Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead) - tomorrow

MKG127 is pleased to host the launch for A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead), a new edition by Dave Dyment, on Sunday December 21st from 3-6 PM.

Working with the staff at the Glenfiddich Distilleries, Dyment created a reinforced barrel, filled it with uncut spirit and buried it in Warehouse 8, among large stones from the river Fiddich. It will be excavated in 2108. This whisky is being pre-sold now, though it will not be available to drink for 100 years. Buyers will receive an extruded wood casket housed in a linen box, a map of the warehouse, a small diary documenting the process, and a contract to pass on to their descendants, to collect the whisky in a hundred years time. "A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead" is available in an edition of 25 copies.

A website documenting the project can be seen here.

A representative from Glenfiddich will be on hand at the launch, serving Scotch.

MKG127 is located in Toronto at 127 Ossington Avenue between Queen and Dundas Streets at the NE corner of Ossington Avenue and Argyle Street .
For more information, please contact or 647-435-7682, or visit

Facebook page is here.

You Don't Really Care For Music, Do You?

You Don't Really Care For Music, Do You?, curated by Catherine Dean and featuring myself, Tony Romano, Alana Riley and Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay closes today. 381 Projects is located at 381 Queen Street West.

A review in Canadian Art can be seen here:

Friday, December 19, 2008

Henning Christansen, RIP

Last week George Brecht passed away, and this Tuesday another Fluxus composer, Henning Christansen, died after a short suffering of apoplexy, at age 79 in Denmark.

Best known for collaborations with Joseph Beuys and Nam June Paik, Christansen remained active throughout his life - he presented a large retrospective exhibition last year in Copenhagen, participated in the Wundergrund music festival last month, and is currently showing at the excellent Gelbe Music in Berlin. A monograph of his work is currently in production and is expected in 2009.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bailout Reminder (tomorrow night)

While I'm reluctant to encourage competition (as this is the first time I've been able to stand in line and buy), Mercer Union's annual member show/sale is tomorrow night at 8. Here are the full details:

Mercer Union Members' Sale & Exhibition 2008

December 09, 2008 - December 18, 2008

Closing party & Sale: Thursday December 18, 2008
Hosted by Misha Glouberman

When there’s blood in the streets buy…art. Mercer Union does its part with a stimulus package to put the US bailout to shame. With drawings, paintings, photographs, sculptures and multiples all priced at $149.99, the artworks in the 2008 Annual Mercer Member’s Exhibition and Sale will sell faster than you can say “Emergency Economic Stabilization.” No layaway plans…the art will be flying right off our walls!

Works for sale by John Abrams, Jackson Abrams, Sonja Ahlers, Melissa Bebee, Katie Bethune-Leamen, Stephanie Cormier, Tanya Cunnington, Taku Dazai, Mark Dudiak, Dave Dyment, Joan Dymianiw, Fastwürms, Harrell Fletcher, Brenda Goldstein, Katharine Harvey, Robert Hengeveld, Kristan Horton, Jen Hutton, Draga Jovanovic, Rita Kamacho, Suzy Lake, Micah Lexier, Arnaud Maggs, Sarah Massecar, Beth McEachen, Suzanne Nacha, Heather Nicol, Roula Partheniou, Tanya Read, Kerri Reid, Brian Rideout, Rupen, Kathryn Ruppert-Dazai, Gwen MacGregor & Sandra Rechico, Jon Sasaki, Chris Shepherd, Lisa Smolkin, Derek Sullivan, Ainslinn Thomas, Christy Thompson, Hannah Wachs, Christopher Walsh, Margaux Williamson, Laurel Woodcock.

View the wares between 9-18 December 2008 during regular gallery hours (Tuesday to Saturday 11AM-6PM).

Buy the art at the Closing Party on Thursday 18 December. Sale begins promptly at 8PM.

2000 year old computer, rebooted

A little over a hundred years ago a shipwreck was found off the Greek Islands which contained a rusted mechanical calculator, now considered to be the world's first computer. Named Antikythera, it was (recently) dated as being as old as 150 BC. Pictured above, in Xray, the mechanism contained several gears and is understood to have functioned by calculating astronomical positions as a sort of super-advanced calendar, and was presumably used in relation to ancient Olympic games.

The current issue of Wired Magazine documents how Michael Wright, a former curator at the Science Museum in London, has built a fully functional replica of the Antikythera. Click here for the full story, including video.

Cale to represent Wales

The Welsh pavilion was one of my favorites of the Venice Bienalle in 2005. The work by Bedwyr Williams was simple, unpretentious and very funny. It was worth the trip outside the main grounds to visit. Last Friday the Guardian reported that Wales will be represented in 2009 by Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale, who intends to collaborate with other artists (which is often what he is best known for), and will centre around "Cale's relationship with the Welsh language", says the Arts Council of Wales.

Cale was born in the village of Garnant and studied music at Goldsmiths College (under the tutelage of Aaron Copland) before relocating to New York, where he collaborated with artists affiliated with Fluxus, before founding the Velvets with Lou Reed. He contributed a film of blinking police car lights to a Fluxus festival and often played with La Monte Young and Tony Conrad. His solo career is large and varied, but if I had to narrow it down to three albums I'd say they'd be: Paris 1919 (for his accessible side), Music for a New Society (representing his pricklier side) and Fragments of A Rainy Season as a good career retrospective. The latter is performed live on solo guitar or piano, and features songs spanning the bulk of his career, including his cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, which became the template for Jeff Buckley's cover, and every one that has followed since (they all omit the same verse that Cale does, as evidence). Fragments has a cover designed by Joseph Kosuth, who is good friends with Cale. Despite being best known for collaborating with Reed, they actually only made three studio records together: the first two VU albums, and the under-appreciated reunion record Songs for Drella, a tribute to Andy Warhol.

He has also worked with Patti Smith, Terry Riley, the Stooges, Siouxie and the Banshees, Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, Brian Eno and countless others. His 1999 autobiography is titled What's Welsh for Zen?

Cale said he was "surprised and honoured" to be invited to represent Wales. He added, intriguingly: "It offers an occasion to address certain pernicious issues in my background that had lain dormant for so long. There are certain experiences uniquely suited to the exorcism of mixed media and I am grateful for this opportunity to address them."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead) Launch Date

On Sunday December 21st from 3 to 6pm we will be launching the complete edition at MKG127 (127 Ossington Ave). The edition size is 25 (plus one artist proof), meaning there will be 12 released in North America (thru MKG) and 12 available for the rest of the world (through Glenfiddich).

A representative from Glenfiddich will be on hand, serving up Scotch.

Please join us.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Amazing Underground Ant Colony

Scientists take a Rachel Whitereadesque casting of an ant colony:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Start your countdown at eleven

Scientists report that the earth is very gradually slowing down, throwing clocks out of synch. To compensate for this, the year 2008 will be one second longer than the year before. This time adjustment, a leap-second, will be added to December 31st, New Year's Eve, at 23:59:59, Coordinated Universal Time.

The planet's rotation around the sun takes 365.2422, which we round down for the sake of simplicity. The extra day in February of leap years compensates for this, more or less. Leap seconds function similarly - they are added (or removed) at the request of the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service. The last addition was December 31st, 2005.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bailout, Mercer Member show

Mercer Union's annual member exhibition opens this week, with the closing party/sale happening on the 18th. As always, it's hosted by Misha Glouberman and all works sell for the exact same price (this year $149.99) on a first come, first served basis. In previous years line-ups formed as early as three hours in advance. Artists this year include Katie Bethune-Leamen, Fastwürms, Harrell Fletcher, Kristan Horton, Jen Hutton, Micah Lexier, Roula Partheniou, Jon Sasaki and many others.

I'm including an 8 x 10 print of the above photo, which I took in Scotland of the books I was reading about the future. I particularly liked reading predictions of one hundred years into the future from fifty years in the past.

George Brecht, RIP

Artforum today reports that George Brecht, one of my favorite artists, died on Friday. The story doesn't seem to have hit any other English language news sources (at least based on Google and Yahoo News searches), which is unfortunate, given his influence.

Brecht was one of the most important of the artists working under the banner of Fluxus. I consider his publication Wateryam to be one of the three essential Fluxus publications (alongside An Anthology, edited by La Monte Young and Jackson Mac Low, and Yoko Ono's Grapefruit). Originally published in June 1963, the boxed work contained small printed cards containing "event scores". These works were developed after Brecht attended John Cage's Experimental Music Composition classes at the New School for Social Research in New York. Brecht took the classes with Fluxus/Pop Artist Robert Watts, Al Hansen (grandfather of Beck) and Allan Kaprow, whose "happenings" were the antithesis of the simple gestures that the "event scores" suggested. Kapprow praised Brecht as having "an understanding of an intimate situation was far greater than mine" and added "He became a leader; and immediately he influenced not only me, but everybody else: Jackson Maclow, Higgins, Hansen. George Segal stopped by, and so did Dine, Whitman and Oldenburg."

Any serious artist book or multiples collection should contain Wateryam. I'd also reccomend his collaborative book with Robert Filliou, Games at the Cedilla. It's the best of the excellent Something Else Press books, documenting the year that Brecht and Filliou ran a store which sold "anything that contained a cedilla, and anything that did not". Henry Martin's An Introduction to the Book of the Tumbler on Fire contains excellent interviews and images, but it is hard to come by. More recently Gagosian published a decent monograph. I think they've sold out, too, but a few can be found on the secondary market at reasonable prices.

There is a fair amount of information about Brecht online, so I'll limit this post to my two favorite stories:

When asked about the difference between Pop Art and Fluxus, Brecht replied (forgive the paraphrase, I can't find the original interview) that whereas a Pop artist might take a comic strip panel and blow it up into a huge silkscreened canvas, he was more likely just to cut it out of the newspaper and put it in his wallet.

In his later years he became very reclusive, rarely participating in the artworld. I heard from another Fluxus artist that he owned a telephone, but that he kept it unplugged. If you wanted to speak with him, you had to send him a letter requesting that he accept the call. If he granted the request, he would plug in his phone at the agreed upon time.

I was lucky enough to get a response from two mailings I sent him - short but pleasant replies, one thanking me for something I had sent and another declaring that he no longer wished his work to be viewed as part of Fluxus ( I think I asked for an interview for a Fluxus article I was writing in the nineties).

In closing, a picture of Elvis Presley performing Brecht's Piano Piece from 1962.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Drink To Us (When We're Both Dead) - brief update

Today I met with a bookbinding company who will manufacture the final packaging for the edition, a beautiful debossed linen box. Micah Lexier suggested them, as they worked on his recent excellent collaboration with Christian Bok. They also produced the deluxe edition of the AA Bronson Power Plant catalogue a few years ago (the one with the actual concave mirror on the cover). We chose a colour called Iris Coffee, which is actually a rich grey. The box will have a hinged lid with a pouch to house the contract, warehouse map, postcard and "100 Year Diary". The latter is a vinyl covered booklet which includes production notes, blog entries, the newspaper diaries, etc. etc. They arrived from the printer last week.

A temporary website for the project is now housed at

Also, the first bottle sold last month, at a fund-raising auction in Calgary. Below is a brief piece that Global Television ran.


The above photograph was taken circa 1900 and is part of collection of Boer War images that recently sold at auction for £4,000. Taken on the South Atlantic island of St Helena, it pictures a prisoner and guard, with a seventy-year old tortoise named Jonathan. When the auctioneers were researching the images they discovered that Jonathan is still alive, and with the help of the photograph they are able to identify his age as at least 176-years old, making him the oldest tortoise on the planet, and therefore the oldest living animal. The previous record holder was Harriet, a giant Galapagos Land tortoise, who died in 2005 aged 175 in Australia.

The below picture shows Jonathan he is today. One and three-quarter centuries old and blind in one eye, he apparently still has the energy to regularly mate with the three younger females he is housed with.