Monday, March 26, 2012

Please Excuse This Momentary Interruption Of Our Regular Programing

...with a truly epic piece of music. One of the most amazing things we've ever witnessed on the youtubes at the FBC! headquarters, so we felt it had to be shared.  The sound quality is great, too.
We can only hope that Jah Wobble, Keith Levene, the guy who's cloning and channeling John Lydon most convincingly (and if you had asked me one hour ago, I'd have said a clone of Lydon wouldn't be such a great idea), their drummer and the guy who plays trumpet (check this other video) will tour the United States very soon, with a stop in Los Angeles.
 I don't think I'd go see the current PIL with Lydon himself, when, you know, the musicians above are producing pure brilliance. I so hope Wobble, Levene, and gang will play here soon. Please, Los Angeles club promoters, bring them here.

It's hard to be truly interested in visual arts there days. Compared to music like this.

The two videos above have been shot during Wobble & Levene current UK tour last Friday and Saturday. A friend of mine flew all the way from NYC to Manchester to see them, and as you can see from the video, it was totally worth it.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

An Appeal

 Rosa Dixon

Dear readership (all 78 of you,  and your friends,  and your extended family,  and your acquaintances, and your colleagues),

This post is only tangentially art-related, nevertheless, I feel it's more important than all the art one could possibly want to see and discuss in one's life. Please take the time to read it, and if it moves you somehow, please pass it around. I'm trying to help my friend's child.

I normally don't relay this kind of appeal, if only because I never know whether it's a scam or not. In that particular case, I happen to know the person who wrote it, and I can personally vouch for her, her honesty, her despair, and her will to do anything she can to save her daughter.
 I've met Joanna Rajkowska - a very fine Polish artist - when working on a show in Luxembourg, about a decade ago. Joanna was fun to be around, very dedicated to her work, and a great source of information regarding Poland in general and the Polish art scene more particularly. At some point after this show, she did a big public art project where she wanted to bring in the tropics, exoticism and much more to Poland, so she went and brought a giant artificial palm tree (a real one couldn't have withstood the harsh Polish winters) in the center of Krakow. It was wildly popular, so successful that the local authorities tried to keep it permanent. She researched artificial palm trees very seriously, and stayed with me in Paris a couple of times to go and see the one and only examples in Continental Europe at the time, at Disneyland Paris - where she discovered they were kept indoors and in the dark!
We kept in touch  throughout the years and I checked her website from time to time to see what she was doing, wishing that maybe one day we could work on something together. A few months ago, I was overjoyed to learn that she had given birth to a daughter, Rosa.

Unfortunately, I learned this week, via Facebook, that Rosa who's only 9 months old got eye cancer. She may lose her eyesight and for all I know she might also lose her life.  I'm pasting below the translation of the first Polish message Joanna put on her page asking for help. Please read it, and if you're touched by it, do whatever you think could help her and her daughter.
 There's an appeal for money, as the treatment Rosa could get in London  after she finishes chemo reaches 20,000 GBP.
Joanna is an artist and is as broke as you and me, so any tiny bit of something you could contribute could help. As such, Joanna also knows that most of the people around her are most certainly  poor, unemployed, or unable to contribute monies for any reason. She doesn't expect you to reach for the moon for her, but any tiny gesture, any transmission of her appeal to other people would go a long way.

What you can do, if you can't donate anything financial, is donate your time and energy: you can repost this in the hope someone else you know or even don't know could give money, expertise, time, connections. You may have an old friend from college who became a world expert in pediatric eye cancer who could help and steer Joanna toward the best type of treatment. You might have a cousin fifth times removed who knows some philanthropic institution that specifically helps families dealing with child cancer. You may know a collector or foundation that would enjoy Joanna's work and buy some of it preemptively so as to cover at least part of the expenses for Rosa's treatment. Whoever you may know might be able to help, just by passing around Joanna's appeal for Rosa.

Please read Joanna's appeal, and try to help her. Thank you so very much for Joanna and for Rosa.

"Dear friends read and help!
from Joanna Rajkowska

I'm not a Facebook person, but this time I decided to write to you using the power of Facebook.
Our 9-month-old daughter, Rosa, has tumors in both eyes - this is eye cancer, retinoblastoma.
For now, we live in the belief that after six cycles of chemotherapy Rosa will undergo a lasetherapy or radiotherapy possibly in London. We were referred there by the Children Institute Memorial Hospital in Warsaw, so we trust them.

Rosa has an account at the Foundation To Live.
If by some miracle, tumors disappear from her eyes after chemotherapy, which is almost impossible, the money will go to another kid in the Foundation.
We'll find out everything on 18th/19th April, when the ophthalmologists in Warsaw and in London will examine her once again, after the second chemo.
Write to me please if you know any secrets or other important matters relating to children's eye cancer. We want to save her.

Account maintenance instructions below.
Rayka, Andrew and Rosa

Fundacja Aby żyć ul. Mogilska 40 31-546 KRAKÓWDeutsche Bank PBC S.A. 88 1910 1048 2101 0290 5873 0006
"donation for medical care for Rosa Dixon"

Your Rayka

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, Happy National Mike Kelley Day!

I recently made the cake above for friends who came over wanting to reminisce about Mike Kelley. It's basically this cake,  topped with cream cheese icing, and LOTS of green food coloring dumped into the batter. It was surprisingly good. You can also see from the picture above I lack fine motor skills and cake decorating abilities.

Today for the first time in my life I'm celebrating St. Patrick, for the first time because I don't have an ounce of Irish blood in my veins, I'm not even catholic, and I don't like beer. Irish whiskey will do nicely, thank you. I'm really celebrating in Mike's memory, because he loved St. Patrick's Day and I guess from now on, for me it will be National Mike Kelley Day forever. And for you too, if you wish. Kelly green is really Mike Kelley Green.

Here are below a sample of Irish bands that are not U2, if you need some musical accompaniment to the day. Also, if you wish to bake some dessert today, I recommend this recipe. The smell in your house will be totally insane. As for drinks, aside from the ubiquitous Guinness and Murphy's, I suggest you sample the Irish single malt they carry at Trader Joe's. Much better than Bushmills and slightly cheaper!

The Virgin Prunes, Down Memory Lane:

Them And Van Morrison, Baby Please Don't Go:

The Undertones, Here Comes The Summer:

And that's all for the Irish music sampler today.

Before I leave you celebrating National Mike Kelley Day, a few things. There's an opening tonight at Richard Telles, a group show that looks very interesting. 
There are a few things that should be coming up on FBC! in the next few weeks, depending on where I am with the shitload of non art-related paperwork I have to do;  and also depending on how my back pain is evolving. Right now, it's not looking too good,  so I'm not sure how much posting I'll be able to do.
I intend to write a double post on Jennifer Moon and Andy Alexander's current projects, also to write something on the Mono-Ha exhibition at Blum and Poe. There are several interesting things coming up in the next few months, like the Jennifer Moon solo show at Commonwealth and Council in mid-April, and the Will Fowler one at Kordansky in May. Also, as you may know there's a new Biennial coming up at the Hammer/LAXart, etc. with a big cash prize attached, not that I care about that part, but since I have quite a few friends whose work will be featured in the Biennial, so I'm crossing my fingers for them. And, the event everybody has been waiting for: the Jack Goldstein retrospective at OCMA opens on June 24th. Don't miss it!

Lastly, I've been asked recently if there was a Facebook page for FBC! The answer is, no, and I don't foresee one in the immediate future. This blog was started as a personal outlet almost 5 years ago after a devastating car accident, merely as a way for me to fend off the boredom during the many months that recovery took. It's not a way for me to "make it into the art world", as too many blogs - mainly based on the East Coast -  were created for,  just a way for me  to get some personal writing out once in a while. If it touches some people, I am glad, but I don't want this to become a gigantic piece of work, especially work that doesn't bring in any income. It's just a space for me to have the freedom to write whatever I want, and as stated in the header, it's unresearched and un-edited. Warts and all!

If you would like to keep in touch with updates, I believe there's an RSS Feed button somewhere (I don't use RSS myself, so I have no idea if it works or not), and I use the Networkedblogs app. to import it on Facebook. If you don't want to use these, I'd say just check in once or twice a month to see if there's an update. It's very rare that I update more than twice a month anyway.

Happy National Mike Kelley Day everybody, and happy pagan Persian Norouz to all as well!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Rock Negotiates A Turn On Western & Wilshire

Someone posted this very spectacular video on YouTube. The music is freakingly annoying, so I recommend you turn off the sound. The turn is very spectacular. I guess the video must have been taken from the Solair building (?).

I went to meet friends at LACMA yesterday, the talented photographer Tad Beck who currently has a show at LACE, and his husband. Also got the opportunity to meet the artist Jesse Aron Green, for a pleasant mid-afternoon break. Of course we went to see that giant stupid rock, and the trench. That's when I realized that Levitated Mass was going to look like a phallic (yet squat) thing resting atop a very long and narrow... slit?
 See below a couple of pics I took at LACMA yesterday.

 the trench,  with the rock in its carrier in the background

So, from my point of view (contrary to the nice commenter who was discussing the cost issues with me a couple of posts below), it's not a particularly compelling artwork, but what makes it interesting is really the truly epic journey it took from Riverside to Los Angeles - a journey that isn't part of the artwork for Heizer, according to a recent Michael Govan interview in the LAT.
What I find touching about it is how so many people went to see the rock at its various resting stops throughout its slow trip through the Southland, stayed up all night along the route to try and glimpse it, and how 20, 000 people went to see it and spontaneously block-partied for it in Bixby Knolls/Long Beach.
As the rock was being carried through many very poor areas of Los Angeles, the population that came to witness its trek was in many cases one that isn't, usually, in contact with art at all, whether it's contemporary or else. I don't know if the same population has the means to actually come visit LACMA when Levitated Mass is finally completed and unveiled: many of these people don't own cars and might not be able to take very long bus rides to come from South LA to LACMA*

Which made me think that maybe LACMA could try and find some funds quickly for an outreach effort, maybe offering free entrance to its galleries the day Levitated Mass is finally completed? Perhaps some generous donor could also pitch in and fund buses rides from South Los Angeles and back to let the same people who stood in awe following the rock's itinerary experience the full art experience at  what is, in essence, a public institution, the County museum**.  I think it would be a really great way for the museum to express some thanks to all those people it never gets to truly serve and who instinctively expressed support for a form of art that is normally outside of their daily thoughts. Mr. Govan, I think it's time you should call the Resnicks,  the  Wallis Annenberg Foundation, or any donors you think would gladly underwrite such an event.

The rock in its cradle, with the Resnick Pavilion in the foreground, I took this picture on top of the staircase at BCAM

* I used to drive surface streets from Long Beach to Mid-City in Los Angeles, essentially taking the same route as the rock did, save for the last mile and a half. Depending on traffic it took between 1 hour 15 and 2 hours. The same one-way journey by bus would easily take almost 3 hours, even with Metro's rapid buses.
** Many people tend to think that because LACMA is "the County museum", it is entirely funded by the taxpayers. It isn't. Only about a quarter of the museum's budget comes from public funds, everything else has to come through private and corporate donors. It is located on County land, yes, land that is unusable for other types of construction because of the tar pits. Imagine the outcry if the County had tried to build a hospital or an elementary school on soil that emanates tar fumes all the time.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Happy 70th Birthday, John Cale!

Today, Mr. Cale turns 70 and celebrates decades and decades of music making. We at the FBC! headquarters wish him a fantastic fun day and a great time on his upcoming mini-European tour. A new record should be out I believe in May (?) courtesy Domino/Double Six records. If it's as good as his latest EP, we'll be in heaven!

Here's a short selection below of clips from John Cale. If he ever tours near you, don't miss him, he's always good on stage, and he works with the nicest and greatest drummer on the planet, Mr. Michael Jerome Moore (hi Michael!).

Here's an early Velvet Underground experimental track influenced by Cale's time with La Monte Young and  Tony Conrad, Loop:

Antarctica Starts Here, from Cale's most famous record, Paris 1919

Much later on, the song that made me discover John Cale's music when I was about 14 years old, Mercenaries:

John Cale is also a noted composer of film soundtracks (his most famous being for American Psycho), here's Wilderness Approaching, for the movie Paris s'éveille, also on his EP 5 tracks (2003)

Aside from the Velvet Underground and his later collaboration with Lou Reed when they did Songs For Drella, Cale is also a master of covers. Everybody knows his arrangement of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, which propelled into super mega stardom an hitherto unknown song, thanks to Jeff Buckley's histrionic cover of his arrangement. Cale has  also covered Elvis Presley, LCD Soundsystem, Rufus Thomas, Jonathan Richman, etc. Here's his version of a beautiful Nico song, Frozen Warnings.

You probably know that John Cale was born in Wales in a small mining village, Garnant. If you've ever read his great autobiography, What's Welsh For Zen?, you also know that Welsh is his first language, and that he learned English aged seven when he went to elementary school. Here's Cale interpreting a traditional Welsh song, Myfanwy.

John Cale has released many records, produced all the greats (Iggy And the Stooges, The Modern Lovers, Patti Smith, Happy Mondays, Squeeze...), worked with Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera, Chris Spedding and even Phil Collins on drums (yep!) ... and despite such a storied and trailblazing  career never really got the recognition he deserves. 
That hasn't prevented him from continuing and making music. Here's below a clip from his last EP, "Extra Playful", the song Whaddya Mean By That. Super catchy music, the lyrics are probably not his best...  but once you've listen to the song once it morphs into the earworm you'll crave for days. If you can lay your hand on the Black Friday edition of this EP, I particularly recommend you listen to The Hanging.

I hope this will have given you the curiosity to explore his fantastic musical career. We spent a summer doing just that at the FBC! Headquarters two years ago and it was an amazing experience. Lastly, if you would like to wish John Cale a happy birthday, please join his official Facebook page and leave him a note.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Like A Rolling Stone - Levitated Mass Is On Its Way To LACMA

"Megalith slated to become part of Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass, en route to Ontario, CA, during the second night of transport to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 1, 2012, © Michael Heizer, photo by Tom Vinetz",  photo and legend snatched from LACMA's Unframed blog.

As far as FBC! is concerned, usually "rock" is primarily a type of music that is prevalent in our household, and, secondly, er, natural formations I never really think about, since I stopped collecting ocean-washed pebbles sometimes before I reached my first decade.
But if you live in Los Angeles, and maybe elsewhere, you may be aware that in just a few days, a Michael Heizer piece, Levitated Mass, will be finally achieved/completed at LACMA, after one part of it, a gigantic boulder, will have ended its journey from a quarry  a hundred miles away to be finally positioned atop a concrete trench on the museum's premises.

I've heard a bunch of complaints about the cost of the project, how it could be better spent elsewhere, etc. So, to lay matter to rest, I just want to remind everybody that the museum spent about $70,000 on the boulder/the rock itself, and that most of the massive rumored costs of $10 millions for the piece are in fact devoted to transporting the rock from its quarry in Riverside County to Los Angeles. Moreover, these are picked up by the company undertaking the move, Hanjin Shipping, a Korean shipping company; it's not even a private foundation that could, I don't know, fund  a children hospital or whatever. Maybe they donate the money and their expertise to experiment with what can be done, but it's not as if they were diverting it from a cancer research fund, and I'm not sure they can actually get a tax write-off for that (since they're foreign).

 I don't really know how much the museum spent on building the trench, but as far as having a spectacular artwork in its collection, it cost far less for LACMA than, say, if it were to acquire a gigantic Murakami piece. For the very many non-art people occasionally reading us, there are tons of useless projects that cost tons of money that should be devoted to useful things and nobody ever raise a ruckus about them. From the top of my head, I'd say the Academy Awards Ceremony, any Thanksgiving parade, or whatever is invested into Republican super-PACs is as useless as a gigantic rock atop a cement trench, so please give us art people a break and go complain next time there's a Super Bowl half-time mediocre singer playing that the money would be better spent caring for abandoned horses in Montana or something.

Now, what do I personally think about this particular project? Honestly, I don't give a damn, but I'll likely come and take a pic of the trailer/truck/red toy when it arrives on Miracle Mile. I have nothing for/against Michael Heizer, even though I think that type of spectacular "land art" (in an urban setting) is getting a bit tired. But if it gives LACMA some publicity, good for them.

Now, what do I think about the money spent? Well, I'd rather some sponsor would step in at LACMA and gives them 10 millions to actually augment their collection with art made either by Los Angeles artists, or artists originating from here.
 LACMA has "Los Angeles" in its name, unlike MOCA and the Hammer, and I think its duty would be to put artists from the region in their collection, which is pitiful in this regard. The gaps there are from the generation that came in prominence on the international art scene from the late 1970s to now are problematic, not only because many artists are missing, but also because when there are represented, it is very often with minor works. So, if some corporate company - you know, the ones that have feelings because they are people, too- would step and donate money for the museum to buy exclusively art made by artists either working there or who had formative roots in the region, it would be a fantastic act of real philanthropy.

Meanwhile, I do have a beef with LACMA spending $10 millions (of private money, again) on trying to see if Jeff Koons' detumescent choo-choo is feasible. I am very sorry, Michael Govan, but if there is a phallic, detumescent, gigantic mechanical sculpture to be made on LACMA's campus, then why don't you ask Paul McCarthy to do it for Chrissakes?
Gee, that would be the natural thing to do in Los Angeles, Mr. I-believe-I'm-in-synch-with-the-Los Angeles-art-scene-because-I'm pal-with-Jorge-Pardo. There are so many great LA artists who could benefit from special commissions (say, Liz Larner, Marnie Weber, Ken Gonzalez-Day, Mark Bradford...) or simply whose work should be acquired ahead of, say, Ai Weiwei or Christian Marclay. I have nothing against the latter artists, but I've heard over and over again out of town visitors wondering why there was so little art from Los Angeles presented in our local museums. I sure hope the recent spate of exhibitions linked to the Pacific Standard Time project will make a significant change, that is museums are going to try and augment their collections rather than only stage temporary exhibitions.

One last thing about Govan's series of outdoor projects at LACMA: I hate to break it to you, but there is actually one piece by Barry LeVa in your collection that isn't merely a work on paper. It's a sketch/blueprint for a gigantic broken glass piece that the museum could realize if it wanted to*. Because you know what? It belongs to the museum.  Have your assistant research "young talents award" if you're unsure. No need to get funds to buy it, just find some corporate glass maker to donate broken glass (on the top of my head, I'd say a US subsidiary of French glass maker Saint-Gobain, but maybe Corning or Anchor King or Pyrex or whatever would be happy to donate), use your museum manpower to lay it, and voilà, a giant, wonderful piece by Barry LeVa to be enjoyed by all.
Nobody will accuse you to pander to the art market, local collectors' big egos, or spend way too much money on out-of-town artists (because, as I'm sure you know, Barry LeVa might be living in NYC but he's actually from Long Beach).
No, don't thank me, my pleasure. I love telling local museums when they have great pieces in their collections.

*It's my understanding it should be an outdoor piece, but I may be wrong on that count.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Coming Up At Art Spaces Near You

That is, if you live in Los Angeles.  I'm not going to list openings like I used to (too much work, and I can't keep up), only mention a few. And, a show that opened last week and that I hear is absolutely fantastic (haven't been yet myself) is the Mono-Ha exhibition at Blum and Poe. I only heard very good things about it, can't wait to go see it.
This Saturday there are a few openings/events in Chinatown, with Andrew Lewicki at Charlie James Gallery, My Barbarian performing at Human Resources (they're doing a residency there), and a group show that seems promising at Pepin Moore.

Next week, the main things will be Candor (opening on Wednesday),  the group show organized at Long Beach City College Art Gallery in Mike Kelley's memory, with artists who were his students, and an upcoming lecture by yours truly to follow in early April, and  Capsize, with Tad Beck and Jennifer Locke at  LACE (opening on Thursday), while at Glendale College Gallery there will be the opening for David Schafer.

If you're in NYC, don't miss the solo show by our very own Ivan Morley at Kimmerich (it opened yesterday), and opening next week at Theodore Art, the wondrous Alasdair Duncan!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I Went To Scholarmageddon And All I Got Was This Lousy Back Ache

 The LA Convention Center, Picture Copyright Your Truly

A few years ago I went to the College Art Association Conference in downtown LA and I didn't relish the experience. After being issued a press pass for the latest edition (roughly from Wednesday morning to Saturday evening last week) I went there hoping my opinion would significantly alter, alas, this was not to be.
First, let me get this out of the way: I am not enamored with Academia in any form, and even less in its American incarnation.  So everything I'm writing below is anything but impartial, obviously.
Aside from this, spending several hours locked into a stuffy, dark room watching dull presentation after the other on super uncomfortable seats isn't my idea of fun. But, I do like the spreading and sharing of knowledge, so I was wishing I might learn something or other. What I got from the conference can only be summed up this way: the next generation of art historians is as boring, dull and predictable as the last. And they seem to spend even less time looking at art than wondering if it fits their predetermined categories. There are still too many people trying to RE/something or other (-framing, -locating, -hashing...) rather than, I don't know, JUST DO IT anew or afresh or for the very first time, I don't care, but for the love of the Holy Mother of Belphégor, please, please young scholars and artists, stop RE/ anything. Thank you.

The Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter

Now, to be fair, it was difficult to pick and choose which sessions to attend, as many were scheduled at exactly the same time  - so, for example,  I spent the entire "bad art" sessions cursing myself I hadn't attended the "Nazi paintings" instead, etc, etc.
From what I heard and have missed, the Rosalind Krauss session was great, and so were the artist-lead ones, especially the Martin Kersels one which I understand was LOUD to the point other sessions panelist came to protest. Way to go, Martin Kersels, I'm sure the Holy Mother of Belphégor will bless your heart!
What else was great at CAA? The book fair was fantastic, and yours truly scored with 4 books including 3 deeply discounted ones at the DAP booth. I highly recommend the Martin Kippenberger biography/portrait by his sister, I've only read about 50 pages so far and it's beautifully written and translated, and super interesting. Also, the guy who sold me the "artists publications" at the MIT Press booth was way cute (hi!) and the kids at Cabinet, my other favorite publication (if you ask, the 2 other ones are Triple Canopy and The Quietus) managed to be even more cranky than I was, a feat on any given day.
I also have to report a big progress from 2 years ago: there are far fewer men with the  "totally shaved head + goatee" look, so hopefully in about half a decade this remnant of last century's men fashion will have disappeared, yay!

Not much rock' n ' roll

I went to a grand total of two sessions. I was planning on four but my goodwill was easily defeated by the general mediocrity of what I've seen. Also, while I'm at it,  whining that is, I want to denounce the extortionist $3 the Groundworks coffee cart sold its very mediocre espresso for. It's not every day I think I'd better have gone to Starbucks, and it was such a day. If you're ever stuck at the LA Convention Center downtown, I highly recommend you take your coffee and pastries business at Hygge bakery instead, get yourself a nice coffee while having a chat with the super friendly Lucas, and stock on their fabulous rye bread.

So, the sessions. As I was saying I went to the "bad art" one, which dismayed me for several reasons. The super adorable girls (they looked like they were 14 to me) who chaired the panels quoted Susan Sontag and her essay on camp, but didn't actually challenge it at all. It would have seemed a basic thing to do to me, but apparently the young generation likes to receive its texts uncritically.
Then the panelists proceeded to read their notes and be incredibly obsessed not with defining what "bad art" was (for whom? who gets to decide what's bad and what's not?) but to wonder how to make some of it "fit the canon" and why some of it didn't.
None of them actually presented and researched their examples of so-called bad art on their own terms (the first panelist did a half-baked attempt at describing his Neil Jenney paintings and that was it), but tried instead to see how they could make them fit their predetermined categories. There was some tired rehash of "the avant-gardes versus postmodernism" and overall lots of beating about the bush and not much treating of the subject (and much "trying to fit my doctoral research into the general subject" feel).
 I was wondering for a while whether someone was going to raise the fact that many defining artists in the established corpus of art history at some point of other produced work that was deemed bad art at the time or even a long time after it was made (from Caravaggio to Duchamp via Courbet, Manet, Picasso to our very own Mike Kelley) and that maybe, maybe there was something interesting in this process...  And nothing came up.
Likewise, one panelist who talked about illustrators-as-artists with, among others, Norman Rockwell and Thomas Kinkade  (no mention of Currier and Ives) was speculating that so-called lesser art was finally deemed worthy of museum interest (his benchmark for acceptation of "bad art" within the corpus) if and only if there was an "original" model/art piece showing good workmanship that could be shown instead of reproductions; and that in the case where only mass-produced objects existed, the originator of the work wouldn't be recognized as an artist, ever. I waited in vain for Walter Benjamin's name to be uttered.
This session was packed, incidentally,  which made me think that the people attending graduate school in art history these days are fed up with the modernist and post-modernist narratives they're being spoon-fed by their faculties, and would like to do something else. They're trying hard, but they only manage to replicate what they've been taught. I can't blame them for this, because they're being part of a system that offers very little in terms of being able to challenge it, and because it's difficult at this stage in one's career to know what one is doing. I certainly didn't when I was a graduate student myself. I just was a truant and left Academia forever.

The morning after I was so shot and discouraged I didn't manage to hurry to catch my bus and attend the "punk rock" session, to my deepest regret. I always regret not attending sessions because, you know, the grass is always greener...
So I went to the "rock' n' roll" session  in the afternoon(I think it was called "toward a rock' n' roll history of contemporary art), with the two Chairs doing passable interpretations of a Devo listener and a mumblecore fan, respectively. Just the fact that "rock' n' roll" (as well as "punk") made it into two CAA panels indicate two things to me: a) both musical genres are now totally dead and b) maybe they cannot produce good art history but the young 'uns are sick of the stalemate in their own discipline. Occupy your faculty!

James Chance and The Contortions, I Can't Stand Myself

Where was I? Ah yes, the session. First speaker did a formal comparison between Robert Smithson' Spiral Jetty and the Rolling Stones Altamont disaster, based on superficial resemblances between SJ and the Gimme Shelter movie, on the fact that Howard Junker had written an article about the 2 in a 1971 Rolling Stones magazine issue, and that Robert Fiore, who was Smithson's cinematographer on SJ, also worked on Gimme Shelter. Also that Smithson was a fan of rock music and read lots of rock music magazines (and I hate to break it to that guy, but so did most artists of the time and then some more. Dan Graham was a rock critic, for example). It's one of those paper where you see the starting point but you don't feel like it's going anywhere.
The next speaker is the person who's single-handedly responsible for my flight from CAA. The paper was on the NYC no-wave movement,  a musical instant in the 1970s I'm very fond of. Lydia Lunch, James Chance and the Contortions, etc. At least she was about to talk music, I thought, so maybe I was going to learn something. Alas, this person was so incredibly arrogant, condescending and reeking of self-assured pomposity I couldn't take it anymore: "And I posit and I am going to affirm and I will prove". One bad Springsteen joke was lost on the audience, which was all for the better because the speaker was of the kind you imagine peppering all their Facebook and Twitter conversations with *sarcasm* and *irony* after each post. There was so much intellectual superiority I could take, so I left, and I was suffering from such an allergic reaction I didn't come sneak into the Rosalind Krauss session, which was my initial plan. Instead, I bought a shitload of books and went back home. And nearly had a panic attack, so now you know.

Outside of CAA, one thing that redeemed my scholarly experience last week was going to the Thierry de Duve seminar at the Mackey/Schindler house on Saturday afternoon. I had a raging headache, but de Duve is so clear and concise I managed to follow everything he had to say. I'd gladly come to the rest of the seminar if I could, but I have too many deadlines coming up and I'm broke (I just discovered that street cleaning parking tickets went up to $68, wow!).
 If you have the time, each session is $20, and only $10 if you're a friend of the MAK center, plus if you buy the entire series before 03/12 it is deeply discounted. You're going to learn a lot about Duchamp, and de Duve is a super nice man who's not intimidating at all, so all questions are always welcome (and answered). Just make sure they're not too long-winded.

And lastly, what about this back ache I mentioned in the post title? Well, after 3 car accidents between 2007 and 2009, I have semi-chronic back pain that become worse after a prolonged seating position. So now you know. Can hardly move this week, so my art activities are severely curtailed until I can resume driving. More posting later, hopefully.