Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What side of the "Cage"d Fence do you Stand on? WTF or Brilliant

4′33″ (

pronounced Four minutes, thirty-three seconds or, as the composer himself referred to it, Four, thirty-three[1]) is a three-movement composition[2][3] by American avant-garde composer John Cage (1912–1992). It was composed in 1952 for any instrument (or combination of instruments), and the score instructs the performer not to play the instrument during the entire duration of the piece throughout the three movements (the first being thirty seconds, the second being two minutes and twenty-three seconds, and the third being one minute and forty seconds). Although commonly perceived as "four minutes thirty-three seconds of silence",[4][5] the piece actually consists of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it is performed.[6][7]

Over the years, 4′33″ became Cage's most famous and most controversial composition.[2] Conceived around 1947–1948, while the composer was working on Sonatas and Interludes,[2] 4′33″ became for Cage the epitome of his idea that any sounds constitute, or may constitute, music.[8] It was also a reflection of the influence of Zen Buddhism, which Cage studied since the late forties. In a 1982 interview, and on numerous other occasions, Cage stated that 4′33″ was, in his opinion, his most important work.[9]

David Byrne Bike Cam Through Times Square, NYC. 10th July 2009

David Byrne biked to Town Hall for his “How New Yorkers Ride Bikes”
event in 2007. The night began with the audience viewing his helmet-cam
footage of his journey there, and eventually he biked right up on the stage.

Artist Guy Ben-Ner's Ikea Sitcom and the "Reality Stage"

As a student, Ben-Ner moved his studio practice to his home, and many of his works, such as Moby Dick, feature fantasy play with his family. In an unpublished interview with artist Boaz Arad, Ben-Ner said “I had to choose between being a bad father away from home a lot, and being a good father, staying at home and making concessions. To work at home is a type of compromise.” Themes of exile--of being on an island in the home--recur in other works, including Treehouse Kit (2005), in which the artist uses ordinary bedroom furniture kits to build a tree and other tropical accouterments. While the artist’s family has been on view in his work for years, the 2007 video Stealing Beauty brought their domestic life into a busy IKEA showroom. In this video the Ben-Ner clan, without permission, enacts home scenes in IKEA’s domestic vignettes (showering, sleeping, and bickering). With a humorous nod to their surroundings, father and children discuss the nature of private property and service-based commercial enterprise with a Marx/Engels slant. Pointing to the surrounding showroom as legitimate shoppers pass through the frame, Ben-Ner says, “This house belongs to us. We are the only ones who have the right to use it and the right to exclude others from using it…. Private property creates borders, son.” Source

All art comes from other art, and all immigrants come from other places. What makes Ben-Ner’s art stand out is that he puts these ideas together so well, continually cannibalizing the culture and objects he encounters, trying to make these things work for his art and his family. In this way, he echoes the immigrant’s story and the artist’s quest - Jerry Saltz

A still from Guy Ben-Ner’s "Moby Dick" (2000). ; Courtesy of MASS MoCA


The video artist Guy Ben-Ner became internationally renowned when he represented Israel at the Venice Biennale in 2005. The work he presented there, ‚Treehouse Kit’, deals with a tree made of pieces of furniture, which the artist turns into a tree of survival. It might, thus, serve the modern version of a Robinson Crusoe. Ben-Ner, who completed his art studies in New York in 2003, was the lone survivor already when he showed ‚Berkeley’s Island’ (1999) – the artist squatting, stranded next to a palm tree on a sandy island, in the middle of his kitchen. The quasi domesticated artist is reluctant to accept the roles allocated today to family members. He does the chores, but discusses his unsatisfied desires, and stresses the incongruity between the cliché-like fury of the artist or the savagery of man, and modern lifestyles. Ben-Ner uses his body in the performance videos in order to paint the self-portrait of the family man (Edelsztein). It is also the family man who tries to transmit everyday culture to his son in ‚Wild boy’ (2004), or who, in ‚Moby Dick’ (2000), converts his kitchen into a whaler, which does not hunt legendary animals, as in Herman Melville's novel, but gets to the bottom of traditional myths. Ben-Ner's filmed self-portraits show the artist after he has arrived in reality.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blood Work - Kate Levant

from Art

(Photo: Jake Chessum)

At art school at Yale, I wanted to do a project where the Red Cross would come into the gallery space and conduct a blood drive. There’s something really amazing about the regenerative aspect of donating, and I’m interested in how such a personal thing for a donor has an immediate anonymity.

But when I talked to the Yale dean about my idea for a show, a red flag went up. Another Yale artist had recently proposed a project documenting her self-induced abortions, and maybe Yale still had some raw nerves about the media attention that got. They told me, “We just can’t do this.”

Press Release

I kept trying and was getting shut down over and over again. Finally, a former professor of mine e-mailed my proposal to Zach Feuer, who invited me to curate a summer show of my installation and work by other artists. I’ve never curated anything before, but he’s giving me a lot of freedom. It’s amazing. Then next month I go back to New Haven for another year of school.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Marclay "Screenplay"

This is one of Marclay’s visual scores, in which found materials are collated as a representation of a sound performance to be interpreted by musicians. It is Marclay’s intention that his film be viewed by performers as a score. Screenplay is compiled from film footage that Marclay spliced into something of a narrative. In addition, he introduced simple, colorful digital animations of lines and waveforms and big, round dots on top of some of the footage. In following series of images, for example, a conductor appears on screen. It is one of the more explicitly music-related sequences in Screenplay, which is more often packed with seemingly random images of buildings and under-water scenes.

In this segment, a thick line traces the path of the conductor’s hand, until, over time, his face is almost entirely obscured:

Marclay’s art often has a magnetic quality, in which the world seems to conform itself to his mindset. For example, in the sequence depicted above, the actions of the conductor, which already were meant to give instruction to musicians, take on a whole new symbolic purpose.

There is a stream-of-consciousness quality to Marclay’s Screenplay. For example, at one point there’s a chase scene that ends up with a door being locked, followed by a close-up of the lock, and then when the key falls out of the lock, something on the floor explodes, which leads to numerous sequences of ever more out-of-control fires, which then leads to scene after scene of water. Each of the segments of the silent, unfolding story is taken from a different pre-existing source, but through Marclay’s editing, they’re combined into something fluid and whole. As with the numerous printed scores on display, Screenplay is running unaccompanied by music — if Marclay uses art as score, in this setting his score is the art.


Christian Marclay is a New York based visual artist and composer whose innovative work explores the juxtaposition between sound recording, photography, video and film. Born in California and raised in Geneva (Switzerland), he studied sculpture at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and at Cooper Union in New York. As performer and sound artist Christian Marclay has been experimenting, composing and performing with phonograph records and turntables since 1979 to create his unique "theater of found sound." Marclay has collaborated with musicians such as John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, Shelley Hirsh, Christian Wolff, Butch Morris, Otomo Yoshihide, Arto Lindsay, and Sonic Youth among many others. A dadaist DJ and filmmaker his installations and video / film collages display provocative musical and visual landscapes and have been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art New York, Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou Paris, Kunsthaus Zurich, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.