ASRL / PERPETUAL 2014
 
Bill Berkson Dreams
By Maria Goldverg
posted: 06-02-11
Bill Berkson, Poet and Dreamer
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Stereotypes, whether true or false, would like to have us believe that poets, perhaps above all others, record their dreams for beauty, self-indulgence, or posterity.  However, the poets interested in the dream and the logic of the subconscious today, are perhaps not the same poets that inherited the logic of the avant-garde.  The surrealists were, certainly, heavily invested in the dream state, but the topic has not stood out as a particular interest since then.  Yet, poets and artists like to think about them, and even lie about (complicate) what they claim to remember from them. 
Jacket2 recently advertised the segmented recording of Bill Berkson’s poems, from Serenade, on PennSound.  Berkson read a poem about his favorite dream.   And it so happens that this favorite dream features none other than our inescapable Marcel Duchamp.  The poem, called Duchamp Dream, reads:

“Marcel Duchamp and I are collaborating on a giant wall painting. Duchamp’s part in this work consists of a talking portrait of himself – a profile which appears at the center of a brightly colored rectangle on the white wall. Using a long stick to push the colors around, I demonstrate the niceties of the composition to a large audience standing in a semicircle. ‘You see,’ I say, ‘we (Duchamp and I) are much the same – but mostly at the edges!’ Now the righthand edge of the rectangle explodes in a flashing white light which then ‘bleeds’ into a field of dazzling pellucid orange. The room during this phase of the work has been almost totally in the dark – the only light source being the painting itself – its colors illumined from the inside. Now the room lights up and I am painting the four walls, running back and forth like crazy with my stick. In one corner I draw a huge black gorilla figure and pivoting to face the next long wall, I trace a black line punctuated with a thick gob of paint which sticks out like a fist. I pause, sensing this work is ‘a great success.’”

For more dreams from poets, check out the Annandale Dream Gazette.

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On Pharmaceutical Conceptualism
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 05-30-11
take the red pill

To my nearly-non-existent collection of avant-garde and contemporary art has been added a small conceptualist gem: a single translucent red pill inside a plastic bag labeled: Speak, write and read perfect German "inmiatly" (sic). It's by the excellent painter and documentary photo- and video-grapher Adriana Bustos, from Cordoba, Argentina, who happened to be classmate of mine in language study. I can only assume that her lengthy studies in psychopharmacology and neurolinguistics, in addition to Fluxus-style whimsy, have finally yielded fruit.

As someone who loves speaking (other) languages but hates studying them, the Matrix-style corruption of the scenario has had irresistible appeal...although I haven't taken the pill yet. To tell you the truth, I'm a bit afraid of the side effects. The whole thing is very Alice in Wonderland...

 

 

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Weston's Aesthetic Vision Poses Alternate Modernist Path
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 05-29-11
toilet and form
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"The only works of art America has given are her plumbing and her bridges," (probably) wrote Beatrice Wood, an American modern artist and lover of Duchamp, defending the signed urinal he had submitted to the Salon des Independants in 1917.

The legacy of the urinal is often understood to be Conceptualism on the one hand -- a paradigm where ideas and gestures resonate over and above the technical skill of the artist -- and on the other, Avant-Garde (anti)-Institutional provocation, establishing a definition of the artist that included the continual reflexive questioning of the boundaries of art from within.

But what about, additionally, the extreme formal aestheticism implied by the selection of a mass produced object as an artwork? What if Wood's comment is taken to contain a good dose of earnest praise for American manufacture, in addition to the clear irony? There have been moves to this effect, such as the biographer Calvin Tomkins's claim that "it does not take much stretching of the imagination to see in the upside-down urinal's gently flowing curves the veiled head of a classic Renaissance madonna or a seated Buddha,"...in regards to Alfred Stieglitz's famous photograph of the original.

Yet none have taken the formalist aesthetics of plumbing as far as the American photographer Edward Weston, an admirer of Stieglitz and a member of the American Modernist circle; for him the toilet was a lifelong favorite subject. "I have been photographing our toilet, that glossy enameled receptacle of extraordinary beauty," he wrote in his journal, which has been displayed in a recent exhibit of his work at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington. "It might be suspicioned that I am in a cynical mood to approach such subject matter, my excitement was absolute aesthetic response to form."

If Weston's spirit had triumphed over the conceptualist heirs of Duchamp, the avant-garde artist might have come to be seen as less of a thinker, a wit, or a provocateur, but rather a seer, whose role it is to observe -- or rather perhaps whose sight in fact posits -- sublime aestheticism in the everyday built environment.

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The Importance of Drinking and Smashing Innumerable Bottles on a Giant Pile of Beer, until It's Gone that Is
By Eli Epstein-Deutsch
posted: 05-26-11
The Bierberg


It's not an out and out characteristic, or quite a trend, but in the German capital they do seem to love heaps. Perhaps it's because the 350-mile-city itself is so devlishly flat. One of the tallest mountains around is Teufelberg or "Satan's Hill," the tremendous aggregation of wartime rubble just north of West Berlin's lush Grunewald forest. The word, I believe, is still out on whether one of Hitler's secret bunkers is still buried at the core.

Thus far it does not appear that "The Recovery of Discovery," a pile of 72,000 full, drinkable beer bottles piled up in Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art, will have achieved quite the same notoriety, though it definitely had a impish pull. I posted in recent times a reflection on Urs Fischer's "You" the senseless excavation of a gallery floor. This "Recovery" is, in a way, the topological obverse of that, you could say.

The mise-en-scene was no less hazardous than a steep crater: shards of broken glass were everywhere (one ripped a chunk out the sole of my hard leather boots: thank Duchamp I didn't wear sandals that day), Hooky playing highschoolers perched on top of the great mound slung half empty bottles around the space, shattering them against walls. I drank two and then hurled an empty myself, discus-style: it was quite satisfying.

I can also only imagine the gallery was also a significant draw for Berlin's sizable Turkish population; the beer featured was EFES, very popular between Istanbul and Mt. Ararat.

All in all, "Recovery" was one of the more successful recent manifestations of transient, participatory art in the vein of Felix Gonzalez-Torres, who invited visitors to abscond with museum-installed candy until the exhibition was no more. There, the ephemerality was explicitly thematized. Here, I took the joy of communal hooliganism to be the primary subject, and one well suited to its general environs.

 

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De la Mora and the Fragile Object
By Maria Goldverg
posted: 05-23-11
Gabriel de la Mora leans over his work table at MoLAA.
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40 year old Mexican artist, Gabriel de la Mora, has shocked, humored, and helmed the Central American conceptual art scene for a number of years now. His pieces are composed from an astonishing amount of different media and materials ranging from 'drawings' composed from human hair strands or alphabet soup to 'sculptures' made from post-it notes: de la Mora describes himself as "an artist who works [particularly] with ideas, possibilities and concepts."

And the favoritism awarded to him is not unwarranted. De la Mora's work truly ripens from a source of meticulous and thoughtful insight on the "work' art does to accomplish a genuine state of value and meaning: de la Mora details his process in the language of the avant-garde: "to find a balance between conceptual and formal considerations, constantly playing between concept and chance." It is in these dichotomies that the parodic cultural criticism implicit to his entire oeuvre finds its particular niche. De la Mora strives to continue the examination of the "object" as a potential, and potentially complicated, bearer of value and fetish in today's contemporary society—a question first introduced to the art world by Marcel Duchamp in 1915 when he produced the world's first readymade and "found object": the snow shovel, In advance of the broken arm (En prévision du bras cassé).

MoLAA, located in Long Beach CA, is currently honoring Duchamp's legacy by displaying 100 or so of de la Mora's small-scale objects on a "work table." The objects are displayed in such a way as to recall the of the artist's private studio. In this, the curators hope to spur a dialogue for and between the objects themselves. Any one of Duchamp's fans, but especially any one especially interested that old talking point of the Frankfurt school—the one that investigates the production of culture as a proto-Marxist mythology—would do well to pay this exhibit, Gabriel De La Mora: Frágil/ Fragile, a visit it closes on July 3, 2011.

More information can be found on the museum's website: www.molaa.org.

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