Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Mean, Unfair and Plain Wrong

That's me!

My DC blogsphere colleague Kriston Capps, who just like me every once in a while is very fond of policing other folks' opinions, thinks that I am "mean... unfair... and plain wrong," in my recent rant at Jessica Dawson's inept review of Caitlin Phillips.

And while I respect Capps' right to express his opinions to my response to Dawson's review, I disagree 100% with his insinuation that a critic's interpretation of a body of works, absolves them/us of having a responsibility or need to gather information about an artist's intent; especially if they are preparing to deliver a public question or opinion that suggests that an artist is denigrating herself via that same body of works.

Let's be clear: Critics don't have to ask questions or gather information for every thing, even intent.

But if they're going to make the leap and portray an artist as denigrating herself because of what the images convey to the critic, at the very least they should try to find out what the artist thinks they're conveying or was trying to convey.

It just makes sense to me.

In this case, I think Dawson blew the review, and erred in her (let's assume) interpretation, because she didn't know (or cared to know) the photographer's intent - even if Phillips didn't deliver it very clearly, as could be the case - and although Dawson was keen enough to make a harsh interpretation about the intent, she wasn't curious enough to try to gather the easily available information.

And boo hoo... now I also think that Kriston is just mean, unfair and gets it plain wrong when he interprets that my post is suggesting that critics should go "around asking artists to tell them what to write in their reviews."

Especially since he knows me, and knows well that I would never suggest such an idiotic thing.

That makes two critics who should have asked a question before making such a knuckle-headed leap.

Read Kriston's opinions here.

DC Shorts Film Festival 2007

September 13 – 20, 2007 at Landmark’s E Street Cinema (11th and E Streets)

DC Shorts turns the spotlight on truly independent short films from all over the globe, created by new and established filmmakers in an era when the art of filmmaking is opening to all. They select films from every genre for their competition screenings — with a special focus on films created by metropolitan Washington, DC-based directors and writers. After each screening, filmmakers have the opportunity to speak to the audience as part of a moderated panel.

This year, they will present 89 films and seven live script performances, culled from 14 countries. Once again, their venue will be the Landmark E Street Theatre in DC's Penn Quarter. With new specialty competitions — High Definition Shorts and the Live Script Reading Competition — DC Shorts is growing into one of the most influential film festivals in the country.

For festival and ticket information visit

Interview: John Anderson on Adrian Parsons

Anderson: Several months ago I contacted Adrian Parsons, shortly after he circumcised himself during a performance for the exhibition entitled Supple, at the Warehouse Gallery. He seemed agreeable to answer some questions, either in person or over e-mail. I shot the questions to him and waited for a response. At the beginning of August, he finally got back to me.

Performance artist Adrian Parsons with his foreskin hanging on the wall
Adrian Parsons with his foreskin hanging on the wall

Parsons: Hello, wanted to take some time to separate the act from the hype. So here is the interview way, way post facto.

An earlier piece that I see documented on your blog involved inviting people to pull your mustache out of your face, one hair at a time, until it was gone. What is the basis for this work?

The idea was to take off the genetic predisposition for where my beard and mustache would be, to take the hairs and redistribute them. Once all the hair was off we were to mix it with melted wax and pour that on to the mold, that is, my face. The fact that I could rework a hairline with my hand and not my fathers was a weird, fun one.

Since you began Shrapnel (I am assuming this is the title) by pulling hairs from your face, is the act of auto-circumcision an extension of this previous piece? How do the two relate apart from self-mutilation (or invited mutilation to yourself)?

Both works come across chance and randomization. I was trying to get around my genes in Plucky, to disorder what is predetermined. But Shrapnel takes on the chaos of a suicide bomber, his body is distributed in to the walls of buildings, the skin of people. This kills random people, suddenly the attackers bone, physical matter, are implanted willfully in to another person. I read an account of a journalist who was nearby a suicide bomber and lived. He carries the bone of this guy in his body, his DNA's sitting right there next to his own. It's an incredible "fuck you."

How large was the audience?

30 people or so but it thinned out fast.

I was having video problems and was unable to gauge audience reaction. What was the response to you exposing yourself, removing a pocket knife, and the act of cutting? OR, were you even aware of it?

People were curious, kind of readying themselves, making small talk. Then when I started to rip out some of my beard and place it in to the wall they seemed to get that this was going to be something bloody. After the first cut, there were two responses, leaving the room or whipping out the cell-camera. You hear an ex of mine slip an "ohmygod" out of her mouth.

I would imagine this act required some psyching-up; what prepared you?

A friend said, "how'd you get the balls to cut your dick off?" Since I was going to the hospital right after I couldn't get wasted and I couldn't take vicodin or oxycotin or even smoke. If I'd come in to GW messed up I would've spent the night in the psych ward. Pulling the hair and the skin off my face helped get my adrenalin up, though.

Why a pocket knife? Why not something more medical, or kitchen-oriented?

This was a Swiss army knife that was given to me by my brother-in-law. It's only significance to the piece was that it was sharp. When people ask why I used a "dull, rusty knife" I say it took 5 cuts because it was a really sharp knife, not a dull one.

Looking at the Thinking About Art Interview from last year, you cited Jason Gubbiotti as an influence. And food. I'm going to admit I am having trouble seeing a connection in your (current) work. How is he an influence?

Food makes you go, it's the only thing you get to utterly chemically transform. It's a wonder that you masticate and acid bathe something and get to move, think and have sex because of a bowl of Chex and 1% milk. Every gesture in art is because you've got a calorie to spend.

Gubbiotti's altered canvasses, which aren't as big a deal for him now, are what I was referring too. He's got these gigantic color spaces, very placid, and then they just get completely shorn off by this violent jutting and curving wood. His paint reaches the edge of the canvas the way you might encounter the edge of the earth in some pre-Eratosthenes view of the world.

How's your dick? or have you seen a doctor since the act?

My cock is 100% thanks to Erin Krill, on-call urologist extraordinaire.

Ice Stories

To create her Ice Stories, artist Lisa Sheirer takes photographs of natural landscapes through ice coated windows, and then manipulates them to create abstracted compositions, which then she prints with archival ink onto watercolor paper.

The opening reception for her solo exhibition at Hillyer Art Space in DC is Friday, September 7th, from 6 pm to 8 pm and the exhibition goes through October 25, 2007.

The Fells Point First Friday

Try saying that fast!

This Friday, September 7th is Fells Point’s First Friday Art Walk event in Baltimore.

Don’t miss your last chance to meet the various artists featured in "Moving Beyond Craft: Artists of the Washington Glass School." The exhibition will be on display through Saturday, September 8th at the Patricia Touchet Gallery.

Civilian on Friday

DC's Civilian Art Projects opens its Fall season this coming Friday with the opening of Noelle Tan's solo "from here to the Salton Sea," and and Erick Jackson's "Vlad's Crib." From 7-9PM and the exhibition goes through Oct. 20, 2007.

The Last ArtRomp

ArtRomp XX - the Grand Finale - opens this Friday at the soon-to-close/move Warehouse Gallery in DC. Opening party is 6pm til late. This last show includes work by all the artists who have exhibited in past ArtRomps over the years. Through Sept. 30, 2007.