Holiday Gifts: Idea #1

Unfortunately, I'm in holiday shopping mode.  Despite the grueling nature of attempting to locate the most perfect, thoughtful gift ever, there are times when you find a cool new product out there and shopping actually becomes kind of fun.  One such discovery are the Harry Allen beeswax bulb candles above.  At only $24 for a set of two, they make a great gift for someone who is otherwise impossible to satisfy.


Adaptation #2: Martha Rosler

Richard Hamilton, Just What Is It that Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?, 1956
Rosler, Vacuuming Pop Art, 1966-1972
I like Rosler’s subtle adaptation of Richard Hamilton's famous collage because by utilizing a few key elements from his work, she conveys larger meaning about the role of women in art and society.  Until fairly recently women have been snubbed from art history as cultural producers and instead have been celebrated only for their worth as eye candy subject matter for the male artist.  When we think of Pop Art we often envision Warhol’s Marilyn, Lichtenstein’s damsels in distress and Wesselmann’s lipsticked ladies.  Notice how no women artists come to mind?  Exactly.  It’s not that they weren’t making art at that time, the canon has simply excluded them from public record. Not only does Rosler remind us not to forget the contributions of women, the idea of “vacuuming Pop Art” sends a strong and humorous message regarding her view of the male dominated movement.


Adaptation: Jeff Wall

Ever since the exhibition Adaptation has been on view at Philbrook I've been seeing various adaptations everywhere.  It’s like when you get a new car and suddenly you notice how many other people in the world also have Toyota Scions.  The show at Philbrook features four contemporary artists who have adapted various source materials—book, film, ballet, painting— into new work.  But the show could have easily included a hundred other contemporary artists who also utilize the practice of adaptation to create art.  Just today I was reading a book that featured an adaptation by contemporary photographer Jeff Wall.  See how you think the original compares to Wall’s version.
Hokusai, Caught by the Ejiri Wind, 1831-3.
Wall, A Sudden Gust of Wind (After Hokusai), 1993.


Choreographer Hofesh Shechter

Yesterday I caught a performance of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at the Joyce. As always with this company, the program was well-executed and thoughtful, but the standout piece was Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter's "The Fools." This ballet was a New York premier - expanded and tweaked from the original commission set on Bern Ballet in 2008. "The Fools" opens with eight dancers (the Shadows) dressed in gray, military-like garb and violently thrashing their bodies up and down to percussive music. This scene repeats throughout the piece abruptly beginning and ending with black-outs and lights. From that point on, you're in for an unsettling 15 minutes. Seven other dancers appear (presumably the Fools) and their movements are hunched and pained. Their stiff bodies and other-worldly claw-like arms and legs convulse as if being electrocuted.
If it sounds crazy, you got it.  I've never seen anything quite this raw, grotesque and powerful. I wasn't able to find a video online of "The Fools," but to get an idea of Shechter's unique voice and vocabulary, check out this video HERE of another ballet "Uprising."