Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Archive for March, 2008

Ruth Claxton at Ikon & The Barber, Birmingham

by Suzanne on March 31st, 2008

From the Postcards series by Ruth Claxton, 2004

Multi-media artist Ruth Claxton has the honour to present her works to her fellow Birminghamians in two shows - both opening this Wednesday.

Her recycled and grotesquely disfigured porcelain figurines from the Lands End series are being shown by Ikon Gallery (April 2 - May 18, 2008), while Interventions - a series of new altered postcard pieces - are being exhibited by the Barber Institue of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham (April 2 - July 6, 2008).

Yellow Hair Eyes by Ruth Claxton, 2004

Downloads: Ikon exhibition guide (PDF)  

Catalogue: Available in May 2008, for £15, from Ikon. Fully illustrated.

John Currin at Sadie Coles HQ in London

by Suzanne on March 30th, 2008

(Heartless by John Currin, 1997 - click for details)

"No one wants to be a painter anymore. Everyone's probably going to film school: when they should have been painters, they become shitty filmmakers instead.

Maybe it's an oxymoron to be an American painter, maybe there's really no such thing, there are American illustrators like Edward Hopper, but really no American painters.

Maybe painting was always based on the European conceit of individuality and solitariness, the lone individual heroically facing up to his canvas, whereas in America you're only solitary in your car. It's much more about movement, so I guess movies are the natural thing for Americans.

The time when painting had a monopoly on visual culture is over, it will never have that kind of monopoly again.

True, the world is being atomized, six families don't rule the world anymore, but a lot of the ways we think about painting refer to that time when it was so dominant.

We have to think of other metaphors for it now."

(John Currin interviewed at Supervert. Originally published in John Currin: Oeuvres)

(Thanksgiving by John Currin, 2003 - click for details)

Details about the Currin show at Sadie Coles HQ are still very scarce, but let's hope that we'll get to see some of Currin's 90s/early 2k oeuvres too. I don't really feel like taking the train to London when all I'll get to see are paintings of hairy middle-aged Danes and/or Dutchmen and women in 80s lingerie showing me various orifices. Seriously now.

UPDATE: Oh dear... my worst fears have apparently come true...

Opening reception: Wednesday, April 2, 2008

On show: April 2 - June 7, 2008

Address: Sadie Coles HQ, 35 Heddon Street, London W1B 4BP, tel: +44 (0) 20 7434 2227

Frieze review

Cabinet #28 on "Bones" - Articles online!

by Suzanne on March 28th, 2008

Mummified children in the Catacombe dei Cappuccini (Photo by Marco Lanza)

Good news for those of you who missed the chance to buy their own copy of Cabinet's Bones issue: Seven articles featured in Cabinet #28 have been made available online for your reading pleasure.

Here they are:

The Museum of the Dead - Monochrome macabre
(by Robert Harbison)

Bone Play - The anatomist’s games
(by Michael Sappol & Eva Åhrén)

Congenital Human Baculum Deficiency - The generative bone of Genesis 2:21-23
(by Scott F. Gilbert & Ziony Zevit)

A Buried History of Paleontology - The remains of Waterhouse Hawkins
(by Brian Selznick & David Serlin)

Cutting the World at Its Joints: An Interview with D. Graham Burnett - Comparative anatomy on trial
(by Sina Najafi)

Marking Time - Alexander Marshack and ossified time
(by Daniel Rosenberg)

Colors - Mauve
(by Shelley Jackson)

Mummified priests in the Catacombe dei Cappuccini (Photo by Marco Lanza)

Moki + Lily at Iguapop, Barcelona

by Suzanne on March 27th, 2008

© Moki - click on image for details

26-year-old artist Moki lives and works in Hamburg. Being an incredibly multi-talented and committed young artist, Moki's multi-media oeuvre comprises comics, drawings, paintings (on all imaginable surfaces), street art, plush toys, sculptures, clothing, music & performance. Even though her aesthetic often seems innocent and primarily decorative, there's always a rather surreal - if not nightmarish - quality to her works.

© Moki - click on images for details

I had the great pleasure and honour to meet her at last year's Fumetto comics festival in Lucerne and instantly had to buy her Asleep In A Foreign Place monograph so that I'd always have a piece of Moki on my bookshelf.

Moki is part of the international network From Bee to Bee, co-runs an independent artspace called Hinterconti, takes part in Spring - an annual art publication issued by twelve women - and draws for the comic anthology Orang.

© Moki - click on images for details

Readers who are still unfamiliar with her work now have the chance to not only see her recent artworks on display, but can also make acquaintance with the works of Lily Wittenburg during a two-person show at Iguapop Gallery, Barcelona, entitled Wordless Patchy Fog Upon Lands Of Fact And Fancy. Errm... yes.

Opening reception: Tonight, March 27, 2008

On show: March 27 - April 26, 2008

Address: Iguapop Gallery & Shop, Comerç 15, 08003 Barcelona, Spain, tel:+34 933 100 735

Moki + Lily interview (May 2006)

"Goth - Reality of the Departed World" at Yokohama Museum of Art/Japan

by Suzanne on March 24th, 2008

Untitled (Vestido Montez) by Dr. Lakra (a.k.a. Jeronimo Lopez Ramirez)

Final chance for tentacled Japanese people to go see Goth - Reality of the Departed World at Yokohama Museum of Art in Japan which features a rather heterogeneous group of six artists - three Japanese and three equally inspiring occidental specimens.

Closes: Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Featured artists: Dr. Lakra, Ricky Swallow, Pyuupiru, Tabaimo, Masayuki Yoshinaga & Ingrid Mwangi Robert Hutter

Address: Yokohama Museum of Art, 3-4-1, Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama, 220-0012 Japan, tel 045-221-0300

Short movies

Frieze Review | WMMNA Review

Barnaby Barford in London

by Suzanne on March 20th, 2008

Shit! Daddy's going to kill me! by Barnaby Barford, 2007

If you happen to be in London over Easter, don't miss Barnaby Barford's Private Lives show at David Gill Galleries.

Barnaby (b.1977) - previously featured in my Porcellana Nervosa collection - graduated from the prestigious Royal College of Art in 2002 and has both won awards and been the subject of several UK solo exhibitions and international group shows ever since.

Closes: Sunday, March 23, 2008

Address: David Gill Galleries, 60 Fulham Road, London SW3 6HH, tel: +44 (0) 207 589 5946

Ana Bagayan, Judith Schaechter & Yoko Tanaka at Billy Shire Fine Arts in Culver City/CA

by Suzanne on March 15th, 2008

Unexpecting and Prey by Ana Bagayan, 2008

An enchanting all-female group show is opening at Billy Shire Fine Arts in Culver City tonight.

Ana Bagayan, Judith Schaechter & Yoko Tanaka will each be showing a multitude of new works created in 2008.

Opening reception: Tonight, March 15, 2008, 7-10 PM

On show: March 15 - April 5, 2008

Address: Billy Shire Fine Arts, 5790 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232, tel: 323-297-0600

Preview exhibited works by Ana Bagayan, Judith Schaechter & Yoko Tanaka

Opening photos

Kara Walker's "My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love"

by Suzanne on March 1st, 2008

Kara Walker in front of two of her works

About a decade ago, when I was first confronted with Kara Walker's work, I felt a very strange mix of emotions, similar to what I felt when I got lost in West Oakland and got this overwhelming feeling of "being the minority" and having committed a prenatal crime or the helpless anger I felt when I was held back by Serbian border patrols in Subotica who - understandably - didn't care much about my Swiss passport that looked just as fake as an NSK one and spoke neither English nor German nor French.

Anyway... so I looked at Kara's work and I felt this archetypical guilt again and found that I was actually trying to force myself to dislike it.. because it was oh so wrong to "like" it.. but it just wouldn't work.

But what I felt was intense... it felt like having to vindicate myself for being born on the wrong/right side of things. For having some kind of unjustified birthright I didn't do anything for. For belonging to the fortunate half of humanity and therefore being the cause that the other half is less fortunate.

When I asked myself why her works felt so familiar to me, I realised that they reminded me of a little graphic that I often stared at in my grandma's house (and that I think is still hanging there on the neatly tiled wall in the toilet, a little left of the washing basin).

It was an old cracked simplified 4-panelled 30s graphic showing a little naked black boy (he was neither African, nor Afro-American.. he was just black. Pitch-black. #000000) with big blood-red lips, golden Creole earrings, shiny black curls around his happy heart-shaped face, huge happy eyes and ridiculously bright teeth and he was showing me how to correctly brush my teeth. I don't think he was wearing a bone in his curls or pierced through his septum, but you get the general idea.

Because the little black boy (who seemed to have no worries in his life apart from keeping his happy white teeth shiny for me to look at) fascinated me so much, it remained my favourite corner of her house for a long, long time (mainly because I was terrified of all the dusty Catholic devotionalia in her house... above all the crucifix with the purple silk scarf around an emaciated Jesus hanging above the dinner table and who - I was convinced - would eventually fall down on my head and pierce my brain... which is why I always wanted to sit at the end of the table).

Cotton Hoards in Southern Swamp by Kara Walker, 2005

I must have been around the age of 7, when I learned from my primary school dentist (who always carried a huge red toothbrush, a massive plastic jaw and yucky Elmex gelée that should have tasted of strawberries but didn't) that the little black boy's circulating brushing technique was actually totally wrong and that we all must immediately switch to the amazing red-to-white technique that he demonstrated on his monster jaw with his giant toothbrush of doom.

However, I still liked looking at the happy little naked black boy, but at the same time, a feeling of guilt and shame crept in and I began to realise that there were no people like him out there and that - just like my other friend, Uncle Ben - he was nothing but the white fantasy of the careless, brainless black boy and that I couldn't look him straight in the eyes if I ever did meet his human-like template.

It's shocking to see what power certain iconography can have on our subconsciousness and that it takes maybe a lifetime to fight against the visual stereotypes of your childhood. But it's an important struggle.

A few years later, when I saw the protest of Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics on TV, I got that overmastering feeling of empowerment, commitment and responsibility that I still get whenever I see people oppose and revolt for a just cause. The feeling you get when you're demonstrating with a crowd of like-minded people and become one giant thousand-armed & -legged ball of power. One fist.

So I was spellbound when I saw their clenched fists and their eyes turned towards the ground. And I cried. I sat there crying alone in front of the TV because I knew that they'd never see this little white kid crying for and with them and I'd never get to tell them that I am sorry for everyone who was never sorry in their lives and that I felt responsible.

I feel tempted to go back to my granny's house and stick a tiny clenched fist over the little naked black boy's toothbrush.

Kara Walker's My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love show is opening tomorrow, March 2, with an artist talk at Hammer Museum in L.A.

Artist talk: March 2, 4 PM, with Kara Walker & Gary Garrels (chief curator)

On show: March 2 - June 8, 2008

Address: Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024, tel: 310.443.7000 | Map

View selected works

Watch video interview with Kara, 2007