Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Unfinished Business...

rh quaytman @ miguel abreu

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 ( 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...

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