O, there has been much throwing about of brains

January 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Like when I’m among men and I see a woman take her clothes off in the name of art, im reminded that im primarily a sexual object. and maybe that makes me feel sexy sometimes. but when im with women only, seeing a naked woman just reminds me of the physical realities of my body. that im not pretty, that im aging, that i have a yeast infection i got from a uti that I got from sex.

Maybe I’m thinking so heteronormatively in part because I don’t think any woman could be attracted to my body. because I am a woman and I am my harshest critic. so I assume other women think the same about not only themselves but also me.

If men were at this performance, it would have gone over much better, I’m sure. They’re easy to please. They would have made excuses for me why my nudity was necessary in the context of the piece. They would have stood up for me and agreed it was my right to get naked if I wanted to. I would be happy to have them as allies, still fully understanding their true intentions behind their support, that they’re just happy to get a glimpse any way they can.

There would be of course men who would turn their noses down at me for my nudity but it would be because they’re scared their horniness will outweigh their intellectualism and they don’t want to seem like a caveman or something.

Maybe you feel my presentation of this piece isn’t artful or subtle enough. Maybe you think I should think less about myself and the way I am perceived.

You’ll go home and tell your roommates I sucked and im a terrible artist who makes self indulgent work with no craft or skill. or maybe at least a part of this will resonate with you and you’ll come up to me after and we can talk about how I stayed just above the line of being disgustingly self aware in a way that made you become more self aware about your own prejudices.

Ok I’m going to get dressed now because I want to end this performance. I don’t want to be naked when it ends.  read more

SIGN & PHOTOGRAPH: Tim Etchells

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two mourning dwarfs surplus to the story show up in an unmotivated light

December 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Barbara Rubin’s 29-minute Christmas on Earth is the filmic record of an orgy staged in a New York City apartment in 1963. This double projection of overlapping images of nude men and women clowning around and making love is one of the first sexually explicit works in the American postwar avant-garde. Today Christmas on Earth generates a small but passionate discourse in avant-garde film circles. Many consider it to be an essential document of queer and feminist cinema, though others dismiss it as the worthless effort of a naive amateur.  watch

MAP: ORBIS

don’t tell us, just hand the plot over

December 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

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The story goes something like this: right around Christmas time in 1822, Clement Moore went out in a carriage to buy presents for his family. His wife, Catherine, and his six children (all between the ages of 8 months and 7 years old) waited for him to return so that they could carve the turkey and celebrate the holiday together. Before he left on his shopping expedition, his 6- year-old daughter, Charity, asked him to write “something special” for Christmas and so, with the snow starting to fall and the carriage loaded up with presents, Moore wrote “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” a long poem that he would read to his family later that evening and that, according to legend, they absolutely loved.

It was not until the following Christmastime that the poem was printed, so for a whole year those lines were the private property of the Moore family. Then one day Charity showed the poem to Harriet Butler, who was a friend of Moore’s and the daughter of the Reverend David Butler of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Troy, New York. Harriet Butler made a copy and sent it to Orville L. Holley, the editor of the Troy Sentinel, with no author’s name attached. And that is how it came to be printed on December 23, 1823, in the Troy Sentinel. Moore’s name would not be associated with the poem until 1837, when his friend, the editor Charles Fenno Hoffman, printed it in the New York Book of Poetry. Moore eventually printed it himself in his first and only book of poems, which wasn’t published until 1844, over two decades after its original printing.

In many ways this is a typical story of 19th-century verse composition and circulation. Poems were often published anonymously, and often this anonymity gave rise to much-desired readerly speculation and rumor. (There are some, I should say, who will still make the case that Moore was not the author of this poem, but that’s another story entirely and not the one I am going to tell here.) But why did this particular version of Santa Claus’s Christmas Eve visitation get more attention than others, since others were circulating at the time? And why was Moore so slow to deny authorship of it? What lies behind the myth of Moore’s now almost two-century-old composition of this poem for his daughter?

It’s hard to read the poem as anything other than a utopian, feel-good fantasy of holiday giving and magical surprise, written, as the story above tells us, by a father for the entertainment of his family. If you like, go ahead and read them that way one last time…  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: [unattributed]

I cannot hear what you say for the thunder that you are

November 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Dear Mr. Maxwell,

I am dreadfully upset by the following coincidence. The Olympia Press (headquartered in Paris) are bringing out LOLITA, a novel of mine, on which I have worked for four years and which is scheduled to appear by September the 1st. Before I sold them the book, it had been seen by Viking, New Directions, Straus and Doubleday, and not only by their readers but also by the friends of their readers. There is a story entitled LOLITA in the last issue of The New Yorker by Dorothy Parker.

Please do find out if the term “coincidence” I have used above needs some qualifications; and in any case would you consider my contributing a note in regard to both Lolitas to your Department of Corrections and Amplification? Or any other appeal, complaint, yelp or distress?  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Delaney Allen

They still talk about contextual. Ha!

November 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

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As technology advances, the art world has turned to microscopic analysis and pigment testing to buttress — or challenge — the judgments of a tiny club of experts whose opinions have long been treated as law. This pursuit of scientific validation has only deepened as art historians and institutions like the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, which shut down its authentication board in 1996, retreat from certifying art for fear of being sued.

But science has its limits. Paint or paper may help establish the date of a work, while hair and fibers can help pinpoint where it was made. A work’s provenance must also be verified. Still, connoisseurs — as well as most auction houses who rely on them — maintain that true authorship cannot be established without an expert evaluation of the composition and individual strokes that reveal an artist’s “signature.”

In this case, the difference of opinion could be worth millions. Unauthenticated, “Red, Black and Silver” would be listed as “attributed to Pollock” and carry an estimate of no more than $50,000, said Patricia G. Hambrecht, chief business development officer at Phillips auction house, where the painting is consigned. If judged a Pollock, the painting’s estimated value would soar to seven figures, she said.

Ms. Kligman’s account of the painting dates to the summer of 1956 when she was 26 and living in Pollock’s house in East Hampton, N.Y., after Krasner, having caught the lovers together, sailed for Europe. Pollock was in an alcoholic tailspin and hadn’t painted in two years. As Ms. Kligman detailed in a new introduction to the 1999 edition of her memoir, “Love Affair: A Memoir of Jackson Pollock,” the artist was on the lawn when she brought him his paint and the sticks he used. After he finished, he said, “Here’s your painting, your very own Pollock.”

A friend of Ms. Kligman’s, Bette Waldo Benedict, has said Ms. Kligman told her the same story at the time.

Art forensics have primarily concentrated on what a painting is made of. But Mr. Petraco, who has decades of experience with the New York Police Department crime lab and is now a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, looked at what the painting contained: the dust, hairs, fibers or other detritus that might have fallen on the surface and under the paint.

Because Mr. Petraco, who holds a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry, has more experience analyzing red blood than red paint, he decided to perfect his technique for removing materials without damaging the painting by making some Pollock-like drip paintings in his backyard in Massapequa Park, on Long Island. (It’s tougher than it looks, he confessed.)

Despite what one sees on television crime shows, hairs and threads cannot be traced to a specific individual or sweater, Mr. Petraco said. What builds a forensic case is not any single piece of evidence but a combination of consistent factors. In this case, Mr. Petraco said the clincher was discovering a polar bear hair, a rare find in a country that has banned the import of polar bear products for more than 40 years.

“Is there a polar bear in this story?” Mr. Petraco wondered.  read more

CHART: Gregor Smith

And if I ever was myself I wasn’t that night

November 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

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The United States is experiencing an outbreak of amphetamine abuse. The latest national surveys show that about 3 million Americans used amphetamine-type stimulants nonmedically in the past year, 600000 in the past week, and that 250000 to 350000 are addicted. Although survey data indicate that the number of nonmedical users of amphetamine-type stimulants may have stabilized, the number of heavy users with addiction problems doubled between 2002 and 2004. Thus, the public health problem presented by amphetamines may still be increasing in severity; in many ways it surpasses that of heroin. Although all of this is widely appreciated, the history of an even larger amphetamine epidemic 4 decades ago is less well-known.  read more

ART: Pollock of Light

Embarrassing? He’s on his knees, begging God. What’s he supposed to be? Cool?

November 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Early 21st century: from “SELF” + “IE,” says the Oxford Dictionary Online, and since my generation still remembers Internet Explorer (I.E., see), I want to smile. Then I want to paint, whiten, and Willow-filter my smile on Instagram, except I can’t without making a statement: The selfie is self-exploration. It’s self-ex_ploit_ation. It is harmless, fun. It’s narcissism gone wild. No, it’s female narcissism, which didn’t you know is redundant, unless it’s “feminist narcissism” by which we mean self-love so please go fuck yourself. Or it is neither feminist nor female but rather the male gaze internalized and viral, in which case it is nothing but harm, and also is making us stupid. But what if it’s self-portraiture? Then who’s stupid? You, who cannot draw a simple line from the nose of Picasso to Miley’s tongue.

My problem with this last, ultimate defense of the selfie is the assumption it needs defending at all. We have been depicting cool animals since the #LOLMAMMOTHS of the Chauvet Caves, yet pseudo-historians are not lining up around Greenpoint to place the cats of Instagram in a lustrous tradition of art. Likewise, I have not read twenty-eight minor essays defending Thanksgiving dinner pics as new Dutch-masterly still lifes. The face alone has launched a thousand think pieces. So now the question is not one of basic selfie-justification, but rather, why must a photo of my face be justified when a photo of my bookshelf is not?  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Elizabeth Moran

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