Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work takes viewers on a year long ride with Joan Rivers, the comic legend who broke barrier after barrier for female comedians and paved the way for the likes of Kathy Griffin, Sarah Silverman, and Tina Fey. As the story unravels, Mrs. Rivers talks frankly about how she got into show biz, the ups and downs of the industry, being banned by NBC late night for life, and how she will even do adult diaper & penis enlargement commercials for cold, hard cash. At the young age of 75 it seems that Joan Rivers has the energy and drive of a 25 year old, rarely stopping to catch her breath in between interviews, writing and acting in a play about her life, doing midwest comedy tours, and starring in (and winning) Celebrity Apprentice.
Next time you feel too old, uninspired, or just plain lazy, go watch this documentary for a swift kick in the ass. Joan River’s drive to keep doing what she loves until she drops dead is nothing but awe inspiring. I work harder than the average joe but walking out of the theater I felt like I had to run straight to my studio and go on a painting rampage for the next 6 months. In short Joan Rivers is a rude, crude, ass-kicking comic genius and my new personal hero.
Perhaps in the strictest sense, these abstract pieces by artist Siebren Versteeg aren’t paintings (or maybe in any sense they are not really paintings). However, they do say quite a bit about painting and creativity. Versteeg created code that utilizes a complex set of algorithms to create these pieces. The work is then often printed on to paper or canvas. Versteeg observes patterns, tendencies, styles in abstract expressionist painting and uses these as the basis for the code that create these “paintings”. His programmed algorithms work with variable qualities such as viscosity, color, drips, and so on. The program then “decides” how to use and combine these variable in several layers to create a complete composition. In a way, the art is in the code Versteeg creates – the paintings merely a visual manifestation of that code.
Greek-Italian net artist Angelo Plessas uses the internet to create websites that are strange, nervous and poetic at the same time. These websites are mostly interactive drawings and Plessas’ subjects usually involve femininity and portraits of people around him or many sides of himself. These internet pieces often “cover” the real world as objects like murals, installations, collage drawings and prints. His work is similar to that of Rafael Rozendaal’s: short, full-screen, sometimes interactive, Flash movies (they’re small on this blog but they’re pretty invasively pleasing in their native forms). I believe the latter had proclaimed them as some sort of movement, which begs the question of which chicken or egg laid claim on their piece of the internet pie.
Michael Shapcott is an emerging artist from Connecticut. His paintings and illustrations take traditional portraiture and add elements of folklore and dream imagery, his main source of inspiration. His work is nothing less than powerful, inspiring, and emotional.
Mexican photographer Alinka Echeverria’sThe Road to Tepeyac , for which she won the prestigious French prize HSBC Prix pour la Photographie is a typology of the backs of three hundred Mexican pilgrims on their journey to the Basilica de Guadalupe in Mexico city. This yearly pilgrimage is undertaken by approximately six million devout Catholics on the anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531 to the indigenous man Juan Diego. This journey is a manifestation of the iconic power of the Virgin, whose image was miraculously imposed onto Juan Diego’s cloak. Belief in the apparitions and their evidence, the ‘sacred image of a miracle and a miracle of images’, marks a turning point in the struggle for power of the Spanish conquerors, for whom evangelizing was imperative to the success of the empire. They successfully conquered the imagination using imagery as a tool for acculturation and domination in an already extremely visual indigenous culture.
The pilgrims photographed, carry their own reproduction of the Virgin – paintings, sculptures, posters or cloaks of the icon, taken from home and shouldered on their backs to the place of the apparition. The journey is an arduous one, a physical and spiritual undertaking with each pilgrim bearing their own evidence of devotion whilst enforcing their own personal relationship with the Virgin. Echeverria takes each portrait separately, which is then cut and transposed onto a plain background. This de-contextualisation is intended to raise the subject above the corporal world, making them appear like an isolated icon.
Seen as a series, each portrait creates a dialogue with the others. A narrative of interconnecting personal missions removed from the rest of the elements originally in the image. The sheer number of portraits helps to create a visual maze of similarities and differences. With the surrounding landscape removed we are struck by the contrasting richly colored Virgins and muted tones of the pilgrims.
Chinese artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu have materialized a tangible loss of hope with their most recent work simply entitled “Angel”. The life-size sculpture made entirely of silica gel, fibre glass, stainless steel, and woven mesh depicts a fallen angel caught in a net. The angel is depicted here as an old women, with all of the feathers gone from the wings lying at an angle that suggests she is not alive anymore. The sculpture is on display in a public setting, which gives it the role of an epic spectacle not only because of its aesthetic features but also for the message it carries.
The craftsmanship and work put into this piece are almost eerie in all their hyperrealist nature. The details put into emulating a human face and realistic, accurately sized wings contribute to the disturbing effect of the piece and bring an otherworldly being into a world in a brutal way that makes us assess the situation as if it were actually happening.
The symbolic value of such a piece lies in the idea of an angel being able to be of help to mankind, yet, in the powerless position Yuan and Yu have presented it, this role is diminished if not erased completely. This piece also explores the clash between the world of angels and the world of human beings, which are brought together here in a painful, if not catastrophic manner. The magnificent horror of this piece lies both in its strong visual and symbolic value and gives the viewers something to reflect upon.
I recently discovered “Richard III”‘s cooky portfolio. It’s replete with unknown highly layered symbolic structures and bizarre ideas. Geodesically interesting. This is a snippet of what the artist wrote in an email to us: “Expect 2000 and 1 thank you’s to be delivered in vapor form in a fortnight’s time… or perhaps you would prefer my Lord Humongous style leather riding vest for your commutes to and through the gauntlet that is Hell A.” Pretty great. Visit Richard III myspace site for more!