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In a few minutes I will be participating in an Urban Foraging tour in Brooklyn. The tour will be given by Ava Chin and “Wild Man” Steve brill, two well know foragers in NYC area. The event grew using The Public School (NYC)

My interest in urban foraging began while working on art project on plants and plant knowledge… Ava is here…more later!

Kara Walker, An Army Train, 2005

The first task of the colonizer is to map out the land. To cut it up, make it easier to negotiate.

It’s a curious thing that the idea of the colonizer popped into my head yet again at the New Museums’ lecture series. The first time was when Kara Walker made a proposition about the painter as the colonizer, the painting the colonized. I didn’t contribute to the discussion, but I had very strong feelings about her presentation, specifically because in evolving from the metaphor of a painting as being colonized, nobody brought up, or had the courage to bring up the idea of history, specifically in her work, as what is being colonized -the body that is bought and sold. This makes Walker the colonizer, claiming so boldly what is “hers”. Why didn’t anyone put this question forward?

And now today I am reminded again, of the colonizers and their “maps” when Hans Ulrich Obrist spoke about “Maps for the 21st Century”, spoke about his latest project. Though the idea of the colonizer isn’t as heavy and as direct as in Kara’s predicament, it’s still an interesting angle to see it from. First of all the “Maps” project is customary of Hans Ulrich’s process, that is to say it has been mapped-out before, most recently with his “Formulas for Now” book. It all begins with one idea, a minimal idea, this sets off a whole chain of events: idea/minimal guideline -> a call to the top artist -> artist respond -> eventually a show -> then a book, next project. It’s seems very complete and contained, which, despite the fact that he did mention some ideas never make it that far an others go on, has a life span and follows a well known route, it is mapped. But does it have to be? (…more on the map, what is a map and what is not, later)

The first map showing the Americas by Martin Waldseemuller, 1507

According to Hans Ulrich Obrist the initial idea for these projects does come from an unmapped terrain, in his introduction he spoke about the Oulipo Group and how their experiments in writing were an inspiration for the way he sets up his curatorial projects. And that he was also interested in this element chance, that sometimes these experiments can fail, see his “Experiment Marathons” project. So why is it starting to feel very mapped out? I wonder if it has anything to do with the “colonizer” aspect. That value is a big part of this picture, that creating culture, or converting culture to value has a lot to do with how far his projects get. So everything has to be mapped out, no unpredictable names in his books. Chance was a lie, it’s getting harder for his projects to fail. Museums and publishers bank on this. It all get’s checked off rather methodically.

Before I go on I have to say that -if you don’t know this already- Hans Ulrich Obrist uber-prolific, it is beyond human the amount of books, projects, shows, events, that he has put-out or helped with or whatever. I heard a rumor that he only sleeps 4 hrs a night- yeah, that kind of a guy. And of this output, I really only know of about a sliver of it. I probably can’t even imagine all that has worked on, both realized and unrealized, (see his “Unbuilt Roads” project). I can almost bet that there must be a handful of his projects that shatter my “colonizer/map” thesis here.

None the less, I have to say, that if a curator of the 21st century wants to take the role of the instigator -as if artists no longer have the capacity and power to do so- then he/she should be willing to go as far as an artist to see that these ideas get pushed beyond their expected life, beyond what is on the map. Just as the world asks the artist to be brave and stand outside of their comfort zone-even if it means starvation, so then too an artist can ask the same of curators, critics, and museums. Much like we found the work of Henry Darger – pages and pages of exploration into his world- so should we find of a curator of the 21st century.(Alright, I’ve already been getting comments that Darger isn’t the best example for what I’m trying to say, if there is a better one let me know. Or if it comes to me later, I’ll revise this post.)

Henry Darger's Studio, photo by Lerner, 1972

An example of a Hans Ulrich Obrist project that I thought broke the mold was a project that sounded courageous, but not in an overly heroic way like his marathons, but rather courageous in it’s simple gesture. His Brutally Early Club is a salon style event that happens all over London- simple as that, the brutal aspect is that it happens at 6:30AM -which I think is great, not because I’m a wanna be morning person, but because I think it’s important to get that out of the way, just before going into the studio, not after. Night events have the tendency to drag on, or morph into some dunken dance party. So what of the night artist? Guston and all those Ab-Ex-Men? Simple, they can stay up working all night and come to The Brutally Early club afterward, go home sleep, repeat. Another big plus is the sunrise, when was the last time you saw the sun rise?

“I always have coffee and porridge for breakfast. My breakfast happens very early, at 6.30am, because I wake up early. I founded a club, which is called the Brutally Early Club. It’s basically a breakfast salon for the 21st century where art meets science meets architecture meets literature. The reason why I decided to do my club at 6.30am in different cafés, which are open so early, is because in 21st-century cities it’s become very difficult to improvise. Everybody has a schedule and it becomes really difficult to decide from one day to the next to gather for a meeting. You have to plan it weeks and weeks in advance. It’s so important to have improvisation in cities. Most people are free at 6.30, so that’s the idea of the Brutally Early Club and I have done it ever since I moved to London.” -from The Q&A: Hans Urich Obrist at MoreIntelligentLife.com.

I noticed on The Brutally Early Club website that they have one in New York City. Anyone know where that is? Or want to establish a New York chapter with me?

Wild Seeds, 2005, by Yael Bartana (video still)  

Wild Seeds, 2005, by Yael Bartana (video still)

Just found out video artist Yael Bartana will be participating in the “Ours: Branding Democracy” exhibition at the Parsons/The New School. The Exhibition goes beyond the the gallery to include, panel discussions, presentations, charrettes with the students (open to public), and performances. I’ve read about Yael’s work and have seen some of here videos here and there. (youtube: Mary Koszmary)… Anyhow, this Sunday Oct 19th at 10a.m. Union Square, she will have students reenact her video Wild Seeds, 2005 (above still), in which itself is a reenactment of the removal of Israeli settlers in Occupied Territories. 

The exhibition has many other interesting events throughout the duration of the show.. Sam Durant will also be mock-protesting in Union Square with students… Liam Gillick produced a stage for delivering of presentations for the exhibition… etc… Ours: Democracy in the Age of Branding

p.s. Check out our calendar for more events like this and at petitemort’s Editor’s Picks

I’m tapering off on the blog for a moment, got busy with school. Both teaching and attending. So less blog entries, or maybe I should turn it in to a school notebook, and cram it with discussions we have in my courses since a couple of friends asked me about the readings and goings on.  Schoologging? Schlogging? Is that what I should call it?

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Just by chance, we decided to drop in on an event that caught my eye yesterday. It was a reading at KGB bar in the East Village arranged by the new MFA in Design Criticism at SVA. The topic was food and 3 professors from the new department read their criticism from a podium near the bar. To my surprise the Senior Curator of the Design Dept in MoMa, Paola Antonelli was there and she read her article on Pasta, Paul Lukas read about the butcher meat chart design, and Akiko Busch read about the vegetable peeler, which we missed since we arrived after her reading. Overall I thought is was a great idea that should be carried over to art criticism. I mean, wouldn’t it be so much different if the art critics would have to face a crowd and read their criticism? I would figure that it would make critics a bit more conscious of their writing given the fact that it would be presented in front of a live audience, an audience who can immediately react to their words or not.

I also happen to be watching CoolHunting the other day when again, Paola Antonelli was in one of their videos, a video discussing “Design and the Elastic Mind”, her recent curatorial project at the MoMa. I didn’t mention this earlier but I think she will also be teaching in the department, this just adds to the list of heavy weights over at SVA. By the way, the department is still accepting applicants for fall 2008. And I think that the next DCrit reading will be at the end of June , check back on their website for more info. (I almost forgot to mention, there is a big conference on Design, The Arts and The Political being held in October at SVA. More about that later)

Towards a Critical Faculty by Stuart Bailey
“Towards a Critical Faculty”
reader compiled by Stuart Bailey aka Dexter Sinister

I was pleasantly surprised to find Stuart Bailey listed as one of the artist to be included in this years Whitney Biennial 2008. I’m curious as to what he will be offering to the show. From what I gather, his work is without form, or if in a tangible sense then in book form, that is, ideas put into print.

Stuart Bailey is Dexter Sinister (the occasional bookshop) is Dot Dot Dot (the design + culture musings magazine). I’ve read a few bits here and there, specifically his “Towards a Critical Faculty” lecture notes (pictured on left), which gave me, among many other things, ideas on how to move away from an object/skills-centric course and it also gave me the impetus to modify the existing design thinking process by making it more active, despite it being discouragingly labeled overly optimistic and un-pragmatic. I also learned that he taught at the Rietveld Akademie in Amsterdam at some point, before my student days there (1995). Back then, I might have not taken his course anyhow since I was in the sculpture department which was a good hop skip and a jump away from the main “practical” arts building.

On the topic of the biennial’s selection, a few weeks ago I was talking to a friend of mine who mentioned that many artist he knows will be in this years Biennial, he and I had this I-don’t-know-why feeling that some how this year’s selection seems different: Not not so much “noise”, or at least not yet. Which is a good thing, Stuart Bailey/Dexter Sinister should fit right in.

More Dexter Sinister PDF publications can be found in the Library… enjoy.

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UPDATE 03/11/08:

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Paper Mag has this scoop:

” [...] Stuart Bailey and David Reinfurt [...] invited 25 other artists to write press releases, to be distributed at the Park Avenue Armory.”
-All In The Family by Alex Gartenfeld, PaperMag March 4, 2008

outsider art fair banner 2008
The annual Outsider Art Fair in New York opens tonight and continues through out the weekend. Outsider art still fascinates me when I think of how much some artists are struggling to establish themselves in the context of contemporary art, meanwhile these outsiders are just doing their thing. Why fuss about money and fame if that isn’t the real goal of the game? I notice that this desperation is the cause of the passive-cattiness in the system.

If this desperation isn’t enough to keep you out, then perhaps the cost of education will do the trick: The 2 year MFA from Columbia University is now nearing the 80K mark. ($77,624 tuition alone)

Outsider Art Fair (website)

January 25 – 27, 2008
Friday
Saturday
Sunday 11am – 8pm
11am – 8pm
11am – 7pm

The Puck Building
295 Lafayette Street, corner of Houston Street,
Soho, New York City