Thursday, August 28, 2008

Most Art IS Moosehockey!

Great posts! Seriously...poo art??!! Haven't we moved beyond that whole phase already. That's so 1985. You've made your point, PoMos, and you really stuck it to 'em (sarcasm), so let's move on.

In response to your earlier questions, I can only imagine that being an art star feels a bit like being a movie star---sort of hollow. And I'm sure the demands of production are stressful. They may still be lost, but with financial ease. It's like their wandering/wavering is well-funded, and in my speculation, thus encouraged.

Was talking to J the other day, and he brought in some new angles on this recent conversation. He posted a comment under the "Designed to Rip" post, but I wanted to share it here, too.

The below link takes you to an article by Charlie Finch, co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula. He is so fed up with the Hirsts and Koons of the day, that his next "art project" is to Murder Damien Hirst. It's cleverly written, check it out:

He also told me about a tragedy from the collector's perspective about the guy who purchased the shark in formaldehyde. Apparently, the studio assistants miscalculated the chemical make-up so the liquid mixture was inaccurate, causing the shark to decompose. So...Damien (since we're on a first name basis) contacted the collector, explained this, and demanded more money to remove and replace the shark. Wha??? Is this guy for real?

Let it rot,

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Silly CONSUMErism

Dearest K, 

In an effort to be a little lighter today, I'm making a quick post about an artist I have been looking for for a few weeks. Kate Bingaman-Burt is runs Obsessive Consumption (along with about a million other projects) and makes sweet yet sassy drawings of everything she buys. This gal is diligent about documenting her purchases. I'm drawn to the immense voyeurism of looking at what another artist/gal our age/fellow art professor spends her money on, and of course compare my own purchases to hers. Would I have bought those sunglasses for $4.99, a deal... but do I NEED them? Would I spend $20 on a hair product even if it meant I had to eat peanut butter and jelly for the next week? There is something dually neurotic and pleasant about these playful drawings. First - they look fun to make, an extra bonus that they point out what a consumerist people we have become. 

As you know, I'm in financial squeeze-down while waiting to hear about our house purchase. You know how many people have brought up that they had to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the first year after they bought their respective homes? - This is comforting to know, yet at the same time - can we really afford it if we have to make sacrifices?

Consumerism seems to be less and less about sacrifices. Its about needs. And instant gratification. I know, I just bought a new pair of shoes.... they made me feel good... for about a day. 

Save, save, save,

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Shit for brains

Dear K, 

An interesting series of posts, my dear. So many questions to answer. Why CAN'T we tell New York and the art market to shove it? I find myself starting to side with my students as well when they say that age-old question of "Why is this art?" I find myself increasingly annoyed with rip-offs, yet continue to (what some would say) rip-off in my own work. This constant continuum continues to circle... How much of our ideas are our own and how much of them come from something we have seen before, saw in a magazine, on HGTV and taken from pop culture in general. I always love the word, "appropriated" because it's basically an art term for "stolen" slash "inspired by". According to Webster's, appropriated means to "to take or make use of without right or authority." Who is the authority??

Speaking of bullshit... I opened my monthly Art in America to an ad that merely said "SHIT" in a large and assuming font. I quickly learned that the infamous Andres Serrano is having a new exhibit at Yvon Lambert. I personally think that this is hysterical. In the history of his artwork, I am simultaneously revolted and intrigued. You commented on Jeff Koons being so "open with his jerky-ness" and Serrano is in the club as well. In fact, he may as well be the club's president. I find myself saying "And why do I care??" at the same time that if I extract the title and realistic subject matter of these above photographs, I find myself attracted to not only it's color scheme but the major "fuck you" that these represent. Serrano and Koons' bank accounts would laugh at ours. 

BUT (and this is my main question).. Do you think that these artists feel as lost as we do? Do they feel like they have "made it"? Do they feel the same pressures to keep making work? I mean.. its a major career decision to start making C-prints of literal shit. . . Is he locked into the can?

Regardless of all of this "moosehockey" as my dad used to say, I had a fantastic day of talking and riding bikes, and coffee and sewing. Something seemed to happen today.. I will post soon with photos of my in the works newly upolstered dining room chairs. You are right... I need tactile like a horse needs water. 

Things for tonight: sew, get ready for first day of the semester tomorrow. Talk soon!

With fabric not poop, 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"Designed to Rip-Off" is genius!

(detail of print on backpack for sale at Hot Topic)

Okay, just wanted to share the tangential wave I just web-surfed.

#1: After introducing Damien Hirst to my contemp. class last week, a student said, "oh yeah, a friend of mine has some of those skulls jeans." I said, "surely, they aren't by Damien Hirst." And she replied, "well, maybe they're knock-offs." So, I decided to check into it.
"Love skulls and diamonds but don't have $100 million to spare? Never fear, the Damien Hirst skull knockoff has arrived!...consumers in search of a more affordable sparkly human head need look no further than Polish artist Peter Fuss, whose For the Laugh of God is made of a plastic skull covered in shards of glass and missing a tooth. For only $2,000 (and only $2 for a graphic print of the work), Fuss's skull is fine art for the masses." ~from RADAR magazine

Now...choose your own adventure:
To continue the rip-off discussion go to item #2; but to veer paths to read about laughable consumption, go directly to item #3.

#2: Continuing down the rip-off path, I found an interesting controversy related to Hirst and attacks of plagiarism--an annoying reminder of A and her protective ownership of ideas (ironically, the same ideas we accuse her of stealing from everyone else in the world of trendy cuteness).

"Stop Thief! Damien Hirst v. Lori Precious (her image above)

We love a good controversy around here and there is a rip-snorter going on in LA tonight. Damien Hirst is showing his latest incarnation of butterflies on canvas at Gagosian, and LA aritst Lori Precious is crying foul. As Precious sees it, Hirst has stolen her idea and now quite a few of her fans (and Hirst-bashers) have come out in support of her claim." ~read the rest of the article on (incli)NATION

#3: Jeans are metaphorically worth millions? Get yours on ebay:

Rare and collectable Black skinny mens jeans from Damien Hirsts Levi Collection
New with Tags from Barneys New York
Swarovski rhinestone skulls on rear pockets
Retail $322
Marked sz 31, but actually 35" waist
sz 35 Waist
39 " inseam


starting bid: $299

#4: It is, after all, a brand you're buying into. Thought this was an interesting point (below), but I'm worried---what's next?...designer toilet paper? "From ass-wipes to pillow shams of the elite, toilet paper has turned low brow to romance!"

[Speaking of Levi and Hirst team-up] "Both brands (and Hirst is definitely a brand name artist) have followed a literal rags-to-riches trajectory, in which their names have gone from shorthand for "rebel" to "luxury". For years it has been commonplace in Manhattan and LA for women to wear $300 jeans everywhere, including the office and cocktail receptions. Like jeans, Hirst has turned irreverence into sexiness. And both Hirst and Levis are still cashing in on their (anachronistic) standing as reigning symbols of anti-establishment mores." ~from art critic Ana Finel Honigman

#5: Lastly, smart consumers are turning to more underground sources. "I got my rhinestone skull jean customization for under $20!" Check out to really be impressed!
Well, that was fun!
i "heart" knock-offs,

Koons = nARTcissism

So I took my class to the Jeff Koons exhibit at the MCA. In general, I'm feeling a bit burnt out on these art stars and major copycat exhibitions we are having in Chicago. (Why can't we tell New York and this globalized market to shove it!??!) Although, I love reading and analyzing art, and discovering new contemporary artists, I'm beginning to take sides with my students when they ask, "and why is this art?" Sort of like your earlier post about the "...Devil" exhibition: "and WHY do we care?"

Maybe there is a reason that the art world and "regular" world are separated by a great divide. One side full of people working on making their lives--and the lives of those they love--a little better, operating within systems and saving up vacation time like treasure. The other side is full of a smaller network of people working to yank their own chain to the delight of an audience of "themselves." I don't know. It just seems so self-serving and...for what? No one's giving you a gold medal. And even if they did, how could you honorably accept? Did you EARN it somehow? Justification is strange.

Somewhat paradoxically--after my internal tirade--I do like Jeff Koons! I think his transparent narcissism sheds more light on the art world than his other themed critiques. I like him for being so open in his jerky-ness! He worked the playground, only without the facade of seemingly significant social commentary and identified authorship. The art world embodies a shifty behavior, championing those who can sell their worth and credibility. The only difference between him and other artists, is the fact that he is completely honest about his creepiness. Someone once told me he didn't know what to think of Koons, because he didn't "get it." I told him (rather righteously), "there's nothing to get really. That's what's so great about it!"

Any thoughts?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Music + Art

Hey K!
Solid critique on the "Sympathy for the Devil" show. I saw it when it was at the MCA, but unlike you, really liked it! I can definitely understand, though, how it might seem less than pleasing if you were after some good eye-stimulation. Ironically, I was just listening to "Destroy All Monsters," the California art star band, featuring Mike Kelley---the title track is "Bored." If I weren't such a rock fanatic, I would've viewed the show a glorified theme exhibition for the interior space of one of those restaurants like Planet Hollywood. But...was instead thrilled to watch the totally boring Warhol video-portraits of the Velvet Underground, see Tony Oursler interpret those crazy experimental sound artists of the West Coast, walk on a floor of records, and grab a Felix Gonzalez Torres inspired poster saying "What would Neil Young do?" I've always been fascinated with the nexus of art and music, and was glad that artists of sound were getting a little attention in the contemporary discussion. I do, however, feel that it was an excluding show---not unlike other contemporary art exhibitions, though. If the viewer isn't already in tune with the references, the bands, the songs, the connections, he/she would feel a bit left out. This was the indie elitism of music on display, the curator almost flaunting his knowledge--glamorizing obscurity--yet another chance to trump the general public. One might feel like she was walking into a really hip record store wanting to buy some mainstream music and getting the "evil eye" from the cool-kid desk clerks. On the other hand, it might be more inclusive of folks that understand the music world, but are lost in the visual art world.

Some positive things: I really liked how the exhibition was arranged---almost by region. The East Coast and West coast art scenes fueling a lot of the energy for experimental/innovative sound. I also enjoyed examining the contrasts in style and content of the East vs. the West in art and how that parallels style and content in the music of each (in many cases, artists playing both roles, and artist/musician friend groups working with related aesthetics). The show also hit on the celebrity-hype status surrounded by much of the cult music world that seems to surpass the amount of attention or fame attributed to visual artists. One video showed Morrissey's audience--a screaming crowd of people almost in a state of ecstasy, as if it were the second coming of Christ. Another video depicting the sensational performance of a UK punk group (can't remember the name), a documented spectacle that otherwise would only exist in the memories of those who attended the live show. This power of music performance, I think, supercedes visual art in its capability to touch, connect, and move a wide audience. Music is amazing, and live performance can be a spiritual experience--much more experiential than the dry critical "reading" of artworks on the walls of the MCA. So...the show hit in a few places, but that's also because I could relate.

I wonder if the show included more tactile mediums (like your player piano punched papers) instead of fan eye-candy, would you have liked it?

Hope to post again soon, but I'm super busy these days.
Miss you,

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Does music move us?

Dear K,

Long time, friend. I know we both have been needing a break. In an effort to get myself motivated on my only week off of work, I decided to take a day trip down to Miami. I haven't had a Miami adventure day in awhile, so I was really looking forward to it. It ended up being a dud of a day.. maybe parallel to my energy and excitement about art lately. The exhibit was called, "Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll since 1967." Except for this above installation by David Muller, a sort of timeline of rock and roll drawn directly on the wall, I was less than impressed. The North Miami Contemporary Museum usually has top-notch shows - maybe this is an indication of Florida in the summer - watered-down, loosey-goosy, cultural events. Plus, this show originated at MCA, Chicago, in your stomping ground...

Here is some information from the website: "Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and curated by MCA, Chicago Curator Dominic Molon, Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967 includes over 100 works of art by 56 artists and artist collectives, explores the varied ways art and music interrelated and overlapped (or in some cases not) in six geographic centers: New York, West Coast/Los Angeles, Midwest, United Kingdom, Europe, and “The World.” The emphasis is not on the aesthetics of rock, but on singular and significant works of art in various formats and media, that were created as a circumstance of the two cultural genres coming together."

Taken from the Rolling Stones song inviting the listener to “have some sympathy and some taste,” I wondered whose taste they were marketing to. The works seemed conceptually interesting, but left my eyes wanting more. I walked out disappointed and intrigued by these simple color-study paintings in the gallery across the street. After my lack of inspiration at the museum, I decided to spend the rest of the afternoon reading books. - A summertime pleasure that I rarely get to revel in.

Hope you are inspired.