Feb 24, 2011

Aug 28, 2010

where have i been?

I haven't posted on here in a while. It is not because I am neglecting my blogging, quite the contrary. I've simply been using my Tumblr blog by the same name more and more. Initially, my intention was to save Tumblr for things I like to gush about more so than what I attempted here which was opinions, reviews, and the like. Recently the two have merged a bit and the easier Tumblr format has prevailed (for instance I just posted about Jacques Audiard’s excellent De Battre Mon Couer s’est Arrete (The Beat That My Heart Skipped)

I intend to keep this blogspot for larger, more elaborate posts, but not much else... at least not for right now.


Jul 3, 2010

we are love

i just posted the following on my Tumblr about the new film I Am Love: 

I Am Love is amazing, stunning, immaculate, gratifying, inspiring…. I want to see this again, NOW! I can’t remember a film being this perfect before. literally beginning to end PERFECT! i want to study it. i want to dissect it. i want to memorize it. i want to live by it. i cannot believe this movie exists! incredible! 

I feel I need to write more about the film but have yet to digest it all. It is about love so great one could move mountains with its force. I feel, if viewed with an open mind, a film like I Am Love could change someone's life and subsequently the world. I truly believe that. Everyone should see this... and now! 

Jun 26, 2010

love fades... again

Better than couples therapy, writer/director Maren Ade's Alle Anderen (Everyone Else) is the all too true-to-life story of two young lovers painfully figuring out their relationship isn't all its cracked up to be. On more than one occasion I found myself relating specifically to the disconnect felt between the two main characters. Sure, we all know love fades, but rarely have I seen a film chronicle the process so thoroughly and with such attention to detail. The end result is heartbreaking, at times grueling to watch. We've all been there and will probably be there again (just look at the title!).

I'm still figuring out the details, but I think the film is attempting to present the evolution of relationships in the past century and how we are slowly becoming more disconnected, if casual as a society when it comes to love. Pretty fascinating. Timely. Contemporary. And, as the youngest in the theater by far, something I believe was lost on most everyone else in the audience. 

If you're in the Miami area, see this great, superbly acted film at the Tower Theater on Calle Ocho before its run ends. If you're young and ever been in love, you'll be glad you did.

Jun 2, 2010

just gimme some truth

I noticed MOCA NOMI's upcoming exhibition Claire Fontaine: Economies opens this Friday. This reminded me of a review I began writing of their recent Cory Arcangel retro but never finished. I figured I'd just go ahead and post what I have before it's completely irrelevant (I added a quick closing line and a link to a recent article at the end)...

I saved visiting MoCA North Miami's recent exhibition Cory Arcangel: The Sharper Image (just closed in May, their next exhibition opens this week) until the artist's visit and lecture on April 24. Anticipating a standard lecture about his work, I made it to the museum an hour before the artist's arrival in order to immerse myself in the work on my own terms first, expecting to delve into the work with a freshened perspective afterward. To my surprise, the lecture didn't give me a new perspective on his work so much as a new perspective on the artist himself (who looks just like Jamie Kennedy of Malibu's Most Wanted, by the way). Reminding me of comedians such as Demetri Martin and the late Mitch Hedberg, Arcangel's lecture was more a comedy performance than informative diatribe. Unfortunately (or is it?) his "performance" was perhaps better than the artwork itself. After the lecture I skeptically returned to the exhibition questioning the amusing works, wondering if there was more than mere laughs. I'm afraid I came back nearly empty-handed.

Arcangel's works tend to be simultaneously art historically referential and self referential. They exist simultaneously in the past and very much in the now, making references to the contemporary art world and technologies that are or will soon be obsolete.

They say, and I'm not sure who "they" are, that comedy is harder to achieve in the arts then drama or terror and should be lauded as such. Internet humor is a talent for sure and Arcangel's references to YouTube and cheesy GIF-laden websites of years past taps into a new kind of virtual relationalist aesthetic not seen or expressed before. His modern interpretations of Fluxus processes and Steve Reich's compositions are cheeky, clever, and immediately engaging. And yet these works hardly go beyond that. Sure some of them tip-toe their way into the sublime -- works such as Sweet 16 or his large, almost ethereal Photoshop C-Prints (pictured) -- but one is taken back rather quickly and harshly by the works' wry beginnings. For me, most everything in The Sharper Image is too cynical (almost to the point of misanthropy), the inside jokes too loud to ultimately be taken as anything more.

This might be a generational thing, but I prefer more sincere, straightforward art. Give me honesty, skip the cynicism.

May 25, 2010

the day i fell in love with the world again

Our trip to New York more or less revolved around the Museum of Modern Art's amazing exhibition Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present. Basically going to New York to sit with her and see the exhibition, it was fitting that I spent two full days in MoMA, nearly all of which was spent in line waiting to sit with the artist. Of course waiting in line becomes part of one's experience and thus part of the piece itself. The entire experience was beautiful and unforgettable.

Writing about this, so enthused by the entire experience, I nearly forgot how I had been skeptical of the performance and to a certain extent of Marina's entire oeuvre. Initially years ago, I foolishly labeled her work feminist and nothing more. Later revising my stance, I realized just about none of her work is feminist and, beyond that, fell in love with her early works, particularly those just before joining forces with Ulay such as Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful and her Freeing series and Rhythm series of works. Even still, I remained cautious of her later work and viewed the idea of reperformance and the exhibition and her "presence" as insincere and a tad self indulgent. And so, while determined to sit with her and be a part of art history, I arrived to the museum in need of convincing.

We got to MoMA on Thursday, around 9:30. I had read of the long lines and about purchasing one's ticket in advance, but nothing could prepare me for the amount of excitement and sheer frenzy of it all. We got our free "I'm a museum professional" tickets at the information desk and stood in line to enter the museum. Once allowed to wait at the base of the steps to go up the stairs to the second floor and the atrium where Marina was waiting, an imposing figure spoke to the crowd: "There will be no running. If you run you will be escorted from the building. Everyone is number one. Marina wouldn't want anyone to get hurt. Etc..." As soon as he allowed the lobby of patrons towards the stairs, all of his words were forgotten as hundreds ran up the stairs attempting to be adults (this is a museum after all) while not allowing anyone in front of them. There was yelling and shoving, but once everything was said and done everyone settled down and accepted their place in line. I immediately felt the entire morning's process cheapened the work a bit and later thought about the socio-political implications of this experiential commodity Marina had created and how it had grown in popularity and demand over the weeks of the exhibition.

I thought about many things during the seven hours I spent waiting to sit with her. From the moment I laid my eyes upon her that morning, I was transported. There, dressed completely in white, with her head slightly bent forward, she closed her eyes as if saving her energy for the impending expelling of all that she had. And there was an energy in the room that was palpable and undeniable. I could not look at her without getting nauseous and overcome with emotion. My heart rate would quicken and I would begin to shiver. Waiting in line I thought about and discussed with those around me how anyone, unless they were blind (and even they might be able to), regardless of language, age, religion, sex, etc. could sit with her and experience the work at the same level. Her chair was a great equalizer of sorts. I also thought about how merely waiting in line I was a part of art history, part of an important work that will never be duplicated (or will it?).

I made friends and formed bonds while in line. Besides getting to know Catalina and Angelica even better, I met Eliza, Jordon, Greg, David, Diane, Sarah, and many other participants and museum staff for the first time. Most of those in line wouldn't make it to see Marina. None of us did the first day.

By the next day (Friday), we knew the drill. We arrived early, around 8:30, waiting outside both entrances to the museum. We discussed our plan of attack and by 10:30, after an even more ridiculous mad dash to the second floor, I was 15th in line. Much better than the 21st I started with the day before. Still, I was a little nervous I wouldn't be able to see her. But after speaking with most of my comrades in line and spending time feeling out the line I gained confidence that today was the day.

Waiting in line I realized how everyone has very different reasons to sit with Marina. I met Ananda who turned her experience with Marina into a performance onto itself, associating the experience with the death of her mother, sitting with her a total of 29 times (I witnessed her 28th, her 29th was this past Sunday).

Unlike the day before, I could look at Marina for more than a couple of seconds without losing my head. Still, I hardly looked at her face until my turn arrived. Angelica (pictured left) went right before me and before I knew it, it was my turn to sit. My heart was in my throat, pounding a mile a minute. I began to shiver and became extremely self-conscious. I got the signal to go ahead and as soon as I sat down something partly instinctual and partly inexplicable came over me. Marina pulled her head back, opening her eyes and locked her gaze onto mine. I had planned on speaking to her (with my mind of course) about countless important things: the universe, love and life, my family and past relationships, and about how much she's done, asking her for wisdom and strength. But when I actually stared into her eyes, I was overcome with so much emotion, such raw energy I couldn't help but be taken back to a more basic level. I wanted to kiss her forehead and hug her for days. By the end of what felt like seconds, but was actually 11 minutes, I was so grateful and full of so much love and positive energy that all of a sudden I felt selfish for sitting there. I wanted everyone in the world to feel what I was feeling. And as a firm believer that art can change lives I thought about how many lives could be positively touched that day. How could I sit in that chair while there were so many still in line? Suddenly I realized just an ounce of selfishness would be so fundamentally contrary to what the work is about that I didn't want to corrupt the piece. Within seconds of those feelings, I closed my eyes slowly to thank her and leave. She seemed sad to see me go so soon and so I hesitated a bit, but then continued and bowed my head. I grabbed my things, exited the square, and immediately found a quiet area near a wall. Out of breath and disoriented, I held my head in my hands thinking about a million things. Visibly exhausted, a girl asked me if I needed water. I thanked her and said I was fine. A couple of minutes passed and Angelica decided to see if I was ok. As soon as she put her hand on my shoulder I felt a release. I collapsed to the floor weeping and sobbing profusely. I was immensely grateful. Staring into Marina's eyes for so long, in such an intense manner, made me yearn for and react to human contact like never before.

To think she's been doing this for so long! Her body must be taking a serious toll. I am so grateful for her dedication, strength, and selflessness.

Angelica later wrote she "fell in love with [her]self again." That day I fell in love with the world again.

For further reading on Marina Abramović and her landmark exhibition and performance read Arthur C. Danto's excellent New York Times write up.

May 16, 2010

let's give new york another chance...

So I'll be heading back to New York this coming Wednesday and I'm very excited to give the city a second chance. I visited NY for the first time in my adult life back in December of 2008 and returned disillusioned, depressed, heartbroken, and on the verge of a small identity crisis. Perhaps it was the failing relationship I was in at the time, or maybe it had something to do with the freezing/gloomy weather my body doesn't react well to. I'm not sure, but this time I'm cranking up that Jay-Z song on my iPod and doing things right!

I'll be going with three great friends (Catalina, Angelica, and Raymond). We're only going to be there for 5 days and 4 nights, but we plan on sleeping very little and doing way too many awesome things. Here's what we've got planned...

We'll be crashing at an apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (not pictured below).

One of the reasons we all wanted to go to New York now rather than later: to go here...

for a chance to be part of art history and sit with this lady.

Besides MoMA we plan on seeing lots of art. Like the biennial at the Whitney,

the New Museum (where Jeff Koons has curated his first show),

P.S.1 (which we'll try and visit Sunday for the opening of Greater New York),

and hopefully some galleries (maybe Deitch Projects? Postmasters? Gogosian on Madison? who knows).

New York is known for it's great parks and we are all looking forward to checking out the newly opened and still unfinished High Line park on Manhattan's West Side.

Of course, Angelica made sure we went on the same weekend as NYC Popfest so we'll be heading over to Don Hill's on Friday to see Allo Darlin', Pants Yell!, and Tender Trap amongst others.

Of course, I made sure we went on the same weekend as LCD Soundsystem. We'll be seeing his third of four shows at Terminal 5 on Saturday. Not only will I be dancing ALL night, but I'll be able to check one more thing off my list of things I want to do before I die.

Besides all of the above, we'll be fitting in as much eccentric shopping, amazing food, and lots of unplanned adventures as we possibly can. If you know of any great thrift stores (and not the kind that sells used pairs of jeans for $300), amazing little eateries, things that are not-to-be-missed, and/or want to meet up, please let me know.

I'll certainly be posting on here about how it all goes, though make sure to look out for my tweets and tumblr posts for ongoing coverage. Bye bye, see you on the flip side...

Apr 11, 2010

expose yourself

Cut Piece by Yoko Ono immediately grabs one's attention, becoming doubly absorbing by the second. First performed in 1964 at the Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo, Yoko executed the work by walking on stage and kneeling on the floor in a skirt and sweater. Audience members were requested to come on stage and begin cutting away her garments until she was naked.

Although the Jean-Paul Sartre inspired work is at first meant to be an existentialist statement on the artist's identity, to me, it is at once an altruistic act. I see the performance and happening as a statement on how to live and love, bearing ourselves, putting ourselves out there, open to judgment, ridicule, and being taken advantage of.

Thanks to archival footage, we can relive to a certain extent one of these performances and get a good feel for what it was like for Yoko. One can hear the giggles from the audience. One can see the varying sizes of clothing audience members chose to cut off as well as Yoko's face which fascinatingly shifts from triumph to uncertainty to (perhaps) regret. The most interesting and telling portion of the video of the recorded performance below comes around the 7 minute mark when a man cuts a substantial amount of her undergarment (typical male!), leaving her literally and figuratively exposed and vulnerable.


Mar 31, 2010

embracing the life you never planned on

We've all had this experience before. I'm at work trying to explain to a co-worker why he needs to see a new movie I absolutely loved. The movie in question is the recently released comedy/drama, Greenberg. Just after revealing it stars Ben Stiller I am dismissed completely. Ok, I can understand a little apprehension towards the funny man.
I tell him "Greenberg is to Ben Stiller what Punch Drunk Love is to Adam Sandler."
"But I hate Adam Sandler!" I protest.
Still nothing.
"Noah Baumbach is the director. Does that mean anything to you?"
I then briefly try explaining to him why it's required contemporary viewing. How it's the best film I've seen this year (The White Ribbon doesn't count as it was a 2009 release I simply saw this year). He concluded the conversation with a mere "I'll download it when it comes out."

I felt defeated to say the least. What else could I have said? Well, let me first warn you that you're probably not going to like this film. As with nearly all great films in recent memory, most audience members left the Sunrise Cinema I saw it at grumbling to themselves, posting trite phrases on the message board in the theater's lobby such as "tedious!" or "BORING!". I tell you this not to dissuade you, but rather to make a rather valid point. With an unlikeable, narcissistic protagonist, Greenberg is not Meet the Fockers.

In Greenberg, Stiller plays a depressed, passive aggressive 40-something New Yorker house-sitting for his vacationing brother in his hometown of L.A. There he catches up with old friends including his ex-girlfriend ("the one that got away") and two past best friends and band mates. He also meets and immediately commences a relationship with his brother's assistant, Florence, an adorable but lost 20-something played by Greta Gerwig. The short but passionate journey upon witch the titular character embarks is a rocky, grueling, and at times remarkable one. Living a life of cynicism and regret ever since walking out on a recording contract and losing what he feels was the woman of his dreams, Roger Greenberg has reached a tipping point during witch he's decided to do "nothing" in a sad attempt to reconcile his deep seeded self-reproach. Equally lost but not yet jaded is Florence whom may be able to save him, if he only gives her the chance.

Roger is constantly pushed outside of his comfort zone of witty one liners and writing letters of complaint to large corporations. As a New York pedestrian who has forgotten to drive a car, a point is made in the film about how he is basically stranded in L.A, dependent upon others for this basic need. Throughout the film he has no choice but to ask for a ride, usually from Florence, forcing him to make contact with those around him even when he'd rather ignore them. Most of us need small earthquakes sometimes to shake us up and get us moving when in a rut. Then again, there are some like Roger that need more than that. With this in mind, Greenberg is fascinating as we watch the main character as he is forced to confront the breaking down of wall after wall.

Stiller does everything asked of him by the ingeniously true-to-life screenplay (his character's Chap-Stick obsession is hilarious). However, it is Mumblecore director Gerwig, who AO Scott said "may well be the definitive screen actress of her generation," that does a fabulous job of seemingly not acting at all. She steals just about every scene from Stiller and gives Greenberg its delicate heart and soul.

This, Baumbach's third film and what many believe to be his best, is a rather bleak, cautionary tale and ultimately an uplifting and thought provoking one. Though you may not notice if you blink. I believe it is also an important film. Important because it reflects a common contemporary disease: the relentless pursuit of the career. More specifically the drive to become famous and/or "successful", ingrained into all of us from the moment we enter this world, increased unabated as we age. This self-indulgent societal disease tells us we are failures if haven't "made it" by the time we're 40, making no reference to a basic human need... What of love? What of our relationships? I'm not talking about marriage, kids, and a home. Instead I am referring to the building of lasting and meaningful relationships with as many as one can possibly fit into one's life. What ever happened to the pursuit of this kind of success? Success at love. Baumbach's Roger Greenberg finds out the hard way that it is this kind of success that has alluded him his entire adult life. He finds that he must, as his best friend realizes, embrace the life he never planned on. If he can do this... If we can do this, essentially reorganizing our priorities, then everything will fall into place. Yes, it's that simple.

Watch the misleading trailer for Greenberg below. The film is not nearly this romantic or blatantly uplifting.

Mar 24, 2010

lost in L.A.

More photos taken during a trip to the West Coast...

After driving by the Hoover Dam and taking a pit-stop at the Grand Canyon, we drove several hours to Los Angeles. To my surprise, I loved L.A.. A sprawling, never-ending city, its mixture of buzzing city, eclectic architecture, and warm beaches really made a good first impression on me. With much more to say, L.A. is like a far more substantial and interesting Miami.

We spent three short days there, in which I managed to visit the 1940-80 portion of MOCA, LA's expansive 30th Anniversary permanent collection exhibition, the eccentric Museum of Neon Art, much of downtown's great architecture, Santa Monica Beach and Pier, too much of Hollywood (by foot no less) including the legendary Amoeba Records, and Olvera Street. I could have gotten lost there for weeks.

Now some of MOCA, LA, where I fell in love with James Rosenquist, discovered Bridget Riley, and rediscovered Lichtenstein and many other greats.

Below, A hypnotizing work by Doug Wheeler, RM 669, 1969.

On the floor Barry Le Va's great Shatterscatter (Within the Series of Layered/Pattern Acts), 1968-71, and on the wall to the left, the longest movie ever made, Tony Conrad's witty Yellow Movie.

and behind me in the same room...
Bruce Nauman's Four Corner Piece, 1971. I couldn't get enough of this work! Hey, that's me on TV!

I took a couple fun, multi-exposure shots with my Lomo Diana Mini at the Museum of Neon Art.

In Hollywood...

A great Samuel L. Jackson impersonator in Hollywood. He was more than willing to pose and look away as I took the picture. Maybe I should've given him some kind of monetary compensation...

Olvera Street / El Pueblo de Los Angeles. Mmm, Mexican food and prostituted dancing child entertainers.

The dizzying lights of the street vendors there.

At a yummy Mexican restaurant my dad posed like a conquistador for me; something I will be forever grateful for.

We got to Santa Monica beach and the pier just as the sun began to set and it was epic! Certainly a touristy thing to do, but popular for a reason.

I love the disappearing palm trees and pier in this one.

These two were taken while riding on the roller-coaster on the pier.

We finished off the day a great little Italian restaurant somewhere in Venice Beach.