Friday, May 23, 2014

Must See Show in Irvine - One Week Only!

Daniel Hawkins and Jenn Berger are two of the most interesting artists among the current crop of LA grad students, and they are mounting their MFA thesis shows at UC Irvine (along with Jimena Sarno and Isabel Theselius, neither of whose work I know) this week, opening the afternoon of Saturday May 24th from 2 - 5 PM.

Daniel may be familiar as a recent addition to F, my noise band with Marnie Weber and Dani Tull, or from his Amplified Pepperoncini Jar performances from a couple of years ago, or his 2009 show at Las Cienegas Projects. These activities are just the tip of the Hawkins iceberg, though, which is chockfull of epic, ever-expanding Sisyphean Gesamtkunstwerks, including the production of a Val Kilmer mountain-climbing movie and the piecemeal construction of an actual-size replica of the Hoover Dam.

His thesis show, Desert Lighthouse Protocols, collects a portion of the documentation and preparatory works for the titular beacon for wanderers in the Mojave Desert, allegedly built, destroyed by vandals and currently under reconstruction. 

The show features a spectacular large-scale panoramic landscape painting, the completed housing cap for the Fresnel lens, a patchwork actual-size drawing of the lighthouse, a sample stock certificate for potential investors, and an array of other elements and ephemera in a sort of virtual rendition or mock-up visitor's center for the actual land art intervention. 

Hopefully a more centrally located gallerist will snap this show up and restage it, but in case they happen to be from central Manhattan or central Berlin, you should cross the Orange Curtain, just this once, and dig the construction.

Daniel introduced me to the work of fellow MFA candidate Jenn Berger, and if she followed my installation advice to the letter, her show should be just about as spectacular as Daniel's. Jenn's work also runs the gamut from painting and drawing to kinetic sculpture, video projections, photography, and various disciplinary hybrids.

Jenn's work pretty consistently explores dysfunctional -- or at very least decidedly non-vanilla -- family dynamics, as well as off-kilter examinations of the animal kingdom -- often in overlapping configurations as seen in this somewhat disturbing kangaroo love sketch.

This free-standing life-size digital photocollage places her still-living father in his coffin, more or less. And these giraffes appear to be in the midst of some kind of aesthetic vivisection. And don't get me started on her sister, niece, and Granny. Just haul ass and check it out "in the flesh".

UCI MFA Thesis Exhibition Part III

Daniel Hawkins (Font Gallery CAC)
Jimena Sarno (Back Gallery CAC)
Isabel Theselius (Room Gallery)
Jenn Berger (UAG Gallery)

May 22 - 30, 2014 | Reception 2 - 5 pm May 24 | Soft Opening 6 - 9 pm May 22

University Art Gallery | 712 Arts Plaza | Irvine, CA 92697-2775
For a map and directions:

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Elliott Hundley on LARZ Sunday at 12

This Sunday, May 11th, 2014 at 12 Noon, painter/sculptor/collagist Elliott Hundley will be joining me on Less Art Radio Zine to decide once and for all who is the more genius: Lindsey Buckingham or Stevie Nicks? (The answer is it's Lindsey.) KCHUNG Radio 1630 AM or at

Also, Elliott's current show of amazing new works - described by David Pagel in the LA Times as the most "muscular and skeletal ... since his first solo show in 2006" - are on view at Regen Projects  through next Saturday (May 17th). I also advise you to check out his recent work from last year's show at Andrea Rosen Gallery.

"...In truth, Hundley had been searching for a method to dislodge his praxis from the tyranny of glue, and—inspired by both the poetically formalist land art of Andy Goldsworthy and Öyvind Fahlström’s magnetic variable paintings—he hit on the humble solution of turning the picture plane into a pincushion. This single small shift had enormous repercussions within Hundley’s craft, allowing him to isolate individual pictographic elements literally and allegorically and to deploy them across a newly liberated topological landscape in a manner that suggested a roiling surface frozen in one of an effectively infinite set of possible configurations.
 In addition to these dimensional, compositional, and semiotic benefits, the pins incorporated a whole sphere of connotative content, with the domestic craft of sewing being the most immediately observable. From the outset, Hundley’s collage works have openly embraced the disparaged amateur side of their heritage, most fundamentally in his constant integration of original photographs of emotionally significant personal friends (the artist has likened his work to “the back pages of a high school yearbook”), but most conspicuously in his abundant use of beads, sequins, shells, costume jewelry, ribbons, upholstery, dollhouse furnishings, plastic flowers, peacock and ostrich feathers, and sundry items of the type reclaimed as fine art materials by the feminist artists associated with the pattern and decoration movements of the 1970s. His use of straight pins as both basic structure and (in the case of colored-plastic-headed and other specialty pins) content aligns his collages with the body-centered art of sewing (as well as the world of haute couture fashion) in an emphatically process-oriented manner; sewing pins are explicitly temporary placeholders, meant to be removed as soon as the garment is complete.
Of almost equal and somewhat creepier import are the pins’ connotations of entomological taxonomy: the passion of the insect collector, whose specimens, on retrieval from the killing jar, are mounted on specially coated beetle-juice-resistant display pins, usually with an accompanying didactic panel. This association summons a dark pop cultural archetype of erotic fetishism—à la John Knowles’s 1963 novel The Collector (in which a butterfly collector wins the lottery and repurposes his hobbycraft towards an art student with whom he’s smitten)—that adds considerable gravitas and humor to Hundley’s inventory of partial friends. But it also speaks to the less caricatured fetishism inherent to amateur keepsake collage: the identification of even the smallest ephemeral object as identical with (or a vessel for) a fond or meaningful memory and therefore deserving and in need of preservation.
It is difficult not to imagine these connotations spilling over to encompass the eventual acquisition of Hundley’s finished works by museums and private collectors—and the role of collecting in the history of art to which Hundley so often makes reference. The displays of natural history museums have been an important strain in recent art, from the Museum of Jurassic Technology (which includes several insect exhibits) to Damien Hirst, but Hundley’s approach is more allusive, his categorical impulse filtered through a nonverbal, nonhierarchical syntax, more akin perhaps to Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne-Atlas (1924–29), or the Internet.
Social stitching and phallic piercing aside, Hundley’s pinning bears several fruitful second-tier connotations, most notably as a form of mutated cartography, where coded pins are arranged to represent troop movements or consumer demographics, in constant flux, simultaneously a site for accounting and strategizing. This aerial topographic motif has emerged as a subtle but typically expansive formal device in Hundley’s art, with undulating contours articulated through variations in the height of the pins and the placement of the collage elements along their length. The results have been uniformly organic: a wall-mounted relief map of a forested landscape or ocean floor, or a giant model of some parasitical worm bristling with setae..."
by DH from "Cut Up or Shut Up: The Unspeakable Narratives of Elliott Hundley" in Elliott Hundley: The Bacchae , published by the Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University in 2012.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Your Ad Here

I don’t remember when I first ran across Ad Reinhardt’s dazzling, sarcastic collage comics—probably in the ’80s (around the same time I stumbled upon his brilliant “Art is Art. Everything else is everything else” screeds, but before I saw his equally but oppositely amazing non-monochromatic “black paintings” at MOCA in 1991). Reinhardt’s cartoons are timeless classics, at least as far as art magazines go—perennially relevant probes into Modernism and its discontents, rendered in camera-ready graphic design gold—what’s not to like? All art students and most art world denizens could learn a thing or three from ol' Ad.

What’s surprising is that—until now—their circulation in mass media formats has come in dribs and drabs, sometimes with years-long droughts between doses. Finally, in conjunction with last winter’s museum-worthy Reinhardt retrospective at David Zwirner gallery, these bitingly satirical yet earnestly didactic broadsides have been collected in a high quality hardcover book from the gallery and Hatje Cantz publishing.

Created mostly between 1946 and 1954, Reinhardt’s cartoons are remarkable in both their form and content—often elegantly intertwined, since the subject matter never strays far from the vicissitudes of pictorialism. Picture-making, according to Reinhardt, was the reactionary nemesis of “Pure Art”—a position he reiterates tirelessly with cut-and-paste fragments of popular, scientific and art historical line illustrations spanning the entire history of visual culture, augmented by his own cheerfully loopy penmanship.

Using pictures to undermine the authority of pictures is typical of Reinhardt’s wry ambiguities. A contentious contrarian, his ceaseless bullshit-calling leaves no stone unturned, no heel unwounded, and no tenable ethical position in sight. In addition to his profound disdain for pictures, Reinhardt expresses constant contempt for commerce and criticism, and mocks virtually every contemporary artistic persona—from the self-mythologizing romantic heroicism of many of his AbEx colleagues to the pernicious “Artist as Freelance Prick-of-Conscience Busy Bee.”...

Images ©2013 Estate of Ad Reinhardt/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Colin Cook on Less Art Radio Zine limited time download!

Between the coupons and the car troubles, haven't had much bloggy time, but since the KCHUNG archive is taking its time slithering over to its new server, I've uploaded the most recent edition of Less Art Radio Zine, featuring the lovely and talented Colin Cook playing his video soundtracks and "musical" offerings from The Charles Ray Experience (including some unreleased material!) and The Legion of Rock Stars.

Colin's visual artwork has ranged from interactive kinetic sculptural installations to video, but he has been focussed for some time on his hilarious but disturbing collaborative drawings with Bill Shambaugh, who made a rare appearance on the show as well. While well-known in Europe - with representation in Germany and his current hometown of Paris - Colin's work is less familiar to Angelenos -- an unfortunate lapse, as the collaborative drawings are simultaneously knee-slapping populism and cutting-edge conceptualist drawings, as can be seen from these examples. These babies give a whole new meaning to "objectification!" Won't someone offer this feller an opening?

On the show Colin said something about getting free made-to-order LORS CDs? I don't see anything specific about that on their website or their Facebook page, but you can contact them there, and link through to some of their amazing online videos -- original music videos overdubbed with the Pure Pleasure Processed LORS versions of the songs. Screenings of these were the hit of my 'patacritical Interrogation Techniques Salons last year! 

The Charles Ray Experience Anthology: Hooked on Dialectics is available for free download at, courtesy of Pleonasm Music. Here is the link to an unedited mp3 of Colin and Bill on LARZ on KCHUNG -- available for a limited time: the link.