Cao Fei’s First Solo US Museum Show Channels a Dystopic Future China (artnet news)

Cao Fei, Still from Haze and Fog.Photo: Courtesy of MoMA.

Cao Fei, Still from Haze and Fog. Courtesy of MoMA.

 

Cao Fei, La Town: White Street (2014).Photo: Courtesy of MoMA PS1.

Cao Fei, La Town: White Street (2014). Photo: Courtesy of MoMA PS1.

Cao Fei has seen the future of China and it looks like Detroit—after a Hollywood zombie apocalypse. That’s certainly the impression one receives on entering the 38-old artist’s eponymously titled exhibition at MoMA PS1. In this, her first US museum solo outing, she presents several roomfuls of dystopic scenarios that include alienated teens, utopian musings, digital escapism, and post-apocalyptic clichés.

Hailed as among the most innovative Chinese artists working today, Cao has made video and digital technology her media of choice in exploring the lives of China’s citizens—especially its young citizens—as they struggle with raised expectations, falling economic growth rates, and a repressive society that censors the press and the Internet. In Cao’s still and moving image works, her country’s messy prospects are characteristically seen through the prism of China’s 13-to-35-year-old demographic. Unfortunately, global youth culture is just as conservative in the East as it is in the West.

Born in Guangzhou, also known as the “world’s factory,” Cao has experienced China’s economic boom first hand as well as the topsy-turvy paradoxes brought by one party laissez-faire capitalism. Among these is the absurdity of life in a city like Guangzhou, where Zaha Hadid’s futuristic opera house rises and whose pollution has been likened to a nuclear winter. If there is a place that symbolizes China’s dangerous contradictions, it’s Cao’s hometown; in turn, this fact gives the artist’s predictions of a coming Asian rust belt both their bite and urgency.

Cao Fei, Cosplayers Series: A Ming at Home (2004). Image: Courtesy of artist and Vitamin Creative Space.

Cao Fei, Cosplayers Series: A Ming at Home (2004). Image: Courtesy of artist and Vitamin Creative Space.

Cao’s objects, C-prints, standalone videos, and film installations liberally mix together disparate cultural elements to comment on the roiling changes bedeviling Chinese society. Among the more frequently used tropes in her arsenal are Pop aesthetics, social commentary, digital animation, virtual reality, and an evolving preoccupation with youth subcultures. An artist seemingly addicted to the ideal of roleplaying, Fei uses her performances to embark on various analog and digital fantasies that star herself or others. As the artist told artnet News’s Kathleen Massara, she’s insistently in search of what she has termed “resistant power.”

Cao’s exhibition—tidily curated by Klaus Biesenbach, Director, MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator at Large, the Museum of Modern Art—is arrayed around eight rooms on the museum’s first floor and also occupies the VW sponsored dome in the museum’s courtyard. This last space contains an especially raucous multimedia installation: It’s constituent parts include a stage set, fake Chinatown signage, reproductions of hanging birds, musical instruments and the music video stylings of the NYC-based hip-hop group Notorious MSG, one of Cao’s more entertaining collaborators. (Cao held a performance with the hip-hop group this past Sunday.)

Cao Fei

Notorious MSG, with Cao Fei.

According to the museum literature, the band’s three core members currently work at restaurants in New York City’s Chinatown. Their song “Straight out of Canton” captures a great deal of the joy and some of the potential “resistance” Cao ascribes to the group’s all-immigrant appropriation of American hip-hop. However spunky and fun-filled, though, the irony of VW—a company that has admitted to massively evading global emission regulations—sponsoring this portion of the exhibition should be lost on no one.

If Cao’s early films from the 1990s and early 2000s—eight of which are arrayed in a circle on monitors in one of the show’s last room—consist of low-fi abject fictions involving mostly friends and fellow students from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, her ensuing projects feature a combination of social realist portraiture and escapist make-believe.

In 2004, for instance, Cao followed a tribe of Cosplayers around Guangzhou. In her photographs and videos a troupe of young adults lunge, thrust, and pose like American Civil War reenactors in full manga and anime costume. Like other global simulators in similar soul-killing locales—say, Brussels or Albany—they ritually refight their own Gettysburgs amid their city’s ubiquitous gray high-rises and concrete plazas.

Cao Fei, RMB City - A Second Life City Planning (2007).Photo: Courtesy of MoMA PS 1.

Cao Fei, RMB City – A Second Life City Planning (2007). Photo: Courtesy of MoMA PS 1.

A second project that goes all-in with a richly evasive Western subculture is the artist’s embrace of Second Life: Linden Lab’s formerly hot, now not virtual world that companies like Amazon, American Apparel, and Disney rushed to brand in the early 2000s (sales in that virtual universe peaked at $64 million in 2006). From 2007 to 2011, Fei purchased enough alt-real estate to build RMB City, a digital mashup of various global gothams she ghosts with China Tracy, her own Western-looking avatar.

In real life—or at least in the artist’s exhibition—the project is represented by a promotional video, white construction tools, and a broker’s reception desk. In the wall text, Cao describes the effects of her installation: “It’s perhaps no longer important to draw the line between the virtual and the real, as the border between the two has been blurred.” The reaction of hardline Chinese officials to this fanciful fairytale is easy to fathom: From Cao Fei’s mouth to Xi Jinping’s ears.

But not all of Cao’s elaborate artworks sound the same naïve fugitive note. In 2006, for instance, she took advantage of a residence in a Siemens lighting factory to juxtapose the daydreams of workers with their lives as they are actually lived inside a manufacturing plant. The ensuing project, Whose Utopia?, materializes these workers aspirations through photographs, a newspaper titled “Utopia Daily,” and a video by the same title. In Cao’s film a prima ballerina in wings and a fuzzy white halo dances amid shop machinery, an older gentleman slides silkily around the factory floor to Chinese pop music, and a young man acts out the dream of being a rock guitarist. Extravagant fantasies all, they are saved from mere amusement by one true thing. They are located inside a place of actual exploitation.

Cao Fei, My Future is Not a Dream No.2 (2006). Courtesy of Hara Museum of Contemporary Art. © Cao Fei / Deutsche Bank Collection.

Cao Fei, My Future is Not a Dream No.2 (2006). Courtesy of Hara Museum of Contemporary Art. © Cao Fei / Deutsche Bank Collection.

Cao’s most recent project, La Town, on the other hand, falls back on Hollywood boilerplate to depict the kind of post-apocalyptic imaginings that animate mass entertainment vehicles like HBOs The Walking Dead and MILFs Versus Zombies. The film, which opens Cao’s current survey, enlists 3D dioramas to present a Breugel-like portrait of civilization struck by an unspecified disaster. As such, it begs for something more specific, less generic, more critical and less dependent on Western clichés—including copycat subcultures—to convincingly make its dystopic point. Despite some inventiveness, the first US museum show by this fast-rising Chinese art star invites adult skepticism. Escapism is not resistance, and fantasy is not utopia.

Advertisements

Climate Activists Occupy Tate Modern In Dramatic Protest Over BP Sponsorship of the Arts (artnet news)

by Lorena Muñoz-Alonso, Monday, June 15, 2015 original article here.

Protesters participating in the 25-hour “textual intervention" against BP at Tate Modern this weekend<br>Photo: Martin LeSanto-Smith via The Guardian

Protesters participating in the 25-hour “textual intervention” against BP at Tate Modern this weekend Photo: Martin LeSanto-Smith via The Guardian

On Saturday, activists occupied Tate Modern and staged a 25-hour “textual intervention” at the museum’s Turbine Hall to protest against Tate’s ongoing sponsorship agreement with BP.

The protest performance consisted of covering the sprawling hall with quotes from books about, and reports on, climate change—including Margaret Atwood’s sci-fi novel Oryx and Crake, the UN’s latest climate science report, and Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate—which participants wrote with charcoal on the concrete floor.

“We’re filling the Turbine Hall with a tide of ideas and narratives of art, activism, climate change, and oil,” Eva Blackwell, of the arts activism group Liberate Tate, told the Guardian.

Since beginning its crusade to rid Tate of its association with BP back in 2010, Liberate Tate has staged a total of 14 performances at Tate Modern and Tate Britain, including pouring oil on a naked man (see Liberate Tate Plans Mass Protest Over BP Sponsorship) and tossing £240,000 in fake money notes from Tate Britain’s members room to the main entrance.

Liberate Tate stages a protest at Tate Britain (2011)<br>Photo: Amy Scaife Courtesy Corbis

Liberate Tate stages a protest at Tate Britain (2011) Photo: Amy Scaife Courtesy Corbis

Some of these performances were announced to Tate in advance, while others—like this weekend’s—weren’t. Tate has traditionally tolerated the group’s performances, but this last one involved staying overnight in the museum and disregarding the official opening hours.

“At around 10pm, which is when Tate Modern closes on Saturdays, a group of Tate staff approached us and invited us to leave, and threatened to call the police if we didn’t,” Anna Galkina, from the activist group Platform and one of the participants in the action, told artnet News in a phone call.

“After a while, seeing that we wouldn’t leave, they allowed us to spend the night in the museum and didn’t call the police,” Galkina told artnet News.

“We were a group of around 20 participants. The following morning, they closed the public access to the area where we were, but visitors could still see our action from the balcony. We left at around noon, at the cleaning machines started wiping out the texts soon after.”

A Tate visitor reads the texts written on the floor of Tate's Turbine Hall<br>Photo: Martin LeSanto-Smith via The Guardian

A Tate visitor reads the texts written on the floor of Tate’s Turbine Hall Photo: Martin LeSanto-Smith via The Guardian

“Oil companies like BP are trying to carry on pretending it’s business as usual, but time is running out to act on climate change,” protester Yasmin de Silva told the Guardian. “We’re already seeing the impact of climate change globally, and companies, foundations, and institutions around the world are turning away from the fossil fuel industry that’s driving us to climate disaster,” she declared.

In January, after a bitter legal battle over a freedom of information request by Liberate Tate and Platform, Tate was forced to reveal the scale of BP’s support, disclosing that, between 1990 and 2006, it received between £150,000 and £330,000 per year from BP, a mere 0.5 percent of the institution’s annual budget (see Tate’s Hotly Contested BP Sponsorship Is Laughably Small).

“We know how much Tate has received from BP historically, but still don’t know how much it is receiving right now,” Galkina told arnet News. “Tate is supposed to make the decision on whether to continue its sponsorship deal with BP around late 2015, or early 2016, so this performance was a way to make sure they know they are still being watched.”

Protesters participating in the 25-hour “textual intervention" against BP at Tate Modern this weekend<br>Photo via: Twitter @liberatetate

Protesters participating in the 25-hour “textual intervention” against BP at Tate Modern this weekend Photo via: Twitter @liberatetate

Tate is not the only museum tackling budget cuts with the help of sponsorship deals from oil companies. London’s institutions like the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Science Museum all have deals with oil companies (see Emails Reveal Shell Attempted to Influence Climate-Change Program at London’s Science Museum).

Representatives from Tate weren’t immediately available when contacted by artnet News for comment.

Uffizi Gallery Turns Jailed Mafia Boss’s Naples Home into Art Museum—That’s Weird (artnet news)

by Amah-Rose Abrams, Wednesday, May 27, 2015 original article here.

Camorra House Museum

The house of Camorra boss Egidio “Brutus” Coppola, soon to become a museum Photo: via The Guardian

The Scarface-inspired home of imprisoned Camorra boss Egidio “Brutus” Coppola will become a temporary museum, the Guardian reports.

The show titled “The Light Wins Over the Shadow” opens in Naples on June 22. Dedicated to the memory of a local priest, Peppe Diana, who was murdered by the Camorra in 1994, the exhibition will include works lent by the Florentine Uffizi Gallery and others.

The seemingly unlikely collaboration of venue and lender came to be due to a chance meeting between Renato Natale, the anti-Camorra major of Casal di Principe, and Uffizi Director, Antonio Natali.

Natale has become recognized for being outspoken in his opposition to the Camorra as the town has long been a power center for the Casalesi clan. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, on the other hand, fell victim to an attack from the Scillian Mafia, Cosa Nostra, in 1993, which resulted in five deaths and $1 million in damages.

“Only through the promotion of civil society can we build a community that will always be ready to protect itself from this kind of infiltration,” Major Natale told the Guardian. “We as a people are kind of like a stammerer who has had a deep, deep trauma as a child. Here we had a trauma, that was Camorra, for everybody.“

There are hopes locally that the museum will become a permanent institution to commemorate the so-called resistance against the Camorra, with Natali stating that this is “one of the main aspirations of the Uffizi.”

The project is just one of many like it in the Naples area, which is seeking to liberate itself from the hold that the Camorra has maintained on the region for decades. Another re-use of mafia assets has seen a nearby field that was used by mafia boss “O Pazzo,” or “Crazy One,” to raise horses used by a co-operative to produce organic buffalo mozzarella.

Donatello’s Florence Cathedral Sculptures Cross the Atlantic for the First Time (Hyperallergic)

By by Allison Meier on March 18, 2015 original article here.

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Nanni di Banco, “St. Luke the Evangelist” (1408–13), marble, and Donatello, “St. John the Evangelist” (1408–15), marble, both of which were in niches alongside the Florence Cathedral’s main portal and are now on view in the Museum of Biblical Art’s ‘Sculpture in the Age of Donatello.’ (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

 

Gauzy white fabric divides the single gallery of the Museum of Biblical Art into a series of ethereal chambers for Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral, each turn revealing the marble visage of some stern saint or prophet. It’s an improbable exhibition, with 23 early Renaissance pieces that have rarely (if ever) left Italy, let alone crossed the Atlantic to arrive at this small Upper West Side museum. After their return to Florence’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, it’s likely most of these pieces will never travel again because of their fragility and size. That exceptional nature of the exhibition is reason enough to visit, but the unexpected humanity of Donatello’s sculptures up close makes it essential.

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Installation view of ‘Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral’ at the Museum of Biblical Art

The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, the museum of Florence Cathedral, is currently undergoing renovations until October, and the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) is the only stop for Sculpture in the Age of Donatello. Meanwhile, there’s just one relief by Donatello on permanent view in the United States: “Madonna of the Clouds” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This will probably be the best showing of his Florentine work in the United States for a while, maybe a lifetime.

Co-curated by Museo dell’Opera Director Timothy Verdon and Donatello scholar Daniel Zolli, who’s based at Harvard University, the exhibition also includes work by Donatello’s collaborators and contemporaries, who from 1400 to 1450 participated in making the Florence Cathedral, a project that jumpstarted the Renaissance in art and architecture. Anchoring the show are two colossal sculptures by Donatello (aka Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi) and Nanni di Banco, demonstrating two impressive sculptors competing with very different aesthetics right on the cathedral façade.

Donatello’s “St. John the Evangelist” (1408–15) gazes with furrowed intensity and a sprawling beard, while di Banco’s “St. Luke the Evangelist” (1408–13) has a neat style that could be mistaken for a Roman sculpture of Hadrian, his eyes half closed. Both were once positioned in niches on either side of the cathedral’s portal, four feet above an average person. To get the full impact of their oversize scale, you’d have to sprawl on the MOBIA floor (not recommended) and look up. Despite the slightly skewed perspective of viewing them at eye level, you get an immediate idea of two distinct artists, especially the energy emanating from Donatello’s saint, who, despite his detached confidence, feels ill at ease. A century later, the work would influence Michelangelo’s equally hulking “Moses.”

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Donatello, “Prophet” (1435–36), marble, and “Abraham and Isaac” (1421), marble

You could easily linger with each piece, from Filippo Brunelleschi’s wood models for the cathedral’s dome to Luca della Robbia’s reliefs for its bell tower. However, it’s the animation in Donatello’s work that really bristles. This feeling is strongest in two pieces from the cathedral’s bell tower positioned together. In a collaboration with Nanni di Bartolo, Donatello worked a single block of marble into “Abraham and Isaac” (1421), capturing the moment when Abraham was called to stop the sacrifice of his son, a test of faith. Isaac wears a look of blank resignation, but Abraham’s carved eyes have a startled expression — you can almost hear the shriek of angels halting his knife, the blade still resting on his son’s shoulder while he grips the boy’s hair. Opposite is one of Donatello’s best, the “Prophet” (1435–36) or “Zuccone” (Squash Head), as he’s nicknamed for his bald skull. Thought by many to depict the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, the figure’s eyes originally angled down from the bell tower; even in that aged, mutilated face you can sense real conflicted human psychology.

Whether in the resolution of a saint, the torment of a prophet, or a father compelled to nearly murder his son, Donatello embodied the heaviness of the divine pressing on humanity with compelling naturalism, even while the stone still feels raw and exposed. It’s hard from the exhibition’s white, transcendent design to understand the original perspective and positioning of the sculptures in the towering cathedral, looking down from their imposing perches. Fortunately, at a human scale there remains the intended sense of awe, and one that’s for a fleeting time transported to New York.

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Detail of Donatello’s “Prophet” (1435–36), marble

Donatello, "Prophet" (1435-36), marble; and "Abraham and Isaac" (1421), marble

Donatello, “Prophet” (1435–36), marble, and “Abraham and Isaac” (1421), marble

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Detail of Donatello’s “Abraham and Isaac” (1421), marble

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Installation view of ‘Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral’ at the Museum of Biblical Art

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Donatello and Michelozzo, bronze heads with traces of gilding (1439), possibly copied from ancient bronzes

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Three marble sculptures by Luca della Robbia for the Florence Cathedral’s bell tower (1437–39)

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Two marble prophets by Donatello from 1406–10, sculpted for the bell tower of Florence Cathedral

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Two marble “profetinos,” or “small prophets,” the one on the left attributed to Donatello and the one on the right to Nanni di Banco, both from 1406–09 Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Nanni di Banco or Donatello, “Vir Dolorum” (“Man of Sorrows”) (1407–09), marble

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Attributed to Giovanni d’Ambrogio, “Archangel Gabriel of the Annunciation” and “Virgin Mary of the Annunciation” (both late 14th century), marble

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Installation view of ‘Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum’ of Biblical Art

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

orenzo Ghiberti, “Adoration of the Magi” (replica from the North Doors of Florence Baptistery), gilded bronze; Master of Castel di Sangro, “Adoration of the Magi” (first half of 15th century), maiella stone, which copied the original Ghiberti composition

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

nstallation view of ‘Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral’ at the Museum of Biblical Art

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces From Florence Cathedral at the Museum of Biblical Art

Exterior view of the Museum of Biblical Art

 

Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral continues at the Museum of Biblical Art (1865 Broadway, Upper West Side, Manhattan) through June 14. 

 

What Just Happened? The Björk Experience at MoMA (Hyperallergic)

by E. Wouk Almino, J. Steinhauer, B. Sutton on March 3, 2015 original article here.

Alexander McQueen, Bell Dress (2004) and Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, aka Shoplifter, 'Medúlla' hair piece (2004) (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

Alexander McQueen, Bell Dress (2004) and Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, aka Shoplifter, ‘Medúlla’ hair piece (2004) (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

This morning, three Hyperallergic editors — Elisa Wouk Almino, Jillian Steinhauer, and Benjamin Sutton — ventured out to see the Museum of Modern Art’s (MoMA) latest foray into avant-garde pop star curating: Björk (an exhibition that needs no subtitle). The show consists of a number of scattered components: instruments used in the making of Biophilia (her 8th album), on view in the lobby; two custom-built boxes/theaters that show, respectively, the new MoMA-commissioned video for “Black Lake” and a looping retrospective of her music videos; and an installation called “Songlines,” which features dresses, props from videos, and notebooks in a maze-like series of rooms, accompanied by a 40-minute “experimental sound experience” called “The Triumphs of a Heart” that mixes Björk’s music and a fictional fairy tale.

None of us editors was very familiar with Björk before (Hrag, who is the Björk fan among us, couldn’t make it). It’s unclear how familiar we are with her now. Here, a discussion of the show.

From left to right: Bernhard Willhelm, 'Volta' Tour Dress, The Icelandic Love Corporation, Second Skin (2004) and Wild Woman Voodoo Granny Doll Crochet (2007/15) (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

From left to right: Bernhard Willhelm, ‘Volta’ Tour Dress, The Icelandic Love Corporation, Second Skin (2004) and Wild Woman Voodoo Granny Doll Crochet (2007/15) (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

Jillian Steinhauer: WELL, that was interesting. Do we start with the good or the bad? How about both? The good, for me: I left more into Björk as a musician than I’ve ever been before! The bad: holy hagiography.

Elisa Wouk Almino: The good: I got to see Björk in person dressed as a cactus. (She was there for three minutes, partially visible behind lots of journalists.) The bad: I think my headset told me that to feel like an underwater jellyfish is to experience a higher mode of being.

Benjamin Sutton: For me, the only good part was the exhibition’s lower level, where we got to watch her music videos. The bad: everything else. That being said, there were a couple of objects upstairs, in the “Björk: The Ride” portion of the show, that I really liked. What were some of your favorite future Hard Rock Café artifacts from the show?

Some of Bjork's notebooks in the "Songlines" portion of the exhibition (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

Some of Björk’s notebooks in the “Songlines” portion of the exhibition (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

JS: I think you mean “Björk: The Experience.” (Sorry, readers, it’s actually called “Songlines.”) And honestly, I had trouble concentrating on any of them because I was so distracted by the horrible audio droning on in my ears: “You have been given a heart, which rests on your chest”; “The girl’s body had become home to a new heart — a tiny baby’s girl’s heart.” I was disheartened to learn that the script was penned by an actual writer named Sjón.

I suppose I liked seeing her notebooks and handwriting. The dresses were cool, but I just don’t have strong feelings about crazy designer dresses.

EWA: Yeah, in some ways I was more surprised by the mannequin Björk heads than the elaborate dresses themselves. And based on those notebooks that sound like the utterances of an angsty teenager (some of them do, actually, date to her childhood), I would think Björk wrote the script. That being said, the notebooks are one of the few items that revealed something about her work process.

Iris van Herpen, 'Biophilia' Dress (2011) (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

Iris van Herpen, ‘Biophilia’ Dress (2011) (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

BS: Agreed. That lack of anything even remotely informative about her work and creative process is what, for me, made it not just an underwhelming exhibition, but a seriously bad one. I think her videos and the collaborations she’s done with artists and designers — everyone from her former partner Matthew Barney and the Dutch duo Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin to Alexander McQueen and Marjan Pejoski — are worthy fodder for a museum show, but this one is so conceptually compromised and flimsily assembled that I spent most of today’s preview in disbelief that I was actually at MoMA.

JS: This is probably just me being me, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s a bit of sexism at work here. I feel like if this were a show celebrating a male musician, we’d get more than just dresses and music videos — which, although they look awesome on a big screen in a comfy makeshift theater, are, after all, available to watch at home on your computer. Did either of your learn anything today that you didn’t already know about Björk?

EWA: I learned, thanks to the “Black Lake” video, that Björk has a deep connection with rocks.

JS: Ha!

EWA: I do honestly think she takes her love of rocks seriously.

Installation view, 'Björk' at MoMA (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic) (click to enlarge)

Installation view, ‘Björk’ at MoMA (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

BS: I dunno, I learned that Björk probably drives a Volkswagen now — at least I hope she does, in light of how heavily VW-branded this show is. (The “innovative technology” for “Songlines” is based on an app developed by Volkswagen.) As far as the sexism question, Jillian, I don’t know. I haven’t seen an equivalent exhibition devoted to a male musician. I guess we’ll have to wait for the inevitable Beck retrospective.

JS: I didn’t see the David Bowie retrospective, but it seemed to suffer from similar problems, so that would perhaps be a useful comparison. I feel like this gets at the question of how to present these types of artists in a museum setting. I agree that Björk seems worthy of a show, but it seemed like MoMA had no idea what to do with her or how to create one to emphasize her actual artistry. So they went for spectacle.

EWA: We did have to stand in three different lines for puzzlingly long amounts of time. One line that was somewhat worth the wait was for the new video MoMA commissioned, “Black Lake” — the visuals were actually quite stunning.

Björk, still from "Black Lake"

till from Björk’s and director Andrew Thomas Huang’s “Black Lake” video (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

 

JS: Agreed. I think “Black Lake” drove home for me that Björk’s best medium is the music video. It made me wish the show was more intensely focused on that aspect of her work, on breaking down how those get made, especially since they seem so collaborative.

BS: Yeah, “Black Lake” was beautiful, but even that was overwrought. The architectural installation — by The Living — seemed superfluous and incredibly inconsiderate. Like curator Klaus Biesenbach and Björk decided: “Let’s cover the walls with soft, plush things, then make people sit on the floor!” [Maniacal laughter.] And the video plays simultaneously on two screens on either side of the room in some feeble attempt at creating an “immersive” experience. Why not just have one screen and more of those cushioned red cubes from the adjacent music video theater?

Instruments for 'Biophilia': Björgvin Tómasson and Matt Nolan's Gameleste and Björgvin Tómasson's Pipe Organ

nstruments for ‘Biophilia’: Björgvin Tómasson and Matt Nolan’s Gameleste and Björgvin Tómasson’s Pipe Organ (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

JS: I don’t know, I didn’t mind the floor so much — at least we were allowed to sit. Can I just mention that I thought the instruments in the lobby were super cool, probably my favorite part? Although I was disappointed to miss the Tesla coil — the wall text said it was there, but I couldn’t find it.

EWA: Yeah, I don’t think there was substantial enough wall text throughout. I’m all for an exhibition that privileges experience over information, but I think some context would have made the show less fragmentary and confusing.

BS: Maybe, to play devil’s advocate for a moment, that’s why we were all so intensely disappointed by the exhibition: we were expecting an exhibition. Had we shown up to preview “The Tunnel of Björk” — and had said tunnel flowed a little more smoothly — we would have liked it?

JS: But if we wanted “The Tunnel of Björk,” wouldn’t we have gone to alterna–Walt Disney World?

BS: That’s exactly where we went.

Shaun Leane, Feather Ear Pieces (2003/15) (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

Shaun Leane, Feather Ear Pieces (2003/15) (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

 

Alexander McQueen, "Pagan Poetry" Dress (2001), and Matthew Barney, 'Verspertine' Music Box (2001) and 'Vespertine Live' Shoes (2001) (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

Alexander McQueen, “Pagan Poetry” Dress (2001), and Matthew Barney, ‘Verspertine’ Music Box (2001) and ‘Vespertine Live’ Shoes (2001) (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

 

Chris Cunningham, "All Is Full of Love" Robots (1999) (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

Chris Cunningham, “All Is Full of Love” Robots (1999) (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

 

Detail of one of Chris Cunningham's "All Is Full of Love" Robots (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

Detail of one of Chris Cunningham’s “All Is Full of Love” Robots (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

 

Coat from "Jóga" Music Video (1997) (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

Coat from “Jóga” Music Video (1997) (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

 

Bernhard Willhelm, Body Sculpture (2007) (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

Bernhard Willhelm, Body Sculpture (2007) (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

 

Björk ephemera and photos (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

Björk ephemera and photos (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

 

Val Gardland, Crystal Mask

Val Garland, Crystal Mask (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

 

Installation view, the "Songlines" portion of Björk at MoMA (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

Installation view, the “Songlines” portion of Björk at MoMA (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

 

Sean Hellfritsch and Isaiah Saxon, "Wanderlust" Painbody Head, Costume, and Yak (2007)

Sean Hellfritsch and Isaiah Saxon, “Wanderlust” Painbody Head, Costume, and Yak (2007) (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

 

The entrance to "Songlines" (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

The entrance to “Songlines” (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

 

The music video room (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

The music video room (photo by Benjamin Sutton/Hyperallergic)

 

A view of Andrew Cavatorta's Gravity Harps (2011), used on Björk's album 'Biophilia,' in the MoMA lobby (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

A view of Andrew Cavatorta’s Gravity Harps (2011), used on Björk’s album ‘Biophilia,’ in the MoMA lobby (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

 

Björk's and director Stephane Sednaoui's "Big Time Gravity" video (1993), projected on a large wall at MoMA

Björk’s and director Stephane Sednaoui’s “Big Time Sensuality” video (1993), projected on a large wall at MoMA (photo by Jillian Steinhauer/Hyperallergic)

 

Björk will be on view at the Museum of Modern Art (11 W 53rd St, Midtown East, Manhattan) from March 8 through June 7.

 

 

Copy Makes Perfect: Sturtevant at MoMA (Hyperallergic)

by Cynthia Cruz on February 11, 2015 original article here.

Installation view of 'Sturtevant: Double Trouble' at the Museum of Modern Art (© 2014 The Museum of Modern Art; photo by Thomas Griesel; all works by Sturtevant © Estate Sturtevant, Paris)

Installation view of ‘Sturtevant: Double Trouble’ at the Museum of Modern Art (© 2014 The Museum of Modern Art; photo by Thomas Griesel; all works by Sturtevant © Estate Sturtevant, Paris)

 

The concepts of appropriation and replication were on the lips of many presenters at the College Art Association (CAA) conference this year. In light of the buzz on this topic, I thought this article would be appropriate.

Repetition is displacement, repetition is difference; repetition is pushing the limits of resemblance and limitation — it has some other factors or dynamics. So it’s not like saying you repeat. For instance, Andy Warhol repeated, but he did not do repetition … But repetition has nothing to do with repeating. —Sturtevant

The multiplication of things under an absolutely identical concept has as its consequence the division of the concept into absolutely identical things. —Gilles Deleuze

The Museum of Modern Art’s current retrospective of Sturtevant’s work, Double Trouble, is a study in movement. Along with her many near-replications of other artists’ work (including takes on Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Félix Gonzalez-Torres, and Joseph Beuys) it features her more recent video works. These videos — “Finite Infinite” (2010), a corridor-long projection of a dog running; “Dillinger Running Series” (2000), in which Sturtevant-as-Beuys races along the wall to a pounding beat; and “Pacman” (2012), featuring footage of the eponymous game, with Pac-Man racing after and consuming dots and fruits — each introduce elements of a pervasive theme that relates to racing, consuming, and being consumed. Juxtaposed with her “copy” pieces, these videos shed light on her work: Sturtevant’s practice consumes pieces by other artists as she races ahead, making herself invisible behind the work of others in order to avoid being consumed in turn.

Installation view of ‘Sturtevant: Double Trouble’ at the Museum of Modern Art (© 2014 The Museum of Modern Art; photo by Thomas Griesel; all works by Sturtevant © Estate Sturtevant, Paris)

 

She is, of course, not actually invisible. She exists in the space between the original work and the copy. In this way, she stays ahead of the game. And it is in this space, this trace, that Sturtevant’s genius exists. In Of Grammatology, Derrida describes trace as the difference between two signs. For example, the meaning of woman will always have the shadow of man behind it. The space between is the trace. It is the “mark of the absence of a presence, an always-already absent present.”

In an interview with SUNY Purchase art history professors Bruce Hainley and Michael Lobel printed in the MoMA catalogue, Sturtevant says that she read Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition in its original in French in Ibiza with the assistance of a French-English dictionary. Years later, when the book was translated into English, Sturtevant reread the book, which, as one might imagine, was an entirely different text from the one she read in 1968 when it was first published. Deleuze’s central idea is that when, for example, Marcel Duchamp makes a copy of a urinal, the new copy is the event; it is no longer about the (so-called) original copy. This concept infers a sense of movement, the movement from so-called copy to copy, and it is in this movement of copying that Sturtevant’s artwork occurs.

Sturtevant’s work is often confused for an act of “appropriation” and consequently taken as a gesture of anger directed at the male artists whose work she “appropriates.” It is revealing to contrast this with the work of male artists deemed “appropriation artists,” like Richard Prince or even Andy Warhol, neither of whom has been construed as angry or even political. As a result, her work is often dismissed as an affront. One example is a review by Vincent Noce in the French newspaper Libération of Sturtevant’s 2010 exhibition, The Razzle Dazzle of Thinking, at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Noce writes:

A pioneer of the “appropriationist” trend, the artist asserts facsimile as artistic process. She confuses replicating with copying, which are two distinct notions: a replica is realized by the artist him- or herself. In music or literature, such a debate would be unimaginable: a plagiarist who reproduced a score note for note, or a book word for word, and then affixed his or her name to it would be covered in shame. But in the visual arts, legitimacy is acquired through obscurity of discourse. What is fundamentally at stake is aesthetics. One must see these copies to realize just how ugly they are: crudely made, with mediocre materials, gloomy colors, all the life having run out of them. Parody is a gesture that might have had meaning in the 1960s. But just as spluttering does not make a story, posturing does not make art, and imposture even less.

Sturtevant, "Study for Muybridge Plate #97: Woman Walking" (1966) (Glenstone; photo by Alex Jamison; © Estate Sturtevant, Paris)

Sturtevant, “Study for Muybridge Plate #97: Woman Walking” (1966) (Glenstone; photo by Alex Jamison; © Estate Sturtevant, Paris)

To confine Sturtevant’s work to “appropriation” art is to miss the beauty and the genius of it. At MoMA we are helped by interviews in which she speaks frankly about her impulse and what drives her. Discussing Duchamp, Warhol, and Deleuze, she returns over and over to the theme of repetition. Repetition as the guiding force; appropriation as the means by which to make repetition. Compulsive repetition does several things. For one, it negates: when an image is repeated, the second iteration erases the first. In other words, the second replaces the first — the first is negated. Say the same word over and over and the word will eventually lose meaning. This is what Sturtevant means when she proclaims, in the introduction to the Double Trouble catalogue, “I wanted to make an artwork that could disappear.” The same can be said for the artist.

Installation view of 'Sturtevant: Double Trouble' at the Museum of Modern Art (© 2014 The Museum of Modern Art; photo by Thomas Griesel; all works by Sturtevant © Estate Sturtevant, Paris)

Installation view of ‘Sturtevant: Double Trouble’ at the Museum of Modern Art (© 2014 The Museum of Modern Art; photo by Thomas Griesel; all works by Sturtevant © Estate Sturtevant, Paris)

By repeatedly taking on the roles of other artists and making work that replicates their work, Sturtevant vanishes, in essence, into the background. But so do the artists she imitates, whose “originals” are consumed by her “copies.” In interviews, she has stated that she does not want biographical information included in relation to her work. Biographical information overshadows the work, she said, and then people wont look at the work. In order for her work to work, she needs to vanish.

sturtevant_moma_in2304_09_cc

Installation view of ‘Sturtevant: Double Trouble’ at the Museum of Modern Art (© 2014 The Museum of Modern Art; photo by Thomas Griesel; all works by Sturtevant © Estate Sturtevant, Paris)

 

 

 

 

 

Bristol Museum Will Display Stolen Banksy Confiscated by City Hall (artnet news)

by Sarah Cascone, Thursday, April 17, 2014 original article here.

banksy-mobile-lovers-1

Banksy, Mobile Lovers (2014), in Bristol. Photo via Banksy.co.uk.

The municipal government in Bristol has stepped in to resolve the controversy over secretive street artist Banksy‘s latest work, which will now be displayed at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, reports the BBC.

Shortly after the painting of a couple embracing, their faces alight with the glow of their mobile devices, was announced on Banksy’s website, an opportunistic local youth club leader, Dennis Stinchcombe, pried the plywood artwork from the doorway where it had been installed.

Where the original stood, a smaller copy was displayed, along with a note reading:

NOTICE
This is where Banksy’s work did stand. It has been removed as it was at risk of being damaged or vandalized or taken away. As some of you may be aware, the Riverside Youth Project which stands to your left is under major threat of being shut down due to funding. You can view the art work in our building where it is being kept safe from harm! We will ask a small donation to be contributed if you do wish to view. Please do not hesitate to pop in!

Reactions to Stinchcombe’s theft have ranged from death threats to an offer of $1.7 million for the painting, according to the BBC. The Broad Plain Boys’ Club claims to need over $200,000 to continue operations, and had initially hoped to raise $170,000 from the proceeds of a sale.

Yesterday, Bristol mayor George Ferguson stepped in, urging the club to turn the painting over to police. “As far as we know it belongs to the city,” he told the BBC. “What’s important is that it’s available for everybody to see.” Reluctantly, the club acquiesced.

Now, it is unclear how much the struggling organization will benefit from the artwork, which is scheduled to go on view tomorrow, “once,” per the museum’s Twitter feed, “we have cleaned the spiders, wasp nest and dirt off.”

The Bristol Museum and Art Gallery promises to put up a donation box next to the work, and the mayor is encouraging Banksy to offer a limited-edition print of the work, with the proceeds to go to the club.

Stinchcombe, for his part, is heartbroken, asking “How often do you see a million pounds walk out of your club?”

 

UPDATE!!!!

see updates about Mobile Lovers here.