Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A little mid-week link blogging

Just a few odds and ends in no particular order:

  • I'm usually not a fan of "clever" art, but these are just cool.

  • Considering how much I dislike J-Lo, this track really is strangely addictive (though not as much as this). I suppose any thing gets better when you add Stevie Wonder.

  • I'm giving serious consideration to taking a few art history classes next semester over at the U. Not really in love with the idea of Art in the Dark, but there are some definite gaps in my knowledge that could stand filling.

  • Soma FM is already streaming Christmas music. A few minutes ago, as i was about to get up, they started playing Jimmy McGriff's version of "Santa Claus is Coming/White Christmas" and I suddenly found that I couldn't get up until it was over.

  • In answer to Dwayne: Rope, Top Hat, My Man Godfrey, Metropolis, Citizen Kane, It's a Wonderful Life, Duck Soup, Adams Rib, Double Indemnity, and All Quiet on the Western Front.

  • For anyone who's interested, don't forget that the Leonids peak on Saturday night.

[edit] Looks like the Leonids might not happen here after all... damnit.[/edit]

Friday, November 10, 2006

We are all Tasadays.

On our second stop of the night, a show at Material that hadn’t drawn anywhere near the crowd it deserved, I heard someone who shall remain nameless remark that they tended to like the artists that showed at the Power House if not always the shows themselves. I hate to admit it publicly (partly for fear of offending my friends who work for the organization and partly for fear of castigation), but I tend to be of much the same mind upon leaving a show there. Even great artists are sometimes presented with the space and then seem to freeze. It’s such a formidable space that it tends to demand a formidable response, which some people are either unwilling or unable to provide. With her show opening tonight, “sleeping heads lie”, Wangechi Mutu proves she is capable of just such a formidable response.

Mutu begins by transforming the white walled modernist north gallery into a muted and pockmarked expanse for her mixed media collages to reside in. The walls themselves are a pale blue and pitted with small rust colored craters which seem to convey a past of violence or perhaps just the neglectful ravages of time; even outside of the art world it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference.

Each of the eight collages is an enthralling assemblage of fashion, nature, pornography, chrome and a smattering of distinctly African images compiled into menaced human forms (mostly heads), many of whom seem to be imploring something of their viewers. It is the nature of this kind of collage to dehumanize its subject (think De Kooning), but in the hands of Mutu the technique does exactly the opposite. The figures in these collages, for all their disfigurations, seem almost more human than any straight rendering of form could be.

The cavernous south gallery contains an installation called “Muddy Water.” It consists primarily of a dozen or so clotheslines lighted from above, holding a wide range of mostly dark colored, worn clothing. Viewed from the balcony looking down into the space, the highest row of clothing was on the far wall, at about eye level. From the lower floor, however, the clothes provids a fascinatingly textured visual ceiling. Sharing the space with the viewer are ten hot plates scattered around the burnt orange floor, bearing pots of water and wine of various colors and stages of boiling. This gave the room a certain musk, which seemed to lay claim to the environment that the artist has created for her viewers.

Critically I find this work to be an invigorating struggle that I’ve still not fully resolved. I found myself trying to make sense of what my eyes were telling me and I kept running into frameworks I know to be false. Any construct I have of femininity or Africanity (a term I’m borrowing from Olu Oguibe) is based on Colonial notions contrived to support the ideas of people the likes of which I’m trying very hard not to become. I found myself staring into these faces and wrestling not with their Otherness, but my own.


The artist is giving a gallery talk tomorrow afternoon at 3pm and I hope anyone who happens to read this will seriously consider going. And since you'll be in the neighborhood, you could always hang out and go the Lantana Show afterward (nudge nudge, wink wink).

Monday, November 06, 2006

A little plug

As a rule, I try not to stump for Amber’s shows here (and I never review them), but I’m making an exception in this case. Next Saturday, November 11, from 7 to 11pm the Lantana Projects are presenting their Class of 06 show at 387 South Main. Amber and I have spent a sizable chunk of the last two days up there and it’s shaping up to be a really fantastic show.

Yesterday started out a little rough for Amber. She still hadn’t fully recovered from her food poisoning. We threw in the towel about an hour into the installation in search of something, anything that Amber could eat. Given that there was something of a deadline for getting this work up, the folks putting on the show were really good about us bailing.

Today went considerably better. Amber woke up craving pancakes and set upon chowing down before I got out of bed. For anyone who’s ever been through food poisoning, you know this is a pretty good sign.

We got to the space a little later than we’d hoped, but the installation went pretty quickly. Somewhere around three in the afternoon, Amber started channeling Gabriel Orozco. It wasn’t part of the original design for the piece, but ultimately I think the antiphonal approach worked out well. I put up a little Flickr set of Amber’s installation for anybody who’d like to take a peek.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Oh Dear... I've Trodden In Monsieur's Bucket

Today was supposed to be spent working on Amber's Lantana installation followed by a quick trip down to my grandmother's for the evening. Instead, I was on bucket duty. After the Michelle Citron lecture (which I still intend to write up), Amber and I stopped by McAlister's on Poplar at Highland. Apparently there was something wrong with her soup; she doesn't remember it tasting funny and dinner was nice (we ran into a couple of friends who had been at the Chris Uphues lecture), but about two o'clock this morning the fun began. I got Amber an appointment for two this afternoon and we're just now getting home.

They gave her a phenergan shot, so she's finally getting a little sleep.