ART PRANKSTERS IN NEW ORLEANS
The Yes Men -- performance artists Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, who typically pose as representatives of the World Trade Organization, Halliburton, Dow Chemical and the like, to satirical effect -- have touched some raw nerves with a very public intervention on the occasion of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. At an investors' conference organized by Equity International on Monday, Aug. 27, 2006, Bichlbaum managed to con his way onstage alongside Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco and mayor Ray Nagin, posing as "Rene Oswin," a representative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In his 15-minute speech, "Oswin" announced that HUD had made a major policy reversal, and would be renovating and reopening the four low-income housing complexes of St. Bernard, C.J. Peete, B.W. Cooper and Lafitte, rather than demolishing them as previously announced. The NAACP and other groups have protested the plan to tear down the projects, calling it a move to eliminate the poor from a redeveloped New Orleans. The ersatz HUD spokesman also announced that Wal-Mart would back off and help nurture local businesses, and that Exxon and Shell had agreed to donate $8.6 billion to finance wetlands renewal projects. His comments drew applause from the crowd -- and condemnation from government officials and other observers.
The prank fooled some news organizations, who announced the fake news; developers, who went to a ribbon-cutting at the Lafitte houses in search of contracting work; and some former residents, whose hopes of moving back into the project were dashed. Later, according to news reports, the Yes Men threw a New Orleans style party with barbecue and jazz.MAGNET ART FOR SERRA SCULPTURE
The hot art ticket in New York City last weekend was the secret opening on Sunday morning for the "Invisible Graffiti: Magnet Show," an exhibition of "magnetic art" by 17 artists that was surreptitiously installed on a Richard Serra sculpture stored in the waterfront lot of a rigging company in the Bronx, presumably awaiting installation somewhere at a future date. Organized by Marie Lorenz and Lan Tuazon, the show opened at 7 am on Aug. 27, 2006, and ended at about 10:30 am, after a security guard discovered the group of about 20 people who came to see it.
"Invisible Graffiti" is described as "a secretive act in public space. . . an act of resistance against the architecture of behavioral and spatial control [whose] possibility rests on mimicry and invisibility, copying both the style and strategy of its adversary." Participants included Ethan Ayer, Scott Marvel Cassidy, Grayson Cox, Dearraindrop, Jena Kim, Jose Krapp, Matt Lorenz, Virginia Poundstone, Birgit Rathsmann, Damon Rich, Marco Roso, Miljohn Ruperto, Jee Young Sim, Scheate Blingelhoff, Mike Smith, Anna Tsouhlarakis and Suzanne Wright.
BIG THEMES FOR FALL SEASON
The launch of the fall 2006 art season is only days away, and several of the more notable exhibitions feature not so much big artists as big ideas. Some examples:
* "The Filipino Roots of Minimalism: Leo Valledor and Mario Yrisarry," Sept. 7-Oct. 7, 2006, at Mitchell Algus Gallery, features paintings from 1964-67 by the two artists, who were working in New York and exhibited at the pioneering Park Place co-op gallery alongside Sol LeWitt, Robert Smithson, Mark di Suvero and Robert Grosvenor.
* "Neo-Con: Contemporary Returns to Conceptual Art," Sept. 6-Oct. 14, 2006, organized at Apexart by Cristiana Perrella, contemporary arts curator of the British School at Rome, and presenting works by six artists -- Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, Jonathan Monk, Yoshua Okon, João Onofre, Mario Garcia Torres and Francesco Vezzoli -- who "re-enact, with a twist," famous, conceptual art works by Acconci, Baldessari, Benyo, Boetti, Nauman and Ruscha.
* "The Materialization of Sensiblity: Art and Alchemy," Sept. 8-Oct. 14, 2006, organized by Klaus Ottmann at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, features works by 18 artists, ranging from a 1966 folded polyurethane foam sculpture by John Chamberlain and Andy Warhol’s helium-filled Silver Clouds (ca. 1966) to Teresita Fernández’ Burnout (2005) and Dean Byington’s Tourmaline (2006).
* "Late Night Legal Formalities," Sept. 9-16, 2006, a collaboration between art historian David Joselit (author of Infinite Regress: Marcel Duchamp 1910-1941) and the British artist Gareth James (founder of the Orchard co-op gallery and Scorched Earth magazine) at Elizabeth Dee Gallery, in which a text by Joselit was commissioned by James with the proviso that Joselit attend every exhibition at the gallery during 2005, and return the text to James for presentation in the gallery at the beginning of the 2006 fall season. Or something like that.
* "Fractal Reactor: Re-Creating the Sun," Sept. 9-Oct. 7, 2006, by artist Tod Siler at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, explores the possibility that a thermonuclear fusion energy system might be modeled on the fractal geometry of a star.
* "Songs for Sale: Big American Paintings by Robert Rauschenberg, David Salle and Michael Bevilacqua," Sept. 6-Oct. 14, 2006, at Deitch Projects on Wooster Street, presents Robert Rauschenberg’s Ten Yard Sale (1999), which measures more than 10 feet tall and 29 feet long; David Salle’s 1997 Songs for Sale, which is 10 x 85 feet; and Michael Bevilacqua’s Show Your Bones (2006), 10 x 40 feet.
* And getting the jump on them all was "A Piece of History, From L.A. . . But Not in Paris," Aug. 3-Sept. 16, 2006, a survey of 40 Los Angeles artists organized by Charles Cowles for his gallery after seeing "Los Angeles 1955-1985" at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and featuring works by artists ranging from Peter Alexander, John Altoon and Steven Arnold to Weegee, Henry Wessel and Max Yavno.
"SKIER" AT LA COLECCIÓN JUMEX
Mexican art collector Eugenio López Alonso, the Grupo Jumex food-processing heir who opened his La Colección Jumex in a factory building on the outskirts of Mexico City in 2001, is kicking off the fall art season in a major way. Beginning Sept. 4, 2006, and running through February 2007, López Alonso is presenting a show of over 220 drawings, dating from 1903 to 2006 and made by 90 artists from around the world, including Francis Alÿs, Carl Andre, Mathew Barney, Ceal Floyer, Ilan Lieberman, Pablo Vargas Lugo, Paul McCarthy, Henri Michaux, Gabriel Orozco, Luis Felipe Ortega, Ugo Rondinone and Dieter Roth. Organized by La Colección Jumex chief registrar Michel Blancsubé, the survey is titled "Esquiador en el fondo de un pozo" (Skier at the Bottom of a Well), a phrase taken from Henri Michaux’s book, Poteaux d’angle, and suggesting a contrast of freedom and darkness. What’s more, for the exhibition La Colección Jumex’s "white cube" gallery has been transformed into a labyrinth to promote intimacy with the small-scale works.
The British Council has selected Tracey Emin to exhibit in the British Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. Emin "talks about real things, unacademically, rawly and intimately, with unparalleled candor," Andrea Rose, commissioner of the pavilion, told the Guardian newspaper. "I think her work will really stand out among the pavilions of the other countries." L.A. GETS NEW BROAD ART CENTER
The new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center, designed by Richard Meier & Partners and providing new facilities for the School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA, opens on Sept. 14, 2006, with a pair of special exhibitions and the unveiling of a new sculpture by Richard Serra. Installed on the Broad Art Center plaza, the Serra sculpture is a 42.5-ton torqued ellipse titled T.E.U.C.L.A. It joins the more than 70 sculptures on UCLA’s north campus, including several works that have been resited; Anna Mahler’s Tower of Masks is back on view for the first time since being damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.
The inaugural exhibitions, on view Sept. 14-Oct. 26, 2006, include "Sixteen Tons," a selection of works by UCLA art faculty -- including John Baldessari, Jennifer Bolande, Chris Burden, Catherine Opie, Lari Pittman, Charles Ray and James Welling -- made by Seattle Art Museum curator Michael Darling, and "Second Natures," a show of works by UCLA media arts faculty organized by Christiane Paul, adjunct new media curator at the Whitney Museum. The Broads contributed $23.2 million towards the overhaul of the building, which was severely damaged in the earthquake.
"EUROPEAN DREAM" IN NEW YORK
New Yorkers, the EU wants you! The EU Culture 2000 Program has provided a major grant to four New York institutions -- the Goethe-Institut, the French Institute Alliance Française, the Italian Cultural Institute and the Czech Center -- to underwrite a festival of theater, music, film and dance under the overall title of European Dream 06, Sept. 20-Oct. 31, 2006. In all, 23 different countries are involved. Offerings at Performance Space 122 include the Tower of Babel, a "living theater ritual" by Lidy Six and Robert Steijn from the Netherlands; Wrestling Dostoievsky by the Slovene group Betontanc at Danspace Project; and a new post-techno musical piece by Alva Noto, otherwise known as Carsten Nicolai, at the Kitchen. For a complete schedule, see www.europeandream.us.
WARHOL A FATHER?
Andy Warhol fans are looking forward to the special arts issue of Black Book magazine, guest-edited by Bill Powers and due out in October. The issue features an exclusive transcript of superstar Brigid Berlin pranking Warhol by pretending she is pregnant and he is the father. The tapes were only recently rediscovered at the Berlin show held last fall held at John McWhinnie @ Glenn Horowitz Booksellers on East 64th Street in Manhattan. The issue also has a cover portrait of Maggie Gyllenhaal by Alec Soth and features on James Frey, Tom Ford and Richard Prince.
STRIKE DELAYS SEATTLE ART PARK
A three-week-long strike by concrete workers in Seattle and the surrounding King County has delayed the opening of the Seattle Art Museum’s new Olympic Sculpture Park, which was originally scheduled for October 2006. The $85-million, 8.5-acre waterfront park, designed by New York architects Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, includes works by Louise Bourgeois, Mark Dion, Teresita Fernandez, Roy McMakin, Richard Serra and Tony Smith. The strike by members of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 302 began on Aug. 1 and ended on Aug. 26, after the members ratified a contract that gives them a $3.95 per hour raise over three years.
ART PLOT ON NEW MCSWEENEY’S DVD
How’s this sound for the beginning of a stylish neo-noir: "I met him at the PaceWildenstein opening. . . ." The super-gallery gets name checked in Home, James, and Don’t Spare the Horses, a James Dolan-directed thriller featured on the latest copy of Wholphin, the "DVD magazine of unseen film" published by the hip magazine McSweeney’s. The 30-minute-long film tells the story of a young artist who is sucked into a plot involving art forgery and the troubled daughter of a wealthy couple that invites him to play the part of "hard-partying art star" to liven up their cocktail parties. While a work of fiction, Dolan writes in the notes accompanying the disk, "the story is a version of what happens every day in Los Angeles or anywhere else where creative people are at the mercy of the rich and powerful."
Other features on the current Wholphin collection include a clip of an uncompleted Earl Morris documentary, featuring mogul Donald Trump explaining the plot of his favorite movie, Citizen Kane; American Storage, a humorous tale of a man living inside a storage crate, featuring Steve Carrell; and The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, an animated feature about an apocalyptic future done completely using silhouettes, created by Anthony Lucas. The DVD is $40; for more info, see www.wholphindvd.com.