Franco to represent US at Venice Biennale 2011
Today, the U.S. Department of State today named James Franco to represent the United States in the 2011 Venice Biennale. From the press release:
Whispers in Chelsea suggest Franco is going to clear out most of the pavilion (leaving one smaller gallery for an installation of his paintings) and simply improvise an ongoing performance with viewers as they attempt to pose with him to have their photos snapped in the white cube. This would seem to follow in the vein of his recent explanation of his art in the Wall Street Journal :
The Museum of Modern Art is pleased to announce the selection of James Franco (b. 1978, Palo Alto, CA) as the artist to represent the United States at the 2011 Venice Biennale. The State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs selected Franco following a split and reportedly contentious recommendation of the Federal Advisory Committee on International Exhibitions (FACIE) that reviewed proposals received through an open competition.
Franco is regarded as one of the most innovative actors, film directors, screenwriters, film producers, and painters of his generation, often cited as a catalyst for the recent shift in much international artistic practice toward conceptual and performative uses of language and the body. In work encompassing film, theater, video, installation, body sculpture, nudity, and make-up, Franco continually engages mundane situations and inter-personal communication only to subvert them through paradoxical visual and linguistic manipulation. The exhibition will explore recurrent themes that figure in Franco’s oeuvre across the many mediums he employs and will represent the United States in the American Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale.
Performance art can seem pretentious, but it can also be quite mischievous and playful. Just as Marcel Duchamp rocked the art establishment in 1917 with his found urinal called "Fountain," performance artists of the 1960s and 1970s presented entire practices and occupations as art. In today's version, the artist Fritz Haeg packages lawn care as art—his ongoing series "Edible Estates" consists of designing and implementing ecologically productive front lawns. As Mr. Haeg said at a talk at Columbia University last month, "Being an artist is the one profession where you can wake up and say, 'What do I want to learn about and participate in today?' " What could be more fun than that?What indeed?