July 30, 2007

NYC to Restrict Photos and Videos in Public Places

A group called Picture New York is organizing resistance. You can view and add protest videos and comments on YouTube starting here, and you can sign a petition here. As one interviewee comments, "I already have a permit for my camera; it's called the First Amendment." It seems likely the new rules would have required Picture NY to get a permit to shoot its protest videos -- a process that might easily have delayed the effort beyond the closing of the comment period on the rules, which ends August 3.

"The NY Times reports that the city’s tentative rules include requiring any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour (including setup and breakdown time) to get a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance. The regulation would also apply to any group of five or more people who would be using a tripod for more than ten minutes, including setup and breakdown time. (Excerpted from the Gothamist)."

In the small world category, the organizers quote an e-mail from Jem Cohen (here) on their website to help explain why the new rules would be so burdensome. Cohen is the maker of one of my favorite videos in the Dallas Video Festival this year, Smells Like Teen Spirit, described in my previous post, here, as well as several other short pieces in the Festival. But I learned about this story not from Cohen but here.

July 27, 2007

The 20th Annual Dallas Video Festival, July 31 - August 5

[NOTE: I may update this post from time to time as the Festival unfolds, to the extent I hear buzz that might be helpful; for links to videos & views of people at the Festival and related events, go here.]

The next DVF will soon be here, bigger and better than ever; it opens Tues., July 31 with Bodacious Boots by Tim Wylie and Laura Neitzel (a.k.a. the Good Witch of the Wild West), a documentary about cowboy boots featuring such luminaries as Lyle Lovett, Kinky Friedman, Dean Fearing, Dr. Laura, and Kelly Le Brock.

The DVF includes some 250 programs on multiple screens over a concentrated period. It's impossible to see everything one should, but I have a blast trying. Total DVF immersion is an experience no one should miss.

Below are some picks for the art-oriented. I've tried to be selective; there's TONS of other good stuff; for more info, go to the Dallas Video Festival website. I have not seen most of these picks, other than the ones I helped curate. Please confirm show times and locations before you go; here's a schedule that describes the programs in chron order, so you can see what conflicts with what. It's 29 pp. long, so you might want to print it two-sided, if you have the option. Parental discretion is advised for some programs.

WED., 8/1, 9PM at the Angelika Dallas: VIVA! by Anna Biller, wrangled by my darling sig. other, Ben. A suburban housewife abandoned by her husband finds herself in the middle of a swinging sexual revolution and is dragged through the worlds of hippies, prostitutes, and [god, no] bohemia! Imagine a more intensely visual, funnier, much more self-aware and much more female Russ Meyers and you’ll get a clue; this film is destined to become a classic! And Biller not only wrote, directed, and produced it, she also stars in the lead role and designed all the costumes -- Anna, you are my idol! Q & A with her here, where I see she notes her work was mentioned in Artforum's "Best of 1994."

THUR., 8/2, 7PM at the Dallas Theater Center: El Automóvil Gris (The Grey Automobile). A blood and thunder melodrama of robbery, kidnapping, and a fate worse than death inspire this cross-cultural, multi-media fantasia based on Enrique Rosas’ 1919 thriller. The real-life Grey Automobile Gang terrorized Mexico City, and Rosas filmed on location where the actual events occurred. Leading Mexican theater director Claudio Valdes Kuri has created an extravaganza based on the Japanese benshi tradition of live actors narrating silent films. Two costumed players supply dialogue and commentary in Spanish and Japanese, with English translation by North Carolina spoken-word artist Thomas McDonald and accompanied by a newly-created piano score. A separate ticket ($25) is required for this three-hour event.

THUR., 8/2, 8PM at the DTC: The Pervert's Guide to Cinema. "Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn't give you what you desire -- it tells you how to desire" - Slavoj Zizek. The Pervert's Guide takes the viewer on an exhilarating ride through some of the greatest movies ever made. The charismatic Zizek, Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalyst, delves into the hidden language of the cinematic canon, uncovering what movies tell us about ourselves in what The Times calls "an extraordinary reassessment of cinema." The film cuts its cloth from the very world of the movies it discusses; by shooting at original locations and on replica sets, creating the uncanny illusion that Zizek is speaking from within the films themselves.

FRI., 8/3, 7PM DTC: Hadacol Christmas by Brent Green (courtesy of Bellwether Gallery in NYC) is a deliciously dark animation about a Santa with "a belly full of cough syrup and a head full of dying crows." 11.11 min. (Thanks for the tip, Dee Mitchell!)

FRI., 8/3, 7PM or a little later, DTC: Tech-Art Activism Compilation (right AFTER Hadecol Christmas), wrangled by moi. The videos in this compilation show creative uses of technology (sometimes kinda hi-tech and sometimes low-) to challenge perceived abuses of power or public resources. Includes do-it-yourself instructions for some of the technologies; as much fun as it sounds! I discovered most of the pieces in this comp. at the OpenCity: Tools for Public Action show at Eyebeam in NYC, which was curated by Graffiti Research Lab (aka "GRL").

From GRL:

  • L.A.S.E.R. Tag shows GRL's laser-graffiti rig in action: a mobile projection facility used to "bomb" tall buildings without painting or harming them . . . you can put a lot of stuff up before someone stops you. 3.49 min.
  • Light Criticism. A collaboration between GRL and Steve Lambert of the Anti-Advertising Agency to transform publicly-supported, commercial light projection facilities. Advertising is the vandalism of the Fortune 500. 2.20 min.
  • The Drip Sessions. DIY light graffiti projection derived from "the classic shoe polish mop recipe." 2 min.
  • The FIRST LED Throwie. 1 min. Night Writer. Cheap and easy to make, this device enables you to mount boards with 12-inch letters in glowing LED's on any iron or steel surface, up to 25-feet in the air if you stand on an overturned garbage can. Ca. 1 min.
  • Threat Advisory Tower. In this project, GRL created a six-story LED tower lit with the various Homeland Security Threat colors, while blocking out the abutting windows to spell in giant letters, "BLAH BLAH BLAH"; cops arrive, etc. Ca. 3 min.
  • Impeach the F#$%!r From west Manhattan to the Brooklyn Promenade, the "surge" is working! GRL joins forces with A28, truth move, Parsons geek graffiti crew and Home X heroes, the OpenLab, Leon Reid, and others to support Dennis Kucinich’s legislation to impeach V.P. Dick Cheney. 6.36 min.
  • From Mark Jenkins: Traffic-Go-Round. Washington DC recently spent $6 million dollars to redevelop Thomas Circle. The artists decided, for $35 dollars more, why not turn it into a merry-go-round? 3.57 min.

FRI., 8/3, 7PM DTC: Afraid So by Jay Rosenblatt, part of the Humanness and Other Oddities Compilation. A short, black-and-white film about fear and anxiety permeated with impending doom. Jay Rosenblatt is a Guggenheim and Rockefeller fellow and therapist-turned-filmmaker whose works explore our emotional and psychological cores.

FRI., 8/3, 7PM DTC: everything will be ok by Don Hertzfeldt, part of the Humanness and Other Oddities Compilation. A series of dark and troubling events forces Bill to reckon with the meaning of his life -- or lack thereof. Mega awards.

FRI., 8/3, 8PM DTC: Brand upon the Brain by the brilliant Guy Maddin, a director artier and more f---ed-up than Lynch. I haven’t seen as much as I’d like of Maddin’s work; but I long to compare and contrast his Careful with Paul McCarthy’s Heidi. “This lyrical narrative fantasy . . . tells the story of [Maddin’s] childhood through muddled memories of the struggle for power between his mother and older sister. (Silent with musical accompaniment.)” Sponsored by the Canadian Consulate General. Don’t miss what might be your only chance to see this piece.

FRI., 8/3, 8PM DTC: Graphic Activism Compilation, curated by Jan Baxter. These animated shorts each deal with media and the creation of desire using advertising, search engines and other less straightforward methods. Includes The Stork by Nina Paley, What Barry Says by Simon Robeson & Barry McNamara, Master Plan about the Power of Google by Ozan Halici & Jurgen Mayer, Next Industrial Revolution by Christopher V. Bronsart & Daniel Migge, Pirates and Emperors or Size Does Matter by Eric Henry, Trusted Computing by Benjamin Stephan & Lutz Vogel, Kapitaal by Ton Meijdam & Thom Snels, Black Day to Freedom by Rob Chiu, When I Grow Up by Mauro Gatti, and Bear Witness 111 by Eric Henry.

FRI., 8/3, 8PM DTC: 8 Bit, by Marcin Ramocki. A melange of rocumentary, art expose, and culture-critical investigation, this piece examines the influence of video games on contemporary culture and artistic expression. [Update: Local video artist/gallerist/musician Paul Slocum and his band, treewaves, appear in this piece, which elevates it to a must-see for me. See Slocum's and/or gallery website here, his band site here, or his band's MySpace site (where you can hear some music) here. Cory Arcangel, Tom Moody, Marcin of VertexList, RSG, and DRX of Bodenstandig 2000 are also featured.]

FRI., 8/3, 8:30PM DTC: Best of Slant: Bold Asian American Images Film Festival. I’m dying to see this (credit to my unconscious for that pun or whatever it is), since I plan to be born in China for my next life: a 70-min. compilation of short works by Asian American directors, presented at Aurora Picture Show's annual Slant Festival between 2000-2007.

FRI., 8/3, 9:45 DTC: Short Works by David Lynch, including programs from Six Men Getting Sick, The Alphabet, The Grandmother, and each episode of Dumbland. These are or will be available only on his new website, and I think you'd have to subscribe there to see them, and I'm guessing you wouldn't get them there in a large-screen format. (Inland Empire inspired my first blog post, here.)

SAT. 8/4, 12 noon DTC: Those Were the Days by my friend Adam Bork, part of the You Should Meet My Family! Compilation. “No explanations or meanings for said piece are available. It has been made and now it exists.” I'll just add, it's got mannequins and dunes.

SAT. 8/4, 12 noon DTC: Strange Culture by Lynn Hershman Lesson. If you don't know about this already, you need to. In May of 2004, artist Steve Kurtz woke to find his wife dead of heart failure and called 911. The police looked at his art works, which included harmless microbe specimens, and called the FBI. The FBI charged Kurtz with bioterrorism. Actors Thomas Jay Ryan and Tilda Swinton play the Kurtzes, while Kurtz himself appears in interviews.

SAT. 8/4, 12:45PM DTC: Here is Always Somewhere Else by Rene Daalder. The life and work of Dutch/Californian conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader, who in 1975 disappeared under mysterious circumstances at sea in the smallest boat ever to cross the Atlantic. As seen through the eyes of fellow emigrant filmmaker Rene Daalder, the picture becomes a sweeping overview of contemporary art films as well as an epic saga of the transformative powers of the ocean. Featuring artists Tacita Dean, Rodney Graham, Marcel Broodthaers, Ger van Elk, Charles Ray, Wim T. Schippers, Chris Burden, Fiona Tan, Pipilotti Rist, and many others.

SAT. 8/4, 2PM DTC: Idiot Joy Showland, also wrangled by me. It’s a jam-packed art video compilation co-curated by John Pilson and Claudia Altman-Siegel (and presented by Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, NY). Shorts by 28 artists, including "stars" such as Cindy Sherman and Doug Aitken as well as not-yet-as-well-knowns, exploring a wide array of subjects and strategies. You won't believe how much good stuff this comp. includes. Total run time ca. 115 min. Includes Fragments from an Abandoned Cinema presented by Peggy Ahwesh, Makin’ Love in the Sunshine by Guy Richards Smit, Famous Quotes from Art History by Michael Smith, Doll Clothes by Cindy Sherman, Untitled video by Guy Ben-Ner, Rehearsal Behavior 1 by Alix Pearlstein, Lollypop by Kalup Linzy, The Results of Energy Neither being Created Nor Destroyed on a Sunny Day by James Yamada, Fear of Blushing by Jennifer Reeves, If I Wasn’t Me I Would Be You by Harrell Fletcher, Wing Bowl by Jenny Drumgoole, PleasePleasePlease by Kathy Spade, Crush Collision by Chris Larson, Sleepwalkers by Doug Aitken, 29 Palms: Brief by An-My Le, North of the Rug Fibers by Christopher Miner, Lower East Side Bike Drumroll (excerpt) by Kristin Lucas, My Father Breathing into a Mirror by Neil Goldberg, Harold Boner by Larry Clark, House Burning by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, life like by Aida Ruilova, Review by Jenny Perlin, You Won’t Remember This by Jeff Scher, Don’t You Want Somebody to Love You by Laurel Nakadate, Softcore by Rodney Graham, Hic et Ubique by John Pilson, and Art of Awakening by Meiro Koizumi.

SAT. 8/4, 3PM DTC: Lunch Films by various artists. A series of films commissioned by Mike Plante. He'd buy a filmmaker lunch, with the debt to be repaid with a film of the same cost. It started by accident and necessity; since then, 28 shorts have been eaten. Terms based on whatever was discussed at lunch were written on a napkin contract. Buy an artist lunch today.

SAT. 8/4, 4PM DTC: Black White + Gray by James Crump. An examination of the life of Sam Wagstaff, an influential curator, collector, and force in the art world, this film explores Wagstaff's strong bonds with Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. Director Crump served as curator of photography at the Kinsey Institute for Sex Research.

SAT. 8/4, 4PM DTC: Smells Like Teen Spirit by Jem Cohen. A brilliant interpretation of Patti Smith's cover of the song originally recorded by Nirvana. Totally f---ing gorgeous; Patti wields a guitar like an AK-47; The Matrix meets Deliverance. (Compare and contrast Paul Anka's cover here; no, don't; just watch Cohen's several more times.) [UPDATE: I liked this piece so much that I ended up writing a 6,000-word analysis of it, here.]

SAT. 8/4, 5:30 DTC: A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory. No further info provided; I’ll be there.

SAT. 8/4, 8PM DTC: Chicken Delight by Bryan Konefsky, in the Corporation Nation Compilation. An exploration of America's love affair with radioactivity: irradiated lunch meat, radioactive nail polish, radium suppositories sold as a precursor to Viagra, etc.

SAT. 8/4, 8PM DTC: Copyright, Culture (Remixed): Volume 3, Illegal Art by Rebekah Farrugia. A media prof. questions the boundaries of U.S. copyright law by focusing on artists who borrow from images in the mainstream media. Using as a backdrop the traveling exhibit, Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age, Farrugia illustrates through artist interviews how remixed CNN footage of George W. Bush, the Teletubbies, altered photos of corporate signs, and Pez dispensers for fallen rappers can be recombined to create unique, original work transcending the rights of prior copyright holders.

SAT. 8/4, 8PM DTC: war_machine by Deven James Langston. “war_machine is a simplified, biased view of the systematic and mechanical structure I see in the United States. It is not a linear video, but rather an interactive, continuously looping animation. It aims at nothing more than to bring the viewer's attention to the idea of representing the life cycle in a very rigid and graphical manner.”

SUN. 8/5, 5:30 PM DTC: Fat Girls by Ash Christian. A theater-obsessed gay teen and his overweight best friend embark on a journey of discovery that leads from smalltown America to the Great White Way. Score by my friend John Dufilho and the Deathray Davies, including the infamous, "Danette is the Bomb."

SUN. 8/5, 6:45 PM DTC: Video Sketches by Rusty Scruby (courtesy of (PanAmerican Projects), wrangled by moi. Scruby was trained as an aerospace engineer but traded that career for art, developing a technique for weaving 3-D paintings from thousands of precisely-cut pieces of photographs and sketches. He recently made these short videos as experiments to illustrate the abstract relationships he uses in synthesizing "a new visual and musical language.” Followed by Quin Mathews' documentary about Scruby and his work.

SUN. 8/5, 7PM DTC: Rusty Scruby: Beyond the Plane. Filmmaker Quin Mathews follows Scruby around, documenting his unique method of creating art. Quin's an accomplished documentarian; this is my favorite of his films that I’ve seen.

SUN. 8/5, 8PM DTC: Who is Bozo Texino? by Bill Daniel. (those of you who came to the recent series at Conduit may have noticed Daniel is the one who discovered the lost footage of Pie Fight ‘69.) "This travel adventure, faithfully photographed in black and white at considerable risk from speeding freight trains and in secret hobo jungles, in the dogged pursuit of the impossibly convoluted story of the heretofore untold history of the century-old folkloric practice of hobo and railworker graffiti and the absurd quest for the true identity of railroading's greatest artist, will likely amuse and confound you in its sincere attempt to understand and preserve this artform" [de-emphasis supplied].

SUN. 8/5, 9PM DTC: The Texas Show. This independently-juried compilation showcases the best submissions connected to Texas.


All-Day Passes range from $10 (weeknights) to $25 (weekends)
All-Festival Pass & -Party Access: $150
All-Festival Pass: $80
All-Festival Pass for VAD Members: $60
Most Individual Programs: $7.50 (not available for all programs, door only)
Special event ticket to El Automóvile Gris (presented by the Dallas Video Festival, Vistas Film Festival, and the Asian Film Festival Dallas): $25
Discounts available to community partners, seniors and students.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at www.acteva.com/go/videofest.

To join, donate, or for more info, go to www.videofest.org.

July 25, 2007

Julian Schnabel's Hot Pink Meditation

. . . in the West Village. I've always liked his work; this might be his best yet. I just hope the cobalt blue scaffolding and protective draping are permanent – so authentic to Mediterranean architecture.

July 24, 2007

P.S. Re- The Senate's P.J. Party:

As usual, they're the last to get their party on.

I too am mystified and frustrated that, despite their strong mandate, Congressional Dems have still done almost nothing on ending the war, election reform, media reform, or the impeachment of Cheney et al. (cf. my previous post, Demtoids: The Curiously Weak Dem Leaders). Still, a symbolic gesture is better than no gesture at all; and at least the Senate finally had the debate they should have had five years ago.

July 23, 2007

Sheehan's Delegation to Conyers: Initiate Impeachment Now

[The following was posted at 3:29 p.m. today on democraticunderground.com, live from the delegation led by Cindy Sheehan to Representative John Conyers to demand the impeachment of V.P. Dick Cheney. Conyers is one of the good guys who's been doing the kind of work I think we need done -- e.g., almost single-handedly investigating the irregularities in the 2004 elections. But he is chair of the Judiciary Committee in the House, out of which any impeachment initiative must issue, and he's been quoted as saying he would proceed only if three more Representatives added their support. Let me know if any of this was mentioned in your corporate evening news.]

I am sitting on the floor of a phone booth . . . . Lisa from C-ville is standing in front of it, hoping I will not be noticed.

I have never seen anything like this one, folks. . . .

There are HUNDREDS of people lining the hallway to John Conyers' office. Cindy and a few others are inside, speaking to the staff, we assume. But the scene is incredible -- people have come from all over the country to deliver the message that we cannot tolerate illegal actions and an unConstitutional government.

I will update this as I can . . .

But hello to all from the center of democracy! We are taking it BACK.

Oh -- and CALL!

Phone Chairman Conyers
[see contact info at the end of this post] and ask him to start the impeachment of Dick Cheney; and phone your own Congress Member [see contact info at the end of this post] and ask them to immediately call Conyers' office to express their support for impeachment. Your Congress Member might be one of the three needed, not just to keep impeachment activists out of jail but to keep this nation from devolving into dictatorship.

CALL PELOSI. CALL OTHERS. MAKE A RUCKUS because they are not listening and I'm told it's quiet there!!!

Cindy Sheehan just left John Conyers' office and announced that Rep. Conyers is NOT going to move on impeachment.

The crowd is very upset.

Rev. Yearwood announced that the government has failed the people and the people must act NOW. This needs to be spread everywhere.



Contact info for Conyers: Washington Office: Phone (202) 225-5126; Fax (202) 225-0072; Main District Office: Phone (313) 961-5670; Fax (313) 226-2085; Detroit: Phone (313) 961-5670; Fax (313) 226-2085; (another) Phone (734) 675-4084.

Contact info for Pelosi: Washington Office: Phone (202) 225-4965; Fax (202) 225-8259; Main District Office: Phone (415) 556-4862; Fax (415) 861-1670; (another) Fax (734) 675-4218.

Your own Rep.: Washington: General Phone 202-224-3121; and for additional contact info, see the link in the left hand column of this blog called, "Contact your U.S. Congressional reps."

July 17, 2007

Rights Reserved to Delete This

and of course other posts.

Life sometimes seems to consist in turning yourself inside out, and sticking to things. I might mean having your insides get stuck to things outside of you that you didn't necessarily intend; but I might just mean perseverance – prolly both.

I was in therapy for the better part of my adult life. My dad died just over a year ago. I'm still trying to make him love me. I've been writing an account of his death -- how I happened to visit him, 1,000 miles from my home, just in time to find him collapsed, naked, on his bathroom floor; how he died; etc. Every time I go back to what I've written, it sprouts like a hydra.

In the dark, I'm often sure about direction, less sure about distance. In life, I've usually grossly underestimated the distances.

When I was 7, I imagined heaven as involving a room full of watermelon, a room full of steak, a room full of french fries, and a room full of chocolate milkshakes.

When I was 12, I decided heaven could not possibly involve the physical, since it seemed to be the source of too much pain and difficulty. Without physical bodies, there would be no hunger, disease, racial discrimination or other judgments based on appearances, no insecurities about or over-compensations for height or weight. (I was highly ambivalent about my own body – I had zits, scant armpit hair, small boobs, small hips – while on the other hand, too many men, including my own dad, seemed nonetheless to take my personally-disappointing pubescence as sufficient cause to treat me like a whore).

Now, I think heaven should definitely involve french fries (thick yet crispy, with salt, ketchup, and sometimes vinegar), lots of sex, booze, drugs, and rock n' roll, and perhaps above all – what's the phrase – I guess there's no better term than art. Meaning, this time, intentionally aesthetic expressions in response to challenging exigencies.

Guess I'll need the physical world after all.

Russia Claims the North Pole

Surprise, it's hydrocarobon-rich. Ever feel like our gummint's most machiavellian imaginings are, like, five decades behind? I mean, if you're going to ditch the Constitution and all scruples for some kind of putative efficacy . . .

July 13, 2007

Update Re- Diamond-Coated Skull

Re- Damien Hirst's piece, I asked, "[w]ould we like this as much with cz's?" An artist named Laura took a step toward finding out: she created a replica covered with 6,522 Swarovski crystals and left it on top of the trash outside Hirst's gallery in the middle of the night. (From The Wooster Collective via boingboing.)

July 12, 2007

Current TV Re-Broadcasting Cindy Sheehan Short

Al Gore's cable channel has asked to extend its rights to broadcast Grace at Camp Casey, my "pod" about Cindy Sheehan's protest outside President Bush's ranch in 2005; they did a nice page on it here; you can see the original version here.

(By now, that subtitle would prolly have to read, "has built.")

July 9, 2007

If You Liked Macbeth . . .

You'll love this: "James Coldwell, 49, disguised himself as a tree when he robbed a bank in Manchester, New Hampshire on Saturday. He had tree branches attached to his clothing and head with duct tape. Police nabbed him after surveillance video that played on TV news led to several anonymous tips of Coldwell's identity. This is according to the police captain whose real name is apparently Dick Tracy."

Coldwell was charged with one count of robbery. (From boing-boing, citing The New Hampshire Union Leader.)

July 8, 2007

Report from the Venice Biennial, Documenta, and Other Fronts:

I.e., the Venice Biennial, Kassel's documenta, the Münster Sculpture Project, and the ZKM museum of tech-based art in Karlsruhe.

Your virtual "Grand Tour" starts here. Sincere apologies for the deficiencies in my photography (conditions were less than ideal) and for the lack of title and artist info in some instances (I didn't quite realize I was doing this 'til the trip was over).

Venice was sunny and suffocatingly hot; Kassel, rainy and cold, with exhibitions too darkly lit not to credit its curator with having intended the eyestrain. Appropriately, since many artists seem more or less urgently involved in dealing with what certainly seem to me to be our dark days (though I'm disappointed to realize I can't read too much into U.S. pavilion artist Félix González-Torres' selection of black candy, since he's dead).

Additional trends:

Tech-based art is getting the love, and much of the more interesting painting is clearly influenced by tech.

Charting, mapping, and architecturally-influenced drawing continue to offer possibilities, if not quite the import of Mark Lombardi's.

Conceptual art, which I like, was well-represented, but it can make for a dry exhibition experience, except when interactive.

Feminism is back, thank goddess. Perhaps because of that, or the aging of the Boomers, so are images of older women's bodies. I've seen enough of Tony Soprano to consider this overdue.

An awareness of multiply-layered referentiality remains supremely useful.

Minimalism lingers but drew little attention. And there's still some not-really-so-interesting video out there. Sorry; I'm just frustrated at what strikes me as more-or-less benighted under-utilization of a medium having the potential for maximal meaning and impact.

Of the work I saw (and I did miss some), a few pieces I especially loved (although there were many other wonderful works):

In Venice, Yves Netzhammer's video installation in the Swiss Pavilion – for me, a total knock-out (starting here); the three-channel video installation by the collective, AES+F, in the Russian Pavilion (starting here); Hyung Koo Lee's video and installation, The Homo Species, in a pavilion near the Russian pavilion (starting here); Joshua Mosley's video, Dread, in the Italian pavilion (starting here), in which the gray, digital claymation philosophers Pascal and Rousseau encounter an oversized dog; Philippe Parreno's video, I think in the Arsenale, The Writer (here); and a video in the Arsenale involving deliciously snarky, naked older women on a VW bus (sorry, thought I shot some video but I either hit the wrong button or somehow lost it).

Also, do not miss the Matthew Barney/Joseph Beuys exhibit at Peggy Guggenheim; it included lots of important videos and sculpture I'd never seen before and strikingly illuminates the relationship between the work of the two.

In Kassel, the replacement of the grass in the square in front of the Museum Fridericianum with weeds, here; a body of work called Virus that grips me more viscerally than intellectually, but I like it, starting here; a piece that looks like neon lettering but which is actually some kind of wrought element glowing merely with extreme heat, which says, "Wir suchen uberall das unbedingte und finden immer nur dinge," which I think means something like, "We seek above all the unconditional and ever find only what's for hire" (here; corrections welcome); Zofia Kulik's re-photographed photo collages in Kassel, starting here; Andrei Monastyrski's Goethe (I don't want to spoil the surprise, but do interact, and look for the other part).

In Münster I think my favorite was a field of miniatures starting here – my photos don't do it justice; it contained miniatures of sculptures by over a dozen artists from Paik to Serra and beyond. Unfortunately, we missed several sculptures, including Mike Kelly's Petting Zoo featuring Lot's rock-salt wife.

Martha Rosler had important work in both Kassel and Münster (unfortunately also not done justice in my pics).

Practical tips:

Re- Venice: Bring a fan (seriously). And note, the Arsenale offers all five parts of Yang Fudong's Seven Intellectuals in a Bamboo Forest, but they run between a half-hour and an hour apiece; I discovered them too late to watch them all.

Re- Kassel: Bring a flashlight (semi-seriously). And check out the documenta evening film series; they're showing great stuff, and a lot of it's in English.

Re- Münster: Go first to an office for the Sculpture Project for their map; the one our hotel gave us wasn’t as good. You might also want to flip through the official short guide before setting out, because some of the sculptures are not so easy to identify; we found ourselves wondering if every odd object we encountered was supposed to be a sculpture (a great way to go through life, of course) — there are old sculptures from previous exhibitions as well as the new ones. And some benefit from a bit of explanation — e.g., we found Martha Rosler's piece before we read the description, and had no idea that some of the objects were not just large bird cages but mimicked medieval cages in which corpses were displayed.

Finally, if you call ahead, you can get a custom tour of the sculpture show, walking or on bikes. It was €90 or so, so we skipped it, but it might be great if you can split the cost with a group.

I also took the opportunity to visit the ZKM Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe. It proved to be very large and apparently very well-funded, better adapted for technology-based work than most institutions; and on a per-square-foot basis, it may have provided the most exciting art. Two major shows, one entitled Between Two Deaths, "on the political, social, and cultural trend toward melancholic retrospection" (read more here), and the other, Thermocline of Art, an exhibition of work by more than 100 artists from ca. twenty Asian countries. Unfortunately, I'd allotted just one day here, so to my serious chagrin, I barely scraped the surface of the Asian show. Works I especially loved here included Sue de Beers' video installation, Black Sun (starting here) and Elín Hansdóttir's sound and sculpture installation, Drift, here; I also liked Aida Ruilova's Lulu, here, and I'm a fan of Ryan Trecartin's A Family Finds Entertainment, which they also had.

Karlsruhe is close to the border of France – not esp. convenient to anything I know of, other than the Moselle River valley, which was beautiful. We also stopped by the well-preserved, 850-year-old Burg Eltz while in the neighborhood (the castle pics included in my photos are not of Burg Eltz, however, but of Burg Metternich in Beilstein).

July 5, 2007

Happy 4th

For nearly fifty years, I've basically felt proud of my country, despite its many flaws. Yesterday, the patriotic music clanked in my ears like, shall we say, tin drumming.

The best thing about Zogby's polls is they ask you if you consider yourself a citizen of your city or town, your nation, or the planet. I click planet, wish the universes were an option [plural intended].

If you haven't seen Keith Olbermann on the commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence, check this out. "J'accuse!" has been in my head for months; KO says it for me, brilliantly.

KO left out that when the White House blew Plame's cover, it also terminated the effectiveness of her unit, whose mission was gathering intelligence on WMD's -- things that make you go hmmm . . .