Thursday, December 6, 2018

"One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art" (Review) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

When it comes to art, these are grandiose times. High prices and market driven aesthetics have taken a toll on the very meaning of art. What if a film critic offers provides an antidote to the current obsession with grandiosity and market driven art? The latest exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles presents that antidote with the work of film critic and painter Manny Farber. Farber made a connection between the great movies that connected with the viewer on a personal level and those whose main concern was with grand appearances.

Manny Farber (1917 - 2008) believed that that there was two types of art: Termite Art and White Elephant Art. White Elephant Art was more interested in grandiosity and big ideas. It is literally the elephant in the room; the art that cannot be ignored by the viewer and has to be acknowledged by all those who are in its presence. Termite Art was about the personal and the exploration of the temporal moment. Like termite bugs that eat from within, Termite Art begins from within the artist and focuses on the immediacy of the moment.  The temporal art and the moment is the focus the group show "One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art" curated by Helen Molesworth, which explores the connection between Manny Farber's theory of art and contemporary artists working today.

Farber wanted the viewer to look at art as an exercise in examining the world; the everyday. It is more than the everyday. It is about the "moment" where the everyday life and "time" itself converge

The exhibition places Farber as the progenitor of an art about the intimate vision of the artists. The objects, people and places that originate and derive from and in the presence of the artist. Termite Art is always focused on a particular area and is not concerned with making big statements. White Elephant Art is self aware and concerned with fame, while Termite Art is derives from the artist and artist centered. Termite Art is concentrated "on nailing down one moment without glamorizing it, but forgetting this accomplishment as soon as it has passed; the feeling that is expendable, that it can be chopped up and flung down in a different arrangement without ruin."

From Farber's theory of art, Molesworth brings together 32 artists who practices reflect various approaches to the idea of Termite Art. The exhibition is divided in 9 different themes reflecting an aspects of  Termite Art. The exhibition begins with the work of Manny Farber himself. The paintings, which are interspersed within the show with other artists, display various objects and images within the canvas. Farber's eye is shared with the viewer of the painting as the objects cover and occupy the entire pictorial space. Farber demonstrates the meaning and practice of "termite art." The immediacy and temporal position of Farber paintings are placed near works by the other artists in the exhibition. The galleries are set up as exercises in comparisons and contrasts.

Of the 32 artists that are gathered for this exhibition, each of the works illustrate and approach the idea of the present differently. the best works are by Dike Blair, Joan Brown, Jordan Casteel, Vija Celmins, Leidy Churchman, Tacita Dean, Manny Farber, Fischli & Weiss, Jennifer Guidi, Roni Horn, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Chris Marker, Josiah McElheny, Roy McMakin, Rodney McMillian, Aliza Nisenbaum, Catherine Opie, Charles Ray, Rachel Rose, and Wolfgang Tillmans. I think a true masterpiece of video art is "Fly Paper" (2017) by Kahlil Joseph, whose video is being shown at the MOCA satellite location in West Hollywood at the Pacific Design Center. The eleven minute video reflects on an aging dancer played by Ben Vereen. It is elegy on the past and present, and where both intersect within the everyday. "Fly Paper" is a thought provoking piece that deserves examination. The most problematic artist in this show is Josiah McElheny. McElheny's large scale sculpture seems out of place compared to the rest of the art, whose work reflects a deep reflection of the everyday. McElheny's work seems large in its ideas and  approach to its subject matter, and fits more into Farber's idea of White Elephant art; the anathema of what termite art is defined. After going to the concurrent survey's of Laura Owens and Zoe Leonard, Owens and Leonard would fit more into the idea of termite art, which are illustrated in the exhibition.

The idea of termite art is presented as an antidote to the current monstrosity of the big name artist. As much as the idea of Termite art is presented as the potential savior from the ego driven art of the current market driven styles and movements, white elephant art is popular. White elephant art brings lines around the block. The challenge to the idea of termite art is go beyond the narcissism that is so prevalent. Molesworth by placing the idea of termite art into the conversation presents an alternative. However, it needs to be translated into something that is a credible challenge to ever popular  superficial. "One Day at a Time" is a good start.

"One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art"
on view through March 11, 2019

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
250 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012moca.org

#onedayatatime #mocalosangeles @mocala #mannyfarber #termiteart #DikeBlair #JoanBrown #JordanCasteel  #VijaCelmins  #LeidyChurchman #TacitaDean  #FischliandWeiss #JenniferGuidi #RoniHorn #SylviaPlimackMangold #ChrisMarker #JosiahMcElheny #RoyMcMakin #RodneyMcMillian #AlizaNisenbaum  #CatherineOpie #CharlesRay #RachelRose #WolfgangTillmans


Manny Farber

Roy McMakin
Installation view with Roy McMakin and Many Farber


Manny Farber

Manny Farber

Patricia Patterson

Fischli & Weiss

Fischli & Weiss

Fischli & Weiss

Joan Brown

Taylor Davis

Manny Farber

Jordan Casteel

Jennifer Guidi

Manny Farber

Becky Suss

Rodney McMillian

Josiah McElheny

Leidy Churchman

Dike Blair

Sylvia Plimack Mangold

Jonas Wood


Insallation View of Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans

Leidy Churchman

Becky Suss

Aliza Nisenbaum

Manny Farber


Charles Ray

Josiah McElheny

Patricia Patterson

Manny Farber

Manny Farber

Monday, December 3, 2018

Regionale 19: Sound Embodied / HeK House of Electronic Arts Basel




The current exhibition at HeK House of Electronic Arts Basel presents a selection of artists who employ electronic and digital media to engage with sound. Titled “Sound Embodied”, the show features works that explore the possible translation of acoustic experiences into visual and physical sensations. The exhibition is part of Regionale 19, a project that promotes contemporary art from Switzerland, Germany and France. Curated by Boris Magrini the show includes the artists Markus Aebersold & Chris Handberg, Jonas Baumann, Anja Braun, Emma Cozzani, Elvire Flocken-Vitez, Dirk Koy, Karin Lustenberger, Marie Matusz, Elia Navarro, Frederic Pagace, Gabriele Rendina Cattani, Patrick Steffen, Fiona Valentine Thomann, Ambra Viviani, Michel Winterberg, and Katharina Zimmerhackl. The exhibition runs until February 3, 2019.

Regionale 19: Sound Embodied / HeK House of Electronic Arts Basel. Vernissage, November 24, 2018.

Video by Enrico
https://vernissage.tv/2018/12/03/regionale-19-sound-embodied-hek-house-of-electronic-arts-basel/

"One Day at a Time: Manny Farber and Termite Art" (Review) at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

When it comes to art, these are grandiose times. High prices and market driven aesthetics have taken a toll on the very meaning of art. What...