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“Isfahan is Half the World”

Isfahan Bible 1

  The Isfahan Bible, A Historical Meditation – Of Isfahan in the mid-seventeenth century, French traveler Jean Chardin wrote, “It is the grandest and the most beautiful town in the whole of the east” and its surrounding countryside “incomparable for its beauty and fertility.” Situated on the central Iranian Plain, at the vertex of trade routes, Chardin found the city a bustling hub of commerce and education as populous as London, with broad tree-edged avenues and lanes as agreeable as those in Paris (though they predated Haussmann’s renovation program by two hundred years). The walls of its mosques were lined with porphyry and marble, the chambers of its palaces filled with mirrors, clocks, and cabinets of the ... [Read more]

Inside the Artist’s Studio: Brian Forrest

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"Inside the Artist's Studio" is an-ongoing series exploring issues  on contemporary art through direct encounters with the artists themselves. Please click on the image to enlarge and for all artwork details. A Radical Arcadia – “There have always been two kinds of arcadia: shaggy and smooth; dark and light; a place of bucolic leisure and a place of primitive panic”, Simon Schama tells us in Landscape and Memory, one arcadia being “a dark grove of desire, but also a labyrinth of madness and death”. He further describes certain arcadias as purposefully and importantly untamed: “turf, gorse, heather, and timber, trees, shrubs and brushwood” of the heaths outside of 19th century London were a cherished gift to the city ... [Read more]

Points of Departure

Roe Ethridge

New Photography 2010: Roe Ethridge, Elad Lassry, Alex Prager, Amanda Ross-Ho, MoMA September 29, 2010–January 10, 2011 – A recent show at MoMA titled New Photography 2010 exemplified a growing trend in art where new artworks look old. In New Photography, four photographers work with dated imagery, a dated aesthetic, and in a referential manner, restaging Alfred Hitchcock film stills, Cindy Sherman photographs, or recycling an image of Goldie Hawn happily smiling from 1970s. Newness is the one thing the artwork conspicuously lacked. Instead of judging the artwork itself and whether we like it or not, it is infinitely more productive to consider why it is that young artists are using various techniques to draw their viewers ... [Read more]

Revisiting Faith

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Pat Graney Company: Faith, REDCAT, April 28th - May 1st, 2011 – Choreographer Pat Graney’s work is an unmistakably original artwork—fresh, timeless, and challenging. Graney is the recipient of dozens of awards for her choreography, including 11 NEA fellowships and the Alpert Award in the Arts. Her work presented at REDCAT recently is a re-creation of a 1991 piece that, in time, became the first segment of the Faith Tryptych, which, thanks to numerous grants, is being entirely resurrected this year. The one-hour Faith section stands on its own as a unique conception of movement and social commentary. From the start we are drawn into an unusual experience: we witness animated tableaux vivants representing Caravaggio paintings ... [Read more]

The Dictator with the Most Beautiful Hair

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The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu, 2010, a documentary by Andrei Ujica –  “We were told to fire 30 rounds each into them. From the hip. As paratroopers. Not as a firing squad, where some of the shooters have real bullets, some blanks, so that no one has to live with the feeling of being an executioner. We fired live… “After shooting seven rounds into Ceausescu, the gun jammed. I changed magazines and shot a full 30 rounds into Elena. She flew backwards with the force of it all. We started at about a metre range and then walked steadily backwards, still firing, so that we wouldn’t be caught by a ricochet.” Elena’s blood splattered on his uniform. The back of her skull had fallen away. “She didn’t die easily. She ... [Read more]

Bring on the Clowns

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Paul McCarthy, Wallace Shawn and a Mountain I Know – There are beefy guard rails now on the road up Mount Lemmon, outside Tucson. When I was a boy the drive was more of an adventure, the steep canyons littered with the skeletal remains of cars that had lost control on the tight curves. Often my grandfather would have been at the wheel, bent hands steering the pickup or, at other times, the big Cadillac he’d earned with hard labor and quick wits. I’d watch as the topography outside the windows shifted from saguaro and mesquite to pine forest, and the big rock formations came and went, spinning majestically as the road took us around and upwards toward Summer Haven near the summit. Today my father’s wife Elena is driving and my ... [Read more]

Art Passing Through Itself

Hans Abrahamsen

Schnee (Snow), 2008,  Composer Hans Abrahamsen Cave Creek. Winter canon. 2011., Filmmaker Rick Bahto Monday Evening Concerts, Zipper Auditorium – The closing event of the Monday Evening Concerts series this year featured an ideal pairing of experimental film and Danish post-“New Simplicity” music, both incorporating canonic techniques in their conveyance of an altered sense of the passage of time. Los Angeles filmmaker and performer Rick Bahto presented the world premiere of his most recent film Cave Creek. Winter canon. 2011. and Hans Abrahamsen’s Schnee, completed in 2008, was given its west coast premiere. Schnee (Snow) is a roughly hour-long chamber work for double ensemble. Each group includes a piano and either ... [Read more]