Nick Cave “Hiding in Plain Sight” at the Austin Museum of Art - Arthouse: When entering the downtown Jones Center location of the AMOA-Arthouse, the Austin Museum of Art’s contemporary counterpart, the visitor is bombarded with two large figures. One seems to be a blobby button person, while the other is a twig man, both with intricately embroidered socks poking out from the bottom as if to assert “Yes! This is a figure!” Upon turning the corner, more of these textile monsters appear, one made of rugs from grandma’s house, with another woven out of pipe cleaners and other children’s craft items. These are what artist Nick Cave calls “Soundsuits,” assemblage sculptures made of found objects, referencing Southeast Asian embroidery, queer and drag culture, African ceremonial costumes as well as Mardi Gras. Cave’s Soundsuits are eerily beautiful, creating a whimsical world in which you wish the creatures would come to life. An avant-garde fashion designer of sorts, “Hiding in Plain Sight” addresses our relationship with the materials around us every day, celebrating the dynamic nature that these textiles and objects possess.
Hiding in Plain Sight is on view at AMOA-Arthouse Jones Center in downtown Austin, TX until February 24th.
In her exhibition Crowd Control in Pitzer College’s Lezner Family Gallery, Tannaz Farsi confronts ideas of cultural, national, and personal values in a show of all new sculptural works. Originally from Iran, Farsi’s work uses highly symbolic forms such as flags and security barriers to convey her intended narrative. A show of all new works, the five pieces in Crowd Control divide the space into somewhat awkward sections, creating a confrontation between the forms and the viewer within the gallery space. Working together to complete this narrative, it is interesting to note that no one piece is individually named. The exhibition, rather, carries an overarching title as a whole, leading to Farsi’s intention of creating a “sentence structure” for these compiled works
Taking this disruption into account, the exposed wires in the crowd control barrier piece, which at first seem like a sloppy installation afterthought, influence this feeling of anxiety provoked through the objects around us. The grounded, monochrome flag leaning from the floor to the ceiling remind the viewer of a symbolic object that holds great significance in all cultures, however shifts the power position of this object to a horizontal, and therefore less authoritative plane. And while Farsi seems to have meant for the harsh black line running its way around the gallery at about eye level to divide the stark white walls into two parts, it rather seems to provide the viewer with a clearly defined path from which to guide their eyes around the space.
However, in comparison to the rigid lines of the rest of the works in the space, the rounded You Are Invisible sign piece seems out of place, and almost unnecessary to complete the exhibition’s intended narrative. The appropriated text in much of Farsi’s work seems arbitrary and inevitably non-essential to the overall meaning or message of the work. Rather than guiding the viewer toward the artist’s intended meaning, the text bombards the viewer with unnecessary and often misleading information, and would arguably be stronger without it.
Ann Hamilton “The Event of a Thread” at the Park Avenue Armory: You enter an enormous room with ample open floor space and vaulted ceilings akin to a gymnasium. Large wooden swings hang from rafters, with spotlights highlighting the floor beneath them. Each swing is built into a network of pullies, levers and strings, all attached to a massive sheet of dreamy silk-like fabric suspended from the middle of the room. There are tables on either end of the room with caged pigeons and cloaked people reading off of a scroll into a microphone, paper bags with speakers inside of them strewn around the floor, and record players watching from the stadium seating above the ground floor. None of these tables, pigeons, speakers or cloaks matter though, because you are having too much fun swinging. As you swing, you manipulate the fabric, allowing the visitor to be a viewer and artist all at once. Although the “story” and scripted performative aspects of Ann Hamilton’s “The Event of a Thread” are elusive and confusing, the participatory nature of the piece truly brings joy and a lighthearted feeling of weightlessness and control to all those who visit it. A beautiful and simple concept, Hamilton’s constructed environment is nothing short of brilliant.
The Event of a Thread was on view at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City from December 5th to January 6th.
Video taken while lying underneath the fabric wall at Ann Hamilton’s “The Event of a Thread” at the Park Avenue Armory.
Regarding Warhol at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Featuring sixty artists influenced by Andy Warhol over the past fifty years, this exhibit at the Met is an amazing display of both the transition from modern into contemporary over the past fifty years as well as of Warhol’s own expansive body of work. With paintings, prints, movies and more by Warhol, side by side with sculptures, photographs, and installations by Ai Weiwei, Felix Gonzales-Torrez, and Cindy Sherman among dozens of others, this is a show you don’t want to miss!
pictured (top to bottom):
Andy Warhol - Flowers, 1964. Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas.
Jeff Koons - Puppies, 1988. Glazed ceramic.
Ai Weiwei - Neolithic Vase with Coca-Cola Logo, 2010. Paint on Neolithic vase (5000-3000 B.C.)
Andy Warhol - Green Coca-Cola Bottles, 1962. Silkscreen, acrylic, and graphite on canvas.
Andy Warhol - Cow Wallpaper (Pink on Yellow), 1966. Silkscreen on wallpaper.
Andy Warhol - Silver Clouds, 1966-2012. Silver balloons and helium.
Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years closes tomorrow (New Years Eve)!
arExit Art - Alternative Histories: In the summer of 2010 I had the opportunity to work as a curatorial intern at Exit Art, a cornerstone of New York City alternative art spaces that unfortunately closed its doors in 2012 after an amazing thirty year run. In the fall of 2010, the exhibition “Alternative Histories” was mounted, chronicling over 120 alternative art spaces in the five boroughs of New York City from the 1960s until now. That summer I conducted interviews alongside the curatorial team with founders of alternative art spaces, scoured the archives at NYU for photos, posters, and other printed memorabilia from these spaces, as well as conducting background research on the spaces for wall and book texts. The show was recently turned into a book (pictured here) which I greatly advise you all buy, worship, and frame the page with my name on it.
A Family Menagerie
Slip-cast and glazed stoneware, stained oak
How do we measure the passage of time? Are we solely defined by the time we live individually, or are we built from those who came before us? A passage of time, a pang of nostalgia, a passing down of memories. As ones we love pass on, those left behind take on their possessions. We keep them, and even as the details melt away, these objects remain precious and comforting. Delicately arranged, untouchable but familiar, as reminders of those who inform who we are.
Meta-Monumental Bake Sale at the Museum of Contemporary Art: For her first solo exhibition at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles–based artist Lauren Cronk presents her work Meta-Monumental Bake Sale, a large-scale version of the classic American bake sale, in which Museum visitors can browse and buy baked goods organized, displayed, and sold by the artist. The installation fills MoCA’s front sidewalk with delicious baked goods made by the artist, and Pitzer College faculty and students, creating a lively space for exchange between Cronk and her customers as they haggle over prices. If customers agree, they may be photographed with their purchases.
(text appropriated and edited from Martha Rosler’s exhibition at MoMA)
Levitated Mass at LACMA: Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, a massive boulder moved from the desert of San Bernadino to be permanently installed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, was frankly kind of a disappointment. While lying underneath the sculpture, sandwiched between the rock face and the cool concrete its shade provides, is a soothing escape from the hectic city surroundings, however looking at the piece from any other vantage point is simply unimpressive. The “levitated” mass is clearly supported by aesthetically non-pleasing welded metal trusses, with which the rock was not accurately enough cut to fleshly fit against. The concrete gulley the work sits upon is too reminiscent of a street gutter, not offering the sweet escape from the surrounding urban sprawl that I was expecting. After months of hype and a publicized parade of sorts to bring the rock from its inland home to the museum, I’m sad that all this work made me want is to see Double Negative in real life instead.