Everybody Needs Wiggle Room
For three decades, in artworks and writing David Robbins has promoted a frank, unapologetic recognition of the contemporary overlap between the art and entertainment contexts. His work Talent (1986) is widely credited with announcing the age of the celebrity artist, and The Ice Cream Social (1993 - 2008), a multi-platform project which included a TV pilot for the Sundance Channel, a novella, installations, ceramics, and performance has been cited by Hans Ulrich Obrist as pioneering the "expanded exhibition." Progressively evolving away from the prevailing model of the professional contemporary artist, in his books High Entertainment (2009) and Concrete Comedy: An Alternative History of Twentieth-Century Comedy he identified and advanced other categories of imaginative endeavor. Among his six books are The Velvet Grind: Selected Essays, Interview, Satires 1983 - 2005 (2006) and The Camera Believes Everything (1988). Ten years ago he withdrew from active participation in the art world in order to discover how his imagination performed when not formatted to produce art, and began using the term "independent imagination" in place of "artist." Subsequently re-locating to Milwaukee he has aligned his work with contexts and formats historically foresaken by the avant garde, positing the suburb as a frontier for art production and creating TV commercials for galleries. His work is featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Most recently, his "Theme Song For An Exhibition," a ground-breaking experiment in digital distribution, was launched internationally, on the same day, by 11 art museums, including the Serpentine, London, and MOCA, Los Angeles.
By Daniel Gerwin
APRIL 2020 | Film
I arrived at Circus of Books without the slightest clue I was walking into LA queer history. The store has since closed, but a new documentary, Circus of Books, explores its 33-year life and the story of its unlikely proprietors, Karen and Barry Mason, a straight and straight-laced Jewish couple. The movies director is their daughter Rachel, a multi-disciplinary artist who made a previous film in 2013, The Lives of Hamilton Fish.
By Charlotte Kent
MARCH 2021 | ArtSeen
The goal of MoMAs Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented, 19181939 is to showcase the ways that artists participated in spreading radical new ideas made urgent by World War I and the 1917 Russian Revolution. The exhibition largely focuses on activity in what would become the Soviet Bloc, as artists enthusiastically adopted new print and distribution technologies, and embraced a geometric, abstract aesthetic that dramatized their rejection of the decadent, bourgeois parlor.
By Carol Nisar
DEC 19-JAN 20 | Art Books
Amassed by the artist Hannah Darabi, this oversized photobook casts a broadly curated lens on the sociopolitical turmoil induced by Irans Islamic revolution through a look at the Tehrans underground publishing scene. Including personal recollections, first-hand accounts from publishers and photographers, and invaluable photographic documentation of the books and the city, Darabi and researcher Chowra Makaremi reconstruct this important moment in Irans history.
By Sam Korman
MARCH 2021 | ArtSeen
Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented is a robust catalog not of paintings, but of everything else Aleksandr Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, Luibova Popova, Kurt Schwitters, Hannah Hoch, and the rest of the big central and eastern European names of the era did.