Thursday, November 21, 2002

Notes on Yellow Face

His invention, my ghost, by Earl Derr Biggers roams just off-camera in Technicolor or even digitalized black and white. It is a postmodern detective story to find the other self, a reflection and refraction enveloped in smoky sfumato through greasy plate glass windows. Locate him seated in the red vinyl booth under the omnipresent portrait of Mao Tse Tung. Or is he behind the butcher block cleaving roast pork and duck?

Monday, November 18, 2002

Notes on a Proposed Model for an Orientalist way of life

Green lantern, red lantern? Or shiny mirrored lantern? Not a disco ball of mirrored tiles but a slick, reflective surface akin to Jeff Koons superficial glean. Maybe a DeStijl lantern of LeCorbusierian proportions?

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Form shirks fashion, Or Ray versus Hirst

Charles Ray is the Wilbur Snyder (Wrestler with a Thousand Moves) of the art world, a thinking man’s artist. Smart without being smarmy or condescending. To look at the underrated work of Charles Ray is to wonder about perception as art, or the art of perception, what the things being looked at are. His approach toward making art reworks the familiar subject matter which comprises the formal vocabulary of art: the cube, the circle, the line, the human body, etc. As in Rotating Circle or Ink Line, Ray transforms something regarded as two-dimensional in nature into sculptural objects. A circle on a wall reveals itself to be a spinning surface driven by a hidden motor, or a line suspended from ceiling to floor is actually ink being spilled to be pumped back in an endless cycle. He tweaks these to question the popular conventions of material related to art in general, concepts taken for granted. His playful wit refers to the history of art and its current “isms” without being too obtuse. Somehow the hackneyed formal issues become reinvigorated through his natural curiosity because he simply adds to the continuing dialogue of what the conversation seems to be at the time.

The opposite happens looking at Damien Hirst. To look at his work is to feel cheated intellectually. What you see is what you get, the spectacle of the shock of the new (Bobby Hughes, where are you now, baby?). Indeed, the grandeur of his work hinges on the sensation of the visual experience that alludes to something conceptual. His sliced and diced animals seem to be a poor man’s Jeff Koons as he sort of pays lip service to recent art history (mainly Pop Art or its cousin NeoPop). The sarcasm of butchery as taxidermy in this work becomes a remnant of the 80’s sense of style over content. The artist repeats himself rather reinvestigates ideas to wring out a theme lamely as with his huge ashtray piece. An unctuous feeling occurs to know his persona is featured in Vogue magazine trumpeting the man as personality over his work.

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Ode to Cremaster Five

Cremaster 5
is opera, myth, epic, video

a West Prague Side Story in five parts
by Matthew Barney disrobed and shackled
as Magician (Houdini? Or Death?) as Diva
scaling a proscenium beanstalkish vine like ova ascending the Fallopian tubes and as Giant, Satyrlike creature bourne of Jacobin pigeons

And the return of her Ursula Andress, she who would be Natalie Wood nee Maria's fake soprano's kiss.

His vision in search of origin, of creation or birth and rebirth as baroque copulation becomes her voice, a new species from an asexual process, another rite of passage in his continuing cycle of new gender and new life.