Join me at High Concept Laboratories on July 22nd

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Amanda Browder, “Cyclone,” Streetview, GreenLanternGallery, 2008.

I’m looking forward to this:


July 22, 2014 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Mana Contemporary
2233 South Throop Street
Chicago, IL 60608




After 10 years in Chicago, curator, artist and writer, Caroline Picard spent four months as a curator in residence in France landlocked not by Midwestern sky scrapers, but rather Medieval architecture. The curatorial project she implemented, Ghost Nature, took place concurrently in Chicago and Bourges between the months of January and April 2014. During that span of time she coordinated 19 artists, worked with students, professors, and translators, negotiating different time zones, languages and administrative expectations to implement three exhibitions, one bilingual catalogue and one symposium. During her talk at HCL, Picard will trace her apartment gallery beginnings at the Green Lantern, reflect on the gymnastics of curatorial work abroad, and will speak to practices she hopes to bring back to Chicago and implement in a new Logan Square exhibition space. Using personal anecdotes, and visual examples to tie everything together, she’ll pose questions about curatorial practices, collaboration, community and the challenges encountered when working outside of one’s comfort zone.


Sector 2337, In-progress, street view, 2014. With a pending opening in October, 2014.

Butoh Dance Performance in Japan

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I recently learned Butoh was inspired in part by Antonin Artaud; here is an essay that discusses that influence. I also came across this stunning performance:

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Pallas Cat Discovers It’s Being Watched

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Pallas cats were not discovered until a team of researchers were looking for snow leopards in Nepal and accidentally stumbled across an animal that looked half house cat, half snow leopard.

The majestic, shy, solitary Pallas cats were recorded in the wild for the first time by camera traps placed in an extreme climate 14,000 feet above sea level. —

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“Seeing surfaces was my pleasure. Making surfaces was my joy.”

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I remember having a conversation with a friend years ago about how Facebook was like the contemporary equivalent of an 18th Century Park in Parisian society — a place to see and be seen, where witty remarks wield social capital and everything is a kind of performance. The idea has stuck with me, even as it faded under Facebook’s ubiquitous (and thus normalized presence). Recently, however, N+1 published an article by Ida Hattemer-Higgens that contrasts Facebook with the novel. The latter is concave, the former convex. What follows is an excerpt: Read the entire article here.

Facebook Adé

…If, in the next years, there is indeed a gradual abandonment of Facebook, I believe it should be understood in terms of a correction. A survey of historical cycles suggests that cultural blossoming in the realm of ornament, extravagance, mannerism, and show will be gradually corrected by a turn toward the sleek, a vogue for sobriety and all its cousins: naturalism and authenticity, as well as modesty and severity. After Charles II, Cromwell; After Rococo, Classicism.

In my search for Facebook’s antidote, I was struck by the words of the literary theorist Ian Watt, who regards Puritanism as the novel’s original psychological paradigm. In The Rise of the Novel, he writes about the novel in its 18th- and 19th-century forms:

[W]e can say of him [Defoe], as of later novelists in the same tradition, such as Samuel Richardson, George Eliot or D. H. Lawrence, that they have inherited of Puritanism everything except its religious faith. They all have an intensely active conception of life as a continuous moral and social struggle; they all see every event in ordinary life as proposing an intrinsically moral issue on which reason and conscience must be exerted to the full before right action is possible; they all seek by introspection and observation to build their own personal scheme of moral certainty; and in different ways they all manifest the self-righteous and somewhat angular individualism of the earlier Puritan character.

If the classical novel is an instrument of moral introspection as here described, my troubles reframe themselves. The novel is concave; it allows you to spy on the interior realities of fictional people. Facebook is convex; it allows you to spy on the exterior fictions of real people. The opposition, far from being complementary, implies a crisis of the human heart. A reward for looking into the depths, the novel is a catalyst for empathy. A punishment for seeing only the surface, Facebook is a catalyst for envy, and therein lies its inevitable moral exhaustion.

“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion,” writes Emerson in Self-Reliance.

Taking myself as my own portion will mean, for me, the unequivocal renunciation of all efforts to engage with the world on Facebook’s terms. This will entail a reconsideration of the position of my Berliner friends, whose paranoia and scorn in response to Facebook was always defending itself with arguments in favor of modesty, small-flame warmth, and personal quiet.

Facebook’s baroque surfaces are a taunt; the envy one feels as a result is not an incidental personal weakness, it is intrinsic to the structure of the form. It is a form that loves the flamboyant displays of half-truths, and encourages half-truth commentaries to float around them. No individual moment on Facebook, no photo or comment or “like” is any more artificial, any more derivative, than innumerable moments that have accompanied me otherwise, as I, along with the rest of you, have been dragged through a world not always able to organize the trenchancy of expression apposite to its condition of love and suffering. But Facebook, I will insist, is a literary genre. As such it is a cognitive mode, a consciousness-for-hire in which the mind can swim. And it is on these terms that I call it out. It is not its artificial moments, of the kind I live out every day, but its artificial mode, that would steal from me my mind’s meditative, contemplative force, my Puritan spirit—my life lived as a better novel.

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Frozen Energetic Bodies

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Had a nice catch up with an old friend last week and we got on the subject of the how we’ve seen the figure pop up in recent exhibits. She told me about a panel in LA, “Sculpture After Sculpture,” mentioning in particular Charles Ray’s description of ancient sculptures indicating movement. My friend described his visits to an Egyptian sarcophagus (though I found no mention of this in Daily Serving’s panel account) who’s arm is pulling away from the rest of its torso — as a sculpture coming to life, straining into movement after the death of its affiliated corpse. It’s particularly remarkable given that most other sarcophagi have their hands against their thighs. The description reminded me again of Ray’s Hinoki Tree, which has always seemed like a kind of zombie for me, even if part of its fascination stems from the way it seems so expertly close to a real tree, mid-rot. That said, I’ve had similar encounters with Fritsch’s work, which I inevitably can stare at for hours — like I used to with My Little Ponies as a kid — waiting to see if her sculptures would move. I am increasingly interested in that unnerving feeling, especially. The way an object might seem alive. Potent in incomprehensible ways, as though its energy is just outside my frame of reference. Of course with Fritsch it has something to do with how frozen and densely colored her bodies are. The black seems swallows all light to such an extent it seems capable of swallowing up the room. The hot colors (pink/orange/purple/blue) I’ve seen her use as well are so buzzing, they vibe in direct contrast with the static figure. In the case of those childhood toys, my older siblings played a game where they convinced me the dolls moved when I wasn’t looking. The things quickly went from being favorite vehicles for my imagination to evil-doers beyond my control. After a summer of that terrifying game, (I’d started to sleep with a yellow one — I forget it’s name, but it had baby doll eyes — on a bookshelf directly across from my bed, so I could keep an eye on it at all times) I woke up one morning with the tiny pony on my chest (imagine my brother and sister lying on the carpet beside the bed, stifling laughs) at which point I screamed bloody murder. Perhaps in these other works — Fritsch, Ray et al, I’m looking for a similar terror.

Here is an excerpt from Daily Serving about the panel :

Sculpture after Sculpture at the Art Center College of Design

Last Saturday, curator and Artforum editor-at-large Jack Bankowsky moderated a roundtable on “Sculpture after Sculpture” (more on the title in a moment) at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, in anticipation of his forthcoming three-artist survey of the same name at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm this October. The three artists, Katharina Fritsch, Jeff Koons, and Charles Ray, are united by work that is, in Bankowsky’s words, “pointedly figural, quotidian in reference, and resolutely sculptural”; work that, when it emerged in the 1970s, was “all but unimaginable as the shape of serious art to come.” Thus the organizing question for the roundtable: How did we get to the point that figural sculpture seems viable and significant again?

Jack Bankowsky at the Sculpture after Sculpture Panel Discussion, Art Center College of Design. Photo: Chris Hatcher

Jack Bankowsky presenting at the Sculpture after Sculpture Panel Discussion, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. Photo: Chris Hatcher.

The “what’s changed” as suggested by Bankowsky includes minimalism, industrial production, and the legacy of the readymade; but the speakers, who each gave a ten minute talk devoted to an “epiphany, quandary, or suspicion” that these three artists raised, focused as much on economic, political, and technological changes as on art history. The roundtable might have been better named “Production after Production.”

The panelists themselves formed a forceful and not unpolemical group: sculptor Charles Ray himself; Whitney curator Scott Rothkopf, (who is currently working on the first American museum restrospective on Koons’ art); Isabelle Graw, critic and founder of Texte Zur Kunst; Michelle Kuo, Editor-in-chief ofArtforum (who previous collaborated with Rothkopf on a special issue devoted to artistic production); and critic and art historian Michael Fried. What follows is a summary of each of their ten-minute talks. read more