Thursday, October 29, 2009

Beauty Pageant Contestant Unwittingly Becomes Gay Rights Advocate

Here is a compilation from Columbian TV of stupid answers by beauty pageant contestants in that country, don't miss the bit at the end where the contestant appears to promote gay relationships:

And here, a Miss Venezuela contestant seems to articulate a meta-commentary on the sexist criteria for the pageant which require beauty while using the question and answer as an index of their alleged interest in the women's intellects:

Or maybe she's just stupid.

This genre of beauty queen hot messes can entertain you for hours on You Tube:

But this video featuring a Miss USA contestant is the BEST:

Best Blog Post About the so-called Art World. Ever. HYPERALLERGIC Blog's 20 Most Powerful People List

Since I am currently teaching a seminar about global biennials and today's class was about the global curator and contemporary artists, I assigned a couple of amusing articles about the status of the curator as creator and quasi artist to the detriment of the power of the artist as creator. Fittingly, there was an article "On the Tip of Creative Tongues," in the New York Times about the explosion in the use of the word curator or verb curate to describe things as disparate as the selection of a menu or the hiring of a series of bands at a bar. (see it here

It seemed to me (and to Paco Barragan) that relational aesthetics has a corollary in the curating scene which is relational curating. The curator as artist setting up an ephemeral utopian space of sociability - ie. Enwezor's Platforms at Documenta 11. To me this seems a bit like over-compensation for the fact that in actuality mostly it's the same elite groups of "nomads" to use that term beloved of starcurators that do the Grand Tour of biennials.

Needless to say, we have read quite a bit by the very smart starcurator Ho Hanru, ubiquitous biennial curator (bizarrely not on the Top One Hundred Most Powerful People in the Art World List -see below) which leads me to another genre of curatorial artistry that has proliferated -namely the curatorial manifesto -there are edited volumes featuring short essays by starcurators being published seemingly every millisecond. These discuss their curatorial philosophy defined most often in political terms - such as claims that their siting of a biennial or other exhibition in Location A will mark an intervention in the homogenizing inexorable expansion of global capitalist culture (rather than being in fact a part of it), an act of resistance, etc. etc. Terms like global, nomad, transnational, migration, etc. are tossed like a manic ping-pong ball across these pages. Again, if before it was the avant-garde artists that issued collective manifestos, now it's the curators.

Then just as fortuitously, the annual Oscars of the art world, Art Review's list of 100 Most Powerful, was announced. This is better than being selected to represent your country at the Venice Biennial, which is like winning Miss Universe, or being hired as a curator by MoMA, which is like winning The Apprentice. (if you are a curatorial assistant however, it is more like Celebrity Rehab with Doctor Drew) But I digress. The fascinating thing about the most powerful is not that they were majority male, majority white but that they were majority curators or museum directors. (there were however some gallerists and a handful of critics, but no art history professors, alas) This list is like the Forbes 500 for business people (and let's face it that list is key to us too since the zillionaires own the art) except that no one save a small number of people knows who these luminaries are!

Here is the List:
And here is an article analyzing the composition of those on the list.

To make matters even better, I learned about the most fabulous blog called Hyperallergic that posted this BRILLIANT and hilarious alternative list:

For more about the blog, go here

And here is Hyperallergic's post:

"We present “The Top 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World!”

We haven't seen him for a while, which begs the question, "Did the recession kill the bunny?"
1 – Everyone entirely unknown to Hans Ulrich Obrist – If the kingmaker isn’t on your cell phone, well, at least your mother is.

2 – The guy in the bunny outfit who year after year protested in front of Gagosian’s 25th Street gallery — hey buddy, how’s the career?

3 – Independent curators without trust funds – There’s a saying, “No trust, no love.”

4 – Artists who can’t speak English, French, German, or Spanish. While the world is filled with approximately 6,800 languages, artwork must adhere to the linguistic realities of economics.

5 – That man at all the openings who might be homeless. Wine at gallery openings may be the art world’s only form of social service to people outside their realm, but hey, it’s something.

6 – Beleaguered Administrative Assistants at MoMA – This is a group that knows what it’s like to be underpaid, under-appreciated and powerless — the trifecta!

7 – Assistant Curators living off $27,000 salaries, with $80,000 in grad school debt from a fancy curatorial studies program. (When students enter MBA programs, professors often talk about the negative investment they make in their futures as they spend money to eventually make six or seven figures upon graduation. In curatorial programs, discussions of economics that don’t reference Marx or Negri are just gauche.)

One city just ain't cool.
8 – Anyone living in only one place, as opposed to “between Berlin and Beijing,” or “based in London, Amsterdam, Sao Paolo, and Los Angeles.” Where have you been, mono-urbanity is so 20th century. How do you expect to address globalism by staying put? You probably feel even more like a failure if you were born and grew up in the same city that you currently live in. If that’s the case, you should just fake an accent.

9 – All Chelsea gallery interns, working for no pay but needing to buy the latest dominatrix heels for the upcoming opening. (On the plus side, poverty breeds rake-like thinness which in turn ensures job security. As the late great Mary Boone used to say, “Eat a donut and get a pink slip.” Oh wait, she isn’t dead. Nevermind.)

10 – Chinese pop-realist painters (Mao, McDonalds—we get it.)

11 – Macrame Club of Minsk, Belarus – Established in 1974, Minsk’s once burgeoning club of hard-core macrame artists has dwindled to only two members, both named Ivan. The group achieved world renown when they macramed their club house and then shellacked it as a tribute to the durability of the art form and the greatness of Vladimir Lenin. Unfortunately, the group never counted on the severity of Russian winters, which have caused the structure to leak and eventually be condemned by the city. The two Ivans currently gather at a local tea house for monthly meetings to discuss the gossip-plagued world of macrame.

"For the Love of the Art God"
12 – The faceless miners in Sierra Leone who procured the 8,601 diamonds for Damien Hirst’s sparkling skull – they may fear for their lives every day as they work in hazardous work conditions and subsist on less than 1 % of the value of a pencil in a Hirst installation, but they sleep well at night knowing that a silly sculpture that represents the pinnacle of the latest gilded age exists.

13 – The anonymous frog that Martin Kippenberger crucified – Remember high school biology class? Well, so did Kippenberger. The frog’s family has contacted PETA and they are still pondering if legal action is the best way to resolve the contentious issue.

14 – Darren Johnson, security guard at the Main Street Art Museum, Mobile, Alabama – When he’s not protecting the posters in the gift shop from shoplifters, Mr. Johnson is attempting to stop visitors from trying on the museum’s rare collection of pre-Civil War slave shackles.

15 – Prison inmates – Considering they are all doing the exact same performance that Tehching Hsieh did in his SoHo cell, and then some, the fact that they didn’t get a MoMA show for it just highlights their failure.

16 -Jesus Christ, because he’s just too old to show at the New Museum.

17 – Candida Home, blind art blogger. While unphased by a ban on photography in many major galleries and museums, Candida disastrously tried to cover the Lakeland Ceramic Fair in Derbyshire, England and caused over £80,000 in damage because of her proclivity to touch the art. She has since been banned from most major art fairs and institutions and is only writing about public art.

See you at Reena Spaulings?
18 – Anyone who shows up to a Lower East Side gallery opening non-ironically wearing a button-down shirt and ironed khakis, or eyeglass frames that aren’t from 1983 and gigantic. Pariah!

19 – Rosalind Krauss – we included her on this list because we couldn’t remember who she was and we were too lazy to Google her.

20 – Art critic for the wacky right-wing World Net Daily who floated the idea of McCain inspired art as a weapon against the deluge of Obamart."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

why I love Wanda Sykes, let me count the ways

she says things like this:

and this:

it killed me when she said that "my wife is French, I like to say she's French because that sounds nicer than White." LOL!

and this:

this whole skit in particular can substitute for years of reading queer theory, in particular one of the best and most influential books on me, Epistemology of the Closet by the late great Eve K. Sedgewick. I would love to teach that book and show this video.

oh, and she drops the f-bomb every five and a half seconds, she tells it like it is, and she is out of the closet

why I love First Lady Michelle Obama

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Helio Oiticica

Hélio Oiticica, B15 Glass Bólide 04 Earth, Terra 1964, Glass; pigment; oil with polyvinyl acetate emulsion on nylon mesh, 420 x 280 mm 930 mm, César and Claudio Oiticica Collection, Rio de Janeiro

Just a few days ago a fire destroyed most of the work created by Helio Oiticica, which was owned by his family.
According to the latest reports, the percentage might be as high as 90% and lost were the Parangoles (see video above) and the Bolides series.

Article from ARTINFO:

Fire Destroys Brazilian Artist Helio Oiticica’s Works
Published: October 19, 2009

RIO de JANEIRO— On October 16, a fire destroyed 90 percent of the estate of Brazilian neoconcretist Helio Oiticica (1937–1980), housed at the artist’s brother César Oiticica's residence in Brazil. The fire consumed an estimated $200 million worth of artwork in the form of 2,000 individual pieces. The artist's works were originally moved to Cesar’s house as a result of disagreements over money and the adequacy of the storage facilities at the Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oiticica.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. Cesar’s house was equipped with humidity and temperature controls for the works, as well as working fire alarms and other safety systems. The fire took around three hours to be brought under control. The Brazilian tourism minister has called for an investigation into the causes of the fire and to see whether any works can be recovered.

The works lost in the fire were uninsured, reportedly due to financial issues, and included the artist’s archive of materials, which included drawings, notes, documentaries, and books. Key pieces such as Bólides, Parangolés, and works from the Oiticica’s 2007 exhibitions at the Tate and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston were destroyed. The fire also claimed pictures and film negatives by Brazilian photographer José Oiticica, Helio and César’s father.

Cesar spoke about the fire, saying, “It was the greatest tragedy that could happen to the Brazilian culture. Without doubt, the only victim of this tragedy was the Brazilian culture.”

Read more at Globo and


Source; Tate Modern "The Body of Color" exhibition website

Bólides (1963–69)

Oiticica began to work on the first 'Bólides' (Fireballs) in 1963, after completing the 'Invenções' (Inventions) series, through which he had discovered the means of infusing colour with depth and luminosity. All of the 64 works in the Bólides series include some means of allowing light to penetrate into their interior, generating the effect of a luminous centre or nucleus, and making them containers of light.

The first Bólides Oiticica created – called 'Bólides caixas' (Box Bolides) – are highly elaborate yet simple constructions made from coarse painted plywood. Like small architectural environments, they appear to be 'inflamed' by light and charged with energy, an important evolution in Oiticica's idea of 'totalidade-côr' (total colour). They were designed to be handled, with moveable panels revealing new chromatic planes, though for conservation reasons they can no longer be touched. The compartments and openings – some visible, some hidden – hold loose pigments, mirrors, and other materials; Oiticica referred to the group as 'structures for inspection'.

With the introduction of Glass Bólides into the series, Oiticica began to include everyday materials such as glass vessels, plastic, earth, painted cloth, shells and foam, expanding the range of sensory experience offered through interaction with the artwork. The range of colours was extended to include pinks and blues, and ready-made objects also began to find their way into the work, further encouraging the viewer's emotional and intellectual participation.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Designer Theorists

A friend was recently at a workshop about Antonio Gramsci (don't ask, don't tell) and a pretentious nerd took theory head name-dropping to a new level, citing D & G. As the friend noted, the queer folks in the room immediately said Dolce & Gabbana? It turns out that the name dropping nerd meant DELEUZE & GUATTARI of rhizome fame. We were in hysterics when she recounted this, and I wondered: what would happen if the Italian fashionistas made a collection inspired by Deleuze & Guattari, how awesome could that be? Imagine them explaining in their Italian accents "It's about Deleuze & Guattari. The fabrication is very deconstructed and rhizomatic. The pieces can be worn from the top, bottom, or sides. And the pattern story is all about the rhizome." Hysterical. I would die to be at the next Gathering of Nerds (the College Art Association Conference; see my posts earlier with this title as well as Testing the Waters) and see the black clad masses in their rhizome print outfits.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What we've all been waiting for, onesies for adults

I find this jumpin jammerz quite creepy - is it an adult wearing a baby's onesie? is it an adult woman wearing a baby's onesie that is see-through? is she eroticizing baby hood?
personally I would lean towards buying this animal-print model, since as we know leopard is a Puerto Rican NeutralTM

At first I mocked the ubiquitous Snuggie - the blanket with sleeves - thinking: A. why not just get something called a bathrobe? and B. it's probably the cause of many a "I've fallen and I can't get up" accidents. Then I saw them at Walgreen's that wonderland of As Seen on TV merch, and asked to open the box to see the length. Sadly, I'm not called Petite Maoiste for nothing, my tiny height means I cannot participate in the mass experience of Snuggie wearing that is sweeping the USA in 2009.

Tonight I learned about a garment I had actually dreamed about, and wondered why it had not been invented. Perhaps it began when my friends began to breed en masse, as if a collective alarm clock or egg timer went off. Single and not interested in being a mother, I nonetheless enjoyed seeing my friends' happiness and getting to buy adorable miniscule outfits for the infants, particularly the onesies and the little ones that cover the babies' feet. Enclosed from neck to toes must feel quite comforting, I thought.

Now is our chance to indulge in the already pervasive infantilization of adults in this country. And for those really into that type of experience they have one where rear section drops down. They also have sticky feet models so you don't slip and fall after downing a six pack or two watching the football game with your buddies. I particularly love the camouflage pattern as it evokes the indoctrination of children in the use of guns and love of violence in parts of the USA. How appropriate.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Glenn Ligon in J. Crew

The latest J. Crew catalogue has a section where famous artists including Vito Acconci (!) model some of the clothes. The best is Glenn Ligon. He is one of my top favorite artists ever, and is also extremely dapper as well as a nice person.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

PRC Fashion

As a scholar that writes on dictators' propaganda (and plans to write about an a case of propaganda and fashion at some later point), I was mesmerized by the sartorial display at the massive parade commemorating the 60th anniversary of the PRC. Maybe it's my residual trauma caused by being raised in part by fascists and living for a period in a country led by a military dictator that is the cause of my sarcastic responses to these kinds of displays, and attention to their "frivolous" aspects, like sartorial presentation.

I've never seen a world leader, dictator or not, ride around in a car equipped with microphones. At least while I was watching the parade, he did not use them, and in fact was quite rigid. The past Chinese leaders all wore dark business suits and ties, but Hu Jintao had on the most exquisite Mao jacket that looked like it was made of some type of silk.

These women looked to my ignorant US-American eyes like Communist Mary Kaye sales associates. The heart-shaped balloons were a bizarre contrast to the predominant tanks, missiles, guns, and marching troops. I have no idea which organization these women are affiliated with.

This uniform was a cross between a 1960s flight attendant and a majorette.

The skirts seemed awfully short to be worn in battle.

I was particularly struck by this cut-off view. Much of the official government footage used the over-head shot and the cut off views -omniscient eye surveying or part for the whole - both suggesting the massive number of troops, tanks, etc. In this case as well, the goose-stepping legs clad in the sexy white go-go into battle boots resemble images of the Rockettes on stage.

60th Anniversary of the PRC - Oct. 1, 2009

This is a fantastic article from The New York Times:

October 1, 2009
Mao: The Great Helmsman of Kitsch?

HONG KONG — If you want to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China on Thursday, look no further than, an American Web site that specializes in custom-made gifts. There, for $18.95, you can buy a white T-shirt emblazoned with a portrait of Mao Zedong and the words “Chairman Mao is my homeboy.”

The shirt is sold in 62 varieties, including an infant-size bodysuit in organic cotton for $22.95. If that does not please you, there is a mouse pad ($10.95) or a Chairman Meow mug ($14.95).

Mao memorabilia are a big business and the 60th birthday of the People’s Republic is expected to give it a further lift. While no one keeps track of how much Mao material is sold annually, vendors and dealers report a recent uptick in interest. The Chinese state media predicted this summer that there would be a spike in sales. In Hunan, Mao’s home province, officials recently announced new regulations to ensure that factories that produce souvenirs with his likeness maintained quality as they met demand.

“He is more popular than ever,” said John Li, who sells Mao memorabilia from a small shop in Hong Kong. “The chairman is like Giorgio Armani.”

Mao, who led the Communists to victory in the Chinese Civil War, remains a deeply divisive figure. He is praised for helping China throw off foreign powers and despised for ill-conceived policies that left tens of millions of Chinese dead. There are many who find the idea of Mao kitsch offensive.

Yet it is this ambivalence about Mao’s life and legacy that, in some ways, makes him marketable — the Great Helmsman, as he was called, means something different to everyone, so he appeals to many people, in different ways.

According to Jennifer Hubbert, an anthropologist at Lewis & Clark College, in Oregon, Mao badges were first created in the late 1930s, or early 1940s to celebrate revolutionary victories and recognize service to the socialist cause.

During the Cultural Revolution, in the 1960s and 1970s, Mao iconography was produced by the state as part of efforts to personalize political culture. People in China used the badges to signify their zeal for the cause. Some went so far as to pin them directly to their skin.

As the personality cult widened, production peaked. Badges were distributed by work units, given as prizes or traded. Ceramic statues were exported to ethnic Chinese communities overseas and slowly made their way around the world.

When Mao died in 1976, there were literally billions of badges — as well as books, posters and other Mao-related knickknacks — in existence. As China adopted market overhauls and came to grips with the grimmer parts of the Mao legacy, most of these relics disappeared, though some were kept.

It was not until the 1990s that the market for all things Mao re-emerged. Spurred by the Chinese consumer revolution and the 100th anniversary of his birth, in 1893, a new strain of “Mao fever” spread. College students — the children of the Red Guard generation — began wearing Mao badges as a comment on China’s slide from socialist ideals. The communist revolutionary became a consumer-driven fad.

Recognizing Mao’s moneymaking potential, dealers set up shop in major Chinese markets. In the cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou, rows of factory workers started turning out a new generation of Mao memorabilia — laptop cooling pads, musical refrigerator magnets and key chains — as communist trinkets became a must-have for tourists.

But there are still originals to be found. Victoria Edison, for instance, runs, a California-based online shop that specializes in selling authentic pieces to a predominantly American and European clientele.

“There are not a lot of Chinese people, especially people over 40, who are interested in this stuff,” said Ms. Edison, whose parents and grandparents survived the Cultural Revolution. “For them, it is a sore reminder of two lost generations.”

But for Ms. Edison, who left China as a young woman, collecting Mao memorabilia is — for better or for worse — a link to the past. “It is all part of understanding a lost world, rediscovering something that is gone,” she said.

Copyright 2009