Five Years

Yesterday was the five-year anniversary of this blog. The first post on this “otherwise excellent blog” was posted (sadly, not by me, believe it or not) on October 8th, 2007. No time for retrospection. Full speed ahead. Surely there are still things to mock and dismiss (and admire).

The Met To Do Shostakovich’s Nose in 2009-2010

Shostakovich’s Nose is a rather interesting piece of music / opera. It’s rarely performed and there are not too many recordings of it. It’s also quite a listen even for crusty Shostakovich fans, I think (see some videos below).

Production is by South African artist William Kentridge – see Kentridge’s images for The Nose here. This could be a great reason for a trip to NYC.

Conductors:  Valery Gergiev / Pavel Smelkov
Police Inspector:  Andrei Popov
The Nose:  Gordon Gietz
Kovalyov:  Paulo Szot

The premiere will be on 5 March 2010 with performances on 11, 13, 18, 23, &
25 March

Here’s the info from The Met’s site: Continue reading

Conflux Festival NYC 2008

Even though this is usually estranged and pretty much retired blogger Paco’s territory, it is worth mentioning that this weekend is the annual Conflux Festival in New York City.  Above is Bay area artist Lucas Murgida’s submission 9/10, his outdoor installation will be in place west of the Center for Architecture and south of Washington Square Park on Saturday, September 13th, from noon onward. Here’s the blurb from the organizers:

Starting September 11th, over one hundred local and international artists will transform New York City streets into a laboratory for exploring the urban environment at the Conflux Festival. Located in Greenwich Village at the Center for Architecture (a.k.a. Conflux HQ), the four-day event includes art installations, street art interventions, interactive performance, walking tours, bicycle and public-transit expeditions, DIY media workshops, lectures, films and music.Hosted by Christina Ray (founder of New York art space Glowlab) and a team of New York-based curators, the 5th anniversary of the festival will feature projects including the “$1k Giveaway” by the Federation of Students and Nominally Unemployed Artists; botanical walking tours of Manhattan “narrated” by plants; an iPod video and cell-phone-instructed scavenger hunt through the East Village; an expedition to discover the underground rivers and streams of New York; an interactive installation of New York City trash; solar-powered Morse Code workshops; and London-based collective CutUp, returning for a second year to create fresh work throughout the city. The festival’s keynote speaker is Chris Carlsson, author of the recently-published book: ‘Nowtopia: How pirate programmers, outlaw bicyclists, and vacant-lot gardeners are inventing the future today.’ Be sure to check out all the projects, and see you at Conflux!

Read Murgida’s project description below the fold.  This and many other installations, performances and whatnot will be happening all over.  Do check it out.

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On Brushing Your Teeth Left Handed and Early Morning Commutes

While driving today, I was reminded by NPR friendlies of two of the more interesting articles I have read in the last year. This morning, on Talk of the Nation, I was reminded of last week’s New York Times op-ed, which taught me that I may eat better, exercise more, and be more fiscally responsible if I start brushing my teeth with the other hand. This evening, while picking up pizza (clearly not really quite eating better yet, even though I really have been trying to brush left handed), I was listening to the All Things Considered story about the Washington Post’s cleanup on journalistic Pulitzer’s. In it, they mention that the Feature Writing Pulitzer went to Gene Weingarten for his piece in the Washington Post Magazine, in which he asked Joshua Bell to perform some of the world’s most difficult pieces for violin at the L’Enfant Metro station in order to see whether busy commuters will recognize the quality, or at least the beauty, of the performance.

Read the article here.

Watch people ignore Joshua Bell because they are too busy scuttling to mid-level government jobs here:

PS. Mikhail, Shahar, and Paco, in exchange for some uncomfortable pictures of them being kept from the eyes of their extensive readership, have allowed me to start posting. Regardless of what have unjustly been referred to as ‘threats’, I am clearly awesome and therefore deserving of the aforementioned honor whether or not, in their current state of fear, they quite realize it yet.

Man-Child Reality Television: A Perverse Form of Entertainment

loser-brett.jpgThose of you that came across our humble blog hoping for (1) a creepy pro-NAMBLA tirade and/or (2) a review of Herbie Hancock’s excellent album Man-Child will be very disappointed. Readers, over the weekend I found myself hung over and in desperate need of mindless drivel on TV. Of course, anyone in search of mindless drivel should turn on cable television, so naturally I found myself watching several reality shows on VH1, all of which had, as a common denominator, two things: (1) fourth tier “celebrity” men acting like (2) man-children.

First, I witnessed Rock of Love with late 1980s tight leather pants, possible drag queen, hair themed band Poison, featuring Brett Michaels. Poor Brett, he just wants to find a woman who can “dig” him for who he is. Come on, he wants nothing but a good time. So, in order to find such a “score” he gets a bunch of women to live in a house together with him and humiliate themselves in a variety of ways, whether working as a team to put together a motorcycle for Brett or posing in various positions for Brett while he takes snapshots in an effort to satisfy his adolescent fantasies. To what ends, you may ask? Well, competing for different prizes, such as “one on one” time with Brett, either on a date, or on alone in his room for a conjugal visit it would seem. At the end of the show, Brett pathetically hands out “back stage passes” via his hulking bodyguard and asks, “Will you accept this backstage pass and continue to rock my world?” Ack. Continue reading

Power Fields: Explorations in the Work of Vito Acconci

vito.jpgOne of my (still working) favorite performance artists, Vito Acconci, is part of a broader exhibition and seminar featuring his work in terms of power. If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out. Watch the Slought Foundation website for more online content. The announcement follows below:
Slought Foundation, Philadelphia, in conjunction with the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania, is pleased to announce Power Fields: Explorations in the Work of Vito Acconci, an exhibition featuring the work of artist Vito Acconci and the Acconci Studio. The exhibition will be on display in the galleries at Slought Foundation from February 15-March 31, 2008; the opening reception will take place on Friday, February 29th, 2008 from 6:30-8:30pm, with a full-day symposium to follow on March 1, 2008 (for more information on related activities, visit http::// The exhibition is co-curated by Christine Poggi (Professor, Department of the History of Art, University of Pennsylvania) and Meredith Malone (Assistant Curator, Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis). A publication documenting the exhibition and associated conference is forthcoming.

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The Clock Is Ticking: La Traviata vs. Faustus

As I am counting days until my Winter semester begins and I finally get to go back to class again, allow me to draw attention to two opera DVDs that I have recently acquired and watched/listened to: 2005 Salzburg’s La Traviata with Netrebko, Villazón and Hampson and Pascal Dusapin’s Faustus: The Last Night.  

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Room With A View: Yellow Man Sighting.

It snowed today. Not hard, just enough to cover the parking lot and somewhat reluctantly greenish grass. I looked outside of my window.  I saw a strange picture. I saw a man, a man on a bicycle, a man wearing a bright yellow jacket. I took pictures. I like surreal and strange. I like colors and have been known to support bold, even if questionable, fashion statements.  This man was not just wearing a birght yellow jacket. This man was not just riding a bicycle in the snow.  This man was making circles in my parking lot, laying tracks like he was painting a picture: round and round and round… Beautiful.

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Weekend Weekday Opera Heavy Metal Edition: 3 Inches Of Blood

I have to say that nothing brings in the holidays like some good music and by good music I mean GOOD MUSIC! I have acquired two DVDs and a CD today – DVDs are operas and will have to wait until I have time and tea to waste, but a CD is 3 Inches of Blood‘s (relatively) new (second) album “Fire Up the Blades” – it is amazing! I do own “Advance and Vanquish” and I have to say that I was not particularly impressed – it was good and all, but nothing spectacular… This one, however, is much better – I hope that 3 Inches learned a lesson from Darkest Hour: “It’s OK to have a good melody and face-melting/gut-busting/knee-crushing solos!” Get this CD for that special someone!

Badiou and Performance Art: Some Notes

Since some on this blog have been on a “Badiou kick” recently (ahem…Shahar), I thought I’d post some thoughts on an article Alain Badiou wrote a while back for Lacanian Ink. In “Fifteen Theses for Contemporary Art,” Badiou suggests that contemporary art must embrace the slogan “something else is possible.” This position mediates what at first appears as the two extremes that drive art, “everything is possible” and “everything is impossible.” Badiou ultimately decides that the two are the same thing, or at the very least, two sides of the same coin; the desire for endless variation within a closed operative system. As Nico Baumbach explains in his essay in Polygraph (17:2005), “To say that everything is possible—there is no end to novelty, variation, the realization of latent consumer fantasies—means only that everything is impossible—there is no new thing that is not made up of a series of effects that cannot be calculated or assimilated to a certain conception of the world that remains fundamentally unaltered.” This assimilation of both positions is also clear in terms of the body, the first position, “everything is possible,” gestures to experimentation with the utmost limits of the body. Such experimentation includes body modification, such as piercing and tattoos, but also extends to the extremes of Chris Burden’s performance and conceptual art. Burden often used his own body as an art object in sometimes shocking acts such as being shot, crucified and electrocuted, in order to confront and destabilize both the artist-observer relationship and the very production of art. Burden’s performance pieces confront the limits of the possible by risking death; the limit of the body is the exhibition itself.

In the second position, the phrase “everything is impossible,” appears as consolation, it is a resignation towards death. From the Levinasian perspective, each position characterizes a “being-towards-death” that has the effect of constituting a subject not unlike Heidegger’s Dasein. In Badiou’s more precise vocabulary, the aggressive inventiveness of an artist like Chris Burden is nothing less than “formalism,” whereas the latter position, which posits death as the decisive statement of our experience, is “romanticism.” Beyond pathos, outside of formalistic novelty, “something else is possible.” Continue reading