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Art in America
October 1996






































































































David Byrne























Art prodigy






























Artforum
October 1996












































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Liz-n-Val





































Frieze
October 1996









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Kcho



















































Art in America
November 1996























Molinier



















































Eric Fischl
































































































































Arforum
November 1996























Georgina Starr








































































Fashion in September's
Artforum









Fashion in November's
Artforum























the magazine rack

by Patterson Beckwith 


October - November 1996
The cover of the October 1996 Art in America features a picture of the artist Matthew Barney combing his hair. Inside, on page 82 is a ten-page article by Barney scholar and fan Jerry Saltz about Barney's new short film, Cremaster 4. Saltz lists Barney's achievements: "At 29, Barney was the subject of a recent traveling retrospective; in addition to the 1993 Whitney Biennial he appeared in the 1995 Whitney show; he was in Documenta IX (1992) and the Aperto section of the 1993 Venice Biennale, where he won a medal." Saltz says that "for all of the deserved recognition that Barney has received, his work has also acquired an undeserved reputation for being opaque and impossible to grasp. Barney's art is not obscure, but it is difficult. Somewhat mysterious and hermetic, like a lot of good art, it takes extended looking." Saltz has looked extensively, even obsessively; on the third page of the article, he mentions that he has watched the 43-minute Cremaster 4 video more than 75 times. He describes what happens in the video: "It opens with a shot of a structure at the end of a very long pier on the Isle of Man. Inside the building, Barney, dressed in a white, vaguely Edwardian suit and sporting bright red hair, begins to tap dance. Beginning slowly, he dances in one place and at some length. His dancing starts to wear away bits of the floor. Eventually he dances his way through the floor of the pier and drops into the ocean; he then proceeds to dig through the sea bottom, and crawls through a long, narrow, Vaseline-filled tunnel. This passage finally leads back to the surface of the Isle again." From time to time, the video cuts away from Barney to a motorcycle race taking place on the island. Saltz writes that Cremaster 4 "is, I believe, a masterpiece of 1990s art," and then begins a lengthy section called "Dissecting Cremaster 4." Saltz starts by informing his reader that the cremaster is the muscle that suspends the testicles and that "men have cremaster muscles, women do not." Saltz says, "Barney's video deals with time in various ways...there are 325 cuts. That is about 7.2 seconds average per scene. It is never clear how much time actually elapses in the tape, and this is not just a result of filmic devices such as slow motion and speeded-up action. How long does it take to tap-dance through a plastic floor? On a more metaphorical level, it is possible to imagine all the action of the tape occurring simultaneously, in an instant." In the next sentence, Saltz writes, "Why Barney pays all this attention to the progress or problems of testes moving down or ovaries moving up becomes clear when you consider the fetal development cycle." Saltz says that that it has something to do with the seventh week in the womb, when the fetus is still sexually undifferentiated. But really it doesn't become that clear why Barney is paying attention and to what. There is an article by Ken Johnson on page 51 about the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams, Mass., that it is going to open in a giant factory complex in 1998. Johnson also wrote a sidebar about the museum's first exhibition, an installation called Desire created last summer by Talking Head David Byrne, "an audio-accompanied environment of illuminated mock-advertisements that skewer mass-mediated fantasies of fulfillment." These were big pictures of the Statue of Liberty, money and handguns accompanied by slogans like "Pride is knowing that too much is never enough." Johnson's evaluation was that Byrne's art is "cartoonish and didactic" and doesn't cover "any stylistic or conceptual territory that hasn't been explored in more revelatory ways by such artists as Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer and Jeff Koons." On page 75 there is a full-page ad for a print by 11-year-old art prodigy Alexandra Nechita. The print is titled My Torch Shall Guide Me and is, the ad copy says, "Inspired By The Athletes Of Special Olympics," for whom it has "helped raise $1.5 million." There is a photo of the artist and a reproduction of the print, a Picassoesque image of a figure with a torch. On the next page is a six-page article about the recent Picasso portrait exhibition at MOMA called "Picasso and Portraiture." Carter Ratcliff says that most of the portraits are of women, and that "Picasso usually painted a particular woman, with obsessive attention to whatever bliss or terror or mixture of the two that she induced in him as he worked." He concludes the article by saying, "In one image after another, Picasso offers a carefully managed standoff between mystery, which he understands as essentially female, and the impulse to order, which he construes as male." On page 98, there is a ten-page article by Reagan Upshaw about the art of Edward Kienholz. Written on the occasion of the (just closed) Kienholz retrospective at the Whitney, the article frames Kienholz as a sort of politically explicit Rauschenberg. "Long before the current wave of political art, Kienholz was creating sculptures that dealt with specific issues and events. He took aim at organized religion...the mistreatment of minorities...[and] the myths of American history." The first thing in October's Artforum is the Q&A section, the monthly column where they ask a bunch of artists and writers the same question. This month's question was "What's your favorite quote or phrase?" In the introduction, Thyrza Goodeve quotes Walter Benjamin: "All writing consists largely of quotations." John Baldessari quoted himself, once from a 1971 artwork, "I will not make any more boring art," and twice from a lecture he gave in Santa Fe, "The problem of art is art" and "Beauty is rearing it's ugly head." Filmmaker Gregg Bordowitz said his favorite quote is from Mao: "Criticism is an act of love." The writer Avitall Ronell quoted Kenny Rogers' Gambler song, about knowing when to hold them, when to fold them and when to run. And the artist Raymond Pettibon gives a passage from the Bible that he says "sums up the whole issue of quoting:" "And if any man shall take away from the words of this book...God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." On page 18 is Mark Van De Walle's "Hot List," a column about Websites. This month the column is about television, and he gives the address for "The Ultimate TV Show List," which he says will point you to pages for "almost every show ever made, no matter how obscure." (http://tvnet.com/UTVL) He also lists the Institute for Propaganda Analysis, because "the most important thing to remember about television is that, regardless of how much you love it, it doesn't love you back" (http://carmen.artsci.washington.edu/propag anda/contents.htm#intro), and the Chomsky Archive, (http://www.lbbs.org/) for its "selection of his speeches and papers on exactly why TV can't be trusted." Artforum seems to be the only art magazine that has managed to attract clothing ads; on page 8 is a full-page taken out by Jil Sander, and on page 23, facing an ad for a new Moschino store, is a two-page interview by Darryl Turner with Interview editor Ingrid Sischy (who used to edit Artforum) and Guggenheim Museum curator Germano Celant. Sischy and Celant were the joint artistic directors of last summer's Firenze Biennale, where they organized an exhibition called "Time and Fashion," which included collaborations they facilitated between clothing designers and famous artists, like Jenny Holzer and Helmut Lang, Jill Sander and Mario Merz, Gianni Versace and Roy Lichtenstein, and Damien Hirst and Miuccia Prada. Sischy says, "So much contemporary art seems to want to touch or parody or critique fashion, there are specific designers who are actually taking on issues of the body, who aren't being discussed in that manner in the fashion world. While fashion editors talk about black being in or out, or hemlines, or skirts versus pants, somebody like Jean Paul Gaultier may not give a damn about all that." Celant, adds, "In many ways fashion has to fight against the same prejudices that photography came up against 100 years ago. First we had to assert that fashion is a serious, creative language, which is a question of representation, right? You can't do it simply by showing a dress. It is the same problem as with photography: How do you get beyond the documentary, illustrational aspect?" On page 63 is a full-page ad for the Merchant-Ivory movie Surviving Picasso starring Anthony Hopkins. "Only his passion for women could rival his passion for painting," it says at the top of the page. On page 78 there is a quarter-page ad taken out by the artists Liz-n-Val. It is collage of two sunbathers with cartoon bubbles above them. One says, "Is art something, Val? I've asked patrons, critics, dealers." The other replies, "Liz, it is absolutely and positively nothing; it doesn't even pay for rent." On page 86 are pieces by six critics about Ellsworth Kelly, written on the occasion of his big show at the Guggenheim. There are musings on the painter by Dore Ashton, Michael Brenson, Yve-Alain Bois, Jean- Pierre Criqui, James Meyer and Lisa Liebmann. The regular fashion column in Artforum, "Flash Track," has photos taken backstage at a Martin Margiela fashion show by Anders Edstrom and a few paragraphs written by Olivier Zahm, who says that the seemingly unstudied photos "mirror Margiela's penchant for pure forms, for the disruptive energy that comes from busting up the conventions of high-gloss glamour." The October Frieze has two articles analyzing advertising campaigns. The first, "Young Meat" by Matthew DeBord, is about McDonald's ads for its new hamburger, the Arch Deluxe. The burger is meant for grown- ups, because it has lettuce, tomatoes and a Dijon mustard sauce, and the ad campaign makes this point via billboards and television. The billboards said, "We'll see you on the other side of childhood" and had photos showing children "grimacing at the prospect of having to eat anything other than beef or sugar." DeBord writes, "Even the name resonates with nostalgic, elderly tones: `Arch' recalls the yellow double arches of the company's original restaurant outside Chicago, `Deluxe' the deluxe hamburger option on the menus of coffee shops that McDonald's has replaced." The TV spots featured Ronald McDonald, the funny clown from McDonald's, appearing in grown- up situations; golfing, dancing at a discotheque, and shooting pool in a pool hall. Stating that "McDonald's is, along with Disney and the U.S. federal government, one of the world economy's prime manipulators of children, preying on the basic contradiction that children come from sex but are supposed to be asexual entities", DeBord expresses his concern that the Arch Deluxe campaign "represents the trend of wielding images of children for commercial ends at its most disturbing, saying that "`we'll meet you on the other side of childhood' sounds a lot like an illicit come-on." On the same page is another advertising deconstruction piece, by Valerie Steele, about the Italian clothing company Diesel's marketing strategy. Steele says that, "the typical Diesel ad will feature several young and attractive models who are juxtaposed with banal, bizarre or grotesque images, such as `50s style TV dinners, generals wearing nappies or extremely obese men. Diesel employs an overarching tone of heavy-handed humor and sarcasm, suggesting that these images are read as negatives; all the women wearing fur coats are in cages, so it must be an anti-fur message." Steele says that Diesel produces "A knowing kind of advertising that ironically references our nostalgia for the images and promises of a more primitive era," and she suggests that the ad's use of messages "coupled with the campaign's explicitly multi-racial mix might imply a targeting of a politically progressive audience." She adds that "a more cynical, feminist viewer might observe instead that a disproportionate number of Diesel's female models have blonde hair and Barbie doll physiques. Advertisers know that sex sells." On page 61 there is an eight-page article by Joe Scanlan about video art and human relations, called "Let's Play Prisoners." "How is it that we can be so flattered by the apparatus of film and video on one hand and so ashamed of it on the other? Why do artists feel compelled to put monitors on the floor, poke the eyes out of projectors or cover them in scrap wood, or to project images onto stuffed cloth, broken glass and other `poor' receptors?" He describes some video art he thinks is interesting, by Sharon Lockhart, Alex Bag, Julie Zando and a piece by a French artist named Pierre Huyghe called Mobil TV, videotapes of a mock audition for a Parisian television dance show. Huyghe tricked people into thinking they were auditioning for a real show and got them to dance to techno music in front of his camera at a museum. He says that even though Huyghe duped the people who participated in the piece, most of them wouldn't have gotten a part anyway, so their experience was the same as if the audition had been genuine. Scanlan writes that the piece shows that "our immersion in video and film has become so convoluted that we can recover real experience through it, whether the apparatus is real or not. Has the pejorative notion of an audience- driven `camera consciousness' actually made us more aware of the words and gestures we use, as well as their sources in television, movies and the entire socio- politico-commercial network that seeks, at every moment, to define us?" On page 69, there is an article by Coco Fusco called "Bridge Over Troubled Waters," which takes Cuban artist Kcho to task for the way his artwork is being used by his own government and for the meanings it takes on as a cultural export. Fusco says that between 1980, when 125,000 Cubans left their island in boats, and 1994, when 30,000 Cuban would-be emigrants were trapped in American camps in the Caribbean, "the Cuban cultural ministry has been accelerating its export of raft art." Kcho makes boats out of wood and c-clamps, or old Marxist books bound together. "His boats landing at Barbara Gladstone without his having had to defect is both a political and economic coup for Cuban government officials bent on getting around a U.S. trade embargo....For all the facile acknowledgment of the sociological dimension of Kcho's work, no one seems to be asking how and why a Cuban citizen can zip around the world with symbols of the breakdown of national unity, while his government continues to prohibit the kind of emigration he's representing." Fusco concludes by explaining Kcho's success as "a marriage of interests that speaks to the current state of relations between the center and periphery of the art world. The Cuban cultural ministry has thrown its weight behind an art that is...experimental but not too unsightly, somewhat politicized in ways acceptable to the powers that be, conceptual without being overly dense, somewhat avant-garde but not glaringly postmodern, a little exotic but not stereotypically `national.'" As far as America is concerned, Fusco says, "the capitalist art market" has a taste for "a bit of the other without any bite. Kcho's rafts are a perfect morsel of Havana Lite. His lightweight boats have been emptied of a massive human drama that is his people's deepest wound." On page 29 of the November 1996 Art in America, in the "Front Page" news section, there is an article about the artist J.S.G. Boggs and his continuing troubles with the law. Boggs makes, as the article explains, artworks that "closely resemble U.S. currency" and that he sometimes uses in performances where he exchanges them for goods or services just as if they were money. He has attracted the interest of the U.S. Secret Service. Agents raided his Pittsburgh studio in 1992 and seized over 1,000 personal items, including artworks, which they refuse to return even though they have never arrested or charged the artist with counterfeiting. There is something kind of kinky on page 51, a two-page article about a French photographer and painter named Pierre Molinier. In a piece that includes a graphic description of the artist's suicide, Therese Lichtenstein explains that Molinier, born in 1900, was a painter who counted Andre Breton among his fans, and that he turned to photographic self- portraiture near the end of his life. "From the mid-1960s to the early `70s, he made hundreds of postcard-size black-and-white prints depicting himself" in photos which were "mostly transvestite images of the artist posed partially clad in black fishnet and silk stockings, sleek stiletto heels, leather corsets, elaborate masks...veils, gloves and wigs." Lichtenstein says that the pictures "render precarious and ambiguous the categories of gender," that Molinier "was clearly in love with the image of himself as a phallic woman," and quotes Molinier saying, "Je suis lesbien." Lichtenstein concludes, "Molinier's ambiguous images of sexuality and gender raise still-provocative questions about the transformative possibilities of artistic production." There is a new two-page "Art and Technology" advertising section on page 62, with ads taken out by over a dozen art- Internet companies and gallery software consultants. An ad for OnLine Gallery says, "Savvy artists and galleries are currently using the Internet as an effective, global advertising, marketing and promotional tool!" On page 72 is a four-page article titled "Ars Moriendi: The Mortality of Art," about the destruction and deterioration of artworks. Gary Schwartz's argument is that what survives from a culture is by no means the best that it produced, and that the effort to conserve what remains acts to "intensify existing class and national differences in wealth and sophistication, distort historical relationships, fetishize art objects and perpetuate the myth of artistic eternity." Armed with statistics from art historians about the percentage of artworks surviving from different cultures, Schwartz says that less than ten percent of the art from any remote period still exists. Writing that "art historians cling to the consoling notion that time acts as a sieve, preserving the best," Schwartz says that whether or not an artwork survives is the result of luck. He quotes Marcel Duchamp from a 1968 interview: "I believe that a picture, a work of art lives and dies just as we do...that the history of art is extremely random...I am convinced that the works on view in museums and those we consider to be exceptional, do not represent the finest achievements in the world...Basically, only the mediocre works created in the past have survived." There is a nine-page interview by Frederic Tuten with the painter Eric Fischl on page 77. Asked how he feels in 1996, Fischl says, "Painting has been diminished; it doesn't have the importance culturally that it does to me. Certainly photography, TV and films now satisfy the dominant need to see ourselves and tell our stories, to delight us and entertain us." Fischl talks to the interviewer about "the European sensibility" in painting, saying "they believe very much in ART," and that "all their gestures are so refined. There are some hideous examples of European Abstract Expressionism, like Georges Matthieu." His interviewer asks, "What about Tapies?" and out of nowhere, Fischl lashes out against one of his American contemporaries: "Julian Schnabel has made Tapies look like a genius. Schnabel's work just reeks of art sensibility. It's all grand gesture, very thought-out that way. It's very clever, but in a sense he's just sort of handed back American painting to Europe. He confirms what they always believed what art was." Asked about what he sees young artists doing, Fischl replies "It would be fine if you could get rid of the ridiculous idea that all artists have to be in New York." He continues, "I don't see, except in a few cases, a vision. With someone like Matthew Barney, I think there is a vision. But it seems to me that the younger generation of artists are just plugging holes. They are making the one piece that Vito Acconci forgot to make, the one painting that Agnes Martin didn't make. They are taking the one direction that she didn't go in, and they go in that direction as far as it goes-- which is usually the length of one show." The interviewer asks, "Where are we with painting today, is there any vitality that you see out there?" Fischl replies, "Today's painting...is dominated by an ironic voice or a cynical voice. Most current art that does have social concerns is highly politicized and highly critical; it inserts itself into your life, disrupts your life, and usually makes you feel like shit. It's about making you feel bad without a sense of transcendence." Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore wrote the "Real Life Rock Top Ten" in Artforum for the November 1996 issue. His writing style is about as far from standard usage as you'll ever see in this magazine; the editors let him do whatever he wanted. He takes his poetic-punk license by using lowercase i's for the personal pronoun and lowercasing people's names, plus lots of wacky abbreviations and misspellings. His top ten is pretty much all music--bands, records and a club for noise music in Japan. No. 4 is the art-musician Glenn Branca, and it's an especially hard entry to understand: "Art-school fuck ups were heading into town with split-media-punk- nihil energy. Glenn was abuzzzz w/ the cosmic significance of vito acconci's glorification installation Seedbed. Video was a nothing dream and only dan graham could bodysnatch it. Loft gigs were either "come fuck with me" or "I love you let's create a humm blinding headstorm naked." Glenn licked his guitar fuzzing out of shit-hot amp ON FILM (theatre of sexed ghosts (in/deed!))" The last three, nos. 8- 10, aren't about music. Nine and 10 are about books, and no. 8 is two art shows about SoHo that he liked, Jeffrey Deitch's "Shopping," where artists put their art in stores in the neighborhood, and "2nd and better, is the fucked show at american fine arts by AC2K (the artist formerly known as art club 2000)," which included "a catalogue of interviews w/ local gallery owners discussing the current trend of soho galleries pulling up stakes & movin on up to chelsea where agnes b don't b." He writes that the show is "presented in a cigarette-smoking-intelligentsia way," and that it "really has nothing to do with supermodels and by god it fucking works." On the cover of Artforum is a picture of the young British artist Georgina Starr, made up as a pathetic robot. Inside there is a four-page article called, "Now You See it, Now You Don't," about Starr, who was in the exhibition last year in Minnesota called "Brilliant" with other young British artists. This year Starr had a solo show at Barbara Gladstone, for which she imported a large camping trailer from England. In an article full of phrases like "in a Starr- lit universe" and "something-out-of-nothing brand of magic," David Frankel says that "British critics don't seem to know quite what to make of Hypnodreamdruff, (a four- part work of videos and installations of which the camping trailer is a component) but they do agree on the elaborateness of the conception." Frankel concludes that "Starr makes artmaking her subject. And the artmaking she enacts seems to be one of makeshift invention, "something out of nothing," as she has said, using whatever comes to hand." (Including a caravan?) Writing that Starr is a victim of "the contemporary art world's organizational habit of shipping artists to unfamiliar cities and asking them to produce, in a few weeks in situ, a work that will somehow contribute to residents' understanding of the place," Frankel says that her solution is to "combine the baroque and the spontaneous," to make art using "the imaginative self's ability to make something magically complex and layered out of virtually nothing but its own stuff." Starr exhibits the sets for her videotapes alongside the videos themselves, like Paul McCarthy does, and Frankel identifies what he calls "a recurrent bodilessness" in her art; "a feeling of absence: where you sit and stand, on that bed, on that rug, Starr herself once played the parts you're watching on TV, but she's not there anymore." On page 83, there is a five-page article about "Denmark's top filmmaker," Lars von Trier, by Mark Van de Walle. His movies sound pretty depressing; Van de Walle says, "At once coldly formal and just plain creepy, Von Trier's films are marked by such generally unfashionable concerns as moral dilemmas and the role, or lack thereof, of God in day-to-day life." He synopsizes von Trier's works, in order: "a detective flick about a child killer on the loose; a film within a film centered on disease and the inability to cure it; a thriller about post-Nazi German guilt and doomed innocence; a TV series about a hospital that's besieged by ghosts and sinking into a swamp", and most recently a movie about two people who get married, where the husband gets injured in an oil rig accident and "comes home brain damaged and paralyzed." Page 87 has Artforum's monthly fashion feature, "Flash Track," with two fashion photos on one page, and someone writing about them on the other. This month they got some photos that Nan Goldin took for a Matsuda catalog and Neville Wakefield wrote the text. Wakefield quotes Nan Goldin saying that her "aspiration was to be a fashion photographer," and that she wanted "to put the queens on the cover of Vogue." But the pictures here are just of normal models, "soaked in a soft androgynous glamour." Artforum seems to be using the "Flash Track" as a way to get a little soft-core-whatever into the magazine; this is the second month in the past three where they've had a picture of a nearly bare ass. ArtNet swapped for a quarter-page ad in Artforum, and the magazine decided to put it on the very last page of advertisements, next to one for the Bowery Bar, on page 126. The November Frieze has a four-page article by Daniel Birnbaum "on art and the IKEA spirit" on page 33. Titled "IKEA at the End of Metaphysics," the article begins with the impressive facts that "the IKEA catalogue, with more that 60 million copies printed annually, is the most widely circulated publication," and that Ingvar Kamprad, who founded the company in 1943 when he was 17, is now "officially the richest Swedish citizen." Birnbaum quotes Kamprad's book, The Testament of a Furniture Dealer, which he describes as a "highly-strung manifesto...a theory of self-discipline...read by IKEA employees all over the world." In it, Kamprad writes, "Let us grow to be a group of constructive fanatics, who with unwavering obstinacy refuse to accept the impossible, the negative. What we want, we can still do. Together. A glorious future!" Birnbaum says that "in 1994 it was disclosed that, as a young man, Kamprad had belonged to an extreme right-wing group. Even worse, he had remained a contributor into the `50s. Although the scandal was widely discussed in the European and American press, it seems to have had little, if any, impact on the company. The democratic image of IKEA was so secure that not even aggressive articles portraying the founder as a full blown Nazi made much of a difference." Regarding IKEA's connection with contemporary art, Birnbaum proposes that "given the omnipresence of the furniture, it should come as no surprise that artists working with ready-made objects often end up using IKEA." Birnbaum continues, "Two Swedish pioneers in the field, Anders Widoff and Stig Sjolund, have long been aware of the political, not to say metaphysical, power inherent in the company's products used in their installations." He does not describe their work at all, though. He goes on to name Andrea Zittel, whose mobile furnished rooms he asserts "could be read as a dark parody of IKEA," and the Californian artist Jason Rhoades, in whose "large and messy installations, the do-it-yourself approach of the `IKEA world' is combined with sexual imagery and mystifying autobiographical material." One recent installation, called Frigidaire (1996), consisted of "miscellaneous IKEA products which have been deconstructed in the most physical sense of the word, creating a mess in which every element appears five times-- supposedly a reference to the five IKEA stores in Rhoades' hometown, post- historical L.A." Ronald Jones reports on page 38 that "It is by now well known that New York's SoHo has become more heavily populated with chain stores, furniture showrooms and shoppers than the city's art world would perhaps have liked. Many galleries are moving uptown to avoid the ruckus of unhinged consumers, the evaporating ambiance of cutting-edge culture and rising rents." He goes on to describe two art exhibitions that address this context; they happen to be the same two shows that Thurston Moore listed in his "Top Ten" in Artforum: first, "Shopping," a large group show curated by Jerome Sans, which Jones says "is really a walking tour where...works of art have been `integrated within SoHo's freshest shops, businesses, restaurants and boutiques" and second, the exhibition by AC2K (the artist formerly known as Art Club 2000). Of that show, "SoHo So Long," Jones writes, "the artist collaborative used skills generally reserved for movie sets, turning the facade of American Fine Arts into a schizoid pastiche so in character it was scary. Soaping the gallery's windows, they placed a logo for Old Navy, the low-end chain of the Gap jeans corporation, along with the date `November 1996.' Running just below the windows was a long flower box identical to the one that decorates the Drawing Center, complete with logo." Jones concludes, "While AC2K made fun of SoHo's conquerors, the artists in `Shopping' hoped to meet their audience halfway, blurring contemporary art with contemporary shopping." On pages 56-57 is a project for Frieze, a two-page spread called "English Rose" by Tracey Emin, Georgina Starr and Gillian Wearing in which the artists swap personas. Emin plays Starr, Starr plays Wearing, and Wearing plays Emin, each acting out the others' art-practice. They parody one another's work in a storyboard format, made with video stills and captions. It all amounts to one giant (but not terribly funny) inside joke that's totally dependent on being well-versed in the three artists work; otherwise the pastiches are just something really strange. On page 59 there is a four-page article by Jon Savage, "Boys Keep Swinging," about paintings by Elizabeth Peyton of young male pop-stars. "Elizabeth Peyton's pictures restate the primacy of androgyny in pop," Savage writes, putting forth that in her "portraits of Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Liam Gallagher and Jarvis Cocker, she invites you to look at these angsty, over-exposed white boys in a way that is true to their usually hidden androgynous essence." He says that she is "an unashamed fan," who "casts an idiosyncratic, feminine gaze" over her subjects. The first page of the article is Peyton's painting of Jarvis Cocker from the band Pulp, at a press conference, wearing tinted glasses and smoking a cigarette. "Propelled to celebrity by his upstaging of Michael Jackson at the 1996 Brit Awards, Cocker is a graceful, sharp survivor." Savage (who is the author of a 1991 book about the Sex Pistols and punk rock) devotes a page to "the iconography of the Sex Pistols," illustrated by two of Peyton's paintings. The first, Savage says is a frame from The Great Rock n' Roll Swindle, where Johnny Rotten "looks at Sid and cracks open a wide smile." The picture shows the two, shirtless, Sid Vicious with a guitar, and Johnny Rotten looking at him. "Peyton turns this portrait of male bonding into a picture of two sprites: with their baby bird hairdos and semi-nudity, dead ringers for the lost boys in Peter Pan." The second is a painting of Sid's face, with bright-red lips, that Savage says "catches the glee that he felt when he first joined the Sex Pistols, a curiously innocent energy that made him the public face of the group in its terminal phase." Another painting shows one of the brothers in the band Oasis kissing the other on the cheek. Savage: "Peyton is careful to emphasize male tenderness, beauty, bonding, as in her picture of Liam Gallagher kissing Noel." Savage concludes that the condition of male pop stars, being that they "must take on androgynous characteristics," is a result of the "exchange involved in the postwar, commercial display of masculinity, where men find themselves the object of the viewers gaze, a state for which women have been developing a language for thousands of years. There is also the nature and volume of female fandom, to which adequate space still has to be given: aspiring not - like the boys--to be the star, but to use the imagination and construct an ideal out of the raw materials at hand. Look, they might say to the local boys, thinking of the posters on their walls, this is what you could be and we'd all be a lot happier for it. The continuing power of this fantasy is shown by the level of androgyny that remains in pop." Patterson Beckwith is an artist who lives and works in New York.
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