Last night was the gala benefit for Life on Mars, the 55th Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art. The International is the second oldest contemporary art survey in the world, just a few months younger than the Vennice Biennale, and it's always fun to have ArtWorld descend on pretty little Pittsburgh. Recent past Internationals have been, to my mind, uneven affairs, although, to be fair, that's in part the nature of any survey.
Well. Life on Mars is just extraordinary, full of exceptional, idiosyncratic, loving, mocking, beautiful works. The International has never before had a theme or title, and I was admittedly skeptical, afraid that it would become programmatic. My doubt was misplaced. The title gives the show a gentle coherence, and the art--particularly the new and comissioned works--respond to it generously. That is, in fact, probably the best descriptive of the entire show: it's generous. It feels at once substantive and whimsical, engaged but not self-serious. There are some shockingly beautiful pieces, and a few that are terrifying, and at least one or two that I absolutely despised. I haven't had so much fun in a museum in a long time.
Richard Wright, a British artist working out of Glasgow, made a remarkable room of obsessively repeated geometric forms that seem to rise and curve out of the walls. Kai Althoff made a frightening red room that's worth it just for the smell. (Really, the smell.) Rajani Shettar showed "Just a Bit More (2006), a delicate room-sized web of thread and hand-molded beeswax," which is one of the loveliest things I've ever seen. Matthew Monahan deconstructed sculptures. Thomas Hirschorn built a cave. Haegue Yang made a room-sized installation full of colorful window blinds and lights that makes you feel like a miniature person in the middle of a nursery mobile. Noguchi Rika (that's her photo above) filled a black room with photographs of sunlight. There are forty artists. Come to Pittsburgh. Check it out.
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Friday, May 02, 2008
Dennis P. hits most of the high points in Re: the matter of Jeremiah Wright, but I feel obliged to make some public admission of my own ongoing glee at the hectoring specter of white Netrootsia tearing itself up in an effort to out-denounce Jeremiah Wright for his failure to embrace Clintonian neoliberalism--Obama's position as well, despite all the Hopeandchange mumbo-jumbo--as the final step in the development of the human species on this earth. Now black liberation theology has at its core, well, theology, so I hardly count myself as a proponent, but you know, some rightwinger was playing the infamous Wright sermon today, and he said for every Oprah there's ten million black kids in jail and for every Condoleeza Rice there's ten million who can't read, and you know, it's true. What's both hilarious and distressing about white liberals is their whiny insistence on their own centrality to racial equality in this country, their reverence for the Kennedys and Johnsons of the world, and their perverse insistence that folks like Wright ought to shut up lest some hostile Republicans take over again, an attitude of almost bottomless patronization. Jeremiah Wright has hardly said anything that Mratin Luther King, Jr. didn't already say--just read the Vietnam speeches, for dogssake. I can't wait until liberal history starts blaming that uppity nigger for Nixon.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I have known IOZ for my entire life, but it is clear to me that he has changed, and I must forcefully repudiate his views. Although he was there for my birth, at every birthday and holiday--a presence in my life and family for as long as I can remember--I can no longer support, nor be associated with, his divisive rhetoric. The suggestion that we are but soap bubbles on the skein of time does not reflect my belief that the collective nature of the human organism on this planet can be fundamentally altered and bettered through the judicious application of electioneering within the borders of the United States of America. IOZ's bitterness does not reflect my hope for a belief in change for a better tomorrow for the children. By pointing out that ours is a sexually backward patriarchal culture of racist exploitation that glories in state violence, IOZ shows how little he is interested in taking back America. He is no longer the man I thought I might once have somewhat known.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
According to "evolutionary" "biologist" PZ Myers, my brain is full of swastikas. There'd better be a Farrakhan denunciation coming down the pike, or else there's gonna be trouble.
What the fuck is up with this gas-tax holiday? Is it is or is it ain't the most asinine scheme you've heard in the last several years of asinine schemes? I'll give The Saint credit where due on this one. He may also prattle about reducing the cost of a gallon, but at least he's not offering a Labor Day Sale Event.
At the heart of my approach is a simple belief. Middle-class families are paying too much and oil companies aren’t paying their fair share to help us solve the problems at the pump.It's simple all right. Let's assume for argument that the unlikely comes true and the temporary tax break helps us "solve the problems at the pump." Consumption, then, presumably spikes. This affects the oil companies "paying their fair share" precisely how? Well, I-uh guess I jus ain't simple nuff.
Feathers. Ruffled. I especially like the part about America enabling the Jews to win World War II.
Monday, April 28, 2008
John Yoo et alia in the Justice Department (and isn't that second only in hilarious euphemism to the Department of Defense?) spent years crafting a legal theory in which all law is provisional, at least insofar as the Executive Branch of the Federal Government is concerned. Their principle aim was to free the agents of the executive from the generally assented-to if not often practiced international norms of behavior vis-à-vis foreigners and prisoners of war. The notion that harsh interrogation techniques, i.e. torture, began under Bush is Progressive-factional naïveté, but I will certainly grant that we became more enthusiastic and certainly less judicious users of the thumbscrews and other such under our Dallas Dauphin. Yet I differ with my friends who believe that the solution lies in the unswerving application of the law, that a partial cure for our violent societal ailment lies in bringing our governors back within the circumscribed norms of legal behavior that are supposed to define life and culture in our modern state.
Rather than dispatch armies of attorneys to argue futilely that the government must give back the latitude it has siezed for itself, we should seek instead to expand the argument about the provisionality of law. Let's instead argue for the totally voluntary nature of compliance. Let each man determine on the basis of his own conscience what he will or will not do at any given time. The President wants to torture Pakistani cab drivers? Very well. I want to fuck one sixteen-year-old while blowing coke off another's smooth ass in my front yard while surrounded by burning American flags and campaign posters in violation of municipal size and date regulations. The President wishes to launch wars of aggression without Congressional declaration? Fine. I want to burn trash, discharge unlicensed firearms, and raise small livestock within the city limits. The President wants to direct his former staff memebers to ignore Congressional subpoenae? Hey, I don't pay my parking tickets either.
Many Americans are beginning to sense that there are cracks in the dam, and the more agitated seem very often to be on the verge of panic, but we are neither the concrete nor the downstream bystanders about to be swallowed up in the flood. We're the water behind the motherfucker. To free ourselves we need only follow the tug of gravity where it leads.