Steve Lafreniere. (Top Ten).
1 MARY BROGGER Ten years ago Brogger's chain-mail draperies and welded-steel Queen Anne chairs made me reconsider trompe l'oeil, of all things. Later she put up a full-scale photo panorama of her messy apartment at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, cheerfully lowering the brow of anyone who walked by. She's maybe less impish nowadays. Her recent sealed-in-felt rocks are as exquisite to think about as to hold, and her scale model of Mies's Farnsworth House is given second grace as a bird feeder. Now I hear Brogger's fashioned a Persian rug from stainless steel and plans to lay it at the bottom of a reflecting pool in California. It's distortions like these that keep her work so exuberantly unfixed.
2 PHIILIIP, ICICLES AND SPIKE SCULPTURES Even if experimental pop hadn't become the knowing piffle it currently is, these fifteen songs would still stand way, way out. Phiiliip is a twenty-one-year-old Seattleite whose argument with and ambivalence about practically everything gave his debut album, Pet Cancer, last year's most mumbly lyrics. But it's the sound that gets you first-floods of shattered synth notes over acoustic guitar melodies as vaudevillian as any by Van Dyke Parks or Syd Barrett. His latest album, Icicles and Spike Sculptures, is even more sweetly bugged out. Oh, please let him influence a generation.
3 ASSUME VIVID ASTRO FOCUS (A.K.A. ELI SUDBRACK) Sudbrack's mural installations have a way of pulling you in. For a show at New York's White Columns he managed to elevate a snapshot of himself gazing over a Big Sur cliff into a candy-flake temple of bliss. Streamers, decal bouquets, logos, and a wonderful chandelier stud the image, while a video monitor animates the same things into a roiling DMT plume. I walked out high as a kite.
4 DONATELLER, RADIOHEAD If you watch British artist Mark Leckey's documentaries about drugged-up UK dance tribes in a dark enough room, you'll be grinding your teeth right along with them. Now he's recording music himself, with an angelic singer named Ed Liq. DonAteller's debut CD delivers twenty-two cover songs in forty-five minutes. Built almost entirely from samples, Radiohead is a mnemonic switchboard La De La Soul's 3 Feet High and Rising, but it rocks like hell. As a duo, Leckey and Liq started a brawl at their last New York show. Word is they're coming back as a ten-piece.
5 DAVID WEST, "PANIC PAINTINGS" A lot of art has been made "about" September 11. But I've seen little that gives as much insight into how trippy it was in New York that day as David West's "Panic Paintings." West is a knife-sharp expressionist, and his reimagining of the facts startled me at first. But so did Goya's, even if the comparison ends there. Now all West needs is a New York gallery to show them.
6 ONLINE READING Content websites don't usually hold my attention. I'd rather read a magazine. But there are a couple that keep me coming back. Even if you still don't know the music of Scottish singer-songwriter-pundit Momus, you can dig him intensely on his official site (www.demon.co.uk/momus). It's contrary, sunny, and filled with essays like "Electronics in the 18th Century," "Krafft-Ebing, Superstar," and the recent "Electroacoustics of Humanism," in which Socrates cheers on Scratch Pet Land and Martin Creed. Then there's the Blow Up (www.theblowup.com), a newer site with rat-a-tat Q & A's, portfolios, and stories on all manner of young sensations. People seem to really open up in the Blow Up's interviews, two of the least dissembled subjects lately being Elizabeth Peyton and Richard Devine.
7 STEPHENSHORE, THE NATURE OF PHOTOGRAPHS (The Johns one rainy Saturday last summer, but it's haunted me ever since. Shore's terse, remote prose--after all, he was a Factory denizen at age sixteen--makes his already persuasive arguments about a photograph's "mental level" even more so. But the most remarkable thing is how I seem to have adapted Shore's ideas to everyday life. As a kind of spontaneous meditation, I daily salvage shallow mental space by placing it within a passive frame. And you should, too.
8 EVERETT SHELOW, EVERETT AND ESAU (Abiama Studios) How to explain this spooky seventy-eight-minute videotape? In an overlit motel room, Shelow snorts coke and masturbates while talking to a TV-monitor/mirror device. At some point, considerably on the outskirts of his own self, he encounters an "excarnate aspect" called Esau. As riveting as the best porn, which maybe it is.
9 BLOSSOM DEARIE, BLOSSOM TIME AT RONNIE SCOTT'S If you don't know Blossom Dearie, this recent reissue of a 1966 live set is a useful starting point. Because if you "get" the bizarre jokes she cracks between songs, you can probably also appreciate how a singer with such limited range came to be one of the greats.
10 NICK RELPH AND OLIVER PAYNE, DRIFTWOOD Last fall's buzz on Nick and Oliver was a little too charming. (A couple of young working-class London skaters/taggers/punks who, naturally, attend art school, begin to videotape their abject pals and environs for a class project; in homage to Patrick Keiller's sly 1994 film London, they collage the good bits and lay a brilliant rant about history, architecture, and skateboarding over the top; the results are mordant, hilarious, poetic, compelling.) The last thing I expected was that the hype would be true.
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|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||May 1, 2002|
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