Friday, December 18, 2009

Composition with Factory Chimneys

Natalia Goncharova
Composition with Factory Chimneys. 1918-1919.
Sketch for stage "Vulgar Wedding" (not executed).Gouache, graphite pencil on paper mounted on cardboard, 56x78.8. The Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.

Where's the wind when it isn't blowing?

Political graphic novels from Albrecht Dürer to Art Spiegelman

The graphic novel is the most democratic of all art forms because everyone can "read" and understand it. It presupposes no knowledge of cultural history, familiarity with subject matter, compositional principles, and allegorical content. The comic links individual scenes into a pictorial "text," which does not necessarily say everything but whose interstices can be filled in associatively and by bringing in the person of the viewer to constitute a story. The democratic pictorial understanding innate to the comic, to sequential art, which – despite the name – is not necessarily "comic," encapsulates the pretensions of institutions concerned with communicating art and bridging the gap between art production and the public.

The exhibition assembles an international spectrum of politically motivated sequential art from the invention of printing to the present day. All the works have a decidedly political dimension and they are presented not chronologically but in terms of content. These thematic complexes allow cross-references and allusions beyond the given historical context. The architecture on the upper floor of the Kunstverein specially developed for this exhibition underpins this reference system. The display elements recall the spatial sequences of a comic. Each and every panel is a self-contained unit that nevertheless interchanges with other themes offering cross-links. On the ground floor, Keith Haring's graffiti provide a projection surface for classical presentation.

Ad Reinhardt, Martin Arnold, Gerd Arntz, Ferdinand Barlog, Berthold Bartosch, Harold Begbie / Francis Carruthers Gould, Steve Bell, Shirley Bogart, Stanley Brouwn, Jacques Callot, Clavé / Godard, Edmond Francois Calvo, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Sue Coe, M. Philip Copp, Stephen Croall, Robert Crumb, Jari Pekka Cuypers, Honoré Daumier, Lin Da-we, Dave Decat, James Dyrenforth / Max Kester, Walt Disney, Gustave Doré, Albrecht Dürer, Ekkes, Martin Gray, Masist Gül, Will Eisner, Max Ernst, Öyvind Fahlström, Jules Feiffer, Lyonel Feininger, Ari Folman, Jean-Claude Forest, Rube Goldberg, Francisco de Goya, Vernon Greene, Keith Haring, George Herriman, Hergé, Hans Holbein d. J., Paul Hogarth, William Hogarth, Laurence Hyde, Jörg Immendorff, Henri Gustave Jossot, Rolf Kauka, Reinhard Kleist, Joe Kubert, John Leech, Ján Mancuska, Stefan Marx, Frans Masereel, David Mazzucchelli, Winsor McCay, Scott McCloud, Carl Meffert, Alfred von Meysenbug, Jürgen Metz / Charly G. Schütz, Mike Mignola, Henry Moore, Keiji Nakazawa, Otto Neurath, Otto Nückel, Erich Ohser, Michael O' Donoghue, Dan O'Neill, Henrik Olesen, Karl Ewald Olszewski, George Orwell, Richard Felton Outcault, Giacomo Patri, Gladys Parker, Guy Peellaert / Pierre Bartier, Grayson Perry, Raymond Pettibon, Pablo Picasso, Fritz Raab, Alfred Rethel, Henry Ritter, Rius, Spain Rodriguez, Joe Sacco, Petr Sadecky, Marjane Satrapi, Gerald Scarfe, Gerhard Seyfried, Ben Shahn, Jim Shaw, Situationistische Internationale, Ernst Scheller, Manfred Schmid, Adolf Schrödter, William Siegel, Otto Soglow, Art Spiegelman, Robert and Philip Spence, Christoph Steinegger, Ernst Steingässer, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Lou Tji-gui, Mathilde ter Heijne, Rodolphe Toepffer, Gary Trudeau, Wang Tschun-bsin / Yang Scha, Félix Vallotton, Lynd Ward, Klaus Wiese / Christian Ziewer, Adolphe Willette, Oscar Zarate etc.

Kunstverein Hamburg
December 19, 2009 - March 14, 2010

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All the Needles on are Red

Osamu Kanemura, 1998


-υπάρχουν και πράγματα που δεν τα αποφασίζουμε εμείς είπε εκείνος που έμελλε να πεθάνει εννοούσε τον θάνατό του
-δεν γίνεται να πεθάνεις είπε η γυναίκα του που τον αγαπούσε σίγουρα κάτι υπάρχει να κάνουμε να πάμε στην Αμερική είπε
-και όμως δεν γίνεται τίποτα της απάντησε και με την γνώση αυτή με την γνώση του θανάτου του που ισοδυναμεί με την γνώση της μη ύπαρξης της δικής μας μη ύπαρξης ανάμεσα στις συνεχιζόμενες των άλλων υπάρξεις και αυτόματα ισοδυναμεί με την δική μας λήθη και αυτόματα ισοδυναμεί με την δική μας αντικατάσταση από άλλα πρόσωπα άλλα πρόσωπα παντού σε κάθε δυνατή θέση πρόσωπα που αντικαθιστούν χωρίς να αντικαθιστούν γιατί το κάθε πρόσωπο είναι μοναδικό αυτός είναι ο ορισμός του προσώπου παρόλοντούτο η αντικατάσταση υπάρχει αντικατάσταση ρόλου δηλαδή αντικατάσταση θέσης στην δική μου θέση κάποιος άλλος αν και το δικό μου πρόσωπο δεν είναι κανένα άλλο και με αυτή την γνώση ο πρωταγωνιστής επιλέγει και εγκαθιδρύει με αλαζονεία την αλαζονεία μέσα στην απελπισία τον αντικαταστάτη του τον αντικαταστάτη του σε όλες τις θέσεις που αυτός πρωτύτερα καταλάμβανε και όπου αυτός πιστεύει πως δεν θα τον αντικαταστήσει γιατί αυτός πιστεύει πως είναι ανώτερός του πάντα νομίζουμε πως είμαστε καλύτεροι από τους αντικαταστάτες μας

Φοίβη Γιαννίση

WWI Red Cross Quilt

58 x 88
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

During WWI, Red Cross quilts were made to raise money or provide comfort to soldiers fighting overseas. This piece is a wonderful example of the quilt style made during this time.



Gert & Uwe Tobias, Untitled, 2009, woodcut print on paper, 210x188 cm

The Breeder Gallery
Gert & Uwe Tobias
19.11.09 .. 24.12.09

Zombies of Marx

Derrida’s Spectres of Marx is a frustrating book. For someone capable of such careful readings, Derrida’s references to Marx are remarkably sloppy, and, as with a lot of his later work, the obsessively spiraling style appears hollow rather than beguiling (it’s not as bad as The Politics of Friendship, but what is). But the central theme of the text is undeniably interesting. Derrida identifies in Marx an uneasiness with his (Marx’s) own analysis, with Marx constantly discovering the spectral nature of capitalism, which he continuously seeks to deny or deflect with a focus on life as a material positivity.
It would be pointless to deny that Marx is sometimes vitalist, although this is not a simple organicist praise of life as vital spirit. Rather, Marx connects life with productive potential, first of all in the figure of “living labor,” but in more depth in Marx’s description of the fundamentally excessive nature of the proletariat, the surplus population necessarily produced by capitalism. In Capital, the descriptions of overpopulation evoke compression and pressure, a pressure that the capitalist authorities quoted inevitably figure in terms of a danger that is equally biological, moral, and political.
However, although Marx does, as Derrida writes, sometimes oppose and seek to exorcise the spectral, he doesn’t do so in the name of this vitalism. On the contrary, Marx rejects spectrality because the specter is too alive, a remnant of life that remains after material death. Marx’s rejection of spectrality occurs in the context of a more general rejection of this vitalism, direct or deferred, and an embrace of a certain sort of unlife, an anti-organicism. Derrida almost sees this in his discussion of commodity fetishism which “is the contradiction of automatic autonomy, mechanical freedom, technical life.” (153) Derrida, however, doesn’t pursue this theme of automaticity, but instead immediately proceeds to assimilate the commodity to the specter, not without some difficulty, because the commodity is the opposite of the specter – not dead matter inhabited by an ineffable remnant of life, spirit or pneuma, but dead matter animated by an eerily unliving automaticity: not a specter, that is, but a zombie.
While Marx’s famous distinction between living labor (the proletariat) and dead labor (commodities) suggests that this zombie character of the commodity is in opposition to the revolutionary character of the proletariat, the difference is not so clear, because the proletariat’s particular role in capitalism comes from the fact that labour-power is a commodity. Benjamin develops in some detail the revolutionary possibilities that might follow from the proletariat sharing this inorganic, unliving, zombie quality with the commodity. In the Arcades, Benjamin traces the founding of the revolutionary Internationals to the world exhibitions, where “the masses, barred from consuming, learned empathy with exchange value,” by realizing that they, like the commodities they produce, are infinitely exchangible and communicable.
Benjamin locates this revolutionary communicability in the catacombs of Paris (used by the revolutionaries of the Commune), the city of the dead that overdetermines the city of those who are supposedly living. That the city is always the city of the dead is, Benjamin writes, “an essential moment in the image of modernity,” because modern capitalism, rather than containing and constraining life as it appeared to in Marx’s image of overpopulation, recreates life as unlife. Marx describes this process in his discussion of factory labor (as opposed to small-scale manufacture) in Capital, but Benjamin goes on to connect this process to advertising and fashion, both of which construct an inorganic body for the proletariat. This inorganic body is what allows the proletariat to engage in political struggle, as with the example Benjamin gives of the anonymous horde of pamphleteer during the 1848, who were referred to as “Monsieur Everyone.”
Monsieur Everyone is a swarm of artificial, unliving commodity-proletarians—a zombie horde, in other words.

text by voyou

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Loves of a Blonde

This love of mine turned me in a hooligan.Dir: Milos Forman, 1965

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cliff house project

Adolph Sutro’s Victorian Cliff House was constructed in 1896 and, like so many wooden structures of that era,
burned completely to the ground in September of 1907.
Here is a number of photographs and postcards selected from the following site "Cliff house project".

All the Young Cowgirls

On the Street....All the Young Cowgirls, Las Vegas

Boys to Men

Boys to Men, Rodeo Style, Las Vegas

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's Getting Hot In Here

Mary Tremonte
It's Getting Hot In Here

3 color silkscreen print
Lavender paper with hot pink text


Another Study of the Same Page

Georgia Sagri, Factory, 2008-9, acrylic on canvas, 23x30,5cm
A.D. Gallery, Athens
25.11.09 - 10.02.10


You make yourself clear.
Your words issue forth
and come near me, moving
briskly in the cool air.
I wrestle them to the ground.

We stretch ourselves out
on the grass that is bluing
with evening. Somewhere
between us is an understanding.
But also an element of risk.

Stars extend their nightly
invitations. They beckon
through a universe
of remarkable transparency.
I issue my nightly refusal.

Halvard Johnson: from Winter Journey, 1979

Shenzhen Marathon: The Chinese Thinking

As part of 2009 Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism \ Architecture, Rem Koolhaas and Hans Ulrich Obrist will host an INTERVIEW MARATHON at the Shenzhen Civic Centre on 22 December.

In an exhilarating and cerebral non-stop, eight-hour event, Koolhaas – the architect of the new Shenzhen Stock Exchange, under construction next to the Civic Centre – and Obrist – co-director of exhibitions and programs and director of international projects at London's Serpentine Gallery – will interview 30 of China's leading figures from the fields of media, economics, politics, planning, architecture, the arts, religion, science, and technology. The theme of this urgent dialogue is THE CHINESE THINKING.

What is the intellectual, creative, and political underpinning of China's burgeoning economy, its rapid urbanization, its architectural and artistic development, and its new power status in a bi-polar world? What are the costs, and the blindspots, of this rampant growth? And what is the special role played by Shenzhen as a laboratory for China's development?

A broad range of participants – from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan – will generate new knowledge and insight into China's current conditions. This marathon event is organized by Ou Ning, chief curator of 2009 Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale of Urbanism \ Architecture, with research by Jiang Jun, editor of Urban China magazine.

Hans Ulrich Obrist invented the interview marathon concept in Stuttgart in 2005 as an experimental new kind of public event that bridges panel discussion, exhibition, and performance. In 2006 the concept evolved as Rem Koolhaas joined Obrist in interviewing over 70 people in a 24-hour marathon that took place in the Serpentine Gallery's summer pavilion, co-designed by Koolhaas and structural designer Cecil Balmond. The pavilion was one of an ongoing series of annual architecture commissions conceived by Serpentine director Julia Peyton-Jones. Obrist and Koolhaas now look forward to engaging the rapidly growing city of Shenzhen as a way into THE CHINESE THINKING.

AI Xiaoming – documentary maker, feminist scholar and activist
AN Ge – legendary photographer of life under Deng Xiaoping
Yung-Ho CHANG – Dean of architecture at MIT, curator and architect
CHANG Ping – journalist and social critic for Southern Metropolis Daily
CHEN Tong – founder of art institution Libreria Borges
Samson CHIU – Hong Kong-based director and screenwriter
FENG Yuan – critic and urbanist at Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou
Victor Zhikai GAO – Deng Xiaoping's translator, now a columnist
HE Chengjun – architecture critic
HE Huangyou – photographer of Shenzhen since the 1960s
HSIEH Ying Chun – Taiwanese architect and contractor, director of Atelier 3
HUANG Weiwen – design director of the Shenzhen Municipal Planning Bureau
JIANG Jun – chief editor of Urban China magazine
LEUNG Man Tao – public intellectual, TV host, writer
LI Yong – journalist and blogger
LIU Xiaodong – contemporary figurative painter
Local Action – Hong Kong-based group for democratization in urban planning
MENG Hui – writer and editor
OU Ning – writer, artist, chief curator of Shenzhen Biennale
Thomas Z. SHAO – chairman of major publishers Modern Media
SHU Kexin – community activist with background in engineering
TANG Jie – vice mayor of Shenzhen
WU Yin-Ning – Taiwanese writer, poet and activist
Marisa YIU – architect, chief curator of Hong Kong Biennale
YUAN Weishi – critical historian and writer
ZHANG Nian – feminist and cultural critic
ZHU Wen – writer, poet, director of Seafood, winner of Grand Jury Prize at Venice, 2001

22 December, 2pm - 10pm
Shenzhen Civic Centre

Cover for Vogue

Giorgio de Chirico
cover for Vogue (British Edition), 8 January 1936
private collection

Lenin's Little Light Begins to Burn

Lenin's little light begins to burn, From Prozhektor.Reprinted from Oktiabr'skie Stranitsy(1917-41),compliled by V.S.Listov and G.A.Ambernadi,158

The Soviet Art Museum

Aleksei Aleksandrovich Fedorov-Davydov (1900-1969) belonged to the first generation of Soviet art critics, historians, and curators. Just seventeen at the time of the 1917 Revolution, by 1929 he had already formulated guidelines for transforming Russia’s art museums into institutions that served the needs of a socialist society.1 In 1930 he presented his theses at the First All-Russian Museum Congress, where they were further developed by a special brigade of museum professionals. That same year, in response to complaints from the League of Militant Atheists, the administration of the State Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow was instructed to reinstall its galleries according to “the demands of Marxist art history and the goals of politically educating the masses.” As a result, the permanent collection was divided into three socio-economic stages: Feudalism, Capitalism, and the transitional era from Capitalism to Socialism (Soviet Art). The country’s other leading museums, the Hermitage and the State Russian Museum in Leningrad, followed suit, while at the same time all three organized special temporary exhibitions on themes such as “Realism of the 1860s-1880s,” “Revolutionary and Soviet Themes,” “Art of the Industrial Bourgeoisie,” and “French Art from the Age of the Decline of Feudalism and the Bourgeois Revolution.”

In 1933 Fedorov-Davydov published The Soviet Art Museum.2 At once a survey of the Soviet museum’s evolution over the previous decade and an explanation of how Marxist art theory could be applied to museum practice, the book is an important document of mainstream Soviet culture during the period 1929-32. Fedorov-Davydov describes the logical next step in the evolution of the art museum: from the history of great names, through the history of styles (Wölfflin et al.), to the history of class. What makes his argument compelling is the uncompromising break it makes with the aesthetic rules of the old museum—rejecting the hierarchy of the arts and forcing art to rub shoulders with social realities. When, in 1934, the doctrine of Socialist Realism was imposed on all aspects of Soviet cultural life, the experimental Marxist exhibition, embraced with such fervor by Fedorov-Davydov and his colleagues, became in turn, a victim of the evolutionary process.

The following extract from The Soviet Art Museum appears here in English translation for the first time. In it the author explains why the multi-media installation is the only possible vehicle in which the Marxist museum can explore the broad sociological implications of art history.

[ . . .] [T]he greatest struggle has focused on the principle of the ensemble, i.e. the combined display of various kinds of art. The museum fuddy-duddies made fun of the ensemble and deliberately distorted the idea behind it. They accused us of trying to kill painting, destroy art. They claimed that we want to hang engravings rather than paintings in museums, to set up beds and washstands and such like nonsense. This was all just stirring but cheap demagoguery that had little to do with the real state of affairs. First and foremost the ensemble was . . . the only way we could reveal and convincingly show the unity of a class’s artistic ideology at a given stage in the class struggle, to show at times the very essence of a style, for of course it is not arbitrary or fortuitous that the art of a particular [class] should be geared toward paintings or decorative art. Without the ensemble we cannot show whether a style is monumental or intimate, whether it tends towards synthesis or differentiation, we cannot fully reveal whether it is far removed from life or whether it is dominated by the goals of serving every-day purposes (as does the poster, newspaper graphics, etc.) Only in the ensemble can the art of the “lower social classes” be shown and compared with the art of the ruling classes. Peasant painting does not cease to be painting just because it decorates the base of distaffs rather than pictures. The crudest lubok doesn’t stop being art, however much it “offends” the aesthetic gaze of the snobbish art historian.3 These lubki, oleographs, embroideries and such like are necessary in order to reveal the “insular” position of aristocratic and bourgeois art, to destroy the illusion that the art of a given period is purportedly confined to the “high art” of easel painting; to show how the ruling class uses art to mold and suppress the consciousness of the repressed classes.

But from the very outset we were fully aware . . . that the ensemble was not an end in itself, that if the Marxist display of art history is unthinkable without the ensemble, nevertheless the ensemble can in and of itself be both formalist and idealistic . . . An ensemble for its own sake, the simple mechanical combination in one place of all the branches of art without dividing them into primary and secondary, turns the museum’s galleries into an antique shop. . . .What is important to us in furniture, housewares, and so on are their ideas and expressive aspects only . . . Not their everyday content but their ideology, not their function in daily life but the way ideas and emotions shape the everyday object—this is what we required of architecture and decorative art in the art museum. The very selection of furniture, porcelain and bronze, and their display, should be handled so as to destroy as much as possible the functional, everyday associations with which such objects are imbued. One may show interiors from specific periods via a painting or a drawing . . . but one must never arrange everyday interiors in art museums [. . .].

[In the exhibition “Art of the Industrial Bourgeoisie” 1930] the so-called “leftist” art of France and Germany (starting with Cubism) for the first time received a Marxist class interpretation of its various manifestations and tendencies; moreover, for virtually the first time the mass viewer was able to comprehend it. Photographs of Constructivist buildings, reproductions of Bauhaus furniture, costumes, photography, and photos of sports made the new content that Cubism introduced into art understood. Along with its separate formal and technical achievements, its profound social and ideological decadence also became clear. Examples of decorative art and “production graphics” on packaging and labeling showed the idea and meaning of Suprematism, etc., and the new and valuable technical and artistic elements that we can borrow and use from them . . .

[. . .] Contrasts between class-based styles are created using a small number of objects in the same room . . . If there is plenty of material and the facilities are large enough, two rooms may be juxtaposed, each devoted to the art of a single class. Thus, for example, the contrast of two galleries showing the art of the 1860s, one devoted to the art of petit bourgeois . . . democracy and bourgeois liberals, the other to aristocratic art. Standing in the doorway between the two spaces the visitor can at a glance view them both and grasp via the visual aid of the installation the difference and struggle of these styles, underscored moreover by the different color scheme of each room. This example shows very clearly the role of supplemental material in emphasizing style. In the art of the democrats their utilitarianism and political topicality, and the predominance of minor forms of easel painting are emphasized by the inclusion of drawings and magazine illustrations. In the art of the aristocracy the white furniture and porcelain of palaces underscore its tendency towards decoration and pleasure, its conventionality and affectations . . .
[By the late 1920s] big slogans and dynamic layout had played their part. The decorum and old-womanish propriety of the “temple of art” were boldly destroyed. The low whisper of the “academic” installation was replaced by the loud voice of the agitator. For the first time political slogans, quotes from Lenin, and party resolutions appeared on the walls of the art museum. But once the “sacred tradition” had been decisively, stridently shattered, the self-sufficient “holy places of art” reinstalled without symmetry, a red rope strung between the paintings, and a revolving circle of photos hung beneath the paintings; once the “temple” had been “defiled” by political slogans and the dynamism of the revolutionary street, this extremism was no longer needed. . . . [W]e had already learned much more about how to reveal the class essence of particular styles without having to fight against the art and diminish its objective artistic qualities. And we continue to be in favor of “the beauty of the exposition” and of ensuring that the museum visitor enjoy himself as well as learn. Strictly speaking, we have never rejected beauty or pleasure per se . . . but have fought against pushing them to center stage. The struggle against “beauty” for its own sake and simple “pleasure” was waged because these concepts concealed the old routine, because these concepts disguised the formalist, aestheticizing and idealistic content of old museum practice.
1. “Printsipy Stroitel’stva Khudozhestvennykh Muzeev” [Principles for the Construction of Art Museums], Pechat’ i Revoliutsiia, 4 (April 1929), 63-79.
2.Sovetskii Khudozhestvennyi Muzei. Moscow, 1933.
3. The lubok is a form of cheap woodblock print, often brightly colored. It has traditionally been a symbol of “low,” “popular” art, as well as a central source of inspiration for the Russian Neo-primitivist movement.
Text by Aleksei Fedorov-Davydov
Notes and translation by Wendy Salmond

Source : X-TRA Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 1, 2003