tartysuz: (Salt)
Edward Burtynsky: Oil (Until 2 January 2011)
M. C. Escher: The Mathemagician (Until 11 October 2011)
Piranesi’s Prisons: Architecture of Mystery and Imagination (Until 7 November 2010)
Art Gallery of Alberta

Kristi Malakoff: Blazzamo (Until 13 November 2010)
Group Show: GET TO DA CHOPPA!! (Until 27 October 2010)
Latitude 53

I recently changed my LJ layout to Draft Grey, a look inspired by architecture. I'd been thinking about it for a while, but finally took the plunge after realizing that draftwork has been a big part of my visual arts adventures of late.

Art me! )
tartysuz: (Salt)
The title of this entry is a pun on the Samuel Taylor Coleridge line, "Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink." In some ways, it doesn't really fit the subject matter, because while I am surrounded by art activities this weekend, I can and am encouraged to (metaphorically) drink it all in.

In another way, it's completely appropriate because the reason the water in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" can't be consumed is because it's salt water ... and salt is the focus for one of the performance artists at the Visualeyez festival. I never did meet the artist, but Cindy Baker, the festival animator, blogged about Randy and her project today. I've been updating my entry about the Visualeyez opening night as I continue to think about the performances I saw, and as Cindy continues to add context and background information.


On Saturday afternoon, I attended an insightful, inspiring talk by photographer Edward Burtynsky. I'll post notes on that when I get a chance.

Meanwhile, I'm going to stop in at another Visualeyez event this afternoon, and catch up on other writing projects tonight.

Art, art everywhere and not enough time to take it all in!
tartysuz: (Salt)
As you may have noticed, my interest in Lady Gaga went from about 2 to 10 this past week. It's all because of the meat dress. It cemented my suspicion that Gaga is more rewarding when consumed (ha ha) as a performance artist rather than as a pop star, which is merely just a subset of her larger performance project (see footnote, below).

It also occurred to me that I'd been thinking about food and performance subconsciously because of the preview notices I'd received about Visualeyez, the annual performance art festival (now in its 15th year) that takes place this weekend. The theme this year: food!

During the opening night gala on Thursday, several performances were in progress, and of course, they were participatory, so here I am, technically taking part in a performance:

Photo 1: Adina Bier and me, snapped by Cindy Baker.

How about them <s>apples</s> bananas )
tartysuz: (Default)
Further to my musing about Jana Sterbak's meat dress and Lady Gaga's take on the concept, a friend of mine who is attending art school in England sent me a link to an article that quotes one of her tutors on the same subject (he also invoked Sterbak's meat dress):


So here's the mainstream BBC publishing an article that applies several different discourses to describe or interpret Lady Gaga's meat dress exhibition (as I like to think of it). This approach is a break from the "code-breaking" school of art interpretation, the idea that this one thing is symbolic of this other thing over here. So many artists have embraced an open approach to their work that code-breaking is an inadequate way to approach art. In this instance, we do have Lady Gaga talk about possible interpretations, and how she may have a different interpretation at a different time.

I discussed all of this with R over supper, then we heard almost exactly that same last sentence (about something having different meanings to the same person at different times) come from the character of a priest in Being Human (episode 1.6 in the UK series). Of course, this excited me to no end. "There is that open text thing again!"

It also occurred to me that despite being the topic du jour in the pop press -- and looming large over my own personal sense of what's possible in art for lo these many years -- Sterbak's meat dress doesn't even exist anymore. It was ephemera. The artifact itself was never meant to last: it was meant to decay. And yet the discourse around it is alive and well and on the Ellen DeGeneres show today!



She used cheap cuts of meat! The Argentinean who made the dress said the meat was from his family butcher. Butchers interviewed by the New York Daily Post estimated that she wore about $100 worth of beef. So really, if you made this dress yourself, and used locally produced meat, you could have a 100-mile dress for $100, while supporting local industries. You would only wear this dress once, but how many non-biodegradable $5,000 frocks get worn only once to the MVAs? So now I give her points for being both frugal and environmentally friendly-ish.

p.s. I love this graphic!

tartysuz: (Default)

Left: Lady Gaga's meat dress. Right: Jana Sterbak's meat dress. Images: LA Times.

Either by intention or coincidence, Lady Gaga referenced a meaty (I couldn't resist the pun!) tradition of performance and installation art when she appeared at the MTV Awards in a dress that looked like it was made of raw beef.

Julianna Barabas, a performance artist (and a good friend of mine), noted a seminal 1964 performance called "Meat Joy" by Carolee Scheneemann. In "Meat Joy," performers danced and rolled around in scraps of raw chicken and fish, and sundry other items. I was familiar with her more famous "Interior Scroll," in which she reads a book unscrolled from her vagina. The work is different, but both locate the site of art with the body, and make the point that it is inseparable from material.

Juliana also sent me a link to a description of "Meat After Meat Joy"an exhibit of work that descended from "Meat Joy." One of the artists costumed himself in a superhero=like meatsuit:

But my first though upon seeing Lady Gaga's meat dress was Jana Sterbak's 1987 work, "Vanitas: Flesh Dress for an Albino Anorectic," colloquially known as "the meat dress." (The LA Times noticed as well.) The work was very controversial at the time. The objections piled up:

  1. It was not flat art nor a stable sculpture.
  2. It was meant to decay while on exhibit.
  3. It was a public health hazard.
  4. It wasted good food.
  5. It wasted of taxpayer dollars. (Sterbak received arts grants and the piece was bought by the federally funded National Art Gallery.)
  6. It wasn't pretty.
  7. It exploited the female body.
  8. It exploited the animal body.
  9. It equated the female body to the animal body.

Of course, these are also all reasons why the piece was so great, and one of the most famous postmodern works by a Canadian (or any artist). It remains the signature work of an artist whose larger body of work is nicely summed up in this piece, which refers to a 1997 exhibit of Sterbak's work at the time:

"Pushing the envelope is this artist's natural state," Irena Zantovska Murray wrote in the exhibition catalogue. "Her interest in cage-like structures . . . is of as long duration as her desire to explore the themes of aggression and survival, domesticity and disruption of self-inflicted pain and of the transformation of self . . . . Here, imaginary beings switch voices alter genders, shed old skins, and assume new identities." (source:="(Source:" Concordia University)

Lady Gaga's personal reasons for wearing the meat dress are quite sound. She told Ellen Degeneres (a vegan):

"Well, it is certainly no disrespect to anyone that is vegan or vegetarian. As you know, I am the most judgment-free human being on the earth," Gaga replied. "However, it has many interpretations, but for me this evening ... If we don't stand up for what we believe in and if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones. And I am not a piece of meat," she added, holding up the magazine cover. (Source: MTV)

Whatever her interpretation (or yours), it's quite clear that Lady Gaga is a performance artist above all else. As my friend Julianna says: "Gaga is the master of sampling in real life! Everything she does references 15 ++ other cultural phenomenas."


A copy of this note has been posted to Facebook. The comments are separate and will not migrate.

Gary Panter

Jul. 8th, 2010 09:28 pm
tartysuz: (Default)
Just came home from hearing Gary Panter speak at the Art Gallery of Alberta. He's a great speaker: inspiring and insightful.

I jotted down a few notes and quotes:

  • "[Growing up] in Texas, it was bleak. I had to make my own culture."
  • Comics is about bringing people in, immersing them in this world, and having them want to stay there. Painting stops people in their tracks.
  • "I'm an old-timey painter, which maybe makes me a modernist. Or a postmodernist."
  • "In painting, I think it's enough to put images next to each other. People can start to find their own reason for it."
  • He puts all sorts of junk together for his light shows. "The brain will organize it."
  • "Being an artist is about exploring your psyche."
  • "If I'm doing commissioned art, I'm solving someone else's problem."
  • "Go into your head, but don't torture yourself."
  • "I don't make too many rules because it hangs me up."
  • "I don't watch TV unless I'm in a hotel. I turned on the music video station and everyone's naked. When did that happen?"

The AGA announced that Panter did three illustrations for an upcoming artbook that goes with the Janet Cardiff / George Bures Miller installation A Murder of Crows, which I experienced (all too briefly) at the AGA a few weeks ago. The book is scheduled to come out this fall, so I'll keep you posted.


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