Michael Bulka, midnight rant

Number One



Well - no matter how profound or how stupid my posts are, I don't seem to get much response. I'm going to expand the audience for my occasioinal 4AM rants a little. My C.A.C.A. buddies, of course, and a few others. Sure, I could set up web page, but then you'd have to come to me. If you don't like it, I'll take you off the mass-mailing list. If you respond, don't count on being quoted or reposted, but don't be surprised if you are.

So - the threatened report of my last field trip:

Too Sexy for my Shirt

or, if this is what amuses the art world, I'm clearly in the wrong bizniz

Mariko Mori at MCA

Someone takes the Power Rangers a little too seriously. She goes downtown in a funny costume (though no more outlandish than I've seen at a rock club on a Tuesday night), and has pictures taken of people ignoring her. What else would they do?

I am impressed with the technology, or rather, the conspicuous consuption of the technology. Anything would look good in room-sized, high-quality photographs in fancy frames. Here, it is used to transform the artist into, not just a rock or film star, but a superhero, and ultimately, a god. Money and ego are certainly the most important requirements of a successful artist, but it would also be very nice if one were able to say something worth saying.

The video and airport-concourse lightbox work made me regret that I'd misspent my youth avoiding hallucinogens. The only thing that distignuishes them from new-age-MTV backdrops is that TV editors cut around before you get bored. Sadly, this is not a failing unique to her.

And do I dare say anything about the whoring of her culture. Her mish-mash of exotic, spiritual, space-age iconography transforms the MCA (not that it needs any help) into an upscale "It's a Small World" ride.

Jana Sterbak at MCA

OK, the bit about getting revenge by eating all the the Beuys suits is pretty good, but after that it's pretty much a one-note parade. A couple of metal constructions (fragile, don't touch, shut up and watch the video) restrict the wearer's motions less than a lot of children's toys; enshrined manufactured artifacts get whatever power they have from historical reference or a very tired cliche of the artist's magical touch.

It is very distrubing that the gallery handout includes a glossary that identifies Lenin and Sysyphus. Who is their audience, anyway?

You're in My Space at Chicago Cultural Center

Shows like this are useful for callibration of our aethetic intruments. If this is what genuinely disturbed, untrained folk do with limited resources, how does it compare with the work of the average art student. One has to wonder,though, what contemporary art would look like if our art educators, at art schools as well as at the Multi-Disciplinary Art Center at Little City Foundation, valued craft and aesthetics as much as self-expression. (Who was the advisor who said that those sloppy joints were good enough, that they even made it look like real Outsider Art?)

Dana Garner at Chicago Cultural Center

I like these, especially thinking about them at the same time as the artist whose name I never learned at the bar at Rainbo. Both of them have reduced color to a very crude thing, lots of white swatches. As opaque as thier paint is, their imagry is very open. While the Rainbo artist favors album-cover surrealism, Garner goes for more of a flower-in-the-void. Equally adolescent and equally irrelevant. The insipidness of the image only augments the immediacy of the medium. It is as if the Little City artists were allowed potentially flammable materials and competant instruction.

Ursula von Rydingsvard at Chicago Cultural Center

I confess: there are some things I just don't understand. Maybe one or two of these things would have been some sort of aestetic statement, but it seems like the cedar proccessing plant once set up couldn't be shut down. How many mammoth, rough-hewn bowls and ladles does the world really need?

Concerning Truth at TBA and Gallery 400

... and at some new SAIC space that I didn't get to. But, I think I've seen enough.

Truth and Art? I felt like I was in a museum, even without the Miro drawing on photographs. Since the first photographs, and before, artists have been playing with the veracity of depiction. Michael Hernandez de Luna and J.S.G. Boggs' greatest accomplishments have been being recognised by government bureaucracies as minor annoyances, and they've been doing the same work for 10 or 15 years. As for the rest - when have we ever looked at a new photograph without looking for a clue that it was of a genre "documentary" or "aesthetic" or some art-school-clever "subversion".