The Isa Genzken retrospective at MoMA was great for many reasons and one is to see how Genzken tangles with cities, with architecture and built spaces and asks bigger questions of our world. Her work is amazing, enlarging, funny, sometimes troubling and her take on the city both transgressive and transcendent. It also seemed the perfect riposte to MoMA's Folk Art Museum hell and the "art bay." I mean what else would an artist who puts oyster shells on the outside of a moquette think? I wrote this take on her work and the art bay for Design Observer. (Also if you read it on their site, Lorrain Wild who designed the catalogue, logs on with a smart comment on Genzken too).
Okay so that number doesn't equal dollars. We're far from rolling in it (and what we do take in goes to our writers), but I am very very proud to say The Weeklings, the site I co-founded with Greg Olear and Janet Steen and Sean Beaudoin, has hit a milestone in internet terms: One hundred thousand unique visitors a month. This is both a surprise and not (but is definitely a delight). Our visitor numbers climb each month. But, what is heartening or maybe surprising is that people want to read what we do, that in this our age of fast everything, people are interested in a site that does an essay a day, every day and nothing else. Just one essay. Montaigne is our hero and that idea of essayer, of attempting and exploring, is behind what we try to do. Every day.
For the March issue of Frieze, I write about the work of New Zealand artist Kate Newby, whose pieces can be radically slight – so small they can be easy to overlook. Through them she asks questions of us and art and what we notice. In fact one of my favorite pieces of hers I never got to see but only heard about. In a gallery in Auckland she gave the people working there little stones and charms she made (often cast from things she'd found, coins and nails) to keep in their pockets during the exhibition. They'd take the charms home at night and bring them back, so they lived with them and they became part of the attendants' daily lives. That was her contribution, part of life, something so small so insignificant, it could be overlooked. She also makes stones for her friends to skip in ponds and rivers, oceans and even swimming pools. The stones, made out of porcelain, disappear swallowed by the water, and that brings up the question, what was the art? The rock? The moment? The friendship? Below is an image of Drew skipping on of Kate's stones on Fogo Island where I first met Kate.
You can read a PDF of the piece here.
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...