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Berlin

No Paintings for Old Men: I’m Done With Amy Feldman

by RM Vaughan on February 24, 2017
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I have to hand it to NYC-based painter Amy Feldman: not every artist can cause me to temporarily lose the will to carry on writing and the energy to carry on chronicling our bankrupt, post-meaning culture. What, I wondered as I walked around the palatial Blain/Southern Gallery, is the damned point anymore? Confronted on all sides by Feldman’s aggressively vacuous, massive canvasses, I can’t even argue conclusively that Feldman’s work is good or bad. It operates so outside of any qualitative value scale that I understand—as if attacking the very idea of value—that it defeats all rational readings of art or art making. All I can do is respond. And respond I must.

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The AFC Guide to Inauguration Resistance Actions

by Michael Anthony Farley on January 17, 2017
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I think I have more Facebook invitations to different demonstrations in Washington D.C. and New York this Friday than I have friends. If you live within a hundred miles of either city, it’s likely you already have inauguration protest plans. For those of us not presently near the respective political and media capitals, it can feel like we’re left out of the party. But don’t fret: we’ve reached out to artists in seven cities where we have a large number of readers—Baltimore, the Bay Area, Berlin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and Philadelphia—and got the scoop on where you can go while joining us in the #J20 art strike. It’s incredibly inspiring to see hundreds of thousands of RSVPs across the country and beyond. And after the demonstrations, we’ve found some fun nighttime activities to raise funds and solidarity for the long fight ahead.

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A Melancholic Stroll through the Sony Photography Awards

by RM Vaughan on September 7, 2016
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Only a terribly mean person could find fault with the traveling edition of the annual Sony Photography Awards. As both a showcase of a specific kind of photographic venture (more on that in a moment) and, likely more to the point, a brand-enhancing exercise in “excellence” promotion, the exhibition does exactly what it promises and is devised to do.

The competition specializes in the subset of photography most of us identify with National Geographic Magazine and its world-of-wonders aesthetic.

I know that sounds snarky but I do not mean it that way. Everybody loves this kind of photography, me included, for a reason – it is lovely and provocative, a moment of otherness, of not us/not here viewed from a safe distance. I buy a lot of postcards, and I have no shame when it comes to finely focused close ups of adorable mammals with pink ears.

What prompted my unease after wandering around this exhibition was a strong feeling that in a half-generation or less, shows like the Sony Photography Awards will be, at best, retro-cute, or at worst antique and irrelevant.

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In the Ring: Paul Pfeiffer at Carlier/Gebauer

by RM Vaughan on April 6, 2016
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At least half the fun on any spectacle is the after-chat: the armchair philosophizing, the intention guessing, the interpretation, the endless acts of interpretation. The ancient Romans knew that much.

For instance, think of Beyonce’s recent Super Bowl performance, which is now generating MA theses, or Taylor Swift’s over-discussed Grammy speech, or, even more fleeting but just as worthy of spin-offs, that moment during the Golden Globes when Lady Gaga bumped into Leonardo Di Caprio – memes sprung up like freshly watered Sea Monkeys. (And, no, I hardly think it accidental that these three examples are all centred on people who present as female – women are still watched far more closely than men, because men still run the shows).

Paul Pfeiffer’s tri-part video installation, “Three Figures in a Room”, digs into this watch-analyse-watch again circle by distilling one world media event (a televised boxing match) to its core elements – sights and sounds.

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