THIS WEEK: A SELECTIVE GUIDE

CLANGING, BANGING, TANGO AND BAD ART | June 4th 2008

Creative Time

Special to MORE INTELLIGENT LIFE

Our guide to what's on around the world, compiled by Jessica Gallucci and Ariel Ramchandani

SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE

Imagine how delicious the pizza produced in a pizza-making competition in Naples would taste. Now consider how dauntingly sexy tango might be in Buenos Aires, where the syncopated, sensual dance originated. Sometimes it pays to go back to the source. The dance is a fine product of the city's melting pot--a mixture of local instruments, African drum rhythms and European dance styles--and nobody dances it as well as the locals. The Argentine capital hosts the Tango Dance Metropolitan Championships this month, now in its 6th year. Contestants can sign up as late as the day of, to strut their stuff at one of 30 Milongas (tango locations and events). The proud winners will represent Buenos Aires in the World Championships of Tango this August. ~ A.R.

METROPOLITAN TANGO CHAMPIONSHIPS, through July 6th, Buenos Aires

A QUESTION OF TASTE

Some critics have bristled at John Currin's recent paintings, which are based upon images from pornographic magazines. 'Pornography has a long history in art,' wrote a New Yorker critic in January, 'but for the most part, as Currin was well aware, the art it has inspired is bad art.' The curators of a new exhibition at MUMOK would disagree. 'Bad Painting--Good Art' carefully parses the idea of 'badness' and celebrates deliberate wretchedness as a form of protest: against stylistic purity, political correctness, and modern standards of beauty. It traces the phenomenon from Francis Picabia's muddled 'transparencies' in the 1920s to Asger Jorn's Situationist overpaintings in the 1960s. The 1980s were a brutal Renaissance, with examples from the German painters Albert Oehlen, Martin Kippenberger and Werner Büttner. The show wraps up with pairings of works by Currin and Lisa Yuskavage, former art-school friends who share a knack for saccharine vulgarity (last year, the Washington Post wondered aloud whether Yuskavage is 'an art-market sanctioned pornographer'). Next week the philosopher Jacques Ranciere lectures on 'What Makes Images Unacceptable'. Devil's advocates, take note. ~ J.G.

"BAD ART--GOOD PAINTING", June 6th through October 12th, Museum Moderner Kunst, Vienna

 

IF THESE WALLS COULD SING

David Byrne, artist, innovator and unnervingly cool founder of the band the Talking Heads, comes together with Creative Time, an organisation that has sponsored public art since the 1970s, to create "Playing the Building", a wonderfully weird, large-scale installation and performance piece. Byrne has converted the great hall of the Battery Maritime Building, a 99-year old ferry terminal at the southern tip of Manhattan, into an instrument of sorts. An organ is attached by tube, wire, relays and pulleys to the skeleton of the building, creating controlled clanging and banging organised in a musical scale. Byrne aims to have his visitors "pay attention to sounds inherent to everyday material". In this relic of old New York, in the city that never sleeps and is never quiet, Byrne (and visitors who take a stab at playing the thing) harnesses those sounds to make some uncommon music. ~ A.R.

PLAYING THE BUILDING, through August 10th, Battery Maritime Building, New York

YOUNG BLOOD

The New York Times once called it the Olympics of the art world: the annual Art Basel fair, now in its 39th iteration, is indeed an intense competition among the best in the industry. Events include selling out, shelling out and serious schmoozing. Medalists will be blue-chip galleries and millionaire collectors; spectators can expect star sightings but few truly fresh faces. If all that sounds like a bit of a yawn, investigate the fare at satellite operations like VOLTA, SCOPE, balelatina and, notably, LISTE. 'The Young Art Fair in Basel', LISTE accepts artists under age 40 and galleries that are generally no more than five years old. Buyers at Monday's preview favoured ceramic heads by Ruby Neri at David Kordansky Gallery and Oscar Tuazon's newsprint-and-concrete 'paintings' from Standard gallery, reports ARTINFO. ~ J.G.

LISTE, through June 8th, Basel

GILDING THE LILY

Sometimes a painting's value exceeds its weight in gold--or so it seems with the work of Gustav Klimt, whose portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer is said to have sold for $135m. Such high price tags have made collectors reluctant to part with their Klimts for the sake of the public, but the Tate Liverpool has culled enough to mount the largest, greatest show of his work in the UK, in honour of Liverpool's run as the European Capital of Culture 2008. The show highlights Klimt's leading role in the Viennese Secession, which introduced a grand and rebellious aesthetic sensibility influencing everything from music to flatware. Lavish your attention on a breathtaking 1984 reproduction of Vienna's "Beethoven's Frieze", a visual interpretation of Beethoven's ninth symphony about the triumph of good over evil, originally set to music by Gustav Mahler. Read the review in The Economist. ~ A.R.

GUSTAV KLIMT: PAINTING, DESIGN, AND MODERN LIFE IN VIENNA 1900, through August 31st, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool