Pitchfork   The Dissolve   Festivals: Chicago | Paris
Photo by: BJ Enright | NY Art Book Fair

Ask anyone how they're enjoying the New York Art Book Fair and you'll likely get a response along the lines of, "It's great, but I'm overwhelmed." That's not a knock at the fair's organization, which was excellent, but instead a reaction to the sheer size of the event, both in the number of exhibitors and attendees.

Despite the evidence that the fair is primarily a "buyer's market," as confirmed by curator Shannon Michael Cane in our preview interview last week and the collectors leaving with bags full of books, the event manages to feel not entirely driven by pure commerce. No publisher makes a hard sell to those flipping through books, and while you'd surely be missing out on some great titles, it's entirely possible to get a lot out of the fair without making a purchase.

Those who braved the crowds and impressive roster of exhibitors saw plenty of Nothing Major favorites including Edie Fake, the Packet Biweekly Team, Gottlund Verlag, Nieves, Rollo Press, Bad Day, and Kayrock Screenprinting.

Check out our photos from photographer BJ Enright.




Photo by: Kendra Heisler | Fountain New York 2013

There's a large contemporary and modern art fair hitting Chicago this weekend (the monstrous EXPO Chicago at Navy Pier)—but we're more curious about the small energetic one happening nearby. Fountain Art Fair Chicago, spun-off of the exhibitions of avant garde artwork in New York during Armory week and Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach, features exhibitions from Arch Enemy Arts, Cinqunquatre of Montreal, Maxwell Colette Gallery of Chicago, S&J Projects of NY and many more (read Fountain's full list of exhibitors), a weekend-long performance art series TUYAU, the sonic sculpture installation Dave Ford’s Swing Set Drum Kit, and nighttime sets from DJ Reuben Wu of Ladytron and Detroit synth rockers ADULT.

Fountain Art Fair runs Friday through Sunday at Mana Contemporary, 2233 S. Throop St, Chicago, IL. Friday’s VIP Preview from noon until 7pm benefits the Detroit Institute of Arts is followed by an opening night reception open to the public. Tickets are available online and at the door, including $15 weekend passes. Complimentary shuttle service is available from EXPO Chicago at Navy Pier all weekend. 

Photo by: Holly Carden and Wayne Nichols | “Untitled (Add-On Drawing), 2013, colored pencil on paper

Creative expression might not be a high priority for those housed within the concrete walls of Tennessee’s Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, home to the state’s electric chair and lethal injection machinery. The insiders are likely more concerned with the grim reality of their situation. But thanks to artwork created by prisoners in tandem with students and professors at nearby Watkins College of Art, Design & Film in Nashville, the wider world has a window into ther lives and minds.

Robin Paris and Tom Williams with writing by Gary Cone, Harold Wayne Nichols, and Donald Middlebrooks: Surrogate Project For Harold Wayne Nichols, The Night Sky Series

Watkins professors Robin Paris and Tom Williams spearheaded “Unit 2 (part 1),” a series of collaborations between students, local artists, and 11 death row inmates. The project is split between collaborative "add-on" works, where students added to and modified pieces in a back-and-forth exhange with prisoners, and “surrogate projects,” creations directed by incarcerated artists who physically couldn’t follow through on their ideas in the outside world. Within this framework, a simple photo of a night sky gains extra resonance, as the transfixing image of stars is one the artist hadn't seen for three decades.

 Exhibition at Coop Gallery

“This project has fundamentally changed my understanding of both criminal justice and prison,” says Williams. “Many of these prisoners look a lot more like us than we've been told, and we look a lot more like them. They're billed as 'the worst of the worst' within the popular media, but the situation seems far more complex than that to me now. Death row raises a lot of difficult questions. Many of them are responsible for serious crimes. But they have also been failed by a justice system that has offered them inadequate defense and has failed to consider the often-tragic circumstances that led up to their crimes. In many instances, their crimes are comparable to those of individuals living with sentences that are far less severe.” 

Upreyl Mitchell and Kennath Artez Henderson: Photograph and drawing
 Abu Ali Abdur’Rahman and Kristi Hargrove: Untitled, mixed media on paper

"Unit 2 (part 1)" can be seen at the Coop Gallery at 75 Arcade Street in Nashville through September 28. Future collaborations are planned but, as Williams notes, “Many of the insiders don't have a lot of time, which is a difficult thing to consider.”

James Turrell at Roden Crater

In the world of art museums, James Turrell has been hard to miss this summer. He currently has major exhibitions open at the Guggenheim in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Put simply, Turrell’s medium is light. He creates indoor and outdoor spaces designed to demonstrate both the powers and limitations of human perception. As Turrell puts it, “My work has no object, no image, and no focus. With no object, no image, and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of worldless thought.”

To pique your interest, here are five of our favorite Turrell works: 

Hard Scrabble Sky
In the midst of the University of Illinois, Chicago’s campus, Turrell created one of his signature “Skyspaces”—a structure with an opening at the top that obscures the horizon, allowing viewers inside the elliptical structure to observe the ever-changing light and sky patterns through the roof above them. 

Stone Sky
This 2005 work at a private home in Calistoga, CA combines one of Turrell's Skyspaces with an infinity pool. The large square at the end of the pool holds the Skyspace, accessible by swimming underwater at the end of pool. The interior is lined with teak and a square opening at the top opens the structure to the sky. 

End Around
Many of Turrell’s works focus on enhancing the experience of looking at the sky or the natural world, but works from his Ganzfeld series use electric light to challenge the power of our eyes. "End Around" (2006) is currently being shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and like his other Ganzfeld series works, "End Around" simulates a total loss of depth perception. The viewer is bathed in a field of blue light and, at some point, the light almost becomes a physical presence because of the loss of depth perception.


Roden Crater
Turrell has been working on this massive space in a natural cinder cone volcano in Arizona since 1972. Turrell’s site picks up on the ancient tradition of creating manmade monuments to view celestial events, with different rooms heightening the viewer’s perception of sunrise, sunset, the stars, and natural light. Roden Crater combines Turrell’s explorations of light and perceptual science into one unique site in Arizona’s Painted Desert but, unfortunately, it’s not open to the public (yet).

Perceptual Cells
These works are Turrell’s most intense. He’s been creating these types of immersive pieces since the late '80s, and there’s at least one on view at LACMA this summer. In a Turrell Perceptual Cell, the viewer enters a small, enclosed space alone to experience an intensely bright light that slowly changes over the course of the visit. Most viewers describe the experience as somewhat hallucinatory, while some find it too unsettling to view twice. 

Gemis Luciani's meticulous collages take the paper detritus meant for the recycling bin and turns it into incredible sculptures. Some of his pieces are carefully folded and hung design magazines; others are made from the often annoying but sometimes useful bit of near obsolescence, the telephone book.

Triangulation has more info on individual pieces.


To mark the release of Coming Apart, the debut LP from Kim Gordon and Bill Nace's Body/Head, the band collaborated with pioneering filmmaker and photographer Richard Kern for a series of 10 videos. The clips resemble a portrait series, with each one focusing on a single, and sometimes glitchy, movement from one male and one female character, or an interaction between the two. As Ad Hoc points out, Gordon also collaborated with the photographer for Sonic Youth's "Death Valley 69" video in 1985. The complete series is available on Matador's YouTube channel, and two videos are below. 

Revisit our feature interview with Kern by one of his former subjects, and check out Marc Masters's Body/Head interview published this week at Pitchfork.

Photo by: Jeremy Farmer

Photos by Jeremy Farmer

There are similarities between artist Doug Aitken's brainchild, the Station to Station art/music tour crossing the States right now, and the art happenings of the '60s. 

The filmic interludes, the choreographed surprises, the repurposing of space, the combination/juxtaposition of musical acts from wildly different genres, the artist-centered programming—all made for the right ingredients to shake us up in our audiovisual realms.

But there are just as many details that make it unique and uniquely 2013—the traveling-by-train show, the use of a magnificent public space rather than a squatted building or old theater, a corporate sponsor in Levi's, and the relative sobriety of the multigenerational crowd. Also, there's a bit about the train Aitken has designed and its on-board studios.

Happenings were once deliberately bizarre in-crowd events for hardcore bohemians. Aitken's are open to the public and not particularly hard to understand for the everyman. Still, one couldn't help but recall the sonic backdrops laid by improvising Pink Floyd Sound at the London happenings when one walked in to an ambient noise set from L.A.'s No Age. Welcome to a contemporary freak-out, it seemed to say.

In our day and age, despite the availability of 24/7 everything music, we still have a hard time placing live music in the background. It's hard not notice a band performing in front of you. So No Age, Caught on Tape (Thurston Moore's duo), the jazzy Theaster Gates/Black Monks of Mississippi, and others took center stage at the event and commanded attention as in a concert format. But Moore, in particular, took the art angle to heart—delivering a spoken "song" for Kurt Cobain that shook up the concert formula. A headliner of sorts, Mavis Staples, was surely a revelation to those unfamiliar, but most Chicagoans who would hit this kind of event were probably well versed. 

Yurts for artist installations, crafts (bagmakers, rug weavers), and a Levi's capsule collection provided interesting and interactive diversion, but didn't have the requisite weird factor to be come across as transformative art. Printed matter, posters from Aitken and others, were rather nonchalantly on display in a central area of the party—a hard place to get attention for a poster.

The big winner in the competition for the art crowd gaze was video. The video sets projected on three screens between live acts were sometimes jarring, sometimes hypnotic, arousing curiosity—almost improbably in our YouTube/Instagram overloaded world—from historic bits from Raymond Pettibon or re-edited "Wonder Woman" episodes to a short film shot on Vieques. The video element dazzled and wowed—and that's the bit that felt like art.

Station to Station visits St. Paul, MN tonight.

As art history books show, it’s typical of great artists to find greater success posthumously. However, Van Gogh, El Greco, and Vermeer have nothing on Andy Warhol’s latest gig. In celebration of the artist's life, the Andy Warhol Museum, located in Pittsburgh, has made a live video stream of Warhol’s gravesite available 24/7 on its website. The video stream project, entitled “Figment,” was launched on the anniversary of Warhol’s birth, August 6, 1928. The camera holds a steady view of the artist's tombstone, and can often be seen surrounded by Campbell's soup cans and other tokens of appreciation from visitors.

Sure, for some of us, the video stream may be a bit creepy, especially when observed late at night. Yet the stream does an excellent job of reinforcing Warhol’s pop culture vision, which the artist would surely have loved. 

You can watch the live stream of Andy Warhol’s gravesite on The Andy Warhol Museum website now.

By this point, you've seen the strange Vines, and probably heard some snark about Jay Z's six-hour performance at the Pace Gallery in lower Manhattan. The result of the much-covered surprise video shoot was released this past weekend on HBO in the form of a performance art film. Director Mark Romanek managed to cut down the show to a much more reasonable runtime of just under 11 minutes. The video's up on Jay Z's Life + Times YouTube channel plus a few minutes of interview footage from what looks like a few moments before and after the marathon spit session.

Head to Pitchfork for a long list of the cameos, and check out the video below.

The MAPS project by Kim Asendorf isn't the kind you bookmark for a roadtrip. It has little information; in fact, no instructions at all. Rather, her project takes Google Maps data and creates abstract images from it on a url with a similar structure. The images change somewhat when the user zooms or changes the position, so stick with it a while and see what transpires. You can save that roadtrip for another time.

Visit the maps project at maps.kimasendorf.com