Based on Alejandro Zambra’s masterful novella, the film Bonsái is a story of love, plants, death and the literature that seamlessly links them all. Bonsái premiered at Cannes to favorable reviews and took the top prize at the Miami Film Festival earlier this year. Directed by the Chilean Cristián Jiménez (Illusiones Opticas), it is an exercise in minimalism and nuance.
Poems often groan beneath their encumbrances: weighty metaphors, top-heavy conceits. Which is why I like it when Michael O’Brien, in his most recent book Avenue (FloodEditions), writes of a poem being merely “certain words in / a certain order.” This stripped-down formulation courts a charge of banality or even absurdity — after all, even email spam is made up of words in a specific arrangement — but here it evokes O’Brien’s abiding concern with verbal exactness, even out of the depths of dreaming.
I have been a Sven Lukin fan since 1970, when I first saw “Untitled” (1969) in one of the concourses running under the Empire State Plaza in Albany. Made for, and located in, a long recessed area — and playfully hovering between flatness and volume, the pictorial and the sculptural — Lukin’s “Untitled,” a three-dimensional, green, orange and blue squiggle, is over 11 feet high and nearly 120 feet long.
Like someone practicing penmanship, “Untitled” begins as a series of tightly compressed vertical folds — think u’s and n’s — that rise and fall, suddenly run along the floor, undulate once, and then extend straight along the floor again until it rises up again; it wants to stretch to its full length, which, as the recessed area makes clear, it can never do. Despite its physical imprisonment, “Untitled” is as irrepressible as a rubber snake.
On my way to the Joyce SoHo last Wednesday, while thinking about David Gordon’s 50th anniversary — and realizing that, while he has been making work for five decades, I would be seeing it live for the first time that night — I got to wondering: What does Gordon, renowned for resisting any sort of tidy classification, think about these tidy little landmarks called anniversaries?
Sue Coe has called the art world “a zipped-up body bag of what they call culture.” Thinking about the troubling and troubled work of this extravagantly gifted artist, I found myself circling back to that statement, which is from a 1996 profile written by Steven Heller for Eye Magazine.
LOS ANGELES — For LA’s drivers, the city passes by in a blur, a city protected by glass and one’s own soundtrack. Every experienced Angeleno has a driving mix, a series of podcasts, and, of course, favorite radio stations, to keep them occupied while scooting (or crawling) around town. LA is often a city that’s seen but so rarely heard. Enter the Made in LA Sound Map, a GPS-based iPhone app that detects where you are and automatically plays an interview.
CHICAGO — “Color Jam,” a public art piece by Jessica Stockholder, was completed on Tuesday in the downtown Loop section of Chicago.
LOS ANGELES — The beautiful thing about photography is that it captures a moment in time, a presence, a place. But what’s missing is the sense of direction. Now, there’s an app for that.
LOS ANGELES — In my inbox today, I received word of the Leslie Lohman Museum’s new website. It’s just one in a series of recent successes for the museum, one of America’s most important showcases and collectors of queer art.
LONDON — With all the fanfare and hullabaloo surrounding Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee (celebrating sixty years as the British monarch) wrapping up this past Tuesday, I was reminded of another ancient British tradition that is taking place now, too: the Royal Academy of Art’s (RA) summer exhibition.
It’s actually been going on for about two years, but like many visitors to the Artists Space gallery prior to May 2012, you may not have noticed the bookshop project. Now that it’s been placed right inside the entrance of the organization’s new event space at 55 Walker Street in Tribeca, it’s impossible to miss the lengths of shelving that line the walls around you.
When BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in April 2010, an estimated 172 million gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico, creating the worst petroleum-industry spill in U.S. history. The stories and images of crude oil reaching the coastlines of the Gulf States were appalling — pelicans mired in grease, local fishermen devastated, ocean water slick with oil, ecological systems threatened. But that mess is fixed now, all cleaned up by BP. The oceans are clear. Swimming is safe. And we can all happily gobble down as much Louisiana gumbo as we desire. This is what BP would have you believe.