Check up from the neck up

Art Life , Stuff Mar 15, 2019 No Comments

Friday deguatstaion: an amuse-bouche before the weekend…

BOGOF Venice Biennale

Venice, not yet sunk.

The artists for the 2019 Venice Biennale [number 58 in an ongoing series] [>] were announced late last week and perhaps [unsurprisingly] features exactly zero Australian artists. Maybe next time! Meanwhile, Ralph Rugoff, curator of the Biennale, is out in the press explaining his thinking behind the themeless exhibition. The Art Newspaper explains that the “…title is based on a mythical Chinese proverb quoted by a British politician in the 1930s, [and the Biennale] will feature 79 artists, but the for the first time […] will be divided into two exhibitions at the main Biennale venues, the Arsenale and the central pavilion in the Giardini. Both exhibitions will feature all 79 artists, and reflect the breadth of each one’s practice.”

Rugoff himself explains the decision to split the show in two is a daring and untried experiment. [>] “These exhibitions will be quite distinct and generate very different atmospheres,” he says. “The point here is to actually highlight the multiplicity of these artists’ practice and they will each contribute very different kinds of work for each venue. And my dream is that a more casual visitor who doesn’t like to read wall labels might go through both exhibitions and just assume that they are both by different artists.”

From the neck up

Significantly larger than life.

If you bought it you probably should hang it, so Vincent Fantauzzo’s eye-swivelling portrait of PM Julia Gillard had its official unveiling this week. Since there’s no one working for the ABC in Canberra who can cover visual arts, and since Annabel Crabb works in the building, she was there to report on a little understood aspect of the portrait’s bold choice of featuring a giant head done in the venerable tradition of recent Archibald Prize also-rans. [>] “When Australian prime minister number 27 Julia Gillard […] commissioned her official portrait, she was absolutely firm: It’ll be from the neck up, please. That was a really conscious discussion and choice. I mean one of the things that I think is frustrating for women in leadership roles at the moment, still, is that there is endless commentary about what they’re wearing,” Ms Gillard says “For me, being the first female prime minister, there were times when it was just truly absurd.”

Many tabs open in a browser

Darren Sylvester’s show Carve A Future, Devour Everything, Become Something at [>] The National Gallery of Victoria has drawn attention to the artist’s singular output. At Broadsheet, Will Cox notes that [>] “Sylvester is a photographer, musician, filmmaker and installation artist who makes glossy, dramatic visual art and glossy, dramatic pop music. It’s simple, but not simplistic. Fake, but not facile. In the artist’s words, it’s “many tabs open in a browser”, which is a relatable, contemporary state of being.

In an interview with Varia Karipoff for Art Guide, Sylvester observes of his influences: [>] “These aesthetic choices are my history. My culture is pop culture. My background is TV, not religion or spirituality. I can only speak of my own life: I’m trying to make sense of it all, like everyone. I’m moving forward, and I don’t want anything left behind, if something has a pull on me I want to hold onto it, drag it from the abyss of time to the present.”

Buck Tradition

Sarah Goffman’s ‘Bridge to Asia’ opened in mid-February at the Murray Art Museum Albury. It’s an installation in the gallery’s ANZ Zauner Foyer – and the artist has filled it up. [>] “Like all simulations Bridge to Asia is both real and unreal. There are physical works – carefully collected, slowly crafted, thoughtfully arranged. And yet, the connections between the objects are intangible. A backstory, a moment of inspiration, a comment on culture, a deliberate attempt to replicate tradition, and even more deliberate attempts to buck tradition.”

Why is work by female artists valued less than work by men?

In a major essay, sociologist Taylor Whitten Brown analyses global art markets and buying trends among art museums and other institutions to discover the reasons behind gender disparity: [>] “The statistics of the past few decades confirm that the art world is not one of gender parity. Works by female artists comprise a small share of major permanent collections in the U.S. and Europe, while at auction, women’s artworks sell for a significant discount compared with men’s. Only two works by women have ever broken into the top 100 auction sales for paintings, despite women being the subject matter for approximately half of the top 25.”

Waiting for the Artist

“Izabella Barta” performs “A Stranger in Need” in Documentary Now! 

As Dan Gilroy’s ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ demonstrated, it’s actually pretty hard to parody the art world – itself already largely a self parody – let alone do it with accuracy. The US parody doco series ‘Documentary Now!’ takes a crack at a full blown piss take, not of the whole commercial art world, but one artist and her film – ‘Marina Abramovoic: The Artist Is Present’. According to Dan Schindel ‘Waiting for the Artist’ not only understands the art its making fun of, but also has a heart [with an added Ulay burn]: [>] “The really ingenious thing about “Waiting for the Artist” is that the fake art pieces each have real underlying logic, as opposed to just being random. […] They also tie into Barta’s character arc. As she struggles to come up with an idea for her newest show, the story lays out her history with Dimo, who is characterized by extreme laziness both in his art and his relationship with her. The show’s version of ““Lovers” is “Staircase,” where Barta and Dimo turn their breakup into a performance via her walking from the bottom to the top of the Empire State Building, with him supposing to do the opposite — except he gets tired and takes the elevator instead.”

Seems legit.

Meanwhile, the real Abramovic has been accused of devil worship by Polish Catholics. ArtNet reports that a touring retrospective is the subject of protests and a pray-in. Suspicions of Abramovic’s link to Satan are founded in the 2016 US Presidential election: [>] “…The artist played an unlikely role in Wikileaks hack of the email account of John Podeta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Abramovi? had sent a message inviting John’s brother Tony Podesta, a collector and longtime Abramovi? supporter, to an evening of “Spirit Cooking with Marina Abramovi?.” Despite its benign description—“A dinner night with Marina during which she will teach you and other backers at this level how to cook a series of traditional soups”—members of the far right worked themselves up into a frenzy about the event, likening it to a ‘sex cult’ or a ‘bizarre occult ritual’.” What was that about self parody?

Kenny Pittock’s uncanny twist

Meanwhile at MARS Art Gallery Kenny Pittock’s Connector Pens Connecting solo exhibition has just opened. “Kenny Pittock arrives with a Tim Tam biscuit packed into a large container. The biscuit is the length of four or five Tim Tams and because there are bites out of each end, you can use it as a straw to suck up your latte or milkshake. Yet this extra-long Tim Tam is magically seamless. How on earth did Pittock fuse the biscuits together so convincingly? [>] He didn’t: it is not a biscuit at all, he reveals, but a ceramic sculpture – a perfect, hand-made replica that looks entirely, deliciously edible. Pittock revels in that verisimilitude: he likes to recalibrate ordinary things from the world around us, to give them an uncanny twist, enough to unsettle us and make us look afresh – but usually with a smile, or an appreciative groan, at his naff titles.”

Living inside video art

“William Kentridge’s video, “2nd Hand Reading,” from 2011. It is a flip book film from drawings on single pages of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. These four images are from a commissioned series for a forthcoming book on the Kramlich residence and collection.”

In 1977 C. Richard Kramlich invested in a private share offering by fledgling company Apple. Several billion dollars later Kramlich and his wife Pam have one of the largest collections of time based art. [>] The next logical step was to build a $200 million dollar weekender that also serves as one of the most advanced media-specific exhibition spaces in the world. It took 18 years to design and build, and somewhere between $10 and $200 million, but wow, rich people, their money, and their art!

Follow: Crooked Cosmos

Artist Zach Whalen has a Twitter bot account [>] @CrookedCosmos that takes astronomical images and glitches them, then feeds the images into the feed. Along with accounts such as [>] @PossumEveryHour and [>]Catastrophic Failure, Crooked Cosmos helps break up the tedium of Trump takedowns and earnest showboating. Crooked Cosmos’s images are both sublime, and sublimely messed up.

Assorted Links

The #metoo movement and its online activism have been a hugely significant cultural moment [>] but how do archivists go about preserving its online presence – and can that effort escape gender bias itself?

Finnish artists Pekka Nittyvirta and Timo Aho have [>] created beautiful but scary visualisations of future sea level rise.

[>] Victory over the Sun, Russian Avant-Garde and Beyond, opens at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Swedish artistic duo Simon Goldin and Jakob Senneby will be accepting applications for [>] The Job That Will Let You Do Whatever You Want in a Swedish Train Station, Forever.

Sam Scoggin’s classic Ballard [>] short film ‘The Unlimited Dream Company’ is [still] on Vimeo.

“And finally, the weather in your region…”

In the same week that we discovered Michael Spicer’s superlative collage album of vintage weather forecasts and production music [>] Weather Forecast Closedown on Bandcamp, the BBC launched [>] What is hauntology? And why is it all around us? an online video that explains that hauntology is [counter-intuitively] very much alive as we live in a world where “the presence of the past is all around us.” Not only is hauntology still a thing, it all makes sense now.

The Art Life

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