If she were a man, would we know who Isa Genzken had been married to? Or dated when she was a student? I doubt it, not for a master artist who over her careeer has produced several major bodies of work. But Genzken is a woman and MoMA sells her work using her biography and falls into the cliches that naturally might ensue. Still Isa Genzken is remarkable and you should know her name. Her take on the city and life – particularly NYC – is a triumph and transcendent. The first of two essay on Genzken this one for The Weeklings.
Amie Siegel made a documentary in reverse following furniture, almost a trade in exotic objects, from the homes of the wealthy-- yachts, townhouses in NY and London (including John Pawson's right at the very start) through to being photographed and auctioned off and ending up in Chandigarh where the chairs were part of a utopian city of the future, supposed to embody India's post-War promise. As part of the piece an art installation the film itself was auctioned off at Christie's in London. Thanks to a bit of luck I saw the film in NY and the auction in London and write here about the chairs, modernism and value (not to mention values) for both The Weeklings and Salon...
Marlene McCarty's work is beautiful and troubling. It has a can't-help-but-stare intensity. It deals equally in desire and anger, beauty and the family and how society inscribes rules. She was a member of Gran Fury and on my panel on AIDS and art and queer activism at Frieze. I also wrote about her for the November issue of the magazine, where I used Shulamith Firestone's The Dialectic of Sex and Angela Carter's The Sadeian Woman to talk about McCarty's mural-sized drawings and all their disturbing power.
And, the title above is not the title of the piece. I wanted it to be, only it was too long to fit in the magazine's grid. You can read a pdf of the essay here.
In London this October? I have the pleasure of chairing a talk at the Frieze London Art Fair with Neil Bartlett, Marlene McCarty and Zanele Muholi on art, activism, politics and sexuality – From ACT UP to S. Africa today... Neil is an amazing novelist and playwright who both takes on history and restores it to the present from his first book, Who Was That Man: A Present for Mr. Oscar Wilde ,a hybrid crossing over from novel to non-fiction, memoir and history to his work in the theater. He also impressively just donated his archive to the British Library (see the talk about it here).
Marlene was part of with Gran Fury (creating the visuals and graphic/advertising arm of ACT UP NY). Her own work since has pushed the language and codes of society from the way we address and sexualize women to how society encodes morals and values and the knots those can tie us up in from girls and their families to our take on ourselves and great apes.
Zanele just won the Freedom of Expression award from Index on Censorship and her work, portraits of black lesbians in S. Africa are bold, striking and in a country that asks for invisibility – declarative.They've been shown recently at Documenta last year and in Venice this year.
It has been 20 years since ACT UP, Gran Fury and queer activism reshaped the power of contemporary art and protest. What is the legacy of and possibility for art and protest now?
This summer the awesome inspiring Kate Newby has a show up on Fogo Island (itself awesome and inspiring). I wrote an essay for her (the catalogue published by Sternberg Press), that talks about the point of art and the experience of it, whether or not the moment is in an object, an experience. Or, watching a pebble disappear into a frozen pond...
Here's the start of the essay. In the bit after this, I exhort the reader not to read any further and to tear up the page she's reading and cast it into the wind. Or water. Or both.
1. December 5, 2012: Kate Newby pulls a pebble from her pocket. The stone is green and smooth and feels fragile to touch. We’re on the edge of a frozen pond, in a place evocatively called “inland” to denote everything that isn’t by the sea. Next to me PJ Decker, a retired house painter and oil-rig worker, looks at the rock with amazement and perhaps some confusion. “Did you paint it?” he asks, assuming it’s a real rock, found on this island, Fogo Island, that is rocks on rock. He turns it over in his palm and passes it to me. I send it skimming across the ice. The pebble is, yes, painted. It’s been glazed and is not rock, not in the traditional sense, but porcelain, made by Kate and designed to be skipped in water. The rock bounces twice and disappears. How do you throw art into a pond and toss away this beautiful thing? But that’s the point, and after it’s gone, what is it? What was it? This fleeting moment, an action, a game, a thing made from rock thrown into the water, with no witnesses other than three people by a pond and a photo taken on an iPhone here in this place, this inland that sounds like a fairytale.
Or, maybe the point is the question, “Did you paint it?” Or the way I handle the rock gingerly because it’s art. Or that art is literally a throwaway moment that Kate’s repeated in waters around Manhattan and New Orleans, on Fogo Island and in New Zealand.
To Read further click on the link to Sternberg's site. The catalogue itself beautiful and Kate's work inspiring – radically slight so it asks for a reconsideration of art. And the world around us.