March 30, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
Barbara Takenaga’s exhibition “Waiting in the Sky” opens tomorrow at DC Moore Gallery. “They still seem to naturally gravitate,” she said in 2013 of her paintings, “or maybe anti-gravitate, to some kind of explosive/implosive situation. I still love the idea itself of the Big Bang … I feel like I am on this really giant ocean liner and I’ve got this little tiny steering wheel, and I’m turning and turning and turning it, and I’m trying to make a different course for the ship, turning and turning the wheel, and nothing happens. Finally, the thing—me, my attitude, the history of the work, the paintings themselves—because its mass is so big, it starts moving, ever so slowly shifting.”
March 28, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
If you’re like me, the walls of your home are obscured by hundreds, nay thousands, of thick, musty, outdated reference texts: The 1903 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. Things to Know About Boll Weevils. Urinalysis and You. A day ago, I would’ve told you the only way to get rid of these books was to burn them. But now I’ve learned that you can turn them into jewelry. It’s easy:
- Carefully tear out hundreds of pages and laminate them together.
- Using your hands and the same unalloyed will that led you to hoard these books in the first place, form the laminated paper into a ring, bracelet, pendant, or necklace of your choice.
- With your safety goggles on, take a power sander to your jewelry and buff it until you achieve a lustrous, glossy finish.
- Or just call Jeremy May. He does this for a living and is better at it than you are.
May, an artist based in London, is showing his book jewelry—created using a vastly refined version of the process above—as part of a group exhibition called “Read and Worn: Jewelry from Books,” at New York’s RR Gallery through April 24. You can see more images below and at My Modern Met. Read More »
March 17, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
The Malian photographer Malick Sidibé’s latest exhibition opens tonight at Jack Shainman Gallery. Sidibé, who’s seventy-nine or eighty, lives in Bamako, where he’s worked as a photographer since the fifties; he’s known for his vivacious black-and-white studies of the city’s youth culture. “You go to someone’s wedding, someone’s christening,” he told LensCulture in 2008, speaking of the renown he gained as a party photographer:
I was lucky enough at that time to be the intellectual young photographer with a small camera who could move around. The early photographers like Seydou Keïta worked with plate cameras and were not able to get out and use a flash. So I was much in demand by the local youth. Everywhere … in town, everywhere! Whenever there was a dance, I was invited … At night, from midnight to four A.M. or six A.M., I went from one party to another. I could go to four different parties. If there were only two, it was like having a rest. But if there were four, you couldn’t miss any. If you were given four invitations, you had to go. You couldn’t miss them. I’d leave one place, I’d take thirty-six shots here, thirty-six shots there, and then thirty-six somewhere else, until the morning.
His new show spans the whole of his career; it’s up through April 23. Read More »
March 15, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
Late last year, I saw John Ashbery give a reading at Pioneer House, in Brooklyn. At one point, he read a prose poem by James Tate, who died last summer. It was, Ashbery said, Tate’s final poem—so incontrovertibly final, in fact, that it had been discovered in the poet’s typewriter soon after his death. What Ashbery went on to read was terrific: as I recalled, it opened in a comic mode, riffing on all these bogus feats Tate claimed to have accomplished that year (hot-dog-eating contest winner, arm-wrestling contest winner, et cetera) and building to a quiet, rueful meditation on aging.
It seemed almost too perfect to have been plucked unedited from a typewriter, so much so that I wondered, in passing, if maybe it were a sly, prankish tribute. I knew, or I thought I remembered, that Ashbery and Tate had been close. “He has developed a homegrown variety of surrealism almost in his own backyard,” Ashbery had written of his friend in 1995—a variety in which we find “something very like the air we breathe, the unconscious mind erupting in one-on-one engagements with the life we all live, every day.” The poem Ashbery had read was so rich with those “eruptions” that I knew it had to be Tate’s.
I’m happy to say that Tate’s final poem appears in the Spring issue of The Paris Review, along with four new poems by John Ashbery. Below you'll find a photo of the poem as it was found in Tate’s typewriter. His last line, given the circumstances, has a new resonance. What are the chances? Read More »
March 10, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
Trawling through eBay recently, I came across a folder of sample funeral cards from the early twentieth century. As near as I can tell, salesmen would roam from funeral home to funeral home peddling these to undertakers, who would in turn press them on bereaved families. They were standard thank-you notes, essentially—“The family of _________ will hold in grateful remembrance your Spiritual Bouquet and kind expression of sympathy”—but unattached to any death in particular, their messages were gauche, even funny. That they were framed in advertising copy didn’t help. Imagine: Someone you love dies, and before you can even pick out the announcement cards, you have to read sentences like “Genuine engraving achieves its inherent beauty from a correlation of width and depth which no other process possesses.” As a character in Terry Southern’s The Loved One says: “Death has become a middle-class business. There’s no future in it.” Read More »