One of my favorite shows in the city right now is by Creative Time alum, Jeremy Blake. I was introduced to his work at a Creative Council party
for the release of his Winchester Redux DVD
. Blake's Sodium Fox
at Feigen Contemporary
has rocked my world everytime I've seen it. A happily overwhelming collection of drawings, paintings, and c-prints in the front room of the gallery can't begin to prepare the senses for the astonishing video in the second room. The video is a collaboration with poet and musician David Berman
. The duo stick their hands into the pop culture cake, and pull out gifts that are both sad and beautiful. More than anything, the piece just feels mystified. Yes, mystified. Something like, "Where are my hands, and why am I holding this gun?"
When This Kiss Is Over It Will Start Again
I hope to say more about The Plain of Heaven
over the weekend, but in the meantime I'll just say . . .GO!!! Seriously. In an earlier post I referred to the installation as being "nearly perfect." I was just trying to display good manners. Forget that. The truth of the matter is that this show is
kinda perfect. If you're a building and you're going to go down, this is the way to do it. Beauty. Ritual. Bye-bye.
Saskia Olde Wolbers
Jim Hodges' Look and See
received a nice mention in the excellent article on Richard Tuttle
by Peter Plagens in the October Art + Auction
"On a break from one of our recent kaffeeklatsches and not yet quite willing to show me his kitchen-studio, Tuttle walks briskly (with the dog) down to Battery Park to witness the off-loading of a big, site-specific sculpture by Jim Hodges. 'If you can appreciate the work of younger artists as much as your own,' Tuttle says, 'you get more art in your life, and you return to your own concerns richer and stronger for it."
Here and Gone.
In Time Square tonight, between the hours of 5 and 6, Song Dong painted time in water. Just that phrase is lovely. Time in water. I could stop there, but I won't. Call me a river.
As much affection as I have for the newly opened and nearly perfect The Plain of Heaven
is why Creative Time takes up so many chambers in my oversized art heart. They let everybody in.
Times Square lives by its name: it's a square that does everything it possibly can to contain time. In the space of an hour Song Dong took a brush and some water, and did nothing but remind us of the movement of time's full circle. Quite a few specifically came to to see the performance, but most of the audience consisted of people wandering through in a rush to be somewhere else. Some of them slowed for the work. Some of them were stopped by it. Some of them stepped on it. All responses were appropriate.
There was a plethora of overheard comments that could fill this blog. People were baffled. People were fascinated. Then there were those who got it, and didn't even know it. Two businessmen were walking through and I heard the one ask the other what was going on. They were waiting for the light so I told them that the artist was painting the time on the concrete with water. Without missing a beat, one of the men said, "He'll always be behind, won't he?" HaHa. Yep. Gone by the time it gets there. Impermanence with a capital "I".
One common theme I kept hearing was humor. Even the most curious usually found their way to a joke by the end of the conversation. "I thought he was predicting the lottery numbers." "This is a guy with too much time on his hands." You get the drift. It was the closest escape hatch from a direct and intimate
portrait of time.
Watching for the entire hour was rewarding. The first time I checked my watch I thought that maybe a half hour had passed. We hadn't quite hit the fifteen minute mark yet. I had no feeling whatsoever for how things were moving. By the end, as the artist followed the arc of the hour into the last corner of a circle, I realized how his focus had become mine. How his movements had ticked off the moments in some primal clock inside me. His last strokes were like something breaking into a slow blossom.
Time hadn't dissolved as much as it had evaporated. And I have to say: It never looked so good.
The Magic Box.
I haven't had a chance to mention the magical tour of the Fales Library and Special Collections
that members of the Creative Council were given the night of the Jenny Holzer reception at NYU. Marvin Taylor, the director of the Fales Collection, opened box after box of wonder for us: art, letters, and other items from the library's extensive archive of the 1970's and 1980's downtown NY art, music, and performance scene. One of the first things that he shared with us was the original floor plans for legendary Times Square Show. It was like seeing a map for the next 25 years of American art.
Other highlights were photographs by Martin Wong
, punk rock handbills and zines, and an abundance of important items that belonged to David Wojnarowicz
Oh, my. The David Wojnarowicz materials. Seriously. Now we were swimming. We saw the mask Wojnarowicz used for his Rimbaud series, and large prints of his deeply moving photographs of Peter Hujar on his way out of this world. So, we were already breathless when Taylor pulled out Wonarowicz's "Magic Box", a wooden box with "The Magic Box" inscribed on the top. Inside were some of the artist's most precious trinkets and toys that were the inspiration for his daring career.
Before we left, Taylor showed us what might be the funniest 10 minutes of American television ever recorded. It was footage of John Sex being interviewed on CNN by a news commentator that was as propped up as Sex's pompadour. I think I might have hurt myself laughing. It was an irreverent end to an evening of looking inside art that defined irreverence.
Seasons in the Sun.
On a recent visit to Nancy Smith's Art Lovers New York
I happily discovered that she had just posted a bounty of photos from this summer's Dreamland Artist Club opening. Nice! As usual you'll find the fun people pics, but best of all is the boatload of digital real estate devoted to the Dreamland art.
Warmth. It's on its way out, but you can still take a glance back at it here
OK. This was the second time that art made me cry on Friday. Simple as that.
The first time was when I saw Basquiat's Untitled (1981)
at PAFA's In Private Hands: 200 Years in American Painting
show in Philadelphia. Oh, man. What a painting. Speaking of PAFA, I want to mention the current exhibition by Creative Time board member Vic Muniz
. A warm magic that moves backwards and forwards at the same time. Two rooms and well worth the trip to Philly. It didn't make me cry but I was in full art swoon. But I've really digressed.
As I was about to say before I interrupted myself . . . Jenny Holzer's For the City.
Light. Beauty. Crying. All that.
When I returned from Philly on Friday night I went right over to the NY Public Library to see Holzer's projections of poetry onto the face of this iconic building. After the artist's having exposed our darkness on the side of the Bobst Library at NYU, it was a welcome sight to see the same light bearing light again as it had the first three nights at Rockefeller Center. It was a powerful experience to see poetry usually constrained to the interior of a building thrust upon its exterior. It made me think of what Patti Smith said about Mapplethorpe: "He found it was as easy to hurl beauty as anything else."
Whether she was reminding us of our capabilities of destruction or creation, for nine nights Jenny Holzer was hurling beauty against the walls of a city that is both here and gone. We could not have been more blessed.
Here are the pics.
Our Name, In Lights.
Like blood that's forgotten gravity, Jenny Holzer's
projections of declassified government documents move silently up the walls of the Bobst Library at NYU. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the memos that led to them: All are represented. Ironically, there are really no words to describe this. Just feelings of shame, sadness, and anger. That and the beauty of a work that pulls us in, closer to the bosom of a very dark night.
The piece will be running again tomorrow night, Wednesday, from dusk until midnight. Washington Square South and Laguardia Place. For a little hope, see her projections of poetry at the NY Public Library from October 6 through October 9.
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About the author
Brent Burket has his own art blog, Heart As Arena. He also writes for ArtCal Zine.
Brent has been a member of Creative Council since January 2005.
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