Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Moment/Rites of Spring

Now Showing | Rites of Spring

Images courtesy of the Bellwether Gallery“Who’s There?” by Tony Cox

“A Song for Those in Search of What They Came With,” the current show atBellwether gallery curated by the photographer David Sherry, has an air of menace and a healthy dose of literary-tinged heathenry. (The show’s rambling name takes inspiration from the work of Allen Ginsberg and directly refers to a poem by Lily Wheelwright, a friend of Sherry's who died two years ago.)

In his own photographs, Sherry has often explored occultist imagery, and while this show acts as an almost beatific exaltation of art-making and the lives of young artists, the dark arts also make their way into the show. In works by Tony Cox — a sometime skateboarder who has also exhibited at Deitch Projects in New York — and Amy Yao, who went to Yale with Sherry, fetishistic elements that could be found in voodoo rituals are reconfigured into interpretations of each artist’s personal biographies. Yao also takes her personal experiences at a West Hollywood party called the Screwball Dance Club, and transforms them into shamanistic sculptures.

“May 9th,” left, and “The Rings” by Marc Hundley.

Meanwhile, the Canadian artist Marc Hundley’s work highlights another form of ritual and spell-making, appropriating texts from sources including The Magnetic Fields, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke and the West Village underground nightclub Love in his pieces. And Michele Abeles’s bled-white photographs of a cat’s face, dead dogs and a bikini-clad siren lounging seaside offer an eerie, uncanny aesthetic. “I am drawn to the play between natural and unnatural,” says Abeles. “That’s the world I see. It’s a messy world.” For Sherry, it’s a beautiful mess: “It’s a great moment for artists to be making and showing their work, as the economy dwindles and galleries are closing, many artists are left to their own devices. Through mysticism and magical thinking, there are always new ways discovered to deal with the world, the economy, New York, love, death and life. We are all mystics in this show.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Interview Magazine Blog/Violet Hopkins


Ground Control

AIMEE WALLESTON  05/26/2009 11:12 AM

In books like Intelligent Life in the Universe and his television series "Cosmos," astrophysicist Carl Sagan made the universe a lovable, learnable entity. Apparently, he wasn't content keeping his didacticism to mere humans. In one of the more cosmically irreverent projects ever undertaken by NASA, Sagan (with the help of fellow Cornell astrophycist Frank Drake, and artist Jon Lomberg) chaired the Golden Record, a space time capsule. Sagan's team compiled 115 disparate, quotidien images in the spirit of a mid-century Life Magazine, and audio information (mostly "natural" sounds, like birdsong and surf), to produce a summary of human existence. Their intended audience? Aliens. The team compressed the sounds and images, put them on a gold-plated copper disk equipped with a needle and instructions, and sent it into space on two unmanned spacecrafts, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. The Voyagers are still relatively close to Earth (if one considers Jupiter a neighbor) and both are still a long way from reaching another solar system. When they do—the approximate timing is 40,000 years from now—a curious space dweller might just discover the Golden Record and learn all about our Earthly existence. And our passion for soft noise. (LEFT: RELUCTANCE OF A GOVERNMENT AGENCY TO SWIM IN THE WATERS OF HUMAN SEXUALITY, 2009)

Inspired by both the imagery and conceptual premise of this project, Los Angeles-based artist Violet Hopkins created a body of ink on paper works, currently on view at Foxy Production. "Afraid He Might Be Mistaken for a Centaur," the artist's second solo show at this location, is named for a descriptive caption created for the Golden Record to accompany an image of a man riding a horse on a beach. The presumed logic of the statement, that an alien would bewell-versed in human mythology, is a sticking point for Hopkins, whose work endeavors to piece out the dichotomy between the project's vanguard spirit and its "humancentric" assumed knowledge. The inclusion of 55 greetings in different languages on the Golden Record, when seen through a contemporary lens, only serves to underscore the subtle naiveté in the assumption that another galaxy's extraterrestrial life would possess a physicality, culture or experience that would somehow mirror our own.



Hopkins drawings and paintings of the original images from the Golden Record act as an aesthetically revelatory revision of the conceptual premise of the project, illuminating the 70s–era logic that underpins the Golden Record as a cultural artifact. "I was interested in the curation of the images, and how bizarre their decision-making was," says Hopkins. Indeed, the images selected to represent Earth to an inter-galactic species include a baby and a sheet, with no representation of the female involved in the birth process. Hopkins' "Reluctance of a Government Agency to Swim in the Waters of Human Sexuality," represents the only image to be censored in the project: it is a photograph of a naked man and woman holding hands. One wouldn't want to give an extraterrestrial the wrong impression.

"Afraid He Migh be Mistaken for a Centaur" is on view through July 24. Foxy Production is located at 623 W. 27th St., New York.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Interview Magazine Blog/American by Design

American by Design

AIMEE WALLESTON  05/18/2009 07:10 PM

CH04 Houdini Chair by Stefan Diez for e15


At times, true innovation is most evident in design that makes a brave foray outside the confines of sanctioned good taste. As the International Contemporary Furniture Fair showcased sophisticated global design at the Jacob Javits Center, KIOSK, the Soho sponsor of revolving, internationally-inspired design, took a contrarian stance. Saturday evening, KIOSK and design company AREAWARE (the two share Spring Street digs), played host to an event celebrating the fair, and KIOSK's recent love affair with eccentric American design from the South, to a crowd presumably fresh from the on-site fair. Scrunched shoulder to shoulder under a hot pink sign advertising a "depressingly awesome reference library," design admirers took in the high kitsch of KIOSK's geographically-themed acquisitions, which toast Americana at its most artificial. The shop's current series, "American Installment #2," explores American design as a fruit cocktail-hued spectrum-including pink flamingos and a fetching chum bag-sourced from Florida. 

In diametric opposition to KIOSK's Champale camp, Sunday evening celebrated the sleek charms and subtle humor of architecture and design magazine PIN-UP's 6th issue. The event's location served double-duty, offering a preview of concept shop No. 8b, and exalting design-smith Stefan Diez's newest creation for e15: an Eames-by-way-of-origami chair called the CH04 HOUDINI. At a time when most retail is contracting, Project no. 8 is expanding, opening their men's store at 38 Orchard Street. The ramshackle slate blue scaffolding that currently cocoons No. 8b is a clever dodge-housed within is a glass structure which deftly mirrors the store's refined take on modern, Minimalist-tinged design and men's fashion. Here, PIN-UP's Editor and Creative Director, Felix Burrichter, gives his thoughts on the magazine, the shop and thinking writ large. 

AIMEE WALLESTON:  You are celebrating the new space No. 8b. How will this space exist and evolve? How does it relate to Project No. 8?

FELIX BURRICHTER: No. 8b is a new space by the founders of Project No.8,, Brian Janusiak and Elizabeth Beer. The original store, which will remain open, has gotten too small to accommodate all the collections, so they found this amazing former signage store on the corner of Hester Street and Orchard and transformed it into a new space. It's not quite finished yet, which is why they're only celebrating a preview of it. But in addition to men's fashion, No. 8b will also be selling e15  furniture, which has always been a favorite of mine. So with the furniture fair going on, the new issue of PIN-UP out, all in combination with e15 and Stefan Diez's new designs, it seemed like the perfect fit to do this event together. 


The crowd outside Project no. 8b; e15 Isaac Table Flower sculpture by Tom Borgese


AW:  Richard Meier is featured prominently in Issue #6. Do you think his aesthetic is a metaphor for stark times?

FB: I've always been fascinated with Richard Meier because he has a very strong personal vision, and he's now at a point where he's become iconoclast, whether or not you like his architecture. He has shaped and influenced architectural discourse, especially in his early career. And, after all, this is the man who designed the world's biggest museum after the Louvre, and who even started the now ill-fated star-architect condo trend in the late 90s. He's paid his dues and his work doesn't need to be justified anymore in relation to current times. It's like doing an article on Valentino; it doesn't really matter whether the 100,000th red silk evening gown is still relevant to current fashion. It's more about his personality and legacy than anything else.

AW: Slavoj Žižek has described architecture as "thinking with stones," and argues that a society's most fundamental beliefs are found in its architecture. For you, especially as someone interested in design who is also a writer and editor, is design, perhaps, "thinking with objects?"

FB: If there are is a positive thing coming out of the current economic climate it's the fact that people are thinking again, period. In recent years there was too much focus on superfluous status objects, in both architecture and design (and even in art). There is an increased appreciation of quality that is an indirect result of the times we're going through, and appreciation of things that last, whether it's intellectual longevity or simply of the material kind. But I don't think that necessarily means a return to bleak functionality. It can also mean a new sense of fun in appropriation: recycling materials, appropriating ideas and objects to new use. That's why I'm also particularly excited about our Dan Friedman tribute story in the new issue of PIN-UP. He made objects of completely disparaged materials—sometimes they didn't even have any function, they were extremely simple in their fabrication, very naive, but very intricate and complex at the same time. And very beautiful.

AW: Have you any new design/architecture obsessions?

FB: I just got back from the furniture fair in Milan, where I saw a presentation by a small French-Canadian design company called Samare. Québec isn't exactly high on the list of anyone's design itinerary, but what they showed was very simple, very joyful pieces that are all hand-made by traditional weavers in Canada. Yet the results are very modern and beautiful; they also showed a collaboration with the Korean designer Kwangho Lee, who currently has a show at Johnson Trading Gallery in Soho, which is worth looking at. And I recently discovered this art/design collective from Poland, called Truthtag who do a lot of outdoor spatial installations that engage architectural objects of the public realm. As for architecture, I'm super thrilled that David Adjaye won the competition for the Black History Museum in Washington DC.


Monday, May 18, 2009

T Magazine/James Turrell


Four places to experience the artist’s meditations on light and space. Louise Blouin Foundation, London After dark, the 78 windows here emit a transcendental light show ( Pomona College, Claremont, Calif. His alma mater houses an example of his “skyspace” works ( Villa Panza, Varese, Italy Turrell’s piece communes with installations by Dan Flavin and Robert Irwin ( James Turrell Museum, Estancia y Bodega Colomé, Argentina The first museum dedicated specifically to the artist is at the Hess Family Winery ( AIMEE WALLESTON

Saturday, May 16, 2009

V Blog/Alex Asher Daniel

Alex Asher Daniel's expressionistic female forms take shape at Kate Robinson Fine Art

Sexy may have been brought back, but the beauty of sexuality still lies in wait. Enter artist Alex Asher Daniel, whose new site-specific solo show at Kate Robinson Fine Art (95 Rivington Street), “Private Comogony,” explores the nude form in all its glorious confusion. California-bred, New York-based Daniel employs an artistic practice involving expertly rendered portraiture set against an expressionistic, gestured retelling of the female form. Like they've crawled out of some oily primordial soup, the female figures in Daniel’s work appear as both of and beyond their corporeality—his work brings to mind less the physicality of the body than the action of a caress. Evoking Egon Schiele in some moments and de Kooning’s Women in others, Daniel’s figures possess the faces of deities and the bodies of errant imagination. In each puzzling, lovely piece, one gets a new chance to ponder the nature of intimacy: perhaps the only true strangers are the people to whom we reveal ourselves completely. Aimee Walleston

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Moment/Banks Violette

Now Showing | Violette Homme

banks violetteCourtesy of Team Gallery, New YorkSomething to smile about: Banks Violette’s “Not Yet Titled (dwg09_02)”

Even the most apocalyptic artists have to look into the light sometimes. Typically known for producing sculpture inspired by the tenets of high Minimalism and death metal, Banks Violette has now quieted some of his sinister thoughts on murder and mayhem. A new series of delicate, contemplative drawings and sculpture, “Not Yet Titled,” is currently on view at Team Gallery.

While Violette clearly still favors the dark arts, these drawings seem to reflect the organic, obsessive drawing that lonely youths in small American towns engage in daily. The style Violette has created in these works elevates the notebook scribbles of the disenchanted to the level of high art, and also allows the viewer to question the compulsion that drives young people to cover every surface of their lives with hand-drawn band logos and insignia. The artist’s uniquely-rendered graphite images — of mirror balls, mylar balloons and, of course, the smiling skull icon used by the punk band the Misfits — are more shadow than straight line, and make one think of the Shroud of Turin. (As seen through the eyes of a dexterous young metal head, naturally.)

banks violetteCourtesy of Team Gallery, New YorkViolette’s “Zodiac (F.T.U)/74 ironhead SXL” resin and salt motorcycle.

And, it’s fair to say, Violette has not given up his ghosts entirely. A sculpture at the back of the gallery, “Zodiac (F.T.U)/74 ironhead,” consists of a motorcycle cast in resin and salt, lying in a pool of salt crystals. Sad and strange, the piece recalls the “white bike” memento mori found around the city in place of fallen cyclists. It coerces Violette’s nihilistic bent into a stage of elegy: lamenting the past, while acknowledging the greater importance of moving on.

Banks Violette “Not Yet Titled”
May 7 to June 20
Team Gallery
83 Grand Street
(212) 279-9219

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

T Online/Adam Yauch

The Buyer

Brass Monkey, meet Palme d’Or. The Beastie Boy Adam Yauch began his foray into the world of film by directing videos for his band, including the clips for ‘‘Body Movin’’’ and ‘‘Intergalactic.’’ He didn’t stop there: his 2008 feature-length film, ‘‘Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot,’’ follows the lives of top-level high school basketball players. As yet another outlet for his film fetish, last year Yauch founded Oscilloscope Laboratories, which distributes films including the critically acclaimed ‘‘Wendy and Lucy,’’ ‘‘Treeless Mountain’’ (in theaters now) and ‘‘Flow,’’ a documentary about the world water crisis. Yauch’s next film shopping trip? The Cannes Film Festival, which begins May 13.
‘‘Part of the reason I started the company is because I like going to film festivals anyway. But now I have an actual excuse for being there,’’ says Yauch, whose obvious love of the medium is evident in Oscilloscope’s careful selection of films. The man’s not motivated by any corporate or creative agenda: ‘‘I just want to be able to look back at the whole library of all our films and feel good about them. A lot of companies are picking up films just to turn a dollar, and that’s something were really trying to avoid here,’’ he says. The films Oscilloscope has chosen to distribute have showcased an interest in storytelling at its straightforward best, as well as a desire to illuminate points of view that the average viewer wouldn’t have the privilege of seeing. ‘‘Burma VJ,’’ for instance, depicts the 2007 uprising in Myanmar through the lenses of independent video journalists (VJs), illuminating a political struggle that many would not see otherwise. 
At Cannes, the dramatic elements might not be quite as immediately evident, but they won’t be in short supply. With directors including Pedro Almodóvar and Jane Campion competing this year, the festival is set to have one of its most exciting — and surely one of its most emotional — weeks in years. Cannes audiences, and their unique intensity in the face of film, are the stuff of legend: many seem unwilling to acknowledge the fact that it is, as they say, just a movie. 
‘‘Yeah, they boo,’’ Yauch says, ‘‘while the filmmaker’s just sitting there, like, crying.’’ Ah well — it’s all part of the festival’s, how you say, charm. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Moment/Ari Marcopoulos

A New Wave Surf Film

Ari MarcopoulosAri Marcopoulos “Seventy-One Percent of Earth,” by Ari Marcopoulos, in which surfers speak up for the oceans.

Ahh, the surf film. Endless, hypnotic iterations of tanned gods riding the crest, shooting the curl and hanging ten. Think Bud Browne’s “The Big Surf” or Bruce Brown’s “The Endless Summer,” both classics of the sunny life. But leave it to the art photographer and T contributor Ari Marcopoulos to add a splash of avant garde to the genre and a topical political imperative.

“Seventy-One Percent of Earth,” a collaboration between Marcopoulos and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), was made to cover many bases, but the main point of the film is to advocate for marine protected areas to offset the growing threats of pollution, over-fishing and global warming. The film mixes up de rigueur sweet action footage of inimitable surf talents — including Grant “Twiggy” Baker, the Long Brothers, Brian Conley, Frank Solomon and Anthony Tashnick — with lingering shots of the Pacific, many as seen through Marcopoulos’ beloved fisheye lens. Such imagery recalls the artist’s own realist photographs of athletes and nature, and offer a take on surf culture that is meditative without venturing into the depths of cliché. Here, Marcopoulos, who will be the subject of a large-scale survey exhibition this September at the Berkeley Museum, talks about throwing his hat into the world of environmental activism.

Ari Marcopoulos FilmAri Marcopoulos

Surfers are kind of like ocean experts without degrees. How did you come up with the idea of having them speak up for the ocean?


When the NRDC approached me about doing a film about its ocean program, the first thing that came to mind for me was surfers. Partly because of my experience working with snow- and skateboarders, I wanted to tell the story through the eyes of people whose lives are centered in the ocean. And yes, surfers are like scientists when it comes to checking moon cycles, tides, swells and wind direction—it’s the first thing you notice about them.

How has your practice, as an artist who photographs surfers and other athletes, changed your relationship to the sea and to the environment?

I have always been aware of the environment and try to do little things to help. But working on this film gave it more urgency for me. When one looks at the ocean, it’s hard to determine that something’s amiss, just because of the awesome beauty one sees, especially up here in Northern California where I live. But then you see, after a few rainy days, people can’t surf because sewage overflows into the water. That’s why I made this movie: to try and convince people we have the power to change the ocean.

How did this collaboration with the NRDC come about?

I did a short film for the fashion designer Adam Kimmel. He is involved with the NRDC, so he made the introduction. Adam works with a lot of different artists, and he felt I could do something to spread the word beyond the NRDC’s normal channels.

The actor Peter Coyote narrates the film. How was working with him?

Peter was amazing. His intonations are perfect. When we did the narration, I was on the phone listening in. He asked me if one of the takes was OK, and I said, yeah, it was pretty good — of course it was great. Peter responded, “Pretty good is not good enough, Ari.”