Archive for April, 2008

Guest in Training

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

She spoke in a Cantonese dialect. He responded in Mandarin. I just babbled in English.

– Dog or lamb?
– Lamb, of course.
– We ate chicken intestines just days before.

I remember this odd conversation we had earlier today while I lay resting in some structure reminiscent of a bed that feels far from it. In the wall across me hangs an original artwork surely done in one of the many painting factories around here. It’s a generic landscape. A beach, some bay, the view of any country seaside. Recognizable even while it’s hung upside down.

At Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-sen University Training Apartment Hotel, the receptionists, concierge, maids and every other employee are in training. I suppose this makes me a guest in training, too.

News, Souvenirs and Other Items from the End of the World

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

In a couple of weeks, artist, curator and future novelist Heman Chong will join me for a travel adventure in southern China. For him, this is partially an escape from a busy time shuttling between Berlin and his native Singapore, where he is preparing an art installation for Hermès (541 Orchard Road, Liat Towers) in that city to open on May 22, 2008. Titled The End Depends on the Beginning. The Beginning Depends on the End., the project is a continuation of his research in the ways the future is imagined and portrayed in literature and film. As part of this investigation, “the end of things” figures regularly, and Heman’s latest work gives this focus. The press release reads,

Heman Chong continues with his investigation into the reasons and methods where individuals imagine the future and how it can be represented as a series of conceptually generated objects, situations and texts. Here, he is fascinated with the idea of the end of things (in this case, the end of a novel), utilizing both the form and content of these “book ends” to compose the series of objects on display at the Hermès space in Singapore. These books include Written on the Body (Jeanette Winterson), The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Haruki Murakami), Woman in the Dunes (Kobo Abe), Foe (J.M. Coetzee), Star Maker (Olaf Stapledon), Roadside Picnic (Arkady & Boris Strugatsky), The Possibility of An Island (Michel Houellebecq) and Correction (Thomas Bernhard).

(Image by Heman Chong, from another moment, related more to our future meeting and state of mind, than to the upcoming show and the end of things.)

A special kind of COMPANY

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

The shopping list included a variety of items, from a new notebook to some travel gifts to a variety of travel-size cosmetics to a lipstick, and I figured that at least one of these could be found at COMPANY, a gift, for example. Once there, it was difficult to contain myself. I ended up purchasing: a dried flower (this will be a gift, I explained myself); a grand opening banner (a portable artwork, I thought); and a red lipstick (I needed one anyway). The banner is an item from the first product line by Fawn Krieger, launched in November 2007 when the store opened; the other two items are part of her winter line introduced in January 2008. And still, I couldn’t stop. COMPANY was contagious. I decided to get a Performance Underwear Prototype (this will also be a gift, golden hanger included), one in a series of works that are part of a new product line commissioned by COMPANY to artist K8 Hardy.

COMPANY is an evolving and unpredictable art project by the curious and generous artist Fawn Krieger, a project that I curated while working at Art in General in New York, with Meghan DellaCrosse as curatorial assistant. It was certainly an interesting experience to re-visit COMPANY now as an audience member. Fawn’s project is sculpted as a store, and operates like one, too. It consists of an installation at Art in General’s storefront gallery that transforms a window-filled-little-white-cube into a three-leveled boutique-like space with a plethora of vitrines and cases displaying artworks of different sorts under the label of “product lines.” The artworks or so-called products are sculptures in every form, and all of them are unique and irreproducible just because Fawn’s mind is way speedier than her hands. At COMPANY, you can find anything from an oil barrel and a shoe, to a nervous system and some botox or a green card. There is also a TV (remote control sold separately), loose cigarettes, an airplane passenger, and a box of chocolates, gigantic dandruff flakes and dinosaur eggs. They are made in ceramic, wood, felt, paper, plaster, gold leaf, fabric, plastic and other materials. They range in sizes, structural make-up and surface textures. Some are realistic, others far from it. They are anything from funny, intense, absurd, disgusting and beautiful.

But Fawn’s COMPANY is not only an aesthetic endeavor. It also aims at being an economic project, proposing an alternative if slower kind of marketplace with and for artists, as well as unique forms of exchange and engagement with the public. The sales of the first product lines by Fawn were reinvested in COMPANY allowing for the commission of K8’s product line, which was launched in mid-March. And K8 has proposed herself another parameter involving the forms of sales for her work and impacting its actual form and distribution, too: the purchase of an edition of her Performance Underwear includes a performance by the artist at the buyer’s direction; the edition if of 10 including one garment, and is priced at $700 each.

The online art journal MUSEO published an interview that art critic Miriam Katz conducted to Fawn, and a radio interview with the artist was broadcast in San Francisco’s Pirate Cat Radio, available online. (Fast forward to the middle of the recording to skip the music and begin listening to the interview). COMPANY by Fawn Krieger continues until April 26 at Art in General, with current product lines by Fawn Krieger and K8 Hardy on display (and for sale).

Project for a Trip to China

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

The title of this posting is from drawn from the name of a 1978 short story by Susan Stonag, one of eight stories collected in the book I, Etcetera (2002). This image shows an excerpt.

Read here Parts I-III of “A Project for a Trip to China.”