Monday, April 28, 2008

Songs of Experience?
Banks, Dowda & Rentz...

Persist by Stephanie Dowda
(Courtesy of Stephanie Dowda, also known as the female half of Click Clique)

Truebadoor, installation and drawings by Allison Rentz
(Exhibition photos by Ben Grad)

Abby Banks, photography from the Punk House book project
(Also c/o Ben Grad)


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Rematch @ Eyedrum: Tonight

As a final addendum to the last post: Michi extends a warm, last-minute invitation for a "Rematch" event at the Eyedrum tonight. I'm not sure how many people could make it for the Comfort Kills opening, but this is the time to make it up. Definitely worth taking the folks.

On a related note: it may be seem foolish to use concepts like "earned media" when we're talking about a blog, but it is something I worry about. I try not to write about the same subject twice in a month. Sometimes you just have to break your own rules. My hesitance to write another post about Art Papers, on the other hand, was proven valid: almost every single blogger out here had something to say about those Canogar talks.

It makes you wonder if one well-timed tomahawk missile could
simply wipe us all out and, for a whole generation, cripple the development of some unknown, "critical" Atlanta arts movement. (We're a fairly predictable lot...)



Friday, April 11, 2008

Comfort Kills: I will

deliver the Explosion. Bomaye!!!

Fight!!! - from Michi's solo show at Eyedrum. (Photos by Ben Grad)

Yesterday, I decided to send Michi a little text message during my lunch break:
can you explain "Fight! Bomaye!" i have no freaking idea...
I never expected what I got in return. I was simply curious about the Eyedrum installation, and I still couldn't make sense of some of Michi's themes. It was like a sudden deluge of holy mana - like a soothing shower amid the desert of normal, workaday life:
Bomaye is african for kill him made famous by africans when ali fought foreman for my metaphor fight its a chant for layers and layers of thought the v
arious obsticals in our lives so jeremy bomaye his issues or your opponent and that opponent could be spiritual physical or a say an idea maybe a feelin
g of doubt its a motivating tool like i think i can
Brilliant! It was, unmistakably, the coolest text message I've ever seen. In retrospect, I don't recommend doing interviews via text message; I admit, it was sort of irresponsible and, for that matter, just a little cruel. (Imagine holding a cell phone and typing all those letters...) I had no intention of causing Michi to write such a detailed response.

One Wit The Win

Comfort Kills Pursuit: a show concept centered around the mythology of Muhammad Ali and that particular era of Civil Rights. The paintings address a theme of catharsis, reflecting the personal struggles of one individual as well as the fight waged by a whole generation of Americans (not to mention a race of people).

It reminds me of that Blue Scholars track, "The Long March." (Please click on this link; it takes you to the audio. At just over two minutes' length, the song is a fun, extended allusion to the early days of Mao Zedong). Another fun Blues Scholars song, one called "Blink," has some clever lyrics about our now legendary Cassius Clay:
If it happens god damn it, if I get drafted today
I swear to God, Jah, Allah and Yahweh
I’ll toss the letter away and I’ll pull a Cassius Clay,
In the military
Minorities comprise the majority, Surprised? are you kidding me?
The lies rely on brown bodies to fight for white puppet masters
I cannot fathom how the caged bird drinks
Until he thinks he is free
Triptych, detail below.

You can't exactly see in the detail, but the dripping tar pools onto a stack of quilts, where a little wooden figurine drowns in a shallow puddle of black. This tiny, cartoonish man might actually represent a self-portrait. I'm not sure what to make of the symbolism, but several of the pieces include these sort of miniature doppelgängers. The one in One Wit The Win is slightly transparent, using the color of wood as flesh and, perhaps, serving as a Caucasian "self."

Another piece, one marked Glory Glory, is similar to the figurine used underneath Michi's triptych. "Dolled up" in the style of a tar baby, it clutches a boll of cotton as if it were an Easter flower. (The same cotton stalk appears in One Wit The Win.) I'll be watching the TindelMichi blog for, hopefully, an official artist statement.

Fight!!!, detail.

Artist as black Nietzche Michi beyond good & evil [sic]: some of Michi's typical word-play shenanigans.

Michi Bomaye!! and detail.
Thrill is to make it up, the rules I break
got me a place Up on the Radar
A coworker pointed out to me that this piece, with its bolls of cotton and suspension-style installation, sort of resemble a cotton scale. Cotton scales were used to determine if a laborer (the paid variety and otherwise...) had fulfilled his or her cotton-picking quota for the day. Fascinating.



These two entries illustrated what I understand is Michi's abstractionist style. The diamond shapes suggest the patterns of a folk art quilt. That Everlast bag is pretty impressive.

Something about the Eyedrum inspires wacky creativity. This is a page from my "notes" on Sunday. Part diagram, part (crappy) conceptual drawing... maybe you could call it a "ghostmap?"

And this little guy was the "door greeter" for the gallery space. Nice! Real is a mother fucker, isn't it?

Comfort Kills Pursuit: Fight! - show continues at Eyedrum through April 26.

* * *

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Some (delayed) notes on

the March-April issue of Art Papers:

Speechless Grey Horse by Berlinde de Bruyckere
(From "Views of Pain" at the Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin)

Sylvie Fortin devotes a couple paragraphs in her masthead introduction to the tornado that hit Atlanta in March:
It was too early for tornado season, said meteorologists who, bolstered by statistics, added to the confusion. And so, despite their first-hand experience and the spectacle broadcast on television, victims and viewers had to await confirmation from the authorities. It seemed they were the ones empowered to define what many had experienced... Too early for tornadoes, too late for snow - so much meteorological excess in two days.
She then used the weather-talk to segue into a brief discussion of global warming and, as per usual, allusions to the apparently ubiquitous "sweeping discursive shifts" in visual culture.

Ah, yes. See 'em every day.

Although I've failed to locate a reference on the internet, there was a curious sign posted at the Art Papers Auction back in February. It read something like this:
ART PAPERS - From Cairo to Cabbagetown.
I shook my head, "That'll never happen!" But now it's April, and here's Sylvie, proving me wrong. Writing about a local issue, she addressed an event that actually had something to do with Cabbagetown and other Atlanta neighborhoods, although an event that had destructive consequences. I was amazed.

(At the same time, I wondered if we would've gotten so much press if there wasn't a basketball game that night. "Oh no - God just tore a hole in the Georgia Dome...!" Yahweh always did have a strange sense of humor.)

So, what I'm trying to say is that I really liked this issue of Art Papers. Below, I posted a few images from shows discussed in the magazine, including reviews of Jiha Moon, an Atlanta artist, and The American War exhibition that toured at the Atlanta Contemporary.

Although it wasn't exactly a flashy show, The American War was still pretty fascinating. The artist, Harrell Fletcher, completely re-appropriated images that were originally on display at a Vietnamese exhibit at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. The museum's original name was the Museum of American War Crimes. (In Vietnam, they refer to the conflict as "The American War;" I don't think anyone there would understand why some Americans just call it "'Nam.") The new display was, essentially, an exhibit of an exhibit, leaving the Vietnamese picture captions and somewhat naive English translations intact.

The image above, on the other hand, comes from the Schmerz/Pain exhibition in Berlin. The show was split up into thematic sections: "Views of Pain," "The Ecstacy of Pain," "The Time of Pain," and "The Expression of Pain." At this point it's impossible to avoid redundancy; you've probably intuited that "schmerz" is the German word for "pain." But it's more than a concept. The curators made some bold decisions as to installation and juxtaposition of various art objects.

The somewhat horrifying Speechless Grey Horse, a "sculpture" that incorporates real horse skin, is placed in the same room as Francis Bacon's Crucifixion (you can see the bastard in the far background) along with a shelved display of medical instruments and jarred specimens. They played Bach's St. Matthew Passion as background music. (I have no idea what that sounds like, but right now I'm imagining an orchestral horror movie soundtrack. ...Some help from you music people?)

But in terms of writing, I was really surprised by Gean Moreno's review of Kader Attia's installation project out in Boston. It's not easy to see at a glance, but this is very clever, negative review. I don't have the energy to really explain it fully at the moment. Here's a basic summary: just because a body of artwork 1) claims inspiration from Chinese philosophy, 2) is inspired also by the poor, difficult conditions of immigrant life, and 3) is executed by an artist from Paris, does not make it good art. It's a much more condensed, and perhaps more crudely iconoclastic, argument than Moreno, but I think it works.

Here are his words:
The installation reeks of the symbolic orphanage, the teen-movie set for the repressed, that suburbia has always been.
He's essentially saying that, in the pursuit of egalitarianism and urbane "diversity," the folks over there in Boston have almost completely erased what authentic content the exhibition could have had. Just look at this thing. WTF?!


So, good reading in general. Although the train hasn't quite made it to Cabbagetown all the way from Cairo, we are making progress. Art Papers is forum for trading ideas. It's just that, for me, the emphasis is a bit heavy on importation. I want to think about the future: production, dissemination, and, ultimately, exportation.

And if you allow me to paraphrase a statement by a certain writer for Creative Loafing: Art Papers looks like it was written by English professors for reading by other English professors. (Just don't quote me. Or her.) I don't exactly agree with that statement; the writing is extremely academic, but it's not universally dry, or bad, for that matter. I like it.

I mean, they let one of their reviewers get away with this opening sentence: "Much art is funny, though rarely LOL." Seriously, that's the first line!

Again, WTF!?


Friday, April 04, 2008

Kader Attia, Jiha Moon... a Suffocating Bird

Rhetoric Channel by Jiha Moon of Atlanta

The American War: an image of water torture in Vietnam
(From the exhibit at the Atlanta Contemporary late last year)

Robyn O'Neil, The End

Works by Kader Attia: Childhood #1 and views of an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston

Cairo, Egypt (known as Al-Qāhirah in Arabic). You can see the Cairo Opera House near the center of Gezira Island, which, I am told, is actually a good distance away from Cabbagetown. Apparently, pyramids have little to do with Cairo these days.