There’s long been a mantra of "art for art’s sake," which sometimes unfortunately dumbs down the conversation or waves away dismissively the curious – but maybe less schooled in art theory – viewers or fans of art. For the most part the saying has its place. But now with someone like Paul Chan, an artist who is a flag bearer of this generation’s politicized art, he knows when he makes work for a show to be called Sade for Sade’s Sake that it’s gonna provoke controversy, not only because of its subject matter (which always makes a stink with the right), but also for its title framing, toying with the old mantra, which simultaneously supports the playful bedroom side of the notion, but also prods at the the sadistic cynicism that pervades our culture beyond the art world, that which leaves Katrina victims waiting for Godot, and certain prisoners of the war on terror stacked naked like pyramids, barking like dogs. Thom Donovan reviews Chan’s latest show at Greene Naftali in New York.
We’ve seen a major reexamination, recently, of the work of the late, esteemed, multifaceted musician Arthur Russell, through a biopic film, a record label dedicating to releasing unreleased, rare and reissued material, and a new biography in the bookstores; the poetic brilliance of Arthur Russell is alive and well for a new generation. Thom Donovan looks at the entire scope of the Russell revision on the heals of the biography by Tim Lawrence, Hold On To Your Dreams.
The Mobile Archive holds roughly 1,000 videos by Middle-Eastern and Eastern European artists. It has travelled throughout Europe for the past three years and is now being exhibited at Art in General in NYC (September 24th through October 17th). Thom Donovan interviews two key curators for the Archive: Galit Eilat, who founded the M.A. through her work at the Israeli Center for Digital Art in Holon, Israel, and Chen Tamir, who has selected videos from the archive for the current Art in General show. The interview also discusses Eilat’s Liminal Spaces – a collaborative project which researches spaces in between bureaucracies, mental and physical geographies, legal systems and what remains beyond the law in the more fluid realm of culture. Other topics discussed are the politics of curation, Israeli military strategy, and questions about the submergence of the "liminal" within popular American culture and intellectual discourse.
Lilac Co and St. John’s Theater program have been engaging in a work in progress titled (HH) hamlet house that was performed last week at the Warsaw theater in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Thom Donovan was there and reviews here the play written and directed by Sean Lewis and featuring Lewis, Elisa Matula, Seth Powers, and John Morena. It’s an inventive take on Shakespeare that has Hamlet played by two, doubling characters, an Ophelia forefronted, some merry prankstering and an invite for audience participation that is unique and welcomed. If you missed this showing, read up and then see the next one!
Since 2003, CAConrad and a band of Philly poets have coedited the blog, PhillySound. As the first installment in a series devoted exclusively to poetry communities and small press cultures, Conrad gathers eleven poets involved with PhillySound. Read selections of poems online from some of the most vital poets currently working in the city of brotherly love. The Fanzine poetry series is hosted by Thom Donovan.
Richard Foreman’s productions from his ontological hysterical theater are experiences of ideas, rather than psychodramas. Difficult to surmise (and harder to blurb), Foreman’s most recent play Deep Trance Behavior in Potato Land delves further into the director’s – of late – multimedia fancy. Orient yourself here with Thom Donovan’s review, then if you can, go see the play (which has been extended til April 27th) where you can expect to be disoriented (orientalist pun?…sic).
Thom Donovan dissects the work of Chicago-based visual artist Catherine Sullivan, examining the recurrent themes of Nietzsche that appear throughout the narratives of her projects. Her films and live-action performances have been described widely as "anxiety-inducing" and "disorienting." Unsettling, to say the least, she forms much of her work as a critique of acceptable and ordinary behavior in modern society. Donovan examines three of her major works: Triangle of Need, The Chittendens, and D-Pattern. All images courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures.
It’s been ten years since poet, artist, and self-professed "clairvoyant" journalist Hannah Weiner died. This past month, people gathered at St. Mark’s Church in New York City’s Lower East Side to remember this unique individual, to share slides and stories, and perhaps act as she often did, as mediums, to recall her spirit to our present. Thom Donovan was there, and here is his account of the happening (which included a reading of Hannah Weiner’s Open House) and thoughts on the artist in general.
We hardly ever see what really is going on in war, especially filtered intelligently through art. At a recent show at Barbara Gladstone’s Gallery in New York, Thomas Hirschhorn came as close to any artist in recent memory to bringing home the horrors happening in the middle east currently. If you missed it, read Thom Donovan’s insightful take.