Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Mixed Nuts

The following paragraphs don't relate to each other too well. Many apologies.

I don't normally like to discuss my personal life here, except to the extent that it enters into the world of art. Likewise, I realize that it's painfully cliche to apologize for not updating your blog more often. I'd hate to do that. But I do want to say that I've been suffering from chronic insomnia, which makes it difficult to to write, think, experience art or to do much of anything else. If anybody has any unworkable folk remedies, by all means let me know. The more colorful (and ridculous), the better.

On a slightly less self indulgent note, if I'm not feeling too lousy, I'd like to follow-through on my long simmering plans to visit Boston later to this week. Among other things, I'd like to see (and write about) some art. Things that seem of particular interest include the Decordova Annual and Linda Price-Sneddon's "The Trees Have No Tongues", currently up at the Hallspace gallery. I like Linda's kind of work and don't get to see any around here. Wandering around the MFA would be nice, for old times sake. Saturday, Mobius is organizing a day of performance art and other oddities in front of city hall. Finally, Eva Hesse in NYC, if I can make it there. She's neat. If anybody has any tips, let me know.

I spent a few hours this afternoon at the Johnson, most of them with Willie Cole's travelling "Afterburn", which features work made in the past decade. (The title is a joking reference to his signature motif, the iron.) You might have read about it in the last Art in America. I took notes and will write substantially about it, although probably not in the next few days. I'll give you some idea of what I'm thinking. I want to discuss the work throught the filter of two concepts: primitivism and pastiche. I touched on the former in my last post, conveying my dissatisfaction with work which (naively, I think), attempts to recreate an idealized "primitive" condition within the modern world. Cole's work escapes this trap. My working hypothesis is that it does so by being contemporary (in its references and materials) while maintaining an anthropomorphic, animistic quality which links it to the past. As for the latter, it is difficult to write about his work without citing his numerous quotations from modern and contemporary art. And while recognzing these is part of the pleasure of his work, its important to go beyond simple name-dropping. Anyway, all of this is less tediously academic than it sounds, so of course I'll discuss individual pieces. The show is a lot of fun!

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Inter Act Tion Hero

I just published a review of this show in the Ithaca Times. Here is an extract:
Inter Act Tion, a group show currently at the Tompkins County Public Library, comes to us with an ambitious goal. According to a statement by curator Pete Rush, art in the modern world has become too specialized an activity, too remote. This, he tells us, is in marked contrast to the situation of "indigenous cultures," wherein "art was an everyday activity, a means to decorate, celebrate and make special the tools, homes, stories, and rituals of daily life." The result of all this is a widespread sense of detachment from art's primal power. To counter this trend, the works in this show are to be "touched, played, worn, manipulated, and re-arranged," as well as looked at. How well does this concept fit the actual work?
Here is the rest of the review. The David Estes videos I mentioned can be seen on his website, along with other examples of his work.


Friday, May 05, 2006


About three weeks ago, I posted some musings on the relative importance of credentials in art and artwriting, respectively. The piece appears to have been fairly well received, and now Jennifer at simpleposie, has kindly taken up the subject. For those of you unfamiliar with her blog, much of her posting consists solely of questions, which are then debated extensively. Recent queries expand upon some of my own. I've been participating, you should too, if you're interested in these topics. I also have to say that I envy her format, since I find it so much easier writing in response to others.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Not Fade Away

I've been sickso I don't want to go overboard with the apologizingbut I know I haven't been posting as much as I'd like to. So, to emphasze to you all that I still exist, let me put out some small trifles. More substantial posting will return soon, I hope. (At least I don't take three and half months off like some people do.)

*Thanks in large part to this blog, I've got a paid writing gig at the local alt-weekly. My first piece, a review of the show INTER ACT ION, will appear on May 10th (Wednesday of next week, that is). I'll link to the online version here. A preview: while the show has some interesting art in it, it's also uneven and diffuse, and the theme of interactivity isn't as well realized as it could have been.

* The new edition of the Boston-based Big RED & Shiny has a list of "Our Favorite Blogs", which happily includes The Thinking Eye. The blurb states that I am "quite eloquent with (my) theory" and that I produce "smart and provocative writing." Thanks. The rest of the list combines seemingly obvious choices with the seemingly idiosyncratic ones (much like my own blogroll, I suppose).

*The Johnson Museum has a fascinating exhibit entitled "The Novel Picture: Interactions Between Text and Image". It was curated by Cornell's
History of Art Majors’ Society and will be up through June 11.
Ilana Papir has an awkwardly (over)written review in the Daily Sun. It isn't exactly her best work, and seeing Cornell students write so uncritically about the work of their classmates feels a bit insular and smug to me. I hope to offer my own outsider perspective soon. More information about the show here.

My favorite pieces from the eclectic show were extracts (I believe they were lithographs) from Tom Phillips' classic altered-book A HUMUMENT. You can see the whole thing online here, but of course it isn't the same. I love his graphic sensibility.