The spotlight, is the stage wooden or steel? Will it crush under the weight of those that wish to feel the touch on their skin of the love in that light of attention? I wonder as I stroll the halls of art fairs as an outsider by choice (some of the time) how do I see thee of world of art. In the context of the art fairs this weekend, I give a thumbs down. the great art pieces I've seen don't even stick out in my memory. Its like a handfull of rubies and emeralds mixed in a majority of costume jewlery. Walking up and down the convention floor i felt like a pixel moving around a jpeg of an art fair on the internet. Infact, the way these fairs are set up are so disrespectfull to artists. No cohesive vision is presented (except in the case of Peres Projects who went minimally with 3 Terrance Koh pieces). At $15,000 a booth, that can bee seen as throwing money around, but I respect a dealer, in that context, to have that much faith in their artist. I can understand why art critics like Jerry Saltz (who I keep running into now) have written recient articles for The Voice and Modern Painter expressing horror/facination with these fairs. When I collected baseball cards as a kid, I'd go to huge convention halls, searching for Bo Jackson cards. He was my hero, and I wanted every single card ever made of him (from obscure ceral boxes in the midwest to bogus european editions). It was fun to go around, find some new pieces for the collection, and leave happy. This isn't so different from what collectors do at these fairs, one stop shopping for the international art scene, and i think it comes down to your personal relationship with art, and whether you believe it is more than a product for consumption like baseball cards. I still believe art is divine, and somehow it is being prostituted in venues like this. The artists, in many cases, just producing art because that's what the marked demands. Weak art too. Can I blame them? Not really, art is such a struggle, why shouldn't artists get a piece of the pie. But you can look at work sometimes and see how its a body with out a soul. Some artists from the San Francisco scene I really like weren't even show by the dealer that represents them. So its all subjective, based on the dealer trying to recoup the costs of booth rental. This is a Capalist structure that dosen't mesh well with art, but it exists, and I am not interested in trumpeting outside this Babel tower. It will crumble under its own weight and pride eventually, and it will be the best thing that happened to art in a hundred years. Maybe, because what rises will be what is necessary and true, and not superfluous. Can we blame American culture for this state? Lack of funding means corporations are new the new Medici families. Reciently a museum in SF was going to aquire a piece of mine, but the donor the curator brought to write the check thought the colors of my piece were too feminine (yellow ochre, purple and turquoise). I'm not upset. I think its funny but sad, and sexist in a way. But its an illustration of how the purse holder is the cultural taste maker now. I think I'll just donate the piece to the museum....
My way of interacting with these 3 art fairs this week was to bring along a suitcase of my work with this sign on the side: Looking for a miracle? Ray Johnson's brain inside, $5 a peek. I envisioned myself a traveling salesman at a snake oil convention or something, but it was just a fun way to interact with people. Just two examples of many interactions: When I went by the Feign booth at the Pulse fair (they represent Ray Johnson's estate) I had a good time explaining to them that I had taken Ray's brain, and made prints (like you do when you put a sliced cabbage in ink and then on paper) from the part where his dreams were stored. As I showed them a little painting of mine, I would come up with some story about Ray's dream from that brain print. Then I looked closer at one of his collages they were selling, and in really tiny pencil it said Bill Dekoonings brain next to some ink blob. Awesome. At the Armory I had a friend in town from San Francisco working at a galley I always dreamed about showing at when I lived out there. She wanted to see my new work, and while I was showing them to her, some collectors in the booth started looking over our shoulder and asked "whats that? who's work is that?" It was akward enough, but then the gallery owner sent over some stinky negative vibe which was embarassing for all parties.
This was maybe the most memorable piece I saw. Eveytime I see this guys work it gets better. FOLKERT DEJONG. There was a Thomas Hirschorn blobby exploitation of physical deformities piece. Was it a mirror he was holding up to the fair and the search for beauty/value, or just another artist trying to be more memorable than the next? There were some great Barry McGee drawings and a Chris Ofili water color pair, but by the end I felt like i needed a machete and had lost my compass. Another model which would be interesting would be the flea market model. Of course it would be massive, but in a non exclusive context, the true gems would stand out amongst the gravel. Other than that I think it would be more interesting to see an artists work in an artist created context, which i guess is what the Venice Biennale and Doccumenta are more like. So why hate on the fairs...I feel more educational programs would be better... as long as all this "great" art is under one roof why not have a sliding scale admission day and get "regular people" to come and see it? Collectors need to realize that if there is no community outside of the community of collectors and dealers who respond to a work, then their art probably wont have a long shelf life. Art is so subjective, and you can tell someone why a particular artist is great till you are blue in the face, but then it becomes a mental appreciation, where as art has the power to occupy a space that is beyond words. I am one for unity, but I think there is a seperation between the kind of mental/conceptual art that has emerged the last 100 years or so, and visual/emotional based art. Does it really matter? Do we need a new museum or text book just for mental art? My friend Jay Nelson just drove out to NY from SF in a car which he built a fiberglass bubble shelter for the roof that he sleeps and does art in. He said he got many positive responses on the highway. I guess it all depends on who you want your audience to be. Perhaps Highways are the new museums. Certanly all the amazing car art that is made for the Burning Man festival must seem like some artistic mass migration across the great states, flocking to Nevada every august. Andy Warhol would probably be camoflaguing truck stops if he were alive today...
ps spell check is dead. Im an artist, not a writer.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
out of the pan
into the fire.
I thought i'd be able to look at you
this will have to due
I told her her her legs were like poems
golden pigs and inverse swedish massage
month two swirls away
too cold to leave the home, except for tempura lunch box special