COLUMNS

  • 1000 WORDS: HARRY DODGE AND STANYA KAHN

    “ONCE UPON A TIME, or maybe twice, there was an unearthly paradise,” begins the Beatles’s 1968 animated extravaganza, Yellow Submarine. As the opening line’s turn on the cliché suggests, visions of other worlds—past, future, or parallel—have popped up repeatedly throughout history as the shadow expression of an era’s collective unconscious. But these fantasies don’t easily divide into categories of utopic or dystopic. From the radioactive monsters in cold war sci-fi novels to the Blue Meanies that invade Pepperland, the nightmare that threatens civilization is what generates the dream

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  • 1000 WORDS: YVONNE RAINER

    ROUGHLY TWO YEARS ago I was in London visiting a friend who, for some reason, had recorded this BBC dramatization called Riot at the Rite (2005), a fictionalization of the making of The Rite of Spring. All the characters in the historical episode appear in it, from Stravinsky and Roerich to Nijinsky, and the story culminates on that night in 1913 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris—with the dance performed for the BBC version, remarkably, by the Finnish National Ballet. The perspective cuts back and forth throughout between the stage and the riotous audience, which is fictional here,

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  • 1000 WORDS: CHARLES RAY

    CHARLES RAY DID IN FACT STEAL the thirty-two-foot-long fallen tree that inspired his recent sculpture Hinoki, just as rumor has it. After spotting the tree in a California field, Ray tried and failed to acquire it through legitimate channels. Not to be deterred, he returned to the site, chain saw in tow. Over a series of trips, he transported the tree, in hundreds of pieces, back to his studio in Los Angeles.

    Thus commenced Hinoki’s decadelong backstory—protracted even for Ray, who often spends years on his intricately fabricated sculptures in order to achieve just the right subtle-yet-delirious

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  • 1000 WORDS: FRANCESCO VEZZOLI

    GO AHEAD, ADMIT IT: You’re more than a little curious to see Francesco Vezzoli’s contribution to the new Italian Pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale. If, for some, disclosing such curiosity might be a kind of quasi confession, it’s in part because Vezzoli’s last Venetian outing—Trailer for a Remake of Gore Vidal’s Caligula, 2005—has over the intervening years become something of an art-world guilty pleasure, an unrepentant consummation of art’s long and sometimes agonized courtship with the firmament of celebrity-addled spectacle. Sure, we’ve managed to carve out an amorphous critical space

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  • 1000 WORDS: MATTHEW BUCKINGHAM

    WHETHER EXPLORING the colonial history of the Hudson River, recounting the life story of a freed slave in the American Northeast, staging a tale by Edgar Allan Poe, or recording his own attempts to discover the origin of four home movies from the 1920s found on a Manhattan street, Matthew Buckingham, in his film and video projects, often seems also to be documenting the exploits of an amateur enthusiast: himself. Indeed, the New York–based artist’s practice might be seen as sharing common ground with the fast-growing hobby of historical reenactment, involving as it does the exhaustive researching

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  • 1000 WORDS: MIRIAM BÄCKSTRÖM AND KIRA CARPELAN

    ARTISTIC COLLABORATIONS tend to be celebrated as win-win situations: Working together, artists expand their strategic arsenals and even, in a sense, their identities. But a more complex dynamic unfolded last year, when Miriam Bäckström decided to collaborate with a younger artist, Kira Carpelan, then in her penultimate year at Stockholm’s Konstfack Art Academy. Bäckström, known since the early 1990s for her photographs of eerily evacuated interiors, has in the past few years increasingly turned to the moving image, working with actor-collaborators to script and shoot videos that expose the

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  • 1000 WORDS: TONY CONRAD

    LARGE PAINTED PAPER SHEETS with a rectangle approximating the proportions of a film screen, Tony Conrad’s “Yellow Movies,” 1972–73, were inspired by the stark dichotomy between art and cinema at Documenta 5 (1972)—where filmmakers such as Conrad had their movies screened only once in the community cinema, while other artists’ works in film and video were shown continually in Kassel’s Museum Fridericianum. As attested to by the petition published that summer by Documenta artists Hans Haacke, Sol LeWitt, Dorothea Rockbourne, and others, demanding more control over the display of their work,

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  • 1000 WORDS: MIRANDA JULY

    MIRANDA JULY IS MOST WIDELY RECOGNIZED today as a filmmaker and fiction writer. Her first feature film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, 2005, garnered prizes at both Sundance and Cannes; her first collection of fiction, No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories, is due from Scribner in May. But she initially attracted attention in the mid-’90s for her work in performance art. While July’s first efforts in this discipline appeared in a popular context (a longtime resident of the Pacific Northwest, she was regularly an opening act for bands like Sleater-Kinney), she has since performed in more

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  • 1000 WORDS: CINDY SHERMAN

    A PLAY IN FOUR ACTS (plus finale) with a cast of sixteen, A Play of Selves was first staged . . . well, never. At least not exactly. Cindy Sherman completed the piece in 1976, when she was an undergraduate studying art at Buffalo State College in upstate New York and living above Hallwalls, the alternative space she had founded in 1974 with Robert Longo, Charlie Clough, and others. Having abandoned painting for photography, a medium that allowed her to enact a variety of private performances entirely for and by way of the camera, Sherman created seventy-two black-and-white tableaux that collectively

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  • 1000 WORDS: JOAN JONAS

    IT WOULD BE DISINGENUOUS to say that Joan Jonas is not a performance artist, but I don’t think of her that way. When she started in the 1960s, she sought bare land for building; these neighborhoods expanded around her only much later. She goes outside, generally.

    Jonas’s newest work, The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things, 2005, was commissioned by Dia:Beacon, and premiered there last year, with a reprise this past October. It tells stories, it’s representational, but, as with many aspects of her work, this is deceptive. Not cunningly so, but in the way of distances: You’re fooled easiest if

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  • 1000 WORDS: STAN DOUGLAS

    VANCOUVER-BASED ARTIST STAN DOUGLAS has reinvented some of the most significant works of cinema, from his elegantly looping six-minute, 16-mm work Subject to a Film: Marnie, 1989, which follows closely from Hitchcock’s 1964 original, to Suspiria, 2002/2003, a recombinant video mix of elements borrowed from Dario Argento’s gory, Technicolor-drenched 1977 cult classic of the same name, transposed to an eighteenth-century tower in Kassel, Germany, during Documenta 11. Douglas’s latest offering, Klatsassin—a high-definition video that will be screened in abridged form at the Vancouver International

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  • 1000 WORDS: DAVID SALLE

    MICHELANGELO IS A TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW—and pinch-hitting for Andy Warhol probably isn’t much easier—yet these were precisely the challenges presented to David Salle when Roman art collector Carlo Bilotti recently asked him to execute a commission on the theme of the Sistine Chapel (a recast version of an unrealized Bilotti project once slated for the Pop master). Salle, who splashed on to the scene twenty-five years ago with a brazen brew of postmodern pictorial eclecticism and New York School–scale, capital-P Painting, would seem a natural fit for such an epic return to art history, having spent

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