Posts archive: August 2003

as well as some new video you might want to check out frequent Stretcher contributor Dale Hoyt introduce Island of Lost Souls (as part of BAM’s Geno(sis)) at PFA. A sneak preview of Hoyt’s new work Don’t Be Cruel will be an opening short. The screening is Thursday, Sept. 4th at 7:30PM at Pacific Film Archives.

- David Lawrence [Sunday, August 31st, 2003]

is my favorite example of what the study of art theory can lead to. In mid August the EZLN (Zapatista guerrilla army) of Chiapas together with the Rebel Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities published a taped speech by Marcos indicating he would withdraw from being the spokesman for the 30 new rebel controlled town councils that had asked him to do this in June. These were set up to settle land disputes and manage aid from international charities. Marcos also said they would remove their fighters from roadblocks and stop charging travelers to pass through the territory that they control. Subcommandante Marcos explained that the army is for defending the indiginous people from bad government, paramiltaries, and from those who wish to do them harm, but is not supposed to govern; civil society should govern itself.

As important as the taped message from Marcos was, just try to find a comprehensive report on it anywhere. Even the Global Exchange report is limited in discussion of the communique, but it does give a great little recap of the history of the movement and discusses how the story is being spun by the Mexican government and press. Perhaps it is just best to read the
">transcript of the speech.

- Cheryl Meeker [Friday, August 29th, 2003]

warmed up the small crowd gathered to hear Philip Ross and Laura Splan talk at Camerawork last night. The gallery’s current exhibition, photographs of the Mutter Museum’s collection of medical curiosities, includes work by Rosamond Purcell, William Wegman, and Joel-Peter Witkin. By and large, the photographers are upstaged by their subject matter. The only way a skeleton of conjoined twins wouldn’t be riveting would be if you couldn’t see it. Splan’s work also has its macabre moments—such as a scarf knit of surgical tubing, running bright red with its wearer’s blood—although she gives herself more room to maneuver conceptually than the photographers. In this company, Ross’s work, which emphasizes growing things, seemed practically sunny and uplifting, two qualities I’ll bet he thought it would never be accused of. The evening as a whole was a great bit of programming by Camerawork. You have through September 6 to see the show, at 1246 Folsom in San Francisco.

- Meredith Tromble [Thursday, August 28th, 2003]

and are in the lower Haight, stroll past Manolo Garcia Gallery where you can still catch Karla Milosevich’s animated video loops in the storefront window. They’re mellow, kalaidescopic, & psychedelically minimal. On view 24 hours - through Sept 5.

- Cheryl Meeker [Monday, August 25th, 2003]

At Brisbane’s monthly Small Black Box series Machina aux Rock (Nat Bates and Stephen Masterson) showcased a deft marriage between rock rhythms and minimal electronic stylings. While Masterson quoted well-known beats on a small drum kit Bates subtly processed the sounds, crafting them slowly into new shapes just long enough to give the illusion of arriving at a musical stasis before a new rhythm would be introduced and the process would start anew. The result was a sharp set that didn’t shortchange the head or the feet.

The"> Liquid Architecture festival wound up its nationwide tour in Brisbane. Featuring local talent and one old master of electronic music, the event provided a rich array of sound approaches. Gail Priest’s set of flowing soundscapes modulated in some of the lowest and clearest bass sounds I have heard in some time. Bruce Mowson’s severe approach to composition, 12 minutes of complex and unchanging drones, was the surprise of the evening. The psychoacoustic effect of the music was like a mirage, with details of the sounds emerging and receding even though there were in fact no changes in it at all. A worthy successor to Jim Tenney’s “For Ann (Rising),” I look forward to hearing more. Lawrence English and Philip Samartzis built a tactile and thoughtful microsoundscape with their turntables and electronics and put the sound system through its paces with a blend of high-pitched sine waves modulated by recordings of fire and leaves. Bernard Parmegiani, the innovative French composer was the special guest of the evening. He presented three works that spanned 30 years of activity. Though changes in technology were audible between the pieces, the compositional strategies were clear and the live remix brought them vividly to life. At 76, Parmegiani certainly deserves the attention that is belatedly coming his way.

Yo La Tengo’s set at the Tivoli (as fine a hall as one can find in which to catch a performance) was an entrancing arc of control and abandon. After spending almost an hour slowly locking into place they delivered ten minutes of bliss: a crystalline version of “You Don’t Have to Be So Sad” and another song whose name washed away from me. Then they spent the next hour returning to earth, gradually pushing apart song after song and landing back on earth with a long version of Sun Ra’s “Nuclear War.”

I wasn’t able to catch either of Meredith Monk’s performances at the Brisbane Powerhouse, but I did bump into her the next day at the local koala sanctuary. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the little furry creatures were able to give her a run for the money in the extended vocal technique department.

The Australian Center for the Moving Image in Melbourne has part two of their large “Rememberance” show on view. There are many of the usual approaches to memory found here, but Alexander Sokurov’s “Confession,” a documentary with multiple points of view about life aboard a Russian submarine, stands out as a particularly engrossing take on the subject. The sailors do the best they can to make sense of an environment of monotony and control, but even the commander has trouble rationalizing their activities.

In Sydney both the Museum of Contemporary Art and the">Art Gallery of New South Wales feature large video installations by Susan Norrie. Though stately in their presentations, the pieces balance between subtle social commentary and a particularly theatrical form of dread. “Undertow,” at the AGNSW, particularly suffers from this: flickering, foreboding, black and white images of a dust storm in Melbourne are juxtaposed with hazmat-suited scientists gathering ozone data and shots of sulfur pools in Rotorua. While out-of-control nature (aided and abetted by humans or not) always holds some fascination on its own, wrapping an pungent veneer of doom around it is something of a mixed blessing.

Over at Artspace, the Helen Lempriere Travelling Art Scholarship Show has a roundup of work from some of the best young Australian talent. While Sean Cordiero & Claire Healy took home the $40,000 prize for a carefully dismantled and stacked house, I was more taken by a few other pieces: Barnaby Chamber’s fetching set of tanks, planes, and aircraft carriers made of flip-flops; Jodi Smith’s re-edit of the opening of “Apocalypse Now” to seamlessly insert herself in place of Martin Sheen; and Matthew Tumbers’ “Pablo Velasquez Shoeboard Remix” in which various skateboarders do their moves sans boards.

Buried among immense sugarcane fields in North Queensland, the town of Mena Creek is the home of the very strange Paronella Park, a decaying set of buildings that once approximated a Spanish castle made from concrete and train tracks. Built mostly by hand by one Spanish immigrant, the place is at once a small-scale Hearst castle and a testament to the hazards of human ambition and the natural world (floods and cyclones, of which there appear to be many here, have repeatedly taken their toll on the place). Walking through the grounds you can still feel the grandeur of the old castle even as you have second thoughts about the visions that drove the man who brought the Park into reality. I had even more doubts about the visions of the new owners of the Park as they too-enthusiastically welcomed us in and wished us well as we departed several hours later.

In Malanda we caught a few prerelease screenings of new Australian films. Two to watch out for are “Japanese Story,” which centers around an unexplained visit by a Japanese businessman to a set of mining operations in Western Australia, and “Alexandra’s Project,” in which a failing marriage leads to one of the creepiest interactions with a television since Videodrome.

Mareeba has a showcase for a longstanding but slowly growing form of action art at their pirouetting fields. Participants can add their handiwork to a large earthwork canvas by traversing its contours in ever-shorter times until a distinctive arcing signature is inscribed onto it. Similar fields can be found in many parts of the world, but this is one of the best ones.

But by far the most impressive artwork encountered here seemed to spring instantly from Queensland’s long beaches following every high tide. Teams of furtive sculptors roll tiny balls of sand into intricate patterns that cover miles of shoreline in what appears to be a ritualized organic tagging competition.

And where ever you are, keep an eye out for ">Mars in the coming weeks. The next time it gets anywhere near this close to Earth again, you, dear reader, will be pushing up daisies.

- Ed Osborn [Sunday, August 24th, 2003]

From the prospectus:

“At the beginning of 2001, San Francisco Public Library staff began finding books, carved with a sharp instrument, hidden under shelving units. Many of these volumes, eventually numbering over 600, were related to issues of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, as well as AIDS and women’s health issues. Eventually, the vandal was caught and charged with a hate crime. When the damaged books were assessed, it was determined most were beyond repair, and were withdrawn from the Library’s collection. In an effort to transform this destructive act, the James C. Hormel Center of the San Francisco Public Library is offering to artists one or more of the destroyed books to create works of art. The resulting artwork will be exhibited in the Reversing Vandalism exhibition at the Main Library and other possible venues.”

Here’s the pdf application.

- Tucker Nichols [Tuesday, August 19th, 2003]

You still have a few days left to catch MISSION:CONTROL, an installation that caps Southern Exposure’s eight week Mission Voices summer youth program. Working with local artists and performers, the students use imagery of a space/aircraft control room to examine issues close to their lives. More info here. Check it out.

- Meredith Tromble [Thursday, August 14th, 2003]

An article in The Guardian outlines a health study that shows that art students die younger than those in other professions. This at the same time as CNN reports that a recent survey shows that investors find art second only to property as the best investment.

Perhaps art collectors should take responsibility for creating a health plan for artists?

- Cheryl Meeker [Friday, August 8th, 2003]

Tony Treadway’s tony wall installation incorporating Fast Caps and Libby Black’s cool blue paper BMW scooter with paper Louis Vuitton hatbox are fast glance standouts in a hot summer group show. “Makeshift World” at Stephen Wirtz Gallery also features lots of other great work for longer contemplation by Lara Allen & Frank Haines, James Bewley, Sarah Cain, Anne Collier, Robert Gutierrez, Amanda Hughen, Bob Linder, Gordon McNee, Julio Cesar Morales, Aaron Noble, Geof Oppenheimer, Eamon Ore-giron, Amy Rathbone, Shane Aslan Selzer, Kathryn Van Dyke, Justin Walsh, Megan Wilson. Curated by Julie Casemore; through August 23.

- Cheryl Meeker [Friday, August 8th, 2003]

presented a high energy “work in progress” talk by residents Gail Wight and her psychologist collaborator, Lucia Jacobs. Both have worked with animals; Wight has made installations such as one in which she “drew” with slime by luring slime mold in different directions with oatmeal flakes. Jacobs is interested in the evolution of the hippocampus (the part of the brain that processes short-term memory and spatial maps), which she has studied in gray squirrels, Merriam’s kangaroo rats, and mice. Wight and Jacobs spent the first two weeks of their residency identifying a local animal to join their team. After a tragic incident in which captive ladybugs drowned in their water dish, they turned to crickets (which subsist on bright blue “solid water” gel to avoid further drownings.) Their residency runs through October; we are looking forward to the results.

- Meredith Tromble [Friday, August 1st, 2003]

From the editors