Tuesday, September 18, 2007

words fail me @ mocad

(Words Fail Me curated by matthew higgs - artist, curator, and writer based in ny. director and chief curator of White Columns.)

anne-lise coste
Parmi les singes et les signes

jeremy deller
Folk Song

siobhan liddell

lisa anne auerbach
Everything I Touch Turns To $old

carl pope
The Bad Air Smelled of Roses

kay rosen

tauba auerbach

jennifer west
Whatever Film and Yeah Film

ron terada
Stay away from lonely places

martin creed
Work No. 336

sam durant
Let's judge ourselves as people

jonathan monk
Nostalgic for the Future

philippe parreno and rirkrit tiravanija
Stories are Propaganda

ryan gander
Encrypt Encrypt Encrypt

I was surprised to hear from everyone mixed reviews about this show. mocad, being a new museum always sparks heated debate when it comes to shows but I noticed a bit of indifference (or comments under this post). I, being a text art junky, enjoyed seeing the show and felt that the works flowed nicely and unlike other mocad shows, it was a better number of works compared to other overcrowded or sparse shows of works. I shouldn't be that surprised though, because text art isn't for everyone. Some people love text and associating meaning with single words or repeated phrases while others need tactile surfaces and picture planes to get off on. Text art is a tricky thing because while some might say, "oh, it's so easy to put a word up on the wall and have it mean something grand," frankly, more thought goes into it than you think. Some text art falls flat and doesn't give enough info while others give too much diary-like meaning. A standout text artist, martin creed, graced the show with "feelings", a perfect example of a dialog piece that is so simplistic yet says a billion different things! I end up remembering the works like creed and also rosen, terada and monk while passing on pope and a couple others. Ultimately, this is what a contemporary museum should be showing to the community: well curated shows with an international mix of emerging and contemporary artists and hey...maybe one of these days they will have curators that will actually visit many of the great detroit artists' studios here and not just the few artists affiliated with mocad. Oh, a girl can dream ;)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1967 there was a CCS student who had painted, scratched, written and drawn on film stock -- and it looked exactly like what Jennifer West has done 40 years later.

Believe it or not, the show was at the DIA and students' work was mingled in with big names (a Bruce Nauman installation was a few feet away from this student's film projection).

So here's to the talent at CCS (Arts & Crafts) past and present!!

And to Kolman Matta wherever he may be!!!

If I fight for some small inclusiveness at our institutions it's because I remember that Detroit once had a rich history of it. And that such things only enriched everyone here: gallery, institution, audience and artist.

And may yet again.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So and So did that 40 years ago"

Timing is sometimes as important as the work. Being first isn’t always the most important.
Having the wisdom to time the mores of society or the tastes of collectors is a powerful ability.

Jef, the vintage of sour whine you constantly serve in regards to MOCAD is getting colder and bitterer.
In about 3 weeks, I suspect that you, Ann, Gilda and your anonymous posts will be the only readers and posters of this dying blog.
I for one am pulling the rip cord and bailing before this whole thing goes down in a somber whimper.

Ann, I wish you the best in L.A.. Your blog was a bright spot in a small backwater part of our nation and it will be missed.
Jef, maybe Ann will invite you to show some of your “work” out in L.A.?

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

talk about bitter. good riddens ass.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like a good show to me. I'm excited to see it when I'm in town.

In regards to Higgs only seeing musicians: I was slightly let down at first but honestly the established art base in Detroit isn't terribly exciting. This isn't to say that there aren't great artists, there certainly are, but they take digging to find and you can't trust most recommendations because of the whole "support the community" thing (lots of boring art is highly recommended).

The music scene, however, is much more exciting as a whole. There is a lot of really sweet shit happening and I probably saw more bands this summer than exhibitions as well.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Curtis is good for honesty, and bad for art criticism. Step down from your pedistal of greatness and come back to the real world. What you may think is worthwhile, chances are, I think is laughable dribble at best. But the difference is that I'll consider it, and if I dislike it, I'll try to figure out why and develop a more educated distaste for it, or perhaps, more appropriately develop a well deserved appreciation for it. Your mind is too closed to the visual art in Detroit. Eventually your one line will end and when it does, you will wish that you had opened up before it had. Detroiters are doing work that satisfies their standards. It's good enough for them and their collegues, and my guess is that it was good enough long before your standards graced the face of this blog and will continue to be long after you abandon Detroit for a more trend-filled city. Good luck Curtis.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha! Who am I kidding!? I'm just as angry as you Curtis. What a hypocrite I am. Skewer me up and throw me on the Q Curtis. I'm expecting it, and I deserve it!!!

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I study art at Wayne. This show gives me so much to think about and it gives me the chance to see art my friends who study in New York can. I get the best of both worlds. I live in Detroit, a plus for me, not only because I like it but I can afford it, AND I can see examples of some stuff made outside of here. Jef: no offense man but you sound really old but not in the wise way. Nothing to do with age, nothing at all. Plenty of my friends are excited about MOCAD and this show.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am old. duh.

my point was that if there were good artists here 40 years ago, why wouldn't there be now! we have more art schools now and better conncections throughout the art world and more students who come from all over, not just detroit.

matta's chance at showing alongside nauman pushed him as both a student and an artist to meet the challenge.

i know there are artists of this same caliber here and now. i know many of them. i've seen many go on to meet the challenge of success at yale (ya goin') and in ny and la. i'm going to include some in my talk on sunday. and many are still students, as matta once was.

but the negative attitudes against local art haven't changed. they were here in 1967 too.

but the opportunities have changed.

they are gone. lost for the moment. that was my point.

the institutions that are in a position to validate and legitimize and push and challenge these artists refuse them now.

in 1995 over fifty detroit artists were given a chance at the dia to hang their work side-by-side with schnabel and salle and the full roster at that time.

many of them outshone the big guns! but none shrunk beside them.

so enough already.

and why do we have to accept this "something is better than nothing" attitude.

suddenly no one can critique mocad's shows?! come on. and just because they come from nyc - give me a break!

i said i love creed and pierson. i liked a lot of the other work. mocad used the space to its best. but overall it came together thin and wan. there was no punch to it, cohesive or otherwise.

so it's gold just because it's from new york?!

i just get mostly pissed at the loss of opportunities when these curators come here. i don't care whose work they look at here, mocad's pets or not - at least they can go away with an idea of what art might be like here.

anything wrong with giving the rest of the world a clue!

despite assclown and others there is some original striking work being created here. and maybe having seen it, some of these curators might use some of it in a show down the road somewhere else. happened to me once.

and those of you who play that slam-everything detroit game and don't want to believe that a lot of detroit art is just as good as new york's...

it just never gets the exposure here. and so never there.

and anyone who's been to chelsea in the last few years can attest that there's always a pile of good art, but an overwhelming amount of shit there as well.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a student here too. There are enough chances to see Detroit art. Yea, some of it is great. I'd rather have a museum bring in things I can't see here. Bring the world to Detroit!

7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"my point was that if there were good artists here 40 years ago, why wouldn't there be now! we have more art schools now and better conncections throughout the art world and more students who come from all over, not just detroit."

I'm so sick of this student-centric attitude. What about the professional, graduated, grown-up artists working in Detroit? Or is it like the feminine myth that once you're over 25 you're finished? It seems as if the only art ever being held up (in this case held up for being ignored) is student work. No offense, but I don't have a problem with MOCAD not showing CCS students. Let the BFA kids graduate, experience life, and earn the right. Attendance at CCS doesn't make their work exciting. I feel the same way (though to a lesser degree) about grad students (cranbrook).

The artists at MOCAD weren't BFA students still in school. Why condemn MOCAD for not including college kids in their shows? (there are so many other reasons to condemn MOCAD). It's like this community is art-pedophiliac or stuck in their own CCS glory days to the extent that they can't see value in the other 40-60 years of an artists' life/career. This decade's batch of CCS/Cranbrook grads are not the most interesting artists working by definition of their upcoming diplomas.

Are opportunity for detroit artists lacking- yes! It would be great to see outside work/curators coming in if Detroit first had a solid valuation for it's native artists/curators. But that issue is not rectified by insisting CCS student hang alongside professionals for the sake of the student's formative growth (that's what they're in school for, I don't need to patron a museum to help some kid push his boundaries, thanks!)

Priorities, in general, seem skewed.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you don't need to go to art school to be an artist. everything I learned at CCS I could have learned for free. you can be taught how to be a designer, but you can't be taught how to make "good art". and why go on to pay more ridiculous amounts of money to get your masters degree? for what? they just give you a space and a community of artists to work in and critique your work. it's bullshit. go find people who you respect and work alongside them. this student art crap is just a facade. it's all the same art, student or not. they're not learning anything in there that they couldn't learn by getting out there and experiencing the world for themselves. Why pay an institution thousands upon thousands of dollars so that some washed up artist can show you Art 21 videos?

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Popo,
I don't think that
you read
what Jef said.
Please read it again and
we will forgive
you for being
an asshole.

11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


That's bullshit and you know it. I graduated from CCS and I find what you said to be defensive and misguided. My career bagan there. I'm doing fucking fantastic, and I owe a large percentage of my success to what I learned from those so-called "washed up artists." Point your finger elsewhere Butt. Your wrong.

PS. The education is first the responsability of the student, then the teacher. You failed, they never had a chance.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i second that emotion butt nothin'. i'm tired of hearing ccs grads, and particularly ccs drop-outs, complain about the school and its teachers. if you didn't get the education you think you deserved, that is YOUR fault. if you'd spent less time smokin/drinkin/snortin/jerkin off and more time painting/designing/crafting you'd already be more successful than you can imagine. and calling ccs profs 'washed up'?! how fuckin rude. you've really got no business saying shit. how do you pay your fuckin bills? when was the last show YOU had? i bet you're not even in the game. you're not even a benchwarmer. you are a bitter ex-fan screaming at the players, forever envious of the giants and frustrated by your own self-perpetuated ineptness. try living in the world and being an artist yourself for a few years.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Butt, what happened to you? Why so bitter? Is it that YOU are washed up before you even got started?

I feel sorry for you. It must be really lonely at your pity party.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

all of this nonsense bullshit about CCS needs to stop, along with all of this pansy, pointless dialogue that has nothing to do with the blog post. Comments are for commenting on the subject at hand, not what he/she said.

I am a student of CCS, in the Graphic Design and Animation/Digital Media departments.

i can see where it would be easy for an ex student to talk shit about this school, being bitter about the experience he probably wasted. You are right, you can't teach someone talent.

thats not what this school is for.

they are trying to prepare us for the professional world. we pay all this money so that we can get out foot in, have access to these opprotunities, open doors for ourselves that wouldnt be open if we gave up on continuing our education and decided that we could be artists without the certification of being taught here.

yeah you can be a fine artist without going here, but don't ever get up on your fucking blog comment pedestal as if that gives you a right to speak poorly about this school and our "washed up" teachers, you prick.

many of our teachers are still very much in the art scene, and most of them are very accomplished as artists. and they can all teach students who are willing to learn very, very well.

you cant teach talent, but you can teach professionalism and expertise.

if you aren't 100% serious about being successful as possible, they dont want you there. i'm learning that right now. so go home! you can bitch all you want about CCS, the fact is that its among the best for a reason, and there is an enourmous amount of talent there.

Can we get some comments in here about the actual work showcased at MOCAD right now?

My favorite was "Stories are Propaganda". the little boy narrating talks so well, as if he really believes in what he is saying while not really being old enough to grasp the concepts he's challenging. The footage underneath was excellent.

1:53 PM  
Blogger wjk said...

Kolman Mata died in 1994, may he rest in peace. I saw his show with the melty gels a long time ago in the late 1960s, I guess. No bitterness here, just remembering an old friend.

2:40 AM  

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