September 23, 2010: The drumbeat continues
The drumbeat continues… Insistent, impatient, potentially violent and all too human. Driven mad with desire a crowd gathers. Everybody wants to know. Will the beast be sated? Will the mountain explode?
(Is contemporary art in Los Angeles the hairy monster with the horribly scarred chest or the nubile maiden clutched shrieking in its fist? Gee, talk about proposing a false dichotomy…)
I hasten to reassure you of my sanity. I drafted the above sentence(s) with the intention of blasting forth an announcement that Tom Lawson and Stacey Allan’s (and Cal Arts) participatory online intellect fest East of Borneo has been launched. Um, not yet it seems from glancing at the website. I do suggest you follow the link and sign up for information – this reconsideration and expansion of a magazine sounds like just the thing to keep us going in between art shows.
Possibly my reference to plot lines from 1930s tropic mis-adventure movies still misses the mark for you? In 1931 George Melford made a film with the title East of Borneo, it starred Rose Hobart as a young woman searching for her husband in a tropical locale. In 1936 the charmingly obsessed Joseph Cornell refactored this B-movie into Surrealist art, I quote at length from Ubuweb:
“Rose Hobart consists almost entirely of footage taken from East of Borneo, a 1931 jungle B-film starring the nearly forgotten actress Rose Hobart. Cornell condensed the 77-minute feature into a 20-minute short, removing virtually every shot that didn’t feature Hobart, as well as all of the action sequences. In so doing, he utterly transforms the images, stripping away the awkward construction and stilted drama of the original to reveal the wonderful sense of mystery that saturates the greatest early genre films.”
“While East of Borneo is a sound film, Rose Hobart must be projected at silent speed, accompanied by a tape of “Forte Allegre” and “Belem Bayonne” from Nestor Amaral’s Holiday in Brazil, a kitschy record Cornell found in a Manhattan junk store. As a result, the characters move with a peculiar, lugubrious lassitude, as if mired deep in a dream. In addition, the film should be projected through a deep blue filter, unless the print is already tinted blue. The rich blue tint it imparts is the same hue universally used in the silent era to signify night.”
“But the root of Cornell’s genius as a filmmaker is his singular version of montage. Cornell’s version of continuity is the continuity of the dream. He does not juxtapose images so much as suggest unlikely — but still vaguely plausible — connections between them. Hobart’s clothing may change suddenly between shots, but her gesture is continued or she remains at a similar point in the frame. Unlike most collage filmmakers, Cornell does not rely on cheap irony or non sequitur. His films are unsettling because their inexplicable strings of images are like reflections from the deep well of the subconscious. In fact, one of the most arresting images in Rose Hobart comes when a solar or lunar eclipse is paired with the image of an object falling into a circular pool of water. Hobart simply gazes bemusedly at this spectacle, as if it were little more than a parlour trick.”
Follow the link, watch Cornell’s film, bliss out. Oh – one final note: in 19xx Lawson wrote his dissertation on Cornell’s film – or maybe the Melford original – hence the appropriateness of the project’s title. (If you know Tom and know this fact to be untrue I’ll deny ever having stated it. I can hit “delete” faster than you can say j’accuse.)
First because it happens tomorrow night Tuesday (September 21st – you missed it if you’re reading the email. Always check Notes online during the week!): Shaun Kununeru Cantorage Dot Dot Dot at Night Gallery – cold Canadian ceremony with 1960’s Cantopop music. AND for those of you in New York check out the Collective Show at Participant.
Next up: Jan Tumlir directs a Roger Dickes production: Jerry/Jury Rigged, starring Skip Arnold, Chris Burden, Joe Deutch, Jennifer Moon, Jeff Ostergren, Jorge Pardo, Erick Pereira and Adam Braly Janes, Amanda Ross-Ho, Jim Skuldt, Asha Schechter, and Jesse Sugarmann at the Glendale College Art Gallery. Opening Saturday, September 25 at the Glendale College Art Gallery from 6 to 9 pm. Get there before the Klieg lights and paparazzi arrive.
And then (your beast still not sated) join the natives on October 3 at Control Room when Tumlir will discuss Beaten Off, the current exhibition at this new artist space.
Ombres Blanches a blog “where high and low cease to be perceived as opposites” also here on Ombres Blanches where our host discusses the connections between Duchamp’s “Etant donnes” and the Black Dahlia murder case (bringing me to note that Man Ray once made his home and kept a studio at the Villa Elaine Apartments at 1245 N. Vine Street)
A clip from the 1932 film Rain with Joan Crawford and John Huston
The entire text of Somerset Maugham’s novella
Tumlir’s text for the exhibition at Glendale
I’m taking a break from any apparent linearly time-based organization.
Brad Eberhard is showing new paintings at Tom Solomon Cottage Home. The show is nicely installed – each painting has about 6 feet of wall between it and the next. A single painting catches one’s eye through the interior gallery door – turning a corner to enter and then moving into the volume more paintings widely spaced on the tall walls appear and individually hold one’s attention.
Beginning at my left I moved from painting to painting, recognizing Eberhard’s familiar technique in the somewhat chunky shapes he makes and then overpaints – leaving a thin border evident to result in shimmering, undefined edges. I noted how the accretion of these same shapes gather to suggest an image. Then, half way around the second wall, I looked obliquely back at a black painting across the room (I did my first circuit without a list of titles) and was surprised to see three-dimensional parts – odd barrel-shaped things and bent cubes – sticking out. Weird. Nice. I guess because the painting is black I thought of Louise Nevelson and her sculptures. This was a nicely jarring moment that opened me up to look at Eberhard’s paintings. Sometimes recognition gets in the way of seeing.
Later on I looked again and recalled collages that Eberhard made, and my disorienting Louise Nevelson moment began to have some sense – there’s a pretty direct line from these most recent paintings to his (more sculptural) collage work.
Krysten Cunningham’s work occupies Solomon’s Bernard Street. Her 8 minute film titled 3 to 4 gives me a better sense of her project than any past viewing of her work has done. I understand her to be considering and describing multi-dimensional physics using art. In Cunningham’s case and for this show, making use of metal shelf brackets, highly refined fabric bands, and common sweat clothes torn into strips. These various textiles are woven among the metal brackets to make wall sculptures intended, I think, to create a moiré effect and give one the sense of several dimensions including time lurking in their depths. The film (showing three human figures (better make that four Geoff) dressed each in red, green or blue sweat clothes interacting with similarly colored batons, combining them to create triangles, pyramids, crazy polyhedrons, etc.) better achieves this goal, and over several viewings I became fascinated watching human figures negotiate the shapes they made with the colored batons.
Given the many layers of interweaving present – the strips of cloth in the wall sculptures originally clothed the figures in the film, some of the metal brackets used were obtained in a physics lab, the woven bands of imported Swedish fabric that dim the front windows’ light to allow viewing of the film – there should be many opportunities in this show for making connections, but there’s a self-consciousness in this work that gets in my way. I can almost feel decisions being made and any lightness of touch implied by the casual materials evaporates in the heat of artistic intent.
Things upcoming as well as ongoing.
It is with a great deal of excitement that I refer you to the online gallery Light and Wire, and the current web-based project Marie Jaeger’s “L’Heure Bleue” – the French expression for twilight, or that moment in the day when it is neither light nor dark and particularly – as Jaeger notes in her text for the piece – that moment in the morning when all the birds are asleep and silent. Click on the French title above and you’ll see a constantly changing twenty-four hour loop of photographs of the blue sky in Los Angeles accompanied by recordings of appropriate night or day birds. For a single moment in each day from 5:59 AM to 6:00 AM LA time the website will be silent to honor this Blue Hour.
You may (and you should) recall Jaeger’s exhibition “The Big Nowhere” at Francois Ghebaly Gallery in May of this year. With “L’Heure Bleue” as with “The Big Nowhere” Jaeger pushes site specificity in interesting and challenging directions.
In addition, although absolutely not related to Marie Jaeger’s practice, L’Heure Bleue is the name of a classic perfume created by Jacques Guerlain in 1912 and still bewitching men and women to this day. Try some on your wrist and your temples. And on somebody you desire.
I’m late in getting this out but then… there’s still time to join the fun at the LACE Annual 10K. Three years running David and I have 10k’d our way around the art neighborhoods of LA with LACE. (Well, in point of fact last year we crammed 7 people into David’s Audi and drove screaming through Silverlake from happening spot to spots that we made happen.) Um, still want to meet us? We’ll be at Las Cienegas Projects at 2 pm and then stroll La Cienega ending at Mandrake (yes always of course mandrake!) and the best Stormy Night this side of Max’s Kansas City. This is an especially good thing for me because I’ve not yet visited LCP for the exhibitions of Matthias Merkel Hess, Annetta Kapon and the Assemblage group.
I only wish I had something to link to for what I’m about to tell you. “Driven By What’s Inside” 7 to 9 PM at Side Street Projects, 730 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena 91103. Organized by Elana Mann, who was inspired by 10 hour traffic jams in China, devastating oil spills in the gulf, the “end” of the Iraq war, and fatal off-road races in the Mojave. (Wow – this better be good Elana. That’s a lot to live up to.) Skipping quickly past my editorializing Driven By What’s Inside is an outdoor performance and cinema event that brings together work by Vera Brunner-Sung, Ecstatic Energy Consultants Inc. in collaboration with Elana Mann (alerting you to me finding “something to link to” about the project behind Elana’s name), Diana-Sofia Estrada, Alexa Gerrity, Joseph Imhauser, Noah Klersfeld, Julie Lequin, Benjamin Love (I’m pretty sure of this Benjamin Love link. Not entirely but almost), Susan Mogul, and Carlin Wing. Check ’em out. Then visit Side Streets.
Since I don’t know whether any of you follow links I’ll tell you the above “something to link to” hyperlink is to The Fall’s 1983 song “Smile,” which has a lyric that goes “something to dance to” and so ingrained on my brain is it (I was impressionable at 23) that any time I write a phrase with similar construction I… Fall again. Gladly. Rock on or something.
Giving each of you and me a break here I’m linking to For Your Art so you may plan your time this weekend wisely. Oh what the hell, here’s Try-Har-Der, too so if you’ve seen nothing recently you can cheat by looking at pix. Images of the USC MFA show! (Which I missed since college shows are rarely open except during business hours.)
If you haven’t already done so I must insist that you go by Richard Telles Fine Art and see Michael Krebber’s show. Ask any artist (you happen to see) and they’ll recommend the same. HURRY! God – these exhibitions aren’t installed forever!
In last Thursday’s Notes I alluded to a trip across town to Pasadena. Any of you who know the local art world will certainly know that I was attending the opening of Steve Roden’s show at the Armory. Any of you who know me at all will also know that I went back to the Armory for a couple of hours just last Saturday with David to once again see “Steve Roden: In Between, A Twenty Year Survey.”
So there I am, standing in front of (well, I’m a fan so it could be any painting, sculpture, film or sound work in the show but for the sake of this conversation let’s say it was) “humanscale (profile)” a painting from 2005. I’ve got tears in my eyes and feel pretty much the way I feel… seeing in a book any crazy, dramatic painting by El Greco, or the hushed power when I visited Italy and saw the Byzantine mosaics at San Vitale in Ravenna. A big rush to my heart, in other words. Of course references to Modernists are inescapable when viewing Roden’s work – in a recent review Christopher Knight rightly mentioned Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove and Alfred Jensen. Looking at work by these earlier artists and reading about them greatly informs my understanding of Steve’s art.
Music also came to mind – the several pieces I’ve heard by Morton Feldman (a connection Roden would appreciate) but also more mainstream composers such as (these he won’t much like) Tchaikovsky’s rush of melodramatic, urgent strings and Stravinsky and his difficult-to-count rhythms and beautiful horns, and good grief – Shostakovich’s jagged sounding string quartets. (I’m in a Russian mood lately, and can’t help it.)
The first Steve Roden painting that I’m aware of seeing is part of this current show – one of a series called “Mora Pahara.” Ten years ago Anne Ayers curated it (along with several more and also some sculptures) into a show at the Otis Gallery. Even that first time I was a little shaken by something I wasn’t able to identify in the piece but that I later understood to be the artist’s trust in me to make my own interpretation.
“Where on earth does this painting come from?” I wondered. Scurrying back to the entrance I read the liner notes and artist biographies and found that “these paintings are based on an old map of Buddhist pilgrimage stops in India the artist found at a local swap meet.” Well OK, I said to myself. But that doesn’t explain how this painting got made. Where did those off tones of nearly every pastel color come from? What is the dark presence lurking beneath much of what I see? And the hard, bright orange lines and the even harder black ones? No map or system can explain such choices.
What was most compelling (and still makes me happy about Roden’s work) is how much information he leaves out. Indeed, when an artist trusts his skill to communicate as well as my ability to understand I can go so much further than I’m willing to when I’m told what to think.
Eek. I almost forgot! DO NOT MISS GLORIA CHENG – SOLO PIANO RECITAL – ZIPPER HALL – MUSIC BY THOMAS ADES, CLAUDE VIVIER, PIERRE BOULEZ, OLIVIER MESSIAEN, JAMES NEWTON, DANIEL GODFREY AND GERNOT WOLFGANG. Piano Spheres. Tickets only $25.
Off you go then – thanks for visiting – come back soon!