Yearly Archives: 2009

Altermodernism at Tate Britain

Off Voice Fly Tip by Bob and Roberta Smith 2009
Courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery. Photo: Tate Photography

WILLIAM SHAW: I know, like a few people, I start to twitch a little when Tate Triennial curator Nicolas Bouriaud explains his neologism Altermodern as a “dreamcatcher” for ideas about what happens to art after post-modernism – (see the video below) – but I find myself liking it anyway.

The winning thing about his Altermodern concept is that it admits it’s an aspiration as much as a piece of rigid critical analysis. In the one corner you have the idea art dealers’ idea of “emerging art markets”, which is an unpleasantly post-colonial notion at best.  In the other corner Bouriaud’s Altermodern at least aims for something better, something more equitable. On the Tate Altermodern site Bouriaud leaves the dreamcatcher aside and explains Altermodernism thusly:  “Altermodern is the cultural answer to what alter-globalisation is, a cluster of singular and local answers to globalisation.”

Which is good, no? As such, as an attempt at ethical response to post-modernism, it’s bound to stir up the cynics


Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog

Come hell or high water: visualising climate

Tomorrow evening at dusk Chris Bodle’s Watermarks Project comes to life in Bristol city centre. The artwork takes the conjectures about the effect of global warming on sea level rise and projects them onto various buildings around the city.

He’s not the first to create something along these lines. In New York, Eve S. Mosher has long been wandering streets drawing lines in chalk across buildings and road, marking future tidelines. She’s one of the artists involved in the Canary Project, set up by artists and photographers to promote work that helps people see climate change looks like.

What’s nice about Bodle’s project is that it has absorbed the uncertainty of the effects of climate change. Though science is broadly in agreement about the fact of man-made global warming (despite Christopher Brooker‘s best efforts to suggest otherwise), how much and how quickly levels are going to ascend is the subject of much debate. The Watermarks Project turns the varying projections into, well, projections. Pictured above is a visualisation of where sea levels would be in the worst-case-scenario of the total Greenland icecap melt; the speed of that melt and the mechanism by which the ice is projected to disappear is one of the most hotly debated issues in climate change. Details of Bodle’s exhibition are here.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog

How literature tackles climate change

A few months ago I reported on Ian McEwan, currently writing a book inspired by his Cape Farewell
journey to the Arctic, who was saying how hard it was to was to tackle such a “virtuous” topic in a novel.

The trajectory of a short story is very different from a novel, but Helen Simpson manages it deftly in her story “In-flight Entertainment” which appeared in Granta 100. In it, two men who meet in the first class cabin of a transatlantic flight discuss global warming, while, next to them, another passenger dies of a heart attack.

“Four hours’ delay,” volunteered Alan, “thanks to those jokers at Heathrow. Alan Barr, by the way.”

“And I’m Jeremy Lees. Yes, those anti-flying protesters. A waste of time.”

“Complete time-wasters.”

“I suppose so,” said Jeremy. “What I meant, though, was it was a waste of their time. They’re not going to change anything.”

It’s nonsense, isn’t it, this global warming stuff. Trying to turn the
wheel back. Half the scientists don’t agree with it anyway.”

I think you’ll find they do. Ah, red please,’ said Jeremy as the air
stewardess offered him wine. ‘What have you got? Merlot or Zinfandel?
I’ll try the Zinfandel. Thank you. No, they do agree now, they’ve
reached a consensus. I ought to know, I was one of them. No, it’s not
nonsense, I’m afraid. The world really is warming up.”

“Merlot,” said Alan, rather annoyed.

It was published well before the Heathrow decision, but manages to include the line: “Heathrow will get its third runway any time now.”

Nominations for other pieces of contemporary lit which tackle this sort of stuff?

Picture: Still from The Coming Race by Ben Rivers 2006. “An indistinct, slow-moving sea of humanity clambers valiantly up a rocky mountain.” Showing as part of Figuring Landscapes at the Tate Modern, February 6 – 8. Details here.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog

The problems of political public art

Few pieces of public art gather as much attention as Laith al-Amari’s recent sculpture of a shoe, created with the help of local children to celebrate Muntadhar al-Zeidi’s Bush-ward footware-hurling incident. Its public life has been shortlived, however. Tikrit police have insisted it be removed from its public location because of its “political” nature.

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New not Banksy link at 12:00

Should we even be passing this on? From the site


At midday today, a link on is-it-or-isn’t-it Banksy‘s site becomes live: Is this kind of joke funny any more?

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Can art ask for public money during a downturn?

WILLIAM SHAW: For the last few months the arts world has been knawing over the fact that the bottom has fallen out of the  private  art marketSotheby’s and Christie’s are in trouble, so the latest rumours go. Larry Gagosian says “the art economy is clearly headed for some choppy waters???” Art fairs are cancelled.  Critics wonder if money dragging art down with it, giving succour to those who’ve always said that the art of the last fifteen years was little more than bling

But the art world seems to still waft along blissfully unaware that the real fundamental crunch is yet to come. In the discussion of Liz Forgan’s new chairing of the Arts Council there seems to be no space given to the question of precisely where public funding is going to come from over the next five years.

Look to America, a country where the public sector is less involved in the arts. There institutional funding is already disappearing fast; the Huffington Post reports the closure of the Rose Art Museum and the selling off of all its artworks .  MoCA in LA is struggling. The “bailout for the arts” which the American art world has been begging for looks, well… unlikely.

The knock on from gargantuan subsidy for the financial system means that government is effectively skint for the forseeable future. What little money there is for culture is going to be spoken for by Olympic projects until 2012.

Prediction: there will be practically no public money for the arts between 2010-2012, and any that there is will be bound up in pre-existing schemes. As the government starts to make the kind of expenditure cuts it’s going to have to make, even existing funding committments will be broken.

So what happens then?

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology Blog

ecoartspace: out of the blue opening Feb.17th

out of the blue, an exhibition about weather + the creative process
Curated by Amy Lipton, Joy Episalla and Joy Garnett
February 17 –April 17, 2009
OPENING RECEPTION: February 17, 6-8pm

Participating artists:

Stephen Andrews, Michele Araujo, Robert Bordo, Diane Burko, Christos Dikeakos/Robert Smithson, John Dougill, Joy Episalla, Joy Garnett, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jacqueline Gourevitch, Erik Hanson, Geoffrey Hendricks, J.J. L’Heureux, Bill Jones, Zoe Leonard, Frank Moore, Jaanika Peerna, Andrea Polli, Hunter Reynolds, Austin Thomas, Bing Wright, Carrie Yamaoka, Andrea Zittel

out of the blue, an exhibition featuring artwork inspired by weather, geological and atmospheric conditions, will open at Bergen Community Colleges Gallery Bergen on Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 6 p.m. An opening reception will be held from 6-8pm.

Curated by Amy Lipton and artists Joy Episalla, and Joy Garnett, out of the blue presents works by 24 prominent artists from New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, London, Toronto and Vancouver.

The exhibition focuses on the dynamics of human creativity as a metaphor for geological and atmospheric phenomena. Treating issues of weather both literally and symbolically, out of the blue approaches the creative process as a kind of weather system.

Ideas, like hurricanes, seem to come “out of the blue,” though they arrive through a combination of complex forces. Through metaphors provided by art, out of the blue leads us through the tangle of influences—both innovative and destructive—that humans exert upon one another and the environment. Understanding and cultivating these influences and relationships is the key to our cultural vitality in a world where technological hubris and political arrogance can overshadow tolerance and collaboration.

out of the blue generates its own weather conditions, a storm of intertwined processes – artistic, social, political, atmospheric, and geological. As we influence one another, we in turn affect our culture and the environment, and creativity itself becomes a force of nature.

Gallery Bergen, the 2,250 square foot art exhibition space is located on the third floor of the Colleges high-technology and arts building, West Hall. Including the opening reception, Gallery Bergen is a free exhibit open to the public.

Gallery Bergen
Bergen Community College
400 Paramus Road
Paramus, NJ 07652-1595
t. 201 447-7100; 201 689-7057
Gallery Hours:
Tues, Thurs, Fri: 11am-6pm
Wed: 11am-8pm
Sat, Feb 28 & Mar 28: 11am-2pm

Above image: On the fringes of Hurricane Caroline, 8/30/75. Image courtesy of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration NOAA

via ecoartspace: out of the blue opening Feb.17th.