May 25, 2008
Usually when I say I’m busy, I’m just lying. Like, someone will ask why I hadn’t called and I’ll say: “Oh, but I’ve been so busy.”
This time, though, it’s true.
Within the past few weeks, the Green Lantern has put out “Lust and Cashmere,” a sort of surreal choose-your-own-adventure starring you, your love affair with a sweater, a ninja, and a pack of wild boars.
Also, in conjunction with ThreeWalls, the second issue of Paper and Carriage has come to light! It features the works of Dora Ishida, Lilli Carre, Moshe Marvit and a whole host of other folks. And it’s beautiful.
Also, we’ve just had the release party for David Carl’s “Fragments.” There’s been no shortage of debate around here as to how we’re supposed to categorize this book. Part novel, part poem, part philosophy…in the end we decided to not categorize it at all. We’ll leave that up to you. For now, let’s just say that it’s a book, it’s made up of sentences, and we really, really like it.
So, yes. I’m sorry I haven’t called. I’ve been busy. But if you get the chance to look at the books, I think you’ll find it was worth it.
May 25, 2008
courtesy of Stevie Greco: musical curator & of course, HEWHOCORRUPTS
Someone put their head through the wall.
Fortunately, we’d moved most of the paintings into the back room, so everything was kept safe.
Fortunately, I was downstairs keeping track of the door with Andy (HeWhoCorrupts), so I missed it. I didn’t see it happen.
“Are you mad?” Stevie texted me from upstairs where she was watching the door.
I figure that if a hole in the wall is the only casualty in a harchore festival, then we did pretty well for ourselves.
The most amazing thing, to me, was watching about five guys carry a man in a wheelchair up the stairs at the beginning of the show. Then carried him down again at the end.
And I took some special pride in getting up around eight a.m. to fix the wall. In the spirit of my father, a five am riser—he used to go swimming in the lake every morning he had the chance, the water 52 degrees or some such nonesense. I woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed. It wasn’t until the afternoon I got a little bleary.
I did not, however, go for a run.
I was drinking coffee, patching the hole, when the bands came at ten, Sunday, to collect all their gear the next day. Up to my old tom-boy guff, I grinned with the drill, plaster dust on my hands and clothes. Though I didn’t get the chance to fix it perfectly, (I didn’t want to sand with the Kehoe Bros.’ paintings up), I did leave a note over the whole.
As often is the case with spring, it has been busy. The rest of the world is waking up, leaves are springing forth with secret anxiety, life is stretching, nature abounds. The world transforms itself in a rage of color and life; birds flitting all over the place with some kind of vehement joy.
It’s such a contrast from the cloying damp of winter—winter when, walking past the Washington stop of the blue line downtown, past the man in a suit protesting all alone with a sign that says “The CIA killed my wife.” I was walking past the a little torch set into the ground, my hands dug deep into my pockets, shoulders raised in the quintissential Chicago hunch, and rigid with a cold nose, I walked passed a little flame, fenced in, with some thirty pigeons fluffed up— their eyes closed, and standing on one foot to absorb the heat.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized the urban gutter birds had co-opted the heat of its original purpose. Because at dinner, later, I said:
–I think it’s pretty awesome that Chicago has a pigeon heater downtown.
–A pigeon heater? Where is there a pigeon heater?
–Downtown….by the Washington stop of the blue line. There is a little fire in the ground and there is a little fence around it and the pigeones all hang out there.
–You mean the war memorial?
—Is that what that is?
Now, there is no need for any pigeon heater. Now the birds are all looking for baths.
But more to the point:
Over the last four weeks, The Green Lantern has done something every week—despite the fact that this spring is such a dowdy old fop (while colorful, she’s been cold). I’m convinced, with the weather being what it has been in these parts—a chilly San Francisco, let’s say (meaning 48-62 degrees and often overcast)—that our Spring is like a willowy teenage girl with too-big eyes and hands clasped, she always sits prim, a little depressed with all her obedience; has secret fantasies of victorian lust, garters, and wants to one day work in a library. Will get married in an ivory doily-kind of dress to a fellow with small tweedy eyes.
Despite all Spring’s mute coy, we have been busy.
Shannon’s show, Restless went off without a hitch, and currently there are about 21 different collections belonging to other people, ranging from teeth to postcards, to band-aid collections, six months worth of coffee cards tile the floor, I think there is a scab collection, a tie collection belonging to someone who has passed away, toy chair collections, disposable-used asthma inhalers, wine bags etc., it’s a pretty massive feat and beyond a little path that winds through these objects, there is a recording of Stratton herself singing the blues through a tin can recording.
There have been some really great responses, my favorite belonging to a gentleman who wandered in on a Saturday afternoon, shoulder length hair that looked well brushed if only because it poofed out, shiny surf sunglasses—I couldn’t see his eyes—and a healthy slouch, sneakers and board shorts. He let out a couple of ‘woooaaah’s’ and stood, silently, for another 45 minutes staring at all of the objects, afraid it seemed to stand to close to the installation. He finally slipped out after an ‘awesome,’ which afforded some closure to our inarticulate interaction.
And we got a couple of good write-ups for the show, Michelle Grabner wrote a review about it in TIMEOUT Chicago and it was a critic’s pick on artforum.com-courtesy of Lori Waxman.
The gallery cats—MeiMei and Little Grey have a great time with this show (much to everyone’s occasional frustration: I think Young Joon one day had to replace the standing Pez dispensers about five times: when I came back that Sunday the cats had been banished to the kitchen.) It’s Little Grey who’s the real upstart.
And then we did some ArtChicago-
Thanks to Noah Singer of imperfect articles (http://www.imperfectarticles.com/), we were invited to participate in GOFFO, which was a subsection of NEXT. We set up a little shop of books between Sonnenzimmer and Featherproof, on the 7th floor of the Merchandise Mart- from April 25th-28th, featuring a preview of NY artist Amanda Browder, and her installation piece “Arc de Triumph.” If you happened onto the 7th floor, you could stroll over to the GOFFO neighborhood, stop at Old Country, the wood-panel bar around the corner, and get a drink. You could look out the window where we were-a site for sore eyes in the mart; in our section of the floorplan you could look down and count the little people down below, take a break from flourescents and soak in some sun. I liked to pretend it was California. GOFFO had a swanky set up between the lot of us, an avenue of good times and reading material, sexy prints and project. In addition to Browder’s installation, The Green Lantern also had its inventory of books available, including “God Bless the Squirrel Cage,” the last copy of “Urbesque,” “Sketches,” “Lust & Cashmere,” “Phonebook,” “Paper&Carriage No.1,” 3 vinyl MALE records, an essay about ice-bound englishman who made their own newspaper, zines (free), and a listening area for The Parlor.
May 12, 2008
Many of my ideas about art, like most belief systems, come from my father, who, trafficking me down the stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway that lies between his house and my mother’s house once quoted Luciano Fabro to me, “Most artists are born warriors and die merchants”. This phrase, at the tender age of 12 or 13 (an odd tendency of my father is not to vary his discourse according to the age of his listener) had a big effect on me. Under the common misguided impression of 13-year-olds that those who have just been born are good and those who are about to die bad, I vowed to always remain a warrior and never, against all odds, allow myself to be led down the evil path towards commerce and merchandising.
11:05am. April 25, 2008. Chicago, Illinois, Merchandise Mart. I am bounding and dodging my way through NEXT and Artopolis spectators who seem hell bent on moving as slowly and as aimlessly as possible. I’m late. I flit about at the end of a long line emanating from the elevators, digging through a decomposing black backpack for my participants’ badge. Finally, I find it amidst a wad of unidentifiable objects and pull it out just as the authoritative eye of the guard finds me. On sight of my badge, she quickly waves me through. The faces of those patiently bearing the line slide into a blur past me as I bypass them towards the elevator.
Late afternoon. April 16, 2008. Check point. Bethlehem. Surrounding the West Bank is a wall made of wide, imposing concrete slabs. At the base of the wall are piles of garbage and tangled, overgrown weeds. All across the wall are spatterings of graffiti, “My sister did not through stones”, “Ctrl. Alt. Delete”, “I am not a terrorist”. Anyone trying to get into or out of the West Bank is required to pass through a security check point in order to get from one side of the wall to another. I hold my American passport in my sweaty hand. On sight of the dark blue vinyl covering, the little gold pressed lettering, the authoritative eye of the guard nods me through. I exit through the iron turn grate, and stride out towards Israel, past a long line of some 50 Palestinians who must endure rigorous, never-ending interrogations, the degrading taunts of Israeli soldiers, and what they perceive to be an ongoing alienation from dominion over their own well-being.
What do these two experiences have to do with each other? Well, besides some surface characteristics: the waiting, the long line, my possession in both cases of the sought-after passe-partout, the blur of faces as I speed by them, the delineation of privilege based on affiliation—not much, really. One cannot really compare the experience of the Palestinians to the experience of art-fair goers. Likewise, it would be a stretch to try to compare the battle between Palestinians and Israelis to the battle between artists and art buyers. It would be insulting even to try.
My father is a communist. No, he’s a republican. No, a communist. No a republican. (Did you know many Palestinians are communists? I didn’t.) He owns an El Camino, and keeps a picture of Mao on the dash-board. He says, “I’m a member of the republican party because, what kind of left doesn’t believe in guns?” He told me when I was a little girl, “It’s not the artists who decide what art is, it’s the art critics and the art buyers.” They make the distinction between good and bad art and important and unimportant art by deciding how much it costs and by writing about it in well read magazines and art history text books.
In the taxi on the way home from the airport after my flight from Israel and Palestine, my taxi driver asked me if I thought the Palestinians and the Israelis would stop fighting. I told him I didn’t think that they would any time soon because they need each other. They depend on each other to hate the other one. The existence of Israel depends upon the exclusion of the Palestinians: if the Israelis let the Palestinians into Israel and it continued to remain a democracy, at the next election, Israel would become Palestine for the simple reason that there are more Palestinians than there are Jews. For that reason, it is necessary for the Israelis that the Palestinians continue to bomb them so that they will have a reason to continue the segregation of the Palestinians. And for the Palestinians, they depend on the Israelis for the impossible dream of Palestine—to be able to fight for something that is worth living for. The Palestinians were offered a Palestine and they turned it down. Because it is the dream they want and not the sad compromise of reality, and defeat.
At NEXT. I took off on my break from supervising The Green Lantern booth to have an experience of art. After a few moments bumbling my way down carpeted aisle-ways and cubicled gallery samples, I came across “About a World” a video piece by Corinna Schnitt (Galerie Haus Schneider Uschi Kolb. Karlslruhe). In the piece, a dozen naked women lay scattered across a field, and a man in a suit approaches each of them respectively and attempts to enact an experience of intimacy. With the first one he slowly lowers himself on top of her. The second, he tries to spoon her. It touches me. This poor, lonely man in a suit, surrounded by sexy, naked women, none of whom will respond to his advances since they are all dead. I couldn’t help but empathize with him, not only as a 21st Century, alienated, emotionally damaged human being, but also as a viewer of NEXT, trying systematically to get into bed with art that has been so packaged and so disseminated, like carcasses hanging in a meat market, that all my attempts at intimacy were proving futile. You try fucking a dead girl in a field surrounded by 11 other dead girls. I think something of the suit-man became infused into me in that dark room because I stumbled out of the space, blinking, dazed, feeling like I had lost some essential part of my subjectivity. I have a vague recollection of floating several inches above the ground through Roots & Culture’s space. Looking at Carmen Price’s pieces and then the giant yarn sculptures on the ground I became convinced that I had in fact started hallucinating, and that my soul was in fact becoming detached from my body. I was wondering if someone had spiked the Grolsch. . I remember saying to someone, “I can’t imagine a venue that is less conducive to having an experience of art”. I passed by “Invisible Cargo” (Andrea Chung) and the smell of the spices began to infect me like a religious incantation. I remembered the smell of those spices from somewhere… from somewhere… but where? Where was I? Where am I? My nose carried me, I passed through a room, my body almost perpendicular to the floor, my eyes transcending the barrier of material, my body invisible. I was at the “Mexican Border” (Richard Mosse), unable suddenly to delineate between the inside and outside of the photo. Do photos have an inside and an outside? Do I? Is metaphysical duality fungible? Are national borders traspassable? Inside one of the photos, I found myself crouching on a patch of dried leaves, sundry items waffling sneakers I was not wearing, reading a passage out of The Wizard of Oz, “They continued down the Yellow Brick Road that led them to the edge of the River. The Woodman said, ‘I will cut down some trees and make a raft.’ The scarecrow volunteered to push the raft across the river with the pole”. It was then it occurred to me, not for the first time, that the divisions between time and space are conventional. One hour is not contiguous with the next, space is imaginary, and the value of art is symbolic. The art that was around me was reified, commodified, codified in system of exchange markets. And how can art that pretends to interrogate the structures of systems of representation ever ignore its own translation into a monetary value, into a price? What is the difference between the logic of how we conceive the value of art and the logic of how we conceive market value? I did not see art hanging around me. I saw goods. Without warning or explanation, I found myself on the other side of the Merchandise Mart reading these words somewhere below the words, “The WEST FAMILY loans money”: “The artists are working to re-represent reality, either through the building of a constructed reality, representations of reality in odd materials, scale-shifting, or the incorporation of one “reality” into another reality… the end image includes elements of the “real world””. And with that, suddenly, I was in Jerusalem, in an image of the real world, lost in a haze of the Arab market. Giant slabs of beef hung from the ceiling. Long compartmentalized boxes filled with different colored spices, textiles, candies, baked goods, coffee, falafel… I was looking for a poster I had seen the day before. A retro style poster with an orange tint and a horizon-style drawing of mosques and other buildings with the slogon VISIT PALESTINE. I couldn’t find it anywhere, I kept turning down odd alleys, the same cheesy bejeweled bracelets and ornately decorated backgammon boards around every corner. “Are you shopping?” A man holding a small glass of mint tea called out to me. “Hello my friend, come into my shop” another man, leaning upright next to a wall filled with dazzling, hanging earrings. “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Help me spell the word, sesame,” another man with a pencil and small pad of paper called out to me… “Special student discount” “Let me talk to you… just for a moment… just for a moment…” I passed by a row of hanging paintings of assholes… is my body for sale? I idly wondered. Who is art for? What is art for? Where is Palestine? What is Palestine for? Who is Palestine for? The market spun around me in an unidentifiable rash of twirling, blurred colors. I felt myself falling. I don’t know what happened after that.
When I came to, it was dark where I was. I was alone. There was sound but none of it distinct. I felt a wall against my back. My eyes fluttered open. I was inside an installation booth, a video projected against the wall. I must have passed out, I thought to myself. The letters of four words were rearranging themselves supernaturally on the far wall—according to some system whose rules I did not understand. I rubbed my eyes, and wrenched myself (not without difficulty) to my feet. I squinted at the modulating letters, hopping and trading spaces in front of me. It was a live action word scramble. It took me a few moments before I realized the words were a piece by Lior Bar that was continuously spelling and unspelling the words, “Israeli Jewish White Male”.
Eventually I succeeded in navigating myself back to The Green Lantern’s booth. I honed in on it thanks to Featherproof Press’s poster-excerpt series of Zach Plague’s book, spelling the word BORING over and over again in giant letters. Thank God for boring I thought to myself. I stood there blinking as Caroline Picard, director of the The Green Lantern Gallery and Press tried to coax me back to reality. “The question is,” I said, “Is art antithetical to shopping?” “No,” said Caroline. “That’s how you know it’s art,” said Zach. “When it costs a lot.” “Or,” said Mark Byrne (also from Featherproof) “When it’s free, but you can’t have it.”
I remember my taxi driver, the same one who took me back from the airport from Israel asking me, “Do you believe they will ever find peace, the Israelis and the Palestinians”? And I answered him, “Yes, of course I do. I have to.”
Like a dancer. Or a boxer. Or a jockey. Or a dog on a walk. Or a race car driver in the front 5. Or a seductress on the fortieth floor of a resort hotel bar in the off-season. Or a voyeur who has a stalker, and
kind of likes it. Or a homeless man who has engaged you in conversation on the Red Line, and there’s no where to go. Or an interviewer who hasn’t yet read your resume, but is trying to ask you the material questions. Or a landlord who for some reason will show you the bathroom on the apartment tour, but won’t flush the toilet. Or a gas station attendant who sucks his teeth when you ask for directions. Or a sandwich maker who can’t really tell the difference between spring mix and arugula. Or a flight attendant who is trying to determine if you are qualified to sit in an exit row.