Film still from The Clock, via Artinfo.
Currently on view at The Paula Cooper Gallery is Christian Marclay’s 24-hour video work The Clock. The groundbreaking work examines the passage of time in all its literal, cinematic and symbolic incarnations through a real-time montage culled from thousands of film excerpts which span eras and genres.
Self Portrait, Via John Maloof Collection
Vivan Maier’s work fills a gap in the history of photography. She sits somewhere between Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” and more traditional notions of street photography and the emotive realm of Arbus portraiture. This is part of the reason why her work, recently discovered through the sale of Maier’s abandoned storage unit just before her death, is so exciting for critics. Her work operates in conversation with established schools of photography, but articulates an altogether new authorial position. She has been posthumously named one of the 20th century’s most important photographers. Maier’s story is one of artistic obscurity: a factory worker and nanny who photographed constantly in her time off never showing her images to anyone. However, her work would certainly have been recognized had she shown it in mid-century.
What’s so fascinating about Maier is that she fits perfectly into a moment in American history where photography was being reckoned with, where artists were figuring out how to wield their power. However, she didn’t belong to any important circles nor did she bounce ideas off mentors from the previous generation, as Diane Arbus infamously did with Walker Evans. Her photographs do not reflect her lack of formal education or cultural inclusion,they read like images you may have seen before and have the feel of some “mid century master” that you can’t put your finger on. Maier’s work at first looks recognizable, a “digestion of the history of photography” surmised the curator at the Chicago Cultural Center, which is hosting the first ever exhibition of her work. One realizes quickly however, that Maier’s eye had entirely different intentions than the photographers to whom she is currently being compared.
A view of Salon 94′s online booth at the VIP Art Fair, via ARTINFO.
VIP Art Fair, the world’s first online art fair, launched this past Saturday, January 22nd and was immediately bombarded with a slew of technical difficulties. What in theory seemed like a great idea proved too great a task for a Beta site to handle. The high amount of visitor traffic led to impossible load times, numerous glitches and small crashes, “Folks have compared us to the Titanic,” tweeted the fair, “Please be patient” began another. The criticism was overwhelming and, more often than not, unsympathetically harsh. The VIP Art Fair may have failed technically but the fair is actually quite the accidentally radical, long-time-coming gesture which makes apparent the problematic nature of the art market in an increasingly digital world.
Glenn Ligon, We’re Black and Strong (I), 1996 via SFMOMA
Andrea Rosen’s Amnesia, featuring installations from On Kawara, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and EAI curators Rebecca Cleman and Josh Klein closes tomorrow. The show’s premise was interesting: an attempt to bridge the gap between seemingly incongruous works through the very theme of discontinuity. For the curators, Amnesia references the gaps in memory that extend to the fibers of culture, and, ultimately, the historical archive; blips in the continuum that highlight the disparity between memory and history.
History, as it is archived through subjective means, depends on these gaps in memory to lend a sense of the real, evidence of the lived experience. On Kawara is quoted in conversation with Lucy Lippard, saying “I die once so I have only one life. Literally speaking, continuity means nothing and discontinuity means existence.” This relationship between history, memory, and the construction of the self is something that seems to reappear again and again in the analysis of work by artists of color. Why is it that throughout art history, black artists seem so often to be recognized strictly in terms of their blackness? In 2002, the Dayton Art Institute examined this paradigm with their group show entitled, Looking Forward, Looking Black. The tiny catalogue from this show was one of my first introductions to the work of Glenn Ligon, who seems to have made a career of this query through his experimentation with the politics of photography.
Tony Feher, Untitled (detail), 2011; via The Pace Gallery.
On view at The Pace Gallery is a playful, if innocuous, show of five new works from New York-based artist Tony Feher. For Next on Line, Feher tethers vinyl tubes of colored water to the walls and ceiling. The tubes meet the ground in languid looping formations that evoke quasi-organic forms. The Pace Gallery self-consciously touts Feher’s works as Post-Minimalist drawings in space, not unlike the works of Eva Hesse or Richard Tuttle. Unfortunately, the effective marketing is poorly supported.
Amie Siegel, still from Black Moon (2010), Via ICA
The James and Audrey Foster Prize at the ICA, which showcases the work of Boston area artists, always proves its necessity. I’ve seen it three times, three years in a row, and never recognize the names or the work of the artists in the show. And they’re supposedly Boston’s best, proving the city’s cultural vibrancy. One is alerted instead to the fact that the city doesn’t exhibit its own enough to generate familiarity or a sense of active community. Additionally, the show is always pedestrian. It’s easy to say that Boston is conservative, that it doesn’t support or foster productive artistic activity. This is completely true. More interesting though, is that Boston area contemporary art consistently has a very similar aesthetic, one which is generally limp wristed and caught in a vacuum several years behind the interests of the rest of the culturally informed world. This slow speed has its benefits and produces its own artistic parameters. The art time in Boston runs in an alternate plane to the rest of the recognized art world, at times parallel and simply recognizably behind. At other moments however, Boston time is hard to place in established cultural chronology and instead, has its own set of values. There are never completely disgusting, hugely over funded spectacles (which generally make or should make viewers feel guilty-for a multitude of reasons) like Jennifer Rubell’s meat party at the Brooklyn Museum, which the New York Times rightly classifies as a low of 2010. In Boston this would never happen. However it seems better to risk the audacious. Even when a big, famous artist shows (like Mark Bradford), the sense of largeness and drama is sucked out in this city.