Archive for:September, 2011

Art of the Day: Governors Island art (Sep 2011) Part 2 of 2 — Joel Bacon and Yeon Jin Kim

September 26th, 2011


       Joel Bacon
       fugue, 2009, graphite on paper


       Yeon Jin Kim
        excerpt from Zoonomia, 2010 (?)

     As promised, part two my survey of the Governors Island art bits I came across in September. As readers of Art of the Day know, I never review stuff I don’t love (I’m a negative enough old cudgel as it is). So while I came across a lot of noteworthy art things while wandering on Gov’s Island this past labor day weekend, I’m only covering the stuff that I loved most.
     First up tonight’s a work by Joel Bacon that wasn’t something I saw at Governors Island, a piece called “fugue”. So why did I choose it? Well, a) I like it, but the primary reason’s b) — the two pieces of his I did see and love were ungoogleable: “Barbell Diptych” and “Hedgerow”. And that’s a shame because one of the pieces, the former, was strong as hell, and tied for first in my Gov. Island favorites list (co-winner being the next artist I’ll cover). “Barbell Diptych” comprises two tall oblong canvases side by side, each depicting some kind of tall barbell-shaped mass of reddish, wormy viscera. They hovered there, sentient, full of pulsing alien presence. It felt like they could talk to each other and to you in some weird telepathic whisper. Alternately, they seemed just masses of dead, sculpted meat. A lot of the piece’s power for me resulted precisely from this duality: alive & aware extraterrestrial presence vs. sheer impact of two masses of gutty blorp.
     Yeon Jin Kim’s “4 Zoonomia” was my other favorite piece of art I saw on Governors Island over Labor day. It’s a beautifully strange, unnerving piece of video art where the mouse-eye view camera tentatively enters & navigates a heavily textured dreamscape of plant props, leaves & dried coral. Humanoid forms detach from the vegetal background unexpectedly and move in cute halting shamble, eerie sound-fx of their echoey footsteps provided. All the while the camera takes you deeper, pausing and lurching, creating suspense as to what presence will manifest next, leaves and shadows wriggling and shaking. A blue door opens, a feasting giant bug lumbers by, prey in its mandibles.
     Just as interesting was Kim’s “All Intellectual Animals are Dangerous” (not shown here). The best way to describe this video is just to provide improvised running commentary: Gray and white bricks. Ominous backwards-speech sounds. Camera slowly crawls along them. Roots jostle out of holes made in the brick. A window shows a mass of bright red blood encircling a curious dog sitting calmly in the kitchen. Paper cut-out elk stare at you while their heads fall off. The camera keeps crawling up the brickwall, presents us with a goat chewing off the skin of its companion, green ichor spilled, chewing and chewing in the checkered tile chamber. Camera pans, roots everywhere, broken bricks, hole opens into chamber: tall lithe giantess is there, sad and hugging her knees, Alice after the grow potion, filing up the room. Brick wall again, dog looking out at bluecloudy apocalypse storm space, now a dead shark on droughtland. A window glows now soft echinachea rose, the blueshutter opens. Alligator grins at the exposed foot in the bathtub.

More of Bacon’s art at

More of Yeon Jin Kim’s gorgeous videos over at what I believe to be her youtube channel, here.


[posted by: C Way at 11:22 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| paintings/drawings ||| video/film]

Art of the Day: Governors Island art (Sep 2011), Part 1 of 2 — Matthew Garrison, Kerri Brewer, Selena Kimball

September 21st, 2011


       Kerri Brewer
       [Title Unknown], [Date unknown], photograph

       Selena Kimball
       Untitled (Materialization 1970), 2009-2011, collage


       Matthew Garrison
       In the Rain, 2010, flatscreen television & transparent collage

     Over labor day weekend I visited Governors Island with my girlfriend, and one of the unexpected highlights of our time there was the art we stumbled across in various little galleries set up in the island’s colonial homes. Above is part one of a mini-survey of some of the art which I liked best. ——–> First is a lovely rustheap by photographer Kerri Brewer, whose work I found for sale in a Governors Island Etsy shop. I like how she caught the powder blue graffiti just right, such that it echoes the background waters without calling too much attention to itself. And of course being a general texture- (and particularly rust-) junkie, I dug those upjutting snarls of rust scraping+crashing into each other like waves. ———> Next is a large-scale collage piece by Selena Kimball. This piece was powerful in person, the first thing you saw when you walked into the colonial home gallery that housed it, mounted on the paintpeeled wall of the entryway. It made you step back several paces and take in its aura of smoke, underwater and gathering spirit. The craft, too was impressive & easy to get lost in up close, all those lovely gradations of black and white and gray meticulously managed across a sea of paper cuttings. Great photo, but this piece definitely needs to be experienced live. ——–> Finally, one of my favorite pieces, a video installation by Matthew Garrison. I liked the simultaneous whimsy and slowmotion melancholy of this piece. I stood there mesmerized, watching the artist skip about among the static droplets on the transparent collage layered over the screen. I would’ve stayed there for another couple minutes if we didn’t have so much to do that day. Gorgeous work. Part two coming tomorrow (maybe).

More images of Brewer’s photography here.

More of Matthew Garrison’s art and video here.

More of Selena Kimball’s collage art and other art here.


[posted by: C Way at 11:10 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| paintings/drawings ||| photography ||| video/film]

Art of the Day — Sculpture: David Altmejd, “Untitled” (2010)

September 18th, 2011



       David Altmejd (b. 1974 in Montreal, Canada)
       Untitled, 2010, Foam, epoxy clay, synthetic hair, acrylic paint, mixed minerals including, quartz, calcite, florite

     Part of why this works so well for me is the sheer contrast between this artifact of disturbing ragtag viscera & the sterile museum hues of white and silvergray underneath and behind it. But no matter what the backdrop, this teratoma clump/bust would retain its disturbing & compelling aura, that of something mysteriously alive & about to telepathically mumble something to you in 15 languages at once, morel growth bulging from cranial implosion, ridgecrusts of eyebrow crystal luminescing pink or purple when it gets scared or angry. And that’s all it gets.

More images of Altmejd’s sculpture here at Empty Kingdom.


[posted by: C Way at 11:50 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| Ekphrasis ||| sculpture]

Art of the Day — Poem: Vachel Lindsay, “The Horrid Voice of Science”, 1919

September 17th, 2011



               (First appears in Poetry, August 1919)

     A bit overheated and not nearly oblique enough for our irony-saturated aughties needs, but I love the bluntforce trauma of the title and theme just fine. The subject never gets old — what do we gain and what do we lose the more we try to apply mechanistic thinking to all phenomena surrounding us? I once had a friend in high school, a gifted math and science-minded student whom I was very fond of, who expressed, with a kind of shy and giddy earnestness, his wish to discover the equations underlying all emotion. I remember instinctively recoiling from such an idea, and so went our debate.
      & I feel the same way now, decades later. Being human means having a mind with an affinity for categorization, pattern-finding, abstraction, quantification; we can, have and should continue to apply those faculties toward an increased understanding of ourselves and our external realities. But when we do this irresponsibly we a) miss out on ways of knowing the universe that are NOT just scientific-mechanistic, but which have more to do with ourselves as spiritual and artistic beings who crave real interaction between ourselves and what’s around us; and b) we run the risk of creating distance between ourselves and the things — be they birds, butterflies, or emotions — we are attempting to dissect & break down to component parts. It’s not so much that science is a “horrid voice”. I’d say it’s more that irresponsible reliance on science as our main (or, heaven forbid, only) way to perceive & process the universe can create a horrid void in us — the lonely void of looking around and merely observing creation as a set of deterministic processes instead of relating to it — to the bird, tree, butterfly, insect, fellow human — as a series of singularly beautiful manifestations of the universe. It’s not only our gift but duty to bring ourselves in cultivated states of mindfulness, gratefulness, feeling and spirit to the universe; not just as algebraists dissectors and technicians but also as caretakers, friends, singers, worshipers & rejoicers.

     (P.s., If anyone knows the exact date of this poem’s first publication [and, of course, which publication it was first featured in], please let me know — I’m trying to assign attribution as precisely as possible to each artwork I feature on this site)

For more on Lindsay, please check out the University of Virginia’s e-text of Lindsay’s poetry collection called The Congo and Other Poems here.


[posted by: C Way at 11:45 AM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| poetry]

Art of the Day — Photography: Three by Brassaï

September 16th, 2011





       Brassaï (b. 1899, d. 1944)
        from the top: Untitled [Futurist hair creation by Antoine], 1930; Culotte et bas, c. 1950;
        The Wall of Sante Prison, Boulevard Arago, Paris, c. 1932

     Making up for my absence yesterday with a tripledose. Oh mama but consistency’s a bitch. So anyway: Brassaï. Blessed be but I could post his work from now ’til kingdom come (I couldn’t get enough of Paris by Night, staring at those shadowy Parisian alleys and wet moonglowy cobblestones — do you know it? Isn’t it beautiful?). ————–> So, the pieces at hand. Don’t you love the brassy lustre of the hair in the topmost shot? Something about the clump of murky shadow beneath it completes the composition, maybe by virtue of its counterpoise to the brilliant stuff above it. ————> The prison wall shot (first from the bottom) is simple in its perspective and composition but man how perfect is it? The wet shadows thrown against the wall, the dense clumps of naked branches all along its top. The misty glow at the end of the tunnel. ————> And the middle shot, rapturous. The contrast of her skin against the shot’s darks. Her legs bent just so, kicked out as if the rug were a raft and the floor a black river, languid trailing of her to in the cool water. All kinds of stories could emerge from these three.

For more, check out this great roundup of Brassaï’s photography at Vintage Vivant.


[posted by: C Way at 11:09 PM]

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| photography]