Thursday, January 17, 2008

Proud Papa and Disappointed Arts Supporter

Lots to do today, so I'll keep this short(ish...it is me, after all).

Bambino and I are heading down to Philadelphia today for the opening of
Carlos Motta's exhibition at the ICA. We couldn't be prouder of Carlos. Here's the skinny:

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) is pleased to present “Carlos Motta: The Good Life,” the first museum presentation of an ambitious work by Carlos Motta, on view January 18 – March 30, 2008. “The Good Life,” a long-term, in-progress, experimental documentary project, engages and critiques documentary practice itself. It is a relevant examination of the regional history, perception and effects of US interventionist policies in Latin America, at a time of global critical awareness of those politics.

Since 2005, Carlos Motta has recorded over 300 video interviews with civilians on the streets of twelve cities in Latin America. The questions he asked, on individual perceptions of US interventionism and foreign policy, democracy, leadership, and governance, resulted in an extremely wide spectrum of opinion, which varies according to local situations and forms of government in each country. The resulting footage is the basis of “The Good Life.” Informed by conceptual documentary traditions the project references the approach of cinema vérité classics such as Chris Marker’s Le Jolie Mai (1963) and Vilgot Sjöman’s I am curious (Yellow) (1967), which began to study the notion of public opinion as mediated construction.
Congrats to Carlos and ICA curator Tina Gregory!!!

And while I'm at it, let me note we're also proud that
Jennifer Dalton was selected by curator Chuck Close to be in the inaugural exhibition of the FLAG Art Foundation in Chelsea:

The FLAG Art Foundation is pleased to announce its inaugural exhibition, "Attention to Detail." Curated by renowned contemporary artist Chuck Close, the show includes work from a wide range of both established and emerging artists:

Louise Bourgeois, Delia Brown, Glenn Brown, Maurizio Cattelan, Vija Celmins, Jennifer Dalton, Thomas Demand, Tara Donovan, Olafur Eliasson, Dan Fischer, Tom Friedman, Ellen Gallagher, Tim Gardner, Franz Gertsch, Ewan Gibbs, Robert Gober, Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst, Jim Hodges, Naoto Kawahara, Ellsworth Kelly, Cary Kwok, Robert Lazzarini, Graham Little, Christian Marclay, Brice Marden, Tony Matelli, Ron Mueck, Richard Patterson, Richard Pettibone, Elizabeth Peyton, Richard Phillips, Marc Quinn, Alessandro Raho, Gerhard Richter, Aaron Romine, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, James Siena, Ken Solomon, Thomas Struth, Tomoaki Suzuki, Yuken Teruya, Fred Tomaselli, Jim Torok, Mark Wagner, Rachel Whiteread, Fred Wilson, Steve Wolfe, Lisa Yuskavage
Jen's response was even more delightful than she usually is when she learned that her spectacular piece, The Collector-ibles, was forming an installation triptych, so to speak, with a large Damien Hirst and giant Andreas Gursky. The show is spectacular, by the way, so congrats to the FLAG, director Stephanie Roach, and curator Mr. Close.

Hold on, though, there's more...Having just closed his simultaneous solo exhibitions in New York and Detroit, for which he got buckets of great press (and there's more to come),
Ivin Ballen will be in his first European exhibition at the Markus Winter Gallery, Berlin, Germany. Curated by Jim Lee und Rob Nadeau, the exhibition also includes one of our other fave artists, Wendy White!

And, yes, there's even more. As noted previously, but soon to open (March 15 through June 8 2008 [oh, yes, you'll hear about this again]),
Cathy Beigen's video Black Out has been selected for the monumental exhibition by the Getty Center, California Video:

The first comprehensive survey of California video art from 1968 to the present, this exhibition includes important examples of single-channel video, video sculpture, and video installation. Featuring the work of fifty-eight artists, duos, and collectives, California Video locates a distinctively West Coast aesthetic within the broader history of video art while highlighting the Getty's major commitment to the preservation and exhibition of a young but vital artistic medium. This exhibition is co-organized by the Getty Research Institute and the J. Paul Getty Museum.
OK, so Cathy's the most important artist in the show, but it also includes Eleanor Antin, John Baldessari, Brian Bress, Nancy Buchanan, Chris Burden, Jim Campbell, Meg Cranston, Harry Dodge & Stanya Kahn, Allan Kaprow, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, Tony Oursler, Martha Rosler, Jennifer Steinkamp, T.R. Uthco and Ant Farm, Diana Thater, Bill Viola, and William Wegman.

To say we're proud is to set new standards for understatement.

On a different topic, though, I was sorely disappointed to learn that the new standards being used to divvy up public money for the arts in the UK are off to a ridiculous start. You may recall that I blogged
back in December about a new plan in England to rethink how tax money was being spent to support the arts with the top priority being to "reward excellence." At the time I noted I agree with the premise but was not optimistic that this could be done "without politics outweighing ...objective appraisals of excellence." Sadly it seems my fears were not unfounded. Today, The New York Times delves into one inexplicable cut (well, inexplicable in terms of rewarding excellence):
On Dec. 14 Josie Rourke, the artistic director of the tiny Bush Theater in West London, received an unwelcome Christmas present. It was a letter from the Arts Council England, the government-financed body that doles out subsidies to the arts, announcing plans to cut the Bush’s public funding by some 40 percent — to about £300,000 (roughly $588,000) a year, from £480,000 ($942,000).

Budgets cuts loom for the Bush Theater, which finds and supports new work.
Ms. Rourke was surprised, to say the least. While its building is shabby, inaccessible to wheelchairs and seats just 81 — all matters of concern to the council — the theater is known for having influence above its station, with a track record of finding and supporting new work and picking winning plays. Last year one of its productions, “Elling,” transferred to the West End; playwrights like Stephen Poliakoff and Conor McPherson and, most recently, Neil LaBute, have had premieres of their work there.

“Our excellence is not in dispute,” Ms. Rourke said in an interview. “They’ve praised, year on year, the work that we’ve done,” she said of the council.

With letters of support pouring in, including one signed by Michael Frayn, Salman Rushdie, Tom Stoppard, Margaret Atwood and David Hare, the Bush is appealing the cut and will learn the council’s final decision in February. It is a difficult situation: more than 700 arts organizations would actually see their subsidies rise under the Arts Council’s plans, but the Bush joins 193 others — art galleries, orchestras, literary groups and the like — that face devastating cuts over the next three years.
The Bush has been a victim of government timing (i.e., they need a new building but the Art Council spokeswoman interviewed explained that there was no longer any government money available for capital projects). The horrific Catch 22 here for The Bush is because there's no funding available for them to move into a new building, they're having to cut back their plans, but because they had to cut back their plans the Arts Council is cutting their funding.

No one anywhere is suggesting their program is less than excellent, making a total mockery, IMO, of the new decision-making process. The criteria here has to include a combination of concerns: rewarding excellence AND ensuring excellent institutions aren't penalized (or forced to close down) due to arbitrary bureaucratic timing.

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17 Comments:

Blogger David said...

Jen's response was even more delightful than she usually is when she learned that her spectacular piece, The Collector-ibles, was forming an installation triptych, so to speak...

What was her delightful response?

1/17/2008 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Why, she dry-humped Edward's statue, of course!

I'm sorry, the image just popped into my head and I had to get it out.

Ed sez:
Lots to do today, so I'll keep this short(ish...it is me, after all).

Plan failed! 1200 words isn't short or shortish in anyone's book!

I have nothing else to add. Sorry.

1/17/2008 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

562 if you don't count the quoted text...

as for the rest of the comment you typed out...do you hug your mother with those hands? :-P


Jen's response was charmingly modest and appreciative of the context.

1/17/2008 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

I try not to hug anyone with these hands. Who knows where they've been!

1/17/2008 01:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris's mom said...

I don't let him get anywhere near me.

1/17/2008 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Oh, Mommy, why don't you return my calls?

1/17/2008 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

like a Brazilian soap opera, this...do carry on...

1/17/2008 02:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris's mom said...

I'm over here at the gallery with Edward's statue. Leave me alone.

1/17/2008 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Rywalt said...

Dear Mother, you always were such a tease.

1/17/2008 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

rewarding excellence AND ensuring excellent institutions aren't penalized (or forced to close down) due to arbitrary bureaucratic timing.

Er, just a suggestion, here, but if the Bush theatre is so excellent, and has so much support from recognized figures such as Atwood and Stoppard, what is to stop them from mounting a high-profile fundraising campaign, soliciting private donors? Or raising ticket prices, or holding a raffle for opening-night tickets, or opening a Web store, for God's sake?

Or don't the British believe in private industry anymore?

1/17/2008 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous dubz said...

thank you for the kind mention, e_!

1/17/2008 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

...if the Bush theatre is so excellent...

And they really should re-think the name.

1/17/2008 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Franklin said...

And they really should re-think the name.

No, they should solicit donations from the ignorant hordes watching Hannity & Colmes. They'll be able to upholster their new seats in calfskin.

1/17/2008 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger the reader said...

I'm sharing a bit of the excitement around this post at the moment, particularly for Carlos Motta and his piece "the good life". I saw this piece in Buenos Aires and found truly engaging in the way that it presents such a rich fabric of responses to the questions Carlos asks. From the totally uncritical to vaguely critical but ill informed to the highly intelligent and politicized, taken together these interviews represent so much in not only the views expressed but also the connection of each of these people to a highly specific time and place in Latin America. if the south is the unconscious then this work is the american dream. for background reading check out Eduardo Galeano's The Open Veins of Latin America.

1/17/2008 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

watching Hannity & Colmes

Franklin, I had to Google that to get the joke. Thought it must have been a British sitcom. I'm always amazed by how much great stuff I'm missing out on :)

1/17/2008 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Thanks, the reader.

The installation at the ICA is fantastic. One of the things that you get fairly quickly via the photos and videos is that what people expect from democracy is so relative to where they are now...making it this hopeful, if not unrealistic, panacea in so many people's minds. What ails you at the moment is what democracy is supposed to fix. From the need for a job to the desire for everyone else to leave you alone to make your fortune. From religious freedom to freedom of speech to freedom from regulation to freedom from hunger to freedom from {insert your current concern here}. That's democracy's appeal...you can project what it's supposed to do onto it.

My favorite response to one of the standard questions (I'm paraphrasing: Do you remember any instances of US intervention in Latin American.?) was by a Nicaraguan woman who said "No, but I think that would be a good idea."

The irony of a Nicaraguan unable to recall any US intervention is one side of why I found that so surprising, but the other is how it echoed the famous line by Ghandi who, when asked what he thought about Western civilization, answered he thought it would be a very good idea.

1/18/2008 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger the reader said...

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend quite a bit of time with Carlos Motta's piece having been involved with the event that it was showing at in Buenos Aires. I was drawn back to it every time I had a moment to sit for a while in between doing my things. This is a piece that really does have a powerful cumulative effect. I think part of that is that it builds this ambiguous relationship to the Bolivarian ideal. On the one hand it gives us a uniting perspective of Latin America (the very act of traveling to Latin America's main cities to speak to its people about democracy and the divisive force of the United States government there is a bit of Bolivarian journey), and on the other it shows up the complexity of social, economic, educational and political situations that are so diverse as to really push the capacity of the most ardent Bolivarian to imagine unity.

This is one of those rare pieces that has a complexity that allows me to simply say more power to the artist that makes this type of work.

1/18/2008 07:59:00 PM  

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