Archive for May, 2010
Ok everyone, it sucks but I’m gonna take a little break from the ol’ blog for a week or so while I do some traveling. I promise to get right back into writing when I get back. So, until then… stay safe, stay smart and stay awake! Ciao!
Not long after I set up my last show, my good friend and contact at Artspace, Joanna, e-mailed me with an interesting proposition: did I want to cross promote the show with another artist’s opening at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center? Of course, the answer was yes. But when I read the actual proposal I was even more enthused about the association. Ben Perrone has been making art in Western NY for a long time and his piece at the Burchfield is the culmination of a career filled with aesthetic activism and lots of stylistic exploration and innovation.
The installation itself is a brooding monument to the destruction of war and is not to be missed (hurry! It runs through May 30th). It recalls both the numbing repetition of graves at Arlington National Cemetery as well as the formal elegance of the holocaust memorial in Berlin with its imposing grid structure. Juxtaposing the wall of bags is a pile of more, discarded bags, wheelchairs, and video and sound work, forming an enveloping tomb around the viewer. A list of the casualties to date cascades over the scene, visually shattering as they fall across the detritus, mimicking the senseless and chaotic destruction of lives in wartime. You can read a fine article about it and him here and see him talk about it here.
Luckily, some of his figurative work dealing with the conflict in Kosovo is also on view at Buffalo Big Print and is also a must see, running until June 1st. It’s a great opportunity to see the breadth of work that Perrone makes, with the charged, sparse drawings offering a look at a different medium with the same message.
As if offering to include me in the project’s promotion and attending my opening wasn’t enough, Ben was also kind enough to answer some questions from me about his work, the installation and the state of activist art today. The interview is after the jump…
Here’s a depressing read from the LA Times about how it’s taken us thirty plus years to realize that the wholesale liquidation of manufacturing is maybe a bad idea. Basically, a guy invents a super-battery that will solve our oil problems forever and make cars walk on walk on rainbows but he can’t get going in the US and is forced to start up in China, where all his workers steal his inventions and begin to compete with him and causing him (probably) ulcers. The article tries hard to remain optimistic, pointing to the creation of jobs in a re-purposed VHS tape factory outside Detroit. Of course, the catch is that two thirds of his booming business is already located in Changzhou, because it’s just so much cheaper. Sadder still is the fact that the company’s founder, Yet-Ming Chiang, wants to do it all in America but there’s just no way to compete. The stimulus did help Chiang’s venture a bit, so let’s hope that’s a continuing trend in the coming months. I just can’t get over how bone-headed it is that even black hearted capitalists can’t fathom that there’s money to be made by making things.
I wrote about it before in the case of energy. America FIRST!!! is more than an annoying sound bite screamed from a fat, clueless patriot; it requires work. The world is shifting slowly but inexorably towards a different way of harvesting resources. If we manage to keep from screwing up royally with adequately repair the damage from our oily addiction, we can lead the globe in high tech manufacturing of all kinds of things like awesome magic batteries. It will take time to wean ourselves off black goo but concrete support for alternatives like Mr. Chiang’s battery can certainly speed the process. Obama has done a decent job funneling some cash towards these sorts of endeavors but convincing both corporate overlords and know nothing lumpenproles that they stand to benefit from said investment is a tall order. With China and India getting a head start on the technology that will someday power the world, we are fast losing the ability to make up for lost time.
Incidentally, I would totally work in a battery factory. Something about it just strikes me as cool and kinda patriotic. Bet you didn’t see that one coming!
I’ll be heading to PA for a little trip (actually, I’m already gone. Isn’t the power of the internet awesome?), so I likely won’t be around again until mid-week. Do stay tuned for the long-awaited return of ATM on Saturday, though; it’s going to blow your MIND. I’m also going to try to get a read on the Sestak-Spector battle from my friends and family across the Keystone State, so I’ll have a full report when I return.
Have a safe weekend everyone! Ciao!
Just when you thought gun nuts couldn’t get any nuttier, they decide that God’s House needs a little secular protection. The .45 caliber kind, to be exact! It’s actually becoming a struggle to keep up with the lunacy spouting out of various parts of the country but, I have to admit, this one stands out. I should mention that while I personally don’t have any desire to own a gun, I’m not completely adverse to other people having them. Much like drugs, alcohol and teen sex have shown, outright bans generally don’t do anything but increase the flow. I am in favor of strict regulation, however, and that is the complete opposite of what LA has just enacted.
In the story above, State Rep. Henry Burns (R) told TPM that he simply sees it as an acknowledgement that even churches aren’t safe in today’s Wild America. I wonder if anyone mentioned to him that the last time someone shot up a church, it was because the church was a nest of godless heathens, not because it was the good, god-fearing kind that I’m sure Burns is carrying water for. In any event, it’s his bizarre position on the limits of conceal carry that really stood out to me. The bill has a provision to prohibit guns in churches on college campuses and when he was asked about the double standard:
Burns said that bars, churches, schools and courthouses were some of the only places left in Louisiana where guns were prohibited. Some other states have enacted legislation to allow guns in bars, but for his part, Burns says, “I have no desire to try to put guns in bars and college campuses.”
So having the fundamentalist wackos that actually engage in domestic terrorism packing heat in what is ostensibly a place of peace is just fine, but letting the drunk frat boys have them is a step too far. If nutjobs are everywhere, how is the local watering hole or Kappa Delta going to be kept safe unless they’re allowed to have sidearms? You’ll notice that I’m attempting to follow the logic of a wingnut here, so that’s probably why it doesn’t make sense.
Regulation means keeping guns out of places like bars, schools and churches. That’s what I mean about regulation: buy all the guns you can fit in your pants and keep them there until they leave marks on your thighs for all I care. Since a lot of gun violence is relegated to homes that have guns, you’ll probably be doing the gene pool a favor. Just keep them out of my public spaces. Bullying by the NRA and even crazier people are pushing for an America where every citizen is armed to the teeth, which they claim will somehow reduce violence as opposed to becoming a Sergio Leone Western. I guess it’s related to the theory that lowering taxes increases revenue, but that’s another topic.
With all the good Christians locked and loaded, I can’t wait until LA gets around to immigration.
Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am skeptical of many of Western society’s recently discovered “diseases”. I truly believe that many problems that we regularly treat with medication (or worse) are simply a culture of excess run amok. I’m still not convinced that shopping or hoarding are legitimate disorders but rather stem from a country that has had everything it wanted for a long, long time and is starting to collectively freak out at the prospect of losing that privilege. I’ve had food allergies on my list for a long time too, mostly because they didn’t even seem to exist twenty years ago. So, I was heartened to read yesterday that I might be on to something.
Now, I’m sure that many epicureans will be quick to point out all the terrible things that go into our food that could account for the recent deluge of so-called allergies. I have been upbraided on more than one occasion for my lackadaisical approach to food. To wit, I’ll eat damn near anything, free range or not, and haven’t found a single thing yet that disagrees with me (at least not in any major way. Three gallons of milk does tend to play havoc with my stomach if drunk in one night…). I also have many friends who have incredibly restricted diets due to their food allergies: gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, glucose-free, etc., etc. This new report would seem to lend weight to my theory that most of this hoopla over allergies is simply psychological. Yes, High Fructose Corn Syrup in my wheat bread is crazy and really makes me think about what I put in my mouth. But I’m also not running to the flax seed because my stomach is upset.
I know this probably comes across as condescending and maybe a bit mean-spirited. The report clearly states that 8% of the population really do suffer from food allergies and I’ve heard plenty of anecdotes about closed air holes after ingesting shellfish. My only point is that the problem, like many of our contemporary disorders, is so overblown as to be laughable.
On that note, I think I’m going to make a peanut butter sandwich on wheat bread and see what happens. I’ll keep 911 on speed-dial, but something tells me I’ll be fine.