Saturday, April 10, 2010

Spring Cleaning

_Detail from "Tip of Iceberg " studio clutter_
_There is a time every so often where too many projects have been piling up without the benefit of documenting. So I’m devoting the week to spring cleaning my studio spaces before things are any more out of control. I do admit to enjoying a certain amount of chaos and having several projects open and in progress at any one time. Things that actually are finished seem to be the ones that I’ve imposed deadlines on. So while I do have open projects and some new ideas to begin I don’t have any serious need for deadlines right now; so time to step back and survey.

Myself with Reid Wood, Mark Bloch and Valery Oisteanu (photo by Gail Wood)
Taken at Marks show at Emily Harvey Gallery

_But part of that process is procrastinating and slipping out to look at the work of other artists. My wife and I took the train into NYC last week to catch a couple of shows about to close.

_A friend from ABAD (A Book About Death), Mark Bloch was in the final day of a show at Emily Harvey Gallery. Marks exhibition “Secrets of the Ancient 20th Century Gamers” showcased his art of Storàge as well as some collage and sticker art. What immediately draws the eye when entering the gallery is a variety of trunks, suitcases all chained and roped closed.

_A tongue in cheek high security that references the art form Mark describes in his wall manifesto posted nearby. “To err on the side of invisibility is never a mistake. If an artist has any doubts at all about the worthiness of what has been created, they should simply place the work in a secure area, free from intellectually curious intruders where no one can see it.”

Mark described each case as being a unique museum.

Each trunk or container is actually labeled as such; the above detail from the Museum of Marriage. Of course, contents are unknown at present per the art of Storáge.

_ Another of Mark's pieces I've pictured here is his Sticker of Stickers. Mark has collected sticker art during his travels throughout the city and has used them as collage elements in this large (guessing 8') mother of all stickers. In talking to Mark there was some conflicting ideas on how best to exhibit this piece. Should it be stuck directly to the wall, perhaps should it be stuck to a nude? In the end its simple placement on the wall seems very satisfactory without any additional commentary on the nature of sticker art.

_In addition Mark's zines are present in a news stand type display. If you follow the link to the artist site you will find that the zines have much commentary on the nature of art and influences that make up much of Mark's art.

_Another bonus... Karen and I happened to be at the show the same day that Reid Wood and his wife Gail were visiting the city from Ohio. It was a pleasure to meet Reid and exchange some small pieces.

_I admit what drew me to the Tichý exhibit at the International Center for Photography was his intriguing homemade cameras. I left feeling the same way; intrigued. The photography leaves me a bit conflicted in light of the incredible back story of Miroslav Tichý himself. While trained at Prague's' Academy of Fine Arts as a painter, his photography seems more of a personal reaction to government repression and hints concerning mental illness. I say seems, as while the deliberate mishandling of his artistic production method is intentional, it does bear an obsessive hoarding quality as evidenced in the display cases containing the cameras and decomposing piles of negatives and prints. That being said, any mention of mental illness is in the context of the crackdowns following the Prague Spring. Working in an environment of repression and surveillance and in fact rounded up for a detention on a routine basis, he seems to have the persona of the mad artist let loose in the village; misunderstood and little tolerated. The work itself is centered on his daily strolls through his hometown in Kyjov, Czechoslovakia.

_The subjects of his photography, mostly women, are for the most part unaware of his presence. Intentionally at odds with photographers who obsessively detail the settings, lens, filters used in the work; in his words "Photography is painting with light! The blurs, the spots, those are errors! But the errors are part of it, they give it poetry and turn it into painting. And for that you need as bad a camera as possible! If you want to be famous, you have to do whatever you're doing worse than anyone else in the whole world."
_ His work becomes the mirror world of his environment; a voyeuristic surveillance of his town for unknown purpose.
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