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blues for moca

Post #439 • December 28, 2004, 9:48 AM • 23 Comments

Some exhibitions possess so little life that they all but fall out of your head after viewing them. Case in point: John Espinoza at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Only one piece made any impression, the one that lends the title of the exhibition: Standing Still While We Move Across Land, in which sculptures of flourescent birds seem to be shooting yellow beams out of their mouths to form a starburst. No need to draw this out - the rest of the show qualifies as high-school level collage, maximally unremarkable and insipid.

MoCA is also presenting "CUT/Film as Found Object." Earlier this year I vacationed in Washington D.C. I saw a Douglas Gordon show at the Hirschorn after a trek through the National Gallery, where I saw more Mary Cassats than I had ever seen and admired them with new enthusiasm. I noted to myself bitterly that while I would never see a Cassatt exhibition in Miami, the tastes of our local curators made the prospect of a Douglas Gordon show probable, if not inevitable. At the time I was just feeling cynical, but as fate would have it, I walked into "CUT" and sure enough, the first room featured Douglas Gordon's 24-Hour Psycho. My stomach did a backflip, and I disqualified myself from reviewing this show. You might like it; me, I couldn't enjoy watching my cynical notions get played out in real life.




December 28, 2004, 6:11 PM

Could anyone give me a kind and wise advice?

I have been partying nonstop since 5pm on 24th and I need a break before going to a New Year’s Eve party which 2500 people will attend (I got a free ticket through a complicated connection). I want to stay home, but an artist friend mine is visiting Miami, and I want to help her have a good time. Where should I direct her to go? Is there anything worthwhile seeing in Miami in the next several days?

She is interested in any art in three dimensions, but two dimensions will also do. I want to hear from someone who has actually seen the show/display. She drives her own car.



December 28, 2004, 6:20 PM

I saw the Espinoza show and have to say until you described the main piece I couldn't actually remember anything about it, it was so NOT memorable.
I agree with the 24 Hour Psycho piece at Cut show. BORING> but I did love the Christain Marclay Musical Video Quartet piece on 4 screens.
It was compelling. Also the little piece based on the Leni Riefenstahl work was lovely...
The rest of the show just felt "clever".
I had a tour during the massive construction project in praparing for the show and it was extremely impressive and expensive! Perhaps they should have made a film about that.....



December 28, 2004, 7:06 PM

I've not seen the Espinosa show at MOCA, but I've seen work by him elsewhere similar to the title piece you describe. It strikes me as work that might do very well, say, in the Museum of Science (I'm pretty sure kids would like it), but putting it in MOCA is not appropriate. It is, in fact, an admission of poor or compromised standards, not that that's any surprise (here or anywhere else, given the current ethos).

I'll say this for it, though: it can't possibly be worse than the ridiculous colored glass doo-dads MOCA brought us this past summer.



December 28, 2004, 7:50 PM

You know, Jack, at least I remember the doo-dads. They had flashiness and color and some superficial charm. Espinoza's work didn't even register in my head.



December 28, 2004, 8:10 PM

Being a serious artist in Miami must have its special type of difficulty. I mean, there is a temptation to think you are part of a sophisticated urban cultural scene due to the sheer volume of people assembled in the vicinity. And next to think your non-inclusion is a sign your art isn't serious enough or good enough.

Yet, the evidence I see in "roundup" after roundup is that Miami is provincially connected to Cuba and a me-too follower of the "international" scene, with permission granted to mix the two. Of course, the majority of cultural authorities don't agree with this observation, so it is a classical case of the one versus the many. Perhaps more accurately, the few versus the many.

I don't see any ethical reason Franklin could not review the Gordon show; his prescience certainly is not a counter-indicator, but rather a sign of his understanding of the Miami scene. But I can see plenty of reasons not to bother.



December 28, 2004, 8:48 PM

You may have a point, Franklin. The glass stuff had a sort of "Willy Wonka and the Art Factory" quality to it. The Espinosa work aspires to be rather more profound and/or fraught with meaning, and such work is bound to make more of a thud when it fails to deliver.



December 28, 2004, 9:28 PM

"Aspires be profound"? I don't think Espinosa's work is anything but high impact, low duration. The immediacy of a video game comes to mind.

I think the value or meaning people have given his work is based purely on the story of his youth --raised Jehovah's Witness in Orlando, which is more interesting to me than any of his objects. (others have mentioned this before on previous threads).


J.T. Kirkland

December 29, 2004, 2:04 AM

I'm glad someone else is put off by Gordon's videos. Since I live in DC I got to see the show at the Hirschhorn several times. Every time it got worse and worse.

Of course, our local art critic, Blake Gopnik, loved it. I don't remember another time reading that much praise from him in a review. Blech...



December 29, 2004, 4:43 AM

I agree with JT about Gordon's show at the Hirshhorn. I actually went to see it with a paid gig to review it for a local paper.

I couldn't!

It wasn't just that it was bad - it was just... bland! The ideas behind the videos were more interesting than the drivel being shown... yech!

But as JT said, our local art scribe loved it!



December 29, 2004, 5:45 AM

Is Blake Gopnik a real person? I'm relatively new... or is that a joke?

Since we are dishing the MOCA shows what about the Laura Owens?
My take was that they were so important to garner such a large show was that they were BIG canvases.
Her schtick is to refuse to talk to anyone (even the NY Times) about her work.
I had to agree with her. I couldn't think of a thing to say about it either.
Perhaps one of you could enlighten me about her genius.
I am always open to enlightenment.....



December 29, 2004, 6:03 AM

I've been down in the Keys all day so have not read the blog until now.

A complete consensus? I can't believe it! This stuff has got to be really truly bad! And I bet it is.

So why does the critic love it?



December 29, 2004, 6:04 AM

TO catfish
"there is a temptation to think you are part of a sophisticated urban cultural scene due to the sheer volume of people assembled in the vicinity"
I knew pretty quickly I was not going to be part of anything sophisticated here in Miami. quantity does not equal quality as we all know.
The "me too" thing is only exacerbated by the Art Basel equation.
But most artists don't really care where they are to do their work, as long as one can get out once in awhile and have a network of like minds, be it e-mail or phone calls or letters...
It is hard to STRETCH though, when everything around you is contracting...




December 29, 2004, 6:09 AM

Two in a row is okay, but all caps sounds like you're shouting. Glad to have you aboard.



December 29, 2004, 6:20 AM

"Is Blake Gopnik a real person?" Must... resist... cheap... shot...

Mr. Gopnik writes about art for the Washington Post.



December 29, 2004, 6:21 AM


i will whisper from now on....


J.T. Kirkland

December 29, 2004, 6:25 AM

Blake Gopnik is indeed a real person, but some people confuse him for a troll. And he is often thoughtful in his reviews (or not when he blasted Art-o-Matic). To answer Oldpro, he loves it because it is video. He is of the school that says painting is dead.

Here is the URL of Gopnik's review of the Gordon show:

And I found a link to his "video" review of the Gordon show but for some reason I couldn't get it to work. Scroll down the following page and click on the link to the right. Let me know if you get it to work:


Jame W. Bailey

December 29, 2004, 6:33 AM

The following does not represent a conspiracy of back-slapping agreement among D.C. based artists!

I concur with my comrades J.T. Kirkland and F. Lennox Campello about Douglas Gordon's 24 Hour Psycho.

I saw it twice. I refuse to review it, but do offer the following for intellectual consideration:

On Feb. 28, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., threw an all-night party so that intrepid, and presumably caffeinated, viewers could watch Scottish artist Douglas Gordon's 24 Hour Psycho (1993). Included in his retrospective at the museum [through May 9], the video projection is a slowed-down version of the Hitchcock classic. Visitors could break up the Warholian monotony by checking out bands and DJs that were playing in the museum's lower level. Die-hard viewers (who had to register in advance) intent on enduring the marathon screening were provided with breath strips, a toothbrush and a shower cap, perfect for the hour-long 4 A.M. shower scene.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Brant Publications, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

If this damn thing had been shown in New Orleans, my second home, it could have been a hell of a pARTy.

In D.C. it was a narcoleptic snooze into the deep dark night among the shallow selfish souls of the upper-middle class pre-approved VISA card carrying member students of the Corcoran College of Art and Design in pursuit of their MFAs and in serious need of last minute inspiration for a banal theme for a banal term paper.

...oops, I promised I wouldn't review it.


James W. Bailey



December 29, 2004, 5:27 PM

Thanks JT. Turgid stuff.

Bailey, I think maybe you should be reviewing this garbage. Right or wrong, it would certainly be more amusing.

I wonder if this guy is any relation to Adam Gopnik, who writes for the New Yorker and other mags, and is another major league doofus. Maybe bad art criticism is genetic.



December 29, 2004, 6:31 PM

Blake Gopnik believes, or affects to believe, that painting is dead. Check.

A major newspaper hired Gopnik to act as an art critic. Check.

Neither Gopnik nor his employer are credible or reputable sources of art criticism, commentary or coverage--except to the "right" people and their attendants, who constitute the current establishment, and who ultimately mean nothing. What a waste.


J.T. Kirkland

December 29, 2004, 7:10 PM

I'm not 100% sure, but I believe Blake and Adam are indeed brothers.



December 29, 2004, 7:11 PM

The Gopniks are brothers. I think Blake is the angrier, more acid-filled one.



December 31, 2004, 6:10 AM

Wondering what Franklin and the peanut gallery think of Christian Marclay's Video Quartet at MOCA? Best piece of video art I've seen in a while; stronger than Kutlug Ataman's "Butterfly" piece
and Paul Chan's latest, by far.



December 31, 2004, 7:53 AM

I was still steamed about the Gordon when I saw it. Anyone?



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