Friday, December 21, 2007

Ali G, Borat, R.I.P.

Sacha Baron Cohen told The Daily Telegraph today that he's retiring two of the characters he created for "Da Ali G Show" - the clueless Kazakh journalist Borat, and Ali G, the rapper from Staines. Both characters had been the subject of feature length films: "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" and the much weaker, scripted "Ali G Indahouse: The Movie".

A film based on the third character from the series is in production now, with a working title of "Brüno: Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Raffle Prizes

The raffle prizes at tomorrow night's Member Show Closing Party & Sale include:

"Poster Making" a signed, dated and numbered Serigraph (edition of 75) by The Royal Art Lodge courtesy of Paul and Wendy Projects, beautifully framed by Superframe.

Paul Butler's "Fundraising Edition (3-way collaboration between artist, organization and patron)", print, Edition of 50. Signed and numbered.

a DVD by Kenneth Goldsmith, and

a signed artist's book by George Bures Miller.

Tickets are $2 each, or 3 for $5.00.

Info on the sale itself is two posts below.

Bas Jan Ader

Ubuweb has just added six rare Bas Jan Ader films, including Fall (I and II) and I'm To Sad To Tell You. Check 'em out now before Patrick Painter Editions (who manages Jan Ader's estate and has produced the videos in editions of 3 to sell to institutions) shuts it down.

Update: Turns out these videos are legitimately online - has posted them. Check out the blog section , where earlier this month an image of Ader's recently discovered boyhood sailing permit was posted, complete with a note written by his mother, reading "Mrs. J.A. Ader Appels gives her son, Bastiaan Johan Christiaan Ader permission to go to sea."

Brian Eno and Nick Clegg

The Guardian today reported that Nick Clegg, the new head of the Liberal Democrat party in Britain, has hired Brian Eno to advise him on "youth issues" and to help him repair the country's "broken politics". Eno, still best known for his time in Roxy Music and as the producer of U2 records, was tapped to "reach out beyond Westminster to people who don’t get a say in politics.”

Reaction has been mixed, with many noting that Eno (who turns sixty next year) is old enough to have fathered Clegg, who turns turns 41 in early January. The gaffe would seem to be the PR department's - Eno is one of the brightest cultural thinkers and adding him to the cabinet is an innovative move, but suggesting that he's in touch with the youth of today is a bit of a stretch.

Clegg further embarrassed himself on the same day, quoting his favorite album as "Changes" by David Bowie (it doesn't exist) and admitting to not knowing "Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, a duet regularly voted the nation’s favourite Christmas song.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Members Exhibition and Sale

The Mercer Union annual Members Exhibition (this year titled "Love / More Love") opened last week and continues until Thursday the 20th. On that evening all works from the exhibition will be available for sale for $100 each. It's a somewhat convoluted process, so here's how it will work:

You line-up before the doors open at 8. We recommend arriving at least 20 minutes early, but enthusiasts have been known to wait in line as long as an hour and a half. You will be given a number, butcher-shop style to determine your place in the que. We can usually accommodate the line-up inside the gallery (especially in this miserable weather), but we are very strict about maintaining one's place. You can't, for example, get your number and then take off for a cup of coffee. Bring a book, or better yet, a friend.

Once the 'doors open' visitors can have a drink and check out the show, deciding what work they would like to buy. There are works by over a fifty artists, including Dean Baldwin , Katie Bethune-Leamen, Diane Borsato, Krista Buecking, Michel de Broin, Anitra Hamilton, Kristan Horton, Jen Hutton, Instant Coffee, Kelly Jazvac, Corwyn Lund, Arnaud Maggs, Kelly Mark, John Massey, Olia Mishchenko, Janet Morton, Suzanne Nacha, Kerri Reid, Derek Sullivan and Zin Taylor. The show features photographs, paintings, drawings, bookworks, multiples, sculptures, even a couple of home-cooked meals. At a hundred bucks, it's all a steal.

There is also a raffle with work by The Royal Art Lodge, Paul Butler, Kenneth Goldsmith and George Bures Miller. Tickets are $2 or 3 for $5.00.

Between 8:30 and 9:00 the proceedings will begin. Misha Glouberman has MC'd in the past, but he is out of town so the MU Co-Directors will tag team the hosting this year. When your number is called you select the work you'd like to buy and are welcome to take it right off the walls. You can also come back for it the next day, or after January 3rd. If you wish to buy more than one work you can get back in line, or wait until the all the numbers have been called.

We accept Visa, cheques and cash.

(If you're a participating artist, see Aileen Burns for your free drink ticket).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Art Athina Director acquitted

Yesterday in Athens, a court acquitted Michalis Argyros, the director of Art Athina, on charges of obscenity and an attack on national symbols, citing freedom of expression. On June 3rd of this year police raided the gallery following complaints by the right-wing LAOS party about a work by Greek-American artist Eva Stefani, which featured footage of Greek pornography from the '60s and '70s, set to a soundtrack of the Greek national anthem. Signs around the work, which required one to look through a peephole, indicated that it was not suitable for those under the age of 18.

The exhibition, which featured work by more than 70 artists and was organized under the auspices of the Greek Cultural Ministry, was deemed indecent and closed to the public. The video was confiscated and the director/curator was charged with offending public morals. The artist was also charged, but was in Germany at the time. Both faced up to ten months in prison.

At the trial on Thursday the prosecutor argued the video made no sense and that "nudity is a work of art only in Renaissance paintings." Artworks that slight religion or national symbols are apparently actively pursued in Greece by followers of the Greek Orthodox Church and extreme right-wing political parties.

At the time of the arrest Greek artists, intellectuals and media protested the charges, including the staging of a counter-exhibit. Greek Culture Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis stated that while the artwork was not to his liking, he disagreed with censoring art. “Artists are free to create and citizens have a right to reject or not whatever they believe offends our national symbols.”

Friday, December 14, 2007

Silence, Limited

Jessica Bradley Projects opens two new shows tomorrow - "Silence", with work by Montreal artists Marie-Claire Blais and Chris Kline, and "Limited" with editions by gallery artists and guests, including Shary Boyle, Kristan Horton, Martha Townsend, Jon Sasaki, Derek Sullivan and Laurel Woodcock.

10:30am to 5:30 pm, Saturday December 15th. 1450 Dundas Street West.

For more information, visit

Blake/Duncan Suicide

The current issue of Vanity Fair contains a lengthy story about the suicides of Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan this summer. It quotes Duncan as saying that she had information about Beck (who Blake designed an album cover for) wishing to leave Scientology, and that the information put her life at risk. Beck flatly denies it, downplays their relationship, and contradicts her story that he had agreed to appear in her forthcoming film.

The Playlist blogger yesterday unearthed an Italian interview with Beck from 2003 in which he describes a project that is almost certainly Duncan's, and states "We begin shooting this fall".

Holiday Book Sale

The Power Plant is holding its annual Holiday Book Sale this weekend, with 50% off books by AA Bronson, Annie Pootoogook, Glenn Ligon, Simon Starling and others and 75% off titles by Stan Douglas, Wim Delvoye, Arnaud Maggs and Liz Magor. The sale runs from noon to 6pm, Saturday and Sunday. 231 Queens Quay West.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Field Commander Cohen, Madonna

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today announced that the 2008 inductees would include Leonard Cohen and Madonna, both reasonable choices. But they passed on nominees Afrika Bambaataa and the Beastie Boys in favour of, ah, the Dave Clark Five. The ceremony will be held March 10th in New York.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Shared Propulsion Car on Youtube

The Michel De Broin exhibition "Shared Propulsion Car" closed last Saturday, but if you haven't seen it, here's the footage of the work traveling down Queen Street and getting pulled over by the police. The trial date is set for April 3rd (see previous entries for more details).

2007 Film Awards

The New York Film Critics Circle announced their 2007 awards today, with the Coen Brothers’ No Country For Old Men taking Best Screenplay, Director, Supporting Actor and Best Picture prizes. Toronto’s Sarah Polley wins Best First Picture for Away From Her, which also takes a Best Actress Award for Julie Christie.

The full list can be seen here.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

New Museum

I visited the new New Museum on Bowery street in New York City's Lower East Side last Wednesday, the first day it was open to the public. An invitation-only opening party was held a week prior and was followed by a 36-hour extended opening run, which was free, but without a reservation you apparently had to wait 30 outside for thirty minutes in the freezing cold.

A delay of all of five minutes saw the line-up turn somewhat hostile, with fur-coated patrons banging on the glass and waving their membership cards, demanding entrance. On the third day of a bad cold that hit the moment I deplaned, I wasn't quite as cranky as the impatient blue-hairs, but I also wasn't in an overly generous mood about the exhibition, or the new space. The exterior of the building is certainly impressive - six uneven boxes stacked like children's blocks, covered in corrugated-aluminum panels with an industrial aluminum mesh suspended in front of them. But inside the space consists of cramped passageways and stairwells, and exhibition spaces that look like over-sized lobbies (the layout of each floor make it impossible to look at work without a crowd of people waiting for the elevator in your sightline). The staggered blocks allow for a thin line of natural ceiling light on each floor, but its impact was minimal on the overcast day I was there. The 64 million dollar price tag for the building (the first art instution built from the ground up in NYC since the Whitney in 1966) means that even the washrooms have naming rights.

"Unmonumental", the four-story inaugural exhibition, was over-crowded with junk-shop assemblages of sloppy construction and lazy metaphor. I was grateful for the museum's non-collecting mandate, because this work is going to look very dated very quickly.

I did, however, like the bookstore, which (like their previous Chelsea location) was well-stocked with catalogues, monographs, artist books, dvds and a few artist multiples.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Stockhausen, RIP

Karlheinz Stockhausen died Wednesday at the age of 79. No cause of death was given.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Mark Wallinger

That 48 year old Mark Wallinger won this year's Turner Prize is no huge surprise. Nominated once before in 1995 (when he lost to Damian Hirst), Wallinger was the senior artist of the shortlist, which also included Mike Nelson, Zarina Bhimji and Nathan Coley. Perhaps ironically referencing Wallinger's 1994 racehorse work "A Real Work of Art", British bookies earlier this week took £12,500 in bets, with Wallinger the favorite to win with odds of 6/1.

The artist is best known for "Ecce Homo", a statue of Christ that occupied Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth in London in 1999 and for the film "Sleeper", which was considered one of the standouts at the 2005 Venice Biennial. The Tate purchased Sleeper last year and "State Britain" (a recreation of Brian Hawe's 40 metre long protest at the house of Parliament) exhibited at the Tate in January of this year.

The prize was awarded at the Tate Liverpool, marking the first time the ceremony was held outside of London.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Bomb Hoax

Thorarinn Ingi Jonsson, a 24 year old OCAD student, turned himself in to police last night and has been charged with nuisance and mischief after leaving what appeared to be a pipe bomb at the Royal Ontario Museum. Jonsson left the 'sculpture' outside the glass covered lobby and placed a call to the ROM switchboard, reportedly saying "There is not a bomb by the entrance of the museum."

He then presented the project to his classmates and professor, and posted cell-phone footage on Youtube.

A scheduled black-tie fundraiser to benefit AIDS research was cancelled, costing the organization upwards of $100 000, a third of it's annual revenues.

OCAD has suspended Jonsson, as well as two faculty members.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Art Prize news

Marlene Dumas has been awarded the Düsseldorf Art Prize (€55,000), Ken Lum won the Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Award ($25, 000) and actor/collector Dennis Hopper has been chosen to present the Turner Prize next week at the Tate Liverpool gallery. Previous presenters include Madonna, Brian Eno and Yoko Ono.

Pictured: "My Son", 2003, Ken Lum

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wexner Prize

The Wexner Center for the Arts today announced that this years recipient of the Wexner Prize is filmmaker Spike Lee. The Prize recognizes an artist whose work “reflects exceptional innovation and the highest standards of artistic quality and integrity.” Past honorees include Gerhard Richter, Martin Scorsese, John Cage, and – most recently – Bill T Jones. The prize money is $50 000.
The council's 25 members include filmmakers John Waters and Philip Kaufman and Barbara Kruger, a former artist in residence at the Wexner Center.

MBV, Kristin Hersh

The previously promised in 2007 new album by My Bloody Valentine (it’s first since the brilliant “Loveless” 16 years ago) will now be released early in ’08, according to new reports. A few live shows follow in the summer.

The band will use a similar model to Radiohead, who released their latest recording online first (followed by the nearly released vinyl versions and the early-next-year CD release). Unlike Radiohead, MBV will not allow fans to determine the price of the download.

Kristin Hersh, an early proponent of online distribution, has begun a new CASH (Coalition of Artists & Stake Holders) project today in which she will upload a demo version of a new song once a month, and leave out a virtual Tip Jar (“even Robert Johnson passed the hat”). Previous efforts included a Work In Progress subscription-based model, which began in 1998.

Radiohead often list Hersh’s band The Throwing Muses among their influences, maybe they found the idea there?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Michael Snow concert

Michael Snow's Flicker Trio (featuring John Kamevaar and Michael's son Aleck) perform at the Tranzac Southern Cross Lounge tomorrow (November 24th) from 6 - 8pm. The show, which starts very promptly at 6:00, is a pay-what-you-can event. Also playing on the same bill are sax player Jeremy Strachan & drummer Jack Vorvis.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Jon's cranky pet peeve

i don't know if it's the rain or the lack of daylight, but i've been really cranky lately. my one pet peeve, which i can usually keep in check is setting me off and kind of negatively impacting my life.
here's the thing... maybe it's just me, but i don't know why graphic designers who work on posters for jazz festivals feel compelled to take the letter "J" in the word jazz and replace it with a picture of a saxophone. memo to those designers: the two are not interchangable. it doesn't spell the word 'JAZZ' it technically says something along the lines of: "saxophone AZZ." and you know what? i don't want to pay ten bucks to participate in that. and besides, if we followed your example and replaced all 26 letters with jazz instrument pictographs, our written language would become too cumbersome to use for anything, jazz fest or otherwise.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shared Propulsion Car update

This morning Dean Baldwin and I met with legal services provider Terry Fox (who works at CAA) at the Old City Hall courthouse to appear before a judge, enter a not-guilty plea and set a date for trial. Baldwin was in the driver's seat of Michel de Broin's Shared Propulsion Car when it left the gallery and drove 9 blocks down Queen Street, before being pulled over by the Police and charged with "operating an unsafe vehicle."

By pleading not-guilty we will now go to court in the hopes of winning the right to drive the vehicle on public roads. The prosecution will have to prove that the car is dangerous, which we suspect will be difficult. In the last 50 years 200,000 Canadians have died in motor vehicle accidents. No pedal car deaths have been reported.

The trial date is set for April 3rd at 3pm. Seating in the courthouse is limited, but consider yourself invited. Shared Propulsion Car is on display at Mercer Union until December 8th.

Fox requested disclosure of the officer's notes, which we received and are reproduced below.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Days Without

For those who partake in these types of protests, it’s a long week of abstinence:

Tomorrow is No Music Day (see post below), Friday is Buy Nothing Day and the following Friday, the 1st of December, is Day Without Art.

Day Without Art began in 1989 as the national day of action and mourning in response to the AIDS crisis. An estimated 8,000 national and international museums, galleries, art centers, AIDS Service Organizations, libraries, high schools and colleges take by part shutting down sending staff to volunteer at AIDS services, or sponsoring special exhibitions of work about AIDS.

Buy Nothing Day was founded in 1992 by Vancouver artist Ted Dave and popularized by Adbusters magazine. It takes place on the Friday after American Thanksgiving, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Three shows opening this week

Three shows open in the city this week, all with artists affiliated with Mercer Union in one way or another:

Wynick/Tuck Gallery presents "One-second Hudson", a series of new paintings by Monica Tap. The show opens on Saturday November 24th and runs until the 22nd of December. For more information, visit

The first curated group exhibition at the new MKG127 is titled "Pattern Theory" which features Adam David Brown and Kristiiana Lahde, Instant Coffee, An Te Liu, Joy Walker and others. The show also opens on the 24th, and closes on the 22nd of December. Visit for details.

Diaz Contemporary presents "Lightness" by Tania Kitchell and Kelly Jazvac's "Paper Towels and Hot Tub". The show opens on Thursday the 22nd, at 6pm, and runs until December 22nd.

Pictured: Tania Kitchell

Monday, November 19, 2007

Women artists at the MoMA

In today's New York magazine, Jerry Saltz counts the work in the MoMA and finds that there are only 14 (out of 400) works by women artists -statistics worse than the ones used by the Guerilla Girls in 1989, for the Met.

"Not to sound like a broken record, but it has become bitterly clear that MoMA’s stubborn unwillingness to integrate more women into these galleries is not only a failure of the imagination and a moral emergency; it amounts to apartheid......By my count, only about one percent of all the art up to 1970 in MoMA’s Painting and Sculpture Collection is by women. The people who run this institution are earnestly trying to do the right thing; I’m not declaring them sexist bigots. Nor am I a quota queen, advocating that women be allotted their 51 percent: Art history isn’t about fairness. Nevertheless—and this is a vital point—MoMA’s master narrative would not be disrupted if more women were placed on view. In fact, that narrative would come to life in ways it never has before, ways that would be revitalizing, even revolutionary. Ask yourself if hanging any of the following artists would really ruin the narrative espoused by the museum: Barbara Hepworth, Louise Nevelson, Louise Bourgeois, Joan Mitchell, Dorthea Rockburne, Yoko Ono, and Florine Stettheimer........Even Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe are missing. There’s no Mary Cassatt. I could list dozens more........If the museum doesn’t own work by all of these artists, it needs to go shopping. For the hand-wringers who imagine this would trash the canon, I’ll note that cramming in 50 more paintings by women would still keep their presence below 16 percent. Of course, if MoMA removed some warhorses like Dine, Gottlieb, and Kitaj at the same time, things could get really interesting."

The full article is here:

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Untitled (Shot)

The brand-new serigraph "Untitled (Shot)" by Michael Dumontier is the 2nd edition by publishing venture Paul + Wendy Projects, started earlier this year by collectors Paul Van Kooy and Wendy Gomoll. Published in an edition of 30 signed and numbered copies, the work is available at for $250 CDN.

Dumontier is based in Winnipeg and has had solo exhibitions in New York, Boston and Padova, Italy. He is also a founding member of The Royal Art Lodge.

No Music Day

Search out that anechoic chamber, coz November 21st is No Music Day.

Artist Bill Drummond has been lobbying for the recognition of this day, to battle the ubiquity of music, since 2005. It's hard to track the success of his campaign, but BBC Radio Scotland will play no music on the day (“no songs, no bands, no orchestras", they've pledged) and testimonials on his website ( offer similar abstinence. The date of November 21st was chosen because the 22nd is the feast of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. Antithetical observances often precede the traditional, as in the case of Mardi Gras, which is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday.

Drummond is best known for forming the hugely successful band KLF, quickly retiring from the music business and deleting the bands entire back catalogue, and then publicly burning the last million (pounds!) he earned from the band. Other art stunts include the K Foundation Art Award for the "worst artist of the year", which was presented to Rachel Whiteread in 1993, the year she won the Turner Prize. The honour comes with a cheque for £40,000, twice the then-Turner Prize value. Two years later Drummond bought A Smell of Sulphur in the Wind by Richard Long, his favourite contemporary artist, for $20,000. In the year 2000 he tried to sell the work by placing a series of billboards around the country. A year later, unable to sell the work, he cut the photograph and text work into 20,000 pieces, to sell for $1 each.

Next year Drummond plans to commemorate No Music Day by organizing nationwide screenings of films without music soundtracks and to convince after iTunes to close for 24 hours. "This will be a challenge," he said, "but I’m up for it.”

Six Recent titles about Sound & Art

"Sound & Vision" (edited by Luca Beatrice) is less about 'sound art' than about music graphics, focusing mostly on album covers by artists. A fairly unattractive book, but a welcome change from most titles about album cover art, which tend to feature prog rock illustrations like Roger Dean's fantasy paintings for Yes and the Hipgnosis designs for Pink Floyd, led Zeppelin and, well, Yes. There's a lot of Sonic Youth, a lot of Anton Corbijn (am I the only one who thought "Control" was terrible?) and effusive praise for Devendra Banhart (he sings! he draws!).

"VINYL: Records and Covers by Artists" (Guy Schraenen) contains only a single page introduction (& a ten page glossary), but over 250 pages of listings, grouped into seven categories: covers, documents, music, readings, sound art, verbo-vocal and other. A reasonable substitute for the hard to find "Broken Music" catalogue by Ursula Block, but mostly only as a checklist for diehard collectors. Got it, need it, need it, need it, got it, need it.

"Sound Zero" has a nice lenticular cover of Warhol's illustration for the Velvet's debut (peel and pink banana) but little else of interest. It concerns itself mostly with the relationship between music and Pop Art of the sixties (Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Hamilton, Warhol) and of the eighties (Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith). Too much 'counter-culture' and emphasis on psychedelic posters for my tastes.

"Sound Art" by Alan Licht contains few surprises but is a good, solid overview of the 'genre', which is otherwise unavailable (Art Metropole's "Sound By Artists" is out of print and copies online sell for upwards of two-hundred dollars). Licht's book, also, benefits from a singular voice telling the history, rather than a collection of essays. The hardcover book is well-researched, accessible, includes an accompanying CD and a short foreward by Jim O'Rourke.

In "Noise/Music: A History" by Paul Hegarty "sound art" is limited to one chapter, but the ideas and approaches of John Cage, Christian Marclay and a number of others from the 'visual' arts are discussed throughout. Hegarty, who runs the dotdotdotmusic label, examines noise from the early 20th century through to glitch electronica, but is mostly concerned with mid-seventies punk and industrial music like Throbbing Gristle and the later 'purer' noise of Merzbow (the only performer in the book to have an entire chapter dedicated to him).

"Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock'n'Roll Since 1967" is the just-released coffee-table catalogue for the exhibition of the same name. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it looks like they've assembled a good selection of artists who can write about the subject (Dan Graham, Mike Kelley) as well as music writers with a history of music in an art context (Simon Reynolds). You can't go wrong with chapter titles like "Ono, Eno, Arto: Nonmusicians and the emergence of Concept Rock" and "Sentences on AC/DC".

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Paperclips, Borders and Women Behaving Badly

(As reported on BoingBoing)

If you're like me, book design (from the larger publishing companies) is often a source of frustration. Buying something with a poorly designed cover is kind of a kick in the pants. I've often winced my way home with a new purchase tucked under my arm, muttering, "Dammit, Penguin Canada..."

At any rate, I actually don't hate all of these, renewing my hope that one day, our shelves will be wince-free.

Scholastic Trump Card

...To end all scholastic trump cards.

I vote we look into what the Escarpment has to offer. Anyone?

Friday, November 16, 2007


Tomorrow is the last day to catch the BGL show "Commercial Pleasure" at Diaz Contemporary, one of the best commercial exhibitions in the city this year.

For more information, visit their website.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Whitney Biennial

The 2008 Whitney Biennial is slated to open March 6th and will include the following artists:

Rita Ackermann, Natalia Almada, Edgar Arceneaux, Fia Backström, John Baldessari, Robert Bechtle, Walead Beshty, Carol Bove, Joe Bradley, Matthew Brannon, Bozidar Brazda, Olaf Breuning, Jedediah Caesar, William Cordova, Dexter Sinister, Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn, Shannon Ebner, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Roe Ethridge, Kevin Jerome Everson, Omer Fast, Robert Fenz, Coco Fusco, Amy Granat and Drew Heitzler, Rashawn Griffin, Adler Guerrier, MK Guth, Fritz Haeg, Rachel Harrison, Ellen Harvey, Mary Heilmann, Leslie Hewitt, Patrick Hill, William E. Jones, Karen Kilimnik, Alice Könitz, Louise Lawler, Sherrie Levine, Charles Long, Lucky Dragons, Daniel Joseph Martinez, Corey McCorkle, Rodney McMillian, Julia Meltzer and David Thorne, Jennifer Montgomery, Olivier Mosset, Matt Mullican, Neighborhood Public Radio, Ruben Ochoa, Mitzi Pederson, Kembra Pfahler (The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black), Seth Price, Stephen Prina, Adam Putnam, Michael Queenland, Jason Rhoades, Ry Rocklen, Bert Rodriguez, Marina Rosenfeld, Amanda Ross-Ho, Mika Rottenberg, Heather Rowe, Eduardo Sarabia. Melanie Schiff, Amie Siegel, Lisa Sigal, Gretchen Skogerson, Michael Smith, Agathe Snow, Frances Stark, Mika Tajima/New Humans, Javier Téllez, Cheyney Thompson, Mungo Thomson, Leslie Thornton, Phoebe Washburn, James Welling, and Mario Ybarra, Jr.

Additionally, filmmaker Spike Lee, DJ Olive, and the band Gang Gang Dance will participate. The Biennial is curated by Henriette Huldisch and Shamim M. Momin.

Writers' Strike

The Hollywood writers' strike as explained by

The writers of the Daily Show:

The writers of The Simpsons:

...And by the writers and cast of The Office:

The Sackner Archive

Ruth and Marvin Sackner own the world's largest collection of text-based art, which is housed in their Miami Beach home. Their collection began to take shape after the couple discovered a copy of the Something Else Press book "An Anthology of Concrete Poetry" on a dusty bookstore shelf in 1979, and now contains over sixty-five thousand works. Their walls are covered with framed pieces, but the bulk of the collection is ephemeral, housed in closets and drawers, meticulously catalogued, now digitally, but originally on index cards. Their system of classification consists of over a hundred different varieties of work, including artist’s books, typewriter art, experimental calligraphy, assembling periodicals, correspondence art, stamp art, sound poetry, performance poetry, micrography, ‘zines,’ artist envelopes, cassette periodicals, bookmarks, even pre-20th century pattern poetry (the rarely acknowledged precursor to Concrete Poetry).

The couple own work by well known visual artists (Dieter Roth, Timm Ulrichs, Tom Phillips, Carl Andre, Fiona Banner), experimental and conceptual writers (Kenneth Goldsmith, Georges Perec, Gertrude Stein), artists affiliated with Fluxus (Dick Higgins, Emmett Williams, Jackson MacLow, Ben Vautier), artists better known for their academia (Johanna Drucker, Richard Kostelanetz), and of course the usual suspects (Henri Chopin, Bob Cobbing, Ian Hamilton Finlay). The collection is international in scope, and includes at least a dozen Canadians including Steve McCaffery and the late bp nichol (both of the Toronto sound poetry ensemble The Four Horsemen), bill bissett, jw curry and the fully capitalized Derek Beaulieu from Calgary.

Ubuweb has just posted a feature-length documentary on the couple at It's a very loving portrait, made by a relative (Sara Sackner), but it is interesting to see the way a collection/archive takes shape, and how collectors live with their holdings.

MBV Live

To follow-up the announcement of a new album by My Bloody Valentine (supposedly due out this year, meaning very soon) All Tomorrow's Parties announced three concerts by the reunited band, in June and July of next year.

I saw them play at the Opera House fifteen years ago and it remains one of my favorite concerts, ever. The show closer consisted of (what felt like) thirty minutes of white noise - the drummer playing 16th notes on the cymbals to create a percussive wash, and the guitarists hammering away at the same chord. It was incredible. The show was also so oversold that at one point I looked down and realized that my feet weren't touching the ground. I was being held in place, upright, by crowd around me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

1980: Not a Very Good Year

Ian Svenonius has had a myriad of relevant musical guests on his Soft Focus series as of late, but none so compelling as Genesis P Orridge. Just when you think you've heard every story surrounding Ian Curtis' demise, another one comes up on the radar, eh?


Also recommended: Chan Marshall and Mark E Smith

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Performa 07

In today's Village Voice James Hannaham reviews Performa 07, the Performance Art Biennial organized by RoseLee Goldberg. A "seamless, upscale, elegant performance—enjoyable, inoffensive, and not especially challenging" is how one of the works is described, with the implication that it was characteristic of the larger festival. Far from a damning critique, but not exactly what one once expects of Performance Art.

Performa was founded in 2005 by art historian Roselee Golberg, whose "Performance Art from Futurism to the Present", published in 1979 and still in print today, is considered a pioneering work in Performance Art criticism. She is also the author of a monograph on Laurie Anderson (which, unlike her previous title, was quickly remaindered). Her tastes are pretty conventional and one gets the impression (okay, I get the impression, I saw her speak here a few years ago) that her interest lies mostly in 70's and 80's performers. I'm imagining performance art of the bums-in-seats variety, with elaborate costumes and expensive set-design. However, the Biennial's stated mandate to commission new works and encourage visual artists who work in other media to present live works, is admirable. I also note that Toronto's Darren O'Donnell is featured in the festival, with a work that Hannaham singles out in his review.,hannaham,78311,13.html

The New York Times was more generous last week:

Image: Goldberg (right), pictured with Cindy Sherman

Merce Cunningham

On Monday night dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham was presented the Nelson A. Rockefeller Award, as recognition for his "significant commitment to the arts and contributions to society." Cunningham is often considered to be one of the most innovative and influential figures in modern dance. He was the partner and lover to composer John Cage, with whom he developed a number of pioneering techniques, using the I Ching and "chance operations". Approaching ninety, Cunningham is no longer able to dance, but continues to choreograph with the aid of computer software, and has recently worked with Sigur Rós and Radiohead.

Other recipients of the award include color field artist Helen Frankenthaler, set designer Ming Cho Lee and soprano Jessye Norman.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Shared Propulsion Car

Last week videographer Benny Zenga dropped off some footage of the Michel de Broin's "Shared Propulsion Car" in action. Here are some stills: