Blogs Centerpoints Books

Chance Encounters in the Library

The following is the first in a series From the Rosemary Furtak Collection, which will take a closer look at artists’ books from the collection as they relate to current exhibitions and happenings at the Walker Art Center. Commonly known as An Anthology of Chance Operations . . . the full title of this book sprawls across […]

The following is the first in a series From the Rosemary Furtak Collection, which will take a closer look at artists’ books from the collection as they relate to current exhibitions and happenings at the Walker Art Center.

An Anthology of Chance Operations . . . edited by La Monte Young and Jackson Mac Low, Second Edition 1970. Courtesy Rosemary Furtak Collection, Walker Art Center Library

An Anthology of Chance Operations . . . edited by La Monte Young and Jackson Mac Low, Second Edition 1970. Courtesy Rosemary Furtak Collection, Walker Art Center Library

Commonly known as An Anthology of Chance Operations . . . the full title of this book sprawls across its first five pages: An anthology of chance operations concept art anti-art indeterminacy improvisation meaningless work natural disasters plans of action stories diagrams music poetry essays dance constructions mathematics compositions. It was first published in 1963, edited by La Monte Young and Mac Low and designed by George Maciunas. As the first collaborative publication from these artists, it played an integral role in the formation of Fluxus. The colorful pages present chance operations from a multitude of artists, including Dick Higgins, Nam June Paik, Yoko Ono, and George Brecht, among many others. A true artists’ book, Maciunas worked closely with the artists to present their contributions in forms that reflected the artists’ ideas.

Detail from An Anthology of Chance Operations . . .

Detail from An Anthology of Chance Operations . . .

For example, this contribution by Dieter Roth presents his tool for creating chance poems. Placed over a page of text, this loose piece of paper with punched out holes – a “poetry machine” – reveals a new chance poem. While the poem captured below might read like nonsense, imagine a dozen of these poems assembled together. Or a hundred. It starts to take on a new substance.

Detail from An Anthology of Chance Operations . . .

Detail from An Anthology of Chance Operations . . .

As identified by Fluxus artist and theorist Ken Friedman, chance is a key Fluxus idea. As a technique, it enables artists to break from routine. Friedman explains that as something created by chance is put into a new form, it is no longer random but evolutionary[1]. This spirit of creating change and new activity is central to Fluxus.

A few weeks ago, the Art Lab at the Walker Art Center hosted the first of a series of free Fluxus Club events designed by artist Margaret Pezalla-Granlund. Fluxus Club invites visitors to participate in an ongoing Happening installation of scores, announcements, rules, poetry and more. Visitors are encouraged to explore the galleries of Art Expanded, 1958-1978 for inspiration. They are also invited to view books and resources in the library, which will be open to the public during Fluxus Club sessions.

For the first installment of Fluxus Club, we selected several Fluxus materials and resources for visitors to page through for inspiration. In addition to Fluxus selections, visitors are welcome to browse the stacks for other material of interest. In a library, serendipity can play an important role in bringing people and books together. Sometimes the best discoveries happen by chance.

Fluxus Club participants in the library. Photo by Erin Smith for Walker Art Center.

Fluxus Club participants in the library. Photo by Erin Smith for Walker Art Center.

Footnote

[1] Ken Friedman, “Fluxus and Company” in The Fluxus Reader, ed. Ken Friedman. (West Sussex: Academy Editions, 1998), 248-9.

Bits & Pieces: a Tino Sehgal tell-all, “The Subconscious Shelf,” and more

A new kind of art speak: Now that Tino Sehgal’s This Progress exhibition at the Guggenheim is over, its flesh-and-blood artworks are talking, giving the inside scoop on working a Tino Sehgal gig and “the pressure of nonstop thoughtful conversation.” A new kind of literary analysis: The New Yorker’s book bloggers have a nifty new service […]

A new kind of art speak: Now that Tino Sehgal’s This Progress exhibition at the Guggenheim is over, its flesh-and-blood artworks are talking, giving the inside scoop on working a Tino Sehgal gig and “the pressure of nonstop thoughtful conversation.”

A new kind of literary analysis: The New Yorker’s book bloggers have a nifty new service analyzing photos of readers’ bookshelves.

Image submitted to "The Subconscious Shelf"

What does last-minute airfare to Germany cost these days? James Turrell’s Wolfsburg Project, his largest-ever museum installation, closes April 5 at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. Here’s a video, if you can’t hop the pond. Or come console yourself in Turrell’s Sky Pesher at the Walker

James Turrell, Bridget's Bardo, 2009; © James Turrell, Foto: Florian Holzherr, 2009

A magical encounter with Dolphin Oracle II: read the account from Santa Fe artist and designer Amy Conway.

 

“Would this material be interesting if it wasn’t Frida Kahlo?”

That’s the rhetorical question the author of a new book posed to the New York Times in a fascinating — and still unfolding — story concerning Mexico’s most famous artist (not counting Kahlo’s husband, Diego Rivera). The material Barbara Levine refers to is a trove of some 1,200 recently discovered artworks, diaries, letters, and artifacts […]

finding frida imageThat’s the rhetorical question the author of a new book posed to the New York Times in a fascinating — and still unfolding — story concerning Mexico’s most famous artist (not counting Kahlo’s husband, Diego Rivera).

The material Barbara Levine refers to is a trove of some 1,200 recently discovered artworks, diaries, letters, and artifacts attributed to Kahlo, which she explores in the newly published Finding Frida Kahlo. Although officials at Princeton Architectural Press say the book states clearly that authentication of the works is still an issue, according to the Times, it is not a central part of the book (let alone its thesis).

The story about the discovery has its own fairly-tale-like quality, involving an art and antiques dealer, a reclusive Mexico City lawyer, and a wood carver in the mountain town of San Miguel de Allende. The carver is said to have made frames for Kahlo, who in turn is said to have entrusted to him several trunks and boxes of her possessions. Now the circle of characters has expanded to include a grand-daughter and other relatives of Diego Rivera; a host of Kahlo scholars and art experts (self-appointed and otherwise), including artists who worked with her and Rivera; officials from Kahlo’s trust; and handwriting and chemical-analysis experts. And, naturally, more lawyers!

There’s also a criminal complaint filed in Mexico and attempts to halt the sale of the book in the U.S., not to mention a whole lot at stake, financially and otherwise. (The Walker’s presentation of Kahlo’s 2007-2008 touring retrospective was among the highest-attended exhibitions here). So stay tuned. And since everyone’s an expert, check out the Times“Frida Kahlos or Frauds? slide show and judge for yourself.

Warhol TV

As the Walker book buyer for the last eight years, I routinely come across unusual titles. I thought it would be interesting to blog these notable discoveries as I see them.  Typically, I’m attracted to quirky material and seek out books that just haven’t been conceived before.  During some recent scouting around for new titles […]

As the Walker book buyer for the last eight years, I routinely come across unusual titles. I thought it would be interesting to blog these notable discoveries as I see them.  Typically, I’m attracted to quirky material and seek out books that just haven’t been conceived before.  During some recent scouting around for new titles for the shop, I came across one such incomparable volume.  Warhol TV is a magazine-like publication that documents the exhibition of the same name held last winter at La Maison Rouge in Paris.  Even with the countless exhibition catalogues and books devoted to Andy Warhol—some of which home in on just his fashion drawings, portraits of Jews, or motion pictures—there hasn’t been a book, until now, on his role with television.

As the father of artistic and social promotion, Andy Warhol used every means of communication to self-promote his reality.  Photography, film, magazine, and paintings were employed to document and showcase his surroundings and the creative social scene.  Turns out that Warhol also wasn’t shy about tapping into television, which only seems natural given its mass appeal and accessibility.  It was the ultimate contemporary tool, a perfect platform for exposing his reality.  Andy Warhol utilized all avenues of the medium from as early as 1964, when he made an imitation Soap Opera, to his guest appearance on Love Boat, in 1985. He was also an early adopter with cable, creating a program back in 1979 on the newly formed New York Cable Network, and his MTV show in 1985, Andy Warhol’s Fifteen Minutes.

Warhol TV focuses on the artist’s involvement with television and the beautiful talent who were a part of his world.  Marc Jacobs, Tama Janowitz, Kenny Scharf, Glenn O’Brian, and Brigid Berlin are just a few who recall their encounters with Warhol and TV.  The most interesting feature in the book, besides the rare images, is Warhol’s television filmography listing episodes with such guests as Debbie Harry, Courtney Love, Steven Spielberg, Moon Zappa, Cindy Sherman and Pee Wee Herman.  I can only imagine Andy’s relaxed, subtle reaction to the energetic Pee Wee.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V69IJ962Q4g

 

Purchase Warhol TV at the Walker Shop.

eavesdrop 04.15.08

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFQzJhMeTH4[/youtube] Photographer Nubar Alexanian has worked alongside, behind the scenes and on the sets with filmmaker Errol Morris for 15 years. Alexanian accompanied Morris to the Walker Tuesday to screen and discuss Morris’ new film, Standard Operating Procedure. Here, in the Walker Art Lab, Alexanian discusses Nonfiction, his new photo book drawn from the sets […]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFQzJhMeTH4[/youtube]

Photographer Nubar Alexanian has worked alongside, behind the scenes and on the sets with filmmaker Errol Morris for 15 years. Alexanian accompanied Morris to the Walker Tuesday to screen and discuss Morris’ new film, Standard Operating Procedure. Here, in the Walker Art Lab, Alexanian discusses Nonfiction, his new photo book drawn from the sets of Morris’ films.

Hirschhorn’s Beauty: Interview in PSWAR book

Amsterdam’s Public Space with a Roof has reprinted Off Center‘s interview with Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn in its publication BEAUTY UNREALIZED: spider webs of personal universes seeking a form. The book catalogues items from PSWAR’s temporary library, a multimedia installation comprised of objects that were personally or professionally inspiring to 94 people from various backgrounds. […]

hirschhorn.jpgAmsterdam’s Public Space with a Roof has reprinted Off Center‘s interview with Swiss artist Thomas Hirschhorn in its publication BEAUTY UNREALIZED: spider webs of personal universes seeking a form. The book catalogues items from PSWAR’s temporary library, a multimedia installation comprised of objects that were personally or professionally inspiring to 94 people from various backgrounds. It’s part of PSWAR’s research on “understanding beauty not in terms of an object’s internal quality but in terms of its effect on the beholder.”

Here’s the original Hirschhorn interview, conducted in October 2006 inside his Cavemanman, a cave in the Walker galleries constructed from cardboard, packing tape, aluminum foil, and other materials.

(Thanks, Pam.)

Zine Machine

Like the name might imply Zine Machine is a vending machine selling zines, books and minicomics with prices from $1 to $10. It’s located in the University of Iowa’s Library, but you might spot them at a zine workshop or conference near you. The machine has an open submission policy that could get your zines […]

Like the name might imply Zine Machine is a vending machine selling zines, books and minicomics with prices from $1 to $10. It’s located in the University of Iowa’s Library, but you might spot them at a zine workshop or conference near you. The machine has an open submission policy that could get your zines distributed right in the heart of the USA.

The project began as Book Drop, a book vending machine showing the value of hand binding by selling individual kits of book parts. It picked up it’s more contemporary mission earlier this year.

The vending theme similar to the Art-o-Mat project, but focussed more specifically on DIY literature.

Zine Machine

Bookshelf: By Hand

From the meat dress mentioned here to the sock monkey dress here, I’m going to keep the craft theme alive with a look at the new book By Hand: The Use of Craft in Contemporary Art. In the catalogue for the UK Crafts Council’s 2004 exhibition Boys Who Sew, curator Janice Jeffries defines the term […]

byhand.jpgFrom the meat dress mentioned here to the sock monkey dress here, I’m going to keep the craft theme alive with a look at the new book By Hand: The Use of Craft in Contemporary Art. In the catalogue for the UK Crafts Council’s 2004 exhibition Boys Who Sew, curator Janice Jeffries defines the term ” to craft”:

As a verb, though, “to craft” seemingly means to participate in some small-scale process. This implies several things. First, it affirms the results of involved work. This is not some kind of detached activity… To craft is to care… [It] implies working on a personal scale–acting locally in reaction to anonymous, globalized, industrial production…

Artists that come to mind immediately are Robert Gober, who hand-makes replicas of everything from a kitchen sink to tissue boxes, and Kiki Smith, who’s featured in By Hand. That book, inspired in party by Jeffries’ definition, features innovative and unexpected uses of craft in contemporary art, accompanied by first-person statements by each artist. One such artist is Rob Conger whose art–latch-hook rugs like the ones he made as a youth–focuses frequently on the mediated dreams of money: he’s done yarn homages to lottery lines, The Price is Right, and Alan Greenspan, to name a few. (“We confuse our desire for beauty with our desire for money,” he writes.)

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Rob Conger’s The Big Wheel, woven acrylic thread on quarter-inch mesh, 1999

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Rob Conger, Powerball Line, woven acrylic yarn on quarter-inch canvas mesh, 1998

Not unlike Kara Walker’s transformation of the stately craft of black-paper silhouettes into shocking exposes on race and gender, Kent Hendricksen takes found tapestries and embroiders in ropes and hoods “turning light-hearted

innocence into dark vignettes of sadism and emotional aggression.”

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Kent Henricksen, Lady Lovers (The Secret), embroidery thread on woven fabric mounted on wood, 2004

Robyn Love, whose guerrilla knitting projects have included a gravestone cozy, created a Memorials project, in which she knit what she felt were missing elements of objects and structures like a bus shelter and World War I statue. “My cozies were intended to obscure the thing that was already obscuring the original person or event.”

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Memorial: The Doughboy (installed in Doughboy Plaza, Woodside, NY), knit wool, 1999

RIP Mahfouz Naguib

Mahfouz Naguib, the only Arabic-language writer to win a Nobel Prize and Egypt’s most famous author, died this morning in Cairo at age 94. Best known for his Cairo Trilogy, he was a controversial figure who repeatedly rankled conservatives. His book Children of Gabalawi was banned by Islamic authories in 1959 for including characters who […]

mahfouz.gifMahfouz Naguib, the only Arabic-language writer to win a Nobel Prize and Egypt’s most famous author, died this morning in Cairo at age 94. Best known for his Cairo Trilogy, he was a controversial figure who repeatedly rankled conservatives. His book Children of Gabalawi was banned by Islamic authories in 1959 for including characters who represented God and the prophets, and in 1994, he was stabbed by a militant angered about such portrayals. Of the latter, he said, “They are trying to extinguish the light of reason and thought. Beware.

Writes Issandr El Amrani:

Naguib Mahfouz was an Egyptian archetype – a pragmatic, down-to-earth, somewhat fatalistic, stubborn man who liked to keep his head down and observe the world around him with humour and irony. “Life is wise to deceive us,” he once wrote, “for had it told us from the start what it had in store for us, we would refuse to be born.