PRINT December 2003

David Rimanelli

1 Felix Gmelin, Farbtest, Die Rote Fahne II (Color Test, The Red Flag II; “Delays and Revolutions,” Venice Biennale) Time travel, 2002 to 1968. Gmelin juxtaposed two small-scale, rather intimate projections: one of his father participating in a revolutionary action in Berlin in February 1968 as one of several runners carrying a red flag through the streets and the other a re-creation of the event which the artist staged in Stockholm last year. The action in Berlin culminated with one of the protestors, having gained access to the town hall, emerging with the flag on a balcony; Gmelin’s replay omits only this detail, implying that political protest is foreclosed. “Politics” as theme, gesture, and look: The red flags, separated by thirty-plus years, function as nostalgic, seductive, glamorous icons.

2 Spencer Finch (Postmasters, New York) and Edward Krasiński (Anton Kern Gallery, New York) Conceptualism past and present. Krasiński is a septuagenarian Pole working in a vein reminiscent of Daniel Buren. Knowing that—and that this isn’t the work of a clever-clever recent MFA grad—makes some difference in the work’s reception. Collectors take note: The hanging mirrors bisected by a blue stripe would look sensational, albeit rather perilous, in a gigantic crazy bathroom. For Eos (dawn, Troy), 2002, the centerpiece of Finch’s show, the artist visited the site of the ancient Trojan ruins, wherever they are in the former Asia Minor, and with precise optical instruments determined that, contra Homer, the famous “rosy-fingered dawn” is more of a bluish purplish shade. With ceiling-mounted fluorescent lights wrapped in various colored filters, Finch precisely “re-created” the light in Troy at dawn.

3 Richard Prince, “Nurse Paintings” (Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York) and Good Life (Glenn Horowitz Bookseller) Camp Nurse. Piney Woods Nurse. Nympho Nurse. Surfing Nurse. Bloody, drippy splatter sampling of AbEx gesturalism. After the disappointment of Prince’s last show of joke paintings at Gladstone, these sumptuous canvases were a return to form—smart, cheap, expensive, snide. Dime-store nurse romances also make appearances in Good Life, otherwise Prince’s photographic paean to fancy living as reflected by Glenn Horowitz’s rare book library (Elsie de Wolfe’s Recipes for Successful Dining, Cecil Beaton’s diaries, David Hicks’s On Living—With Taste), with works from the artist’s “Celebrity” series sometimes in the background. Bibliomania as photocollage, or in the Prince parlance, “gangs” of books.

4 “Ellsworth Kelly: Red Green Blue” (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) Organized by Toby Kamps of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, this show was a lovely complement to Kelly’s “Tablet” exhibition at the Drawing Center. Sometimes the tedious masters really do deliver the best goods. Like Kelly LeBrock in shampoo commercials of yore, these works seem to implore, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful!”

5 “Christian Schad and the Neue Sachlichkeit” (Neue Galerie, New York) Weimar Republic dissipation for art lovers who think the Kit Kat Club in the movie Cabaret would be a swell hangout.

6 28 Days Later and Spun I saw maybe three movies this year, one of which was The Hours, quite possibly THE WORST FILM I HAVE EVER SEEN. With that in mind, I nominate Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, essentially a dumb zombie movie nonetheless characterized by unusually clever visuals and writing and shock effects that are kind of shocking for real, and Spun, a lurid foray into the world of methamphetamine addicts. The latter the work of Jonas Åkerlund, who directed the music video for Madonna’s “Ray of Light.” Unmistakable stylistic affinities, viz., fastforwarding, door-slamming, eye-dilating, fuckywucky rhythms. Remember the tripped-out, streaky time-elapsed images of cars racing by and Madonna’s herky-jerky dancing in the video? Spun is “Ray of Tweak.”

7 Alison Gingeras’s Ass (Artforum, September 2003) This photograph by Piotr Uklański of Pompidou curator Gingeras’s backside and her appended essay excited a fair amount of commentary, some rather spiteful. Who do they think they are, Robert Morris and Lynda Benglis? How much does a three-page “advertorial” in Artforum cost? A pathetic gambit for attention, etc., etc. Pathetic maybe, but obviously successful, based on all the carping. And yes, the photographer and the curator are “intimate”—is that what you wanted spelled out in florid Anaïs Nin prose?

8 Zoloft Advertisements Do other people make you feel anxious? Have you suffered a recent loss of appetite? Do you feel tired or fatigued all the time? You may be suffering from depression, and you may be a sad-faced globular amoeboid. The recent Zoloft campaign is one of the best in the glorious field of pharmaceutical advertisements. A depressed polyp shudders alone in the rain, while normal polyps chat convivially in a group. Under the salutary influence of Zoloft however, depressed polyps suffering from social-anxiety disorder can join the smiling polyps.

9 Leon Battista Alberti, Momus (Harvard University Press) Best known for his treatise on perspective, Alberti also penned this highly amusing satirical account of Momus, the “god of fault-finding and the personification of embittered mockery,” as editors Sarah Knight and Virginia Brown put it—i.e., the god of criticism. Everybody knows that critics are EVIL (think only of Addison DeWitt in All About Eve, Waldo Lydecker in Laura, or Ellsworth Toohey in The Fountainhead).

10 Overheard at World of Video Two clerks talking about Larry Clark’s “punk Picasso” exhibition at Luhring Augustine: “Goin’ to see the show tomorrow, supposed to be awesome. West Twenty-fourth Street. All huge galleries with big glass doors. Dude, they’ve got it all laid out for you.”

Artforum contributing editor David Rimanelli teaches art history at New York University. He is the curator of “Women Beware Women,” on view at Deitch Projects, New York, through December 20.