Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, The High Line (detail), 2005

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September 7, 2005

By working together, artists have the power to turn the creative process on its head and give it a desirable new spin. Our team looks at the spirit of contemporary collaboration and uncovers a variety of approaches in a mix of media — from the unlimited possibilities explored by a design studio to the restrictions offered by the pages of a book to a pair of provocative brothers at play. Offering news of floating islands and reviews of shows around the world, Artkrush aims to give minds a thoughtful twirl.

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Smithson's Floating Island Launches
(Architectural Record, August 12)
Conceptual and earthworks artist Robert Smithson, currently the subject of a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, never realized his vision of a "floating island" circling Manhattan. Now the Whitney, in conjunction with Minetta Brook, a public arts organization, has finally achieved that dream. From September 17-25, a landscaped barge will circle Manhattan each day. Smithson developed the concept in 1970, the same year he created the seminal earthwork Spiral Jetty, and it reflects his fascination with influential landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park.

ARTnews Names 200 Top Collectors
(ARTnews, August 2005)
Art publication ARTnews has published its list of the world's 200 top collectors. Collectors range from those buying modern and contemporary art to those pursuing antiquities such as primitive art and Chinese porcelain. Familiar names include Christie's and Gucci owner François Pinault, whose plans for a private museum outside Paris fell through earlier this year; Los Angeles developer Eli Broad and his wife Edythe; Sammy Ofer, who dropped a record $27.5 million on a newly discovered Brancusi sculpture; and hedge-fund manager Steven Cohen, who is one of a new breed of upstart collectors.

Scoping LA's Affordable Art Scene
(Los Angeles Times, August 25)
With art schools thriving and rent cheap, Los Angeles is experiencing an affordable art boom. Smart collectors have the region mapped out. Greg Escalante, a curator at the legendary lowbrow art magazine Juxtapoz, goes to Art Annex and New Image Art to scout for Beautiful Losers-style street artists such as Neckface and the newly emerging Date Farmers. Other collectors hit art fairs, such as Supersonic, for recent graduates. More conventional galleries also display the occasional steal, including the blue-chip L.A. Louver as well as Wilshire Boulevard galleries ACME, Marc Foxx, and Marc Selwyn Fine Art.

A Biennial Centuries in the Making
(The New York Times, August 28)
Istanbul's long history as a cosmopolitan arts center is being revived by a forward-looking art scene based in the city's Beyoglu neighborhood, where galleries such as the Apel Gallery and Pera Museum are reinventing traditional aesthetics. These developments will influence the outlook of this year's 9th Istanbul Biennial, which runs from September 16 to October 30. Co-curators Vasif Kortun, of the Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center, and Charles Esche showcase the city this year, titling the biennial simply Istanbul. They express confidence that Turkish art of today — as in the past — has lasting global significance.

New executive director named for Pritzker Prize » more

German artists protest historical building's destruction with installations and performances » more

Boston officials plan aggressive public-arts policy » more

The Bilbao Effect hits Kentucky » more

New Zealand art fair unites divisive gallery community » more

An avant-garde takes root in Tibet » more

Arts-only channel airs for free in UK following acquisition by Sky TV » more

Levi's in deal for new line of Warhol-inspired clothing » more

Scottish artist's monumental "hoodie" sculpture draws public ire as symbol of unwanted culture » more

Hurricane leaves a rich architectural history shattered in its wake » more

Note: Some online publications require registration to access the articles. If you encounter a registration screen, try akreader1 as the username and password.

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[ It Takes Two to Tango ]


assume vivid astro focus / LoVid / Os Gemeos / gelatin

Taking the baton from established collaborators such as Gilbert & George and Peter Fischli and David Weiss, younger artists are extending the field of collaboration from conceptual experimentation into do-it-yourself territory, freely crossing disciplines in the name of demystifying the originality of the individual artist.

When couples collaborate, their intimacy provides narrative fodder for their work. For example, Jennifer and Kevin McCoy's How We Met is a precise, miniature reconstruction of an event in their personal timeline. The unpredictable outcome of projects inspires another couple, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, who describe their network of participatory activities and large-scale drawings as "an economy of exchange." The chemistry between siblings is palpable in work by the Brazilian twins of Os Gemeos, who have launched a hybrid style of visionary history painting with graffiti roots. Works produced from the occasional partnering of artists who typically work in solitude, like Jonathan Meese and Albert Oehlen, suggest how artists' creative energies can trigger mutual catharsis.

Artist collectives bring a merry-prankster energy to the studio and pose the inevitable question: who does what? Assume vivid astro focus (the concept of an artist who prefers anonymity) invites us all to take on the artist's identity in a series of projects that combine the uninhibited sensuality of communal love-fests with video projections, wallpaper designs, stage sets, T-shirts, and floor stickers. The "group" has collaborated with LA's Los Super Elegantes and VJ Honeygun Labs to produce multimedia extravaganzas that fuse '60s psychedelia with nightclub glam. Gelatin is an Austrian gang of four that orchestrates madcap participatory experiences. They delight in transgressing the boundaries of decency with performances that invite the public to rediscover a child's fascination with the body and its functions.

The Barnstormers, a loose-knit collective comprised of artists based in New York and Tokyo, make motion-painting films — marathon painting sessions recorded via time-lapse video — that cross-pollinate urban influences with rural ones. Many collectives hijack multimedia and rewrite its rules. Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus, working as LoVid, obsessively tinker with electronics to extract low-res, glitch-inflected imagery. Conversely, reclaiming an ancient model of collaborative studio practice, the Pakistani painter Muhammad Imran Qureshi started the Karkhana Project. He and five other miniaturists progressively illustrated the same works, adding layers to each earlier artist's images and recording each phase. Qureshi was inspired by the cooperative technique of Mughal court miniature painters — a reminder that the collaborative process may be as old as art itself. (MW)

Gilbert & George are representing Britain in the 2005 Venice Biennale. Fischli and Weiss' photographs are on view at Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich through October 28. Os Gemeos' work can currently be seen in the Dreamland Artists Club 2005 in Coney Island. The Tate Liverpool is exhibiting assume vivid astro focus through October 30. The Barnstormers' David Ellis has a solo show at Jessica Murray Projects opening September 8. LoVid are artists-in-residence at Eyebeam. Karkhana: A Contemporary Collaboration recently opened at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT.

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Jockum Nordström: A Stick in the Wood

Moderna Museet
Now through September 25, 2005

  Stockholm-based draftsman Jockum Nordström summers in a part of northern Sweden where it's light 24 hours a day. The perpetual glare of the midnight sun drives Scandinavian moods, but it may also shine light on Nordström's peerless oeuvre: his disturbing drawings and collages are set against a cheerful daylight gleam. With diorama-like views of cityscapes, bourgeois parlors, orgies, and musical recitals, Nordström suggests that the freaks come out in the daytime, too. The frolicking denizens of this netherworld sport archaic costumes in anachronistic settings, and the mannered antiqueness of the artist's work recalls Henry Darger and George Grosz. Often compared with children's storybooks, these puzzling, fantastical scenes tell tales of things that go bump in the light. (SRP)

Francis Baudevin: Lost and Found, 1987-2005

Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain (MAMCO)
Now through September 18, 2005

  In the early 20th century, suprematists such as Kazimir Malevich created minimalist, geometric statements to redefine the world around them. Fast forward to 2005, and art is imitating life: like Andy Warhol with his Campbell's soup cans, Swiss artist Francis Baudevin appropriates the graphic elements of commercial packaging and reproduces them on a giant scale. Unlike his pop-art predecessor, however, he strips all textual references from his work. In his acrylic canvas Colophos (2002), for instance, purple and white rectangular forms are culled from a laxative packaging, while Arlette (2005) recasts a languid portrait of a smoking woman from a Swiss cigarette ad. Sharp, smart, and highly ironic, the show is a testament to the commercial and decorative fate of abstract ideals. (MS)

Tony Oursler: Studio and Climaxed
New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Now through September 18

  Best known for his video installations of muttering, disembodied talking heads, Tony Oursler aligns his playful sensibility and techno-future savvy with an art-history lesson for a new mixed-media piece, Studio: Seven Months of My Aesthetic Education (Plus Some), NYC Version. Inspired by and built to replicate the monumental scale of Gustave Courbet's legendary The Painter's Studio: A Real Allegory of a Seven-Year Phase in My Artistic and Moral Life, Oursler called in a number of artistic and social collaborators to populate the work's video screens and provide sculptural elements. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot fleeting images of filmmaker Robert Altman, rockers Kim Gordon and David Bowie, and artist John Baldessari in Oursler's cast of dozens. Climaxed is a more enigmatic work: another room-sized installation, featuring a stop/start projection of a fiery explosion surrounding a grotesque floating visage. (GZ)

Christoph Schlingensief: Church of Fear

Museum Ludwig
Now through September 25, 2005

  Although the Venetian authorities banned a reconstruction of Mecca's Ka'aba during this year's Biennale, Christoph Schlingensief's installation Church of Fear touched down in Cologne without a hitch. The aim of this full-scale, wooden chapel is to empower viewers to overcome their doubts, suspicions, and frustrations — feelings that have been hijacked by the mass media and exploited by demagogic leaders. Designed, in part, as an iconoclastic alternative to the pontiff-officiated World Youth Day, the structure features screeds written by the "Saints of Fear," a group of the German artist and director's collaborators. At a time when many creators are steering away from politics, Schlingensief's work engages current events with fistfuls of irony and satire. (CYL)

Barbara Kruger

Gallery of Modern Art
Now through September 26, 2005

  Confrontational and unflinching, Barbara Kruger's collages have the annihilating energy of an '80s action-movie heroine (think Sigourney Weaver in Aliens). Slicing through black-and-white photos with big, bold type, Kruger pits image against text in juxtapositions that often produce satirical commentary on male-female power dynamics. That sometimes playful side is bound and gagged in her latest pieces, currently exhibited at GoMA, as part of Rule of Thumb: Contemporary Arts and Human Rights, a 13-month series that takes violence against women as its theme. Combining chilling statistics with stark, menacing photos, Kruger evokes a sense of fear and damage without displaying literal destruction. (LG)

Note: Also on view at Tramway is an installation of Twelve, Kruger's multichannel video piece that situates the viewer as an unwitting guest at a series of increasingly heated dinner-table disputes.

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[ Neistat Brothers ]

Neistat Brothers

It's a good thing the Neistat Brothers found a creative outlet for their angst — otherwise they might now be doing time, and we would certainly be less amused. Growing up in rural Connecticut, Casey, who is 24 years old, and Van, who is 30, had their share of clashes with the law before moving to New York to pursue a slightly more socially acceptable form of artistic fun.

Their first break came when Van landed a job with artist Tom Sachs, who was preparing his massive, multi-media installation Nutsy's for the Bohen Foundation. The siblings played a significant role in the spirited, DIY project, including assisting on Sachs' short films. They had already been shooting offbeat, homemade movies with their Sony video camera and editing them on an iMac. One of their early successes, from 2001, shows Van illegally biking through a congested Holland Tunnel during rush hour.

The duo gained immediate fame with the 2003 Internet release of iPod's Dirty Secret, which captures them taking Casey's argument with Apple straight to the streets. The website received more than a million hits and major media attention. Next, they were invited to show Mousetrap, in which a little creature is tempted by a tasty reward, on the big screen in Times Square and Science Experiments, a compilation of wacky shorts involving consumer goods, at the 2004 São Paulo Biennial.

Notoriety has done nothing to alter their artfully outrageous nature, which was on display again in a film they made for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council earlier this year, where they slyly mocked the organization's honorees, including Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. And their rebelliousness remains evident in their poignant reframing of scenes from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and The Breakfast Club on their website — Neistat movies that may be featured in their Paris invasion at Colette this fall. (PL)

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[ Diller Scofidio + Renfro ]

Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Paul Laster interviews the three partners of Diller Scofidio + Renfro — Elizabeth Diller, Ricardo Scofidio, and Charles Renfro — about their architectural projects and the process of collaboration.
AK: The practice of architecture and design requires continual collaboration to reach the desired results. For Blur, you organized a think tank of experts such as Douglas Cooper, Ben Rubin, and Natalie Jeremijenko to generate critical discussion. What are some of the ideas originating in the roundtable that became part of the final project?

Elizabeth Diller: We discussed many critical topics. For example, whose voice is to be represented in an icon structure for a world's fair or a national expo if one categorically rejects the voice of the state or corporation? And how to take on the unchallenged orthodoxy of the partnership of technology and progress? And how can the real-time impact of responsive technologies be palpable to a mass audience? We spoke extensively with Douglas about the use of fog in literature, which helped evolve the notion of the attenuated spectacle without dramatic arc. Ben collaborated on the "Braincoat," [a smart raincoat that is connected to a data-gathering computer] working with us on the desire to invest technology with complex communications skills — some involuntary, such as blushing.

AK: Two of your early projects fascinate me for their theatrical use of social space: Refresh, a 1998 web project for Dia, in which you digitally staged actions in webcam spaces in the US, Europe, and Australia; and the 1999 Master/Slave, a massive model of a modernist building, in which a continual procession of robots are monitored by surveillance cameras and an X-ray machine. How have these projects influenced your architectural work in real space?

Ricardo Scofidio: Our work is always in/about "real" space, and it is always architectural, independent of the site, medium, or whether it's self-generated, (museum) commissioned, or programmatic. It all stems from the same research; however, the specific context provides different opportunities to explore themes that interest us. For example, for many years we have been working on the culture of vision with sub-themes of spectatorship, optical engineering, surveillance, and technological fidelity. The context for each work sets the terms of engagement. Thus, while Refresh puts into doubt the alleged "real-time" veracity of the webcam for the computer viewer, and Master/Slave makes the gallery viewer see through medical and surveillance lenses while trapping him/her between concentric vitrines (as in the original installation at Fondation Cartier). The viewer-participant of ICA Boston [a Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed project, which is scheduled to open in 2006] enacts only a semi-scripted role responding or not to enticement and desire.

AK: Your dynamic design for Eyebeam went through three rounds of competition to emerge the winner in 2001. Several of your other projects from that time, including Brasserie, Blur, and ICA Boston, are completed or currently under construction. What are some of the problems still being worked out on this highly anticipated building, and when can we expect to see Eyebeam open?

keep reading the interview »

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The artists of OAR

Take two graphic designers from Northern Ireland, a Brooklyn-based art director/animator, and his tattoo-artist friend, add a FedEx fetish and a sketchbook, and you've got book. Produced over 36 weeks, book was sent between the artists, who created individual pages. Belfast-based brothers Rory and Oliver Jeffers and Americans Mac Premo and Duke Riley set just two rules for their project: no discussing the work-in-progress, and each participant had a five-day deadline for generating his contribution. The resulting spreads document each artist's reaction to the preceding work. When they finally sat down and discussed their intentions, the collaborators were shocked to discover the depths of their mutual misunderstanding. It's a striking collection: collage-heavy, and rich with politically charged imagery, graf sensibilities, and textual signposts. Despite being the product of diverse personalities, it retains a unified feel. (BB)

Note: book will be exhibited at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council September 8 through October 1, 2005.

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Cover image
Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, The High Line (detail), 2005
Preliminary design, Gansevoort Street entry looking west showing slow stair and vegetal balcony
Computer-generated image
Courtesy Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2005 City of New York
All rights Reserved

Paul Laster
Andrew Maerkle
Shana Nys Dambrot
Allison Kave
Melissa Lo
Greg Zinman
Shiraz Randeria
Nikki Columbus
Jocelyn K. Glei
Mark Mangan

Brian Blessinger
Yng-Ru Chen
Rachel Cook
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Tim Evans
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Nicholas Herman
Jessica Kraft
Christopher Y. Lew
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Marlyne Sahakian
Michelle Weinberg

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