Apr. 26, 2012 | Interviews | 1

Eighty Years Young. Duane Michals: The Man Who Invented Himself


Duane Michals during filming in New York. Photo: Gordon Spooner

I met Duane Michals when I was 24 years old. Throughout the years, he has been what I call my “spiritual advisor,” my role model in living life to the fullest. I was delighted to learn that the French producers (Terra Luna Films’ Anne Morien and France Saint Leger) of a new documentary about Michals’ life and work would be willing to let me post the trailer for the film on this blog; they, in turn, were happy about my plan to interview both Duane and New York co-producer Véronique Bernard.

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Apr. 23, 2012 | Reviews | 1

Men on the Edge (and Vibha Galhotra)


Untitled, 1987 - 1988 © Rotimi Fani-Kayode / Courtesy of The Walther Collection and Autograph ABP, London

I’m feeling like men are in need of equal time on this Blog.

They have, as usual, had more than equal time on the walls of New York galleries and museums this month. But I am less interested in numbers than in a confluence I’ve noticed recently: two of the exhibitions by accomplished photographers in Chelsea galleries this spring, one an American and one an African, one living and one dead, use male subjects to embody an edginess, a nihilism even, that tilts the idea of patriarchy wildly off center. Exploring the works of Alec Soth and Rotimi Fani-Kayode together is not a self-evident choice, but I’m thinking that the juxtaposition may yield some insights into the farther reaches of the male psyche during these early years of the 21st century.

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Apr. 18, 2012 | Social Networks | 4

“Invisible Borders: Trans-African Photography Project” by Jennifer Bajorek and Erin Haney

Social Networks

on display in the 2012 New Museum Triennial, “The Ungovernables” – February 15, 2012 to April 22, 2012

Invisible Borders Trans-African Photography Project (Exhibition view). Courtesy Invisible Borders Trans-African Photographers Organization, Lagos, Nigeria. Photo : Shelley Rice

On view at the New Museum in Manhattan this spring is the 2012 Triennial, billed as the only recurring exhibition in the United States devoted to presenting young artists from around the globe. Curated by Eungie Joo, the show features 34 artists, artist groups and temporary collectives. Entitled “The Ungovernables,” the exhibition highlights artists born between the mid 1970s and the mid 1980s in countries as widespread as India, Brazil, Lebanon, China, Thailand, Mexico, Egypt and Korea as well as North America; many of the 50 participants have never before exhibited in the United States.

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Apr. 11, 2012 | Social Networks | Comments Off on “Digital Images: The Short and the Long View” by Verna Curtis

“Digital Images: The Short and the Long View” by Verna Curtis

Social Networks

Left to right, the panelists on the Interactive Panel “Is Our Photo Mania Creating Magic or Mediocrity?” at the South by Southwest Conference: Kevin Systrom, Verna Curtis and Richard Koci Hernandez. Photo by Kristen Joy Watts.

I asked my friend Verna Curtis, Senior Curator of Photography at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to write about her experience at the “South by Southwest” Conference in Austin, Texas in early March. A cutting edge gathering, the conference posed important questions for the future of our digital media, and the Library of Congress is obviously taking a pro-active position on the archiving and preservation of our information networks.

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Apr. 3, 2012 | Commentaries | 7

On Aging, Absence and Angels


Cindy Sherman
Museum of Modern Art February 26 — June 11, 2012
Curated by Eva Respini
Francesca Woodman
Guggenheim Museum March 15 — June 13, 2012
Organized by Corey Keller (SF Museum of Modern Art)

Cindy Sherman. Untitled #463. 2007-08. Chromogenic color print, 68 5/8 x 6″ (174.2 x 182.9 cm).
Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York © 2012 Cindy Sherman

I was at the Press Preview for the Francesca Woodman exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum last week, and I was watching her videos with Richard Armstrong, the Museum’s Director. We started talking – reminiscing, really. I explained that I knew Francesca Woodman – long ago, when she was alive, making art. We talked about her friends, who were often my friends; we talked about the scene then, in the late 1970s, and the influences so evident in her work as well as mine. At a certain point, Armstrong looked at me with a bemused expression on his face. “It must be strange,” he said, “to see your life flash before your eyes like this.” Yes, I said. Yes.

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Mar. 29, 2012 | Social Networks | Comments Off on “A Good Concept Works Out Badly” by Rob Perrée

“A Good Concept Works Out Badly” by Rob Perrée

Social Networks

Invited Blogger: Rob Perrée, Editor, Kunstbeeld Magazine, Amsterdam
Review of the 76th Whitney Biennial, The Whitney Museum of American Art, March 1 through May 27, 2012. Organized by Elisabeth Sussman and Jay Sanders, with Thomas Beard and Ed Halter.

Wu Tsang (b. 1982), Production still from WILDNESS, 2012 (in progress). High-definition video, color, sound. © Wu Tsang; courtesy the artist

I invited my friend Rob Perrée, in New York for this month’s exhibitions and fairs, to write his assessments of the Whitney Biennial for this Blog. Though he saw some good works and some positive aspects of the exhibition, in general Perrée feels that the incorporation of time-based arts – performance, film, video – into the fabric of the show weakens the curators’ statement.

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Mar. 23, 2012 | Reviews | Comments Off on Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect

Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect


Bronx Museum, February 9, through May 20, 2012
Curated by Valerie Smith

Juan Downey, "America Is Back Together", 1972

Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect is a dense and highly conceptual exhibition, one that at first hardly seems at home on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.

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| Reviews | 1

Observed: Milagros de la Torre


Milagros de la Torre "Under the Black Sun" 1991-1993 Hand-dyed toned gelatin silver print, Mercurochrome, Pin Variable dimensions; diptych Courtesy of the Artist

Americas Society, Feb. 8- April 14
Curated by Edward J. Sullivan

For me, the most unnerving thing about the Milagros de la Torre exhibition at the Americas Society, with almost 40 photographic works produced since the 1990s (that will be shown simultaneously at the Museo de Arte in Lima, Peru), is its proximity. A constant feature of the work selected for this artist’s first monographic show in New York is that either the artist or the viewer must get close, too close.

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Mar. 20, 2012 | Commentaries | 2

Reflections on the Wind


Today I woke up with the wind on my mind.
It might have been the storms that whipped through Manhattan overnight. Loud and boisterous, the winds made it hard to sleep. But it might also have been my preoccupation with an article I read before bed: Suzy Hansen’s “The Istanbul Art-Boom Bubble,” in the New York Times Magazine dated February 10, 2012. With lots of photos, the article discussed the transformation of this Turkish town, from what writer Orhan Pamuk called a “pale, poor, second-class imitation of a Western city” in the 20th century to a booming cultural center in the 21st.

Liu Zheng "An Actress of Hebei Opera", Huoshentai, Henan Province, 2000 From the series "The Chinese" Gelatin Silver Print © Liu Zheng, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

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| Reviews | 1

The Radical Camera: New York’s Photo League, 1936-1951


The Jewish Museum, November 4, 2011 through March 25, 2012
Curated by Mason Klein of the Jewish Museum and Catherine Evans of the Columbus Museum of Art, this important exhibition draws on two museum collections with rich holdings on the history of New York’s Photo League. Begun during the Depression, the brainchild of photographer and teacher Sid Grossman, this organization – which encompassed darkrooms and meeting rooms, lecture series and photography classes, exhibition spaces and a newsletter called Photo Notes — was seminal to the formation of New York’s late 20th century photography community. But despite its considerable influence, little has been known about this chapter in the city’s cultural history, in large part because the League and its founder were blacklisted by the government during the Communist Scare of the 1950s. This is the first museum exhibition in three decades to comprehensively explore its contributions in order to correct what Klein calls “a historical myopia”, and it is a terrific show well worthy of its complex subject.

Jerome Liebling, "Butterfly Boy", New York, 1949, gelatin silver print. The Jewish Museum, New York, Purchase: Mimi and Barry J. Alperin Fund. © Estate of Jerome Liebling.

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