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Music Video Art On the River, Heizer, Soutine etc.


Charles Atlas, You Are My Sister

Electric Arts Intermix showed free music videos under the stars last night on Pier 63 on the Hudson River in New York.

William Wegman's 1988 video for New Order, Blue Monday reminded me once again that a little Wegman goes a long way and the same can be said for the Tony Ousler/Sonic Youth collaboration, Tunic from 1990. Is it just me or have SY been playing the same song with varying degrees of volumn and speed for the past twenty years?

Cory Arcangel's Sans Simon is an amusing variation on DIY interactive video -- he uses his hands to block Paul Simon out of the video for Sounds of Silence. It's not clear why he dislikes Mr. Simon so much but you soon cheer him on in his doomed quest anyway.

Two by Johanna Billing were engaging. Graduate Show from 1999 recasts her art school classmates into a Chorus Line-like dance number. It's obvious they aren't trained dancers but they do OK, considering, and it brings up the question of whether "talent" is something that can be adapted to other fields. The second, You Don't Love Me Yet from 2003 was both a send-up of the "we are the world" genre and an extention of the ideas brought out in the first piece. The amateur singers and musicians go on and on with a dogged scandinavian rectitude. Rather than using existing fans a la Candace Brietz, Billing takes a more adventurous path that really does question the origins of talent and skill.

Meredith Danluck's Superbad, Charles Atlas' You Are My Sister for Antony and the Johnsons, Michael Bell-Smith's Trapped in the Closet All At Once and vintage Dara Birnbaum Mudd Club videos were also well worth the trip since it's unlikely I'll ever see them on MTV.

Electronic Arts Intermix

Michael Heizer
Implement, 1988

Michael Heizer at Pace/Wildenstein shows concrete Paleolithic and Neolithic stone "tools" from 1988/89 for the first time in the US. Elegantly poised on steel and wooden bases they bring the scale of his mammoth "City" project in the Nevada desert into the gallery as if left there by some giant cyclopedian craftsman, their silence resounding in false utility. Our tools are an exention of our hands yet now it's the tips of our fingers and brainpower rather than the muscle of our arms and position of our body we use to make things at the keyboard. Heizer work reminds us of the essential dignity and beauty of work.

Michael Heizer’s Stone Sculptures
Pace Wildenstein
545 West 22nd Street, New York

Chaim Soutine at Cheim and Read is a surprise out of left field that must mean there is a market growing for this neglected artist. So be it, the Soutine paintings are drop-dead beautiful and surprisingly contemporary put in context with more recent art from Willem de Kooning to gallery regulars Louise Fishman and Louise Bourgeois. The thesis may be stretching things a bit but, OK, it's summer and I can't think of a better way to get out of the heat.

The New Landscape/The New Still Life:
Soutine and Modern Art

June 22 - September 9, 2006
Cheim and Read