Saturday, February 07, 2009
Bookmark in used copy of Robert Greene's The Art of Seduction: unused BreatheRight (tm) Single Use Only nasal strip.
Friday, February 06, 2009

Rodney Graham, Loudhailer, 2003

Isabelle Pauwels, B&E, 2008

Tim Lee, Untitled I (The Pink Panther, 2049) 2007

Gareth Moore, Uncertain Pilgrimage: Gesellen Work, 2006/2007. Various scrap wood including signpost from The Eden Project, stake from an abandoned goldmine, scrap from Donald Judd's studio, European paddle, wind fallen branch, metal handle, screws, string.

Jeff Wall, Hillside, Sicily, 2007

Lunch with Michael Turner at the brand new identity-conflicted British-themed gastropub down Broadway at Ontario, whose weathered wooden tables clash with the black naugahyde couches that used to belong to the bankrupt Italian cafe previously occupying the space. Big satisfying plates of bread, meat, cheese, and pickled condiments. Discussion veers all over the place, from Isabelle Pauwels' superb videos at Presentation House, to Johan Lundh's deeply felt but not particularly well justified dissatisfaction with most Vancouver curating (viz. recent cryptic Facebook carping), to Kathleen Ritter's new regional survey show at the VAG, to Gareth Moore at Catriona Jeffries, and, in a roundabout way via Tim Lee and Rodney Graham, to the question of making artworks as "instances of a style or a series" as opposed to making autonomous works that exhibit little or no apparent visual resemblance to one another. The Gareth Moore show works well as an ensemble, or a suite of sculptures, but it is also easy to imagine it broken down into so much discrete merchandise: this art-object to a private collector, this one to the VAG, this one to the AGO, and so on, distributed like Lego blocks, each work carrying within it residual traces of the "look" of Moore's sculptural practice as a whole (weathered surfaces; abraded color and texture; evidence of the material's passage through time; complex allegorical layering). As opposed to, say, a Rodney Graham tree photograph, his film projection Loudhailer, and one of his Judd Freud slipcases: three works that could have been made by three totally different artists. Or, for that matter, Jeff Wall's striking Hillside, Sicily, a work that looks more like a Lee Friedlander desert picture than an instance of "Wall style." ("Style" in this case signifying a negative aesthetic judgment, the reduction of rich artistic subjectivity to the orchestration of a series of tropes). What I take from Wall's best (largely post-1990) work is the injunction to not develop anything remotely resembling a series. Thus the unnamed online photography magazine who recently returned my portfolio with a note saying, we have no real sense of how this stuff fits together, you just make pictures of things. . . .

Well yes, exactly.
Thursday, February 05, 2009

Go see: Isabelle Pauwels, B&E, 2008 at Presentation House Gallery through 3 March 2009.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A photograph I wish I'd made: El Cenizo, near Laredo, Texas, by Richard Mosse

Monday, February 02, 2009

Terrace, Casa Grande, Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument, 2009

Ersatz Atget or Geoffrey James, Hearst Castle. Twilight, rich colors unaltered by filters or digital postproduction. The castle tour makes it seem like you're visiting an American version of the Sistine Chapel, but a closer and more accurate comparison might be Las Vegas Boulevard, which we saw later on the same week. Hearst's faux-classical nymphs and angels and the huge plaster busts of Sigfried and Roy on display outside the Mirage have more in common than you might expect, modernism having apparently never arrived at Casa Grande. And yet, exquisite Baudrillardian irony -- bottled ketchup and mustard on the dining table! -- the gold-leafed indoor pool! -- only gets you so far with the hilltop compound, whose undeniable natural beauty (orange trees; magnolias; feral zebras; the spectral, oversaturated light) keeps thwacking you in the face the longer you look.

Dusk. Assembly Room, Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument, 2009
Sunday, February 01, 2009
Intoxicated By Your Arousing Arouselness

CJB: What we need around here is more "art patrons."

CJB's SWEETIE "L.": Like me! I'm an "art patron." I can patronize you for hours.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium's two Giant Pacific Octopi were asleep in the upper corners of their respective tanks, their arms gently gripping the windowglass. Surrounding the female octopus were long white trails of what I first took for candlewax: octopus eggs.

Crush of bodies around the tanks. Disappointed voices: "They're sleeping." "They're asleep."

Small tentacles waved gently in the tanks' currents, like a napping cat's paws.

We went away and returned when the other visitors were gone. L. and the cats went to look at another exhibit and I was alone in front of the male octopus' tank when his arms suddenly uncoiled and he slid gracefully down and stopped level with my face.

A pause. Then his arms flexed, slowly lifting himself to meet my gaze with his old hooded eyes.

A moment of perfect communion. And then, like stealthy Dr. Lecter taking leave of Clarice Starling*, he arm-over-armed it back up the glass and to sleep.

* "Hannibal Lecter, polite to the last, did not give her his back. He stepped backward from the barrier before he turned to his cot again, and lying on it, became as remote from her as a stone crusader lying on a tomb." (Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs)

Dominus Estate Winery, Herzog & de Meuron Architects, Yountville CA, 2009

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