Sunday, July 31, 2005

Portuguese young talent

Diana Silva, Heart Necklace (2003)

(This is a neckless made with the crochet technique, I believe)

ps.: I have just bought bluetooth for my laptop, at last, which will allow me to post pics and films from my mobile phone. Meaning - expect more terrible quality "new art" photos and films from Portugal!

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Is there a surface that goes beyond itself? How deep does it go? Can we go so far to the surface of the picture, we go beyond it? It is only skin, matched and resampled as in a game, as in a text. And what are they really saying through the skin? This is who we are? This is what we are? Identity? So close? So quick, so easy?

Tokyo I
Cape Town I
Buenos Aires

Selected pictures from The Nude Adrift Portfolio, by Spencer Tunick (at the Guy Hepner Contemporary gallery in London)


I'll be directing a workshop next week in Montemor-o-Velho, entitled "Between Performance and Theater" (Portuguese link). I want to explore the zone between acting, enacting, performing and participating, so it should be a lot of fun and pretty challenging.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Birdwatching (1)

During the Serpa seminar, I did some filming. The goal was a specific type of (experimental) documentary, but the bad quality of sound made it unviable. One of the filmed sequences, though, came out amazing: a group of birds flying around in the setting southern sun.

Every time I saw the material, I became fascinated with the moving image, its fluidity, its combination of harmony and power and playfulness, the games of shadows and highlights. The entire scene lasts less than a minute, probably about 30 seconds. On the other hand, it seems just the right amount of starting material.
But for what?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Blur Building

My girlfriend has made me discover the Blur Building, by Elizabeth Diller and (husband) Ricardo Scofidio (Diller&Scofidio - notice her name comes first, very nice and rare!), or rather, the recordings of it (scroll for the article), as it was disassembled after the Swiss Expo in 2002. It seems like a truly extraordinary project - a building that's a cloud. Witty, poetic, and above all - real!
It reminded me of one of Woody Allen's funniest characters - the man that became out-of-focus in Deconstructing Harry.
Diller&Scofidio have made and collaborated on many other fascinating projects, ranging from performances, to installations, to video art.
Long live artist couples!

Portuguese multimedia

The Portuguese center for digital arts Atmosferas has been quite busy recently. First, they made a retrospective net exhibition of Portguese net art in the last years. Now, they (along with Etic, the media art school they are a part of) are starting a 2-year Masters course in Games and Interactive Media. It is a unique program in Portugal, and was created with the support of YDreams, the immensely successful multi-media Portuguese company (with several multi-media installations on their account). I'm really glad things are happening around here.

Monday, July 25, 2005


As part of the Day-to-Day Data exhibition which presents several "artists who collect, list, database and absurdly analyse the data of everyday life" (curated by Ellie Harrison), Jem Finer's On Earth as in Heaven recreates the map of heaven - on earth. The idea is to localize the names of the stars that compose the main star constallations. The names can refer to places, but also objects, people, erotic drawings.
I imagined initially that all the stars would have streets or towns named after them (or themselves be named after terrestrial locations), but this was far from the case. Using Google as a research tool I found that star names were more often than not the name of an object, a document, a person, something transient at a specific time and place…
Using Google as a research tool? This is our world, this is our geography. This is the universe. Of course, I would probably have done the same thing (then again, I might have taken the trouble to check somewhere else, you never know). But it's strange, the way we seem to combine the conviction that we live in a global village with, indeed, a village mentality.
But the work is nice, and the online version quite appreciated by this village person.

Ps.: Jem Finer is also the author of the longest music piece in history: longplayer, which is to play uninterruptedly for a thousand years (it began on January, 1, 2000). You can listen to it (streamed) here.

Questioning modernism

Art by people like Richard Serra leaves me confused. Not that I'm shocked, not at all. I just find it, well, unconvincing. The huge steel plates, the massive cubes, the imposing shapes... it seems like a simplicity that's, well, out of date. I'm really having difficulty writing about this, as I'm not sure of what I think, feel, or would like to feel. Yet somehow, I find this doubt to be very important for me.
You see, it seems too heavy, too closed, too proudly hermetic. Remember this quote? "Nobody thinks sculpture's going to change the world", but then, Serra's wish is to "change the way you see, even minutely". There is a paradox here, a human one, but one which is no less irritating. What are these blocks of steel? Just this, blocks? In that case, shouldn't I take him seriously and consider them no more important than any other element that would "change the way I see, even minutely"? Wouldn't simple (and cheaper) binoculars do the thing? Do I really need this to change the way I see? And what does it mean, to change the way I see? Can you hear the ever-present note of classic modernism? I'll give you a hole, and you'll lift the world with your sight. Oh, brother. How classic that sounds today. And what are we supposed to do with yesterday's revolutionaries? Their space today seems ridiculous, or worse - funny. The pure form. Pure just doesn't sound right, does it? Their talk, their fafarafa, is good for the art market, which replaces the "beauty-based" language games by "truth-based" ones. And we have the Abramovićs of inner truth, the Serras of object-ive truth, and so on. They had 30, 40 years to read up on philosophy, on arts, on history. Their talk has gotten smoother, it developed into systems, or semi-systems, always open, as the post-structuralists wisely advised. The curators love it, the prices go up. They are now part of art history.
And I, the spectator, yawn. It might be my ignorance, my not taking their ride. Or, to put it in another way, I don't have enough strength for them, I can't handle all this essence. The masters of essence. With their squares and circles, plain surfaces, monochromes and voids. It's not a disliking, it's more a getting-tired, a thirst for content. And I'm not alone. The new artists are here. The little narratives, the concrete, but meaningful (signifying, something), stories, adventures, textures that reveal forms, directions, opinions, origins, contexts, those little narratives develop, combine, they feed off each other, and yes, off the modernist power trips, their dreams of the infinite, their need for space. And, well, (the artistic) now happens. Hesitantly, at first, making tiny, unbalanced steps, swirving and turning, crawling and going sideways, but somehow, it's more up-to-date for me than what the venerable revolutionaries are. It is more open, direct, it's more modest, but more aggressively reaching out. And I like that. I like the rusty marks the tools leave. Serra's, well, I don't know how he does it, but, paradoxically, his works don't stain.
At least not my young and innocent skin.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Portuguese folk

Here, have some Portuguese music. This one comes from the north of Portugal. I've discovered it recently, and I was stunned. Its similarity with Corsican poliphony fascinates me. At the same time, it hasn't had the privilege of a commercial promotion, so it is slowly fading away.
And why is it here, on the New Art blog? Well, I have my reasons, but if you find its inadequate, well, live with it. And enjoy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Sweet, sweet art

The Polish National Gallery of Contemporary Art Zachęta has just announced it will have publicity in the form of candy. (No, not a sculpture of candy. Just candy.) This is the result of an open contest, won by Michał Rokita, a 24-year-old architecture student from Krakow. The candy is to be distributed not just to cultural venues, but also to supermarkets. Rokita says he wants it (and Zachęta) to be publicized (a commercial for a commercial?) as a cure for sadness, pessimism, lack of culture and monotony of everyday life. It will be packaged in a similar way to medicine, with a special information note containing the Gallery program. A box of the artsy sweets is to be very cheap, costing about 2 złoty (0,5 euro). The suggested flavor is llemon.

(via Gazeta Wyborcza)

Modern-day Bosch?

Alessandro Bavari
definitely has the ambitions of being a modern-day Bosch. I'll leave it up to you to judge.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


It's been a while since my last visit to the angry and consistent Mark Vallen at art-for-a-change. If you feel like your love for the avant-garde needs a clear adversary, pay him a visit.

Touch yourself

With Mollycoddle, Christine Liu wanted to explore the relationship that people have with their clothes.
Mollycoddle is a dress with a hunger for love and attention. Its wearer needs the dress for obvious (coverage) or nonobvious (personal) reasons, and in turn, the dress needs the wearer. Mollycoddle wants to be touched and caressed by the wearer on a semi-regular basis, but it can be happy being touched by other people, too.


More at we-make-money-not-art.

Digital pinhole

Simple, yet brilliant: create your very own digital pinhole camera (digital camera not included). You can also opt for the alternative polaroid pinhole (a.k.a. pinholaroid).

A very forced entertainment

I have just mistakenly erased a very large review of Agatha Christie, a show by Teatro Praga.
The below text is all that's left.

Teatro Praga is currently the most popular - and renowned - "experimental" theater in Portugal. The sort of work they do actually aims at being experimental. The formula is the following: take a play (or a text that can be adapted into one), present it in a fairly traditional way making it occupy about 1/3 of the show (time-wise or importance-wise), then add 2/3 of a "chaotic" "experimental ambience, with people saying nonsense, running around, laughing madly and crying (very important!), add some cardboard signs with things hand-written on them (very important, could be a way of identifying the "character", e.g. "sad", or "king of the castle", or "Foucault", or all three), add as many references to contemporary philosophers as you can squeeze in (Foucault, Deleuze and Derrida are welcome no matter what the circumstances), add a story about some "scientific" fact with loads of fiction interwoven into it in such a way that the audience doesn't know what the truth is, and finally, the most important factor: add some profound thoughts about what theater is and isn't.

(The conclusion was something along the lines of: Praga are still scared to abandon the classical theater, or to stop thinking about it and asking questions that are neither original or really relevant for anyone but the theater people themselves (though in Portugal nearly only performing arts people go to theater, so this is not surprizing). They don't make for an excessively good classical theater, and they don't dare to follow the often interesting, fresh and new leads they discover in their work. Instead, we are left with some sort of left-overs from all the Forced Entertainments and Wooster Groups that have done the experimentation work much more extensively, and gone much further. It's a pity. And hopefully they will focus more on the research & development,and aim at creating things, and not just scattering them around.)
Oh, and there was a picture that summed up the show:
(now how often do you get that in a review? ;))

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Calling something "hybrid" is just too easy. The word refers to a combination of two or more species, suggesting some original purity of form which is then combined with other pure forms to create the hybrid.
When applied to the arts, it subtly introduces a biological lecture, hinting at a linear (pluri-linear, but still linear) character of artistic works. Basically: "the work A comes from the combination of styles 1 and 2".

Hybrid, to me, is the beginning. It is the point of departure, it is what we find upon our arrival, it is what me must make sense of when advancing: it is the basic stuff, the original, delightfuly uncomprehensible remix, or entangled panoply of experience. We, I, go through it, cutting away, isolating, naming, framing, sensing. And "the hybrid work of art" is probably just the use of an unexpected tool to get me out of somewhere, of some tiring remix, some hybrid form.

For your viewing pleasure: the art of A.R.Menne.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Remapping the world

Mappingworlds is an initiative of changing social (and international) awareness through redesigning maps through non-geographical criteria, such as hospitality, asylum applications, or rivers and floods (okay, that one's geographic).


Retro innovation

Kee, designed by Shira Miasnik , is a motion-based digital music instrument.


The user modifies the digital output by tilting and rotating the wooden disk.

Movements can define endless parameters: manipulating Kee in different directions, angles and speed changes different qualities of the animation. Pressing the logo button modifies the presets which define the changes in the animation.
It is fairly hard to say from the video how exactly it works, but it seems like a nice combination of "digital" with "retro".


Friday, July 15, 2005

Send your video art/documentaries now!

22nd Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival
November 8 - 13, 2005
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Deadline: August 1st, 2005
Reglement & Application Download:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- documentaryFILMVIDEOart screenings
- exhibition MONITORING
- interfiction symposium
- Live visuals



An old installation of mine.

Slightly off-topic (against hi-tech)

Several years ago (about 1999) I worked as an English teacher in a language training center that had a military technology company as its biggest client. We used their technical guides and prospects as teaching material. It seemed pretty hi-tech, but I never really thought about it, until yesterday, when I saw this:This is given as big news on several blogs. Apparently Seiko/Epson have just presented this "new invention". As you have already guessed, flexible screens were one of the products we had the documents of in our classes. Six years ago. And let me tell you, the prototypes were much more flexible than that. That's what I call going "back to the future". And this is another reason why I don't get too impressed with the "inventions".
If I had the money, I wouldn't mind offering a big prize to the first artist that would manage to create a work with the flexible screens that I would find Very Impressive Indeed.

Rabbit Field - and others

Rabbit Field is an installation where rabbit-like, inflated forms react empathically when one of them is being deflated (i.e. squeezed or poked by the spectators), causing a "ripple wave" within the bunny society. The bunnies also reproduce quickly, increasing in numbers over night, often until they fill the entire room. Since the rabbits' sensors and inflating fans are connected via a central computer, they can be set up to react to their nearest neighbor or to a cousin across the ocean (via the marvelous-and-ever-surprizing web). This sounds really cute (I don't know why the guy on the picture is lying down pretending to be dead).
My big question is: what next? What could we invent using the mechanisms that were elaborated for the use of this project that could go beyond the cute bunnies? Is there anything, or do we have to quickly focus on another gadget? My challenge to you, dear readers, is to think up, and choose to share with me or not, any other ways of using such a "empathic system". How would you see it in your work?

Very Lost Highway

For David Lynch fans. (click on "1=1", the title of the work) For me it's just another consequence of the sillyness of Lost Highway and most of his other films.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Art Blogging

It is never going to be a main-stream activity. A few medium-size names might appear here and there, but art blogging simply doesn't go well with creation. It's a question of time. Of focus. What interests you? Is it art? Or your art? If it is the latter, whyever would you wander away to dangerously other grounds?
Blogging is for the wandering ones. For those who instinctively lean towards the activity the French call flaner: walk around, float, wander, disperse. It is about letting go of your inner discipline, about substituting something for everything, for the unexpected discoveries and rare echoes, for the misty strength of total, absolute, concrete virtuality.
Why am I doing this? To educate myself, to form myself, to see the world, to share it. But why am I doing this? Where from? Out of what, what need, what rush, what drive? Some strange urge to run away, to hide away so that one becomes visible, to keep the artistic discovery for myself- to share it in a hidden (illicit?) way. Obviously, way too obviously, not to be alone. To find ground somewhere else, to know what sort of (artistic?) world I'm living in. Not to be afraid of what happens. To participate in it. Or: to feel myself participate in it. Take a shortcut. Maybe. Take the long way. Possibly. Write, express, yes, whatever. But beyond the obvious. To draw out my world. To myself, to the present posterity (those who will have known me). Why is it better here than elsewhere? Recognition. To re-cognize - to think again, to find out once more. To confirm the presence through thinking. And, since art is a myth, the confirmation seems welcome. And unfair: didn't I want the myth instead of its confirmation?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Erin Johnson, I Love You to Death (Chicago, 2005)

A few good links

Personal World Map - don't judge a world by its cover
What good are the arts? - a light-hearted reflection
The Long Tail of Art - aiming to give digitally-curious artists a little money
Hidden horoscope - just a description of just a school project, but it inspires
Busan Biennale - design a work of art for a beach. Be an artist. Travel. Have fun. Stop blogging, for chrissake.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Guerrilla Girls on tour in Poland (2003)

Part art, part feminism, part tourist publicity. Here's a piece of a diary I found by the famous Guerrilla Girls.

Quote pretend that a man standing on a hill could be doing everything except just standing is simply divorce from life
-Merce Cunningham

Monday, July 11, 2005

Once a year

It's my birthday!

After the avant-garde (?)

A recent article by Margo Jefferson in the NYTimes (free subscription required) about the avant-garde (focusing on theater and the performing arts) is far from what I would call revolutionary or even very useful for someone already acquainted with contemporary art languages, at least if we read it on its basic level. It does, however, show how the "general public" is being introduced to more experimental forms of expression.
It's interesting too see how Jefferson sees - and shows, thus co-constructing - the "new art": she keeps going back to the idea that it's something one has to get used to, a world worth discovering, but not easy to enter. Pretty obvious... but. The spectators are to "suspend judgement", as the artists "are experimenting" and we are to do it with them. But Jefferson admits,
Avant-gardes get middle-aged; they become the establishment. When one goes to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, for instance, one is likely to see the work of artists who belonged to the avant-gardes of the 1960's and 70's and early 80's. Some are perfecting what they've already done. A few keep on experimenting, while some are being better paid to calcify than they ever were to innovate.
And that is a problem. Because avant-garde today, as Jefferson rightly puts it,
is not a designated tribe of rebel outsiders anymore. It is a set of tools and practices; certain styles and attitudes.
Which should be a good reason to redifine experimenting and change the way we see it (and criteria for discovering it). It is far from the idea of people coming up with completely new, unexpected and revolutionary worlds. It is much more about using the current conventions, habits, paradigms, to their best use, exploring how far they take us. And that trip is pretty difficult to execute if we don't understand those paradigms (the darned question of competence, irritating, but true?). But once we do, I see no reason to suspend judgement altogether, other than belonging to a generation that considered criticism to be a horrible idea and "gave itself away". The problem is, the Robert Wilsons and Laurie Andersons (two names cited in the article) are really far from anything one could call innovative today: their art, good as it may be, has been pretty much the same for a long time. And frankly, I see no reason for going on with the suspended judgement, especially, since this attitude hasn't really helped much in introducing the "avant-garde" to main-stream culture. Any ideas about that?
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Friday, July 08, 2005

Falling once again

You want falling? Here is falling.
First, take your time to watch. Just watch and let yourself become hypnotized, frustrated, angry.

Then use the mouse.
Take control. And feel even worse.
Can't this provide the feeling of sublime?
(Oh, but I don't want it to provide the feeling of sublime!)


Thursday, July 07, 2005


Artificial hymen, that is.

Developed by the art studio/laboratory VivoLabs, HymNextTM is an actual organic tissue grown in a laboratory. The prototypes were grown from rat smooth muscle tissues and blotting membranes. The artists/producers point out that the HymNextTM are "not meant for human application" only as "soft sculptures". The developed hymens, in various shapes and colors, are presented in a cerimonial box. "Alternative packaging is being developed".


Against the (universal) avant-garde

Tadeusz Kantor, Panoramic Sea Happening (1967)
From the time of Verdun, Voltaire's Cabaret and Marcel Duchamp's Water-Closet, when the 'status of art' was drowned out by the roar of Fat Bertha - DECISION became the only remaining human possibility, the reliance on something that was or is unthinkable, functioning as the first stimulant of creativity, conditioning and defining art. Lately thousands of mediocre individuals ahve been making decisions, without scruples or any hesitation whatever. We are witnesses of the banalization and conventionalization of decision. This once dangerous path has become a comfortable freeway with improved safety measures and information. Guides, maps, orientation tables, directional signs, signals, centres, Art Co-operatives guarantee the excellence of the functioning of creativity. We are witnesses of the GENERAL MOVEMENT of artist-commandos, street fighters, artist-mediators, artist-mailmen, epistologs, pedlars, street magicians, proprietors of Offices and Agencies. Movements on this already official freeway, which threatens with a flood of graphomania and deeds of minimal significance, increases with each passing day. It is necessary to leave it as quickly as possible. This is not easily done. Particularly at the apogee of the UNIVERSAL AVANT-GARDE - blind and favoured with the highest prestige of the INTELLECT, which protects both the wise and the stupid.
- Tadeusz Kantor (1915-90), a great, wonderful Polish artist, creator of the Theater of Death (the theater (or rather: performance) group he founded in 1955 was called Cricot2). Beyond being an excellent theater director and visual artist, Kantor was an eternal provocateur. His biographies are full of outrageous statements and controversial incidents.
One I recall happened when his group went to Japan for some festival. They were invited to a teahouse (or was it some other elegant place?). Kantor declared they had to show these "Japanese barbarians" that culture is not about washing the floor and having a "most pleasant light" in the room. He then walked around in mud, and upon entering refused to take his shoes off.
Kantor during the performance of his most famous play, Umarła Klasa (The Dead Class) (1975). You can see the director on the left, behind the bench, as he had the habit of "directing" (observing, but also slightly changing) the shows even during the performance.

(some more on Polish avant-garde here)

Delete! update

More from the Delete! project.["But you know - anyhow, i feel free!"]
["I need consumer information! (Argh!)"]
["Blue would have been nicer"]

Apparently yellow was chosen also because it allowed the ads underneath to be seen. Interesting. Very interesting. Also (as my girlfriend, who is a color pro, confirms), yellow is an un-obvious color. It can be seen as very positive, dynamic, as it can be seen as melancholy. I can also see it as aggressive, or peaceful, depending on the circumstances. Thus - a color of ambiguity.


Monday, July 04, 2005

Deleting money

The Delete! project, by Christoph Steinbrener and Rainer Dempf, was an "installation" in the middle of the tourist zone of Vienna, Austria. It seems like a logical consequence of The Untitled Project. In TUP, the erasing of all written signs was symbolic - made by manipulating the photos. Here, it's the real thing. It reminds me of an article about the power of Yves Klein's picture of jumping into the void (yes, that again...). The author (I'll try to remember who) suggests Klein's photomontage was taken seriously by many artists and influenced the artists that came after him to move into body art, where the artists' bodies were (and still are today) actually abused for aesthetic - or more broadly: artistic - goals. Here, we have a similar move from virtality to the real thing. Steinbrener and Dempf probably don't even know Matt Siber, but I guess it was just something in the air. Zeitgeist.
What's wrong with that?
For one, as this comment suggests, it is a rather naive critique of consumerism. Granted we read it as an actual critique. If, on the other hand, we consider it as a merely aesthetic realization, one could argue (as the author of the comment does) that the yellow signs are not really prettier than the original shields. Then again, one could also argue about the aesthetic value of Christo's and Jeanne-Claude's project - which doesn't (and shouldn't) stop them from making them. And if they could cover up the world, why can't others?
The one thing I found disappointing was the quality of the work, as a production: behind the yellow plastic, we can clearly distinguish the signs...
The work stayed on for two weeks. By week two, some storekeepers simply couldn't resist it:
Bad? Well, many other people couldn't resist either:

The idea also reminds me of the numerous artistic endeavors with burning money (starting with Klein's performances at the bank of the Seine river in 1962, I believe). This time, it is erasing, bleaching the print. The one thing that seems to make it quite different from the oldendays is that Delete!, just as Christo's works, is temporary. Which, of course, is good. And bad.
More pictures od Delete! here and a great Quicktime VR (360º).

Friday, July 01, 2005

Art for London 2012

When London bids to participate in the (2012) Olympics, it means business. And culture. Which is why the bid comes accompanied by a wonderful program: 40 Artists, 40 days. Basically, it is a publicity for Britain and its artists:
In the final 40 days of the campaign we want to raise awareness of this wider Olympic opportunity, and encourage support for London 2012, by creating a unique countdown calendar that will focus attention on Britain’s exceptional creative talent. We have asked 40 leading artists to provide a work, either original video, music, text, performance or visual art, which will be showcased here on Tate Online as a message of Olympic support, with a new piece being added every day until you can enjoy all 40.
The diversity is fantastic, as is the quality and the nearly always contemporary edge. On the site you'll find excerpts of dances (some quite interesting) , music, literature about music in England, and much, much more. My big disappointment was the work One Story Building by Blast Theory (you know I like them). But not because it's bad. It's an "interactive work" where you call a number and have to answer a series of 2000 (2012?) questions:
In this interactive work, the participant drills through two thousand either/or questions. Starting with the question ‘Urban or Rural?’, the piece moves from the expansive into the cloistered, finally arriving at a secret and private space. Reminiscent of ‘10×10’ by Charles and Ray Eames, it uses this swoop in scale to explore the taste of the participant, whilst gently mocking the notion of interactivity itself.

Single Story Building can be accessed anytime of day by phoning 0871 504 3987. Use your phone's keypad to navigate through the work. Calls are charged at the national rate (8p/min from a landline).

And I can't even tell you what's it like - it's a number I can't access from Lisbon. Anyone in Britain can give some feedback (wink at Lunettes Rouges)?



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