Wednesday, December 9, 2009
When asked to summarize normative trends in contemporary art in a (somewhat) recent Texte Zur Kunst, Alex Alberro concludes with the following:
"With the ideals of the institution of art and of other Enlightenment institutions in ruins, contemporary artists who continue to work in - and rework - the legacy of the artistic avant-garde are left to choose between contemplating the moribund cultural apparatus and engaging with social conflicts far beyond it. The most interesting contemporary art fuses these irreconcilable positions."
Despite its strangely oedipal, Kramer vs. Kramer intimations, Alberro's curt last sentence does speak with great relevance to the considerable crisis of criticality within the exhibition of contemporary art today, be it in a kunsthalle or on mediafire. The core division of contemporary critique between a practice of constituent activism and a practice of self-reflexive participation is certainly an antagonizing dilemma for those who find themselves on either side of this landfill-allergic chasm; where, to generalize, the activist is haunted by the (cynical?) participant's custodial concern for (however ruined) aesthetic traditions and its attendant publicity, subsequently the participant seems haunted by the activist's idealized political "integrity" of by-passing such a custodianship. Even though both positions are undeniably palpable solutions to the potential aporia of exhibiting/activating critique within the capitalist cultural apparatus, the bone I wish to pick has to do with the death that encouraged such a split, that of the Enlightened art institution as it collapsed into the ruins of culture industries.
Like a horror film villain, it is easy to declare something (an idea, a community, a subject, etc.) dead for the sake of narrative clarity, yet only to allow such a "something" to given its its fiscally solvency. This fiscal logic, the fluid sense of undying forms, is predicated on the desire to witness the ascesis of the sensible and ethical (with its narrative materializations) trangressed into guilt-free pleasure. If a cultural form resists death to the point of "rebirth", did it ever die in the first place? That is, if desire (with its never-hesitant de/re-territorializing reboots) is the wellspring of subjective formation, does "death" even exist? When looking at the "moribund" cultural apparatus, the object so central to contemporary art's claim on criticality, is it truly deserving of such death rattles? Or instead might it be that "death" is in fact a libidinally-deprived object always open to ecstatic remortaging, thus always open to the possibility of its existence over whatever silence is brokered by its discursive "death"? Would it be then that the history of contemporary art, as it is proceeds from its "modern" origins, through the actualization such a cluster of libidinal desires be better represented through gestures that seem life-endowing rather than death-ennabling?
where laibach self-consciously merged the ecstasies of the fascist ritual with europe's emergent club/rave culture, its little german nephew Rammstein managed to graft the erotics of the fascist body onto the turn of the millenium cryptohomo gym culture...
overidentification> nsk, posing as an idol as demonstration of this televisual fascism's very hollowness, like miming, the clearly inverted postmodern subject where political form becomes aesthetic practicet>>>bernadette corporation, a dispersal of hypercapitalist forms, its proliferating organless bodies positioned as the aesthetics of postsubject politics.
nsk's avowed purposeness is certainly what dates it, its attempt to reclaim politics for the avant garde or even as the avant garde, since it is this very purposeness that inspires the more insipid and tacky culture jammers of the present day--which i believe runs a deeply vast gamut from something like the yes men, coco fusco and overproduced, overdetermined politicized pretensions of what can generically be termed "biennial art." the rhizomatic production of BC is a better heir.
Power's construction of "human" feeling: the ecstasy of the fascist ritual or the melancholic imprisonment of neoliberalism--why should one be deprived the base feelings historically perveted by their ritualization? now i don't mean to position sentiment or feeling as a means of recovering a subject in it absence (there is no subject to alienate, rather the subject is construed in its alienation), rather the sentimental intensity of being held (captive or free) as a subject of power is not something to dismiss; especially within an artistic context whose ideal goal (in my estimation) is the exposure of such an intensity, the very conditions of "being-held"-ness, to the viewer. Given the ethical tradition of interpreting power as either good or evil, in subcultural music especially, one sees the cultural reaction to this subjectivization bisecting into two representations: "good" neo-ascetism/iconoclasm (sXe, veganism, andrea zittel, etc.) and the "bad" mimicry of baroque capitalist/fascist rituals (skinheads, satanism, neo-paganism, etc.); pulling these two methods, the right and left hand path of cultural resistance, into seemingly unconsolable opposition. Yet anyone who has ever stared at a yin-yang might know the solution: two opposite entities whose mingling weaves the veil of Maya cast over our eyes
unlike many of their contemporaries, BC's overidentification with the neoliberal ego never directly occupies the historically coded avatars of "art." It is one of the few anartistic beyonds that manages to find one (of many) homes in a gallery.
Money is always there but the pockets change; it is not in the same pockets after a change, and that is all there is to say about money. - Gertrude Stein
burr's take on sexual identity as it is understood art historically seems quaint in comparison to the far less closeted approaches out there, hawkins, hardy, olesen. while unequivocally faggy, burr's interest in allegorizing closeted sexuality through sublimated aesthetic codes (minimalist theatricality primarily) feels nearly archaic not only in the vintage sources (minimalism, pre-guiliani nyc, john cage, kate bush, etc.) but also in his insistence on the trenchcoated latency of the sexual other. but then again marc camille chaimowicz's mothballs are feeling fresh to many people...
Integral to The Mystery Method is the use of a "Neg," a backhanded compliment intended to snub a potential mate ("target"), telegraph a lack of interest ("false disqualification"), encourage the target to prove their worth ("qualify"), and simultaneously disarm 'obstacles' such as protective male or female friends. While I find no use of such techniques in my personal life - for better or worse my sexuality doesn't hinge on the conception of women as "targets," however when it comes to this (sometimes) backhanded blog it is the chicken to my egg. Blogging has mustered up a small miracle by somehow condensing negging with "peacocking," the technique of drawing attention to yourself by dressing like this (link pic of mystery). By negging Sam Lewitt with comparisons to Sancho Panza or saying that Olivier Mosset paints with no fat chix stickers it is not dissimilar from cruising Wierd with a Spencer's Gifts sandwich board. If this last sentence is any indication, Miguel Abreu gallery has received a fair share of my peacocked negs, all with the kind hearted intention of merely giving them a hard time a la Mystery kino escalating a rape whistle.
The most curious aspect of Mystery's art of seduction is that it is not an art per se but rather the type of magical sleight of hand that might earn someone such a ridiculous moniker - in fact Mystery is merely a highly publicized exemplar of a magical subgenre dubbed Attraction Magic (http://lifemagic.wordpress.com/). Like the matter of fact technique which creates the mystique of performing magicians, Mystery's method is in fact a deeply rigorous series of conversational cues that, through their proper application, rig a diversionary smoke and mirrors so as to not only psychically enchant its audience (which is in this case is considered a "target") but also physically seduce them. The mystery of Mystery lies in this beguiling transmog of abstracted social relations into physical actuality, the mystery in which the games of language materialize into sensual contact. In many ways, this "mystery" is simply the transposition of magic's spectacular staging unto the semi-private domain of interpersonal relationships; swapping seduction's intimate "art" for the publicized spectacle that is "magic."
The veil of mystery that cloaks the possible relationships between sensuality and language - and its ambiguous terrain of public/private distinctions - is by no means exclusive to the artless practice of fooling women into discretionary lapses, said veil remains ineradicable to the ever-artful practice of painting - especially given this medium's awkward encumbrance of aesthico-politics both public and private. While the word mystery is sprinkled throughout painting right down to the mystery of its very origin (not to mention its tremendous valuation by other cultural forms), to this myopic mind, mystery makes a notable stage entrance in the few decades padded before and after the turn of the 20th century as an opaque shadow to modernity's increasingly sublimated clarity - from the pagan anachronisms of Moreau and Böcklin to the homophonic pranks of Picabia and Duchamp reach out a hook to pull modern painting's enlightened clarity back into the shadows.
As another decade happens to close, increasingly publicized is the interest of artists - New York ones especially - to reconvene modernist abstraction and its histories in the endarkened corners of its very own rehearsal; drawing the form of its performing body not with a history founded in Helmholtz's optics and Cezanne's tracings but instead finding form in the very absence of the stage of painting's expected performance. While this absence is certainly provoking, there is often a twinge of macho disregard to such bodily abandonment in both senses of the word. Think not only of Mystery's offstage "magic shows" but also Def Leppard's historically renowned mid-show exit to the unseen stage bays of their very own elaborate spectacle so as to get a piece of mom'n'daughter - all while their freakshow drummer remains on stage "sugar-free." Or the notches in Rich Aldrich's belt as he moves from "cup to cup"... (there's that peacocking/negging again. I mean no harm Aldrich...) Thanks to this historical carte blanche perversely received by those who embrace the behavoirs and attitudes of "men", the readiness and willingness to which they are predisposed to disappear from (or simply mock) the stage of historical crisis seems strangely similar to paying child support or paging a wingman to drop a chick at the abortion clinic (While I don't want to get into it but could this be why painting's mortality is so readily a concern? It's incomplete nascence always under the practical necessity of being aborted?). Or are they simply blinded by the light? Wrapped up like a douche running off in the night?
this is not to say that painting's claim on "life" is intrinsic to an essentialized social body or expectation, rather when the discourse of contemporary painting hinges on a belief of life and death, a reproductive body seems the embodiment this discourse. Furthermore my reference to "painting's reproductive body" isn't meant to enforce a heteronormative conception of artistic life-endowing and death-cheating. When contemporary human reproduction has just as much to do with turkey basters, petri dishes and overpopulated 3rd world countries as it does with the heterosexual reproductive act, it is foolish to revert to historical normativity. Rather the literalized semiosis of sexuality within contemporary bodies is worth consideration. Thanks to the simultaneous mainstreaming of body modification and plastic surgery (plus its synthetic form, gender-reassignment surgery), the nowadays language of gender has a very blunt manner in which it's spoken.
as hetero norms fades into another historical twilight, it is why so many artists use painting as a site to not only eulogize but also commence an archeological dig out to publicly expose its biopolitical foundations (but is it a real dig, or simply its allegorical performance? is it king tut's or al capone's tomb?)? While Chazz Bono has daydreams of little rascals tugging at his ankles learning to pronounce "daddy," both kelley walker and jutta koether use the publicized site of painting to eulogize a pre-AIDS new york. Koether is especially didactic with the allegorical staging of this site, keeping the painting halfway on the performing stage, halfway off getting a guilt-free beej (or picketing, or both), but such ambiguities strictly ground the work as "contemporary." like the mystery method, this sort of contemporary painting spectacularly and self-consciously publicizes the once-private social relations that find themselves on canvas. yet this exposure of one's own private domain to the proscenium of spectacle is a very peculiar movement, as it semiotically reassociates social alterity as nominal acceptance; moving from radically queer to the empowerment of a joint-bank account. . perhaps this also answers why everyone still clamors not only for paintings but self-aware ones that act simultaneously as historical custodian and miscreant to its very categorical existence, in a sense paintings formed not through the border-drawing construction of an "other" but by the border-crossing/collapsing transpostion of "otherness" onto its self.
quaytman privatizes painting's spectacle, blinded by the light of painting's spectacular contemporary-ness, narrates painting's nominal tender.
quaytman's paintings which seem blinded by their very painting-ness, by the stage on which they elect to remain.
quote blanchot work of fire, rimbaud in regards to quaytman's non-lozano absence, absence/abandon...
When I was in college, for several days a week, I assisted the curator of contemporary art at my school's small museum. Growing up in a part of the US and then going to school in another part that both would be--without hesitation--dubbed "regional" in relation to the urbanized hegemony of an international art economy I typically longed for the discursive primacy/intimacy offered by a city like the one emblazoned in the title of this very blog. When the curator mentioned that the museum had just received a grant to purchase (relatively inexpensive)
British art (my favorite past-time at this menial job was looking for "deals" in auction catalogues) my cow-pie naïveté surged forth and timidly recommended Merlin Carpenter, who at the time was having his Tarantino-quoting RSFA debut. BTW I know nothing about the pricing of his work and am a great admirer. In the end I believe my old boss opted for something along the slickly communicative lines of a Liam Gillick or Martin Boyce multiple...Anyway...
Given the little I know of his person, Carpenter's that is, I do find a bit of irony at work with the generally allergic reaction that his perverse criticality garners among "regional" tastes as the town of his birth--with its 6,000 residents--is far from what one might call "centralized." (I should note that his work was just included in a broad group exhibition on history painting at the '90s favorite regional alma pater, UMich. Aside from internet research, I also know
nothing about England's geography...correct me if I'm wrong...)
I am projecting a lot of my experience on this little shred of bio, no doubt misrecognizing the respect I have for such a practice with something that I feel is personally relatable. As soon as one adorns the artistic subjectivity necessary of contemporary artistry, they are then thrust toward internationalized art's discursive hegemony through one of its many foci (city, school, friends, etc.). What, of course, ensues is probably written in stone somewhere. It is a maudlin,
done-to-the-Dickens tale fraught with the usual heapings of disillusionment, angst and the perennial postponement of cathartic integration--especially if such a thing isn't even desired. Well, that or--everything works out perfectly. Anyway, out of the self-indulgent critical (or is it juvenile) desire for empathy I truly hope this rote yet resonant personal narrative tale is present in Carpenter's acerbic pissings. As profanity trails the sacred, so, too, the country mouse.
The narrative of provincial tension is certainly miniaturized discursively by its contextualization within the internationalized/globalized economy of art, leaving behind rarified micro-economies tied to such narratives. Compared to some of the artists who exhibit work along similar narrative lines as that of Carpenter, the guy ain't so bad off. Yet simultaneous to these rarified microeconomies (or perhaps boutique economies) exists a vaster libidinal economy pingponging across the planet, incongruously caught between aping such an economy's Samantha and its lumpen muselmann--amalgamating financial solvency with the pretense of discursive "Realness". Perhaps this is best literalized when a gallery performance by Marina Abramowicz was included in an episode of Sex and the City. Did the Balkanized body get a makeover? I wish the enormous cow baby that Zhang Huan made for the same gallery had a chance of
making on it the show.
One such Samantha/muselmann-mime happened to be a favorite of this former employer, Cuban-born body artist Tania Bruguera. Thanks to my sensitive palate for boutique affairs, the globalized body art of Bruguera's or Abramowicz's ilk (not to mention a flash-in-the-pan like
Aliza Shvarts) are artistic practices that makes me politely gag simply for even knowing what it is. No doubt this genre of body art's utter un-selfconscious "expression" of, in my viewpoint, an over-rehearsed political reality to an audience so wide that only a few can afford it is what makes lil' ol' boutique moi cover my mouth with a napkin or, in a more vitriolic mood, yak it up all over the place. Yet these blunt horizons of standard-issue liberal topicality and the spectacle to which they submit their bodies are probably what makes this art so appealing to a person, like my former employer, whose job is to present--with mild provocation--these works to a spectacularized provincial norm. Hmm, is Jonathan Horowitz a pirate bay contemporary of these women?
Somehow TJ Clark's discussion of Ab-Ex's vulgarity comes to mind. Its reflection on the provincial tensions (in his case abstract expressionism's new world vs. old world iterations) that emerge within the internationalization of artistic production seems truly relevant to these present-day considerations. This is not not to rekindle the criticality of a position like Bruguera's but rather to hold the vast discursivity that such a position adumbrates into critical tension
with the rarified gastronomy of nebbish micro-economies. Perhaps unforseen doors will open if we follow the specters that pass throughout this proposed tension; between a contemporary art whose profound communicativity is rooted in the spectacularization of bodies and another whose boutique subjectivities offer themselves as vehicles of flight from such bodily subscription. Or perhaps these doors will just slam in our face...
In truth, I only bring up this tension after reading this dumb meme (ed. note: NYAL doesn't endorse this linked blog...) on a recent coke-related scandal involving Bruguera (initially posted here) I'd simply like to offer to my readers the following spot the diff game between the two images below, both relating to recent performative works/stunts by Carpenter and Bruguera. Where does Horowitz's Rob Pruitt fit in??
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
While NYFAL is now jerrymagoo.blogspot.com, for posterity's sake I'm re-upping the nyfal archive with privileged access. If you know of anyone who'd like to be invited, have them email firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll take care of the rest.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Not a chance! The master of the "think piece," Seth Price posted an excellent essay, Teen Image, on Art Fag City last week. It's a crying shame that I only read it today. Coincidence or not, there is eerie similarity to his performance piece with Kelley Walker, Freelance Stenographer,in that the comments that trail the work are utterly terrifying. Here's his conclusion, my fav part <:-P
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
According to the last Scorsese movie, the Irish are immune to psychoanalysis. So where does that leave the Dutch? Lily van der Stokker letting it all hang out in a group show @ Air de Paris.
HOLY SHIT! The Aerosmith of neo-expressionism, Clemente drops a seriously adorable load on Thad Ropac. Don't fall off the stage!
A pearl in a shitty oyster, vintage Fecteau @ sum dum group show at Overduin & Kite.
The only "institutional critique" artist who can muster a laugh, John Knight @ Richard Telles.
Making sure no one pours milk in the radiator, my distant cousin John Miller at Kunsthalle Zurich.
The classiest man in LA? Anthony Pearson @ Boesky was certainly one of the classiest NY shows of the year so far... Pearson shows that there's more to good photography than just tossing Chris Williams and Jan Groover into the same petri dish.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
If the visits I get to my site are any indication, K8 Hardy is well on her way. Since posting a pic of her moist environs a month or so ago my hits have quadrupled. Now this either has something to do with the NY Times fashion feature on her or the fact that she's a LGBT hott posed in a way that leaves little to the imagination - a little bit of both perhaps... Her current show at Reena Spaulings, To All the G#%$! I’ve Loved Before, certainly is worth the considerable attention it has received (or, at least, what I think it has...). Though I (mostly) rescind the gentle mocking of my preview, where I wrote "RSFA finds its inner Koh with a newly realized installation of 'I remember,'" I only meant to troll Hardy's necessary careerism... It's easy to get on the case of someone who is not only one step away from having a doctorate in fine art but also whose dual involvement in the constituent practices of subcultural lifestyles and art world "celesbrity" inadvertantly paints the picture of affixing ye ol' gold umblical cord between the two (she certainly would never see it this way, see postscript). Even still, why pay antiquariat prices for 'zines that are generally traded for some poorly dubbed Team Dresch or Punch demos?
Yet it's Hardy's very immediacy/intimacy to the these sorts of "scenes" - and all the alternative politics they adumbrate - that gives the less xerox, more traditional art in her new show its IDGAF zeal. Looking at Hardy's earlier 'zine-centric work, one often feels the predictability of someone who's figured a way to cheat Kinkos for free copies, allowing them to save all of their hard-earned co-op nickels & dimes for an Irigaray tat or a licentious seitan potluck. However, with this current show, Hardy's contextual placement of a familiar art idiom - "gendered" photography - within the libinally-invested bricolage so quintessential to subcultural scene-ry gets the blood pumping more than a Judith Butler sex tape. Such results divests the semiotic chastity (or is it latent paterphilia?) of gendered politics by simply chucking a second-hand bra in its face, leaving viewers with many a Cosi Fanni Tutti wettie to be had. Very much like the press release, the work moves impishly downward from rationalized discourse to the id-fueled insouciance of a lived experience that knows better than to overdetermine (or worse, paternalize) sexuality's oceanic flows. You've probably already seen it but catch it before it closes on sunday...
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Marc Camille Chaimowicz finally comes to the states with a new-ish show at a renewed Artists Space. A resassembled '72 piece, Enough Tiranny (MCC may have tacked on "rehashed" to the title of this 2k9 version), thoroughly takes advantage of the sq.-foot maximizing Asher-inspired renovation that the NFP just underwent (the naked studs are bit much though...). You readers may be aware that I'm not one to sweat details (I didn't study art history), so - just to let ya know - I'm not even going to bother sorting through the matters of fact of this "ephemeral" reconstruction of koi ponds and disco balls. Perhaps one reason why it's not quite worth the effort is that, thanks to the now-abstracted hubris of mechanical reproduction, MCC's scatterings feel as "timeless" as what he scatters together.
Harlequin masks, Mick Jagger, Jean-Pierre Leaud & Juliet Berto, children's toys are always available as much as china still manufactures them or as long as you don't have to resort to rapidshit. Is "Le Gai Savoir" so timeless that an art world queering of its political airs deems remake, reboot? Is it MCC that doesn't believe in the linearity of time or the psychomachinery behind the lowballing of his detritus actually the true believer? After all MCC really means history when he says time; time is mere tautology (hence its eternities) and history is the negotiable attempt to think it otherwise.
With this in mind, to history MCC's a serious whiz kid and a quick look back to '72 makes one realize how necessary it is to remap the historical situation of the postminimal scatter, to parse time into history not with a butcher's knife or molten lead but with plastic flowers, the Silver Surfer, Moroccan keef and music hall queenery. Through controversy, Ives' fudged dates so as to throw the bandstand - with all its maudlin affects - into the modernist blender, counterattacking the Europeans' (im)proper claim (recently Tony Conrad has accomplished a similar historical coup in order to politically redress La Monte Young's authorial claim on minimal music). Through the eternal reoccurrence (or perhaps Mike Browning's time machine), MCC - from the other side of the pond - now fudges the first mourning of such a blender so as to dab blush (in shades both flamboyant and introspective) on its "no homo" (post)industrial standard.
Yet regardless of such necessary revisionism regarding a very specific historical site, ghosts still linger in Soho, well maybe one who used to live next door (more on that later...). MCC's sculpture as interior decor (which becomes an increasingly explicit relation in his recent, unrevisited work), which in turn seems a literal take on the theatricality Michael Fried found so disturbing of minimalist forms. This conflation of theatre with art, or more clearly, the opening up of the art object to the theatrical (which, of course, wasn't Fried's intention), in many ways invokes, to this naive mind, the 19th century gesamtkunstwerk, albeit in postindustrially nocturnal terms - think nowadays how often one reads in a press text that the art on display is "prop-like" or a mere "theatrical stand-in" for the real thing; for the immaterial theater of life that only art seems capable of materializing.
This recontextualized GKW however deserves far greater consideration than what I can offer in this brief review (as it sits somewhere between Rosalind Krauss' expanded field and Hal Foster's ethnographic turn) but to quickly discuss: it has much to do with the expansion of art into the discursivity of bodies and publics; into an art that can potentially frame the cultural stage in its aesthetic twilight; not the synthetic expansion of art into comprehensive totality that seeks to circumscribe the entirety of the other but instead the chronicles of a subjective movement from singularity to multiplicity by any means necessary.
Ambiguously a filmmaker, dramaturge, or a performance artist yet unambiguously an artist first and foremost, Jack Smith is exemplary in this regard and serves as an interesting counterpoint to the historical site of MCC's dime-store droppings. In fact it is near impossible to view any dolled-up scatter, MCC's or not, and not think of Smith. Where MCC seems actually interested in exhibiting work, collaborating with its institutional frame as a communicative site; Smith seemed to endlessly resist such sacralized dispositifs, preferring instead the refusal of such sacraments vis-a-vis the insolvent baseness of life itself. Yet, of course, no matter, how incorrigibly resistant, no good artist can escape hagiography, especially in a social realm that readily sacralizes the act of de-sacralizing (see the jewel-like display of Michael Asher apocrypha that greets Artists Space visitors). Smith's resistance could always be traced back to life, grafting artistic conflict christ-like onto the very body of the artist; in MCC's work such traces remain tied to art, keeping his body gingerly at recess, allowing art itself to masquerade freely without thoughts of Oberammergau.
The example of Smith's ghost, the ghost of physical refuse and refusal, is hard to forget - no thanks to its crypto-religiosity - when looking at MCC's show, a show that seems a petting zoo in comparison. I, for one, had to keep holding back the desire to see the work compete with the melodramatic extremes that was Smith's alienating stock in trade (well, that's changed recently... ). Yet in truth, MCC's shy resistance - one that doesn't go wild in the streets but invites others into its messy bedroom/stage/gallery for hippie-ish conviviality or mascara lessons- shouldn't be so readily dismissed simply for not having the histrionics of Smith's unintelligibly profound beauty school drop-out. It is as if the mid point between Smith, his nemesis Warhol, the steely dudes who never cared for either and all those longhairs is suddenly MCC's opium dream of an installation.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The other week I met someone who was going off on a show that I casually mentioned a couple posts ago, Jon Pestoni and Zak Prekop at Lisa Cooley gallery. This acquaintance couldn't get past the fact that next door Miguel Abreu had decided to hang Olivier Mosset as part of a sequential group exhibition, and kept insisting that Mosset was the "godfather" of Pestoni's and Prekop's "limp" (not my word...) practices. Now a statement such as that is the sort of bullshit that's so easy to spot when someone says it but so hard to let go of its clutching vices a week or so after first hearing it--well at least for me.
Given painting's once heterosex/macho historical traditions, being a godfather to "limp" painting seems a curious badge to wear; yet as such traditions recede into the discursive twilight (as it has been for some time now...), "limpness" in macho-painting is to be praised and admired (think of Krebber as an example). Yet within Mosset's hog-riding oeuvre it is a little harder to detect "limpness."
Mosset first exhibited, to my knowledge, in Daniel Buren's '66-67 version of the Dziga Vertov Group, BMPT. Mosset and his collaborators--Buren, Niele Toroni and Michel Parmentier--typified the mid-century exposure of painting to its zero degree and the subsequent opening of such nil-quantities to the political aggressiveness of Lettrist and Situationist tactics. Yet as BHD Buchloh wonders in his retrospective take on the group the group's politicization of this aesthetic void, Buren's especially, such artistic horizons do not come problem-free:
Had we arrived at the point where artistic practice has to mimic the mass-cultural forms of advertising if it is to remain at all visible in whatever residual (or mythical) public spaces are left to us? At what precise historical moment will artistic practice have declined to such an extent as to fully fuse with the very mechanisms of ideological suture that it supposedly critiques? That decline was at first hesitantly, and then enthusiastically, embraced by Buren in his transition from conceiving spatial structures as analytical and phenomenological situations for the viewer's self-determination to thinking instead of spatial experience as an art consumer's celebratory disco design.
Comparing Buren's post-BMPT development and subsequent influence on present-day artists with Mosset's becomes a shell game of choosing the lesser of two ills; where of course Mosset's "limp" cynicism is a more desirable option to Buren's "aggressive" cynicism in the same sense that, given his Mosset-derived "authentic" mystique, Steve Parrino is more desirable than Takashi Murakami--even though they both show at Gagosian.
Toroni, by contrast, remained obstinately, almost idiocally loyal to modernist pictorial mark making. And the self-reflexive positivist signal of a merely iterative facture acquired, in contrast to Buren's ever-expanding empire of decoration, a strangely resistant dimension. As though the very materialist trace of the serialized and regularized deposit of pigment, in its seeming inanity was more impervious to fetishization and spectacularization, and as if its anonymous intimacy granted its viewers a last gasp of what painting might have had to offer.
Toroni's resistant idiocy, or political "limpness" when compared to Buren's expansive politicality, does seem particularly relevant today, specifically for a necrophilic economy like contemporary painting--a necrophilia Mosset gleefully milks. Rather than mung dogging corpses like Mosset, Toroni libidinally engages paint like a fool who doesn't know what a boner is, preferring rather to endlessly map the site of art with his modernized fetish like the Marquis de Sade eunuch'd into iconoclasm. Considering Buchloh's testimony, Toroni--with his idiotic obstinacy, his "limp" yet limpid artistic horizons, atypical libidinal investiture--is much more of a godfather to a pair of painters like Pestoni and Prekop than the cynical bone-zone of Mosset and his designer, cigarette-choked children.
With Pestoni's paintings in particular the viewer is treated to work that looks as if it's incongruously caught half way between the authorless facture of Toroni and the inadvertent tomfoolery of someone like Ralph Humphrey or some "new image" painter, two seemingly oppositional tracks of post-minimal painting brought together in uneasy yet inventive tension within seemingly "limp" paintings. Like many other artists today, Pestoni is all too aware of painting's rote, neurotic "can't go on, must go on" economic zombiism and, in subsequent obstinacy, makes paintings like Howard Hawks (or John Carpenter) made genre films. Simply read Pestoni's abstractions along the lines of Manny Farber's discussion of Hawks' termite art:
Buglike immersion in a small area without point or aim, and, over all, concentration on nailing down one moment without glamorizing it, but forgetting this accomplishment as soon as it has been passed; the feeling that all is expendable, that it can be chopped up and flung down in a different arrangement without ruin.
These termite horizons seem to best approximate the share contemporary art has rationed to legit painting these days and Pestoni, like Hawks, makes the best of it. While it's easy to consign one's self to the mystique of contemporary painting's mortuary lust, Pestoni's harebrain'd exploration of the conceptual and emotional forms subjected to the economy of aesthetic desires is, however, a most noteworthy feat this side of Rio Bravo.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Mike Smith & Mike Kelley @ Sculpture Center
Jeez, it took this long for the art world to get to Burning Man--even though I do recall Abreu-tard Jimmy Raskin insisting I play his Burning Man mix at a party once. A truly wonderful show though, filled with the usual MK uncanny, the most striking being Baby Ikki's seamless blending in with the burning man crowd-- a marked contrast from earlier Ikki performances. A plentiful helping of olde-fashioned '90s style sarcasm--see the 30ft tall scrap metal Burning Baby, the real-life babies in a Kelley'd-out mini-thunderdome--is always a good thing for NY's humor-deficient ways; this attitude might also be the best way of approaching the larger problem of an infantalized society and its "subcultural" phantasias like the overpriced and overpoliced BM or its virtual twin, Second Life. I only hope The Gathering is Baby Ikki's next stop. Sascha Cohen could really learn a thing or two...
Zak Prekop & Jon Pestoni @ Lisa Cooley
Like Hayley Thompkins @ Andrew Kreps, abstract painting is tossed through the harmless indie teeth machine. Unlike Thompkins' shitgaze anthems, Prekop readily approximates big bro's, Sam Prekop, pristine thrill jockey musical stylings in paintings that are already clinical renderings of late Krasner and Tworkov rasterized into piquant portrait sizes. Pestoni doesn't hedge his bets with Stadelschuele'd moves like Prekop, rather throws into the ring a potential history of quasi-abstraction rooted not in modernist anthropomorphism but rather in the conceptual aleatories of dadaism. Or so the press release says...
Alistair Frost, Ida Ekblad, David Hominal @ GBE
Killing time before the heavy donk, GBE rolls some multi-sided dice and creates 3 "young" artists out of various mixtures of Michael Werner's roster. 2 parts Polke + 1 part Penck = Alistair Frost; 1 part Baselitz + 1 part Vliet + 1 part that Kieslar show = Ida Ekblad; 1 part Kirkeby + 1 part Penck + 1 part Immendorf = David Hominal. In truth the equation only really works for Frost yet it was actually his work that stood out most among the predictably dumpy heaps that the other artists offer...even though the last thing NY needs to be seeing is a fucking painting of a dress shirt; the international art world's various methods of overidentifying with the oppressor is getting a little out of control (expect more writing on this tack in the future...).
Wood @ Maccarone
Speaking of overidentification, here's an example that inverts the mimed subject, favoring alienated over alienator... A whatever show except for Oscar Tuazon and Eli Hansen's sculptural/architectural Kaczynski-isms. While Tuazon has fostered a fashionable following given his work's FTW themes, I am still enamored with his collaborative practice and its openness to the psychogeographics of off-the-grid living and its lumpen aggregates. While a genuine nutjob like Julie Becker has effected a similar expanded sculptural practice more convincingly, Tuazon and Hanson give it a scout's try.
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