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Tuesday 10.02.07

« Monday Night Lecture Series | Main | First Thursday Picks October 2007 »

Las Vegas Diaspora & Dave Hickey's Homecoming Dance

work by Jacqueline Ehlis on view @ Las Vegas Diaspora

This past weekend, Las Vegas Diaspora: The Emergence of Contemporary Art from the Neon Homeland opened at the Las Vegas Art Museum. Curated by Dave Hickey. It is pretty much the first show he's curated since the groundbreaking Beau Monde: Towards a Redeemed Cosmopolitanism Site Santa Fe Biennial in 2001 and a follow-up on some of his top students like Yek, Tim Bavington, Rev Ethan Acres, Curtis Fairman and Portland's own Jacqueline Ehlis. All of whom are personal favs and many of whom Ive curated into shows over the years. Ehlis is one of the few girls in a guy heavy group and may be the Agnes Martin ascetic with a wierd almost Martha Graham physicality of the group. She routinely does work that makes LA's best related attempts look soft (she's up at 5:00 AM in the studio). Bavington and Philip Argent are in MOMA's collection., Acres, Yek and Fairman etc. have been widely shown.

Hickey's students are only part of his legacy. Beau Monde's basic premise was that visual pleasure (and the viewer's experience) was still important to art, DUH... but back then POMO theorists had their heads so far up their council-of-trent-like asses, somebody had to remind them. Hickey's ideas though widely debated at the time have been pretty much adopted and run with by in shows like, Paul Schimmel's Ecstacy show at MOCA, Olafur Eliasson at the Tate, Damien Hirst's skull, James Turrell skyspaces in nearly every major new museum expansion, the ongoing excellence reception of Hickey's freind Robert Rauschenberg's combines, Karin Davie and the preponderance of Josiah Mcehlney, Ken Price, Jessica Stockholder, Jennifer Steinkamp, Anish Kapoor, Ed Ruscha's gunpowder and chocolate works, James Lee Byars and even Rudolf Stingel's cosmopolitian combos of democratic material populism.

In short "materials as the message" and conveyance for visual expedience by the viewer continue to matter a lot and Hickey gave a definition of "beautiful" that went beyond just pandering pleasure (as the lazy ascribe to him). Beau Monde gave permission to a lot of work that is both great to look at and experience while not being dumb. Now, even Robert Storr is calling for something beyond the old POMO lingo that almost nobody uses anymore, except in the dustier parts of academia. The fact is art spaces, particularly museums have become more open to art as experience and Hickey articulated the trend while it was still in the studio.

It isn't news that Hickey is controversial, he's successful as a; MacArthur Genuis award winner, curator, educator and probably the best art writer alive (so good that even when he's completely off [Norman Rockwell] he still offers the most interesting/useful writing out there (if only there was more). When Hickey's really on... like in "My Weimar" and "The Invisible Dragon" he's devastating). Some get blinded by Hickey as a polemic POMO dam breaker but he along with Larry Rinder's important but over stuffed 2002 Whitney Biennial really changed the conversation about art in the 21st century. I suggest if he makes you crazy, it's probably your own intellectual inflexibility getting in the way, not his. It will be interesting to read the essays from this Las Vegas homecoming show and if there are pictures please share them. I hear he's made a lot of space alterations. Hickey once equated all the white box galleries with the space age aesthetics and clean rooms of NASA and Space 2001... so fitting he alters that white box to acknowledge and bend the vernacular.

Here is Laurie Anderson reading My Weimar, Ill post pictures as they become available (what is with LVAM's site?)

Posted by Jeff Jahn on October 02, 2007 at 11:56 | Comments (1)


I really wish Dave Hickey would curate more shows. He 'curating eye' is just as sharp as his 'critiquing eye.' It's funny that Hickey is regarded as being so controversial, because he regularly seems right on the money to me.

However, I wish Hickey would learn edit the length of his exhibition titles. :) You can definitely tell he is a writer.

Posted by: Calvin Ross Carl [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 3, 2007 05:11 PM

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