Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Department of "Stick to sawing animals in half, please."

damien hirst mexico

Friday, January 08, 2010

Notes on Christine Boyko-Head 's review of Brian Boyd's "On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition and Fiction (2009)"

New book on evolutionary theory of art. (reviewed by Boyko-Head at the Arbuturian)

...his evolutionary criticism provides a fresh lens through which readers can critically engage with art. But, more significantly, he provides scientific justification for practitioners working to save art from the financial chopping block. Esoteric arguments for art in education, the value of play in schools, creativity in the workforce and in communities now can rest upon a biocultural theory that states such practices “aid the evolution of cooperation and the growth of human mental flexibility”
Written on the book jacket is the statement that the ability to hold an audience’s attention is the fundamental challenge facing all storytellers. Later in the book, Boyd says “works of art need to attract and arouse audiences before they mean”

Monday, November 09, 2009

barely have time to think straight

So - yes - I barely have time to think. Teaching english, trying to get 3 other blogs to turn over a little change, and painting a lightening streak.

You can see some of them over in the studio, though I am cooking up a bunch of different ways that these ones are going to be seen. Heh,  no, no galleries, no art fairs, no competitions.

I guess I have made it about impossible - but that is part of the fun isn't it?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

nothing says "i'm puking" like getting the ArtForum International newsletter in my email!

It actually says "Heh heh" in the banner of the newsletter. I wonder if they learned that on "heh heh - Wall Street?"

So, i opened the thing up and it starts this way:

Nothing says drama like an auction; even when the market is low the theater is packed. Collectors, dealers, and art-world players swarmed to New York last week to watch (and even partake in) the proceedings; every step of the way was there, bringing updates from the scene.
Ha ha, idiots. They'll even partake in it? How fascinating. What is wrong with these retards? NOTHING - NO NOTHING - SAYS DRAMA LIKE MY FOOT UP YOUR LILLY WHITE PSEUDO INTELLECTUAL ASSES.

Then at the bottom, (i guess i actually skipped the entire middle of the newsletter):
Ruben Ochoa has left a tantalizing amount of empty space beyond the piles of earth; the installation encourages curious viewers to pass beneath the hefty concrete. … READ ON.
But that's not bad enough:
The sparse elements in Marc Camille Chaimowicz’s exhibition orchestrate a sparse lyricism that has surrealist overtones and a refined pop dandyism born of 1970s glam. … READ ON
Nothing makes me want to read on - and on - and on - like a refined pop dandyism.

I guess the third one isn't that bad.

“Rummaging,” the third installment of the Bonniers Konsthall’s yearly salon de jeunesse, focuses on artworks that reshape and reconfigure space. … READ ON
I seriously doubt any space is being re-shaped much less reconfigured at salon de jeunesse...

I am still not reading on - I WILL NEVER READ ON. See my last post if you are interested in contemporary art.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

political art practice has to stop being art

This is an ideological rule: the visitors to contemporary art museums, biennials and fairs, Groys points out, are overwhelmingly non-buyers, searching for an “idealized, curated” image of “contradictory art trends, aesthetic attitudes, and strategies of representations.” “Our allegedly post-ideological age also has its own image: the prestigious international exhibition as the image of the perfect balance of power.”

Saturday, May 16, 2009

dreaming of inclusion

last night i was dreaming - no doubt because i was also listening to - the not at all disagreeable series of rambling lectures -Merriman's France Since 1871- of something i haven't thought much of in a very long time - the feeling of absolute exclusion that most university experience left me with.

Somehow i'd ended up at some very private and expensive - but big and shopping mall styled - private university - somewhere in the eastern United States. I seemed to be hanging around with a bunch of female students. There was a long sequence about boating or about being along a lake and all that i seem to recall there is that we were to be having some sort of fun - but i was not enjoying it at all. We were eyeing some very make shift and nearly abandoned boats that had been docked in a shallow area of the lake.

In looking through some of the semi-permanently attached debris - things that had been stuck to some of the boats by the owners - so that the things would remain there, dry until the next season - i managed to find a book in which an envelope and maybe a pair of glasses had been inserted. A quick jab of a finger revealed that some crisp dollar bills were also in that book, and prying it loose, i was able to pocket exactly 16 dollars.

This small victory was enough to convince my friends to abandon the boating idea, and with no other plan in site, we returned to the exclusive university area to which each of seemed very pleased to be returning. I am somewhat sure that i was essentially indifferent to the idea.

There was this sort of quick local idea generated that the place to go was clearly to the sort of common area - which required a valid ID and god-knows what else - a thorough going-over by guards married to the idea that this was a very special place for the students and it shouldn't be sullied by the likes of me.

Needless to say, they got right in. And as I don't normally carry "credentials" any more, the guards rejected the expired New York drivers license I really do keep in a bag that I only reluctantly carry. After some arguing - and i believe a guard had written down at least part of the social security number that I volunteered - i was swiftly and forcibly removed from the premises while - i can only assume - my friends were already cooling their first sips of cafe latte.

At that - and here the logic becomes a little lost on me - i believe i travelled some 3 or 400 miles to somewhere to which i'd originally been heading but to which I was unable to gain entrance. Rather quickly and i believe against my will, i was returned to the area of this university where I explained my plight to a new and relatively established faculty member. He was somewhat more on the down-and-out side of things too and he carried the tools of his trade - a brief case and some books and papers - on a regular workman's dolly, a sort of a rough handtruck. He seemed to scoff at the idea of the guards escorting me out so abruptly and convinced me that there was a much easier way past some of the guards and by which i could be re-united with my companions.

This involved a normal faculty entrance, some brief explanations to someone else and a detour through some of the more service related areas of the university/shopping complex, all the while dragging the handtruck. There was a period where I was waiting in a sort of a men's room/locker/changing area, though sure enough in not much time I was in fact reunited and more of the girls' plans could be discussed and realized. I believe it was night time by now.

The plans included leaving the university mega-complex for some more remote location. Our new instructor would be accompanying us. In the elevator (?) somehow the idea of the safe-work place came up and the girls each reached into a purse or pocket to reveal a "safe work-place" sticker, some sort of university solidarity campaign they'd been working on. One girl's passport also bore a "Working Families" decal on the outside cover. I guess i rather snidely suggested that the place for the "safe work-place" sticker was on the outside of my totally fucked up right hand, something i also don't often dream about.

Monday, May 11, 2009

On being and doing

So this question keeps rattling around in my head - maybe it has since 10 years ago or so...

Why would you want to go to a school where everyone is forced into an identity? Why would you want to be a part of that? Isn't art-school supposed to be totally individualistic and aren't you giving up pretty much all of your identity by being a part of it?
Answering this one isn't getting any easier. People still think somehow art school is supposed to have been this liberating free-for-all where you really can't possibly learn anything - and yet somehow by mastering it - mastering the bullshit that art school is supposed to be - then somehow you survive with some sort of intact "being."

It's a shame I guess. I never was asked to be anything. In some shitty American schools I guess there was a lot of pressure to be something. Be liberal - be strong - be independent minded - all of that nonsense which no one ever was anyway. Be pretentious.

But I mean really. When I think about it - I was never asked to be anything - but I was asked to do a lot of things. That seems to be the difference between a school where you come out with an identity "intact" and one where you come out angry and ready to leap into the machine. Based on all the things I did - and what I learned from doing them - seems to me to have left me believing in my being - and identifying rather strongly with a particular group of artists whom - I gather - think much the same way.

On the other hand then - are the artists who got the degrees from the schools that give degrees - and who got no coaching in being or doing anything. Here and there are some interesting exceptions, but by and large they seem a pretty un-happy bunch, embittered by the system and angry at how thing are or are not going. Unlike me, who is largely indifferent, though I assume I probably sound somewhat embittered here - particularly since I only tend to write here when I am annoyed.

But that's probably beside the point. I still think we are looking at a very serious crisis. 30 years of Reagan-thinking has not left the USA whole, it's not left the world in good shape and it's devastated what passes for thinking about art.

Yeah - I am not embittered because I never made it in New York. I am embittered cause New York never made it in the world. Sure you can buy whatever art you want there, but you can't possibly buy the thinking. Quite simply - cause there isn't much left - there's really only buying now.

So when I get asked if my "being" is compromised by "being" part of a cultish group of artists who all think the same - well I have to assume that the person asking hasn't looked at the alternative. The individual is, perhaps, more truly lost and more repulsively destructive than ever before in the past. That's not saying a lot for "being" free, for "being" creative, for "being" successful.

If anything, being a free agent, being completely uncompromised by philosophical camaradery has left the whole arts community adrift in a sea of its own making, relishing its own irrelevance.

These picture were not taken in New York City. Hand me my robe and some candles.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

invisible places

Below is based on the English version of the notes I took to the interview of the Radio Version of eldefe.com, they had to be pretty extensive as my spanish is not all that strong. The Spanish version will be published on eldefe later today. When I get a link to the audio version, I will post a link to that also. Pepe conducted it and has a lot more to say than is evident here. The radio show is to be broadcast weekly and my segment is on Colonias Perdidas - more or less on hidden or lesser known places in and around the city, also the organizing principle of the website. There are more and better photos of Pantitlan around this blog also.

Why are we talking about Pantitlan [again!]? How did your experience of Pantitlan influence the development of eldefe.com?

First thanks for having me on. I think it is worth saying up front that I studied art and painting and sculpture and that a very important part of that was always going to either really big exhibitions or really big institutions. I always had these few important events emphasized to me as if they were the ultimate in art experience. In particular the Bienale in Venice, Italy, and the Documenta Show in Germany.

And of course I think almost every one that attends these events is bitterly disappointed by the level of accessibility and the kind of inside talking that goes on at any of them. All of the art is about these few cliques or clubs of artists and their snobby keepers, and there are of course some very un-interesting political controversies surrounding each show every year.

Cómo descubriste Pantitlán? (how did u discover Pantitlan?)
So when I got to Mexico, fresh from those kinds of shows I took a part time job a few mornings a week teaching english very near to the new Terminal 2 at the airport. Everyone told me - be very careful at Pantitlan - it's very dangerous. I got a little lost the first few times but I couldn't help but look at the place the same way I looked at Mass MOCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) - which is this huge government funded intervention, installing a massive museum into a collection of equally massive industrial buildings.

The difference is of course, that the various tianguis and puestos surrounding Pantitlan have real stuff, real people, and even situations and "happenings" that are ridiculous, absurd and sometimes beautiful. I mean for example, someone trying to move an enormous load on a diablito that is too small, the dogs are sleeping where ever they like, and at various times one finds an entire puesto wrapped in it's plastic taurpalin and tied up in these tremendous knots of rope - exactly like a Christo sculpture.

Qué sentiste la primera vez que caminaste por la estación y su entorno (How did it feel when u first walked it?)

I mean, it is the very same feeling that I had at Mass MOCA - like - these buildings are great. Where is the art ? Mass MOCA like the Armory at Venice has some so/so art but the environment is just to die for, absolutely breathtaking and enormous. I mean, obviously, at Pantitlan one is in a bit more of a hurry than at a big museum, you're really not supposed to slow down at Pantitlan, even an airport will provide some more waiting rooms and places to relax.

As a foreigner - of course I am always trying to negate my own suppositions and not to be too strong about forcing my opinions nor my beliefs onto new situations, but I think I was impressed by the ability of the people using Pantitlan to actually ignore Pantitlan. That seems to me to be a characteristic of people who routinely encounter the government or some of the enormous blunders that governments make. It's certainly something one sees in the east-bloc countries, and anywhere where the state has experimented in mega-architectural projects. Though of course, it's not only the state, I think quite clearly the 222 Reforma building is a good example of private companies going a bit overboard, creating a monstrous cavernous space. I think that Pantitlan will outlive 222 Reforma.

Si tuvieras que usar tres palabras para describir Pantitlan , cuáles serían (if u had to use 3 words to describe Pantitlan, which one would u pick?)

Abandoned, desolate, and Intricate on a massive scale. With all the people hurrying through there, it is really something notable how few people can actually occupy the place. It is virtually unoccupied. And yet there is an intricacy, you can see it in the puestos that line the corridors where people queue to board the buses and the micros. Every puesto can be treated like the next exhibit, and frankly, I go from one to the next just to see what will be there. The truly abandoned act like outdoor sculptures, maybe chained up, but certainly not uniform in their appearance. And one night I was very pleased to witness one puesto where two girls were selling about 30 packages of neatly arranged gum beneath a single bare lightbulb. It may very well have been that that gum was all they had to sell. Behind them glowed an altar to the virgin, I suppose with a red candle, and the entirety of the interior this puesto was painted a deep green. I don't believe I have ever been moved by anything at the Venice bienalle as I was with that scene.

Es poco usual que un gringo deambule por zonas como Pantitlán, si tuvieras que describirlo a otro gringo, qué dirías (is not that common that a gringo walks around Pantitlan, if u had to describe it to another gringo, what would u say?)

Well obviously I think all my gringo friends are a bit tired of hearing about it. I tell them it is a massive public transportation facility, but one which is divided up like a modern or contemporary art facility (do we still call them museums?)

It's easy to go there and get exactly what you hope to get from Contemporary Art, but without the same resentments and political misgivings that one gets from contemporary art.

Y a un chilango? (and to a chilango?)
With Chilangos, I think I explain the same thing, and believe it or not, a lot of them actually do get what I am saying.

One of the important things that I learned in studying painting and art was that we only need to move a very slight amount of awareness to a new place, whether it be in the body, as we do in meditation or some sort of awareness training. (I actually practice this a little bit in teaching languagge acquisition) - but the point is, even with a very slight increase in awareness, one can truly enact remarkable change. So even if 99% of chilangos think I am absolutely crazy, the 1% of people who do slow down and take a look - these people can end up having a positive effect that is way out of proportion to the effort or amount of actually difference. That is one of the underlying points of the website and the project we're undertaking.

Hay una estética de Pantitlán? (is there a Pantitlan asthetic?) cuál es? (how is it?)
oh an aesthetic? Of course that is entirely up to us. Sometimes we start with something small and make it enormous, and other times we start with a gigantic project, something we used to describe with words like "state-socialist, stalinist, or mega-moniacal" - and we now try to use aesthetics to make it more human, more approachable, more inhabitable. It really takes only the slightest adjustment to one's aesthetic sensibility to radically alter the perception that is experienced by many many other people. So let's call it an "aesthetic of recovery" in this case - recovery from a particular period of the twentieth century.

Monday, March 09, 2009

new shopping mall being built

My friend Daniel of Sarvakarmafalatyaga fame shot off some nice photos just the other day of the shopping mall being built over top of the Buenavista Rail Station. here they are.

should an artist have a website or a facebook profile?

or "You guys are locked in here with ME."

the age old question. It still seems to me that new york artists are the most power worshipping, ass-sucking losers. Continually they've got to worship the networks, NBC, CBS, ABC... "please please please let the rich people show up so i can be legitimate."

But, like Republicans, they only become less legitimate. There aren't even stars anymore. It's like watching the Warhol guy in Watchmen, he's sort of Warhol. Then again, Warhol himself was probably only sort of Warhol. I suppose that's another story.
(Read the House Next Door's series of reviews if you are still thinking about Watchmen, i am.)

Eventually one ages and realizes that the only people who actually made it in New York were like some sort of permanently self-marketing marketing people. Sort of the marketing-variant of the angry realist painters who are certain that the world is going to wake up and forget all that other stuff happened.

So - what do you want to happen when people visit your website? Is there a call to action? Will you expect a traffic boost after or around the time of a gallery exhibition? Will you expect that people will visit your site repeatedly for news of you or to see if it has been updated?

Is it simply some sort of marketing identity toy that proves artistic legitimacy and aloofness in spite of the fact that you have nothing to say?

Look at it this way, the real artists that you want to be like don't have websites, and some of them do have fan pages. Set up a fan-page for yourself, or better, have some friends or family do it.