Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Keith Sonnier | Air to Air

Keith Sonnier
Air to Air
Los Angeles, USA: Gemini G.E.L., 1975
12" vinyl record, 29:16 minutes
Edition of 1000

The only recording (that I'm aware of) published by Gemini G.E.L., Air to Air documents a sound installation based on a long-distance connection between art gallery patrons at Ace Gallery in Los Angeles and Leo Castelli Gallery in New York City. From February 8th to 22nd, 1975, both venues exhibited a pair of microphones that stood in the centre of each gallery, with speakers mounted on the wall (or on stands, as below?), allowing conversations and incidental sounds to cross the country.

A deluxe signed and numbered edition of Air to Air was also available,  with voice print diagrams printed in offset lithography, in an edition of fifty copies.

"It was two amplified spaces. When you walked into the space in LA you could talk directly to NY without having a telephone and vice versa."
- Keith Sonnier

Hear the recording here:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Takako Saito | Hat Chess Game

Takako Saito
Hat Chess Game
Self-published, 1990
40.6 × 53.3 × 68.6 cm
Edition of 10 [+2 AP]

Reimagined chess sets were a staple of Fluxus, which George Maciunas once described as "a fusion of Spike Jones, gags, games, Vaudeville, Cage and Duchamp." Marcel Duchamp was a chess player reportedly at the 'master' level (“while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists,” he famously said of the game) and taught John Cage so that they could play together (once in public, on stage in Toronto, documented by another Fluxus artist Shigeko Kubota).

Yoko Ono's all-white set (Play it By Trust) remains the best known, but the artist most dedicated to exploring the possibilities of game was Takako Saito, with hat chess being her least compelling. Her other sets include Grinder Chess, Spice Chess and a game where you can only distinguish your pieces from your opponents through smell (Smell Chess).

Hat Chess Game is a bowler hat which is signed and numbered on the inside brim of the hat. It was produced in an edition of 10 black hats with 2 artists proofs in grey (above).

The work is available from Raphael Levy for €4,000, here.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Paul McCarthy | Blockhead

[Paul McCarthy]
Paul McCarthy at Tate Modern: Blockhead & Daddies Bighead [Special Edition]
London, UK: Tate Publishing, 2004
190 pp., 31 x 1.52 x 31 cm., softcover
Edition of 100 signed and dated copies

An exhibition catalogue for an outdoor presentation of two of McCarthy's large inflatable works, installed outside of the Tate Modern. Blockhead and Daddies Bighead loomed over those walking along the riverbank, in the summer of 2003.

A special edition of the catalogue came with a black vinyl cover and an inflatable of its own. 

Copies are rare, but one is available from Harry Ruhe in Amsterdam, here.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

This week on Tumblr: Questions

This week on Tumblr: Interrogative Statements by James Lee Byars, Barbara Kruger, Ben Vautier, Robert Filliou, Cary Leibowitz, Laurie Anderson, Allen Ruppersburg, Kay Rosen, Alec Finlay, Bob & Roberta Smith, Fischli & Weiss, Richard Artschwager, Jenny Holzer, Ben Patterson, Claire Fontaine, Etc.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Wim Delvoye | Trophy

Wim Delvoye
Ghent, Belgium: Self-published, 2012
55 × 108 × 61 cm.
Edition of 3

Produced at the Society of Authors in the Graphic and Plastic Arts, Trophy is a polished bronze version of the 1999 taxidermic work with copulating deers of the same name (below), and the public sculpture the following year (bottom). The latter has been exhibited in sculpture gardens around the world, including some church grounds and (like much of Delvoye's work) has been met with the expected controversy.

"The Trophy piece was influenced by the writings of Charles Darwin and the idea that we are all ... the same. I was reading somewhere that humans are the only animals doing the missionary position and I always doubt when I hear that humans are the only ones doing this or that."
- Wim Delvoye

Friday, August 11, 2017

Roula Partheniou | Untethered (Balloon)

Roula Partheniou
Untethered (Balloon)
Toronto, Canada: Self-published, 2017
38 cm.
Open Edition (each unique)

A series of ten balloons on the ceiling of the reception space of the gallery celebrate MKG127's tenth anniversary last month, in the exhibition titled Again and Again, which closes tomorrow, Saturday August 12th, at 5 pm. 

The works are made of resin, foam, and automotive paint. The above ten have all sold, but the edition is limited only by the number of available balloon colours. 

Contact the gallery for details, here.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Chris Burden | Full Financial Disclosure

Chris Burden
Full Financial Disclosure
Los Angeles, USA: Jan Baum \ Iris Silverman Gallery, 1977.
unpaginated, 19.8 h x 8.8 w cm., staple bound
Edition size unknown

Like the previous post, this work is also from 1977 and feels strangely topical at the moment - given that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is now seeking financial documents from the first presidential candidate not to release his tax returns in forty years.

Designed to resemble the artist's checkbook, Burden's bookwork opens with the preamble "In keeping with the Bicentennial spirit, the post-Watergate mood and the new atmosphere on Capitol Hill, Chris Burden wishes to be the first artist to publicly make a full financial disclosure".

The book details his expenditures for the year and concludes that his net income for 1976 was $1,054.  His earnings include sales and lecture fees ($12, 210) and grants ($5,000). His 'business expenses' included art materials ($3,416), travel ($4,309), studio expenses ($2,325) and television advertising ($6,106).

The latter, the highest expenditure by far, was a result of Burden producing Full Financial Disclosure, and three other works, as thirty-second television spots as "a way to break the omnipotent stranglehold of the airwaves that broadcast television had." Burden purchased late night airtime from local Los Angeles television stations.

The videos can be viewed, along with commentary by the artist, here.

"In September 1977, I became the first artist to make a full public financial disclosure. At the Baum-Silverman Gallery I displayed all my cancelled checks for the year 1976. A drawing was made of each month of cancelled checks by mounting them on boards in vertical columns and framing them.  Next to each check was a small type set explanation. My bank statements and my 1976 Income Tax forms were also displayed as drawings.

In addition on Los Angeles television Channels 2, 4, and 7, I ran a 30 second commercial which showed me sitting behind a large desk in the manner of a sincere politician running for office.  During this "commercial" [...] the television screen displayed a series of graphics showing my 1976 gross income, a detailed list of my 1976 business expenses, and finally my net income for 1976. This commercial was aired 30 times during a two week period."
- Chris Burden

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Jack Goldstein | The Six Minute Drown

Jack Goldstein
The Six Minute Drown
New York City/Los Angeles, USA: Self-published, 1977
45 rpm, 7" single
Edition size unknown

The recent story of the Florida teens who saw a man drowning and instead of helping him, recorded his death on their phones, reminded me of the this 1977 artist's record by Jack Goldstein.

I've only heard it once and it was unclear whether it consisted of a sound effect library recording (like the better known suite of disks, below), or if the audio was something that Goldstein recorded himself. David Salle wrote in 1978 (in an essay published in conjunction with an exhibition at Hallwalls in Buffalo) that "Goldstein needs to make a phony record of a man drowning in order to avoid becoming a real one". The observation takes on a darker meaning after Goldstein's suicide in 2003.

Either way, the record plays on notions of cinema. Without a visual provided, the man's gasping and flailing, coupled with the turbulent sounds of the water, causes the viewer/listener to conjure up an image of their own, and given that few have witnessed an actual drowning, most will draw from cinematic memories.

As the piece continues (the six minutes of the title are spread out over both sides of the 45), the artifice of cinema becomes foregrounded. The listener begins to hear the man's cries as over-acted, and the sounds of water most likely a hand splashing around in a bathtub, either the artist's or one in a professional folio booth.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Claes Oldenburg on the Soft Drum Set

"Marmont Hotel 8221 Sunset 0L6–1010

no typewriter

until Aug 9

1. It is made of odds + ends and only measures about 3”. I had a real drum set when I was about 14 + enjoyed playing it, along with jazz records. I also tried playing piano + guitar but liked the drums best tho I hadnt the patience or whatever to learn it very well. I eventually sold the set.Music was later an inspiration to modern form. I mean I got out of the Wagner hole my Mother favored via Stra-vinsky + Ravel—which wasnt very modern in 1954 but modern to me. Stravinsky whom I then collected had an influence on my attitude and style, expressed in drawing. I also admired his discipline and read his prose and aquired his prejudices fx liking the “out” Tchaikovsky. Ravels detachment while producing emo-tion fascinated me, also his parodies which were still art in the best sense.I was fond of blues way back and all rhythmic music. Walter de Maria who is a good drummer seemed to take my soft Drum sit [insertion: as a] personal attack via magic. He and Pat were seeing each other then and felt a bond a-gainst—the icy monster. All that is rumor. Music means a lot to me + it translates for me into art. We could discuss this.

3. It appears now, due to prohibitive transportation costs and the complex engineering of the Ice Bag, that it will not travel to Osaka but be built here (LA) by Gemini Ltd, in edition [insertion: of five] + perhaps shown at MOMA or during tour of my show. The six foot model here is very promising, it moves too. Size projected is 24 ft diam. and 11 ft high."

- Claes Oldenburg, letter to Ellen H. Johnson

Friday, August 4, 2017

George Maciunas to Rene Block on Flux Labyrinth

“First door at entry is one with a small (about 10cm square) door with its own knob. One has to open it and find pass the hand through, looking for the knob of the big door on other side that will open door. This way only smart people will be able to enter. Anyone passing that door will be able to pass all obstacles. Idiot will be prevented from entering…”
- George Maciunas 

Sam Wagstaff on James Lee Byars' book