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No Occident, No Restraint


When Matthew Barney’s work first came to prominence in the early 1990s, it brought to mind the Warren Zevon song, Excitable Boy.

Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best
Excitable boy, they all said
And he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy

He took in the four a.m. show at the Clark
Excitable boy, they all said
And he bit the usherette's leg in the dark
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy

I didn’t attend the recent press or invitational screenings for Barney’s new film, Drawing Restraint 9. But both word of mouth and published reports made me feel as if I had seen it – all 135 minutes of it -- even if most reviewers seemed to wish that they hadn’t. Having endured the entire 15 hours of his Cremaster cycle, I could certainly feel their pain. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, the flayed blubber of DR9 not far from the descending testicle of Cremaster. Barney’s aesthetic legacy from the earlier film seems to have survived remarkably intact. There is his narcissism, his addlepated attempts at creating a personal mythology, his fetishistic transgressions, his pretentious (and expensive) tropes of fashion, his overreaching symbolism, his staging of inane rituals, his plodding sense of narrative, his artless editing (like boxcars crashing together on rusty tracks) and insipid cinematography. Taken together, they constitute a singular cinematic achievement.

Rachel Whiteread at Luhring Augustine


In her contract with negative space - making it the sine qua non of her oeuvre - Rachel Whiteread generally creates sculptures that beg the interaction of humanity while remaining forbidding, unpopulated, aloof. A ceremony, and therefore a narrative, is implied by her austere castings of the volumes beneath a ceiling, around a stairwell, against a bookshelf, inside a water tank. But this narrative is conspicuously denied. We are set adrift, frustrated in our attempt to give significance to her plinths, altars, sarcophagi. We are thrown back upon an academic contemplation of their formal qualities, all the while yearning to assign them some specific context of human activity, some aspect of the anecdotal, vernacular, religious. But her sculptures remain obdurately obscure to our interpretation. They are, in a word, sphinxlike.

Although Whiteread's work is self consciously monumental, her embrace of the void renders moot any discussion of progress or history, issues which often accompany the civic monument, and which, in fact, are the impetus behind the public commissioning of most monuments.

Good Bye Reality! How Media Art Died But Nobody Noticed


Subjective notes about Transmediale 2006

by Armin Medosch on Tue, 2006-02-07

The festival Transmediale is one of the oldest and biggest of its  
kind in Europe. Held annually since 1988, it started out as a video  
festival. In the early days the VideoFest, as it was called then,  
featured works which did not fit into the programme of the Berlin  
Film Festival - the star studded - drum role, fanfare - Berlinale. In  
the early 1990s the festival started presenting interactive works on  
CD ROM - I think this was called multi-media at the time. With  
changing technologies - adopting net art and generative and software  
art in the late 1990s - the festival kept true to its beginnings by  
maintaining the notion of critically engaging with new technologies  
and presenting a broad spectrum of alternative currents in art,  
technology and related theoretical production.

Howard Stern Reviews "Brokeback Mountain"


Via the fanatic dedicated Howard Stern fan site: 


Howard Stern is always full of surprises while at the same time is always predictable:

Howard Reviews Brokeback Mountain. 02/07/06. 6:50am

Keith Sanborn on the Films of Guy Debord from Artforum

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Society of the Spectacle
 THE THING board member Keith Sanborn on The Films of Guy Debord from the February 2006 ARTFORUM:

Keith Sanborn

"GUY DEBORD MADE VERY LITTLE ART, but he made it extreme," says Debord of himself in his final work, Guy Debord, son art et son temps (Guy Debord: His Art and His Time, 1995), an "anti-televisual" testament authored by Debord and realized by Brigitte Cornand. And there is no reason to doubt either aspect of this judgment. While Debord has been known in the English-speaking world since the 1970s as a key figure in the Situationist International and as a revolutionary theorist, it is only in the past decade that his work as a filmmaker has surfaced outside France. One reason is that, in 1984, following the assassination of Debord's friend and patron Gérard Lebovici and the libelous treatment of both men in the French press, Debord withdrew his films from circulation. Though the films were not widely seen even in France, four of them—by the time they were withdrawn—had been playing continually and exclusively for the previous six months at the Studio Cujas in Paris, a theater financed for this purpose by Lebovici.

He Found Me On Craigslist

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This is what happens if you leave THE THING, we send "Dino" after you. --murph


Brian Boucher, with a mug shot of Dino Loren Smith, in the West 186th Street building where they shared a one-bedroom apartment. (Photo: Christopher Anderson)

Seeking roommate for one-bedroom in Washington Heights. It’s a bit small for two but I have to catch up on some bills. Two friendly cats, but we keep clean because I’m a little allergic myself. A little more than half of the $950 rent gets you the privacy of the bedroom.

Some Notes on Locus Sonus and the Podcast Workshop


Both Jerome Joy and Peter Sinclair are sound artists who live and teach in the south of France. They decided to instigate an experimental sound art program for post-graduate students in between their two schools (Aix-en-Provence and Nice). I was invited to do a workshop about podcasting for Locus Sonus at Villa Arson, the art school in Nice.

Attack of the Schmoozebeasts


In an unusual attempt at self-preservation I've tried to avoid the current revival of feminist furor in the art world being stirred up by Roberta Smith and her consort, (buddy boy) Jerry Saltz, but my curiosity was sparked by this Artforum Diary posting on a recent panel on "Feminism" by Rhonda Lieberman.

(I'll give you time to read it. Trust me, it's funny).

Schmoozebeasts? Have I been sleeping or am I behind in my Yiddish? Will this replace the increasingly tiresome "hipster"? Please? It rolls off the tongue like a boiled pierogi. And I'll take anything over the repulsive "art fag"; it wasn't funny the first time around and it's not ironic now. It's just sad. Really really sad.

About the panel: I thought Joan Snyder drank herself to death in France years ago. Oh, right, that was Joan Mitchell. Sorry, my mistake. And, yes Joan, men are to blame for everything bad in the world but can we also take some credit for the good things? We're not all Julian Schnabel, you know. Some of us are sensitive pussycats like, say, Richard Serra? Why is it that a bonehead like Schnabel is always the target. Too afraid to take on the real tough guy, hey?

When Collier Shorr first appeared everyone always referred to her as Richard Prince's boyfriend so I'm not sure how much sincerity is behind her statements of admiration for Snyder, or anyone.

Barbara Kruger is, of course, always right (just ask her!) and though "direct address" is out of style right  now in favor of all that relational stuff I hope she'll dump academia and be back on the bullhorn soon. Kruger designed commercial book covers early on in her career -- I had an Aldous Huxley paperback  with a cover by her at one point  --  and she definitely knows what she's talking about in terms of media. Po-Mo princess Cindy Sherman, on the other hand, watched movies. She's right: Victim/Aggressor are absolutely two sides to the same coin. I guess you could say I'm a Kruger butch rather than a Cindy Sherman femme.

Tamy Ben-Tor's work I don't know so it's hard to decide whether she or Joan Snyder made the dumber statement.

My question is: Why did four intelligent and respected artists let Roberta Smith set them up like that?

A more considered and thorough (but much less funny) account of the panel by Mira Shor is here along with a piece on an earlier panel with Vanessa Beecroft.

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