Artists of the Year

Framed, penned, screened, danced, sung, shot, delivered: City Pages lauds the artistic creations of 1999

 

Jim Taylor is a presidential candidate and the director of the documentary filmsSubdue the Universe and the forthcomingRun Some Idiot.

 

MOBY

by Mark Mallman

It is imperative that as our backward-thinking culture punches forward into the next 1,000 years, we remember to Keep on Dancing. Dancing is fun, and it's important to do fun things (otherwise you will get uptight, and probably turn into your boss someday). And what better icon to keep you grooving than a DJ in a gold lamé suit--totally bald.

Moby was rejected early on by certain members of the techno community for apparently making music that was too "mainstream" (whatever that means). I think it was because he started breaking preconceived rules, which some people hate. What's cool about his music is that it cannot be easily categorized. So many electronic records come out that are wallpaper from start to finish, and that can get very boring. By contrast, 1994's critically acclaimed Everything Is Wrong starts out like a Philip Glass overture, then suddenly it's this pretty straight-up dance record. Later he sings the blues through what sounds like a distortion pedal, and then the album ends in a kind of emotional and sad way with a track called "When it's Cold I Like to Die." The stuff is totally eclectic. Life is like that, too, you know: One minute you're stuck in line at a grocery store somewhere, and 45 minutes later you're on a plane to Vegas with 35 Norwegian tourists...or at least I am.

Stringent veganism and active environmentalism spawned the 1996 release Animal Rights, which the critics panned...so nobody bought it, I guess. "Consumers" aren't friendly to change; some people just want the same Aerosmith album over and over.

This year's Moby release, Play, is sweet for its unconventional use of samples. But what I like most is that it's interactive, it's physical, and it's meant to make you dance. Dancing keeps you in shape, and when you do it with other people, it usually leads to other fun things that keep people in shape (nudge, nudge)! To dance is to reaffirm that human, organic part of yourself, to breathe heavy and to sweat. If you're just sitting at home doing those two things in front of your computer, chances are: a) you're really lonely; or b) it's illegal.

So if the party you're at plays Moby on New Year's Eve, and for some unfathomable reason the Y2K conspiracy actually happens, and the lights all go out, and the music breaks into silence, in this case I think probably the best thing we can do--all people, everywhere--is KEEP ON DANCING!

 

Mark Mallman is a Minneapolis musician who recently played a 26.2-hour concert without interruption; his latest album isThe Tourist.

 

HANS TAK

by Solex

If you have to pick a best artist of 1999, the most sensible thing might be to opt for Pavement, Beck, or Cornelius, and explain how Pavement recorded their masterpiece in 1999, Beck is the personification of 1999, or Cornelius is the only person who can make the world ready for the next millennium. Very simple. Almost as simple as explaining why all Danish Dogma filmmakers should be artists of the year. Or the makers of The Blair Witch Project. I could go on naming actors, or even come up with some well-known writers that are probably very 1999. That would be the obvious thing to do, right? This year, however, the media should have paid attention to a rather unknown Dutch photographer named Hans Tak.

Why Tak? Apart from the fact that he is only five feet tall, and has this Mediterranean look, which are both not typical Dutch features, his age doesn't show. He could be 36 years old, but he might also be 18. This whole age thing is very essential to the work of Hans Tak. In real life, he forges documents to conceal his age and usually lies to girls about it. Last year I read an article about his most recent birthday in which people stated that nobody at the party knew the actual birth year of Tak.

Weird? The reason for lying (or merely not talking) about his age--apart from his liking of young girlfriends--is that it helps him to get work. He likes to be seen as the new kid on the block, the young generation--the hip guy. And it succeeds, because he seems to be doing pretty well. In his free works, which are often self-portraits, he depicts himself as a tall, young god. He is a master at retouching and Photoshop.

I got to know him awhile ago at a venue in Amsterdam. There was a band playing, and Tak was standing next to the entrance, taking pictures. He had one of those small cameras. He asked me, like he'd already asked all the girls that were inside the club, if I wanted to be in a picture with him. Then he wrapped his left arm around my shoulder and with his right hand he took the picture. Some time later his work was at an exhibition and there was this new piece, "With Tak in a Picture," of a thousand photos taped together. On all thousand pics, there was Tak--dressed the same way, and standing in the same spot on every picture!--with a (young) woman.

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