04 December, 2010


LAUNCHPROJECTS - This Thursday marks the opening of our exhibition The Rapture Project by Jennifer Joseph and Chris Collins. The Rapture Project features a site-specific swarm of 1000 lead bullets gilded with 23K gold leaf and “Bullet Halo” drawings, large sheets of paper shot with different caliber weaponry and then gold-leafed around their wounds.

Meticulous repetition, danger, and beauty are themes that have threaded throughout Joseph's work for the decade we have worked together. Past installations of acupuncture needles, straight pins, Swarovski crystals, and spray foam were clustered, threaded, and suspended into organic yet entirely spectral environments. Sculptor Chris Collins' extensive metal casting and foundry experience in addition to a long history with firearms brings to this project a mastery of material and process. In their first large-scale collaboration, The Rapture Project presents a dichotomy between the violence of weaponry and the visceral, shimmering lure of treasure. Desire and danger, gold and guns.

03 December, 2010

3 Dec - Jerry Saltz on Witch-Hunting

LAUNCHPROJECTS - Dear Jerry, we officially extend an invitation to Wojnarowicz to show his video in Santa Fe...

By Jerry Saltz
posted on facebook

"THE LYING CYNICAL RIGHT-WING REPUBLICANS ARE WITCH-HUNTING AGAIN. This time cry-baby House Speaker, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) and mindless Republican Eric Cantor have demanded that the Smithsonian close or cancel a show because it contains 11 seconds (!) of "offensive" videotape by David Wojnarowicz, A Fire in My Belly. The Smithsonian removed the tape! The reporter who started this also wants Creationism presented in the museum! The Catholic League stirs the bad-brew saying the work "insults and inflicts injury and assaults the sensibilities of Christians." Washington Post critic Blake Gopnick rightly reminds us, "If every piece of art that offended some person or group was removed from a museum, our museums would be empty."

Not surprisingly given these swarm of liars this isn't about Wojnarowicz' image of ants crawling on a crucifix for 11 seconds. It is about gay-baiting/gay-bashing - stoking the bigotry that fires the base of the Tea Party/Republicans. The Wojnarowicz was part of a show at the National Portrait Gallery titled "Hide/Seek" about "gay love."

Repulsive, deficient parasites searching for a host body (Art) to inhabit, secretly in love with hate, relentless, breeding sickness and nullity; zombies pathologically entranced by order, anesthetized to life and the damage they do; sadistic, jubilant, manipulative; marooned eternally inside themselves - we cry havoc. Whitney Museum; New Museum; Guggenheim; MoMA; Please screen the Wojnarowicz video. Anywhere. In a dark staircase. That alone will be enough"

02 December, 2010

2 Dec - Steve Martin voted off the island

LAUNCHPROJECTS - on Tuesday I blogged about French theorist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard's essay "Hyper-realism of Simulation" in which he asserts that the use and abundance of media, signs, and symbols has so bombarded our culture that reality itself vanishes within a media-dominated contemporary world. Reality TV is the primary means of this "hyper-realism," effectively replacing actual experience, becoming more “real” than reality itself. In the words of Baudrillard “everything is therefore right on the surface, absolutely superficial. There is no longer a need or requirement for depth or perspective; today, the real and the imaginary are confounded in the same operational totality, and aesthetic fascination is simply everywhere.” (1019).
This blurring of reality and dumbing down of experience was highlighted again on Monday at the 92nd Street Y on the Upper East Side of Manhattan when Steve Martin and art critic and New York Times Magazine writer Deborah Solomon engaged in a dialog about art. Halfway through their discussion a representative from the Y walked onstage and gave Solomon a note directing her to steer the conversation away from art and to focus on his early slapstick acting career. The art conversation was just too boring for the audience. In the words of Mary Elizabeth Williams for Salon.com:
"Blame it on "American Idol." Or maybe "Gladiator." If there was any doubt left that American audiences now believe they have the right to vote on how their entertainment unfolds, that notion was thrown to the lions Monday night, when actor/author/comedy legend/noted aesthete Steve Martin did not amuse the audience gathered at New York's 92nd Street Y to watch him in conversation with art critic and New York Times Magazine writer Deborah Solomon.
The tip-off that the event was taking a Sean-Young-on-"Skating With the Stars" turn came halfway through the evening, when a representative from the Y walked onstage and handed Solomon a note directing her to steer the conversation away from art -- the subject of Martin's new novel, "An Object of Beauty" -- and more toward his long and often hilarious career. Martin told the New York Times Wednesday that viewers around the country who were watching the interview on closed-circuit television had been e-mailing the Y to complain about the conversational subject matter.
Solomon told the Times Wednesday that "I think the Y, which is supposedly a champion of the arts, has behaved very crassly and is reinforcing the most philistine aspects of a culture that values celebrity and award shows over art." And Martin, after describing the Y's action as "discourteous" in the same story,tweeted late Wednesday that "the 92nd St. Y has determined that the course of its interviews should be dictated in real time by its audience's emails. Artists beware."
The Y sent out letters of apology to each of its 900 audience members stating "we acknowledge that last night's event with Steve Martin did not meet the standard of excellence that you have come to expect from 92nd St. Y. We planned for a more comprehensive discussion and we, too, were disappointed with the evening. We will be mailing you a $50 certificate for each ticket you purchased to last night’s event. The gift certificate can be used toward future 92Y events, pending availability." The Y is refunding the audience's money because a conversation between two members of the art community focused too much on art and bored its attention deficit entertainment seeking audiences. The audience members paid to hear a conversation about art, and then whined when Steve Martin failed to appear with a banjo and a bunny suit. The fact that the Y reinforced and pandered to this behavior is abominable. 92nd Street Y, you're fired.

30 November, 2010

30 Nov - Baudrillard and Reality TV

LAUNCHPROJECTS - In his essay The Hyper-realism of Simulation (originally published in 1976), French theorist and philosopher Jean Baudrillard asserts that the use and abundance of media, signs, and symbols has so bombarded our culture that “reality itself, as something separable from signs of it …vanished in the information-saturated, media-dominated contemporary world” (1018). Photography, mass production, television, and advertising have shaped and altered authentic experience to the point that “reality” is recognized only when it is re-produced in simulation. Truth and reality are mediated and interpreted to an extent that culture can no longer distinguish reality from fantasy. Baudrillard terms this blurring of mediated experience and reality “hyper-reality.”
Baudrillard's essay came immediately to mind when reading about the simultaneous successes of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" and her daughter Brisol's performance in "Dancing with the Stars". In Baudrillard's words, "unreality no longer resides in the dream or fantasy, or in the beyond, but in the real’s hallucinatory resemblance to itself." As Baudrillard predicted, in a world of hyper-realism “an air of nondeliberate parody clings to everything." I wouldn't be surprised to see future politicians creating reality TV shows in an attempt to appear more "real" to their audiences. The dumbing down of America via reality TV. Hallucinatory - nightmarish - indeed.
Pictured: Jean Baudrillard, Sarah Palin, Bristol Palin

29 November, 2010

29 Nov - Art Star Couple @ LAUNCHPROJECTS

LAUNCHPROJECTS - This is the final week of our exhibition Total Disinformation Awareness by Toronto-based collaborative Jennifer Marman + Daniel Borins. The following is a review the show received by Malin Wilson-Powell for the Journal North.

Canadian duo stir things up with provocative installations

The smart art partners Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins are Canadians, those nice folks along our northern border. While they operate within the legacies of the same North American cultural pool as the U.S., they have a built-in distance on the fractured, rambunctious, deconstructing behemoth to their south. Their current installation “Total Disinformation Awareness” uses the surveillance and information technology network of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency as their organizing springboard. As I understand it, in the realm of privacy, Canadians like Europeans, have been more proactive enacting laws to govern the use and disclosure of personal information. In the name of preventing terrorist threats, our government uses private contractors (yikes!) to “harvest” (what a creepy word!) and store personal information on humongous databases including our phone calls, credit card usage, medical records, e-mails, social networking habits and who-really-knows-whatelse, without permission, awareness, authorization or safeguards.
Two prominent works in this exhibition update the family hearth to our electronic age. Astutely exploiting the domestic character of LAUNCHPROJECTS, which is located in an old home on Palace Avenue, the Marman + Borins’ team designed computerized cartoon-y eyes they dub “Google,” using the name of a company so ubiquitous it has become a verb (as well as the business that capitulated to Chinese government censorship). Here “Google’s” oversize eyeballs track visitors in the gallery’s old drawing room space with a stuttering click, click, click. In addition to being ogled by idiot technology, the fireplace floor is filled with “Burning Books,” a component comprised of a tray of burnt books in front of simulated electronic flames on a kinetic screen. This clever configuration of being watched from above while books are being consumed below speaks to the invasion of our homes by services and equipment we have bought, paid for and willingly install in the most private chambers of our houses.
The walls of this altered living room are hung with pristinely produced and beautifully presented flat works that include a group of four “Search List” variations. There is a typewritten list of names that most certainly get you a place on the government list as a “person of interest.” Apparently, the artists began searching this alphabetical list and their computer crashed. There is also an “erased” list, a square Plexiglas box of shredded lists and a complete blacked-out solid graphite-on-paper square. Each is a knowing inside the art world nod to formalist modernist, minimalist and conceptual strategies.
An alcove is casually hung with black-and-white renderings of small-scale centrally placed images isolated on expanses of paper. These loose sheets of paper are predominately head shots of “Bin Laden”; anonymous masked figures; “Ratavan, Ratavan,” with the war criminal Radovan Karadzic drawn as a dashing younger man and as a white-bearded, spectacled fugitive; and, “Paralax View,” a posed Warren Beatty acting in the 1974
film about the Parallax Corp., an enterprise for political assassinations.
Through their years of collaboration Marman + Borins have often “quoted” and recontextualized Modernist paintings to highlight the gaps between the formalist vocabulary of a hermetic art world and the commercially designed and industrially built corporate world of popular culture. There are two versions of an iconic Frank Stella painting that was “Googled” and processed through the computer into very low-resolution square blocks of color –– “Pixilated RGB,” i.e., red, green and blue; and “Pixilated Gray Scale.” The images are then translated back into paint using acrylic-onboard, resulting in surprising wider variation of value in the black-and-white interpretation. It is their practice to use the aesthetics of the subjects they critique. Because they are done with such care it does not come across as parody, but as a combination of intellectual inquiry, pushing limits, including the viewer as performer and, also, homage.
The burnt book theme extends into the second gallery at LAUNCHPROJECTS along with new subject-objects. Toy-like “Evildoers,” rumply figures with battery-powered glowing red eyes come in white and black. The white model is a concession to local narratives and is called “Zozobra Remix.” Standing 15-inches high, these look like painted piles of excrement. One of them is placed in a faux cave constructed on-site from foam covered with an adobe coat and titled “Cave with Evildoer (after Magritte).” A favorite little construction is a teeny cave on a shelf that made me wonder whatever happened to Charles Simonds, a master of building miniature reconstructions of archeological sites.
Marman + Borins strike a note for creative collaborations in the lineage of the General Idea Media collective, Gilbert and George, Gilbert and Sullivan, Venturi and Brown. Both are Toronto natives, and they met in 1999 during their third year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. She was a graduate from Western Ontario University in philosophy, and he received his bachelor’s degree in art history from McGill University. Anointed an “art star couple” by the Toronto Star in 2008, their relationship is now professional after starting out romantically. In the article they declared: “Any partnership is a fluid thing. But we‘ve always found facing the world is an incredibly easy thing when we do it together.”

They started coming to Santa Fe in 2005 as independent exhibitor/vendors in the Art Santa Fe fair, and have attracted an active group of patrons and promoters here. This is their first solo exhibition with LAUNCHPROJECTS and their provocative, savvy installation raises hope that they have blazed the trail for other deft and discriminating Toronto artists who like to stir things up.


For the Journal