Part two of our top tens brings exhibitions seen, cities visited, movies watched, type set and music listened to:
- Top Ten Things I saw/heard/read, 2007, by Doryun Chong, Visual Arts Assistant Curator
- Top Ten Films of 2007 and Top Three Best New Old Films, by Joe Beres, Film/Video Assistant
- Top Nine Fonts of 2007, by Emmet Byrne, Designer
- Top ten most frequently played MP3′s while working at the Walker in 2007, by Vance Wellenstein, Design Fellow
Moment of confession: I asked the designers to come up with a list of the best book or magazine covers of 2007, but gave them an out to do something else if they didn’t like that idea. Well, designers love an out, and we get a few eclectic (but fun) lists instead. More of that tomorrow.
Top Ten Things I saw/heard/read, 2007
Doryun Chong, Visual Arts Assistant Curator
- documenta 12
Even with the proliferation of contemporary art biennales all over the world all the time, this last summer’s back-to-back opening of the Venice Biennale (every two years), the documenta (every five years), and the Munster Sculpture Project (every ten years) was a rare occurrence that was the contemporary art world’s equivalent to the planetary alignment. I didn’t go to all of them but made my own pilgrimage to see the latter two, being especially interested in seeing my second documenta. Directed and curated by the Austrian team (professional and in marriage) of Roger Buergel and Ruth Noack, the sprawling exhibition of over 100 artists was presented in five venues around Kassel, Germany. There was no title or theme, nor was its conceptual shape clearly discernible (the first sentence of the curators’ foreword in the catalogue read, “ The big exhibition has no form.” I’m still not sure if this should be maddeningly frustrating or perversely comforting). The visitors at the opening, deeming the exhibition intentionally obscurantist, self-indulgent, and even arrogant, responded with reactions that ranged from confused fascination to eye-rolling dismissal to outright hostility. Reviews have been, in general, on the negative side (one notable exception being the New York Times). I still don’t know what to think of it, but sometimes you just have to focus on individual moments that mattered for you, such as: Trisha Brown’s amazing installation/performance “ Floor of the Forest” and works by some of the most important Eastern European conceptualists–e.g., Ion Grigorescu, Zofia Kulik, Sanja Ivekovic, Jiri Kovanda–little known and shown in this part of the world.
- The Road and Year of Magical Thinking
In a year when I seemed to have given up on reading for pleasure and self-betterment, I did finally manage to read–on the way to and from Kassel–two of the bleakest and most beautiful books by American writers in recent years. Whatever consternation I felt with the exhibition and its refusal of generosity I felt was much assuaged by the devastation and redemption in Cormac McCarthy and Joan Didion’s words.
- 10th Istanbul Biennial: “ Not Only Possible, But Also Necessary: Optimism in the age of Global War”
An anti-documenta, one might say: it was clearly done with a fraction of the German extravaganza’s budget and without its efficient organizational machine, and the chaotic but considered mess that often characterizes the style of its curator, Hou Hanru provided an exuberant experience. Unfolding inside a giant seaside depot and in a crumbling modernist mall, among other venues, the show was filled with a lot of documentary-inspired video works telling viewers about the world we live in but often know very little about. It was a nice conversational partner–for me personally–to the Walker’s exhibition Brave New Worlds. And if nothing else, Kassel’s no match for Istanbul, a truly magical city.
- Tetsumi Kudo @ la maison rouge and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster @ ARC
Two great exhibitions in Paris this spring. First, the incredible survey of the work of the late Japanese artist at a small private foundation revealed an alternately gorgeous, grotesque, quirky, and sublime world of images and ideas (the Walker’s own retrospective of the artist’s work is coming this fall). It was a very nice contrast to the Rio de Janeiro-based French artist’s thoughtful installation of a series of atmospheric, synesthetic environments.
- The new New Museum
The first museum to be built in downtown New York is a knock-out–a kind of stacked bento box in shimmering aluminum claddings (I can’t help but be reminded of our own silver cube), designed by the Tokyo-based firm, SANAA. The inaugural exhibition “ Unmonumental”–a group show of sculptures that will continue to metamorphose by adding collages and sound works during its run–astutely tapped into the zeitgeist and just plain looked great. New York suddenly seemed exciting and dynamic!
- Beijing, circa 2007
Despite the supposed governmental programs for curtailing pollution and beautifying the city in general, the city seemed far from its target, with the Olympics less than a year to go. Nevertheless, there’s probably no other place like it on earth. Seeing the Herzog and de Meuron’s “ bird nest” main stadium, and Koolhaas’s CCTV headquarter building under construction was a truly mesmerizing experience.
- Walid Raad + Janine di Giovanni
If I may toot my own horn: we brought the New York-based artist and the celebrated Paris-based American (former) war correspondent to speak as part of the related programs for Brave New Worlds. Raad enraptured the audience with a lecture about the recent history of Lebanon, which wove in and out of fact and fiction, while di Giovanni’s straightforward telling of some of the horrors she witnessed in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Sierra Leone left the audience completely awestruck–I think everyone was brought to tears at some point that evening. You can watch them on the Walker Channel, here and here .
- The Hall of Human Origins, American Museum of Natural History, NY
A gesamtkunstwerk (“ total work of art”) in itself, this installation of dioramas and diagrams was supremely informative and visually fascinating, totally high-tech and at the same time, vaguely anachronistic. What would Mike Huckabee think of this?
- G. F. Handel’s Giulio Cesare (1724) and Alcina (1735)
In the year when my musical taste went totally south–or rather, backwards, in time, all the way to the 18th century–I obsessively listened to the two opera serias by Handel. Perhaps it’s the comfort of time-worn narratives of love and heartbreak, chivalry and treachery, magic and sorcery. Or it’s just that Handel wrote some of the most transcendent melodies. There are great recent recordings/performances of the former at the Glyndebourne Festival, U.K., and the latter, with Renee Fleming and Susan Graham in Paris. Go to Youtube and search them.
- “ Talented Ms. Shin Jeong-ah”
This was also the year of women on the verge of breakdowns… in public–i.e., Britney, Lindsay, and Paris. But the best story of the year for me was about a certain South Korean curator/professor of art history, who was disgraced when her academic and professional credentials (an alleged Ph.D. from Yale, etc. etc.) turned out to be fraudulent. She was fired from her positions (including a co-directorship of the Gwangju Biennale), but the story didn’t end there. It began to spread like a wildfire, leading to massive coming-outs of scared cultural celebrities and social notables about their faked or padded degrees, and then, incredibly, it was revealed that she had an illicit ongoing affair with a governmental higher-up. Where else in the world can a lowly art curator rock a whole country and society?
Top Ten Films of 2007
Joe Beres, Film/Video Assistant
- Sunshine (Danny Boyle)
- Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno)
- Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)
- I’m Not There (Todd Haynes)
- Inland Empire (David Lynch)
- The Life of Reilly (Barry Polterman and Frank Anderson)
- Juno (Jason Reitman)
- Control (Anton Corbijn)
- Day Night Day Night (Julia Loktev)
- Knocked Up (Judd Apatow)
Top Three Best New Old Films
- Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett)
- The Holy Mountain (Alejandro Jodorowsky)
- Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Ridley Scott)
Top Nine Fonts of 2007
Emmet Byrne, Designer
- ITC Toms Roman
- Greta Mono (for Dwell)
This typeface can be found in Dwell Magazine, and the above sample is scanned from page 34 of the February 2008 issue.
- Courier Sans
- Futura Black
- ITC Grouch
Emmet adds that this is the REAL list of top ten fonts of 2007.
Top ten most frequently played MP3′s while working at the Walker in 2007
Vance Wellenstein, Design Fellow
- Drastik: Drastik Pleasures
- Feist: The Park
- Bat for Lashes: The Wizard
- Cut Copy: Hearts on Fire (DSTAR edit)
- Cadillac Blindside: Empty Bottle Evening
- Eddie Money: Take Me Home Tonight
- New Young Pony Club: The Get Go
- Lo-Fi-FNK: Steppin’ Out
- Snowden: Anti-Anti
- Born Against: Mary and Child