Tag Archives: Lady Gaga

Tea With Chris: The Chairs Are Where the People Go

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Chris: The log that’s a bench. I like the idea of carving modern furniture into various parts of the landscape, as if inverting the ethos of those men in downtown Toronto who only wear lumberjack shirts.

The Xiu Xiu cover of Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In the World)” sounds exactly like I expected (well, aside from the “we can make sandwiches” interpolation) but that is very much okay.

A K-pop summer jam for you, complete with dubstep breakdown:

Margaux: In a waiting room, I came across this article by Fania Fainer in Chatelaine Magazine “Would you risk your life for a friend?”. I stopped to read it because I know Fania Fainer and recognized her picture. I’m friends with her daughter and have met Mrs. Fainer several times. She’s a very charming and open-minded woman. The article is incredibly short, and it’s one of the most meaningful things I have read in a long time. I highly recommend it.

Two of my favourite people (one of my best friends and my partner) made a book called The Chairs Are Where the People Go that’s just coming out now. It was included in a summer reading list, in spot #2 for New York magazine. Sheila Heti talked to her good friend Misha Glouberman to see if they could come up with chapters on what he knows. He knows 72 short chapters. It’s a strange, elegant and deceptively simple book – even useful.

Speaking of New York magazine, I appreciated this article by art critic Jerry Saltz on the Venice Biennale a few weeks ago (as did 292 people on Facebook). Saltz writes of being worried by the majority of the art he saw there – work that speaks to and interacts with the concerns of an older generation of art academics. I share this concern. He seems worried, but from where I stand I see the battle between those working within an older academic dialogue (looking to their teachers for their concerns and for their audience) and those striving to communicate beyond the contemporary confines of the art world (hoping to contribute to a contemporary world dialogue rather than just an inner art world dialogue) as pretty 50/50. Unlike Saltz, I am confident that the world kids will win – even if they aren’t yet being warmly invited to the Biennales. Or maybe they are just having too much fun on the internet.

Dear Toronto’s Bell Lightbox. Everyone loves your cinemas and everyone complains about your website. Everyone wants a clearly-visible button that will take you to the monthly schedule – they want a clear monthly schedule in your catalogue too, like in the olden days of cinema. Everyone also complains that they can only pay with Visa like at your film festival. People really don’t like that – especially the people who have a Visa card and none of their other friends do so they have to buy all the tickets.

Dear Lady Gaga, you can still work a persona even if you’re not acting all the time. A persona in the natural world is crazy! Wearing sneakers and dirty hair, with a boring old human face. That can be a dangerous and exciting platform for some persona play. Some people might not even know there is any persona play – and that can be fucked up.

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Filed under carl wilson, chris randle, linkblogging, margaux williamson

Little Boxes #50

 

Lady Gaga by Hellen Jo, from Prison for Bitches, 2010)

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Art things I thought about this year, that I can remember today, in order of remembrance.

by Margaux Williamson

1. The best movie I saw that I didn’t write about this year - Rocky

I had never seen any of the Rocky movies. It was recommended to me after a conversation about sports movies with my friend Lucas Rebick. I was surprised at how unfake the aesthetic was. It looked like Philedelphia in 1976.. and kind of like Toronto in 2010. I was surprised at how much I related to it. I related to Rocky and to all of the women he talks to.

“Hey Rocky” the loan shark’s driver hollers out of a car window. “Yeah?” Rocky asks. The loan shark’s driver – “You should take your girl to the zoo. I hear retarded people like the zoo.” Rocky flinches, “Fuck you, man!” Rocky shouts back,  “She ain’t retarded, she’s just shy.”

2. The other best movie I saw this year and didn’t write about – My Man Godfrey


My friend Gracie has a favourite romantic comedy from every decade. My Man Godfrey is her tops for the 30′s (1936).  Carole Lombard plays a rich socialite who falls in love with her butler. It was pretty interesting to see how rich people were portrayed as such silly and thoughtlessly cruel individuals (as in every situation, the beautiful, charming ones escape total condemnation). Rich people have enjoyed a much better and enduring reputation since all the communists were kicked out of Hollywood. It reminded me of how quickly things can change and how very long they can stay the same.

My favourite part came when the family needed to talk about money - the matriarch of the rich family looked horrified and cried  “Money is dreadful! We can’t talk about money, it upsets Carlo!” (Carlo is the artist that they support). At this point Carlo turns away, towards the fire, upset and shuddering like an angel. Luckily, the cheese sandwiches come in just as things are about to get awk-ward.

3. Thick of It

I really couldn’t get enough of this British TV show from 2005 about the inner workings of the modern British Government. Sample text (if I am remembering correctly) – “Terry, do you know why they call him the Fucker?”

“Is it .. is it.. because he’s.. a bit of a fucker?”

4. Work of Art: America’s Next Great Artist and what people wrote about it.

This new reality TV show premiered in the summer. Contestants, from across the U.S., compete in an art competition with a jury of professional critics and artists. It was just like any other reality TV show. It was strange. And people wrote about it.

Art Fag City covered it like white on rice, Lynn Crosbie had some good points for the artists and Jerry Saltz (an art critic who was a judge on the show) wrote an article for each episode after first participating in and then watching the episodes. Jerry Saltz’s articles were, hands down, the best art to come out of the show. The articles were written to an audience that included the show’s participants, viewers and art-insiders. He wrote about the art, judging the art and judging himself judging the art. It was strange and good.

Some art-insider critiques of the show sounded an awful lot like a reversal of the old art-outsider stereotype – “my kid could paint that”. The  equivalent turns out to be -  “my friend down the street from me, in Brooklyn, could paint that a lot better”. Sucks to be on the outside.

Though there didn’t feel like there was too much at stake (America’s next great artist-wise),  the beginning of some hilariously awkward public conversations (involving critics, artists and audience) about what art is felt stupid-smart, meaningful and full of potential.

The only “unreality” part was at the end when there were only three contestants left. One would get the bank and the others nothing. Maybe it’s just my world, but every artist I know would have been more than happy to split a hundred thousand dollars 3 ways and then gone about their business. But I guess reality TV without winners or losers is just the NFB.

5. Websites about videos

I know about these two websites, Ryeberg Curated Video and 2 Pause: Freezing Music Video Culture, because I contributed to them. But they’re both really interesting and I’m sure there’s a lot more of these websites out there – websites that are figuring out how to talk about or organize the massive amounts of videos out there. Ryeberg has contributors write short essays on Youtube videos and 2 Pause collects interesting music videos and puts them into categories like these: Lo/No Budget (that is where I am and this nice one from Antony and Boy George), Netherclips, Stop Motion, Electric Cinema (I didn’t watch them all but found this nice one from Foals and Chris Sweeney) and French Wave. I would like to see the categories that everyone has for their videos.

6. Artists Using and Sharing

I really liked that Erykah Badu made this video by borrowing the idea from Matt and Kim. She credits them in the beginning of the video. The structure of her video is identical, but the feel and meaning are completely different and more to my interests. The borrowing and added art reminds me of this article about Jeff Wall from a while ago.

Olaf Breuning’s work (consisting of performance based art video) has always looked really interesting but I assumed that he, like a lot of artists, didn’t put all of his work on-line. I only just saw one of his videos recently when Jon Davies screened it at the Cinecycle. It was great. Then I went home, looked him up and discovered that all of his videos are available on his website. Thank you Jon Davies for reminding me of Olaf Breuning and thank you Olaf Breuning for sharing. SO much better that way.

7. Moral/ art lessons from popular music videos

LCD Soundsystem and Spike Jonze reminds us that drunk people, whom are often beautiful and fun, can also be really fucking annoying.  The video, featuring the band being abused by people dressed as pandas, is as good as Spike Jonze’s videos always are. And Lady Gaga and Beyoncé remind you again that it’s a bad idea to disrespect the people who serve your food. And Kanye West, who likes a lot of the same things I like ( naked ladies, revolution, ballet, Beyoncé, Takashi Murakami) reminds us to take paintings seriously.

8. Luc Tuyman’s painting Turtle

I really loved this painting this year,  from 2007.

I also really love this painting from Brad Phillips.

9. A brief LIFE OF A CRAPHEAD performance I saw at Double Double Land

The performances from Toronto’s LIFE OF A CRAPHEAD (Amy C. Lam and Jon McCurley)  feel so good on your brain. They go right to the part  that understands but doesn’t share with the other parts of your brain – the parts that could explain what is happening. But then those parts start understanding something else and then, somehow, every part of your brain is being massaged by a fire in-the-know and then it is over. It can feel like good drugs, but really, it’s more like spinach.

10. SUM: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman

David Eagleman, a neuroscientist, wrote this strange book comprised of brief scenarios of the afterlife. More about life than after.

11. Missing Objects

Is it too late for a really, really long Arrested Developement movie?

Also, I would like an audio book of Jack Hitt’s articles. I would buy two. While we wait, we can read his Mighty White of You: Racial preferences color America’s oldest skulls and bones and listen to his Act 5, the 52 minute long audio documentary about a group of prisoners at the Missouri Eastern Correctional Center who are rehearsing and staging a production of Hamlet. It’s great.

12. Golden Gate Park in San Francisco

Nice work William Hammond Hall and John McLaren.

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Filed under margaux williamson, movies, visual art

Tea With Chris: Carl Goes Gaga

Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:

Chris: America’s vast atomic-weapons project didn’t just keep scientists and military men employed during WWII. There was also a “secret corps” of photographers and filmmakers who recorded each apocalyptic nuclear test, as described in this fascinating New York Times article. I enjoy the absurdity of exhaustively documenting a top-secret program, but what really sticks in the mind is that photo of a bomb’s destructive climax, its explosion filling the sky like an anti-sun.

From the Times again, and Roy Edroso, this obituary…well, just read the lede: “Michael Burn, a British journalist and author whose eventful life included an early flirtation with Nazism; a daring commando raid on the fortified port of St.-Nazaire, France; imprisonment in Colditz Castle; a love affair with the British spy Guy Burgess; and a timely intervention in the aftermath of World War II that saved Audrey Hepburn’s life, died Sept. 3 at his home in North Wales. He was 97.” Nicely done, captain.

Margaux: A recent THIS AMERICAN LIFE hour long audio episode about one police officer against many other police officers. Scary.

Carl: In The Times this week, Camille Paglia used Lady Gaga as a meat-covered club to beat the young with, in classic boomer fashion: “Generation Gaga doesn’t identify with powerful vocal styles because their own voices have atrophied: they communicate mutely via a constant stream of atomised, telegraphic text messages. Gaga’s flat affect doesn’t bother them because they’re not attuned to facial expressions.” Oh, and these autistic automatons don’t like sex, either. (As a friend said, if young people actually were turning off of sex, that would be kind of interesting. Too bad Paglia made it up based on nothing but condescension.)

The mess wouldn’t be worth mentioning except that the wonderful Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times has gone on to seize the occasion to open up a much more inquiring, engaged conversation about the variety of ways women confront and cope with sexuality in today’s music.

In her 40s herself, Powers makes sure to incorporate a voice from the generation under Paglia’s fire, 24-year-old guitarist/violinist Amy Klein of punk band Titus Andronicus, who finds herself in a sense reinventing 1990s riot-grrrl feminism to reassert her right to rock. But Powers also finds much more to consider in Gaga’s eroti-cabaret enigmas: “The truth is, sexuality in pop can’t be pushed aside, or ever exhausted. It’s the main force and subject of the stuff. … The most exciting pop stars, male and female, negotiate this shifting ground and help us understand it better. In the 21st century, this means confronting limits that often seem invisible…

“Woody Guthrie famously wrote This Guitar Kills Fascists on his battered instrument. Gaga turns a bra into a machine gun; [Katy] Perry, always sweeter and more capitulating, spewed whipped cream out of hers. Could it be that the urge female pop stars feel to turn their revealing costumes into weapons is an attempt to instrumentalize sexuality, to foreground and even problematize the fact that it’s the force that moves these women forward?

“Lady Gaga is the most sensational player in a wide field of musicians still struggling to comprehend and express the connections between sexuality and power. Rather than being emotionally impoverished and sexually burnt out, they’re exploring how old feminine paradigms (and masculine ones, within the work of artists such as Eminem or Kanye West) empower and constrict in an age of technologically assisted identity flux.”

By the way, a few people have pointed out that Canadian artist, Jana Sterbak, came up with the whole “meat dress” idea 20 years ago, though of course a flank-steak gown does not read the same hanging from Gaga’s shoulders as Sterbak’s “Vanitas” did hanging in the National Gallery in 1991.

Still, it seems like no one quite recalls what a huge stink (sorry) it made at the time: Along with the outcry over the $1.8-million the Gallery paid for Barnett Newman’s ab-ex painting “Voice of Fire”, the “flesh dress” was almost Canada’s equivalent of the contemporaneous U.S. “culture war,” anti-National Endowment for the Arts furor, when the right wing went after Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres Serrano, Karen Findley et al for unashamedly seeking new ways to mobilize and upturn sexual (and other) mores. Amid the dismissals and denunciations raining down on Gaga, that seems worth remembering.

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