Best of 2012: Art Talk

My Film Stills Are Still Big. It’s the Walls That Have Gotten Small.”

I somehow managed to see the Cindy Sherman retrospective in two locations this year: at MoMa last March, and in mid-December at the Walker Art Center. Speaking as somebody grateful of a small yet critical closet writing about SOMEBODY WITH A BIG REALLY CRITICAL CLOSET, the artist remains beckoner of all art ships. She is a  a figure for whom the fact of fiction is the elliptical story told and retold in a Barthelme mode. But is it narrative yes? or narrative no? Maybe Cindy Sherman tells her story which pluralizes, to stay alive. That is some urgent closet. And a great show that demonstrates she still deserves the love — the very small woman in that big frame, who eventually became afraid of nothing.


ISEA2012 Albquerque Presents: Kwende Kefentse

While it was fairly high concept to see Chip Lord of Ant Farm and Laurie Anderson on the KiMo Theater stage all before noon on a September Monday, ISEA 2012 for me hit pay dirt when at 3 pm that day a hiphop scholar from Toronto joined to talk architecture and music and the shape of things. Kwende Kefentse, an urban scholar working in Toronto, says that the literal architectural shape formed of ruins in the 73-77 South Bronx ghetto  had everything to do with making a new music movement work.  This is turf that appeared in Charlie Ahern’s 1977 movie, Wild Style, which had outdoor showings on New York’s High Line last year. This organic developing out of organizing around music was really not what Robert Moses’s segmenting-off neighborhoods via the Cross Bronx Expressway had planned. It makes me think (as I often do)  of the vital art scenes that exist in New Orleans post-Katrina and evidently in Detroit now (Haven’t ever been to Detroit.) Was some fascinating stuff at the end of a conference that reflected excellence overall.


Breaking Bad Begins to End

I have friends who I love and respect who won’t watch TV with violence. Which means they’ve skipped The Wire and The Sopranos and they’ve skipped Breaking Bad, which is too bad, because even though I am not defending violence, the shows just named that deal in violence do so, in my view, as demonstration of the depths of human degradation — which doesn’t stop dropping the levels (faster and faster) until something Shakespearean is happening. Bryan Cranston as Walter White, has sunk to a place that to merely invoke “Scarface” becomes not descriptive anymore. The show manages still to be a cliffhanger, for the writing and the way this show looks.


Philip Glass and Jon Gibson Perform at Dwan Light Sanctuary

Virginia Dwan for whom Dwan Light Sanctuary is named is an incredibly wonderful person. Were it not for her, such projects as Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty and Hotel Palenque (video) would never have gotten made. Though very few people alive can attest as to whether Michael Heizer’s City will be a good thing, she’s also one of the great and grand forces of intention behind that one. More recently a patron of architecture in the form of a non ecumenical sanctuary to peace on the campus of United World College in Montezuma, Dwan invited last spring her friend Philip Glass and Jon Gibson to come play a concert there. Philip Glass riffed about the composing of Einstein on the Beach and played some of the songs from Einstein on the Beach. Jon Gibson breathed deep into his instrument and out came the long tones somewhat of jazz and somewhat just of the pauses.


 Nic Nicosia  Set Pieces at James Kelly

Nic Nicosia really pushes his work all the time (and I really liked Katy’s review. Link here.) Not an artist who is content to just sit back and refine what he’s done before, the black-and-white works and the objects of miniature-set design that he fabricates (and exhibited here) behind a black scrim revealed that thing we all seek and often don’t find: artist as risk-taker. Artist as self-excavator of things that don’t necessarily translate to language but speak eloquently through image (and the way it consistently lets you see one thing and me another).


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Hyperbolic crochet coral reef

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