Victoria Howe: Confectioneste

December 14, 2011

My terrific friend Victoria Howe has started a new blog on her food creations:

So far it’s pretty delightful. No idea how long this mercurial being will keep up this site so check it out now while it’s still going. Her latest creation, a food pyramid composed of fresh raspberries, lychee fruit, and atomized rose-water was delicious.

Tut tut!

Fruit Pyramid!

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Curation Situation

December 12, 2011

I’m guest curator for the Degenerate Art Ensemble’s Art Stream for the next two weeks.

I’m tasked with posting daily snapshots of artists and institutions that the world needs to know about. My first shot’s fired and it’s dedicated to Unnur Andrea, an Icelandic performer who makes music and videos. I’ve focused on her video work as it’s more interesting to me.

Here’s the link: Unnur Andrea – Food & The Body Becoming One

From day 3…

Screenshot from the DAE site

From my brief on photographer/mutilation artist Zhe Chen




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Ladies & Gentleman, Miss Azealia Banks

November 27, 2011

Azealia Banks has just taken me for a ride… This young woman is from Manhattan (212) and is ready to claim the entire island as her own. I suggest we all step back and see what she can do. She’s better than Bloomberg, obviously more articulate. Somebody give sweetthang a show in Seattle, yap?

The distorted vocals are beautiful as are the moments of full-out singing. Her voice has many timbres and she’s coming from too many locations at once.

The video itself is near perfect. The lofi aesthetic of the music is matched by the simplicity of the video. I’ve done a lot of thinking on video aesthetics  lately and this work hits a sweet spot. I’d only have enjoyed it more if they’d used a shittier camera to record it.

I think I’m a bit too excited by this track and the possibilities Miss Banks is offering to express myself articulately. It’s time to listen to this track a few more times then look at the rest of her work on YouTube. So happy to share this with the world.

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Book Review: ‘With/Without’

November 22, 2011

With/WithoutWith/Without by Markus Miessen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With/Without deals primarily with the sectarian codification of space in the Middle East. And like any set of treatises on the Middle East’s urbanity, its architectural growth, it is obsessed with Dubai, that startling jewel in late Capitalism’s crown (and its voyeuristic facets).

The book is composed of a series of essays, most illustrated with photographs and/or computer generated imaginings of future projects. Some are much better than others, but I’ll leave it to other readers to decide the strength of each as my designs may not be theirs.

The interview with architecture’s great ambassador, Rem Koolhaus, is exciting and stultifying. Interviewer Markus Miessen is every bit as lucid as Koolhaus and reading their dance is exhilarating. Unfortunately they do seem to talk at cross purposes at times such as when, in discussing the mediation of space in Dubai, Miessen questions if any space has been left for ‘conflict’. Koolhaus seems to not understand the question and moves on to say that they are no longer building cities, but resorts. Or perhaps that is the answer.

Rarely does the question of the condition of migrant workers in their closed-off island world come in to play. That’s sad as it’s one of the more important questions that needs to be addressed in the issue of Dubai’s phenomenal growth.

Dubai At Night

Later, in the section ‘Symbolic Boundaries’, Miessen talks with Philipp Misselwitz about the fastest growing cities in the word, refugee camps. This chat is loaded with ideas on the resistance to normalization by camp dwellers. It would make a fascinating TED Talk or an entire book of their conversations.

Fawwaz Traboulsi provides a fascinating piece on the struggle to create a new flag for Iraq in the appendix. Kurds flying the pre-Saddam flag. The commission of a flag that bears a startling resemblance to Israel’s that gets thrown out. Short, but exciting.

Perhaps my favorite piece was the interview with Iraq’s director-general of the Iraqi National Library and Archive, Dr. Saad Bashir Eskander. Here we learn how they manage to keep the project going in spite of document theft and intentional destruction, only 5 hours of electricity per day in Baghdad, and the murder of several employees.


There are many great essays in this book and my only lament is that they are all teasers. Many of them could have been expanded to book length or would make excellent documentaries. The image reproduction leaves much to be desired as the paper they’re printed on appears to be reclaimed and the inks are perhaps soy-based. It leaves them appearing washed out and muddy.

I borrowed this via inter-library loan, but I believe I’m going to have to purchase it. This is the type of small tome that needs to be loaned out to anyone who thinks of the Middle East as a drab collection of religious fanatics who beat their heavily cloaked women and only aspire to the role of suicide bomber. The intellectual and artistic achievement of this region would put any of those ridiculous notions to the grave.

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This Blackness It Burns

November 21, 2011

Whoa, Angolan production team Nirvanas & Beats fire up the heavy kuduro. I’d never heard of these cats until tonight, but I’ve listened to Buraka Som Sistema for a long time. Buraka is a Portuguese kuduro act that can break the night.

What I don’t know about kuduro could fill many books. Doesn’t matter, though. My only intention is to let you feel some joy.

What I like about the Vagabandas video above is that nothing is happening. These kids are standing in some tunnel in the middle of nowhere and singing and dancing for no one. The camera pans and shows desolation with a cityscape behind it. Sometimes we see a soul or two dancing for no one on a sidewalk. Then we are shown an entire neighborhood sitting on the steps looking bored. This reminds me of the early WuTang videos where the RZA, the GZA, Meth, Ugod, Ol’ Dirty, and company would pose in abandoned buildings and vacant lots doing nothing. By the light of oil can fires like classic New York bums. Surely there must be oil cans in Angola. Example 1. Example 2.

The Buraka Som Sistema video for ‘Aqui Para Voces’ is no better; it takes place in the ephemeral world of intercontinental shipping, but in its liminal zone the port.

Here we see deviants (dark-skinned mutants, psychedelic refugees, sexual fantasists) careening, performing, parading through the ever-so-popular world of the shipping container (but again for no one). The shipping container has come to represent a sort of Third Way for architecture to intervene on the behalf of the poor and provide them the novelty of shelter. The shipping container is also a representative icon of global mobility and anonymity in its ascendance. These things travel everywhere and no one knows what’s in them. Hundreds stacked end to end on boats that might travel under the flags of many nations or none at all.

In the end the police come and deliver the stick for their attempts at a night-masque of liberation never having shown the carrot.

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