Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

Definitely NOT Pittsburgh… Not anywhere on the East Coast…

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

international beach bag (1)

Trunk Bay Beach, St. John, US Virgin Islands. (Photo: Amanda Jaffe)

This picture captures the vibes here, if not the weather.

John, who works at a major US museum, will remain anonymous to protect him from the jealous rage this picture will incite across the snow- and ice-covered East Coast.

See you at MOCA Cleveland this Friday!

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013


Dark Stars_for Blog


If you happen to be in the Cleveland area this weekend, you have to check out MOCA Cleveland!

Since its reopening last year, with a sharply elegant new building designed by Farshid Moussavi Architecture, the museum of contemporary art has hit the ground running. Artist commissions such as David Altmejd’s sprawling vitrine installation The Orbit, and Kate Gilmore’s new sculptural installation and video Love ‘em, Leave ‘em are particular highlights of MOCA’s “investment in producing new projects with artists, new artwork and new culture,” to quote chief curator David Norr.

Another refreshing aspect of the museum’s programs are the thoughtful group shows through which the curatorial team have been able to explore current tendencies and preoccupations of contemporary art practice. Assistant curator Rose Bouthillier’s current exhibition Dark Stars  is a tightly composed and deeply intelligent instance of this. Bouthillier details the focus of the exhibition in her curatorial statement: “Dark Stars considers time as a subject in contemporary art, exploring how objects and images bring the past into the present. The exhibition’s title refers to the phenomenon of a dead star’s light continuing to travel through space, appearing to remote viewers long after it has gone dark. Works by Carol Bove, Michael Byron, Annie MacDonell, R.H. Quaytman, and Cerith Wyn Evans convey a similar sense of duration and delay.”

A highlight of the exhibition is Canadian artist Annie MacDonell’s The Shape of Time, Revisited (2012) in which she restores the wooden hand of an antique fortune telling mannequin while meditating on George Kubler’s 1962 text The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things. “However fragmentary its condition,” intones MacDonell in the video aspect of her project, “any work of art is actually a portion of arrested happening, or an emanation of past time. It is a graph of activity now stilled, but a graph made visible like an astronomical body, by a light that originated with activity…” Dark Stars is an example of the way in which an inspired curatorial theme can invigorate a single work, elucidate its connection to other seemingly disparate practices, and create spaces for dialogue with a broader discourse. Bouthillier has a marvelous way of making it seem as simple as that.

This weekend marks the opening of another exciting group exhibition, Realization is Better than Anticipation, co-curated by Bouthillier and Megan Lykins Reich, director of programs and associate curator. Regionally focused, with emerging and established artists in and around Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh, this exhibition promises to be an exuberant consideration of art-making, or as Bouthillier and Lykins Reich put it: “‘realization’ is taken as equal parts practical (doing, constructing) and alchemical (magical, transformative).”

The opening party (featuring cocktails, live music, and performances) is this Friday June 28th, 7–10 p.m. See you there!


Veterans of Foreign Wars, Miami Beach, Dec. 2012

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

vfw miami beach 2012

The reason
Art Basel Miami Beach

The invitation
We would like to invite you for drinks
on Thursday, December 6, 2012 from 5:30 – 8 p.m.
at Veterans of Foreign Wars, 650 West Ave
(South Beach/Miami Beach on the second
floor of the Floridian condo) to celebrate the
2013 Carnegie International (opening October 4, 2013)
Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers, Tina Kukielski & Lynn Zelevansky

The result

“But instead I went to maybe the best party I’ve ever been to in Miami.” Sarah Humphrey, Pittsburgh City Paper

“The party filled up, and quickly. The hosts and CI curators Daniel Baumann, Dan Byers, and Tina Kukielski are—I must say—a lot of fun”. Lloyd Wise, Artforum

The youth is the capital of Iran

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Film poster of the legendary film "The Cow"

If you’re wondering why I went to Tehran, read this. So, after my initial blues, I met with a couple of young artists. I had contacted them through a friend and they had invited me to give a talk in their apartment, which they use for discussions, lectures, screenings, etc. They wouldn’t give me the address but picked me up at a designated location, so I’d better not give any names at all. It was such a great evening! A group of about 30 people gathered, I explained my ideas on art in public space, where they came from historically, and what I have learned from artists, artworks, and the public. We discussed how little was possible in Tehran since the public space is under heavy surveillance and that only private apartments offer suitable space for these kinds of experiences. When I tried to show them a film about an event on YouTube, it was blocked by the censors (see screenshot below).

The next day I visited the Film Museum of Iran. Being an admirer of Abbas Kiarostami, Asghar Farhadi, and Jafar Panahi’s banned film “This Is Not a Film” (see also Cinema of the World), I wanted to see the museum and find out if these filmmakers were still a part of it or if they had been censored. Thankfully, they were still very much present, and the museum offered good insight into the history of Iranian cinema and culture. In the evening, I had a memorable discussion with a young philosopher I’d met the night before. The next day, I visited galleries, saw a mini-retrospective of Ghassem Hajizadeh, and spent my evening at the apartment where the hosts showed recent short films by young filmmakers. All of this was very rewarding since it became clear that contemporary art and film means a great deal to them, and that the apartments are an active space for freedom, knowledge, debate, and experience. You know, these kinds of spaces have always meant the same for me, but sometimes, looking around, I wonder if I am just living an old-fashioned and romantic dream. Ha!

Tehran is the capital of Iran

Monday, September 10th, 2012

A work by Alexander Calder in front of portraits of Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Hosseini Khamenei at the Tehran Museum of Art

“Why are you in Tehran?,” people in the capital continuously asked me. “Why are you going to Tehran?,” my friends wondered. Well, come to Pittsburgh in October 2013, visit the Carnegie International, and you will know. Until then, travel to Tehran, don’t believe what you read in the papers, or what they tell you on TV and other media. It’s absolutely stunning, it’s way too isolated, it’s not dangerous, it’s big (the metropolitan Tehran counts more than 15m inhabitants), the youth is great, as is suspicion, knowledge, curiosity, and hospitality.

Okay, there is some really bad stuff going on there, and there are not many tourists around, either. So, the first thing I did was walk to the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art built by Iranian architect Kamran Diba and opened in 1977. According to Wikipedia, this great building hosts “the most valuable collection of Western modern art outside of Europe and the United States. It is said that there is approximately £2.5 billion worth of modern art held at the museum.” Entering into the main hall, you could see a mobile by Alexander Calder floating in front of portraits of Ruhollah Khomeini and Ali Hosseini Khamenei (see image above). They had their collection of Giacometti, Hamilton, Oldenburg, Lichtenstein, Rauschenberg, Vasarely, and Warhol on display (see images below). While visiting, you were surrounded by a gentle sound (as in many of Tehran’s art galleries) which let me drift away into melancholia. You couldn’t help but wonder what this kind of high-end Western contemporary art was doing in today’s Iran (read here why contemporary art is indeed important in Iran). Out of this bluesy mood I sent a message to Sam Keller, the director of the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland, who initially wanted to travel to Tehran with me. He texted me back that that it was Ernst Beyeler who had sold some of these works to Farah Pahlavi, the Shah’s wife, and responded to my melancholy with “Warhol had the blues.” A few hours later, I learned that there was not too much reason for playing the blues.