April 2007 Archives

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A.R.T. (Activist Response Team) lowers banners inside the Hart Senate Office Building April 26

I was delighted, one day after my French Revolution post, to come across this story. It needs to be circulated to a much wider audience.

In Washington today it may actually be the spring of 1789.

For more, see the citizens at A28 and for a live, recorded sound record of the action, hear guerilla radio via indymedia.

[image, via bloggy, from an email originally sent to newsgrist]


I'm reading a history of the French Revolution, while still following the news of today, including headlines like this. Sometimes one could wish that history really does repeat itself.

[image from CUNY]

a survivor of the original IRT numbering system from 1904

I started this blog five years ago today. It was the successor to an eight-month series of emails with which I had been plaguing my friends since September 11.

Jimlog may have begun with a passionate Leftist political take on the follies of this country's response to the events of that day, still an important part of its content now, but the original dark muse was soon joined by the happier world described by most of the other interests of its author/publisher. Those enthusiasms include queerdom, the arts, history, and the spectacle of a New York which is but a mirror of the beautiful diversity of a much larger world.

Once again I declare that it never could have happened and couldn't continue without Barry, my patient wizard.


reflection_2.jpg untitled (white truck yellow taxi) 2007 diptych

still from scene of Winter Miller's "The Penetration Play", produced by 13P in 2004

The feisty Obie-winning playwrights' collective 13P ("we don't develop plays. we do them.") is having a cabaret benefit at Joe's Pub this Sunday, April 29. Estelle Parsons, Lisa Kron and James Urbaniak will be among the participants on stage.

Tickets are $100 and include reserved seating at the 7:00 pm cabaret, with access to a post-show reception and silent auction at 8:30. There are more details are on their website, but the thumbnail below is an image of one of the auction items, Philip Pearlstein's 1984 color etching with aquatint, "Nude on Bamboo".


["Penetration" image from playscripts; "nude" image from 13P]

This has to be just a teaser, because of time constraints (we're off to Spain in a few days), but on a beautiful Sunday afternoon Barry and I made the rounds of several Williamsburg galleries, visiting one of them for the very first time (that's so embarrassing).

This post can't do justice to everything or anything we found, but it shows something of the quality and the variety of the current Brooklyn scene.

Tastes Like Chicken

installation view showing Holly Lynton's construction, "Solid Air", in the foreground and Chris Burnside's "Installation" on the wall

Beth McCaskey Untitled ink on paper 3" x 4.5" [installation view]

Tastes Like Chicken is showing "One Pill Makes You Small" in its two exhibition spaces, an installation curated by sculptor Sherry Bittle.

The artists include Chris Burnside, Diane Carr, Mario Camacho, Jeremiah Dickey, Charley Friedman, April Hannah, Paul Katzen, Michelle Loughlin, Holly Lynton, Beth McCaskey, Carolyn Monastra, Michael Rader, Kent Rogowski, Lance Wakeling, Mika Yokobori.

Dam, Stuhltrager

Carol Salmanson Upon Reflection: Column light-emitting diodes, electronic-ballast T4 fluorescent lights, gel filters, stainless steel, acrylic prism rods, electronic components, five pieces, each 21.75" x 21.75" x 10.5" [detail of installation]

one of a series of acrylic paintings on circuit boards, 12" x 24", called "Reflections v.1-4" by China Blue

Dam, Stuhltrager has light installations by Carol Salmanson in the first two rooms of the gallery and an interactive sound installation by China Blue in the third, where there is also one painting. That image is not the one included above; instead I've captured a similar work from the artist's own site.


view of a part of Space 1026's installation, including work by O. Roman Hasiuk, Adam Crawford, Isaac Lin, Jesse Olanday, William Buzzell and Damian Weinkrantz (in clumps, left to right)

O. Roman Hasiuk's "Chimera" print, in artist's frame [installation view]

CInders has a show of work by Philadelphia's Space 1026 community, called "No Bad Blood", including work by Jason Hsu, Courtney Dailey, Ben Woodward, John Freeborn, Bill McRight, O. Roman Hasiuk, Crystal Stokowski, Jayson Musson, Jodi Rice, Jesse Olanday, Elena Nestico, Andrew Jeffrey Wright, William Buzzell, Damian Weinkrantz, Aryone Hoselton, Caitlin Perkins, Thom Lessner, Max Lawrence, Jesse Goldstein, and Mark Price.

Front Room

Melissa Pokorny Winter Day [installation view]

Melissa Pokorny Coming and Going [installation view]

[detail of "Coming and Going"]

Melissa Pokorny has a solo show, ""homemade cultural probes", in Front Room Gallery. The eight sculptures and one edition are each constructed from any or all of the following materials: digital inkjet prints, poluystyrene foam, silicone, polar fleece, polyeurothane, plexiglass, mdf, found objects.

We first saw her work last year when the gallery showed work at Fountain.

[image of China Blue painting from chinablueart]

on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Williamsburg

some did chores

some partied in the sun

and some of us enjoyed galleries, including the street gallery

[the third image is a detail of the painted stoop outside The Front Room Gallery on Roebling Street]

untitled (redhead) 2007




stills captured from video on NYCindymedia site

On Thursday I wrote about a demonstration in which I had participated (put together by The Radical Homosexual Agenda [RHA], Assemble for Rights NYC, and other groups and individuals), which was directed against Council Speaker Quinn's support of newly-adopted NYPD regulations restricting the right of assembly. I included in that entry a dozen or so still pictures I had taken.

They weren't enough to tell me about the full measure and shape of the violence I witnessed that afternoon. Last night I saw this footage of the Glass Bead Collective and Time's Up! Video Collective documenting the most violent images of Police aggression I've witnessed in almost twenty years of street activism.

Go to this NYC indymedia page and click onto the link under the heading, "Video Footage showing aggressive arrests by NYPD during the peacefull parade". Note that the video is composed of segments from several cameras, so there is more than a single presentation of some scenes.

It was already clear to anyone who hasn't tried to avoid thinking about the quality of civic life in New York that this city's police ranks and leadership are both out of control and a physical and Constitutional threat to its citizens, and not just those seen by "the finest" as "the other", so this footage should not come as a revelation to any of us. But the problem neither begins nor ends with the failures of the uniforms on the street. Our appointed and elected representatives and municipal executives, far from fulfilling their responsibility to police the police, continue to aid and abet their crimes and outrages. Officials are content with a ritual mourning of the dead and arranging photo opportunities with the survivors, visiting the homes and attending the funerals of their prey - while paying tens of millions of dollars of our public treasury in court awards to the growing number of victims of police and government brutality.

Chief of Police Kelly is dead wrong about his so-called "parade rules", the Mayor Bloomberg knows it and the best I can say about the Speaker of the City Council on this issue (she is also my local representative) is that Chris Quinn appears to have a tin ear on First Amendment issues. Our rights and freedoms to speak and assemble are not subject to political negotiation, the convenience of our law enforcement officials (or their macho "control" neuroses), the swift traffic (and free street storage) of private automobiles, or our politicians' ambitions for higher office.

For a long time I lulled myself into thinking I could continue to distinguish between what has been happening in the country at large and what is going down here in the land I call home, but today I realize I can only be thankful that New York doesn't have a foreign policy and weapons of mass destruction.

[images from Glass Bead Collective and Time's Up! Video Collective via NYCindymedia]


Conversations with this big guy in the outer office of my entodontist this month almost made root canal fun.

I'm sure it was all about food, but he definitely acted like he was paying some serious attention.


I survived this afternoon's "Parade Without a Permit" more or less unscathed, although I was pushed to the ground while photographing the police exercising their "control" of our right to free speech.

At the start of the parade in City Hall Park there were, by Norm Siegel's semi-official count, 54 demonstrators (plus a large contingent of members of the alternative media, and various support people and legal observers), making the assemblage an official "un-permitted parade" according to new NYPD rules, which allow only up to 49 people if no police permit has been granted.

At no time was there a crime in progress; we presented no threat to anyone. There was not even a hint of a misdemeanor, yet the Department, our servants, not content with a melodramatic presence made up of officers and inspectors, many in plainclothes, a scooter contingent and several police vans, decided to do some pushing around.

The pushing began with repeated orders, rude shouts in fact, to keep our feet on the sidewalk at all times, even when it was narrowed or blocked by subway entrances and construction sheds. In the end it appeared to be problems with the obstruction and tunnel darkness of a large shed on the west side of Church Street, complicated by the many bags of debris stacked underneath, which elevated the pushing to the physical level. The police seemed to be unhappy with the speed with which we were clearing the street for the important people who use cars.

I assume that any attempt to point out to the officers that their own combined body mass and the bulk of their own vehicles added up to a much bigger traffic obstruction than did the presence of our little band would have fallen on deaf ears.

One verbal exchange led to another, and then the pushing began (from them on us) without any further warning. Before I could get away from the center of the melee I found myself on the pavement. I snapped a few (not very interesting) pictures from that dramatic vantage point and when I scrambled back to my feet I saw that at least two people had been taken into the middle of the street where they were on the ground. Surrounded by their banners, flags and leaflets, they were handcuffed and carried away.

The struggle for New York City's recognition of the First Amendment will certainly continue, but for tonight we have these beautiful battle ribbons:













related sites:

The Radical Homosexual Agenda

Assemble for Rights NYC

NYC indymedia

Transportation Alternatives


Association of the Bar of the City of New York

Critical Mass

Five Borough Bicycle Club

detail of a temporary memorial to the 72 victims of Cubana de Aviación flight 455, erected outside the courthouse in El Paso in 2005

ADDENDUM: [April 21] "A Terrorist Goes Free"

Terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, wanted in Cuba and Venezuela [but not in the United States] for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people was released on bail in New Mexico today. He has been held in the U.S. on immigration charges since 1975 and will theoretically be in El Paso for a trial which is scheduled to finally begin May 11.

Posada Carriles was trained by the CIA and has ties to the Bush family.

[image from narcosphere]

untitled (boarder) 2007

dusk, on our Chelsea corner

"keeping control" (wire and flesh, inside a holding pen during the 2004 RNC)

No, Chris, in America the police are not supposed to write the laws and "control" demonstrations.

Yesterday morning on the Brian Lehrer show NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinn responded to a question from the host about her support of new NYPD regulations on "parade permitting". The regulations dramatically restrict the public's Constitutional rights of speech and assembly.

The NYPD will now require a permit for any public gathering, or "parade", of 50 people or more. Section 1A of the city ruling defines a parade as "any march, motorcade, caravan, promenade, foot, or bicycle race, or similar event of any kind, procession or race which consists of a recognizable group of 50 or more pedestrians, vehicles, bicycles, or other devices move by human power, or ridden or herded animals proceeding together upon any public street or roadway."

On the Lehrer show Quinn stated emphatically that she believes the new regulations are "fair and appropriate" and "allow people to express their First Amendment rights", but it is clear to anyone concerned with exercising these rights that the police get to decide how and when and with whom they may do it.

I was shocked to hear the Speaker's concluding expression of support for our uniformed enforcers: She stated that the police must have the ability to "keep control of situations" [my emphasis].

I've known Quinn for many years and I have spoken and written highly of her in the past, and I expect to be able to do so in the future, but it is clear to me that on this extremely important issue Quinn is just wrong. She really has "turned her back on civil rights", in the words of The Radical Homosexual Agenda [RHA], the organizers of a demonstration at City Hall tomorrow afternoon at 4 o'clock.

Of course this is not about queers alone; political activists and alternative transportation advocates have been impacted by NYC police attitudes in the most dramatic manner in recent years, but the issue belongs to everyone who wishes to breathe free. The Council Speaker is an out lesbian with a background of community oranization and a family history of activism who has participated in demonstrations herself; she should know better.

The demonstration is certain to include more than 50 people. Not surprisingly, there will be no permit.

Almost certainly the most important event in New York this week, the "Parade Without a Permit", will take place at City Hall tomorrow, Thursday, at 4 pm.

[images from indymedia, by anonymous, and included in my September 3, 2004 entry]

a new musical based on Colorado Springs, Ted Haggard, the evangelical movement, and US

I've been a little tardy in announcing two affordable benefits for performing arts groups that interest Barry and myself. I'm especially late with my The Civilians plug, as their show goes off tonight, but sometimes a last-minute notice can be as effective as any other, and there's still time to celebrate with this very sharp group.

Artistic Director Steve Cosson describes a bit of the origins of the group's work-in-progress, "Save This City!":

Three of us came out in June and went to New Life and I think the first time we really sort of got it, like "Oh! this really seems to be the center of America right now. I mean, you're in the middle of this church with 7,000 people and the minister is talking about his relationship to George Bush and Ariel Sharon and other world leaders. I think the world we come from knows that the evangelical movement is this big influential thing in politics, but they don't really have an understanding of the scope of it or what it means, or what that kind of Christianity really means, or what it is beyond its political effect on the national elections. And other than that they find it kind of scary and freaky.
Tonight's performance will include members of the company perfoming songs from the new show.

Jump here for a quick look at the 2005 benefit.

The independent playwright organization 13P is also having a cabaret benefit, eleven days from now, at Joe's Pub on April 29th. See their website for more details.

[image from newspeakblog, via The Civilians]

Christopher Lowry Johnson Platform 2007 oil on canvas 66" x 78" [large detail of installation]


This is not a walk-thru show. Actually, this is probably true for most painting shows (at least those where the gallerist/curator has any creds at all), but this one is even more special. It seems quite muted at first, but given a little time, its rewards are great.

Christopher Lowry Johnson has an exhibition of his latest work at Winkleman in a show titled "Chorus", his third solo turn at the gallery. The show closes on Saturday.

I recently walked into the space at the end of a long afternoon of gallery visits and sat down on the bench in the middle [yes, a bench in a gallery - a bench, how extraordinary, and how helpful for both visitor and art!]. I stared at the large, very white-ish, canvas across from me, expecting to work with it only as a beautiful, complex abstraction. I had been immediately attracted to its drama and beauty as I walked in, before I knew anything or saw very much, but then something happened. As I sat looking at this canvas its impenetrable layers of oil opened a wonderful, very grand window on images both abstract and concrete, a world undetectable at first or even second glance.

The remaining works, although much less abstract, are no less beautiful or profound in their impact. Johnson's technical skills are matched by what seems to me to be an extraordinary appreciation of history, and no less the history of painting itself.

Oh yes, while Barry and I were there on Saturday, one of New York's best art critics slipped into the gallery, but sadly stayed only a minute or so. I think it was a mistake, and a loss for scads of readers.

In any event, if you can make it to West 27 Street in the next few days, you might want to do so, especially since it was impossible to get a decent photograph of the work, and "Platform" in particular.

I'm ambivalent about relying on statements and press releases for an appreciation of work generally, so I tend to read them rather lightly, and usually only when baffled or feeling in need of what I call the "instructions" supplied by a gallery or museum. In this case the two-paragraph text supplied on the gallery site can provide a very useful jumping-off point, although I confess I was fortunate to get some insight directly from the owner/director Ed Winkleman himself. Heck, are Paula, Jeffrey, Matthew or Mary always there when you could use their help? We love the smaller galleries, for this and so many other reasons.

Christopher Lowry Johnson Creamed 2006 oil on canvas 30" x 38"

More images can be found on the artist's own site, although he grants that "the elusive 'platform' . . . continues to escape accurate documentation".

defense, like charity, used to begin at home

We might have enjoyed a golden age, but instead we have been condemned by small, stupid, and evil minds to bear the burden of a new, unspecific [hot and] cold war all over the world.

When the soviet regimes collapsed, as this excellent Craig S. Smith report in today's NYTimes sadly reminds us, we fumbled an extraordinary opportunity of a kind and on a scale never before offered to a civilization.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, as Soviet troops withdrew from Eastern Europe and America began to talk about closing bases in Germany, Europe looked as if it might become the big, peaceful, postmodern federation that European Union architects had long dreamed of: a humanist club where conflicts at home and abroad would be resolved by talking everything to death instead of killing.

Then the Balkans blew up and the United States military stepped in to stop a war that Europe seemed incapable of facing. That frustrated Russia, which supported Serbia in the war, but Russia could not offer much help because it was still impotent and staggering from the collapse of its Soviet empire.

Now Russia is rich with oil and gas and its military spending is soaring.

I have to add that the U.S. missed the even larger possibility fifteen years ago of helping all the people of the Russian federation to become full partners in that "humanist club" and to share in the security, prosperity and culture of a flourishing and vibrant civilization. It could have created a system which would offer to the greater world community a selfless beneficence and opportunities for indigenous development on a scale unimagined and certainly unprecedented. The most enlightened expectation and happiest consequence would have been seeing the character of the dominant culture itself peacefully re-shaped by the rich diversity of the peoples of a thriving globe.

Instead, we got George H. W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton and George W. Bush. We also got the incompetence and malignancy of Russian leadership, too many small-minded men and women in all European governments, some incredibly inept, even vile, leaders in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, and powerless or indifferent populations almost everywhere. But it was up to America to lose the game.

And we did it big.

So far we've avoided nuclear annihilation, but we got a rogue Russia and a rogue U.S., a fake "war on terror", a religious war, a new economic imperialism battling its opponents all over the world, a renewed arms race and a "missile shield" (along with their truly prohibitive costs which empty every nation's social treasury), a cultural war, and finally, and almost certainly most fatally for us all, the predicted death of the planet itself, all remedies neglected or spurned because of the distractions of our other fratricidal frailties.

The Times article is ostensively about a specific U.S. program, but the first paragraphs tell us as much about what I've called "small, stupid, and evil minds" as it does about this administration's European "missile defense shield" program.

Much of Europe is arguing over a Washington proposal to plant in Poland fewer than a dozen antimissile missiles that might not work, to guard against an Iranian threat that may not exist.

The main party in Poland’s governing coalition is inclined to accept the deal, and the country’s president, Lech Kaczynski, known in Europe for his fierce conservatism and nationalist talk, has been invited to the White House in July to talk things over with President Bush.

The Czech Republic’s fragile government coalition, meanwhile, has agreed to negotiate placement of high-powered American tracking radar on its soil despite widespread local opposition. The radar, now in the Marshall Islands, would help guide the antimissile missiles from Poland to hit and destroy their fast-moving targets in outer space.

The European missile shield would be part of an integrated system that is already taking shape in California and Alaska, where the United States expects to deploy 30 long-range interceptors to guard against missile attack by the end of 2008.

Washington says the Eastern European system could act in time to protect most of Europe and all of the United States and even much of Russia from a nuclear attack by Iran, that is, if Iran ever developed or obtained nuclear weapons and rockets with a range long enough to reach those targets, as well as a desire to fire them. They don’t have those armaments now, but they might by 2015, the Bush administration says.

But the entire system is in fact a big, very costly joke.
The 10 interceptor missiles that Washington is proposing to put in Poland could hardly stop Russia’s hundreds of intercontinental ballistic missiles in the event of all-out war.

The American antimissile missiles will be placed too close to Russia to be of use against ICBMs fired from anywhere west of the Ural Mountains. If they work, though, the antimissile missiles in Alaska and California could stop a Russian ICBM fired in America’s direction from east of the Urals. The fact is that in tests the antimissile missiles don’t work much of the time, and when they do it is under controlled circumstances that are far from typical in an actual attack.

Is insanity or calculation? For over six years, on almost everything they've done, the Bushies have absolutely confounded my ability to decide.

[image of detail from early 17th-century Flemish map of Ostend defense ramparts from search.com]


Probably not invited.

This Swoon drawing is attached to a wall just outside the commercial galleries on West 22 Street.

UPDATE: I've received a comment from Adrian that the work is not that of Swoon, but either Elbowtoe or Armstock. Can anyone confirm which it might be?

Liz Bougatsos

from left, Josh Diamond, guitar, Liz Bougatsos, vocals, Tim DeWitt, drums, Brian DeGraw keyboards

These are two images of Gang Gang Dance performing at the Rhizome benefit last night. It was a great concert program: GGD followed Professor Murder and YACHT. I didn't bring my own bulky Fotoapparat, and it was almost the end of the evening before I thought to ask Barry if I could use his micro-camera.

We went with Rachel Mason and Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, a guarantee we would have even a bigger blast.

[more links for Rachel and Matthew]

untitled (weeping cherry) 2007

Elisa Lendvay's dramatically-lighted sculpture, and (parts of) part of the opening-reception crowd [installation view of "untitled (Chalice)" and "Lund (Demystify)"]

[detail of "untitled (Chalice)"]

Elisa Lendvay Field Sky Under 2007 steel, wood, acrylic, wire, chenile stem, papier-maché, acrylic paint 64" x 48" x 27.5" [installation view, with "Overlook Mountain" visible on the wall]

Elisa Lendvay Patinkin 2007 found material, papier-maché, acrylic paint 26" x 6" x 6" [installation view, with small, unidentified work at the base of the plinth]

Elisa Lendvay Odilon 2007 wood, hydrocal, steel, rug, acryic paint 64" x 12" x 12" [large detail of installation, with "Ghost Stick" visible in the corner to the rear]

Elisa Lendvay opened "Fabled Agents", a show dominated by her sculpture, in the second space at Moti Hasson on the same night Dan Rushton's painting show, "Lonelier Than God", opened in the room on the street front. Both exhibitions were the artists' first solo shows in the gallery.

The two installations oddly complemented each other, even aside from the fact that they shared both a physical and conceptual removal from what is usually called an objective reality, and each approached that role in its own distinctive way. There was also a stimulating contrast in the medium each artist chose to exhibit here, but the pieces absolutely did share completely (and generally to their profit) in some very theatrical gallery lighting.

I love these odd pieces for their sensuality as much as for their cunning. They seem very much alive, and they've been sitting inside my head since I saw them at the opening two weeks ago. The show also includes several very beautiful small works on paper, and I'm told she works as a painter as well. Maybe we can see them next time.

Ludwig Schwarz [large detail of "The Four Seasons (Season Premier)" installation of four works, each untitled 2006 oil and enamel on canvas 72" x 72"]

Marjorie Schwarz Untitled 2006 gouache on linoleum 12" x 12" [installation view]

Marjorie Schwarz Untitled 2006 gouache on digital print 8" x 10" [installation view]

I think this is a gallery to watch.

What am I saying?

Maybe I mean this is a gallery I'm gonna watch.

So maybe you don't have to.

Maybe I'll get back to you on this.

Meanwhile, demonstrating that no one should depend on this site for sufficient notice even of stuff I really like, I'm only now uploading a few images from a double show which closed three days ago at Clayton Sean Horton's SUNDAY gallery.

The paintings in the main space were by Ludwig Schwarz. Marjorie Schwarz showed drawings and collages in the project room.

SUNDAY is a neat and very welcome little space in the Lower East Side on Eldridge Street and I was excited about it even before learning that Jacques Louis Vidal has been asked to fill the main room in a show opening June 21. Vidal was in the show Barry and I curated last fall at Dam, Stuhltrager.

drawing by Brian Degraw, artist and Gang Gang Dance member, for an album by TK Webb

Remember these guys? I did I post almost two years ago about a show of internet-based art, hosted by Rhizome, installed in the New Museum's temporary quarters on 22nd Street. Rhizome is a young community of new media artists, curators, critics and enthusiasts, and they're hosting a very interesting and almost totally affordable benefit next monday night.

This very special occasion, for which non-members will be asked to put up $35, is actually a concert featuring what the invitation describes as three genre-bending bands: Gang Gang Dance, Professor Murder and YACHT. Here's more:

Each band integrates a wide range of musical influences and instrumentation to create innovative sounds and style. This line-up of new music will celebrate Rhizome’s commitment to emerging forms of art, across sound, video and digital technologies. The evening will be introduced and mc-ed by computer artist Cory Arcangel [Cory Arcangel, folks!], and will also include a silent auction with work by artists, such as Kristin Lucas and Alex Galloway, who work with the Internet.
Full disclosure: Barry and I are on the Honorary Committee, but that just shows we're even more enthusiastic about this thing than we can possibly let on.

You may head here for all the details on the concert.

[image from thesimplemission]





Since I've already been writing about Matthew Lutz-Kinoy's art for over two years, it's very difficult to believe these images of his work are taken from his Cooper Union BFA show for a degree just completed only this spring. I can't imagine what he's going to be able to do by the time he reaches 30.

The first picture captures one of the last moments of his sweetly weird performance piece, "Free Movement In The Shadow Of The Staircase: Bodiless Rainbowdance", mounted in the school's Great Hall on April 5. The others are of some of the many works, drawings, collages, photographs and sculptures, installed in the galleries of the Lublin Center last week. These particular images are of two medium-sized collages and four small sculptures on a shelf. None of them were identified, nor did they really have to be.

now almost anyone can qualify for this screen test

It's not the first story like this we've heard, it's not the most disturbing, and unfortunately it won't be the last, but it's worth a read. It's an account of one young man's personal and repeated experience of our nation's obsession with terror and it comes from a Canadian artist whose work Barry and I both know appreciate and who is with a New York gallery whose programs and directors we both respect and love.

The story was sent to me in response to the first of my two recent posts about the eye and face-scanning databasing program run by our troops in Iraq.

[The writer had written that he did not want it published, but as it turns out not for any reason I would have imagined. I asked him if I might have his permission to publish it anonymously. He answered yes, but added that the reason he would like his name withheld was not the fear of political consequences, but rather, "i don't really think that artists should enter the dialogue with people who write about art." I am printing his words here in their entirety and without editing the text I received, except to eliminate information which might identify the author.]

i live in [Canada], and came to NY for the armory a few months ago. i had
brought some watercolours with me that i hadn't finished in time to ship to
the gallery. i had done this MANY times before when coming to the US. as
you can imagine from my name, i'm just a WASP male, but i have a rather
mujahadeenish beard, grown not for fashion, but years ago, to hide a total
lack of chin. anyway. i had some watercolours tucked into a magazine in my
carry on. i declared them on the customs form. after going through the US
customs on the canadian side, i was asked to go into a secondary screening
room. this has happened to me many times before also, i am always getting
'randomly' searched, which i think might have to do with coming from
[a town with a reputation for drug use]. however this time, i
was told that bringing paintings into the country was illegal, i explained
that i had done it many times before with no problem, they told me that was
the fault of the customs agents who were derelict in their duty by allowing
such a transgression of the law . i explained that selling my work is my
only income, and that i wouldn't do it again etc etc. long story short, i
have gone my entire life without being fingerprinted, i have never broken
the law, gotten a ticket. however after i was told that i would be able to
bring my work to NY, this time, but NEVER again, and if i tried it again, i
would be in real trouble, i was subject to retinal eye scans, i had all of
my thumb and fingerprints scanned, and a biometric photograph of my face
taken. so now i am also one of the canadians in the homeland security file.
unlike people like mahar arar who was sent to syria for torture, or omar
khadar who is languishing in cuba, arrested as a 15 year old for throwing a
grenade at a soldier in iraq, i hopefully won't be extraodinarily
renditioned, unless they discover a secret scottish-irish mujahadeen. but,
i have a solo show in NY in september, i am less and less inclined to visit
the US. this is my fifth trip in a row where i was randomly singled out.
the first time i was subject to documentation. most of my friends in canada
are of pakistani or indian descent. i grew up with them in toronto. canada
is a multicultural place, save quebec, not a melting pot. and it really
opened my eyes to what my friends must have to deal with. so i thought this
story might be interesting to you. i'm starting to think i might pull a
marlon brando and start sending the other forgotten victims of american
imperialism to my openings for me, the sacheen littlefeathers of my first
nations neighbours . . . .

[image from the Department of Defense {they're proud of this stuff}, via electroniciraq]




We'll just Need to Scan Your Eyes for Our Files
Imad Salman Ichleef, 37, was questioned yesterday by American soldiers about insurgent activity in his neighborhood of Ghazaliya in baghdad. Using a biometric recording device, one of the soldiers scanned Mr. Ichleef's retinas, collected his fingerprints and photographed his face. The interview was part of a strategy to put Iraqi males into a database. Mr. Ichleef's family waited patiently so they could get back to their lunch.
[the full NYTimes caption to the single photo printed by the paper on April 7]

Because I had been unable to find his image on the NYTimes website or anywhere else, after doing a post about it yesterday I emailed Ashley Gilbertson asking if he could help me find and link to one.

Today I received a generous reply. He began with: "I'm out in the badlands right now so can't talk." He attached these four awesome images to an email which was probably sent from Iraq.


He wrote that he had no idea which photograph the paper had used [it was the third, and it appeared in black and white].

Thanks, Ash.

A memoir of Gilbertson's experience in Iraq, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: A Photographer's Chronicle of the Iraq War", is being published by the University of Chicago Press and is due for release November 1.

[images from Ashley Gilbertson, with my thanks to the NYTimes for its custom]

Ryan Sarah Murphy Untitled (Plots) 2000 wood, 10,000+ clothespins, paint, gesso, glue, each component 34" x 21" x 6"

Ryan Sarah Murphy's installation was lying in the sun of the east window, just to the right of the door, when I walked into Outrageous Look last Sunday. I checked out the beautiful Gavin Green show in the gallery's main spaces, and went back to the window. I was captivated.

It's now inside my head, as if I were still looking at it. I can't really adequately account for this. It's a simple pair of found wooden frames enclosing thousands of upright wooden clothespins, everything whitewashed. I see more than one metaphor working here, but in the interest of your own visit I'll keep them to myself.

Gavin Green If (A) 2006, and If (B) 2007, both embossed plastic on panel 24" x 24" [installation view]

Gavin Green Hoalam Haba 2006 embossed plastic and mirrored vinyl on panel 24" x 24" [installation view]

Outrageous Look is showing a dozen of Gavin Green's brilliantly-colored and finished abstractions, painted almost entirely with embossed strips of plastic produced by an ordinary home and office label maker. The pieces are each named for the letters, words and phrases which have been punched out on long strips and wrapped around 12, 24 or 36-inch square panels.

Green discussed this series of work in an interview with the director of the gallery, Brook Bartlett. This is small excerpt from the pages which were available at the desk:

The work, if it’s going out into the world, needs to communicate.

Taking things (and words or phrases) that one might ignore, or take for granted, and subjecting them to an inquiry - I try to make work that asks questions. But it’s not just asking a question, it's trying to look into subjects with rigor that I get excited about.

Asking questions, to me, doesn’t have to imply that you are searching for answers; it’s more about the act of asking the question, because it opens doors to the unexpected - it keeps things alive.“

FOLLOW-UP: see this post for the missing image, and more

I can't find it anywhere on the NYTimes site or through Google News, but our print edition of the paper this morning carries an extremely important photograph on page A6 by Ashley Gilbertson. The image is of three heavily-armed and armored American soldiers interrogating an Iraqi man who is wearing casual pants and a t-shirt sitting in his own home while his family stands in the background. Significantly, the family's large floor covering has been folded back and away from the area occupied by the four men.

The full caption reads:

We'll just Need to Scan Your Eyes for Our Files
Imad Salman Ichleef, 37, was questioned yesterday by American soldiers about insurgent activity in his neighborhood of Ghazaliya in baghdad. Using a biometric recording device, one of the soldiers scanned Mr. Ichleef's retinas, collected his fingerprints and photographed his face. The interview was part of a strategy to put Iraqi males into a database [my italics]. Mr. Ichleef's family waited patiently so they could get back to their lunch.
There is no related article. I agree with Barry's comment that this image and this program would be unlikely to be buried on an inside page (on a Saturday yet) in the Arab media.

Actually, neither the technology nor the increasingly-widespread U.S. goverernment practice is news, as the 18-month-old post on the site where I found the January 2005 image below reminds us. But rather once again it's a picture that makes the impression, in this case it's the picture I haven't yet been able to locate on line.

Is this the new face of occupation? [caption from bagnewsnotes]

[image from bagnewsnotes]

Aaron Williams Forever 2006 tree, mirror, acrylic and enamel paints, wood shim, string 72" x 16' x 12", in the foreground, with works by Ivan Navarro, Deborah Grant and Aron Namenworth on the walls [installation view]

[detail of "Forever"]

I love to find a show that's as attractive as it is challenging, but it's bingo! when it's also photogenic. Momenta's current exhibition was "guest organized" (the phrase taken from the press release) by Rico Gatson and Ellie Murphy, and it is all of the above.

The theme shared by these 18 works by 14 artists is their use of different systems to get at material which is essentially unsystematic. The gallery notes say that the title of the show, "Intelligent Design", is intended to reference an indifference to theories of evolution or arguments for intelligent design. As someone living in America who is profoundly secular in orientation, I really feel the heat from that last phrase; I also found the discussion contained in the complete text somewhat abstruse. I'd like to think that it's essentially about the thought and practice of a generation which has walked away from the old, bogus debate and is now proceeding to address the world on its own terms.

The participating artists are Jane Benson, Judy Blanco, Sanford Biggers, Nicole Cherubini, Rico Gatson, Deborah Grant, Elana Herzog, Ellie Murphy, Aron Namenwirth, Ivan Novarro, Kelly Parr, Ara Peterson, Traci Tullius, Aaron Williams, and James Yamada.

Ivan Novarro White Holeway 2006 aluminum door, mirror, one-way mirror, light bulbs, and electic energy 86" x 39.5" x 4.5" [installation view, including image of photographer]

Kelly Parr Threes (January and July) 2007 digital print collage 108" x 60" [installation view]

cupcake as landmark?

I know I'm going to regret bringing the subject up again, and not only because the additional notoriety may only be what the owners of Burgers & Cupcakes want. But I did a post one month ago reporting that the pink cupcake would come down by the beginning of April. It's still there today, so I feel obliged to do a follow-up.

Melanie La Rocca of the office of our local City Council member Chris Quinn was told by the Department of Transportation [DOT] that the B&C owners did not have a valid permit even for a conventional framed sidewalk canopy, and that the mechanical "cupcake" mounted on the top of the unauthorized structure which is there now could not be permitted in any case, because it would be a violation of city statute. [sidewalk canopies cannot feature advertising, lights, mechanical devices or even the business's phone number]

I was informed of this on March 2, and at that time La Rocca also said that the DOT had told her the owners had 30 days to comply with the law, meaning the cupcake would have to be removed, even if a proper permit for the canopy itself could be registered by then. I read later, in a report in a local newspaper, Chelsea Now, that the violation wasn't actually issued until March 15 or 22 (the exact date reference wasn't clear in the article).

Today the owners initiated their "save the cupcake!" campaign with both cutesy hand-made signs and printed fliers outside the restaurant calling for support from anyone willing to buy something from among the scattershot reasons they give for wanting their cupcake preserved.

1.) [the DOT order is a] "beaurocratic [sic] boondoggle,"
2.) "The cupcake brightens a dreary street."
3.) "Everyone in the neighborhood loves our cool sign."
4.) ". . . now they are messing with a twenty thousand dollar cupcake."
5.) ". . . loosing [sic] it will hurt our new business."
6.) "I'm sick and tired of the city having their hands all over my business."
I guess they think the same New York which recently wasn't interested in saving an authentic landmark, like the former Huntington Hartford Museum, designed by Edward Durell Stone, is going to be interested in rescuing their cupcake.

Let me describe once again the reason for my interest in this admittedly less than life-and-death issue: A large lighted, revolving plastic cupcake mounted above a public sidewalk, and in fact perched virtually on the street curb, is an encroachment upon a public way. The sidewalk is part of the street, not of the building lot whose property line ends where the pavement begins. There are certainly safety issues for drivers and pedestrians as well, explaining why it's the Department of Transportation which has responsibility here, but I'll leave the details of addressing those subjects to the professionals. As a citizen I am most concerned with the danger of commercial encroachment and the precedent it would establish.

These are our streets; they can't be turned over to the highest bidder.

Okay, although it is not and could not be the basis for the complaint I registered with the DOB last December, I admit that I do think the pink and brown shop and its canopy are both truly ugly. Also, unlike the B&C owners I do not think my street is "dreary", and I believe the clutter and crude disruption created by their ugly little shop adds nothing of value to the streetscape. I repeat, these are my personal opinions and nothing more, but if we are talking about aesthetics, I believe, ironically, that it's only the cupcake itself which might be worthy of a first, even a second look from a civilized New Yorker - if it were installed in an appropriate context.

Flanked by two prison officials, Josh Wolf (center) pushes a cart full of his belongings (mostly books and letters) outside the gates of the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin. Behind him is David Greene, one of his attorneys. Chronicle photo by Michael Maloney

UPDATE: Since this was posted a Wikipedia entry has been created for Josh Wolf; and Wolf himself has a blog

Blogger journalist Josh Wolf was freed yesterday.

But I'm not entirely sure what happened.

Wolf was in prison for refusing to comply with a federal subpoena. He was released from a California prison on Tuesday in what is described as a compromise struck with federal prosecutors. The court has the videotapes it wanted, but Wolf will not have to testify about the protest he documented or identify people visible in his reporter's documents. The entire tape coverage has now been made visible on his blog, to ensure that anyone in the world might see what the police will see.

Wolf had said all along that he was willing to show to the judge and to the US Attorney video the footage which the grand jury had asked for, but this is where it gets fuzzy for me: I had thought that up until now he was not willing to hand over physical custody of the tapes themselves (possibly explaining this month's "compromise"). The San Francisco Chronicle however reports that yesterday Wolf said that he offered to turn over his videos last November on the condition that he be excused from testifying, and prosecutors had turned him down.

In a press conference immediately following his release after more than seven months of incarceration he said that he absolutely will not testify about the protest he covered back in July 2005 (the subject of the federal case), even if ordered once again to do so, and that if he were unable to get a new subpoena removed, he would be prepared to return to prison to defend his Constitutional rights as a journalist.

He was asked by one reporter, why is this whole thing important? He answered that It's greatest importance lies in reinforcing the principle that journalists simply must not act as investigators for the government.

This is a large excerpt from a statement on Wolf's own site:

When I was subpoenaed in February of last year, I was not only ordered to provide my unedited footage, but to also submit to testimony and examination before the secretive grand jury. Although I feel that my unpublished material should be shielded from government demands, it was the testimony which I found to be the more egregious assault on my right and ethics as both a journalist and a citizen.

As there was nothing of a sensitive or confidential nature on my video outtakes, I had no reason to withhold their publication once I had exhausted all my legal appeals. When that point arrived I had already spent three months behind bars. I was advised by my legal team that publishing the video would not lead to my release; instead it would indicate to the court that my imprisonment was having a coercive effect even though it was not.

This hypothesis was verified when one of my attorney's inquired whether the Assistant US Attorney would accept the footage in lieu of my testimony, he was told that the video alone would not suffice and that the US Attorney would accept nothing less than my full compliance with the demands of the subpoena. Things change.

When the judge came to realize the support for my cause was growing and that I was unlikely to waver anytime soon, he ordered both parties to meet with a magistrate judge in the hopes we could reach a solution amenable to everyone. After two rather strenuous sessions of mediation, we at last came to an agreement that not only leaves my ethics intact but actively serves the role of a free press in our so-called free society.

[image and caption from SFGate]

Valaire Van Slyck And even though we don't mean what we say, we throw our words like bombs and handgrenades 2006 enamel, acrylic, confetti, glitter and clear-coat canvas 36" x 48"

Andrew Guenther The Space Between Faces 2006 acrylic on paper 12" x 9" [installation view]

Brent Ridge The Execution of the King 2007 acrylic and pencil on canvas 30" x 40"

Two weeks ago, in my post about the Cynthia Broan show, "What F Word?", I wrote that my next entry would be something of a foil for its concentration on art produced by women. Sorry. I'm finally getting around to the men only now.

There seems to be an almost unanimous agreement that 2007 is to be the year of women and art (I hope the new attention is not just a vogue). There are big museum shows, important gallery retrospectives and even traveling exhibitions devoted to all sorts of angles on the modern history of what has always been the largest group of neglected modern artists.

The distortion and waste of this fundamental imbalance means that we've all been missing out on a lot. And that's not even mentioning the baleful personal consequences for the one half of the world's artists who have been locked out by the other - or by those who care for and feed them.

None of this is new to anyone reading these lines. We also know that everyone has a lot of catching up to do, even if there's no danger the art that men make will be ignored in the interim. All of which brings me to "A Cloudy Day's Epiphany", the group show installed currently at Chelsea's Dinter Fine Art, curated by Simon Cerigo. The artists are Devendra Banhart, Andrew Guenther, Brent Ridge and Valaire van Slyck. Dash Snow had been invited, but [perhaps because he's such a guy*] his work hadn't shown up by the time of the opening reception. I see his name is no longer included on the gallery's site for the show.

I walked into the Dinter immediately after leaving the Broan show. When I was reminded who had curated this one and recalled what I knew about his own art from a terrific show I had seen at Capsule gallery, I looked around and immediately saw "Epiphany" as a boys' club. But this actually seems to be the good club, the one you wouldn't mind being a part of, even (or perhaps especially) if you were a girl.

It's a very good group and there's some very good work. I don't think this is work which can be used to dramatize a male/female artistic dichotomy, and it's not just because of the tie dye and glitter elements. I'm glad that even guys now seem to know that it really does take all kinds to make this world, and that we may finally be trying to come to terms with that reality.

p.s. It's a four-artist show and, as I'm only including images of three, I feel I have to explain: I just didn't get a good image of any of Devendra Banhart's works.

or maybe there's another story

Oliver Herring Wade 1 2006 digital C-prints, museum board, foam core and polystyrene 68" x 22.5" x 15" [detail of installation]

Oliver Herring's show at Max Protetch closed on Saturday.

Everything in this multi-media installation was breathtakingly beautiful, but this life-size photo-collage sculpture of a young male nude was of another dimension altogether. I found it almost impossible even to stand in front of the piece in order to capture this image; I didn't think I could lower the camera, and I'm no prude. I don't know whether my unease was from being in the presence of such beauty (the entire body was as sensuous as the face and shoulders), or because this figure standing before me was strangely so much more alive than anything sculpted with surfaces less pellucid.

An excerpt from Roberta Smith's review of Herring's 2004 show in the gallery:

But the showstoppers here are two pensive life-size sculptures fashioned from hundreds of close-up photographs of a thin young man in his underwear and a beautiful young woman in a flowery sundress. The delicate patchwork beings, at once whole and dissected, suggest a mind-bogglingly painstaking process for all concerned, as well as artist-model relationships of unusual intimacy.

Go to the gallery site for more images of the show just ended.


The Kantor/Feuer Window show, "The Art of the Deal", which opened on Saturday may be "The ultimate art show for insiders.", as Art Fag City calls it, but if you do happen to find yourself inside it's actually very funny.

All visitors to the show will in fact be outside, since the "gallery" doors are locked and the exhibiton space itself is the equivalent of a building vestibule. And truthfully, since there are no real big-deal galleries represented by these twenty or so gallerists, this particular insiderdom is still a pretty comfortable neighborhood.

From the press release of artist/curators Justin Lieberman and Lumi Tan:

"The Art of the Deal" is an Artist-curated exhibition of early works by well known gallerists who once sought their calling on the other side of the table as artists. Far from the cynical venture it might at first appear to be, this show presents the idea of creative production as an egalitarian venture open to all who would choose to embark on it, regardless of their vocation.
My favorite piece, at least as seen from five feet away through reflecting glass, may be (Sunday gallery) C. Sean Horton's pink popsicle-like sculpture in the center of this capture.

The complete list of the artists/gallerists who will be hanging together on 10th Avenue until May 11, are:

Roland Augustine (Luhring Augustine), William Brady (ATM Gallery), Elizabeth Burke(Clementine), John Cheim (Cheim and Read), Burr Dodd (Brooklyn Fireproof), Derek Eller (Derek Eller Gallery), Zach Feuer (Zach Feuer Gallery), Jane Hait (Wallspace), Sean Horton (Sunday), David Kordansky (David Kordansky Gallery),Nick Lawrence (Freight + Volume), Philip Martin (Cherry and Martin), Sheri Pasquarella (SLP Art Culture Commerce), Jeff Poe (Blum and Poe), Andrea Pollan (Curator's Office) Becky Smith (Bellwether), Fred Snitzer (Fredric Snitzer Gallery). Kelly Taxter (Taxter and Spengemann), Elisabeth Wingate (independent consultant), Mike Weiss (Mike Weiss Gallery) and Scott Zieher (ZieherSmith)
Incidentally, this is the only show in Chelsea which can be seen 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Hunter Reynolds Patina du Prey's Memorial Dress: 1993 to 2007 [detail of installation]

Spinning, spinning, spinning.

Hunter Reynolds's elegant installation, "Patina du Prey's Memorial Dress: 1993 to 2007", is currently installed in one of the galleries of Artists Space. The performer/artist/activist's elegant, couture, strapless ball gown hangs from a torso mannequin in the SoHo gallery, not-so-slowly spinning on its axis (as it did when so memorably inhabited in the past by its creator himself), accompanied by an ambient piece of music composed for and contributed to the installation by the contemporary composer Edmund Campion.

This is not just another cold tally of the epidemic, but rather a very human, a very personal collection of thousands of memorials, and a rich artistic gesture as well: The names on the dress were initially drawn from the list of names on the AIDS quilt as it existed in 1993, so it embodied the memories of friends and family members. Since then, wherever the dress has appeared the artist has invited visitors to write additional names, also of people lost to the disease and remembered by friends and family members, in an accompanying ledger book.

Is the supply of names running down? No. While the death rate for this epidemic may have slowed or declined in industrial nations during the last ten or fifteen years, at least within the population segments hit first and hit the hardest, the toll for the planet as a whole has skyrocketed. More significant to the specific groups which have seen his installation, when Reynolds's project was begun in 1993 the friends or families of people with AIDS were far less likely to admit they were friends or families of people with AIDS; they were very unlikely to come forward with names to be added to a memorial of any kind. Reynolds confirmed to me on Friday that even in the American and European cities visited by the Memorial Dress, cities where life-sustaining HIV drugs are most generally available, the frequency of the ledger entries continues unchanged. It seems the survivors of a plague whose casualties themselves the world branded odious from the start are still coming out of the closet today.

What can be seen at the gallery this month is the second (1996) realization of Patina du Prey's mangown. The first was the 1963 dress; the current version is constructed of a rich dark (faux-black?) silk fabric covering a fitted bodice and crinoline skirt printed in gold to include thousands of additional names added during the travels of the original. The artist hopes to create a third dress, which will incorporate the four to five thousand new names which have been added to the books in recent years.

This image is of a detail of one page from one of those books:



On Tueday, April 10, between 6:30 and 8 pm at the Artists Space gallery on 38 Greene Street in SoHo, Visual Aids and Artists Space will co-host a panel discussion, "Diamonds and Pearls: Remembrances and Recent Thinking on the Memorial Dress", with Hunter Reynolds, Lia Gangitano, Alexander Gray and Simon Watson, moderated by Benjamin Weil and Amy Sadao.

Following the panel, from 8 until 9, guests are invited to party with Patina du Prey; there will be food and drink. [suggested donation: $5-7].

untitled (duck cans) 2007

I spotted these guys in Chinatown last week. It's sad to think they might end up being sold separately, and then they'd never see each other again.

This page is an archive of entries from April 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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