Sunday, July 29, 2007

Banks Violette at Barbara Gladstone

"No, seriously... How do you really feel about the exhibit?"

Okay, here it is-- my long-awaited Banks Violette review.

I've been tempted to post a photo of a steaming pile of oil-laden excrement juxtaposed on a snow white background backlit in halogen to express my feelings as to this show, but unfortunately, I could not get a shade of shit nearly dark enough to go with the porcelain bowl contrast--Ahem.

So instead, I leave you with the image at left randomly stolen from the internet to voice my displeasure.

Mental anguish + disaffected Scandinavian youth + black and white combinations do not an "art" exhibit make.

Shockingly saturated pigmentation + blinding light+ pseudo-Gregorian chant a-la lo-fi white noise from a fairly poorly executed U.S.-Based via L.A. and NYC drone metal band that specializes in the music of neer-do-well Norwegian youths...add a quarter teaspsoon of crystal meth addiction, call it "cultural documentation" or "artistic IMMERSION"...add a smidgeon of classic good looks with nice tats, a Columbia MFA, mix it all up, and you gots da Violette.

This is not to say that I find the work of Banks (Banks? Really? That's your name? More like Bonds... a la such legendary media manipulators as Barry) Violette-- the current art world sensation because of his back story, and fairly smart as shit business decisions-- personally offensive. He actually is an immensely talented artist, although a bit uninspired to put his OWN heart into his work to add a personal touch.

Instead he copies "things"-- ideas, massive stage sets, Stave church frames, auras, and backgrounds. So, no, in this case, my problem is not with the artist--It's more the fact that the rest of the art world has basically swallowed (not spit,) bent over, and said with no arrow needed-- "Insert here."

I, too, stepped into this exhibit excited for what I was about to experience.

And it's true, Violette has an uncanny ability to definitively set moods and give gallerygoers the opportunity to experience a subculture that it normally would not partake in (i.e., drone metalheads on suicide/murder watch.)

I felt curiously at peace with the low hum throughout the gallery. At the same time, I also felt perplexed and discombobulated-- almost like a sonic boom was pulsing through my veins, and I felt underwater, trapped in a submarine-like vessel, with no cabin pressure.

Is that a body in the corner, or is just dry ice for the fog machine in load dock?

Images of Marshalls and Peaveys dance in my head-- but where are the roadies?

The sound guy must have left his audio board in the case by accident.

Alas, did they miss the van?

At any moment I'm awaiting the exploding drummer, or a dwarf Stonehenge descending from the rafters with Nigel executing a fingertip bleeding riff.


There's a Manson-like obsession with death in the Northern lands, with alcoholism rampant and rates of depression quite unheard of in the West.

24 hours of sunlight in the summer, or 18 hours of darkness for months on end in the winter-- I might be able to understand Darkthrone now.
(see to understand)

The music scene of these youths is a chance for them to take part in a collective something; anything, to make connections with the outside-- whether it be the love of ear-splitting levels of high-frequency treble with low-bass modulations or grunts and groans that take on "meaning."

Yes, meaning.

I'd like to know one thing from Mr. Violette... Just what exactly IS the meaning of this exhibit? Where does HIS story fit in with his work? What is it about this subculture that intrigues him?

My main problem with his storytelling is his lack of an ability to critically comment as an insider.

There is no part of the artist given to this work. It is plain observation-mixed with shock value, and at this point, it's troubling to me that so many artists can spoon so easily within each other's work to being indistinguishable from the next.

Steven Parrino, Violette, Gardar Eide Einnnarson-- they really do all look the same.

Also, since when did Team's roster dictate what Barbara Gladstone shows?

I think it's more than okay to be influenced by Dan Flavin, Franz Kline and Ad Reinhardt, but where does the artist deviate from the image in these collective works?

Where is the quote/unquote "individuality," not to harp on this blog's title, but seriously-- where is it?

The recent Flash Art International May '07 edition had Violette and Terrence Koh discussing their work's similarities and raison d'etres.

Whereas Koh seems to know exactly where he's going-- and deviously takes comfort in sharing his blatant whoredom, making no qualms about his motivations-- Violette takes the shy guy routine. He seems to be going about things in a more disconnected manner, letting the pieces "create themselves," for instance.

I'm not buying it. Knowing Violette's personal story of drug addiction (specifically meth, the hardest of all drugs to quit) and conquering the demons he encountered along its dreary path-- whereupon did the substance abuse fall off, and suddenly fluorescent lights, black oozy oils and shiny floors with the purest forms of snow white sea salt converge?

Let's see more in ten years. I'm interested to see where he breaks off from pack mentality and the real artist emerges.

The "show of the summer" can be seen at Barbara Gladstone Gallery on 24th Street until August 17th. This is the one with the SunnO))) "music." I can only describe Mr. SunnO))), Stephen O'Malley, as someone who desperately needs to take a load off and maybe go swimming in the Caribbean.... either that or take a laxative.

If your druthers are of the non-sound variety, you can check out Team's version as well.


Anonymous said...

If Matthew Barney & Dan Flavin had a child with Cady Noland, with a spice of Steve Parrino, it would equal Banks Violette.

It's obvious he's not a real artist in the sense of longevity. He's a black metal Tom Sachs, a little hipster who thinks of himself as "subversive" or "cutting-edge." People in the artworld seem to be more interested and fascinated with his so called, "anti-star" quality and I'm sure Violette is laughing his way to bank.

His work is made for the artworld audience and beyond that, it's just a matter of time before he and his extermely boring work will fade away.

Oly said...

Nice take, though I'm one to highly doubt the art world's own ability to "check themselves be-fo they wreck themselves."

I see a retrospective in 17 years on its way.

I just again wonder the depth of patience gallery workers must undergo to put in day shifts in that atmosphere, to say nothing of the Dash Snow/Dan Colen "Nest" exhibit at Deitch currently.

Gas masks, earplugs, UV Filter eyewear?

(In Snow's case, perhaps a Hepatitis B vaccine needed???)

Why is it getting to be so hazardous to one's health to be a gallery worker???

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Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work.