Tom Friedman, “Up In The Air”

Tom Friedman
Tom Friedman, Up In the Air, 2009, mixed media, dimensions variable, image: Christian Saltas

The first solo exhibition in Scandinavia by the Leverett, Massachusetts–based artist Tom Friedman is titled “Up in the Air,” and it asks for a heightened consideration of what consitutes a meaningful experience, in hopes of upgrading the possibilities of artistic production. Although some might find Friedman’s work inaccessible or view it as the output of someone with too much free time, such reactions perhaps bespeak a certain impatience and ingratitude toward what we have and what we are, stances that risk locking us into the predicament of feeling disconnected from current artmaking strategies. It can be difficult to appreciate an artist’s motivations when they seem unaffected by some mutually shared reality. Yet Friedman is sensitive to the gaps that inhere in subjective interpretation, leaving room for self-navigation. More »

Fredrik Söderberg, ”We Pray to the Sun and Hail the Moon”

Fredrik Söderberg
Fredrik Söderberg, Mandragora, 2009, watercolor on paper, 28 x 38, with frame: 53 x 43 cm, image: Milliken Gallery

This striking collection of Fredrik Söderberg’s watercolour paintings, entitled ‘We Pray to the Sun and Hail the Moon’, may inspire engaged viewers to question their relationship with infinity and perhaps even dissuade some from swallowing the world’s investment with spiritual redemption or continuing to embrace a detached narcissism. Söderberg’s charm lies in his explorative mapping of self-reflective spiritualisms, as well as in his ability to create provocative microcosms inspired by our own spheres—even if his works may appear cryptic to some. More »

Allison Benis White, Self-Portrait with Crayon

Winner of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize, Allison Benis White impresses with her ability to convince us that this could in no way be her first collection—it’s not the work of an amateur. Precise, declarative, intelligent, Benis White’s words are not limited to personal memories regarding familial connections or meditative references to Degas’s oeuvre of paintings; they also concern themselves with wisdom and self-education. These prose poems are well-constructed pieces of one’s life through the eyes of you the reader, the detective, the scientist, the player, the suffering. More »

Laura Sims, Stranger

Stranger is Laura Sims’s second collection of poetry following her first book Practice, Restraint, which was the winner of The Alberta Prize in 2005. Sparse, spaced with deliberate intention, this collection of poems is at times airy (”—The world grows thin—”) and hopeful and at other times: heavy and melancholy but most sincere in its process. Laura Sims is highly particular regarding each line; she possesses skill and poetic prowess that stem from experience. Some poets, with continual exercise, become increasingly heightened to every word, breath and gesture. Sims also incorporates prose in a micro-doses alongside poetic verse. More »

Elizabeth Marie Young, Aim Straight at the Fountain and Press Vaporize

Most imaginative, to the point of popping your threshold for poetic tolerance and casual comprehension, Elizabeth Marie Young’s Aim Straight at the Fountain and Press Vaporize is not so interested in rhyme schemes or concise line breaks, but more with perfecting a mini-narrative flow. Each poem in this sequence is packed to the brim with almost illicit words and inscapes—a mixture of the fantastical and the quasi-theoretical. Winner of the 2009 Motherwell Prize, this poet and classicist shares her slippery creations of both dialectical and intellectual composition. Some might find themselves on a word-starved journey towards an alienating escapism or double-take. More »

Douglas Kearney, The Black Automaton

Selected by the poet Catherine Wagner, The Black Automaton is deserving of its title as the winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series, for it speaks (no, it blasts and shakes) both to the current events of today and the WTF maelstroms of yesterday. Do you need an ark or a battleship or a parachute or a fiery torch to end up on the other side? It couldn’t hurt. Kearney’s pages couple eloquent craft with a tremor of an unforeseeable change, for better or worse. There are different kinds of anger, and there are kinds that appear on the page. Despite the propaganda encircling this emotion, I consider Douglas Kearney’s work to be both ”beautiful and above all, useful.” More »

Jacob Wren, Families Are Formed Through Copulation

Some books are meant to be taken seriously, some are meant to make you take yourself seriously, and some to make you question the validity of seriousness all together. Jacob Wren’s Families Are Formed Through Copulation is all of these things. Wren’s perspective shifts with the moodiness of someone terminally affected, wounded by the unreasonable demands that our world places on us: to be a functioning member of society who gives back what one has taken, to be responsible for one’s actions, to never become angry or lash out from the weight of life’s unfairness and lies, to have ”regular,” practical goals such as having a nice-sized home, a lush fenced-in backyard overgrown with organic fruits and vegetables, an upstanding occupation, and more importantly, to have children. More »

Andrea Lambert, Jet Set Desolate

Investigating a difficult time in a difficult place (California: post-millennium), Andrea Lambert’s debut novel Jet Set Desolate is a minor flashback into the unstable, patchy American mode de la vie of a fictional character named Lena Cosentino. Writing from the po-mo perspective of a lone woman in her early thirties, the now alcoholic (although nothing in comparison to Lena’s past bouts with more serious narcotics and other not-so-wise socio-sexual diversions … some worthy of attention, some blown out of proportion) grapples with the remainders of her memories and desires, her failure to assimilate to what America expects of her. Written primarily from Lena’s first-person perspective, the reader is allowed to view Lena’s Bay Area on-the-fringe, bohemian-punk existence firsthand but in retrospect. The reader is reminded of the beginnings of various popular realities that are now well-known to many in their late 20’s or early 30’s—many at-a-loss post-grads from somewhat respectable liberal arts colleges and/or art schools that haven’t exactly panned out like they promised. More »

“This is Art”

Lucky Thief, Various Sculptures, 2005-2009, various sculptures, painted wood, image: Galleri Jonas Kleerup

Curated by Valdemar Gerdin, “This Is Art” is a provocative examination of not just art but more specifically street art in Northern Europe and its variegated relationships abroad. Oddly enough, Gerdin’s show is on no street, but rather: in Tegnérgatan’s Galleri Jonas Kleerup, and though this colorful patchwork hints at its graffiti roots, it is sometimes difficult to imagine the presentations of Sweden’s famed, creative undercurrent—namely represented here by Seen, John Fekner, Don Leicht, Faile, and Bast—thriving on any Stockholm street or elsewhere in Sweden. Yet, this is no fault of any artist in question, for Sweden has a history of frowning upon graffiti art, pushing the genre into awkward invisibility. More »