Friday, November 26, 2010

The star of the art firmament market (fill-in the blanks)

More art is made across the world, by many more people than ever before. The state of contemporary art has become a phenomenon of global scale.-- Okwui Enwezor's interview (April, 2009).
Alfredo Triff

Without a doubt, the _____ is our new hero. A glib, fast, committed, skillful character of the art firmament uniquely trained to unravel the most intricate conceptual codes and aesthetic paradoxes. He or she can bring together east, west, north and south, within a single cultural bubble. This new global translator is autarchic, idealistic and heroic. Behold, the ______!

At the same time, the presentation of art is more dependent on the _______ than ever. There seems to be a consensus that when art from one culture is shown in another, it cannot speak for itself.*

Brenson's idea of culture, above, suffers from what I will call "Broodthaers' symptom,"1 an obsessive/compulsive behavior exhibited by ______ -as well as museum directors- to theorize and produce strategies to control what Enwezor calls "the state of contemporary art."2  Notice Brenson's vague ethnological drift, as if "contemporary art" had a mission to propagate and become assimilated by the diverse ethnic groups of world (in Hollywood parlance, think of the curator as a post-modern, globe-trotter, smartly-dressed Indiana Jones Jr.).

The 21st-century ______ works in a supremely globalized reality.-- Hans Ulrich Olbrist, interview for The Telegraph, October 2010).

The increasing centrality of the _______ has also been reinforced by the emergence of installation as the standard form in which contemporary artists around the world are working. By so doing, however, they implicitly acknowledge the _______'s inescapable authority.

Installation, for example, is a unique "cultural" product of the West,3 an ideal medium for late-Twentieth Century art market. How come? Installation contains the right opacity (i.e., "it turns human subjectivity into 3-D commodities"4), it helps build conspicuous urban mystique and is as big as the house containing it.  So, Brenson's ______ is not translating much "between cultures," as between audiences and institutions.

Installations involve selecting and arranging in a space often shared by visitors. But the apparent complexity of labor is a red herring as far as presentation goes. Installations are always pre-presented, presupposed within a conceptual transitive framework:

translation ---> legitimation ---> acquisition

To which extent is the increasing "opacity" of contemporary art a means to enhance contemporary art's translatability thus rendering it more marketable?

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev: You want to punish me because I'm a famous _______... who cares about that?  A "performance" with Nedko Solakov.

And the inevitable solitude of the________ throughout the development of their exhibitions, despite the teams they assemble, suggests to me that their situations are not unlike those of many of the most significant artists of the twentieth century, whose abilities to bring something necessary into the world required not only vision but also an inexhaustible supply of belief, focus, resilience, and nerve.

Sorry to spoil the picture. This heroic image of the lonesome "artist/_____," existing without others, -as in Christov-Bakargiev's video performance, above- looks like a serious case of Broodthaers' symptom disguised as (barely tolerable) performative publicity stunt.
*All red quotes taken from "The Curator's Moment", by Michael Brenson, (Art Journal, Vol. 57, Issue 4. Winter, 1998). 1 In the fall of 1968, Marcel Broodthaers opened his Museum of Modern Art, Department of Eagles, Section of the Nineteenth Century on the ground floor of his house:

 Marcel Broodthaers' Museum of Modern Art, (1968).

"The Museum opened with a press conference and a party of art-world dignitaries and friends, at which Broodthaers gave the inaugural speech. In what can be considered a 'conceptual performance,' he not only usurped the role of museum director and curator but that of press agent and caterer as well. His art, then, was a parody of artistic packaging." Irving Sandler, Art of the Postmodern Era: From the Late 1960s to the Early 1990s, (Icon Editions, 1996) p. 95.  2 From the point of view of the market, it's obvious that exhibiting culture is a form of market control.

Photo op from the Department of Eagles: Jeffrey Deitch and Jeff Koons, (2009).

Art consultant/promoter/curator/ubergallerist Jeffrey Deitch discloses: "The market place has become so dynamic, and the media coverage of the market place is now getting so good, that the market place itself is creating the critical consensus ...You have now ten thousand people following these auction results very closely, even artists. The market place is now communicating in a broader, more specific way than art magazines and art critics (my red italics)." Gilda Williams, "Interviews with Jeffrey Deitch", Flash Art (Summer 1990) p. 169. Deitch's bombastic and candid declaration reveals why the market owns the present consensus about art.  3Late 1960's-early 1970's installation art, as well as body art and minimal art were assimilated by the market. The proof is James Monte and Marcia Tucker's first museum show of postminimal art (as early as 1969), Anti-Illusion: Procedures/Materials, at the Whitney Museum. Because postminimal works were not objects, they were generally ephemeral. For many artists with countercultural sympathies the documentation of these ephemera did not constitute art per se, (this is why they had turned to "process", earth art, installation, etc). They did not want to create art commodities. Irving Sandler makes an interesting point of how -even- postminimal art became marketable:
Lucy Lippard observed, that their refusal to produce salable objects would subvert the art market (although she later acknowledged that this attempt had failed). In the end the documentation was accorded the status of art object. Indeed, much of impermanent postminimal art seemed to have been made because of the documentation it yielded: It was made to be photographed. As Nancy Foote wrote: "It's ironic that an art whose generating impulse was the urge to break away from the collectible object (and hence the gallery/collector/artbook syndrome) might through an obsession with the extent and quality of its documentation, have come full circle.
Irving Sandler, p. 24.  4 Giacinto di Pietrantonio, "Images, Things and Participation," Parkett 50/51, 1997.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Aesthetic therapy

In a recent study, 70% of people said they like a painting better if they see it presented at a prestigious gallery.

If they think they like them, they possibly like them. Statistically speaking, people who like a given painting presented at a prestigious gallery are more likely to be committed in a relationship.

Are you aesthetically challenged? Improve your deficiency in three steps:

1. Go out on a Wynwood Art Walk night.
2. Visit a prestigious gallery and tell yourself: "I like these paintings."
3. Share your positive feelings with someone next to you.

You'll feel immediately -aesthetically- gratified!

Art resistance

Three Models for Resisting the Capitalist Art System, by Gene Ray, at Scurvy Tunes.

Miroslav Tichy

MT, Untitled.

MT, Untitled.

MT, Untitled.

MT, Untitled.

Miroslav Tichy: A photographer who from the 1960s to 1985 took thousands of surreptitious pictures of women in his hometown of Kyjov in the Czech Republic, using homemade cameras constructed of cardboard tubes, tin cans and other at-hand materials. Most of his subjects were unaware they are being photographed. A few struck beauty-pageant poses when they sighted him, perhaps not realizing that the parody of a camera he carried was real (taken from Wikipedia).

This is MT's self-made camera.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What Obama?

Geandy Pavón, Folding Obama, 2010.

A Lincolnesque figure who would bring national unity -without a civil war?

A Clinton, who campaigned to "put people first" -as he had put it- but failed to take bold steps and ended up triangulating political differences?

A Kennedy, who inspired millions but got dragged down by conventional assumptions about American power in the world, as evidenced by the Vietnam War and Bay of Pigs?

An FDR running a conservative campaign but responding to the times with dramatic reforms?

A one-term president?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

attitudes on the move (armonia cronometrica)

anti vitali
di putride sonnolenze.
svolazzare a spirali -terra terra-
come farfalloni che si disfanno.
sacrifici d'insetti.
armonia cronometrica
della decomposizione.
bollore d'accoppiamenti profondi
come un ronzar febbrile di falene.
le lune piene -le lune galleggianti
sull' erbe scapigliate-
come pallon volanti
su su pel cielo sono montate-
vuote -senza splendore-

vital cloaks
of putrid somnolence.
flying around in spirals -near the ground-
like butterflies demolishing themselves.
insect sacrifices.
chronometric harmony
of decomposition.
excitement of intense couplings
like a feverish whirring of moths.
full moons -moons floating
above the rumpled grass-
like flying balloons
they have climbed up in the sky-
without splendor.-- Bino San Miniatelli (circa 1929).
Bino San Miniatelli ( 1896-1984 ) was a prolific poet, novelist, and short story writer who founded the review Noi. Of mixed Dada and Futurist tendencies, the journal -published in Rome- featured numerous contributions by the Zurich group. This is an excerpt from his poem "Concime" ("Manure").

Monday, November 1, 2010

Knowledge surplus?

Alfredo Triff

What is the problem of knowledge? Not that we don't know. But that we know too much. The recent financial crisis happened not because of ignorance, but because a surplus in knowledge (example: deregulation and its banking instruments, such as derivatives, being applied to the economy with insufficient data).

The received idea is that knowledge goes hand in hand with the problems and challenges of the present (i.e., the Theory of Relativity was discovered against the background of Maxwell's electromagnetic equations). In a sense knowledge is context-bounded.

Welcome to the hall-of-mirrors of knowledge!

Given a problem, we figure we need "new" knowledge to deal with it. It follows that the "new" knowledge ignores the context of the "old" knowledge (a structural and political fault): A battle of survival, a sort of tectonic struggle between both knowledge/versions. For a time the prevailing knowledge works fine, then something falters. The breakthrough is that the "new" knowledge actually didn't stand up to the problem. We loose faith, and look back. Now the "old" knowledge seems to make sense, only the context has shifted (did it really?). We try to re-revise our knowledge, but there's no way back. What we've missed is not about knowledge. Yet, there's only piled up neglected knowledge to come back to.* We have no choice but to produce more "new" knowledge. 

Isn't it obvious that we have accumulated enough?

Moreover, being that "problem" itself is a knowledge/category, what if there was no  "problem" to begin with? 
*Kurt Gödel's undecidability theorem starts from a similar paradox. Gödel constructed a formula that proved that no system (including explanatory systems) can be both comprehensive and consistent, for in striving to be comprehensive it would have to account for itself, and it cannot do that and be consistent.