Nam June Paik may be the father of video art, but his modern-day descendents don’t bear much of a family resemblance. The globetrotting Korean-American artist’s output of abused electronic devices, anarchic musical performances, and goopy abstract psychedelia from the ’60s and early ’70s seems pretty far removed from the slick, single-channel videos haunting galleries, fairs, and museums nowadays.
Granted, much of Paik’s technology is way past its sell-by date. Visitors to “Global Visionary,” the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s new Paik retrospective, will encounter a darkened room full of flickering cathode-ray tubes, waveform generators, and production values straight from the golden age of public-access cable. While the two wall-filling behemoth monitor grids in the show, “Megatron/Matrix” (1995) and “Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii” (1995), at least appear to have lumbered out of the early MTV era, much of the rest of the work looks much older than its actual vintage: If these distressed, clunky assemblages didn’t incorporate video monitors, one might think they were pre-World War II Dada or Constructivist artifacts. READ MORE
Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol are usually credited as the founding fathers of Pop Art, but the two men didn’t play for the same team. Sure, there’s something irresistible about the day in 1961 when Warhol dropped by Leo Castelli’s gallery, discovered Lichtenstein’s cartoon-inspired painting of a girl holding a beach ball, and, shocked and a little hurt, announced to gallery co-director Ivan Karp, “I make paintings like that.” Warhol was mistaken: He and Lichtenstein were making very different work, for very different reasons. READ MORE
Holly Bass, NWBA #1, 2012
Michael O'Sullivan reviewed SHE GOT GAME at the Arlington Arts Center in the Washington Post's Weekend Section:
"[Jenny] Drumgoole's documentary 'Wing Bowl' looks at competitive eater Sonya 'The Black Widow' Thomas, a 98-pound Korean-born American who has often beaten men three times her size. In the nine-minute video, Drumgoole compares Thomas's appearance at the Wing Bowl, an annual chicken-wing-eating contest, with the artist's starkly different role at the event. (Drumgoole auditioned for, and was chosen to be a 'Wingette,' a scantily clad food server.) The contrast between Drumgoole, in a get-up one step away from a Playboy bunny, and Thomas, who takes her 'sport' very, very seriously and who is shown being heckled by male fans who see her as a usurper of traditional sex roles - is, by turns, funny, sad and sharp."
Read the entire review here.
See a WaPo blog post about the show--featuring additional images and commentary from Michael-- here.
Read my curatorial essay here.
See a gallery of installation shots on the AAC website here.
City Paper Review of Taryn Simon's A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters, I - XVIII (11/23/12)
Through words and images floating in seas of blank cream-colored paper, Simon asks big questions about nature, nurture, and human bodies tossed by the currents of history. The spare aesthetics of the work and the cool, disinterested pose of the artist mirror how scientists and statesmen in the modern era have tried—and failed—to see their world and its cultures with an empirical eye. And while the artist’s identical consideration of an Australian war on the Easter Bunny and, say, the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men might suggest extremely black comedy, make no mistake: “A Living Man Declared Dead” is a serious, deeply affecting show, even when it veers into the absurd. READ MORE
Martin Schoeller, "Kim Harris," 2008
ON VIEW Jan 13 - March 18, 2012
Curated by Jeffry Cudlin
On Friday, January 13, AAC kicks off SHE GOT GAME, a show that features strong images of strong women created by male, female, and transgendered artists from around the region and across the country.
The show opens just a few months shy of the 40th anniversary for Title IX, the historic legislation that leveled the playing field for women athletes—increasing their participation in college athletics some 450% over four decades.
SHE GOT GAME includes images that are iconic, like Dewey Nicks’s ultra-glam video of current tennis superstars playing amidst clouds of glitter and puffs of colored smoke, or Tara Mateik’s reenactment of the 1973 Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs “Battle of the Sexes,” in which King trounced the older, swaggering male tennis star.
But it also includes images from the margins, like Nancy Floyd’s photos of shooters training on the target range for the women’s three position rifle event at the Olympics, or Jenny Drumgoole’s off-beat video love letter to competitive eating champion Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas.
Ultimately the show treats women’s sports as an arena where redefinition of the self and slippage across boundaries of class, gender, and race seem possible.
In February, the show will feature live performances: On Saturday, February 11, Chicago/Brooklyn artist Amber Hawk Swanson will perform "Online Comments (August 2007 - February 2011)." While completing a grueling three-hour CrossFit workout, the artist will read every anonymous online comment she has ever received for her previous projects—including her controversial "Amber Doll Project," in which the artist commissioned the creation of a life-sized sex doll that resembled her exactly.
"Online Comments" reflects Swanson's real-life engagement with CrossFit, a fitness movement with an unusually large online community often characterized by cult-like devotion from its adherents. It also offers a direct expression of the element of physical endurance typically involved in performance art.
Washington, DC artist Kristina Bilonick designed her recent "DC Cheer" project as an open community-building and morale-boosting effort for the DC arts community. Typical "DC Cheer" performances involve artist or arts-community volunteers offering vocal support at local cultural events.
At AAC, Bilonick will give the audience an opportunity to become a part of DC Cheer: The artist will host a workshop in which participants draft and rehearse their own cheers together. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own t-shirts--which the artist will transform via silkscreening into official "DC Cheer" uniforms.