Thursday, March 28, 2013

Opening Friday, March 29, Shane Hope @ Winkleman Gallery

Shane Hope
Nano-Nonobjective-Oriented Ontographs and Qubit-Built Quilts

March 29 - May 4, 2013
Opening: March 29, 6-8 PM

Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present Nano-Nonobjective-Oriented Ontographs and Qubit-Built Quilts, our third solo exhibition by New York artist Shane Hope. Featuring two series of new work, the exhibition runs March 29 through May 4, 2013. In the gallery project space, we will also present a selection of Hope's "Folk-Computronium Laptops."

Accelerating progress in nanometer-scale science and technology continues to expand the toolkit with which we can eventually assemble things from the atom up. This will potentially give rise to nearly costless systems for controlling the structure of matter itself. In the interim, the 3D printing revolution is said to have already arrived, promising content-to-print solutions and on-demand means of increasingly customizable production. But molecular manufacturing and 3D printing won't merely make for an end to material scarcity as we know it. These so-called "abundance" technologies will make for objecthoods the likes of which we've not known and maybe can't know this side of some sort of technological singularity (i.e, the theoretical emergence of superintelligence through technological means beyond which events cannot be predicted). It's in anticipation of that reality race that Shane Hope's work starts.

To foreshadow an age of hacking matter, Shane Hope uses molecular modeling research software and crafts custom code to grow generative molecular designs and algorithmically automate alternative representations of nano-scaled structures. With intent to literally convert digital bits back into atoms and properly relate the operative ideologies of 3D-printing to the research and development of theoretical nanofacture, Hope has hand-hobbled together from scratch a number of RepRaps (3D printers) which he uses to materialize (or literally to print) his amassing cache of newfangled nanomolecular models. Hope collages together thousands of these 2D rendered and 3D printed models into painterly compositions depicting things organic, inorganic, synthesizable, theoretically feasible, nonsensical, and nonobjective.

Shane Hope, gray_gooey_graphene (detail), 2012, archival pigment print, 48″ x 72″.

The resulting artworks, in series called "Nano-Nonobjective-Oriented Ontographs", “Qubit-Built Quilts”, “Post-Scarcity Percept-Pus Portraits” and “Scriptable-Scalable Species-Tool-Beings,” offer visual art answers to technological singularity blindsightedness; that the future’s futures can’t really be foreseen. How can we hope to depict the runaway imaginings of accelerated artificial intelligences? What will it look like if and after our overclocked-offspring (quicker-thinking posthuman descendants) decide to disassemble everything we know for spare parts?

Shane Hope, Folk Computronium Laptop No. n+2.22…, 1776,  2006, paint and salvage, actual size.

Forever optimistic, Hope puts forth these pieces as plans for playborground ball pits of pure operationality all about an atomic admin access-privs picturesque. He considers them compendia serving to uncover with repleteness the interobjectivity between nanomolecular unit operations; to abandon anthropocentric narrative coherence; to show how the sum of parts is always actually much greater than the whole; to inscribe object-to-object fault lines of relata distortion on equal ontologically flattened footing with human consciousness; and to display the density how much rather than how little now simultaneously exists like manifold meanwhiles all the way across.

In Hope's own word, "So run this, for here's how you in the form of pathetic-prophetic techno-poetics for reals forge future’s futures: nano-nonobjective-oriented ontographic scribblin' on scriptable-scalable species-tool-beings quacker-castin' computronium-clouds of kilo-IQ'd collablobject-oriented co-op-corporeal commons-clusters playborin' with post-scarcity percept-pus and prescient-peek-a-boo public-panopticon-powdered plunderware-portraiture of plans for playborground ball pits of pure operationality all about atomic admin access-privs picturesque grey-gooplexus-thunkuppetrees qubit-built-quiltin' algorithmicracked-out junk-DNAnarch-keys to un-nanoblockonomic-lock fine-joules-bots that gots-lots-o-watts spinformation-supportin' scenariopolist rapturama-root abundance-heck-tech-wreckonomical enzymin'-rhymin' chmodder-fodder for smartdustormin' mass-mod-mood-meds runnin' on you runnin' on hyper-necker-deathcubes quture-sporecastin' syncthetic smartificially-exprisoned empathologically-infacteous connectivitis-cognitariats called upon to camouflage the protocol-onization of everythingyness upwhen on a lifefile::path towards a mass2sapient-ratiocracy gettin' smartfaced and uploaded addin' add-ons off your overclocker rocker perv'd POV-vapor Xmit rights to far edge soylent green tea party uploadside your headers of bequestorbot blobjecthoodlumist bucky-luck-lock logicages-gates computtin' uh handicrafted e-cap in your app-portential meat-splaced-out smartmatter of nanofacturally date-stampeded data-debased nDiagrammatic copylution-commodity cross sections of compound cutaway exploded view shish ka-bombs higher-ordermensionally hackin'-hockin' chem-phlegm loogie-loggin' one man bandwidth'd biochippin' off the old-bad-blocks-bunchallianced punchin' the overclockin' cached-advanced chronoughty pathetic-prophetic techno-poetic cognitive haze phraseologies pharmosomally flocusin' femtofactured-fluidentifried-fleshionistas fee-willin' click-fraud false-flag-phishin' for masstaken-iPlentities so omega-pointless slashdot-to-dot-subthreaded by buy/cellutility-swarms of soul-splinterferin' spaculativernaculareerin' sumplace skiddie snarfin' sporgery zombie noo-zoos transubstrationally timeshearin'-taggin' envirornamentally-challenged infomorphiliac-biorouters backscatterin' bloodstream-slummin'-it up hick-hackenstantial thought barrier robber barons' sapient-sopper see-source-serum sci-fi-lustratin' morph-feral-foglet-fabbed fertilizer for fornicode for misalignment-matter mogul mashmobsters manipulatin' malfoamational monay-yay markets for metacompetitive metabolisms of things-executin'-things-executin'-things-executin'-things..."

Shane Hope received his MFA from the University of California San Diego in 2002 and has attended the University of California Los Angeles, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He has exhibited at Virgil de Voldere Gallery in New York; I-20 in New York; Project Gentili, in Prato, Italy; iMAL (interactive Media Art Laboratory) in Brussels, Belgium, Rosamund Felson Gallery in Los Angeles and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. His work will be featured in the Fall 2013 exhibition entitled “Dissident Futures” at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.

For more information please contact Edward Winkleman at 212.643.3152 or

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Saving the Endangered True Believers

As we walked from the gallery last night, Murat pointed out a thread connecting a series of conversations we've had with collectors, critics, dealers, and artists over the past few months. There's been plenty of chatter about the squeeze on the middle tier of the art market / art world lately, but he said, and it struck me the way only something undeniable and right before your nose the whole time can, that up and down the entire system, current trends are profoundly discouraging that class of people we consider to be in the art world "for the right reasons": the true believers. And thinking about what the art world might look like without those people, should they become so disillusioned they leave it altogether, made me shudder.

Of course, there has been a wide-range of very high-profile and public defections / distancings from the art world lately. Collectors, journalists/thinkers, critics, etc., have all announced how "vulgar" or "nasty" or "filthy" it's all become. And they're not talking about the art the way reactionary defenders of the Academy had about those uncouth upstarts, the Impressionists. They're talking about the way the system has been co-opted and is now in many ways dominated by people who seem to not actually like or care about art for its own sake.

Whether these defectors ever qualified as "true believers" is of course debatable, but two troubling private conversations we've had in the past two weeks undoubtedly were with people we know got into this world out of a deep and personal respect and passion for art. 

One was with one of the nation's top art critics, who expressed dismay at the lack of significant work among all the objects he sees in the galleries these days and a lack of significant direction from the top-selling artists. It upset me for days to hear him say this. Not (only) because that could indict our gallery as well, mind you, but because how discouraged he is simply must influence how he responds in his writings overall. His records of the art world we live and breathe today will stand among the most important testaments to our time of any being written. I want him (at least enough to become less focused on the things that don't inspire him) to be deliriously enthralled with what he sees that does, so that that joy and passion will then be reflected in his reviews. Why? Because I want to work in an industry in which that still remains possible, if not exactly common.

The other conversation was with a European collector who I am continually amazed by. We see him at every art fair on the global calendar. Literally, no matter how new or experimental the event (especially if it's new or experimental), he's there supporting the galleries and seeking out new artists. He must be able to travel via teleportation. Every time we see him, he's seriously looking at and considering new art. Every time we discuss art with him, he does so with such an open mind and obvious love for doing so, he inspires me again and again. He's the textbook example of a "true believer" collector. And yet, lately, he too has voiced deep disappointment with how the art world is evolving. His response to these trends is a bit more encouraging, though, in that he's not the sort of person to let others ruin something he likes. Not without a fight, anyway.

I'm talking about Alain Servais, whose views are widely known via his email newsletters, Art News Digest,  which he regularly sends a wide group of people around the world. (I blogged on one of his texts a few months ago.) 

His most recent newsletter, though, took the form of a call for change. Here's the money quote:
i would like to develop for you the idea of “resistance” ecosystem .... this idea of resistance came to me while watching documentaries about resistance during WWII in France. i was reminded or i learned how imaginative people had to be to survive the German occupancy but also how it worked only by the overcoming of differences in ideologies, social status, religious convictions, sex, etc.
and as an analogy i think that the current dominance of the 1% of 1% can last a while and therefore the current art market condition. 
in consequence now is the time for those not happy with this situation to regroup and hold positions in order to survive what could be a long winter.
In this Art News Digest, Alain attached the slide deck (titled "Challenging the Big Brand galleries : Towards an ecosystem of resistance ?") from a panel he was on at this year's ARCO art fair in Madrid with The Art Newspaper's Georgina Adams. It outlines a series of initiatives that he recommends trying at least to help curb, as he so perfectly puts it, "the aggressive developments of Mega-galleries serving the Mega-buyers and the awkward positions of small and mid-size participants because what could have appeared as a waterfall which could benefit the whole art world pyramid stays now confined to the very top."

Now it's not clear to me still whether Alain feels the bigger galleries are victims of a system that has run amok or the perpetrators of that running amok (I would guess it's a little of both, depending on the specific galleries), but it is clear that their recent actions are continually turning true believers away from the art world. 

The hope to be found via Alain's resistance formula is captured in this quote from the deck: "all is not lost if you can still « look, listen and understand»." 

Among his specific suggestions for change are:

1. Professionalization

It's no secret that many people who open art galleries do so out of a passion for art but are ill-prepared for the competitive way the business has evolved. Alain outlines the main problem here via a quote from the text "The Spanish Art Market in 2012" by Clare McAndrew:
“Dealing art has become an increasingly stressful profession over the last ten years -no matter how many fairs you attend, you still feel like you are not doing enough. You might have more successful sales, but there’s also much more competition, and collectors have many more options. Many Spanish collectors will now buy at a fair, even if a gallery in Spain has the same artist 15 years ago, you could wait for people to come into the gallery, you had time to meet with artists and visit studios - now there is no time and it has become all about commerce. There is a lot more stress in our professional lives.”
He recommends the following approaches to gallery professionalization (and remember, his audience is global):
  • Definition of the gallery space as a « forum », place of events, exchanges, talks : « The Public School » could be a model.
  • Better use of IT and internet : catalogues online, onlines sales (; 1stdibs;, etc.)
  • Languages : English for better or worst is « lingua franca ». It should be fluent.
  • Opening hours : take into account actual leisure time of working people + « clusters » could open on Sundays if a demand (e.g., Lower East Side) 
  • Gallerists' program @ de Appel in Amsterdam
  • Communication (no bulk emailing but more targeted): museum acquisition, exhibitions
  • Crowdfunding : ex: Italian Pavilion turns to “crowdfunding” to raise
2. Cooperation across the « fences » 
Here, Alain discusses five "fences" that currently hamper the growth of the emerging and middle tiers of the art world and suggests how better cooperation between them can propel the resistance to the unacceptable status quo. These fences are those:
  • Between galleries and artist
  • Between gallerists
  • Between galleries and public authorities
  • Between gallerist and collectors 
  • Between media, critics, collectors, institutions and artists

Between galleries and artist
Alain argues that the increasingly aggressive nature by which galleries are seeking to grow by poaching "Very Bankable Artists" from smaller galleries is ultimately counterproductive across the entire system (especially if it drives away the true believers). The main task in solving this has to be the securing of the essential relationship between the gallerist and the artist. This can be done via contracts with mutual agreements, but it can also be done by adopting some of the best practices from other fields in which individuals (i.e., artists) regularly transfer between organizations (i.e., in this case, galleries).

One very interesting idea Alain recommends here comes from the "Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players by FIFA" (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association):
Article 20 Training compensation
Training compensation shall be paid to a player’s training club(s): (1)when a player signs his fi rst contract as a professional and (2) each time a professional is transferred until the end of the season of his 23rd birthday. The obligation to pay training compensation arises whether the transfer takes place during or at the end of the player’s contract. The provisions concerning training compensation are set out in Annexe 4 of these regulations.

Article 21 Solidarity mechanism
If a professional is transferred before the expiry of his contract, any club that has contributed to his education and training shall receive a proportion of the compensation paid to his former club (solidarity contribution). The provisions concerning solidarity contributions are set out in Annexe 5 of these regulations.  
If galleries implemented a similarly mutually beneficial practice, the consequences for a smaller gallery of losing an artist to a bigger gallery could be less severe. Of course, this requires the larger galleries to recognize the importance of not crippling the system of smaller galleries, and clearly a few of them out there at the moment show no sign of caring about that. But they too shall pass into the pages of history, and Alain has recommendations for the up and coming galleries on how to build a better gallery system that can correct the current lack of foresight. 

Between Galleries
The ideas Alain champions here have mostly been tried in various forms over the years, with various rates of success. The essence of each of these ideas is for smaller galleries to pool their strengths, essentially simulating the larger galleries' ability to promote artists internationally, as a means of resisting the larger galleries' ability to lure their artists away. These ideas include 1) locating galleries in neighborhood clusters (which is fairly typical in New York, but perhaps not so much in other locations) as a means of replicating the art fair experience and 2) gallery exchanges (either between groups of galleries in different cities or between individual galleries with overlapping visions). 

Although the deck doesn't outline this idea specifically, Alain's ideas here did make me wonder how smaller galleries might repel poaching by formulating and discussing openly with their artists a system of worldwide exhibitions with "sister" galleries. Systematic cross-gallery collaboration on this level, reaching even into a coordination of which fairs the galleries with the same artists bring them to, always with an eye on keeping the poachers away, could help artists still reach their career goals without having to jump ship from their smaller galleries. 

Between galleries and public authorities
The examples Alain provides for how galleries can better collaborate with public authorities include

  • Latitude: Platform for Brazilian Galleries Abroad 
The Project of Internationalization of Brazilian Contemporary Art Galleries was started in 2007 with the core goal of creating business opportunities for the art sector mainly through cultural promotion activities. During this period, the number of member increased. Currently, 54 primary market art galleries participate in Latitude, representing more than 1000 artists.
Since 2011, Latitude is a partnership between ABACT (Brazilian Association of Contemporary Art) and ApexBrasil (Brazilian Agency for the Promotion of Exports and Investments).
  • Kunstkoop (hope you read Dutch) : credit buying for works of art under the price of 7000 euros

    From what I can tell from the Google translation, this program assists people who would otherwise not be able to afford to purchase art do so with interest-free loans.
  • BAM international visitors' program:Since 2005, BAM organises an international visitors programme for the visual, audiovisual and media arts in Belgium. The programme includes invitations to about ten to fifteen curators per year. The aim of this programme is to (further) introduce international professionals to contemporary visual art in Belgium. Through these visits we also hope to strengthen the position of Belgian art and artists abroad.
Between gallerist and collectors 
OKso first of all, this is one of the reasons I consider Alain a "true believer." He makes sure he considers his own role as a collector in resisting the way the market has evolved. In a nutshell, he insists "collectors should make the effort to support “resistance” galleries and institutions." He correctly identifies that one of the main things Mega-galleries do to lure artists away is offer the artists financing of future projects. This is something collectors could help smaller galleries do for their artists. As he notes, "it must be done with a common interest and mutual advantages," of course, but this is one concrete thing collectors who are not happy with the current way things are can help change them.

Keeping in mind that the relationship between a commercial art gallery and a collector who will support it needs to be mutually beneficial, Alain shares a letter he received from a gallery that provides a good example of one way galleries, who are closest to an artist's market, can give back to collectors who have supported them, as well as to encourage the collector to participate with the gallery on carefully building the artist's market:
Dear Alain, 
I hope you are well.

Remembering your interest in {Artist X}, and in case you were not already aware, there is a special {artwork by Artist X} that is coming up tomorrow morning at Christie’s.

The estimated is 50,000 to 70,000 GBP ($79,300 - $110,200). Generally speaking, we would estimate the price should be more in line with the low end of this estimate. We were happy to learn that the reserve has been lowered to be more in line with current retail prices for {Artist X's work}, and therefore an opportunity to acquire an early significant {piece}. It clearly stands out as a fantastic {piece with.....} is so signature of his practice.

We’re always happy to let you know about this kind of opportunity, and certainly want you to have our opinion and advice about the price.
This level of service is something larger galleries know to provide that smaller ones may not. Collectors can also help smaller galleries by sharing with them the types of things the larger galleries do to win them over. 

Between media, critics, collectors, institutions and artists
In this portion of his presentation, Alain compares the type of art news stories covered by two major outlets. One has in-depth reviews about important artists by serious critics. The other has TMZ-style headlines and easily consumable "Top 10"-style stories clearly crafted to seek the rock bottom of the lowest common denominator. I'll refrain from naming the publications, but I do believe Alain is correct that this tabloidization in the arts press is contributing to the problem

Ultimately, as I've said many times, the players with the most power to change things are the artists. It may have seemed clever a while back to a few major artists to comment on the art market by essentially exploiting it. It certainly made a few of them extremely wealthy. But when the major critic I discussed above says he sees nothing of major significance in the galleries, the group that ultimately indicts are indeed the people creating and putting that work out there. 

There are artists out there making work worthy of the true believers. But for them to help change how soul-crushing the system has become to many, how  "vulgar" or "nasty" or "filthy" and therefore how unappealing to the true believers, those artists need to help stop the seemingly endless numbers of artists who aspire to emulate the multi-millionaire artists dominating the market today and show the world something more important than clever observations of how superficial we've all become. They need to look deeper at humankind and themselves...and to look away from the cynicism-fueled influences that get all the press and attention these days....and become the new influentials. The new leaders for the next generation of artists.

Most of all, they need to not take for granted that the true believers who have supported the art world for all the right reasons will continue to do so if artists don't start taking control and making the vulgar way the market is operating today look unappealing to those who see it only as a mean of buying social credibility, without even caring about the objects they're using toward that end. 

You know how to do this. Don't underestimate what's at stake if you don't. 

Get to it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Maturing Grace(less)fully

Someone posted a link to the following art project on Facebook:
Portraits of people, before and after ageing
Photographer Ana Oliveira has a photo series with subjects re-enacting their portraits from decades ago with similar lighting and camera angles. So, this is how we all age.
Have a look at the images. As I joked on FB, "time is a cruel stylist." And yet, as my father thankfully is still around to remind me, aging is infinitely better than the alternative.  


Still, someone in our household has a major birthday next month and yet remains in Full Defcon Five Denial about it. His mirror ruthlessly reminds, I mean him...each morning of that day's imminent arrival, but other than when shaving or brushing his teeth, he's so busy with other things, it's easy to imagine he has all the time in the world to accomplish the goals he's hellbent on achieving. 

And yet perhaps that's the cruelest part of seeing what time's doing to his it serves as a visual ticking clock, counting down the time remaining in which he has so, so much left he wants to do.

He isn't afraid of old age, mind you. Since the time he was 12 years old he sincerely looked forward to being a crotchety old man, with wrinkles that look like an aerial map of Scotland, mix-matched clothing, and a cane that he wielded so fiercely that no one dared challenge his will or wisdom. (Some in our household might argue that the essence of that vision has already been realized, but I digress.)

Rather he simply resents the idea of the ultimate expiration date. He intellectually understands that each generation must make way for the following ones, that there are limited resources, and each new human deserves their own opportunities, and yet that can't be reconciled with his ambitions. Not that he isn't practical about life's limitations and the need to focus and choose, mind you.

He remembers quite clearly the day he realized he would never win at Wimbeldon, for example. Not only had he yet to begin his "professional" tennis career, but he had passed the age at which that were even feasible. That disappointment was fairly manageable, though, as he had plenty of other dreams to cling to and time in which to make progress on them.

He also has plenty of examples of heroes who launched successful efforts later in life than he currently is, and that's comforting. The only problem is, the more he manages to accomplish, the more he realizes how much else he might do if...if only he had more time...and money...and patience...and, well, talent...and, etc. But those things too can be gotten with more time.

Now the "major" birthday is not 85, mind you, so he's being just a tad maudlin in his wallowing on its significance. He still has his health, most of his mind, and the kind of wealth in friends and family that kings would envy. He knows how fortunate he truly is. 

and yet...he hasn't quite sorted out how to hold a razor to his neck while looking the other way...

tick tock...tick tock....tick tock...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Memory Agent Fur-Coat-91

In a dream the other night, the cute Kyrgyz one and I were walking up Second Avenue. I was dressed in my black wool overcoat, with scarf and baseball cap...essentially my winter uniform. As we walked, though, I noticed everyone else coming toward us was in shorts and t-shirts. Then I noticed I was beginning to sweat. 

"91 degrees and I'm still in my fur coat, " I grumbled, peeling off the obviously unneeded layers as we continued. My subconscious caught the mistake: you're wearing wool, silly, not fur...why would you say "fur"?

Cling, cling, clink, clunk, cling, ting, ting, clunk...

This clothing material error in my statement sent an opened, empty tin can cascading further and further down the interlocking miles of marble steps in my mind, deep into the recesses of my memory. 

Somewhere way down there, among the giant dusty wooden cogs with their heavy iron plating, it stopped, cranking up that long-forgotten quadrant of my memory, the noise of which, in turn, aroused a memory agent from his slumber. This agent was dressed in a vest with an old-fashioned tie and a distinguished-looking tweed jacket with leather elbows with an nearly indiscernible tartan pattern. He wore a matching worker's cap and carried a huge book with a thick, imprinted binding, like my father's family Bible.

Despite his musty appearance, this memory agent (let's call him Memory Agent Fur-Coat-91) shot like a rocket, heavy book in tow, back up through my memory to the periphery of my conscious, where he intended to come to my defense. Before he could, though, he was stopped by the Conscious Guard, a sleek, glowing robot-like being who moved so quickly and smoothly around the wide circle of my conscious, he appeared to be at each 360 degrees of it at once. Let's call him St. Peter.

Flickering because of how quickly he could move around the circle, even in between the syllables of each word he was saying to any given being wishing entry, St. Peter stopped Memory Agent Fur-Coat-91 even before he began his defense of my mistake. 

Speaking dryly, yet quickly, St. Peter announced, "Yes, yes, We are aware that originally fur was used for outerwear because of it's warmth-providing qualities. Today however, fur is more of a fashion statement, and so the error is indefensible. The Conscious must accept it was simply wrong. The defense attempt is rejected. Be gone." 

Memory Agent Fur-Coat-91 faded quickly back down into my memory, and St. Peter zoomed around the circle deflecting other thoughts he deemed rejection-worthy.  

Almost as quickly as he had receded, though, Memory Agent Fur-Coat-91 returned. This time with a posse.

Alongside him, each carrying a huge book, were a cave man in a fur poncho looking get-up, a Viking in his winter warrior garments, and a Czarina, dressed head to toe in luxurious mink. She in particular looked like she did not at all appreciate being dragged here from her previous engagement, whatever that had been.

ZZZZzwthipppp...St. Peter zoomed around and stopped them at the circle. He looked at the group quickly and uttered an almost imperceptible sigh. 

"Very well," he said dryly, knowing the mere presence of a rebuttal party immediately induced a formal procedure. 

The next moment they were all in a cerebral court room. Memory Agent Fur-Coat-91 and his fur-wearing sidekicks at the defense's table. St Peter and a few other beings who looked like him, glowing such a bright white they seems to have a soft blue outline, each of them floating above the floor, at the prosecution's table. The only question remaining was: who would be the judge? 

A series of possible choices glided past a small glass door behind the bench, including Peter Schjeldahl  (looking like a cross between James Joyce and Samuel Beckett) and (don't ask why) Mary Tyler Moore. Eventually, though, through the door came my friend Mike. A journalist in real life and an extremely level-headed, highly objective thinker, Mike as the judge, I assumed, would be to the defense's advantage. St. Peter and the prosecution, to my mind (heh!) were just being lazy. My mistake was defensible. Mike would tell them so and let the Memory Agent past into my conscious.

Then again, Mike is nothing if not practical, so perhaps he would decide that St. Peter was correct...that I operate on such a superficial level that even if it's true that fur were originally used for coats out of need for warmth, that today Memory Agent Fur-Coat-91's defense was irrelevant. Fashion was the impetus for my selecting the black wool coat and, given the availability of perfectly fine faux fur coats, barely entered anyone's conscious any more. I began to get doubtful.

I hoped Mike would rule in favor of the defense. It would convince me that I remained as sharp as I've ever been, and my mistake had a perfectly defensible rationale.

I may never know. Next thing, I woke up...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"What Makes That Art?" Reformulated | Open Thread

A respected art dealer I know, writing about a highly publicized artwork, noted on Facebook the other day that, although he appreciated the piece, he wasn't convinced it was "art." 

As I've noted many times here before, I firmly believe that Rauschenberg was right. "Is that art?" is not a valid question for the observer, despite how well educated, to apply to a declared artwork. "Art" is whatever an artist says it is. The role of the observer is limited to deciding whether that declared artwork is any good or not. It's not at all up to them to declare whether the work is "art" or not. The artist said it was. Full stop.

The reason I insist on this way of approaching the question is that it gives maximum latitude to artists to create whatever they wish and to present whatever they wish as a work of their creation. Any other formula is too restrictive in my opinion, limiting where the human artistic mind might one day take us, and in that way a hindrance to ultimate human potential. 

How we, as humans, prevent all manner of useless effort from cluttering our museums as "art" is through our critique of what an artist presents. We get to weigh in on whether it's good or bad. Just because an artist calls it "art" doesn't mean we have to agree that it's worth preserving. It might suck. 

But we do, in my opinion, need to accept the artist's right to submit anything he or she wishes as their "art." 

And, yes, I've argued this for some time now. What only occurred to me recently, though, was that this formula -- that "art" is whatever an artist says it is -- demands a definition of what makes someone an "artist." I think that's critical to this question, and so I'd like to flesh that out a bit in this post.

How do we agree that a person is an "artist?" 

One approach is to look at education. We agree that someone who achieved an MD is a "doctor," and someone who suffered to get their JD is a "lawyer." Is someone with an BFA or MFA automatically an "artist?" Perhaps, but in the case of MDs and JDs we still require state authorization for you to work as a doctor or lawyer. You must prove not only that you've completed the degree, but that you actually learned something in doing so, before you can call yourself a practicing Doctor or Lawyer.

So having a degree doesn't automatically make you officially something in a practical context sometimes.

I think having a BFA or MFA is actually more parallel to having an MBA. Getting your Master's in Business Administration doesn't automatically make you a businessperson. You must start or work in an actual business to become that. You must accomplish something. 

I came to this notion more clearly recently when re-reading a passage in Jean-Paul Sartre's brilliant biography of the writer Jean Genet. In his book (Saint Genet), Sartre discusses Genet's first novel Notre Dame des Fleurs (Our Lady of the Flowers), which, peopled with pimps and whores and thieves and murderers,  has been called, among other things, "A masterpiece of crime and perversity." Sartre  describes Our Lady as a journey that the author made from the existential hell he was living in a French prison (where Genet wrote it) back to a sense of himself:
But, at the same time, this work is, without the author's suspecting it, the journal of a detoxication, of a conversion. In it Genet detoxicates himself of himself and turns to the outside world. In fact, this book is the detoxication itself. It is not content with bearing witness to the cure, but concretizes it. Born of a nightmare, it effects--line by line, page by page, from death to life, from the state of dream to that of waking, from madness to sanity--a passageway that is marked with relapses. Before Our Lady, Genet was an esthete; after it, an artist.
So what about that delineation? Between an esthete and an artist? Can anyone "artsy" declare themselves an "artist"? Or must they first accomplish something?

I am beginning to like this direction for defining an "artist," but it then circles back round to "who says they accomplished something?" Our Lady of the Flowers was banned as obscene and called all manner of things other than "art" for many years. Just because Sartre declared it "art" does that make it so? (Don't get me wrong, in my opinion it is a masterpiece, but then who am I?)

This is not a silly question to my mind. What's at stake here is granting license (much as we do to doctors or lawyers to operate on us or risk everything we have in court) to some person to present anything they wish as "art" a vessel to carry into the future something important about who we are. Some definition, some validation would seem appropriate.

Consider this an open thread on what makes someone an artist.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Not Yet in Final Draft

Although officially the effort continued through the early 1990s, from a market point of view, the art film and video distribution effort known as Castelli-Sonnabend Videotapes and Films, Inc. was notoriously short lived (lasting in earnest only about 2 years).
Not only did the historically successful contemporary art dealers struggle with the pricing model for film and video, as well as run head on into an economic downturn that put the kibosh on a wide range of art market plans at the time, but they were faced with a highly skeptical collector base (including museums) at the time. Their heart and minds were in the right place, though, as the summary of the effort on the Whitney's website notes:
Castelli and Sonnabend were responding to a strong engagement with film and video by a new generation of post-Minimalist artists that included Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Ed Ruscha, Robert Morris, Claes Oldenburg, John Chamberlain, Vito Acconci, Lawrence Weiner, Yvonne Rainer, Joan Jonas, Robert Smithson, Nancy Holt, and William Wegman, among others. Castelli also commissioned several films and videotapes, which were premiered at the gallery.

A distribution catalogue of the films and videotapes was published, with entries on each work. Distribution continued until the early 1990s. Some of the videotapes and films are now distributed by Electronic Arts Intermix, New York, and Video Databank, Chicago.
This is but one example of how much the early market for moving image based artwork struggled (if Leo and Ileana couldn't make it work, few others would stand a snowball's chance in hell). Still, as Noah Horowitz details in his wonderful book, other galleries did bravely tackle the challenge in the US and Europe, but each tended to close or become a non-profit usually within just a few years of opening. There simply were not enough people buying.
The effect of this spotty-at-best market (and one of the reasons I get so irate when people who claim they care about art are so dismissive of the commercial side of the art world) was two-fold: 1) because at first they couldn't get collectors/trustees to understand it, museum curators struggled to acquire much of the historically important work from the 1960s and 70s (things on that front started to improve in the 1980s, but the museums are even to this day still playing catch-up), leaving many artists making truly amazing work at the time outside the institutions that could preserve and present their accomplishment; and 2) there is a significant human price for such oversights.
There is a cultural price we pay for the skepticism to early achievement in film and video art, of course, but there is also a personal price artists and their families pay for it as well. I was reminded of this when Murat told me how artist Hermine Freed (whose work was presented at Moving Image New York 2013 by Video Data Bank) had family come from all over the country to see her work in the fair. Hermine's 1972 work Two Faces is an absolute gem of influential, early video artwork and although it's been exhibited alongside works by artists such as Lynda Benglis, Peter Campus, Dan Graham, and Richard Serra (seriously, add Hermine Freed to that list and you have the complete line-up for the program for Then, Not Nauman: Conceptualists of the Early Seventies(shown at the world renown UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in 2007), her name is not widely known.

Hermine Freed, Two Faces (1972), still, Courtesy Video Data Bank and Moving Image.

Why Freed is the least recognizable name in that list to many art world insiders today is due in part, I suspect, to the fact that the other artists either made work in other media (which was more readily collected) or they have outlived Hermine, who passed away in 1998. Either way, it's a historical error, and we were so thankful that Video Data Bank were willing to present her work at Moving Image. 
We were humbled greatly that Hermine's family were also happy that their cherished member's work was receiving new attention. So much so that they traveled from Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, DC, and Virgina to attend Moving Image. Here's a photo of them with Murat at the fair:

Another excellent artist working in moving images who was overlooked by the establishment during his life but getting more attention now (and one I only just discovered) is Klaus Lutz. Zurich's Rotwand Gallery presented a solo booth of his work at this year's Armory Show. The film they presented was smart and gorgeous, and I couldn't believe I hadn't heard of him before. Again, I blame the market's resistance to this medium for why such strong work remained so under-exposed. 

Fortunately history is written and rewritten, rather than carved in stone. The curators of film and video I know work tirelessly to bring such works to the public's attention and we in particular thank and greatly admire them for it. The thing for me is, and I've said this before, many of today's most important artists are (often in addition to other bodies of work) picking up cameras and making moving-image based work. Whether you're a museum or a private collector, if you truly want your contemporary collection to reflect the important work of your day, you simply cannot ignore moving-image based work. There's a cultural price, a personal price for the artists and their families, and for the collector who ignores it a credibility price, in my humble opinion.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Solo Presentation by Shane Hope at The Armory Show

Winkleman Gallery is pleased to announce our participation in The Armory Show, presenting a solo booth of new work by Shane Hope. The 2013 edition of The Armory Show will be held from March 7 – 10 on Pier 94 on Manhattan’s West Side.

Our stand number is 534.


Our booth at The Armory Show will consist of three interrelated bodies of work: pigment prints, lenticular (holographic) prints and wall-mounted reliefs.  In the first two, Hope creates works with a computer that are then produced by fine art printers.  Using a dazzling array of biomorphic and geometric forms in bright colors against a black field, these works impart a maximum of retinal stimulation.  The lenticular works are created using a holographic technique which further enhances the idea of a three dimensional space teeming with opulent imagery. In all cases, while digitization is used in their creation, Hope’s works are unique and not editioned, further signaling his aspiration that his work be judged using the same criteria as traditional works of art


Shane Hope, atomic_kill_threads, 2012, archival pigment print, 48″ x 72″

The reliefs are the most recent innovation in Hope’s work.  Using a 3D printer he built himself, Hope outputs thousands of forms in PLA (polylactic acid—an archival form of plastic).  He then composes and arranges these forms on a wall-mounted support.  The interplay of color, form and texture produces masterful painterly results.

Shane Hope, Quacker-Cast Carbon-Camo No. 1, 2013, 3D-printed PLA molecular models on acrylic substrate, 24" x 24" x 4".


Hope is deeply interested in the molecular science which will soon allow humans to create biological matter from scratch. Rather than fearing this technology, Hope embraces it by harnessing this futuristic software and imaging techniques to make art. He sees his process as using these machines "like a paint brush."

Shane Hope received his MFA from the University of California San Diego in 2002 and has attended the University of California Los Angeles, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He has exhibited at Virgil de Voldere Gallery in New York; I-20 in New York; Project Gentili, in Prato, Italy; iMAL (interactive Media Art Laboratory) in Brussels, Belgium, Rosamund Felson Gallery in Los Angeles and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. His work will be featured in the Fall 2013 exhibition entitled “Dissident Futures” at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts! in San Francisco.


The Armory Show
Pier 94

The Armory Show 2013 Opening Day takes place Wednesday, March 6th for invited guests.

Public Hours: Thursday, March 7th - Saturday, March 9th, 12pm to 7 pm

Sunday, March 10th, 12pm to 7 pm

Directions: Piers 92 & 94 are located on Manhattan's west side on the Hudson River (Twelfth Avenue) at 55th Street in the Passenger Ship Terminal complex. The piers are easily accessible by public transportation, taxi, and private vehicle. The nearest subway stop is four cross-town blocks east at 50th Street and Eighth Avenue.




For more information on Shane Hope and his work, please contact Edward Winkleman at 212.643.3152 or