Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ya Ho Wa 13 or Thereabouts

Technically they were Fire Water Air apparently -- at least I think I heard Sunflower Aquarian say as much -- but the power trio that rocked the skeletal simulacrum of Burning Man at the West of Rome fundraiser Monday night was as close to the original lineup of the Source Family's hippie-era house band Ya Ho Wa 13 as you're likely to hear this side of the Immanentatization of the Eschaton (apart from the archival 13 CD boxset of original recordings). What was surprising was how totally awesome they were -- and I hadn't even partaken of the sacrament or put on the 3D glasses (though there were some diffraction grating dealies passed around at one point). And my threshold for self-indulgent hippie jam band shit is seriously low. But for real I was flashing on the Stooges. Maybe some Faust when it slowed down. Tight, telepathic improv, and cocky as hell. I buttonholed Sunflower afterwards and he was all like "We rehearsed yesterday, but before that we haven't played in four months." Somebody has to give these guys a cable access show! Maybe once the Source Family documentary, overseen by Jodi Willie (framed triangularly below) hits the big screen next year. Or maybe some of those Hollywood bigwigs who owe so much to the Family can step up and sponsor an arena tour. I'm talking to you Cort! Share some of those Ted & Venus residuals.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Night of Growth and Discovery

Emi Fontana describes tonight's benefit for West of Rome Public Art as "an unforgettable night for art in Los Angeles... 20 artists involved in different capacities. It will be like a total artwork, a performance festival in a benefit disguise. It will be difficult for our guests to maintain a sense of reality; a lot of transformative sensorial experiences will take place." You should go to West of Rome for details but there is (among other TSE's) a scheduled performance by Ya Ho Wha 13, house band of the 70s LA cult The Source.

Here's an excerpt from my LA WEEKLY column about the Mike Kelley/Michael Smith installation A Voyage of Growth and Discovery that serves as the set for tonight's happening:

"Occupying a cavernous warehouse space in Eagle Rock — normally Kelley's art studio — Voyage is an immersive multimedia installation that includes six carefully synchronized video screens; a densely layered sound track of field recordings, appropriated sound, and a dizzy techno score composed and recorded by Kelley with frequent collaborator Scott Benzel; and eight or nine (depending on whether you count the row of locked Porta Potties) sculptural stations.

The sculptures are the most Kelleyesque element — most of them resemble (and may, in fact, be) the kind of skeletal geometrical playground structures assembled from modular industrial materials that proliferated across the American landscape in the 1970s, a trickle-down aesthetic from the utopian hippie architectonics of Buckminster Fuller, et al. These minimalist spatial determinants articulate the expansive void of Kelley's darkened workspace with elegance and economy, simultaneously referencing the artist's own work (DIY orgone accumulators, models of schools based on recovered memories, etc.) and the often-architectural artworks of Burning Man itself.

Further Kelleyisms are incorporated in the form of discarded clothing items, kitschy dolphin-themed quilts, a "You want it when?!" sleeping bag, and the artist's signature appropriated medium-used stuffed toy animals. Lining the base of a geodesic dome, strung kundalini-style up the spine of a rocketship, or covering a tatty easy-chair in a sinister, Kienholzian mini-installation in the back of a burned-out van, these markers of comfort and domestic stability are the first sign of a recurring theme: the inadequacy of culture to address baby's real needs..."

Read the rest of Baby Ain't Got Back (Yet) here

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bitter Achilles

"Arshile Gorky is a pivotal but enigmatic figure in the history of Modern Art — specifically in the alleged shifting of the narrative center of Capital-A Art from Paris to New York somewhere around World War II. Gorky was a quintessential example of American self-reinvention: a figurehead to the ab-ex pioneers in his spongelike eclecticism and existential heroicism, but at the same time a haunted European cast from the Old Master mold — with a psyche rooted in peasantry, Catholicism and genocide, and almost pathologically addicted to biographical fabrication.

When Gorky was working the Manhattan art world of the 1930s and '40s, nobody knew that he was a survivor of the Armenian genocide. Nobody knew he was born Vosdanig Adoian and was not, as he claimed, related to Russian writer Maxim Gorky (whose real name in any case was Aleksey Peshkov). Nobody knew that he had never received the professional training he claimed, and was, in fact, largely self-taught through study of reproductions in library books and visits to public museums.

The man they knew as Gorky was, arguably, Vosdanig Adoian's greatest artistic creation — an evolving pastiche of behaviors, narratives and props coalescing into something approximating the persona of The Great Artist — as envisioned by an untutored immigrant's imagination and molded by the inchoate expectations of the emerging East Coast cultural elite. He was a tall, brooding, handsome, mustachioed foreigner; a passionate advocate of modernist painting; a preternaturally gifted draftsman and aesthetic chameleon who created credible translations of Cézanne, Picasso, Léger, Miró and a raft of surrealists over the course of his career.

Ultimately, the power of this fiction overtook his life, and Gorky sealed his canonization by hanging himself at the age of 44, after a series of tragic setbacks, including bowel cancer, a paralyzing car crash, a disastrous studio fire, and his wife leaving him for his good friend (and last and most significant artistic role model) Roberto Matta.

It's the same martyrific formula that launched Jackson Pollock and the New York School into the stratosphere a decade later. Maybe Gorky's whole-cloth-cut persona was his most influential contribution to subsequent generations of artists; by the late '50s the public role-playing aspect of artistic practice had become so ingrained as to be invisible. To become players, artists since Warhol have had to erect hall-of-mirror identities — artistic personae constructed by their artistic personae constructed by ..."

Read the rest of Gorky's Debt here.

See the show at MOCA through Sept 20

Images: One Year the Milkweed 1944; Diary of a Seducer 1945

Monday, July 12, 2010

After the Deluge

Here's a few shots from "Mannlicher CarcanoPlex Mach 01" I got before the battery on my camera died...

Ross Rudel's extraordinary sculptural performance Wet Column (2010) -- it isn't very clear in this photo, but there is what appears to be a stream of urine running from the artist's groin down his leg and pooling around the stone at his feet. The head box is actually fixed to the wall.

Maya Lujan's THE FOUR, THE THREE, THE TWO AND THE ONE (squaring the circle) (2010) in motion, gashing the ankles of anyone brave enough to venture toward the restroom (see earlier post for unrotating version)

Maya Lujan and Tom Jancar in front of the wall of live on-the spot portraits created in collaboration by Pierre Picot, Francesco Siqueiros and Paul Bob.

Novelty eye ceiling sculpture by Rebecca Ripple that I don't have the title of yet, but hope to soon. We are expecting these to replace conventional surveillance cameras in mall and at the workplace by November 2012.

Lily Simonson IS Anne Frank in "Becoming Anne" Crime scene photo has been rotated 90 degrees for clarity. Detail of elaborate rationalization/shower curtain. More to come...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Before the Flood (Tonight Only!)

Plenty of recent art writing to post here, but MA and I started team-teaching painting to Upward Bound teens this week, and "curating" the following has been more work than I expected! Not to mention Portfolio's looming Ventura triumph. But first, I give you:

"Mannlicher CarcanoPlex Mach 01" (Click on Image for Larger View)

Mannlicher Carcano is a collaborative improvisational audiovisual collage group who have been performing since 1984, and have appeared weekly on live radio since 1998 with The Mannlicher Carcano Radio Hour. Under the curatorial hand of Doug Harvey, the band’s collage-based aesthetic principle will be expanded to 3 Dimensions with the one-night-only Mannlicher CarcanoPlex Mach 01, including sound, performance, didactic elements, food and drink, sexy projections, and all manner of art objects at PØST (1904 East 7th Place Los Angeles, CA 90021) on Friday July 9th from 7 – 9 PM . Improvised audiovisual collage, a rediscovered pre-Firesign Theatre absurdist detective film, a one-man rock & roll band, Anne Frank karaoke, gray-water cocktail-making, an enormous naked man, and so much more!

Participating artists include Mannlicher Carcano, China Adams, Suzanne Adelman, Michael Arata, Josh Aster & Kristin Calabrese, George Budd, Ryan Callis, Caroline Clerc, Christian Cummings, Adrian de la Pena, Walpa d’Mark, Georganne Deen, Joe Deutch, Mark X. Farina, Gerry Fialka, Eamon Fox, Jill Giegerich & Mischa Mandel-Giegerich, Phyllis Green, Daniel Hawkins, Homegrown Evolution, The Keith Walsh Experience, Maya Lujan, Bridget Marrin, Tina Marrin, Dr, Carl Nordstrom, M.D., Mary Anna Pomonis, Rebecca Ripple, Hector Romero, Michael Q. Schmidt. Lily Simonson, Brad Spence, Laurie Steelink, Jim Sullivan, Young Summers, Don Suggs, Greta Svalberg, Lee Tyler Thompson, Esther Pearl Watson, Aaron Wrinkle and many Others...

Images: Lee Thompson - Untitled
MCPlex Poster (featuring detail of Eamonn Fox - Party Ball Performance Structure)
James Chertkow - International Incident
China Adams - One Night Only Poet
Laurie Steelink - Totem
April Schwassa - Jar of Dill Pickles (Prisoners' Last Meals Series)