shu and joe

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Mourning Mei Lai Wah

May 15, 2008

A bit disheartened to read that Chinatown’s venerable Mei Lai Wah tea house has closed its doors, apparently for good. Shu and I used to stop in for the requisite cha xiu bao and coffee served up by a couple of the most stylish septuagenarians in NY. A moment, then.

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May 13, 2008

A great year, I’m sure. I have very little direct memory of it, but clips like this one make me wish I’d been born a decade earlier. I especially like the part where the guy in the red beret takes a swipe at pirate fashion. Some revealing Depeche Mode moments in there too.

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Carolyn Salas

May 12, 2008

Carolyn, one of the By Hand contributors, has posted a new website featuring some of her more recent installation pieces. I’m very much liking her installation piece Feast of Burden, pictured below.

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Liu Bolin

May 9, 2008

Asian Photography Blog pointed me to a recent series of photos by Beijing-based artist Liu Bolin. The series is titled Hiding in the City, and it is currently on view at Robischon Gallery in Denver, Eli Klein in New York, and Galerie Bertin-Toublanc in Paris. Louis Lannoo Gallery in Belgium will feature the work later this month. Liu’s project appears quite extensive, with more than 50 pieces in the series developed between 2007 and 2008.

Shu and I developed a conceptually similar series of photographs while we were living in Beijing, although our pieces were executed with silkscreen on cloth, not direct painting as in Liu’s work. Our series, Beijing Backgrounds, was presented at the 798 Space during the DIAF last September.

Here are a few images:

Another artist who has explored what he calls “camouflages” is Laurent La Gamba.

Laurent La Gamba, Royal Chien, 2002.

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Apple Talk

May 6, 2008

Frieze has posted a nice interview with Rob Janoff, the designer of the original rainbow-striped Apple logo. The interview follows up on the recent presentation of a study by two researchers at Duke and U of Waterloo, Toronto which suggests that just looking at the Apple logo can make people more creative. You think? I’m curious about the controls on this. The researchers also suggest that looking at the Disney logo (subliminally) will produce more “honest” behaviors.

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Blythe’s shop

May 5, 2008

My friend Blythe has the ability to produce wonderful objects from a range of vintage artifacts that she finds near her home in northern Louisiana. She’s finally taken some of her 1940s-inspired women’s wear, handmade dolls, laptop bags and collages and put them for sale online. Take a look!

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Gallery Weekend Berlin

May 4, 2008

There’s a lot to see in Berlin this week with three dozen galleries participating the the ongoing Gallery Weekend Berlin, and at least as many others timing their openings to coincide with the event. Some highlights were Carlier | Gebrauer’s opening of its new space on Markgrafenstrasse, Eigen + Art’s presentation of Carsten Nicolai’s take on the Big Bang through his reading of redshift theory, Olafur Eliasson’s perceptual experimentations at neugerriemchneider, Mika Tajima’s installation of permeable barriers at COMA, and Mona Hatoum’s industrial-sized exhibition at Max Hetzler’s temporary space in Wedding. Below are some images from the Tajima opening and the Hatoum show.

Mika Tajima, The Double exhibition.

Shu and Mika.

Mona Hatoum, Undercurrent (red), 2008, electric cables, light bulbs, dimmer.

Mona Hatoum, Cube (9x9x9), 2008, black steel.

Mona Hatoum, Daybed, 2008, black steel.

Mona Hatoum, Unhomely, installation view.

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Keith’s 50th

May 1, 2008

In honor of what would have been Keith Haring’s 50th birthday this Sunday, Deitch Projects has commissioned the recreation of a large mural Haring painted in 1982 at the corner of Houston and Bowery in New York.

Interesting idea. I wonder if the replication of other well-know pieces of graffiti/street art that have long since been destroyed might follow? Basquiat maybe?

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Positioning “Lessness”

The 2008 Whitney Biennial has drawn a good bit of flak not for the collection of work on display, but for the failure of its curators to make intelligible the terms in which they have discussed that work. Eric Gibson at the Wall Street Journal wrote a piece last week describing Shamim M. Momin and Henriette Huldisch’s words as “unalloyed gibberish,” and went on to lament the state of art writing in America as a path of “willful obscurantism” that can be traced back to the philosophizing of art that occurred post-Duchamp. He continues:

From the late 19th century to just after World War II, writing about modern art was clear. It had to be. Critics from Émile Zola to Clement Greenberg were trying to explain new and strange art forms to a public that was often hostile to the avant-garde. To have a hope of making their case, these writers couldn’t afford to obfuscate. Today, when curators and critics can count on a large audience willing to embrace new art simply because it is new, they don’t have to try as hard.

Perhaps, but I would argue that the current “post-historical” state of contemporary art makes more thoughtful, lucid writing about art both harder and more crucial. If the idea of the progressive development of art history has been abandoned along with the notion of art as an essentially mimetic occupation, then the rationalization for placing a work within an exhibition of recent, important American art needs to be stated, and stated clearly. If Arthur Danto has it right, a work doesn’t stand alone apart from an interpretation; it is in part constituted by what is said about it. For a work to produce effects, someone has to voice a position about the work that situates it within a context and suggests how it gives us reason to think about that context. Which isn’t easy, but, I would agree, is something one would expect from the curators of a major American art biennial. In contrast to the exhibition materials, Momin and Huldisch’s conversation about the show with Time’s Richard Lacayo seems to offer a more succinct description of their position.

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