Sunday, December 28, 2008

‘A Drawing Translates the Way of Thinking’ in Frieze

The Matt Mullican survey currently on view at The Drawing Center is reviewed in Frieze:

"Channeling something like the spirit of Doctor Daniel Paul Schreber crossed with Jorge Luis Borges, Matt Mullican’s drawings dominate the walls of The Drawing Center. Less an ordered retrospective than a selection of work from across the years, the exhibition is equal parts visceral experience and intellectual exercise. Mullican’s works on paper are paranoid, obsessive and possibly schizophrenic, yet they are also full of humour and intelligence."Read more

Monday, November 24, 2008

Matt Mullican in NYT; the other Tulip mania; Butler on Obama

Matt Mullican, whose survey I've curated is currently on view at The Drawing Center, profiled in the New York Times:

Mr. Mullican’s high school notebook foreshadows what has become for him a career-long investigation: How do we all insert ourselves into the imagery that bombards us every day? Why does the pain of another person, or even a stick figure, become our own? What is the basis of human empathy? How can thoughts and emotions be communicated

“It’s all about projection,” Mr. Mullican said. “I’m sitting in front of you now, and you’re seeing me. But you’re also seeing lots of other things, based on your own experiences.”

This “subject-object” divide, as it is known in philosophical circles, is nothing new, according to João Ribas, a curator at the Drawing Center in SoHo. But what intrigues him about Mr. Mullican’s work, he said, was “the way Matt attempts to collapse this split through the medium of drawing.”

That process is
explored in “Matt Mullican: A Drawing Translates the Way of Thinking,” an exhibition that opens Friday at the center. Featuring more than 100 artworks made over 35 years, it includes Mr. Mullican’s stick-figure sketches, videos of him drawing while under hypnosis, large-scale rubbings based on original works on paper that have since been photocopied and cut out, and vitrines displaying — you guessed it — notebooks. Read More
Ben Lewis writes in Prospect Magazine about "a second Tulip mania," the contemporary art bubble:

The bubble in contemporary art is about to pop. It has exhibited all the classic features of the South Sea bubble of 1720 or the tulip madness of the 1630s. It has been the bubble of bubbles—balancing precariously on top of other now-burst bubbles in credit, housing and commodities—and inflating more dramatically than all of them. While British house prices took six years to double at the start of this century, contemporary art managed it in just one, 2006-07. (Over the same period, old masters went up by just 7.6 per cent and British 17th to 19th century watercolours actually lost value.) Contemporary art in the emerging economies did even better. The value of its sales in China increased by 983 per cent in one year (2005-06). In Russia they rose 2,365 per cent in five years (2000-05), while its stock market increased by "only" about 300 per cent.

Contemporary art turned out to be an ideal vehicle for speculative euphoria. The market is almost entirely free from state interference. Governments have had little interest in regulating the trinkets and playthings of the super-rich. Art works are a uniquely portable and confidential form of wealth. Whereas all property purchases have to be publicly registered, buying art is a private activity. And unlike old masters, which are often linked by history to specific places, contemporary art knows no frontiers. Read more.
Judith Butler on the "uncritical exuberance" of the Obama election:

It becomes all the more important to think about the politics of exuberant identification with the election of Obama when we consider that support for Obama has coincided with support for conservative causes. In a way, this accounts for his "cross-over" success. In California, he won by 60% of the vote, and yet some significant portion of those who voted for him also voted against the legalization of gay marriage (52%). How do we understand this apparent disjunction? First, let us remember that Obama has not explicitly supported gay marriage rights. Further, as Wendy Brown has argued, the Republicans have found that the electorate is not as galvanized by "moral" issues as they were in recent elections; the reasons given for why people voted for Obama seem to be predominantly economic, and their reasoning seems more fully structured by neo-liberal rationality than by religious concerns. Read More.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Criticism Panel Tomorrow Night

OCTOBER 30 2008, 7:00PM

Featuring Jan Avgikos, Ben Davis, John Miller, Joao Ribas, Martha Schwendener, and Roger White.

Ad Hoc Vox and Guild & Greyshkul are pleased to invite you to On Criticism, a panel discussion that will take place at the gallery on Thursday, October 30th at 7:00pm.

ERNEST: I have foolish habit of reading periodicals, and it seems to me that most modern criticism is perfectly valueless.

GILBERT: So is most modern creative work also. Mediocrity weighing mediocrity in the balance, and incompetence applauding its brother - that is the spectacle which the artistic activity of England affords us from time to time.

-Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist, 1891

Questioning the relevancy of criticism is hardly the exclusive sport of a contemporary audience. The roles, values, and goals of criticism have been as contested as any individual critic's pronouncements. What factors, then, uniquely beset art criticism now? What basis is there for the widely espoused claim that we are in a "post critical" age? In a highly diversified and cross-disciplinary art world, what constitutes a conflict of interest for a critic? How have blogging and self-publishing through the Internet affected art writing?

On Criticism will bring together critics writing for print and online publications, editors, and artists writing criticism to discuss such questions. Our goal is to address present-day art criticism by creating a space for its self-identified practitioners to turn a critical eye on both the concerns of their discipline and potential models to address those concerns. Colleen Asper will moderate the discussion, which will be followed by a Q & A with the audience.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Secession Lecture on Nov 3rd


Freedom as Art

The concept of freedom is intimately tied to the political economy of capitalism; the received notion of parity between development and liberty intrinsic to modern political philosophy asserts that a free market is a necessary condition for political freedom. Yet as it has become impossible to conceive of freedom without capitalism, it is also impossible to discuss the modern concept of art without reference to the subject of capitalism—that is, the form of a radical individual subject. It is in fact through an assertion of unquantifiable values—taste, madness, inspiration—and through the formation of a radical political subject—that of the artist—that the production of art comes to be defined precisely by values that distance it from those of capital. Yet if the figure of the artist and his labor was once emblematic of the emancipatory idea of the ‘individual,’ in a society where it had not yet fully emerged, is this notion deradicalized by the democratization of subjective expression today? Can one trace the production of art through its relationship with—or rather distance from—capitalism, from the dawn of the modern market to the immaterial economy of late capitalism? Can art and its implicit subject of freedom provide a horizon of possibilities for new forms of social organization? Or are art and capital inevitably intertwined?

João Ribas (b. Braga, Portugal 1979) is Curator at The Drawing Center in New York and a widely published critic. His writing on art, film, literature, and design has appeared in numerous publications worldwide, and he is the curator of several surveys, projects, and exhibitions in the US and abroad. He is a frequent lecturer on aesthetics and cultural theory and currently adjunct professor at The School of Visual Arts, New York.

For further information and photographic material please contact:

Kathrin Schweizer
Secession, Association of Visual Artists Vienna Secession, Friedrichstraße 12, 1010 Vienna
Tel: +43-1-5875307-21, Fax: +43-1-5875307-34

Monday, September 15, 2008

The current issue of Artlies is guested edited by Julieta Aranda and revolves around the theme, "Death of the Curator: A Forensic Analysis of Curatorial Practice". Along with contributions by Aranda, Jens Hoffmann, Lawrence Weiner, Martha Rosler, Nato Thompson, Fia Backstrom, and others, it includes a conversation between myself and artist Matt Sheridan Smith on curatorial practice.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Drawing On Film, the exhibition I organized at The Drawing Center this spring, is travelling to The Rose Art Museum of Brandeis University, where it will be on view from September 26 to December 14.

Richard Reeves, Linear Dreams, 1997. 35mm film

Friday, August 08, 2008

Anselm Kiefer and the Virgin Mary

"I am someone who has seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary. She appeared to me like a figure in a Nazarene painting. I think I was six or seven, perhaps even eight at the time... Mary appeared to me one morning. It was not in a dream, I was already awake. The vision took place in the room where I slept. I cannot tell you precisely what Mary was wearing. But she had on a light beige and blue dress. She looked exactly like a Pre-Rafaelite or Nazarene painting.. Today I would say she looked kitsch. Mary did not speak to me, she smiled."
Anselm Kiefer in a recent interview in Die Welt

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The New New Alphabet

The New New Alphabet is typeface devised by Ryan Gander and produced by graphic designer Rasmus Spanggaard Troelsen. The typeface is an addition to famed Dutch designer Wim Crouwel’s typeface New Alphabet Three (1967), based on a dot-matrix system and intended to be easily read by computers:

Perhaps its best known usage is in this Joy Division album cover.

The New New Alphabet was made with the intension of being printed over Crouwel’s original version, with the purpose of making it more legible, but in turn less stylised.

It's available (for mac) to download from the following link:

Crouwel on his "New Alphabet"

Monday, July 14, 2008

Standard Sizes in Time Out New York

Standard Sizes, my curated group exhibition at Andrew Kreps, was reviewed in last week's issue of Time Out New York. The show is on view until July 18th.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Frederick Kiesler: Co-Realities is an Artforum Critics Pick

Frederick Kiesler
35 Wooster Street
April 18–July 24

In looping curves and obsessive scribbles, the visionary architect Frederick Kiesler’s fluid line skitters from sheets creased with folds to lined notebook paper to thin cardboard, mapping a deliberate course between touch and vision, between the body and the outside world. Frameless and exhibited on a sinuous table designed specially by nARCHITECTURE, Kiesler’s drawings are presented as a stream of the interconnectedness, or “correalism,” that preoccupied the antifunctionalist architect. “Drafting is grafting vision on paper. . . . Blindfolded skating rather than designing,” Kiesler wrote in an article for Art News in 1960. In fact, texture, not structure, is Kiesler’s principle concern, and in this show one finds bleeding ink blotches drawn in loose spirals, dry tempera brushed in thick calligraphic ellipses, egg shapes outlined in sweeping gestures, and womblike forms traced and retraced so many times as to cause undulations in their paper support.

Kiesler’s drawings do not suggest specific models for utopian living but rather probe what it means “to dwell” or, in Heidegger’s phrase, “the manner in which we are on the earth.” Studies of human perception, plans for fantastic vision machines, and diagrams detailing the birth of new objects displayed alongside exhibition designs for Peggy Guggenheim's Art of This Century gallery and renderings of Kiesler’s famous, though never realized, Endless House attest to the artist’s desire to track the process by which man and his art come into being, determined not by teleological functionalism but by the nature of the human spirit.

— Emily Verla Bovino

Monday, June 16, 2008

Standard Sizes
A group exhibition curated by João Ribas
Andrew Kreps Gallery
525 West 22nd Street
June 14 - July 12, 2008
Web Site

The Andrew Kreps Gallery is pleased to present Standard Sizes, a group exhibition curated by João Ribas.

Standard Sizes surveys a diverse group of artists over several generations whose work resists the notion of art as the product of an expressive subject--the radically individuated self largely equated with the figure of the artist. In place of this vestige of Renaissance self-fashioning and the affectations of Romanticism, the exhibition presents works that look to standards and formal procedures to displace the idea of expressive subjectivity as the domain of art.

If the figure of the visionary artist was once emblematic of the emancipatory idea of the 'individual' in a society where it had not yet fully emerged, this notion is deradicalized by the democratization of subjective expression today. As a result of this abiding 'selfness,' it seems more pressing to understand the structures and standards built into the parameters of 'expression' and the production of meaning itself.

By foregrounding an effect, rather than the affect, of meaning, Standard Sizes looks to practices that solicit content from standards or procedural form, cede subjective control through generative systems, or that elicit meaning from iteration, standardization, or repetition. Ranging from work based on standard formats and materials, to the rhetorical use of tropes such as the expressive brushstroke, the works in the exhibition looks to the implicit, if now obscured, values and norms present in standardized form. This is to evince how frames dictate content, how the values assimilated in standards belie whose feet and fingers are measured to arrive at consensus, and to discover meaning by way of slippages in the process of standardization.

Standard Sizes takes its departure from Pierre Menard's line-by-line rewriting of Don Quixote; the standardization of canvas sizes in the French Academy; the Kuleshov effect's suggestion of affect from juxtaposition; Duchamp's 3 Standard Stoppages; CMYK color; imperial units of measurement; lorem ipsum text, based on a dark passage from Cicero; standard paper sizes; modernism as a rhetorical vernacular; stochastic music and seriality; cinematic aspect ratios; T.S. Eliot's poetics of 'impersonality'; generative algorithms; as well as the possibility of meaning in the difference produced by repetition.

Artists included in this exhibition: Ricci Albenda, Kjell Bjorgeengen, Kerstin Brätsch, Martin Creed, Liz Deschenes, Morgan Fischer, Rachel Harrison, Imi Knoebel, Camilla Low, Allan McCollum, Brian O'Connell, Blinky Palermo, Richard Pettibone, Josh Smith, Matt Sheridan Smith, and Sturtevant.

Image: Matt Sheridan Smith, Untitled, 2006, Newspapers, 24 x 14 x 0.75 inches

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

e-flux video rental opens in Lisbon

The latest iteration of the e-flux video rental has opened in Lisbon, for which I've selected films by Lutz Mommartz, Bodil Furu, Oliver Ressler, Nik Gambaroff, and Matt Sheridan Smith.

Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian

A project by Anton Vidokle and Julieta Aranda
Opening: May 21st, 19:00

May 22 - June 18 2008
Tuesday - Sunday 12 - 6 pm

Avenida de Berna, 45
1067-001 Lisboa
Level -1 of the Foundation Headquarters

Gulbenkian Foundation and Maumaus are pleased to present e-flux video rental in Lisbon.

e-flux video rental (EVR) is a project by Anton Vidokle and Julieta Aranda, comprising a free video rental, a public screening room, and a film and video archive that is constantly growing. This collection of over 750 works of film and video art has been assembled in collaboration with more than 100 international artists, curators and critics.

In the 1960s and 70s, artists were drawn to working with video in part because it was cheap to use and easily reproduced and distributed. But video art has become increasingly assimilated to the precious-object economy of the art market. EVR is a poetic exploration of alternative processes of circulation and distribution of video art, and it is structured to function like a video rental store, except that it operates for free. VHS tapes can be watched in the space, or, once a viewer fills out a membership form and contract, they can be checked out and taken home.

Orignally presented at a storefront in New York, in 2004, EVR has traveled to venues in Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Seoul, Paris, Istanbul, Canary Islands, Austin, Budapest, Boston, Antwerp, Miami and Lyon. Following the its stay in Portugal, the project will travel to Brazil and Argentina. After these final venues, having outlived the technology that made it possible (VHS video tape players), the project will be permanently archived with the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut and Moderna Galerija in Ljubljana, in 2009.

Every time EVR is installed in a new city, local artists, curators and writers are invited to serve as selectors, choosing artists whose work is added to the collection. In addition, a special program of screenings of works from the EVR collection is part of the project. In Lisbon, the program will continue with the selections from In keeping with this, Maumaus and Gulbenkian Foundation have invited Miguel Amado, Jürgen Bock, An
a Pinto, João Ribas and Ricardo Valentim to select additional videos for the collection. [Read on..]

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Writing on the responses to the current Whitney Biennial, AFC's Paddy Johnson gives a nod to the series of exhibitions---Dice Thrown, Aspects, Forms & Figures, and In Defense of Ardor---I curated at Bellwether last year:

The question Lacayo and many others have on their lips is whether the unofficial Biennial theme of “lessness” amounts to much in the end. Not that this is necessarily the case of nay sayers, but I’ll admit that if the only thing I’d seen taking this approach was The New Museum’s Unmonumental and The Whitney’s Biennial, I’d probably have a fairly grim outlook on the prospects for art. Certainly these shows have given me pause, neither effectively displaying the work or necessarily even finding the best of it. By contrast, New York’s commercial galleries have been more successful this year launching unmonumental-esque shows. While the large size of the Biennial undoubtedly makes the job a little more difficult, Bellwether’s brilliantly organized three part exhibition series curated by Becky Smith and Joao Ribas could be no better testament to the success seen within the commercial world, as was Gagosian’s Beneath the Underdog, curated by artists Nate Lowman and Adam McEwen last spring. Notably New York Times critic Holland Cotter named this show one of the best gallery shows of the year. (Read more)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sterling Ruby: Chron in The New York Times/New Yorker

Sterling Ruby:Chron currently on view at The Drawing Center is reviewed by Roberta Smith in The New York Times today:

Sterling Ruby is one of the most interesting artists to emerge in this century. That’s only eight years, of course, but the claim may stick. He makes obstreperous, richly glazed ceramic vessels that suggest charred remains; totemic sculptures webbed with mucousy, macramélike drips of resin; large, dark collages dotted with constellations of tiny images of artifacts; and drawings, photographs and short videos. Read more

And from this week's New Yorker:

Artists like Ruby, whose art shifts from sculpture to photography to collage, drawing, and painting (in materials like spray paint and nail polish), can be difficult to pin down. This survey does the trick by focussing on Ruby’s use of line during the past five years. Themes range from the political to the social to the abstract—but the fulcrum is drawing. Photographs of words carved on trees rhyme visually with etched Formica benches. Ruby remains a cipher, but the show makes a strong case for considering his work as a coherent whole. A concurrent exhibition of Ruby’s ceramic works, which bridge the gap between fairy tale and science fair, are on view at Metro Pictures. Through March 27. (The Drawing Room, 40 Wooster St. 212-219-2166.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Alan Saret: Gang Drawings in Artforum

Alan Saret: Gang Drawings, which I curated at The Drawing Center, is reviewed in the current issue of Artforum. (Click on image to read)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

"None of the alternatives to the gallery can reach a sizeable audience. Yet, given today's homogenized world, there has never been a deeper, more immediate need for wide-spread sowing of relevant new ideas. So there are two ways to go: if the artist would work the long revolutionary tail and address the working-class only, never mind the galleries, get out in the streets and do it. If, on the other hand, all possible creatures are worth your trouble, use the galleries and never mind: the row to hoe should be rooted-in your 'radical' works not their 'radical' system, for our muddled 'radical' critics have confounded buyers' terms with sellers' standards." Jo Baer, Radical Attitudes to the Gallery, 1977

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Civilization represents itself in a storeroom of objects, memorized obstacles to function. Favorite object of the bourgeois: SELF. In communism the disappearance of the self and the destruction of the object go hand in hand. SELF: a fallacy a posteriori; at the moment of action the self disappears completely. It resurfaces during unproductive states of repose, an occasion for the luxurious recuperation from function. Just like the object. The self  is the pension and savings of the undynamic rentier. Both self and object are supposedly capable of guaranteeing certainty, immutability. The world as tautology...
Carl Einstein, 1921

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Alan Saret:Gang Drawings in The New York Sun

Alan Saret, Three Circles Rules & Free Sweep, 1967. Colored pencil on paper. Photo by Cathy Carver.
Alan Saret, Three Circles Rules & Free Sweep, 1967. Colored pencil on paper. Photo by Cathy Carver.

Alan Saret: Gang Drawings is reviewed in The New York Sun.

Click here for previous reviews in The New York Times, Time Out, and The New Yorker

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Raymond Tallis writes on the "intellectual revolution" sparked by the pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides [the subject of his forthcoming book] in Prospect:

One attraction of Parmenides is that you can read his complete surviving works in 15 minutes. His arguments are set out in On Nature, a rather prosaic poem of which only 150 lines survive. The heart of his case is in Fragments 3, 6 and 8, where he sets out a worldview that even by the standards of philosophy is, as Aristotle said, "near to madness." His central argument is so quick that if you blink, you will miss it.

It goes as follows. That which is not, is not. "What-is-not" does not exist. Since anything that comes into being must arise out of what-is-not, objects, states of affairs and so on cannot come into being. Likewise, they cannot pass away, because in order to do so they would have to enter the realm of what-is-not. Since it does not exist, what-is-not cannot be the womb of generation, or the tomb of that which perishes. The no-longer and the not-yet are variants of what-is-not, and so the past and future do not exist either. Change, then, is impossible. Equally, multiplicity is unreal. The empty space necessary to separate one object from another would be another example of what-is-not. And since things cannot be anything to a greater or lesser degree—this would require what-is to be mixed with the diluting effect of what-is-not—the universe must be homogeneous.
Pascal Dusapin discusses his sixth opera Faustus, The Last Night on the occasion of its production in Lyon last year.