Sunday, December 26, 2010

Metropolitan (18), 2010

SYNOPSIS:  Larry locks himself out of his car, and learns that the drive-thru window doesn't accept walk-ups.

Farewell kindred spirit Roy R. Neuberger:

"'My experience on Wall Street made it possible for me to be comfortable buying a lot of art at once,' he later wrote. 'In my investment firm, when we like a security after careful analysis, we buy a modest quantity. Sometimes after the purchase, we will find that we like it very much. If a large quantity of the stock then becomes available, and we are still enthusiastic about its value and its future, we will buy in quantity quickly, even though the day before we had no such plan and no knowledge that the stock would be available.'

'The same principle,' he added, 'applied to my purchase of [...] paintings. . . .'"

1.  "In the style of" two different bodies of work I respect.  In the same geographical location as one.

2.  A single shot.  Not a composite.

3.  A cast of characters.  A "family portrait."

4.  Lares.  "Little household gods."  My ghosts and stuffed cats.

5.  "Providing treatment for or attending to someone or something"

6.  Work without expectation of appreciation or reward.  But I'd like to think that that stooping, sweating guy knows that his inarticulate charges care, even those fuzzy little guys wiggling out of the lower left corner of the frame.

Overcast grey Sunday, light rain.  Low clouds along the North Shore mountains, jagged snowy gullies between black trees snaking up into the fog.  Did I mention I'm going away soon?  Cactus; billboard; cactus; cactus; federal prison (above).  Front door ajar, swish and hiss of traffic outside; Rick Ross fronting on the stereo.  Photo Know-How: The Art of Large Format Photography (Sinar, rev. ed., 1983) open on the desk in front of me.

Rainy late night return journey back along Marine Drive, the Subaru's heater going like mad. Strings of colored Xmas lights occasionally visible from the road.  Jack's two-part question, the one that has apparently haunted L. and I from childhood.  What do you believe about the world?  What are you currently doing to make it true?  The recognition -- via salmon spawning, "thickly," in Nelson Creek, c. 1945-50, and current Vancouver property values -- that a lower, more reduced standard of life is apparently de rigueur for my generation.  This is not a complaint -- hoping for a completely different set of circumstances is pointless, not to mention nostalgic and dumb -- but more the basis for get-out-and-do-something-about-it.

Walker Evans' concept of documentary style.  His recognition that a visual grammar is a rhetoric, a way of thinking.  Sherrie Levine's reinscription (not degradation, "deconstruction" or ironic dismissal) of photographs that mattered to her.  Sturtevant's repetitions.  That amazing Alex Prager photograph.

Remix: to alter a song for artistic purposes.

"Remixes should not be confused with edits, which usually involve shortening a final stereo master for marketing or broadcasting purposes. Another distinction should be made between a remix and a cover. A remix song recombines audio pieces from a recording to create an altered version of the song. A cover is a recording of a song that was previously recorded by someone else."
Thursday, December 23, 2010

Put your hands to the constellations
They way you look should be a sin, you my sensation--

Smokey Robinson lightly tweaked, chiming like churchbells.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
"Like leaks in a house where the pipes froze" -- Bruce Sterling on Assange, Wikileaks, democratic culture's slow decline, & etc.

"The cables that Assange leaked have, to date, generally revealed rather eloquent, linguistically gifted American functionaries with a keen sensitivity to the feelings of aliens. So it’s no wonder they were of dwindling relevance and their political masters paid no attention to their counsels. You don’t have to be a citizen of this wracked and threadbare superpower — (you might, for instance, be from New Zealand) — in order to sense the pervasive melancholy of an empire in decline. There’s a House of Usher feeling there. Too many prematurely buried bodies."
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sturtevant:  "I am not an Appropriationist by token of intention and meaning. I do not make copies. I am talking about the power and the autonomy of the original and the force and pervasiveness of art."

Metropolitan (17), 2010

Michael Turner:  "Feyrer’s project, like Gleeson and Moore’s, began as a node of social exchange, where you could take in a performance, contribute (to) one, or buy things. In visiting these sites, I was struck by the number of younger artists I met who did not directly participate in state-supported artist-run culture. Indeed, not only were these young men and women indifferent to artist-run centres (seeing them as remnants of an older generation, an older agenda, with no room for their futures), many had never even heard of them."
Tony Judt: "Incremental improvements upon unsatisfactory circumstances are the best that we can hope for, and probably all we should seek."

Alex Prager, Crowd #1 (Stan Douglas), 2010

"Crowd # 1 (Stan Douglas), one in a series of pictures shot for the November 2010 issue of W magazine, makes its debut here. It draws on Stan Douglas’s Hastings Park, 16 July 1955 (2008), among other sources, but Prager has enlisted a new cast of characters, dressed in 1970s outfits (which she selected), and shot the scene in her own signature style."

Misunderstandings (A Theory of Photography)

"'Repetition,' not copying, or appropriation, or anything else."

"'Originally most of her artistic peers supported her work,' reported curator Christian Leigh. 'The climate began to shift when, in April 1967, she repeated The Store of Claes Oldenburg a few blocks from his own. By the mid-70s, what had at first been laughed at and appreciated for all the wrong reasons...quickly turned to anger, rage, mistrust, and misunderstanding on a collective scale.' The feeling seems to have been mutual. Sturtevant's withdrawal from the art world soon followed."

John Baldessari, Wrong, 1966-8

"Baldessari’s violation of [a] rule is less a gesture of rebellion or artistic independence—who cares if someone takes an 'incorrect' snapshot?—than an inquiry into the nature and authority of artistic rule-making. There is nothing particularly 'good' or 'bad' about Baldessari’s picture. It is the construct he chose for the purpose at hand, and as such it has as much validity as it needs to have to fulfill the purpose at hand. As with many conceptual art pieces, the artwork itself is a commentary on some aspect of art or art theory, in this case on conventional notions of what constitutes a 'good' or 'correct' work of art. The title Wrong is intended to be ironic: a basic tenet of modern art and the revolutionary avant-garde movements in which modernism was born is that there are no inviolable rules or universal standards when it comes to making, conceiving, or judging art. What is 'wrong' in one context may be perfectly serviceable in another."
Saturday, December 18, 2010
GUY ON PHONE: Hi!  Do you carry the book Pancakes For Dinner?

CJB:  What kind of book is it, please?

GOP:  It's about pancakes.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Recent reading:

Henri Focillon, The Life of Forms in Art

Jeff Wall, "Unity and Fragmentation in Manet"

Photography After Conceptual Art, eds. Diarmuid Costello and Margaret Iversen, esp. Sarah E. James, "Subject, object, mimesis: The aesthetic world of the Bechers' photography," and Tamara Trodd, "Thomas Demand, Jeff Wall and Sherrie Levine: Deforming 'Pictures'"

Jerry L. Thompson, Walker Evans at Work

Hillel Schwartz, The Culture of the Copy

Tom McCarthy, Remainder

David Einhorn, Fooling Some of the People All of the Time
Thursday, December 09, 2010

Tending, 2010

Enter Through the Exit and Exit Through The Entrance When You Can

The full orchestral Demo, kitsch Andean New Age flute and saxophone put to nonironic use, pulsing atmospherics, Rumors-esque lead guitar, wandery vocal delivery that curls restlessly back on itself ("...and they will...").  A great early Christmas gift, perfect for long distance driving on American winter desert highways.

How To Kill Yourself Snowshoeing

Everyone heading out (or even contemplating heading out) into the local back country this winter will benefit from reading this detailed, well-written article.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010

"I, too, wondered whether I could not sell something and find some success in life. For some time I had been no good at anything. I am 40 years old..."

"[V]ariations in his methods, in his motifs, and in his use of the medium might be best understood as continuous footnotes, glosses, and exemplifications of conceptual claims, driven by an ongoing debate on the meanings and the value of reality and realism in art."

"If you showed more often than every three years, no one took you seriously," he said. "Some people worked and worked and never showed at all. That's what I come from."

"There are other kids, other campaigns. They have what teachers call imaginations. Some of them are in gifted. They play in the official after-school club."
Q:  The "service economy of art"?

A:  I didn't enjoy being an employee, writing reviews quickly on commission, any more than I enjoyed typing and filing at the VAG.

I'm not a naturally facile writer, and the reviews took a lot of effort.  It was disappointing, to say the least, to identify an aspect of an artist's practice which they would then, perhaps deliberately, suppress or eliminate from their practice as soon as the review appeared.  Their prerogative, sure, but I didn't like the implication that what I found valuable and interesting in their work was (for them) expendable and passé.

Or: the emerging superstar who phoned one day in a panic.  Video rough-cut, major doubts, just a quick look, please, ASAP?  "I don't feel comfortable showing this to anyone else."  An afternoon out of the bookstore, a long time spent looking, thinking and talking.  Then bumping, in the lobby, into various representatives of the local artist-run scene, the next appointments waiting to go up.  Fool me once. . . .
Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The inexhaustibility of subjects, and by extension the world.
WOMAN WITH UMBRELLA:  Can I put my underwear under your desk?  I mean...wait.  Sorry!

CJB:  Best offer I've had today!

Suicide Demo For Kara Walker (Demo)

(esp. 5:08-on, in my head all day in its full orchestral glory)
Monday, December 06, 2010


"[H]is work ethic has always been impressive, and the aspirational side of him is specific, and fierce, even within hip-hop, a genre that isn’t shy about equating success with money. 'Kon the Louis Vuitton Don,' one of West’s early mix tapes, was part of a transformation from the man who provided Jay-Z and Mos Def with beats to the one who wanted to out-rap his clients. The shift has been partly successful."

(qv. discussions of the "service economy of art" with Neaera)
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Now in residence under the PFB awning: an adolescent crow, with about as many brains as my cat.  Dive down, hit the bargain table, flop around all confused on the sidewalk.
If you wanted a TRUE FIRST HARDCOVER EDITION of Where The Wild Things Are, signed, why did you wait until December 2nd to start looking for it, with a budget of "up to" $75 CDN?  I mean, c'mon, really.

Also: we don't have any signed copies of Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest. That book was posthumously published.  After the author died.

GUY ON THE PHONE:  So who else in town would have. . . .?

CJB [deep breath]: I'll repeat myself.

GOTP:  I'm just asking, okay?
The Thing With Wings

"That's a helluva lot better service than Chapters Nanaimo," says the old guy special-ordering a Kevin Baker title.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010

From: Christopher Brayshaw [cjbrayshaw@EMAIL ADDRESS]
To: Tom Flanagan []
Re: Your recent comments re: state assassination

Dear Tom Flanagan,

I write with regard to your televised comments of 30 November 2010 concerning your hope that the US government successfully assassinates Wikileaks' Julian Assange.

Your poorly considered thoughts, which you oddly chose to present as a lame attempt at macho humor, are repulsive to Canadians of all political stripes.

You come across, at least on television, as an arrogant bully and a thug, and I hope your Conservative friends hook you off stage as soon as possible.

Very sincerely yours,

Christopher Brayshaw
Vancouver, British Columbia

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