots in the city’s Movida Madrileña scene, an explosion of local cultural production following Franco’s death in 1975 — best known internationally via filmmaker Almodóvar. (The husband and wife didn’t broadcast their unique involvement in that mileiu, and it took some digging for White to uncover it: “I didn’t find a website that said, ‘These people are fucking amazing and here’s all the stuff they did.’”) “Madrid Me Mata” is White’s love letter to both a city and her two gallerists, who were forced by the economic downturn to shutter their 33-year-old venture early in 2014.
Jammed together with the visual references to the pivotal arts-and-culture movement are images and iconography relating to the Madrid Real and FC Barcelona soccer clubs. While White did realize that her show would be opening just after the tail-end of the mania-inducing World Cup, she’s quick to note that futbol has previously played an important role in her life and work. Some of the tondo paintings are augmented with stickers of soccer balls; one of the printed-vinyl images is a shot of Madrid Real’s so-called “Vulture Squad,” led by Emilio Butragueño. Other tondos incorporate cut-Plexiglas logos — for El Deseo, Almodovar’s production company, as well as for the beloved Chupa Chups lollipop. (That logo, White explained, was designed in 1969 by Salvador Dali.)
One painting is emblazoned with the expression “Salir de Copas” — roughly translated as “going out for drinks.” It’s one of the things that White appreciates about Madrid: “It’s not just going out for drinks — it’s a necessary part of a culture that feeds on that social space,” she said. “It’s a residual of La Movida. Productive partying: we could do that here, more.”
Wendy White, pictured here, at Arts + Leisure before the installation opening (Photo by: Scott Indrisek)
— Detroit Corporations Gift DIA $26.8M: Some of the city’s largest corporations have come to the aid of the Detroit Institute of Arts and pledged $26.8 million toward the $100 million “grand bargain” commitment to save the collection. The gift comes from Roger S. Penske and the Penske Corporation, Quicken Loans and the Rock Ventures Family of Companies, DTE Energy, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Meijer, Comerica Bank, the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Consumers Energy, and Delta Air Lines Foundation. The newest pledge, combined with $26 million promised by Detroit’s big three automakers and $1 million and $13 million respectively from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and J. Paul Getty Trust, puts the DIA at nearly 75 percent of its fundraising goal. [NYT, WSJ]
— US Museums Aid Syrian Heritage Sites: Penn Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center in Philadelphia is working with the Smithsonian Institute and the Syrian interim government’s Heritage Task Force to provide assistance to curators, heritage experts, and civilians still working at museums and sites of significance inside the war torn country. In June, a three-day training program offered information about securing museum collections during emergencies, provided packing supplies, and initiated dialogue surrounding emergency response specific to the Syrian crisis. Held in an undisclosed location outside of Syria and attended by around 20 people, the session served as a first step for a new project to document conditions in the area, report damage, and assess need for aid. [Art Daily]
— Imperial War Museum London Launches WWI Galleries: Imperial War Museum London will open its new, permanent First World War Galleries on July 19, coinciding with the centenary of World War I. The museum’s collections are considered the most comprehensive in the world with more than 1,300 objects such as weapons, uniforms, photographs, films, art, and ephemera. The galleries are part of a larger museum expansion that includes revisions to the Atrium, new exhibitions, public spaces, shops, and cafes. [Art Daily]
— Christie’s Breaks 2014 First Half Records: Christie’s record-breaking post-war and contemporary art auctions have pushed their sales totals past £2.69 billion for the first half of 2014. [Reuters UK]
— Call to Evaluate Russian Art Market Authentication: Following queries over the authenticity of Kazimir Malevich paintings on the Russian art market, Marina Molchanova, the curator and owner of Moscow’s Elysium Art Gallery, has called for an international council of experts to be formed in order to review how Russian avant garde artworks are authenticated. [Independent]
— Berkeley Art Museum Construction at Half Way Mark: Construction on the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, will reach its halfway mark (it is scheduled to open in 2016) with a ceremony and block party Thursday. [SFGate]
— The Centre for International Light Art Unna, the world’s only light art museum, has announced its first annual International Light Art Award with a cash prize of $13,500 to the first place winner. [The Creator’s Project]
— Quartz gives a breakdown of the technological complexities and science behind Jeff Koons’s most recognizable works. [Quartz]
— Art historian and Harvard professor emeritus Seymour Slive, one of the foremost authorities on 17th-century Dutch painting, has died at 93. [Harvard Gazette]
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“Displayed,” at Anton Kern Gallery through August 22
This exhibition spotlights work that incorporates “the languages of architecture, the museum, interior design, retail, and advertising.” It’s a productive conceit in the hands of curator Matthew Higgs, who includes photography that nods to commercial tableaux (Roe Etheridge’s absurdist image of fish with Chanel rings; Annette Kelm and Marina Pinsky’s brightly colored still life compositions) as well as sculpture and painting that relate to display: one of David Korty’s “shelf” paintings; a Nancy Shaver piece, “Bric a Brac,” that’s simply an orderly arrangement of vintage- and thrift-shop objects; and a Diane Simpson sculpture, “Window 2, Window dressing:Bib-dots,” an assemblage of gatorboard, Masonite, and other hardware-store materials that’s designed to sell nothing other than itself.
“Purple States,” at Andrew Edlin through August 16
A joyously crowded exhibition aiming to mingle contemporary artists with so-called “outsiders,” this show also includes pieces that aren’t strictly art at all — like a 19th-century Japanese futon cover hung next to (and partially under) a dyed-textile painting by Cheryl Donegan. Other highlights: One of Brian “Hey I'm In Every Group Show This Summer” Belott’s sock-and-glass works; a huge Chuck Webster painting; two of Gina Beavers’s sculptural canvases, paired next to mid-’50s photographs of female dolls by Morton Barlett; and a beautiful little Forrest Bess mountain landscape from 1968.
“Chatbots, tongues, denial, & various other abstractions,” at Bortolami through August 22
The chatbots mentioned are three conversational drones programmed by Ian Cheng to talk amongst themselves, endlessly, for a multimedia piece in the back of the gallery. As for the tongues, those are included in Carissa Rodriguez’s large-scale lingual photographs — uncomfortable close-ups of the organ in question, covered in marker annotations pointing out imperfections and problem areas in each fleshy surface. Also included: A multi-channel video work by Melanie Gilligan, with accompanying lenticular prints, and four terrific sculptures by Anicka Yi, who takes common materials — glycerin soap, fish oil vitamins, dog food — and imbues them with a kind of slapstick Beuysian, shamanic quality. The quartet of works, brilliantly illuminated within individual light boxes and bearing titles like “The Easy Way To Quit New York” and “The Question Is Why Would You Recognize My Face Tomorrow,” are worth the trip alone.
Franklin Evans, “paintingassupermodel,” at Ameringer | McEnery | Yohi through August 1
Understated and subtle are two adjectives that will never be applied to Evans’s work. For his debut at this gallery, he cannibalizes the entire space — including the floors — creating a massively dense, referential installation that’s terrifically entertaining to get lost within. Paint-spattered tape, computer print-outs, enlarged-and-stretched digital photos, and architectural schematics cover the walls; Plexi vitrines hold photographs and tiny sculptural odds-and-ends.
“That’s The Neighbor, Always Dressing These Boulders In The Yard,” at Suzanne Geiss Company through August 2
Curated by painter Torey Thornton — who has his own high-profile solo opening at L.A.’s OHWOW in September — this group exhibition includes omnipresent 2014 summer-show stars Ted Gahl and Brian Belott. The latter contributes a number of scrappy, colorful collage works; Gahl has a small painting of flowers and a larger canvas that incorporates an enlarged image of a house painter that the artist has scavenged from his own childhood drawings. Eric Mack’s “Partition” — a wall of messily painted pegboards — divides the gallery space in two, while his sculpture with moving blankets and other media, “Finding Comfort in Easy Distinction,” slumps against the far wall like a dejected drunk.