Thursday, September 30, 2010

I know the deafness of white ears

I am sambo, the shine,
In the St. Regis Iridium,
The Cotton Club,
The Terrace Room of the New Yorker.

I am the nigger, the black son of a bitch,
From the Florida Keys to Caribou, Maine;
From the Golden Gate
To the Statue of Liberty.

I know the deafness of white ears,
The hate of white faces,
The venom of white tongues,
The torture of white hands.

Melvin Tolson, A Gallery of Harlem Portraits (University of Missouri Press, 1979).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is the near-absence of capitalism in the realm of artistic creation justified?

Jeff Koons, Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988.

Could there be an incompatibility in principle between the accumulation of capital and artistic creation?

Sweatshop, Mexico, 2000's.

Oliver Tinland ponders:
In literature, the observation scarcely changes: if companies emerge on the literary scene at all, it is most often in the guise of exotic caricature. Distorted by hyperbole or allegory, reduced to the level of stage decor, the world of capitalism has a hard time earning its stripes as literary subject matter, as most writers cheerfully hand over to social scientists the task of raising the opaque and overwhelming presence of Das Kapital to a level of transparent meaning. Could there be an incompatibility in principle between the accumulation of capital and artistic creation? -- Queen's Quarterly. Volume: 114. Issue # 3, 2007.
Why are factories, companies, and stock exchanges not worthy candidates of artistic transfiguration?

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, The Burj Dubai (finished 2010).

Is art's mission to "aestheticize" capital, or become its critical reflection?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Limits of terror

Nuanced post on revolution from Scurvy Tunes:
Today renewed debates over communism are flaring on the edges of academe; these at least throw into relief once again the wager and stakes of a serious and strategic anti-capitalism. The hypothetical return to communism may work as a provocation and stimulus to thought, but whether this tarnished legacy really offers a vector of leftist renewal is more dubious. The Communist Parties of the early Third International – before the self-mutilating corruptions of Stalinism and the decimating attacks of fascism – constituted a credible challenge to capitalist power.

But these organizations in the event did not suffice: the world revolution had stalled by 1923, and the Parties discredited themselves to the point that, fifty years on, the exploited had abandoned them and their marginalized splinter formations in decisive exodus. The collapse of Soviet-style ‘really existing socialism’ helped to fuel a decade of neo-liberal triumphalism and encouraged gloating post histoire pronouncements about the death of revolution. The reasons for the demise of Soviet imperialism are complex and debatable, and the subsequent resurgence of Russian imperialism and the rapid rise of Chinese state capitalism do not make the task of critical interpretation any easier. What these restructurings portend in the long run for other models of socialism remains to be seen. But the defeat, over the course of the last century, of the revolutionary hopes released by the Russian Revolution at the very least puts in question the conception of revolution that took the Bolshevik vanguard as its model.
Though Ray’s analysis, above, is historical, he tries to escape historicism with this pronouncement: "The idea of revolution, however, is not bound to this historical model and is not compromised by its defeat."  If not historically, can revolution be redeeming at all?  

Saturday, September 18, 2010

MOMO's ingenious art feat

The pink geometric path zigzagging the map of lower Manhattan is a 2006 pavement graffiti by MOMO, first brought to notice by Best Roof Talk Ever and published today in the New York Times.

This seemingly simple, yet puzzlingly complex feat gives one faith in the possibility of art. Not art as mimicry, event and self-aggrandizement, but art as a form of ingenuity, originality, anonymity and conceptual savvy. 

How did MOMO do it? BRTE explains:
After requesting a meetup, MOMO told my friend that he accomplished this task by fixing 5 gallon paint buckets to the back of his bike, poking a hole in the bottom of the containers, and riding though the West Village, SoHo, Greenwich Village, East Village, and Alphabet City. Momo made the tag in 2006. Some parts of the line have been covered up by roadwork and redone sidewalks but most of the line is still visible.
What does it mean? BRTE puts it well:
Essentially, most graffiti writers enjoy seeing their name on things. The bigger they can paint it and the more visible their tag is, the more people will notice their conquering of the city. MOMO created the largest tag in New York, yet the scale of his work here, so massive that it can’t all be viewed at once, means that thousands of people will walk on it each day and never even notice it. It’s simultaneously the biggest and smallest artistic statement I have seen in my time here.
Without sucking up to New York, let me bring the point home: When one sees the boring, sophomoric, pseudo-art that populates many of the walls of (soon-to-become-a-tourist-trap) Wynwood's galleries and compares it with MOMO's urban intervention, one wishes we had more MOMOs in Miami.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Aesthetics is a bloodless formalism. Let's drop it.

affect aesthetics,
queer aesthetics,
kitsch aesthetics,
dentistry aesthetics,
Nazi aesthetics,
sex aesthetics,
medical aesthetics,
food aesthetics,
body aesthetics,
the aesthetics of Buffy the Vampire,
the aesthetics of the every day,
the aesthetics of sport,
aesthetics of skin,
aesthetics of sentimentality,
sniff, sniff

 Nike ad, 2010.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Miles Davis: Walkin'

Spawn of fantasies
Sifting the appraisable
Pig Cupid his rosy snout
Rooting erotic garbage
"Once upon a time"
Pulls a weed white and star-topped
Among wild oats sewn in mucous-membrane

I would an eye in a Bengal light
Eternity in a sky-rocket
Constellations in an ocean
Whose rivers run no fresher
Than a trickle of saliva

These are suspect places

I must live in my lantern
Trimming subliminal flicker
Virginal to the bellows
Of Experience
Coloured glass

 Mirna Loy, Love Songs.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

packing, unpacking

my fellow bourbakians: moving is a sort of sacrifice. i think of all my books, packed in a hurry, their delicate tails and spines vulnerably exposed against all sort of intrusive hardness. it's been two weeks of constant packing and unpacking. now everything is almost back to normal. there are new corners and cabinets and little spaces for dreaming and dwelling.