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Dumbo Arts Festival


I decided to stay in town for the Dumbo Arts Festival rather than head for my mountain retreat which is my usual habitat on the weekends. This was because my HD_RANTS was being presented at the VIDEO-DUMBO portion of the festival. This was curated by Gabriela Monroy and Casper Stracke. I thought I would continue my festival summer of fun into the Fall.

What did I see? Well, I thought it was a collapse of culture or rather a collapse of the signs of culture. It was a rather bizarre weekend. In one large space was a photo show of the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Across the street was a Rap and Hip-Hop sort of cultural expo. This was not exactly avant-garde art. The carnival atmosphere was in evidence. In case you missed the reference there was a real live antique Merry-Go-Round. Some street art was fairly amusing like the group of pink clad women who were trying to entice people to follow them for a dip in the Hudson river or the Japanese women who was covered with miniature art works and called herself a mobile museum. There were also trailers housing temporary art exhibitions that were so anemic and unoriginal it left a bad taste in my mouth. Indeed the volume of arbitrary object making was enormous. THe lack of any critical thought screamed at you "buy me, please, buy me jjust don't think about it, do it!! I mean really. The rabbit warren open artists studios were equally as depressing. I had a conversation with an architecture student in front of his sucky paintings about dogma filmaking. This was inspired by a printout he had hanging next to his paintings. When I asked him what one had to do with the other he was hard pressed. I guess he hasn't heard that the unexamined life isn't worth living.

I think the most interesting thing I saw was not in an artists' studio but an in-between space in a loft building that was the host of a young ladies tag sale. At least it was honest. She needed money. Her young friends were taking advantage of the large open floor with left over industrial wooden ramps to do a little skate-board practicing.

I did see a meet a couple of intereting artists. One was a sound artist named David Schild. He had several fluorescent traffic cones hanging from the ceiling acting as ad hoc loudspeakers. They were connected to radio scanners that picked up various police bands. I like this type of revealing of the information sphere art. I also happened into the studio of Graham Parker. He also works with the physical manifestation of information. In this case it's sort of taking new media logosphere info that he packages in conceptual art style neon and framed text printout's. I liked Parker's work a lot.

Back on the street there were a couple of pretty good bands. One was a blues band and one was a sort of electonica white guy rap duo. This was in a faux gambling & sin casino installation.

Another favorite of mine was a performance by Mary Coble called MARKER. Mary was topless except for a sports bra. She invited people to write derogatory slurs on her body with marker pens. While she stood on a pedestal. It was a really good intimate performance art work. It made the point in a very quiet way.

There were several inevitable artworks. One was a sort of huge red dress draped on a series of granite steps that went into the water. Another was the large plastic flowers as sculpture. I wonder about who curates this stuff? How can you take any of this seriously? But then again I haven't seen anything critically challenging in a number of years.