Posts archive: January 2003

with Mark Dion, from the New York Times.

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, January 31st, 2003]

Zoran Naskovski’s “Death in Dallas” at NBK is a vastly unsettling video work made from images of the Kennedy assasination and its surrounding events. Footage of the murders of Kennedy and Oswald, the state funeral, and Johnson’s oath of office made aboard an airplane are accompanied and narrated by a pair of gusle players - Balkan musical performers who sing epic folksongs that document the unwritten history of their culture. Here the song is of a distant American afternoon, and the video sequences follow the song’s fractured and elliptical narrative to render utterly new and alien a set of images that I have known - or thought I knew - as long as I can remember. The experience of “Death in Dallas” is an extended moment of cultural vertigo, one in which a distinctly national memory is read through the filter of a remote society and reinscribed as part of a larger and more ambiguous set of world histories.

- Ed Osborn [Monday, January 27th, 2003]

Paperphiles head on down to LIMN to see a fantastic collection of art objects made from paper and books. Doug Beube artfully refashions books (from the phone book to the Bible) and magazines in revision and a group show, made OF paper,deconstructs and reconstructs various paper products into clothing, installations, drawings, sculpture and more—all to great effect. Lots to ogle in the LIMN furniture store too. Both exhibitions run through March 7 at LIMN gallery (behind the Limn store) at 292 Townsend.

- amy berk [Sunday, January 26th, 2003]

A correction we’re delighted to post: Benjamin Weil will not be leaving SFMOMA for New York’s Eyebeam in June, as reported elsewhere. Responding to announcements of his departure, Weil says “they do not know what they’re talking about!” He will continue as new media curator for SFMOMA while also contributing his curatorial expertise to Eyebeam.

- Meredith Tromble [Sunday, January 26th, 2003]

Artist/curator Fred Wilson’s big retrospective at the Berkeley Art Museum showcases works he’s developed over the past twenty years. Wilson’s work reveals race and power relations within the supposedly neutral walls of the museum by juxtaposing elements from their permanent collections. Catch his lecture this Sunday at 3pm. The show runs through July.

- Ella Delaney [Thursday, January 23rd, 2003]

Things are looking good for Christo and Jeanne-Claude in Central Park: but do we have to wait until 2005?

- Tucker Nichols [Thursday, January 23rd, 2003]

“This is the hottest booth! You’ve got to come in here and see what’s really happening in art today!”

“Well I understand that may be reasonable to you but if you want to make a sale you have to make it reasonable for me.”

“How much more of this are you ready for?”

“Well that’s the most dismal thing I’ve seen since we’ve been here.”

A: “To me those prints are like a stroll among the flowers on a spring day.”
B: “What?”

“It’s just sick…but funny you know?”

“It feels like an ice cream headache but I haven’t had any ice cream.”

[Into cell phone] “You should come down here. It’s like a smorgasbord…(pause) a big platter…just come meet me.”

- Tucker Nichols [Tuesday, January 21st, 2003]

Come say hello to Stretcher at the San Francisco International Art Exposition, which opens tomorrow, Friday January 16, in Fort Mason, following the preview party tonight.

- Meredith Tromble [Thursday, January 16th, 2003]

2002 was a year when San Francisco’s electronic music duo, Matmos, appeared on David Letterman along with pop star Bjork. SFMOMA’s 010101: Art in Technological Times celebrated artists who connect through the Web and who use technology in quirky ways. The DJ, VJ and Web art worlds are now intertwined, because the technical skills required for one are required for all. In many ways, 2002 was the year of the Web Log or as they say now, BLOG. The BLOG has come to epitomize interactivity in music, art and politics on the web. Issues of democracy and first amendment rights aside, many BLOGS are compelling reading. New York Times columnists often quote from political BLOGS, and really if you don’t have a BLOG going you aren’t happening. Some of the year’s best exhibitions championed individual artists. Great shows by Katherine Sherwood, Jim Campbell, and Manuel Ocampo demonstrated both breadth and depth in content, style and execution. At the end of the year, Bay Area Now 3 introduced a new crop of young artists to a wider audience. Both Jack Hanley and Javier Peres showed the strength of having focused, small galleries that are willing to take risks. Unfortunately, as the economy sours, projects like the ambitious Magnes Museum building designed by Daniel Liebeskind are being put on hold. This is the gem to keep an eye on for 2003. A Liebeskind building would be the perfect architectural companion for the Mario Botta’s SFMOMA. I hope the city of San Francisco can see the value in this project and, if necessary, step in to make it happen.

—Chris Cobb

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, January 15th, 2003]

The Supremes just handed down a victory verdict to Disney. The decision, Eldred v. Ashcroft upholds the right of congress to extend copyright duration pretty much as they see fit. How can the common good be defended in the face of this kind of buying and selling of congress?

- Ella Delaney [Wednesday, January 15th, 2003]

Heather Wilcoxon’s paintings at Toomey Tourell. Wilcoxon confides that the cartoonish figures unleashed on her canvases are her “little fuck you guys,” and indeed they fit with the snappish, unpleasant character of public life under the Shrub (oh, excuse me)... Bush administration.

- Meredith Tromble [Sunday, January 12th, 2003]

Malick Sidibe, the African photographer, had two shows open in Chelsea last night. Sidibe is truly a master of his craft. His portraits and candid pictures, taken in Mali over the last three decades, are at Jack Shainman Gallery and in the backroom at Marianne Boesky Gallery. Sidibe’s work is purely photographic, as opposed to so much current photography that leans heavily on a conceptual framework. This type of traditional B & W photography often feels stale or rote, but Sidibe pulls it off. The prints at Shainman are unique, in that they are one-of-a-kind pictures in small cardboard frames. The work at Boesky is more traditionally framed, but much larger. Both shows are must-sees.

- Asha Schechter [Sunday, January 12th, 2003]

First Thursday highlights include two powerful exhibitions at John Berggruen. Maria Porges is back with a bevy of bombs in Bombast: Return to Dr. Strangelove, a witty and painful look at the state of the world and Enrique Martinez Celaya delves inward with his poignantly beautiful Recent Paintings. Doug Hall’s New Work at Rena Bransten Gallery is predictably gorgeously evocative and Flair, a group show of gallery artists at Heather Marx Gallery lives up to its name.

- amy berk [Sunday, January 12th, 2003]

Creative Commons, an organization that provides creators with alternatives to corporate driven copyright licensing, has a terrific blog with reports like the copyright discussions at the recent Future of Music Coalition conference. And, of course, which artists are using their licensing system.

- Ella Delaney [Thursday, January 9th, 2003]

In his sorry rant in today’s Chronicle, Steven Winn decries the lack of originality among today’s cultural producers. Using the broadest of brush strokes, he pits television shows like The Batchelor against visual art exhibitions like Bay Area Now 3. One thing I can say for sure we don’t need now is the kind of slipshod thinking this two-part article propogates.

- Ella Delaney [Thursday, January 9th, 2003]

Benjamin Weil, new media curator, is leaving SFMOMA to become curatorial chair of Eyebeam, a digital arts center in New York. Weil will spend the first half of 2003 wrapping up his responsibilities at SFMOMA before departing for New York in May.

- Meredith Tromble [Thursday, January 9th, 2003]

I wrote about this exhibition, Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age a while back. This New York Times coverage yesterday makes me wonder all over again- why isn’t this travelling show travelling here?

- Ella Delaney [Wednesday, January 8th, 2003]

In this extensive interview Benjamin Weil, SFMOMA’s new media curator, dives into questions such as how far a museum should go to preserve decaying Internet works and how net art transforms curatorial practice. Interviewer Beryl Graham, co-founder of the CRUMB site for new media curators, encourages him to speculate on the field’s “big questions.” It’s in depth, and Weil gets more and more interesting the deeper he goes.

- Meredith Tromble [Monday, January 6th, 2003]

The Bay Area was showing its stuff last week, with a two-person show of work by longtime San Francisco artists Doug Hall and Rebecca Bollinger at Feigin Contemporary in Chelsea. Hall showed what is now typical for him, large-scale color photographs of empty spaces. The subject matter this time was empty Italian and Italianate opera houses, but in the wake of Gursky, Hofer, Struth et al, these pictures don’t really have any impact. They may be jam-packed with critical theory, but they look dead on the wall. Bollinger’s work was a mixed bag. She was showing a large DVD projection that looked like somebody editing through their digital camera after a day on the town. On the other hand, her jewel-like drawings of found Internet imagery were beautiful. Along with her smaller video piece, Last Year by Color and Composition, they were the redemption of this show. The scariest part of the opening was seeing what appeared to be the gallery owner take a full cup of wine out of the trash, and pour it into another cup. Guess you have to make sure you see them pour it.

- Asha Schechter [Monday, January 6th, 2003]

Art and politics merge with grace in City Hall every month as San Francisco District 5 Supervisor Matt Gonzalez hosts openings in his office, just down the hall from Mayor Brown. Last night featured the collaged paintings of Ab-Ex beat artist Jose Ramon Lerma, along with a rare group discussion about the art, poetry recitals, and ample schmoozing over wine and cheese. Besides, any chance you have to walk up the grand stairwell in a virtually empty City Hall should not be missed.

- Tucker Nichols [Saturday, January 4th, 2003], the primary service provider for activist and artist organizations in the New York area, has been booted from the Web following pressure from Dow Chemical Corporation, according to a release forwarded from rtmark. On December 3, activists used a server housed by to post a parody Dow press release on the eighteenth anniversary of the disaster in which 20,000 people died as a result of an accident at a Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. (Union Carbide is now owned by Dow.) The deadpan statement explained that Dow could not accept responsibility for the disaster due to its primary allegiance to its shareholders and to its bottom line. Dow sent a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint to Internet company Verio, which immediately cut off the Internet for fifteen hours. A few days later, Verio announced that had 60 days to move to another provider before being shut down permanently, unilaterally terminating’s 7-year-old contract. Affected organizations include PS1/MOMA, Artforum, Nettime, which assists renters facing eviction), and hundreds more.

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, January 3rd, 2003]

Find out what one of the best legal minds of our time is thinking about. Lawrence Lessig has his very own blog that covers issues from the cost of broadband to the ongoing struggle over the “creative commons”.

- Ella Delaney [Thursday, January 2nd, 2003]

Painter Amy Ellingson writes: “While in Chicago for the first time last May, I was generally impressed with the Museum of Contemporary Art. Running concurrently there: Donald Moffett’s “What Barbara Jordan Wore,” Mies in America, Gary Simmons, and Maurizio Cattelan’s giant cat skeleton, which was a particular delight in juxtaposition to “Sue,” the Field Museum’s T. Rex. Here in San Francisco, the long-awaited Gerhard Richter exhibition didn’t disappoint. But my favorite show of the year was Christian Marclay’s Video Quartet, hands down. The piece is musically and visually thrilling—full of assonance and dissonance and masterful repetition and variation. I’m impressed with Marclay’s ability to indulge in nostalgia and sentimentalism just enough to tantalize; each time I found myself mesmerized by a particular clip, the piece forged ahead. I felt like I was trying to stop and smell the roses while on a roller coaster—an unlikely (but surprisingly pleasant) sensory experience.”

- Meredith Tromble [Wednesday, January 1st, 2003]

From the editors