Tuesday, May 27, 2008

60-Minute Tour of the Whitney Biennial

Artist Tony Luib (indicating Wayne): How do you get a word in edgewise?
Me: I don't.
Luib: Sometimes I get Wayne Coe ADD, and I have to run away.
Me: Same here.

On May 25, 2008, courtesy of my husband, I had one hour - 5 to 6pm - to breeze through the Whitney before it closed; the show goes down end of May. Now or never: no time for headphones. I had on my PF Flyers, and this is what caught my eye as I flew through, including liner notes.

74th Biennial since 1931.

From the Show Introduction: "Using humble or austere materials or employing calculated messiness as modes of deconstruction, [these 81 artists] present works distinguished by their poetic sensibility, as they discover pockets of beauty in sometimes unexpected places...concerns politics, although its mode of address is often oblique or allegorical...."

Robert Bechtle: "willfully prosaic California leisure-class iconography of suburban bungalows...manicured lawns, [unreadable] and most frequently, cars - considered the first photo-realist." Three paintings compared to Hopper in their "melancholy vacancy."

Olivier Mosset: Born Switzerland, 1944; lives in Tucson. "Through his affiliation with the B.M.P.T., a group of conceptually driven painters formed in Paris in the 60s, Mosset sought to democratize art. By signing each other's works, and repeating compositions, they deconstructed modern ideas of authorship and the value of originality...Curator Robert Nickas once described the artist's early works as "pictures...of painting itself...." These were two large square canvases side by side, sprayed in solid tertiary colors of what I believe to be car paint. Totally anonymous, yet they drew one to them with a texture something like metallic stucco.

New Humans: Some kind of mirrorized bomb shelter, with a small, arbitrary film playing at the back between strips of mirror and planking. Prosaic and fucked up on purpose; good place to neck.

The English Look for art patrons = slept in clothes + slept in hair + abandoned shaving + fine English (bespoke?) shoes with leather bottoms so thick they might be wood ++ heady cologne.

Daniel Joseph Martinez: "Divine Violence," a roomful of identical placards, orange-yellow automotive paint on board, hung salon style, each bearing a different hand-lettered name of a terrorist organization. Surprising to see the CIA up there: really, that was the Aha! moment.

Carol Bove, Night Sky Over New York, October 21, 2007, 9pm. Bronze rods, wire, expanded metal. "The title indicates the minute at which the bronze rods aligned with the constellations above...."

Walead Beshty: Lives in LA. Enormous photographs of Iraq's mission to East Germany, both of which countries no longer exist, printed from film damaged by going through airport security: Travel Picture Violet, Travel Picture Meadow. Also plexiglass boxes the exact size of FedX boxes, sent in FedX packaging from LA to New York, invariably smashed.

Cheyney Thompson: Detail: Four Colors Subtracting Light From the Room in Six Degrees of Intensity Repeated Four Times was the notable name of the work, although I can't remember anything about it except it included a rotating fan and a guard set to guard it - I wondered which was the exhibit?

Harry Dodge and Stanga Kahn: Live in LA. Video presentation Can't Swallow It, Can't Spit It Out, of Dodge filming Kahn doing a kind of odd stand-up schtick on the post-industrial streets of LA, "a portrait of civilian anxiety in a time of war."

Giant litter box
John Baldessari: Giant body parts stretched on billboard-sized pieces, discussed in the curatorial notes as "a dialogue with Surrealism," meanwhile noting that many of the works in the show were contributed by Baldessari's students.

How did he rationalize the room of 2" x 4"s built into shabby house framing?

There was another young woman walking around in my orbit, same black Moleskin, same black Sharpie. Who am I again?


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