Archive for November, 2008

No More Mister Nice Gay

November 17, 2008

Okay, so now that Prop 8 has passed, we have official proof that the California sun can have detrimental effects that include–but are not limited to–a diminished cerebral capacity. As such, I, together with thousands of my homosexypants brethren, have taken it to the streets this past Saturday, November 15th. Despite our best wishes to put on our tallest pair of platforms and stampede the lumps of wasted DNA who had put on their best polyester foot forward to protest our existence across the street, we didn’t.

Instead, we marched. We marched for peace, for equality, and for love. We marched for lesbians’ right to hold a lawful ceremony, surrounded by their family and cats. We marched for gay men’s rights to hold a lawful ceremony, exchanging white platinum glowsticks surrounded by our “sisters” and tricks. We marched not for normalcy, but acceptance of difference. We marched for refusing tolerance for being merely tolerated. We marched because we need to not simply be heard of, but worked with. We marched because we wanted to spread that same love and strength that has kept our community together through thick, thin, thinner and bitch-please-I-can-tell-you’re-on-a-liquid diet. We marched because we wanted you, our straight brothers, sisters, parents, colleagues and friends to join us in our plea to catch up with the 21st century, and relinquish antiquated views of family morals. We marched because the word needs to be spread. We marched because we knew you’d care about the same basic thing we do.

So if you care–and we know you do, please sign this petition, it will only take a minute of your time, and allow millions of people across this country to enjoy an equality that would last a lifetime.

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Review: Jenny Holzer at the Museum of Contemporary Art

November 12, 2008

Jenny Holzer‘s alarming show at the MCA is aptly titled “Protect Protect“. The emphatic duplication of the verb in the title engenders a sense of urgency, and vicariously alludes to a growing sense of frustration. Holzer first came to fame with her Truisms in the late 1970’s, where a series of banal phrases were flashed across a small screen with LED lights. The flashing texts revealed schematic associations, especially in relation to the body, relationships, and interpersonal interactions. Without ever relinquishing her former affinity for the body (both the personal and the collective), Holzer has tweaked her messages somewhat (to say the least) by boldly referring to the current political landscape.

A vociferous speaker against the current administration, Holzer added several series of paintings to her repertoire, each concerned with methods of corporal punishment (“Wish List”), fatal torture (“Homicide”) and reports from prisoner camps (“Findings”). Interestingly, each series (all arranged in a militantly precise grid) consists of actual declassified war documents that Holzer blew up and set against a jarring electric color. The act of enlargement speaks of the monumental brutality (equally buttressed by the paintings’ high–as opposed to eye-level–positioning), which–combined with the color–create the same visual shock that Holzer’s flashing LED works in the next rooms produce.

Each of the LED installations–severely more complex than any of the work seen in her Truism series–is multi-layered and intimidatingly oversized. The flashing colors, the all-around positioning of the works in the gallery space, the angles at which the LED texts appear to be swallowed into the blank wall, and the varying speed at which the messages flash, all create the illusion of a nightmarish technological oasis. Resembling the neon luminescence of a gas station at midnight, together with the hypnotic (if vertiginous) effect of Vegas’ casino lights and the informational bombardment at Time Square, the works are meant to create the feeling of frustration, of missing out, of drowning in, and losing control. Given the current economic upheaval, the exhibition feels perfectly germane.

My only concern? The show is not a retrospective, and emphasis on almost all contemporary work becomes more of a gallery show than a truly academic endeavor. With no background on her Truisms and no inclusion of her Projections series, the exhibition feels a bit deficient.

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Jenny Holzer, Mind Your Own, from Truism

SOFA Chicago 2008: Running the whole gamut.

November 7, 2008

Whenever life seems to be going a little slow, I put on a pair or comfortable running shoes, and I run. Sometimes I run for office, at others I run from the law, and at times I even run a stop sign. And I know what you’re thinking (“What about running your big mouth, you arrogant knucklehead?!?!”) but I’d rather not repeat it. Maybe I’ll just run it by you. Or maybe I’ll just run the water to drown out your constant complaining. Or maybe I’ll just run a big company, hire you, and then have you run errands. *Sigh*… so many uses. I could go on all day. Let me run with it. Sorry, I really can’t help it by now, I just love running things to the ground.

So before I run out of ideas (I know, I know, just please be nice and keep reading) and run you out of this post (last one, I promise!) the most important run you should be making (other than away from me) is to SOFA CHICAGO 2008. The art fair, founded by Marc Lyman 15 years ago, is one of the most exclusive art fairs in the country, as it is solely dedicated to three-dimensional arts (sculpture, object and functional, hence the acronym). While historically relegated to the secondary tier of “craft”–as opposed to “fine” or “high–art, SOFA dispels any such falsities regarding object and functional art. Local, national, and international galleries alike are showcasing phenomenal work that breaks through barriers and confounds the mind. Bronze sculptures imitate crumpled bits of paper, contemporary carved columns resemble ancient spiritual totem polls, glass shards huddle to form a fluid wave, lumps of clay float like balloons, and massive bodies of steel are suspended as lightly as feathers. The scope of art is truly amazing, and proves once again that no matter how much art you feel like you’ve seen, there is always someone–you guessed it–giving you a run for your money.

SOFA Chicago 2008 will be running Friday November 7th, from 11a.m-8:00p.m; Saturday November 8th, from 11a.m-8p.m; and Sunday, November 9th, from 12p.m-6p.m. To purchase tickets, click here.

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Lucio Bubacco, Mythological Dream, 2008. Litvak Galleries, Tel Aviv.

Got MILK? You better.

November 3, 2008

Community leader and activist Harvey Milk would open his rallies with an introduction, followed by a frank revelation of his intention: “I am here to recruit you.” It was that very same unassuming approach that made him popular, accessible, and influential, as evidenced in Gus Van Sant’s latest biopic, Milk. The movie stars a brilliant Sean Pean as California’s first openly gay elected official. The marriage of Van Sant and Penn is perfect, as together they carve a most vulnerable and believable character without taking the oh-too-easy bait to sanctify a hero. Simply put, Penn’s Milk is as flawed as he is heroic.  It is also the battery of other actors—a beguiling James Franco with whom Penn shares heart-breaking chemistry, a scene-stealing Diego Luna, a wonderfully nuanced Emile Hirsch, a sensational Josh Brolin, and a terrific Allison Pill—who make the film such a treat.

Given the film’s emphasis on community, leadership, and opposition to the kind of inane divisiveness that has precluded this country from evolving, the movie feels eerily germane. A significant portion of Milk is devoted to the community’s struggle against the fear of Otherness as spewed by beauty-queen-cum-self-righteous-hate-monger Anita Bryant, and California’s Proposition 6, which would have called for the immediate professional termination of gay—and gay-sympathizing, no less—teachers. Given today’s political atmosphere, the proximity to the election, and California’s current battle over Proposition 8, Milk is as telling of its period as much as it is of ours. Overall, it is an excellent epic that should demand no recruitment, but simply feel the love of free will.