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What To Do At Prospect 1.5’s Comeback Opening

Prospect.1 New Orleans was the biggest biennial ever staged on US soil, and that’s the least of the accomplishments of Dan Cameron’s 2008 exhibition. The show brought attention to what continues to be an area badly damaged by disaster and in danger of falling out of the public eye. Prospect 1.0 was a symbol of the resurgence of the city and the ability of contemporary art to provoke, possibly the height of the current biennial miracle vogue. The exhibition collected an international crew of artists and brought them to New Orleans to create projects that reacted to a local context. But two years later, what’s on for the show’s next incarnation?

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Anselm Kiefer Talks Religion, Politics, Ruins at 92Y

When Anselm Kiefer took the stage at 92nd Street Y last night, it wasn’t as the artistic-political bad boy the artist became famous as in the 60s and 70s, nor was it the epic mythologist of the 80s and 90s. Now, Kiefer cuts a figure of mischievous respect, a patrician of the contemporary art world whose work, unlike most of his peers, has actually retained its vitality and provocative nature over the years.

Kiefer’s conversation covered everything from the influence of religion on his work to the inspiration of ruins, the artist’s birth in a cave during World War II, and his opinion that all art produced during the Third Reich is “shit.”

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Cutting the 2011 Venice Biennale Jargon

Curated by Bice Curiger, best known as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of the respected art magazine Parkett, the 2011 Venice Biennale will be titled ILLUMInations, in a play on words and typography that now comes standard for big deal exhibitions. The name is a combo of “illuminate” and “nations,” terms that Curiger uses to refer to the “dissemination” of the “current developments in international art.”

In other words, the Biennale will take as its theme the spread of ideas and artistic currents beyond the limitations of national boundaries and identities, taking on culture at the international level rather than on a country-to-country basis. Yet the Biennale is known for its use of national pavilions to stage exhibitions as something akin to national artistic showcases. How do you go post-national with a nationally and politically charged event?

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New Museum’s “Free” Isn’t Just About the Money

To see the New Museum’s Free exhibition, you’ll have to fork over at least enough dough to make the $12 admission fee. For an exhibition that’s all about the limitless dispersion of culture quickly, easily and cheaply through the internet, the title presents an unmissable irony.

Despite the joke, Free represents a rare chance of looking at the visual and information cultures of the internet in a controlled context rather than in the anarchy of their native habitat. The New Museum is presenting a chance for removal, a step back from the computer screen and onto the wall. Not so much an escape from commodity or currency culture, Free pushes the boundaries of how we look at the flow of cultural artifacts themselves.

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WTF is… Superflat?

You may have heard the term “Superflat” tossed around in relation to some paintings reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons on crack, or maybe a series of drawings that look familiar, but with an extra dash of foreign, outer-space weirdness. You’ve probably heard of “kawaii” culture or maybe even Kaikai-Kiki. And if you haven’t? Fear not, because we’re going to go through all this vocab together to marshal what exactly Superflat is.

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Apartment Shows, A Trend I Hope Keeps Growing

Artists have been having informal apartment shows as long as anyone can remember but in the last few years there has been a growing trend in New York (particularly Brooklyn) of quirky apartment art exhibits that I hope continues to grow.

Last night, I stopped by Julie Torres’s apartment, you’ll remember her as the watercolor “street” artist, for a birthday celebration that included a lovely small show of all her artist friends. Torres not only curated the salon style display but carefully prepared a checklist, which made the experience of looking fun and enjoyable.

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Art Stars Fly Their Freak Flag for Hans Ulrich Obrist’s New Interview Book

Obrist is strange. There, I said it. In an event that often felt like a coffee klatch at Obrist’s house, the art world power broker known as Hans Ulrich Obrist — he’s #2 on Art Review’s Power 100 — had a book reading last Saturday at MoMA’s PS1 in Long Island City for his newest publication, Hans Ulrich Obrist: Interviews, Volume 2. The event venue looked like a cross between a set for the Last Supper and a conference stage thrown together by Leni Riefenstahl and there was coffee and books being served on the periphery of the event.

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How the Guggenheim’s “Play” Failed

The first offering of the Guggenheim’s Youtube Play biennial kicked off with a lot of spectacle, not limited to a ladder-perch musical performance by Ok Go and a stage setting more suited to a television show than an art exhibition. From the emcee to the nightclub vibe, this was no normal biennial exhibition. In fact, judged as an art exhibition, I think Play was a failure.

However, that doesn’t mean the whole event was a failure. In evaluating Play I think we have to first carefully state our terms- what we’re judging the show as and what we’re judging it against.

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Public Art Versus Public Good

Over the past week, I’ve been writing about art’s environmental impact and how that factors in to perceived artistic quality. What the debate boils down to for me is the question of whether art is worth its cost of production, and how we analyze a piece of art’s efficacy or value.

When we talking about public art or outdoor installations, we must factor in another aspect of the work’s impact: how does the work effect the public whose space and resources it occupies? Since public art faces scrutiny on a greater scale than most collector-driven contemporary art, it has a greater audience to please, and a greater responsibility towards transparency.

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Jim Herbert Is Big, Intimate and In Your Face

Jim Herbert’s paintings of naked lovers are not for the feint of heart. At first glance, viewers might want to look away as though catching a glimpse of a couple kissing. And some people will totally avert their eyes from these intense canvases. At the opening for the recent show at the English Kills Gallery in Bushwick, Brooklyn, a young couple strolled in, saw one work, and then bolted out the door.

They left because these works are not simply nudes. With today’s porn-soaked internet and sexually liberated gaze, nudity’s shock value is dismally low. Something else plays out in Herbert’s huge canvases. By depicting the tenderness between lovers, these images portray intimacy — the same emotional concept that pays therapists’ mortgages.

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Which Installation Artists Are Actually Green?

Inspired by the closing of Ai Weiwei’s “Sunflower Seeds” installation due to health hazards, I’ve been writing about how environmental impact is factored in to the evaluation of installation art. Does a work of art have to have a low carbon footprint to be great, or should we completely separate a piece from the cost of its production?

To start off the debate, I want to explore a few works of installation art that could be considered environmentally friendly and evaluate what impact they have, both environmental and artistic.

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Guggenheim’s “Play: A Biennial of Creative Video” Wows

Last night, Manhattan’s Guggenheim Museum was transformed into a futuristic new media award’s show venue as the finalists of the first Play: A Biennial of Creative Video biennial were announced to a crowd of Google, Intel, HP, Guggenheim employees (all sponsors of the event), artists, and new media types who were wow’d by the large projections on the interior and exterior of the Fifth Avenue landmark.

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright could’ve never predicted that his building would serve as an ideal screen for a 21st Century online video awards show but it was the ideal venue for the whirlwind of projections that provided the backdrop for a livestreamed event prepared by the online video giant, YouTube.