Social capital is the fuel of the art world. Attending art openings, dance performances, and biennials is seen as glamorous and sexy. Studio visits feel like exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the artist. Actually financing the lifestyle, though, requires a lot of soul-killing administration: constant emailing, negotiation, and usually a bit of flattery.
Most of us hate it. A lot of us try to avoid it. And then there’s Ivo Dimchev, who uses his distaste for administration as inspiration for his disturbing three-person performance, Fest, at the Abrons Arts Center. The piece tells the story of Ivo Dimchev’s negotiations with a festival director and staff in Copenhagen, all of which devolve into power plays driven by sexual desire. It is an absurd and abject comedy that sits somewhere between total chronophobia and complete brilliance.
By the end of this weekend, the AFC staff will have seen a total of 15 out of 21 performances at the “American Realness” festival at the Abrons Art Center– which, so far, has been defined by a mix of blow jobs, spray blood, DIY aesthetics, and self-referential institutional critique. On the messier fringes of these performances is Keith Hennessy’s “Bear Skin”.
With this job, you don’t always have a chance to write up all the exhibitions you saw and loved, so for me, the 2014 year-end review is a Godsend. It gives me a chance to give a shout out to everything I saw and loved. And this year, there was an awful lot of it. May 2015 be this bountiful and more.
“When I hear people like W.A.G.E. group wanting [artists] to get paid, I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s nice. But what planet do you live on?’”
Those were some of the contentious words artist and MLK visiting professor at MIT Coco Fusco chose to introduce her hour-long talk at Momenta Art earlier this month. The talk, “Creative Extraction: Why are Art Schools at the Vanguard of Unreasonable Debt Burdens?”, was part of a program offered by Occupy Museums that relates to their exhibition and upcoming conference on The Artist as Debtor. It centered around the idea that higher education is a debt trap. Rather than trying to fix the current labor situation, like W.A.G.E., Fusco believes in addressing the root of the problem: art schools and high MFA costs.
“Every day is International AIDS Day,” AA Bronson tweeted during a recent week of AIDS-related memorial and art events. Depending on the reader, the tweet could be interpreted as a show of solidarity, or a dig at the nature of tragedy memorials. Typically these things do less to “remind” us of the event, than they do bend into a shape prescribed by an organization.
Free from the burdens of art history and its criticisms, the sculptures show at a base level what artmaking fills for a person. What’s life like without irony or calculation? For an art critic, that’s a mystery, one that makes this body of work a crucial point of reference.
What do you get when you apply the pastoral idealism of the early 20th century illustration to the ugly post-atomic consumerist reality of the last four decades? You’ll find the answer at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, where the first retrospective of Jamie Wyeth combines Renaissance drawing techniques, druggy seventies icons, personal backstory, and idealized New England seasides– all adding up to a jumbly, at times incoherent, show.