on being uncagey about john, uk tour of cage exhibition into 2011

John Cage Ryoanji 17 February 1988 -pencil on Japanese handmade paper (ph Guy Mannes-Abbott)

Every Day is a Good Day [just say it, try… ]

This complete show of John Cage’s paintings and drawings is one that you need to go see, be with in real time and place. It’s not only that it doesn’t reproduce well [despite there being a very good catalogue with excellent reproductions newly photographed in it here or here] or that I’ve badly scanned one of my favourite delicate drawings done -in place of meditation- with more than one pencil around stones that were special to Cage [the allusion is to the famous dry stone garden at Ryoan-ji, Kyoto] but that until you’ve journeyed to stand before them, share their space you haven’t actually seen them.

I loved this exhibition of works for their affective simplicity -openness, lack of guile- and transforming leap from the disciplined procedures that generated them to their qualities as visual art. Continue reading “on being uncagey about john, uk tour of cage exhibition into 2011”

nb, visual art noticeboard [alternatives to friezing…]

Dirk Stewen untitled [bronx monkey II]

Dirk Stewen untitled [Bronx Monkey II] at Maureen Paley

I’ve been enjoying quite a few shows recently which are likely to be blown out of the water by the imminent frieze fair and so with mighty respect to the latter I thought I’d flag them up as alternatives…

Future Movements Jerusalem at Liverpool Biennial [18 Sept-28 Nov 2010] is an essential exhibition of work from and about Palestine. I posted on Raouf Haj Yihya’s Meter Square here, the New Statesman bravely ran a rather muted piece here and my own review will run at Babelmed shortly. Surprise yourself if you can get to it, or wait for it to travel south as I know it is scheduled to do. But be sure to see it.

Otherwise, Liverpool is a far better Biennial than scarce notice of it by lazy old journos suggests; everyone rightly notes the almost painfully compelling acid-Warhol-mashup-vids of Ryan Trecartin’s but there’s much else, including NS Harsha’s very nice installation [right] at 52 Renshaw Street and not least at Tate Liverpool -where a dubiously conceived but actually nicely put together show called The Sculpture of Language by Carol Anne Duffy exhibits some great and rarely aired works.

Dirk Stewen at Maureen Paley [08 October — 14 November 2010] is the most winning new work in town for me. If you do make it to the frieze jamboree then add this show to your bottom-line schedule otherwise you’ll have failed yourself and London. If you’re not friezing it then take advantage and spend some time in a show spread over two floors, beautifully arranged/hung works combining utopian gesture with extraordinary concentration, tentativeness and beauty. The work seems hardly there at all and yet surprises/delights with a precision that makes for indelibility. It’s Stewen’s first show in London, I’d never seen the work before and this exhibition made me happy to be alive; don’t miss it! Continue reading “nb, visual art noticeboard [alternatives to friezing…]”

11.09. one. from cage to antin, cabinet to david

I realised I’d been taking John Cage for granted after finding him in many of the places I looked, listened or wandered in zero nine.

I stacked up his books, enjoyed again his critical acuity and the playful invention in much else, got hold of a copy of A Year From Monday [the volume which followed Silence] in which he mentions the collective building of the Hon at the Moderna Museet [which features in 1039 seconds with brief significance], clocked images of him with Merce Cunningham in the Moderna’s current re-hang, remembered Michael Clark resisting my description of him as an artist [mc is…], saying ‘Merce is an artist’ with affectingly humble respect [but blew it again with the triumphant ‘come, been and gone‘ during November 09], discovered that Tacita Dean filmed Cunningham just before he died for a piece called Stillness, listened again to Cage on Thoreau, etcetera, then was invited to a ‘talk’ by David Antin at Cabinet Gallery one November evening -his first ever performance in London…

Antin talks as he thinks as he performs as he writes as it were, the results being transcribed and published with unconventional conventionality. He’s a living link to the Great Days of an actual avant-garde, of Fluxists, Floating Bears, Something Else Press, a broader deeper bohemia strong enough to exist in opposition to/independent from a ‘culture’ identical with the market and a ‘doing what works’ establishment with its insulating self-congratulation and bottomless complacency.

Antin’s ‘talk’ was fascinating to witness; he ‘strolled’ through it determinedly, digressions cutting back and looping around, enacting a substantial argument for a particular kind of opening out; committed outwards movement, always. I was surprised by his unself-conscious use of the phrase ‘avant-garde writing/poetry’, the way he didn’t play to type -even if context is a great refresher. His London ‘talk’ would read well I think and Cabinet are hoping to be able to publish it. A large collection of his work is forthcoming from University of Chicago Press.

An earlier selection of some texts –i never knew what time it was– is available from University of California Press; here.

Dalkey Archive Press have about half of the interview with Charles Bernstein later published as A Conversation with David Antin [Granary Books 2002], here.

Ubuweb have two short texts as to download here.

There are various audio files of him in recent years out there, but nothing equals presence; catch him if you can.