Who is better than Stephen Tourlentes?

Well, the short answer is nobody, and if you don't believe me you really need to go see his show OF LENGTH AND MEASURES at Carroll and Sons. These pictures marry the poetics of the sublime with the hard reality of the administration of death. He makes clear the beauty of these landscapes comes at the expense of (and in fact is due to) the luminous presence of the prison complexes that house and administer death in the name of the people. That he is a brilliant technician is well on display in this exhibition but the thing that stays with me is that Tourlentes has used his considerable talents and technical acumen to focus on a part of contemporary life we care not to consider nor do we want to know how we benefit. (Many prisoners are stripped of their voting rights. Some of these complexes house thousands of prisoners, increasing the state's population and thus their political representation. Michelle Alexander probes this in THE NEW JIM CROW.) Pictured is an image of Ardmore, Alabama, Alabama Death House, 2004. Trust me, this cheesy jpg is nothing compared to Tourlentes's actual photos. He was my favorite to win the Foster Prize last time around. This exhibition shows why he is one of the best artists working right now. I'm glad he is really starting to get his due. Image

Leslie Hewitt at ICA/Boston

I saw a great show at ICA/Boston today (and it's not Eva Hesse STUDIOWORK).

Leslie Hewitt's Riffs on Real Time is an elegant and somewhat haunting revelation.  The elements are really simple and laid bare for examination.  In a time when so much of photography has a lot to do with digital processes and a hackneyed view of the constructed nature of images, Hewitt's work breathes life into the discussion by a factual presentation of these ideas.  Her concrete and centralized compositions of layered photos marry the poetic to the indexical. Exploring image-as-surface, and image-as-support, without without any "scrapbooky" touches of nostalgia or inflection, she creates works that open up spaces for contemplation of history.  Their weightlessness belies their origin and the installation conveys the work's relationship to geometric abstract painting. It is a luminous and exciting body of work.

Randi Hopkins's essay on the show is as compelling as her gorgeous installation of Hewitt's photographs.  It is writing that does not attempt to take the place of the work and leads you back to the photographs with fresh eyes.

Who knew that the placement of an image inside of an image would still be able to take your breath away?

There's no place like LONDON....

Well, now I know why Sweeney Todd cut so many throats....

I'm kidding.  Really, I am loving London.  First off, I have never been here.  There are over 300 million people in England and I think I rode on the Underground with all of them today.  I was not prepared for the sheer press of people that you can get caught in here.  Everyone is on their way some where and I have heard so many different languages spoken it boggled my mind.  I had a great moment when a couple of people wanted to interview me about my feelings on the National Health Service.  I had to tell them I was not British, so my opinion didn't really count.  I guess I look British.
I know this blog is about Istanbul and believe me I am very nervous and excited to go.  But since it is a long trip and I have the time, I thought I would spend a few days in London coming and going.  First because some of the greatest art in the world is here and also because my greatest friend is here, Michael Mullen.
I want to say something about the way the English speak and what it does to you.  First off, they are convinced that they speak the right way (it is called "English") so when you are over here and you are speaking it, you are saying everything wrong.  Think of the way you say "Worcester," or "Holyoke."  Now the way you feel about people outside of Massachusetts pronouncing those words incorrectly is they way the English feel about you and the entire language.  You can't compete with it, so you have to start pronouncing things the way they do.  This accounts for what people think is Madonna being affected with a fake British accent.  If she doesn't talk that way, no one here will understand her.  They look at you like you are a freak if you don't talk like them.  It really forces you to assimilate.
(Note: The above does not allow ANYONE in the Americas to say things like "Happy Christmas."  Now THAT is an affectation.  It is positively sick making and should be stopped. )
We went to Tate Modern today and saw the permanent collection and an amazing Juan Muñoz retrospective.  I can only imagine the work he still had in him when he died.  It was a haunting and beautiful show.  We just missed the Doris Salcedo installation in the Turbine Hall.  Tate Modern really is an incredible building.  It was an old powerstation that got repurposed into the most incredible museum.  We also went to the National Portrait Gallery (Sir Thomas Lawrence... so GOOD!  Who knew?) and tomorrow we are going to Tate Britain to see the amazing Peter Doig's exhibition.