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Doug Aitken, sleepwalkers (detail), 2007

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Art in Public Spaces
January 24 - February 6, 2007

With public art moving away from stand-alone sculptures towards interactive, multimedia experiences, the folks at New York's Creative Time and London's Artangel are recruiting new media artists for a range of experimental projects. Doug Aitken's narrative projections on the facade of MoMA and Scanner's Night Jam website are among recent commissions, and New York-based Graffiti Research Lab is designing ever more inventive additions to the urban landscape. We interview Rochelle Steiner of New York's Public Art Fund about changes in the field, and sample the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's audio tours of public spaces in the Big Apple. Circling the globe, we review Meredyth Sparks' punk-loving montages in Paris and Rob Fischer's bending floorboards in Los Angeles.

  Don't miss the Design Life Now: National Design Triennial 2006, a chronicle of the most innovative American design from the last three years. Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum presents works from a variety of fields, including furniture, film, graphics, architecture, robotics, and fashion. On view now through July 29, 2007, at 5th Avenue and 91st Street.

NYC's New Downtown Art Scene
(New York, January 15)
New York magazine recently profiled the hot twentysomethings of New York's new downtown art world, focusing on the willfully enigmatic 25-year-old Dash Snow, a former graffiti tagger-turned-artist. Snow, who has neither a phone nor email, has shown at Rivington Arms and the 2006 Whitney Biennial. A friend of similarly successful young artists Ryan McGinley and Dan Colen, Snow has seen his rising profile fueled by drug-inspired performance pieces and scrapes with the law, while his recent work makes use of his own ejaculate. In a related story, Terence Koh, another blossoming installation art star who uses his sperm in his art, is enjoying his first solo show at the Whitney Museum.

Seattle Readies Olympic Sculpture Park
(International Herald Tribune, January 15)
An eight-and-a-half-acre Seattle waterfront property that once served as a fuel storage site has been transformed into a lush, winding, world-class sculpture park designed by Weiss/Manfredi Architects. The $85 million Olympic Sculpture Park is throwing open its gates to the public, featuring 20 sculptures by the likes of Richard Serra, Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, Tony Smith, Ellsworth Kelly, Roxy Paine, Claes Oldenburg, Louise Bourgeois, and Anthony Caro. Founded by the Seattle Art Museum — which is itself undergoing an $86 million expansion — the park has been helped along by the efforts of over 6,500 private donors, as well as the significant contributions of Virginia and Bagley Wright and Jon and Mary Shirley, present and former members of the museum's board, respectively, and significant collectors of large-scale sculpture.

Wynn Sues Lloyd's Over Picasso
(Bloomberg, January 11)
Casino and hotel impresario Steve Wynn is suing Lloyd's of London for $54 million after he accidentally tore a hole in the canvas of Picasso's La Reve with his elbow at the end of September. Wynn purchased the work in 1997 for $48.4 million, and it was valued at $139 million before the incident. After the damage had occurred, a restorer estimated its value at $85 million. The suit appears to be an effort to force the venerable insurance house to turn over its documents appraising the loss. Wynn, who suffers from a condition that affects his peripheral vision, punctured the portrait of Picasso's mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, while showing it off to friends.

Paul Rudolph House Demolished
(, January 13)
Despite the efforts of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and architect Michael Glynn, a Paul Rudolph-designed modernist home in Westport, Connecticut, was razed on January 13. The 4,200-square-foot dwelling was built in 1972 and was generally considered an important example of the former chairman of the Yale School of Architecture's work. David and Yvette Waldman, who are buying the underlying lot, claimed that the destruction was a necessary condition of their keeping their $500,000 deposit. An attempt to obtain an injunction by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal was rejected by the Stamford Superior Court on the grounds that the building was not listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Jeremy Deller named Tate Trustee more »

Berlin techno club slated to become electronic art space more »

CSN's Graham Nash gets into digital imaging biz more »

Philippe Starck-designed Taschen store opens in New York's SoHo more »

Starchitects vie to build San Francisco's tallest tower more »

England's BALTIC art center hosts graffiti show more »

San Diego opens expanded contemporary art museum more »

Richard and Pamela Kramlich gift 21 works to National Art Trust more »

Architects who overdid it more »

David Byrne influencing bands, making art, producing books more »

Grimed, graffiti-covered LA mural undergoes a restoration more »

Jun Kaneko working on largest ceramic sculptures in history more »

Old comic strips finding a new audience more »

German portraits and Manet exhibition resonate with present-day politics more »

Denver Art Museum taps Christoph Heinrich for contemporary curator more »

Celebrated Aboriginal artist found dead on a dirt road more »

Artscribe and Art Basel advisor Jonathan Napack dies at 39 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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[ New Media Public Art ]


Haluk Akakçe / New Horizon Youth Centre / Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation / Sukhdev Sandhu

Public art organizations with an eye on new media are using surprising commissions to combat the longstanding cliché of public artworks as oversized sculptures stranded in empty plazas. Creative Time and the Public Art Fund in New York and Artangel in London are weaving video projections, websites, and interactive installations into the urban fabric. Often spinning filmic narratives about city dwellers, these projects resonate with viewers and forge a closer connection between art and the public.

In New York, Doug Aitken's sleepwalkers is currently visible at night on the facades of the Museum of Modern Art. The multi-channel projection, sponsored by the museum and Creative Time, casts video footage of five characters onto the museum's external walls. Literally putting a human face on the stark modernist structure, the project lures passersby and offers them a story of five New Yorkers, overworked and disillusioned but able to achieve transcendence. In connection with sleepwalkers, Aitken is also screening New Day for Creative Time's The 59th Minute. Subverting the media barrage at Times Square, The 59th Minute shows 60-second videos during the last minute of every hour between ads on the NBC Astrovision screen. Made about the cityscape, for the cityscape, these two Aitken works herald a new approach to public art that humanizes the urban landscape by relating personally to the viewer.

Also presented by Creative Time, but in response to a different city, Haluk Akakçe's recent Sky is the Limit was a digital projection for Las Vegas' Viva Vision canopy. The Turkish artist, mesmerized by the lights and colors of the Strip, generated an abstract animation that danced over the casinos on the largest video screen in the world. On a smaller scale, Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation's The Rape of the Sabine Women, a remake of the Roman myth, is screening for free at New York's IFC Center. By subsidizing the screenings, Creative Time is transforming the movie theater into an accessible public space.

Across the pond, Artangel commissions new media works about the city of London. Sukhdev Sandhu's web journal, Night Haunts, describes the city's nocturnal characters, from airborne police and night cleaners to urban fox hunters. The slow-moving text and sound evoke the eerie loneliness of these figures amid semi-deserted landscapes. Also for Artangel, electronic musician and artist Scanner worked with young people from the city's New Horizon Youth Centre to cull visual and aural impressions of London at night. The resulting website, Night Jam, streams their video collage along with original music. Probing overlooked, subjective experiences of urban space, these new media projects give voice to sidelined communities while generating art that is available to all. (BR)

sleepwalkers is on view through February 12, with a musical Happening following the screening on February 2; New Day will be screened daily through February 12; a special presentation of Sky is the Limit is on view at Deitch Projects in New York February 8-24 ; Eve Sussman and the Rufus Corporation's The Rape of the Sabine Women runs February 21-27 at the IFC Center in New York; and Night Haunts and Night Jam are projects on the Artangel website.

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Rob Fischer
Los Angeles

Mary Goldman Gallery
Now through January 27

  Rob Fischer's Bullrider's Advice is a new installation constructed of painted and heavily shellacked gymnasium floorboards. Laid end-to-end, the boards form a sculptural playground of sharp corners and doorways, scaling the gallery walls. Basketball court lines are shattered into a staccato of red, teal, and lime rectangles, creating a visual barrage reminiscent of Ellsworth Kelly's works on paper. According to Fischer, the labyrinth's frenetic path was inspired by watching a game of "cowboy poker" in which rodeo audience members compete to be the last man seated at a card table in an angry bull's ring. Fischer's installation preserves all of this raw energy, but mercifully spares his audience imminent danger. (KB)

Saya Woolfalk: No Place: Wonders from that World

Zg Gallery
Now through February 10

  Inspired by a year in Brazil, Saya Woolfalk's new work is a deceptively cute, motley investigation of otherness. The exhibition's title references Renaissance philosopher Sir Thomas More's Utopia, but Woolfalk's interpretation of "no place" is a postcolonial Candy Land populated with fuzzily fleeced and tropical calico-print creatures. Alongside this installation, a single-channel video features two brightly clad dancers in a bizarre, ritualistic duet to what sounds like a bossa nova-spiked Nintendo tune. Her works on paper, particularly the Seven Wonders series, are dreamy, symbol-laden landscapes that imagine an eroticized alternate world of fertility temples and colossal banana-draped monuments, set against backdrops of rainbows and puffy clouds. (AMM)

Nuri Bilge Ceylan: Climates

National Theatre
Now through March 3

  The multitalented Nuri Bilge Ceylan has had several incarnations, both in front of and behind the camera. This exhibition provides a deeper glimpse into his cinematic vision with a series of stunning wide-angle still photographs. All 25 images were snapped while the filmmaker scoured his native Turkey for locations for his award-winning film Climates. The "cinemascopes" feature bike-riding youngsters and sagacious shepherds, capturing the beauty of places as diverse as a snow-flecked Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul, the caves of Cappadocia, and the startling ruins at Aphrodisias. (LCD)

Meredyth Sparks: We're treating each other just like strangers.

galerie frank elbaz
Now through January 27

  Meredyth Sparks' collage pieces for her first European solo show may appear to mark a sentimental return to the rock and post-punk scenes of the '70s and '80s, but they really suggest a revisiting of failed utopias. Appropriated images of Blondie, David Bowie, and other bad-boy/bad-girl rockers contend with abstract geometric forms of glitter and aluminum foil borrowed straight from Russian suprematism. Like John Armleder, who coolly references the same modernist iconography to investigate the efficacy of art to effect radical social change, Sparks' mass-media images of countercultural icons evoke fantasies of un-televised revolutions and new world orders. But Sparks claims no objective distance from those fantasies, as her handcrafted manipulations exude identification with sexy forms of dissent. (NB)

Andreas Slominski: The Roter Sand Lighthouse and a Stroke of Luck

Museum für Moderne Kunst
Now through January 28

  This exhibition combines Andreas Slominski's work from the last 20 years with new "polystyrene pictures" and site-specific installations. Slominski's signature sculptures — his traps — include a rat trap from 2006 tinkered out of a small cashbox. The titular lighthouse is represented by the exact number of buckets of paint needed for its maintenance, while luck follows from a 1943 penny, encased in a glass display, that the artist found in 1996 near the site of Buchenwald. Elsewhere, Slominski marks three interior walls with oversized oxide-red brushstrokes, each gesture cryptically titled to reference the family names of people connected to German literary genius (and erstwhile Frankfurt citizen) Goethe. (JR)

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[ Graffiti Research Lab ]

Graffiti Research Lab

Graffiti, the quintessential street art, is no longer limited to the swirling lines of spray paint. The message is now larger than the medium, and New York-based Graffiti Research Lab (GRL) is harnessing new media to augment graffiti's challenge to commercial and corporate culture.

From its headquarters at Eyebeam, a nonprofit arts and technology studio, GRL researches and develops open-source technologies for graffiti artists, modeling their use with a growing number of innovative and often humorous projects. The Lab's recent, provisional Homeland Security Advisory Tower is a case in point — strategically placed on the facade of 11 Spring Street, LED lights spelled out current governmentally established levels of security threats, with "HIGH" blinking throughout the project's run.

LED Throwies may be the GRL's most famous invention to date; colorful little lights are attached to magnets so that they can adorn any metal surface. Along similar lines, "electro-grafs" are graffiti drawings made with conductive and magnetic paint in which LED-display electronics can easily be embedded. Other GRL innovations include impermanent digital graffiti projections, as well as contraptions like the High Writer, inspired by Barry McGee and his ilk, which enables traditional spray-painting on a large scale.

Evan Roth and James Powderly, the men behind the Lab, hail from the diverse fields of aerospace robotics, web design, and architecture and are devoted to the dissemination of their ideas as resources rather than as a set of copyrighted works. To this end, GRL provides DIY instructions for all of its developed technologies on the Lab's website and holds workshops at international forums such as Ars Electronica and SIGGRAPH. (SK)

Check out Graffiti Research Lab's current projects at Eyebeam Open Office Hours on Tuesdays from 2-4pm.

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[ Rochelle Steiner ]


Alexander Calder / Nina Katchadourian / Anish Kapoor / Sarah Morris

Paul Laster interviews Rochelle Steiner, director of the Public Art Fund in New York, about the history of the organization and its current projects.
AK: When was the Public Art Fund founded, and what is its mission?

RS: Public Art Fund was founded in 1977 — we're celebrating our 30th anniversary this year — by Doris C. Freedman, who was a champion of the arts in New York. Our aim is to work with emerging and established artists to present new commissions, installations, and exhibitions in public spaces throughout New York City. We work outside of the traditional settings of museums and galleries, instead exhibiting in city parks and plazas, on buses and subways, on streets, bridges, shop windows, etc., so that our art becomes an integral part of the city's fabric. In doing so, we facilitate public encounters with art by intervening in everyday, urban conditions. Since 1977, we have presented projects by more than 500 artists throughout New York. It's an incredible history and one I am happy to have inherited.

AK: What is currently on view throughout the city?

RS: We have a number of current projects. At Doris C. Freedman Plaza, at the entrance to Central Park at 60th Street and 5th Avenue, is Liz Larner's 2001, a dazzlingly engaging 12 x 12 x 12-foot sculpture. While Larner is well-known in Los Angeles, where she lives and works, and she showed in the last Whitney Biennial, her work is less known in New York, and we are thrilled to present it. Also on view through the spring is Sarah Morris' site-specific piece at Lever House — the first Public Art Fund commission at that site. Her Robert Towne is painted directly onto the ceiling of this landmark building, stretching almost 20,000 square feet and traversing a cross section through the building's interior and the exterior courtyard. It's a remarkable intervention into the mid-century architecture that inspires her work. Annually, we work at City Hall Park, and this year's exhibition presents monumental scale works by Alexander Calder, the first multi-work, outdoor presentation of his sculptures in New York City. The World is Round, a group exhibition at MetroTech Center in Brooklyn (another annual Public Art Fund site), includes work by Jacob Dyrenforth, Diana Guerrero-Maciá, Chris Hanson & Hendrika Sonnenberg, Matt Johnson, and Ryan McGinness. Over the years, the center has showcased dozens of artists, becoming an evolving part of downtown Brooklyn's landscape.

AK: In the '80s, the Public Art Fund supported a new form of public art that moved beyond sculpture in a plaza to in-your-face projects such as Keith Haring's crawling baby on the Spectacolor Board in Times Square, Jenny Holzer's political interventions on the side of a truck in Lower Manhattan, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres' billboard about gay rights at Sheridan Square. How have these projects influenced our perception of public art, and how have they impacted the Public Art Fund's development?

keep reading the interview »

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  Public Art Walking Tours
Perry Garvin and William Smith
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council is the first word in art in the dense architectural realm of New York's downtown. LMCC supports artists and cultural organizations through residencies, exhibition space, performances, talks, and grants. One of the more fascinating elements of its ever-expanding website is Public Art Walking Tours, a series of three thematic audio walking tours mixing an analytic commentary about Lower Manhattan's public sculptures and monuments with a soundtrack ranging from hip-hop to ambient music. Art & Security discusses the controversial removal of Richard Serra's Tilted Arc, the silencing of Maya Lin's Sounding Stones, and the minimal aesthetic of Roger Marvel Architects' NOGO barriers. Art and the Body points out the symbolism of allegorical female figures on the old US Custom House and two recent bronzes in Battery Park City — Louise Bourgeois' Eyes, which some viewers mistake for breasts, and Jim Dine's whimsical Ape & Cat (At the Dance). Lastly, Monuments and Memory reviews the changed meaning of Fritz Koenig's preserved World Trade Center sculpture in Battery Park's Gardens of Remembrance, as well as the ironically walled-off sections of the Berlin Wall and kitschy Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City. Presented in a NPR-style radio reportage by Perry Garvin and William Smith, the tours entertain and inform, whether you're out walking or not. (PL)

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Cover Art
Doug Aitken
sleepwalkers, 2007
Installation at the Museum of Modern Art, January 16-February 12, 2007
Dimensions variable
Courtesy Creative Time, New York and the Museum of Modern Art, New York
Photo: Fred Charles
© Doug Aitken, 2007
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster

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