Archive for April, 2010

Is Photography Over Finally Over?

04.30.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

[Not quite. Joshua Chuang sends some final notes on last week's symposium. Other posts and more information on "Is Photography Over?" can be found here.]

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In addressing the role of museums and curators as narrative-makers, Corey Keller noted that she and her colleagues try their best to “complicate” what might otherwise be an overly tidy story of photography’s history. This sense of necessary untidiness, alluded to by my fellow reporters, also characterized the symposium’s discourse in ways that alternately helped to identify critical issues and undermine the coherence of a given dialogue. Nevertheless, as Dominic Willsdon observed in concluding the event, there were “these moments, these flashes, when suddenly something quite urgent and important [would appear],” only to dip beneath the surface again.

A great deal of this urgency came from the audience, whose astute comments and pointed questions stirred the panelists to react. To keep them from receding into the rear-v... More

Struck Dumb by BRUCE CONNER: A Reminiscence

04.29.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

Seeing Apsara DiQuinzio’s recent incredible post on Bruce Conner’s LOOKING GLASS (and other works) partially inspired the following recollections:

I first encountered BRUCE CONNER on a visit to the 90′s Dogpatch incarnation of Canyon Cinema. I was tagging along with my good friend, filmmaker Timoleon Wilkins, who had many legitimate reasons to be there, all of which provided me cover for the purposes of scoping out the facilities of this legendary distributor of truly independent cinema. Following Tim into the darkened chamber, I was forced to halt suddenly when a strange, yet friendly-seeming, wizened fellow approached Tim bearing a jar packed with a mysterious, dark substance. After a minute of conversation between my friend and this likely wizard, during which Tim kept referring to him as “Bruce”, it began to dawn on me (BRUCE?!!) — yes, this must be BRUCE CONNER. The proffered jar was a container of sugar-free jam someone had given him as a pres... More

Stepping on Brecht’s toes…

04.27.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

I was an unabashed fan of The Wire, one of the very greatest shows ever on tv. I’ve read all of Richard Price‘s books, who was a chief writer for the series. I’ve looked forward to the debut of Treme, (accent on the last syllable, like flambé), the new HBO series put together by most of the folks who did The Wire. So far it’... More

The Moment Before Photography Is Over

04.26.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

Additional images of Eyjafjallajokull are available on the Boston Globe Big Picture webpage. More photographs by Olivier Vadeginste can be viewed on his blog.

More

Five Questions: Allison Smith

04.26.2010  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

[Five questions to SFMOMA artists, staff, or guests.  Local visual artist and educator Allison Smith is the creator of the SMITHS project.  Her Arts and Skills Service program continues through the spring with talks, conversations, workshops and activities. Join Allison this Thursday evening for SMITHS: Arts & Skills Service: On Shell-Shock, ... More

American Cinema

04.24.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

In a Fairfield Porter frame of mind I hopped a bus over to the edge of the Tenderloin, where an energetic new gallery, Ever Gold, has taken root at 441 O’Farrell Street.  Two young white male artists have worked up a show called American Cinema.


The invite was cute, with Bob Dylan as “Alias” in that Peckinpah film facing down Al Pacino as Serpico. Dylan stands to the left representing the West, old and new, and Pacino on the right, as though to hold down the NYC territory. Ryan Coffey lives and works in San Francisco, while Jaso... More

Is Photography Over? Friday afternoon session reports

04.24.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Essay

This week SFMOMA hosted a major symposium on the current state of the field of photography, with two intensive panel discussions Thursday evening and Friday afternoon. Yesterday’s reports are here. The initial texts from the symposium participants are here. Other blog posts addressing the question “Is Photography Over?” can be fou... More

Is Photography Over? Day One Report, Addendum

04.23.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

[Joshua Chuang sends this brief addendum to this morning's report.]

Apropos of the symposium’s first day, here is an excerpt from an afterword that John Szarkowski penned for a 1998 reprint of Lee Friedlander’s classic first book, Self-Portrait. Friedlander, by the way, was also in the audience last night.

“I once happened to attend a conference, designed to wring from photography its deepest secrets, and later to publish them in five (I think) languages, not including, of course, the language of photography, which is too difficult, ambivalent, ambiguous, or mysterious to be broken to pull in harness with languages that have dictionaries and grammars. In spite of the apparent hopelessness of the problem, the conference was attended by critics, aestheticians, other philosophers, social scientists of various specialties, prophets, and politicians, most of whom seemed dedicated to the proposition that the group might, if it put its common shoulder to the wheel, determine what pho... More

Is Photography Over? Thursday Evening Event Reports

04.23.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Essay

This week SFMOMA is hosting a major symposium on the current state of the field of photography, with events last night and this afternoon. Today’s reports on last evening’s discussion are from Joshua Chuang, Assistant Curator of Photographs at the Yale University Art Museum, and Sarah Miller & Brendan Fay, both postdoctoral fellows,... More

Negative blues (for “Is Photography Over?”)

04.22.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

[w/ thanks to Rebecca Stoddard]

Symposium tonight. Details. Other posts. Day-after event reports here tomorrow & Saturday.

More

One on One: Apsara DiQuinzio on Bruce Conner’s LOOKING GLASS

04.21.2010  |  By
Filed under: One on One

[Alongside our weekly in-gallery curator "One on One" talks, we post regular ‘one on one' bits here on the blog. Follow the series here. Today's post is from assistant curator of painting and sculpture, Apsara DiQuinzio. I'm tipping you off now to the 'big reveal' in this piece: never-before-seen pictures of the back of Bruce Conner's LOOKING GLASS, bel... More

More on researching the invisible

04.20.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

“Dark matter, the invisible, mysterious material that makes up 22 percent of the stuff in the universe, is one of the great scientific unknowns, a substance nearly six times as abundant as ordinary matter but made up of fundamental particles we haven’t yet identified. And dark matter doesn’t emit light, it doesn’t reflect light, and it doesn’t absorb light. It’s not dark, as the name suggests—dark matter is completely, inherently unseeable.
While we are unable to see dark matter itself, we are able to create maps of it, pinpoi... More

The Clouds and the Trees pt. 1

04.20.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

Various environmentalists and luddites have passed through Bay Area radio waves and into my house for the last few days, leading me to some odd places and unexpected things on the internet. This morning’s news brought word that the British Royal Navy is dispatching ships to pick up folks stranded worldwide, and haul them back to Britain. I was looking at Rebar’s beautiful pics of Iceland’s volcano clouds, and shaking my head over the ship-rescue of air travelers, when I came across the New Yorker magazine’s blog about... More

The Clouds and the Trees, pt. 2

04.20.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

IMA_Butterfly_Hill

One of the voices that fluttered around in my apartment this weekend was that of the tree-sitting, environmentalist, Juliette Binoche-Rachel Weisz lookalike Julia Butterfly Hill. Here is one of the weirdest, and making art instrumental without really looking at it gallery “tours” I have ever seen or heard, featuring Jullia Butterfly Hill, and the galleries of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

It has me thinking about how to, and how not to incorporate people not making or studying art into museum education. I’m frustrated by listening to Hill talk about a William Merritt Chase (Big June Shadow, 1897) painting without ever mentioning its facture, its visual qualities, or  the historical context in which it was made. Ironically, the Chase is a sort of blasted landscape – the image of a stump on a riverside park, with a built skyline behind this park. Without doing any research on the image, it strikes me as likely that Chase was as critical as H... More

Is Photography Over?

04.19.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Essay

This month SFMOMA hosts a major symposium on the current state of the field of photography. Thirteen thinkers and practitioners will convene for a two-day state-of-the-medium summit, in advance of which they’ve each been asked to respond to the symposium’s central question: Is photography over? These texts will be used to kick off the opening panel discussion this Thursday, April 22. Throughout the month, we’ve been featuring three additional responses here at Open Space. Very pleased to have a post today from Sandra Phillips, the senior curator of photography here at SFMOMA. Look for day after event reports this Friday and Saturday mornings.

If photography is over, it might be useful to remember when it seemed as though photography had just begun. In 1964 I was a very serious young painting student who had grown up in New York and visiting museums was a part of my life as well as my study. One day I discovered the Steichen Center for Photography at the Museum of Mode... More

Blood and tongues of fire: volcanos and the psychology in the sky

04.18.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

Europeans have been treated to a good show in the northern sky since Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano began erupting several days ago, floating ash into the sunsets of Scandinavia, Great Britain, Benelux and Germany. Sulfur dioxide and ash scatter more of the sun’s light and  absorb higher frequency lightwaves, leaving reds and purpl... More

Art & Cinema 2

04.17.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

This is Pt. 2 of a 2-part article on Frank Stauffacher and his Art and Cinema series which ran at SFMOMA from 1946 to 1954.  Pt. 1 can be seen here.

Sitting on as many folding metal chairs as could be crammed into the 4th floor make-shift auditorium — I’ve seen counts ranging from four to six hundred — the usually rapt audience ... More

Happy Birthday Open Space

04.16.2010  |  By
Filed under: Back Page

Cripes I nearly forgot to post this! It’s the blog’s second birthday today—in blog years that’s surely well past drinking & fighting age. Last year I had the blog’s chart done; a bit of silliness. This year I’d just like to say thanks to all our writers & contributors, & our rotating teams of cohort bloggers who make Open Space such an interesting & dynamic place for this editor to show up to every morning. I’d also like to give special thanks to two people who do a lot of work behind the sc... More

Art & Cinema 1

04.16.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

The series of film programs occasioned by SFMOMA’s 75th anniversary, 75 Years in the Dark, got me thinking about the history of film at our museum, and led me to read Scott MacDonald’s book Art in Cinema: Documents Toward a History of the Film Society, which details the nine-year-long program that was, without doubt, the brightest cons... More

Five Questions: Laetitia Sonami and SUE-C

04.15.2010  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

[Five questions to SFMOMA artists, staff, or guests.  Laetitia Sonami is a performer and sound artist who creates her own instruments, most notably her Lady's Glove.  Artist SUE-C creates live visuals by combining photographs, drawings and lighting effects.  The pair is collaborating on a performance for TONIGHT'S  Now Playing event.]

Do you coll... More

Collection Rotation: Allyssa Wolf

04.14.2010  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

At last, the return of Collection Rotation. In this monthly feature, I invite someone to organize a mini-exhibition from our collection works online.  Please welcome today’s guest, the poet Allyssa Wolf.Unless otherwise noted, text excerpts below are from Guy Debord’s Critique of Separation. Audio files courtesy the good folks at PennS... More

Women’s Time and Space, part 1

04.13.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

In a recent conversation with SFMOMA curator Gary Garrels I attempted to understand better why the fourth floor Focus on Artists permanent collection installation is so lopsided on the gender front: 15 male artists own the majority of linear and cubic gallery-feet, 3 female artists have the rest. And of those three women, at least two could be call... More

A curator’s day: part two

04.13.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

This is part two of this post. This is last week’s post. Google told me to turn right, and that the artist’s street would be on the left. It wasn’t. Nor was it the next block or the next. Once again, time was running out (I have a compulsive hatred of being late) and I had no idea where I was. Google, fool me twice shame on me!  I went in the other direction but realized the street name changed, so that was clearly wrong; I stopped at the corner traffic light and realized I was in the middle of a complex intersection with cars weaving to get around me, driving straining to get a glimpse of the fool parked in the middle of the busiest street in Sacramento. Raining. Lost. I called Ogden and he gave me the proper directions and said he’d look out for me. I got to his house and was let in by his gracious wife, who explained that he was somewhere out in the rain  looking for me. He showed up after about ten minutes, during which time I got to see his large, lovely ... More

Is Photography Over?

04.12.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Essay

This month SFMOMA hosts a major symposium on the current state of the field of photography. Thirteen thinkers and practitioners will convene for a two-day state-of-the-medium summit, in advance of which they’ve each been asked to respond to the symposium’s central question: Is photography over? These texts will be used to kick off the o... More

Visitor Flickr Photo of the Week

04.09.2010  |  By
Filed under: Back Page

Bob ‘s  title of this picture:

“Hold on, Betty. I’ll save you. But first I need to take a picture.”

He writes:

“Story? Not really—I was fascinated by the people (in addition to the truly incredible Robert Frank and Richard Avedon exhibits). And the entire scene reminded me of how my photographer friends will whip ou... More

$1000 Travel Grant For A Bay Area Artist

04.08.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

I’ve been thinking about Renny Pritikin’s post from February about artists leaving (or not), in relation to the inadequate travel funding available to artists in the US. Unlike most first-world countries we don’t have a cultural agency at the state or federal level that funds artists’ travel. I have an untested theory that if Bay Area artists had support for mobility that they would be more likely to stay. While the last sentence may sound counter-intuitive, I think one reason artists leave is the relative isolation of the Bay Area in relation to the art centers. More to the point, It appears that most of the artists who have stayed are those who have been able to develop projects and find exhibition opportunities outside of the Bay Area.

In 2007, as part of the Collective Foundation exhibition at YBCA, I produced three alternative approaches to grant-making that didn’t involve non-profit fundraising nor selling artworks. This third option involved identif... More

Celebrate Anne Wagner celebrating Anne Truitt and Agnes Martin

04.06.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

Especially given my early post about the presence of important women artists in SF MoMA’s collection and the current Focus on Artists show, I am very glad Anne Wagner is giving this talk at Berkeley on Friday night. I’m sad that one of the brightest, most influential, and generous art historians and teachers is leaving the Bay Area. The... More

Art Conditions

04.06.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

The thing that first caught my eye about Minnesota’s Art Shanty Projects was the mission statement (emphasis mine):

“Art Shanty Projects is an artist driven temporary community exploring the ways in which the relatively unregulated public space of the frozen lake can be used as a new and challenging artistic environment to expand notions of what art can be.”

A frozen lake struck me as a fantastic addition to the catalog of overlooked public niche spaces we’ve talked about before, and one with compelling implications and challenges. Aesthetically, the stark, uninterrupted backdrop evokes a sort of deconstructed museum space, showcasing the whimsical shanties and their performers. Creating art in such an entirely unscripted location is a fascinating prospect – anything could happen.

And, it appears, anything does: the four-weekend exhibition held on the frozen Medicine Lake in Minnesota is self-proclaimed “performance, architecture, science, art, video... More

A curator’s day

04.06.2010  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

On Friday morning I had two appointments–at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.–to visit the studios of  painters in Sacramento. I left home in Oakland for the 90 minute drive in a steady but light rain. The night before I had googled the directions for both places as I’m still learning the Sacramento sprawl, and noted down the phone numbers of both artists just in case. I even have gotten so cautious about this kind of thing that I remembered to google directions from the first studio to the second one, and then back to the freeway for the trip to UC Davis, where my office is.

Google sent me to Carmichael, on the far side of Sacramento; the street was one block long and the numbers were 4400, but Google insisted that my 3300 address would be there. It had never let me down so horrendously, so stupidly. I congratulated myself for noting down the artist’s phone number but when I called, the man who answered said it was the wrong number. As my heart sank–remember itR... More

Is Photography Over?

04.05.2010  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Essay

This month SFMOMA hosts  a major symposium on the current state of the field of photography.  Thirteen thinkers and practitioners will convene for a two-day state-of-the-medium summit, in advance of which they’ve each been asked to respond to the symposium’s central question: Is photography over? These texts will be used to kick off t... More