Sunday, June 24, 2007

mike smith/kate levant @ hilberry

for me, this show was about people/objects that were missing: the imagined person (i.e. owner of the goods) in each piece, the person's belongings reassembled. it evoked memories of this smith piece from a year or so ago. the hanging sheets draped unevenly felt like grandma's forgotten clothing line ... the neatly stacked t-shirts with old man hat on top ... the paper banner flapping solemnly above the empty chair ... and my favorite piece in the show - the tape where the drawing work itself is missing.

for as ballyhooed as these artists and there in-progress credentials are, the show didn't have any amazing new ideas, but it successfully presented a cohesive point of view. ultimately, it felt like a grown up/evolved version of richrichrich's shows - where the viewers are forced to consider and assign value/meaning to seemingly commonplace objects based on context, etc. even if their determination ends up at a different point than the artists' intent.

after talking to mike at the opening and an email later, his passion for the pieces was apparent, and did much to overcome my initial skepticism (I have to say that being in detroit...if I see another rusted out metal car door as art...) this is one of those shows you have to sit with and possibly see again. I know that even in thinking about the show for this post, I have a great urge to view again - which usually means that something is there to want to re-visit.

it will initially disorient, shock, confuse many detroit gallery goers, but this type of work has a long tradition reaching back to jessica stockholder (now head of graduate sculpture at yale) and german artist isa genzken (just posted) and beyond.... be sure to look 'em up.

this is one of those shows where individual viewers will, even more than usual, have to experience it for themselves to determine if the hype is warranted. a lot of that evaluation rests upon viewer investment, too.


Blogger Nolan said...

This show is fucking beautiful!! I'm proud to be able to feel so inspired by my friends. Fucking beautiful!

1:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

interesting but boring sorry

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually got to stop by this show b/c I was in ferndale househunting w/ my realtor. While I agree w/ Ann's "if i see one more car door..." (though this one wasn't particularly rusted out, merely stripped of its apholstery), I'd put my reaction somewhere between nolan and anon--- I thought it was OK. Nothing spectacular, but it also wasn't completely aweful/boring.

I think it's the sort of thing that works better when you have someone there with you at the time, the work being the impetus for dialogue, and the dialogue being the real value. That's just my novice opinion, of course. Being that I was all on my onesies, I think that that severely detracted from my enjoyment. But I was delighted by the "discoveries" available-- namely, looking up to find the wiffle ball, the empty tape hanging nothing, and the tiny flourescent green sticker on the hem of the large red hanging peice. I liked that peice right off, and moreso when I noticed the green sticker, but that was swiftly followed by a "what the hell am I doing?" reaction.

For the most part, I still think this style is insulting to the general audience, but I suppose you have to respect it anyway? I brought my confusion home to Seattle to my boyfriend who (unlike me) does have an art degree and we discussed the topic late into the evening. So, like Ann's urge to view the show again, I guess I agree that there is something there that makes it worth the drive.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I still think this style is insulting to the general audience, but I suppose you have to respect it anyway?"

why is it insulting?
seems harmless enough
no violence/sex/drugs

sad to think that art, representing at least freedom and openmindedness has become so predictable as to insult by form alone.

i think it was quite beautiful, anything but insulting. maybe the problem is that i assume many viewers feel that they are missing something? that there is something they are left out on. i read the show at face value. the use of space and objects/art therein. very potent consentration of detroit specific subject matter and a very cool calm arrangment. my only critism may be the lack of effort/willingness by the artists to give a statment or even a works list - may have been helpful to M.'s "general audience"?

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry I missed the opening guys, I've been out of town. Looks great from Louisville!

Mike, sorry I missed you at Rick and Petrova's show, catch you next time you're in town.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this might be an obvious novice to the art "world" question, but ....How does a gallery sell installation art like this and a lot of other installations I've seen on this blog? Where is it's place in someones home etc? I guess that's why it doesn't make much sense to a "novice" like myself when I look at it unlike wall art, sculpture, etc.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Mark Creegan said...

muy goodness! Yes certainly Stockholder and Genzken, I would add some Rich Tuttle and Felix Gonzalez Torres influence.
Again, i love the work i see on this blog coming out of Detroit!

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it looks like my bedroom before i cleaned it up

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

looks like my bedroom after i've cleaned it up.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the general audience gives a shit about artist statements. It's only people with predetermined ideas of what art is supposed to be that want a explanation for why someone has gone against it. The rest of us are much happier experiencing things on our own.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone intelligently tell those of us that 'don't get' this type of 'art' what the artist's intention is/was. I feel that the Yale background validates this as something to reckon for most. Seems a little too heady and lacking aesthetic concerns. Of course, that can be debated.
I'm just looking for intelligent interpretations of the show.
I don't live near Detroit so I couldn't go. Also, how about some responses that aren't so angry.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rauool--- these are not angry responses so far. Just wait. In a week, there will be 60 more little anon notes here. whenever there is a post about mike smith I always look forward to the profanity and flaming with a bowl of unbuttered microwaved popcorn.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are not angry, I know. However, other events/shows posted on the artblog seem to be riddled with angry bloggers. I guess that's one of the quirks with blogs.
Anyway, I'm still waiting for someone to respond to my last entry.

7:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think that this is a malaise of current art schools. teaching avant-garde doesn't co-opt it but instead perpetuates a certain ingenuous non-aesthetic.

you can't teach a trend but the schools are attempting that, especially yale.

the avant-garde by definition is a reaction to what is being taught. this is being taught. encouraged at grad level. it'll be exciting only to see how these students go on to react against this academic "norm".

1:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I myself wonder if these artists have substantial jobs, or at lease a mate who will support them. Even the conceptualists made objects that could be marketed, even as they created their unapproachable work

I am not in the vicinity of these shows either, so I would really appreciate too a little in explanation of the premise behind the work.

I just hope my question is not tossed off as the rambling of a person who isnt in the loop, therefore not to be considered.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may be difficult, but it might help if exhibitions like this are not looked at purely as repositories of things to sell, or the galleries that house them as stores.

Walk in, or in the case of those who are not in the area who experience the exhibition on line, and try to see it as a temporary occurence that one must observe with a certain amount of passion or curiosity about a joined narrative, much like a performance in a theater.

In the early sixties Jean Tinguely created a work of art, a machine that was designed to destroy itself; I think of the lucky people who were there to experience it first hand, and then shared their observations with others. I have seen films of the object in action, but that is nothing like being there and hearing it destruct with no filter, and smelling the acrid smoke.

I hope this helps.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rauool and Michael:

How is this a non-aesthetic show? Rather than lacking in aesthetic concerns, it seems to me to be saturated with aesthetic gestures.

for instance ... two white hats, black shirts, black car hood, black tape, blue hat, blue fabric, stainless bowl, stainless chair, etc.

Constant repetitions of the "portrait" rectangle in the fabric, implied in the tape, in the shirts, in mylar...

The light and the door...

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nolan you're full of it. i'm sorry. aesthetics can be pulled out of a good shit if you contemplate it long enough. i don't have the time for this.

for instance ... two white hats, black shirts, black car hood, black tape, blue hat, blue fabric, stainless bowl, stainless chair, etc.

sounds like a shopping list for bad taste.

this is an argument that can't be won as long as there are people who support such things with gobs of theory as if it were the old testament.

i have seen shows that work at this level and with minimal objects i.e., but this is not one. martin creed, finch. gonzalez-torres, etc. from a gob of art putty on the wall, to an art store receipt for supplies, to only a crumpled paper on a pedestal.

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again, I couldn't make it to the show so, some of these nuances were lost via pictures on the blog.
As far as aesthetics, I did say they could be debated. So you did.
I guess I question this work because I have heard Mr. Smith lectures very well and his ideas are grand, though I find the work rather boring. Seems like reading something by the artist would be more engaging (for myself) than what I've seen of his.
Your reply did shed some light on the work for me. Although, I like the statements and ideas that are being expressed here, what art is/was, it seems a bit trite. Possibly preaching to the choir?
I would probably have a different opinion if I could make a trip to the gallery.? Maybe..

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rauool- "Seems like reading something by the artist would be more engaging (for myself) than what I've seen of his." Yes. Mr. Smith is an amazing writer. Amazing. But that's not really the point, is it?

7:30 PM  
Blogger Nolan said...

As far as I know there was no statement accompanying this show. There is no conceptual thesis, no packet to take home. Visitors are not shadowed by docents eager to fill you in on how much reading everyone should be doing. In fact, I don't believe you can align the work in this show with any consistent theory or rhetoric at all. I'm sure there's bits and pieces of things weaved into various works. There are probably a reference or two to other artists. You get the idea.

michael, if it's true that aesthetics can be pulled out of anything then they cease to be an issue. Suffice it to say, that's not what's going on here.

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nolan, Thanks for opening the doors for discussion and curiosity rather than banging down a close fisted gavel.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have heard Mr. Smith lectures very well and his ideas are grand, though I find the work rather boring."

I think the real problem is that Mikes overly enthusiastic way of talking sometimes overshadows the beautiful simplicity of the work itself.

Hearing Mike talk for me is a exhaustingly exciting thing but looking at the work is a wonderful moment of peace.

I know he's the home town guy but lets not all argue about his work and ignore how beautiful Kate's work was. that heavy tarp blanket hanging was amazing.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't able to attend the show, and I don't know Kate's work, so when I looked at these images, all I could see was Mike. To me, there's always something scary, for the artist and the community, when artist's work becomes interchangable, or indistinguishable, or merged, or meshed, or just too similar to tell apart.

On the other hand, Smith in Hilberry... I love it. Another boundary broken; an impossible made possible if you know what I mean!

Detroit artists continue to prove that they could set foot on the moon if given the oportunity. What's next?! I can't wait!

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what do you mean another boundary broken?

Hilberry has always shown edgy, difficult, challenging work. Always.

From the beginning.

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I was referring to every student's dream to show at Susanne's gallery one year out of undergrad. I might be wrong, but that doesn't happen often does it?

I just imagined that he proved it could be done, that's all.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Ashley Androgyny said...

A: interesting but boring sorry

AA: A shockingly acute sentiment, easily and appropriately applied to everything. EVERYTHING. I hope you know it's ramifications.

AA (to Kate and Mike): Beautiful. It is killed, you killers. Keep killing.

3:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this work really that difficult? i think its safe to say most people who find this that hard to grasp are either not that well educated or most likely lazy.

Honestly if this is so edgy how is it you see it so frequently, Mike made it to yale and hes already in susanne hillberry. that isnt to say i dont enjoy it but come to your senses and realize that this aint THAT fresh, i do love alot of it, seriously i do but it isnt that out there.

At this point being a still life painter is edgier than this.

2:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lets be real. These days any serious high school art student can paint a photorealistic still life or self portrait or whatever else on a canvas and hang it on a wall. The idea is that damn near everything has been tried before (i.e. the door) but to balance multiple pieces with the space to create a new sentiment is the true challenge. Notice how the light coming through the altered skylight mimics the form of the light that may come through the window in the door while driving. the light moves up the wall just as light moves throughout the car as it moves. I think it is great to see that everyone is here discussing the show. even those who disliked the show were at least moved by it enough in one way to come to the site and report. Its difficult to know what feelings the artists wanted to stir up. Maybe hanging tapestries is nothing groundbreaking, but using it as a canvas intended to be later draped in a way that effects the image painted upon it in this way is something new to me. Maybe they wanted you to kick the hat that seems out of place sitting on the floor of the room upside down, or rip the loose masking tape off the wall. or hang the fabric up right so it doesnt drag on the floor. Its irresistible like trying not to scratch something itching you.

12:17 PM  

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