Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Art Bitch

Ok well....a bit of change here....

It turns out they are a couple groups of people who used the nomenclatures

"art-wit, artwit, art(t)wit (that would be me), art twitt, etc..."

Some friend of mine also told me he didn't like the name that much,
and that I should write some texts in french sometimes.

So while I am in NO WAY going to kill this blog,
I am thinking of using it for some special cases of art bitching
(hey...I did look out for "art bitch", but that name too
already exists).

I am not sure yet what I want to do,
but I found out a title that seems un-used,
and which word-play sweetly functions both in
french AND english.

So thus I created these two mirorring blogs:




But I might as well kill them both and return to artTwit
(which I always wanted to call art(t)wit anyway, but blogspot
didn't like the parenthesis)


and see you wherever I decide to move on,

Cedric Caspesyan

Friday, September 30, 2005

Defining The New Art Scene (September 2005)

This month I'm selecting a discussion forum
from the New York "alternative" toy store
Kid Robot,
where fanatics discuss about recent toy designers,
general street art, and modelling techniques.

You may not call limited toy designs
"art", but judging from the recent
interest of gallerists with street arts,
or the general melting down of boundaries between
art and design, some of these artists
will be in museums tomorrow.

Consider this the 21st Century version
of terracotta figures: most of these toys
are not meant to play with, but to
install on your shelves and watch.


Cedric Caspesyan

PS: coming up next, as soon as I find the time, a countdown
review of my last trip to New York, and further ahead
a countdown review of Mois De La Photo (Montreal).
They are a few summer exhibits that I might come back
to, or not, depending how things go.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Floating Island

(image from

Nothing too original,
but you got a few days left (until September 25th 2005) to catch a view of Robert Smithson's posthumously (and newly) built Floating Island, a tiny emulation of Central Park that circulates on the Hudson River around Manhattan for this period.

I didn't embark "on it", so I don't know how or if "general people" are allowed to climb on it at some point, but it's probably one of the best piece by Smithson ever, whom is honored by a travelling retrospective these days for which I got mixed feelings, partly because I deeply regret it have not been set in exterior conditions, away from the confinements of museums.

I was hearing a presentator while visiting Whitney talking about an institutional wish to preserve Smithson's delicate artworks, which I thought was ridiculous, since many of his works in contemporary museums are actually replicates. Hence, a Smithson work would make sense when you're able to replicate it: it's not about an "original". Just like building the Floating Island: the piece makes total sense even though we know it was mostly built by his wife Nancy Holt.

The obsession of the artworld about signature and authenticity totally move
Smithson's art beyond his intention. Or if I'm simply imposing an interpretation
on Smithson's legacy that is not really his, than here's a fine opportunity to oppose it.

For if a portion of Smithson's art speaks about the nonsense of materiality (always in state of ephemerality), than this vision should be encompassed by a curatorial project who claims to support it. Instead, here we are presented with "documentary photographic sets" that seems (selon the press release) to be presented as the "objets d'art" themselves, the precious "simulacras" presented to a public unable to visit the works for real. Archiving strangely doesn't suit well with Smithson's "message".

For example, I am confused about the best way to receive a Smithson's preparatory drawing. Visually, the drawing for Floating Island seems self-erasable compared to the spectaculory physical realization of the project. Yet the drawing is the signature, the project a replicate. When does a Smithson's art piece begin to materialize? How does authorship contravene with a signalization of entropy ?
Why not have simply painted a wall saying "Go Visit Spiral Jetty In Utah Or Fuck Off!!", instead of throwing us with an array of design drawings for something that was foremost meant to be outcasted from institutions?? Sounds like I'm way off my hat but...the compromise to save Smithson's artistic legacy is perticularly paradoxical and could lead the viewer to misunderstandings about aspects of his work.
I could be wrong and, in fact, maybe Smithson's was wrong and reached a lot of limits about what art can express and how it is able to express it.

Finally, is it so important to preserve a pile of dust
with mirrors that functions as a metaphor for entropy?

Or rather: is that pile of dust, THE ONE pile of dust, or does any pile
of dust speaks the same?

Cedric Caspesyan

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Defining The New Art Scene (August 2005)

Been sick and more than away from the visual arts
this past month. I think I'm desillusioned by the whole thing,
but I can't tell yet if i is the people systematizing the way we are invited to
watch art or the artists that seemingly embrace that systematization
that got me so down lately.

I'm fed up with museums and their guards, for one thing.

There is a prospect in the circumventions of museography
(the "topography" of museums, to borrow a popular expression)
that engulfs artistic expression in a certain set of politics that are
hardly if ever adressed by artists.

Why do artists want so much to be exhibited in museums?
What is the signification of this need ? How does the museum
experience shapes an artwork? Is it really the "best of all
possible worlds" solution for an art piece to be exhibited in a museum,
or if not what could it be ?

The Artforum issue of this month contains an excellent
article about artists (some very well known) who attempt
to produce and exhibit art away from the confinements of
museums, or rather, making art that contradicts conceptually the usual
need of the white cube or museum space (stage) to exist (aka la Fontaine de Duchamps),
on the very opposite depending on outbound, exterior contexts to be fully
experienced or grasped, and this, without having necesseraly to
fall into the ageold category of land art, or respect any of the
obligations of the site-specific.

Basically, an art of "the buddhist temples", if I can make
an analogy with the early asian temples that were built
from the inner of caverns, oppositing a tradition of building
"artificial" spaces filled with treasures and figurines.

Actually, the Artforum article presents many of
these artists as redefining the tradition of "land art",
but to me, some of these artists have not much
to do with nature, but much more to do about
reconfiguring the experiences of life.

Can we be neolithic again ?

I cannot link a specific "linkography" page
about artists going into this direction, yet.

But I can link an hero of this new tendancy:

and one community project she has unleashed.

which is sort of an arty-intellectual version of this (that you all must know about):

In Quebec where I'm settled they are groups like
Farine Orpheline
and Atsa which follow similar
paths, organizing various outbound projects without having
to indulge any sentiment of constraints
about site-specifity (I remember a recuperation parc
designed by Atsa that was hardly site-specific).

And I know they are countless events out there who claim site-specifity
in order to get grants to unfold their events, but whose actual only goal
is simply to present art anywhere it's not a gallery or museum.
(you recognize yourself)

Maybe someone should compile a list of links, not so much
of events, but of artists or art movements that specifically
work on creating art that stand at the outbound of institutions
(and need that ourbound to exist).

The Artforum magazine is here.
(You can dig it in a public library and just read it.)


Cedric Caspesyan

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Defining The New Art Scene (July 2005)


This is my July post.

What hav'I been doing ?

I'm doing art. I'm doing research.
I'm putting up a couple stuff up
this autumn.

I've been replying to many other blogs,
attempting to opposite the direction that
bloggers are taking at replying to blogs
on their own sites.

I've been seeing art, of course.
Nothing you shouldn't imparably miss
but the Pompeii show in Ottawa.

Maybe that Russian show in Quebec City.

I'm all so non-contemporary these days.

My art scene for the month of July (a website indicating
the emergence of an art scene) is one that I find truly
inspiring. You've probably heard of this trend:

This to me constitutes a re-appropriation of modernism by the african imperative that thoroughly influenced it. At least an attempt to clarify this link, to pursue
the imaginary visions of an avant-garde that constantly employed motifs emulating a certain "africanitude".

Does anyone remember the tag "jungle music" associated with drum and bass music from circa 1993? (I was a big fan of 4 Hero back then)

I think the art sleeves for some of these music releases were probably
the earliest form of afrofuturist art I had encountered.

But you could also say that a Picasso was afrofuturist.
Or the dialogue that it opened with african culture.

There is one art show I will be missing this summer that is probably
one of the most important happening these days: Africa Remix.

I am jumping a little fast because I wouldn't want readers to confuse african contemporary arts with the afrofuturist movement, but there are certainly signs of it in there.

Please !! Someone !!! Make that exhibit cross the Atlantic !!!!!!!!

In the meantime, Pompidou is also showing videos from Isaac Julien
that Montreal artgoers probably saw at their Contemporary Art Museum.
That was also pinpointing at afrofuturism.


Cedric Caspesyan

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Defining The New Art Scene: site of the month (June 2005)

My winner for a site of the month that lends a cue on the whereabouts
of a new contemporary art scene is the rather famous
kaikaikiki factory
website, which represents a group of young japanese artists led by
ultraknown Takashi Murakami, and which arts are generally influenced
by both otaku (sci-fi anime) and kawaii (cute anime) culture.

This post-Koonsian japanese pop art relecture is fascinating
for 3 reasons:

1) It is a "creative" (as opposed to "appropriative")
contemporary art scene which evolves from a culture
of animation provided both by the mainstream and the subcultural,
thus blurring this distinction (emulating the fact that the same anime
artists often work both in mainstream and edge materials), and bringing totally
different perspectives about a futuristic or a surrealistic art.

2) It is an art that blends the childhood and adulthood themes, subjects and iconography without falling into ironic play or mere re-appropriation.
Cure sculptures are not made to make you laugh or cringe, but made for you
to find them splendid.

3) Most importantly, this art blurs the distinction between a "high art market end" and the production of mass-accessible materials, such as toys, cushions, or wallets. One motto of Murakami is "if people want it, just make it". Sort of mixing Warhol, Koons, and the socialist modernism of early russians.


Cedric Caspesyan

PS: there is already an emergence of non-kaikai
post-otaku artists, what I think is vital
to such a scene, but KaiKai for the moment are
still representing best this new art.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

New York Art Trip, June 2005

Well hello friends, I'm back from my seasonal New York trip
(actually, that was 2 weeks ago, but I was busy elsewhere).

I've counted over 70 shows seen in a week, and it could have been more
if I didn't opt to spend a whole afternoon sitting in front of a Granular Synthesis video, or wander for hours at the Barry McGee show at Deitch, babbling with a few locals.

I will come back later and review a few of the shows that perticularly attracted my interest, if you allow me the whole summer to sort things out.

For now let just say that the city was packed with a lot of painting,
to a point when the smell of the medium started to irritate me.

Photo was also huge, as they were a few major photograhs retrospectives

Here are samples of what I saw, by category of preference:


Passport To Painting (Rodney Graham, Shannon Oksanen, Derek Root) (Gallery 303): My biggest disappointment was to go see a show featuring Rodney Graham (one of my fave artist) only to found out he's now doing tiny, boring abstract painting that he terms "modernists". To be exact, he erases source texts and I suppose magazine images with painting, but the result is still not much more than some kind of dead joke. Shannon Osaken (they are all from Vancouver)is doing small portraits of her friends on minimalist backgrounds, as though she hopes to be the next Elizabeth Peyton, and finally the best of the lot, Derek Root, is reactualizing the canadian landscape by focussing on lands touched by factories, but I couldn't tell if the cute postcardish look was purposeful or not.

HobbypopMuseum (Deitch): a messy mix of paint canvases, conceptual pieces (traces of gold on the floor) and sound in an exhibit that regardless of figurative elements absolutely didn't make sense. Apparently this "in-situ" work is suppose to reflect the space, but I simply can't see how figures of campers or leisure-hotel bathers have to do with a reknowned Soho gallery. Confusing.

Richard Phillips (Friedrich Petzel): It is not a cool text by Seth Price about the glory of californian bohemianism (and other attempts to stick with utopia) that will convince me to enjoy these lame kitsch-pop portraits of idealized women. With an absolutely pompous title ("Law, Sex, And Christian Society"), it is almost as if the painter expected you to be shocked, but the result is so superficial from first sight that I'm not even attracted to seek anything further about it. "Sex, Drugs And Rock N' Roll" would have been a better title, or anything sounding 20 years late on Terry Richardson.

"Landscape" (Whitney): this show presents nearly anything but. This is a case of a curatorial theme totally depriving from what some works are trying to do.
For this show, any work that can use the term "field" in their description means it can be read as a landscape. A Rothko becomes a landscape, because it plays with "notions of space". Popular schoolbook rhetorics that I find ridicule.

Mark Mann (Laurence Miller): four pictures of what seems to be redisplays of old tourist photographs, made the ironic title "Four Easy Pieces" turn the show against itself. I've seen similar work by many photographs before so I had a hard time caring. Or maybe I just felt there were still 20 missing pictures from that roll. The accompanying self-explainable show "Surface" only had a couple stand-outs, that is, elaborate handwritten scapes by Lalla Essaydi, and architectural relectures by Stephane Couturier (and a few intriguing patchworks from the Nasa (!)).

Portrait Of An Age: Photography In Germany And Austria, 1900-1938 (Neue Galerie): this is where I am getting totally unfair, because this exhibit is in fact
elegantly curated, and regardless of geographical limits, can serve as an excellent introduction to the early history of portrait photography. Therefore I recommend it as a didactic lesson. My only problem is that I got easily bored watching faces of unknown people one after the next, people of which no descriptions helped me understanding who they were, apart from a few rare celebrities. My guess is that a similar show that would be curated outside of geographical limits would include a fair deal of photographic masterpieces, that were missed by this show. As a "portrait of Germany and Austria", you aren't getting a lot of historical insight.


"Sculpture" (James Cohan): A rather eclectic group of 6 works that readjusts the notion of sculpture. I actually wished this show would have been all Roxy Paine, as they are two major recent works of him pursuing his uncondemnable
theme of entropy. His steel dead tree, that I first took for a Rondigone, is as splendid as his mushroom garden is mesmerizing. A tiny wall-house by Acconci and a candle-filled video altar by Paik are also on view.

Bryan Crockett / Jennifer Steinkamp (Lehmann Taupin): a chaos of crafty biomorphic sculptures and drawings surrounding a couple larger sculptures showing people biologically trapped in trees (or mutant trees morphing into people). The ensemble is at times, messy, and I wonder if this artist shouldn't focus on tightening his imagery to whatever he wishes to convey the most. Steinkamp, on her side, is still working on computer renditions of vegetal movement, but her focus on flat monoband wall pieces (her previous work at least seemed to function as an installation) make the whole seem too decorative and market-oriented.

Sue De Beer (Whitney Altria): Not exactly as good as her Whitney Biennial 2004 work, but this otherwise ambitious project (you need to enter a giant dollhouse, and there is a garden of sculpture at the entrance) proceeds from the same form at providing the spectator the most comfort possible, in order to enhance the visioning of yet another fragmented double-video short film, delimitating yet another passage between childhood and adolescence. This time, 3 chapters recall different stages of a young adolescent girl struggling with desire, but though De Beer's points are made obvious with the addition of sugar-teen narrative texts (that I was surprised to learn were all from Dennis Copper as there was a definitely girlish quality to them), the overuse of symbols and micro-narratives renders the whole a bit confusing, like reading the accompanying booklet in which the artists and curators are exchanging impressions promulgated by their recent readings.

Chuck Close (Pace Wildenstein): more of the same for Mr. Close, where he mocks his neo-realist tag by additioning colored geometrical fragments in order to fullfill the illusion of portraitude. The tableaux are alas less impressive than the woodblock versions we had seen at the Metropolitan recently. The technique is
marvellous but the exhibit seems a little to methodic after 10 minutes. Or after 10 years.......

Monet's London: Artists' Reflections On The Thames (Brooklyn Museum): Well, this is an exhibition covering, you guessed it, artists renditions (representations) of the Thames river in London over the ages, including a full segment on Monet (less than 20 paintings). But though the curatorial idea made sense judging from the amount of works there was to cover, I couldn't help but wonder what was it all about the goddamn Thames that all these artists found so fantastic. I haven't seen the Thames myself since a while but I can only remember a vast area of grey water. At any rates, if you love romantic views of London in the fog, you will love this show, but grey water isn't my cup of tea.

Sophie Von Hellerman (Greene Naftali): she is doing better on her own than with Hobbypop, if you ask me. But these cute, whirly-ish semi-figurative paintings, like a fluffy, neo-retro, child comic book version of Kippenberger, didn't surprise me as much as the way she decided to install a bunch of them in the gallery-s backroom, which was a genuine wink at a strategy too used by gallerists these days: to hide some of the recent works of an artist in the vaults during an exhibit.

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Sonnabend): all retro and nothing too groundbreaking about these recent hommages to the architectural splendour of the miniature. These shots aim at abstracting the sculptural beauty of 20th century's mechanics and other scientifical appareils in an essay format that seems to borrow from the surrealists..

Roger Fenton (Metropolitan Museum): a fair retrospective of one pioneer of photography, but which regardless of historical merit, got me a little too bored too
fast. A couple astoundingly pre-modern "modern" photographs (moscow domes or an ackward "Queen Target"), and a couple lushful landscape are all that I retained, amid series of brittish churches and institutional buildings or pseudo-exotic arrangements. The wall texts are full of interesting anecdotes so it is not an unpleasing stroll if you are tempted by a visit. They make Fenton sounds like the Indiana Jones of photography.

Jasper Johns (Matthew Marks): the mathematic theory of the catenary leads to assume that within two different points, a flexible line will hold together into a curve, and so this serves as the major metaphor that Johns is conveying here, cradling his art within time and history, amassing autobiographical fragments with details of influential works into tableaux and drawings that always keep a certain sparsity, while affirming form with the recurrent motif of a suspended string attached to the canvas (often adorned with some sort of wood ruler on their sides). The result is a bit over-ambitiously cutting a sharp ambivalence between modernism and post-modernism, but the puzzles and secret meanings of these works are not often inviting. It is as though the painter had painted these works for himself.

Here comes The Bogey-Man (Chelsea Art Museum): a terrific chance to see the original Los Caprichos series of prints by Francisco De Goya (luv that brown paper look), adorned by a series of pseudo-grotesque ackward works by various artists (Marcacio, Pondick, Morimura, etc..) apparently homaging Goya, but who all pale by comparison. Since I already had seen the Caprichos, I left rather rapidly.

Richard Prince (Barbara Gladstone): a semi-retrospective helped gather together different mediums, styles and approaches that Richard Prince experimented over the years. From comic strip paintings to car hood "sculpture-paintings" to "check" paintings (huge phrase sentances stenciled over patches of money checks) to photographic documents of his recent project "Second House", recently acquired by the Guggenheim, the installation felt almost like its different sections presented works by different artists. While some paintings definitely revealed Prince's skill, I wasn't amazed or astounded by anything. Some of the works cut as short as the mundane jokes and sentances they depict. Prince, the person, what he says in interviews, may be more interesting than his art.

Hillary Harkness (Mary Boone): I think I prefer when Harkness concentrates on 3 or 4 very complex paintings. This show continues her obsession with worlds filled with lesbian amazons, but this time these small canvas seem less achieved, more hastened than her bigger works. The drawings included some preparatory models for these works I had in mind. You rarely see studies as intricate as these. I wonder how this artist describes her work ?

Pierre Soulages (Robert Miller): More of the same with Pierre Soulages, with a little deep blue at times interfering here and there within the usual, quasi-sacred, self-imposing majestuosity of his black paintings, which at moments look so heavy that I wonder if we shouldn't call them sculpture. It would be a greater show If
I didn't expect it that much, but still, I respect an artist who developed such an intense sense of technique.


Sophie Calle (Paula Cooper): Have you heard about her late book Exquisite Pain ? Well it's all present here, as an installation. 92 photographs and objects recounting a travel in Asia in the 1980's, stamped with "XX days before unhappiness", as the work countdowns the chronology before Calle was abruptely abandoned by her boyfriend at the time. The second part part of the show presents 21 double-panels juxtaposing the diary of the events surrounding Sophie's life after this rupture (adorned with the repetitive photograph of an hotel room), with different texts of the memories of family and friends recounting harsh moments in
their life (each with a different accompanying photograph). All this to say that this work is VERY "Sophie Calle", but nonetheless too rare an occasion for us to
see a major work of her on this side of the sea to not feel somewhat rejoiced by it. In this work, both the personal and the conceptual reaches some extremes, what could annoy more than one visitor. But than.. it is so rare than an artist asks you such a question as: "what is the most painful event that occured in your entire life" ? Not any expensive gallery price can take that away. Call it "redeeming".

Panamarenko (Ronald Feldman): a collection of retro, "Jules-Vernian" surreal machine models (some of them ready to function) and scientific drawings from an outcast Belgium artist that exhibits so rarely on this side of Atlantic. Most of these items are about flight (wings for man, mechanical mosquito, model for a flying island, etc...) and aims to defy "conventions of scientific utopia" (!). There is a retroactive Walt Disneyesque look to some of this gadgetry (Walt Disney took themselves from early representations of mechanical fantasies), but it is never bereft of charm.

Sturtevant (Perry Rubenstein): For those who are missing the retrospective in Boston, this single installation covering all of this artist's replicates of Duchamp's works constitute to my understanding her best theoretical achievment (though part of her work is also about technical achievment, as she reproduces other people's art with her own hands). This artist took upon issues of cloning way before the term was in vogue. For that alone she deserves your curiosity. The point where she fails is that she insists on keeping an aura around her work. She is depreciative of the idea that anyone can replicate art. I would say to people to create their own Fontaine instead of buying mine. Give the aura back to concept, not object. I think Sturveyant aims at bringing it back to object.

Sport (Socrates Sculpture Park): a funny park exhibit presenting "sportive" art or art preoccupied by sportive themes. Socrates Sculpture Park succeeds where Metrotech Park fails (Public Art Fund) at instauring a fresh-aired, convivial way of experimenting art. Most of the art here is light and humoristic (there's even a box ring in case you got a dispute to solve), but nonetheless unfolds into a sweet criticism of a variety of underlying themes, such as the question of territory.
There's never enough public outdoor art, period. The SSP crew are doing a terrific job.

William Wegman (Hudson Guild): photos of his dogs presented in circus context. Predictable yet I'm falling for them. Circus dogs is a reality that these photos only made stranger. They make Wegman look like an artist again instead of an illustrator for kid books. Actually they made me want to buy this next book with these circus dogs photos... When is it coming out ?

Coco Chanel (Metropolitan): some 25 cubicles chronicling Chanel couture over the years, with expensive dresses and ensembles wore by classy white mannequins, added with an extra few vitrines of accessories and jewels. They are no drawings or anything that could give any insight about the tailor's methods, but the dresses all resplenish one next to the other, as fashion is slowly turned into monumental. Chic and swell. I insist.

Fiona Tan / Contagious Media (New Museum): Fiona Tan goes Willian Wearing in her panopticon video portrait of people living within prisonal institutions.
Sort of a depressing work, contradicting with the various smiles seen on the screens. By chance, a couple other media exhibits nearby come as a relief for
dwelling on the humoristic. Most of those are web art, so you can try a visit in your home right now, as it is. (I said.... Go, now.)

Banks Violette (Whitney): this is the best work I've seen yet from Mr. Violette. And if you are not too upset about a church ruin built in salt (the church of Sodoma ?), than you are engulfed by an installation both emblematic of the "neo gothic" aesthetic and of Violette's punkish take on modernism. Simple, slick, perfect sculptural environment that will take you only a minute to contour but that you will keep in memory for much longer.

Malcolm Morley (Sperone Westwater): some critic argued that this was probably the only great painting gallery show these days in New York, within the profusion that is on offer. While there are some others that I preferred, Morley is probably the one that reached the better craft technique, in these equations of car accidents, earthquake debris, and fantastic sport imagery. This artist works with a grid method that helps him alter the events that he is transcribing, formulating an art that takes advantage on the ambiguities of form, to linger subtly with the abstract. Skillful.

Friedlandler (Moma): this exhibition of over 500 photographs arranged in salon style from the 60's photograph master is a bit exhaustive to visit, but then you can play (like I did) the exercise of passing fast and see what photo's attract your eyes the most. Not every photos are of equal qualities, to be honest, but the curators seemed to have took fun at agencing them in concise groupings of style, themes, or graphic matches. The self-portraits are there, the sublime national parks photographs too, and example of the many luxurious books that the artist published during his life. "Land Markings". Err.

Bruce Colbert (Nomadic Museum): I am saluting here years of living with people who dance with wild animals, the technical achievement of photographing them in the most visually stunning positions, the exquisite printing on handmade paper, and the originality of building your own museum. While many of the photographs are poignant, the (feature long) film feels a little bit too self-imposing, quasi narcissistic, and tend to oscillate with orientalist kitsch. Sort of a lyrical, choreographed, black and white version of Baraka. It attracts so many people that I suppose criticism is relentless. You decide.

Julie Mehretu (Projectile): I had never seen so many Mehretus all at once. This exhibit of "unimportant" works, being the first in a new gallery called "Projectile",
could be perceived as mocking a certain collector named Lehmann who recently sued the propriétaire for not getting the "important" Mehretu paintings. Nevertheless, Mehretu is in top form with her delirious agencies of what seems like cosmographic planes added one on top of others. Multi-dimensional skies from another horizon is how you could describe them if you forget for an instant that this is pure abstract play at mixing different style and layers of "pen strokes". The result marvels the spectator into chaos.

Matthew Buckingham and Joachim Koster (The Kitchen): a fiction film that looks like the video-diary that a girl made about a trip to a city in Denmark, documenting all sorts clues about the history of local politics (including the insurgence of a local anarchist group). The feature-lenght film is separated into five segments, which you can cross from one another to reach phono-globes that emits the soundtrack. What is interesting is the way the film is fragmented in a way that liberates the narrative, and lets you grasp a sense of the whole film in 20 minutes by perusing all the screens at once. Do we insist on learning details or are we satisfied with a general sense of the whole ? There is this formal strategy that you are forced to question. And estimate.

Daniel Buren (Guggenheim): a rare occasion to visit an architectural work by an artist who rebelled against museum institutions since so many years. A rebellion that has not so much to do with politics than with pure form (I'll let you decide which took from which, eventually). And so the only retrospective part of this exhibit consisted in a full wall upon which were assembled many of the artist's early stripes canvases (themselves rebellious against the traditional canvas for presenting stripes over the bland surfaces), and a couple videos that documented his ephemeral street interventions, architectural projects, and exhibiton in-situ projects over the years. Many spectators seemed in fact shocked that the centre spiral of the whole museum was left empty to respect Buren's intervention. But because this is an artist impossible to retrospects (he will empty your museum instead of allowing it), I consider this the rare chance to evaluate a very original career, that expanded minimalism and conceptual art into the living sphere.

Neo Rauch (David Zwirner): these tableaux takes from a retro-socialist aesthetic but mix all sorts of scenes together into a surreal mess (as if the communists hired surrealist painters to convey political propaganda). It is not always clear what they are about, but they always seem so full of precise mythologic and historic references. They seem to want to extract and exorcise all the sadness of political times past. Honorable.

Gregory Crewdson (Luhring Augustine): these photographic tableaux take a whole cinema crew to set up. They're sort of a meeting between David Lynch and Jeff Wall. People in spooky deserted neighbourhood, or caught in contexts of intimacy, as if hiding some secret tragedies. Intriguing.

Tony Oursler (Metropolitan): Well this new installation is definitely one of the landmark pieces in Oursler's carreer. A sculptural, spatial, take on
Gustave Courbet's "The Artist's Studio", which includes, among many objects, a video-canvas on which are projected a good numbers of interventions and commentaries by the artist's family members and friends. If you missed this artist's theatrics, they're certainly back in full. The other piece, a giant video ball of explosion that murmurs, is also worth a glimpse.


Diane Arbus (Metropolitan): I don't think there is any photograph from the 60's that influenced more the collectiv unconscious than Arbus. Like it or hate it, her focus on the uncommon and bizarre helped gather many famous images that weren't to be soon forgotten. I heard a visitor say "there is no one on any of these pictures that I feel like I want to be next with, or relate to". Actually, they are a few that I would like to know what they have become. The exhibit, thus, complies with three sections filled with instructive notes and paraphernalia, that functions like a real laboratory about Arbus's life, as though the camera had been turned on her. These sections are exhaustive to visit and will make you ponder about buying the book. But this exhibit is certainly the most important solo photograph exhibit I've seen in the past 5 years, if not 10.

Julian Schnabel (C + M): Well, a few major pieces are brought together in yet another cool and handy survey from the people at C + M. I can only hope that when you visit they are a couple other people in the rooms, because when you are totally alone like I was, the guard keep walking with you and this is really disruptive to quality viewing. At any rates, these giant paintings are masterpieces of a genre that
you could refer to as "mixte media", as they often incorporate residues from all sorts of source, including kitchen dishes or mexican potery, or use ackward material as source paint, such as oil, wax, or animal hide. Using archetypal themes of landscape, religion or portraits, these works seem to aim at transcending art history. Fabulous !

Hilla Rebay (Guggenheim): fantastic work from a lady that got too easily underestimated for copying both Kandinsky or her husband, Rudolph Bauer. Nevertheless, these early abstract tableaux are like pieces of jewels, especially her collage pieces (both abstract or portraying women). It seems Hilla Rebay sacrificed her career in order to gain attention to the artists (and friends) she admired. By convincing the collector Guggenheim, she became head of the first museum dedicated to abstraction in America, then called Museum Of Non-Objective Art. A fair replicate of the legendary first show of that museum, "Art Of Tomorrow", is also on view, what to me constitute a great celebration for art lovers, especially since this is happening inside a worldwide known spiralling museum that was also a folle idea of miss Rebay. Not to miss.

Andy Warhol (Shrahazi): I had the chance to visit a magnificent show of self-portraits by Andy Warhol at Van De Weghe, after it was officially closed.
But I wasn't prepared for this fabulous, museum level, exhibit of Warhol portraits across the ages. They are positioned in a mosaic fashion around 5 large rooms,
and they cover everyone from Joseph Beuys to Michael Jackson, often (evidently) in duplicate versions. The range of colours is so flamboyant from one portrait to the other that you easily excuse the appropriatedness of this art, at the same time as you can savour how stars and non-stars are put to an equal level by the simple gloss of painting. In the end, regardless of the theories about an industrial art closer to the appeal of mass media, Warhol's art, it seems, was all about color.

Max Ernst (Metropolitan): A bit too much white (the walls and the hard light) wasn't the best suit for the otherwise gloomish somptuousity of these
exotic paintings from one of the master of surrealism (the preferred surrealist for many). The show consisted of a great introduction to the various techniques, often evolving into as many themes and styles, used by the artists. To illustrate this, nothing less than a corpus of landmark paintings from every of the artist's periods, from the early onanist surrealism, to the symbological use of birds, to the pervasive obsession with dark forests presenting glimpses of ruins from archetypal architectures. Genesis' Eden and visions of the Apocalypse never looked so intertwined.

Little Boy (Japan Society): A compact but complex exhibit about japanese otaku and kawaii culture, daringly linking the interest of Japan for sci-fi and mutant cuteness with Second World War (more precisely the devastative effect of Hiroshima). After stacks of toys, mascot costumes, and original drawings from landmark artists of otaku or kawaii, including a panoply of Hello Kitty toys and a cool selection of adolescent figurines by Oshimah Yuru, the exhibit presents the new trend of japanese contemporary arts influenced by these pop phenomenons. Murakami, curator of the event, is there alongside many artists from his own "factory" (Nara, Aoshima, Takano, etc...) and a couple others. This show is really marking for blurring a distinction between children and adult material. At moments it lingers with the Hentai.

Sarah Sze (Marianne Boesky): In a time where every gallery is opting for the saleabilty of painting, one gallery dares to present an installation artist, and ends up showing some of the best art you can see in New York these days. Sze presents complex systems where anodin objects are gathered together in emulations of organic environments, sometimes involving a few biologic elements like water or flowers, such as in here, the reaching point of the gigantic triangular setup, the main of the three installation proposed here. What is to make of the piles of box infiltrated by all sorts of constructions behind a wall, up to an unreachable section in the gallery's storage room ? It looks like her art is attempting to parasite the place. The various forms, textures, and shapes invented by men spread into nature like a cancer spread into a human's body. This work is as fertile as it is intrusive.

Basquiat (Brooklyn Museum Of Art): there's no doubt this painter is one of the most intriguing ever coming out from New York. Sort of like a mixture Cy Twombly, Keith Haring, and indeed, Picasso, for the reactualization of africanitude. It is actually quite a virulent exhibit, from an artist who did so much in such a short period of time, and more than Twombly I'd say that Basquiat convinces us that doodles can be transformed into a master's art. The urgent oozyness of the words spread across his canvases only match his use of very bright, explosive colours. This is sort of an ugly art that turns out to actually look very beautiful (meant in the most ancient aesthetic jargon possible).

Remote Viewing (Whitney): This was predictable. Return of painting there ? Return of abstract painting over there ! This show supports the emergence of a few strong abstract painters in the last 10 years as they continue, through very personalized forms and approaches, to revitalize an evergoing tradition. Most of the works here are dense, methodic, at times quasi-scientific, and use motifs that could be referred to as "organic". Julie Mehretu steals the show from Franz Ackermann and Matthew Ritchie (among the best here, but showing work not any better what they usually do), for presenting, above a couple gigantic and graphically complex painting, a jawbreaking in-situ wall drawing. This exhibit only prove that with abstract too, skills and craft can matter, and this is exactly what these artists are going to show you. Some of them I think might become your new important painters for the next 50 years. Did I say Mehretu rocks ?

Casasola (Museo Del Barrio): impressive photographic documentation of mexican life at the time of the Zapatist revolution, this show also surveys the emergence of the political movement up to its downfall, with the assassination of Emiliano Zapata. There's no way around it: it is as if you were there! A categorically intense show about an intense period of mexican history that will surely be the subject of future blockbuster movies, without ever catching a glimpse of the virulent authenticity that is presented here. A must if you still believe in photography's power to recount history.

Andrea Zittel (Andrea Rosen): yet another excellent show at Andrea Rosen (one of my fave of the Chelsea galleries), Zittel is presenting more examples of her post-hippy, neo-craft rebellion, art that stands at the conjecture with the utilitarian, and that is presented as extensions of her own ethically-informed living project in the middle of the desert, where she creates herself most of what she uses in everyday life. Dresses, furnitures, landscapes made of wool, and watercolours of prototypes form this incomparable art from one of the most fascinating artist alive.

What Sound Does Color Make (Eyebeam): a collection of flickering and noisy video pieces, including a rare occasion to stand for over an hour (as I did) submerged within a Granular Synthesis piece. Most of the works had the slick aspect of avant-techno, presenting shapes created by light play over ambient or techno soundtracks (if not the pure glitch of video noise). Added with the obvious reverence to early pieces by the Vasulkas or Paik, it was all very expectable coming from the technology-oriented Eyebeam, but nevertheless refreshing in the context of Chelsea.

Anthony Gormley (Sean Kelly): a rare occasion to see new work by this important brittish sculptor, still focussing on the human body after so many years, but
lingering also on the abstract. The spectacular piece here is a gigantic slinky inserted into the gallery space, or rather, what seems like a slinky since the
spiralling illusion is actually created by a series of separated circles, which I guess renders a cosmogonic appeal to the experience. Most of the other sculpture
use similar schemes of the construction of the universe (nothing less) to represent the body in shapes of metal, at one point even alluding to the cubic christ of
Dali (again, nothing less).

Make It Now (Queens Sculpture Center): a very sexy survey of recent New York sculpture that beats all the other surveys of recent, young, new york art you
might have heard about. Whereas others only prove that with recent painting you needed to dig to find the good stuff, this show prove that the sculpture scene is
quite revigorating. Most of these artists transform scrap into the most imaginative configurations, creating systems of erosion, carton cities, or leopard neons. One sculpture seems to re-address Manzoni by proposing towers made with medicine bottles containing what looks like piss (but certainly just colored water). The monument to hip hop glitters by Luis Gispert is a top. I should come back on it.

Barry McGee (Deitch): a crazy installation glorifying the scapes of graffitists, including a spectacular pile of broken minivans and cars still attempting to function. Also, secret hidden squats, video tower showing images of graffitis, and a few animatronic mannequins acting as gallery's graffitists, all this within a room
surrounded by a relentless mosaic of sharp and brightly-colored geometrical shapes that provides the set of a rendez-vous between hip hop culture and either psychedelism or techno culture. I'm not sure yet what I think of the youth american generation idea of fun, but it was nonetheless irremediably eyecatching.

Aida Ruilova (Greenberg Van Doren): minimalism meets trash-goth in these absurd video loops made of edits of everyday passive expressions such as "ummm", "oh", or "ok"...The protagonists all seem trapped in bland closets, while the seconds-short video pop one after the other. It gets weirder with the "Countdown" piece when constant "Viscontian" zooms reveal numbers marked in the scenes they originally take from, often inhabited by characters in the most bizarre z-movie situations, such as a girl nude with a fat man's grey underwear standing on rocks inder a bridge. This is the death of video art as you will enjoy it ! Please !!

Thomas Demand (Museum Of Modern Art): as the king of fabricated photography, his skill is incomparable. So much that most of the time, we can't even see
that these images of various scapes, from the domestic to the industrial to the natural, are all miniature models made from paper and carton, unless we come really close to them and scrutinize for half a dozen minutes. There weren't that many works in the show (around 20 huge sizes), but given the intricacy of their details they probably each take a lot of time to bricolage. The activity of representing the banal never looked so harsh. Brilliant !

Walton Ford (Paul Kasmin): With the radical genre of neo-old-masterism, I rarely get as convinced as with this painter, who imitates the style of ancient illustrations of natural history books (including the method of handwritting over illustrations) to present pictures of animals in position of prey, being attacked by other animals. Together, they form an allegory about life being in eternal warfare with itself. The contrast between the cuteness of some of these pictures and the inherent violence of their subject matters is otherwordly poignant. A show that prove that application and a simple focus can lead to some great art.

There is about a third of the shows I've seen in New York
that aren't listed above, and these omitted shows cover
any of the four preference areas that I just categorized.

I may come back to some of them ulteriorly,
but for the moment I think my very top favorite ones
are included. I tend to change my mind on these aspects.


Cedric Caspesyan

( it is I haven't revised and corrected
the ugly english mistakes in this text yet)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Defining The New Art Scene site of the month (May 2005)


I'll be back in June when I'll review some of the best exhibits
seen these last few months. Hopefully I'll got more free time by then.

I'm just here to present my choice for site of the month,
in my ongoing series of seeking cues defining new art
scenes, in a time when the art word seems so desparate
of having reached theoretical ends.

Thew site is called Last Place, and it is one out of a series of sites out there that redefine
the museum into the virtual world.

Basically, this site presents art exhibits that look like your average
exhibit excepts they only exist as 3d virtual words (including the art).

They are other experienes in virtual museums that I wish to list
at some point, but this one wins my prize for communicating a sense
of a developed community.

Keep in touch,

Cedric Caspesyan

PS: Next month's choice will be hard to pinpoint
as it is not exactly web-related.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

You Take Away The Sun: Manif d'Art 3 "Cynismes?" in Québec

"Tu Comprend Rien"
Guy Giard

I'm in between cities these days.

I want to come back to the Québec Manif 3, which is doing a terrific job these days providing
a thoroughly pertinent event, centering on the theme
of cynicism.

There are two talks by Michel Onfray on June 2 and 4
that I wish to attend, but I'm afraid that I'll be in New York
by then.

Not all the art shown at Manif is great, but
there is consistency for about half of the stuff,
much of it relying on performance or everyday living process.

The first and foremost reason to visit is the tiny
retrospective of Ben Vautier which finishes this week
(May 20). A variety of early pieces are shown next to
a documentary of his landmark Fluxus performances.
A new graffiti and a couple new works are included
(a bed set with directions for you to make love).

This is at Maison Gabrielle-Roy, but then just look
at the map on the Manif website as all spots are within
15 minutes walk from each others.

The chilean artist Norton Maza is presenting a work worth any great Biennial
with his house made of street scraps. Called "Territory", this celebration of Bidonville aesthetic can be found at Galerie De L'Université Laval (on Charest street).

Marie-Claude Pratte is installing her "masterpiece" at the Musée National Du Québec (the only spot in Manif that will need you to call a cab). It's her version of the history of contemporary art, installed as numerous sequences of small paintings, each historical segment divided in the 6 little spooky cells of the ancient prison. It's an instant classic.

Than, don't forget to vote on this crazy project organized by Chambre Blanche, which eliminates one out of 8 local artists each week, adapting Reality TV to the reality of artists' life. They are only 4 artists left. 3 were voted off and 1 abandoned by herself. Apparently it's a lot harder then they thought. What started as a fun project ended up in a multitude of quarrels.

From there you can move to the main exhibit at Mail Centre-Ville (Façades De La Gare), where all artists, both emerging and "official", are presented in one spot.
A good portion of the art is performance-based on involves an everyday living process.

Some of my fave Quebec artists are there, but they disappointed me:

Matthieu Beauséjour: too much of the same (re-installing old stuff, and adding a video).

Michel De Broin: Squirty fun video made with water bottles. A celebration of public sex? Not as good as his work in sculpture.

BGL: this time playing road mascots, they are way off the usual complexity of their installations.

Dominique Blain: she spoils her participation by offering an old sculpture.

Here is my fave list from Manif 3:

Gwenael Bélanger: It's interesting to re-read her falling objects under the perspective of cynicism. Don't miss the video!

Patrick Bérubé: a trampoline set near its roof (you can sit on it but beware for your head if you start swinging).

Patrice Duhamel: this artist used to annoy me but his video is re-investigating the potentiality of abstraction. Great, great, great!

Aline Martineau: she's making a whole city from consumer brown paper bags. Well done.

Art Orienté Objet: the most cynical of the lot, they made a fur with dead animals found on the roads of Quebec. I was amazed realizing how many there was on my way back. They hit a strong nail.

Guy Giard: the most irreverrencious, a series of 5 video loops where the artists literally seems to laugh at the spectator's face, but it's actually quite humoristic, and totally befitting the theme.

Guylaine Coderre and Charles Guilbert: they are singing Wittgenstein aphorisms
over short animations that by moment take the aspect of William Kentridge.

Christian Messier: disgusting. Living inside a wall for 15 days is one thing, but pissing and shitting in bocals while you're there is kinda extreme. At least he is the black sheep of the exhibit, so probably best reflect the theme of the exhibit.
Santiago Sierra would adore him.

Ziad Naccahe: he is infiltrating the space with decorative flowers (a true cataloguage in style). He is probably a future Franz Ackermann. Much more pertinent than you seems at first sight.

There is a load of other stuff: bird singing through the mall, animal drawings made with pubic hair, sperm stains on fashion ads, still lives made with everyday garbage,
circular sidewalk as an hommage to prostitutes, people falling in the streets,
even Chris Lloyd of Dear Pm is there.

It's worth a ride.


Cedric Caspesyan

(I'll try link images to some of the art later..I'm in a rush...)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Weather Permitting(s): Julie Andrée T "Weather Report / Potentiels Évoqués" at Skol Gallery

"Change of weather is the discourse of fools".
Thomas Fuller

Like any gallerist exhibiting the same old artists year after year, I am pretty loyal when I decide that I love one artist.

Usually when I name my five favorite recent artists from Québec, I never forget to mention Julie Andrée T., an artist whose work involves performance and installations, and who came a long way since her beginnings when she reminded me of young Rebecca Horn for drawing stuff on walls with a head mask.

Though she's been on the cover of recent publications with pictures of performances I have not yet seen, I was still anxious to know if T's new show at Skol Gallery was going to entice me as much as her previous works did.

No feelings to hide: I was pleasantly suprised. In fact, in a collection of deceptive shows that I had seen recently in my hometown, I can argue that this exhibit is one of the best in Montreal since the beginning of the year.

Admittedly, her new work made me think of yet another fave artist of mine, non-other than art star Jane Cardiff, but only because she borrowed one of her format of building micro, solo, theatres. The comparison ends there, rather abruptly.

For where Cardiff is interested in narrative and how they shift from your perception to mine, Julie Andrée T. is more attracted by the concrete and physical: Are you experiencing the space the same way I do? These 5 sculptural "devices", as they are called, set in the Skol space as one installation (it would help her carreer if she would title the pieces and propose them separately, the only minor flaw in the exhibit) force the spectator to engage themselves in micro-performances involving serious shift of their bodies, both voluntary and unvoluntary. The pretext ? The weather, a theme that is not original to T. but really much more of reply to a common dialogue amongst artists of her generation. In fact there has been a few collective shows borrowing this theme in recent years, and its obvious connection to inner sensual moods.

But, given that Julie Andrée had been investigating correlations between the inner senses and the physical exterior since her beginnings, it was
all natural that one day or the other she would encounter the theme of
weather, and besides, her interpretation on the subject is much more thrilling than some of these "other shows" I had in mind a few seconds ago.

What indeed would be the best way to represent the psychological state of weather than to focus on sculptural works that are entirely made for the head ? Most of the sculptures here offer orifices where you need to insert or appose your head in order to experience them. These works do not come to you easily. They involve one-to-one full participation.

The first booth directly invokes your
stream of consciousness, by letting you envision the video path of a train advancing on a railway, as they are tiny speakers on the side adding a dramatic escapist effect to what constitute a modest, homemade version of a virtual reality tester.

But where it becomes much less virtual, and the principal poetry at work, is that a huge ventilator at the back is blowing over your face, so that, as you focus
your thoughts on the stream of the train, you get a physical sense from skin response that you are actually there. Fabulous ! A joyride ! The relation body to mind, now turned into a relation landscape to mind, couldn't better be adressed. And with such simple means ? Come on, out there, this could be in a museum.

Next device is similar (a rectangle box of wood perpendicular to the wall) except that there is no chair to seat on, and no videos to watch, as the tiny space to appose your head on is thoroughly dark.

As you can hear on two little speakers a french commentator describing the process of a snow avalanche, something perky is happening to your face. Just like in a Jana Sterbak installation, there is increasing heat incoming from a hidden grid in the back. If your face is put really firm against the box, it actually becomes untolerable.

So just like how with Jana Sterbak's robe there was an antagonism at play between an expression of desire and the expression of an inherent danger, Julie Andrée T is proposing a confrontation between reason, our ability to receive intellectual information, and the ever-underestimated realm of the sensual, how our skin replies to its environment. Always, as it seems, the body opposing the mind ? Come twice: the perticular interest here is how the work is able to transpose a formal idea into physical sense. You can all imagine that an avalanche would constitute a terrific event to encounter, an event likely to be consequential to your death. Well, the work here makes your body suffer a micro-avalanche of sort, with the increasement of the heat, as if something blazing over you and enrobbing you, reconstituting a fair impression of what experimenting an avalanche would be like, at a micro level. At this point it is interesting to note how the exhibit insists on making us realize that the head, what is going on inside and on its surface, is important to our conception of physical realities (such as temperature). What I mean is that Julie's pieces are presented as autistic condensés of sensual states. The fact that you are cut from the throat when you experience them is the major metaphor at play.

The third work is reminiscent of her landmark installation
"Problématiques Provisoires" that played for a couple years since 2002 (and was in my top 10 list that year, and not just a local list). It's relying on the scheme of an apartment, and forces the spectator to do tricks with his body in order to experiment the work. They are 3 little rubber stairs that invites you to climb and pass you head in 3 different hole in a huge wood box attached to the ceiling. This task is not so easy to do, as we loose rapidly sense of equilibrium once our head is inside the said box. A good reason for this is that loud music is played into one of 4 (or was it 8?) little speakers dispersed across the room, but more over that this sound shifts intermittently from one speaker to the other, and thus spins in tango from one corner to the next.

The room is all light red. It both evokes a personal salon, as much as a 3D monochrome. The trick with this work happens when other people insert their heads
through other holes. They all get a perspective of the room similar from the one that you have, but this illusion of sharing a same experience is cut through
vehemently by the fact the sound is constantly shifting from one speaker to the next, delimiting the uniquess of every standpoint through cacophony. The piece demonstrates that music, wrether it's in your apartment or coming from you neighbor's wall, really alter the ambiance (the emotion) of a room.

Under the music (a collection of metal or pop songs chosen by the artist), one can hear an audio version of the
Global manifesto, I supposed narrated by Borduas himself. Actually I wasn't sure what this was and had to ask this information at the desk. It left me a little bit confused. With the loud music and the red I was thinking that the artist had the term "temper" in mind, which emotional link with the term temperature had been slightly over-used for my taste. But I can't really jauge on her intention. If we take the "weather" imperatus (both internal and external) out of the picture, it becomes an interesting play about form, perspective, and an history of art that have reached its limits. It could as well be an hommage to
Françoise Sullivan. I don't think it's all that important since the format itself is dynamic enough to incite curiosity. By inserting my head into the floor of this micro-apartment, I felt like a Maurizio Cattelan peaking into an Ilya Kabakov installation. I don't think this work needs to reduce itself to Quebec history. She should do a bunch of them and call them monochromes. It could be big.

The fourth booth ( I really hate that they aren't titled) is a double-windowed compartment, on which reversed letters are written on each window, in a way that in order to read them right, you need to gaze across the reversed letters and read on the opposite window across the micro compartment.

Now...on the theory(ies) of "Screen", that middle point of perspectivism that we could refer to as "sight", Julie André T is doing as great or even better than exhibiting neighbor Pascal Grandmaison, high on hype at René Blouin a few steps on stairs, and who's got a museum exhibition coming up. While Grandmaison pursues his interest with minimalists, and transcribing their language into a deconstruction of photography, Julie Andrée engages the spectators (again, her sculptures are actually performance scenes for spectators) into experiencing a similar reality first hand. Crossing the gap of a vacuum, a sculptural expression of a threshold, the reader is attracted by the sentances leaning unto the glass before their interlocutor, another spectator gazing in their opposite direction.

I am not so sure again that commitment to a theme of weather is reached easily, but given the very domestic aspect of this work, she covers very well her usual interest on space's shareability. Actually, the piece sound more like a work that was made to respond to the general theme proposed by Skol for the year's program. It's as if Julie is trying to negociate a response to skol and the pursue of her own new interests in sensual scapes. Or maybe she aimed at that furtive instant when the cognitive is lost in chaos right before our eyes meet a sentance that can formulate sense (as they are floating in the middle of nowhere, reaching you by chance from the opposite window).

The last "device" is frankly the best, and the only reason why it wouldn't be a high spot in a museum is that it involves too much danger: to be able to experience the work you need to climb a wood scale that felt a little shakey for my taste. I was wishing that a ramp be installed so that I could hold myself as I inserted my head in one of the two holes.

Now...I can imagine the intensity of trying this work with a partner, as from the top
your two heads are meeting face to face in what could be best described as.. a boxed cloud (!), meaning that dry ice smoke is pouring constantly inside this little rectangle of wood, attached high next to the ceiling.

Once your eyes have been accustomed to this new radical environment, the best expression of weather since Olafur Eliasson or Micol Assaël (couldn't find a link to the piece I had in mind), now unapologetically adressed as a "head-only thing", you are realizing that the walls are covered with typical bathroom ceramics, while some sort of Turkish music is playing throughout two tiny speakers installed in opposite angle.

From the first romantic idea of a cloud we move quickly to a concept of steam and
turkish bath, if you can ever imagine a more
sensual affair. Being cut through as you are from reality happening beneath, I was remembering another artist who had played with a similar notion of low-technological-means vistual reality at the exact same gallery, a few years ago.

Except that at that time (spring 1999), the artist, Diane Létourneau was mostly concerned with landscape, and re-adapting a tradition of representation with current technological models. Julie-Andrée is expanding this idea from representation, as her work focusses on unvoluntary, yet guiding, bodily response.

At any rates, it goes simply that I thought it was already a genius idea to just bring me this up into the air, "head in the cloud" as they say, but now that it turned into "head right up the turkish bath" I was in extasis.

But to counter that extasis, Julie Andrée, who really got more than one trick
in her bag, added another element to her piece, which are audio extracts
(let me note that I really appreciate when loops are short when I'm put into such conditions) of people relating about floods and other weather disasters that made them loose their houses. From the first impression of being in a funhouse, the notion of being "right in the middle of it" started to shift, intellectually. Again, and always, the tension between reason and passion is perpretrated. What are you allowing to receive as pleasurable from this experience, from what you are ready to reflect upon ?

If there is one point that Julie André T crossed finely with her exhibit,
is how weather can be both the source of immediate fun and irremediable pain.
But I think that what she is truly asking is, given all the theory about landscape
being appropriated by thought, than are we always so subdued and victim to weather or are we able to control our reception of it, with the help of facculties from the mind.

Oh, the hell... Just don't miss it,

Cedric Caspesyan

Julie Andrée T: "Weather Report / Potentiels Évoqués"
15 April to 14 May 2005
Skol Gallery
372 Sainte-Catherine West
Space 314

Monday, May 02, 2005

Painting Is Not Death: Damien Hirst's Big Intention.

I had cancelled a trip in April to visit the new Damien Hirst show in New York "The Elusive Truth" at Gagosian Gallery (Chelsea), mostly because it received a lot of bad press (try this one by Jerry Saltz or that one by David Cohen, but also because I was first not "impressed" by the "press" release.

Well it seems that it's been extended to the 14th of May, so there is still a few days to go for those who think they might enjoy it.

For my take I agree with what is said commonly that Hirst's "spiritual" (I mean "material") filiation to Koons is starting to look ridicule, especially when he is now addressing a format that was one of the worst phase of Koons' art: the supra-realists tableaux.

Damien Hirst's art always constituted sort of a morbidization of Koons, if you will.
To retake on what David Cohen was mentioning on Art Critical:

- Medicine glass cabinets replacing vacuums in windows.

- Shark in formol replacing basket ball in water.

- Gigantic replicate of an handicapped doll replacing a gigantic replicate of a balloon Puppy.

Now what? Blood and surgery replacing ice cream and sex.

And we claim that he is one of the most important artist ever and that Jeff Koons sucks ????

Come on.

Not that Hirst isn't a good artist for a portion of his art,
not that he won't be remembered for his animal pieces which indeed
are amongst the most important art that came out in the 1990's, wrether
we like them or not (their impact suffice). But this time I can see where his art is failing.

It is failing because it arrives right at a time when the art community is starting to get somewhat pissed off about the market, and especially pissed about the art that attempts to outsmart it by embracing it. I am certain a few artists are already
surprised by the poor reception that they "see-me-fuck-with-the-market" art actually got.

Damien's premiss wasn't bad at all.

Everyone is raving about painting nowadays, especially the return
of masterism.

As a primarely conceptual artist, he opted to respond to this
by selecting sordid images from journals and magazines that for him
best represented our era, and got them painted in a realist style
in attempt to induce a little bit of aura that these not so banal
images lacked in their journalist contexts.

The twist is to transform timely events into intemporal.
To return to an impersonal art pompier and transcribe history into
large unequivocal canvases, bland in artistry but full
of what they represent: zeitgeist of an era.

It really wasn't a bad idea. His images weren't even his
but a reformulation of things found in popular medias.
The size of a good portion of these painting is apparently

Why did it fail so much?

Many reasons:

- It came too late as a last vestige of pop. Even Warhol translated political
events into painting.

- The market eats them. They become facile products of luxury to decor
your salon (you could make them yourself), at a time when a lot of criticism is
directed at these distant, artificial constitutions (including the arts that try to humor it without opposing it). The market renders these paintings as superficial as any billboard publicity. Or worst, even moreso. Du toc pour l'oeil. "Vous avez de beaux bijoux, madame". Indeed, Hirst becomes a brand until he makes less wear-ready art again.

- The return popularity of painting has exactly to do with a re-evaluation
of the artist's hand skill in an era when conceptualism almost perfidated
it. So Damien got Saatchi's interest all wrong. If you are working with a group,
at least mention them under your title. For all the employees's hard work they manage to seem lazy (from the little I've seen), because we know they are reproduction commands. The art here is a process of selection and transposition.

- Shock value images were sensational in the 1990's but feel redundant
in post 9/11 art. The painting format is too soft, and if that was part of the intention to "softinize" the sensational, than perhaps it works a little too much to a point where the art becomes self-erasable, further than the original journal images they aim to resplenish. Actually they may entice you to return to the source of these original images, provide a provisory interest (sort of like seeing photographs of a freak show instead of the real thing), but as tableaux they only make you hesitative about wanting them on your wall. The source may titillate but the exercise of transposition seems vain, bereft of any compassion.

- The tendency of this art to balance between the sad, grave
and delibarately sordid and grotesque is its weakness. What are you trying
to say, and why ? Are you helping ? Ethics are blurried when we don't
know if Hirst really cares that this world is going rash or if he laughing at it expecting big money sales.

- There is a lot of great art around and it's just not as sad and sordid as Hirst.
Or when it is its purpose is made clearer.

Well, I really think Hirst will need to win everyone's heart again.

I see his new paintings like I see a work of Koons and I am
able to tell (and forgive) that it is from a weak period.

I definitely think Hirst is much better a sculptor than painter (even if he would
see his new paintings as sculptures). Once you see a dot painting in person, the effect is great, but then he made way too many of them.

Maybe what we need is to wait for a new show of sculpture,
if he accepts that he said all what he had to say about this present tentative.

The Butterfly (insects) paintings of recent were one hybrid
that was way more interesting than the kitsch described today.

What is going on, man ?


Cedric Caspesyan

Friday, April 29, 2005

News And Tidbits

The Décarie Project have launched at Liane And Danny Taran Gallery. Basically a group of "social interventions" in the lyrical sense of the word: art involving the lives of "ordinary people".

I am not here to announce a gallery show, that is not my aim.
I simply insist on pointing on a few a-day-only events that I
think are of relative importance:

On Sunday the 8th of May, Althea Thauberger
is presenting a choral concert that she organized
with people living in the neighborhood of the gallery.
It's at 16h30 at 5170 Chemin Côte St Catherine (metro
of the same name, but expect a 10 minute walk).

On Sunday the fifth of June, at noon, there will be a group
crawl performance organized by non-other than William Pope L.,
the "friendliest black artist of America", whom I
consider to be a landmark (no pun intended)performance artist,
also involved with sculpture, film, installation, painting, and web art.

Here is the Hour interview about Montreal project.

There is another good interview here.

There is another intriguing performance by D'bi.Young, who propose you
to follow the path of everyday labour of one worker of the Saydie Bronfman Center,
and move with her to her second nighshift job. That is the 4, 5 and 7 May at 19h.
You need to call for reservation (find the info on the website).

Farine Orpheline will also inhabit the neighborhood in early June with
a certain autocar that you will be able to observe at the gallery exhibition,
along with the results of participatory works already organized this last
season by other participants of this project.


Manif 3 has started in Quebec.
Yes there is a lotof art to see, but if you can make only one day, try the main exhibit and the Ben Vautier wall painting.

Tommorrow night (30 Avril, 19h) are a couple interventions/performances by Folie Culture, Christian Messier, and what I guess is Matthieu Beauséjour: International Virologie Numismatique.

Look at website for ther events.


A lot of stuff is going on at Ottawa Art Gallery.

Part of OFF Grid, another exhibit on social interventions, are students projects tomorrow (the 30th), a screening of "socially resistant" video art on the 19th May ("Avert Your Eyes / Stare Back"), and a special project by performance artist victoria Stanton between the 20 and the 24th of May.

Then there is a cool survey of art from Alberta, part of a festival on the matter:
the "Alberta Scene" (if you are like me you are goingto find the opening page very cheesy, but the exhibition
section is huge, including another survey at the National Gallery).


Elektra kicks off
on the 10th of May, bringing together the major electronic arts events of
Montreal under the gap of a single month, sharing (or actually fighting to get the best artists with) Mutek.

I mean...what is Autechre doing at Elektra?

Nevertheless, don't miss the few installations at Musée D'art Contemporain
and Place Des Arts, notably Rafael-Lozano Hemmer between the 11 and 15th of May at MAC.

Resniper at Usine C Wednesday the 11th sounds like a thrill.

Than "L'Archange" involves an installation by Alain Pelletier. I wonder ifwe can visit it during the day. (12 to 14th May at Station C).

The director of Transmediale gives a talk on the 12th (17h, Usine C)
If you never heard of Transmediale than it is likely you will
not be interested by the sort of activity going on at Elektra. ;-)


Victoriaville's Festival of Musique Actuelle is kickin on the 19th of May.

As usual tickets are a little bit expensive, but the concerts are generally
of high quality, including both sound and performance.

Zeena Parkins and Ikue Mori is not to be missed for all the great reviews their abum received. Maybe try the Plsatic People Of The Universe right before it. (Friday the 20th of May).

Boredoms are back, so is Tenko. I wonder if I will be.


Last but not least (I'm short on Toronto for the moment)
is the launching of the Festival Du Théâtre Des Amériques on the 25th of May, one of the best Montreal Festival.

"100 Rencontres" organized by Benoît Lachambre is of interest for this site
for involving both visual artists and performers into a living installation piece
that you can visit at SAT between the 25th and 29th of May (at night, and there is an entry price).

"Cinema Cielo" (Danio Manfredini), "The Room" (Amal El Kenawy), "Biokhraphia" (Lina Saneh, Rabih Mroué), "E" (Alain fraçon), and "Je Ne Sais Pas Si Vous Êtes Comme Moi" (a collective walk performance) are my suggestions.

Ok...maybe add to this the new play by Theatre Ubu.
Check the site for programmation.

At least one or two of these will mark you as some of the best art moments
of the year, as is always the case with each FTA.


Cedric Caspesyan

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Art(T)wit Site Of The Month: Avant Gaming.

My art site of the month is a site devoted to the archiving
of links concerning experimentation with art and the gaming industry.
I bet on my readers' enthousiasm while they peruse the wonderful Avant Gaming

I realize my aim with these monthly selections is to point
toward sites that offer hints, clues, proofs, that they are new
paths, avenues and directions happening within the arts at a
time when we feel they are not much interesting possibilities left.
Therefore I am not so interested in linking art projects themselves
(unless they are particularly eloquent), than pointing at the emergence
of perticular "scenes", and the people able to circumscribe and categorize
these "new agendas" for art (be them mediatic or theoretical).

But....for those who don't have the time to browse the site above
in its full glory for the time being, let me spot you two fave links of
mine that represents well the sort of materiel that is categorized and written
about on Avant-Gaming.

I feel like presenting them the same way Jennifer McMackon would on her

Have you ever played Pac-Man with a Mondrian painting ?


Have you ever played Asteroids with a sexy poem?



Cedric Caspesyan

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Where I'm Art

(that image is from James Farmer at Seblogging Cognitive Architects)

I am very confused and shifting, these days.

I let myself shocked by details that would
probably not cross the mind of many.

I take as argument the fact that even the public friendly William Kentridge exhibit
in Montreal shocked me when it received a lot of great press everywhere else.

I won't go here about what went wrong in my mind.

I am questioning wrether it's time or not for me to do art,
and wrether that wouldn't be my best option to respond to what
is going on around me, instead of sitting here blogging
about art shows that not much people care about.

I remember last month when I finished writting a whole
show review on Sarah Lucas, linking some images, right before
the gallery took all the images off, probably at the request of the artist.

I thought: Oops...ok, well...this one is going to be all
text with maybe one or two links to artnet.

But then, and perhaps under the influence of whom I was writting
about (Lucas had always been an extremist thinker), I
started to question: "Why do I care?".

I mean, Does Sarah cares ? Is it like she has a blog,
and talks about what she wants to do next, shares her opinions
on the world and other people's art, and show images
of her art??

No way. Her art is out there, take it or leave it
No discussion.

Not that I'm reproaching her anything, because what I
just described in fact would be the situation with 93 per cent of
visual artists I know.

I even thought Damien Hirst had a website until recently
when I realized that it was a devoted fan site.

It used to be complex enterprise to start a website, but the era
of blogging is shifting all this.

It is becoming almost the reverse situation when anyone will
soonly get nailed against a wall and asked why or why not are they writting

I believe blog will have a strong impact on
the development of art and the artworld.
Not only blog are a new form of art,
accentuated on the now, the everyday,
the archiving, and the flutuaction
of process (admitting your mistakes),
but they shift a lot of parameters
in the conventions of information control,
much more directly than it was ever
predicted since internet became
a popular application in the early 90's.

I don't think Google Video is such a revolution
when you can already blog your own videos.

I don't think Kentridge in museums will last when
the next Kentridge will blog their own video animations on the web.

Why go in a museum see a video about the urgency
of the situation of aids in Africa when someone
else can blog his art about the same subject
the morning it's done (Google even offers you
to make people pay for a stream). For now at least
you can reply "Because Kentridge is much better", but that
is temporary. Chances are the future Kentridge will be decided
upon by the public, when they will not need anymore to be told by gallerists
the art they should be gazing at.

The media canvase is irremediably shifting (once again).
Media artists are getting new means to develop their way
of collaborating with the world. "Instantaneification of broadcast".
Designers don't have the monopole of web expression anymore as new media systems are
implemented. It will be interesting to see where all this go.


In the meantime, I've seen a lot of art lately
that didn't leave an impression.

I've seen art non-stop since 1987, and yet it's
the first time I'm getting a serious sentiment of
getting "blasé". I wonder if the sentiment is shared.

Even artists we once dearly believed in
now bore us (Damien Hirst).

"Why did I come to see this?" was a question
I asked myself a lot recently. Not too
far from "why do I write this?" or "why would
or should I write about this?".

Recently I have been more preocupied with
making art than sharing opinions about what
others do, probably because I feel my
skills are there in the first place.
I have no idea, to be honest (yet, plenty of ideas).

I've seen art in Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, and Boston,
during the course of April, cancelling a New York
trip after seeing samples on the web of artists I
planned to visit (I'm tired of painters using the skills
of other people without citing least call it
Art Inc., or any name implying you are not alone, like
on the programme of a theatre presentation).

Nothing...I insist... Nothing enthralled me.
(except Claire Savoie in Québec, which was an
old idea of hers but, much enhanced).

Either I questioned the pertinence of a lot
of stuff, or I was left with art I had already seen
before (Lemieux in Quebec).

My hopes are on Toronto (that Dedicated show, that Bruce Mau show)
and Quebec (Manif) for some great art. Than Public Art Fund in New York
this May, with Ernst at the Met, and Janet Cardiff (again) in Washington.

Is that all ?

....maybe that Alberta Scene thing in Ottawa? (in May).

Until I decide to review more art (or not),
I will be sending notices about personal
wherabouts and projects here.

Here is my promissed Art Link Of The Month for April,
in a series attempting to dig ou where lies the real,
true, new art:

Avant Gaming

If you didn't know that one at least that gives you
a reason to come back here once per month. ;-)


Cedric Caspesyan

Monday, April 04, 2005

Have You Got The Mallarmé Blues?

What's with Mallarmé Blue and the MACM these days ??

Cynthia Girard's paintings have it, William Kentridge exhibit walls have it,
the MAC historical site has it, and now what? If you bare with the color of this text for a sec,
there's a colloquium happening today at the MACM which sounds like not much more than
a huge plug hype for a future show at Optica by artist Klaus Scherubel, an impression
not foreign to the obvious clue that the invitation pamphlet, sports the exact same typo and blue layout than for the book project that this artist is soon to be releasing in its french version.

What is this all about ? Mallarmé's unrealized project of producing the ultimate book.
Throw him a Borgès anytime.

My reason to boycott all this? Including colloqium, publication, and artist's show?

This lame ass, retro-conceptual piece of publishing a book made of styrofoam.

Oh, what poetry...

The empty book hommage to Hervé Guibert published by Emmanuel Gallant last year felt much more honest and, besides concept, not devoid of emotion and more precisely: "poetry".

For blue bring me back some Yves Klein (dammit),

Cedric Caspesyan