Tag Archives: music

On texting Damien Hirst.

Here’s what I’ve gleaned from the New York Times and the New Yorker so far this week: Art sales are down. Lily Allen is a big celeb here, but not as big as she is across the pond. And everyone’s texting Damien Hirst! Observe:

From last Sunday’s New York Times magazine piece on the state of the art dealing world (some scene-setting background: Jose, Alberto, and David Mugrabi – art dealers, whom the Times says own “what is believed to be one of the largest and most valuable private collections of art in the world” – are at a Sotheby’s art auction, where several of Hirst’s works are up for sale):

The first four lots sold quickly, for more than their high estimates… Then came the shark. Alberto started trading text messages with Hirst, who was apparently playing snooker at a pub but eager to receive a play-by-play of the auction…

Bidding began at £2 million but quickly stalled at £3.2 million — below the low end of the house’s estimate, which was £4 million to £6 million. The auctioneer, Oliver Barker, looked beseechingly at two long tables, which were lined with perhaps three dozen Sotheby’s employees, each manning a telephone to field remote bids from collectors across the globe. But none of them proffered a bid…

But before the hammer went down, a remarkable thing happened. Jose sat up and began waving his hand, to get the auctioneer’s attention. Then he motioned toward one of the phone attendants, who he could see was still talking to somebody on her line.

Barker kept on going, and a new bidder came in. There was another lull — the piece almost sold at £3.7 million — but an auction-house staff member on another phone could be heard successfully coaxing her bidder.

Once the low estimate was reached, a couple of other would-be buyers bid £4.5 million, £4.6 million, £4.7 million and beyond — in no time, all the way past £8 million… The hammer finally landed at £8.5 million — which, once Sotheby’s commission and taxes were added in, translated to a £9.6 million payout, or about $17.2 million. The room broke into applause.

Alberto received a text message from Hirst and smiled. “Damien made one of these symbols,” he said, sticking out his tongue to demonstrate.

And then, from Sasha Frere-Jones’ lengthy piece on the original MySpace pop star, Lily Allen (subscription required):

Through her father, Lily became friendly with celebrities like the late Joe Strummer, of the Clash, and the artist Damien Hirst. “We were BlackBerry messaging last night,” she said of Hirst. “I was trying to get him on Twitter, but he wouldn’t do it. I signed off, ‘Good night. – Dame Moody Wench.'”

All of this means nothing at all, of course – except perhaps that Lily Allen and the Mugrabis share a mutual friend, a fact that probably no one will find exciting – but it was a funny coincidence of text message-friend name-dropping, nonetheless.

Rock and roll is dead.

I made a poster:

The show by street artists that’s not about street art… sort of.

Photo by Hargo

Photo by Hargo

You could say I’m slightly obsessed with the Wall in Central Square. It’s sort of the same way I feel about certain bands, or certain musicians. Like when I’m watching a really phenomenally great band, and it’s maybe a band that not many people have heard of, or that isn’t making any money really (that’s pretty much everyone nowadays), and I get to witness That Moment. The moment where someone is just totally and completely lost in the music – hunched over, or crawling on the floor, or shaking their head, and sweating, and just totally oblivious that anyone is watching, because they are so absorbed and enamored by what they are creating, and I’m sort of caught up in it, too – well, those are my favorite moments. It’s amazing and slightly overwhelming, even just to witness, especially when it’s people I know or am friends with, because I feel suddenly feel so in awe of them that I don’t even know what to say afterwards. “Great show?” “Thanks for spilling your guts out on stage for no apparent reason other than just to do it?” And this is what makes me love music.

And that’s the same feeling I get from street art. When you walk into the alleyway by Central Kitchen that encompasses the Wall, it’s like the visual incarnation of that moment. Honestly, I think I have a stronger emotional reaction to the wall than to the Louvre or the nine million churches I was forced to visit for art history classes in Italy. I’ve always been more of a modern/20th-21st century art gal. The Mona Lisa, etc. always felt sort of dead to me, not just in the sense that the artist is literally dead, of course, but it just didn’t really speak to me in any way that later art, also by now-deceased artists like Mark Rothko or Matisse could. Obviously there is a place in this world for fine art; there’s a whole chain of influences in place. But visiting the Wall just feels so now. It’s truly imaginative, put there for no other reason than to create art, and all you have to do to see it is walk down the street.

So, when I heard about the latest show at the Distillery Gallery, in South Boston, I knew I had to write about it – just based on the list of names alone: Hargo, Dark Clouds, Buildmore, Kenji, Noir Boston, Alphabet Soup…

From today’s Phoenix:

Not long after walking into the Distillery Gallery on a Monday evening, Thomas Buildmore removes two painted-over NO PARKING signs that had been screwed into the wall. “This show isn’t about street art,” he says.

If it were, “we’d have some cliché conversation about street art versus fine art.” Moments prior, I’d had that cliché conversation, with Cantabridgian artist Morgan Thomas. We agreed that “Paint It Now” — the show that opens tonight at the first-floor alt-gallery in the Distillery, South Boston’s living space-cum-artistic haven — is street art moved into the fine-art world. It’s just a change of location, with the added luxury of time, which most street artists — who are constantly looking over their shoulders — lack.

Buildmore’s sentiment is a surprising one, given that the show features a dozen or so artists, many of whom use city walls as their canvases. He and Thomas, who are part of a collective called Overkill Studio that’s based in the same building, organized the show with Scott Chase, the director of the Distillery Gallery.

The idea behind “Paint It Now” is simple: give two white walls and an unending supply of black paint to several of Boston and New York’s young artistic talents, and see what happens.”

Read the rest here. (Or come to the opening tonight.) Also, I took a film making class, and made my first ever movie at (you guessed it!) THE WALL. I’ll post that eventually.

Girl Talk steals music; gives it to you for freeez

Via OTD:

When I heard there was a new track up on Girl Talk’s MySpace earlier this week, i rushed over to check out what kinds of crazy mash-up concoctions Gregg Gillis has whipped up now. “I,” which was mysteriously the only track on Gillis’ MySpace, seemed like a throwback to his earlier albums – no lack of infectious beats, but if he was sampling anything at all it was fragmented to the point of imperceptibility. “Oh!” i thought, “So this is what he’s going to do now? No more Night Ripper-style collisions of the 2 Live Crew and Pavement? No more Missy Elliot meets Neutral Milk Hotel?”

But, I was totally wrong. “I” has since disappeared from Gillis’ MySpace, replaced by a handful of tracks from Feed the Animals, Girl Talk’s fourth album, which he released on his website yesterday, after hopping on the “pay what you want” train. (Insert obligatory references to In Rainbows here). Which pretty much makes him Robin Hood 2K8, stealing songs and giving them to us for free and all. Unless you want to pay for the extras:

“$5 or more includes the album as high quality mp3s, plus the album as one long track, which is how Gillis intended for people to listen to the album. $10 or more includes all of the above and a packaged CD when its available in September.”

Feed the Animals is really exactly what you’d expect after Night Ripper: an impossible amount of song samples smashed into 14 tracks – there’s already a wiki page detailing all of the songs that made the cut (hey, if I was in a band, I’d probably want in on a Girl Talk song), of course, but it doesn’t seem entirely accurate yet. I swear I heard “If You Steal My Sunshine” by Len (side note: I’ve been trying for about 10 years to forget that song ever existed. Thanks, Girl Talk.) in “No Pause,” but it’s nowhere to been seen on the list of samples for that track. Wiki-editing Girl Talk fans, get thee to correcting ASAP!! Elsewhere on the album, Yo La Tengo and “Ghetto Superstar” meet like pineapple on pizza; while Britney Spears’ “Gimme More” sounds oddly dark and enticing with Air’s “Sexy Boy.” The concept is undoubtedly predictable for Gillis but, like I said last time, wholly addictive.

Download: Girl Talk, Feed the Animals

Mental Detox week

Via the Phlog:

Happy Mental Detox week! Yeah, so Mental Detox week began on Monday and I have yet to actually turn anything off – or at least the things that AdBusters, who launched the original TV Turn-Off week (now renamed Mental Detox Week) back in 1994, want me to. AdBusters has changed the guidelines to be both more forgiving and more inclusive. Sign of the times: I actually (unintentionally) haven’t turned on my TV at all this week, which means if it was still plain-old TV Turn-Off Week, I’d be all “Hey, no problem! I can go without TV easily,” but the Internet?! Here’s the thing, a job that requires staring at Snap Judgments and bus stop street art on the Internets all day + IFFB + newly downloaded episodes of My So-Called Life, which I can’t believe I’m still obsessing over, via Miro + Does seeing live music count? Because I’ve already done that twice this week = Too Many Complications for Mental Detoxification. FAIL.

Here’s what AdBusters wants me to do:

“Today you’re not going to listen to your iPod. You aren’t going to stare at a computer screen any more than you absolutely have to. Today you won’t worry about unanswered email, and you’re not going to login to Facebook. You’ll cut the time you spend on digital devices right down to the bone.

In the evening maybe you will watch your favorite TV show for an hour, but after that you switch off, have a conversation, wash the dishes, read for a bit, and just relax. You do that for five days, and then on Friday night you make a decision to unplug completely for the whole weekend.

For a couple of days you might feel like an addict in withdrawal: peevish, agitated, and distracted. But then something will happen. Your over-stimulated brain will cleanse itself. You’ll relax. You’ll feel calmer, more grounded.”

The fact that all of this is posted on a website (and now I’m reposting it on a blog) is sort of cloaked in irony – how are we supposed to spread the word about Mental Detox Week and actually detox at the same time? Smoke signals? Snail-mail chain letters? Don’t get me wrong, Mental Detox week would be great if I could take the week off and go camping at Yosemite, gather a group of friends and a cooler of cold beverages (but no road-tripping tunes, of course!!), but I can’t. I guess this is just my way of saying “Hi, My name is Caitlin, and I’m addicted to glorious, musical, visually-stimulating technology, AKA mental toxins.”

Songs like stories.

In January, Scituate native Casey Dienel blogged: “For the present and foreseeable future, there won’t be any more Casey Dienel.” It wasn’t an Internet suicide note but news of a musical departure of sorts. Critics adored the homegrown folk quirk of her 2006 solo debut Wind-Up Canary (Hush), which was recorded on a farm in Leominster. Yet as she noted in a recent NPR interview, Dienel’s a collaborator. So she formed a quartet, reinvented herself as White Hinterland, and schlepped to Portland (no cows or silos in sight) to record her first post-Dienel album, Phylactery Factory.”

Read the rest here.

MySpace: White Hinterland