Friday, November 18, 2011

We're Vaguely Baaaaaaaack

above, John Cale, Catastrofuk

Hello, beloved and cherished and thinning readership!

I hope you had a great time during FBC!'s latest hiatus. I've been asked yesterday what was going on with FBC! (Hi Jennifer!) to which I answered "nothing". Basically yours truly has been on a lot of deadlines over the last few months, then traveling a lot, then getting rather sick. The "meeting deadlines" and "traveling" were art-related, for some forthcoming publications, etc. but I in fact have seen very little art since the beginning of the Fall opening season in September. For one thing, I've missed all of the PST-related events here in Los Angeles, and I do intend to go see Under The Big Black Sun at MOCA, the shows at the Getty and LACMA, and also the Wallace Berman and Robert Heinecken shows before I travel again in late December. If I have the time I'll write some recension of the shows, but I am currently drowning in paperwork so we'll see.
I shouldn't even be writing this post, but I haven't written anything since mid-October and I'm starting to miss it. It's likely I won't resume any Your Social Life posts until early next year, if only because this blog is an unpaid labor of love and I'm starting to have trouble to keep up. I mean, I just have to turn my back 5 minutes and twenty new galleries pop up in LA (while a dozen other close or merge).

So,  I haven't seen much in Los Angeles recently except the opening yesterday at anotheryearinla, You Are Me which could be relabeled "Stephen Kaltenbach and friends". As you may know I am a HUGE fan of Kaltenbach's work, and the show last night was a mini-survey of sort of his early work, with other lovely works by, among others, Cathy Stone,  David Stone, Peter Coffin, Mark Rodriguez, etc.  I forgot to take my camera with me, so you'll have to trust me on that, but it is a lovely, lovely show of conceptual art that underscores the humor at play in Kaltenbach's work (and the others). Don't miss it!

Outside of LA the only art I've seen was at the Tate Modern where I had the luck to see the Gerhard Richter retrospective, as well as the very beautiful Tacita Dean film in the Hall of Turbines.
A Gerhard Richter retrospective looks like another Richter retrospective, that is a beautiful winner, but if you've seen a half dozen already like I've done, there won't be anything much new save for the white abstract paintings, which are as gorgeous as the gray ones. But, you know, he hasn't started making ugly, "Picasso-at-Vallauris-rediscovered-60-years-later"  vaguely figurative paintings, he's still the supra elegant Richter of old.
The Tacita Dean movie was very short, very beautiful, and also basking in nostalgia. Her struggle to find 16 mm film is well-documented, so I won't say much about that. The movie itself I thought was yearning for the golden age of experimental cinema, and even included the clichéed shot of a moving escalator. It was all about a descending movement (waterfalls, etc) and a little bit sad, with references to modernist images (I thought a bit about Rodchenko). What really struck me when I watched it was the very peaceful atmosphere inside the Hall of Turbines, and the very sweet,  smothered atmospheric quality of the acoustics therein. There's a certain softness to the way sounds don't reverberate much inside such an enormous  and crowded space, which made me think about how interesting it might be (or maybe too challenging?) for composers or musicians to stage something there. Maybe Tate Modern should commission some composers to do live events there? Have they done it already?

The other art I've seen was at the FIAC art fair in Paris, a fair I remembered as really provincial when I was living in France and which has come a long, long way since then. It is now very blue chip, with many NYC galleries (Metro Pictures, Paula Cooper, Chaim & Reid, etc), a few LA ones  like Marc Foxx, etc. I was delighted to see some Analia Sabans at my old friends Praz-Delavallade, and some beautiful Matthew Brannons at a Belgian gallery named after a Matta-Clark piece, Office Baroque. But, aside from this, it's just yet another art fair.

Outside of the art stuff, I also went to two concerts while I was away, and missed another one by The Monochrome Set, because the suburban venue that hosted it moved their gig back to midnight, knowing full well the last subway was at 1.15 AM, and yours truly had to get up at 5 AM to catch the Eurostar to London, so alas it was not meant to be. I'm very happy to hear that they will likely tour in NYC and LA next year, hopefully I won't be traveling when this happens.
The two concerts I went to were John Cale in my hometown, and Pat Fish at the 12 Bar Club in London. I was delighted that Cale played in my hometown, as you would imagine,  but after what happened there I'd be ready to bet he will never, ever play again in Caen.

The thing that first disappointed me was that the venue didn't advertize at all for the concert, no posters, no nothing, no more than one reminder on their Facebook page, not even on the morning of the concert. This, in a  (very provincial) city that boast  of an independent rock radio station (which didn't do much itself in terms of John Cale airplay before the concert, though I may be a bit unfair there because I didn't listen to much radio during the 4 days I was there). Cale played two sold-out dates in Paris in the following 2 weeks, and my hometown is only a 2 hours train ride from Paris, so a bit of advertisement wouldn't have hurt the venue.

Anyway,  in the afternoon before the concert I had the great pleasure of meeting Cale's drummer, the very talented Michael Jerome Moore, who's also a very cool guy in person. It was very gracious of him to spend an hour with me, when he could have had a nap instead, since Cale and his band had spent the night on their bus traveling to my hometown. It was also a bit surreal because Michael and I live in the same city, so it was strange meeting in the small town where I grew up. And where, in my youth,  could have never imagined Cale to play.

That evening, only 150 people had come to the concert. Before Cale and his band came onstage, the local contemporary art center had Guitar Drag projected in the adjoining room, a video by Christian Marclay that is far more superior, IMHO, to The Clock. I overheard a couple of dickheads saying "Oh, contemporary art is so lame, and it cost millions". Fuck you, dickheads, and shitty hometown, I know why I have left you forever.  You sure don't deserve John Cale.
Cale came on stage with his band, and despite the small audience proceeded to deliver an extraordinarily good gig, the second best of his I've seen (best one was Paris 1919 at Royce Hall last year) out of 4, with an incredibly varied set list that mixed old songs ("Big White Cloud", "Captain Hook") and the newest ones from his last EP, (available in the US on CD on Black Friday) as well as that charming and funny oddity, "Satellite Walk".
He seemed to have tons of fun on stage, told us he did, came back for an encore (Chorale, one hell of a beautiful song), and came back after the encore to inform us that while he was playing, someone had stolen his computer and phone from the dressing room. Apparently "someone" had forgotten to lock a back door, which, given the amount of security guards at the venue sounds like a load of bullshit to me, so my money's on a couple of assholes working at the venue taking advantage of their cushy, local-government-supported jobs to rob Cale blind and take off with his possessions (and his manager's). Of course the local police hasn't recovered anything, not a surprise given how they recruit their best and brightest in my home country (you don't need to even have finished middle school!).
I was so very sorry and still am that this is the way some goonies chose to welcome Cale in my hometown. May the Holy Mother of Belphégor punish them with anal cancer and much worse, and my most sincere apologies to Cale and his manager for what these people have done to them.

Later on, I missed The Monochrome Set in Paris, but was rewarded with the very lovely Pat Fish in London, who did a really good short solo gig,  playing some of his own songs,  some covers including one of Max Eider's, and played the song  I was listening to when my train was coming in St. Pancras that very morning, Shirley MacLaine. I owed the gentleman a beer, so I had the pleasure to meet him after his set. I was very shy, so apologies to Mr. Fish for my lame conversation, but really it was lovely to meet him. I recommend my wide and varied readership to hunt down some Jazz Butcher, Wilson and Pat Fish songs and better yet, buy his music and go see him play live whenever possible.

Lastly, this weekend in Los Angeles there are lots of openings, as usual, and I'll miss all of them because I'll be at the Great LA Walk trying to cover the almost 20 miles from downtown to the sea, as I do every year. If I weren't,  the one and only opening I'd attend tomorrow would be the Destroy All Monsters one, so if you go, please pass on my regards to Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw.
Have fun everybody, and thanks for following FBC!