Monday, September 20, 2021

Martine Syms at Bridget Donahue, New York


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Thomas Hirschhorn also started as a graphic designer, also invested in tape construction, but Hirschhorn sold his fandom of philosophy as philosophy (a Gramsci t-shirt in the form of artwork) which was bogus if endearing. Syms' constructions are less the constructions of phallic monument broadcasting the big self than a collecting flotsam of identity, the graphic ring of scum clinging each our cup's rim. The debris of culture, a collective identity. This is our stuf. The undigested matter clogging our pipes and our consciousness. This is afterall the post-Harrison/Genzken aftermath. It's all a bit Unmonumental, which like Maggie Lee, an interest in the becoming stage, self-consciousness and construction. We become the diggers, forced investigators, of our own world. 


See too: Martine Syms at Human ResourcesMaggie Lee, Thomas Hirschhorn 

 Past: Martine Syms 

"Proposals for a radical graphic design often denotes expensive fonts and overlaid text, merely beefing up the intensity of its devices whereas a real radical design would be one which self-exposes the mechanisms of its influence. There is a lot of very unradical graphic design in museum exhibitions whose stark posters and mild conceptual parameters stand in for radicality by being visually and thematically aggressive. This isn't now to put forth Syms as radical graphic design but that a graphic design actually filleting itself probably wouldn't look like graphic design at all and within Syms' claims to be a designer in the visual production of identity is at least closer."

Past: Martine Syms at Human Resources

Sunday, September 19, 2021

 Past: Nina Canell

"not entirely convinced art's absorption of the technologic look isn't simply a means to bring something it doesn't understand into a realm it does in order to feel some small control over it. Let's face it, the world has moved beyond pretty much everyone, we only get our small corner of it, and it would make psychologic sense to develop pathologies in order to feel control of something you have little over."

Full: Nina Canell at Wien Lukatsch

Past: N. Dash

"swatches of touch, the anthropological preserves of our dissolving physical world. These are like catalogs for its remains, our once sensual pleasure distributed over digital networks."  "The Kunstkammer conveyed symbolically the patron's control of the world through its indoor, microscopic reproduction" "but no one is that hubristic today, these are about the loss of that, mourning it, our desire to once again touch things again, like all those salvaged wood paneled Brooklyn bars, churches for mourning"

 at base they are still the butterflies, material, pinned behind glass, catalogs of physical sensations you see but cannot touch. Materiality porn. "...art is the world's development project in all the ways to [build] a materiality so strong it visually empaths itself, feel something through glass.""Our touch, now more than ever, comes from sight, comes from packages of it in the high definition of images and advertising, we feel through sight"

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Stanislava Kovalcikova at 15 Orient


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The "creepy changing painting" - behind your back the camera reveals portraits melting to skulls - another horror trope situating art as haunting metaphor. The trope literalizes the living-dead presence of subject, held suspended in oil, an undead thing. Portraits were always slightly creepy, and this was the hamfisted cinematic realization of that. Portraits "go creepy." Painting was always spooky magic. Conjuring souls before mechanical reproduction. And painters at pains to make some sort of twist on the corpse, acknowledge dead things. Richter drained the blood. Tuymans warmed the corpse. Some just blast holes in it. But all portraits acknowledge their corpse maybe, some more so than others. I think there was a Ghostbusters about this.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Megan Plunkett at Emalin

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Dear grad students: a history of the concept of "paintings' eyes that follow you" - the "Mona Lisa effect" - literalized in the trope of "portrait painting peephole" - villain's eyes peering out at meddling kids. Essays on Sherrie Levine explain the feeling of being observed. Michael Fried's viewer/actor stage. The anxiety of observing, the anxiety of art, the anxiety of being unable to produce "meaning." Feeling others eyes at "not getting it," a social panopticon appears, "surely this is a joke." The Emperor's new clothes, one feeling exposed. 

Thus the artwork mutates to clue boards, becomes mystery awaiting its detective.

"There is a parallel between conceptual art and murder scenes. ... turning a messy world into object, language, into document. Turn a world's blood and guts into evidence ... Both the detective and the conceptual artist turn the world into a story, relying on aesthetic or truth, it's attempting one that you can get an audience to swallow, convince."

"[Art] is a cultural structure such that [its] prize is "what it is about." ...  there is something to be unlocked, understood. There is something to be won. This is the belief. Even the hardest attempts to slap the viewer with just fucking looking at the thing are always already subverted into questions of what this visceral slap means. Painting begins to be prized not for painting but for this mystery. And a mystery, should it not spoil itself, cannot tell you its answer. A mystery instead must load its objects with intent, clues, an ambrosia of noir, an affect of meaning."

"But you are not a detective, this is not a Clue board."

See too: Michael E. Smith at 500 Capp Street Foundation, “Stories of Almost Everyone” at Hammer Museum,


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Seyoung Yoon at Galerie der Stadt Schwaz


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Painting has become a cultural interface anyway, so these make sense, compounding the issue as windows and signs, painting as adverts for painting itself, infographic without info, board without bulletin. But slick affect of tech niceties. What poetry and advert copy have in common, unburdened with having to say anything reputable. "an idea (that sells), that has no corporate use under the corporate surface." Painting after eating one's own tail, disappearing into chimera of surface, the new windows 11 display of painting.