Monday, December 24, 2007

Where Food Comes From Part Deux

Blogger being a pain in the neck to upload pictures, I have to post in increments. I therefore announce to an incredulous and busy world, on this Christmas Eve, that my New Year resolution for 2008, aside from losing weight, finding a job and ceasing to speak to my cat in German, is to switch the blog to Wordpress, redesign it and put Google Ads on it next year. Non mais alors!

Where Food Comes From

In France Christmas is really about 1) food, 2) food, 3) more food and 4) presents. I don't know anyone in my immediate circle (family and friends) who has any religious associations with the holiday, instead we celebrate in joyous Pagan fashion with our families after 3 or 3 days spent slaving away in the kitchen and several weeks of food shopping and preparation.

But unlike America, in France we like to know where our food comes from, whether we are personally acquainted or not with GlouGlou le Dindon or Gédéon The Goose, Homère Le Homard or even our fishy friends, in the immortal words of Pierre Desproges "Le Congre que le Bar abhorre et le Bar que le Congre hait" (you could spend 6 months trying to translate the puns, so I won't).
In America, alas, poultry doesn't even look like poultry (and I'm not speaking about the taste) and fish, arrggl, how can you people eat something so unfresh looking, already filleted and therefore impossible to assess their freshness. It's a shame. FIY, packing poultry in water to make it appear plump is a blasphemy against taste buds, fish doesn't grow on sushis and shellfish isn't cultivated in clam chowder either.

Si to educate my US foodie friends, I'm posting a few pictures of what animal food looks like and where it comes from. Fishermen bringing in the catch, whole cods and soles, live turkeys and dead fowls, I show you the works. Squeamish readers, vegetarians and vegans who landed on this page randomly, pass your way, Nature is cruel.

For the others, next time I'll tell you how to kill chickens, rabbits and fish and escargots. It may come handy one day.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More food pictures

Some pictures from the market

Dear readers,

you're either busy preparing for the holidays, or simply idling. Whatever, if you're checking FBC! to make you salivate a bit, I'm going to post a few pictures-only thingies, starting today with views from the Sunday and Friday Farmer's Market in Caen, administrative capital of the Calvados departement and anecdotically my hometown. Salivate!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

From Frozen SarkozyLand

Hello my dear faithful and devoted readership!

I hope you are all doing well, and missing FBC! a lot. I wanted to post a few things recently but where I am posting from it is impossible to upload the pictures I've taken en France, and the connection is very slow.
I'm in Normandy in my boring hometown where there is no art, and the only wi-fi connection is at the local McDonald's. For the life of me, I cannot go there to blog, sorry. If they had drinkable coffee and edible goodies as well as real heating, maybe, but I don't fly thousands of miles to end up at "MacDo", as we say.

Anyway, I thought I could whet your apetite and let you know what I'd be posting about in a couple of weeks. I'll write a post about life in frozen Sarkozyland, where our beloved dictator president follows the steps of past personnality cult devotees (Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Britney Spears) by appearing daily in the complicit medias, most of them owned by his closest friends.
Most recently was with a washout former-model-turned-boring-chanteuse, Carla Bruni (disastrous facelift, BTW).
I'll give you a few details about how it is perceived in my boring hometown; to which I will add some pictures of green elves and attorneys on strike in full regalia (yeah, they have to dress up here! It's fun!).

I'll also post a few pictures-only items, such as the gargoyles with hard-ons at a local ruined Gothic church, as we haven't had an extreme-porn post in a while. Gargoyles are rather powerfully adorned,as you will see.

And for my foodies devotees, there will be a few posts with pictures of cheese stores, open-air markets (real fish! with their heads on!). I'm going to a Norman restaurant tomorrow, so hopefully I'll be able to take pictures of andouilles de Vire, Livarot, Calvados and apples dishes. There's also a slight chance I may have dinner at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Paris next week, so if I do I'll try to take pictures and report.

Lastly, living in a small town is as boring now as it was when I was a teenager, the only difference being that now there are a few bars open after 7 PM. So, there's not much to do in the evenings and French TV being so abysmally terrible, I've taken to listening to independent oldies from my youth.
But I do wish TV was better as the only watchable things are re-runs of such antiques shows as Bewitched, Happy Days, Friends and so forth. So I hope our WGA-friends on strike are going to get their labor dispute settled to their advantage, not only because my lefty Frenchy self wants the striking workers and the collateral casualties of the strike to be able to make a living again, but because THE WORLD NEEDS GOOD TV again.
Since US TV shows are endlessly re-runs on Euro stations I'm sure there is still some profit for the studios/networks to make, so if you have a bit of time left before X-Mas, write Santa a nice letter asking him to stop the stalemate.

Meanwhile, Happy Holidays to everybody!

PS: the picture above bears no connection with the subject of this post, I know, but I miss my cat

Sunday, December 9, 2007

FBC! Back Chez Les Stinky Cheeses!

My dear devoted, beloved and mostly immense readership,

Sorry for not having given much news lately, as I've been busy prepping and packing up to soon go back to the land of stinky cheeses, disgruntled voters, imperiled health insurance system and workers on strike. Wait a minute, sounds like here, sans les cheeses!

Well, I'll let you know if France becomes more like les USA under our new omnipotent, egomaniac, freshly-divorced Sarko 1er. If you read the NYT and the WaPo it seems like the op-ed writers' dearest wish, though if you ask me I'd think it would be better if the US was becoming more like France, you know, health insurance-wise, cheese-wise (cela va sans dire) and vacation-wise.
In passing, I doubt working op-ed journalists are reading FBC! but if they do, please spare us grotesque affirmations such as: "the French voted for Sarkozy because he loves America where he spent some time as a youth, therefore the French want reforms so to become more like Americans".

Well, last time I checked my fellow countrymen were still violently against Les Ricains, they voted for Sarko because they are misogynist dumbasses and our own Liberal (only in name) party is in shambles, but more important than this, let me switch that sloppy rhetoric around.
Let's imagine, say, John Edwards is elected president next year. How would Americans react if some French newspapers were to print stuff like: "Edwards like French cheeses, that's why the American people elected him, because they want to be more like the French". Sounds like a super-legit reason to be elected, eh? And, you know, Chirac did love America and did a study-abroad year here (I think Princeton but I'm not sure). For all I know Americans love ketchup and did it help Kerry to get elected? I thought so, too.

Anyway, back to the topic. I'm leaving tomorrow but I'm not sure I'll be able to post frequently for various reasons. I tend to spend lots of time caring for the very elderly members of my family when I'm back home, and also I've butchered my left hand badly with a paring knife and it tends to bleed profusely each time I move my fingers too much. A bit awkward to have blood splattered on my laptop, I must say. I also would like to work more on my novel and less on the blog, frankly.
I may post pictures that are food-related, and if I get to see a show or two in Paris I'll post, but I haven't found shelter there yet so I'm not sure I'll be able to do anything but last-minute shopping.

So, in the meantime I'll let you check the website of a Polish artist who's very good and also lots of fun in person, Joanna Rajkowska. She does work that is politically and socially conscious while being fun and engaging visually. Lots of it has to do with Polish identity but tackle issues that make sense universally. Please check her work, and don't hesitate to curate her work anywhere you see fit!

I'm also sorry to see the negotiations broke down between the WGA and the AMPTP. Let's support the writers and all the industry-related people who have lost their jobs or are in danger of losing it. The issues are complex and could probably be settled with a bit of goodwill on both parts. In passing, I want to thank my new pal Clifford (hi Cliff!) who directed me to online discussions way too abstruse for me to sum up here, but one of the thing said in the discussions cleared up the phrasing of something I wanted to write about for a very long time. I'll probably post it sometimes next year and when Cliff sees it he won't have any clue what I'm talking about, since it has nothing to do with the writers struggle. But thanks for being so brilliantly articulate, Cliff! I owe you one.

Have a happy Hanukkah, a merry Christmas, drive safely (careful with that eggnog!), be kind and nice to the people you love, and lobby your various governments to replenish the food banks.
See you in LA in 2008!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Julie Lequin Book Launch!

Next week is when THE event where (unlike Art Basel Miami Beach) YOU HAVE TO BE SEEN happens!
Julie Lequin's artist book is being launched, and it's awesome, and in the proud tradition of artist books you can actually buy a book that is also an artwork! So you and the Getty and the Pompidou Center and my own chic Frenchy self will have in common the collecting of artist books (that will be the 3rd or 4th one in my huge extended collection). If you've never bought or owned an artwork before, now is the moment to start!

If you follow the link to 2nd Cannons below you will see you can pre-order your artwork at the discounted price of $27,50 which includes a DVD AND free shipping. Now I'm very excited to let 2nd Cannons and Julie explain a bit more to you:

2nd Cannons Publications is relieved (and very excited) to finally announce the release Julie Lequin's first book The Ice Skating Tree Opera - Director's Cuts (as a Book and DVD) . Now available for preorder, Julie's book will be released on Dec 15.

On Saturday December 15, we're hosting a Los Angeles "Book and DVD Launch Dancing House Partay" for two of our recent releases: Julie Lequin's Ice Skating Tree Opera - Director's Cuts and for Ami Tallman's There Weren't Many Girls Around So We Dated Ideologies, This Left Us Always on the Brink of War... details are below.

The discount: For our mailing list, The Ice Skating Tree Opera - Director's Cuts is available for preorder at a discounted price. Please access the discount here:

The details (From the desk of Julie):

Julie's Book is out, well on the 15th. But you can pre-order now!

Come to my Dancing Book Launch Home Partay.
(Perhaps the last one.) - Julie [I certainly hope it's the first of many - Frenchy]

Julie worked (on and off/ but mostly on) this project for about 2 years. This is Julie's first publication ever (probably why it took so long). The book is very nice looking (about 23cm. x 18 cm.); it has a lot of colored pages (err… Brian complained), and some funny words. The DVD takes a while to watch so you're really getting a lot for your money. There are has some singing, gossips, and green screen videos. If you feel like investing, you can treat yourself with a copy of the "Limited Double Standard", that is the deluxe book cover (knitted).

The launch will take place at
250 North Avenue 57, Los Angeles 90042.
Saturday December 15, 7-10 PM

I am thinking of doing a small walk though of the book.

Julie is happy to share her launch event with her pal Ami Tallman, who will be releasing her book titled There Weren't Many Girls Around, So We Dated Ideologies. This Left Us Always on the Brink of War. We Often Discussed That a Likely Result of Battle Would Have Been More Girls to Go Around Amongst the Survivors, but We Quibbled Rather Than Acted, & Slept Alone in Our Cold Beds Dreaming of Glory. Julie and Ami have been friends for a while now so it's okay to share an event like this one.

About us: 2nd Cannons Publications was born in 2003 in Los Angeles, while Brian Kennon was walking from the living room to the kitchen. He never made it to the kitchen. Julie Lequin is a French Canadian who makes videos and other things such as list-making, stories, and props. She likes to create characters inspired by friends, her 2 parents, and NPR. Julie takes pleasure in imitating voices, thinking about outfits for videos, and checking nerds out while biking.

You can always buy (with a credit card) yourself a copy of Julie's The Ice Skating Tree Opera- Director's cuts by visiting the website or calling Brian's telephone number- that is: [I'm not putting Brian's number out here for all the telemarketers of the world to see, so just check the link, OK? - Frenchy]

The gossip column about the launch will be available here:

We Are Not in Art Basel Miami Beach

Beloved Devoted Readers,

I know that, as a FBC! devotee, if you are reading this right now you are certainly not at Art Basel Miami Beach.
Because, first of all as FBC! readers you are part of an elitist, discriminating band of connoisseurs who know better than to mingle with the great unwashed in that citadel of bad taste and overflowing free cocaine. This is, oh, so 2004. So vulgar.
I mean, just the fact that Gianni Versace died there should be enough to deter you from ever uttering that dreaded name, Miami.

Second of all, there is no second of all. The above reasons should be enough to comfort you in your choice of being elsewhere now, until Sunday. After Sunday, feel free to go visit your Grandma there but you should know better than brag about it. Because we are oh-so-not-there, and if you run into us please do not state the obvious: "you are not in Miami?". No, neither are you, so you are not suffering from hallucinations nor am I possessed of the gift of ubiquity. I'm here in the same temporal/space wavelength as you are. I think.

In the meantime, join us in the Matthieu Laurette-created Facebook group, as described below. As an added bonus you may even get to become my Facebook pal (that is, if we are not already friends in real life). Only if, like us, you are not in Miami.

Facebook Group
We are not in Art Basel Miami Beach
Entertainment & Arts - Fine Arts
a group for those who are tired to answer several times a day to people "No, I'm not in Miami".

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Pop Art Style Winter Salad

There has been a proliferation of art stuff on the blog recently that is a bit overwhelming. Not only do I want my 3 non-art readers, Annie, Jonathan and Mike to feel welcome here but I also would like to avoid doing the kind of reactive blog about the art world that is so boring. I'm not really into creating controversy for its own sake, or even for publicity's sake, and I'm tired of the over-schmoozing that goes with art events. Thanks to Annie we had the Felt Club post recently and I sure hope she will contribute some more in the future!

Meanwhile, you art people are all going to Miami at the end of the week for the last coke-fueled art shindigs before the recession, so I'll take advantage to do something else while you are away partying. I figure, you won't be able to read the blog while trying to foist your still-wet-out-of-grad-school-LA-painters to the Rubells anyway.

It's early December, winter is coming and so is recession following on its stormy footsteps, and I haven't posted a recipe in a while.
To cheer you up, here's a winter salad I make from time to time. I like a bit of color on my plate so I use some different shade of cauliflower, but regular white tastes the same and is 3 times cheaper, something important if you are a striking WGA writer, a recently laid-off loan officer or a real estate broker from Cleveland (Hello, Cleveland!), or an unemployed Frenchy blogger. It suits vegetarians fine and probably vegans too, since I'm blogging from LA I shouldn't forget that peculiar category of the population.
But since I cannot change my little artsy-fartsy self, my salad has to have Pop-ish colors.

Pop Art Winter Salad
(appetizer for 4 persons or main dish for 2)

. 1 head cauliflower, purple if you are flush, white if not, sliced.
. 3 pink lady apples, peeled, sliced and diced into small slivers
. 3 carrots, peeled and grated
. a very large handful of slivered almonds (I was too lazy to toast them but I'm sure you can)

Hazelnut Vinaigrette

. pinch salt
. ground/cracked pepper
. 1 tablespoon vinegar (I used a champagne/pomegranate one but a non-chichi, non balsamic one, like raspberry is fine too)
. 3 tablespoons hazelnut oil (not cheap, but affordable at Cost Plus Imports)

Put all the peeled, slivered, etc. components of the salad in a large bowl.
Make the vinaigrette: put the salt and pepper in a small bowl, cover with the vinegar, stir with a fork until the salt is dissolved (it makes whitish, milky clouds on the surface of the vinegar). Pour the oil, whisk it with the fork until the mixture emulsify.
Mix the vinaigrette with the salad, to taste (usually, 1 tablespoon 1/2 to 2 are enough).

The leftover vinaigrette keeps for up to one week in the fridge.

So What's Up With Photo?

Aside from suffering from debilitating migraines and doing idiotic personality tests on Facebook, your truly has been a bit social last week, attending the panel discussion at LACMA about the relationships between art and photography. As noted previously I was dubious about the subject matter. I mean, it's the 21st Century, and after being rammed by simplistic theories about the-death-of-painting-because-of-photography's-mimetic-qualities for I don't know how long (and witnessing how painting is still very much alive, thank you very much) I should think the debate was closed. My friend Daniel who used to run Jeff Wall' studio said as much, when I invited him to come to the event.

So I mostly went to show support for LACMA's photo department, which was left dormant for too long after the untimely passing of Robert Sobieszeck in 2005. Tim Wride and Eve Schillo kept it afloat until finally the delightful Charlotte Cotton was named Department Head this Summer. In passing, it's great that LACMA at last gets a thirtysomething Department Head, as usually the younger-ish generation there is confined at best at Assistant Curator level, but more often than not toils in obscurity in temporary research positions and other various fellowships. Well, 35 is the new 21, I guess. I'm glad I've found the fountain of youth in middle age!

Anyway,the panel discussion was a good opportunity to gauge the temperature of LA's photoworld, a few months away before the opening of BCAM (Feb. 08). And boy, was it hot!
The Brown Auditorium was packed to the rafters, metaphorically speaking since there were no rafters, but extra sitting had to be provided in the aisles. James Welling was there, as well as Shannon Ebner, Susan Stilton, I think I've spotted Lauri Firstenberg, and also a delightful artist named Michael who gave me a ride to a party back in August. I fail to remember his last name, sorry I didn't say *hi* Michael, alas you left before I could disentangle myself from the group I was with, and I'd love to have a studio visit with you some day, BTW.
There were a few gallery owners as well, and many, many younger people, which given LACMA's usual audience is very encouraging! I suppose it takes a dynamic young curator to bring more young artists at this type of event (no,no I'm not being heavy with the ageist mentions, not at all!).

The panel itself was a bit blah, given the somewhat tired topic, and organized as such: each artist gave a short presentation of his work after being introduced by Charlotte, then the panel proceeded in a languid way, followed by the usual questions from the audience. These questions were fairly typical of the zillion panels organized in museums and academia the world over.
Pointless questions about how people respond to a photographer working in an open space (answer: they don't), one long rambling monologue-statement about someone's own work and how it apparently doesn't have an audience now (at least I think it's what the rant was about), someone speaking in CritTheoSpeak (or should it be CritSpeak? Next week's poll!) who I think was Shannon Ebner, and then they were a couple of other monologue-statements I failed to get the drift of. James Welling said something apparently very interesting but I didn't hear very well, which was unfortunate.

I think Charlotte's questions were oriented toward the way Contemporary Art perceives photography, rather than really questions whether photo is art, and I guess she was referring to 1990s stuff like Thomas Ruff et alii, so her panel in contrast included people using photography in their practice equally with other media (media, as in plural for medium) and whose work is conceptually-oriented.
From my perspective there was one elephant in the room, documentary photography, an area that is usually not considered as *art* in certain contemporary circles, but is nevertheless collected in museums. I think the debate would have been more fruitful (or more agitated!) if rephrased around this question.

Personally, I left the evening reinforced in my feeling that over the last 6 or 7 years, what has happened in the artworld (in which I include photography, we're not xenophobic at FBC!) is, we have regressed quite a bit, to use Buchloh's phraseology. Let me explain.
In the early 1990s Thierry de Duve had published a series of books explaining that with Minimal Art and Post-Minimalism, instead of being divided by medium the old-fashioned way, the artists stopped being defined by a sole medium (*painting* as in I'm a painter, *sculpture* as in I'm a sculptor, *photography* as in I'm a photographer) to become *artist in general*. Being an *artist* allowed practitioners to mix mediums, and to include in their works things that were neither this nor that: performances, installation, poetry, text-based works, public participation, choreography, cinema, video, earthworks and other time-based events.
De Duve relied heavily on Kant via Greenberg (unconvincingly I must say) to base his theory on questions of taste, and more successfully on Duchamp's legacy and its impact on artists such as Donald Judd and Joseph Kosuth. If we follow de Duve, after Duchamp and with Minimalism, artists didn't make as much specific objects than art in general.

It all made sense in the 1990s since at the time the artists who marked the era, say Felix Gonzalez-Torres, our very own Mike Kelley, Cady Noland, Cindy Sherman, Robert Gober or Matthew Barney were exploding every single medium in new genres and were not confined to a single one. If the question of the medium arose, it was precisely in photography where people such as Jean-Francois Chevrier were hailing Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, Jean-Luc Mylaine etc. as a kind of newer Neue Sachlichkeit that had successfully killed painting to reincarnate it triumphantly in apparently straightforward, colored, giant-format photographic depictions of reality.

[Charlotte, if you read me, I know I am over-simplifying, but this is a blog, not a learned journal, and I have a few non-art readers who must be utterly lost by now. Sorry, dear non-art readers, I promise you food entries soon]

Anyway, it seems to me that there are not too many artists now who are exploding the boundaries between media, but on the contrary the last few years have seen a shift in refocusing practices by medium, at least here in the United States (there's a huge divide between the art made and seen in the US and what people in Europe or even Latin America are doing at present).
The boom in the art market has pretty much been a boom in painting (See the so-called Leipzig School, lots of Chinese artists are painters, LA has been guilty in churning youngish painters by the bucketful, see also the under-Richter such as Marlene Dumas and Luc Tuymans, the precious little masters like Elizabeth Peyton or John Currin, whatever Saatchi is promoting at the moment,etc.)
With this conservative move re-centered on one medium other practices such as video art, performance , installation (I know many artists who practice installation who now define themselves as sculptors for example) and obviously photography have been set aside. They are still very much alive and seen abroad, but not so much shown or even collected in US institutions, where a large fraction of the holdings come from private donors many of which simply follow the market.

Of course I am over-simplifying again, since for every mediocre dabbler in figurative acrylic out there, there is an Anri Sala or a Melik Ohanian working, there's the huge success of Doug Aitken (just when his works stops being interesting, IMHO).
The phenomenon that is the Performa Festival in NYC also shows that however much crappy painting is splashed all over the newspapers and magazines other kind of arts are still alive and vibrant. And, to be fair, the resurgence of painting as a commercial phenomenon permit to direct the spotlight toward great artists who were not so favored before, like Mary Heilmann or closer to us Ivan Morley.

Anyway, it seems to me the real question last week at LACMA was really about the separation of art practices between medium/media and whether it was still relevant today, or even if it should be relevant at all. Not for my chic and nevertheless Frenchy self, and I suspect neither for the classy and lively Charlotte Cotton!
Charlotte, welcome to LA and I'm glad you are stirring the soup.
If you wish to see more of Charlotte's fabulous energy, I recommend you check the website she launched, here.

PS: Full disclosure, I've written my Master's thesis under Thierry de Duve.
The picture above is from the post-panel drinks.

Finally! Another idiotic poll from FBC! What's the artist you hate to love?

Dear beloved devoted readership, yes, all 25 of you (maybe more, I still don't monitor stats), it's been a long time since FBC! hasn't polled you on something deeply relevant to the sorry state of today's Posmodern culture, global warming, French and US politics and tutti quanti.
I had to remedy this, but alas was a bit short of ideas. Luckily, I've been inspired by the other extended network, the better designed one that attracts people who have attended college, can spell, are older and therefore not so willing to display themselves in various stages of undress.

On that fabulous time-waster of a procrastination tool, where I've discovered I was a left-brained Heideggerian bunch of asparagus, in addition to being Apollo (that was before I discovered I could be a Greek goddess too), the Empress Theodora (what dictator are you app.), something called Impurity in Degree of Hell (I haven't understood that one yet) and if I were an artist I would be Jeff Koons.

Alas, I cannot compete with such an imaginative series of "what would you be if", so instead I'm offering you another one. Remember when I admitted to liking the Sue de Beer piece at Sandroni Rey recently? It's your turn now! What's your guilty secret? Which outrageously embarrassing artist do you like but would never admit to in public? I've added a non-visual artist for my cool bunch of normal readers (Hi Annie, Jonathan and Mike! Hope you had a great Turkey Day!).
Please go to the bottom of this page to vote!

The picture is of my Damien Hirst-like tablecloth, but I'm sure my devoted FBC! fans had recognized it.