Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Augusto Bastos Live!

Tomorrow night - Wednesday, October 29th, at 6:30 pm - Professor Augusto Bastos will be sharing stories from his incredible life in a conversation with Darren O'Donnell at the Power Plant. This talk is the last event in the Born Out of Pleasure special events series that was programmed in conjunction with Harrell Fletcher's collaborative show of the same name. And it's free!

I spent 10 days with Augusto and highly recommend this talk. He is a smart and funny man who has seen and lived through a lot, and has so much to share. (The photo above is of Augusto as a young man with one of his seven children. Video footage of Augusto in a rickshaw we hired to take him to a dinner can be seen here.) Getting to know him was such a highlight of that project for me, and I suspect it will be a special thing for you, too. So come!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Terry Fox

Because I've been a bad blogger, this sad news Dave sent me days ago about the death of Terry Fox is a bit late. But here it is:

TERRY FOX (1943–2008)

The American performance artist Terry Fox has died in Cologne. As Der Standard reports, Fox was a definitive force in the Fluxus movement along with Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik. In the 1960s and '70s, Fox participated in a radical move away from traditional art forms and used his body in performances that polarized audiences. The artist had been living in Cologne since 1996; the city's Museum Ludwig made the announcement of his death.

You can see some of his works here. And the most excellent UbuWeb has his most excellent Children's Tapes here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Good things from Artists Space

Artists Space is a really great contemporary art gallery in New York that has a physical space as well as several different online manifestations. (One of the curators is Joseph del Pesco, who gave an interesting talk at Mercer Union a year ago.)

Artists Space recently launched a few new web-based projects that are all worth checking out. (To do this click on the "Web Cast" section on their web site.) One is called Type Cast, a free font download designed by a different artist every month - this month's font is called "Negative Space" and is by Mungo Thomson.

Another online project is called "YouTube Commentary", where a different artist each month is asked to provide a commentary to the YouTube video of their choosing - currently featured is Cesare Pietroiusti's "The Diva and Few Small Mistakes".

And the third web project they've recently launched is The Artists Space Daily, which they describe as "a free software program that you can download and install on your home computer. Once per day it downloads an image from the internet and places it on the desktop of your computer. This small computer program allows for the distribution of artist “postcards” to curators, collectors, and art viewers around the world. For the first year of the Artists Space Daily, we’ve asked an array of international curators to recommend artists who might benefit from this kind of global dissemination."

I downloaded it and am happy to say it works and is excellent - you should get it, too. (The image above is from today's featured artist, Mushon Zer-Aviv, who was recommended by curator Chen Tamir.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Bay - "Living Artfully" or not so much?

This fall The Bay launched its new autumn campaign "Live Artfully". This campaign involves some lovely watercolour paintings and slogans such as "To Live Artfully is to recognize that art doesn't have to be found in a gallery or museum". Seems pretty harmless...but what if The Bay actually "found" this campaign in a gallery? And what if that gallery, and the artist whose work bears a striking resemblance to The Bay's campaign, have not been acknowledged in any way?

This is where a longtime friend of mine, Biliana Velkova, comes in. Pretty much the whole time I've know Biliana - about 15 years - she's been making art that in one form or another addresses her experience as an immigrant from Bulagaria dealing with North American consumer culture. So in July of 2007 she had a show of lovely watercolour paintings in a North Vancouver shop/gallery called Tartooful, whose tagline is "Live Artfully".

As the posted images illustrate, there are a strange amount of similarities between The Bay's ad campaign, Tartooful, and Biliana's work. (Some clarification may be needed - the top image is from The Bay's recent campaign, and the two below it are from Biliana's 2007 show at Tartooful.) There is, of course, the possibility that this is all just some crazy coincidence, but that possibility seems pretty remote, at least to me.

I find this whole situation interesting on a lot of levels. For me it's not as simple as just immediately hating the big corporation for stealing intellectual property. I actually don't like the term intellectual property at all because I find it really disturbing to apply the ultimate symbol of capitalism - property - to our ideas and creativity. And I also get really excited by the various forms of gifting, sharing, borrowing, and inspiring that can occur in art, science, life in general, etc.

But I think these forms of sharing are best distinguished from plain old exploitation by a system of reciprocity, be it some sort of barter, exchange, gift, or just a simple acknowledgment. And at this point neither Tartooful or Biliana have been acknowledged in any way, so they have sent a letter to the media about this issue, and Biliana has done a few postings on her blog about it.

Hopefully some sort of acknowledgment update will be coming soon....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Let's Look Sophisticated Together at Mercer's New Wave...

So Mercer's New Wave gala opening is this Wednesday night, with a VIP preview reception from 6-8pm, and a dance party starting at 8 and going till late.

There are so so so many reasons why you should come. To begin with, I just saw the new space, and it's really beautiful. Seriously. Come see.

On top of that, Owen Pallett will be playing at 8:30pm (as Beardo). Beautiful sounds in a beautiful space, what more could you ask for?

Oh wait, there's more. To help with the booty shaking we've got DJs Jaime Sin (7th Heaven), Produzentin (Hot Nuts), and Isabelle Noël.

And there will be art installations by Stephanie Comilang, Alison S.M. Kobayashi, and Annie MacDonell - we're so lucky to have such awesome artists showing at our opening event!

Additionally, there will be sitting/drinking/dj-ing environments made by MADE - very exciting.

So clearly this is the place to be this Wednesday evening.

Tickets are available at Soundscapes and Rotate this, and will also be available at the door.

Till then....

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Nuit Blanche - Zone C Rules

Okay, so Zone C was all I really checked out, but whatever, it rules. And yes, I am biased in many ways, but I was pretty taken with Dave's curating.

Matthew Suib's Purified By Fire was so good - strangely subtle and also spectacular.

I got to Jon Sasaki's I Promise It Will Always Be This Way pretty early, and was very impressed with the mascots' dancing...one very ambitious mascot even did multiple cartwheels in a row. I'm curious to know when they'll burn out. (Though clearly they lasted longer than me as I'm back home now while they're still out there kicking it.)

And I really loved Yoko Ono's Imagine Peace. I often shy away from art that requires participation, but I got a button, wrote a wish, and hung it on a tree very happily. So nice.