This is an archive of the ArtCat Zine, 2007-2009. Please visit our new project, IDIOM.

July 2008

Jen Liu, Comfortably Numb (still), 2006, 12.25 minutes - Courtesy of the artist, Upstream gallery and Virgil de Voldere gallery

Without Sun
Virgil de Voldere - 526 West 26th Street, 4th Floor, New York NY
3 July - 3 August 2008

Angst marks most representations of adolescents in contemporary art. It jives well with an art world full of individuals who feel misunderstood, excluded, and judged. Almost everyone's memory of adolescence is rich with disappointing and awkward episodes. What is often missing from the imagery and the narratives that frame them is how teens cope. Virgil de Volère's current group show explores fantasy as a coping mechanism. Each work interacts with this impulse to project oneself into an imaginary world of fantasy where the subject embraces an alternate self image.

Playing video games is one such example of fantasy as a coping mechanism. As a superhero in an virtual world, the gamer experience a sense of agency on a level that would be impossible in the real world. Living at home, relying upon the largesse of parents, and accepting the cruel fate of mundane chores pales in comparison to ruling the streets, defeating menacing foes, or shifting the balance of global political power. During a phase of life when parents and teachers constantly remind youth of how much they have to learn, honing gaming skills can offer a refreshing sense of mastery. Small wonder that many teens invest their identities so heavily in such games.

Artist Talk: Artist as Publisher
6:30 Wednesday 30 July 2008
$10 suggested

Currently on view at the Center for Book Arts is Artist as Publisher, a group exhibition of contemporary artists who produce texts, either as publishers or authors, as part of their work. The show describes itself as selecting work which "embody a spirit of collaboration and experimentation and a DIY ethos," and so much is also obvious from the roster of artists included, including work from at least one member of a fairly visible young arts collective (dearraindrop) and another contribution from the ambitious, collaboratively produced artists publication and creative hub North Drive Press. Tonight as part of the exhibition's supporting program, curator Omar Lopez-Chahoud will be moderating discussions between participating artists Billy Miller and Scott Hug, Felipe Mujica, Inger-Lise McMillan (speaking on behalf of Rachel Mason) and Mark Golamco (speaking on behalf of John Knuth).

Fia Backström and Danna Vajda
Fia Backstrom and Danna Vajda, Conversation between Danna Vajda and Fia Backström 20th of July 2008 in Backström’s exhibition That social space between speaking and meaning, detail. Via Why + Wherefore.

Curated by Summer Guthery, Lumi Tan, and Nicholas Weist
Various locations
19 July 2008

PDF, a group exhibition presented by Why + Wherefore and curated by Summer Guthery, Lumi Tan and Nicholas Weist opened simultaneously this month on 19 July across more than 20 international venues. The exhibition was a reproducible selection of specially commissioned PDF files authored by the invited artists. It was installed at each of its material sites for a single day only, while the PDF files constituting the show remain freely available on Why + Wherefore's website, along with instructions for producing a material exhibition of the work. Adobe's 15 year old Portable Document Format is the successor to several alternative page description formats - like the more print-oriented Postscript (also developed by Adobe) - and has been popularized in the distribution of technical literature, business documents, electronically published texts, and artist portfolios. PDF likewise plays across this technology's many popular uses, with contributions including Fia Backström and Danna Vajda's engaging dialog on the meaning of content and the production of meaning, Bozidar Brazda's single-page concrete poem, Jordan Wolfson's book-length collage of found and original images and texts, Paul Ramirez Jonas' ascii drawing, Rachel Mason's playbill for a morbid re-imagining of the trial of a fallen dictator, Brian Clifton's serial memorial to the known victims of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Sean Raspet's cryptic assemblage, and an arbitrary selection from Dexter Sinister's library.

With the totality of the show in view, it becomes clear that PDF's curators may well be more interested in the exhibition's structural concept - and its overt provocation - of an infinitely reproducible cultural product rather than the individual works exhibited or their particular harmonies and dissonances. And why not? That such a provocation is outside the legislating and deeply managed techno-optimism of a Creative Commons or similar framework lends clout to both the artists and curators involved, who put culture before ordering principles. What the three young curators are here proposing, among other things, is a traveling exhibition whose own contemporaneity threatens to disrupts the particular form from which it originates and propagates: the form of the art exhibition. That this exhausted form is placed so explicitly at the service of a text, or series of texts, could well point to the institutional struggles over the exhibition catalog, contested grounds for curatorial autonomy and power. But there's something more interesting happening here as well: the exhibition as a form actually functions like a kind of modest on-ramp for the works commissioned, to emerge from or return to what artist Seth Price might call a popular archive. It's not so much that the traces, texts, files, documentation, and various installations of PDF make up a narrative of origin and consequence, but rather a constellation of parts in ambiguous relation to one another.

Emily Jacir, "Where We Come From", 2002-2003
Emily Jacir,Where We Come From, 2002-2003, detail from project documentation. Via Anthony Reynolds Gallery.

Conversations With Contemporary Artists: Emily Jacir
Guggenheim Museum - 1071 5th Avenue New York, NY
6:30pm Wednesday 30 July 2008

Emily Jacir, nominated for this year's prestigious Hugo Boss Award, will be giving a talk at the Guggenheim this Wednesday, discussing her own work and other related issues. Jacir, an American-born artist of Palestinian descent, gained much attention for her 2002-2003 work Where We Come From, a year-long performance in which the artist solicited requests from the Palestinian diaspora to respond to the question of "if I could do something for you, anywhere in Palestine, what would it be?" The resulting actions and documentation (texts, photos, video) are inclined more towards the symbolic than utilitarian: on behalf of her respondents Jacir visits a family put out of reach by Israeli travel restrictions, plays soccer on a field likewise policed to inaccessibility, plants a tree, visits a grave, takes a picture of a family home, and so on. The modesty of such gestures, both in their articulation and execution, implies quite strongly that the most fortified and technologically enabled of powers must be met - first of all - with a kind of humility, a kind of understated assertion of presence and historical awareness. What happens after, whether conditions change or endure - or may even be imagined changing from that which they presently are - is a different sort of inquiry than the one Jacir here engages.

Curator Talk with Dean Daderko
Saturday, July 26, 2008 - 2-3 pm - Free
La MaMa La Galleria - 6 East 1st Street

Jeanine Oleson, Dean Daderko seated on Scott Burton chair via

The history of the AIDS crisis is deeply entangled with questions of representation. Faced with an openly hostile and retrograde government, a backwards and puritanical sexual zeitgeist, and a centuries-old system of repression, the struggle of the affected communities to simultaneously raise consciousness and redefine it has provided a model for the potentialities of real-time cultural intervention. One of the lesser-cited positive effects of this still ongoing battle has been the forced maturation of sexual discourse in areas less directly affected; improvements in sex education, for example, owe a huge debt to the work of the artist/activist community that coalesced around the threat of HIV. That some of these hard fought achievements continue to be targeted should be taken both as a continued call to action, and as evidence of how remarkable the progress of the last three decades has been. Tomorrow curator Dean Daderko will discuss SIDE X SIDE, currently running at La MaMa La Galleria, which he curated for Visual AIDS. SIDE X SIDE aims to show the work of artists' responding to the epidemic over time, “with an acute awareness of the crisis and its impact on them…” Artists include Scott Burton, Kate Huh, Nicholas Moufarrege, Martin Wong and Carrie Yamaoka.

Curator's Talk: Denise Carvalho
Sunday, July 27th, 2008, 6 - 7 pm
Dumbo Arts Center, 30 Washington Street, Brooklyn

Joseph Bennett, still from video Untitled 2007 via Dumbo Arts Center

This Sunday at the Dumbo Arts Center curator Denise Carvalho will discuss her ongoing group show Holy Holes: Absolute Stalls. Aimed at investigating the ritualistic and borderline religious structure beneath contemporary consumerism, Holy Holes brings together work from artists Brent Wahl, Dylan Mortimer, Grady Gerbracht, Hadassa Goldvicht, Jenny Marketou, Joseph Bennett, Adriana Varella, Angela Freiberger, Gearóid Dolan, Tobaron Waxman, Kimberly Simpson, Karin Giusti, Marcia X, Meirav Leshem, Kwabena Slaughter, and Neil Beloufa. It is an open question whether a given absolute, religious or otherwise, takes spectacular place at all; whether consumer society represents a replacement for religious habits or their evolution. Certainly there are aspects of devotion and worship in the quotidian reception of both capital and the divine, but how then to explain the historical opposition between organized religion and the more decadent offerings of the culture industry? Some would argue its a spurious opposition to begin with, merely one niche market marketing itself in opposition to another, but if thats the case, how to locate any authentic opposition to anything anywhere? Insofar as opposition appears it had a mailing list. Free.

CRG Open Video Series - STORYTELLING
Thusday, July 24, 7pm - Limited Seating - Arrive Early
CRG Gallery - 535 West 22nd Street


This Thursday at CRG Milena Hoegsberg and Kelly Shindler curate STORYTELLING, a set of film and video that "collapse(s) and expand(s) the boundaries of fact and fiction from different vantage points." Artists include: Charles Atlas & Marina Abramović, Nanna Debois Buhl, Martha Colburn, Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeld, Peter Larsson, and Aada Niilola. An exploration of history on either side of the individual/collective divide, STORYTELLING seeks a mutual indictment of fantasy and documentary, the personal and the political. Ideally, the resulting ambiguity produces an excess of meaning, allowing for otherwise singular moments to lend themselves to multiple interpretations, while still remaining under the generalized aegis of storytelling. Free, but with limited seating, it is recommended that you arrive early.

Interview with Street Artist A1one
Henry Street Settlement, Abrons Arts Center
466 Grand Street, LES
July 17 - August 31, 2008

Last Thursday, "Street Slang: The Modern Urban Imagination" opened at the Abrons Art Center of the Henry Street Settlement. Curated by Lois Stavsky, a longtime observer of global cultural trends, the show included a healthy dose of graffiti and street artists from Tel Aviv to New York. Noticeable among those on exhibit was A1one from Tehran, Iran. A pioneer of the Iranian street art scene, this marks his first show in America.

Playscape - installation by Dana Strasser and Isabella Bruno
7-10pm, July 18th, 2008
Over the Opening - North 6th between Kent and Wythe, Brooklyn

L I V E sound & image
Friday, July 18 - East Coast Aliens Salon
216 Franklin Street GREENPOINT, BROOKLYN - $10


Over the Opening, MTAA's second-Friday-of-the-month-time-based-installation-party is tonight. Converting their North 6th studio into a presentation space, the collective plays host to Playscape an installation by Dana Strasser and Isabella Bruno. Promising "a playspace for the adult set using specifically selected, everyday objects in transformative ways," as well as balloons, Playscape will be the last OTO until fall.

After that you can head north to Greenpoint for a trio of duos at L I V E sound & image - DRAW, LoVid and Cinemage all take experimental approaches to historical practices of melding images with sound. Thrown in is a screening of Fred Worden's Everyday Bad Dream and a live set by Amsterdam based turntablist dj sniff and saxophonist Keir Neuringer. At the East Coast Aliens Salon. Ten Dollars.

Screening - Short Films recommended by The Center for Land Use Interpretation
July 17, 2008, 8:30pm
Sarah Meltzer Gallery - 525-531 West 26th


This Thursday, The Center for Land Use Interpretation, "a research organization involved in exploring, examining, and understanding land and landscape issues," has recommended a series of short films to be screened at Sara Meltzer as part of their ongoing Landscapes for Frankenstein exhibition. The films "observe the effects of man and technology on the natural landscape." One might think that one would be hard pressed to find a film, that, simply by virtue of its sheer existence, does not, in some way represent said effects - but it remains a refreshingly open-ended invitation. Even more intriguing, in some ways, is the 'interpretation,' at work in the center's title. At first glance it seems to be asserting some textual quality of land, that land is that which is interpreted via its many uses. But that would make the 'use' redundant, so instead it seems devoted to understanding the reception of land-use, how already or soon-to-be existing structures in that realm are themselves interpreted, or, further is itself engaged in such a large scale interpretation of said structures. Should be interesting, in any case.

What My Dad Gave Me - Chris Burden
June 11 – July 19, 2008
Rockefeller Center, Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th

Chris Burden, What My Dad Gave Me, via The Public Art Fund

“The essential character of the toy,” Agamben writes “is something quite singular, which can be grasped only in the temporal dimension of a ‘once upon a time’ and a ‘no more,’ the toy is that which belonged – once, no longer - to the realm of the sacred or of the practical-economic… What the toy preserves of its sacred or economic model, what survives of this after its dismemberment or miniaturization, is nothing other than the human temporality that was contained therein… [the toy] makes present and renders tangible human temporality in itself…” It seems to be precisely this tangibility that Chris Burden pursues with his What My Dad Gave Me, a six-story building constructed entirely from toy-parts in the erector-set mold on display at Rockefeller center through Saturday. Indeed, by utilizing his toys on a scale equal to the actual buildings that inspired them, Burden has found a way of emphasizing Agamben’s distinction even more vividly – making the difference between the toy and its inspiration not simply obvious, but singular, what with the loss of a discrepancy in size. And for anyone who has sought to professionally pursue something they loved as a child, the effect is startlingly poignant. After all - what is left for our childhood desires amidst the praxis they (presumably) spawned? It is a question begged beautifully by Burden as he makes a six-story cacophony of time’s quiet passing. Presented by the Public Art Fund.

Artist Talk: Jean Shin
Wednesday, July 16, 2008 7:00 pm
26 Greene Street - Free

Jean Shin, and we move, 2008, multimedia installation via

This Wednesday, artist Jean Shin will discuss her work with Nathalie Angles, director of Location One's International residency program. Shin's continuing project involves the repurposing of refuse, including, "broken umbrellas, donated clothing, losing lottery tickets, emptied wine bottles and old computer keycaps." By bringing all these objects together into a whole, Shin stages the vibration between individual and community, highlighting certain connections and masking others. At times she has targeted specific communities or groups for materials, aiming at properly postmodern portraiture. Her current exhibition And we move investigates the interdependence of music and representation, choosing to emphasize the movement of a conductor's jacket as he orchestrates music by Czech composer Bedrich Smetana, and Ibert's Flute Concerto.

Practice of Encroachment: From the global border to the border neighborhood
Opening Reception: July 10, 2008, 6-8 pm
PARC Foundation Gallery, 29 Bleecker Street, New York.

Its moving season in New York, and anybody writhing through that ridiculous process will be interested in the opening at PARC foundation tomorrow night. An exhibition organized "as a public platform to discuss the crisis of affordable housing, and the de-funding of public infrastructure in the contemporary city," Teddy Cruz' Practice of Encroachment investigates new ideas for social density and communal living. Based on the Sand Diego/Tijuana border, Estudio Teddy Cruz exists to experiment with urban organization. Works in this show "include conceptual works, presented through videos, photographs, drawings, models and cartographies... and “McMansion Retrofitted,” which proposes to alter an existing 8000 square foot single-family suburban house into a mixed-use multi-family dwelling." The opening reception is from 6-8 pm and the show runs until October 25.

Puett's Frige 3.jpg
J. Morgan Puett, Scrabble Dinner Hoosh 2008, Installation, Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates

Mildred's Lane
18 June - 6 September 2008
Alexander Gray Associates - 526 West 26 Street #1019

Most refrigerators are dumps. Leftovers from a midnight binge spoil in the back. That overpriced entrée you didn't really enjoy but couldn't bear to throw away because you squandered so much on it lingers. Isn't it ironic how most fridges end up collecting old food that we would rather not eat?

Then, there is cleaning out the refrigerator…. Few tasks could be more Sisyphean.

J. Morgan Puett claims the refrigerator as a site of subtle beauty from within these decadent, first-world horrors of the the 21st century. She honed her ability to find the art within a refrigerator during her stint as the ringleader of the Mildred's Lane art colony in rural Pennsylvania. That colony's output is the subject of Alexander Gray's summer group show, where one can find one of Morgan's fascinating fridges on view.

Artist as Publisher
July 9, 2008, 6-9 pm - The Center for Book Arts
28 West 27th Street, 3rd Floor


"Who writes? For whom is the writing being done? In what circumstances?," Edward Said said, asking after the intellectual conditions of production proper to a humanist criticism. (A modifier about which he confessed to have "contradictory feelings of affection and revulsion.") Though Said was invested in a slightly different field his observations apply equally to a a bumper crop of art writing. With regards a given professional constituency: "Once again we are back to the quandary suggested by the three thousand advanced critics reading each other to everyone else's unconcern... what is the acceptable humanistic antidote to what one discovers, say amongst sociologists, philosophers and so-called policy scientists who speak only to and for each other in a language oblivious to everything but a well-guarded, constantly shrinking fiefdom forbidden to the uninitiated?" Well one such prescription might be opening at The Center for Book Arts this Wednesday; Artist as Publisher includes a great number of artists who have "embraced independent publication as a means to bypass the gallery system, to produce new artwork affordably, and to distribute their artwork widely and on their own terms." Of course it remains to be seen which direction Omar Lopez-Chahoud's curation will emphasize - and though its hard to imagine a discourse more oblique than the one currently on offer; that's precisely the appeal of this show, insofar as we don't know what art writing might look like when pulled out from behind the lens of an overheated industry.

Beware Fake Coptic Art

Keeping It Real via The Independant

So you might have heard that The Art Newspaper reported this week that one third of the Brooklyn Museum's collection of Coptic art is fake. Coptic art dates from the early Christian era in Egypt, and I hope I am not indicting myself too much to say its the first I have heard of it. It gets interesting. The Art 'paper writes: "The unmasking of the forgeries will be revealed in an exhibition on 'Coptic Sculpture in the Brooklyn Museum,' opening [early next year.] The Art Newspaper can reveal that ten of Brooklyn’s 30 sculptures are now deemed to be complete fakes, with over half the remainder having been recarved and repainted in modern times." The 'can' here is indicative. One wonders, if said fakes were not part of an upcoming exhibition, would the paper have been able to reveal it? Did it have the story and was waiting for permission? The Independent notes "The publicity surrounding the exposure of the fakes should help promote the February exhibition, Dr [Edna] Russmann [a Brooklyn Museum Curator] said, and help offset any embarrassment stirred by the revelation... 'I don't see any tragic faces here this morning,' she noted." But wait! It gets better, back to TAN: "Although Brooklyn’s conservators have made a preliminary examination of their Coptic sculptures, decisions on authenticity have been made primarily on connoisseurship, relying on style and iconography." Well thank goodness for the experts rushing to inform a Coptic-mad public about these nefarious forgeries! Oh wait, "Russmann... said she began to have suspicions ... about four years ago. She said she has no qualms about going public with her findings now. 'It's about time,'" Indeed, the exhibition, the purpose of which "will be to alert other US institutions to the possibility that they too have fake pieces in their collections," opens in February.

My Barbarian via

My Barbarian: Post-Paradise, Sorry Again
Thursday and Friday, July 3 and 4, 2008 - 7:30 pm
New Museum , $8 Members, $10 everybody else

The Living Theatre
is one of those strange, anachronistic beasts that has steadfastly refused its consignment to the pages of history - its actually still around and kicking. It's a quirk proper to the medium that the theater everyone talks about after the fact is so very rarely vital in its own right, Beckett being perhaps the greatest exception. This was never more apparent than in the work of the Living's patron saint, Antonin Artaud, who, though a luminously brilliant thinker and writer, was a pretty disastrous theater-maker. Indeed, were it not for the Living's considerable achievements in the sixties, one could easily argue that Artaud's greatest legacy is the work of Jacques Derrida. In any case, whatever remains of the Living Theater is certainly most relevant as history; something they tacitly acknowledged by bringing back The Brig the other day. Yet their dogged, commendable persistence produces situations like the one this Thursday and Friday at the New Museum, where a young performance tribe with a cool name tucks in to its still twitching corpse. My Barbarian's piece Post-Paradise, Sorry Again, is at least partially a riff on the Living's most widely known work, Paradise Now which included, get this, nudity and the examination of social taboos. I suspect My Barbarian's work is a bit more complicated, times being what they are, but you'll have to hit the Bowery to be sure.