Termite Man and the White Elephant
|Manny Farber, Cézanne avait écrit (1986)|
"A peculiar fact about termite-tapeworm-fungus-moss art is that it goes always forward eating its own boundaries, and, likely as not, leaves nothing in its path other than the signs of eager, industrious, unkempt activity.…
"termite art aims at buglike immersion in a small area without point or aim, and, over all, concentration on nailing down one moment without glamorizing it, but forgetting this accomplishment as soon as it has been passed; the feeling that all is expendable, that it can be chopped up and flung down in a different arrangement without ruin."
|Manny Farber, "Passive is the ticket" (1984)|
|Patricia Patterson, The Conversation (Manny and Steve at the Table) (1990)|
|Lorna Simpson, 31 (2002)|
|Joshua McElheny, An End to Modernity (2005)|
|Charles Ray, Tractor (2005)|
As I read that, it's both white elephant and termite—like Citizen Kane? That's how this show works. It leaves you thinking how works fit in to Farber's framework.
Molesworth met resistance when pitching the show. "People would look at me blankly," she wrote, "and I would just mumble, defeated, 'the show is basically about still life.'" Actually, that's not a bad description. Forget John Wayne. It is a still-life show, with a side of intimism.
|Jordan Casteel, Memorial (2017). This is a promised gift to MOCA from Arthur Lewis and Hau Nguyen.|
|Jonas Wood, Jungle Kitchen (2017)|
|Sylvia Plimack Mangold, Winter Maple (2017)|
|Becky Suss, August (2016)|
|Dike Blair, untitled, 2017|
|Small detail of Manny Farber's "Passive is the ticket" (1984)|