Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"In Defense of Teasing"

As it appeared in the New York Times Magazine last Sunday, Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, writes an amazing article on the social benefits of teasing. Read it here.
"In seeking to protect our children from bullying and aggression, we risk depriving them of a most remarkable form of social exchange. In teasing, we learn to use our voices, bodies and faces, and to read those of others — the raw materials of emotional intelligence and the moral imagination. We learn the wisdom of laughing at ourselves, and not taking the self too seriously. We learn boundaries between danger and safety, right and wrong, friend and foe, male and female, what is serious and what is not. We transform the many conflicts of social living into entertaining dramas. No kidding."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

John Knight's COLD CUTS

Calvin Phelps brought this to my attention.

Los Angeles artist John Knight currently has an exhibition in Spain, entitled COLD CUTS. The show is located at Espai d' art contemporani de Castelló.


A project for the Espai d' art contemporani de Castelló curated by Joel Benzakin y Michèle Lachowsky

Since the late 1960’s, the project of the artist John Knight has managed to negate easy categorization, by assuming an immediate and critical distance from the overly generalized label of Conceptual Art. Instead, Knight assumed a more singular position, by not hesitating to re-employee object/subjects within the vernacular, beyond the simple reinterpretation of the ready made, or simulacrum, as in the case of so many other contemporary artists working at time.

In particular, the reconfiguration of the vernaculars of Electric blankets, window frames, tourist posters, bicycle bells, popular journals, bank cards, etc., vis-à-vis the discursive models of architecture, “design” or, advertising strategies in general, in an attempt to locate what Knight refers to as the place of “over-design.”

A place – or, as they might be considered, moments – of production, that are codified with a certain condition of ‘refinement,’ within and beyond the domain of art, that appears to be tailor made for desirous consumption, while simultaneously operating with semantic agency, in order to effect a more complex reality - a reality, which locates itself within the social, economic and political spheres of culture production, without being altogether bound to the conditions of a concrete place of inscription, rather by the supple means of mobility that resists problems inherent in the stagnant models of conventional production.

The project of JK for the EACC entitled “Cold Cuts,” refers directly to restaurant menus, like an appetizer before the main course, which in this case is a book. A travel book, that takes us on a journey to many places around the world, with an American cultural point of view, or as one might say a certain art de vivre, as a contribution to the visited countries, through texts, tales, images and recipes. Because it is, above all, through its cuisine that we approach the identity of a foreign country.

Nevertheless, beyond the peaceful appearances of these touristic peregrinations, will appear interferences with a more problematic travel, the one of an imperialist relationship to those cultures, as a certain idea of a world order has to be maintained.

From the space of a book to the site of the museum, and back again, the public is invited to traverse this universe, through a visual dispositif by way of signs, images and texts in the manner of a trade fair.

This exhibition is an invitation to the exoticism of countries near and far, and to the flavours - sometimes overly spiced – even in the best recipes.