Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Marcus Coates

Marcus Coates is a performance artist who acts as various animals during his performances. He dresses as a buck making animal noises while the audience hysterically laughs at him. He also goes out into nature and tries to communicate with the birds. I find it very odd that he is a respected artist because I don't really get what he is trying to achieve or tell the audience with his performances. During class we watched a video in which he performed for a government official in Israel and I honestly felt bad for the poor man you could feel his uneasiness through the screen. Apparently his performance was meant to be related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but I don't really see how it applies at all.

When I see performance artists like Marina Abramovic I really appreciate the originality of her work but when I look at someone like Marcus Coates I just see a man acting like a little boy dressed up as an animal and think he just needs to grow up. Then again that is my personal opinion and I may not like the work he does but many others do. It is all about your preference and if you don't like a certain work of art or artist the chances of you looking at it and registering it as art is slim. So I don't think I will be seeking out a show of his anytime soon.

Nicolas Bourriaud Postproduction

Nicolas Bourriaud is a French curator and art critic who is best known for his writings Relational Aesthetics(1998) and Postproduction(2001.) In his third book Postproduction Bourriaud talks about the relationship between deejaying and contemporary art. He does so by comparing the process a discjockey applies to music and the practice of making comtemporary art.  He writes They don't really "create" anymore, they reorganize. There are two dominant figures in today's culture: the DJ and the programmer. Both deal with things that are already produced. The common point between relational aesthetics and Post-Production is this idea that to communicate or have relations with other people, you need tools. Culture is this box of tools.” I interpret the quote as him saying that in modern day society we need "tools" in order to move forward. I don't necessarily agree with him when he says that DJs don't really create anymore yes most of them work with pieces that have already been produced but most DJs make their own original music as well as remixing already made songs. Bourriaud also discusses the way the media and the internet has changed us and the rise of digital art.

The Tang Museum/The Jewel Thief/PS1

What I loved most about this exhibit is that it used many different art mediums and almost all the pieces had these beautiful vivid colors in them. I loved the jewels and especially the variety of abstract paintings. One of my favorite rooms had to be the one with the different colored floor boards it reminded me of my nephews room and it had a playfulness about it.
I also really enjoyed the installation piece with the different colored jewels. It fits in very well with the concept and name of the show. The Jewel Theif is definitely a show I'd go back and revisit and bring friends and family I really like art that pops and there was no shortage of it in this exhibit. I also went MoMa PS1 which is one of the largest nonprofit institutions for contemporary art in the United States. Every Saturday they had a different event and I went to an event that had several DJs playing and the people there ranged from hipster to preppy to business men. It was essentially a melting pot of people and one of the best saturdays I have had in a long time. I can't wait to go back a friend brought me and some of my cousins and we all loved it. Aside from the party PS1 displays some of the most experimental art in the world. They have about 50 exhibitions a year which are very diverse and appeal to a broad range of people as well as a full schedule of live music and peforming.

The Art Market and The Mona Lisa Curse

Private art dealers know how much of a lucrative business it is. Art is becoming just a way to make money to some and the prices for famous works are continuing to rise. Works by deceased artists like Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Monet, and Jackson Pollock are being sold for millions of dollars only to be resold for an even higher price. I'm sure these artists would be astonished to see what their paintings are being sold for today. Even artists that are still alive and making art like Damien Hirst continue to become more and more wealthy because Hirst is a private collector himself. Even Colleges sell their collections to gain revenue for scholarships and the school itself.
The Mona Lisa Curse is a documentary by Robert Hughes, an art critic who thinks that contemporary art is over commercialized. In the beginning of the documentary he compares Da Vinci's Mona Lisa to Hirst's For the Love of God and basically states that it symbolizes the drastic change in the art world and that change is based on money. This disgusts Hughes and he says “What ties the Mona Lisa to this glittery bobble is their role in a giant shift in the art world, that shift is all about money. It’s a story that I’ve watch unfold during the last 50 years. I’ve seen with growing disgust; the fetishization of art, the vast inflation of prices, and the effect of this on artists and museums. The entanglement of big money with art has become a curse on how art is made, controlled, and above all - in the way that it’s experienced. And this curse has affected the entire art world.” The documentary gives the viewer a look into the art business and discusses artists who used it to their advantage like Warhol and Hirst. Hughes even describes Warhol as one of the stupidest people he has ever met. No one can tell what turn the art world will take but I am guessing that it will continue to become more commercialized and lucrative as long as people keep paying ridiculous prices for it. It is unfortunate and I agree with Hughes on a lot of issues but that is simply our society today.

Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst is an British artist and the most famous member of a group known as Young British Artists. His work sells for astonishingly high prices which is why he is probably Britain's wealthiest living artist. Hirst's work has a central theme of death and one of my personal favorite pieces of his is titled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. It was created in 1992 and is basically a tiger shark that has been preserved in formaldehyde inside of a vitrine. It was sold for reportedly at least 8 million dollars and is considered the iconic piece of 1990s British Art. Currently it is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. In 2006 due to decay the original shark had to be replaced.
Another famous work of his is titled For the Love of God which is a human skull made out of platinum and covered in 8,601 diamonds weighing 1,106.18 carats. It is modeled on an 18th century skull but the only surviving part of the skull are the teeth. It was sold in 2008 for 100 million dollars but it did take some time to sell.

Installation Art

Installation art is otherwise known as land art and is three-dimensional pieces that can range from pieces filling a small room to an entire warehouse. It is usually created for a specific space and most of the time incorporates materials from the sight. The installations can be inside or outside and be of just about anything. I find myself having difficultly describing this type of art but it basically is filling up a large space with items that evoke emotions, associations, and thought. An example of installation art is Damien Hirst's Pharmacy which is basically a room sized pharmacy with four bottles of food coloring and water. The bottles represent the four elements earth, air, fire, and water. You can assume this for yourself because they are green, yellow, red, and blue. There is also an insect-o-cutor for insects that possibly symbolizes a God without mercy. Although the shelves are stocked with packages of medicine there is no real medicine actually involved in the piece.

Another installation artist is Rachel Whiteread who is a British artist known for her sculptures. She is probably best known for her work Ghost where she made a cast out of the negative space of a victorian home. Also her work Embankment which was displayed at the Tate Modern was around 14,000 translucent white boxes in a large room which is made to feel almost like a trip to Arctic because that was her inspiration.

Marina Abramovic

One of the most interesting and my personal favorite performance artists is Marina Abramovic. She was born in the former Yugoslavia around the same time as my parents and calls herself the "grandmother of performance art." Her father left the family and afterwards her mother was extremely strict with her and her brother. According to Abramovic she was not allowed to stay out past 10 o'clock in the evening until she was 29. Of her curfew and her performances she said "All the performances in Yugoslavia I did before 10 o'clock in the evening because I had to be home then. It's completely insane, but all of my cutting myself, whipping myself, burning myself, almost losing my life in the firestar, everything was done before 10 in the evening."
Abramovic's pieces are perhaps best known for her experimenting with the limits of her body and mind sometimes putting herself into extreme and intense circumstances that can require months of training beforehand. Her performances include using a tape recorder and 20 knives on herself playing the knife game 5-finger fillet. Each time she would cut herself she would move onto a new knife. She almost died during a performance involving a large star lit on fire because when she lept through it the lack of oxygen caused her to lose consciousness and the audience thought it was part of the show so they did not get up immediately to help. My favorite performance is entitled The Artist is Present which lasted from March 14 until May 31, 2010 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The whole piece lasted almost 737 hours where she sat at a table immobile and silent, staring straight forward. Whoever attended could sit across from her for up to seven hours. It attracted celebrities like Lady Gaga and Sharon Stone and made some people break down into tears while they sat across from the artist. She continues to push the limits of her and The Artist is Present took months to train for mentally and physically according to Abrambovic her body will never be the same again. I believe she is a true performance artist who would do just about anything for her work.