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Paint Yourself Out

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Eva Hesse Spectres 1960, Hammer Museum, September 25 - January 2, 2011 –  Eva Hesse, for me, has been an artist whose sculptural work is beyond reproach, unimpeachable and therefore, somewhat unapproachable. I have kept it at a distance, for her iconic status in the art world had been cemented long before I came around --- seemingly not so much a result of her talent, but due in part to her unique place in time, working as she did in an era of radicalization. And so it was through this meta-lens that I appreciated her work, operating as it did in the crosshairs of feminism, post-minimalism (in her novel use of ephemeral industrial materials) and a celebrity borne out of tragedy (Holocaust survivor, daughter of a suicide, and death ... [Read more]

Compassion in Form and Living Color

Venerable Lama Chödak Gyatso Nubpa

The Mandala Project, Hammer Museum, Oct. 26 - Nov. 7, 2010 – The invasion, occupation and exploitation of Tibet by the Chinese that began in 1951 has left a unique cultural and spiritual tradition in tatters. Massive engines of information and misinformation variously describe Tibet before the Chinese as a sort of spiritual paradise or conversely, a hell on earth whose cause was taken up by the evil CIA. The ordinary citizen is often left distressed, guessing, interpolating and trusting blindly. I recently asked a Tibetan gentleman about his 1959 escape from the Chinese government troops who had come to his small hamlet. Surely there was a friendly taxi driver, a delivery truck or creaky bus to assist them. His golden, ravaged face ... [Read more]

Movement Over Time

American Dance Festival 2010

Pilobolus Dance Theater, 2010 Tour Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons and Pepperdine University’s Smothers Theater – Pilobolus began in the early 1970s by taking the risk to be abstract. Their early pieces, some of which emphasized process and metamorphosis, such as “Ciona” from 1973, were fascinating, time-bending body-essays combining athletic skills and visual composition. This new non-narrative dance, movement for movement’s sake, had not yet gained a crowd-pleasing reputation with classicist patrons who were used to modern dance companies that offered a story line. Still, they built a following and cultivated a fan base whose credo sounded “dance for people who hate dance.”  Nearly ... [Read more]

Night Gives Way to Day

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Hymns to the Night, Tommie Haglund (Composer), Hannu Koivula (Conductor), Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra (Orchestra), Elizabeth Pitcairn (Violin) Label: Phono Suecia, ASIN: B003QF0J6Q, Release July 2010 – The Ich in Novalis’ lyrical cycle Hymnen an die Nacht embarks on the great journey inward—an inversion of the hero’s journey taken by Odysseus, Rama, and Zarathustra—to a great and eternal interior space where death gives way to eternal life as night gives way to day. Typically Christian in its appeal, yet also heterodoxical, the journey into the dark night and the world beyond are dynamic and ongoing personal creations, for, as Novalis observes, “in us or nowhere is eternity with its past and future worlds”. Such ideas ... [Read more]

The Koons Moment

Robert Cohen

Reflections on Abraham and Isaac in Jerusalem Claire Trevor Theatre UCI, World Premiere, September 29 -October 2, 2010 – I’ve always hoped to dismiss any claims the artist Jeffrey Koons might make on aesthetic legitimacy, but a recent trip to UC Irvine to see Robert Cohen’s production, Abraham and Isaac in Jerusalem, has illuminated why, in all likelihood, this ambition will continue to elude me. For those who take theater seriously, UC Irvine occupies a special place. Since the 1970s, the program, which Cohen helped found, has been a haven for those who share a more European view of how theatrical expression connects to the ongoing project of “civilization.” Theater, from this perspective, is a uniquely embodied mode of ... [Read more]

Triumph of the Shill

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A Decade of Negative Thinking by Mira Schor,  A Book Review The idea is essentially repulsive, of a society held together only by the relations and  feelings arising out of pecuniary interest.  –John Stuart Mill In 2006  a number of notable art critics were solicited to articulate the state and purposes of contemporary art criticism in a little compendium entitled Critical Mess. If any consensus was reached in these diverse essays, it was that the practice itself is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Among the reasons put forth were the entertainment-envy of spectacle driven artworks in which exegis is superfluous, the loss of a single Modernist mainstream trajectory that demanded debate, nuanced reflection, and art historical ... [Read more]