Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Saw that post on Tyler Green's MAN right this minute. I'm a bit in a hurry and can only copy and paste Green's text (apologies for blatant appropriation). As you will see in his post, Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty is threatened by oil drillers. Anyway, I've been fortunate to visit Spiral Jetty twice, and whatever Smithson's writing about entropy, etc. I'd like to remind you all this is only one of a handful of original, not-reconstructed, not-recreated Smithson's artworks. As well as an iconic 20th century masterpiece.
Green also underlines the ecological implications of drilling oil in the Great Salt Lake region.

I'm not 100% certain of the veracity of the information except that the information is quoted as originating from Nancy Holt. You can read Green's post here, and then act accordingly if you wish to do so. I'm a bit surprised at the "act today before 7PM" note (is the information new? is the emergency now?). If you have reliable info from Nancy Holt herself, or the Center For Land Use Interpretation, please let me know.
UPDATE: I've just received confirmation from former museum colleagues that the email (which has been forwarded to me) originated from Nancy Holt (Smithson's widow).

Anyway, please, act today as best as you can if you wish to help, you art and non-art people alike.

Green's post below:

Spiral Jetty threatened by energy development

Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson's widow, recently sent an email out detailing specific threats to Smithson's masterpiece, Spiral Jetty. Click below to read it -- and please take action before 7 pm ET today.

Yesterday I received an urgent email from Lynn DeFreitas, Director of Friends of the Great Salt Lake, telling me of plans for drilling oil in the Salt Lake near Spiral Jetty. See Attachments. The deadline for protest is [today] Wednesday, at 5PM. Of course, DIA has been informed and are meeting about it today.

I have been told by Lynn that the oil wells will not be above the water, but that means some kind of industrial complex of pipes and pumps beneath the water and on the shore. The operation would require roads for oil tank trucks, cranes, pumps etc. which produce noise and will severely alter the wild, natural place.

If you want to send a letter of protest to save the beautiful, natural Utah environment around the Spiral Jetty from oil drilling, the emails or calls of protest go to Jonathan Jemming 801-537-9023 Please refer to Application # 8853. Every letter makes a big difference, they do take a lot of notice and know that publicity may follow. Since the Spiral Jetty has global significance, emails from foreign countries would be of special value.

They try to slip these drilling contracts under the radar, that¹s why we found out so late, not through notification, but from a watchdog lawyer at the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the group that alerted me to the land leasing for oil and gas near Sun Tunnels last May.

Thank you for your consideration of this serious environmental matter.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jerome Kerviel Is In Heavens- Jerome Kerviel Baise Au Ciel

With all the stuff happening today, I nearly forgot to mention the new French celebrity, Jerome Kerviel.
If you haven't followed, he is le rogue trader who supposedly made 5B Euros (that's $7B for you math-impaired art people) evaporate through fictitious trades at Societe Generale (incidentally, my bank). The comments over at the WSJ blog are absolutely hilarious, since the petit joueur Nick Leeson as well as ECB Jean-Claude Trichet (a.k.a "I Will Never Lower Any Interest Rate As Long As The German Remember The Hyperinflation Of The Weimar Years") are contributing thoughtful, delicate comments, and so is FBC! personal fav' Alan Greenspan.

Speculation is rampant as to the whereabouts of Mr. Kerviel. As a French-educated trader, I'm sure Mr. Kerviel was trying to apply some of Georges Bataille's Economics theories (see La Part Maudite, can't bother to check the English title, sorry). Now it has to be determined if he has also crammed Lonely Planet's guides to rough travel, in, hmmm. The Bahamas? I think he must be in Le Club Med, perhaps in Egypt with Osama Bin Laden or maybe he moved to Brasil with Lord Lucan. Or with Fatboy Slim, he's in Heavens. Better yet, since Sarko has to leave his unmarried girlfriend for his trip to India, Jerome and Carla are having a good time together in Switzerland.

Now the question is...will the French government raise taxes so French citizens have to underwrite the losses of one bank, as it was when the Credit Lyonnais screwed up big time in the 1990s?

FBC! is speechless

This morning I woke up to a worsening of my cold, therefore it is true I am literally speechless, but also to some stunning news from the LA Times. Gasp.

Full disclosure: FBC! has worked at LACMA in the past in a curatorial capacity, and to the best of my knowledge provenance issues were always dealt with the utmost care and professionalism by all of my former colleagues. I can't speak about the other museums mentioned, but as far as LACMA is concerned it seems impossible to me the museum would have knowingly bought some artifacts with an iffy provenance. As far as objects being donated with an inflated value, well museum s are rather powerless since the standard practice is to ask galleries and dealers to provide the institution with a value. If there are auctions records available for similar objects, then you can compare, but if not you're pretty much at the mercy of whatever the dealer/donor is going to tell you. I don't know much about the Asian art world myself, but I suppose the practice is the same as with modern and contemporary art. I didn't really know the Asian art curators at LACMA, but they seemed serious scholars to me.

Anyway, I'm sorry for all my former LACMA colleagues as I'm sure having the FBI coming to search the facilities 2 weeks before the opening of BCAM is a major hindrance. I remember curatorial meetings where everyone was careful about provenance, so I'm stunned if it eventually turns out something happened there.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Your Social Life: A Very Busy Week in LA!

Wow, it's not the moment to come down with a cold or the flu, as tons of things are happening in LA.
Let me start with the LA art fair, Art LA 2008. There's only 2 reasons to go, and here they are: my very, very good friend Matthieu Laurette who also happens to be a very good French artist has a one-man show at the Blow De La Barra booth! Matthieu has been infiltrating media and making comments about "The Society of Spectacle" (Debord and Situationist fiends you know what I'm speaking about) for a long time. His practice his not restricted to guerrilla-type actions live on the Today Show, but I'm posting an image for you to see. Matthieu will spend some time on the booth, so please stop by and say hi. Better yet, buy his work or curate a show with him!
Now it's all very well are you going to say, but what is the other reason to stop by the fair? The second reason is called Julie Lequin, who's volunteering at the booth of her publisher Second Cannons on Friday evening. Please go say hi to Julie, make sure to buy a copy of her book/DVD and look up upcoming publications including one on FBC! fav' Michael Smith (with Doug Skinner).

So tomorrow there's a talk a the Getty, along with an upcoming syLinkmposium Friday and Saturday, both events for which you need to register. FBC! will be at the panel tomorrow, but has too bad a cold to go to the conference, even though I would really need to go see it.

UPDATE: FBC! keeps on forgetting, but on Friday evening is the opening of Michael Asher at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. I like the SMMOA a lot (hi Elsa and Lisa!) and I'm delighted they are showing a great LA artist who hasn't been seen that much around lately.

And then what? Then things are not over, but there will sadly be a scheduling conflict for me, as Saturday I'll be attending the Patriot Acts opening at 18th St. complex in Santa Monica. I would have loved to be able to also attend Chris Lipomi's project (see details thereafter) but I doubt I will be able to make it on time. It's too bad because it is right next to my house.

Uzihektakta Wakipi
by Chris Lipomi

Saturday, January 26, 2008 9pm

1021 South Orange Dr.
Los Angeles, CA. 90019

Los Angeles based artist Chris Lipomi invites you on a
personalized tour through an off-site art
installation. A new project encapsulating 10 years of
art production, Uzihektakta Wakipi (loosely translated
meaning "the backwards dance") functions as a
subterranean pre-career retrospective.

Opening Reception at 9pm. with tours leaving every 15
RSVP for preferred tour placement.

RSVP at:

Monday, January 21, 2008

The 500,000 calories French Mac and Cheese!

It's cold, rainy and Winter-y, and I don't know about you but it feels like comfort food time. Especially with the recession coming up.
For some reason, in French we don't have an expression for "comfort food" at all. I'm surmising it's because in French culture food is automatically thought of as: a) good and therefore b) comforting.
There's a vague saveurs de l'enfance you see printed here and there in French food magazines when they write about such old staples as mashed potatoes or chocolate mousse, but that's it. Of course comfort food varies depending on the individual, and if you really, but really want to know, mine is very simple and somewhat healthy. I love easy vegetable soups where all the vegetables are boiled together (no stock) with a couple potatoes, then pureed with a plunger-type of mixer. As for desserts, I love stovetop rice pudding. One of these days, I promise I'll post recipes for those.

Meanwhile, there is a kind of comfort food that can be described as a French national staple, and it is, ta da! Mac and cheese! With a twist, of course! Because we're Frenchy! and chic! And we're doing a liberal use of exclamation marks!

First of all, French mac and cheese do use elbow pasta, but a different kind of elbow pasta. It's for one very small elbow pasta, and secondly it is pasta made with eggs. We call that type of pasta coquillettes, and I cannot find them here, so I regularly bring a small 250g carton when I come back from France. Also we add diced ham to the dish, and that's where I usually cry when I try to make it here. I've never, never found good ham in Los Angeles. It's always too salty, and ewwwww packed with water, and bland. If you're fortunate to go visit France one of these days, I'd recommend you stop by a good charcuterie and you ask for a few hand -sliced tranches de jambon à l’os.
Anyway, no mac & cheese is complete without the cheese, and unlike US bricked processed cheese that taste like soap, we like it with either
Comté or Beaufort cheeses. And, we cook it on the stove, not in the oven. Anyway, recipe below:

Coquillettes au jambon et au fromage, Basic Recipe for 1.

90g coquillette pasta (about 3 oz.)
1 or 2 slices of ham, diced.
90g grated
Comté or Beaufort cheese
1 pinch nutmeg
cracked pepper.
bit of butter.

You can dice the ham and grate the cheese while you boil the salted water for the pasta.
Steps are simple: dump the pasta in boiling water. When the pasta is cooked (taste it, about 5/7 minutes), drain it in a colander, dump it back in the pot with the small dab of butter, add the nutmeg, the ham, half of the cheese and stir well with a wooden spoon. Return the pot to the stove, on low heat, stir the remaining half of grated cheese and mix it well, until some luscious filament of melted cheese start to form.
Voilà! You can now dump everything in a bowl or a plate, and savor your coquillettes with some cracked pepper. Since you're a grown-up, you can have a glass of wine with it, but honestly water is much better with it.

So there are some trendy, updated versions where people add baby spinach or peas or arugula or truffles to feel more grown-up/less guilty they put something green in it, but it's not coquillettes anymore.

Scoli Acosta at LAXart, Part Deux

Here's the second part of Scoli Acosta's opening on Saturday at LAXart. Before the opening was a walk-through with LACMA curator Rita Gonzalez, during which I took the pictures. I missed a bit of the talk, after I realized it would be better if I took pictures without too many people in the frame, 'cause Artforum Scene & Herd we ain't.

FBC! is about the art, not the social networking bullshit a.k.a. schmoozing gossip you see on said website, so I'll spare you the names of the delightful people who were there. Suffice to say they were enlightened, and had a great time hearing about Scoli's residency in Montreal where some of his show themes originated, about Maxfield Parrish 's now forgotten but once world famous print, about the collapsed igloo made of carboard boxes, the brick wall fragment polished by the sea the artist found washed ashore in Malibu, the iconography of blue solar panels, and Scoli's desire to be environmentally friendly in his practice, and the large drawing/sketch from where all the installation started.

Enjoy looking at the pictures, and better yet! Go see the show!

Scoli Acosta's Opening at LAXart

A few pictures from the opening and walk-through

Thursday, January 17, 2008

When My Head Tinkers With Tradition

Yesterday and for a large part of today, FBC! was rather unwell. Like 10% of the population, FBC! suffers from debilitating migraines, and eats painkillers and triptans accordingly*.
Usually when in this state, depending on if/how medications work, I can either:

a) be good for nothing but resting in the dark.
b) be slightly better, which means no nausea, I can actually stand up and open my eyes but boy, how my f*&%?!!! head hurts. If people call me while in this state, I can actually utter a few words, even in English, but don't ask me to be coherent.

I'm absolutely unable to read/write/do something that involves thinking when all of this happen, so I usually scratch Pomme's belly for a few hours, of I bake something. Pomme prefers if I do not bake, understandably, but after 3 hours of the activity I grow insanely jealous of her obscene expression of beatific contentment. So I bake.
Baking is very comforting to me, it involves no intense brain activity, and for some reason I always crave sweets after severe migraines. There's a caveat, that is I cannot do labor-intensive, sophisticated or inventive baking and I cannot listen to music while I bake or it hurts too much, however tempting it would be to listen to Morphine's Cure For Pain.

So yesterday I decided to do something simple with whatever was stocked in my pantry. I wanted to do a thing that's very traditional in the West of France, a Sablé. In Normandy where I come from these small shortbread-type cookies are ubiquitous. Unlike shortbread though they contain eggs. If you want to try some, you can occasionally find them at CostPlus and seasonally at Surfas. They taste buttery, very fresh and they tend to be slightly crumbly and crunchy rather than melt-in-your-mouth soft. But yesterday, I was too unwell to try to roll out some pastry and then cut out circles, so I decided to do a gigantic Sablé instead, and a rustic one to boot. I knew that to make a big one I needed to do a different recipe than the ones from my region, so I settled for a Broyé du Poitou, and when I started to look for a recipe on Internet I found a totally fiddled-with-tradition-one. I decided to be even more totally unorthodox myself since I didn't have enough butter and the wrong type of almonds (in the traditional recipe, there are no almonds at all). I divided the proportions in 2, didn't roll out the dough, etc.
As usual I use metrics for my recipes. You can find cheap kitchen scales graded in grammes at places like Sur La Table, but also on line. If you decide to fiddle with the recipe itself, you simply needs to know it is based on tarte dough, and as all tarte doughs you need to make sure your butter quantity is half the weight of the flour. You can fiddle with the sugar, add an egg if you double the quantity of flour, but always, always make sure that butter= 1/2 flour.

OK, here's the recipe:
Prewarm your oven at 180C, that is 375 to 400F (my oven is a wonderful antique but not very precise), and for my Euro readers it's good old Thermostat 6.

You will need:
250g flour (I use King Arthur white, unbleached flour)
125g butter (I used Kerrygold from TJ but if you can find Isigny Sainte Mère butter, at the aforementioned Surfas or the Jons supermarket in Hollywood it's better. I always use sweet butter.)
125g white sugar
1 egg
2 very generous tablespoons of great booze: brandy, scotch, calvados (I used some leftover Dalwhinnie that is awesome)
50g almonds. I had some slivered blanched almonds and some sliced ones, which I toasted together for about a minute in a non-stick skillet.

OK, so here's the lazy migraineuse's way of doing it:
With an electric mixer, beat the sugar, egg and booze together. Add the butter, softened at room temperature and cut into small cubes, mix well until well blended. You should get a liquid-y batter. Dump the flour in your bowl, and mix it slowly to the previous mixture until it forms some dough. You know how dough looks like, right? Then you can add the toasted almonds and mix them evenly to the dough.

Anyway, here I should have rolled the dough to a perfect circle and put it on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Well, I couldn't be bothered, so I simply dumped it in a greased and flour tarte pan (an aluminum one that's a family heirloom), pressed it and leveled the top with a knife. It has to be thick, about 1,5 centimeters. Put everything in the oven, and 35 minutes later, tin lin lin ! as we say in French, a giant cookie!
It's good warm, or cold, and can be eaten with tea, coffee, single malt scotch or even Bailey's. But don't ruin it with milk, OK?
So you see, biblical simplicity, maximum rewardability. Merci qui? Merci Frenchy!

*By the way, if I could award a Nobel prize to the genius who discovered the triptans, I would, and I'm going to give some free publicity to the type of Zomig tablet that dissolves on the tongue. Pure genius.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What Perfect Loser Are You?

Really, I'm asking. I've been perusing Craigslist job listings, and found the one below.
I don't know about you, but in response to my TV writer friend (hi Mike!) who thinks I'm not interested in TV because I don't own one, the only thing I can say is I'll get back to watching TV when this type of stupid ideas will dry out.
Unfortunately, like hope but unlike French Presidents' love affairs, stupidity is eternal. Stupid studios, stupid networks, stupid AMPTP please please please settle that WGA strike, there's enough misery in the world for you to pile it on hapless viewers.
Also, stupid AMPTP, why don't you settle with the writers and together go on negotiating/suing YouTube and iTunes, and maybe, maybe lobby legislators to tax Internet providers from a few cents to few dollars per subscription to be reversed to both producers, writers, directors and actors. With a unique agency for both interest groups to reverse residuals and copyrights? Just an idea in the air.

Until then, I'll go back on YouTube to watch Life on Mars.


Reply to:
Date: 2008-01-16, 3:45PM PST

Do you have a perfect body, mind, soul, face? Do you have perfect style? Are you perfectly kind? Are you the perfect poker player, athlete, daughter, son, mother? Are you perfect at charming your way into or out of any situation?

In what way are you perfect?

If you’re attractive, smart and personable, then come out and audition for this network TV pilot!

We are looking for confident, outgoing participants that aren’t too modest or too shy to show off their many qualities and abilities. Selected individuals will be compensated.

Be ready to compete and reap the benefits of being “perfect”!!!

If you or someone you know is an ideal candidate, submit the following info to






WHAT IS YOUR PERFECTION (don’t be modest):


Or call Casting Director, Rebecca Reczek @ 323.802.0413

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Horror! The End Of Civilization As We Know It

Since being elected, President Sese Seko Mobutu Idi Amin Bokassa Sarkozy has ridiculed his functions by becoming a tabloid attraction, despite being one of the ugliest males on the planet. We're happy for Cecilia she divorced him, frankly, and feel Carla Bruni has probably lost her mind in her bid to attract fame after the disastrous flop of her last record. We also feel she should get a better plastic surgeon for her next face lift, and maybe some type of dignified occupation besides screwing powerful midgets. Look what happened to Katie Holmes. You don't want to follow that path.
Well, at least the TomKat baby is cute, but we fear for the upcoming fruit of the sinful idyll between Carla and Sarko. No way in hell this kid will ever look cute. We hope for a miscarriage, frankly, or some divine intervention to redeem what seems un-redeemable on this earthly planet. OK, so far this is allegedly a rumor, and let's hope it will remain just that. Poor kid.

Anyway, to cheer up my Frenchy friends, I thought it would be a good opportunity for our idiotic and erratically irregular poll. Let's name the Sarkozy-Bruni offspring (I cannot, I cannot think about it without needing to barf, arrrrgggh). Napoleon is already taken, Adolf a bit too connoted. I'm taking suggestions, meanwhile, you can vote at the bottom of the page.

Photo LA 2008

Last night FBC! a.k.a the diminutive orange mushroom attended the kickoff of Photo LA, which was great fun!
As far as art fairs go, that one was nice because it wasn't horribly crowded, people seemed much more relaxed, and there were some nice things to see. FBC! was a bit out of her element so the amount of things to see felt overwhelming. So as seasoned art world veterans, my friend and I headed directly to the food/bar space to regroup around some vodka cocktails and donated catered food before hitting the aisles. We were quickly joined by other art world friends and acquaintances.
Just to dispel buffet etiquette misconceptions, I'd like to explain to my non-artworld readers (Hi Annie, Jonathan and Mike!) that the people who hit the buffet first in this kind of event are the pros: most of us are usually coming straight from work an have no other opportunities to get dinner later in the evening (we have to schmooze), so if we want to get nourishment of the non-visual, non-mind-elevating kind, that's the moment to do it. Therefore it is not tacky for you to do the same. Feel free to join next tie you're attending!
By common consent we agreed that the best food was from Chaya, as for the sweets it was an even draw between Milk (citrus soda floats, very refreshing) and Susina mini tarts and peanut-butter thingies.

Thus sustained we headed back to the galleries. What I really like about photo is, well, I know very little about it and I often find myself in the position of the uninitiated. It's very refreshing and humbling to find oneself in the position of the normal public, not really knowing how to make choices. Since usually the curator/critic role is to pass judgment, and discriminate based on one's intimate knowledge of art history and current issues, finding oneself somewhat naked without our usual critical tools and crutches was very exciting. My friend (who is a 19th century European art specialist herself) was very attracted to whatever looked the most contemporary, in a spectacular way, whereas I found myself in the reactionary role, liking either classic photo masters or being drawn to anonymous but tending toward the abstract photographs.

There were lots of classics, from Julius Shulman who was being honored at the gala, to Cartier-Bresson, Elliott Erwitt, Harry Callahan, some classic Edward Weston (sexy eggplants), Andre Kertesz, etc. There were some galleries from LA, like Stephen Cohen, Craig Krull or Ace (creepy enormous portraits of bodybuilders by Martin Schoeller), one gallery from Vancouver that showed stuff I didn't like, but I failed to see they had work by Scott McFarland (an acquaintance and also friend of my pal Daniel), an enormous display of Jill Greenberg (again, creepy) shown by ClampArt from NYC.
My friend really liked Julia Blackmon, presented by photo-eye Gallery. I didn't, leaning more toard the classics, as I said. There were some truly fashionable, in the worst sense of the term, giant pictures by David LaChapelle , which always makes me feel like fashion photographers should remain in their own domain (and the same goes for Inez van Lamsweerde and Wolfgang Tillmans), and some fashionable-from-7-years-ago-pictures by Massimo Vitali.
Remember Vitali? Well, if you wonder, the photos looked exactly the same as they did 7 years ago. It's like imagining a Vanessa Beecroft retrospective. Would you like to attend one? Exactly.
There was a contingent of soft-core, erotic photographs here and there (does B&W makes them more tasteful? In many cases, not really). Lots of Chinese photography too, or, subtle distinction, photographies taken in China, including some very good ones of traditional houses being demolished in Shanghai, right next to brand new skyscrappers (I don't recall the name of the artist, sorry!).

FBC! was delighted in all the cool and cheap things you can get in the bins. As I was mentioning yesterday when speaking about prints, the cool thing about art fairs like this is you can find totally affordable *real art* to put on your walls. It's usually in the bins, not on the walls, but even on the walls you had vintage prints by well-known, classic photographers that were affordable in contrast to the contemporary art market.
Of course, there's a distinction between vintage prints, later prints, posthumous prints, unique prints and editions, and the notoriety of the artist varies greatly. You also have vernacular photography, with one gallery specializing in the stuff (with categorizations along traditional lines such as portrait, landscape, etc. and subdivisions like street scenes, beach scenes, etc.).
Some of it is pretty generic, some other have for sole virtue to be *antique*, some is derivative, but all in all if you decide to spend a bit of money on something interesting to put on your walls, this type of even is for you. Plus, it's usually pre-matted in standard formats, so all you have to do is get, say, an IKEA cheapo frame, and voilà! some nice photos to grace your walls and make your life generally fuller. Or so I hope!

FBC! is on a budget herself, what with having to find a job and all that, so I nobly refrained from buying stuff, but if you buy what I've spotted yourself I'd be happy to know the photos found a good home. You can also decide to donate it to me, say for my B-Day!
In the bins of the Etherton Gallery from Tucson, Arizona (a totally unpronouncable place name for my Frenchy self) I saw an anonymous aerial photo of WWI trenches that looked like a semi-abstract scar on a pockmarked skin, for only $750. Of course it's impossible to imagine this having a future added value, but it is a beautiful picture. There were also, in another gallery that showed antique salt prints, a series of 19th century Greek and Roman ruins (Paestum, Pompei) by someone who actually was a well-known photographer but whose name I cannot recall (I blame Absolut vodka for my memory lapses), for as low as $300.
Somewhere else I saw 3 prints by a Polish (?) artist whose first name is Camille. It represented some birds on a telephone line, somewhat overexposed, almost abstract to the point of resembling sheet music. I was told it may be derivative of Graciela Iturbide, whose show at the Getty I haven't seen. Derivative or not, they were part of an edition, and each sold in the $750-$850 range, though you probably want all 3 of them to get some effect. I've also spotted somewhere else (not in the bins) some pictures by Mickey Pallas which I liked, representing a couple of gun owners. It was probably Arbus-derivative, but quite good nonetheless.

All in all, it felt like a fun event, where we ran in nice people including the always delightful Peter Frank who I mention because he totally impressed me by speaking fluent German to my friend. In addition to his perfect French! It was really cool to make (admittedly, minor) discoveries and feel like a collector, with so many things being totally affordable for you and I. As far as giving a panorama of current photography practices, it's hard to say, as I'm not particularly well-versed in that domain. So tune in to Charlotte Cotton's-initiated website and go to the Saturday series of talks at Photo LA, which is free, to have a better idea. For nourishment before or after, there's the Spitfire Grill which serves good breakfast and Typhoon (fusion, but also for the adventruous, bugs as appetizers, eeeeewwww,) at the Santa Monica airport, or you can go get ramen at Santouka.
Have fun!

Pictures above; Peter Frank speaking German, Art people eating, Photo LA galleries, One Photo LA visitor

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Your Social Life, At Home Only In The Next 2 Weeks

'llo Everybody,

FBC! is back in town and somewhat ready to get back into the groove! Still suffering from art world burnout but trying to get over it, yeepee!

So this week is the kickoff for Photo LA, the Los Angeles photo-centric art fair, as its name indicate. LA is trying to become an art hub with no less than 3 art fairs in January, including the usually boring Los Angeles Art Show, and the upcoming Art LA 2008. These last two will be held roughly at the same moment in about 2 weeks from now. The only one that's really interesting, IMHO, is Photo LA. Check out their program as they present a series of talks and lectures on Saturday that's pretty interesting, including the Charlie White-Jeff Burton one.

I have a feeling the LA Art Show days are numbered, because it mostly includes secondary market galleries, though this year they are joined by the LA Fine Print Fair. I'd rather spend money on a good print than a bad painting, and I remember seeing gems like a very fine Rembrandt self-portrait (an etching I think) 2 years ago that was cheaper than most crappy painting you will fine at Art LA 2008. Well, it still won't come cheap but if I had $15,000 to $20,000 to spend on something I'd get that my Rembrandt etching over anything else. Or I'd go shop at Photo LA!

The only good thing about Art LA is you get to schmooze in a relaxed atmosphere, it is more a friendly neighborhood event than a horrible coke-fueled art world shindig. At least it was last year, and it didn't have any would-be-glamorous party attached (that I knew of). The art, well it's pretty much what you see in LA on any given day, since most galleries are local. Some of my favorite ones are there, so if you insist on going shopping say hi them for me. As FBC! devotees you know which ones they are!

Now this being said I suppose most of you will spend some time in Santa Monica in the next 2 weeks or so. If you happen to go to the Photo LA bash tonight and want to meet FBC! in person, look for a diminutive orange mushroom. I should be easy to spot! You probably won't find me at either the LA Art Show or Art LA, BUT you will for sure find me at the opening party for Patriot Acts at 18th street art complex on the 26th (see image above). It features such luminaries as Vincent Johnson, Susan Stilton, Pam Strugar and Shirley Tse and is curated by Linda Pollack, all people I heppen to know and be friends with. The show truly opens this weekend, so you can see it on your way to Photo LA.

And while I'm speaking of friends and spaces I like, next week is the opening at LAXart of Scoli Acosta' show, with a walk-through by Rita Gonzalez, Da Best Curator In Town!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Les Sales Majestés - Je Suis Fier

Les Sales Majestés - Je Suis Fier
Video sent by Panzer_Jager

To my friends left to their own devices in SarkozyLand here's a song to help you subvert the current slogan adopted by Carla's new boy toy: "working more to make more money".

Sorry I couldn't find the original by Les Olivensteins or the later cover by Eric Tandy. This one is not as urgent and raw.

For my US readers, sorry! French lore.

More Pics from the Third Mind show

Ronald Bladen, Cady Noland and Nancy Grossman sideways (thanks to Blogger!), Warhol and Conner, Sue Williams, Warren and Dawson, Sarah Lucas

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Third Mind at Le Palais de Tokyo.

Dear beloved, devoted readership,

Hope you started the new year in a good state of mind, upcoming recession or not. FBC! has decided to try not to be too disillusioned with the artworld in 2008, or more accurately with whatever crap is touted as art these days as long as it is salable. Dammit! I've already broken my good resolutions. Oh, well.

Let's try a bit. When I was back home last month I had very little time for exhibition-visiting, mostly because I was in my boring hometown where there's no art. While in Paris I mostly saw my friends, which meant I only had about 3 hours to devote to see art. I therefore decided to go visit the former Musée des Monuments Français now re-baptized Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine. I'll post about it separately.
Very close to it is the Palais de Tokyo, and that's where I went to see the only contemporary art show I could catch. There was nothing too attractive at the Pompidou (Giacometti's studio, the typical French blockbuster exhibition aimed at the geriatric bourgeois crowd), the Plateau was too far out of the area where I was staying and I wanted
Link to see a group show, as opposed to the solo shows at the ARC.
Many friends had also asked my opinion about the show at the Palais de Tokyo before I went there, so I obligingly decided to visit it so i could post later about it.

The good thing about the Palais de Tokyo is you are allowed to take pictures, even though almost all the artists exhibited are alive and could decide to hold on to their copyrights.
It is the last generous institution in that respect. By contrast, at the
Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, where: a) nothing exhibited is made by an artist and b) none of the originators of whatever is exhibited is alive (indeed most of them have been dead for centuries), it is not allowed to take any picture and the order is strictly enforced.
So I got triggered happy at PdT and shot the entire exhibition, but since I can only post 4 pictures with that idiot Blogger template I'll probably post a few more separately.

Anyway, off I went to see The Third Mind, a title borrowed to William Burrough and Brion Gysin by Ugo Rondinone, the curator of the show. I'm linking to vernissagetv as they provide the press release and several links that are useful for the curious reader.
Suffice for you to know that Ugo Rondinone is a Swiss artist, a nationality he shares with the director of the Palais de Tokyo. There's a distinctive Swiss flavor to the programming, with Swiss artists, Swiss-originated exhibitions and Swiss guest curators all being presented/showing at PdT, to the point that they should import back Obrist too to make the Swiss aspect more complete. I haven't checked if they serve Swiss cheeses and Swiss chocolate at the restaurant, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did.

The press release for the show is a total absurdity (you know, the artist-as-curator-presenting-an-exhibition-that-is-an-artwork-in-itself: sooooooo early 1990s!), with no other binding component than the personality and taste of the curator. Which is not unique or even bad in itself, and many professional curators are as guilty of it as Rondinone. Just don't write a stupid press release that's so full of clich
és to legitimate your arbitrary choices, that's all I'm asking for. Thanks!
I think it is starting to be a little bit tired to ask artists to curate shows (I know Daniel Buren would object, but I object to Daniel Buren myself), and a bit lazy from the part of museum directors. As if all artists had the aptitude to curate, or even the desire. Also, I think if you ask artists to curate then you should ask them to do it completely, not just make a selection of works or artists they like: they should raise the money, do the paperwork, negotiate loans, organize shipping and insurance, deal with the (unionized) installers, write and coordinate the catalogue, organize the opening and deal with the press. Not so fun, eh?
Anyway, I went to see the show without any undue expectations. I'm not a huge fan of Rondinone (I find his work uneven, but I do like some of it) but I was curious to see his choices, and the list of artists included a large bunch of people I like a lot. It meant that no matter what, there were things I was going to enjoy, even if the overall exhibition concept was...wait a minute, there was no concept, I forgot!

The entrance of the show wasn't very successful, with a spectacular Sarah Lucas smashed car that's fairly typical of Brit art: spectacular, but empty. Hop to the right, and there was a series of monitors displaying a Warhol work with portraits of, among others, Duchamp, and some Bruce Conner. It was rather cacophonic.
But also emblematic of the overall spirit of the show: a slapdash juxtaposition of respected heavyweights (Warhol, Gober with super famous pieces) and fashionable stalwarts like Urs Fisher (I don't remember what he had shown), mixed with formerly unjustly-under-the-radar-but now-rediscovered-and/or-trendy artists (Lee Bontecou with two truly ugly pieces, alas, Jay DeFeo but also some very good Paul Thek), some mandatory figures you have seen everywhere over the last 7/8 years (Karen Kiliminik, Trisha Donnelly). In addition you could spot here and there the odd purely beautiful work drowned in that weird mixture (Vija Celmins), some outsider/abstract but hip art (Emma Kunz whom I believe was re-discovered in the 1990s in a show co-curated by Obrist but I'm not sure about it), stuff we've seen here in LA but that's not so well-known in Europe like Ronald Bladen (thanks Ann Goldstein!) or Bruce Conner.
In a way I felt like I was given a trendy demonstration or a lecture of a counter-art history of the last 20 years, something which might have been salutary, say in 2002, but comes a bit late now.

There was one truly atrocious room that epitomized what I abhor in today's art: it contained the extraordinary generic paintings of one Jean-Frederic Schnyder and the turd-like sculptures of Andrew Lord. Schnyder's paintings are poorly executed, acrylic figurative scenes of the type you see absolutely everywhere on any given day when you decide to go visit galleries that focus on painting (you know who you are), you know, inoffensive, salable, forgettable without breadth, depth and ambition. Bland.
Several different types of turd-like sculptures were also scattered in the exhibition, including Rebecca Warren and Hans Josephsohn. Josephsohn's sculptures are typical of another trend, the one about re-discovering elder artists who were forgotten, but maybe for a good reason. Not all underground/underrated artists deserves to be unearthed, you know.
He and Schnyder are Swiss and maybe they have a personal relationship with Rondinone that explains their presence in the show, because there isn't any valid reason why they should be there otherwise. Obviously Josephsohn is here to forge a historical precedent to Lord and Warren (and to a lesser extend to the last master of useless ugly sculpture present in the show, Bruno Giroconli). There are also some formal resemblances/correspondences between their sculpture and the hip and likely to be forgotten paintings of Verne Dawson.
Other forgettable works includes Valentin Carron's giant crucifixes, Hugo Markl's collages, Nancy Grossman's mix of Bruce Nauman meets Haim Steinbach, etc.

Which was all very sad as some true gems were included: Joe Brainard's paintings/collages were very refreshing, and it was gratifying to see several very good Sue Williams. The Paul Thek/Emma Kunz room was outstanding, and the classic Robert Gober pieces were beautifully paired with Toba Khedoori. Both rooms don't reproduce very well in photography, unfortunately, as the Thek sculpture seem to overwhelm the Kunz drawings, and Khedoori's drawings are almost impossible to render on photography.
The always beautiful Vija Celmins was a little bit lost (to the point that I cannot remember where it was, I think in the vicinity of the Karen Kiliminik?). Which leads me to the fact that whatever the flaws of the exhibition, which I chose to view as Rondinone's secret history of art, I must emphasize how Rondinone underscored the leading position of women in his interpretation. 13 out of 32 artists, pretty good especially in France where true machismo still reigns in the artworld*.

And Rondinone did a public service in his exhibition which in my eyes entirely redeemed the whole artist-curating-his-alternate-history: he showed Cady Noland, the most immense artist of the 1990s, someone who is sorely missed now. For many reasons that belong only to herself Cady Noland stopped showing around 1995, even though she is still making work. Noland is the great legend of the art world, an outstanding, exemplary artist who was commenting accurately on the state of Western society in the 1990s through intelligent yet easy to comprehend works, without doing heavy propaganda, whose work was deeply feminist without being aggressively and simplistically so, who had understood and acknowledged the legacy of conceptual art by being clear but not dry and boring. It also made clever use of the violent, alternative history of contemporary America (SLA, Lee Harvey Oswald) via its counter-culture, giving an alternative history lesson that was salutary in the post-Reagan, post Bush Senior era.
So, thank you Ugo Rondinone for bringing her back and making available a work that is too rare nowadays. Let's hope it will inspire young artist, and that Cady Noland will feel like showing again sometimes soon. Cady, we've been missing you. Please come back. Art is boring and useless without you.

*In the late 1990s a well-known French curator/art official told me I should get married so I would a) leave art world jobs to men and b) would be taken care of financially. Bonus points if you find out who it was! I promise to get you either A Room Of One's Own or any Luce Irrigaray of your own choosing, though I think Virginie Despentes is more fun to read.

Pictures: Robert Gober, Cady Noland (sideways, thanks to Blogger)Paul Thek and Emma Kunz (ditto), Lord and Schynder

zZz is playing: Grip

I'm working on a couple of post, and in the meantime I thought I could let you have a look at a bouncing video. The artist kindly gave me permission to post in on the blog.
Have fun!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Gargoyles In An Aroused State Of Turmoil!

Happy New Year again ya all,

FBC! is still very jetlagged and therefore not very good at writing in what is a foreign language. So instead of writing a long post about Bakthinian theories of steam release, Rabelais, medieval ribaldry and so on, I'm letting pictures speak for themselves.
The gargoyles are and have been adorning the same church in my boring hometown for a few centuries, without any need for prudish censors to ask for their removal. But for those of you who work at places where censorship reigns I've avoided descriptive vocabulary. Who needs words when you have pictures anyway?

It was a bit tricky to take the pictures, but I trust you can spot how powerfully implemented our beastly friends are. I'm also showing a female one, obviously created prior to the invention of Brazilian-Bikini-waxing techniques.

Have fun!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New 2008 To You

My Dear Beloved, Devoted Readership,

I'm sure most of you started the New Year with a bad hangover, so maybe the picture above won't really lift your spirits - I truly wanted to start 2008 by getting the worst joke out of the way, arf.

Anyway, my Frenchy self is back in lovely Los Angeles where the temperature is clement, people are nice (bye-bye, awful French cashiers and waiters!) and Pomme the cat was impatient to share new adventures. So far I've held my resolution not to speak German to her anymore, so hopefully I'll be good on the losing weight and finding a job ones too. I'm sure my immense readership vowed to honed its French skills and be able to read all the links I'm providing, right?

In the meantime, I'll work on a few posts, will find someone to help me redesign the blog and if all goes well we'll move URL and on to Wordpress later this year. Next art post should be on the Ugo Rondinone-curated show at the Palais de Tokyo and the former Musee des Monuments Francais in Paris.

Have a happy, fruitful and fun 2008, and watch out on the road for idiot/distracted drivers.