Art, Features April 22, 2010 By Nika Carlson

Films stills courtesy of Paranoid Pictures

Banksy, Studio Interior. Films stills courtesy of Paranoid Pictures

exitthrough title Exit through the Giftshop

Bansky, the famed British street artist whose identity is a closely guarded secret, is a known trickster and provocateur. He gained early attention for hanging his pieces in major museums on the sly, placing them next to the work of masters, and later caused controversy by featuring a live, painted elephant in one of his shows. His newest piece, a documentary called Exit Through the Gift Shop, is another head scratcher, following street art’s evolution from graffitti’s progeny to fine art’s younger brother in a movie that questions not just street art, but art itself.
     The film purports to document the life of Thierry Guetta, a French expat who through his obsession with filming everything stumbles upon the burgeoning street art scene. He is introduced to it by a cousin known as Space Invader, and in the course of his adventures meets the scene’s biggest players, including Shepard Fairey of “Obey” fame, and, eventually, Bansky. Guetta, our guide, is the comic relief — a naif asking innocent and frankly stupid questions of the street art superheroes with whom he becomes friends — filming, lending a hand, and occasionally spilling buckets of paint.
     The film takes a critical turn when Guetta drops the video camera and picks up a brush. He does so at the urging of Bansky, who makes the suggestion when he sees the disastrous documentary Guetta has produced from his near decade of street art footage.


Art March 4, 2010 By Nika Carlson

Viscous Rain, Fred Wilson. 2002 Photograph by Ellen Labenski, courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York ©Fred Wilson, courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York

Viscous Rain, Fred Wilson. 2002 Photograph by Ellen Labenski, courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York

shaq title Shaq Attack

Rapper, actor, author, television host, reserve policeman, Twitter megastar, and, yes, basketball legend, Shaquille O’Neal is perhaps the consumate populist Rennaissance man. This month he extends his reach with a new role as curator and muse for the much-buzzed about art show Size DOES Matter at Chelsea’s FLAG Art Foundation. The show, which sets out to display work where size is a central component, boasts an impressive catalogue of artists — Jeff Koons, Anselm Kieffer, Cindy Sherman, Chuck Close, and forty others — and offers an excellent opportunity to experience some fantastic pieces. Whether or not these pieces deal with size is a separate matter.
     Shaq personally selected or commissioned the artwork from a list put together by FLAG, and his choices range from pinhead-size sculptures of the First Family to wall-size paintings of body parts, rap stars, and dead Chinese dictators. Highlights include Kieffer’s portrait of a young Mao, a masterful example of the artist’s thick impasto; Koons’ “Beach House”, a frenetically erotic pastiche of swimsuits, deck chairs, and breasts; and Richard Dupont’s lifesize sculptures of himself that play with twisting perspective. A nine-foot-tall photograph of Madonna and her audience, taken from afar, demonstrates each person’s insignificance, while nearby, a collossal sculpture of a table and chairs inspires feelings of childlike joy and awe.

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Art, Books February 1, 2010 By Nika Carlson
ecstatic cover Ecstatic Peace Poetry Journal
Photography courtesy of White Columns

ecstatic title Ecstatic Peace Poetry Journal

Best known for his role in Sonic Youth, Thurston Moore has for the last ten years published a poetry journal featuring work by the likes of Gus Van Sant, Kathleen Hanna, Rick Moody, Lenny Bruce (posthumously, of course), and many others. Although primarily a side project — publishing approximately once per year — Moore’s journal has been successful at forging an intimate link between the art, music, and poetry worlds he inhabits. For the next month, famed New York art space White Columns will celebrate the latest issue, #10, with an exhibition and reading and performance series, highlighting some of the journal’s best work and influences.
     Ecstatic Peace is inspired by the mimeographed, post-war poetry magazines that proliferated in the 1960s and 70s. Moore began acquiring the mags with friend and co-editor Byron Coley when they hit a wall in record collecting, and the fruits of their obsession are on display here, along with the covers of the earlier issues of Ecstatic Peace.

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Art January 18, 2010 By Nika Carlson

filler16 Patti Smithpatismith cover Patti Smithfiller16 Patti Smith

pattismith title Patti Smith

“I always felt somethin’ different stirrin’ in me,” declares a young Patti Smith in Dream of Life, the recent documentary film about her. That young girl’s instincts were right, and in the decades since she spoke those words, Smith has emerged as a radical figure even in the progressive world of rock and roll: a feminine tomboy who led a rock movement while maintaining her fangirl love of the counterculture. The film captures that essence, which is further distilled for Patti Smith and Steven Sebring: Objects of Life, a collaborative show with the filmmaker inspired by the eleven years it took to make the movie. On view at Chelsea’s Robert Miller Gallery, it includes a collection of art, photographs and objects from both artists, and though Sebring is a collaborator, Smith is the star. The show is a paean to her, and to her artistic diversity.
     Though Smith is best known as a musician, she is also an accomplished poet and visual artist, and the show leads you through her talents. On view are a number of her ghostly black-and-white photographs, notably as part of her tribute to Arthur Rimbaud, the 19th-century French poet, which is centered on a haunting recreation of his death litter. Smith’s drawings are also a highlight, with their loose, scratchy lines, delicate colors, and emphasis on symbology. Smith dedicates one gallery to her friendship with the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, a touching installation that alludes to Just Kids, a new memoir by Smith about their shared youth that reminds you Smith is a writer who has always been loud about her influences.

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