shu and joe

Posts filed under ‘NYC’

Burden of Infamy

July 11, 2008

Chris Burden’s 65 foot tall model skyscraper composed of one million enlarged Erector Set pieces was unveiled in Rockefeller Center in June and will be removed a week from today. The piece, titled What My Dad Gave Me, is in line with Burden’s more recent acts of boyish engineering fantasy turned material, but seems quite removed from the 1970s performances of acts of personal risk that established his reputation.

Chris Burden, “What My Dad Gave Me” (2008) at Rockefeller Center. Photo by Stuart Ramson, courtesy Public Art Fund, Gagosian Gallery, and Tishman Speyer

There was a nice piece by Peter Schjeldahl in the New Yorker last year that made sense of this division, suggesting that after Burden’s Doomed (1975), there was no more territory for him to explore in terms of the absolution of ethical responsibility for viewers when confronted with works of art. And so a new course was in order. Most of the canonical pieces from Burden’s early phase can be seen in a 35 minute video that is online at UBUWEB.

One more clip: this is Burden talking about my favorite piece from his oeuvre, Samson (1985), which was installed at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle. The piece consists of a 100 ton jack and a turnstile that, with each revolution, slowly applies pressure to the gallery walls. In theory, if enough viewers enter the gallery space, the walls would collapse.

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July 6, 2008

I’ve long been fascinated by Roosevelt Island and Louis Kahn’s 1973 FDR Memorial proposal. The project was never realized due to New York’s financial crisis through the 70s and Kahn’s unexpected heart attack in a Penn Station bathroom in 1974. The south tip of the island, where Kahn’s memorial was to be situated, has become hotly contested ground over the past six months as renewed interest in the FDR project has sparked protest from some local residents who claim that Kahn’s plan will obstruct the sublime panoramic views that the site’s current treeless condition affords. has uploaded a few video clips related to the ongoing controversy. In the clip below, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation President Steve Shane take a walk around the project site with Dick Lutz, managing editor of Roosevelt Island’s local paper, the Main Street WIRE.

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Bucky Fuller – On Building Bridges

Although I’ve already missed much of the Buckminster Fuller-related activity taking over New York this summer, I’m still hoping to catch the Whitney’s show, Starting With the Universe. His utopian dreams may not have been realized, but I don’t think his goal of building bridges for the future can be called a failure.

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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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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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Waterfalls of New York

April 27, 2008

Nice interview with Olafur Eliasson up at Spiegel online. He discusses his $15 million waterfall project in development for New York’s East River, the obfuscation of reality, prejudice in Berlin and why he believes that developing projects for corporate sponsors like BMW without “getting [his] fingers dirty.” Good read.

Four waterfalls will be installed along the East River – this rendering shows one sited for the base of the Brooklyn Bridge.

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What are Curses?

April 21, 2008

Very Short List guided me to a bizarrely edited clip of Charlie Rose talking to Charlie Rose about technology, which somehow led me to Animal Collective’s new video for Water Curses, directed by Andrew Kuo, whose data visualization of recent Boredoms shows was featured last week in the New York Times.

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The Heartbeat of a Bird, online

April 17, 2008

Our friend Rob Wynne has just launched a website featuring some of his work from the past 10 years. Some of Rob’s thread drawings were included in our book By Hand, but his new poured and blown glass pieces are also stunning.

The Heartbeat of a Bird, installation view, 2006.

The Last Fairy Tale, 2007. poured and mirrored glass. 63″ x 79″

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Tokyo TDC 2008

April 15, 2008

The Tokyo Type Directors Club has an exhibition of selections from its 2008 Annual up at the Ginza Graphic Gallery until April 26. A project I developed a few years back called Sleep Space is in the show.

Joe Magliaro, Sleep Space, 2005, 1000 vinyl stickers, photographic documentation.

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