An estimated 60,000 people will attend this year’s Art Basel fair, which opens Wednesday until June 19. Art Basel is considered the world’s top fair for modern and contemporary art, with 300 galleries displaying more than 2,500 artists, with an estimated combined value of nearly $2 billion.
Art Basel is important as it gives a better idea of the international art market than other fairs, which tend to be dominated by galleries from the host country. This year Art Basel has 73 galleries form the USA, 50 from Germany, 32 from Switzerland, 31 from England, and 23 from France. The still-emerging markets of India, Brazil, China and Russia are less well represented, with a combined total of 12 galleries, while Hungary, Thailand, and Lebanon represented for the first time.
Here’s a selection of some of this year’s exhibits, more of which can be seen here.
Israeli musician, composer, producer and videographer Ophir Kutiel does his art as Kutiman. You may recognize his name from Thru-You, the hypnotically rhythmic collage of non-pro musician YouTube videos from across the globe that he made in 2009, and which scored 10 million views, sent him to the Guggenheim, and made it into Time magazine and landed him at the Guggenheim.
Welp, he’s got a new one, and it’s a burner. With sectarian and ethnic tensions in his Jerusalem birthplace at what seems a permanent high, Kutiman has given the city a similar and very necessary visiosonic treatment with the help of 15 of its Arab and Jewish musicians. Check it.
After the jump: Kutiman’s mega-video-mashup from late last year Sue You...
Drift is a short film by Max Hattler, a film-maker and artist who is:
“interested in the space between abstraction and figuration in the moving image, where storytelling is freed from the constraints of traditional narrative.”
Max works across film, video installation and live audiovisual performance, and has collaborated with music acts including Basement Jaxx, Jovanotti, Jemapur, The Egg, Ladyscraper, and his dad’s outfit Hattler. Drift is a beautiful and mesmeric film, which examines the human epidermis in close-up, re-imagining our skin, its hair and pores, as landscape - growing, changing, living.
The mystery of the crystals under closer examination. What is it that makes them possess magic powers as claimed by mystics of all ages? Through growing crystals directly on film their mystical qualities shine straight to the screen. Unfiltered, only aided by light which gracefully breaks its rays into rich visual textures.
The film consists of three home movies: Warhol at the Whitney, May 1, 1971, George’s Dumpling Party, June 29 1971 and Warhol revisited, May 1971 which show scenes from the opening of a Warhol retrospective, followed by footage of Warhol, Yoko Ono, John Lennon, and founder of the Fluxus movement, George Maciunas at what looks like a fondue party in 80 Wooster St., Soho, before returning back to the Whitney.
The narration is by Mekas, who talks about the relationship between Warhol and Maciunas, Pop Art and Fluxus, which he says are the same, as both dealt with nothingness - “both took life as a game and laughed at it.” Warhol standing on the side, never a part of it, with George “laughing, laughing all the time.”
These beautiful short films are like water-colored moments from pop history, which as Cima points out:
Porn actress Bree Olson, the star of “Deep Throat This #37,” “Deep Throat This #43” and “Eat My Black Meat 4”—but who is perhaps best known as one of Charlie Sheen’s “angels”—tweeted this TwitPic earlier today of herself at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 “Readymade” Fountain in the background.
“Art museum in Philly last week. They had some creepy shit!”
The Dirty Show®, Detroit’s infamous underground erotic art exhibition, returns to Los Angeles for another go-round June 10-11.
Instead of being held in a gallery space, this exhibition will be held in the “authentically appropriate” rooms of the sleazy City Center Hotel. (As they organizers admit: “You probably won’t find it in Frommers”).
“We see it as a mix between and exhibition and an art fair. A really fucked up art fair, but an art fair nonetheless,” Jerry Vile, The Dirty Show® founder says.
Artists will include actress/singer/performance artist Ann Magnuson, stained glass artisan Juan Martin del Campo Jr., photographer Greg Firlotte, painter Scooter LaForge, fashion illustrator Richard Haines, sculptor Cheryl Ekstrom, Carol Sixsixtysix, fashion stylist Bill Mullen, fetish photographer Steve Diet Goedde, painter Brian Viveros, fine art illustrator Jeff Wack, graphic designer Rick Morris, photographer Lisa Boyle, physique photographer Gabriel Goldberg and about 50 others. Special rooms will be curated by Pop Tart gallery founder Lenora Claire, Bughouse Design and Rick Castro’s Antebellum Gallery.
Lenora Claire writes:
“I thought it would cool to curate an entire room of erotic art by musicians as so many of them are talented in different mediums and call it GROUP SEX. Kid Infinity, who have the amazing 3D light show that was intended for Michael Jackson before he died, will be doing a really cool erotic 3-D video that people will have to watch with glasses and everything. So cool! Boobs are better in 3D.”
Other musicians participating in Lenora’s suite of the hotel include Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh, Cole Whittle (Semi Precious Weapons), and Brett Anderson (The Donnas). There will be a video installation by Steve Stevens (Billy Idol’s longtime guitarist) and erotic portraits of musicians by photographers Austin Young and Dean Karr.
The East Wing of the historic City Center provides 17 rooms staged as artist salons while retaining an adult bookstore vibe.
“Context is king,” quipped Vile.
Dirty Show® L.A. #2 (Hotel Edition), Fri & Sat June 10 & 11 8-11 p.m. City Center Hotel, 1135 West 7th Street, Downtown Los Angeles, $15
This summer in downtown Los Angeles there’s a photography show at the drkrm/gallery that explores the history of the acid-gobbling, show-stopping star-children of the infamous Cockettes drag troupe. From Frontiers:
For those who neglected to Netfix their eponymous 2002 documentary, here’s the skinny on the Cockettes—they debuted on New Year’s Eve 1969, as part of a midnight showcase in San Fran’s Palace Theatre. Combining Broadway parody, cross-dressing and LSD-fueled choreography, their performances soon gained high profile media attention in Rolling Stone and the Village Voice. In the Chicago Tribune, critic Rex Reed described the show as “a nocturnal happening comprising equal parts of Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street, Harold Prince’s Follies and movie musicals, the United Fruit Company, Kabuki and the Yale Variety Show, with a lot of angel dust thrown in to keep the audience good and stoned.” Kitsch aficionado John Waters recounted, “It was complete sexual anarchy. You couldn’t tell the men from the women. It was really new at the time, and it still would be new.” On the Tonight Show, novelist and professional dandy fop Truman Capote simply stated “The Cockettes are where it’s at.”
Cashing in on this unexpected fame, the Cockettes moved their show to New York. Unfortunately, the troupe’s free-spirited hippie aesthetic was perceived by elite Manhattanites as unprofessional and sloppy. John Lennon, Liza Minelli and Angela Lansbury were some of the many celebrities to walk out on the opening night performance. Gore Vidal hammered the final nail in their patchouli-scented coffin when he infamously proclaimed, “Having no talent isn’t enough.” The group returned to the West Coast and disbanded in 1972.
The photographs in Children were shot before the East Coast snafu. Consisting solely of black and white portraiture by longtime Cockettes member Fayette Hauser, the exhibit depicts her various castmates flower-powering around ‘Frisco—bearded men in boas and evening gowns performing on ramshackle stages; women with theatrical beat smeared across their face lounging in antiquated Haight-Ashbury houses; fierce tranny geishas frolicking through Golden Gate Park. Each picture is a crystalized moment from an artistically and culturally groundbreaking epoch.
Children of Paradise: Life With The Cockettes. Photographs by Fayette Hauser, drkrm/gallery, 727 S. Spring St., Downtown L.A. June 4-July 2
Below, the trailer from the excellent 2002 documentary, The Cockettes,
“It’s too bad words like ‘masterpiece’ and ‘epic’ have been so overused by excitable film critics, because Sion Sono’s Love Exposure is an actual epic masterpiece that is going to dominate the filmscape for decades.” - New York Asian Film Festival
“Japan’s eroto-theosophical answer to the allegorical journeys of Alejandro Jodorowsky”—Film Four
Los Angeles cinephiles have always had it good, but when the Cinefamily crew took over the old Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax and Melrose a few years back, the city became especially blessed. I know I’ve said that before, but it’s true.
This week is no exception to the steady stream of celluloid riches they program there as zany Japanese auteur Sion Sono, the director of the amazing Love Exposure—not to mention Noriko’s Dinner Table, Hair Extensions and the most recent, Cold Fish—will be there in person for a screening of several of his films with either an introduction or a post screening Q&A with Sono himself!
I watched 2009’s Love Exposure last week and I’ve been telling all my friends that they have to see it. Last month, during the film’s week-long LA theatrical run, after I couldn’t convince anyone to go with me to see a four hour film, Cinefamily’s Hadrian Belove was kind enough to send me a DVD screener and the film absolutely blew my doors off. Even if someone doesn’t love it, surely they would appreciate it. It’s such an unusual experience.
Love Exposure is the extraordinarily epic—yet whimsical—story of Yu Honda, “king of the perverts.” Yu is the ninja master of the “up skirt” photograph. After his mother dies, Yu’s father becomes a Catholic priest. He insists that his son confess his sins to him. Yu has nothing really to confess and he makes stuff up that his father doesn’t even believe. Eventually he falls in with a new crowd and soon his transgressions are a bit more… sinful. Still, Yu himself is not aroused by his “panty shots” and lives an otherwise chaste life as he patiently awaits the arrival of his true love. He’s only “sinning” for the sake of his relationship with his father.
Yu loses a bet and he is obliged to dress as a woman and kiss a girl he likes. As the boys are goofing off, they come across a young girl who is about to be attacked by a gang. Yu is instantly smitten with Yoko and—still dressed as a woman—he jumps into the fight and together they kick the gang’s collective ass. To fulfill the conditions of the bet, Yu kisses Yoko who begins to think she is a lesbian and crushes hard on Yu’s disguise of “Miss Scorpion.” Yu believes he has finally met his one true love… and she thinks he is a woman!
Yu then finds out that his father the priest has a girlfriend and will be leaving the priesthood. Guess who his new sister is going to be?
And that’s only the first hour. The Scientology or Aum Shinrikyo-like cult religion, the violence and the explosions all happen later…
It’s a pretty epic love story. I’d recommend it to anyone with a taste for unusual world cinema, which is not to say it’s esoteric in any way, because it’s not. Love Exposure is a real crowd pleaser and I highly recommend the experience. It’s an event! It may run for four hours, true, but it felt like two, trust me. Don’t be intimidated by the length, think of it as a single film made into a double feature… or something, just see it!
No really, event is the right word, especially with the director flying in all the way from Japan. If you love movies and live in LA, you’d be crazy to miss this. The Cold Fish screening is even free with pre-registration (to register, click here).
Friday and Saturday at Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles
We ended up becoming internet pen-pals of a sort. Through this, and through some of his friends (who all expressed great affection and protectiveness toward Leon) I learned more about his visual and performance art work. In that work, in his written word, and in some of the incredible monologues you can find from on YouTube, his presence radiates. All who knew him, and all who were touched by his spirit through those videos, will know what I mean when I say that he emanated deep sincerity, gentleness, a serenity and quiet wisdom. Leon was aware of his own mortality in ways most people are not. He transformed that awareness into a sort of mindfulness of how vast and awesome life is.
One day over email, Leon shared with me that the passing mentions of him that existed on Wikipedia were upsetting to him. He was mentioned only on the page for Die Antwoord, and under the page for his disease, progeria.
“I was a bit paranoid that my art wouldn’t be in there, in case something happened to me,” he said.
Leon was very mindful of the value of the internet as a reflection of human life, and an archive of the living after they die. He wanted to be understood as a complex, self-determined, thoughtful creator and connector and thinker. Not as a disease, and not as a footnote in someone else’s better-known story. He wanted to be known for who he really was while he was alive. He wanted us to respect him, and his work, after he was gone.
Recently, our email exchanges seemed to include more and more news of challenging physical hardships from Leon. He never complained, but when I asked after longer silences, he shared. I can’t imagine the physical suffering he endured.
“I always thought when I was little, like, all of this is okay,” he wrote in one email. “Just please don’t let it reach the levels where it is now.”
Read more of In memoriam: Leon Botha, South African artist, DJ, and wonderful human being (Boing Boing)