Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Greg April 9: Art at the end of the world

For Greg's class on April 9, we'll be discussing dystopian art. Read the essays below and consider some of the following questions in your written response: What themes connect the art featured in the readings? How do they relate to what's going on the world? Can such art change the world? Is the art effective as art? Is it effective in conveying its themes and ideas? What would make it more satisfying?

= "The Hunger Games and the teenage craze for dystopian fiction: Wizards and vampires are out. The market in teen fiction is dominated now by societies in breakdown. And it’s girls who are lapping them up" Amanda Craig, The Telegraph, March 14, 2012.
= "Life off the grid in Lucas Foglia: A Natural Order."
= “Detroit in ruins: The photographs of Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre,” by Sean O’Hagan, The Observer, Jan. 1, 2011.
= "Rachel Berwick" By Ken Johnson, New York Times, Dec. 19, 1997.
= "Nature Boy: Walton Ford's fabulously detailed, Audubon-on-Viagra watercolors have been flying off gallery walls -- even if most of his audience is baffled by the peculiar birds and beasts that populate his paintings, and the darkly funny (and disturbing) stuff they're up to. The artist, as it turns out, is just as unconventional as his work." by Mark Jacobson, New York magazine, Oct. 21, 2002.
= "Zombie Mania Mounts in Indonesia" by Marcel Thee, Jakarta Globe, March 25, 2012.

Unrequired related reading:
"Vermont’s 'inverted skyscrapers' — and their architects: A new exhibition highlights Edward Burtynsky's otherworldly photographs of granite and marble quarries in Vermont."

Photo at top of the 2011 Zombie March in Boston copyright by Greg Cook.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Caroline's readings Mon April 2 and Weds April 4

Scott, Andrea, Futurism, The New Yorker, 5/30/2011. Vol 87. p 30 - 34
Pederson, Claudia, Trauma and Agitation: Video Games in a Time of War, Afterimage, 38.2 pp. 9 - 13
Schiesel, Scott, An Exhibition in Easy Mode, The New York Times, March 15 2012.
Rutten, Tim, 'Theft' as an art form, Los Angeles Times, April 39, 2008
Schiesel, Grand Theft Auto Takes On New York, New York Times, April 28, 2008

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Caroline's readings Mon March 26th and Weds March 28th

Packet of readings on Marxist Art Criticism

1. Marxist Arts Criticism - Dictionary and Encyclopedia,

2. Chandler, Daniel. Marxist Media Theory Gramsci and Hegemony, Stuart Hall, Strengths of Marxist analysis.
 3. Haacke, Hans, Statement, from Harrison and Wood, Art in Theory 1900 - 2000, pp. 930-931

4. Lipton, Eunice, The Laundress in Late Nineteeth - Century French Culture:Imagery, Ideology and Edgar Degas,  Art History, vol.3, no.3 Sept 1980, pp 295 - 313 
5. Foster, Krauss et al, 1987 Activist Art, from Art Since 1900, Thames and Hudson, vol 2, pp 605 - 612

6. Burgin, Victor, What does possession mean to you?

7. Cotter, Holland, Martha Rosler, Photomontages:1965-2004, NYTimes Dec 24, 2004

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Greg April 2: Doing it in public

For Greg's class on April 2, we'll be discussing public art.

Read the essays below and consider some of the following questions in your written response: What makes good public art? How would we make public art better? Why do we make art in public (from sculpture to performance to murals to installations)? What are the purposes of public art? As memorial? To energize a site? To refocus our experience of a place? To engage with a community? Entertainment? Fountains? What is the public artist's responsibility to the community? How does it involve the public? Should public art be challenging? How/why does it become a landmark? Are we stuck with bad public art?

= "City timidity on public art" by Yvonne Abraham, Boston Globe, Sept. 12, 2010.
= "The very public debate over Fred Wilson's Indy sculpture" by Tyler Green, Modern Art Notes, Oct. 27, 2010.
= "Outdoor art finds its niche: But Franklin Park collection of found objects may have to go" by Brain MacQuarrie, Boston Globe, June 2010.
= "Nancy Holt locates the cosmos" by Greg Cook, Boston Phoenix, Feb. 14, 2012, about the exhibit Nancy Holt "Sight Lines" at Tufts University Art Gallery through April 1. Holt's "Sun Tunnels" (1973-76) is documented in the videos here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Caroline's assignment over Spring Break due March 19 and March 21st

Write a 1 – 2 page typed analysis of the DeCordova Biennial. Due Mon March 19th and Weds March 21st.

Which are the strongest works in the show and which are the weakest? Is there an overall theme to the show? What does the show tell us about the curators?  What does the show tell us about Contemporary Art? Analyze in greater depth 3 pieces that stand out for good or bad reasons. What values are you using to judge the show. How do these sorts of shows create art history?

You must see the biennial before class.
The show has generated some critical commentary. It is your choice whether to read reviews such as Sebastian Smee's review "2012 deCordova Biennial features true good works among false steps," Boston Globe, Jan. 27, 2012, or Greg’s review in The Phoenix, or the DeCordova curator Dina Deitsch and guest curator Abigail Ross Goodman's biennial catalogue essay.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Greg March 26: Two controversies

For Greg's class on March 26, we'll be discussing two art controversies.

Students in Greg's discussion group should (1) watch David Wojnarowicz’s video “A Fire in My Belly” (above) and read the following public statements and reports about the controversy it sparked at the Smithsonian and (2) Amber Hansen's “The Story of Chickens: A Revolution.” Then for our class on Feb. 7, write a two-page paper, one page about each situation. Imagine you're one of the artists or art administrators (museum directors) involved and write about what you would do in response to the protests and why. For example, was the Smithsonian's decisions to remove Wojnarowicz's video but keep AA Bronson's photo in the "Hide/Seek" exhibit right? Back up your position by citing information in the readings.

Feb. 18, 2012: "Controversy swirls around artist’s plans for project detailing the life — and death — of chickens."
Feb. 21, 2012: Sue Coe "Please intervene...."
Feb. 27, 2012: "‘Art’ violence."
Feb. 27, 2012: "City law interpretation spares lives of chickens slated for slaughter in public display of art."

June 2, 2010: Smithsonian: The National Portrait Gallery Presents “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture”
Nov. 30, 2010: Catholic League: Smithsonan Hosts Anti-Christian Exhibit
Nov. 30, 2010: New York Magazine: U.S. Representative John Boehner Is Now a Curator
Nov. 30, 21010: Smithsonian: Statement on “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture”
Dec. 6, 2010: L.A. Times: Smithsonian Institution fails to stand up to anti-gay bullies

Dec. 10, 2010: Washington Post: 'Fire' man: Wojnarowicz, censored by Smithsonian, sounded an alarm in dire times
Dec. 16, 2010: Modern Art Notes: Q&A with AA Bronson on ‘Hide/Seek,’ ‘Felix’
Dec. 16, 2010: Catholic League: "The 'American Taliban' Catholic League"

Pictured: David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” from ppow_gallery on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Risky business: Performance art and danger

“If An Artist Doesn’t Take Risks, Then It’s Not Worth It.”—photographer Robert Frank.

For Greg's class on March 19, we'll be discussing risk-taking in art—particularly in performance art—based on the following video and readings:

= Chris Burden "Shoot" video (above).
= "Chris Burden: The body artist" by Roger Ebert, April 8, 1975.
= Chris Burden: "My God, are they going to leave me here to die?" by Roger Ebert, May 25, 1975.
= "Marina Abramovic" by Sean O'Hagan, Oct. 2, 2010.

In your essay consider: Does art need to be risky to be worth it? What do we mean by risky? A major area of performance art has centered on actions that place the performer in physical danger. What are the benefits of such dangers? What are the risks? Can we mitigate such risks and still get the same charge in the art? Is it necessarily in art for actions to be actual instead of simulated? Must the performer actually be in danger? Must authentic relics be used? How important to such performances are the stories, the legends they foster? Why do we so value risk in art? Do such performances respond to their times? How, for example, might Burden's and Abramovic's performances reference war? Do Chris Burden's intentions become clear in his later works, like "All the Submarines of the United States of America" (1987) or "Metropolis II" (see video below), which recently debuted at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art?

Artists dealing with these themes are featured prominently in the exhibit (which you are not required to see) "100 Years (version #4 Boston, 2012)" at Boston University Art Gallery, 855 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, | January 19-March 25, free, 617.353.3329 or Some performers and performances featured there that you may wish to consider: Yoko Ono “Cut Piece,” 1965; Marina Abramovic, “Rest Energy” (tension between her holding bow and partner holding arrow pointed at her); Paul McCarthy, Ron Athey, Bruce Nauman “163 Untitled,” 1969; Regina Jose Galindo “Libertad Condicional,” 2009 (she was chained to stakes on gravel); Cameron Jamie “The New Life,” 1996, (wrestling Michael Jackson impersonator); Kate Gilmore “Main Squeeze,” 2006 (squeezing through tight fight constructions that she builds); Andrea Fraser untitled 2003 self-prostitution piece; Sigalit Zandau, “Barbed Hula” dance, 2000; Techching Hsieh’s one-year performances 1980s; Vito Acconci “Following Piece,” 1969.

Remember: The week of March 12 to 16 is spring break, so we will not be meeting for discussion on March 12. Our next class is March 19.