PRINT Summer 2001


Matthew Higgs

Matthew Higgs is associate director of exhibitions at the ICA, London, where he curated “City Racing 1988–1998: A Partial Account.” His multiartist “I Want More . . . and More . . . ” is on view at the Temple Bar Gallery in Dublin.

  1. Rodney Graham

    Vancouver-based conceptual flaneur Rodney Graham is in danger of becoming the world’s most interesting artist—a one-man group show whose eclecticism bears ever-stranger fruit. Strangest, perhaps, is The Bed-Bug, Love Buzz and Other Short Songs in the Popular Idiom (Dia Center for the Arts, 2000), his recent foray into the world of pop music. Graham’s second full-length CD, Bed-Bug features seventeen mostly self-penned stabs at pop’s vernacular forms. (Imagine the Beatles and New Order locked in a recording studio with Serge Gainsbourg at the controls.) None is sweeter than “Put It in a Letter,” a resounding hit in the Higgs household.

  2. Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles

    (Knopf, 2000) Ideal summer reading: unremittingly depressing, with little or no light at the end of the tunnel. A fine riposte to the lazy liberalism and bourgeois hedonism of the soixante-huit-ers, a generation Michel Houellebecq so rightly despises.

  3. Joy Division

    If ever they were to make a film of The Elementary Particles, this band’s doom-ridden atmospherics would serve as the perfect sound track. Currently enjoying something of a renaissance among a younger generation of artists, designers, and musicians, Joy Division will take center stage in Michael Winterbottom’s soon-to-be-released 24 Hour Party People, a fictionalized screen account of the hubris that was the Manchester music scene in the years after punk. Another sign that it’s time to dust off those gray overcoats once again? The widow of deceased vocalist Ian Curtis has just sold the film rights to her moving memoir, Touching from a Distance (Faber & Faber, London, 1996).

  4. Pete Frame’s “Rock Family Trees”

    Something of a legend in British music circles, Pete Frame has been creating his exquisitely rendered and painstakingly researched “Rock Family Trees”—genealogies of bands from earliest inception through inevitable and myriad lineup changes to present (or final) formations—for over twenty-five years. Originally appearing in the music press and on album sleeves, they’ve more recently been anthologized in a series of books (Omnibus Press, London) and are essential reading for rock pedants everywhere. Crammed with compellingly banal anecdotes, Frame’s lovingly crafted drawings hold their own with any process-oriented conceptual art. Hanne Darboven and On Kawara look lightweight by comparison.

  5. Folk Archive

    British artist Jeremy Deller once announced that if Pop art is about liking things, as Andy Warhol famously declared, then folk art is about loving things. In this spirit, Deller and fellow artist Alan Kane launched the Folk Archive ( last year at Tate Britain, seeking to rescue the genre from the ethnographic backwaters and present it as a central creative force in British cultural life. An online, virtual collection of contemporary objects and actions made by inspired amateurs, Folk Archive includes documentation of everything from a banner protesting a recent spate of homophobic and racist bombings in Central London to a fairground ride bedecked with garish images of the late Princess Diana.

    Ed Hall, Unison trade union banner, 1999, painted fabric, ca. 48 x 72". From Folk Archive. Ed Hall, Unison trade union banner, 1999, painted fabric, ca. 48 x 72". From Folk Archive.
  6. Billy Childish

    Billy Childish ( is an inspiration. The former apprentice stonemason from Kent, England, has resisted virtually every stylistic innovation of the last quarter century. As a musician much admired by the likes of Beck, the Beastie Boys, and Kurt Cobain, he’s released over eighty albums of singularly primitive garage rock. As a writer—of brutally maudlin tales in the manner of Fante, Bukowski, and Céline—he’s published thirty-odd volumes of poetry and two novels. As a painter, he is the author of some 2,000 expressionistic works resembling those of his heroes van Gogh and Munch. To accuse Childish of being an anachronism is to miss the point. He’s a boil on the face of fashion—a persistent reminder that everything new is not necessarily interesting.

  7. Richard Kern

    Richard Kern is, I guess, a pornographer, inasmuch as his work sporadically appears in the pages of such self-explanatorily titled “gentlemen’s magazines” as Juggs, Taboo, and Barely Legal. Yet the label does him a disservice. His most recent book, Model Release (Taschen, 2000), is a case in point that all is not quite what it seems in the world of Kern. His photographic work is ambiguous—oddly so, given that his subjects are invariably naked female models whose teenage looks often belie their actual age. There exists an ordinariness in Kern’s images that is disconcerting and that ultimately undermines any masturbatory potential or intent. Whether his work is art or not is moot: Discuss.

  8. American Homebody

    As a computerless Internet virgin (practically), I remain somewhat suspicious of the Web’s pleasures. Lisa Anne Auerbach’s adorable, however, gives cause for some optimism. Auerbach, formerly an editor at my favorite transgressive winter-sports journal—the late and lamented Snowflake—has created a real-life soap opera that charts the quotidian lives of her friends and neighbors in Los Angeles. Profoundly local, American Homebody celebrates the simple pleasures of domesticity. Its rallying cry: “Stay Home.”

  9. Thrift Stores in Las Vegas

    Forget the Strip. This is where the real action is.

  10. Douglas Huebler

    In the current rush to rehabilitate all things conceptual, the late Douglas Huebler appears to have been overlooked. His particular brand of tragicomic conceptualism was humanistic to the end. An example to us all.