YOUTUBE AT THE GUGG: GO FOR IT!
Gatekeepers of the art world are up in arms over an exhibition on the Guggenheim Museum’s fall schedule. As reported in the New York Times last week, "The project, called ‘YouTube Play’ and conceived as a biennial event, is intended to discover innovative work from unexpected sources." The Guggenheim, in other words, wants to curate a show of the best YouTube videos. Nancy Spector, deputy director and chief curator of the Guggenheim Foundation, says, "People who may not have access to the art world will have a chance to have their work recognized. . . We’re looking for things we haven’t seen before."
And then the hand-wringing began. Robert Storr, dean of the Yale University School of Art, a veritable quote machine for art-world issues, opined, "Hit-and-run, no-fault encounters between curators and artists, works and the public, will never give useful shape to the art of the present nor define the viewpoint of institutions." Storr is smart, but this comment seemed misplaced and out of proportion for just wanting to get YouTube videos into the museum. He was more off base about this particular show when he added, "It’s time to stop kidding ourselves. The museum as revolving door for new talent is the enemy of art and of talent, not their friend -- and the enemy of the public as well, since it. . . serves up art as if it was quick-to-spoil produce from a Fresh Direct warehouse."
Again, while Storr’s values may be in the right place when it comes to museums and their mad obsession with newness, this doesn’t apply to the Guggenheim creating an open-source matrix to curate a show. YouTube videos are obviously a form of do-it-yourself art, outsider video, folk-expression and other things the art world says it loves. Spector’s idea is actually fantastic. Who hasn’t seen something on YouTube and thought, "This is as good as anything I’ve seen in galleries and museums"? (My jaw still drops when I see that one of the sheep with LED lights on their backs being herded into amazing geometric patterns.) The Guggenheim simply wants to open its doors to art and ideas that are already out there. For four days, anyway. Four days! If this happens, the art world as we know it will not collapse. In fact, if the art world does not let in more of the real world -- including YouTube -- it is probable that the real world will let in less of the art world.
"BEYOND NEW YORK" GOES GLOBAL
Since 2005, art spaces in Buffalo and the Niagara Falls region have teamed up to put on an admirable regional biennial exhibition -- dubbed "Beyond / In Western New York" -- that now involves a dozen or so institutions, from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Hallwall Contemporary Art Center to the Squeaky Wheel media center and Big Orbit Gallery. This year’s exhibition, "Alternating Currents," opening Sept. 24, 2010, presents more than 100 artists at these venues as well as various public sites in Buffalo and along Lake Erie, all selected collaboratively by a team of 14 curators.
Regional exhibitions are great, with one drawback -- they’re regional. So this time around, the "Beyond / In" curators have gone global, and for the first time invited several international art stars to take part. Among the special attractions is an installation of glacial granite boulders Andy Goldsworthy, designed to be invisibly heated via solar panels so that they give off steam, and a 23-foot-tall cast bronze sculpture by Do-Ho Suh, a spine-like tower of crouching figures, each balanced on the shoulders of the one below, while reaching down to cover its eyes. Both works are to be permanently sited on the grounds of the Albright-Knox.
The biennial kicks off with a tightrope walk by French performance artist Didier Pasquette, who will cross a wire suspended between the two towers of Buffalo’s landmark Liberty Building. An opening-week performance at the Albright-Knox is also scheduled by German artist Kai Althoff, and Lorraine O’Grady is debuting a new video work at the UB Anderson Gallery. Other participating artists include the 60-something self-taught Cleveland painter Randall Tiedman, the collaborative team of McCallum and Tarry, the venerable Canadian duo known as Fastwürms, Canadian auto artist Kim Adams, and the team of Mark Dion and Dana Sherwood.
Further venues include the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo Arts Studio, Carnegie Art Center, Castellani Art Museum, CEPA Gallery, El Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera, Hi-Temp Fabrication, Western New York Book Arts Center, and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. The exhibition has a website, but as yet it is undeveloped. The show’s total budget is $1.4 million.
In addition, the University at Buffalo Art Gallery is presenting "Artpark: 1974-84," Sept. 25-Dec, 18, 2010, the first comprehensive historical overview of Artpark in Lewiston, N.Y. -- a site of adventurous public-art commissions and performances during the period. The show is organized by UB Art Gallery curator Sandra Q. Firmin, and surveys projects by Charles Simonds (who built minature mud villages on his own body), Antoni Miralda (who organized a procession and feast), Ant Farm (who made an Oldsmobile time capsule), Pat Oleszko (who "costumed" a forest in vivid striped fabrics), and George Trakas, Michelle Stuart, Dennis Oppenheim and Robert Stackhouse (who all made site specific earthworks or sculptures).
HIGH TECH BIENNIAL FOR SAN JOSE
The Bay Area burg of San Jose, Ca., has been the Capital of Silicon Valley since the 1990s, so of course it has its own biennial exhibition -- and a digital one at that. The 3rd 01SJ Biennial kicks off Sept. 15-19, 2010, with over 100 artists from 21 countries addressing the theme of "Build Your Own World."
Highlights include Natalie Jeremijenko’s hacked Sony robot dog; "Green Prix," a parade and festival of "ecology-friendly" vehicles; Scott Kildall and Victoria Scott’s Gift Horse, a large recycled wood sculpture of the Trojan Horse to be filled with sculptures that will be "released" into the San Jose Museum of Art; a Futurefarmers "Sunshine Still" making not moonshine but bio-fuel; and a drive-in movie theater made from wrecked cars by Todd Chandler & Jeff Stark.
Other participating artists include Brody Condon, Jodi.org, John F. Simon, Jr., Shepard Fairey, Tim Hawkinson, Eduardo Kac, Chico MacMurtrie, Aleksandra Mir, Grahame Weinbren, Leo Villareal, Stephen Vitiello and Xu Zhen. The exhibition is sponsored by ZER01, "the art and technology network," and is directed by Steve Dietz.
The show is sited at venues throughout San Jose, with many works in the city’s 80,000-square-foot South Hall, but also the San Jose Museum of Art (which hosts a show alled "Retro-Tech," July 22, 2010-Feb. 6, 2011), the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art ("Bernie Lubell: Interactive Wood Machines"), MACLA / Moviemiento de Arte y Cultura Latino America ("Lineas") and even the San Jose International Airport and the San Jose City Hall.
IPHONE APPS TAKE THE ART WORLD
An estimated 225,000 apps have been devised for the iPhone, and the art world is finally getting its share. Recently Pace Gallery launched a pair of apps providing "virtual" versions of exhibitions by two artists, Conrad Shawcross’ The Nervous System (Inverted), his elaborate kinetic rope machine now at the sculpture atrium at Madison Avenue and East 56th Street, and Zhang Huan’s Hero No. 1, a 16-foot-tall, five-ton figurative sculpture of cowskin, steel, wood and polystyrene foam, now on view at Art Unlimited at Art 41 Basel. Both apps boast plenty of behind-the-scenes material, like planning sessions and preparatory drawings; they’re priced at $.99 and $1.99, respectively.
Also in the app game is Art Basel, which has just introduced an app for the current Art 41 Basel art fair, June 16-20, 2010, featuring a guide to all the galleries and artists, an interactive 3D map of the fair, and a map of the city with parallel lists. This app is free, and available on the fair website and the iPhone store.
Other artworld apps include the "mobile bidding" application from Saffronart, the online auction house specializing in Indian art (the Saffronart summer auction finishes today; tune in tomorrow for details); a special "mobile website" tour (accessible to any smartphone or handheld device) of the new "100 Acres" art and nature park at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, complete with a "geolocation" function; and a special interactive iPhone app for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s recently opened rooftop garden. Even master framer Eli Wilner is planning an app that should "allow anyone to own an Eli Wilner masterpiece and get into the framing business."
"UNCOMMON GROUND" IN BRIDGEHAMPTON
Summer visitors to Eastern Long Island now have an added attraction: "Uncommon Ground," June 16-Sept. 12, 2010, an exhibition of more than 15 sculptures by nine artists, all sited at the five-acre Bridge Gardens at 36 Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton, N.Y. Participating artists include Kevin Barrett, John Van Alstine, John Ruppert, Isobel Folb Sokolow, Jim Henderson, Joel Perlman, Carol Ross, Win Knowlton and Naomi Teppich. The show is organized by Cheryl Sokolow’s C Fine Art; Bridge Gardens, which was founded in 1988, is operated by the Peconic Land Trust. A "meet the artists" reception is scheduled for June 26, 6-8 pm.