Thursday, November 29, 2007


01 December 2007—10 February 2008
231 Queens Quay West Toronto

Vancouver's Steven Shearer is well-known for his works dealing with the cultures of, and links between, youth, Heavy Metal, and the avant-garde. His sculptures, prints, collages, paintings and drawings approach class, gender, and alienation with a keen sense of absurdity that is rarely applied to such subjects. Focusing on recent works, this major survey includes key pieces from the past decade.

All Shearer's works derive from material that he collects in his extensive image bank or 'archive'. Comprising some 36,000 JPEGs, clippings, Xeroxes, reproductions, and found snapshots, the archive falls into eccentric categories—from 1970s teen idols, to Black/Death Metal bands, to children's play structures. As he recycles these images, Shearer applies a form of visual rhyming and punning. Teasing out formal associations among pictures within themes, he reveals unexpected, frequently hilarious, affinities. In the inkjet print Metal Archive Study (2000), his first piece derived from the Internet, Shearer grids hundreds of JPEG's of Black Sabbath merchandise on eBay. Traces of an unmade bed or carpet samples at the edge of the print hint at these images' working class domestic origins. Regarding Black Sabbath paraphernalia as a form of proletarian folk art, Shearer appreciates the "aesthetically fugitive quality" of such amateur documentation.

Confusing the autobiographical and the anthropological, Shearer sometimes includes images of himself in his work. Boy's Life (2004), a collage that evokes the bedroom wall of a 1970s metal-head, features a snapshot of the teenage artist in KISS make-up and regalia. This personal touch highlights Shearer's strong identification with his subject matter. His work often performs the tension between youthful rebellion and the social forces that constrain it. Drawn to scrappily resistant forms of expression, Shearer celebrates the anger, aggression and creativity that bubble beneath the surface of polite society. Like other Vancouver artists before him, he revels in the detritus of everyday life, associating discarded objects and degraded media with social outsiders. His mural, billboard, and poster poems inspired by scatological and blasphemous Heavy Metal lyrics and song titles present visions of the nihilistic sublime that would be disturbing if they weren't so entertainingly hyperbolic.

Apocalypse Now: The Theater of War

Bruce Conner, Crossroads, 1976

Nov. 29, 2007 - Jan. 26, 2008
CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
California College of the Arts
San Francisco CA 94107

"Some day this war's gonna end."
--Lieutenant Colonel William Kilgore, Apocalypse Now

An attack curated by Jennifer Allora, Guillermo Calzadilla, and Jens Hoffmann

Participating artists: Antonin Artaud, Max Beckmann, Margaret Bourke-White, Mathew Brady, Jacques Callot, Bruce Conner, Leonardo da Vinci, Otto Dix, Ernst Friedrich, Francisco de Goya, George Grosz, John Heartfield, Ernst Jünger, Jon Kessler, Käthe Kollwitz, Lewis Milestone, Bruce Nauman, Pino Pascali, Pablo Picasso, Alain Resnais, Alexander Rodchenko, Martha Rosler, Luigi Russolo, Kurt Schwitters, Richard Serra, Mark Twain

With artifacts, records, films, artworks, and reproductions documenting, remembering, and presenting wars both historical and contemporary

Apocalypse Now: The Theater of War examines the philosophical terrain of war. Featuring images and sounds related to war and the impact war has on the human mind, the exhibition is more than a simple illustration of war. Instead it describes war as a universal idea of human antagonism, a set of languages and iconographies embedded in our everyday lives and broader social consciousness. Beyond an actual, specific conflict, it confronts its audience with the unpalatable side of humanity, the scenes and situations that resist engagement.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Jorge Pardo: House

December 4, 2007 - March 2, 2008
770 NE 125th Street
North Miami, FL 33161

Jorge Pardo, Untitled (Cesar and Mima Reyes House), 2006, Medium and Dimensions Variable. Photo: Nikolas Koenig

The Museum of Contemporary Art presents the first comprehensive U.S. museum exhibition of Jorge Pardo. As Pardo's work generally assumes the form of recognizable objects such as furniture, stretched paintings, or habitable structures, he is often considered one of the leading artists to cross the boundaries of art, design, and architecture. Although many of these objects are fully functional as furniture or architecture, their function actually is more complex. Pardo investigates what constitutes an aesthetic experience. In particular, he speculates on what separates an art experience from an everyday experience, especially when the environment that he has created looks very similar to objects and spaces viewers encounter in their daily life.
As context plays an essential role in the presentation of his work, Pardo was invited to create a new context that would provide the conceptual framework for this exhibition. Jorge Pardo: House adopts the premise of a "home", which is at once familiar and in the museum context, disarming. By transforming the museum into a house and treating its galleries as rooms, Pardo's works could be reassembled according to their apparent use in the appropriate location. Pardo also designed the exhibition's floor plan, which provides no defined path through the exhibition and in certain areas opens up the vista into several spaces at once. The exhibition also extends beyond the museum itself to encompass site-specific projects around the world. These projects are presented as large-scale photomurals, which create a disorienting space for viewers and run through the gallery like a filmstrip.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Joseph Beuys "The Reader"

Edited by Claudia Mesch and Viola Michely
Foreword by Arthur C. Danto
24.95/£16.95 (PAPER)

Twentieth-century artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986)--legendary and self-mythologizing, enigmatic and controversial--remains an important influence on artists today. Beuys embraced radically democratic artistic and political ideas, proclaiming "Everyone is an artist," and advocating direct democracy through referenda. He famously worked with such nontraditional materials as felt, fat, and plants and animals both alive and dead. Beuys and his work--performance art, drawing, painting, sculpture, installation--received perhaps the most contentious reception of any postwar artist. This reader brings together the crucial writings on Beuys and his work, presenting key essays by prominent artists and critics from North America and Europe. With a foreword by Arthur C. Danto, "Style and Salvation in the Art of Beuys," Benjamin H. D. Buchloh's now classic 1980 essay, "Beuys, Twilight of the Idol," and influential texts by Vera Frenkel, Thierry de Duve, Rosalind Krauss, Peter Bürger, Irit Rogoff, and others, Joseph Beuys: The Reader is the most significant gathering of critical texts on this challenging artist that has ever been assembled. It will be essential reading for any student of Beuys and for all those interested in postwar art, the cult of the artist, and art's engagement with politics and society.

Mike's World: Michael Smith & Joshua White

Blanton Museum of Art
Through December 30, 2007
The University of Texas at Austin
MLK at Congress
(200 East MLK)
Austin, Texas 78701

This fall, the Blanton Museum of Art is home to Mike's World, the first major retrospective of internationally renowned performance/video/installation artist Michael Smith and his New York-based collaborator, director/artist Joshua White. This extraordinary exhibition features some 30 years of videos, installation environments, and other performance-related materials detailing the adventures of "Mike," a sweet but hapless Everyman character created by Smith, and his hilariously awkward and ineffectual search for a piece of the American Dream. Following its debut in Austin, Mike's World will travel to the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia (April 24-August 3, 2008).

Mike's World takes a tightly focused view of a single Michael Smith performance persona as it has developed over the course of many years and through innumerable presentation formats. The character "Mike" functions metaphorically as a kind of ever-hopeful Candide, adrift in a world of rapid technological advancement that he seems incapable of fully comprehending. Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, curator of American and contemporary art and organizer of the exhibition, explained, "Direct and accessible, Smith's exquisite use of humor as a strategy for empathy and identification is rooted in the artist/audience relationships of performance. Yet the work's amplification and variation owes much to its visual, conceptualist sources. Underscoring the hybrid nature of Smith's accomplishment, the works selected for the exhibition also will highlight the collaborative creative process in which Smith has engaged over the years, including his most recent series of video and installation collaborations with artist-director Joshua White."

The exhibition's immersive installation has been designed by Michael Smith and Joshua White as a self-contained theatrical set, a strange yet familiar alternative universe inhabited by "Mike." Alive with sound and the myriad textures of the stuff of daily life, the expansive space is densely packed with opportunities to view video in every conceivable format. Two new Blanton commissions serve as the introduction to the exhibition: a five-minute "orientation room" video by Smith and White reprising the story of "Mike," and a video montage projected onto a spherical screen, itself surrounded by a photographic timeline that charts the
character's history.