Thursday, December 17, 2009

Banksy's cheetah

Video documentation:

This is a piece from Scott's earlier post.

'A dimly lit room housed Banksy’s caged mechanical sculptures, some displayed last year in his storefront fake pet shop in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. A mother hen watched over her chicken-nugget little ones pecking away at a synthetic-looking sauce in a fast-food plastic container; encased raw sausages, salamis and hot dogs writhed and squirmed in a sickly sexual manner; what looked from the back like a cheetah curled in the branches of a tree was chillingly revealed to be a fur coat. ... Judging from the long queues spilling out of Bristol Museum every day and the great enthusiasm displayed by visitors, the artist’s decision to come indoors for a while was only good. The strength of Banksy’s work lies in the fact that, even in a museum environment, his messages are direct enough to reach anyone on the street.' []

Robert Waters's Control

A possible follow-up to Maurizio Cattelan's The Ninth Hour... 'Control (2008) features a small resin sculpture of the late pope, John Paul II, creeping along, holding up a crucifix as he confronts another mounted on the wall. From the end of the pontiff’s robe extends a serpent’s tail, sliced like a sausage to reveal a meaty interior. The effect of this meticulously painted, paper-and-balsa-wood protrusion is unusually visceral. Is Waters’s pope otherworldly, or somehow more earthly than ordinary humans? Or is he maybe even monstrous? ... Titled “Taparrabo,” meaning “loincloth” or, literally, “cover your tail,” Waters’s exhibition includes a dozen works, some in series. Finely crafted, and executed in a range of mediums and formats, they also reflect the postmodernist, appropriationist mode of art-making still prevailing in Mexico, in which humor mixes with social commentary, and self-conscious cleverness borders on gimmickry. Waters plays down the latter tendency, instead emphasizing an inventive use of materials and allowing for interpretive ambiguity.'
[Edward M. Gómez in]

Postmodernist critique is over??? Here's the official notice. Postmodernism is over. In the past. Dead as objects. Did you think it would last forever? C'mon it's 30 years old -- you weren't even born yet... So what now? Hybrid-beyond-abject-virtually-positive (e.g. Ryan Trecartin) interventional (Yes Men) relational (Burning Man) new media art?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ryan Trecartin's I-BE AREA

Videos at

Check out "Craig-Ricky I-Be the Original I-Be2" whose sound translates well over the net. These videos curiously made me think of Beckett's Play (Anthony Minghella). I-BE AREA was shown at the Hammer and at the "Younger Than Jesus" show at the New Museum. 'Ryan Trecartin’s videos uncannily reflect his generation, which was raised using the Internet, digital television, and interactive video games. He mixes cheap special effects with absurd narratives in which he and his cast of collaborator-friends act out a sort of Lord of the Flies for the 21st Century. He tells sad love stories and bizarre family dramas utilizing technology to heighten the action and reflect the information overload we all experience today. In his latest work I-BE AREA, 2007, Trecartin weaves together several unruly stories with fast-moving, fast-talking characters that deal with such themes as cloning, adoption, self-mediation, life-style options, virtual identities and larger questions of an existential nature.'

Friday, December 11, 2009

Luc Tuymans at SFMOMA 02.2010

Image: Iphone, 2008

'[Tuymans's] most famous piece is an empty, otherwise-anonymous room with the chilling title "Gas Chamber". ... [He uses] banal, decontextualized images as stand-ins for some of history's most troubled moments. ... Helen Molesworth, the co-curator of this exhibition said, "When you stand in front of his paintings, you can't believe how beautiful they are. They have an eerie quality of developing before your eyes, like a photograph in a darkroom tray, and an uncanny sense of light and fluidity. They make you think about how just about anything in our culture can be turned into a pretty picture, and how used to it we are."'
[Monica Khemsurov, "Seeing is Believing", T Magazine (Fall 2009): 56,]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cao Fei's Cosplayers

Related to yesterday's discussion of Myrina's photos are these video stills from Cao Fei's Cosplayers. She's featured in Art 21: Season 5.

Also related to Myrina's project proposal are Gregory Crewdson's staged photographs.

Projections: Tony Oursler & Laurie Anderson

Hilde & Nick, yet another idea is to project both your video images onto sculptural stand-ins who're watching the TV's, recreating the scene as a sculptural installation. Examples are works by Tony Oursler and Laurie Anderson, who did a monologue via her video projection. The projection volume can be tweaked to include the having sex part, with the yet-to-be-projected portion of the volume also serving to hint that something else will happen later.

Image: Laurie Anderson, "From the Air", 2006

Vending machine camouflage dress

Related to yesterday's critique is this vending machine camouflage dress. In Japan, there are vending machines on the street selling anything from a hot bowl of noodles to porn.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Larry Johnson

Relating to Brett's work are some pics of Larry Johnson's prints that involve text/jokes. This excellent catalog of his work has most of the pieces in his Hammer retrospective curated by Russell Ferguson.


Relating to our class discussion yesterday, here's the Apple 1984 ad: youtube video, wikipedia entry. Why PC = Big Brother? Probably because PC's dominate the computer market (hackers unleash viruses for PC's and don't even bother with Mac's). Bill Gates is considered the Thomas Kincade of the computer world (using marketing and monopolistic advantage to force people to use crappy software).

Also related: Matthew Barney's Drawing Restraint, and performance of climbing on the ceiling of his gallery like a fly using suction cups on his hands and feet.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


3 great movies currently playing: (Untitled) which is a satire of the contemporary art world, Yes Men Fix The World, and Capitalism: A Love Story.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Donna Haraway @ CCA on 10.20.09

Donna Haraway will be giving a lecture at CCA next week. She wrote "The Cyborg Manifesto", "Promise of Monsters","When Species Meet"... Here's a speech on YouTube, "Cyborgs, Dogs and Companion Species", about the birth of the kennel, cyborgs, dogs and companion species, humans, machines, computer, organisms, technoscience, genetics, nature, culture, consciousness, philosophy, emergent ontologies, social relationships, societies, Michel Foucault, figure, reference, cyborg manifesto, and socialist feminism, given to the students and faculty of the European Graduate School EGS, Switzerland, in 2000.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Reading for Oct 14

Here's the email from Scott just in case you're wondering if he has sent you an email yet. For the PDF of Raymond Carver's "Feathers" email Scott (or me).

For next week please read the attached short story by Raymond Carver. Please let me know if you have any trouble opening the PDF. Don't be scared by the amount of pages, it's fiction so it should be a quick read for you. Funny isn't a word often attributed to Carver, but his work can be considered a blending of humor and sadness. I'd like to spend some time next week discussing the fine line between funny and sad, so feel free to bring to class anything else you think may fit in this category. I'm also hoping to discuss the use and metaphor of the ecological as a tool for humor in contemporary art. Again, if you have any examples or something you'd like to discuss, please bring it with you. Thanks, and have a good weekend.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Montblanc Gandhi Pen

Or it could be yet another ironic postmodern art piece that purports to critique commodity culture and that's being sold to wealthy collectors... Top that Jeff Koons. (Also Kate Spade Store.)

"Images of Mohandas K. Gandhi, father of modern India and icon of asceticism and nonviolence, have ended up in some unlikely places before, from ads selling Apple computers to counter-culture T-shirts. But it's fair to say that the latest incarnation may be the most ironic: Gandhi, in his signature loincloth, hawking a $23,000 fountain pen named in his honor.

The Montblanc pen, unveiled for the celebration of what would have been Gandhi's 140th birthday on Friday, has prompted howls from Hindu groups and Gandhists who say the sticker price is the lifetime income of many of India's poor. The limited-edition fountain pen in 18-carat solid gold is engraved with Gandhi's image and tricked out with a saffron-colored mandarin garnet on the clip and a rhodium-plated nib. ... A billboard put up this week over Mumbai's teeming slums shows a gaunt Gandhi next to next to an image of the swanky pen, with golden threads woven around it to represent Gandhi's spinning wheel."

From: "Montblanc's Gandhi Pen Causes Howls in India" by Emily Wax, Washington Post Foreign Service, 10.02.09.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nina Katchadourian's 'CARPARK'

Francis Alys's When Faith Moves Mountains made me think of CARPARK (in terms of the amount of effort).

From For one day all the incoming cars were sorted by color into the 14 different parking lots at the school, resulting in the fields of colored cars. The white lot was the largest (17% of cars in San Diego were white), with red as the runner-up (13%). No one could find their car at the end of the day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Parody of the Samurai show at Asian Art

"Lord It's the Samurai" is an online parody of the Asian Art Museum's "Lords of the Samurai" exhibition. 'The parody Web site - - closely mimics the design of the Web page that the Asian museum devoted to its exhibition - so closely that some contributors to the busy West Coast blog mistook it for the real thing...' (SFGate article "Samurai parody takes jab at Asian Art Museum" by Kenneth Baker)

Some related links

Hey everyone. Here's some links relating to the humor of politics. I've left off the Yes Men so as not to take the wind out of Nikki's sails for her presentation next week.

• Improv Everyhwere is a group headed by Charlie Todd in NYC. They call their pranks "missions" and they refer to themselves as "agents", which automatically gives their work the rhetoric of a government agency. While not all their missions seem political, I would argue that their intervention into public space often creates a political situation, whether they intended it or not. Here's some of my favorites: (Note in Frozen Grand Central an observer says "It's some kind of protest.")

Frozen Grand Central
Best Buy
Look Up More
Offshore Gambling
Human Mirror

Here's a link to game of volleyball over the US/Mexico border that was produced for Wholphin.

• Daniel Joseph Martinez

From the Whitney site, "The work takes its name from Walter Benjamin’s coinage for a form of violence that functions as pure means, with knowable ends. The installation of 125 panels, painted in automotive goldflake and each bearing the name of an organization around the world attempting to affect politics through violent means, is part of a larger ongoing project whose open-ended mix of theory, politics, and research is representative of Martinez’s entire practice."

• Banksy
Pet Shop
Bristol Museum

• Sandow Birk • Try and go see his exhibit at Cathrine Clark before it closes on Halloween.

Enriqu Chagoya

Honore Daumier

• John Heartfield

• Barbara Kruger

William Hogarth
Guillermo Gomez-Pena

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gays can quote the Bible too


Images of Sandow Birk's American Qur'an...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How Asians desecrated the peace sign

Youtube humor! Reminds me of the stand-up routine involving charts and classifications. Wonder if it is funny only to Asians... and whether it is problematic in any way.

Do Ho Suh & Tim Hawkinson

Two other works relate to today's discussion on artists who worked with scale/meticulous labor:

1. Do Ho Suh's Fallen Star 1/5

A Korean style house crashing into an American mansion. Their interiors are crafted with meticulous attention to detail (more info).

2. Tim Hawkinson's Bird

A small bird made from Hawkinson's fingernail clippings. Quite amazing in person. How does he keep his works from breaking apart when moved around...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Maurizio Cattelan

Image: La Nona Ora (The Ninth Hour)

Brief summary

1. Cattelan makes art that often uses taboo subjects which people react as a one-liner and do not move pass the punchline to analyze what it is saying, which is a disservice to both the artist and the viewer.

2. His works implicate the audience and enmesh them in what Tom Morton calls a 'mutual corruption', such as in Unfitted (2004), to take pleasure and being entertained, and at the same time, to think of children who are victims of one's everyday pleasures.

3. Many works reflect on his relationship with the art world, his entanglements with it. The art world provides him the opportunity to make work but at the same time he's frustrated by its restrictions and his lack of control:

a. A Sunday in Rivara (1992) literalizes his escape from the exhibition by knotted bed-sheets hanging down from the window.
- Vito Acconci's springboard out the gallery window is sharper

b. Unfitted (1996)

c. Finally, Wrong Gallery — can't live with the art world and can't live without it. His solution is to function within it and continue poking fun at it. Is this a defeatist attitude?

Observations and possible discussion questions

1. A point of art is to change it (what it's critiquing), and irony doesn't work.
Ironic pieces:
a. Blown Away
b. Wrong Gallery's participating at Frieze art fair

Irony doesn't work in changing what it is making fun of: do you agree or disagree?

2. Even if a piece can't change what it is critiquing, it is still worth making if it is funny and accessible to a non-art-world audience on some level. (The most interesting pieces are those that go outside the art world, such as The Ninth Hour/La Nona Ora).

What if it is only accessible to the art world elites? That provides a laugh to the art elite without changing anything. Is it still worth doing? (Thinking of post-Marxist, e.g. Lessig, as well as Hal Foster's critique of institutional critique art e.g. Andrea Fraser's).

Article: Tom Morton. "Maurizio Cattelan: Infinite Jester". The Artist's Joke (Documents of Contemporary Art).

Class readings

humor Fall09




Its Not Punny.pdf


stiles oldenburg.pdf


carrington picasso001.pdf


guerilla girls001.pdf

andrea fraser001.pdf

as Scott mentioned, there have been some technical issues, so let's try this to see if you all get access to ALL the readings. If not, we'll figure out something else,

Scott's email address & readings

Here are two links to the readings for next week:

We've been having a small glitch with some of the other PDFs, so please be sure to let me know if you have any problems retrieving these files. I'll be sending you additional readings for the semester very shortly.

Please also note that my email address is listed incorrectly on the printed version of the syllabus. My email is Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, concerns, dry observations, or witticisms.


Hello everyone

This is a blog for the use of the SFAI class, Humor in Contemporary Art, taught by Allan deSouza... for you to share your ideas or something you find funny or upcoming show, or post visuals for your talk etc.. Blogging is fun (even addictive). You can edit your post ad infinitum, save it as draft only, and even delete it later if you decide you don't like it. Just email me for a blog invite (I check my email everyday). Have fun!