what’s with all the GHOSTS – of late !!

it’s like a ghost avalanche out there !!

‘Aurora’ (detail). New England, c. 1818-1822, watercolor on silk with applied gold foil and paper label, 21 3/8 x 24 5/8 in., gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2005.8.46, photo copyright 2000 John Bigelow Taylor, New York.

the card for:
‘JUBILATION/RUMINATION’ – ‘Life: Real and Imagined’ . . . a show that opened at the AMERICAN FOLK ART MUSEUM
this past January 17, 2012.

talk about . . . ghosts, traveling thru the sky, overhead !!

the show is still up and running, though it’s in its last weeks – at the museum’s 2 Lincoln Square/Columbus at 66th Street exhibition space, their only remaining ‘branch’ – since losing their headquarters recently – in a big financial melt-down.
the show is up through – SEPT 2, 2012.

I’ve kept this card up on my desk ever since I first received it, from a third party in Vermont !! bye the way !!

it seemed to really speak to the times – and capture the breaking trends in the art world . . . and it hasn’t been deposed YET !!

talk about ‘Venus over Manhattan’, ha !!

we have to thank the curator of the show – STACY C. HOLLANDER, long-time Senior Curator at the American Folk Art Museum for dishing up, and she has done so consistently if you have any working knowledge of the place, such an on-point display of our ‘New World’ folk art heritage, rescued so dramatically – from eternal, otherwise unseen and ghostly, for sure – storage.

hit that museum link again, to read: her thoughts on the matter, in her brief but illuminating essay on the show, in case you missed it. it’s definite worth reading . .

LISA YUSKAVAGE, ‘Triptych, 2011 (detail)
oil on linen, Triptych Each: 70 1/8 x 77 1/4 in.
the card for her Sept-Oct 2011 show at DAVID ZWIRNER.

did you catch the ghosts of YUKSAVAGE past – aka ‘her Russian immigrant ancestors’ – yep, American past and present !! right there on the right hand side . . . at center point.
and a real nice example of folk art vs. contemporary (!!) art, bye the way. just saying.

it seems like almost every second show opening up in New York this year, either literally had the word ‘Ghost’ in the title – or was a variation on the theme, in one way or another.

Just yesterday I got an email from PRINTED MATTER about a book that had just won some award over there.
the title ? ‘Gespenster (Ghosts)’ . . . by Agnes Prammer with Tanja Lepschi.

of course the big-name daddy of the bunch would be: ‘Ghosts in the Machine’ – at the New Museum.

so it’s probably no coincidence that even the ‘about’ page of one of the scene’s smallest alternative fly-by-night pop-ups, the notorious ‘FAMILY BUSINESS’ has the word ‘ghost’ defined right then and there – for all to see – on their website, when one considers that New Museum Associate Director and Head of Exhibitions MASSIMILIANO GIONO, who co-organized that big ‘Ghosts in the Machine’ show – also sits on the board of the FAMILY BIZ godfathers !!

what they say ?

“FAMILY BUSINESS is a time share: a space made available to people who have something interesting to say – a way to know new families and friends. A guest + a host = ghost.


see: ‘Technology Advances, Then Art Inquires’ (!!) – the NEW YORK TIMES on ‘Ghosts in the Machine’ at the NEW MUSEUM.


looking back I can see it all started last summer when the ghost of DASH SNOW . . . dropped by to say hello.
HALF GALLERY had exhibited a piece of his posthumously, it was concocted from ‘found’ seashells and I had the matching ‘female’ seashell mate … long story. but you can take my word for it.

but that’s the thing about ghosts . . . once the word’s out – that you can see them, there’s NO stopping them !! the next night you have not one, but five, then ten, then hundreds of forlorn ghosts pressing their sad little faces up against your bedroom window – begging to be heard, begging to pass on messages.

no … you don’t have to take my word for it, just ask any SOUTH AMERICAN writer who’s worth his salt.

in fact if you’ve seen that awesome ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU movie ‘BIUTIFUL’ – you know just what I’m talking about.

the hard-core street-wise character that JAVIER BARDEM plays so charmingly . . . makes pocket change going to funeral homes and delivering messages from the recently departed, who apparently have lots (!!) of unfinished business !!
and who otherwise hover over their relatives unseen. I mean he sees ghosts. every time he looks up at a ceiling anywhere – there they are. hundreds of ghosts flocking to him, and he has to swat them away – cause how else would he get anything done.

maybe that’s why evolutionary-wise we’ve had to suppress the 4th dimensional ‘channel’, ha. just saying.

but truth be told, ghosts have always been there, hovering in the background. in all cultures across the board. sometimes even in golden chariots flying over the early American colonies !!
sometimes even in the MACHINE !! in the ART, and on the WEB !!
and, it seems . . . the ghosts want out – !!



and pulling her ‘lead’ piece, the poster image of a chariot-driven colonial ghost – from what is essentially a very small show, numbers-wise – from what is otherwise the huge bottomless pit of the American Folk Art collection, esp without a gifted curator !! – and producing a bonafide PLUM !!

ALEJANDRO GONZALEZ INARRITU, director of ’21 Grams’ and ‘Biutiful’ at the 2003 JULIAN SCHNABEL opening of ‘New Indian (!!) Paintings and Selected Sculpture’ at PACE WILDENSTEIN, NYC. OCT 16, 2003.

I guess you could blame it all on the paparazzi.
when you take photos – you get to know ghosts.

but marry that to the web, and whoa . . . you’ve got a real ghost story in the making. no joke.

and I’m not just talking about taking the very last photo of somebody at their opening and the very next day – they jumped on a motorcycle and crashed, STEVEN PARRINO, RIP.

BUT THE WHOLE DEAL – EVERYTHING about the WEB – well, it’s ghostly !! no matter how you cut it, ghost trails of blogs. buzzwords that catch fire on twitter, burn up the charts – and live – forever !!

historical figures can no longer die, at a click of a keyboard – they can flare-up, back-to-life. larger than life. think on it. at the click of a keyword. the undead – the very definition of a ghost – jumping to (some kind of) life again, in fact maybe . . . even brighter through the power now invested – in our many-googled fingers.

information, even misinformation (!!), dates, pictures, photo captions and texts that live on forever – in a secondary existence as fragile as a breath – and as stubborn as a, well a spider’s web (!!) on an intangible and ghostly digital databank – in that ever growing information / network cloud we all play into like it’s no tomorrow, like it’s a second oxygen.

history, what’s history ?

history doesn’t exist anymore. everything is live. real time. 24/7. A SEVEN/11 that never shuts – in a city that never sleeps.
nothing dies. bring on the ghosts !!

damn, if the very nature (!!) of the web – ain’t a ghost !!

there’s a word for that, and no it’s NOT ! the ‘US POST OFFICE – FOREVER STAMPS’ . . . but close !!
it’s called: afterlife.
and damn, that’s ghostly !!


and I so don’t think that those geekoid founding fathers of the ‘world wide web’ envisioned in their wildest dreams – !! – that one of the really big fall-outs of their creation – that great big wireless brain cloud that travels like a ‘chariot’ in the sky – !! – that we have all joined and plug into like crazy – would become the staging point . . . for the next, big huge – ghost resurgence !!

in fact, not since the great ghost warriors of the last Indian massacres – have ghosts dominated the American landscape, so vividly.

in fact, considering that our UNIVERSE IS APPARENTLY: INFINITE !! & SO – IS THE WEB !!
maybe we better get our heads round that concept: INFINITY.
INFINITY = no death, no end. and what that might mean about a 4th dimension !!
or we are ain’t going nowhere.

not that, that’s a brand new idea.

“We are half in this world and half in the spirit world.
We are like the trees that have one part above the ground and an equal part out of sight beneath the surface.” – FOX TRIBE, NATIVE AMERICAN INDIANS of the NORTH EAST.

and that, takes us straight back to FOLK ART – doesn’t it !!

MELISSA BROWN, ‘OVERLORD OF ENVY’- from her show ‘Palisades’ FEB-MARCH 2012 at KANSAS, NYC.

and it’s not just the artists.
they are even doing DNA profiles on mummies and cave artifacts . . . and REALLY chasing down the start of our real ancestors. that’s the big science of this year. if that isn’t ghostly – dead men talking – ghosts talking – I don’t know – what is.

last year (2010-11) it was: animals !!
the parallel in the art world was CATTELAN’S retrospective at the WHITNEY !! with its stuffed dogs and horses and donkeys, hanging Europeans, and body bags – and a multitude of smaller shows, like Andrew Guenther’s: ‘TALKING TO A FISH’. in a nutshell.
(look it up for yourself.)

never mind that apparently we all carry like 2% Neanderthal genes in our bloodstreams, and even in our very own bodies – our DNA is (fiercely) competitive !! what I want to know – is when they find the ‘alien visitor from another planet’ component !! ha.

that’ll really – bring on the ghosts !!

but read the science pages for yourself.

just don’t get me started on ‘orphan’ – aka ‘ghost’ photos !!
never mind the 500 year old Inca human children sacrificial mummies perfectly preserved & now giving up their DNA secrets to us – on the summit of Llullaillaco in Argentina !!
(and, bye the way. apparently they were “aware of their fate” – ?!!)

you know . . . ‘ghost’ photos.
photos with erroneous captions, photos that have been re-posted out of context, photos of your ex – that pop up every time your own name gets entered into a search . . .

photos that have been stolen and lifted. without proper photo credit or copyright. and worst case scenario – some anonymous ‘ghost’ of a blogger on a ‘restricted’ site – is laying claim to them.

or: take two.

just try telling the Soho gallery that reps RAMMELLZEE to take DOWN your stolen, unattributed & unauthorized HISTORICAL photo of RAMMELLEZEE – from his mySpace fan page. ha !!!!!
their answer: we don’t know whose site that is.
yeah, as if.
as if, maybe a dead person runs it ?!!!
and guess what. that’s pretty much – so, so, so !! the real answer. ghosts. tell me about it.

I mean, final word. since we were already talking about Julian Schnabel . . .
HOW would YOU – !! – like to be OLATZ LOPEZ GARMENDIA ?
and every time you entered your name into a search – up pops RULA JEBREAL !!

now, if that’s not the very definition of: ghost dog !!
I don’t know, what is.

end of story.

and that’s what all this art, contemporary and folk – is referencing.

but don’t worry folks – summer’s nearly over, and looks like the boy bands are taking over again.

ELIJAH BURGER aka ANAL SWASTIKA, ‘Liam Vomiting Ectoplasm’ – the first truly big ‘ghost’ story exhibit of the 2012 year.