art news & reviews & Interviews. jeff bergman, editor

87th – Kjartansson & Koons


The Ragnar Kjartansson show “Me, My Mother, My Father, and I.” at the New Museum just closed.  The centerpiece of which is “Take me here by the Dishwasher”.  I managed to spend about two periods of 20 minutes each inside of the video, sound and installation piece.  The music, the period drama, the porny overtones and the attempt to sleezify the white box (Ryan Trecartin did a better job of that in the the Triennial in 2009) all melded into a dissonance that stuck with me. I was left with a nagging feeling that I had stumbled on a bit of tawdry private business that was not mine to view.  The personal lore of “Dishwasher” and another video piece here plays an outsized role, which Peter Schjeldahl did justice to in his New Yorker piece.

I rarely find the need to praise this type of immersive installation because I feel like the fix is in.  If an artist turns down the lights, shows me reenacted scenes from your parents first lovemaking, serenades me with a dozen singers playing a song (that only exists to bond the parts of my cerebral cortex to the experience in multiple senses) and I am going to remember it.  There are many who have done more with much less but let me judge what’s at hand here (and gone now); “Take me now by the Dishwasher” is great.  It burrowed in to my mind and heart with the slow intensity of a great piece of art no matter its truth or fiction, shape or size.  The music especially haunts my memory.  Never has the word Dishwasher been infused with such melancholy.


#Koonsaphilia #Koonsmageddon #Koonspocalypse

Beck’s song Pay No Mind is a folky dirge recorded from his break out Mellow Gold record.  It existed at a time where CD had taken over, but Beck was releasing work as CD, Tape and LP.  His style was untested, formats changing and he often tinkered with his music.  A few years later he recorded a B-side version called Got No Mind (Beercan EP).  Where Pay No Mind was his vision of our march toward commercialized waste and death, Got No Mind revised that vision as a record of insults, personal and general.  Beck’s revised statements gave me a map for the way an artist can augment the history of his art.  I also feel like both versions directly relate to the art of Jeff Koons.

“Give the finger to the rock ‘n’ roll singer
As he’s dancing upon your paycheck
The sales climb high
Through the garbage-pail sky
Like a giant dildo crushing the sun”

This is the the very long way around to saying that I can’t stand Jeff Koons or the grinding machine that makes me want to hate him. The fact is I have enjoyed Koons work at times.  It’s absurdist perfectionism, it’s slutty style of allure and repulsion and finally it’s shiny majesty.  If Jeff Koons were anything in a former life, he was the scalp of a monarch, on which perfectly coifed hair and a tiara was placed daily.

I plan to see The Whitney’s last waltz with Jeff Koons.  The critics, curators and historians are all taking sides and I can’t stand that my opinion is fueled by my insistent need to know what others think.  Its a personal flaw and one that I am sure all critics must live with. So I won’t add to their batch of position papers, but simply say no one else will think the way you think about what you see.  I write how I see what I see, but I am trying (and often failing) everyday to let my vision be my own and not the conglomeration of public opinion and gossip.


Jeff Bergman July 2014

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