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SUBBASEMENT ART BLOG

Felix Gonzales Torres: Susan Mentions Mortality in Alex’s Critique

November 15th, 2008

Untitled (Beginning) 1994

Felix Gonzales Torres

I’ve often thought of all the ways I could die as a child. In doing this I was attempting to figure out the limitations of my body and my threshold for pain, but when I realize that my grandparents would die I could only think about how they could live. I thought about all the memorials to preserve their lives, and I concluded by wanting them to live in a museum their ashes in a drawing there forever. I was 16 when I realized this solution, and that’s why I’m so interested in the idea of commemorating. Felix Gonzales Torres’s work does such a haunting job of this and I’m drawn to the work. Its charged and considerate of its audience. They function as the most banal celebrations, humble like domesticity, and beautifully timeless. The weight of those bead curtains can’t be felt in a photograph. You have to know what it is like to penetrate a threshold feel them on your body. In knowing this you may accomplish a resolve to the same concerns I had as a child, a concern transmitted from one’s self to those around you, one of compassion, a passage to the other side.

My Five Favorite Things

November 15th, 2008

1. The Franz West Exhibition at the BMA

2.The ArtForum Website

3.Paddy Johnson visits MICA

4.Realizing that Kanye’s blog is shallow and only relies on sophisticated aesthetics to make it close to interesting

5.True Blood the HBO series has been talked about so often.  I must see it.

Beyonce and the SuperNatural: I’m Counting the Days

November 15th, 2008

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Judith Butler’s notion of performativity seems applicable to Beyonce in two ways first her ritualized and amplified notions of female mannerisms and behavioral tendencies and secondly in her less conscious notions of pop star performativity the levels of interviews, performances, and events become a testament to being overly condition to a pop star. The term performativity is so often attributed to gender, but it should be more inclusive to societal roles like the celebrity. The supernatural can imply a level of being hypnotized, engrossed and humbled all in the same instance (an awe inspiring persona). In this way we can understand the greatness of Beyonce’s aims. For this first blog let’s consider Beyonce and her correlation to the super natural. There is firstly the constant need for validation and her claims of wanting to be an icon that prompted my inquiry. She has been appropriating the lives of every major pop star and allowing it to be a part of her performance lexicon. In doing this she is using identity appropriation as a form of power, because we can identify her references like Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, and now Etta James we can also note their greatness, And now it can be noted as the greatness of Ms.Knowles. In a way this feat can be considered a form of channeling allowing these things to inhabit her body knowing that she will return to the figure she was prior to their entry. Her haunting parallels to the lives of Michael Jackson and Diana Ross couldn’t be better if scripted. She soon will become a queen of the black female singer bio-pic after the release of Cadillac Dreams about jazz singer Etta James and her golden globe nominated Denna from “Dream Girls”. Her Grammy performance with Prince in 2004, places her in an instant protégé position to Prince. She has a more than slight resemblance to Apollonia, his “Purple Rain” love interest. She’s also generated an all female band accompanying her on tours and tv spots. This is so Prince and The Revolution that one could argue that Beyonce has left her typical female molds behind. This kind of self-affirmation on such a public scale becomes away of further distancing the pop star from those easily compartmentalized forms of output associated with celebrities, because it gives her a degree of agency. She is prepared to become legendary. Her songs Déjà vu, Crazy in Love, Lost Yo Mind, and Ring the Alarm all speak of a woman on the verge of madness. An other worldly rage that is carried out in her performances: falling, spastic, and aggressive. Beyonce brings songs to visual formation better than any active pop star, but what she is able to do vocally is probably only rivaled by Michael Jackson and Bjork and that is to be emotive in a highly conscious and particular manner. Beyonce’s sensitivity to the idea of artistry in relationship to her work leads to the assumption that she can’t really sing or she’s compared to other vocalist. What I think the R&B market fails to realize is that Beyonce is a pop singer all the way around even her runs are appropriated. No she’s not Jennifer Hudson or Whitney Houston, but Beyonce can conjure both of them because her voice has a level of versatility that’s exemplified beautifully on the album “Dangerously in Love”. . She has been on record quoting Aretha Franklin saying, “A good singer can sing anything.” I think she misinterprted it as a mission instead of noting that it is a comment on originality, but the mission makes since for Beyonce because she is really interested in the process of constructing an experience. Beyonce has also invented a doppleganger for her self the insatiable Sasha Fierce (Knowles’s stage counter-part) a confident female who brings into question the real need for Beyonce. A doppleganger is one’s suspicious twin who when seen can be a preminition of death. So I ask the question are Sasha and Beyonce battling it out now to see who will inevitably live on. If so miss Knowles has said the ultimate. There are no contenders for her thrown. I AM…. Really means SHE IS…the best, and canonizes her self in the pop cultural framework. She even gets shout outs from those who are consider the anti-thesis of her music by artist like Erykah Badu. So her Supernatural qualities may be more human than I’ve been giving them credit for, but once juxtaposed to her peers she pulls off feats they can only dream of doing. Even with the over exposure she still manages to keep us at a distance from her life only presenting to us what she feels is an altruistic offering. Her supernatural qualtities also show up in her love for the ocean and nature, but her non- willingness to allow it to enter the music she makes. The music is confident, urban, assaulting, and on occasion overly orchestrated. Beyonce’s originality is like that of Picasso being prolific and constantly observant, a best all around mentality. In the realm of R&B what she does becomes completely prophetic and I’m sure every young poptartlet is waiting to follow.

With any other pop star besides Prince, Bjork, Madonna, or Michael Jackson I would say I’m pushing this way too hard, but Beyonce has utilized others so well to finally become herself. That is something quite admirable Justin and Usher are still riding on Michael’s coat tails. Their notion of lineage and citation is too easy.

Sex, Love, and Power at the BMA

November 15th, 2008

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Alice in Wonderland

1996

Nicole Eisenman

The BMA held a panel discussion centered around the work of renowned artist Franz West. That was immediately followed by a reception which was definitely needed. The panel consisted of Hilary Harkness, Tom Otterness, and Nicole Eisenman. The artists discussed how their practice and subject matter are sensitive to engaging the viewer with notions of sex in relation to other concerns as mediative acts for the message. Harkness delivered a dry, slightly awkward presentation of her small, labor intensive “feminist” works. While in the panel discussion she recounts her love life maybe to cite it as a source of inspiration. Tom Otterness was tapping into some good issues in his artist talk: like the relationship of humor and sex/ the relationship of the public and sex. The panel ended with one audience member questioning Tom about a piece he had done in which he kills a dog. He handled the question well stating his wrong doing. Nicole Eisenman’s talk went well, offering a survey of the many investigations she’s done as an artist, and in her turn at the mic she advocates the visibility of sex. On some level the panel discussion seemed too casual, and it may have hurt the ability of anyone on stage to facilitate a healthy discourse. With topics as broad as sex, love, and power greater specificity and direction are needed. P.S. I loved Nicole’s talk, because the honesty and attentiveness to the discussion came across through some slight level of frustration.

Why is it important to collect art?

June 1st, 2008

I think having original artwork in your home can only elevate your creative thinkIing. When collecting art you are building a language that speaks your taste, and the energy that drives you. There are many ways to reward youself, but not many that are as lasting as your collection of art works. Your children’s children’s children will know more and more about life and it’s many cultures just from growing in a home filled with art.