Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Favorite Los Angeles Shows in 2010

I said I wasn't going to do it, and then I changed my mind just because. I'm going to list them in no particular order whatsoever,  the shows I've liked in Los Angeles this year. I'm not giving you any reason why I liked them because I'm packing up and a bit busy, also I'm sure it's a fragmentary list because I haven't really sat down to reminisce. So here they are.

West of Rome: Mike Kelley & Michael Smith A Voyage of Growth and Self Discovery, Jennifer Bolande Plywood Curtain.

LACMA: Renoir, John Baldessari, Blinky Palermo, Lucknow, Thomas Eakins, American Stories*

Hammer Museum: Rachel Whiteread

Santa Monica Museum of Art, Alberto Burri

Glendale College  Art Gallery : Jerry/Jury Rigged

Amir Zaki at LAXart

Commercial Galleries: Matthew Brannon at Kordansky, Joel Tauber, Ruben Ochoa, Andrea Bowers and Edgar Arceneaux at Vielmetter, Dan Graham at Regen Projects, Dan Graham, Stephen Kaltenbach, Lee Lozano at Overduin & Kite, Stephen Kaltenbach at Anotheryearinla, the two Summer group shows organized by Tom Solomon at his eponymous gallery and at Cottage Home, Gray Day at Roberts & Tilton.

It pretty much sums it up for 2010, which overall was pretty fantastic in Los Angeles in terms of exhibitions, but of course for me the highlight of the year was the John Cale concert at Royce Hall in September. *Nothing* can top that.

And now, the lows of 2010: pretty much all of MOCA's programming, with the exception of Suprasensorial and Iannis Xenakis, the National Portrait Gallery censorship of David Wojnarowicz and their refusal to let AA Bronson take his work out of the show in protest, and the LA Weekly letting go of Tom Christie and Doug Harvey.

*(yes, I go to LACMA a lot, I live 10 minutes away)

Pic: Matthew Brannon exhibition at David Kordansky, picture from the gallery's website.

Christmas Music Apotheosis - Monty Python Christmas In Heaven

To conclude our mini-series of non-sucky Pagan holiday songs, the Committee For The Improvement of Christmas Music wishes to end up with some pre-Matthew Barney but better than Matthew Barney fireworks, the wonderful Monty Python's Christmas In Heaven song (from The Meaning of Life, I believe).
From a time when comedy was truly funny and often offensive - therefore funny, ladies, Gentlemen and Transgendered readers, please enjoy Christmas In Heaven.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Non Sucky Christmas Music - The Spotnicks with Here Comes Santa Claus

The Committee for the Improvement of Christmas Music continues its charity work by offering you today The Spotnicks and Here Comes Santa Claus. Thanks to my friend Olivier for bringing this to my attention. The Spotnicks also did a cover of Jingle Bells, but the original is too fucking unbearable overplayed to my liking, so here you are.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Transgendered readers, enjoy the Spotnicks!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Child Christmas In Wales - Non Sucky Non Christmas Music With No Less Than John Cale

You really didn't think I wasn't going to post any more John Cale this year, did you?

The Committee For The Improvement Of Christmas Music continues its evangelical work with a song that has "Christmas" in its title, more as a homage to Dylan Thomas than as a *real* Christmas song.

This song famously begins the Paris 1919 album, which Cale beautifully played in its entirety at Royce Hall's UCLA at the end of September, the high point of 2010 for this Frenchy.  Here's a bootleg of Cale doing the same song in Brescia earlier this year (with newer arrangement by Randy Woolf), so you have an idea of how it was.

If you're in Barcelona this Spring, Cale does it again at the Primavera Sounds Festival , where other luminaries include a reformed Pulp, Nick Cave's Grinderman, Animal Collective, Belle & Sebastian, Half Japanese, and others. There's also Suicide playing, I have seen them twice, and it's EXACTLY what you would expect.
I hope for lots of good jamming and guests spots for all the musicians and the audience there. Alas, I cannot go, but if you live in Europe the festival tickets are really inexpensive, so I guess a combination of  low-cost flights and cheap hostels can make it a great experience.

Meanwhile, it's still non-sucky non-Christmas music season here at the FBC! Headquarters, so ladies, gentlemen and transgendered readers, enjoy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Your Social Life - Wrapping Up The Year Nicely

While yours truly is busy wrapping up the year, art events continue in Los Angeles!
One opening I've missed was yesterday's Hanne Darboven at Regen Projects, complete with a live performance. No idea how it went, so if anybody has feedback, I'll take it. Continuing at Regen is the Doug Aitken show.

Tomorrow Friday Las Cienegas Projects will present Simon Leung, Yvonne Rainer, Nils Schirrmacher, which should be beautiful. And packed, as everybody who's anybody wil be there! Don't miss it.

Still in Culver City, but  on Saturday Joel Tauber, otherwise known for his Sickamour project, has a show opening at Susanne Vielmetter, Pumping, a massive installation that has been several years in the making. Same day, same location, Robert Olsen has an opening too.

Also on Saturday in Culver City, The Mandrake Bar will celebrate the installation of the Dave Muller mural, from 6 to 8 PM. Since it's a bar, I have no idea if the reception means free drinks or business as usual, in any case it's always a good reason to go and check it out.

Further West and on Saturday, Dorit Cypis will have two performances at 18th Street in Santa Monica. Please click on the link above to register on the FB page and reserve one of the two time slots to attend.

On Sunday in Pasadena, closing reception at Offramp for ArtZone where you can do some affordable holiday art shopping.

And this will conclude the last edition of YSL for 2010. I'll post a bit of music again soon, but that's it for the art stuff until early next year.
Have a great Hannukchristmaskanzaatheist holiday, ladies, gentlemen and transgendered people reading me, and do not harm thy neighbor nor censor thy art.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The No Christmas Music Christmas Music: The Wedding Present, No Christmas

The Committee For the Improvement Of Christmas Music continues its campaign with a song that isn't, in fact, about Christmas *at all*, or only tangentially as in "my worse breakup occurred over the Holiday".
Because all that chipper, syrupy Christmas music is too nauseating.
Ladies and gentlemen and transgendered people, from the FBC! Headquarters, behold The Wedding Present and No Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Merry Muthaphukkin Christmas With The Late Eazy-E

FBC! continues with the Committee for the Improvement of Christmas Music with the late, regretted Eazy-E's masterpiece, Merry Muthaphukkin Christmas, one of the few hip hop songs your truly really enjoys.
Have fuuuuuuuun!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Let's Continue With The Non-Sucky Christmas Music - Siouxsie And The Banshees, Il Est Né Le Divin Enfant

The one-person Committee for the Improvement Of Christmas Music continues its charity work here at the FBC! Headquarters with the cover by Siouxsie and the Banshees of Il Est Né Le Divin Enfant ("He Is Born The Divine Child").
I discovered this one very recently thanks to the very fine LA writer Harold Abramowitz whom I am very grateful to. Thanks, Harold!
This so totally cracks me up.
Merry Holiday Season, Ladies, Gentlemen and Transgendered people reading me. Enjoy Siouxsie!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Let's Enjoy A Bit of Tradition - Grace Jones Does Little Drummer Boy

I don't know about you, but the Christmas music that is being blasted all over shopping malls at this time of the year makes me slightly nauseous. So I thought I could, as a perfect antidote, post two or three videos of counter-Xmas music, you know, just to keep occupied.

Ladies and gentlemen and transgendered reading me, please enjoy the one and only Grace Jones!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Your Social Life - Abbreviated

Casino-Luxembourg Forum d'Art Contemporain, "Aquarium". Photo: Jessica Theis – Blue Box Design, 2009.

As I warned my beloved readership recently, the posting here at FBC! will be very light until mid-January, as I'm busy preparing a trip to the old homeland. I haven't paid attention at all to whatever was going on in town this week, so quickly:

1) A few galleries in LA are showing David Wojnarowicz A Fire In My Belly, but better yet, the Hammer Museum which, shall I remind you, is celebrating its 20th anniversary by offering a free entrance to its premises (until Dec. 18th), will be showing the video in its entirety and on a loop, starting today and until Dec. 17th. You can also watch it online on the site of PPOW who represents the estate, and has been kindly sending out screening copies all over the country.

2) EGHQ is having an opening on Sat, for David Hendren

3) There's an opening at Pepin Moore  in Chinatown tomorrow evening.

4) For the writers out there, Triple Canopy is issuing a call for proposals. I normally don't relay this type of info but this particular case, the areas covered are interesting, and they do pay a (very modest) $500 fee for the winning commissions.

5) And, for the artists under 40 reading me (the many, many of you, right?) the Casino-Luxembourg has a residency program. Yours truly has curated there in the past, it's a really cool space and it is smack right in the middle of Europe. residencies are always a great way to meet people and create new work, so I hope some of you will apply.

6) I apologize to the few people who asked for an exchange of links during the past week. I'm open to it as long as it is an arts link, but I haven't really had the time to update the links section of the blog recently and it probably won't happen before mid-January. So, if you're still reading me, please email me around January 15 and I'll work on it. Thanks!

7) Lastly, yesterday I went on a whim to the opening of the Lucknow exhibition at LACMA. I know zilch about Indian Art of the 18th century, but even with zero knowledge I was blown away by the artworks. It's a fantastic exhibition and it officially opens to the public on Sunday. It's also the perfect show to take your family over the holidays.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It Must be December 1st, Let's Blame "The Gays"

When the Republican Party ignited the Culture Wars in the late 1980s, it was after the failure of the Ronald Reagan and then George Bush governments to lead the country out of the economic crisis that followed the 1987 stock market crash.
Now that two decades have passed and that out-of-control deregulation (it's the point of deregulation to be out of control, isn't it?) and the ferocious greed engineered by Bush The Second and his cronies have unleashed on the United States its worst recession since the Great Depression, they are at it again.

If you've been following a bit what happened, you know that Senate Majority Boehner, He Of The Ridiculous Name, has decided to curate the current Hide/Seek exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington instead of, I don't know, doing more pressing legislation.

For example, voting on extending the unemployment benefits of several millions Americans whose sudden lack of funds will mean more economic hardship for everybody.
It's a no-brainer, really: unemployed people lose benefits, therefore can't pay the rent/the mortgage, landlords/banks lose money, housing stock go derelict, less money gets into the economy to encourage consumer spending, Santa won't come this year for  the millions of little Christian offspring of the unemployed (take that, Glenn Beck - or is it O'Reilly?-  and your idiotic rants about the "war on Christmas"). It's 2 millions people who are going to lose their benefits. Out of a population of roughly 300 millions Americans. You likely know one of them. I know one, a hardworking grandmother whose benefits have been cut and who may find herself homeless in a couple of weeks if she can't come up with the rent.

In a nutshell, Mr. Boehner got his penis in a tick because of a David Wojnarowicz video, demanded that the video be removed after being alerted to it by a right-wing religious organization, and the Smithsonian powers that be caved in. It's the video above, which you can find easily on YouTube, obviously.
This all should remind you of the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition being canceled at the Corcoran in DC which, in fact, did much more for Mapplethorpe's posthumous fame than if the show had processed ahead.

Now let's be clear here: as an art lover, former curator, writer, and plain old human being, FBC! is resolutely against censorship of any kind.  I find censorship abhorrent mainly because I resent the fact that anybody would think they can decide in my name what should or shouldn't be allowed to read, watch, see, listen to, attend, witness, enjoy, react to, or even dislike.  Heaven forbid. If I'm going to be shocked by a David Wojnarowicz video, I demand the right to see for myself whether I will, in fact, be shocked or not. For the record, I'm not. But even if I was, I'd want to see it to decide for myself.

And, I also feel that if I have moved all the way to a country that embedded the right to free speech in its Constitution, I should  demand that this right be respected. In France, we don't have a right to free speech embedded in our Constitution.

Lastly, we are constantly bombarded by tons of right-wing propaganda from the likes of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and their ilk. You just need to long on the internet and go to a newspaper homepage to see their last idiotic, outreagous comments.
Do I demand that their pictures and videos and speeches be removed from the airwaves, medias, the internet and all that because they shock my atheist and progressive core beliefs?
No, I don't, because I think wingnuts should be allowed to express their own baseless, fact-less beliefs if they want to, even if they disturbed my Cartesian, scholarly and scientific values.
To be fair, what really shocks me about US right-wing propaganda in general is how stupid it is and how it assumes that the American People at large are a populace largely constituted of morons.
It may very well be, but I have a bit more faith in human decency and intelligence than the condescending Republicans have in their own constituency.

In any case, I strongly feel that the National Portrait Gallery shouldn't have caved in to Mr. Boehner's demand and should have kept the Wojnarowicz video in the exhibition, even if threatened with federal funding cuts. If you put something in your exhibition, it's because it has a place in it, so removing it is senseless and spineless, intellectually speaking.

I'm pretty sure that in real life, Mr. Boehner doesn't give a damn about David Wojnarowicz, who has been dead for 20 years and can't therefore defend his own work.
What Mr. Boehner, as a politician, is likely to be interested in, is  to find a way to distract the public opinion from the project of his own party to stall all bills until the Bush-era tax cuts in favor of the wealthy are extended, instead of creating a strong fiscal policy that would help reign in the nation deficit.
A large part of it being inherited from 8 years of George Bush's administration, including the TARP banks bailout (remember? it was before the Nov. 2008 election). As were the useless, senseless wars waged in Iraq and Afghanistan that have drained the nation of the blood of its youth and of the money in its coffers to enrich  the arms dealers and private contractors in cahoots with the people who initiated the slaughter in the name of the Nation. Your "representatives".

Which leads me to the Pentagon study released yesterday in favor of repealing the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, and to the date chosen by Senator Boehner to target an artwork made by an openly gay artist who died 20 years ago.
Have you noticed today is December 1st? It's World Aids Day?
Instead of writing about Republican's smokescreens created to dissimulate their own economic ineptitude, I would have much preferred spending the time remembering the wonderful people who died of Aids, gay and straights alike, anonymous and famous artists alike, and look at the work of Gonzalez-Torres or maybe watch a Dominique Bagouet dance piece. Many great artists died of Aids, and today should be a day to remember them and their contribution to world culture.

Instead, I can't help but reflect that each time conservative political parties are in a bind, they like to deflect the attention from their lack of results, from their criminal inaction or worse, from the corruption that is endemic to political life (hello, secret corporate donations to parties!) by blaming the Other.

Now, since the atrocities of World War II, Western democratic governments can't really go on blaming the Jews as their political forebears did for a couple thousands years, so they have to find another Other to blame.

In France right now, Mr. Sarkozy has found a perfect build-in minority to point the finger at and enact discriminatory measures against, the Roms, after distracting the French from his failed economic policies - which also favor the rich -  by making the wearing of the burqa illegal in public.
It should be noted that less than 2,000 women were wearing it in France, out of a population of 60 millions.
I have no idea how many Roms are currently living in France (ethnic statistics are illegal in France because they are inherently a racist tool of oppression, and because we have quite an ugly history with our own Jewish population, as I'm sure my erudite readers know), but I'd be ready to bet it doesn't hover much more above 200,000 people.

In the United States, the two Others that the Republican party has been trying to blame for the last couple of decades at least are either the illegal immigrants; a minority that is easy to construct because immigrating legally to the United States is almost impossible, or "The Gays".

For clarity's purpose and because this is a long post, "The Gays" encompass all LGBT, a category of Americans whose core identity is in fact increasingly being accepted, albeit slowly, by the American people a large (see: repeal of DADT above).
There are setbacks to gay marriage, obviously, but just the fact that it is a legislative issue is a big advance, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were definitively legalized everywhere in the States within the next two decades or so. The instance of gay teens bullying have generated a large viral online campaign in support, the It Gets Better one, though your truly thinks it would be more effective to ban bullying in all schools, period.
Now *that* would be a piece of legislative work the Republican Party could enact and I'd totally support it. I can be bi-partisan that way.

The GOP has to thread a thin line when targeting illegal immigrants because they are trying to attract the legal Latino ones who are bound to become a huge political force in the next few decades. Since many Latino are catholic, what's best than manufacture a symbolic scandal that costs the Republican Party nothing, can be disguised as fighting "anti-catholic propaganda" (whereas no one gives a damn about defining the US as a "nation of Christians", which I personally resent as anti-Jewish, anti-secular, anti-other religions propaganda), and that targets the work of a dead gay artists on the eve of World Aids Day?

What I'm trying to say is that the date chosen by Rep. Boehner to enact censorship is a highly symbolic one, one to warn the LGBT part of the population that they are being the next target.

The Republican majority is rearing its ugly head, and already prepares whatever symbolic action it can take to hide the fact that is has become the party of the ultra wealthy and not of the poor millions schmucks who voted them back into power.
The next few years are going to be hideous economically for 80% of the American people, and the Republican policies are going to make them worse. Because the Republican Party knows it is bound to fail economically, it is now choosing a convenient scapegoat to divert the attention from its own future political and economic disasters, be it at the price of discriminating against The Gays.

If you feel as strongly as I do about the issues at hand, please join this Facebook page where the email address of the various concerned officials are given (including Mr. Boehner's) for you to express your disappointment at this act of censorship and its deliberate attack against the gay community at such a symbolic period.
Meanwhile, give as much support as you can to your LGBT friends, to artists and to the arts, and fight senseless discrimination.