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Talking to Nate Hill About Punch Me Panda


During last month’s #TheSocialGraph exhibition, Hill dressed as a panda and lived in a crate in the gallery. He named the character, “Punch Me Panda.” For a penny you could either punch him in the gallery or invite him to your home in Brooklyn via tweet (@natexhill). He also roamed the streets trying to relieve people’s frustration and anger while he was dressed up in his persona. This conversation with artist happened late last month and reflects on his performance and what it is all about.

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A Colonial Ghost House in Boston MFA’s Americas Wing

At the new Art of the Americas wing at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, four floors of galleries tell the story of American art in a new expansion designed by architect Norman Foster. The expansion marks a big moment for the museum, whose collection of American art (particularly colonial North American) is unparalleled. The new galleries showcase everything from Aztec and Mayan art to colonial silver craft, 19th century aristocratic portraiture and modern art. One particular space in the bottom floor, featuring an installation of the beams from a late 17th century North American house, makes a spectacular impact, both in terms of the art viewing experience and innovative gallery installation.

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FREE VOINA! Two Russian Art-ivists Languish in Jail

The radical performance art collective, Voina, has been challenging the Russian authorities for years but on November 15 two of their artists, co-founder Oleg Vortonikov and Leonid Nikolayev, were arrested for a performance this past summer that involved the overturning of a cop car as part of an anti-corruption protest.

Even with this major set back, Voina continues to fight and they resist the efforts of the authorities to squash their artistic protests. The group has fans all around the world and even stealthy street artist Banksy is a fan and has thrown his support behind the group and pledged £80,000 in an effort to help. To find out more about the situation I conducted the following email interview with Natalie Sokol, a third member who was also detained but later released, about the arrests.

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Reaching for the Skye

Skye Parrott’s “Greyhound, NYC” (2010) is one of 25 images in the First Love, Last Rites show at Capricious Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The show “documents” 18 months of her life that represent a void filled by a relationship with a boy and drugs, both of which eventually ended.

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Looking Beyond Pollock’s Drip Paintings

Abstract Expressionist New York shines a bright and bold light on Jackson Pollock. Although the selection on view is obviously not as extensive as MoMA’s major retrospective in 1998-99, the show is still a rare and precious opportunity to see many of Pollock’s paintings under one roof.

His paintings are often crudely divided into two categories. On the hand, there are the mighty drip paintings — where splatters and splotches of paint dance across the picture plane. Then, there is everything else.

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How Do You Show Performance Art? Ana Mendieta vs Marina Abramović

We’re approaching a pivotal point in the progress of performance art in which the once rogue medium is becoming canonized, institutionalized and historicized. If the epic Marina Abramović retrospective at MoMA, The Artist is Present, wasn’t enough to convince you that the early group of performance artists are becoming anointed saints, the recent retrospective at Galerie Lelong of the late Ana Mendieta is another step forward. Yet the two exhibitions present parallel methods of exhibiting historical performance art, the first focused on recreating performances, the second on exhibiting artifacts. I see the latter Mendieta exhibition, Documentation and Artwork, 1972 – 1985, as the far more succesful.

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Hundreds Attend Wojnarowicz Censorship Protest in Manhattan

Today, approximately 400-500 protesters gathered on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum to take part in a rally demanding that the Smithsonian return the censored video by artist David Wojnarowicz, “A Fire In My Belly,” to the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.

Organized by Art+, a New York-based group organizing direct action against the censorship of Wojnarowicz’s video, the march began in the middle of Museum Mile and marched uptown along Fifth Avenue until the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, which is a Manhattan-based Smithsonian institution.

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Thinking About the Origins of Street Art, Part 2

If the first traces of public visual expressions in the modern period didn’t have much of an artistic will, they definitively helped develop what urban art is today. They used a visual language that other artists picked up on as effective and unorthodox ways of communicating their message to society, without the need of established art circles or more formalized practices. But now I wanted to point out some early artists who feel more closer to our notion of what a street artist is. Individuals who were or still are consciously creating art work for the street.

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Thinking About the Origins of Street Art, Part 1

Setting a time and a place for the birth of street or urban art is always a tricky question, as one could argue that its history is as old as humanity. Besides, it’s not that easy to find documentation about the development of street art and graffiti before the 1980s because of the way technology has transformed the way we study the past. Any episode before the advent of the internet or digital cameras isn’t as easy to track down, particularly in regards to underground scenes. Sure there’s the library but only academics, writers, and intellectuals tend to venture into the hallowed halls of learning to spend a whole day (or days) researching. Here are some precedents you may not know about.

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Painting Real Fiction: Christopher K. Ho at Winkleman

Regional Painting (2010), at Winkleman Gallery, is not a remarkable presentation; the casual viewer could be excused for thinking it is just another painting show. Twelve paintings on linen, each twelve by sixteen inches, beautifully framed in walnut, greatly varied in technique and style, are hung equidistant around the gallery. Some are intentionally amateur, others unexpectedly virtuosic, all preserve some part of the clear-primed linen. There is an antique quality to some, taking their cue from early 20th C. abstraction, others are more contemporary and even a little slick. They are Christopher K. Ho’s legitimate attempt at earnest painting, but also represent a much larger system of conceptual artworks.

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Interpreting Blu’s Whitewashed Mural, Part 1

There has been so much talk about Blu’s commissioned mural but few people are talking about the work itself and what it could mean. As a critic who has been looking at a great deal of street art for years, I want to weigh in on the topic. Some art critics have been dismissive of the work and thought it callous, while some writers and online commenters are of the opinion that it’s not much to look at.

Most of these people have a limited knowledge of street art and the criteria that is often used to judge it and its meaning, interest, etc. That’s not to discount their judgments, since I think it’s important that people weigh in on the debate regardless of their perspective, and art is culturally valuable when it generates discussion. Blu’s work often probes responses of all kinds. The artist doesn’t seem to differentiate between the positive and the negative responses in a way you might think, and in his 2009 Barcelona video he included the voices of people who disparage his work as an important part of the record. So, who is Blu?