Thursday, December 11, 2008
The janitor used to come every two weeks. One day he left a note on my desk to tell me that one of the artworks is dripping red juice. The piece was Matt Davis’ multimedia photo collage, and the red juice comes from the chewed sugar-free gums which adhere to the surface of the photo. At some point there are flies stuck to it; it is summer after all.
“Isn’t this the grossest thing you’ve ever seen?”
Three months later, Matt shows here again, this time his solo show. The anchor piece was an installation entitled “Inheritance”, which is made of sugar-free candy, foam, sunflower seed shells, cat litter, fish oil pills, nylon strap, band-aids, super balls, toilet paper, and body hair mounted on a photograph of what appears to be a vagina or a very ripe fig, mounted on clumsily cut aluminum. The piece embodies danger and anxiety, and with its tangling foam tentacles, sharp edges and near-unidentifiable objects affixed onto it, it’s easy to overlook the grotesque imagery in the photograph.
“Is this thing archival?”
Boss was born in the Depression era. She grew up to love art as much as life. To her, a piece of art is as important as a pair of wool socks or a heavy winter coat. She got married to Jack who builds chrome sculptures that are strong enough to brave the Chicago winter. Jack founded CAW with a mission to showcase young emerging artists with new ideas. It was the 1950s.
Nowadays, artists are finding new materials to use in artworks and it’s still a new concept for most of the art-viewing public. During the opening, one of the guests brought up the Unmonumental exhibition in the New Museum in New York and how it was target to outrage by many museum-goers because of its slacker aesthetic and unserious concepts. But even then, such style is widely accepted in the recently-artschool-grad circle. This is what they teach in school? What’s there to teach? How to mix epoxies and glue a bunch of shit together?
I’m biased, since I glue shit together in my own work, too. I have to say that this new aesthetic is totally relevant to our time. This is the era when consumer items define our lives and relativity is a mainstream belief. Things don’t just serve the purpose of being useful, they suggest a narrative to our identity. But it suggests a vague identity, more mystery -- a more fitting definition of personality. The fact that the materials are real doesn’t help make reading easier, but it provides a more full and open experience. Nothing else is clear-cut, so why should the art be?
Matt’s work is confounding not only in its material but also in its imagery. It’s gross, it’s beautiful, it’s overwhelming, it’s shoddy-looking, it’s lively. The red juice is absent from “Inheritance”, but the complexity of the materials guarantees a different reading each time. It’s aliiiiiiiive.
Matt Davis's show The End is the last for the historic alternative space CAW. Go see it before it closes January 23.
synonyms of collaborate: be in cahoots, coact, cofunction, collude, come together, concert, concur, conspire, cooperate, coproduce, do business with, get together, glue oneself to, go partners, hook on, hook up, interface, join forces, join together, join up with, participate, team up, throw in together, throw in with, tie in, work with
other fave co's:
Coco (my cat)
connect (as in early heads pictured above)
Since we began discussing our show this summer and the workshop ideas, I've been hyper-keyed to collaboration. It's PeeWee's word of the day. AAhhHhhhhh! He he!
- My student's did a crazy joint drawing a couple weeks ago on the dry erase board. Two of us got it started, and the rest couldn't have enough marker time. It was good productive togetherness! (Reminded me of our instigating "Friday Night Dance Party" at Waterworks back in 2001.)
- C and I just did a lil' drawin' for a friend of jumbled up people and cats and bling and pickles. Sweet fun.
- Recently talking about my co-created and co-taught class with J at the MCA---a challenging and productive teaching strategy that continues to drive my philosophies on art education.
- H, a friend from Memphis, posted his facebook status, "H is working on his Collaborative Painting & Drawing syllabus and is looking for examples of artists who've collaborated. Any suggestions?" Received responses from several "face-friends" like: Picasso and Braque, De Kooning and Rauschenberg, Abramovich and Ulay, Warhol and Basquiat, Bismuth and Gondry, Parreno and Gordon, Doug and Mike Starn, Dino and Jake Chapman, David Bowie and Hirst, Charles Long and Stereolab (the art guys), Bernd + Hilla Becher, Newton + Helen Mayer Harrison, Art Club 2000, Tim Rollins + K.O.S., Atelier Van Lieshout, Group Material, General Idea, Komar & Melamid, Gilbert & George, Bob & Bob, Terry Fox & Joseph Beuys, Fischli & Weiss, Seals and Croft, and I'm sure that Thomas Kinkade has collaborated with many - oh yeah, that's right, he has a staff that paints for him! UGH.
- And most recently, I noticed an enews about a December 2008/January 2009 issue of Modern Painters that includes an article about "merging artists" (get it? instead of their usual "emerging artists" section). Really wonderful work by 9 artist-teams. Above pics: Nina Canell and Robin Watkins, still from Sea Chant (2006) + Benoît Maire and Falke Pisano, Organon (2008)
I'm glad in a time of technology-driven social connection that artists (and others) are finding more ways to physically coproduce. Especially with the cold months ahead, we need more warm body time.
Looking forward to our future co-adventures!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I am glad, though, that you aren't in the gallerina chair this time. Not that last time was any easier, but the pressure of "selling" art now seems more ridiculous than ever. Even J--my collector's perspective--says the economy has finally touched the art world. I don't know why, but this makes me feel a little better. At least the two worlds (art and rest) are somewhat connected and the repression isn't exclusive. J keeps me up on the auctions (esp. the online ones), and numbers aren't as high as usual for fame namers. No bailout needed, though, we're still talkin' big money. So...what does this mean, then? Is it too hopeful to think that this might affect value systems? Maybe with less buyers, lower spenders, the demand of making-to-sell will turn to making for other reasons? Will buyers break fashion trends and take chances on lesser knowns (because they are lesser costs)? May the business of art buy/sell die with the stock market? I can dream.
p.s. loved the collab. post---what an amazing interactive site! i have some responses, but i'm slow. will post again soon.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008