There’s something incredibly dark and disconcerting about descending from the sky towards the Chicago landscape. Maybe it’s the logic of it, or the orderliness. The clean gleaming oval of Lake Michigan. A boat or two, bobbing far from shore, the rest of them moored or clinging to that fault line between solid land and fresh water responsible for so much of Chicago’s recreation, real estate, and remarkableness. Feet from the lake, the skyscrapers push their way to where they scrape, puncturing the interminable flatness as sharp as a shock-induced peak on an EKG.
Cambridge, MA — I set out from my couch of the moment for some coffee since I am one of those murmuring morning people, the kind who requires a habit and a burnt tongue to prove to myself that I am, in fact, awake. On the short walk down the cramped sidestreets of residential Cambridge, I come face to face with the broad glass windows of Meme Gallery — a storefront space with yellow strings like spokes suspending a purple totemic figure above a basin of water, placed in the middle of the gallery floor. Fabric contortions billowed and oozed along the walls, nightmares leaking through dawn and ceiling tiles, down the gallery walls. Am I awake? What the hell is this?
The similarities between contemporary art and taxidermy are more numerous and more humorous than I realized, and thanks to a slightly too smart, vaguely discomforting show called Whitetail Deer, A to Z by Rebecca Lieberman at Anthony Greaney Gallery in Boston this similarity has been brought to my attention in great depth and detail.
Cambridge, MA — The first thing I wanted to see, for reasons that will become clear in a few days, was a Walter Gropius building. Instead, the first thing I came across was the most talented Nebraskan you’ve never heard of.
I passed Pierre Menard Gallery in Cambridge on my way to look at an old Walter Gropius building, and the name, taken from a Borges story I’ve read and love, drew me in.
Cambridge, MA — There’s something that makes Harkness Commons — also known as the Harvard Graduate Center, also known as Harvard’s first Modern building — odd … How did this proletarian architecture wind up palatable to an institution as well endowed as Harvard?
From mid September through early October, I’ll be on an art-themed Odyssey across the United States in an attempt to be sensitive to different scenes from around the country and, of course, their discontents. I’ll bounce from JFK to ORD, LAX to MSY, SLC to IAD, SFO and beyond — as long as the “beyond” falls within the boundaries of the jetBlue network (thanks to my monthly unlimited metrocard to the sky).
Over at MoMA, there are two big survey shows that focus on a single theme throughout the history of photography from the heyday of the daguerreotype through to the present. The first, Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, is an “installation that comprises more than 200 works by approximately 120 artists.” The second is an examination of photography’s relationship to sculpture titled The Original Copy: The Photography of Sculpture, 1839 to Today, that “brings together over 300 photographs, magazines, and journals, by more than 100 artists” … A good exhibition is not a numbers game. And in Pictures by Women, which is a little diffuse, it shows.
Video games appear to be making oddly pervasive cameos across fields as varied as architecture, art, cinema, criticism, and now theater. Theater of the Arcade: Five Classic Video Games Adapted for the Stage is exactly that, a series of five plays that Jeff Lewonczyk wrote and Gyda Arber directed at the Brick Theater in Williamsburg through July 25.
The premise of Theater of the Arcade is to take the characters from an iconic video game — let’s say “Frogger” — and insert those characters into a world that operates according to the logic and stage vernacular of an equally iconic 20th century dramatist — let’s say Samuel Beckett à la Godot …
We perceive architecture, Walter Benjamin thought, in two ways: optical and tactile. There’s a progression over time in our optical perception of something that develops from looking at something into contemplating it. Black scratches to letters to a sign to an idea. But Benjamin didn’t think there was a tactile analog to contemplation when it came to perceiving something through touch.