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Wunderflator, Junk Spaces, Hunger, Drucker

Life in California is pretty great.

Yesterday I drove down to Stanford University for Wünderflater, the MFA show by Reed Anderson, Michael Arcega, Kazumi Shiho, Cobi van Tonder and Jina Valentine. Palo Alto always strikes me as a surreal idyll, but the cool breeze, setting sun and beautiful arty people had me savoring my good luck of living in California. I might have lingered a bit too long, though, as my time inside the exhibition was too brief. Still, the inflatable structure containing a room displaying studio detritus made a lot of connections, which I haven’t yet all sorted out…. The inflatable reminded me of Ant Farm’s early inflatables, which were meant to radicalize architecture, though I was told that the inflatable in Wünderflater is meant to evoke a dream scene, which it does in a metaphoric, rather than theatrical, way. The detritus reminded me of Goldsmiths’ Professor Irit Rogoff’s comment at Global Modernities at Tate Britain that much of the Nicolas Bourriard-curated Triennial was about the re-presentation of junk spaces. For example, Bob and Roberta Smith’s installation combines hand-painted signs literally with junk that would turn up on Bob Smith’s street corner, and Franz Ackermans’ de-constructed installation about immigration and borders was strewn with flags on the ground. I thought that for the MFA grads to refuse to show spectacular, finished, marketable work — their “brands” in the art worlds — is pretty courageous and really interesting in the context of thinking about the hangover of overproduction in a globalized manufacturing system.* And strangely recursive and shockingly straightforward at the same time — exhibiting the objects (that exist directly in the world) that are banal and yet inspiring for the creative process of making more objects to exist in the world… It may not be the most earth-shattering show ever, but it evinces a really interesting sequence of ideas and actions…

[*Likewise with Weston Teruya‘s work at Patricia Sweetow Gallery — sure, the works on paper are these human-less narratives of ecological disaster, yet the pictures are populated with the signifiers of consumption/overconsumption… of maybe sea garbage washed ashore, adrift without nationality and mortally banal in their ubiquity.]

During the after-party (which was kindly serviced by a taco truck and tamale ladies: brilliant!), I got a peek at the amazing, huge studios. It looks like each MFA grad gets their own studio building. I was agog. It made me want to go to Stanford for another MFA. After the brief flash of jealously passed, I added the vision of a luxuriously large, comfortable studio in a wooded grove to my new found hunger. Since I’ve been back from the Breathe Residency, I’ve been living more intently and intensely, filled with this urgency to go for it, to get what I want — to be an artist all the time, not just for as long as I can afford it, or dependent upon deadlines / external validation. To just live it. To be hungry, to be unstoppable, like Pacquiao.

If you’ve read the blog before you probably know I’ve got a healthy obsession with artist and theorist Johanna Drucker. In addition to my good fortune of living in beautiful Calfornia, I’m also happy to share the good fortune of hearing Drucker deliver a keynote address for an event affiliated with an exhibition I’m in. It’s coming up on Wednesday, and I would wager a pretty penny that you won’t be sorry if you take the time to come out to Santa Clara for it.

Tactical Digital Aesthetics
Wednesday, May 20, 2009, 6:00-8:00 p.m., free
An evening of art and conversation exploring new media, remediation, and cultural politics. Keynote by Johanna Drucker; roundtable by Ray Beldner, Stephanie Syjuco, Anthony Discenza, and Johanna Drucker; and moderated by Katie Vann and Kathy Aoki. Co-sponsored by the de Saisset Museum; the Public Engagement Program of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society; and a SCU Technology Innovation grant.

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