The following article has been circulating around the art-internet of late and I thought I’d repost it here for your consideration.
A Letter to Goldsmiths art students on capitalism, art and pseudo-critique
written byÂ Prolapsarian
Dear Goldsmiths Art Students, I attended yourÂ MFA showÂ two nights ago. I apologise to an extent: with so many artworks on display it was difficult to digest any of them. That situation was exacerbated by the fact that so few of the works seemed to have it in them to behave destructively towards the others. Maybe this is where I can begin: that the type of co-operation between artworks, their intellectual co-ordination, is something I find troubling. It didnâ€™t seem to me to be the co-operation of a school thinking together, but instead the co-ordination of the school uniform, of a discipline that had been so fully internalised that all of the artworks, under its authority, might comfortably coalesce. That made those artworks difficult to be with. I want to write to you about a single gesture that was performed by a great majority of the artworks in the show (although there were some important exceptions). It is a gesture that claims to determine a relation between artworks and â€œcapitalismâ€. It is of no surprise that under the contemporary situation of global capital, undergoing its most profound crisis in eighty years â€“ creating conditions not only of mass destitution but also of mass resistance and protest â€“ that the relation between art and capital would present itself more explicitly in the new works of art than has been the case in the last decades. But the expression of this relation of art and capital in the work displayed at your show was not only predictable, but questionable on both political and aesthetic grounds. The gesture that I refer to is that of artworks that attempt to parody capitalism, and in this parody hope to effect a critical irony through the apparent distance between the artwork (and its social situation) and the forms of commodity or capital that it parodies. In this gesture the artwork proclaims a radicalism, a dissatisfaction with the actually existing. It proclaims that the object of this dissatisfaction is â€œcapitalismâ€. The modes of making explicit the structure of parody are plural: some take up the bathetic disjunction through a fully instrumental comparison with some hazy far-away classicism or humanism; others exaggerate the shoddiness of capitalâ€™s products; others rely on a revelatory mode whereby it is claimed something of capitalâ€™s seamy underbelly is exposed; while others are just bits of fixed capital â€“ most often employing the high technologies of marketing â€“ transposed into the gallery-space. But the gesture of this parody common to all of them will, I imagine, be familiar to you. read more
Sara Drake posted a thoughtful essay about Daniel Clowes’ MCA restrospective. Her review opens with a well-considered point about the time line the MCA presents at the beginning of Clowes’ show (“the timeline epitomizes a friction still present between comics and art institutionsâ€™ reluctant willingness to accept them as one of their own,”) going on to focus on the show itself:
Comics exhibitions are typically, perhaps even inherently, about process. The work on the walls is unstable and has not yet calcified into itâ€™s final form as a work of art. Clowesâ€™s comics are intentionally built to be read. The focus is on narrative structure and storytelling, as opposed to the flip-side of playing with the visual richness of the medium. Reading desks and large, upholstered nooks with copies of Clowesâ€™s books dapple the space while original pages of his comics span the width of the galleries. The result is claustrophobic in a good way, providing a daunting depiction of the amount of labor involved in comics creation. Clowesâ€™s work is more emblematic of illustration than that of a painter or print maker, albeit his skills as a draftsmen almost render the various changes that occur during printing production invisible: penciling or under drawings are rarely present, Clowesâ€™s adept brush work meticulously cover the initial draft, Â and the gouache painted covers in the show are breathtaking. The flawlessness of the line work and the confidence embedded in Clowesâ€™s drawings almost seem to undermine the self-doubt and alienation present within his stories.
The week began with our ever fabulous gossip report courtesy of Dana Bassett. Everybody loves Keith Haring, Andrew Santa Lucia covers Logan Hardware, and Anthony Romero published a column about Jay-Z’s performance:
Just when we thought the world was safe from appropriating celebrities (#LoveYouMiley) Jay-Z swags in and tries his hand at the most bodily of professions, Performance Art. This, as you may well know, is NOT his first attempt at a durational performance. HOVA and Yeezus reportedly playedÂ Ni**s in ParisÂ a record breaking number of times.* We all did for that matter and in case you were wondering, there are five more works of art from Jay to come. So we can all relax, thereâ€™s plenty of newsfeed fodder forthcoming. Word on the street is that there may be images of a Jesus chain in a jar of urine surfacing soon.
Best of Lists in the summer time… WHAT? That’s right.Â Here is Paul Germanos’ annual top 16 in photos.
Chicago Artist Writers contributed another piece from their most excellent blog. James Pepper Kelly writes about the controversial exhibit,Â Wierd Dude EnergyÂ at Heaven Gallery calling forth other spectral voices to do so:
Walter Benjamin |Â Â At the center of this exhibition is man. Present-day man; a reduced man, therefore, chilled in a chilly environment. Since, however, this is the only one we have, it is in our interest to know him. He is subjected to tests, examinations. What emerges is this: Weird Dude Energy (WDE), a layering of men, a group perspective on masculinity.
Thomas Friel also wrote about Jay-Zâ€™s performance at Pace Chelsea last week, reflecting on the performance and place and celebrity via instant, public documentation:
A celebrityâ€™s presence in our space, instead of the media version we tend to see them as confirms our own existence. At the same time, it complicates that existence. We are seen by those we have saw but here unto unseen by. I see (consume oneâ€™s image) therefore I am, but when I am seen, what am I? It is mindfuck of Turrell like proportions, as we lose our sense of up and down, left and right. We choke on our own vomit, we are paralyzed. In exchange, or maybe as a symbiotic response, we return them to a mediated image from our cellphone capture. Shrinking them to a 2.5â€ x 3.5â€ format, moving at a mere 16fps, they are more manageable as a digital apparition.Â With Jay-Z rapping in our face â€“ a desire of many to be that close to a living legend, to be acknowledged by He who hath created the current state of Hip Hop â€“ we are quickly overwhelmed, and thus respond with our cell phoneâ€™s sad idea of video to return to a sense of normality. It helps us relate to his intangible nature. It is in this way that we treat the celebrity both as a solar eclipse and a stripper at a gentlemenâ€™s club. At at least one point during â€œPicasso Babyâ€, a tight circle forms around Jay-Z. We see his professional camera crew which is typically meant to be invisible. They are anything but in the many cell shots taken, reminding us that this is a planned operation, to be dissected and re-edited later.Â However, their visibility being an anomaly, suggests a future that is somewhat less imminent than the rapidity of the cell phone.
and a list of opportunities….
1. Plan your show proposal for APEX Art in NYC. Between October and November, they are looking for usolicited proposals. What I like about their submission process is that it’s clean and easy, prioritizing clarity and concept over credentials:
â€¢ Exhibition proposals will be accepted from October 11 to November 8, 2013.
â€¢ Submissions are limited to 500 words maximum, emphasizing and explaining the idea behind the show.
â€¢ No catalogs, resumÃ©s, cv, or other support materials will be accepted.
2. Artslant offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with its Georgia Fee Residency. If you get this gig you get to go to and live in Paris for free to work on a project. Seriously. Like a situationists’ dream:
The Georgia Fee Artist/Writer Residency has been established in memory of ArtSlant’s Founder who passed away December 8th, 2012. Georgia was dedicated to supporting and investing in young artists and writers, and she had a deep connection with the city of Paris. This residency, which offers artists and writers the opportunity to create work in Paris, has been created in Georgia’s memory.
The goal of the Georgia Fee Artist/Writer Residency in Paris is to support and invest in emerging artists and writers, to provide an opportunity for them to advance their work and explore and engage with the cultural landscape of Paris, to encourage experimentation, and to increase exposure of their work to an international audience.
The Residency is open to visual artists of all mediums, art writers and critics, 24 years or older. Recent graduates are especially encouraged to apply. The selection will be made based on the merit of past work and the potential for future success, the ability to independently develop new work, and the proposed project’s relevance to the city of Paris.
Recipients will be required to maintain a blog, which will be posted on ArtSlant.
The Georgia Fee Artist/Writer Residency in Paris provides the recipient with lodging for 2-3 months in an apartment in the 14th arrondissement, travel to and from Paris, and a stipend to be used for studio space, materials, and other costs. Check it out and learn how to apply.
3. CANNONBALL (FORMERLY LEGALART) IS NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR ITS VISITING RESIDENCY PROGRAM. Applications due August 12.
The Visiting Residency Program provides a platform for cultural producers to think, conduct research, produce new work, engage the local art community, and develop professional relationships in Miami. Who is eligible: Artists of all disciplines, curators, arts writers, scholars, museum professionals, and other cultural producers based outside of Miami-Dade County. More info here.
4. Need a break from the city? Banff Film & Media Artist-in-Residence
Fall: November 18â€“December 6, 2013
Winter: February 10â€“March 21, 2014
Apply by September 6, 2013 here: www.banffcentre.ca/film-media/
It’s a slow weekend in Chicago, and I’m in California, but here’s at least two goo looking things!
Work by Michael Endo, Kendra Larson, Emily Nachison, and Lauren Payne.
The Milk Factory is located at 907 North Winchester Ave. Rear Apt. Reception Saturday, 6-9pm.
Works selected from the collection of 65Grand.
65Grand is located at 1369 W. Grand Ave. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.
I want to use the example of Jay-Zâ€™s performance at Pace Chelsea last week as a case study for something more encompassing, without getting into all the details since it was meant as a location for a music video shoot and not as an art work. (At least, Iâ€™m hoping) So just as a recap: Jay-Z performed â€œPicasso Babyâ€ from his new album â€œMagna Carta…Holy Grailâ€ for six hours to a packed and rotating crowd of art world insiders, celebrities and fans last Wednesday.
A celebrityâ€™s presence in our space, instead of the media version we tend to see them as confirms our own existence. At the same time, it complicates that existence. We are seen by those we have saw but here unto unseen by. I see (consume oneâ€™s image) therefore I am, but when I am seen, what am I? It is mindfuck of Turrell like proportions, as we lose our sense of up and down, left and right. We choke on our own vomit, we are paralyzed. In exchange, or maybe as a symbiotic response, we return them to a mediated image from our cellphone capture. Shrinking them to a 2.5â€ x 3.5â€ format, moving at a mere 16fps, they are more manageable as a digital apparition.Â With Jay-Z rapping in our face – a desire of many to be that close to a living legend, to be acknowledged by He who hath created the current state of Hip Hop – we are quickly overwhelmed, and thus respond with our cell phoneâ€™s sad idea of video to return to a sense of normality. It helps us relate to his intangible nature. It is in this way that we treat the celebrity both as a solar eclipse and a stripper at a gentlemenâ€™s club. At at least one point during â€œPicasso Babyâ€, a tight circle forms around Jay-Z. We see his professional camera crew which is typically meant to be invisible. They are anything but in the many cell shots taken, reminding us that this is a planned operation, to be dissected and re-edited later.Â However, their visibility being an anomaly, suggests a future that is somewhat less imminent than the rapidity of the cell phone.
The shifting of time is the next big thing here, as the immediacy of cell video to internet upload has a tendency to further define the Present. This is congruent with the very sense of the 21st century that the Future is a finite entity, that one day, and one day soon, we will run out of Future. The speed of life itself is steadily increasing thanks to the plethora of communication technologies available, more immediate global awareness and the loss of physical frontiers and the tightening of borders. Every summer blockbuster movie (EVERY) of the last ten years has dealt with some sort of social horror of apocalyptic proportions or post human mutants, all of which signal a cataclysmic shift in life as we know it. THE END IS NEAR has returned to our minds (though it has rarely left us) with a vengeance and we are responding by trying to do as much as we can as fast as we can. And that means celebrities having completely proven themselves in one field must try other, usually related fields. (We will exclude Terminator Xâ€™s Ostrich Farm for this reason of â€œrelatedâ€) For Jay-Z Â to stage a music video shoot as a performance in an art gallery is not a huge stretch, yet it is breaking new ground from the stand pint of those who were quick to critique it as art. Increasingly, there comes the Nike spirit of â€œJust Do Itâ€, though oftentimes of DIY immediacy. (thats the cell phones, not a fully planned Jay -Z event). Complicating matters is the six hour duration of the performance. Somewhere in the preface of the “Performance Artist Handbook”, Jay must have read that 6 hours is the minimum duration of a performance work. At the same time, a music video shoot is an all day affair or more, and most galleries are open for about 6 hours in a day. BUT, looking at it through my single minded viewpoint, a 4 minute song performed repeatedly for 6 hours, starts to mess with our perception of time, by looping it, putting us in a casual Groundhogâ€™s Day Lite scenario (if only Bill Murray was in the audience!) where we can start to see the future and we lose our sense of the past, ever so slightly, for as long as an audience member may choose to stay. We can clock time in 4 min. increments instead of seconds. And every moment sounds the same (looks different, but in a bare white walled gallery, not too much different). Stuck within a seemingly never ending 4 minute sequence, we have found a loophole in time, thus gaining an extra 5 hours and 56 minutes of life. What to do with this extra time? Upload crappy video from our cells to the internet and listen to the dumbest song of the summer seems to be the only option. Sounds like weâ€™ve just entered purgatory.
Iâ€™d like to thank â€œA Private View: American Paintings from the Manoogian Collectionâ€ by Yale University Art Gallery and the Detroit Institute of the Arts for providing me with a surface to write on while preparing this text, as well as the ACTUAL audience members of Jay – Zâ€™s performance for showing me in their YouTube video uploads that despite his admirably true giving to his audience, I didnâ€™t miss anything.