Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Monday, October 29, 2012

Housing


I-Beam Design (Suzan Wines, Azin Valy) have provided a housing option based on recycled pallets.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

IN THE SECULAR NIGHT
Margaret Atwood
In the secular night you wander around
alone in your house. It's two-thirty.
Everyone has deserted you,
or this is your story;
you remember it from being sixteen,
when the others were out somewhere, having a good time,
or so you suspected,
and you had to baby-sit.
You took a large scoop of vanilla ice-cream
and filled up the glass with grapejuice
and ginger ale, and put on Glenn Miller
with his big-band sound,
and lit a cigarette and blew the smoke up the chimney,
and cried for a while because you were not dancing,
and then danced, by yourself, your mouth circled with purple.

Now, forty years later, things have changed,
and it's baby lima beans.
It's necessary to reserve a secret vice.
This is what comes from forgetting to eat
at the stated mealtimes. You simmer them carefully,
drain, add cream and pepper,
and amble up and down the stairs,
scooping them up with your fingers right out of the bowl,
talking to yourself out loud.
You'd be surprised if you got an answer,
but that part will come later.

There is so much silence between the words,
you say. You say, The sensed absence
of God and the sensed presence
amount to much the same thing,
only in reverse.
You say, I have too much white clothing.
You start to hum.
Several hundred years ago
this could have been mysticism
or heresy. It isn't now.
Outside there are sirens.
Someone's been run over.
The century grinds on.
From:   Morning in the Burned House. McClelland & Stewart, Houghton Mifflin, Virago, 1995.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

September 11, 1973




We love filmmaker Ken Loach for his ("kitchen sink") realism and his commitment to social justice. The clip above is his "United Kingdom" contribution to 11'09'01 (2002).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"Alegria, Alegria" (1968)




Like Clarice Lispector, Caetano Veloso is also from north-eastern Brazil (Santo Amaro da Purificacao, Bahia). Like the myth of Los Indios Tabajaras, he and his artist/activist comrades in the Tropicalismo movement engaged in cannibalism, albeit of the artistic kind, drawing on a range of avant garde, pop, psychedelic, South Asian and Latin bossa nova influences to create a soundtrack for youthful pleasure and, at the same time, a soundtrack for revolt. The word that he, Gilberto Gil and Os Mutantes used to describe this cannibalism is antropofagia. The revolt he and his comrades went into exile (and jail) for was against a Brazilian military dictatorship that began in 1964 and ended in 1985.

The video above is from a performance of his most famous song "Alegria, Alegria" (1968). The video below is the studio version:




Monday, October 22, 2012

Los Indios





The Many Splendored Guitars of Los Indios Tabajaras (1965) was one of the fifteen or so records my parents had when I was a child. I remember this album as much for the cover as the music inside it -- two traditionally-(un)dressed Latin American "Indians" holding classical guitars to their chests.

Los Indios were a brother duo from north-eastern Brazil. According to my father, they were cannibals who came upon a downed plane full of dead musicians and, after eating their bodies, taught themselves how to play their instruments. In reality, however, these two probably had more in common with Ukrainian ex-pat Clarice Lispector (who was raised in Maceio) than the Yanomamo of yesterday's post.

Stories such as these were common at a time when anything out of the ordinary was amplified. Not because a gimmick was needed but because the idea of a musical conservatory accepting Indians was even more preposterous than that of autodidact cannibals.

But it worked the other way too. One example is Peruvian-born "exotica" singer Yma Sumac, whom many believed was actually a housewife from Brooklyn named Amy Camus (her stage name spelled backwards). Yma's story is the story of knowing better, which is to say knowing the lie but also what lies behind it -- even if what lies there is also untrue.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Ax Fight (1975)




During Friday's introduction of the Museum of Non-Participation, Amy Kazymerchyk mentioned Brad Butler's research interest in experimental ethnography, which immediately brought to mind a film we were shown in my second year Cultural Anthropology class, a film most undergraduates in anthropology are familiar with.

The Ax Fight (1975) by Tim Asch, Patsy Asch and evolutionary anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon is a thirty minute film about a 1971 conflict that takes place in a Yanomami village in Southern Venezuela. Chagnon, who by then was well-known for his fieldwork among the Yanomamo (his Yanomamo: The Fierce People, 1968, remains the biggest-selling ethnography of all-time), described the Yanomami he studied as in a state of "chronic war," a situation/condition that today's world leaders continue to foster as a means of social control -- namely through fear.

While watching The Ax Fight again this morning I recalled the first question asked of the Museum of Non-Participation after Friday's screening of Deep State, which concerned the subject position of the camera and the videomakers' relative absence from the work -- a question they responded to by talking about how tired their bodies were at the time their video was made. In The Ax FIght, the response by the Asches and Chagnon is most apparent, and provides its own related stream.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Deep State (2012)




Last night VIVO curator Amy Kazymerchyk screened Deep State (2012), a 45 minute video by the Museum of Non-Particpation (Brad Butler and Karen Mirza) that takes its title from the Turkish words derin devlet, which refer to closed-circuit, state-within-a state hidden assemblies where, faced with public dissent (for example), decisions concerning the deployment of police (using water cannons, water-boarding) are enacted. Rather than attempt a representation of this neo-liberal wheelhouse we are instead given its compositional analogue in the form of the structure of the video.

Like any film or video aware of the "structural" history of its medium, Deep State is comprised of recurrent streams. The most central concerns footage of protesting civilians and "peace-keeping" police (conflict images, not "protest images," as the videomakers refer to them), while the most notable features a woman of African descent performing a series of body and speech acts against a white background (are these performative gestures based on her readings of/experiences with protests?). A second figure (the constructed meta-subject) appears in front of the video as it is screened against a surface and, at the same time, absorbing that subject through its re-taping. In addition we are shown what is now a culture-jamming cliche (a burning TV set); a semi-silhouetted figure seated at a writer's desk, thinking aloud (the ghost of Michel Foucault? the video's scriptwriter China Mieville?); a dictator (an Hispanic-first American president?); and, about halfway through the piece, an astronaut ("riotnaut") who travels through space and time, only to find that nowhere, including the moon, are we free from protest (conflict).

As with many "new media" projects that come to us from the departments of Communication and Anthropology (Mirza's PhD is in the former, Butler's in the latter), the specific social and historical contexts in which civilians and police clash are elided, leaving us with what at times feels like a synchronic aestheticization of protest -- for protest's sake. Yes, we see London bobbies (striking miners?), just as we see Islamic shop signs (Arab Spring?), but to montage these conflicts in order to both identify and define globalization only strengthens that system's ability to further compress our social reality, impose a universal onto a particular, which I find just as oppressive as the weight of unseen capital and its increased concentration, as facilitated by these covert "deep state" structures. Of more interest to me is not the ebb and flow clash of protesters and police (both of which contain state workers) but of the ostensibly democratic internal conflicts revealed to us through more recent protest models such as Occupy, where hand signals are used to convey approval/disapproval within the group. Another expression of conflict, one that the videomaker's have embraced through their theorization of the "non", concerns the Occupy movement's non-expository engagement with the corporate media, their refusal to be sound-bitten, encased within those criminally reductive narratives its news agencies are so quick to deploy.

At the end of the screening Kazymerchyk invited the videomakers to the front of the room. However, rather than make themselves available for questions, first, they wanted to speak to what they were doing in their video, a gesture that was quickly challenged by an audience member who wanted to know why the camera POV was from the "police perspective," a question that was not adequately addressed. A second question by politically-specific, dialectically-inclined videomaker Craig Berggold asked the videomakers what they thought an "image of change" might look like (in contrast to a "protest image"). This question was also not adequately addressed. Instead the videomakers took us to the outer reaches of intention, until one of them (I forget who) suggested that the "meta-subject" and "the woman of African descent" allowed the film its "love story", a suggestion so absurd, so unearned (the film is devoid of eros) that I had no choice but to leave -- in protest.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Non-Participation



The image from yesterday's post was taken from the VIVO website, where the artists behind the sign, as it were, have been in-residence while attending/participating in this past weekend's Institutions by Artists conference (and festival). Yesterday the artists (Brad Butler and Karen Mirza) presented their project/practice, and I have to say, I was impressed -- not only with the content of their work (a clear-headed recognition of glocal systems and an ability to register them beyond the decoration of social space), but in the care they took to convey it.

Too many of the IbyA talks were poorly presented and, in many cases, wildly off-topic. While I am generally open to improvisation and formal transgression (thank you Tania Bruguera for resisting the "Oxford-style" format of the "Should Artists Professionalize?" debate), I have little patience for presenters indifferent to their ass-taxed audience, or those who believe a recitation of their c.v. will suffice.

A.A. Bronson is a case in point. Enlisted to give the keynote address, the senior Bronson delivered what amounted to an artist-talk (and a fine one at that). Most unfortunate was that he talked through -- and beyond -- his Q&A allotment, which resulted in his insertion in the following session's Q&A, where audience members had a chance to ask Anton Vidokle and Peline Tan about their "future institutions by artists" video, a commission by the conference entitled 2084. Yes, we had some of that -- but the ostensibly open (and inclusive) call these relatively younger cultural workers extended in relation to Bronson's me-first pronouncements made visible a greater problem, one that might explain, in part, why some younger artists are ambivalent to artist-run culture. I am speaking here of a perception that exists of certain artists of Bronson's generation, who, though historically important to the development of this culture (and indeed have given their lives to it), carry on as if entitled to more and more time and space. If we accept this proposition in light of the many comments we heard about artist-run activities existing as much in a temporal realm as a spatial one (ad hoc, situational, etc.), particularly with respect to an emerging generation of artists who have grown up with(in) the savagery of the market state, then we have yet another question that needs to be addressed.

Oddly enough, it was another topic-indifferent talk by artist Dirk Fleischmann that brought to mind questions about the internet as an inadvertent institution, a topic that Artforum made so much of (as a future projection) in its 50th anniversary (September, 2012) issue, and another system younger artists have grown up with. As Flesichmann neared the end of his slow but steady power-point presentation of his carbon credits project, he spoke of his "failure" to present this sophisticated and environmentally relevant work within the standard gallery format. What he did not mention, however, was how the internet might indeed be the best way to make this work available, and as such what role might the internet play in an artist-run culture that appears to be moving closer to the unmoored, nomadic collectivity of individuals than the bricks-and-mortar gallery spaces Bronson helped to build?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Institutions by Artists



For the past three days I have attended/participated in Institutions by Artists at Simon Fraser University's Woodward's campus, taking in its presentations, launches, panels and debates, and, during yesterday's breakfast, interviewing other attendees/participants on their experiences for the IbyA website archive.

While unable to experience everything at IbyA, I can say that the potential of artist-run centres continues to benefit from its healthiest critics: those who work in and with them.

Much of the conference is available on Livestream. The only thing missing from the streamed version is what artist-run centres do so well, and that is provide a space for those who, with art eyes, come together, face to face, to share the visions their eyes have shown them.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bob Rennie and the "New Economy"



Speaking in this morning's Globe, Bob Rennie had this to say of a new stand-alone "iconic" Vancouver Art Gallery:

“…nobody is addressing what it is to spend $300- or $400-million dollars in this new economy and it is irresponsible to simply go out and say we want an iconic building," he says. “The public discussion should now be around alternative models and the tough questions that have to be asked in this new economy: Do we spend the money on art, or architecture? And how does this institution fit in with the cultural fabric of Vancouver as a whole? It cannot be talked about in isolation.”
Note the repetition of "new economy." Is it not reminiscent of an earlier Social Credit provincial government's repetition of the "New Reality" to justify draconian cuts to public sector workers in the early 1980s (what the SoCreds and their Chicago School-influenced advisors at the Fraser Institute  deployed to sell their "restraint" program)? Strategies such as these, when applied to public infrastructure, are a hallmark of the neo-liberal choir, of which Rennie is our boy soprano. 
But there are other "new economy" strategies, most notably the Depression-era New Deal that gave us the Works Progress Administration (WPA) that had the United States federal government investing in cultural production geared at employing artists (and/or distracting them from revolutionary activities) while re-paving the symbolic superstructure of a country that, compared to Europe, had yet to enter the 20th century (which, as most historians will tell you, the U.S. succeeded in owning). Rennie could have made this argument, as a concerned citizen, but chose not to. Why he chose not to speaks more to what he does not want than what he does.
Rather than dwell on what Rennie does not want, let's look instead at the rest of his comment, particularly with respect to "new models." One such model (the one he put forth in that same Globe article) is for "8 to 10" smaller VAGs. While this proposal has been thoroughly critiqued, what Rennie appears to be getting at is not so much smaller galleries but a de-emphasis on a single monolithic structure. Given the way contemporary art is changing, with much of it housed online and appearing in non-traditional public and private spaces, might the monolithic public gallery (like the monolithic public library) be headed down the same path as those increasingly defunct big box book and record stores? (An unintended irony of Moshe Safdie's Main Branch of the Vancouver Public Library is that it is based on a ruin.)
Yes, there will always be public and private galleries (museums?) to display object-based work; but if in this never-ending "new economy" the growth of these structures is prohibitive, as Rennie suggests, then the contemporary art of the "new economy" can only reflect that -- if art, as we know it, will exist at all.

Friday, October 12, 2012

What Does Rennie Want?


Michael Audain, Kathleen Bartels and Bob Rennie have huge hands in the symbolic production of this city. At the root of the symbolic is not certainty, like the market craves, but ambiguity, those liminal spaces where the mind and body suddenly veer left or right or cycle back; folding, unfolding. What we enjoy in our art experience is that uncertainty; how, with a little knowledge, we can travel, let go, either to affirm what we think we know or arrive at a new place, a place where everything around us, and within us, can be experienced in an entirely different light.

Michael Audain has a vast collection of art objects and wants a permanent place in which to display them ("in my lifetime"). Kathleen Bartels is the director of a public gallery (VAG) that, as it stands, is too small to display Audain's collection, and was hired by a board (on which Audain sits) to "sell" a new gallery to public (government) and private (business) sectors. Bob Rennie also has a vast collection of art objects, as well as a building in which to show them -- his own (Wing Sang). We know what Audain wants, we know what Bartels wants, but what does Rennie want? What does Rennie want that he does not already have -- besides certainty?

Recall the City's insistence that the VAG's proposed new building share the City-owned Larwill Park block with other cultural amenities  -- with a market housing tower to subsidize these amenities. Recall, too, that Bartels, Audain and former VAG board chair David Aisenstat came out of the gate two years ago insisting that the VAG have the entire block, a proposal that was not well-received at the City. What part of this situation, if any, does Rennie object to?

Given Rennie's gold standing with the City (for helping it out on Olympic Village), and the City's potential as a Larwill block development partner (as it was with Olympic Village), might Rennie see the loss of this capital-generating tower (would he not be the sales agent for its condos?) as money out of his pocket? I ask this not to be coy but as a Vancouverite in search of both an answer to the question and a motivation for Rennie's rage against the VAG. Is this what Rennie is seeking, assuming he is out for something other than certainty?

What ails you, Bob Rennie? And why won't you share it with us?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bartels to Wing Sang




Another reason why VAG Director Kathleen Bartels has my sympathies concerns a dinner held at Bob Rennie's Wing Sang Building in early September. The story I am about to tell has been stitched together from a number of sources, all of them similar enough to make it less an instance of gossip than a crime beat necessity.

The dinner in question was a rooftop "dinner-for-twelve" Rennie had donated to a Vancouver Symphony Orchestra auction earlier in the year. The winning bidder was VAG board member Eric Savics, a principal at a brokerage firm (Haywood) that my late father once worked at in the 1980s. Savics's invitees included Equinox Gallery's Andy Sylvester, his partner VAG Chief Curator/Associate Director Daina Augaitis, VAG board member and mining/movie mogul Frank Giustra, VAG board member Michael Audain and his wife Yoshi Karasawa, and, after asking her three times, a reluctant Kathleen Bartels, who was brought to the event by the VAG's other Associate Director, Paul Larocque. Apparently Savics had also invited Rennie, but as Rennie and Carey Fouks had planned to spend the evening on Jimmy Pattison's yacht, Rennie declined.

It was at some point during the dinner that a Wing Sang security guard identified Bartels on one of the building's surveillance screens, leading him to call a) Rennie Collection Director Wendy Chang, who then called Fouks or b) Fouks directly. Whatever the case, the call was received just as Fouks and Rennie were disembarking, and Fouks's response was to fall to his knees, then leap to his feet, throw his camera to the ground and, amidst a bouquet of expletives, announce to Rennie that Bartels had breached the perimeter. Enraged, Rennie told Fouks that he would handle it and jumped in his car, leaving Fouks to follow.

Rennie entered the lobby of Wing Sang just as the diners had started into their desserts (Audain, Karasawa and Giustra had left by then), whereupon he let loose with an expletive-laden scream that could be heard all the way to the roof. Most versions of the story have it that Bartels was in the bathroom at the time, though one version states that, upon hearing Rennie's voice, Bartels ran to the bathroom to hide. Either way, Rennie ascended the building (by stairs or by elevator, I am not sure) and informed the diners exactly what he thought of Bartels. At this point it is alleged that Laroque, fearful of Bartels's safety, ran downstairs to the bathroom hoping to find the VAG director and remove her from the premises, pressing elevators buttons along the way in the event that she was on her way back to the table.

At this point Fouks entered the building and, while making his way to the roof, came upon an elevator at the moment its doors were opening (how Larocque and Fouks did not pass each other on the way is unclear). Inside the elevator was Bartels, whom Fouks proceeded to lay into, calling her a string of unrepeatable names as she brushed past him and ran upstairs, with Fouks in pursuit. Upon her return Rennie then redirected his invective at Bartels, moving ever closer, to the point where Sylvester stepped between them, at which point Bartels and the rest of Savics's party were ushered out of the building. Another version has it that it was Rennie who confronted Bartels outside the washroom and, upon her return to the table, Fouks stormed in and took his expletives to the next level, after which Larocque escorted Bartels to a nearby apartment, where she could collect herself before returning home to her family.

A common response to this story is indicative of the bad feeling many have towards Bartels; namely, that she should not have gone to this dinner in the first place, given Rennie's antipathy towards her. But I disagree -- she went to this dinner at the repeated urging of one of her board members, what I interpret as an act of loyalty, or support. Another way to look at this is to question the logic of such a statement, because to say that Bartels should not have gone to Wing Sang that night is tantamount to saying that rape is justified when women put themselves in situations where rape is likely. I refuse to blame the victim here, because what Rennie and Fouks threw at Bartels breached far more than Bartels's breach of their perimeter. What these two did is reprehensible. Poe's "Masque of Red Death" -- but inverted.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bettman to Bartels



Only yesterday did I notice the incredible volume of construction/destruction going on in my neighbourhood. Every second block has an infill project; every other block a lifted house. At the west end of my block, two houses were razed to accommodate a three-storey, nine unit cluster with underground parking, while a block south on Kingsway, another car-lot-cum-condominium-complex.

It was while watching the installation of a large pane of glass that my ears tuned into the workmen's boom box: a sports talk show dissecting the current NHL lock-out and what is likely the suspension of the entire 2012-2013 hockey season. Representing the players is Donald Fehr; representing NHL team owners, Commissioner Gary Bettman.

Every June, Gary Bettman walks onto the ice to present the Stanley Cup, and is routinely greeted with boos. Rarely is his name mentioned in a positive light. But that's his job, for Gary Bettman is a well-paid whipping boy whose duties also include the maintenance and marketting of the NHL on behalf of its teams' owners -- because it is the owners, not Gary Bettman, who are calling the shots.

While sports talk shows operate on emotion (as opposed to analytical critique), I have on a occasion been inspired by something I have heard on these programs, an insight that has altered the way I think about professional sports. But on this day, with the workmen's boom box blaring, and this huge window being craned into its frame, it occurred to me that the contempt for Gary Bettman is misplaced, that Bettman is merely the messenger, and that the greater problem lies in a group of owners with their own agendas, some of whom have formed a majority. And as is the case with most boards, majority rules.

It was while considering the NHL lock-out that my thoughts returned to the current situation at the Vancouver Art Gallery, under the direction of Kathleen Bartels. When Gary Bettman was hired in the 1990s, the NHL was moribund; since then he has built the league into a powerhouse (by corporate standards). Kathleen Bartels achieved something similar after she was hired to direct the VAG in 2000. But somewhere along the line the board decided the VAG required a bigger space to house and display its collection (no doubt bolstered by the inclusion of long-serving board member Michael Audain's impressive accumulation of B.C and Meso-American art and artefact), and that it was Bartels's job to sell it.

Like Gary Bettman, the name Kathleen Bartels is often greeted with scorn. During her eleven years at the VAG, we have heard stories of poor working conditions, low staff morale, union troubles, insensitive donor "asks", budget shortfalls, a lack of curatorial support and, most recently, disdain for the manner in which she has presented the gallery's case for moving -- not the end goal, which many of us agree on (a larger space to display the collection, where the stories of this city's art can be told), but the means by which she has gone about selling this purpose-built, stand-alone "iconic" building to taxpayers, business and government. I, for one, have been appalled by some of Bartels's presumptions, while at the same time aware that the awkwardness and injury that have accompanied the VAG's proposed move is not wholly her fault. For this I blame certain members of her meddlesome, self-serving board, just as many of us blamed another meddlesome, self-serving VAG board twelve years ago, when an ad hoc group known as VagConcern formed to protest not the "resignation" of the gallery's previous director, Alf Bogusky, but the arrogance of board member Joe McHugh, after he was appointed from within that board to serve as the VAG's interim director.

Those who participated in VagConcern will remember visits from VAG board members Christos Dikeakos, who, with all the righteous indignation this artist-restauranteur-gadfly could muster, admonished us for our principles, to developer-philanthropist Michael Audain, who entered our forum as a self-appointed peace-maker, a gesture that would have been better received had he not come to us insisting that he would leave with our blessings. Yet whereas the aristocratic Audain was relatively low-key during the VagConcern era, he took a different approach after the VAG announced four years ago its desire to move, when he paired himself with Bartels at public information sessions and made himself available to journalists. That he took this tack seems consistent with a man whose interest in a move was linked less to the public good than the vanity that comes from wanting to see, in his lifetime, his collection on permanent display -- in a gallery room with his name above the entrance. Michael Audain is not the VAG board, merely its wealthiest member. But with wealth comes influence (and Audain's influence, we are told, is far-reaching).

But back to Bartels. The reason she has my sympathy extends beyond her character. For here is yet another blithe U.S. American who came to Vancouver to be a first-time gallery director, only to be shepherded by Audain, who introduced her to his good friend Gordon Campbell, the then-premier of this province and a top-down autocratic so unilateral in his approach to governance that caucus members not only quit on him but quit politics altogether. So this is the political economic culture Bartels was exposed to during the first days of her directorship, the culture she did her best to adapt to, learn from. But with Campbell gone, and his party unlikely to form a government after the May 2013 election, so too are the millions Campbell committed to a new VAG building. But rather than stick by his director, what does Audain do? He sulks, loses interest, then announces two weeks ago that he is considering moving his collection to Whistler so that he might see his legacy enshrined ("in my life lifetime").

I am not sure when the NHL lock-out will end, but when it does, it will not come from Gary Bettman but from team owners. As for Kathleen Bartels, until her board tells her otherwise she will have no choice but to continue lobbying for a purpose-built, stand-alone "iconic" building, whether she believes in one or not. So next time you hear the name Kathleen Bartels and feel compelled to hiss, look not to the messenger -- but to those who wrote her message.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tucker on Nauman




One of the books I read this summer was Marcia Tucker's memoir A Short Life of Trouble: Forty Years in the New York Art World, a book I would recommend to anyone interested in what was happening in that city's museums between 1970-1990, but also to those interested in how one makes their way into the world's youngest profession -- curation.

While there is much to learn from this book, the section I keep returning to concerns Tucker's curiosity towards that which she does not understand, something we have become bad at over the last thirty years (see yesterday's post). The video above (from a talk taped shortly before her death) contains excerpts from that section.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Paglia on Art




A couple days ago Camille Paglia published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "How Capitalism Can Save Art". Typical of much of her writing, Paglia's best propositions are incidental to her argument.

Paglia tells us that off-shore manufacturing has America's middle class youth (which must number in the hundreds by now) alienated from the manual trades. From this she extrapolates a decline in the visual arts, a measurement based on an inability to produce a "major figure or profound influence" since "the waning of Pop Art and the birth of Minimalism in the early 1970s."

While I would dispute the latter part of Paglia's assertion (the art world, like the rest of the world, has atomized substantially since the early 1970s), I am interested in how a decrease in U.S.-based manufacturing has affected the fabric of American life.

Paglia's article reads fine in the context of the Wall Street Journal, given the newspaper's commitment to the market as the arbiter of meaning, its impatience for the Next Big Thing. But for those interested in the conversation that is contemporary art, it is little more than a provocation in search of a consequence, something Paglia has always been good at.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Friday, October 5, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Vancouver Hold'em


While Vancouver City Hall was besieged by anti-Densificationists, others opened the Globe to find Michael Audain considering the blow-moulded resort town of Whistler, B.C., as home for his substantial collection of B.C. art and artefact. How is it that the man who is spearheading the VAG's move from the former courthouse to Larwell Park (where presumably his collection will be housed in a new purpose-built building) is suddenly thinking Whistler?

This can only be a ruse, a response to Bob Rennie's earlier suggestion that the VAG consider "8 to 10" smaller galleries spread about the city. But why would Michael Audain fall prey to this, especially when the optics have him looking like he is abdicating his role of Moses to the VAG's Egyptian slaves? Is Michael Audain that egotistical that he can no longer refuse Bob Rennie's invitation to sit at the poker table and play Vancouver Hold 'em? The same Bob Rennie who already has the City, who is also at the table, beholden to him for saving its ass over Olympic Village? The same Bob Rennie who has made it his business to run VAG director Kathleen Bartels out of town? What is the great-great-grandson of the man who ran trade unionist Albert "Ginger" Goodwin off the planet thinking!

Enough! It is time these two half-billionaires stop treating Vancouver's cultural ecology as their own private casino and start living up to the standards they espouse when echoing their pals in the provincial Liberal government, who claim British Columbia to be the "best place on earth." Until then, I will return to this topic, and when I do I will bring to it every ounce of dirt these two turn over.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012


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