Banana Nutrament

Whitney Biennial 2006

I've been meaning to write up a Whitney Biennial special with a few observations and reviews. Problem is, I still haven't gone. From the looks of the artists tapped to participate, the curators have made a departure from past years and brought non-US exhibiting artists into the fold. Seems they have centered the field around four axes: blue chip names, staunch avant-gardists with critical followings, faddish young things, and dabblers better known for the music they create.

Of the last category, Daniel Johnston caps off what has been a huge year for him with an appearance, I'm eager to see his screwball pen and marker drawings. Momus is involved as a tour guide, for Lord knows what reason. Michael Snow and Tony Conrad are thankfully included for their cinematic interventions, as well as Jim O'Rourke, which is baffling, as the only other time I've ever seen a video work by him was in the Biennial of 2004.

One entry that piqued my interest was Dan Graham's collaboration with Japanther, entitled DTAOT: Combine (Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty, All Over Again).

Japanther - Critical Circles
**Buy it from AB-CD**

It appears to be a video of a live rock puppet show, and it seems Japanther has provided the soundtrack for it. Don't know how it will come across, seeing as I'm a whisker away from turning thirty myself.

Graham is best known for his role in the emergence of conceptual art, his work has had a heavy emphasis on
deconstructing passive and active modes of observation and the creator/viewer dyad. He's been remarkably nimble in keeping himself afloat as a "name brand" artist without appearing to expend any effort. Over the years he's been able to pull off work that doesn't neatly compartmentalize neatly into existing conceptual frameworks, it's almost as if he works on whatever he feels like (mirror boxes, a Minor Threat doc, architectural musings) with the pieces accepted as artworks due to their intellectual rigor.

He has done some recorded audio work too. Graham predated Jason Forrest's punk collage work by over twenty years with this:

Dan Graham - Untitled
**Buy Just Another Asshole #5 at Amazon**

and put out a recorded excerpt of his study of the Shaker religion:

Dan Graham - My Religion, Extract from a work tape: Ann Lee
**Download more of Live To Air: Artist's Sound Works at UbuWeb**

which must have influenced the later development and creation of Graham's Rock My Religion, particularly the video's juxtapositions of the trembling ecstasies of the Shakers and the bliss of the mosh pit.

What finally will bring me to the Biennial is a free performace by electronic wunderkinds Matmos, happening this Friday, May 5th. Their latest album, The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast, is just about to come out, it's a whirlwind genre-defying workout, might be my favorite thing they've put out yet.

Stream Matmos -
Steam and Sequins for Larry Levan
**Buy The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast at Boomkat**

In a perfect world, "Steam and Sequins for Larry Levan" would be Summer Anthem '06. We'll see what happens, there's no reason why the more enlightened DJs out there wouldn't pepper their sets with this dancefloor stomper. Truly, an incredible homage to the master.