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 "BrĂ¼no: 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.