Trevor Paglen Janet Pass By/Cactus Flat, NV/Distance ~19 miles 2006 2-minute video loop [still from video installation]
Trevor Paglen The Workers/Las Vegas, NV/Distance ~1 mile 2006 8-minute video loop [still from video installation]
The still and video images each look like they were grabbed from some totally benign context, even when you've already begun to understand the artist's intentions, but soon the identity of the reality represented by these documents begins to register with a thud. Although Trevor Paglen's powerful and disturbingly beautiful multi-media installation can be seen at Bellwether until December 23, it is decidely not a holiday excursion.
From the press release:
Over the last five years, Trevor Paglen has developing unique visual strategies to explore the "black world" of classified military and intelligence activities. To produce his photographs of secret military installations Paglen uses powerful telescopes and employs astronomical techniques to capture his subject from dozens of miles away - a proprietary technique he terms "Limit-Telephotography." The sheer distances, heat, and atmospheric distortions captured in his work result in photographs that often take on the qualities of impressionistic paintings.
Paglen is the first and only person to have photographed several of the CIA's "black sites" overseas - a collection of secret prisons whose existence (but not locations) the CIA has only recently acknowledged. These never-before-seen photographs will also be on display. Other works on view include a diverse collection of patches and symbols worn by people working on secret military programs - programs that do not officially "exist" - and forged signatures from the corporate documents of CIA front companies.
By confronting us with images of a world that cannot be seen with the naked eye, and that do not "officially" exist, Paglen asks the viewer to meditate on the limits of vision, abstraction and the nature of evidence as he performs a series of stunning interventions into the history of landscape photography.
The almost certainly deliberate antiseptic, virtually laboratorial environment of the installation only increases their horror. Trevor Paglen's "Black World" at Bellwether gallery is actually our world. None of us needs his 7000mm lens to discover the reality of government terror conducted in our name around the world, but we can be grateful to Paglan, and Bellwether, for the art which will make its face impossible to forget.
untitled (star crack) 2006
West 18th Street, the view from somewhere inside: Chelsea can still be a little edgy if you know where to look.
Claudine Anrather Dreaming Electric Sheep 2006 oil on linen 72" x 96' [installation view, very large detail]
Claudine Anrather Flower 2006 18" x 20" [installation view]
31 Grand is showing some gorgeous paintings by Claudine Anrather through December 3 in an exhibition titled, "Beyond the Pale". The artist's medium-distance landscapes are painted in oil on both large and small canvases.
The colorful flora and fauna which adorn them are described by the gallery as the Austrian artist's tribute to the beloved mountains of her heritage, although her wonderful yet somewhat optimistic, rose or parti-colored lens doesn't quite obscure the tension and messiness which is a part of any real forest, and even more likely in a forest of the imagination. Here the mix is both intoxicating and a bit distrubing.
One very large canvas, not actually part of the show, was hung on the back wall of the office area. The work has not even been titled yet, but for reasons which include one magnificent dragonfly and the exceptional appearance of a solitary human face, I've decided to include it here.
Claudine Anrather [title unknown at this time] 2006 oil on linen 60" x 90" [detail of installation]
untitled (red wall) 2006
untitled (cranes) 2006
American involvement in World War II lasted exactly three years, eight months and one week. As of today, the American war in Iraq has lasted exactly three years, eight months and one week.
There is of course no other equivalence.
Some of the last roses and last leaves of, er . . . autumn, seen Friday through the tall iron fence which surrounds Jefferson Market Garden which, through much of the mid-twentieth century, was the site of the New York Women's House of Detention.
The institution's prominent location in the commercial center of a crowded Greenwich Village was apparently a perfect opportunity for the prisoners to, in the words of Wikipedia, ". . . taunt and curse people going about their business on 6th Avenue." Ah, if the ladies could see the old grounds today . . . .
The notorious [art deco] lockup may have vanished without a trace, but the Rockefeller Drug Laws have continued and expanded its dreary commission. Today the old building's function has been assumed by an even more forbidding-looking fortress tucked into an increasingly-upscale Chelsea gallery district. It also however sits on the very edge of the incredibly noisy West Side Highway, a site much less amenable to any inmate "taunt and curse" activities, even if contemporary cell windows could open.
More on the history of the courthouse, jail and market complex now loosely called "Jefferson Market" can be found here.
Joshua Smith's Book Fair posters, seen on a wall near the entrance
It's way more fun than a regular art fair, and you get to decide for yourself what to look at and how much looking you want to do. We previewed Printed Matter's The New York Art Book Fair last night (Thursday) and we can higly recommend the experience (available only through Sunday) to anyone interested in art and in the kind of people who write, edit, publish or just enthuse about art books. It's a very mellow and happy crowd. There are events scheduled all day long. I promise you will be amused.
For more teasers, see Art Fag City.
J. Morrison's installation on the second, or what I called the big kid's floor, where he and his friends silkscreen "manpurses" to order
paging through "Ninja", Brian Chippendale's new book, at Picture Box
a double-page spread inside Martin Parr's 2006 book, "Mexico", located at D.A.P.
Entrance to the Fair is free, and the logistics are:
548 West 22nd Street (between 10th & 11th Avenues) New York City
Saturday 11am - 7pm
Sunday 11am - 5pm
I captured these four charming apes on Marcy Street in Williamsburg yesterday afternoon. Their keeper's name, "GoGorillaMedia.com" appears, rather discretely, on the lower right corner of each poster.
untitled (ceiling plants) 2006
Peter Corrie Untitled (from suite of drawings, "No Time Swan" 2005-2006) mixed media, approx. 16" x 10" [installation view]
We have two more exciting blog reviews for "Dangling Between The Real Thing And The Sign In The Window". Short excerpts appear below.
Heart As Arena uploaded a review on November 6:
Two days earlier, on November 4, Tom Moody wrote:
Susan's C. Dessel's "Our Backyard: A Cautionary Tale" gave me nightmares while I was looking at it. I didn't even have to wait for sleep. The piece had Abu Ghraib and Hurrica Katrina sharing the same set of synapses in my head, filling the gap with shame and anger and nothing good. When they start hiding the dead it falls to artists to dig up the bodies and throw them back on the road, and Dessel has a very strong arm. You can try to duck, but it won't help.
Inside the gallery, the mood swings back and forth between the dire and the ebullient. . . . . Lots to like (and worry about) in this show.
Barry and I will be at the gallery for an hour or so around 7 this Friday (it's open 3-8 on Fridays) and from 3 to 6 on Sunday. This is the final weekend for the show, which includes the work shown above.
Regardless of whether the Democratic Party gains control of one or two houses in the Congress which convenes next January, the entire nation ought to be deeply ashamed tonight.
After what the Republican majority has clearly done in the last few years to destroy, perhaps permanently, both this country and the entire planet, it should be deeply embarassing to admit that a shift of a mere four or five percentage points in the distribution of party representation is all we can scrape together to show ourselves and the world that we will no longer stand for it.
Sorry to be so gloomy tonight, but I just had to say it.
Violet Hopkins Heavens Above 2006 colored pencil and acrylic ink on archival paper 80" x 100" [installation detail]
There's no way a photograph can begin to describe Violet Hopkins enormous dark drawings installed at Foxy Production in a show titled "Entoptically Yours". The image above is a detail of a subtle [really!] pencil drawing which is more than eight feet wide. The area shown is approximately one third of the framed piece. The image which continues on the paper above and to each side is a solid not-quite-blank slate drawn with black pencil alone. The plexiglas covering enclosed by the frame only adds to the mystery and complexity of the work, displayed here in perfectly-focused and subdued lighting.
Incidentally, the largest drawing, more than twelve feet wide, takes up much of one wall of the gallery. If you miss the current Foxy show, you might soon have a chance to see it in Miami, where it will become part of a huge and extremely important private collection regularly open to the public.
[lower, thumbnail image from Foxy Production]
Sterling Ruby drawing
Yeah, maybe Chris Martin, Xylor Jane and now Sterling Ruby. I don't know that they would show so well together in a curated physical space, but they definitely can and do share a brilliantly-appointed chamber inside my own head and heart. Ruby's images, and his choice of medium, are both just perverse enough to make his inclusion as a part of this imaginary trio seem less like a natural, but like that of the other two, his work strikes me as effortlessly grownup in a way even Peter Pan would be comfortable with.
No, Ruby does not currently have a show at Foxy Production; I just happened to spot this exciting piece (brilliant gold paper slashed with crimson nail polish, mounted behind plexiglas for bonus shadow) the other day when I ventured behind the magic "curtain" which separates four wonderful Violet Hopkins drawings from the gallery desk area.
"Let the jury consider their verdict," the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.
"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first -- verdict afterwards."
"Stuff and nonsense!" said Alice loudly. "The idea of having the sentence first!"
"Hold your tongue!" said the Queen, turning purple.
"I won't!" said Alice.
"Off with her head!" the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.
"Who cares for you?' said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) "You're nothing but a pack of cards!"
Surprise! contrary to what most of us may have assumed, there is no verdict yet in the political show trial of Saddam Hussein even if the sentence has arrived, fabulously, just in time for the American voting audience.
untitled (traffic bucket) 2006
Joyce Pensato Homer 2006, charcoal and pastel on paper 120" x 130" [installation view]
Joyce Pensato Hello Stranger 2006 enamel on linen 90" x 72" [installation view]
Joyce Pensato This Must Be The Place 2006 charcoal and pastel on paper 60" x 40" [installation view]
Joyce Pensato opened a stunning solo show, "This Must Be The Place", at Parker's Box on October 20. I've often said it before, but I still can't even begin to undestand why Pensato is not more widely known and more higly prized than she is. I'd stand in line for this installation, but instead Barry and I were given a surprise private tour by the artist herself when we stopped by the gallery on the afternoon after the opening.
Unfortunately I was so distracted that I neglected to pick up a checklist while I was there. I found information on the gallery site, but one of these images will therefore have to remain pretty much unidentified for now, but like his strange friends this off-Donald seems to be able to speak very well for himself.
Mark Roth and Janna Olson of TINSQUO (there is no status quo) have published a review of "Dangling Between The Real Thing And The Sign In The Window". It's so laudatory it's embarassing, but not so embarassing that I won't point to it here.
As Barry just wrote on Bloggy, we will both be at the gallery this Sunday afternoon from 3 until 6, to welcome and talk to anyone who wants to stop by.