Saturday, March 31, 2012
Philadelphia's finest, Michael Macfeat. You want to see this.
Michael Macfeat on his latest show and on his work:
MICHAEL MACFEAT AT TIGER STRIKES ASTEROID
I have always been passionate about literature. It provides a release from thinking about oneself. Although I have always been a voracious reader, it wasn't until the age of 46 that I began writing.I strive for clarity in the written word. This may seem odd considering my historic indifference to it in the majority of my visual work.
"Between the demand to be clear and the temptation to be obscure, impossible to decide which deserves more respect." - E. M. Cioran
The phrase BAR SINISTER is the title of the current exhibition at TIGER STRIKES ASTEROID. BAR SINISTER is no longer commonly used in the conversational English of everyday life; it has been rendered obscure by disuse and time. Chivalry is dead and along with it, its symbols. The United States of America disavowed the system of royalty long ago. Collectively we flatter ourselves for our enlightened and equitable system of government, often ignoring the reality of the situation. Because the term BAR SINISTER has been rendered anachronistic through disuse, it will be interpreted in a multitude of ways that have no reference to heraldry at all. As a heraldic symbol, it is a band terminating at the bottom left of a coat of arms. It hints at or designates illegitimate birth or parentage. Primarily it is a sign denoting bastardy. The minority, those still aware of its original meaning, may interpret this as a direct reference to my reputation (real or perceived) within the culture industry. Sinister means "left" in Latin. Perhaps it will be seen as a reference to my politics. Those without knowledge of the historic use of the phrase BAR SINISTER could conceivably interpret it as the game-face one dons upon entering a dive bar with a reputation for violence. In that case the stern visage is a pre-emptive strategy and serves as a warning. In popular culture, Simon BAR SINISTER was the name of the evil genius in the Under Dog cartoons, a villain in perpetual pursuit of world domination that was never attained.
The images in the exhibition were stolen from the Internet with the surety of Somalian pirates overtaking a yacht full of wealthy foreigners. No consideration is given to ownership or copyright. Taking great liberties; what a marvelous turn of phrase! I have always enjoyed taking them but I prefer stealing them. This may be a genetic predisposition. Unless condominiums can be constructed on "intellectual property", the term is an oxymoron.
"Reality-based art hijacks its materials and doesn't apologize. - David Shields
The work in the BAR SINISTER exhibition at TIGER STRIKES ASTEROID spans the extremes of two decades. It consists of sculptures created in 1993 and seven images created in 2010/2011. The combination of two entirely different disciplines made twenty years apart may not be a traditional exhibition strategy but there are similarities in both bodies of work that may be unrecognizable from a visual standpoint alone. Without a familiarity of the works that encompass the vast middle section of these two decades, the logic behind this conceptual approach may in fact be invisible. It certainly will not be the first time my tactics will seem incomprehensible to the majority of viewers.
The two major reasons for this exhibition at TIGER STRIKES ASTEROID are the curator and the gallery policy at TSA. Terri Saulin and I became friends. We were both close to the sculptor, Bill Walton, although we didn't meet until after his death. In fact, we met at the perfect time. Establishing our friendship eased the pain of losing our mutual friend. Terri is responsible for the idea of exhibiting my work here, she presented it to the exhibition committee of TIGER STRIKES ASTEROID and offered to curate it. I trust her judgment implicitly. This exhibition is a monument to that trust. I can't thank Terri enough for being brave enough to trust me as well.
The second factor involves the generous exhibition policy of TIGER STRIKES ASTEROID to devote half of their exhibition schedule to outside artists. This policy is an example of the praxis of collective responsibility, a concept often foreign among artists. TIGER STRIKES ASTEROID is the exception in a system rife with narcissism and self-interest and they should be lauded for it. I cannot thank them enough for inviting me to exhibit at TIGER STRIKES ASTEROID and leaving me to my own devices. They are a remarkable group of people.
"Art is not truth; art is a lie that helps us recognize truth." - David Shields
In 2008, the Trading Card Series was exhibited at the Rosenwald/Wolf Gallery at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. It was the first exhibition of my work since the Cold Sculpture exhibition at Vox Populi that I curated in 1993, which included James Mills, Robert Sciasci, Kevin Madden, Bill Walton and myself. The Trading Cards were conceived as a way to bypass having to exhibit work in galleries. They were not originally intended to be exhibited at all, although they eventually were, thanks to a sympathetic and persuasive curator in Sid Sachs.
Each card in the series is formatted 3" by 2" in size, laminated in plastic, consisting of photographs of authors and other creative individuals with quotes attributed to them. The series stemmed from my passion for literature. After making work for years that was idiosyncratic and frequently misunderstood, the Trading Card Series was a deliberate effort to create works whose intended meaning was clear and unmistakable. Rather than selling the work, it was distributed free of charge and anonymously, putting use value above exchange and eliminating the albatross of reputation through anonymity. Whatever clarity the cards themselves carried, the strategy of anonymous distribution inevitably cloaked them in a certain amount of mystery. The images used in the cards predates the work of the Color Theory Series by its theft of images from the Internet.
" I don't feel any guilt normally attached to "plagiarism," which seems to me organically connected to creativity itself." - David Shields
The sculptural work in this exhibition represents some of the only remaining freestanding work of its era. It owes a debt to the process oriented art of the late-Sixties and early Seventies and particularly to the Arte Povera group that originated in Turin and was championed by the writer Germano Celant. The sculptures share Arte Povera's avoidance of using precious materials. Joseph Beuys was also a major influence in both in his work and his politics. Limited storage and working space dictated that the sculptural works in this exhibition were either collapsible (hinged such as Scorpion) or in other ways easily transportable. Rather than the lack of studio and storage space being a hindrance to the creation of larger works, these additional restrictions provided a challenge that interested me. Despite meeting these requirements, the lack of permanent storage space still resulted in the destruction of the majority of these sculptures and almost all of my work in plaster. Very few of the sculptures still exist. Those that did survive were never exhibited before now. By 1993 I had lost all interest in exhibiting the work in a gallery setting.
The Trading Cards solved the problem of exhibiting within the art system by their distribution in the street. They avoided the confusion caused by an indefinite and ambiguous meaning of the sculptures by using text and quotes. The Trading Cards, with their literary origins, share the same unmistakable clarity sought after in my writing, without being saddled with the hindrance of my own literary limitations.
Although sharing literary and visual quotations with the Trading Card Series, the more recent Color Theory images are a return to the ambiguity of meaning found in the earlier sculptural works. The works of these two periods, although separated by twenty years and in two distinctly different mediums, can be seen as brackets on the end of a long period of work grounded in an attempt at clarity. The Color Theory works are a return to a poetic approach to image making that had been deliberately repressed in the creation of the Trading Cards. They represent a return to a freer approach to image making. They are not encumbered with the self-imposed constraints of standard size, the absence of color and the anonymous distribution the Trading Cards.
The prints and the sculptures in the current exhibition both concern themselves with the issue of color, one through artifice and the other through what appears to be the natural process of patina and entropy. The Color Theory images use digital technology to arrive at their colors, often from sampling existing advertising and journalistic photography on the Web. The sculptures use artifice in a convincingly natural but artificial way. They are much better liars than the prints. One example of this artifice is found on the hinge in Scorpion. The screws that were used to attach the hinges were new and bright. To combat this difference between the rusted hinge and new hardware(,) the screws were painted to appear rusty. Their colors appear to be the result of a natural process of entropy but in fact were coaxed in that direction a long time ago. After twenty years they may have actually rusted underneath the paint. It makes no difference at all. From day one they appeared to be in a state of disintegration.
"Color is something spiritual, something whose clarity is spiritual, so that when colors are mixed they produce nuances of color, not a blur. The rainbow is a pure childlike image. In it color is wholly contour; for the person who sees with a child’s eyes, it marks boundaries, is not a layer of something superimposed on matter, as it is for adults. The latter abstracts from color, regarding it as a deceptive cloak for individual objects existing in time and space. Where color provides the contours, objects are not reduced to things but are constituted by an order consisting of an infinite range of nuances. Color is single, not as a lifeless thing and a rigid individuality but a winged creature that flits from one form to the next." - Walter Benjamin
The Color Theory images use digital technology to arrive at their colors, often from sampling existing advertising and journalistic photography on the Web.
Both the sculptures and the Color Theory works require a certain amount of intellectual effort to embrace. But why not, does not difficulty have its own rewards?
I approach every exhibition as if it were my last. That alone is reason enough to exhibit the sculptures from the 90's with my current work. They also, from my point of view, present an interesting counterpoint to the prints of the Color Theory Series.
The one area in my life that I refuse to compromise is my artwork. Guy Debord pointed out that gypsies were allowed to prevaricate in any language but that of the Roma. The visual arts are my personal Roma. If there is anything consistent in my work of the last few decades it is my ability to change direction and confound conventional analysis. Ultimately, it all leads back to the same place, wandering in the labyrinth of the Minotaur.
"I have my faults but changing my tune is not one of them." - Samuel Beckett
Stop me if I start lying.
31 rue Sainte Ouen
Friday, March 23, 2012
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I'd love to know what would happen if someone shot this middle aged white woman walking home from the store. Would the shooter not be arrested immediately? Would there be questions about my outfit. I am a small, white, 41 year old woman who wears a hoodie and jeans all the time. Could I be murdered by "neighborhood watch" and have people question my outfit and say it was a factor in instigating someone to murder me?
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Me and My Arrow.
Monday, March 19, 2012
Friday, March 16, 2012
Thursday, March 15, 2012
A portrait of Antoinette Conti was placed on that billboard for 2 months. Antoinette is a second-generation Italian-American immigrant. Now Fernando Trevino is up, he lives next door to Antoinette. Fernando is a first-generation Mexican-American immigrant. Fernando and Antoinette live directly across the street from me. I'm a fourth generation Eastern European Jewish-American immigrant.
Beyond the billboard at Passyunk and Reed, there's a ring of cell phone towers that sit atop a building several houses down from the corner. When you cross Passyunk Ave right at the Acme, there's a specific vantage point where the cell phone tower forms what looks like a crown on the head of the person on the billboard. Hence the name "La Corona." The meaning of "La Corona" connects my neighbors in a way I don't quite have full access too... it circumvents our common language, English. They share more than a common wall.
Italian-Americans are one of the oldest ethnic groups living in South Philadelphia and Mexican-Americans are one of the newest ethnic groups. Who rules here? We rule here. La Corona. Long live South Philadelphia! May we always embrace the newest immigrant groups with love and appreciation.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
For now, thanks to CA CONRAD, MAGDALENA ZURAWSKI, NICK HORNBY, TERRIE BARRIE, PHILIPPE VERGNE, CHARDAY LAVERTY,
FRANK SHERLOCK, JAY KIRK, THOMAS DEVANEY and SERGE BIELANKO.
hours inside philaDELPHIa
for Zoe Strauss
to a bloody
even the average
crime begs a
i’m not so
no he said
- CA Conrad
In response to Stay Alive
If you grew up in the UK in the 1960s and 1970s, and you love movies and rock’n’roll and American literature, then your relationship with the US is complicated: you can see why half of Europe spends half its time complaining about America’s cultural hegemony and its occasionally scary foreign policy; at the same time you know that only the USA could have produced Springsteen and Vonnegut, Marvin Gaye and Martin Scorsese, Raymond Carver and Muddy Waters. It wasn’t complicated back then, though, when I was a child and a teenager. Back then, I wanted everything that Americans had: cheap hamburgers, the X-Ray spex advertised in the back of Marvel comics, all-day television, films that wouldn’t arrive in London for a year, and wouldn’t be showing in my town’s cinema for another six months after that. I wanted to be American. I didn’t want to be English, very much. Our 1970s was a time of repeated power cuts and savage confrontation between unions and their employers; our fourth – fourth! - TV channel started broadcasting in the early ‘80s. If you stayed off school for a day, you could watch the test card, a picture of a little girl standing by a blackboard which served the purpose of allowing TV salesmen to demonstrate the sharpness of the picture on their sets. I lived in the suburbs, but I read enough and watched enough to know that your suburbs had more than ours. Our suburbs were grey, cold, dull, empty, a land full of nothing. Yours, I would later find out, had malls containing a branch of Sam Goody’s, which sold Bobby Womack albums I’d never seen for 99 cents.
And since then, lots of things have changed. For a start, we now have what you’ve always had; we see the same movies at the same time, watch the same TV channels, millions of ‘em, and eat the same bad food. And most of it turned out not to be worth coveting - “Everything”, it turned out, was overrated. The more I look at Zoe Strauss’s sad, wry photograph, the more complicated it seems: it’s not just a picture exposing the lie America has been telling itself over the last couple of hundred years (the few remaining blue letters in the sign are only just hanging on in there). The promise of everything was impossible to fulfil, that much is clear; more importantly, it was also a promise that wasn’t worth making in the first place. This might indeed be a store that sells everything – who knows? It’s just that everything turned out to be not as much as we thought it was going to be, once upon a time.
- Nick Hornby
- Nick Hornby
You Can Feel Good About
You can feel good about I-95 when you take a walk underneath Feel good about rocking black lip liner Your shirtless muscle pose is something you can flex & feel good about You can feel good about life in this ditch since you know that your future starts here You can You know you can feel
You can feel good about the love of your life in a snapshot left on a boxspring A gun & a bun in the oven is something you can feel good about You can feel good about beating the Giants You Yes
You can feel good in the skin you're in even if it's been broken You can feel good about the fire fighter & the wonder of fireworks at once Show off your titty tattoos & feel good I feel it Feel good about falling in love w/o government sanction Flip the bird to the law & feel good You can feel good about your wave cap when it's tied just right Can you feel how good this feels this blinking sign of redemption You can feel good about smoking in bed & not waking up in a fire You can you
You can feel good about dollar magic You can feel good about letting your wang hang out You can
feel Silly string from an overhead wire is something You can feel good about Froggy Carr You can feel good about making love in Centralia Rome can make you The shrimp & petro fest makes you feel good & hungry You can feel good about gangsta ink on your face You can feel that smooth Bicentennial roundball (go ahead & say it it's so so good.....Julius...Errr-ving) I told you now didn't I
You can feel good about yours It's first one of its kind in the world You can feel good about being young crazy rich & flashy Feel good about the fleur-de-lis You can feel good about $$$$ just don't be a dick about it Couples touching tongues can make you feel oo la la He wrote dirty jokes in the Store of the Stars just so you could feel good Feel him You can feel good about dignity under the El You can feel good about half of everything & the half that seems to be missing Just feel for it
You can feel good about the most we feared has turned out to be empty & barren Drinking a Bud can
with one pinky up will make you feel pretty classy You can feel good about feeling like any day you might be a star Feel good about making out with a stranger on a day you come out in drag Some days you feel for the dead (R.I.P.) You feel good about showing your exit wounds because of what you've held onto Let's feel good & meet me under the overpass because now is the time to be close
You work daily in a toxic soup with the most secret and deadliest materials known to man. Plutonium, americium, neptunium, californium, tritium - just to name a few. You are told these radioactive materials can cause cancer. But you were young, possibly as young as 20 years old. Cancer is an old person’s disease. But you’re only 38, a man and have breast cancer. What’s up with that? It seems logical to you, though you don’t have a PhD, that since you spent every day for 15 years with your arms in lead-lined gloves working with these very exotic and dangerous materials, with your chest pressed against the glove box that held the radiation, that your breast cancer was caused by the materials. You were promised health care for the rest of your life. What “they” didn’t tell you was they would fight you tooth and nail to get compensation. A worker who falls from a ladder in a grocery store gets compensated for loss of employment and medical benefits, but working for the secret nuclear bomb-building complex, forget it.
You protected your home. You helped protect your neighbor’s home. You helped protect the stranger’s home halfway across the country because you helped build the nuclear deterrent that was needed during the Cold War. You’re damn right to be proud of your contribution in keeping America safe. America owes you a debt of gratitude. They can repay that debt by fairly compensating you for you illness.
In Response to Home Pride
Yes, you. You there: citizen, viewer, reader. You there, vehicular occupant, trying to escape under cover of night. Disregard this message at your own peril. Do not doubt for a moment that these words, this impersonalized message, delivered here in flashing industrial pixels, on the least personal shunpike of the American Dream, is not intended for you alone. This is your warning. Beyond this point there are no returns & no excuses. Do not say you weren’t warned when it’s too late. If you feel that this warning has reached you in error please try to grasp the fact that such beliefs are in part cause for your warning. Not all travelers are so lucky. If nothing else, feel grateful that you have received a warning at all. Know that you were warned because you are/or/were valued & because all citizens get at least one warning. Even if, on the infrequent unfortunate occasion, a warning fails to arrive in time, or, en route, the jist gets muffled. Lost in the shuffle. Power outages are not unknown. But the jig is up, the message is clear, this is your final notice.
- Jay Kirk
In response to This Is Your Warning.
Six lines define colors, angles and depth on the surface of the image. One from the higher left part and going down and intersecting with another line going up toward the right, therefore defining a first angle. From the center of the lower edge a lines run vertically up, dividing the cliché in two, but breaking towards the center to initiate another line going up in the direction of the upper left corner of the work. From the vertical right edge of the print, and going softly down, another line crosses the picture before being interrupted by the vertical line previously described. A dark beam of shade crosses the upper section of the picture.
These lines and angles shape a corner of a room, its walls; its ceiling viewed from below and lit either by the flash of the camera of by a weak lamp in the room. The walls are green, or appear green due to the quality, or lack of quality of the lighting. The walls are bare, as the ceiling. There is nobody to stare at but a lot to see; nothing to look at aside from an uncanny, pictorial and emotional geometry.
There are no signs, no pictures on the walls, no hanging calendar, no family images, no human or time stains to decipher as in other works by Strauss; no traces of time or place. It is a bare corner, an opaque photograph, a blind spot. The location is unknown though familiar: a “lieu commun;” a commonplace.
But remarkably this image with no sign or asperity is both a sign and an asperity on its own; a sign that does not capture a time or a space, as photography does, but a sign that evokes a place, meaning a space with humanity; a space that might be bare but that is not uninhabited.
Depicting a place without qualities but carrying an introverted fatality this work evokes other images by Strauss such as Fireworks and Overhead Wires, flirts with abstraction but could only be realized, captured, and snapped through a phenomenon opposite to abstraction: inclusion. The photographer does not abstract herself from her subject; instead she appears to participate. There is no divide between subject and object; no objectivity, no subjectivity, but inclusiveness and protagonists. Zoe Strauss photographs from within. What she prints, we might not like, we might not want to look at or we might not want to admit that it lies next to us. We might prefer thinking that it is a different world; it is not.
Of course, there is in her work the memory of Walker Evans, of the Family of Man, of Dorothea Lange, of photographers who brought us together by documenting the crisis of a time and of a place. But the way Zoe Strauss proceeds resists the crisis mode, the drama. There is not crisis as what she frames might just be the simple, abrupt reality, normal reality of many. Crisis would suggest a change, and some things just never change.
From within, she is able to depict her world, our world, a green room, a neighbor, a supermarket wall, an empty billboard, a homeless person or the burning Deepwater oil drilling platform, beyond social critic or incriminating whimpering, but with empathy, compassion, joy and often humor. No voyeurism , just a sense of civic responsibility where nothing, nobody is idealized, but when and where there is a body, one can actually see in her or his eyes that they are looking at the photographer more than at the camera. Furthermore, they are looking with the photographer. Zoe Strauss does not take photographs. It would be a unilateral, un-generous gesture, a form of abduction. She depicts and represents through photography, the space, social, historical and human, that constitutes our present time. Her images anticipate our memories.
And eventually, my own proustian little patch of yellow wall might just be a little patch of green wall.
- Philippe Vergne
In response to Nick's Pizza
After everyone stops
smoking the Ovid
it gets ugly to be alive.
The dead refuse us and
instead someone I know turns over
a police car and nothing
happens anymore not even
my face so empty and
too full of other people’s
I was bored and you
were bored, remember?
We dreamed of
leaving our heads
without a single
noun in them.
- Magdalena Zurawski
In response to The Store
For now, thanks to CA CONRAD, MAGDALENA ZURAWSKI, NICK HORNBY, TERRIE BARRIE, PHILIPPE VERGNE, CHARDAY LAVERTY,
FRANK SHERLOCK, JAY KIRK, THOMAS DEVANEY and SERGE BIELANKO.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Saturday, March 10, 2012
Artist Talk: Mark Bradford
Sunday, March 11, 2012
2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location: Van Pelt Auditorium
Free tickets required
Los Angeles–based artist Mark Bradford speaks about his work and its connections to the urban landscape. This talk will also address how both he and Zoe Strauss, two artists working in different mediums, confront similar subject matter. Following the talk, Strauss will join Bradford in a discussion moderated by exhibition curator Peter Barberie.
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
The Book of Frank
by Magdalena Zurawski
by Frank Sherlock
The City Real and Imagined
by CA Conrad and Frank Sherlock
Links to Amazon are not an encouragement to buy from there, but these are all books that should be read by all.
Sunday, March 04, 2012
30 to 40: Part 4
HOLY FUCK! IT'S CRAZY!
Linda Creed Breast Cancer Foundation
Songwriters Hall of Fame - Linda Creed Exhibit Home
OH MY GOD!
Saturday, March 03, 2012
Thursday, March 01, 2012
This photo is of Monique Carbone. It's a photo of my neighbor. And a photo of someone who mattered to a lot of people, including myself. Monique had difficulties moving through life, like so many of us, and she was brave and generous in allowing me to make the photos I made of her knowing that they would move out into the world with no context. And beyond that, her family was/is loving and supportive of Monique and has been more than generous in letting Mo's image move around in the world with little or no context.
But here's some context right now. Monique Carbone loved and was loved by family and friends. She was beautiful, even when she was battling some of the hardest shit in life that people have to deal with. And this photo was made with love.
I love Monique for all she's given to the people who see her photo. And I love Gina, Monique's mom, and the whole family, and am grateful to have all of them in my life. Thank you for allowing me to show the photos of your daughter. I respect her, I respect her family, and I am filled with love and gratitude for how much she's given by letting her photo be made.
Love you, Mo. Thanks.