Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Sky is Falling, the Sky is Falling (if only at the BBC)

I don't respond well to panic. It just tends to piss me off.

I respond even less well to fear. It strikes me as perhaps among the lowest of human emotions, and those who would intentionally attempt to manipulate it in other people come pretty close to causing me to rethink my opposition to capital punishment.

There's a BBC interview making the rounds in a which a self-declared independent trader made, in addition to some statements that many people would agree with, all kinds of other statements and predictions on the air that set off a bit of a panic:

I have heard his advice to "get prepared" for the pending calamity echoed by several other people over the past few days, all of which began to trigger my aforementioned pissed off tendencies.

Nothing calms me down like doing a bit of research, so I looked up what could be learned about the independent trader Alessio Rastani (who one critic claiming he's wrong nicknamed "the bastard offspring of Gordon Gekko").

Here's what the London Telegraph was able to find out about him:
The interview contained such gems as "Governments don't rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world [and] Goldman Sachs does not care about the rescue package."

But on Tuesday night the BBC was left facing questions about just how qualified Mr Rastani is to speak about the markets.

In the interview Mr Rastani described himself as an independent trader. Elsewhere he claims he's an "investment speaker". Instead of operating from a plush office in Canary Wharf Mr Rastani works and lives with his partner Anita Eader in a £200,000 semi in Bexleyheath, south London. The house, complete with a mortgage from Royal Bank of Scotland, belongs to her not him.

He is a business owner, a 99pc shareholder in public speaking venture Santoro Projects. Its most recent accounts show cash in the bank of £985. After four years trading net assets are £10,048 - in the red.

How a man who has never been authorised by the Financial Services Authority and has no discernible history working for a City institution ended up being interviewed by the BBC remains a mystery.

Asked why he did the interview, Mr. Rastani replied:
"They approached me," he told The Telegraph. "I'm an attention seeker. That is the main reason I speak. That is the reason I agreed to go on the BBC. Trading is a like a hobby. It is not a business. I am a talker. I talk a lot. I love the whole idea of public speaking."

So he's more of a talker than a trader. A man who doesn't own the house he lives in, but can sum up the financial crisis in just three minutes – a knack that escapes many financial commentators.

"I agreed to go on because I'm attention seeker," he said on Tuesday. "But I meant every word I said." [emphasis mine]
Yes, the Eurozone crisis warrants monitoring, but like the rest of your life, that too is better done without panic.

Labels: economy, politics

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tales of Cartels and Other Windmills

As reported in, Berlin's Der Tagesspiegel recently published a story by Kai Müller about an alleged gallery cartel in the German capital that wields so much power they essentially "decide who plays a role in Berlin and who doesn’t."
Writing about his attempts to investigate his hypothesis further, Müller notes that the tone among Berlin dealers has changed: “One hears conspiracy theories and encounters a lot of discretion,” he writes. No discussion about the subject is to leave a meeting. “Even though it’s difficult to prove to a cartel that it wants to be a cartel, it does spread enough fear to make it seem like one,” Müller argues. “For a long time there wasn’t much to go around in Berlin,” says Gerd Harry Lybke, the owner of Eigen + Art, who was recently excluded from Art Basel after years of participation in the fair. “Now that there’s something, people reveal their true characters.”
No one loves yarns of international intrigue more than I do (ask Murat, who can attest that I never leave an international airport without a cheesy spy novel to read on the plane, as well as a Duty Free bottle of a choice single malt).

But anyone who's ever tried to raise the stature of their gallery (via the art fairs or other events designed to aggregate the worthy spaces and label them such for collectors and others too busy to shift through all the pecking order indicators) can tell you that of course there are cliques and alliances with preferred curatorial philosophies, as well as personal friendships that open doors for the limited room at this or that table.

But they can also tell you that the landscape is constantly shifting, and that today's power-brokers often find themselves, when tomorrow comes, either just plain broke or worse,
passé. Collectors are constantly seeking out what's new. It's hard to stay new for very long, so it's silly in my opinion to get too upset about whether you're invited to learn the new secret handshake or attend this or that frat party.

Yes, it may look as if all the money and attention is following one particular new coterie and that your business's very survival depends on them realizing how cool you are too, but in the same way I strongly believe it's a fool's game for artists to chase after this or that trend (because they're more likely to see tastes circle back round to what they're truly interested in making than they are to ever catch up by constantly changing), I feel a gallery too should stick to its guns and carve out its own opportunities.

As I have long observed (and note in my book...yes, the marketing manager at my publisher will agree that it's high time I plugged that paperback again), the most successful new galleries are often the ones that reinvent the business model in some significant way. The same goes for the ones who reinvent the gallery community and how it collaborates.

Take SEVEN, for example, which I am very pleased to note will be returning to Miami this December with the same seven galleries but in a newer, even nicer location (details as soon as the ink dries on the contract). This initiative is founded in an attempt to present our programs on our own terms. It was a lot of work, yes, but it was also ultimately nicely profitable. Last year each gallery had nearly 3,000 square feet of space each to present large-scale installations, performances, videos, etc. More than that, though, it felt good to be able to work in an art fair setting the same way I work in our gallery, dreaming bigger with our artists than we can afford to in other fair contexts. Not that I don't like other art fairs (I'm of that rare breed of dealers who rather enjoys them), but I do prefer an overall landscape in which galleries are, from time to time, able create their own options. Indeed, because the galleries are closer to the artists than fair organizers (or auction houses or what have you), it is gallery-organized fairs and events (like the various gallery weeks or more and more of the art fairs/events out there such as Independent, NADA, VIP, Moving Image, Sunday, etc.) that can create contexts closer to their artists' visions.

No such event can duplicate the control an artist can have in their respective brick-and-mortar galleries, for sure, but rather than worrying about cartels (yes, where there's smoke, there is most likely fire, but who cares?), I'd highly recommend that the galleries who feel left out make the effort to organize something themselves. If you make it smart and attractive enough, it will play double duty in giving you more control over your gallery's fortunes and how effectively you can promote your own artists.

Warning: it is a lot of work (and I, as do many other dealers, have the bags under our eyes to prove it), but it's far more productive than bellyaching that you weren't invited to the dance.

Labels: gallery systems, how to start and run a commercial art gallery

Monday, September 26, 2011

Occupy Wall Street : A Few Thoughts

Really rushed for time today, but wish I had more to go down and see for myself what's happening on Wall Street. I had seen from early reports that it looked like the typical mishmash of characters we typically see at most progressive/left-leaning protests (even gay rights one where the communists handing out tabloids and the anarchists handing out attitude all seem to get along just fine somehow), which quite frankly I've grown accustomed to, not being a stranger to exercising my Constitutional right to assembly.

And, knowing how it can take some time for fledgling protest movements to get on message and vet their best leaders, I expected the early days to be more pageantry than incisive policy debating.

Still, when I turned to The New York Times, my bible for most things New York politics related, I was really taken back by the headline on one article: "Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim."

Then I saw the same sentiment echoed on Facebook, and, well, I penned the following:

Much of the "adult" response to the wall street protest seems focused on how little the protesters understand about the stock market. I have two responses to that : 1) you don't need to understand how derivatives etc. work to know you're sitting in a world of shit with no job prospects and that no one in a position of power seems to have a clue as to how to help you; 2) as is evidenced by how little effect the world's financial leaders have had in correcting the crisis, I'd say it's rich for anyone, including the so-called experts, to suggest anyone else is undereducated on how the system works. If they truly had a grasp on the system, the solutions to crisis would be more obvious. It's gotten so complex, no one really understands it.
One comment in response to that compared Occupy Wall Street with the more specific goal-oriented protests that ACTUP organized in response to the AIDS crisis. There is no question that the ACTUP tactics were extraordinarily precise and well considered, but in that case, it was fairly more obvious what was needed (easier access to the medication that could slow down the advance of the syndrome's life-ending effects and more awareness about how to avoid contracting the virus).

In the case of Wall Street, no one seems to knows what our best first steps to curbing the damage being wreck by the Great Recession should be. Even Paul Krugman offers more generalities than specific steps. So the idea that the protesters are supposed to do what an army of economists and MBAs can't do strikes me as a red herring.

Yes, it's uncomfortable to have some of the protesters out there prancing around nude or holding up placards with over-generalized statements. But at least they're out there. This photo says it all to me (Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times).

If I were the head of the NYSE I would send out PR agents to let the protesters know they wanted to listen to why they're there. Not to lecture them or correct their misconceptions about how the market works. Just to listen. The way Wall Street seems to be just holding its nose as it hustles by the protesters now strikes me as a strategic mistake. There probably isn't much that can be said that will help them right away, but this sense that the rich just don't care how hard it is out thee is what sparks revolutions.

If Occupy Wall Street is still going on when we get back from London, I will be making time to go down and listen to the protesters myself.

Labels: politics

Friday, September 23, 2011

Everyone's a Critic, if Only Secretly

He didn't wince at the stench wafting out from the back of the truck he was hurling the garbage bags into, but his nose crinkled up when he turned over the first of the four large canvases piled up on the curb. He turned to his co-worker, raising his eyebrows as if to ask "What'd you think?" The impasto splotches of primary colors in the large abstraction read like some Warner Brother cartoon character exploded [;-)]. His co-worker shrugged and turned back to his plastic bags.

The first canvas sailed into the dumpster's dripping jaws.

The next large canvas had a much darker palette and directly referenced the P&D movement. "What about this one?" the first gentleman asked.

His colleague considered it longer and shrugged a bit less dismissively.

I didn't get to see he rest of curb-side crit play out--my bus was hurling toward the stop up ahead--but this short exchange stood in stark contrast for me to the Marshalls commercial we discussed a while back, where the message was that art's too hard or boring to bother with...just go shopping instead.

That commercial had sent me into a funk. It wasn't only the offensive way they dismissed the art in the staged gallery (which, before anyone who hasn't seen the commercial jumps to anti-conceptualist/anti-contemporary conclusions, was mostly your garden-variety mediocre abstractions), but also how it belittled the fun people have playing the art critic (which is what the characters were engaged in before being magically transported to the department store).

I've witnessed it in private settings again and again. Without any pressure to please some authority, anyone will voice their opinion on what's presented to them as art, and seemingly enjoy the process. I actually believe it's human nature to look for meaning or pleasure in such objects. Only when people fear they'll be looked down upon if they "get it wrong," do they shy away from sharing their honest response.

I wish I had had more time to listen to the sanitation workers critique the tossed-out paintings. The fact that they were having fun doing so is important, imho.

Labels: art viewing

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Janet Biggs Performance in Dumbo this Weekend!

The art world flocks to Dumbo this weekend for festivals and fun of all varieties. One of the highlights on our schedule (and I hope you'll come too) is what promises to be an exhilarating and rather daring multi-media performance on the Brooklyn waterfront Friday and Saturday evenings by our very own Janet Biggs!

Sponsored by the always amazing Smack Mellon, Janet's performance combines music, video, kayaks, ballet, and chaos.

I promise, you won't want to miss this!


Janet Biggs

Performance dates:
September 23 and 24 at 8:30pm

Performance location:
Waterfront Amphitheater in the
Brooklyn Bridge Park
(Entrance at Main and Plymouth Street)

On September 23rd and 24th, 2011, Smack Mellon presents the premiere of video artist Janet Biggs’ powerful new multi-media performance, WET EXIT.

Biggs merges the fierce athleticism of battling kayaks with pounding drum beats and the siren-like lament of a violin, cello and vocalist. Taking its title from the term used to describe an emergency exit from a capsized kayak, WET EXIT looks at loss, desire, chaos and control in the face of extreme situations. Musicians and kayak polo players perform against the backdrop of lower Manhattan’s post 9/11 skyline while the audience watches from amphitheater seating at The Cove Between the Bridges in the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

WET EXIT from Janet Biggs on Vimeo.

Projected video images from Biggs’ recent expedition to film kayaks in the Arctic are combined with live synchronized kayaks as they define a dance of survival strategies. In the struggle to maintain control amongst the fraying fabric of a society in peril, known patterns are repeated and individuals search for second chances.

The piece opens with lights searching the night sky and a lone violinist playing on the shore. The chords he plays mimic the sound of an air raid siren. Video images from the Arctic appear on a large-scale screen. Lights come up on four kayaks and a drummer poised behind his drums out in the water. The drummer and his kit float on a boat anchored off shore. The kayaks perform a series of synchronized movements to the strains of a waltz. A train speeds across the Manhattan Bridge. Its deafening sound sends the drummer, violinist, cellist, and vocalist into a frenzied performance as the ballet-like movements of the kayaks becomes a battle of spins and speed.

Drums: Blake Fleming
Cello: William Martina
Violin: Earl Maneein

Carol Grayson-Johnson

Kayak Paddlers:
New York Kayak Polo team members ( Margaret Mann, Agassi Nakhapetian, Agnes Simon, Lev Grote and Jake Lewis

Janet Biggs is known primarily for her work in video, photography and performance. She lives and works in New York City. She has captured such events as speeding motorcycles on the Bonneville Salt Flats, horses galloping on treadmills, Olympic synchronized swimmers in their attempts to defy gravity, and kayaks performing a synchronized ballet in Arctic waters.

She received her undergraduate degree from Moore College of Art, and pursued graduate studies at Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has been exhibited, among other institutions, at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Ithaca, NY; Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY; Gibbes Museum of Art, South Carolina; Rhode Island School of Design Museum; Kunst Museum Bonn; MACRO (Museo d'Arte Contemporanea di Roma); Vantaa Art Museum, Finland; Linkopings Konsthall, Passagen, Sweden; Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum, Austria; and the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Australia.

Reviews of her work have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Artforum, ARTNews, Art in America, Flash Art,, and many others.

Biggs is the recipient of numerous grants including the Electronic Media and Film Program at the New York State Council on the Arts Award, the Arctic Circle Fellowship/Residency, Art Matters, Inc., the Wexner Center Media Arts Program Residency, the Anonymous Was a Woman Award, and the NEA Fellowship Award. Her work is in public collections including the High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia; the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca; Mint Museum of Art, Charlotte, North Carolina; Gibbes Museum of Art, South Carolina; and the New Britain Museum of Art, Connecticut.

Janet Biggs is represented by Conner Contemporary Art, Washington, DC, and Winkleman Gallery, New York City.

WET EXIT is sponsored by the Walentas Family and Two Trees Management. This project is also funded in part with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts, and with generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and The Concordia Foundation and by the Experimental Television Center's Finishing Funds Award. The Experimental Television Center's Finishing Funds program is supported by the Electronic Media and Film Program at the New York State Council on the Arts.

Labels: gallery artists, performance art

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How About Some Politics???

Come on, now, you know it's good for you.

Just because it tastes like liver-flavored broccoli...

Let's see if we can make it relatively painless. Saw this on Facebook:

Oh I know, it's silly.

But consider this. If corporations were truly "people," just like you and me or any other citizen, then any other citizen could, all people being equal, ask a court to weigh their personal interests against a corporation's personal interests, right?

If it seems easier lately for companies to add small fees on your bills and harder for you to get your money back, that's because it is.

A Supreme Court decision that was denounced as a “crushing blow to consumers” when it was announced in April has become exactly that, according to lawyers who argue on behalf of alleged victims of corporate cheating. The decision, which upheld corporations’ right to enforce fine-print contact language that compels consumers to waive their right to file lawsuits, is being used to squelch legal cases across the country, they say.

“Defendants are trying to steamroll us out of court with this. We're getting completely shut down,” said David DiSabato, who specializes in consumer law in New Jersey. “… The ruling opens the door for companies to pickpocket $10 at a time from millions of consumers.

As an example, DiSabato told the story of client John Considine of Rutherford, N.J., who found several phantom $10 charges on his Verizon cell phone bill from firms offering ring tones, horoscopes and other services he didn't want. In one case, he couldn't even find out the identity of the company levying the charge. Working with DiSabato, Considine learned that cramming is a common problem, and decided to file a class action lawsuit to get his money back and help others -- many who might not even realize they'd been victims.

But Considine ran right into a brick wall. Only days after the Supreme Court arbitration ruling, Verizon filed a motion to dismiss his case and to compel arbitration. If Verizon prevails, as expected, Considine will never have a day in court, will never be able to discover how many other consumers were hit by the same charges and may never even find out the name of the phantom company. He certainly won't be able to find legal representation for a fight to recover $10 fees, DiSabato said.

"(The Supreme Court decision) gave the telecom companies a license to commit petty theft without ever having to face the consequences," said DiSabato. "The telecom companies get rich by committing theft against consumers on a massive scale, and (the decision) deprives consumers of any meaningful ability to fight back."
When considering how these corporation people have rigged the game and eliminated the one legal recourse disgruntled citizens have in a democracy (the chance to air one's dismay in court), it begins to become a bit clearer why citizens here might, as happened recently in London, one day take matters into their own hands and commit petty theft in return.

I mean clearly, even in the most capitalistic, consumerist society, you shouldn't be be able to be charged $10 for things you never wanted. This practice, as noted above, called "cramming," is clearly against FCC rules:
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Truth-in-Billing rules require telephone companies to provide clear, non-misleading, plain language in describing services for which you are being billed. Because one telephone company, usually your local telephone company, may include charges you incurred for another company’s service on your bill, the company sending you the bill must identify the service provider associated with each charge.
Unfortunately, at this point, the FCC is all but a joke. Even on their website they explain how your only recourse if the phone company refuses to take a cramming charge off your bill is to file an FCC complaint. The instructions for filing a complaint seem doubly designed to encourage you not to, especially when you're talking about a charge of $10 or less.

The phone companies are obviously counting on all this working in their favor. All of which would, in any other context, encourage a class action suit to teach them not to rob their customers. Which brings us right back to the Supreme Court's decision from April, which eliminated that option.

If corporations were truly people, they'd be afraid to ride the bus in New York City, knowing how many other citizens would very likely walk up and punch them in the nose.

Labels: politics

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quick Reflection

I have an acute allergy to that thing that drives so many people to want to be an artist these days: mainly it seems to boil down to a rather grotesque desire to be famous that far exceeds any willingness to put honest reflection or, God forbid, a generosity of human spirit ahead of itself.

I have a real soft spot for that thing that drives anyone to need to be an artist: a nearly overwhelming sense of being lost if they're not challenging themselves, solving problems, making work.

The later can exist outside of the art market/"art world." The former really cannot.

The irony though is that the later is what the art world is tasked with discovering, nurturing, and ultimately preserving, while the former flock like so many Whacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube People inserting themselves everywhere they can (mind you, even the most desperate of artists who only want to be famous can't hold a candle to most art dealers in this regard, but....).

I saw a man coming out of a restaurant in Chelsea yesterday holding a sketch pad, rubberbanded to a palette and other art supplies. He wasn't an artist I recognized. He looked a bit old to be still hoping for an emerging career, but perhaps not. [UPDATE: As I note in the comments, that last line was an extremely lazy bit of writing. What I meant was he seemed too old to just be out of art school and unaware that bringing your sketchpad into a gallery was not the best way to get a gallery show...suggesting that his having it with him was not part of a "hit the pavement" and get a show campaign.]

He had that thing...that look in his eyes...that disposition that convinced me he was perhaps only accidentally in Chelsea, the commercial center of New York's art world (it was Monday after all...the galleries were closed). What I saw in his face (or thought I saw) was that need to challenge himself...that need to make work (hence, his slogging around with sketchpad in tow). There was no arrogance in his face, no sense of determination to become famous. There was a simple, gorgeous curiosity. And more than that...the rarest of qualities one finds on New York's streets: a vulnerability.

I don't know who he was. Perhaps just a Sunday/Monday painter. But I found the lack of obvious ambition in his body language and facial expression refreshing. Yes, perhaps, I projected a narrative onto him, but it still quickened my step and renewed my determination for what tiny role I'm getting to play in the history of art. Just that look on his face totally made my day.

I've been thinking about this quality in conjunction with the highly anticipated Willem de Kooning retrospective at MoMA. Here was an artist who, by his own words, felt there was no time period in painting's history for him. Yet he kept painting. Over the course of 70 years he challenged himself, he solved problems, he worked (and worked, and worked).

This is the only practical approach to greatness, in my humble opinion. Humankind reserves some of its highest honors (acknowledgement, respect, and preservation of contributions) for its artists. Such honors are not something one deserves for some trendy innovation. They're certainly not something anyone is born entitled to.

Murat and I will be extremely busy the next few weeks getting ready for the London Moving Image (which, we're delighted to report is coming along brilliantly!). I'll blog as often as I can, but can't promise to get to it each day. If all I can manage is a quick reflection or two, I hope you'll bear with such indulgences while we get this new venture up and running.


Labels: reflection

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Press Release : Moving Image London Announces List of Arists and Participating Galleries

Moving Image is pleased to announce the list of participating artists and galleries for our inaugural London exhibition, including:

  • Bani Abidi / Green Cardamom (London, UK)
  • Anna Baumgart / LOKAL_30 (Warsaw, Poland)
  • Dara Birnbaum / Marian Goodman Gallery (New York, USA /Paris, France)
  • Mihut Boscu / SABOT Gallery (Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
  • Persijn Broersen & Margit Lukács / Akinci Gallery (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
  • Jonathan Ehrenberg / Nicelle Beauchene Gallery (New York, USA)
  • Jakup Ferri / Weingruell (Karlsruhe, Germany)
  • Cao Guimaraes / Galeria Nara Roesler (Sao Paolo, Brazil)
  • Shadi Habib Allah / Green Art Gallery (Dubai, UAE)
  • Oliver Herring / Meulensteen (New York, USA)
  • Yeondoo Jung / Kukje Gallery (Seoul, Korea) and Tina Kim Gallery (New York, USA)
  • Gulnara Kasmalieva & Muratbek Djumaliev / Winkleman Gallery (New York, USA)
  • William Lamson / Pierogi Gallery (Brooklyn, USA)
  • Oliver Michaels / Cole (London, UK)
  • Wagner Morales / Galeria Transversal (Sao Paolo, Brazil)
  • Daisuke Nagaoka / Galerie Yukiko Kawase (Paris, France)
  • Cameron Platter / Toomer Labzda (New York, USA)
  • Gilad Ratman / Braverman Gallery (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • Chen Shaoxiong / Pékin Fine Arts (Beijing, China)
  • Taro Shinoda / Taka Ishii Gallery (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Michael Smith / Hales Gallery (London, UK)
  • Eve Sussman & Rufus Corporation / Impronte Contemporary Art (Milan, Italy)
  • Leslie Thornton / Winkleman Gallery (New York, USA)
  • Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung / Postmasters (New York, USA)
  • Suzy Triester / PPOW (New York, USA)
  • Adrian Wong / ltd los angeles (Los Angeles, USA)
  • Hannah Wilke / Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (New York, USA)
Presenting single-channel videos and larger scale video sculpture/installations, Moving Image has been conceived to offer a viewing experience with the excitement and vitality of a fair, while allowing moving-image-based artworks to be understood and appreciated on their own terms.

Moving Image London's Curatorial Advisory Committee

  • Edwin Carels, Festival Programmer, International Film Festival Rotterdam (Ghent, Belgium)
  • John Connelly, Director, Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation (New York, USA)
  • Solange Farkas, Curator | Director, Associação Cultural Videobrasil (São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Mami Kataoka, Chief Curator, Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, Japan)
  • Elizabeth Neilson, Director, Zabludowicz Collection (London, UK)
Moving Image gratefully acknowledges the support of our Media Partners and Sponsors:

* The Art Newspaper
* Ogilvy Art
* Safiniart
* Culture Pundits
* Flash Art International
* Artnow Online
* Artports
* Aesthetica
* Art Update
* Spoonfed
* Swedish Delivery
* Jimmy's Iced Coffee
* Fiji Water

Moving Image was conceived by Edward Winkleman and Murat Orozobekov of New York's Winkleman Gallery.

For updates on programming information, please visit our website or contact Ed Winkleman at 212.643.3152 or

Moving Image, LLC
621 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
t: 212.643.3152

Click to watch a video about Moving Image produced by our sponsor Safiniart :

Labels: Moving Image

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Grading the Late Summer Makeovers

I know the calendar agrees with me, even if the shop windows would like to convince us otherwise, so I refuse to call it "Autumn" just yet. For a few weeks still, "late Summer" it is.

What's being made over in late Summer 2011? Apparently most of the online sources for news on art I regularly read. How they've redesigned their sites suggests perhaps some interesting things about their future plans.

A while ago (ok, in mid-Summer, I think) came the freshening up of's look and navigation:

I like the bold new home page, but it does bother me a bit that the link to the Magazine fell below the fold. I know the scrolling images that dominate the page will take me to a particular magazine story, but I used to begin by scanning all the stories and then diving in. It took me reading a few stories about's rising success in their online auctions to begin to suspect the new design is meant to steer readers even more directly toward that functionality.

It's just me, I know. does describe itself as "the place to buy, sell and research fine art online," and I suspect most of their readers visit it for such. I personally rarely browse its gallery section, now that most galleries have websites of their own, so I don't mind that the link to Galleries falls below the fold, but I so read their magazine religiously.

Otherwise, the look is crisp and they've done a pretty good job of organizing a great deal of information and navigation options. I'd give them a B-.

At long last, has a look that feels post-1990. Not that I terribly minded the old look and feel (it felt nostalgic and I liked that), but as the mainstream media (finally) begins to figure out the new digital delivery channels, it was perhaps time for ArtNews to freshen up its site:

There's a lot of information on the home page that they don't reveal until you begin to scroll, but that may actually be a clever mimicry of a print magazine cover. My internal jury's still out on whether I like that or not. I do like the Popular Posts section to the right, and the tags that tie the articles into the print issue they appeared in (helpful and clear).

I'm not so sure I like the mixing of icons for the various social networks. If you click on a story, you see a customized icon at the very top for ArtNews's Facebook page, and then the story's "Like on Facebook" link under the title (will say the depth of social media options here feels about perfect...not crazy, but rich enough to indicate ArtNews gets how they work).

As for the two Facebook buttons, though, I get why they're different, and understand one is persistent and accompanies the site, while the other is particular to a story, but I'm not a big fan of re-branding other site's visuals. Again, perhaps that's just me, though.

I have been all over the site, but still can't find one of my all-time favorite columns that ArtNews publishes, their Retrospectives look at the ideas and criticisms from 25, 50, 75 and 100 years ago. Maybe this is a subtle signal that ArtNews is looking more toward the future than the past, I don't know. I do hope they're going to continue to put Retrospective online.

Overall, I'd give the new site a B- as well.

Over at, it's a bit hard to tell if they've done much more than change their background color from black to white (notice a trend??), but either way, it freshens the feel of the site up quite nicely.

Murat will tell anyone that he visits more that most other arts sites because they add new stories more often. I've noticed they "rotate" their stories a bit more than they change them, but I would agree with Murat that it keeps you coming back.

I suspect they're still in the process of converting the different quarters of their site. The jarring return to the black background when you click on the Culture + Travel link felt like a digital flashback, but the ever growing list of bloggers suggests is seeking to become a portal for ideas beyond just its magazines' collective purview.

Overall, I'd give them a solid B.

Labels: art blogs, art news

Monday, September 12, 2011

Marshalls Wants Dumb Customers

If you've ever been dragged into one, it's obvious why.

The items at Marshalls worth buying are not anywhere near as discounted as you'll find at their competitors', and even those are next to impossible to find under all the crap the average person would be embarrassed to give away at a garage sale. So, again, why it is that Marshalls encourages stupidity among its consumers is very clear.

That still doesn't mean they should get away with it.

What am I rambling on about?

Well, I was yelling at my TV last night (which as Murat can attest is not that unusual, especially during political talk shows or presidential debates), but this time it was at a remarkably insulting commercial for Marshalls, the aforementioned crappy discount department store.

In the commercial, three women are in an art gallery, looking at dubious concoctions on the walls and questioning their meaning, when the Marshalls spokeswoman whisks them out of there and into an environment that one supposes is meant to represent the shopping experience you'll find at an actual Marshalls (only they left out the piles and piles of useless junk crammed high in aisles you can barely fit through and the poorly trained and grumpy staff).

One of the three women picks up a purse in this fantasy version of the store and says, "This is art." The Marshall's spokeswoman agrees, noting "Yeah, who needs 'real' art. Such a snooze."

I won't repeat here what I reflexively yelled at my telly, but it included several &%$#-ish characters.

Korky Vann, who pens Savvy Shopper, a blog on bargain hunting, shared my opposition to the ad, only she phrased her response with a fair bit more decorum:
There are two issues such marketing efforts raise for me: first is the anti-intellectualism it encourages. Already running rampant in the US, this aversion to education is creating a cultural atmosphere in which people actually believe if something is difficult to understand it must automatically be bad for them or OK to ignore (things like banking regulations aimed at preventing another financial meltdown). The second issue, of course, is the misogyny this commercial and the JC Penney t-shirt campaign represent. What marketing genius, in the age of Hillary Clinton, Condoleezza Rice, Angela Merkel, Dilma Rouseff, Indra Nooyi, Irene Rosenfeld, Christine Lagarde, etc. etc. etc, still thinks women would tolerate being talked down to in this way?

In the meanwhile, I would encourage women who don't find art boring, but still love bargain shopping, to consider shopping instead at SYMS, whose tag line is "An Educated Consumer is Our Best Customer."

Labels: anti-itellectualism, art viewing, commercialism, politics

Friday, September 09, 2011

Opening Tonight! Jennifer Dalton's "Cool Guys Like You" and in the Curatorial Research Lab, Melissa Brown's "DOTTO LOTTO", @ Winkleman Gallery

Jennifer Dalton
Cool Guys Like You

September 9 - October 15, 2011
Opens September 9, 6-8 PM

Dear Bill/Brian/Charlie/Jon/Leonard/Rachel/Stephen/Terry:

I listen to or watch you regularly, in most cases for years running. Let's just get this out of the way: I admire you. I admire you for finding a wide variety of intelligent, interesting guests, and for having entertaining and illuminating conversations with them. You radio hosts have made it possible for me to work for hours and days in the studio without going bonkers. And to be completely honest, I have also made artwork while watching all of your TV shows too.

You interview people who are not necessarily household names and seem to make a point of discussing issues and ideas that are not commonly discussed elsewhere (except in the New Yorker, which you all crib for ideas, obviously). Just as important, you help me and others like me to feel less alone in the larger sea of fear-, humiliation- and tragedy-based media. I am grateful to you.

But when I looked closely at whom you interview—the people you collectively decide are the most important of the moment—I was very surprised. I should explain that a lot of my artwork starts with a bee in my bonnet, a question of, “Is it just me, or are things really the way they seem?” I had started to feel, after years of experience with all of your shows, that I just wasn't seeing or hearing all that many women guests. So I went to your website archives and started counting, and what I found was this:

In 2010, the most lopsided show among you featured only 17.5% female guests. The most balanced among you still only featured 34% female guests. The rest of you are in between, but mostly huddled around the more lopsided end of that spectrum.

If I may be so bold, WTF?

I would like to get to the bottom of this lopsidedness. I would like to understand why men are still perceived as more brilliant, more fascinating and more important than women. I have some theories, and I respectfully request a meeting. I know you are the interviewers by trade, but I would like to interview you or one of your producers to discuss the reasons behind this imbalance: is it an internalized bias or a business decision? What is there to be done about it?

I assume you like to see yourselves as critical thinkers. Might it be possible to get a bit more critical about the internal and external forces that encourage all of us to think that men produce the best ideas and cultural products out there? I think it might.

As I hope this letter makes clear, I have a sincere desire to understand your perspective on a problem we all share. But at times I also wonder if it's edifying for me to be exposed to so much bias, and Winona Ryder's character in the 1988 movie Heathers springs to mind. At the end of the movie she finally realizes that she is better off without her smart, hot and psychotic boyfriend (played by Christian Slater). She tells him, striking a blow for all of us who feel oppressed by those they have admired, “Do you know what I need? Cool guys like you out of my life.”

In any case, my response to your shows has inspired me. I have incorporated my explorations of the demographics of your guests into large scale artworks I'm presenting at my next solo exhibition.

I look forward to your response.

Best wishes,

Jennifer Dalton

Jennifer Dalton received her BFA from UCLA and her M.F.A. from the Pratt Institute in New York. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe, including in: "Making Sense," a solo project at the FLAG Art Foundation, "#class" and "#ranks" a multi-disciplinary project with William Powhida at Winkleman Gallery and the SEVEN Art fair, "Wall Rockets: Contemporary Artists and Ed Ruscha," curated by Lisa Dennison, FLAG Art Foundation, NYC; "Made in America," curated by Janet Phelps, Peel Gallery, Houston, TX; "Air Kissing: An Exhibition of Contemporary Art About the Art World," curated by Sasha Archibald, Arcadia University Art Gallery, Glenside, PA; and "The Cult of Personality: Portraits of Mass Culture," Carriage Trade, NYC and Galerie Erna Hécey, Brussels, Belgium. Her work has been reviewed in Artforum, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Art Review, Art + Auction, ArtNews, and Art in America, among other publications.

For more information, please contact Edward Winkleman at 212.643.3152 or


And in the Curatorial Research Lab

Melissa Brown's DOTTO LOTTO
Organized by Julie Chae

September 9 - October 15, 2011
Opening: Friday, September 9, 2011

DOTTO LOTTO Video Trailer

LOTTO is an installation of almost 3,000 connect-the-dot puzzles on business reply mail postcards completed and returned by people in New York City and across the globe, along with an animation video that "connects" the postcards.

A year ago, Brown initially distributed these postcards by slipping 1/3 of them into magazines at newsstands in mass transit locations such as Grand Central Station, Port Authority Bus Terminal and Union Square; providing 1/3 of them to New York City public school teachers who incorporated them into art classes; and handing out 1/3 of them to colleagues in the art world, including prominent artists, gallerists and curators.

These postcards provide simple instructions to connect the dots and use the US postal system to give voice to participating individuals and groups. In addition to tourists to New York from around the world who found the postcards in magazines, the New York City public school students and art-world colleagues of Brown and curator Chae, some of the participants came upon the postcards through Fluxface, a mail art blog/website located in Merignac, France; an art teacher in Hellerup, Denmark; the Federal Corrections Institution Elkton in Lisbon, Ohio; and the Green Gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as well as Winkleman Gallery in New York.

Brown has created a stop-motion animation video by scanning in the returned postcards and editing to place similar responses in frames next to each other. The similar images pass the eye at a rate to “animate” the images and “connect” the individuals who created them with each other. The Dotto Lotto project pla and seriously explores the possibilities for human connection through these elementary puzzle-game postcards. The video is approximately 6 minutes long and appears accompanied by a sound collage created by Brown.

A sample of the Dotto Lotto video is available at

For more information, please contact Edward Winkleman at 212.643.3152 or

Labels: gallery artist exhibition

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Best Art Blog Post Ever

Jonathan Jones has written the best art blog post I've ever read: "Was postmodernism born with Close Encounters of the Third Kind?" A beautifully concise critique of a heady art movement wrapped within an accessible essay on a popular film. This is a brilliant bit of art criticism in my opinion.

Mind you, his argument for why "Close Encounters" is a postmodernist work is also impressively sound:
What makes me call this film "postmodernist"? Partly it is the homely suburban world where Spielberg sets his story. American films have a long heritage of adventure. Big films before this tended to be set in big places with big characters – but Richard Dreyfuss plays a nobody who lives in nowhereseville to whom something weird happens.

In high art, postmodernism was the moment when the idea of the avant garde as a radical movement – rejecting conventional society and pushing perception forward into an ever more ambitious vision of the new – collapsed. The lofty idealism of a Rothko was suddenly unconvincing to advanced artists. The idea of artists as prophets or priests was abandoned. Artists were not special and neither was art. This was above all an American moment, for it was in America in the 1950s and 60s that modernism attained its loftiest heights and shaped a national culture, from skyscrapers to the space race.

Close Encounters marks this same moment in popular culture. Science fiction is a form of modernism. It shares modern art's belief in progress and meaningful change: it proposes a history of the future. 2001, the great modernist science fiction film, actually creates a model of history in which we evolve as a species under alien guidance. By contrast, Close Encounters does not offer any sense of history or progress or any theory as to what the alien encounter means. It is rooted in everyday suburbia and the revelation that unfurls is beyond understanding. In fact, it does not feel right to call it "science fiction" at all, for it refuses the genre's rationality.
As you know if you read here much, I am constantly in search of solid efforts to bridge the gap between the best of contemporary art and the ambivalent majority of the public who'd rather consume pop culture. Efforts likes Jones' here, give me hope. Read the whole thing.

Labels: art criticism

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Less Than Nothing

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney unveiled an economic recovery plan yesterday. I know what you're thinking...Mitt who? But believe me, he's trying to become the next POTUS, and there are some people who aren't Rick Perry who think he might just seize the nomination.

Mitt has experience in business and would become perhaps our first CEO-style president since, well, since George W. Bush, were he to win. Moreover, he's using his business experience to argue that he can fix the economy:
Mitt Romney unveiled his plan to rejuvenate the American economy here Tuesday, offering a detailed outline that includes repealing President Obama’s health care law, cutting the corporate tax rate, placing sanctions on China as a currency manipulator and immediately reducing taxes on savings and investment by the middle class — and promised to push many of these policies on his first day in the Oval Office.

With his business background, Mr. Romney has portrayed himself as the presidential candidate best prepared to steer the nation at this time of economic distress, and his economic plan is a classic Republican blueprint that relies on tax cuts and reduced regulation — not stimulus — to jump-start the economy.
OK, well, the economy sucks, so I'm willing to listen:
Standing in front of a large banner that read “Day One, Job One,” Mr. Romney detailed the 10 actions he would take the first day of his presidency. Five are executive orders, and the other five are pieces of legislation, including the tax changes, he would send to Congress and request action on within 30 days.

“The right course for America is to believe in growth,” Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, said at the McCandless International Trucks dealership here. “Growing our economy is the way to get people to work and to balance our national budget.”

In the plan, whose stated goal is to “restore America to the path of robust economic growth necessary to create jobs,” he promised to immediately cut the corporate income tax rate, currently topping out at 35 percent, to 25 percent. Although he did not outline any specific proposals for closing loopholes or otherwise simplifying the tax code, he also promised to make permanent the tax cuts on individuals enacted under President George W. Bush and to eliminate taxes on dividends, interest and capital gains for anyone making less than $200,000 a year.
Yup, that sounds like CEO-style thinking to me...the same kind of "cut taxes on the powerful, never mind the details, just let them run wild, and we'll all be just fine" type of thinking that led to the economic crises that ended GWB's term in office. But more specifically, every person in America who is not a corporation (and as Mitt will tell you, that's not as many people as you would imagine) will have the same income tax rate they now have, but the corporations will pay even less.

The problem with corporations paying even less, though, is that currently a shockingly large number of them are paying nothing at all. Corporations like the behemoth General Electric:
General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.
OK, so let's do the math. If the current corporate tax rate is 35% and in that climate GE was able to claim a tax benefit of $3.2 billion, how much more will the average US tax payer need to cough up to keep GE rolling in record profits under Romney's proposed 25% tax rate?

But wait...don't answer just yet, because Mitt's just pulling your leg here. He knows that although the official corporate tax rate is 35%, most corporations with means have entire departments dedicated to finding loopholes that already enable them to pay much, much less than that:
Of the 500 big companies in the well-known Standard & Poor’s stock index, 115 paid a total corporate tax rate — both federal and otherwise — of less than 20 percent over the last five years, according to an analysis of company reports done for The New York Times by Capital IQ, a research firm. Thirty-nine of those companies paid a rate less than 10 percent.
So in order to calculate how much more your average American is going to have tighten their belts to keep profit record-breaking corporations from paying any taxes at all, you will have to figure in all the loopholes they're already taking advantage of that Romney shows no interest in closing.

Let's see: -$3.2 billion paid under the 35% rate - an additional 10% + whatever new loopholes they'll buy under a Romney administration = at least $320 million (unless I have no idea how to do this, which is entirely feasible) ...or, in other words, $1 from every man, woman and child in the country. Mind you, that's probably the $1 most Americans were counting on saving or investing so that they too could benefit from Romney's plans, but...

Labels: politics

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

What Has Art Become to Us?

There's been a meme in the art world for a while now that if fine art doesn't find a way to reach beyond the small and insular clique of heady curators and handful of collectors who support it, that it very likely stands the chance of going the way of jazz music. It will still exist in that list of rarefied pursuits that has its loyal following (like poetry or dance), but it will no longer widely influence the culture at large. Some would say we've already reached that point, but I would submit, that something else, perhaps worse, has been happening in two different arenas, but toward the same end

First, you read it again and again in the business press recently:
  • Investors flee money markets, turn to art
  • Wealthy dump gold, turn to art
  • Jaded investors turn to wine, art, coins

Now, before young artists take that as a sign from the universe that they should go ahead and rent that larger studio, though, please note that this is not an increase in Collecting (with a capital C), but merely a different approach toward investing. And while it would seem to make sense that what's good for the art market is good for all artists, I'm not so sure this approach trickles down to the average art buyer.

Indeed, the reality of this seeming trend is less encouraging:
Some of the world’s richest families are cutting their holdings in gold to take profits on the run-up in prices and are buying high-end art to preserve their wealth during market turmoil, an executive advising these families said.

While many of these families have been holding gold for a decade or more, building positions of up to 15% of their investment portfolio, they are now taking profits and putting the money to work in the art market, said Andrew Nolan, a director of wealth management and advisory firm Stonehage.

“Families were well ahead of the market on gold. A lot of them were sitting on large amounts of gold for quite a while,” said Mr. Nolan, whose company manages US$2-billion and advises around 100 families with total wealth of around US$30-billion.

“Families are putting more into the art market, which held up far better through the crisis than a lot of other assets. There are more emerging markets buyers now, they want trophy assets, which supports prices.” [emphasis mine]
More disturbing than the trophyfication of art, though, is perhaps its reduction to simply another monument to snap in satisfying a vacation scrapbook checklist. As Roberta Smith noted in an article in The New York Times the other day, the act of taking in art through a camera (or cellphone or whatever) lens has to a large degree replaced any actual viewing:
The ubiquity of cameras in exhibitions can be dismaying, especially when read as proof that most art has become just another photo op for evidence of Kilroy-was-here passing through. More generously, the camera is a way of connecting, participating and collecting fleeting experiences.

For better and for worse, it has become intrinsic to many people’s aesthetic responses.
I've noticed a delineation of this trend corresponding with venue. You see much more of art viewing via a digital filter in museums and biennials than you do in art fairs and less still in actual galleries. This suggests to me that the closer you, as a viewer, are to the gallery system (i.e., a more concise viewing experience, stripped of extraneous signifiers like glimpses of other exhibitions, excessive signage and/or branding, crowd management systems [ropes and/or queues], barriers that tell you to stay back, know, the kinds of things you expect at amusement parks), the less likely you are to consider art just another tourist attraction. In fact, the whole experience of walking into a space that has been dedicated to one art viewing experience has a way of telling you to slow down, consider just this chunk, take this more seriously.

And it seems to work. Very few people will view any of our gallery exhibitions through a camera, even groups of students or tourists who we know are not that accustomed to visiting galleries.

Art viewing is nothing if not a connection between two minds, in my opinion. Apprehending the beauty or horror or insights that the artist sees or saw...viewing the world in a new way through his or her eyes...gasping as the synapses in your brain exchange information in a new pattern, making you laugh or sigh or simply stand in awe. That's what art can be to us. It's certainly what most of us remember thinking it was when we were kids. None of us were taught to see art as merely trophies or photo-ops. We were taught that it represents the very best of what we, as humans, can achieve, not merely an alternative to gold when that market seems tapped out.

Of course, seeing art that way requires actually taking the time to view it. The season is about to gear up again...go view some art.

Labels: art viewing