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Thoughts on Photogénie

Mesrine, Killer Instinct and Public Enemy #1, 2008, Directed by Jean-François Richet Hideaway (Le Refuge), 2009, Directed by François Ozon –  The second installment of the French gangster film, Mesrine, Public Enemy #1, based on the true crimes of the French career criminal Jacques Mesrine, was released on DVD a few weeks ago, and while the 4 hour epic quite satisfies the general expectations of the genre --fast-paced, deftly edited, and strongly acted (and over-acted)  by Vincent Cassel, it is an overall wild ride, but this pair of films are far removed stylistically from another current of French cinema that rejects flash and cheap thrills in favor of nuance and time-based filmic materialism, as evidenced in the recent DVD release of … [Read more...]

Reprise

Swans, El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, March 2, 2011 – In the 1980’s and 90’s, Swans as a live experience was nothing less than a baptism by sound – cleansing, cathartic, obliterative – a relentless and perpetual immolation by pure noise and power. It was quite satisfying for those of us who sought to both transcend and fully inhabit this material world and corporeal self through a violent surrender to a literally deafening present. It sounds over the top and that was exactly the point. The music was lyrically and sonically potent, but its power was harnessed and channeled by M. Gira, whose very name suggested  a severing of identity and its iconic reformation. I don’t know if I took myself as seriously as Michael Gira … [Read more...]

Origin Stories

Cheryl Ann Thomas, New Work, Frank Lloyd Gallery, January 8-February 5, 2011 – The suite of porcelain and bronze pieces by Cheryl Ann Thomas that comprise her latest show at the Frank Lloyd Gallery seem to find their locus as “objects” neither in the art world proper – the province of museums, educators and critics, nor in the decorative arts – where we find the beyond-functionality of material beauty.  The interest of these works exists in the space between these often mutually exclusive domains – worlds with their own historical lineages and arbiters of taste. These objects seem to exist independently of any progenitors, their origin story elusive and mysterious. Thomas terms these works “artifacts” and “relics,” and there is a … [Read more...]

Paint Yourself Out

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 … [Read more...]

Tim Hawkinson’s Eternal Return

Tim Hawkinson at Blum and Poe Gallery, Los Angeles, May 22-June 26, 2010 In contrast to the morbid formality and enforced quietude of the Blum and Poe gallery space, the cold, dead hand (culled from rotten apples and banana peels), that greets the visitor at the start of the Tim Hawkinson show, seems comparatively warm and welcoming as it emerges, zombie-style, from its hygienic white display column, more alive in its organic state of decomposition than anything else that is to follow. This literal reveal of the hand is a thematic precursor for the show, as it foregrounds the play between the animate and inanimate, motion and inertia, the useful and the useless, entropy and evolution, craft and junk. In the next room, a sculpture of … [Read more...]