Bits: 11.30.09

Weegee, After the Opera at Sammy's Nightclub on the Bowery, c. 1944, via Creative Review

• Jim Lambie discusses his music (Teenage Fanclub) and his art (colorful site-specific works made from masking tape).

• How graffiti of a pink, 60-foot nude woman came to be on the Malibu Canyon Tunnel in 1966 -- and where it went.

•New on UBUWEB: Stan Brakhage's Riddle of the Lumen (1972), of which Brahkhage said "the 'hero' of the film is light itself."

• For its 2010 contest World Press Photo added a rule to allow only "
retouching which conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry." Whatever that means.

• Eyebeam Art + Technology Center -- a partner on Add-Art, which currently features my selection of Brian Ulrich photos -- announced its call for residencies and fellowships. Deadline for both: Mar. 1. Here's how to apply.

Call for Entries: ARTCRANK Minneapolis is now accepting artist submissions for its 2010 poster show.

• Who knew? The Weisman Art Museum rents artworks to students and staff. Via @ckloecker and @weismanart.

• As the UK preps to tax high earners, gazillionaire artist Damien Hirst -- he of the $100 million diamond-encrusted skull -- plans a show in lower-tax Monaco. Via @artnetdotcom.


Bits: 11.25.09

VVORK: "Transformed rooms of the Neugerriemschneider gallery in Berlin, by Pawel Althamer. As a vanitas gesture, the gallery remained open 24 hours a day."

• The (awesome) Groundswell Collective is launching a print journal. And they're looking for submissions on the topic of "crisis folklore": "How we imagine future stories that describe our current time period can give us an alternative glimpse of the cultures we are shaping in the here-and-now." Oops: the deadline is Nov. 30!

• Loving Cooper Union's new Roni Horn-esque signage.

• Spec-lash! "In an effort to educate Visual Communication Designers and those who use their services, on the damaging effects caused by spec work and spec-based design contests, a group of designers from all over the globe banded together, fueled by passion and a lot of caffeine, to bring NO!SPEC to the public."

Errol Morris' favorite scenes from Frederick Wiseman films.

• Did REVOK really tag a Greek airliner with the phrase "Stay High"?

Beautiful Decay looks at the work of Minneapolis' own, Roxane Jackson.

• Google has photographed some 14,000 objects from Iraq's national museum and will put them online early next year.

• Pop-Up City's look at Russian pop-up culture -- "flexible buildings, DIY campers, truck houses, and limousine-caravans" -- reminds me of this Northern Minnesota stretch limo I stumbled upon a few years back.

• Brian Sholis interviews Luc Sante on his new book about early 20th-century folk photography.

• Should you be passing through Durban, South African next March, don't miss the 2010 Art and Social Justice Conference.

• You've heard of the 100-Mile Diet; now there's the 100-Mile Thanksgiving.

Dark Stores: Brian Ulrich for Add-Art

I curated the new edition of Add-Art, a free Firefox extension created by artist Steve Lambert that replaces online ads with art. With Black Friday a few days away, I selected work from Chicago photographer Brian Ulrich's "Dark Stores" series. Featured works include: Worcester Mall, Shapes, JC Penney, Dixie Square Mall, Metro North Mall, Circuit City, HH Gregg, and the iPhone shot, Saturn (below). Following is my essay to accompany the project. See more in situ shots here.

There’s a distinct trajectory to Chicago-based photographer Brian Ulrich’s work over the first decade of the new millennium. His focus six or seven years ago -- documentation of overabundant mall environs and big-box stores packed to the rafters with affordably priced synthetic goods – eventually started shifting to the next stage in the lifespan of consumer objects. From the sales floors where “brand-new” promises were proferred, they made their inevitable way to secondary markets like thrift stores where, dirty and tattered, they’re left for those further down the socioeconomic ladder. Today, Ulrich’s lens is trained increasingly on the long tail of this arc: the empty shells of malls shops, car dealerships and megastores that have been abandoned in the wake of economic downturn.

Ulrich’s work is a natural fit for Add-Art: It’s e-commerce, after all, that’s contributing to the demise of bricks-and-mortar stores. And while the ebullient optimism of in-store promos or zany used-car commercials may be fading in suburban Chicago or downtown Detroit, these online ads – banners flashing to attract the eye to home refinancing deals, popping up (or under) to remind us of weight-loss schemes – maintain their focus-group-tested opulence. Temporarily, that realm will be taken over by Ulrich’s images of a teenybopper mall boutique stripped of everything but the neon “Ear Piercing” sign; the branded architecture of a Circuit City store reduced to a still-branded ruin; a blaze-orange “0%” banner, once touting low-low prices at a car dealership, now advertising the showroom’s abandonment.

It’s a bit of visual jujitsu: using the seductive power, placement and vocabulary of online advertising against itself -- to deliver an image that serves as a kind of warning against putting too much faith in the promises of consumerism. In an interview last spring with Chicagoist, Ulrich said, “I think about what the Internet has done for photography that's really wonderful: it has amplified photographys' ability to be propaganda… I'm really trying to promote an ideology and a certain level of thinking and responsibility about consumerism to as many people as possible.”

In that regard, putting his images not only on the internet, but in the places where ads are supposed to be doing their seduction seems like perfect propaganda.

Brian Ulrich earned his MFA at Columbia College Chicago, where he now teaches. Awarded a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, his work has been exhibited at a variety of museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Carnegie Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Photography and the Walker Art Center, and has appeared in publications including Adbusters, Mother Jones and the New York Times Magazine. His monograph, Copia, was published by Aperture as part of the MP3: Midwest Photographers Project in 2006.

Happy Art Week?

Via Ben Sisario, h/t @philouza


Os Gemeos in 3D

Eyegunk points us to a series of amazing shots of O Estrangeiro, a public performance in São Paulo by Plasticiens Volants that included an inflatable Os Gemeos character/parade float and the Brazilian duo's trademark giant murals.


Nominate a project for Architecture for Humanity's "Design Like You Give a Damn 2"

Architecture for Humanity co-founder Cameron Sinclair, interviewed on Eyeteeth back in 2006, reports that the group's popular book Design Like You Give a Damn is getting a sibling: Volume II is scheduled for publication in September 2011. In preparation, he's looking for nominations of projects that
"...highlight breakthrough design solutions with the power and potential to improve our lives and the world. These designs may improve the human spirit, increase awareness of the environment, or respond to areas of need in the world, whether to provide shelter and clean water or address climate change and humanitarian crises."
Nominate projects here, or follow current submissions here, like the Thai Butterfly Houses (Soe Ker Tie), built for Karen refugees along the Burma-Thai border (pictured), by TYIN Tegnestue.


RIP Jeanne-Claude

Jeanne-Claude, wife and 51-year artistic collaborator with Christo, has died at age 74. She passed away Wednesday night in New York from complications of a brain aneurysm, the Times reports. The duo created memorable large-scale "temporary works of art" like The Gates in Central Park, Wrapped Reichstag and Surrounded Islands. In a note on the pair's website, Christo says Jeanne-Claude's body will be donated to science and that he's committed to completing works in progress, Over The River, Project for the Arkansas River, State of Colorado, and The Mastaba, Project for the United Arab Emirates.

Update: Here's PBS' Art Beat on the Colorado project. And here's the Times' full obituary.



Bits: 11.16.09

Artists displaced by wealthy urbanites in 1921 Greenwich Village. New York Times via Bloggy.

• Krzysztof Wodiczko describes his ICA Boston exhibition, …OUT OF HERE: The Veterans Project, an immersive soundscape based on soldiers' experiences of attacks in Iraq: “It could be an interior of a soldier who came back from war and who is re-living, remembering, recalling some scenes and moments — perhaps similar to the one that I’m trying to create." Listen to WBUR's segment on the installation.

• "Burning Man Obama," by Chinese artist Liu Bolin. Here's a Reuters video story on it.

• Billboard intervention by mob ster: "GO GO GO / WORK WORK WORK / PRODUCE PRODUCE PRODUCE."

• The Walker and eight other museums are in the early stages of figuring out how to give visitors "prodigious [online] access to artists’ works in the permanent collections," thanks to a new Getty grant.

• Anyone got a parlor I can borrow? Guessing who forked over $43.7 million for Warhol's 200 One Dollar Bills is "becoming something of a parlor game," the Times tells us.

• Minnesota-based cryptographer Bruce Schneier to get his own action figure.

The Detroit Institute of Arts in LEGOS.

Work at McDonald's Gitmo!

Is culture-jamming dead?

From Borat to Punk'd to The Yes Men, pranks have really taken off since the early days of adbusted billboards and "subvertisements." But with a surplus of flash mobs, fake newscasts and gag YouTube videos, it's worth asking: have political pranks jumped the, uh, snark?

Dave Gilson ponders the question at Mother Jones, noting that while The Yes Men's 2004 spoof, in which they posed as Dow Chemicals execs to take belated responsibility for the Bhopal disaster, cost that company $2 billion in stock losses, today we're saturated with pranks. He writes:
After [The Yes Men's] unveiling the Halliburton SurvivaBall—a "gated community for one" that turns the wearer into a giant beige gumball—to a roomful of insurance managers, Yes Man No. 2 Mike Bonanno laments, "Instead of freaking out, they just took our business cards. Our effort had been a failure. And come to think of it, all of our efforts had been failures...Maybe making fun of stupid ideas was a stupid idea." After playing the fool for so long, the Yes Men have come to suspect that they've become fools themselves.
Gilson says that pranksterism has become mere entertainment and, along the way, serious intentions behind such acts have, in many cases, been replaced by a serious desire for attention -- quick celebrity. Further, as the hijacked Obama TIME cover -- where he's depicted as Batman's arch-enemy -- suggests, it's no longer the domain of the left. Nothing wrong with rightwingers reading Rules for Radicals to muck up town hall meetings, I suppose, but the fact that they are suggests some of the beloved tactics of the left have, perhaps, outlived their usefulness.

Related: Where's all the rightwing street art?