Thursday, April 30, 2015
IN CASE OF RIOT BREAK GLASS
After the death of one more UBS (unarmed Black suspect) in Baltimore, the mayor of the city, a Black woman, declared that the police would allow protests and even "destruction of private property". Did I hear her correctly? Did an elected official actually give the green light to loot and pillage? Knowing the media's track record for completely fucking with the truth, this may not be the case. But for the sake of argument let's say the mayor did say this. It's the dawn of a new era in reactionary history.
I lived in Baltimore in 1972-73, going to art school at MICA and working as a groom/hotwalker at the track. I saw Secretariet win the Preakness. But that's another story. As a naive country boy Baltimore was my first experience in urban living. I lived on the corner of St. Paul and Lafayette, in a big 3 bedroom apt. I shared with another art student and a cat just out of the Coast Guard. It may be gentrified by now, but back then it was the hood. We had cockroaches as big as your thumb and rats as big as cats. As a young, long haired whiteboy the only interaction I had with the cops was being asked for my draft card and pulled over for minor traffic offenses. This was Divine's, pre-WIRE city of washed marble steps and impending "urban renewal". Fell's Point was still filled with seedy bars and downtown was nothing but strip clubs and sailors on leave. Was it racist? I had no clue.
As this past year has shown us, to be a UBS in America is to risk arrest, serious bodily injury or even death at the hands of the police. From the bright kid in Oakland being shot and killed by a BART police officer depicted in the film FRUITVALE STATION to Fergusen and Michael Brown, to Staten Island, to South Carolina, to Balwamer, nowhere is exempt and no young Back man is safe. The mayor's words may not be so outlandish. As an artist I would take it one step further. How hard would it be to find a large expanse of derelict parking lot where one could erect an exact facsimile of a CVS or a McDonald's, complete with well stocked shelves or burgers? Hollywood set builders and art directors could even be solicited to create a main street all ready for destruction. Then, when the next case of a UBS being gunned down happens (and it will), officials can open up this "hood" for government sanctioned rioting. Take a cue from the wire- burn down Hamsterdam. We'll all feel better.
Turkey Season opens tomorrow so I may be a little busy. So if I forget to remind you, Leon Golub opens at Hauser and Wirth in NYC on May 11 in a show prophetically entitled RIOT. It will prove that all painting isn't vapid, snarky, worthless (no matter what it costs) crap. Hunt safe.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Labels: pHOTO:mARIANA rOTHEN
ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVE
Blood has always fascinated me. It started in the 1970's with the "bloodprints". Trained as a printer early in my career, I left the anal approach to traditional intaglio and lithography behind, to see it with fresh eyes, through the prism of conceptualism. The "bloodprints" consisted of rounding up 12 previously untattooed people (6 men and 6 women), and convincing them of receiving a tattoo. While the tattoo was fresh I laid a large sheet of rice paper on the tattoo, "pulling" a blood print. In a way I asked the subject to withstand a calculated amount of pain and donate blood to my cause/art. Not a small request.
Over the years i continued with the tattoo prints (now on my person) and also have used the blood of a cow and deer in the printing process many times. It remains central to my work. Another element within my conceptual oeuvre is the use of institutions (established or invented) in order to contextualize a gesture as art. I've "adopted" children from established relief agencies, attended seminary as a sculptural practice and even established a school and church. So when the artist Whitney Lynn presented me with the opportunity to show for three days at a little alternative art gallery in Brooklyn in June, I began to rack my brain. What to do? I could easily load up the truck with recent work, drive to town and install a nice little art show. But why? Isn't there enough fucking art in NYC? And the impotence of art these days seems incredibly obvious and depressing. Why add to the dung heap?
So I decided to revert to my old school conceptual roots. Instead of concentrating on the space, I decided to concentrate on the 3 day time frame and the mission statement of the gallery to "engage the community".....and do it with blood. June 11-13, 2015 I will appeal to the artists of the world to donate blood. If all works out I will have the cooperation of either the Red Cross or The NY blood bank on-site at The Open Source Gallery in order to draw blood from the Brooklyn art community. There is no political agenda in doing this BLOOD DRIVE. It is a simple request that hopefully will resonate with enough individuals that this "art" will have a real effect in a positive way. I've established a facebook community page facebook/artistblooddrive and soon will start spreading the word, through whatever venue I have at my disposal. The parameters of the piece are very simple. If you are an artist I am asking you to give blood anywhere it is convenient, within that 3 day period in June. If you are not an artist, I would borrow from Joseph Beuys and say "Everyone an Artist" (at least for those 3 days). Roll up your sleeve. The world will thank you.