Sunday, December 23, 2007

Okwui's "Archive Fever" at the ICP

Next month (January 18 to be precise), Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art, will open at the International Center for Photography (ICP), NY. This exhibition organized by my friend Okwui Enwezor will feature leading--though not all living--contemporary artists--including Christian Boltanski, Tacita Dean, Stan Douglas, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Zoe Leonard, Ilán Lieberman, Robert Morris, Walid Raad, Thomas Ruff, Anri Sala, Fazal Sheikh, Eyal Sivan, Lorna Simpson, Vivan Sundaram--who have used archival documents to re-imagine important themes and forms of contemporary art. Okwui has distinguished himself with the originality and ambition of his ideas and curatorial vision, so I expect this second part of his ICP trilogy, to be--as we have come to expect of his shows-- a visual feast and significant intellectual argument.

On Elizabeth Duncan and Jeremy Blake's Suicides

I was just reading the details of the tragic story of multimedia artist-couple Elizabeth Duncan and Jeremy Blake's suicides in July in the January 2008 issue of Vanity Fair (I love it when they write about artists!). Whatever the burden that weighed so heavily on the two souls, two oh-so-much-in-love, beautiful people driven as much by their success as by their insecurities in the elite artworlds of New York and LA; whatever paranoias that robbed them of the sense of good judgment; whatever passions moved them to tragicoromantic notions of love, love of the kind that eventually lost its way in the labyrinthine, cobwebbed maze of contemporary life, it is indeed a powerfully sad story that Shakespeare could have invented. Their families and friends must now deal with the pain, the utter bewilderment, perhaps even guilt of having failed to offer succor to the drifting lovers asphyxiated by an existential blackhole into which they were sucked, terminally. No doubt, some scriptwriters somewhere must be thinking of a Hollywood version of this story. Till, then one must have to contemplate how once again the fatal mix of ambition, delusion, and (hunger for) fame claimed two young, mysterious lives, but also how closely Duncan's animated film History of Glamour (1999) preempted the July 2007 suicides.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Horrors of Biafra!

[CAUTION: if you have never witnessed a war crime, this may be too much]. However, this link tells just a little bit of the horrors of the Nigerian-Biafran War (1967-70). Despite the complicity of the international community in genocidal actions of Nigerian government, the crimes committed in that war, still beg to be investigated.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

On ARTFORUM's Best of 2007

The December “Best of 2007” issue of the Artforum, arguably the most influential contemporary art magazine, has just come out. Among the 19 individual whose opinion, one assumes, are significant within the field of contemporary art (the list includes Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Daniel Birnbaum, Matthew Higgs, Jessica Morgan, Claire Bishop and David Rimanelli), is my colleague and friend Okwui Enwezor. These Artworld Savants have been asked to list and comment on their TOP TEN shows of 2007, and Okwui’s list includes David Hammons’ show at L&M Arts, NY; Steve McQueen’s exhibition at the Renaissance Society, Chicago and the Venice Biennale; Chris Ofili at David Zwirner, and Marcia Kure at BravinLee Programs, NY. Thank God—or maybe Artforum had no choice—Okwui made the list of selectors, otherwise, you would not think that there are any black artists making important work today (granted that McQueen is also listed by Lynne Cooke, and Claire Bishop; and Hammons made Jack Bankowsky’s list). Which is why “The Artists’ Artists” section—in which they invited 46 artists to each talk about a favorite artist—of the magazine is so disappointing. Of these many artists, how many are from Africa or the African Diaspora? NONE! Artforum ought to know better than this; that it is almost contemptuous to not invite at least a couple of African and African Diaspora artists whose work have been very present on the art scene this past year.