The Book Lovers

24 Jan

EFA-02

The Book Lovers is a long term project about novels written by visual artists. It is divided into the following installments: a collection of novels, a parallel online database, a series of exhibitions, a performance program, and a symposium. The collection includes a total of around 140 titles, and it has been acquired by m hka, Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp, Belgium.

The show at EFA Project Space New York

January 25 – March 9, 2013

From “Playing With Dead Things: On the Uncanny” by Mike Kelley

3 Jan

cover kelley

In 1993 and 2004 Mike Kelley presented an exhibition titled The Uncanny, consisting of sculptures, objects and images that he found “creepy”, with “an ‘uncanny’ aura about them”. The majority were life-sized polychrome models of the human body in whole or part. This accorded with ‘scary’ experiences of my own involving figurative sculptures, particularly one winter in my early teens when I was repeatedly surprised and slightly unnerved by a deshevelled Guy Fawkes that we had propped in a living room chair awaiting the evening’s bonfire. Kelley’s exhibition centred on Sigmund Freud’s essay The Uncanny (1919), which draws on Ernst Jentsch’s The Psychology of the Uncanny (1906), in which the uncanny is exemplified by “doubts whether an apparently animate being is really alive; or conversely, whether a lifeless object might not be in fact animate”3. It is this ambiguity that I have attempted to give my own sculptures in Attic Basement Garage, which this essay accompanies.

“It is important to me, first of all, that the objects displayed maintain their physical presence, that they hold their own power in relation to the viewer. I decided, therefore, to exclude miniatures–smaller than life-size statues, dolls, toys, figurines, and the like–from the exhibition. Generally, I believe that small figurative objects invite the viewer to project onto them. By this, I mean that the viewer gets lost in these objects, and that in the process of projecting mental scenarios onto them they lose sense of themselves physically. The experience of playing with dolls is a case in point. The doll becomes simply an object to provoke daydreams, and its objecthood fades into the background. Once the fantasy is operating, it could be replaced by any other object. On the other hand, I am interested in objects with which the viewer empathizes in a human way–though only as long as the viewer, and the object viewed, maintain their sense of being there physically.”

(p. 75)

mike_kelley_uncanny3

“The disposability of the venerated substitute has modern correlatives […] Then there are whole classes of figures designed specifically to be destroyed in use: car-crash dummies, the effigies of hated political figures hung and burned at demonstrations, the mannequins that people the perimeters of nuclear test sites, and the electrified human decoys recently used in India to shock man-eating tigers into losing their taste for human flesh. In a way, all these figures ask to be mistreated. The iconoclast, the one who feels compelled to destroy images, knows: statues invite violence. Like the vampire, they desire a violent death to relieve them of the viewer-projected pathos of their pseudo-life.”

(p. 90)

mike_kelley_uncanny2

Mike Kelley

3 Jan

5-MIKE KELLEY

Born in a Detroit suburb to a maintenance worker and a Ford Motor Company cook, Kelley suffered all his life from agoraphobia, yet he made his first works on the stage. While an undergrad at the University of Michigan in 1973, he played drums with the influential noise-rock group Destroy All Monsters, which he cofounded with the artist-musician Jim Shaw, among others. At the California ­Institute of the Arts in the seventies, where his teachers included Baldessari and Laurie Anderson, Kelley became an incandescent performance artist who “drove himself into these frenzied states,” recalls the video artist Tony Oursler, Kelley’s then roommate. “He would babble faster than anyone could think.” Riffing off absurdist scripts, he could charge a room with the simplest of props: “transforming himself,” recalls Oursler, “with only a bucket full of water with a whoopee cushion inside it or a cardboard tube stuffed with tin foil and a microphone.”

Fellow Los Angeles artist Paul McCarthy, who became equally transfixed by ­Kelley’s stage presence during a performance festival in the early eighties, soon struck up a collaboration with him on a series of psychobiographic videos. Their first was Family Tyranny (1987), about an abusive father-son relationship. “We knew we had similar interests in family, architecture, low-culture objects, and this thing of costumes and pretend,” says McCarthy, who along with Kelley was a breakout star of MOCA’s seminal 1992 survey “Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s.”

McCarthy remembers how his hours-long conversations with Kelley would often lead to unlikely projects. “It was a lot of laughing, making jokes, and then all of a sudden we’d see something and go, ‘That’s an idea. We should do it.’ Then it’s like, ‘Should we really do it?’ And then we’re remaking Vito Acconci performances [with models portraying porn stars] in a house in Beverly Hills like it’s a commune, like a joke.”

Kelley was in the midst of a new project when he killed himself at age 57, leaving no note…

Mike Kelley, Kandors, Kandor 13

uncanny1

Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

3 Jan

Frances Glessner Lee (1878–1962), a New England socialite and heiress, dedicated her life to the advancement of forensic medicine and scientific crime detection. The seeds of her interest began when her brother’s college classmate, George Burgess Magrath (1870–1938), vacationed with the Glessner family at their summer home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Magrath, then a medical student, went on to teach legal medicine at Harvard and to become the chief medical examiner of Suffolk County (Boston). In 1931 Mrs. Lee helped to establish the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard, the only such program then in existence in North America. From that time on, she became a tireless advocate for forensic science. In 1934 she presented the department with a collection of books and manuscripts, which became the Magrath Library of Legal Medicine, and in 1936 endowed the department with a gift of $250,000 (adjusted for inflation, the equivalent of $3,367,000 in 2005 dollars).

ii_c_400

Mrs. Frances Glessner Lee at work on the Nutshell Collection, 1940s-1950s, 
Glessner House Museum, Chicago, Illinois
In 1943, Mrs. Lee was appointed captain in the New Hampshire State Police, the first woman in the United States to hold such a position. Around the same time, she began work on the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death—a series of eighteen miniature crime-scene dioramas for student analysis. The Nutshells allowed Mrs. Lee to combine her lifelong love of dolls, dollhouses, and models with her passion for forensic medicine. She originally presented them to the Harvard Department of Legal Medicine; later they came into the possession of the Maryland Chief Medical Examiner’s Office. Erle Stanley Gardner, the writer best known for creating the Perry Mason mysteries, and Mrs. Lee’s close friend, wrote that “A person studying these models can learn more about circumstantial evidence in an hour than he could learn in months of abstract study.”

Mouse Museum

2 Dec

Claes Oldenburg put together an odd collection of kitsch, found objects, souvenirs, trivial everyday pieces and toys plus material and prototyps for his art works. The Mouse Museum was first shown in 1972 at the documenta 5 in Kassel.

oldenburg_mouse_ext

OldenburgC_MickeyMouseMask1925

claes-oldenburg-mouse-museum-1965-772

IF

tumblr_lyxlzqRjjN1qz6ibho1_400

claes-oldenburg-mouse-museum-1965-772

tumblr_lw0c66VCOj1qbz13no1_500

Claes Oldenburg was born in 1929, in Stockholm. His father was a diplomat, and the family lived in the United States and Norway before settling in Chicago in 1936. Oldenburg studied literature and art history at Yale University, New Haven, from 1946 to 1950. He subsequently studied art under Paul Wieghardt at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1950 to 1954. During the first two years of art school, he also worked as an apprentice reporter at the City News Bureau of Chicago, and afterward opened a studio, where he made magazine illustrations and easel paintings. Oldenburg became an American citizen in December 1953. In 1956 he moved to New York and met several artists making early Performance work, including George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, George Segal, and Robert Whitman. Oldenburg soon became a prominent figure in Happenings and Performance art during the late 1950s and early 1960s. In 1959 the Judson Gallery exhibited a series of Oldenburg’s enigmatic images, ranging from monstrous human figures to everyday objects, made from a mix of drawings, collages, and papier-mâché. In 1961, he opened The Store in his studio, where he recreated the environment of neighborhood shops. He displayed familiar objects made out of plaster, reflecting American society’s celebration of consumption, and was soon heralded as a Pop artist with the emergence of the movement in 1962. Read more…

the_store

See video

Biological models

4 Nov

Leopold Blaschka (1822– 1895) and his son Rudolf Blaschka (1857–1939) were German glass artists, known for the production of biological models such as the Glass Flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

See previous post

Rosemarie Trockel: A Cosmos

4 Nov

The exhibition at New Museum (NYC) conjures an imaginary universe in which Trockel’s own artwork shares space with objects and artifacts, spanning different eras and cultures, that map her artistic interests.

 Since the early 1970s, Rosemarie Trockel has produced an impressive body of work that includes drawing, collage, installation, “knit paintings,” ceramics, videos, furniture, clothing, and books. She brings together a range of associations and references from art history, philosophy, theology, and the natural sciences. For “A Cosmos,” Trockel places her work in the company of others whom she regards as kindred spirits. Installations created for the New Museum illuminate the intellectual and formal connections between her practice and a range of historical figures including self-taught artists James Castle and Morton Bartlett, and the botanist/mathematician José Celestino Mutis. Objects whose impetus was primarily aesthetic will be juxtaposed with pieces that more conventionally belong to the realm of science. Trockel’s roughhewn glazed ceramics from the past several years will be displayed along with Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka’s delicate glass models of sea creatures created in the nineteenth century. A selection of new work by Trockel can be examined in conjunction with watercolors by the seventeenth-century artist Maria Sybilla Merian, whose impeccably precise yet beautiful renderings of flora and fauna proved invaluable to scientific study.

More