Thursday, May 25, 2006

Creatively Pasteurized

The title comes from a great spam poem I received in my InBox and adequately sums up my feelings on mixing artmaking + moneymaking. The combo just curdles and neutralizes all the joy of doing art for me. Thinking and working in a honest fashion is hard enough without having to add making a serious career and/or living from it. So which will it be...Am I a thinker or a laborer? (as mia fineman puts it via artpowerlines) Fascinating.) Maybe it's destined to be a little of both (thinking AND doing, but not in fineman's art world), if I plan on keeping sane.

It's a very perverted system we have that attaches everything to money (corporate fashion funding, and corruption) as a rate of exchange. Let's be honest, the art market isn't selling artwork...that's just the fancy candy wrapper, what's for sale are levels of greed and egotism. I'm sure an economist, sociologist or historian would be better qualified to speak, but when did the barter system fade from the economic vernacular? Surfing through a slew of blogs during a night of insomnia, I found it curious that so many blogs talk about the values and virtues of collecting art as good investment. Invested in what, exactly? Status (of being so-called cultured)? The manipulations of certain gallerists, curators and their ilk, per Gusky's web of conversation? or how about the supposed non-elitist attitude Ashes discusses re: Winkelman? Not to be ignored, but certainly best to be aware of the system that plays like a broken record from traditional and alternative views alike (good to maintain perspective).

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Drawing It Out

Ashes' recent post makes some good points about honesty in art. I think it links into the meaning of generosity I've been ruminating over lately. Can you really give what you don't own? (re: HighLowbetween's comment on painting what you know). What is that missing link synapse that leads us to (unknown) breakthroughs? How do you keep artistic sincerity from becoming rote visual cues for the real thing?

Subconsciously, I seem to devote a bunch of time to sorting out truth. Two particular dreams come to mind. In 2002, I woke up in a half drowsy state and wrote in my journal, "Treasure hunt where we look for the right words, but soon come to realize what we are in search of is something beyond words, entering into the realm of (visceral) experience." In another dream in 2004, while on residency in South Africa, I was again searching for "the truth", this time at a thrift store. All these people were swarming around this wood barrel filled with shoes. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about and squeezed in. The shoes all had matches, but you had to dig to find the other side. One kept surfacing, it was a Mondrian painting shaped as a high heel shoe (not a shoe with a Mondrian pattern). Everyone wanted to fit them, but no one could. I picked them up myself wondering, "Who fits a shoe this small?" and turned them over to see the size: 4C. Out of curiosity, I tried them on. Surprisingly, they fit. When I woke up, I made some connections: what is the "other side" (of truth?); if the shoe fits, wear it; to foresee the truth(?!); what is it with my fixation on Modernism?; how about the unMondrian shoe form?; how does Derrida fit into all this?; what language are we really talking about here?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Another Bus

On the way to Tanya Hastings' art opening this evening (beautiful), I saw a bus turn a corner. The destination on the LCD screen was NOWHERE IN PARTICULAR. Would have been nice to hitch a ride.

One's destination is never a place, but a new way of looking at things. - Henry Miller


Every now and again my head wanders back to the idea of generosity and what that means on a small scale, in my artwork, and more broadly, in the everyday. A self-less act (w/out ego), as a way of expressing beauty (per comments in last post). Lately, I've been drawn more and more to the idea of public art with a small 'p', no pronouncements, posturing or publicity. Thinking about works that quietly intervene in the landscape to be seen, not seen, destroyed or preserved by the random passerby. Looking for an ephemeral experience that allows nature to take its course.

Last night, I had a tiny rhinestone epiphany from a seemingly casual conversation with a studiomate about art outside the gallery and public service. It was interesting catching myself jumping automatically to words like 'the underprivileged' and 'non-profit' when doing charity or volunteering came up. (eeks. how totally embarassing and arrogant of me).

Sure, I read Lewis Hyde's The Gift, a good Krishnamurti book here and there, and a bunch of 'important' books (you know the kind...the ones that look good on bookshelves for the houseguests. HA), but how much of that turns into actual walk and not talk? I was reminded just yesterday of the correct attitude (spirit) of generosity vs. do-gooderism. In his usual, soft-spoken way, Chris said that he didn't volunteer at a place, but that he volunteered in his own way by fasting one day a week. At first glance that doesn't seem particularly charitable,...but as he said, it's one day that he can stop being a consumer (of food and consumerism). A sense of discipline comes to mind. So does quiet action. The value of small things. It really hit me that generosity as a form of volunteering doesn't happen at places, but in life, not once or twice a week at a designated time and place, but potentially everyday in all sorts of unexpected ways.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Cast(e) System

This might be a bit of a ramble, but I want to pull together a variety of thoughts I've had swimming around lately that seem entirely separate, but in my mind are fundamentally the same. They relate to the recent NY Times article on "post-conceptual" art , Harper's May 2006 article about Pig Production, Art food chain postings by HighLowBetween (Preserving Our Cultural Heritage) and Art Powerlines (Post-Skill Era), Eye-drops' comments on the shape of a road, my new Coomaraswamy read: Christian and Oriental Philosophy of Art, formerly titled: Why Exhibit Works of Art? (Thanks Ashes!) and the concept of instability (within my artwork.)

The Harper's article talked about selective pig making (ala Monsanto) and stud pigs that can't stand up or survive in the wild anymore due to too many genetic modifications to (ends justifies the means) produce pork that is as uniform and cost effective to package and profit from as possible. I think we are closer to cloning than we think....and it's not just our pigs. The story behind pig farming was terrifying, but not much different than our current social systems of thought (art, politics, consumerism, etc...) which seem just as artificially inseminated.

per ART
In the Beginning....
there was the thought, and what manifested physically.
(Now) In the Middle are all these people, further up on the food chain (supposedly) who are putting their fingers and angled cuts (commissions+hype) into every artistic pie, and artists, in turn....using the same mould, casting their own pattern for a food chain underling (fabricators are the new black in bureaucratic middlemen fashion)

The public seems blinded by the bling of supposed safety and democracy, via war, torture, lying or by any means possible. Are people finally seeing the pyramid scheme that's been built up? Isn't it about time this illusion collapse and be crushed by its own weight?

In the End...what comes out the play-dough$$ extruder??

People and pigs that can't think or fend for themselves, nodding in sheepish agreement in pig-pen structures that don't support or offer constructive ins-n-outs. In an attempt to keep things predictable (i.e. safe), we've created/imposed upon ourselves a belligerently static dystopia based on fear and greed that seems anti-darwinian, anti-evolution and has made us hyper-vulnerable to ever-changing mutations (i.e. progress) that are beyond our control (try as we may).

I guess what I'm asking about is, ultimately, (the underlying) Structure (of thought - the foundation).
Just thinking about how similar, wonky and unstable the pattern of thought is behind all these seemingly unrelated actions of farming, art, politics (and everything, come to think of it). Wondering how to think not only outside the box, but perhaps re-think a whole new form. (What is the shape of the road?) Bring on the Post-Box Era!

(Artists by virtue of their vocation think they make a career of innovation and thinking out of the box....but is that really true?)

The difference between form and shape.
. . . content and contour.

(Click to enlarge. Refresh page if needed.)

If the way we think about things remains the same, whether it's uniform pig parts, gallerists + artists, Democrats + Republicans, then we're simply spinning our wheels like a hamster. A bit like musical chairs...everyone grabs a similar seat and someone's left out (the artist, the independent, whatever the label). Could it be that the best thing that could have happened to that person was that (s)he was forced out of the game? Maybe this is an opportunity to start a new game, with new rules.