Tag: USA

OCCASIONALLY THE VOICES ARE RIGHT

CAREER SUICIDE

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A wee update on this story about a woman who attacked a fellow visitor to Art Basel Miami Beach last December, while onlookers interpreted the whole thing as some kind of performance art. The attacker, Siyuan Zhao, has unsurprisingly been found to be suffering from a serious mental illness. Eventually coming back to a somewhat even keel through therapy and medication after randomly stabbing a stranger, trying to kill a therapy bird (whatever that is) and hearing voices that said “she needed to protect the event from the Middle Eastern terror group ISIS”, Zhao has agreed to “deport herself” back to China where her family will take care of her.

“She was very psychotic,” Dr. Ilan Melnick testified. He also said: “She felt ISIS was going to be at Art Basel to destroy the art.”

Dr. Melnick possibly slightly stating the obvious there, especially in conjunction with his second…

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ZOMBIE PROFESSIONALISM

ZOMBIE PROFESSIONALISM

CAREER SUICIDE

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An interesting article by Daniel S. Palmer about what ArtNews calls the “hyper-professionalization” of some artists. I’d go further and call it something like “jobification”; the reduction of a vocation to a mechanical and wholly uncreative grind. As Palmer points out, it’s not even the best way for an artist to make money or for anyone to make money from an artist’s work, because it’s so shortsighted:

“The entire system seems designed, predominantly, to disappoint. What has arisen from these failures is a marked distinction between product- and project-based artists. Product-based artists have been led to think of an artwork as a product serving a demand, rather than a single step in a longer, sustained development, as is the case with project-based artists. Consider the most visible trend in recent years of Zombie Formalism, a kind of reductive, easily produced abstract painting, sold quickly to collectors queued up on…

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REPULSIVE

CAREER SUICIDE

Bosch “Young collectors cocktails”

At PULSE (sic… they always style it like that) Miami Beach 2016 this December, there will be a “private preview brunch”, followed later that day by “young collectors cocktails.” I know, I had an urge to vomit too. The poor grammar here suggests that the cocktails will be made from young collectors; while I do think it’s a good idea for the 1% to be pestled and pulverised I’m going to assume they mean cocktails for young collectors.

These young collectors will probably only be slightly richer than the exhibitors, because it costs a (non-refundable) $275 to apply, plus a $2000 deposit against your final charge of either $4960 for a small booth with three lights– woo!– or a medium booth with a crazy FOUR lights for $6,200. You do get your $2000 back if they don’t accept you, you lucky thing, though $2000…

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ABSTRACT PROPAGANDA

ABSTRACT PROPAGANDA

CAREER SUICIDE

ArtPractice

I was recently reminded by this post at Open Culture that Abstract Expressionist painting and exponents of it such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock got a big (though covert) push from the CIA, who secretly organised a number of influential exhibitions including MoMA’s New American Painting. It was all an attempt to depict America internationally as a country with a sophisticated culture borne of a fully functioning democracy.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… oh… ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Wait, wait… ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Sorry about that. Most Americans hated Abstract Expressionism, and they still do. Not to mention the fact that US foreign and domestic policies in the 1960s moved on to brainwashing, drugging, sabotaging and sometimes just straight up murdering (or having murdered) anyone who stood in the way of their global agenda. But it’s interesting to think…

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REAL ART WORLD MORE SATIRICAL THAN SATIRE AGAIN

REAL ART WORLD MORE SATIRICAL THAN SATIRE AGAIN

CAREER SUICIDE

RiffWestsideStory

This is what you get when rolling around on the floor, self-harming and generally making a tit of yourself become normalised as art practices: a woman (really, but non-fatally) stabbed by another woman in the neck and arms with a craft knife during an altercation at Art Basel Miami Beach and taken out on a stretcher while police cordoned off the crime scene was described by onlookers as “a performance art presentation.” Two of these patrons were “sipping champagne” and gawking at the bloody floor from behind police tape even as they expressed their horror that it was a real stabbing. Still think covering yourself in body fluids, paint, food (etc.) is cutting edge or exploring new territory? The public are now so blasé about this “transgressive” type of art that they assume crimes, violent incidents and bloody accidents are art interventions, so the answer is a resounding NO.

Obviously…

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9 MORE FUN FACTS ABOUT MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ THAT WILL SURPRISE YOU

9 MORE FUN FACTS ABOUT MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ THAT WILL SURPRISE YOU

CAREER SUICIDE

Abramovic BONUS fun fact: Marina’s head is actually very loosely balanced on her neck and it could fall off at any time!

Here are nine more facts about Madge Ab that will surprise you and fun you, inspired by this listicle of great importance which is definitely not filler hackwork at Artnet News, in which we learn that the “grandmother of performance art”* did performance art at a museum, her mother didn’t like seeing pictures of her daughter’s breasts, and she affects not to like being famous despite gleefully hanging out with the Beyoncé family and Lady Gaga. None of these are particularly surprising or fun facts and nor are the other six “fun”, “surprising” facts surprising or fun, but what can you do? Clickbait headlines gonna bait clicks.

* Not the nice grandmother, the other grandmother that the mother and grandchildren of performance art would really like to get…

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LOW ART, FAILED ART

LOW ART, FAILED ART

CAREER SUICIDE

they_live_25

Some reflections on the mainstream versus the highbrow by David Foster Wallace, from his collection of non-fiction A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. I always liked his factual writing and journalism much more than his fiction. Thanks for asking, happy to set the record straight. The eponymous essay is not related to the subject of this post, but it’s also worth reading because I think it’s one of the best and most incisive things ever written about the baffling, illogical, mindless conformity of package tourism. The supposedly fun thing is a holiday on a cruise ship, which makes him wretchedly, hilariously miserable and confused.

The original context of Wallace’s discussions were mainly related to film and television, but I think the quotes are applicable to any medium including contemporary visual art. That’s why they’re here. Duh.

“Art film is essentially ideological: it tries in various ways…

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1860s problems

1860s problems

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Eduard_de_Stoeckl

Regular readers will know that I love old books on etiquette for their combination of timeless, rock-solid advice and things that have turned into baffling absurdities with the passage of decades or centuries. The passages quoted here are from The Gentleman’s Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness by Cecil B. Hartley, 1860. Its publication in Boston shows how, at the time and right through into the twentieth century, upper class English manners were held up as the ideal to which all others should aspire if they were to be thought of as cultured and civilised.

The “hideous Newgate frill” he writes of at one point (see below) is a beard grown only under the jaw line, with shaved chin, cheeks, and upper lip. It was and is indeed hideous. He’s also correct to say that “the moustache should be kept within limits.”

Another thing worthy of note is a…

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“MAIN REASONS WHY THE ART WORLD NAUSEATES ME”

CAREER SUICIDE

GugParty-704x1024Thanks to my colleague Dany Louise for pointing out this great article by Sola Agustsson at Alternet: Why the Contemporary Art World Is Insufferable, Corrupted by the Super-Rich. Spoilers:

  1. Art collectors treat art as an investment.
  2. Art is a spectacle.
  3. Conceptual art is a joke.
  4. Art factories steal souls.
  5. Art school is kind of a scam.
  6. Women artists and artists of colo(u)r are sidelined.
  7. Money for art in public schools is dwindling (the USA kind, i.e publicly funded, not private schools)

Agustsson is absolutely bang on with every one of these points and I know a lot of the Career Suicide Squad will agree too; read the article.

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Maya Deren: Inside Out (Inside)

Maya Deren: Inside Out (Inside)

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MayaDeren2 Maya Deren.

(Let’s pass silently over the fact that I haven’t posted anything new for more than a month.)

The experimental films made by Ukrainian-American Maya Deren in the 1940s and 1950s are incredibly influential, whether most people know it or not. Once you’ve seen them you’ll notice reflections of them all over the place, in everything from art photography to pop videos. Her work has also definitely had a huge effect on me, particularly 1943’s Meshes of the Afternoon, whose haunting imagery– and imagery of haunting– is done an injustice when it’s described as merely surreal or dreamlike, even though it is surreal and dreamlike among many other things. It’s actually as if time has been turned inside out like a glove, but when it turns right side out again it’s a different glove, belonging to someone or something else entirely. It’s particularly fitting that reflections or decontextualised…

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WHEN CRITICS ATTACK

CAREER SUICIDE

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MOMA COMPLETELY BJÖRKS UP

I’ve often compared the art world to the mafia, with their mutual general secrecy, their deliberate cultivation of mystique, and their maintenance of respectable fronts for money laundering and worse. Then there’s the code of silence– certainly we don’t criticise our self-appointed superiors for fear of blackballing, but we should avoid offending our peers too, just in case they’re of use to us later. Whether somebody is of use, of course, being the psychopathic standard by which the most successful artists, curators and gallerists judge each other and everyone else. Most reviews of contemporary art are so bland and uncritical (in every sense of the word) that they could charitably be called reports rather than reviews, if we quite reasonably define a review as a critical assessment. Very often supposed art critics or arts writers seem to be following a prim “if you can’t say anything…

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ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE 3: SUPER COP

ARTBOLLOCKS THEATRE 3: SUPER COP

CAREER SUICIDE

ABT3_Copper

S3E1: CONTEMPLATIVE

Yes, it’s back. Even more dramatic readings of the worst artist statements, gallery press releases and art criticism, this time with a police show-on-VHS-tape twist. Watch new arty farty perps and syntax villains brought to justice every two weeks or so. In this episode, we learn how it’s possible to write four paragraphs and nearly four hundred words about a man who built some walls. But wait… he built some walls in an art gallery that already had walls. Is your mind completely blown?

You can play along with your Artbollocks Bingo card, and you can watch more Artbollocks Theatre here on the blog or on my Vimeo channel. I tried really hard to mispronounce all the foreign words and jargon, but I think I still accidentally said some of them correctly. Sorry about that.

Presented at ISE Cultural Foundation, the site-specific installation Time Would Not…

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The bee’s knees

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diatomaceousEarth Diatomaceous earth.

To be pedantic, bees don’t really have knees, just a number of joints in their legs. But if they did, their knees would be clearly viewable with a new imaging device that combines the functions of a microscope and a cell analyser: Cytell. Follow the link to find out how it genuinely was inspired by a bee leg.

I’m mainly interested in the detailed, hypersaturated and Pixar-esque aesthetic of the images produced by the Cytell. So different from what most people would imagine when the only experience of scientific images they’ve had was their dull and probably outdated school textbooks.

mosquitoProboscis Mosquito’s head and proboscis. No… no, thanks.

lingualpapillae Lingual papillae, which are found on top of the tongue. Actually looks sort of… appetising?

MantisLeg Praying Mantis leg.

The Cytell images are also interesting to me in the slightly more narcissistic sense that real science has finally caught up with…

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IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY

IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY

CAREER SUICIDE

PROBABLY

On the 23rd December 2014 I received the following image via the e-flux mailing list, that persistent inbox botherer nonetheless much loved by me for reliably delivering sheer gibberish art reviews and spambot-grade gallery press releases for me to make fun of. I have e-flux to thank for much of the nonsense to be featured in the forthcoming third series of Artbollocks Theatre.

Eflux

On the 24th September 2014, this image was uploaded to my blog. It originally featured in an episode of Artbollocks Theatre, in mockery of an artist who supposedly created “surprisingly deceptive planes.”

DeceptivePlane Image: Alistair Gentry, 2014.

Wow, not only plagiarism but inferior plagiarism. Shia LaBeouf-tastic, my e-flux “comrades”! Nice to know you’re such fans of my blog, though. But maybe for her visual gag– such as it is– to work Ms. Lewis could have spent another thirty seconds in Photoshop to make sure…

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SAINTS AND MARTYRS

SAINTS AND MARTYRS

CAREER SUICIDE

art Gerrit Van Honthorst, Saint Sebastian, c. 1623, National Gallery London

Two posts from other sites about audience entitlement, the apparently growing resentment towards any creative person who dares to try making a living from giving audiences the things they seem to feel they’re entitled to, and the impossible double standards to which artists are being held. They’re referring mainly to US musicians, but virtually all of it applies to writers, visual artists, film makers, etc. anywhere. We’re all in the same boat and we’re all subjected to the same kind of determined attacks at the moment. I strongly encourage you to read both posts in full, but I’ve pulled out a few of the most cogent quotes.

ARTISTS CAN’T SURVIVE AS SAINTS AND MARTYRS

http://www.artistempathy.com/blog/the-pomplamoose-problem-artists-cant-survive-as-saints-and-martyrs

“The American artist is expected to be both a saint and a martyr. Operate outside the capitalist system and we’ll praise you for your creations, call your poverty a quaint kind of martyrdom that has nothing…

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???est posts of 2014

???est posts of 2014

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Otherwise known as the now traditional lazy retrospective listicle

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We all know by now don’t we my little blackguards my pretty roadside fartflowers of the friggingfields my dearest filthy fuckbirds yes we know yes yes yes oh yes that the top pages on the site are invariably James Joyce’s paeans to using the tradesman’s entrance and the translation of Hokusai’s tentacle hentai. Tens of thousands of you, constantly, from all over the world, day and night. You must have massive right arms by now (if you’re right handed).

But there is so much more to explore, and some of it doesn’t even involve sexual fetishes. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.

JANUARY

I have no idea what's going on in this picture.“What a shocking bad hat”, and other stupid 19th century memes.

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The last word on Gamergate

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… or at least the last word that isn’t from a “slopebrowed weaseldick”

The shrill conspiracy mongering and toxic threats of Gamergate [sic] are the side effects of Western culture, and US culture in particular, finally getting around to saying out loud to a certain type of obsolete man that the rest of us have come to a consensus in which degrading women and denying the rights of sexual or ethnic minorities to equal treatment is not acceptable. Nor should anybody have to endure constant insults and discrimination because of what they are or how they choose to live, or have to see constant, unrelenting and unapologetic images of people like themselves being treated as subhuman. Anyone who thinks that “social justice”– to use the Gamergoatfuckers favourite insult apart from saying they’ll rape or kill you– is a bad thing needs to sit down and shut the fuck…

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YOU SHOULD BE CERTIFIED

YOU SHOULD BE CERTIFIED

CAREER SUICIDE

Mr Barlow the vampire, from "Salem's Lot' It just seems appropriate in some way.

The New York-based group W.A.G.E. have for some time been advocating better pay and conditions for artists, and more accountability by the organisations and businesses who profit materially from their labour. Now they’ve launched a certification system for places that meet their guidelines of voluntarily and fairly remunerating artists. I won’t add too much commentary because I suggest you go over there and read it all if you’re an artist or you work with artists, whether you’re based in the USA or not.

Among all the professionals who participate in this economy, artists are often alone among those whose contributions go uncompensated. While many non-profit arts organizations provide fees to artists for some forms of participation, fees are rarely provided for the most basic contributions artists make. Exhibition budgets include compensation for curators, writers, insurers, shippers, designers, printers, preparators, caterers and event organizers, among many others, but rarely for the…

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All work and no play makes Sue a dull girl

All work and no play makes Sue a dull girl

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“Danny doesn’t want to think about it any more, Mrs Torrance”

Thanks (?) to Verso Books I became aware of this splendid photograph by Annie Leibovitz, of Susan Sontag dressed as a bear. She just is, OK?

SontagBear

The bear costume, the hard stare, the keyboard. It immediately reminded me of something.

WendyShining1

WendyShining2

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Now we know why Wendy was so freaked out. How the hell did Susan Sontag get in here? Forever more I will involuntarily associate her with evil ghost bear BJs at The Overlook Hotel. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is one of my favourite films, for one thing because of scenes like this where Kubrick– in contrast to the story’s original author, Stephen King, whose prose allows no dead horse to remain unflogged and leaves nothing that goes without saying unsaid– evokes vast realms of back story and untold narrative riches with just a few shots and one ineradicable image.

Even…

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America…

America…

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BAISE OUAIS!

BaudrillardAmerica

I’ve been reading Postmodernist patriarch Jean Baudrillard’s book about the USA, called America (Verso 1988, new edition 2010). Although it’s occasionally mired in the kind of obscurantist, elliptical wittering that he’s rightly condemned for by some people– the gobbledygook blindly imitated to devastatingly stupid effect by many academics, critics and artists since the 1990s– it also has some incredibly sharp observations about a country and a populace that at heart he obviously enjoys a great deal. He often unfavourably compares his native France to the USA, although this is not as funny as his bullseye hits on US culture; these are not very far from what (postmodernist) native writers like Chuck Palahniuk and David Foster Wallace would be doing ten years or so later.

Writing in the mid 1980s, Baudrillard also makes some incredibly prescient and accurate observations about where Reaganism, Thatcherism and the whole greed-is-good yuppie privatisation…

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