Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Scratch a Conceptual Artist, Find A Painter, Part III: A Little Light Reading for the Road

It's get-out-of-town day in New York and elsewhere across the country, as folks head to spend Thanksgiving with their loved ones. With the new touchy-feely security measures at airports prompting protests and great raw material for comedians (love this joke...

...), estimates are that many more people will be opting for the road over the skies. If you are planning to fly, though, the New York Times offers some helpful tips for coping and cautionary tales, including these charming anecdotes:
The account of a flight attendant forced to display her breast prosthesis to screeners has been widely circulated, as has an account of a male bladder-cancer survivor who said that his urostomy bag seal was broken during an aggressive pat-down and he was left standing with his pants around his ankles, covered in his own urine.
I understand the TSA called that man and apologized to him, but it's no wonder more people are considering driving.

But please don't let the trials of travel stop you from having a lovely time this Thanksgiving. To help cheer you up and get you in the holiday spirit, Christopher K. Ho and Winkleman Gallery are offering you a present, a little light reading for your road trip.

We've had tons of requests from people around the world to send them copies of Christopher's book "Hirsch E.P. Rothko's Hirsch E.P. Rothko," (free for the taking at his current exhibition, which
Charlie Finch writes about on artnet...more on that later), but with our preparations for Miami and simply an overwhelming number of requests, we haven't been able to mail them out.

But now, you can download the entire text in PDF format by visiting this site and clicking on the link, "Hirsch EP Rothko (for download).pdf." This will present a Download button and then, voila!

Here's another short excerpt to pique your interest:
Chapter One : I Think (of Paint), Therefore I Am

It happened as I was staring at human feces on the white wall of an overdesigned bathroom in a restaurant that served in that time as the New York artworld’s unofficial epicenter. I had locked myself in the bathroom to get away from the people who weren’t talking to me and the people who were and I was thinking this place, this place again when everything changed. It was real: a shift, a drop in pressure. The small mosaic tiles surrounding the raised basins in the sink that made it impossible not to splash and leave this bathroom looking like you’d pissed yourself glowed their usual blue, and the orchid next to the chrome paper towel dispenser looked, as always, too ersatz not to be real. For the most part I was thinking what I would ordinarily be thinking if confronted by the disjunction between the decor and the unlikely amount of spattered human feces. I was thinking of T.J. Clark’s phrase “figures of dissonance,” a phrase I’d found myself using too much in critiques at school recently. I was also thinking of the half-eaten plate of filet I’d left at the table. The filet was one of three options, constants on the Bottino private function menu that additionally included salmon and spinach ravioli in red sauce. I tried to rotate between them, a trick I’d learned for keeping the artworld from sickening me. And then I thought of paint.

What followed can best be described as a sort of ellipsis, the near-physical manifestation of my inability to continue my suspension of disbelief. I knew then. Not how, or what was next, but I knew for sure. I was done with this. Not just with this dinner, an unusually late-summer afterparty in honor of an irritating former student who had gone on to become another calculating matriculant at a newly chic MFA program. Not just with these Bottino dinners, or the nights in ironically appropriated Williamsburg or East Village dive bars populated by kids in foam trucker hats whose work was selling for $40, 50, 60,000. No, there would be no more DJ sets by members of electroclash-cum-performance-art-duos whose names had become familiar sounds by dint of repetition while meaning nothing to me at all. The end of forced attendance at open studios at the LMCC or PS1 or EFA or Sharpe. Young artists in New York were starting to grow mullets and fauxhawks and waitlists. A rumor had spread that various people associated with relational aesthetics were leaving their galleries to be represented by either ICM or CAA or William Morris. I tried not to pay attention, didn’t look at ArtSlant or Douglas Kelley, ignored the launch of Smock. I’d even stopped reading the arts sections of first the Voice, then the Times. But it seeped in. That was what it meant to me, Hirsch E.P. Rothko, forty-four and living in New York in the summer of 2001, trying (lately failing) to make work in the ostensible capital of global art production. The artworld was poison. Nothing could happen here anymore that you could really call art. An acquaintance said it was “Hollywood with bad weather, uglier people, and less money.” I heard him repeat this sentence three times in one unbearable night in a gallery bar on 15th Street with an ironic disco floor whose colored squares would light up in seemingly random sequences. I was done with New York. Or perhaps I had just finally realized that it had long been done with me.
Bambino and I head down to Miami tomorrow, so posting from now through the fairs will be light.

Wishing you and yours a safe and lovely Thanksgiving!

Labels: gallery artists exhibitions, happy holidays


Blogger Bill said...

@ed: Wishing you and yours a safe and lovely Thanksgiving!


11/24/2010 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thank yous for making Christopher's book available to all of us!!

11/25/2010 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger f:lux said...

While I'm thankful for the option of a pdf version, my curiosity is so piqued now I'd much rather have a hard copy of the text... but I'm in England, so no chance whatever that I could pass by and pick one up. No rush, but how about it?

Meanwhile, happy Miami to you from those of wading through snow elsewhere, Lucy

11/25/2010 05:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Tibi said...

...and found myself face to face with the gallerist. He had blond hair with flecks of red, broad shoulders, and a slight stoop because of a combination of being too tall and being hard of hearing. An influential blogger as well as a respected dealer...

wonder if you know this dealer that Christopher Ho is talking about.

Thanks for providing the PDF and Happy Thanksgiving!

11/25/2010 10:48:00 PM  
Anonymous michelle muldrow said...

Thank you for sharing the pdf.I am so conflicted after reading this.I haven't seen the rest of the show,so I am reading this within the context of a story attached to an exhibition.I can't tell if this is a send-up,a mocking examination of the state of the artist in this age,or is this a sincere exploration of the role of artist.I have such a hard time with it,because,(especially having not seen the show), as viewers in the art world,we have grown accustomed to everything being served with ironic distance.If there is an emotion or a journey,it seems as if it is really only used as an intellectual device in the end.As a painter,who voluntarily escaped from the big city,who is hiding out painting in Cleveland,I have a certain amount of distance from the art world games,(although I show in LA and NYC) and while my friends in NYC and LA are very entrenched within it,I know I need a distance to do what I do...but does this mean naivete? In this story,does regional painting represent emotional painting that lives outside critical discourse?all those thoughts run through my head reading this,but also I wonder,am I being played to even take these thoughts seriously?That in itself is an interesting examination about our culture,distrust in an art the way,it was a wonderfully fun read..thank you for posting the download.

11/25/2010 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

Thank you, Christopher & Ed.

11/26/2010 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Carlin said...

thanks for the freebie :) looking forward to reading it... happy holidays and safe travels!

11/27/2010 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger max said...

Regional painting? Improbable.

Christopher Ho’s paintings seem more in line with contemporary urban or international art practices than with “regional” sensibilities. They might not have, had they appeared on their own as an exhibition of paintings, but the paintings are only the second part of the installation; before you see them you are greeted by (a notably visual) stack of booklets entitled "Hirsch E.P. Rothko’s Hirsch E.P. Rothko", written by Mr. Ho. The booklets thus arranged, stacked against the gallery wall, present a nod to conceptual art practices more than the prelude to a show of regional paintings. And rather than justifying the paintings in the exhibition, Mr. Ho’s use of the term “regional” opens a can of worms.

According to Mr. Ho, “regional” simply means an “alternative model”. But the alternative model that he proposes turns out to be a broad approach that comprises conceptually-influenced multi-media projects, like this exhibition. Mr. Ho claims that regionalism is a “protective shell” that allows the artist to move through different media like writing, conceptual art, painting, dealing, publishing… etc. Regionalism allows us to “…adopt any self we want for any period of time” in Mr. Ho’s words. Except that this has always been a given for many art practitioners throughout history, and it is certainly a condition of 21st century art practices.

Is it enough to say that regional art (or regional painting) is an alternative model? This begs the question “alternative to what?”. The word “alternative” no longer seems to carry any weight. In fact, doesn’t truly regional cultural production come out of a community of shared (i.e. “exclusive”) values, like Abstract Expressionism? Regional doesn’t mean naïve or unselfconscious, it just means not overly self-conscious. If anything, regional art seems anything but possible in the 21st century.

12/11/2010 02:14:00 PM  

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