"WHO KILLED BARACK OBAMA?" IN POLAND
As we know from the recent controversy over the New Yorker cover satirizing stereotypes about Barack Obama, nothing can get you in trouble faster than cutting-edge comedy aimed at the Democratic presidential contender. In the U.S., that is. Over in Wrocław, a city of about 690,000 people in the southeast of Poland, things are a bit different. There, artist Peter Fuss has unleashed a giant-sized vinyl street mural, stretched across the side of a building, proclaiming "Who Killed Barack Obama?" In stark black and white, the enormous work features the image of Obama thrown on his back, apparently felled by an assassin’s bullet, with a drop of blood issuing from the corner of his mouth.
Playing on the oft-expressed fears that Obama might be assassinated like Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, Who Killed Barack Obama? is part of a show organized by curator Joanna Stembalska and street artist Sławek ZBK Czajkowski at the Galeria Awangarda and other venues throughout Wrocław, July 18-Aug. 17, 2008. The show features Fuss and 19 other street artists, and is subsidized by Poland’s ministry of culture and national heritage.
Fuss previously made the news with his work For the Laugh of God, a "knock-off" of Damien Hirst’s famous diamond-encrusted skull, For the Love of God [see "Artnet News," June 26, 2007]. In that instance, Fuss declared that "cheap Polish labor" could best Hirst, selling plastic skulls covered with cut-glass diamonds on the street in London, and through his website. Whether his new provocation gains the attention that it clearly craves remains to be seen.
MEDIA ARTIST IN KARADZIC HOAX
Speaking of nihilistic art pranks from Eastern Europe, here’s one that made it into the news section of the New York Times: A "media artist" who goes by the handle Tristan Dare managed to snare journalists by setting up a fake web page advertising the alternative medicine practice of Radovan Karadžić. Karadžić, of course, is currently facing charges of war crimes in the International Criminal Court for helping plot the slaughter of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in the ‘90s, and was recently apprehended in a Belgrade suburb, where he was posing as an alternative healer by the name of "Dr. Dragan David Dabic." Apparently seeing an opportunity, the artist immediately registered the website www.dragandabic.com and put up a fake biography in Serbian and English.
A notably dry bit of satire, the deliberately bare-bones site describes "Dabic" as "one of the most prominent experts in the field of alternative medicine, bioenergy, and macrobiotic diet in the whole of the Balkans," gives dubious biographic details and features a few photos of the long-haired fugitive giving lectures. It even specifies that he "eats locally produced organic, unprocessed natural food," and lists his favorite Chinese proverbs ("Teacher opens the door, but you must enter by yourself," etc.). Reached via email, Dare told the Times that false information from the site had appeared in stories by Agence France-Presse, Reuters and Le Monde, among others. "It was supposed to be believable," he wrote.
CAI GUO-QIANG’S OLYMPICS SHOW, PREVIEWED
Chinese authorities were flipping their proverbial lid this week, when the South Korean TV channel Seoul Broadcasting Systems leaked some footage of the top-secret opening ceremonies to the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. From what could be glimpsed in the clip, the ceremony, put together by choreographer and People’s Liberation Army general Zhang Jigang and film director Zhang Yimou, features a coordinated spectacle of thousands of people performing martial arts and drumming, as well as a few more quirky touches like enormous screens projecting images of whales and a field of undulating white fabric towers. The Chinese government immediately took steps to stop the circulation of the footage, having it yanked from YouTube.
For art fans, however, the most interesting feature of the ceremony is the fireworks display by Chinese art star Cai Guo-Qiang, and footage of the rehearsals for Cai’s portion of the show is widely available on the video-sharing website. From what can be glimpsed, the spectacle seems to involve circles of flame erupting from the rim of the "Bird’s Nest" stadium, making it look as if it is on fire, while other clips simply resemble particularly intense 4th of July displays. The games are scheduled to kick off Aug. 8, 2008.
GAGOSIAN GALLERY IN MOSCOW
The Gagosian Gallery is bringing the New York avant-garde to Moscow. "For What You Are about to Receive," Sept. 18-Oct. 19, 2008, organized by Victoria Gelfand and Sam Orlofsky, mixes examples of "the twin pillars of 20th-century art, the readymade and pure abstraction." The show presents works by Willem de Kooning, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami, Edward Ruscha, Richard Serra and Cy Twombly, and features during its opening a special motorcycle performance by Aaron Young titled Arc Light. The exhibition title, as well as the invitations, have been conceived as an artwork by Scottish artist Douglas Gordon. The show takes place at the 19th-century Red October Chocolate Factory on Bersenevskaya Naberezhnaya, which has long been closed to the public, and inaugurates a new contemporary art program for the city. The exhibition is presented in partnership with Alfa Bank and AlfaStrahovanie and in collaboration with Prime Concept, Guta Group, Red October and the National Centre for Contemporary Arts.
UNDERWORLD’S "BURNOUT JAM" AT JACOBSON HOWARD
Loretta Howard’s Jacobson Howard Gallery on East 68th Street in Manhattan is generally known for its exhibitions of works by Hans Hofmann, the Washington Color School, Robert Rauschenberg and the like. For August 2008, however, the gallery is going in a slightly novel direction, hosting "Beautiful Burnout: The ArtJam of Underworld," Aug. 1-15, 2008. A collaborative installation by artists and musicians from around the globe, the show features music videos, a live webcam, photographs and silkscreen prints, an Atlas-like grid of cellphone shots and a mural that is to be painted over time during the exhibition. "It shows you how music can become visual," said Howard.
A celebrated British electronic music duo headed by Karl Hyde and Rick Smith, Underworld is best known for its work on the 1996 Danny Boyle film Trainspotting. The group’s concerts typically involve live painting shows as well as music, and the installation at Jacobson Howard includes contributions by the two principals as well as from the art-design collective Tomato (John Warwicker and Simon Talylor), sculptor Naomi Troski, and artists Richard Schwamb, Laura Schwamb and Graham Wood, among others.
The art exhibition is mounted in conjunction with the All-Points West Music & Arts Festival, a star-studded event that takes place at Liberty State Park in New Jersey, Aug. 8-10, 2008. Underworld has donated a track to Songs for Tibet, a benefit CD produced by the Art of Peace Foundation for the Dalai Lama’s efforts to preserve Tibetan culture. A portion of the exhibition proceeds is earmarked for the cause as well. For more info, see www.jacobsonhoward.com and www.underworldlive.com\artjam.
DE KOONING AT HUFKENS
Xavier Hufkens Gallery in Brussels begins the fall art season with its very first exhibition of works by Willem de Kooning (1904-97). "Willem de Kooning. Works on Paper," Sept. 25-Nov. 8, 2008, presents works in ink, charcoal and oil, dating from 1965 to 1981. The show is accompanied by a catalogue with a text by Robert Pincus-Witten.
COMMERCIAL CONTEST FOR WARHOL SHOW
The Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, is hosting a giant Andy Warhol exhibition this fall -- "Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms," Sept. 13, 2008-Feb. 15, 2009, featuring a massive 700 items in all -- and is currently running a contest for DIY video commercials for the show. The winning video will be on TV, and "awesome prizes" are promised. For further details, see www.wexarts.org/youtube.
As for the show itself, it was organized by Cologne-based freelance curator Eva Meyer-Hermann for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, where it premiered in 2007, and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, where it opened in early 2008. What’s more, while "Other Voices, Other Rooms" is on view in Columbus, a second version of the exhibition, of the same size but featuring different works, opens at the Hayward Gallery in London, Oct. 8, 2008-Jan. 11, 2009. The installation is designed by the Berlin firm of Chezweitz & Roseapple.
ARTIST T-SHIRT BLOWOUT AT PRINTED MATTER
Need some additions to your wardrobe for the beach or for fall gallery-going? Then hie thee to "One Size Fits All: Artists’ T-Shirt Summer Blow Out!" at Printed Matter in New York’s Chelsea art district on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2008, for a special t-shirt sale and party. Promised are t-shirts by Larry Clark, Ryan Mcginness, Jack Pierson and Jim Shaw and many more, ranging in price from $20 to $100. The store opens at 11 am, and a party that kicks off at 3:30 pm features sugary confections by the "renegade bake-sale collective" Sweet Tooth of the Tiger. A performance by K8 Hardy, publisher of FashionFashion magazine, is slated for 5 pm. Supplies of T-Shirts are limited, so come early!
GUCCI GROUP FILM AWARD 2008
The Gucci Group has announced the list of finalists for its 2008 Gucci Group Award, which honors an artist who has made an important contribution to film in the past 18 months. The final award is to be presented at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice on Sept. 1, 2008, as part of the Venice Film Festival. The award has previously gone to Julian Schnabel for The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007) and Australian musician Nick Cave for his screenplay for The Proposition (2006). Nominees for the 2008 award are:
* Isaac Julien, for Derek, a biopic on the late film director Derek Jarman written and narrated by Tilda Swinton.
* Steve McQueen, for Hunger, a movie about IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, which won the Caméra d’Or Award at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.
* Julian Schnabel, for Lou Reed’s Berlin, a "cinematic trance" focusing on Reed’s 2006 concert performance of "Berlin" at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn.
* Adam Yauch, a founding member of the hip-hop group The Beastie Boys, for Gunnin’ for That #1 Spot, a documentary of eight teens in a Harlem basketball competition.
NEW ART FAIR FOR TAMPA
Peru-born American painter Tullio Gianella is director of the new Artampa International Art Show, which kicks off Apr.23-26, 2009, at the Florida State Expo Hall in the city of Tampa Bay. Booths are $5,000; to apply, see www.artampa.com.
SUSAN KRANE TO SAN JOSE
Susan Krane, director of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art since 2001, has been appointed director of the San Jose Museum of Art. During her tenure in Scottsdale, she oversaw surveys of work by Lesley Dill, Philip C. Curtis and Brad Kahlhamer, and the upcoming "At the Crossroads of American Photography: Callahan, Siskind, Sommer." At San Jose she succeeds Daniel T. Keegan, who was named to head the Milwaukee Art Museum earlier this year.