COLUMNS

  • Pop Rocks

    Michael Ned Holte on Petra Haden and Stephen Prina

    It was a beautiful summer Friday evening in Los Angeles as I arrived at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre for the world premiere performance of Petra Haden’s a cappella remake of The Who’s 1967 album, The Who Sells Out, presented by the Society for the Activation of Social Space through Sound (SASSAS). Encircled by lush flora, the Ford is a handsome, vaguely medieval fortress, its idyllic charms heightened by its proximity to the decidedly un-idyllic 101 Freeway. I reached the stage in time to hear the end of the sound check. Petra was the sole performer on the recording, but is joined for live

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  • Park Life

    Stuart Comer on the Serpentine Gallery's summer party

    During my harrowing mini-cab journey from Shoreditch to Hyde Park, the meteorological prospects for the Serpentine Summer Party did not look good. A long overdue week of glorious weather had succumbed to fitful rain, and my overblown visions of sartorial extravagance, radical architecture, and green urban meadows were quickly giving way to damp disappointment. The taxi made its way gradually, detained slightly by the hordes scurrying off to a Babyshambles and Kasabian gig elsewhere in the park. The clouds lifted just as I noticed a large “Make Poverty History” banner for the Live 8 concert that

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  • Mother's Courage

    Michael Wang on Robert Melee's Talent Show

    The second and final performance of Robert Melee’s Talent Show last Thursday at The Kitchen drew a sold-out crowd. (At the last minute colorful pillows were thrown on the floor in front, kindergarten-style, for additional seating). The homage to current downtown performance ran the queer gamut from the haute-foppish pretension of Wayne Koestenbaum’s poetry reading (“But relatedness—Winnicott, Klein?—shines in her eyes”) to the pure gender-bending ridiculousness of Julie Atlas Muz’s anatomically perverse “Mr. Pussy,” which eschewed vagina dentata in favor of the relatively ineffectual

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  • Tuttle Recall

    Glen Helfand on Richard Tuttle

    Richard Tuttle’s highly anticipated SF MoMA retrospective is, like his work, a deft balance of playfulness, elegant presentation, fine-tuned funkiness, and what one admirer described to me as a “slow burn” aesthetic. And on opening night, the art definitely smoldered, even if the festivities themselves were lukewarm. SF MoMA’s openings haven’t been particularly lively since “the go-go David Ross days,” as Bay Area-based art historian Pamela M. Lee put it. Back then, in the era of the dot-com bubble, the museum’s events pulsed with an—how to put this—irrational exuberance that’s been

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  • Soggy Notion

    Brian Sholis on William Kentridge in Central Park

    On Monday night, I excused myself early from a friend’s book party to go uptown for the Public Art Fund-sponsored screening of William Kentridge’s Nine Drawings for Projection in Central Park, arriving just as an intermittent light rain began to fall. In the otherwise empty park, my companion and I found a few hundred people at the band shell, among them New Museum Director Lisa Phillips, Marian Goodman and almost all of her staff, composer Philip Miller (Kentridge’s longtime collaborator), and the artist himself. Staffers handed out clear plastic ponchos to everyone and, after a twenty-minute

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  • Genet Sais Quoi

    William Pym on “Still Ill”

    In this month of nascent lethargy, young Brooklyn artists with wilting petals would do well to see Momenta Art’s energetic group show “Still Ill.” A series of performances whose leftovers accumulate and linger in the space, it offers chastening evidence that some people, rather than fleeing to the beach, have decided to stick around and do something useful, or at least interesting. A man-shaped plastic mould in which a naked Jonathan Schipper had crouched on all fours made me feel I’d really missed something at the exhibition opening. “There were pools of sweat on the floor and steam was coming

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  • Mad Cowboy

    Alison Gingeras on Paul McCarthy

    A quick flashback: Munich 1931. Adolf Hitler orders the construction of the Haus der Deutschen Kunst—a museum-slash-propaganda tool where Der Führer made public speeches, promoted his reactionary artistic agenda, and demonized Entartete Kunst (the Nazi term for avant-garde art practices). Fast-forward to 2005: In an uncanny reversal of history, today’s preeminent degenerate artist—Paul McCarthy—has been welcomed into the same fascist edifice.

    Entitled “LaLa Land Parody Paradise,” the show was unanimously heralded around the booths of Art Basel as McCarthy’s most exhilaratingly

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  • Bridge Line

    Linda Yablonsky on “Bridge Freezes Before Road”

    Even Slater Bradley, who is thirty, was feeling old. For many at the Thursday night opening of Neville Wakefield’s “Bridge Freezes Before Road,” the summer group exhibition at Barbara Gladstone, this was the “young, hip show” of the post-Venice/Basel season, the “cool” place to be. And “cool” was the word for the “Greater New York 2005” generation swarming the gallery in low-cut dirndls and pastel shirts. Actually, the recent-MFA-grad crowd provided a neat counterpoint to the soigné middle-agers filling the Whitney the previous night to greet the arrival of Eugenie Tsai's terrific Robert Smithson

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  • Poster Children

    Nicolas Trembley on “Translation”

    Posters! Posters everywhere! That was my first impression upon walking into “Translation,” the new show at the Palais de Tokyo, where blue-chip contemporary art from the Dakis Joannou Collection shares the galleries with the work of French graphic design duo M/M Paris, of Bjork album-cover fame. The result of this art-design pairing? According to the press kit, it’s a “unique exhibition experience” aimed at defining a new kind of “altermodernism,” one that resists cultural and economic standardization and instead articulates “a mutant form of creole culture.”

    “Haphazard and unplanned, that’s the

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  • Buzz Words

    Alison Gingeras around Basel

    Art Basel is all about word of mouth—collectors and curators alike seem driven by it, as they spend four frenetic days running from booth to booth and show to show, to see/discover/consume the hottest thing. Cell phones fuel the buzz: my first SMS communiqué, received upon touching down in Basel Monday evening, read: “It’s so much better than the Arsenale!” The surging hoards had arrived from Venice, famished for some aesthetic stimulation and further art schmoozing. As I tried to make my way through the crowd at the Art Unlimited opening to see if my text-message tip was true, I realized

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  • Supersize Spree

    Nicolas Trembley on Art Unlimited

    At the Monday opening of the sixth annual Art Unlimited exhibition, Art Basel director Samuel Keller was quick to remind everyone, “The artworks here are for sale”—an announcement that functioned like the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, signaling the beginning of the week’s trading. Keller was making an important point, because while this section of Art Basel, held in a large hall next to the fair’s main space and devoted to large-scale works that do not fit in regular booths, looks like (and is) a curated exhibition—organized by Switzerland-based artist and independent curator

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  • My Hustler

    David Rimanelli around Venice

    On Thursday night, the Fondazione Prada is exhibiting Francesco Vezzoli’s 2004 film Le Comizi di Non Amore at the Fondazione Cini on Darsena, the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore; a cocktail party follows for Vezzoli and Rem Koolhaas, Carsten Höller, and Mariko Mori, all beneficiaries of Prada’s largesse (in one way or another) who are exhibiting in the Biennale. I’ve always been a fan of Vezzoli. Though he has had his share of notable admirers, for years now I’ve also noticed a remarkable knee jerk hostility toward him. Too smooth an operater? Too attentive to his career? Too smart for his own

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