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:

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer, RIP

Norman Mailer, the controversial author of the Pulitzer Prize winning novels Armies of the Night and The Executioner's Song, and co-founder of the Village Voice newspaper, died today at Mount Sinai Hospital. He was 84.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thurston Moore and Cartman on Guitar Hero

In an interview with Pitchfork today Thurston Moore discusses the video game "Guitar Hero":

"I don't play video games. I tried playing "Guitar Hero". I was over at Jemina Pearl's house, the singer from Be Your Own Pet in Nashville, and she had it and I was like, "Aw man, that's so fuckin' easy!" And she's like, "Yeah?" And she played "Search & Destroy" by the Stooges on it. And she just kicked ass. She just ripped on it, like, she played all of James Williamson's leads, and I was watching her, like, "Huh, I could do that." And then I tried my hand at it. I couldn't even get out of the gate. I was just splayed on the living room floor, bleeding and humiliated [laughs]. It does take a lot of...I don't know, it does take some kind of skill, certainly but I think it just takes a lot of...hours [laughs]. Okay, if I sat with this thing for a few days, I might be able to-- it's cool, I don't have any problem with it, but I'd rather read a book."

Yesterday's episode of South Park also takes on the game, with a parody of the cliched story of the rise and fall of a rock band, including a character who's success is derailed following an addiction to a game called "Heroin Hero". As always, the best line belongs to Cartman: "Real guitars are for old people".

Thomas Brinkmann

Thomas Brinkmann is best known as the German producer of minimal techno music, but his experiments with the possibilities of the surface of the vinyl record place him alongside sound-artists Christian Marclay, Boyd Rice and Fluxus artist Milan Knizak. In the late nineties he gained wider recognition for his remixes of Mike Ink and Richie Hawtin (Plastikman, from Windsor, Ontario). These productions were made by modifying the vinyl and playing the disks on customized turntables with two tone-arms.

His own practice involves literally carving beats out of vinyl, using an xacto knife to create clicks and pops in the place of kick drums and hi-hats. Brinkmann overcomes the novelty factor of these techniques by employing an astonishing mathematical precision and conceptual rigor to his projects.

He performs tomorrow night at the Reverb, from 10pm to 6am. Tickets are $22.

Martin Bennett

An exhibition of new paintings by Martin Bennett titled "The Geometry Of All Four Seasons" opens tonight at Clint Roenisch Gallery (944 Queen Street) and continues until December 22nd. The gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday: 12-6pm, or Sunday by appointment. For more information visit

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Giller Prize

Elizabeth Hay won the prestigious Giller Prize night night - beating out Canadian literary heavyweights such as M.G. Vissanji and Michael Ondaatje, both previous winners. The author, who was also a finalist in 2000, won for her her novel "Late Nights on Air", a story about a failed TV broadcaster who moves to Yellowknife.

The award, now called The Scotiabank Giller Prize (is there anything they aren't funding/branding?) is valued at $40 000. "I think the operative phrase here is, 'Take the money and run,' " Hay said, after accepting her cheque.

Past winners include Rohinton Mistry, Mordecai Richler, Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro (in both 1998 and 2004) .


A number of long-awaited records are slated for release in early 2008, including the sequel to Cat Power's 2000 disk "The Covers Record" and the first new Magnetic Fields record since 2004 (which is a long stretch for a songwriter as prolific as Stephen Merritt). But indie-rock's "Chinese Democracy" has got to My Bloody Valentine's follow-up to "Loveless", which was released sixteen years ago this week. After that record, the band left their label Creation, and signed with Island Records, but did not produce another recording. Various band members formed side-projects and guitarist Kevin Shields occasionally collaborated with other artists (Sugar, Dinosaur Jr, Primal Scream) and remixed a half-dozen songs by bands like Mogwai, Yo La Tengo, Lush and, uh, Bow Wow Wow - all fairly inauspicious for a band who produced what many consider to be the greatest record released last decade. Island reportedly pulled the plug after the band spent about a million dollars on recording without producing anything to show for it.

Earlier this year Shields hinted that a new record was in the works and that the band would "make another record... unless we die or something". It was then announced today that in an upcoming interview with Vice's "Soft Focus" he will confirm that an album will indeed be released, and before the end of this year! The as-yet-untitled recording will consist of material the band worked on in the mid-nineties, fleshed out with some new songs.

The band take their name from the 1981 low-budget horror film shot on location in Nova Scotia.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

In Rainbows

Statistics released today by ComScore indicate that only 38% of fans who downloaded Radiohead’s new pay-what-you-will album “In Rainbows” paid anything at all. Of those that did pay, 17% paid $4 or less, 6% paid between $4 and $8, 12% paid between $8.01 and $12 and 4% paid more than $12.

As a publicity stunt this was a stroke of genius, but as an alternative model for musicians it might not be as effective. Sure, the band did okay (roughly 3 million dollars in a month with the only overhead being the simple website and recording costs. Not to mention the $80 box set sales and money they’ll make touring) but if the practice were to become commonplace other artists wouldn’t benefit from the same type of press coverage afforded to this experiment.

MIT vs Frank Gehry

A negligence suit against Frank Gehry, filed last week and reported today in the Boston Globe, claims that the architect "breached [his] duties by providing deficient design services and drawings." The Massachusetts Institute of Technology seeks unspecified damages, alleging that there are serious design flaws in their Stata Center, which was completed in 2004. The suit claims that there are persistent leaks, drainage problems and mold growing on the exterior. Additionally, dangerous accumulations of snow and ice have fallen from window boxes and other areas of its roofs, blocking emergency exits and causing damage.

An executive at Skanska, the construction company who built the Center, said that Gehry ignored warnings from Skanska and an outside consulting company.

Apparently Gehry's original designs for the new AGO building were similar to those for the Stata Center, but were nixed to appease community concerns over height.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Critical Art Ensemble Benefit

On November 23rd, A Space Gallery will host a gala art auction in support of Steven Kurtz, founder of the internationally acclaimed art group Critical Art Ensemble. The CAE Defense Committee is currently $90 000 short of being able to pay the artists’ legal bills, and $200 000 short of the funds necessary to bring expert witnesses to Buffalo to testify on their behalf.

Naomi Klein will provide the keynote address, and will also read from her bestselling new book "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism." An auction of artwork follows, including works by John Abrams, Ed Burtynsky, John Greyson, Freda Guttman, Johanna Householder, Istvan Kantor, Micah Lexier, Ken Lum, Ed Pien, Jin-me Yoon and many others.

For more information about the case, visit

Friday, November 2, 2007

Dave Hickey and Big Boobs on the Subway

The current issue of "The Believer" magazine has a fascinating interview with Dave Hickey, art critic and author of "The Invisible Dragon” and "Air Guitar".

He discusses his views on the type of artists MFA programs produce ("idiots with low-grade depression"), the reason he opposes grants to artists ("governments are risk averse. They encourage risk-averse personalities") and why artists should be seen ("the missing are presumed dead") and not heard ("gossip is the currency of the discourse").

Here are a few excerpts:

“Anyway, people don’t make literature, architecture, and art—the culture makes those things. We make books, buildings, and objects. We do our crummy little shit, and the culture assigns value to it, and I don’t think the culture needs government help.”

“I think you want to learn about art because you had an experience of some sort - a totally nonredemptive but vaguely exciting experience, like brushing up against a girl with big boobs in the subway. It's about that level of intensity. So you want to find out more about it since its sources are so mysterious, and these sources reside in you as well as in the object. But I have no evangelical feelings about art at all. I despise art education. Art doesn't lend itself to education. There is no knowledge there. It's a set of propositions about how things should look."

David Shrigley Concerts

Last month Tomlab records released what was essentially a tribute album to a lyric book, "Worried Noodles", in which indie bands wrote and performed songs based on the words and drawings from David Shrigley's soundless record of the same name. The two CD set (which I bought this week and haven't yet had a chance to listen to) includes David Byrne, the Liars, Deerhoof, Toronto's Final Fantasy and many others.

The label has now planned two events featuring participants from the recording (Dirty Projectors, YACHT, Scarlet's Well, Psapp) this Saturday in Berlin. A month later (December 5th) a similar tribute takes place at the Knitting Factory in New York City. Both events are benefits for Amnesty International.

Shrigley has previously created music videos for Blur and Bonnie "Prince" Billy and provided cover art for Deerhoof's Friend Opportunity.

Visit for videos by Grizzly Bear, Liars, Yacht and others.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Now Magazine Awards

Congrats to Anitra Hamilton for winning the Now Magazine Best Artist Award, announced today. Cited are her "Beater" project from Mercer's "Seducing Down the Door" exhibition (pictured), her prolific exhibition history this year, and the ongoing Satchel Gallery project.

One-legged Lithuanian Lesbians

Yesterday the BBC reported that the leader of the opposition Conservative Party in British Parliament David Cameron provoked a minor diplomatic scandal with comments regarding arts funding. At an Arts Council luncheon last week, he said, "I hope you won't be giving grants to too many one-legged Lithuanian lesbians."

The story has been picked up by Lithuanian newspaper Lietuvos Rytas, and prompted a letter from the Lithuania's ambassador, Mr Vygaudas Usackas, who called the remarks "disappointing" and hoped for an explanation.

Cameron's office later said that he was misquoted and that he had referred to "one-legged Lithuanian dance troupes", which is somehow less offensive, presumably. His office added that he was making a serious point about Lottery grants, which support "too many obscure fringe performers."

The controversy has mostly been contained to issues of race, ignoring the possible offense to homosexuals, the handicapped and artists in general.

For the record, my two fave Lithuanian artists are George Maciunas (Fluxus ringleader) and Jonas Mekas ("grandfather" of experimental film, founder of Anthology Film Archives in NYC, which I think is the first American Artist-Run Centre, founder of Film Culture magazine, etc. etc.)