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Julie Fishkin: Top 10

Every year, this auspicious time rolls around as we challenge our willful memories to conjure up the outstanding moments that differ from last year’s and resolve to abandon certain baneful tendencies. The end of the year, whose certainty is as conclusive as, that’s right, death and taxes, also coincides with Miami Basel and the cornucopia of worthwhile and not so worthwhile art displays, contiguous fairs, pompous presentations and the inevitable Deitch party. I’m not even including Miami in my top ten this year, and not only because I didn’t go. This year was particularly fecund as all the major art world happenings coincided: the lavish Venice Biennale brought back the yachts and palazzo parties, Documenta 12 exploded in Kassel with another every-five-year grand scale presentation, the Münster Sculpture Project, which only occurs once a decade returned, and the increasingly brilliant Performa biennial of performance art saw its second incarnation as well as the usual suspects in Miami and Basel. With so many choices in New York alone another top-ten list to end the old and bring in the new means some discerning thought and careful culling. In no particular order, I present my list of the ten best things from this past year.

Performa returned this year for its second incarnation to emulate the previous effort with a bigger, more impressive variety of performances and events. One particularly notable performance (that I reviewed in a previous post), was Nathalie Djurberg’s whose musical score, set to her twisted claymation world, was the perfect live accompaniment.

Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation Tour proves that defining a style really can be ageless, especially when a legendary band has found the ultimate secret to eternal youth. Sonic Youth has been a cultural avatar for the New York underground since their inception and only reaffirms their status time and time again. I thank them for this album, its remastered version, and their consistent incarnation of the very notion of indie rock.

Assume Vivid Astro Focus, "a very anxious feeling" performance and installation view
Assume Vivid Astro Focus, "A Very Anxious Feeling"
performance and installation view.
Courtesy of John Connelly Presents.
The Assume Vivid Astro Focus exhibition at John Connelly Presents, a multi part exhibition that featured a 4-letter-word wallpaper display that created a terse visual lexicon spanning the gamut of socio-cultura-political manifestations and ramifications that these poignant words imply, neon sculptures, a basement discotheque, and various performances. An exhibition this eclectic and genuinely entertaining most certainly makes the list.

Doug Aitken’s Sleepwalkers: commissioned by the MoMA and Creative Time, Aitken had this piece projected onto seven facades of MoMA’s exterior. Conflating the constructs of time and space relations, Aitken created a visual experience for New York about New York in a way that places the spectator within the work through physical, direct experience, but also keeps his voyeuristic tendencies satisfied — our favorite way to not know our neighbors — through five interconnected films that presented stories with no conclusive points, departure, or finales. Aitken was able to mimic our lives while maintaining the quintessential New York anonymity.

Humble Arts Foundation, the new photo group whose aim is to present photo shows online, solidified its mission this year. Humble’s efforts consist of seeking and promoting hot new photographic talent, providing grant and exhibition opportunities and never ceasing to impress. This year they boasted three gallery group exhibitions, beautiful on-line exhibitions — group and solo — and limited edition prints by twelve emerging photographers whose work you can still afford.

iPhone – I know, it’s not exactly an object of art, but isn’t it just a little bit? A beautiful, sleek gadget masterminded by the über-company that has figured out how to market and brand objects that are synonymous with “cool” in a way that render every possessor and consumer thereof an artist of sorts. Hanukkah Harry forgot to bring me mine this year.

Miss Rockaway Armada photo documentation
Miss Rockaway Armada, photo documentation
Miss Rockaway Armada is a raft built from scraps and found objects whose aim is to float down the Mississippi river and stage art happenings, workshops, concerts, and performances all the while engaging and encouraging locals to participate in the many eclectic activities this very motley crew of local artists with visionary ideals has to offer. In its initial year, the Armada was a success. This year it surpassed its own expectations as the group built two extra rafts, along with the main supply boat, lived off the kindness of strangers, spending no money, and accrued hordes of new fans along the river.

Jerry Saltz joins New York Magazine and kicks some serious ass. He sizes up PS1’s coy attempt at disclosing the artist’s penchant for collecting, or rather not selling, only to repeat his poignant words on money’s disconcerting ability to devastate the simplicity and brilliance of art. Repetitive, perhaps, but Jerry wouldn’t be Jerry if his succinct words weren’t so indelibly implanted in our minds. You know an art critic’s opinion is truly sound when you can respond à la Jerry and smirk candidly in proud self-approbation the way I hope Jerry does after each successive point finale.

The Banksy show at the Vanina Holasek Gallery, which was dubbed “fake and unauthorized” by Banksy on his website, had the makings of a really brilliant show. This exhibition was one with the coolest potential in response to which the artist proclaimed a vitriolic denouncement, thereby ensuring a thoroughly juicy turn of events. This bold move on the part of Banksy, whoever he or they may be, affirms his legend in one fell swoop. This declaration came the same year as a Council’s official apology for erasing Banksy’s graffiti.

In a highbrow note of artistic and technological accomplishments, the Metropolitan Opera launches its Metropolitan Opera: Live in HD series in select theaters. Now opera goers can watch the operas live in HD quality, which rivals the real thing and enables viewers to have a virtually identical experience of magnificent costumes, earth shattering voices, dramatic innuendos and the moving experience of the opera but at a fraction of the price. I wonder if people still dress up.