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Artnet News
July 10, 2008 

In a media-saturated world, the current Biennale of Sydney, June 18-Sept. 17, 2008, has scored an undoubted media coup with A Forest of Lines, its centerpiece work by Pierre Huyghe. For the project -- described tantalizingly but vaguely in press material as the staging of "an in-between reality" -- the French artist has removed all the seats from the interior of the iconic Jørn Utzon-designed Sydney Opera House and transformed it into an impromptu rainforest filled with more than 1,000 trees transplanted from area nurseries.

Further enhancing the rainforest illusion, the trees are bathed in a light mist, and visitors are drawn through the darkened space into a maze of paths by a guide, who sings a haunting song composed by UK folk artist Laura Marling (visitors are each given just 10-15 minutes to go through). According to biennale director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the experience is supposed to put visitors into a post-apocalyptic frame of mind. The biennale website states that about 6,000 people have experienced the installation so far.

If all this sounds like a reason to hop on a plane and head to the Australian city, however, forget it -- incredibly, the event lasts a scant 24 hours, July 9-10, this fleeting duration being part of its concept. "This is the latest piece of the Biennale of Sydney to open and it is the most important in terms of size, scope and scale," Christov-Bakargiev told the Daily Telegraph, "but it will last only the time of a candle flame."

Planning is already underway for Performa 09, the next instantiation of RoseLee Goldberg’s biannual performance art festival. The dates are set, Nov. 1-22, 2009, and the affair, which is described as a "festival as think tank," is taking as its point of departure the publication of F.T. Marinetti’s "Futurist Manifesto," which is 100 years old in 2009. Using "the Futurist template of manifestos-for-the-future in all disciplines," Performa 09 promises to explore "new ideas in visual art, film, noise music, sound poetry, graphic design, dance, architecture and urbanism." The festival also plans to spread out into the city itself, an effort that is characterized, in a flourish of notably Futurist rhetoric, as "an evolving ignition of ideas and of limitless dimensions." Look for more info at as the date gets closer.

The Museum of Modern Art has acquired a trove of 23 contemporary Chinese photographs by eight artists from New York collector Larry Warsh. The acquisition, made for an undisclosed price in the six figures, includes works by Ai Weiwei, Huang Yan, Rong Rong, Weng Fen, Zhang Dali and Zheng Guogu. Warsh, the founder of Museums magazine, told Lindsay Pollock of Bloomberg News that he has been collecting Chinese art "in bulk" since 2002, sometimes "snapping up studio contents, often for rock-bottom prices," and now holds about 500 works. Warsh, who is also known as a collector of works by 1980s art stars like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, credits his father-in-law, collector Howard Farber, for prompting his interest in Chinese art. And what interest! Farber liquidated his $2 million investment for $20.4 million at auction last year, according to Pollock.

In anticipation of its hot summertime show, "Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling," July 20-Oct. 20, 2008, the Museum of Modern Art has launched an online project journal, tracking the progress of the erection of five full-scale houses by young architects in the vacant lot west of the museum headquarters. One definite highlight is the stop-motion animation of the construction of an "instant house" devised by MIT prof Larry Sass, here dubbed Digitally Fabricated Housing for New Orleans, a 196-square-foot, one-room shotgun house. Info about the four other prefab projects slated for installation is also on the journal.

The Brooklyn Museum plans to usher in the upcoming fall art season with a show of more than 40 contemporary artworks from its expanding collection. "21: Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum" opens on Sept. 19, 2008, in 5,000 square feet of newly renovated space, and is billed as the first time in ten years that the museum has devoted space to such a long-term display. Museum director Arnold Lehman credits the initiative to new curator Eugenie Tsai, who was appointed to the post in late 2007. Among the artists with works on view are Hernan Bas, Jules de Balincourt, Olafur Eliasson, Valerie Hegarty, Chester Higgins Jr., Donald Judd, Terence Koh, Sol LeWitt, Hew Locke, Simon Norfolk, Claes Oldenburg, Seher Shah, Amy Sillman, Do-Ho Suh, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, Kiki Smith, Nari Ward, Andy Warhol and Kehinde Wiley. A new installation of three wax sculptures by Petah Coyne is also slated to go on view, beginning Aug. 6, 2008.

One highlight of the 2007 Venice Biennale was the over-the-top installation of a treasure trove of ancient, antique, classical and contemporary art in the Palazzo Fortuny by Belgian designer and collector Axel Vervoordt [see "Caccia al Tesoro," June 11, 2007]. This fall, the self-described "passionate uomo universalis" plans part two of this interdisciplinary kunstkammer, dubbed "Academia: Qui es-tu?" Sept. 10-Nov. 23, 2008, sited at la Chapelle de l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, which is located on the Seine just across from the Louvre in Paris.

The show takes its inspiration from Plato’s Academy, where, according to Vervoordt, students were urged "to free themselves of rigid thinking patterns and fully explore and embrace the extraordinary powers of the liberated mind" -- a process that is epitomized by the artist’s studio. Among the artists whose works are included in the show are El Anatsui, Berlinde de Bruyckere, Christian Boltanski, Louise Bourgois, Tony Cragg, Désirée Dolron, Robert Filliou, Henri Foucault, Adam Fuss, John Gerrard, Kees Goudzwaard, Cai Guo Qiang, Thomas Houseago, Anish Kapoor, Kimsooja, Orlan, Gabriel Orozco, Hans Op de Beeck, Kazuo Shiraga, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Luc Tuymans and Koen van den Broek.

The installation promises to be a provocative one. The bas-reliefs on the interior walls of La Chapelle, which are all student copies, are to be veiled by a delicate metal grid, against which the works in the exhibition are to be displayed. (This literal juxtaposition of the past and the present, using artistic legacy as backdrop and reference, in the words of Vervoordt, is notably similar to the "Who’s Afraid of Jasper Johns" exhibition at Tony Shafrazi Gallery [see "Two Coats of Painting," June 23, 2008].) For more info, see

The New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) has announced plans for "NADA’s County Affair," to take place from noon to 6 pm on July 26, 2008, on West 27th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. The event features live entertainment, artist-run games, "swap meets tables" and a benefit raffle. Participants include John Connelly Presents, Little Cakes, Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, ZieherSmith, Guild & Greyshkul, Wallspace and others. The last "county fair" held by Chelsea galleries, a Downtown for Democracy benefit put on in 2004, was an unalloyed success [see "The Liberty Fair," Sept. 13, 2004.

Everyone likes robots, not least of all sculptors, who tend to favor objects that are animated in one way or another. Thus, over in Pittsburgh, Pa., as part of Robot 250, a city-wide art and technology festival marking the 250th anniversary of the city, the Andy Warhol Museum has a new presence on its roof: a 20-foot-tall black-and-gold robotic foam finger with words on it saying "You’re #1." The work, designed by Carnegie Mellon University artist-in-residence Ian Ingram, is connected to a network of kiosks on the roofs of a number of surrounding buildings within sightline of the Warhol, each featuring a smaller version of the same foam finger. Upon touching the smaller versions, the Warhol finger is programmed to swivel around to point at you -- and the message is unmistakable. For more information about Robot 250, which features a variety of robot-based programming at venues throughout the city, see

Our friends across the Hudson in Jersey City are promoting a new art movement dubbed "Funky Pop," defined as "high tech meeting railroad tracks" via "99-cent stores, hair wigs shops and fast-food restaurants." Organized by Gerald Jackson, "Funky Pop," July 10-Aug. 8, 2008, takes place at 58 Gallery at 58 Coles Street in Jersey City. Participants include John Besante, Orin Buck, Dora Espinoza, Tomoko Fujiki, Gerald Jackson, Eyan Joseph, Kate L. Lent, Sanae Maeda, Orlando Reyes, Liz-n-Val, and Maurizio Zuluaga. For more info, see

Performance artist and teacher Coco Fusco has been named chair of fine arts at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. Fusco, known for politically charged performances about identity, has been a member of the faculty at Columbia University since 2001. At Parsons, she succeeds sculptor Don Porcaro, who has been in the position since 2003.

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