Laughing Kookaburras and Preserved Fetuses

Thank god the Museum of Animal Perspectives exists to post videos of what it looks like to walk through the woods from the top of a wolf’s head. But actually, this one is pretty good: Laughing Kookaburras

Kookaburras on YouTubeIt was left out of the weirdest museums of the world, but I guess they did alright with the Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum of Florida: “The Museum: You may know him only as the star of Smokey and the Bandit, but residents of Jupiter, Florida, also know him as a generous contributor, establishing a number of theater-centric programs since purchasing a ranch here some 30 years ago. Volunteers run this not-for-profit museum, dedicated to preserving the legacy of “the Bandit.”
The Exhibits: Sure, there are keys to the 10 plus cities he’s received, notes from A-listers like Jack Lemmon and Elizabeth Taylor, and an impressive collection of sports memorabilia, but the pièce de résistance is the sleek black Firebird Trans Am the beer-smuggling Reynolds, a.k.a. Bo “Bandit” Darville, drove in the classic 1977 film, Smokey and the Bandit.”

Fetus models at Palazzo PoggiThe Poggi Palace in Bologna, Italy, stands out to me as one of the weirdest museum experiences in my life. I tragically lost my own photos of the place in a hard drive crash, but the memory of a recreated 18th century gynecologist office, with all of its tools, surrounded by models of the fetus through development, is vivid enough to sustain that loss.

The Palazzo Poggi was given to the Universita di Bologna in 1805 and became a sort of experimental laboratory of human development.  Research and experiments using technology reinvented the organization of the University’s curriculum.  These activities have been absorbed into the palace’s 15th century architecture, and as their website says, not just metaphorically, the building’s cultural activities in the 19th and 20th centuries created an irreversible ambiance.  It’s true, the eerie quality of the building contributes to the absurdity of its collection.

dancing skeletonsUnfortunately, I missed this exhibit of dancing fetuses, perhaps it is a new addition since Spring 2007.

Prodigal Suns

Prodigal Suns I met Russell and Carl at their store, RePOP on Washington Avenue in Clinton Hill, and then stumbled upon (or, kind of internet stalked them until finding more) this seemingly outdated, but wonderful website of theirs.  Carl, a medical illustrator, and Russell, a painter and self-described closet goth-fanatic, came together as individual artists in Brooklyn and started creating under the name “Prodigal Suns” after they “compiled enough inspiration, confidence and conception.”  Evoking their respective strict Christian upbringings and finding a common bond in the biblical parable, they set out to change the perception of the prodigal son through their collaborative art, as their website explains.

Artist Cheryl Donegan’s recent comment exposes her opinion on the Bible as static: “Modernism should not be seen as Biblical; it should be seen as Talmudic,” the written record of an oral tradition.  As the previously noted Jerry Saltz article notes, Talmudic tradition is inherently collaborative, involving “thousands of people making comments in the margins, debating issues and ideas, shaping tradition, changing it, and keeping it alive.”

Prodigal Suns started their collaborative work with Genesis, a series of 10 pieces, which established a language later refined in The Kansas Group, a series that focused on the deconstruction and reconstruction of Family.

Too much self-reference?… “At first inspired by Louise Bourgeois, Carl and Russell oddly attached themselves to the Book of Acts, borrowing from the character Stephen to rebuild the birthing canal, the loss of innocence, death, reincarnation and the revelation that comes from the stoning of innocents.  In depth it became an opus for the discrimination of homosexuals in the 21st Century.”  …I promise, it wasn’t planned.

The two haven’t stopped collaborating, even though the dates on this website may give that impression (copyright 2005).  Their store is a living “wonderland of vintage finds,” a product that the two of them have nurtured into its own personality.

Saltz takes on MoMA

Louise BourgoisIn older news… The Guerrilla Girls may have their own count in protest of sexism in museums, but art critic Jerry Saltz confronts MoMA on their gender-imbalanced collection and curation on the 4th and 5th floors, via his Facebook page.  After his followers contributed to the conversation with over 500 comments and wall posts, Jerry had the opportunity to meet with Ann Temkin, the Museum’s Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture.  Edward Winkleman’s blog covers the original article by Saltz, which raises some important points in how to measure and evaluate the disparity at hand.  Do we consider just numbers? Or prominence of pieces, like Louise Bourgeois’s at the entrance of the 4th floor (which, on the 5th floor has long been occupied by Cezanne)?  And what about the artists themselves– even if Temkin intends to re-install the collection, does she actually solve any problem if the artists who are highlighted are as obvious as Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman, and Eva Hesse? Ahem.. that’s still just a one-to-three ratio of women to men… essentially no different from the 19 of 383 works currently installed on the 4th and 5th floors of the permanent collection– women representing just 4%.

I’m a bit bored by the conversation that was sparked after this about the value of art and how art made by women sells in auctions compared to how art by men does.  Saltz concludes that if we can’t rely on an institution and space like MoMA for refreshing art, it’s up to the little guys, the smaller galleries throughout New York to bring unknown artists into the scope of “good art.” As Saltz used Facebook as a venue for this discussion, we’ll use this blog to display the treasures of art created by women mined from the internet and local galleries.  Stay tuned.

National Geographic Archives Cracked

Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden, c. 1894-1906. One photograph of a series illustrating the Greek myths.

The New York Times reveals that the National Geographic Society is entertaining the idea of opening up its archive of more than 11 million images to the fine-art market for the first time. Maura Mulvihill of the society recognizes photography’s (specifically, photojournalism) emerging role in the fine art world.

For many years, the collection has only been accessible to a few people. Mulvihill is excited to expose the vintage black-and-white prints and later color images “richly documenting the life of the 20th century, from Uganda to the Mississippi Delta to remote lamaseries near the Mongolian border.” National Geographic is seeking private and institutional collectors for the archive.

photo: One of a series to illustrate the Greek myths. Baron Wilhelm von Gloeden, circa 1894-1906.

Playing hide and seek with Yinka Shonibare

Brooklyn Museum period roomI’ve never quite understood the concept of reassembling historic rooms, putting a red velvet rope around it, and funneling tourists on a counter-intuitive path through a house, castle, or museum. But once Yinka Shonibare placed child figures ducking under desks or rocking on horses in the Brooklyn Museum’s “renowned” period rooms, peeking through an untouchable room’s window became a game.

Leaving his exhibit on the first floor of the Brooklyn Museum, I felt a bit cheated. I didn’t expect the majority of Shonibare’s survey to be film. But the map revealed there was more –the large-scale game of hide and seek brought me through other galleries to find those little figures in their clothes of “patterned Dutch wax fabric produced in Europe for a West African market” inside rooms that could easily have belonged to colonists.  According to the exhibition’s website, another site-specific installation, Party Time—Re-Imagine America: A Centennial Commission by Yinka Shonibare MBE,  will be on view at the Newark Museum in Newark, New Jersey, from July 1, 2009, to January 3, 2010, in the dining room of the museum’s 1885 Ballantine House.  Would it be cheating to use 20th century transportation?

Atlas Obscura

atlas obscuraWe’d turned off our twitter, ignored our to-blog bookmarks, and generally gotten-the-fuck-outta-dodge when erstwhile SD contributor JC sent us a link to a new project from some old favorites. It’s Atlas Obscura, a wiki-like compendium of the odd by the founders of the Athanasius Kircher Society and Curious Expeditions.

We love the graph paper background, the Medical Museums, the Real Life tours in Philadelphia!

We are reborn!

78 rpm

rekkid playaWe have a bunch of old 78s from our grandmother’s closet, but the best we can do is drink a whole lot of cough syrup and play them on our turntable at 45rpm. That’s pretty fun, but we wish we had a record player that could play them at full speed. We thought about digitizing them and speeding them up in Pro Tools, but, well, we’re busy, and lazy.

Luckily, the Internet Archive is a clearing house for old 78s. Also, the Cylinder collection, from Berlin-based phonograph collector Norman Bruderhofer.