October 12, 2010

Report from NYC: NYFF, "Greater New York," Conflux, "The Last Newspaper," & the Creative Time Summit

There was a lot going on.

Went to some gallery shows in Chelsea; some visuals here. The works I enjoyed most were by Pipi Rist – her installations at Luhring Augustine were gorgeous – Matthew Day Jackson, and Sarah Sze. Also came across work by Aaron Kang (see also here), quoting Kant; c.f. the Perpetual Peace project, near the end of this post below.

I caught one day of the "Avant Garde" at the New York Film Festival. Seemed a bit heavy on the watery reflections, leaves in breeze, and texts coming in and out of focus. But very worthwhile; among other things, I was glad to see new work by Lewis Klahr (see also here) and Dani Leventhal (whose work I've recommended to the VideoFest, but it hasn't been picked up here in Dallas yet; but the NYFF curator indicated there's been a bit of a craze for her work in NYC). I also loved the idea of one video by David Gatten, screened at the marriage ceremony at his own wedding in lieu of speaking any words to his bride (making me think about conducting a semi-legitimate, mass-wedding-via-video here in Dallas – something spectacular, if you know what I mean!)

Saw about 50% of the Greater New York exhibition at P.S. 1 – not only does the show fill that good-sized facility, but much of the work is video – visuals here (shot under, shall we say, extremely adverse circumstances, so apologies for the extra-low production values) – including substantial, recent works by Matthew Barney (Guardian of the Veil), Ryan Trecartin, Kalup Linzy, and many others – one artist new to me whose work I especially liked was Deville Cohen. If you want more than a cursory acquaintance with the works in this show, allow two days. The show offered evidence that whatever media artists may be losing with the death of hardcopy news (see The Last Newspaper, below), they're finding plenty of new material online. (B.t.w., those interested in my reports on Temporary Services' ART WORK project might appreciate this.)

Then caught the last half of the opening presentation at Conflux 2010, New York's psychogeographic art festival, on the subject of little-seen urban ruins and underground spaces – the speaker, Steve Duncan, shared lots of great info accompanied by lots of great photos – my visuals, starting here, don't begin to do it justice (it had already been a long day). Did you know that many of the world's great cities, including Paris, Moscow, London, and New York, paved over and built on top of the rivers that originally sustained them, transforming the rivers into arteries in their storm water and sewage systems? And they did something similar w.r.t. the quarries from which the stones used to build their buildings were extracted. If you're adventurous, you can explore these old, underground quarries and sewers, and see some amazing things. And the speaker mentioned he cut his hand down there once, and by the next day his hand was the size of a baseball mitt, infected with four kinds of deadly bacteria; so don't get cut down there.

Saw the NYC premier at The Kitchen of a "live documentary," Utopia in Four Movements, by Sam Green; he directed The Weather Underground, which I loved. His new project contemplates our relationship to utopias, which he semi-facetiously defined as places that do not exist, where everyone has a good job and a good standard of living. He mostly showed footage of/talked about (1) Esperanto (2) communist states, esp. Cuba, although he consistently used the term, "socialism," in talking about them; and he more or less assumed we agree that our own capitalist democracy has also proved disappointing, if not quite the failure of communist states, and (3) forensic archaeology, i.e., where they dig up mass graves and attempt to identify remains.

During the Q&A afterward, I asked if he'd considered talking about socialist democracies, and what he might have said about those. I asked because I'm genuinely curious about whether their systems work as much better than ours as they seem to. E.g., I have the impression that pretty much everyone there has a good job and a good standard of living – like Green's definition of utopia, only they do exist!

He answered along the lines of, that he was interested in exploring our feelings and attitudes about utopias; and the socialist democracies, well, they're just there, and there didn't seem to be much of a story there. And yet more than once in his talk, he'd mentioned his deep disappointment, and wishing there were a solution or way forward. So, um, like, Sweden and Norway . . . ?

Went to the New Museum's new exhibition, The Last Newspaper; visuals here. It's big and terrific; and also interesting in what it did not do. It did not particularly inquire into what it is that we might be losing with the death of paper news, apart from a cheap, wonderful, ready-made medium; it did not ask, for example, what we may be about to lose in the way of hard archives, or modes of thinking; and it came nowhere near any issues re- what's displacing hardcopy new, i.e., virtual news. Also interestingly, the exhibition was larded with Kant quotations. As I learned later, these quotations were thanks to the Perpetual Peace project – more below.

Possibly coming up in a later post: a few remarks inspired by the Creative Time Summit (a few visuals here). For now I'll just mention, first, that they have a great website with, I believe, videos of more or less all the presentations, here; and second, that the instigator of the Perpetual Peace project (see pics sprinkled among the New Museum vizis, such as this one) was among the speakers, and he explained that it was a "secret" article by Kant that was the foundation for the U.N., and that the little booklet displayed at the New Museum contains this secret article.

No comments:

Post a Comment