Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'm tired. Have been working like a dog to get my dioramas ready for that bastion of commercialized pride-swallowing called Art Basel. And my studio heat is not working. Even now, as I type, my frostbitten appendages are wilting and falling off like MJ's nose.
And there seems to be a mouse-like thing making mouse-like noises, although I am hesitant to call it a mouse because then I would have to deal with the dirty little thing.

I had two delightful Thanksgivings. One was Risa's "Baby Thanksgiving" replete with miniature cornish hens, baby carrots and tiny cranberry molds (and baby-themed movies like Rosemary's Baby and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?). The other was Erin Curtis' lamb feast, replete with lamb, sneezes and cigarettes.

In self-promotion news, Austin is featured in Art in America this month, and one of my diorama pics made it in. Suck my toes again bitches (please....they're very cold). I don't know how I feel about the article though, it's pretty ho-hum in that it discusses the exchange of institutional money more than it talks about art.

Also, I decided to change the format of my blogging for Berlin, take note:
In the spirit of Chris Isherwood's The Berlin Diaries, I shall diary in Berlin. Quite a leap, I know!
But I am going to journal in different characters' voices. I will write as Sad Little White Girl, Chuck Tracy, and Nancy Drew. I love pasty detectives!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Former Austinite Cauleen Smith is collaborating with Paul Chan on the filming of the staging (?) of Waiting for Godot in the Ninth Ward.

I think it's fucking brilliant.

Here's what Dan Cameron says about it in Artforum Diary (AKA:"Let's-Gang-Bang-Hans-Ulrich Obrist-in-a-Photo-Op-Weekly"):

Two images, bookends really, stand out from Creative Time’s presentation of the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s (CTH) production of Waiting for Godot in New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward last Saturday night. The first image was celebratory—at precisely 7:30 PM, Rebirth Brass Band kicked off a typically raucous secondline, and the steady flow of five hundred attendees through the front gates and into the bleachers marked the first occasion since Katrina that the crippled neighborhood has been a cultural focus for the rest of the city. The second image was considerably more somber. After taking their final bows, cast members turned their backs on the audience and walked briskly into the inky nighttime panorama from which most had made entrances: a nondescript backstreet leading ominously toward the same levee whose breach two years ago nearly transformed this neighborhood into a ghost town.

Today, life in the Lower Ninth Ward is infused by the grassroots politics of postcatastrophe housing, a local movement focused on the homes of thousands of families displaced by the floods that followed Katrina, who would like to come back to their old neighborhood but lack the means to rebuild or relocate. Stripped of some 80 percent of its prestorm habitation, and with experts warning locals that their homes are all but guaranteed to flood again, the Lower Ninth Ward is a neighborhood whose bereft residents, after waiting patiently for the government to help them, are now engaged in the remarkable (or, if you insist, foolhardy) struggle to take back their weed-choked empty lots on their own. A better locale for Godot could hardly be imagined, an assertion borne out in local housing activist Robert Lynn Green Sr.’s short but heartfelt preshow benediction. More eloquent still were the scattered gasps and applause when Vladimir (played by New Orleans native Wendell Pierce), having been asked by Estragon if he recognizes the place where they are standing, turns toward a field of weeds with outstretched arms and bellows with indignant sarcasm, “Recognize it? What is there left to be recognized?”

Left: The Rebirth Brass Band. (Photo: Frank Aymami) Right: Jenisa and Isaiah Washington with artist Mark Bradford. (Photo: Brendan Griffiths)

The masterstroke of Creative Time’s production was not simply staging Godot in the Lower Ninth but presenting it outdoors, at night, on a once-thriving street corner so pulverized by the 2005 floodwaters that barely a visible trace of a house remains. In the middle distance, a pair of FEMA trailers huddled forlornly, while the faraway hum of cars crossing the bridge and the nearby rustling of wind through dried weeds blended eerily with the visual accompaniment of boats gliding slowly and soundlessly up and down the river, which hovered invisibly in the background. Under Christopher McElroen’s brisk direction, Beckett’s famously verbose play, which is equally revered for its long and weighty silences, generated fevered monologues and existential retorts that would sometimes hang in the air for several moments, while ghosts whispered noisily in the adjacent fields.

The spellbinding two-and-a-half-hour production was largely the brainchild of artist Paul Chan, who visited New Orleans a year after Katrina and couldn’t shake the impression of so many people waiting for something or somebody who would probably never appear. After securing the collaboration of McElroen and the CTH, Chan began the slow process of befriending artists, educators, clergy, and neighborhood leaders throughout the city, eventually attaching himself to the art faculties of UNO and Xavier University, and otherwise weaving a diverse network of supporters that enabled him to bring together a remarkable cross-section of New Orleanians—along with a sizable contingent of out-of-towners—for an open-air, world-class production of an avant-garde play in a neighborhood where few have ventured since the floodwaters receded. As if to burnish the Lower Ninth’s growing significance as a festering symbol of Bush-era cronyism and ineptitude, hundreds of would-be spectators had to be turned away the first two nights due to lack of seating, resulting in a third night being added, and the production’s success will no doubt precede it when it moves to the nearby Gentilly neighborhood this weekend. With his stunning one-two act of creative jujitsu, Chan has succeeded in giving the people of New Orleans an unforgettable night of theater and has provided the art world with a tangible platform for connecting with New Orleans’s meaning in the coming post-Bush era: living witness to the failure by the US government to provide its citizens with even the most basic protection and recovery during and after the largest natural disaster in our country’s history.

Dan Cameron

Left: Walker Art Center curator Peter Eleey, artist Rodney McMillian, and Cara Starke. Right: Artist Willie Birch. (Photos: Frank Aymami)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

God, my head feels like Pamela Anderson after a good pummeling. Because of my brainsyphillis the following entry may not be funny, true, cogent, or without gaping sores.

I drove to Dallas the other day to check out the Road Agent space for an upcoming show I'm doing with Sterlz and Peat. It's a really airy, high-class place. Afterwards, I went to the Meridian bar for Margaritas, which tasted like Dallas: just a hint of pearls and misplaced pride.

I also watched "Tila Tequila: A Shot of Love" on MTV. Every challenge is so stupid and usually is some thinly veiled reference to fellatio. After talking about lofty art school concerns all day Tila Tequila and her car-washing, pie-eating make out sessions help to soothe my brain.

I am making a boarding school out of gold.

I am going to whittle myself a wheelchair.

My mom has a boyfriend.

Risa has a parasite.

I spent 5 bucks on an exceptionally boring issue of National Geographic.

I'm hungry.

Yun Fei Ji has kind eyes.

Half of my students have mono.

Ivan Lozano is the king of the bloggers.

I have so much work to do before Miami.

Long hair on women is ugly.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Delicious things (compiled from the last month of compiling delicious things):
Stalking Amy Tan. Barbecue from Georgetown BBQ. Suddenly Last Summer starring the fiesty, bedazzled Liz Taylor as a New Orleans crazy. Cabaret. Fancy art parties I have not been privy to. Cigarettes. Mustard chicken (of the German variety) at Whole Foods. The Longbranch (update: not banned, just openly disdained!) Theatre people who gesticulate. Persepolis 2. Falling asleep in class on the nude model sofa. Asking random people to tell me I resemble Liz Taylor in the aforementioned movie (people who reply that I look like Liz Taylor post-brain tumor belong in the second category). Paella and cupcakes and a Facebook fan page, all made by my lovely students. Being a reclusive diorama-maker, whittler and all-around geriatric butter-churner.

Pointless things:
-New book written by David Lynch about transcental meditation. It was an impulse buy. I was wearing my bad idea pants.
-Trying to learn German: so far I've only learned one phrase, and it's the German equivalent of "let's do it."
-Slow, leaking tires that hiss at you with their fancy hissing mechanisms and euro-peeeeeeean treads.
-Forcing Trenton Doyle Hancock to watch Happy Feet