Wednesday, December 23, 2009

the art market's neo-liberalism

I've lamented for some time to friends about the nature of the market side of the visual arts. Specifically that it resembled neo-liberal economics too much to square with its crafted self-image of progressivism. LA Times art critic Christopher Knight expresses this sentiment in a a recent look at the last decade - L.A.'s growing pains, status. Reaganomics, 30 years later still runs the show.

Something else also happened a generation ago that tossed-and-turned the cultural life of the Aughts in ways we have yet to sort out. Reaganomics, the trickle-down fairy tale that says economic growth is most effectively created by dismantling corporate regulation and slashing top tax-brackets, began a massive, upward redistribution of wealth. It went into hyper-drive in the new millennium. The once-secure American middle class got shredded, while the richest got the gated precincts of a new Gilded Age.

The last time that happened, late in the 19th century, extravagant displays of New World wealth included amassing great collections of Old World art and artifacts. Now, with most of that art long-since spoken for (and transferred into museums), the super-rich angle for what's left: Modern and, since those gems are mostly gone, contemporary art.

There's nothing wrong with a robust art market. Rather, market gigantism is what's dysfunctional, pushing everything else aside. In 2007, Damien Hirst's tacky, diamond-encrusted platinum skull, with its phony-baloney $100-million price tag reportedly paid by a consortium of investors that included the artist, became its farcical symbol.


hat tip: Hyperallergic

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

the under-valuation of art blogging

Sharon Butler has an interesting post about the recent writing grant recipients for New York's Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation. It seems art bloggers are not fairing well in requests for funding.

It turns out, however, that over 150 bloggers actually found the time to apply, but only one, Greg Cook (New England Journal of Aesthetic Research), was selected. In the LA Times blog, Christopher Knight wonders why.

In fact, in the four years that Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grants have been awarded, only three have gone to writers who produce blogs. Given a total of 87 grants since 2006, bloggers have racked up less than 4%.That's not a very good ratio.

diagnosing symptoms of anti-science syndrome

This is an old post from Climate Progress but worth reading again as the attacks against Gore get dusted off one more time.

One tell-tale symptom of ASS is that a website or a writer focuses their climate attacks on non-scientists. If that non-scientist is Al Gore, this symptom alone may be definitive.

The other key symptoms involve the repetition of long-debunked denier talking points, commonly without links to supporting material. Such repetition, which can border on the pathological, is a clear warning sign.

Scientists who kept restating and republishing things that had been widely debunked in the scientific literature for many, many years would quickly be diagnosed with ASS. Such people on the web are apparently heroes — at least to the right wing and/or easily duped (see “The Deniers are winning, but only with the GOP“).

If you suspect someone of ASS, look for the repeated use of the following phrases:

  • Medieval Warm Period
  • Hockey Stick
  • Michael Mann
  • The climate is always changing
  • Alarmist
  • Hoax
  • Temperature rises precede rises in carbon dioxide
  • Pacific Decadal Oscillation
  • Water vapor
  • Sunspots
  • Cosmic rays
  • Danish physicist Henrik Svensmark
  • Ice Age was predicted in the 1970s
  • Global cooling


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Owning the Weather

“Owning the Weather,” which is being screened in Copenhagen, tomorrow, Sunday the 13th.

OWNING THE WEATHER tells the story of weather modification in the United States, from Charles Hatfield’s infamous rainmaking days to modern plans to engineer the climate.

There are more than fifty active weather modification programs in the United States alone. Through the eyes of key individuals on the front lines of a crucial but largely unknown debate, the film introduces the cloud seeders struggling for mainstream recognition, the “legitimate” scientists who doubt them, and the activists who decry any attempts to mess with Mother Nature.

continue reading at Climate Progress

Friday, December 11, 2009

Following UNFCCC COP15 in Copenhagen


With the Copenhagen meetings starting, the mainstream news coverage in the US is already focusing principally on the sensationalistic aspects of the climate talks. We've seen orchestrated break ins at the University of East Anglia and the media allowing flat earthers like Sarah Palin have the lion share of the spotlight. Even the Saudis have chimed in as if there is no self interest on their part to see that the conference fails.


What if you want to follow the reality of the conference instead of a fictional horse race?

ClimateProgress will be reporting from the inside on the actual political debates and nuts-and-bolts negotiations, the concerns and perspectives of the diverse participants at the COP15 meetings and in Copenhagen.



image: Christo and Jeanne-Claude (via Carol Diehl)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Living the permanent recession

Over at NYFA Current, Hrag Vartanian has a group of interviews with artists regarding how the "great recession" has affected them and their work. Artists reading this will likely find that their personal experience in this downturn is shared by many in the field. Despite many diminishing returns, perhaps things aren't quite as bad as they seem.

We are in the midst of one of the worst economic recessions in living memory. As a result, there has been a great deal of talk about gallery closings and plummeting art market prices as the barometers of the economic affects on the art world—but what about the artists themselves?

I reached out to dozens of artists in New York and was initially surprised that many artists I spoke with seemed unfazed by the recession, though many expressed anxiety about the future. When I posted my request on Twitter for stories from the frontlines, I received a tweet from Brooklyn-based video painter Jason Varone who summed it up best, "...most artists I know live in a permanent recession."

My conversations with artists highlighted the fact that most of them do not support themselves exclusively through their art. Their personal finances are not as deeply effected by the downturn in the art market as much as the general economic malaise that has caused lay-offs in all fields. I was struck by the general optimism shared by most artists, who are appreciative of having more time to concentrate on their work. What follows here are their stories of navigating the current economic maelstrom. (Vartanian)


continue reading

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Jack Rose RIP

A friend of mine who is a founding member of Pelt, gave me the news yesterday of the untimely death of van guard musician Jack Rose.

Jack Rose (February 16, 1971 – December 5, 2009) was an American guitaristVirginia and later based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A founding member of the drone/noise band Pelt, Rose is best known for his solo acoustic guitar work. n 1993, Jack Rose joined the noise/drone band Pelt, releasing a handful of albums and EPs on various labels. Although Pelt frequently went on and off hiatus during Rose's most involved periods in the band, he didn't begin to concentrate on his own recordings until the early 2000s. He first released two CD-Rs, Hung Far Low, Portland, Oregon and Doctor Ragtime, which featured a mix of country blues and ragtime originals, as well as covers of artists such as John Fahey and Sam McGee. He followed up with his first proper full-length, Red Horse, White Mule, which was released on CD and vinyl by Eclipse Records in 2002.

Rose's first three consecutive releases on Eclipse Records -- Red Horse, White MuleOpium Musick (2003), and Raag Manifestos (2004) -- were met with praise by critics and contemporaries alike. "Finally," said Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance, referring to Opium Musick in an interview with Pitchfork, "somebody has something to say on the acoustic guitar that hasn't been said before." [1]
originally from (2002).

Raag Manifestos was named one of 2004's "50 Records of the Year" by the UK avant garde music magazine The Wire in January of 2005[2], following a feature on him in issue #241[3]. Rose's rise in popularity in the UK during that time coincided with his Peel Session on May 20th, 2004[4]. (wikipedia)

In 2005 he released Kensington Blues on Tequila Sunrise records. Featuring ragtime, ragas, country blues and lap steel, this was his most accomplished record to date, earning high marks from such media outlets as Pitchfork[5] and Dusted Magazine[6] Rose was considered instrumental in bringing ragtime into the modern era and transforming it into something that was both referential and original. But as a self-taught player proficient on the guitar, including the 6-string, 12-string and lap steel, he brought a wide range of influences to his music.

Explaining his process in a 2007 interview, Rose said his favorite music was "anything that's pre 1942; Cajun, Country, Blues, Jazz all that stuff... that's my favorite kind of music." Rose also pointed to later musicians, such as John Fahey and Robbie Basho, as influences. (Spinner)

If you are unfamiliar with his music you should get to know it. Here's a sample.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Old Masters


I just came across Old Masters/New Perspectives which has been online for over a year. Haven't spent that much time with the site yet but it seems promising. Might be a nice counterpoint to frenzy of the contemp. scene.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Bruce Davidson

You won't find this in Miami. A must see at Bryce Wolkowitz - closing Dec.19.