Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ben in Holland 1963-2013






[Ben Vautier]
Ben in Holland 1963-2013
Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Cult Club, 2013
[unpaginated], 31 x 21.5 cm., staplebound
Edition of 100


This beautifully produced, hand-bound book featuring texts by Jeannette Dekeukeleire and Harry Ruhe (who recently opened Cult Club together) is published on the occasion of the exhibition of same name held at artKITCHEN Gallery & Galerie A, from the 28th of September to the 26th of October, of last year.

Modelled after Vautier's legendary 1963 artist book Ben Dieu (below), the catalogue has the appearance of an artists'  publication, and bears the hallmarks of all of Ruhe's productions, beginning with Fluxus: the most radical and experimental art movement of the sixties, in 1979. The book includes tipped in photographs, newspaper clippings, facsimile reproductions of Vautier's handwritten correspondence (much of it to Ruhe) and other ephemera. It also includes a chronology of Vautier's activity in Holland, much of which took place at Ruhe's Galerie A, and a folded card exhibition invitation.

"In July 1958 Ben Vautier bought a shop in the Rue Tondutti de l'escarène in Nice, France. After the purchase, he took a piece of wood, wrote the word ‘Discothèque’ on it and hung it above the front door. Another sign was added to the first not much later. The records were sold at half price. More signs were placed in front of his store which eventually gave the impression of a junk shop.

For years ben could be found at the porch of his store. He had discussions with passersby, ran actions and organized events with fellow artists. It made him the focal point of what would later be called: École de Nice.

In 1964 Ben was visited by Ad Peterson, who at the time was a curator of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. He witnessed Ben placing a chair in the middle of the road, again with a written text board. He sat down while the traffic raged on: regarded moi cela suffit je suis art."

- Ben in Holland 










Lawrence Weiner | MOI + TOI & NOUS



Lawrence Weiner
MOI + TOI & NOUS
Toronto, Canada: Shark Editions, 1995
2.5 x 24.5 x 5.5 cm
Edition of 500 signed and numbered copies


Published by John Goodwin's Shark Editions (who also produced works by Mark Dion, Moyra Davey, Maurizio Nannucci, Hans Peter Feldmann and many others), this battery powered wrist watch features a custom rubber band and is housed in a hinged gift box and slip case, accompanied by a signed and numbered certificate. The face of the watch features Weiner's text MOI + TOI & NOUS, with X's and O's representing the hours.

The intended edition of 500 was never realized, and only 350 copies were produced.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mieko Shiomi | Disappearing Music for Face








Mieko Shiomi
Fluxfilm No. 4 : “Disappearing Music for Face”
New York City, USA: ReFlux, 2002
[40] pp., 4 x 6.2 cm., staple-bound
Edition of 79

A work by Mieko (Chieko) Shiomi, performed by Yoko Ono, designed by George Maciunas, published by Fluxus, photographed by Peter Moore and re-published by his wife Barbara Moore (who ran Reflux Editions, and Bound and Unbound, among other things). The date and edition size of the original Fluxus work is unknown, but when Moore acquired the Maciunas estate she discovered enough vintage printed sheets to re-collate 79 copies as the Reflux edition.

In 1966, Maciunas got his hands on an expensive high-speed 'scientific analysis camera', which recorded film at a rate of 2000 frames a second.  When the resulting films are projecting at the standard speed of 24 frames a second, it produced an extreme sensual slow motion effect. Having access to the camera for only a single day, he set up in photographer Peter Moore’s East 36th Street apartment and invited a number of Fluxus artists to submit projects that could be filmed in the short production session.

Shiomi's contribution was a work that she had originally presented as a performance piece in 1964 (see below).  The original score for the performance simply reads: "Performers begin the piece with a smile and during the duration of the piece, change the smell very gradually to no smile". The eight seconds of footage shot that day of Ono moving from smile to no smile, became an 11 minute, 15 second film (though the duration of the piece changes and in Fluxus newsletters Maciunas advertises it as fifteen minutes in length in 1966 and ten minutes long in 1969).

Maciunas had hoped to turn many of the Fluxfilms into flip books, but only this title and Dick Higgins Invocation of Canyons and Boulders were ever produced.


“What happened was that Chieko Shiomi [...] had just left to go to Japan.  Then this high-speed camera idea came up, and when George was saying, ‘Quick, quick, ideas,’ I said, ‘Well, how about smile’; and he said, ‘No, you can’t do that one.’ Finally, he said, ‘Well, OK, actually I wanted to save that for Chieko Shiomi because she had the same idea.  But I will let you perform.’  So that’s me smiling. Later I found out that hers was a disappearing piece; the concept is totally different from what I wanted to do.  Chieko Shiomi’s idea is beautiful; she catches the disappearance of a smile.  At the time I didn’t know what her title was.”
- Yoko Ono


"I remember the Fluxfilms very clearly because I was friends with George at the time when that project came together. One day he told me with a broad laugh that he was going to rent a high-speed camera and that all the Fluxus artists were going to make films in one day, and that it would cost hardly anything. I think George loved being able to trample traditions and expectations; here
was a way for the Fluxus group to become star filmmakers with virtually no effort or expenditure.

John Cale had shot a little film, and he gave that to George, and other people made conceptual pieces that they executed using that high-speed camera. Yoko Ono did several, and Chieko Shiomi did the beautiful Disappearing Music for Face, a wonderful film."

- Tony Conrad

The flip-book is available at Printed Matter, here, for $150 US, and the original film can be viewed at Vimeo, here.









Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mungo Thomson | Antenna Baldessari



Mungo Thomson
Antenna Baldessari
New York City, USA: Printed Matter, 2002
2" in diameter
Edition of 500

Thomson pays tribute to his former professor at UCLA in a work made as a fundraiser for Printed Matter and the Art Book Fair.


"Mungo Thomson: John Baldessari had a big effect on me before we ever met or worked together. He was the first artist I looked at, as a very young and struggling art student, and thought that making art could actually be fun, not just gut-wrenching. It was a huge relief. And his work still hits me like that.

To me, John has been able to somehow balance intellectual inquiry with a desire to be entertained. His work is serious, but first it is usually “taking the piss”, as your people like to say. And these are things I take from him. Balancing contradiction, making odd connections, going after “bad ideas”, engaging in exercises as the work, and doing it all with good humor and generosity, above all for himself, was very influential, and very permissive.

Adam Carr: The importance of Baldessari as a tutor, or guide, was exemplified in the work Antenna Baldessari, in which you had foam antenna balls resembling Baldessari manufactured that could subsequently be found adorning car arials around LA. Could you speak about this particular piece?

Mungo Thomson: He has also been very important to an in-between generation of artists and teachers who were important to me, like Jim Welling and Lari Pittman, who were his students at CalArts. And there are also LA artists that I didn’t study with but who studied with John and whose work had an impact on me, like Stephen Prina and Christopher Williams. And there were all my fellow students, legions of us. Basically John has an army, like Jack-in-the-Box and The LA Dodgers (though smaller of course), and those institutions have their $5 foam antenna ball heads driving all over LA. So Antenna Baldessari came out of that."

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Carole Condé & Karl Beveridge | ...It’s Still Privileged Art







Carole Condé and Karl Beveridge
...It’s Still Privileged Art
Toronto, Canada: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1976
[44] pp., 13.5 x 20 cm., staple-bound
Edition size unknown

The conversation around 'white male privilege' hit a peak point a few months ago, when right-wing Princeton student Tal Fortgang published his essay "Checking My Privilege: Character as the Basis of Privilege”. This text, published in a conservative campus magazine, was followed by a slew of appearances on Fox News, a guest editorial for Time Magazine, and lengthy rebuttals from Salon, Jezebel, The Huffington Post and The New York Times.  Somewhat ironically, his push-back to the notion of privilege, introduced the concept to a larger audience, and the phrase “check your privilege” began to trend on twitter, tumblr, reddit, and other social media.

A New Yorker article a few weeks later cites the origins of the term: a 1988 essay titled “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women’s Studies” written by Peggy McIntosh, a women’s-studies scholar at Wellesley.

Presumably the idea can be further traced back as far as the civil rights movement, but it’s worth noting that this slim oblong book predates the McIntosh text by more than two decades. An artists’ book produced as a catalogue to Condé and Beveridge's 1975 AGO exhibition of the name, the title features a series of cartoons and texts that narrate the artists’ move - inspired by Art and Language and the nascent conceptual art movement- from producing minimalist and formalist work to politicized social engagement, and from solo output to a committed collaboration.

“Carole has gone shopping and returns with the mail. Karl is elated at receiving a Canada Council grant. Carole must hide her jealousy and appeared pleased. It’s money to work with and live on” reads one of the deadpan captions. Another portrays money arriving another way: “Success! The Collector purchases a drawing. They show him other work, caressing his idiosyncrasies and terrorizing his complacency (which he loves). However, he feels uneasy with Art. They gossip and eat instead”.

The premises are reportedly based on taped conversations the artists had with each other in 1975, when they began questioning "the art market and the ideological assumptions behind it.” This politicization of their work coincided with the invitation to create an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  According to Fuse Magazine, here, the resulting exhibition drew controversy and "caused a backlash from some board members and sponsors” leading curator, Roald Nasgaard to note that “the withdrawal of sponsorship from the gallery in which it was shown ironically led to it becoming the AGO’s first dedicated space for contemporary art."

For more information, visit the artists’ website, here.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Fiona Banner | Table Stops












Fiona Banner
Table Stops
London, UK: The Multiples Store, 2000
30 x 30 x 16cm
Edition of 100

Fiona Banner followed the ‘wordscapes’ for which she became known - sprawling objective texts describing films ranging from Lawrence of Arabia to Point Break to pornography and, in her book The Nam, films about the Viet Nam War - with works using only punctuation, and no words. The ‘full stop’ (or ‘period’ in American English) became the subject of a series of graphite drawings and sculptural works made out of styrofoam and, later, concrete (see below).

Table Stops is a collection of seven glazed ceramic full stops, housed in a compartmentalized wooden box. Each full stop presents a different font reimagined as a three-dimensional object: Avant Garde, Courier, Formata, Klang, Nuptial, Optical and Slipstream. They are enlarged to the same scale, though vary considerably in size and shape.

"Table Stops are abstract points of focus. Like tableware, or executive toys, they are to be handled and moved around. The act of arranging and rearranging them enacts a silent conversation.”
- Fiona Banner


Available here for £1,750 inc VAT.