So long, Shigeko Kubota

Shigeko Kubota, Vagina Painting, 1965
Shigeko Kubota, Vagina Painting, 1965

Japanese-born video artist and Fluxus member Shigeko Kubota has died in New York aged 77.  She is perhaps best known for the photographs associated with her 1965 performance Vagina Painting at the Perpetual Fluxus Festival in New York, in which she marked a scroll of paper with washes of red paint from a brush strapped between her legs – a powerful response to the heroic posturing of the male-dominated abstract expressionist movement.  Surprisingly, this was Kubota’s first and only performance work, and her subsequent practice was centred around video, sculpture and installation.  Read Art Asia Pacific’s obituary here.

So long, Shigeko Kubota

Marina Comes to Sydney

This June Marina Abramovic is bringing her raging ego to Sydney.  She’s delivering a new work for Kaldor Public Art Projects entitled Marina Abramovic: In Residence, which basically involves her hanging out at Pier 2/3 at Walsh Bay and teaching people a series of ‘mind-expanding’ exercises known as the Marina Abramovic Method.  (The video above features Gaga practising said method, try not to laugh too much, it’s SERIOUS STUFF).  MONA are going to be presenting an Abramovic retrospective at the same time too.  Hopefully it includes lots of her old work (like the classic Art Must Be Beautiful vid below), before she totally lost the plot.

Marina Comes to Sydney

Koons Retrospective Vandalised

A triumphant Kantor is photographed
Triumphant performance artist Istvan Kantor stands in front of his unwarranted  ‘donation’ to Koons’ Whitney show

On Wednesday the current Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney was interrupted by an unscheduled intervention when a man splashed red liquid across one of the gallery walls before signing it with a marker.  The ‘performance’ was over in a matter of minutes: Koons’ big shiny things were unscathed, the man was led away by security, and the gallery was closed for a couple of hours while it was repainted.

Turns out the vandal in question is a Toronto-based performance artist called Istvan Kantor who goes by the pseudonym Monty Cantsin.  He works largely with body fluids and is best known for spattering large ‘X’s’ of his own blood onto gallery walls. Past targets include the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Canada’s National Gallery in Ottawa and the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, among others. Despite multiple arrests for these self-described ‘donations’, the artist has stated that his anti-institutional ‘blood campaign’ is ongoing…

Koons Retrospective Vandalised

Geez Marina…

Marina Abramović has re-made her 1978 performance piece Work Relation (originally staged with her then-partner Ulay), only this time everyone’s wearing….Adidas trainers.  This new iteration of the work is a ‘collaborative project’ with Adidas to celebrate the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  With it’s ‘arty’ black and white footage and authoritative artist voice over, the two and a half minute short is meant to celebrate the power of teamwork, but let’s call a spade a spade; it’s basically a big shoe ad.  Gross.

Geez Marina…

Pots, dropped

Ai Weiwei, 'Droppin a Han Dynasty Urn',
Ai Weiwei, ‘Droppin a Han Dynasty Urn’, 1995

Maximo Caminero has been charged with allegedly destroying an artwork by Ai Weiwei at the Perez Art Museum in Miami. The local artist picked up and smashed the million dollar work from Ai’s 2006 series Colour Vases in protest against the museum’s lack of local artist displays.  He now faces felony criminal mischief charges.  It’s a curious case of life imitating art; one of Ai’s most notorious works, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995) is a series of three silver gelatin prints featuring the artist doing just that.  Describing his protest, Caminero stated: “I was at PAMM and saw Ai Weiwei’s photos behind the vases where he drops an ancient Chinese vase and breaks it. And I saw it as a provocation by Weiwei to join him in an act of performance protest.”  The act was apparently spontaneous.

(And if you’re interested in seeing some of Ai Weiwei’s Colour Vases  in the flesh, there is a suite of them in QAG/GoMA’s collection)

Pots, dropped

The Humping Pact


A self described ‘suspended act of simulated stimulation towards the environment’, The Humping Pact is a collaborative project by Berlin-based artists Diego Agulló and Dmitry Paranyushkin that basically involves mass ‘humping’ performances in public (often industrial) locations.  Despite the array of bodies, each work actually only involves the two artists, whose ‘humps’ are looped and spread across the frame. Sure it’s pretty lightweight, but it beats Spencer Tunick any day!

The Humping Pact

So long, Otto Muehl


Controversial Austrian painter Otto Muehl has died in Portugal, aged 87.  Muehl was co-founder of the Viennese Actionist movement, notorious for bloody and violent work – often incorporating viscera and the human body – that intended to shock audiences out of a state of complacency.  The Actionists’s work was so extreme in fact, that during the 1960s Muehl and his counterparts (including Guenter Brus, Hermann Nitsch and Rudolf Schwarzkogler) all spent time in prison for violating decency laws.  Muehl’s personal life was equally excessive.  In the 1970s he established the Friedrichshof Commune just outside of Vienna, attracting 600 residents at its height.  In 1991 Muehl was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for drug possession and sex with minors while living there.  The commune disbanded soon after.

Above: ‘Mama und Papa’ (1964), by Otto Muehl and Kurt Kren.

So long, Otto Muehl