November 28, 2008
November 25, 2008
Does MOCA's downward spiral remind anybody of the Bush Administration? Like MOCA, it starts with an outward projection of denial, as in, "The fundamentals of the economy are strong." Next comes tight-lipped loyalty in the face of disaster where projecting an inscrutable but unified front is more important than fixing the problem.
Even after Christopher Knight's open letter to MOCA, there were no mea culpas, only secret catered board meetings. It seems the only way to initiate a dialog was to either be a multi-millionaire and write an op-ed for the LA Times, or crash a lecture on conceptual art.
Realistically speaking, the support for cutting-edge contemporary art in Los Angeles has been pretty thin and fickle, despite the world-class art that's produced here. Comparisons have been made between MOCA and the defunct Pasadena Museum of Art, but I can also see another parallel form the more recent past.
In the mid-'70's, the only non-profit spaces dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art were the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art (LAICA) and an exhibition space in the shopping mall under Arco Towers run by the oil company. As the contemporary art scene grew, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) opened in the bridal district, and LAICA expanded, trying to position itself as an important venue as some of the other ICAs--like those in London and Boston.
At the same time, the groundwork was laid for building MOCA on Bunker Hill, and the money that flowed into not-for-profit art was pulled downtown--to the detriment of LAICA. By the mid-'80's when MOCA was in full swing, LAICA was forced to scale back its aspirations. Unfortunately for LAICA, LACE had already established itself on the lower rungs of the feeding chain, and coupled with spending and ambition that didn't match it's economic situation, LAICA shriveled into the ether.
In similar ways the Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA) and the Hammer have been putting on important shows without MOCA's deficit spending, while the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) has been sucking dry the small pool (puddle?) of high-profile donors. Like LAICA, MOCA has found itself in a fiscally barren middle, while ignoring the financial reality of its situation.
Despite the context of the worldwide financial meltdown, MOCA's financial woes were years in the making. Even the Getty--with its deep pockets--was tightening it's belt. Back in May, Lee Rosenbaum reported on The Getty Museum's shortfall, and how it took decisive action:
The J. Paul Getty Trust, which recently posted its fiscal 2007 annual report online, last year incurred a staggering operating deficit of $49.36 million on a budget of $307.7 million. The previous year, the deficit was $18.29 million on a $293.57-million budget.Other actions included reduced museum hours, increased parking fees, and reductions in routine maintenance and cleaning.
This growing shortfall is likely one of the reasons for the recently announced elimination of 114 jobs, including 40 layoffs. Anne-Marie O'Connor of the LA Times recently quoted this explanation for the cuts by trust president James Wood:
"The whole goal here is to focus the Getty on the core mission of the visual arts. This is to ensure that we have flexible funds to devote to both building our collections in the museum, the research institute and the library and undertake targeted strategic initiatives where we feel we can really make a difference..."
Now--like the automakers going to Washington with their hat in hand (via corporate jets)--MOCA's desperate for a cash infusion. At the same time, there's not a word from MOCA's management or trustees about fixing the money pit on Grand Avenue. I can expect the lower rungs of the art world to renew their memberships early as a way to help out, but I don't think that rich folk--who make their money by investing wisely--will throw their dollars in a pot that's leaking cash so profusely.
MOCA's management should watch the video below so see how other executives respond to financial problems on their watch:
At this point, the ball seems to be in MOCA's court. Artists, journalists and philanthropists don't want to see MOCA's collection folded into another institution--or work sold off. And as Christopher Knight pointed out, those who value MOCA's world-class permanent collection are unwilling to support a board that is so cavalier about frittering that collection away.
I hope MOCA's board and management can figure out exactly how to reduce spending and plan for the financial long term. If not, then they should step aside.
One suggestion would be to set aside a wing of their Grand Avenue space for a permanent installation of a selection from their permanent collection. I expect everyone with a MOCA membership has the experience of returning to an art museum in another city and revisiting a familiar and loved work of art--be it Les Demoiselles d'Avignon at MoMA, El Greco's View of Toledo at the Met--or whatever floats your boat. Building an in-depth, and long-term relationship with a work of art is a logistical impossibility with all of MOCA's space being used for temporary exhibitions. Not only would this reduce the expense of pulling together large-scale shows, but it might help build a longer term relationship with Los Angeles' fickle art crowd.
November 23, 2008
Almost twenty years ago, the first "Day Without Art" took place as a way to remember those who have died of AIDS--and the impact the virus has had on the arts community. A New York Times article from that era captures a sampling of some 800 events that happened in museums, galleries and symphony halls across the nation.
In New York, in a prelude to the day's activities, about 500 people crowded into the lobby and balconies of the Museum of Modern Art on Thursday night for a service at which Leonard Bernstein dedicated a two-minute composition for piano and two voices to ''those I love who have died of AIDS.'' Calling the evening ''a half-hour of symbols,'' he added, ''What we do tonight is only a symbolic reaction to threatening and ugly issues.''Today, looking at the on-line calendars for MOCA, The Getty, LACMA, and The Hammer, only the Getty lists events that mark the day. Does silence still equal death?
This got me to thinking...
Around the era that the first effective therapies for HIV were being developed, so was the internet. This means many artists who died young have few references to their lives and work in cyberspace.
In light of this fact, I thought it would be a good idea to encourage bloggers worldwide post on December 1 as a way to remember an artist or art worker who died of AIDS, and show the disproportionate impact the disease has had on the art world.
So come back here on December 1 to read about an artist and friend of mine who almost goes unmentioned on the internet, and feel free to link your remembrance post to mine through the comment section.
November 22, 2008
The Andy Warhol Foundation has divvied up twenty-eight million dollars worth of Andy Warhol’s Polaroids and black and white prints, and donated them to 183 university art museums. Among the recipients is CSULB’s University Art Museum, which has a selection of Polaroids used to make his iconic silk screens and portraits on view through December 14.Margaret Hamilton
In an adjacent room, Warhol’s helium-filled Mylar pillows are installed for the full factory effect. On my visit, the show was still being installed.Helium Tanks for Silver Clouds
Like seeing Warhol’s Factory pickled in formaldehyde, the show includes Warhol’s working images of Margaret Hamilton (AKA The Wicked Witch of the West), O.J. Simpson and others, along with the resulting silkscreens and paintings.Divine Warhol
Back when I was in high school, O. J. Simpson was the most admired American in a poll of school children. It gives one pause to think how fortunes can change for celebrities and the memorabilia that surrounds them.Raw Materials
As Meg Cranston pointed out with her piles of library books, her 3-D bar graph of books is higher (and lasts longer) for esoteric literary types than it does for celebrities. Monographs for artists collect in libraries and are easily accessible, but hours and hours of courtroom footage and news commentary disappears into the ether. While Warhol's portrait of Marilyn is more iconic than anything written about the actress, some of the wealthy that commissioned Warhol portraits in the 70's and 80's have already been consigned to the dust heap of "Unidentified Blond Woman."Finished Product
Warhol tied his fame to two different horses, and in a a couple of decades, the slippage is already profound: Ars Longa, Celebrity Brevis.
This post came about after reading about a study out of the Illinois State University that tested different methods of giving directions; either by “birds-eye” perspective with cardinal directions (go north 2 kilometers, turn east) or by route perspective (Mettent deux blocs à la Rue Voltaire, tournez à gauche). There is also a post here full of comments and suggestions for giving directions.How Far to Wall Drug?
In the days before mobile telephones, it was necessary to give better directions, since communication was impossible en route (I'm at the east entrance, where are you?). Back when I threw (delivered) the LA Times, the route perspective was used. This got me to think of an ideal way to give directions, and a couple of issues that aren’t fully addressed in either link. One has to do with the syntax of direction giving, and the other has to do with the details of the circumstances.
When thinking about the syntax, I’m assuming that the way finder has a starting location that runs the gamut from familiar (home, work) to unfamiliar (a hotel, airport) and an unknown destination. The two points can be rural to urban and involve movements on foot, in a car, or public transportation. In almost all circumstances, directions will break into two parts that I’m calling The Funnel and The Route.
In the case where it’s necessary to give more than one highway or train, the last exit or stop would be replaced by a transfer or highway change, with each leg of the directions on a separate line. Some examples:
- Take the A train to 72nd Street/Central Park West
- Take the 405 north about 20 miles to Roscoe Boulevard
- Take the 435 south about 11 miles to the 70 West,
take the 70 west about 225 miles to Russell
- Take the Narita Express to Tokyo Station
These directions assume that airports have signs pointing out rail or highway access, hotel clerks can point the way to the highway, or a person knows how to get from their home to a highway or train. It’s helpful to remember that highways have signage with number designations, so “Take the 5 south to the 710 south,” would be preferable to, “Take the Sadao Munemori Memorial Interchange to the Rosa Parks Freeway.”
For the most part, the less that is said, the better, then ad in qualifiers if necessary. In most cities, once a person is in a subway (or freeway) system, there are maps and signs that will help them find their stop or exit. By looking about (rather than at a piece of paper) one will more easily become familiar with landmarks and signs, thus build a better sense of direction. The same holds true for distances. Going “about 20 miles” will keep the way finder’s eyes peeled for the exit sign, not glued to the odometer and miss the exit. So an example of a paired down set of directions might be, “From the airport, take the subway to the Zócalo.” Yes, there may be better, more efficient routes than others, but nobody like a control freak.
Take (street name) (direction if necessary) (distance) to (cross street or intersection)
[line break] (course change)(next street).
- Take Wilshire Boulevard east about a mile to Westwood; turn left
- Walk on the right side of Avenida Armendariz until it curves left;
take the first footpath on the right
- Go 2 blocks;
turn left on 11th Avenue
Directions are easier to follow if the same syntax is maintained; by separating course changes on a different line, it makes it easier for a driver to keep their place on the paper while navigating traffic.
Descriptive qualifiers may be necessary when encountering roundabouts, “T” intersections, or streets that bifurcate at odd angles. Some examples:
- Take PCH south to the traffic circle; take the second exit Los Coyotes Diagonal
- Counting blocks on the right side, go 2 blocks to Minerva Park; turn right
- Keeping in the left lane, drive about 2 kilometers to Rue Danton; veer left
- Go about 2 miles to Walnut Avenue which has a traffic light; turn right
It’s best to leave out relative or ambiguous terms like up or down, and stick to left, right, and straight (or gaily forward). If you find it necessary to give cardinal directions (Lakewood Boulevard exit east) it’s better to not capitalize them, so as not to confuse streets with cardinal directions in the names (go right on East 1st Street might be misread as go right (east) on 1st Street).
When approached by lost folks asking for directions, it’s probably better not to overwhelm them with detailed directions, but rather help them get a little closer—or back to some familiar landmarks. Too many changes of direction can be easily misremembered (was it left-left-right-left-right-left, or left-left-left-right-right-left?).
If you’re unable to find your destination, it may be better to first ask for more general directions to a neighborhood (Can you point me to Colonia Centro?), then a street (Where is Calle Allende?), and finally a specific location (Donde estas Café Tacuba?).
Opportunities like the next may only happen one in a lifetime, so it’s best to be prepared. While out walking my dog in Westwood, a car—presumably full of UCLA music students and their instruments—pulled over and asked how to get to Royce Hall. What could I say but, “Practice, practice?”
November 20, 2008
In the gallery sometimes set aside for student exhibitions, director of Otis' photography program Soo Kim has curated a mix of local and European artists who use photographic materials as their medium. This Saturday November 22 is the closing reception, from 6-8pm.Phil Chang's Peel on Table, 2007
Directions to Otis here.
As Howard Singerman and Lane Relyea noted on a few occasions, traditional models for educating artists have been in flux for some time now. In the old Beaux Arts (bow-zarts) and Bauhaus models, you sat pupils down with some tools, and got them all to accomplish (more or less) the same thing: be it rendering a naked lady or a teapot in charcoal, or developing and printing some black and white film. For some bizarre reason, it was thought that at the end of four years, students would have produced an independent body of work. Even at places like CalArts, which have attempted to supplant old pedagogical practices with a critique model that only brought in skills when needed, the photo/art dichotomy still holds sway.Carly Steward's Untitled Landscape, 2003
Gelatin Silver Print 30x24
Wolfgang Tillmans' Lighter 77 (left) and Lighter 78, both 2008
Unique C-Prints 24x20
For the best artists, the compartmentalization of media is ignored, and finding the best way to express their concept or idea takes priority. For Phil Chang and Wolfgang Tillmans, the ur-stuff of the photographic media pulled apart, sculpted, and processed, decoupled from the negative.
Rather than printing from a negative (which hypothetically, could be done an infinite number of times) Tillmans singly manipulates each piece of photo paper--making them unique and individual, just like every single person on the planet. Like his book says, "If one thing matters, everything matters."
For some of the artists in the show, the photograph can become the substrate for other art supplies. Sebastiaan Bremer culls from his Dutch heritage still lifes drawn in careful pointillist white. The faint image of a woman's face (in the dark area disappears as the work is approached, and other more amazing techniques and images come into focus. Unfortunately the large sheet of Plexiglas over the work distracts from the effect. Other works suffer from the perfect storm of glass, glossy media, and dark images across the room, creating a distracting funhouse of reflections.Sebastiaan Bremer's Day For Night, 2006
Ink on C-Print 91x118
Around the corner Morgan Cuppet-Michelsen presents a diptych of landscapes photographed at either end of the Simi Valley. The reversed text puts the you in the movie, presumably a western. The specific locations--Spahn Ranch and the Reagan Library--both have filmic and mythic western references; the dairy ranch was used as a location for the Lone Ranger and Bonanza TV shows, and the other hosts the interred body of the famous actor/president.
For both Carly Steward and Yanina Spizzirri, systems of display and representation have been foregrounded at the same time traditional use has been sabotaged. Steward's more recent work has shown empty vitrines and sculpture supports as the LACMA's rooms have gone under renovation. In what looks like blueprints of Thomas Guide pages without their text, Spizzirri's compositions (like Stewards) foreground the formal aspects while stripping their source material of their primary function. Even Ansel Adams traditionally vast depth of field is inverted, giving a landscape-like quality to the cut up book.Yanina Spizzirri's Model Kit #1/Los Angeles, 2005
Cyanotype Prints 8x10 each
There is an exhibition catalog, which should be available.Morgan Cuppet-Michelsen's "The End" of Simi Valley (Reagan Library), 2008
C-Print and Silkscreen 38x48
November 19, 2008
Sarah Thornton came full circle Tuesday, offering her take on the art world in CalArts room F200, the site of chapter two and Michael Asher’s infamous critique class. (The class is so mythic, that the twelve-hour critique Thornton sat in on and described in the book morphed to fifteen hours in the lecture).
Last night the room was being used for the visiting artist lecture series, and in the back of the room next to the video camera that records the presentation, were remnants of the previous iteration of Post Studio Art.
Most interesting was the focus on validation in each of the overlapping magesteria depicted in the book. Besides California Institute of the Arts' classroom, other chapters focused on a meeting between MOCA and Blum & Poe at Murakami’s studio, the Venice Biennale, the Turner Prize and the like. In the case of the commercial spaces, validation can take the form of pounds sterling; in the case of Artforum, caché (and a premium) comes with ads placed in the first 30% of the magazine.
What seems evident to me—though not explicitly referenced in the book—is the anxiety that is the evil twin of validation. For the auction houses, it can come form setting the estimates too high and having work bought in. For gallerists it can come from selecting a stable that isn’t picked for biennials or awards, and from being pushed down the rungs in the art-fair-satellite hierarchy.
While Thornton did speak of this anxiety among collectors, my sense is that in the most opinionated curator or magazine editor is a poker player unsure enough of her hand that she’s forced to play her poker face. If Artfoum sees a risk in putting a younger artist on the cover, then it seems they’re more comfortable seconding than nominating. And if—according to Rhonda Lieberman—Artforum is an amalgam of upscale tastemakers and windbags, the former should obviate the need for bloviators if the makers of taste believed in the own credibility.
There were several “days” missing from Seven Days in the Art World: notably, not-for-profit spaces and Thornton herself. It might bee seen that the Paul Brach Visiting Artist Lecture Series was an attempt by Thornton to insert herself in the CalArts critique machine, and by emerging relatively unscathed, receive her own gold star of validation.
On my way out I stopped to briefly look at the artwork left from Michael Asher’s last class. The piece was the simulacra of a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) that seemed to describe the hazards of the sheet itself along with the vitrine in which it was encased.
Full circle indeed.
November 17, 2008
I’ve been thinking about the differences between the art made by older and younger artists. This has come about partly because of the seemingly abrupt turn Rachel Whiteread’s new work (outlined in my last post), and probably because my birthday yesterday puts me three years away from receiving my AARP card. There are no laws about the kind of work an artist of any age must make, but it might be illuminating to make some gross generalizations based on a handful of cherry picked observations.
If I would give a word to the older and recent work by Whiteread, I’d say there’s been a move from the social to the personal. While her past work might answer questions posed by a sociologist (how do people live, what spaces do they inhabit, etc.), her new stuff seems to answer those questions about her own personal life. But the ‘social’ and ‘personal’ make a poor dichotomy.
Looking at Gauguin, one could see in Jacob’s Fight with the Angel (above) and The Spirit of the Dead Keep Their Watch (below) as a move from the historical depiction of stories heard, to the personal depiction of a nice meaty Tahitian ass where Gauguin probably passed along his Treponema pallidum.
At the same time there are plenty of artists who move back and forth between the personal and historical (Picasso comes to mind) or the personal and the social (now I’m thinking of Cathie Opie). In one way, it can be parsed as shift from the general to the specific. Perhaps some of the difference stems from the idea that a 25 year old is getting their information second hand from words and teachers, while a person twice the age has parallels to the concepts learned that could be drawn from lived experience. The recent art school grad may make political work drawn from the news or history books, while an artist twice that age may have lived and voted through the past four presidential administrations, and incorporate some of that personal history.
Quite often the minds of young children are referred to as sponges. But there eventually comes a point where information flows the other way. Sponges become fountains. For the younger artist, information coming in gets barely masticated, and moist chunks of theory and fact might be recognizable and picked out in the resulting spew. Those of us who are so old we fart dust, the concepts ingested twenty years have now been incorporated on the cellular level. This morning’s toast is moistened by saliva that was last night’s consommé. Eventually it all gets shit out, along with dead cells that are byproducts of body’s regeneration process. For the older artist, the stuff that comes out is seen as a part of the body—the personal—no longer recognizable as the stuff that went in.
November 16, 2008
“…if we come across the number 62 several times in a single day, or if we begin to notice that everything which has a number — addresses, hotel rooms, compartments in railway trains — invariably has the same one, or at all events one which contains the same figures. We do feel this to be uncanny. And unless a man is utterly hardened and proof against the lure of superstition, he will be tempted to ascribe a secret meaning to this obstinate recurrence of a number…”
Rachel Whiteread's Ghost, 1990
In modern brain science, the Id and Ego have their parallels in a limbic system—which generates our emotions, and the prefrontal cortex—which can control and hide our thoughts and feelings from other creatures. When Freud peeled back the skull, he presented us with myth. When Whiteread tore away the outer walls of a row house slated for demolition, the interior is not exposed à la Gordon Matta-Clark, but instead another occluding surface is presented. For Damon Hyldreth, he sees,
“…a reversal of an enclosing, comforting, dwelling, a place of repose and comfort, a symbol of domestic hopes and dreams. What was left was a monument to one’s most private moments but with the privacy stripped bare and petrified. “House” monumentalized the past in a subversive manner, instead of allowing for a connection to and retrieval of the past, “House” subverted the warm cozy memories of home.”
But what becomes of the psychodynamic view when Whiteread’s media expands to include translucent polymers? These objects are not visually impenetrable, forcing the viewer to project their own histories and politics onto the surface. In the case of Water Tower (1998) in New York and Untitled Monument (2001) for the empty forth plinth in Trafalgar Square, the object is made inaccessible by the nature of its architectural context. Just as the unconscious can be appraised but remain out of reach, these particular casts appear to float mirage-like; watery apparitions that may be continually approached, but remain forever out of reach.
neoclassical form reminds us that myth spun from history wasn't invented by the British Empire.
David Roland’s 40/4 chair will be a familiar one. While on the surface it represents the modernist aesthetic, its production parallels high modernism’s slide from a Utopic ideal to the capitalist reality of production, storage, and contract furnishings. To underscore this read, the functionality—the seat surfaces—have been removed and replaced by the cardboard tubes ubiquitous to the architect or interior design office. Like the disused stationary bicycle or treadmill that eventually gets repurposed as a valet for dirty clothes, Drill illustrates the crash of modernism's ideals into the hard rock of consumerism. Allan McCollum has tried to accomplish by way of mathematics in his SHAPES project, Rachel Whiteread has done through the intrinsic inconsistency of the human hand.
November 14, 2008
If anyone should take the time to read through the California Supreme Court decision on the matter, they would find a reasoned argument disentangled from the religious issue. Most of the rub comes not from "gay marriage" but from the word "definition." It is the nature of language that words have different meanings in different contexts, and for those on both sides of the marriage issue it's about controlling the boundaries of one word.
A point overlooked in the California Supreme Court ruling is that their opinion did not support the granting of gay marriage rights, but was focused on the use of terminology to name the union between two people. In the recent past the beaches in California were segregated. Having "separate but equal" access to surfing did not fly under the equal protection clause, and neither did calling one part of Santa Monica bay "The Inkwell" and set aside for Black people.
According to legal precedent and common sense, no group has the right to restrict the use of language (beyond using brand names for similar products). That's why Catholics, Scientology, and The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster all get to use the word church, and on the secular side, all get to claim tax exempt status. In America, we take pride in our tolerance of difference, and extol it as a virtue.
One other possibility under the California Supreme Court would be to give the name civil unions to all marriages, have it confer the same legal standing as marriage in other states. By threading the needle this way, the equal protection clause is upheld, and religious institutions get to marry people "in the eyes of god".
There are plenty of gay-friendly houses of worship that will join two people together--no matter what their gender--as there are churches and temples that won't. For the brief six months that same-sex couples could get married, what happened at religious institutions did not change. Likewise, if a person is baptized, there is no civil aspect or equal protection requirement to the spiritual prestidigitation.
Unlike other faith-based ceremonies, there are separate fiscal and legal reasons that two people might want to form a union. In California, there are nearly 500 laws that reference and effect marriage in one way or another. On the federal level, there are 1500 more. I hate to generalize--or paint a diverse group with too broad a brush--but most gay men I know fiercely value their independence. For the most part we were born into heterosexual families, and often were forced into self-reliance when the realization (or fear of the same) meant that we wouldn't be receiving the same familiar support or unconditional love as our heterosexual brothers and sisters. Marriage is not something we would enter into with frivolity; there are rights, but there is also responsibilities. On a personal note, my four-year relationship is strong, supportive, loving, and I believe enduring; but even with the opportunity--and with much discussion--breeder-style marriage was not something we were both willing to commit to. Now the conversation is moot.
God knows we've been there for friends and lovers in the past. Through the worst years of the AIDS crisis we fed and wiped the asses of our comrades while we helplessly watched them suffer and die. Whether out of fear, loathing, or institutionalized hate, our friends' straight families had mostly abandoned them. Yet when they were taking their last breaths in a hospital, their absent family had permission to visit but we didn't. I wonder how many gay men died frightened and alone, thinking their gay family had abandoned them too, while in reality a bunch of sad and angry queers were being kept outside by "family values?"
Over the past 150 years, the equal protection clause has been used to break the chains of slavery, give women the right to vote, and allow access to jobs for folks with disabilities. Since the writing of the Constitution, the circle of justice have been spreading, like the ripples from a rock thrown in a pond. For the first time in my life I have seen the equal protection clause rescinded for one specific group of people. In the dark days of the 80's and 90's we weren't asking for Christian compassion, but why should we need the permission of a heterosexual majority to express love for each other?
All faiths have some form of the golden rule. I was raised in the Catholic faith, and was taught about a new covenant with Jesus that focused more on loving and forgiveness than on the old testament's judgement and retribution. One of my reasons for leaving the church was its schizophrenic inability to let go of an agenda of judgement and hate, which it wrapped in a transparent veneer that paid lip service to an all-loving god. Later in life I felt that Buddhism did a better job at promoting the golden rule under its teachings of mindfulness. By putting oneself into "another persons shoes," we can act in a way that leaves other people esteem intact.
So for a moment, I wonder if you can imagine a group you identify with--be it a religious group, your gender, or something else--what it would feel like to have your rights specifically voided by the government? In Nazi Germany it happened to the Gypsies, homosexuals, the disabled, Communists, and the Jews. This speaks to a larger philosophical issue on freedom and rights, and whether they are universal, or if a slim majority gets to pick and choose who to bestow them to.
Over the course of recorded civilization, marriage has taken on different forms and has been defined in different ways. In the Middle Ages, the Christian faith sanctioned unions between same-sex couples, as well as marriages with limited spousal rights, and those without the consent of the betrothed. In the past century some faiths have seen civil marriage as irrelevant or even detrimental to their sacrament, to say nothing of those religious institutions that endorse marriage between a man and multiple teenage girls. I mention these variations only to point out that marriage is a mutable even under religious institutions, and that the form it takes today is a cultural fashion that will keep *ahem* evolving.
I worry when laws are made to strip away freedoms, because they are often there to protect the sensibilities of the majority. This becomes worrisome when a particular faith's beliefs are used to inform civic and criminal law. I think about a place like Iran, where their religious institutions control their political system, so that homosexuality is punished by death.
That is well within the abilities of a majority to bestow upon the population at large, but it also flies in the face of universal justice. I can imagine the anxiety of being a small minority living under the rules of a majority that has no political incentive to protect one's rights. It's a feeling shared by Falun Gong in China, Women under Sharia law, The white minority in Zimbabwe, and myself, a gay man in California.
Frankly I would rather have my lawn sign ripped out than have the equal protection clause rescinded for me--or any other group.
I have had my house egged, my porch light broken, and my car keyed by homophobes in my neighborhood. I've had a knife held to my throat and been mugged by two men that I later found out from the police were targeting gay men. This I can live with. I would gladly give my home address to any Christian who would like to take their anger, fear, or hatred of the gay community out on my home or car. Please, cast a stone; cast many. But promise me you won't vote to take away my civil rights.
November 11, 2008
Trailer for The Garden
A Film by Scott Hamilton Kennedy
Screening at The Red Nation Film Festival
Friday November 14, 2008, 9pm
Aranti Japan America Theater
244 S. San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA 90012
*Q/A with filmmaker and guests following screening*
November 10, 2008
I have used alcohol excessively.
I do not like everyone I know.
- I almost never dream.
- I wake up fresh and rested most mornings.
- I'm afraid to be alone in the dark.
- I have often been frightened in the middle of the night.
- I have nightmares every few nights.
- My sleep is fitful and disturbed.
- I can sleep during the day but not at night.
- I have been told that I walk during my sleep.
- After a bad day, I usually need a few drinks to relax.
- Once a week or more I get high or drunk.
- I can only express my true feelings when I drink.
- I have used alcohol excessively.
- Sold in sets of four, an edition of twelve.
- I have been disappointed in love.
- I like to talk about sex.
- I am more sensitive than most other people.
- I always have too little time to get things done.
- I do not like everyone I know.
- I usually feel better after a good cry.
- I am not easily angered.
The works in the show make a great gift for the psychologist, hysteric, or like-minded folks on your holiday shopping list, and with nothing over 500, it's an easy way to stimulate the economy!
from the Borgia Apartments
I think the anger at, outrage about, and targeting of the religious groups that funded the Yes on Prop 8 campaign via protests and heated statements is both effective and a huge relief. I guess to me, the response to this setback should ideally be multi-pronged, with as much understandable venting as is necessary as well as a more 'level headed' response with a concurrent balanced, refined approach, which I think is already occurring in the quarters that be, and which I imagine will evolve and be strategized into a more pragmatic, broad based, and insinuating line of fire. For me, the hatred currently being unleashed by the so-called LGBT community at organized religion, and at the anti-gay mobilization that has occurred within the particular sects whose money paid for the lies that caused Proposition 8 to pass, is an entirely exhilarating and productive thing that constitutes the sight and sound of the LGBT crowd at large finally being awakened from its very long apolitical, emotionally gentrified slumber and chasing down those who threw the last punch, a mob mentality that I have no problem with at all under the circumstances, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't unashamedly furious at these religious organizations myself. Like I said, I'm too hazy to know whether what I'm saying is in opposition to what you said or completely beside the point or something else, and I suppose I'm speaking mostly from my heart when I say let the most recent if possibly minor religious offenders face the rage they're partially responsible for creating. A measured pro-LGBT diplomacy might be more fair and logical and effective, but I don't see the outrage on display as counter-programming or as shooting oneself in the foot. I think it's fair, and I think it's fuel, and whether the wildly aimed emotionality of the moment is a just riot or the first stone thrown in a revolution, I find its non-strategic approach so unbelievably refreshing.
This leads me back to wonder about whether I’m really queer, not gay, because gay now = upper-middle class white male professionals and is not inclusive the way you would tend to think. Case in point is Prop. 8 in California. It’s a scandal that it was approved, but I don’t think it’s the end of the world. Why: because there are much more vital and pressing Gay Issues to contend with before marriage, which is a straight person’s trifle. Things like human rights, civic rights, not getting the shit beaten out of us, teen suicides, teen runaways/homelessness, disease prevention, workplace rights, the LBT and Q of LGBTQ, and the ongoing problem of race and class and how they triangulate with sexuality.
November 7, 2008
Curated by Diana-Sofia Estrada, Domestic Utensils presents the work of Michael Buitron, Betsy Hunt, Nikki Pressley, and Astri Swendsrud. These artists address ideas of the home and interior space in ways that both invite and disrupt the viewers expectations. In addition to the artists' overlapping interest in the domestic context, they all approach the topic with a restrained color palette. Using mostly whites with blacks and greys, it makes the viewer aware of subtle changes within the work. In the white-cube conventions of exhibition space, the demarkation between artistic content and context becomes blurred. The impetus of their work--be it personal or historic--deconstructs ideas of home and domesticity. Each artist works within a conceptual framework that undermines a simple interpretation.
Betsy Hunt investigates the everyday through physical actions and movements in video and performance. Conjuring ideas of domesticity and a feminine space, she emphasizes the beauty of everyday movements. Astri Swensdrud explores the limits of human perception and understanding, the tension that exists between the experience of everyday life and the desire--and need--to formulate explanations or conditions by which to understand, control and communicate experience. Michael Buitron works with the constraints of a preexisting set of statements from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, an instrument used to assess personality and suggest the presence of psychiatric disorders. Nikki Pressley's work examines and dissects systems of thought associated with historical data, in an effort to disrupt the seemingly unfettered connections between the accepted signs and signifiers.
Please join the artists and curator at the opening reception on Saturday, November 15. The show runs through Saturday December 6 at COMA Alternative Space. Located on Pico at Westchester Place, a block east of Arlington Avenue. For those in the mid-Wilshire and Hollywood area, COMA is about a mile east of La Brea at 3503 Pico. The gallery can be reached by the 10 Freeway, from the Arlington exit, just west of Western Avenue. Go north on Arlington to Pico, and make a left. The gallery will be on your right.
by appointment only (Saturday is best)
Project Into the Void
MEXICO: Former Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda wrote in the Reforma newspaper that the Obama presidency represents a chance for Mexico to remake its relationship with the United States. "Obama's win ... opens to Mexico an extraordinary opportunity to re-position itself in the world because it will be infinitely easier to be a neighbor, ally and friend of the United States."
LEBANON: In a Beirut restaurant, Miriam, 28, said her two brothers, both members of the militant Islamic group Hezbollah, saw Mr. Obama as a leader who was willing to take diplomatic risks to avoid military confrontations. "They think Obama will not damage the Middle East the way Bush did, and they were afraid if [John] McCain made it, the whole region would be in danger."
BRAZIL: In Rio de Janeiro, documentary filmmaker Ryan Steers said Mr. Obama could improve the U.S. image abroad. "Obama is someone the world can trust. That is the most important thing for America right now: regaining its trust in the world community."
KENYA: People danced in the streets in Mr. Obama's ancestral village of Kogelo, and President Mwai Kibaki declared Thursday a national holiday. In Nairobi's Kibera shantytown, carpenter Joseph Ochieng said, "If it were possible for me to get to the United States on my bicycle, I would."
JAPAN: "Americans overcame the racial divide and elected Obama," said Terumi Hino, a photographer and painter in Tokyo. "I think this means the United States can go back to being admired as the country of dreams."
"...it seems reasonable to assume that we will see a new rationale for economic regulation and for an approach to economics that resembles social democratic forms in Europe; in foreign affairs, we will doubtless see a renewal of multi-lateral relations, the reversal of a fatal trend of destroying multilateral accords that the Bush administration has undertaken..."
(HR1268)Both voted to fund the military prison in Guantanamo Bay (April 13, 2005)(HR2663)Both voted for a ban on torture (October 5, 2005)(S1932)Both voted to ban drilling in ANWAR (November 3, 2005)(HR3199)Both voted for the Patriot Act (March 2 2006)(S5)Both voted to move class-action lawsuits to federal courts, where corporations have a better chance of winning (February 10, 2005)(S2611)Both voted to tighten U.S. borders, designate English as the national language, and offer undocumented workers a path to citizenship (May 25, 2006)(SJ Res 1)Both voted against a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage (June 7, 2006)(HR810)Both voted for embryonic stem cell research (July 18, 2006)(HR6061)Both voted to fund a 700-mile barrier along the US/Mexico border (September 29, 2006)(S1348)Both voted against a plan to remove a pathway to legal residence from an immigration bill (May 24, 2007)(S Con Res 70)Both voted for a one-year ban on earmarks (March 13, 2008)