23 December 2010

Favorite Things: Brandon Brown

Thanks for the opportunity to pontificate about some of my favorite moments in art and culture from 2010. Don’t believe the haters, it was a terrific year for all kinds of media. 2011, I’m sure, has a lot in store for us, but amidst enduring global political catastrophes of advanced capital some tremendous art emerges and emerged this year. Here’s a little taste of what captured me:
For pop music, I don’t think it got better than Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream, although I know that Robyn’s Body Talk sequence finally makes for better art. Still, Perry’s exaggerated cybersex caricature assuming the rigorous modal manipulation effected by Scandinavian masterminds owned me for a few months. And even now that the hangover has cleared, it still feels relatively (surprisingly) coherent as an LP, and the hits are as massive as ever. You try not dancing to “Firework.”

My favorite new chapbook press of 2010 is SummerBF, edited by Lindsey Boldt and Steve Orth. They published two game-changing chapbooks: Dana Ward’s long-awaited and much-heralded Typing Wild Speech and Dodie Bellamy’s beautiful take on teenage lust, the South, and pervert dwarves Whistle While You Dixie. Required reading!

Try! Magazine came out several times in 2010, edited by David Brazil and Sara Larsen. It continues to be, to my mind, the real product of generosity and community devotion. I loved it. Also, as I’m about to sing the high and broad praise of Alli Warren’s Acting Out and unpublished manuscript, it occurs to me to wonder, did I read any books this year that weren’t chapbooks?

Oh, wait, I did! And I loved Patti Smith’s Just Kids and Eileen Myles’s Inferno, which I’ll include in the same thread. They’re books about New York, they’re books about being artists. And if they happen about a decade apart and maybe a few blocks, I found them both provocative in the most thrilling way. I mean, both of them made me want to make art, and hang out with artists, and that’s it, for the rest of my life.

Speaking of the East Village, I saw Basquiat, Radiant Child (2010, dir. Tamra Davis) which was pretty good, but more important, personally, was a reintroduction and re-obsession with Basquiat’s magnificent oeuvre. I didn’t know, seeing the film, that in just two months I would accidentally be in Paris as a massive retrospective of his work at the Musee d’Art Moderne de Ville Paris would be going on. So, the paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat go into this list, although not made in 2010, everything felt new to me.

I also really, really like and want to shout out a show that’s still happening at the SFMOMA, Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera since 1870, curated by Sandra Phillips. While there, do not miss Nick Ut’s photo of Paris Hilton being escorted to court. But don’t miss any of it! It’s an amazing show.

Indie rock unfortunately meant next to nothing to me this year. I’ve heard that I’m going to really like the Deerhunter record but I haven’t really heard it. I did rock out to J.D. Samson and Johanna Fateman’s (Le Tigre) new band MEN and so give them the not-very-coveted indie rock project I actually liked this year award. Sorry, I know this sounds crochety or dumb, but for more on that you’ll have to ask indie rock why it isn’t sublime.

Finally, I want to mention how much I enjoyed eating birds this year. I’ve finally settled on a favorite way to roast chickens (the Thomas Keller way, seriously people), and going to France in October, game season, was an introduction to the marvels of ducklings, partridge, and of course the pintade.

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