Volcanoes (and love) will tear us apart, again

May 21, 2010

Several days ago I put together this video to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the death of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis and the Mt. St. Helens eruption on May 18, 1980.

When I was little we lived about thirty miles from the mountain. On that morning the sky turned dark, everything shut down, and grey ash snowed from the sky. Schools around us were called off for the rest of the year and ash had to be plowed and shoveled like snow. When school started we practiced volcano drills wearing paper breathing masks and getting under our desks the way previous generations prepared for nuclear bomb drills.

The mountain had been known for its symmetry; the most beautiful mountain in the Cascade Range, the “Mount Fuji of America.” And so it felt like some mythological vengeance or jealousy when the prettiest mountain exploded, destroying itself and everything around.

On the same day singer Ian Curtis of Joy Division killed himself. Only a month before that the band released the single Love Will Tear Us Apart, and it is probably the song most associated with lead singer Ian Curtis’ suicide. I like the way the song sounds as the mountain destroys itself, they feel the same, coincide, and remind us that indeed: volcanoes (and love) will tear us apart, again.


Looking for Meaning in the Pacific Trash Vortex

May 20, 2010

With all the coverage around the gulf oil spill lately I’ve been thinking about beaches when I was a kid. Growing up near the coast in the states, we spent a lot of time beachcombing and scavenging the shoreline. When lucky you’d find bits of beach glass, the frosted shards produced by the tumbling action of the shore. Through a simple process garbage was transformed into gems, and there was a hierarchy and system of colours based on rarity. As I got older this glass was gradually replaced by the then still exotic plastic castoffs from Asia; strange junk food wrappers, laundry detergent, and unknown bottles labelled in foreign script, all caught in a direct current from afar. Then it seemed evidence of some elephant’s graveyard of objects, a place where things were drawn to as a final resting place out there, and you were lucky to catch a glimpse of on shore.

And now one hears about the great Pacific Trash Vortex, an immense floating island of plastics and sludge that some say is the size of Texas or possibly the entire continental United States. We’ve made a destination of our garbage, and as such it may still be an elephant graveyard of sorts, however instead of the fevered desire of poachers, we’ve constructed a manmade continent or monument of temporary objects that never break down, always hovering just past our shore and accumulating.

What does this mean when things don’t break down or go away, but instead continually accrue? Exploring this is Ramin Bahrini’s film ‘Plastic Bag’ about a discarded bag struggling with its immortality, and narrated by Herzog.


Don’t Bite the Pavement: Interview with Jared Pappas-Kelley

February 18, 2010

Here is an excerpt from an old interview about the origins of Don’t Bite the Pavement.

In an interview Jared Pappas-Kelley spoke about Don’t Bite the Pavement’s origins and its relationship to Toby Room and the Tollbooth Gallery:

“At the time we had just finished at university in Olympia, and our friends were all in bands and touring all the time, with K Records and Kill Rock Stars there was just something in the air, or as people say here ‘It’s the water.’ A group of us were making film, video, and performance-based work and some were just starting to get into higher profile exhibitions, so we began putting together programs and screenings called Don’t Bite the Pavement in local galleries and clubs. Armed with newly inexpensive video projectors and DV, it wasn’t long before we followed the example set by friends in bands – we began taking the shows on the road. Recently we finished our second west coast tour at places like the Sweet Tooth and Bluestockings in San Diego, San Francisco, Portland, Bulldog in Olympia, the Commencement Art Gallery in Tacoma, CoCA in Seattle, and then up to Vancouver, BC. That’s how projects like Toby Room and the Tollbooth came about, these networks of making art, touring it, and the people we met along the way. We couldn’t have had the Tollbooth without projects like Don’t Bite the Pavement.”[2]

[2] Society of the Spectacle: Tollbooth Gallery Redefines the Monument. The Internationalist. Aut.


Giving Up the Ghost: Carey Young

September 14, 2009

Here is my recent article that can be read in its entirety at The Rumpus:

It’s not often that you look at a line forming in history while it’s happening. Usually it’s from some vantage in the future—here’s how life used to be and now things are different. But over the past year I’ve had this feeling that things are changing and we all actively sense the stakes on some different level, drawing lines in sand every morning as we wake up, only to revise them again before tucking ourselves into bed. Art helps gauge our shared place in the world, but the environment of art changes, everyone proclaims that a bad economy is great for art, that it thins the herd and reinvigorates the impulse. But there’s panic in these affirmations—what happens to the art that we are moving away from—the art that comes from the time just before?

Read the rest of this entry »


Bad Habits

July 24, 2009

“Bad Habits,” on display at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery through Oct. 4, is a far-reaching show and the first since the gallery’s recent re-commitment to highlighting works in its permanent collection.

While I’m not convinced that each piece in the exhibition is naughty enough to fit the theme, it does include a hodgepodge of works from some of the most important artists of the past few decades, showcasing the gallery’s Noah’s Ark approach to art collecting. Loosely organized around the premise of bad habits — taking its name from a series of prints by Lisa Yuskavage — the galleries house such art world heavyweights as Janine Antoni, Matthew Barney, Louise Bourgeois, Cecily Brown, Gilbert & George, Glenn Ligon, Tony Oursler and Jeff Wall.

Read the rest at Buffalo News:


It’s good to want things.

June 22, 2009

So I’ve been caught up with submitting work and sending out a couple reviews—and that’s good, but it’s been a little too busy. Here are a couple of things I’ve been meaning to check out. (Feel free to send them my way if you’d like to help a poor post MFA student—with no money—out!) Oh and does anyone have recommendations for anything else? I’ve been so immersed in my thesis manuscript that it’s kind of a luxury to look at anything else now that I am done.

Notes on Conceptualisms—This came out in May and I’ve been seeing reference to it around including Dennis Cooper’s Best of 2009. Here’s a blurb from the publisher’s site:

“What is conceptual writing, how does it differ from Conceptual Art, what are some of the dominant forms of conceptualism, where does an impure or hybrid conceptualism fit in, what about the baroque, what about the prosody of procedure, what are the links between appropriation and conceptual writing, how does conceptual writing rely on a new way of reading, a “thinkership” that can shift the focus away from the text and onto the concept, what is the relationship between conceptual writing and technology or information culture, and why has this tendency taken hold in the poetry community now?”

Whew—-that’s a long sentence. Has anyone had a chance to look at it yet?

I’ve also wanted to read Dave Hickey’s revised and expanded The Invisible Dragon… The old version was on my reading list for a while, but I never got around to it. But now that it’s re-issued… I read Air Guitar a while back and enjoy Hickey’s writing style.

From University of Chicago Press:

The Invisible Dragon made a lot of noise for a little book When it was originally published in 1993 it was championed by artists for its forceful call for a reconsideration of beauty—and savaged by more theoretically oriented critics who dismissed the very concept of beauty as naive, igniting a debate that has shown no sign of flagging.


Line Items: New drawing form embraces color and abstraction at Nina Freudenheim

May 22, 2009

Painting can seem like such a loaded endeavor. So it’s nice to sit down with the more intimate immediacy of drawing — its focus on line and mark-making and casualness of materials — as an antidote to modernism’s impervious bigness.

Read the rest of my review in the Buffalo News