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convince me to care

Post #292 • June 4, 2004, 6:40 AM • 25 Comments

1. About the Kamm - Cameron lawsuit. I never got into daytime soap operas. Get back to me on this when you can tell me what happened without using the word allege.

2. About Michaelangelo maybe having had Asperger's syndrome. Right, and Van Gogh had an eye problem, which made him see all those radiating colors, yadda yadda yadda. Most of us are average, of course, but it's a special kind of mediocre person who takes comfort in the unprovable possibility that someone's genius was merely the side effect of his defects. On behalf of all of us with single-minded work routines, few friends, and obsessional natures, get lost.

3. About the recent exhibition of an artist whom we'll just call Fame Whore. Sure, I could go see a show that encapsulates everything that's wrong with the art world: ideas stretched so thin that they snap, megalomania, posturing, name-dropping, substance abuse, and peacock-like flapping of egos. I could also deliberately step in dog doo, but I can't figure out why I'd want to do that either. Carlos Suarez de Jesus for the Miami New Times:

Don't miss [Fame Whore]'s drawings of Hernan Bas shotgunning a beer at Jimbo's in Key Biscayne after a five-hour drinking jag, or FW, Naomi Fisher, and Wheelbarrow spastically tangled on the dance floor during FW's vodka party at Revolver. Also catch the spectacular pornlike point-of-view perspective of FW getting head from an anonymous groupie at a nightclub, who later broke a beer bottle across his noggin when he made a crack about her breath.

I'd rather catch a stomach virus.

4. About this morning's arts story on "Cheese artist installs bed of ham."

Cavallaro says his cheese period ended two years ago, after he had sprayed five tons of pepper jack over a vacant house in Powell, Wyoming. "I was cloaking myself in cheese. I had started getting comfortable," he explained. "I always need new boundaries."

Add art clichés to weird idea, mix; serve in New York gallery.




June 4, 2004, 6:12 PM

I said convince me to care, RAN.



June 4, 2004, 9:50 PM

you don't understand what the author of this quote is saying: that the people who object aren't willing to engage with contemporary art, and are instead hung-up on their own issues, thus they are unable to even discuss it, let alone be convinced, or care.

as for asking someone to convince you...

no one can convince you of anything; you have to decide to do that yourself--this is the nature of Tao (and you profess being into this stuff)

the problems you have with contemporary art lie with your assumptions about what art is, how it must be made, and who makes it; just as your assumptions about people you encounter lead you to make comments about them that reveal your unacknowledged biases, for example about who and what the technological hamster is (i.e. that being able to employ feminist criticism means one is necessarily female), your comments about art when viewed through the lens of this archive reveal that your views might be more appropriate in the company of Reynolds rather than the contemporary world--except that you're not a "good enough painter"--technically, in the sense of an academic trained traditionally and using the in the Classical harmonic canon--for Reynolds to take you seriously.

this will be my last visit. I had hoped you would eventually learn something, but obviously you haven't/aren't/won't, so there is little point. Your thinking remains shallow, your understanding nonexistent. It is a shame since you could have done something useful with your position to make people understand, instead, you have only fostered the worst stereotypes and, by positioning yourself thus, make Hilton Kramer and Morely Safer's views of art look progressive and contemporary.

especially too bad since posterity will judge you by what you have written and what you have made, and from what is visible here, instead of bridging the space between those who know and those who don't, you choose to sneer and exploit it for your own self-importance.

instead of just sneering, why not try to engage the work and ask it the hard questions it begs for--the questions it wants to ask--and then evaluate whether it succeeds or not at the game it is playing, rather than claim the game is meaningless etc. etc. without first actually looking to see: it is possible the questions posed are real, even if the work itself fails to live up to them, even if its answers are trivial, or stupid. and if it asks questions then doesn't even attempt to answer them, then you have reason to criticize the work, but only then. this is the heritage of Modernism that remained valied throughout the Post-Modern and into the contemporary, to reject it means falling back onto traditional definitions, a priori assumptions--which you constantly do, often and clearly unconsciously. this is a grave failing on your part.

saying "I don't get it" or "I don't believe" means you're not even part of the audience, so to complain with that as the answer leaves you in the (literal) space of the philistines, a place you seem to enjoy; however, it is a space where there is no possibility for discussion, dialogue, or any kind of meaningful communication because to be a philistine means you have already made up your mind, and the "I don't get it" is an accusation based on the assumption that you should "get it"--but on your terms, not those of the art, and since you approach most contemporary art this way (in reading your blog this is self-evident: witness your lack of comment on the destruction of the YBA's work from the Saatchi collection) there is no point in continuing, masochistic as this reading may be, there is a point where its intellectual dishonesty and mental masturbation becomes tiresome.

farewell fondly,

Your Nemesis, The Technological Hamster



June 5, 2004, 12:50 AM

For those of you joining in recently, Technological Hamster was an active visitor on this blog last year. Most of TM's input resides in comments that have not yet been brought over from the old Textpattern database into which they were written, simply because I haven't gotten around to doing it yet - it's going to be a thorny conversion, which I hope will be made easier by my recent studies of MySQL.

TM, let me begin by saying that I do not collect nemeses. We have a lot of common ground - the fact that you drop by indicates that we both think the topic is important. That's not inconsequential. There are a lot of people out there who will never be a part of this conversation, and collectively they present us both with more difficulties than we could ever present to each other. So I refuse to declare you to be my nemesis, even if you declare yourself so.

I referred to you as female because you hinted at one point that you were not male. Since you never corrected me, I went with that; referring you in third person as it didn't seem respectful. I also had a feeling that you were a particular friend of mine who would have had good reason for obscuring her identity both to me and the art world in general. I was mistaken about that (I'm nearly certain), but at that point your pseudonymous identity being referred to as female had gone on for a while. It had nothing to do with your espousal of feminist views - something I was glad to espouse myself not all that long ago.

I have been holding off on commenting about the destruction of the YBA work in the fire simply out of lack of information, and trying to err on the side of good taste. We still don't have a complete list of what was lost, a culprit, a cause, or a motive (assuming it wasn't all a crazy accident). I do know that art by artists whose work I value was lost, as well as other work I don't value. But even regarding the latter, it's a shame to see it destroyed.

This has been your pattern from the beginning - to assume what assumptions I have made and respond accordingly. Frankly, if you're going to ignore nuances in my writings, you're not very useful as a reader, despite your obvious erudition. I would make a poor example of a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist: I find myself in disagreement with Anita Albus, who says that painting has been going downhill since Van Eyck; and with David Hockney, who has dismissed photography as an art form. I've praised work that was quite alien to my native tastes and scolded work that was familiar to them; examples are in ample supply both here and in my published work. I even agree with with that Adrian Searle quote above and much of the review it was taken from. I just happen to see the same pattern of denial in the antitraditionalist camp as well. I see it in you, Hamster. With the above as your basis, it's hard to take your criticisms too seriously.

I'm gearing up for a book-length work on negotiating the post-postmodernist landscape in art. Assertions like these - "...engage the work and ask it the hard questions it begs for--the questions it wants to ask--and then evaluate whether it succeeds or not at the game it is playing, rather than claim the game is meaningless etc. etc. without first actually looking to see: it is possible the questions posed are real, even if the work itself fails to live up to them, even if its answers are trivial, or stupid. And if it asks questions then doesn't even attempt to answer them, then you have reason to criticize the work, but only then" - are the vital points that I'm going to use to take this argument down. What you describe is an anthropomorphism that is just rigorous enough to evaluate a knock knock joke. I believe its possible to have the laudable goals of postmodernism, the laudable attitude of modernism, and the laudable results of traditionalism all at the same time. But it's going to require that a lot of sacred cows get put out to pasture. Some of them will be mine, some will be yours. You're always welcome to join in, to whatever extent you're willing to listen.



June 5, 2004, 4:21 PM

Franklin, it is interesting that you would draw attention to the title of the post in your reply to RAN.

"Convince Me to Care."

It seems like it could be the most dubious part of the post. Who are you addressing there? Surely it's not your readers' responsibility to convince you to care? And as for the people who you refer to, it seems, w/r/t item #3, that you're unwilling to give them the chance. It doesn't seem inappropriate for an art critic to skip on visiting a show on the grounds of what he has heard about the work or the artist, but to say, essentially, "this shit stinks," without seeing the show . . . that seems sort of inappropriate.

I don't think you need to apologize for your biases and/or prejudices. You are a traditionalist, if not an absolute traditionalist. I often disagree with you but still enjoy your perspective. But when you slam a local (and free) show, sight unseen, on the basis of the artist's apparently obnoxious attitude, I think you open yourself up to critics like TH, who would have us believe that you are not, as a journalist, really an asset to the community.



June 5, 2004, 6:59 PM

You're right, Alesh, it was the most dubious part of the post. I repeated it to RAN/TH (not TM - where did that come from?) to yank his or her chain. (And look how it worked.) I don't normally resort to chain yanking on people I disagree with on this blog - I hope said people will back me up on this - but I'll bust it out on folks who seem to be trying to yank mine. For the record, I value the diversity of viewpoints expressed on this site by my readers. I welcome criticisms of my writings and my person. Just one caveat - if I'm feeling spry, anyone who steps to me too hard may get served.

The point of #3 above is that CSdJ's description of this show made me want to avoid it. Should I go see the show to make up my own mind? I don't know - should I go see Agent Cody Banks 2 to make up my own mind about it when I generally don't go for that kind of film and the New Times says that its "humor is silly, broad, and surprisingly generic?" Am I prejudiced and unwilling to "engage" in film that doesn't agree with my prejudices if I decide not to?



June 5, 2004, 7:28 PM

Alesh, let me add that as a professional art critic, you might say that I should see this show like it or not, regardless of what I've heard about it. In a perfect world, you would have a point. But as it is, writing art criticism doesn't pay all that well, and I have other stuff that I do (like paint). So if I don't buy the premise of a show, don't feel anything about the reproduced images of the work in it, read a review that turns me off, hear nothing positive about it from people I trust, don't stand to make any money by writing about it, and don't think my understanding of the local art world is going to be too compromised if I miss it, there's a high probability that I'm not going to get down there. That's life.



June 5, 2004, 8:46 PM

Franklin - I don't think I buy your appeal to the New Times review of Cody Banks 2, becuase the Suarez de Jesus review above is a favorable one. If a lukewarm review is reason enough to avoid an event, maybe it's fair to say an enthusiastic review is reason enough to attend. If you read the review and said it's generally not your kind of show, then okay, that's the end of that, but to be fair to the artist, what would you think of having replaced (or amplified) your word "encapsulates" with the word "mocks"? It might have changed the tenor of this discussion.

Personally, I'd be interested to see it. It seems hilarious. An over-inflated balloon needs a sharp prick every so often. I actually thought you might share that sentiment (whether you wanted to see the show or not). The artist's website shows him a complete clown, arguably an effective one. I used to hate those kinds of kids growing up (those who were unafraid to express themselves, often snarkily, without any sense of inner restriction or any fear of poor quality), but now I sit back and laugh too. I hope there's nothing wrong with a good laugh from time to time.

So let's call him a jester. Even a jackass. Every kingdom needs one. Take this with respect, but I dare say I'd thought you might appreciate a professional chain-puller, given your latest comment above. Will he become a serious observer of artistic culture, or will he fade into obscurity? Who knows. He might find comedy doesn't actually pay the bills. Or he might find a secure niche. And who cares. I don't share Citizen Hamster's need for rigid eschatological approaches to judging one's potential posterity (which can't be predicted anyway). I just think it's all in good fun.



June 5, 2004, 9:46 PM

Well, I still don't know. Either the artist really espouses those values, in which case he's pathetic, or he's critiquing those values even as he engages in them, in which case this is pretty sissy humor. I suppose seeing the show would settle it, but I'm just not interested in the outcome. Nothing wrong with humor, of course; I'm sure a great time was had by all. I had fun making fun of it too.



June 6, 2004, 2:49 AM

I agree with Franklin. I read the review and it's more self-conscious art politics and totally awesome bohemian-ness from a kid whose references are all required high school text. Irony of this degree is now used to sell sneakers. Speaking of which, this is a piece:

"A pair of scuffed sneakers on the floor nearby trumpets the opportunity to breathe rarefied air: 'Walk in Wynd's Shoes $5.00 a Go.' "

GET IT? Do we really need to SEE the sneakers to better understand this piece? Do we really need to see those album cover scribbles as well? Come on.

This work is DANGEROUSLY moronic. We don't need any more of this brain-damaged, media saturated NYC runoff. I am a young artist who works non-traditionally and I AM NOT CONVINCED and I'm not going.



Jerome du Bois

June 6, 2004, 8:25 AM

Oh, Franklin, you long-suffering fellow, let me see if I understand some of your commenters correctly:

Some bottom-feeder skips his willy a bunch of times, keeps the results kleenexed in a jar, carefully labels it, and then expects you to get in your car, come on down, check it out, and then write about it. And some of your readers agree.

I'm really glad you saw what was wrong with that picture. Everyone involved with that shallow, worthless person's career has a lot to answer for; trouble is, not too many are asking for those answers.




June 6, 2004, 2:50 PM

URLs are sometimes not linking correctly in the comments because my code can only deal with full URLs: '' as opposed to ''. A note to that effect has been added to the comments form. Alesh's site is here; Chad's is here. Sorry for the confusion. (And thank you again, Hovig.)



June 6, 2004, 5:38 PM

Yup, I'm definitely heading out to go see some 27-year old's sperm in labeled jars (how much closer to ART can you get?) - and, if I'm lucky, I might just recognize my own reflection in the same 27-year old's doodled depiction of the groupie giving him head, and perhaps he will thus have moved to touch me with his ART, for I will never ever go down on anybody again without first flossing vigorously and gargling a full bottle of mouth rinse...



June 6, 2004, 8:46 PM

Cum on! Jizz in a jar? How SAFE! This is as conservative as art gets in my option. This kind of shit is so common and accepted by so many. How about REALLY challenging the viewer? Enough with the RETRO art school one-liners PLEASE!

Thanks for listening!



June 7, 2004, 6:44 AM

Oops! "Opinion" not "Option" in last post.




June 7, 2004, 5:13 PM

Some of these comments remind me of art school. During crits we would be contructively criticizing someone's work and they would get pissed and say "Well, that's just your opinion" as if we don't have a shared culture to look at things through.

I just don't but the argument that we should judge a work by what we thing the artist was going for. I'm selfish - I look at work for what it gives ME. and clever is not brilliant.



June 7, 2004, 6:36 PM

I have to confess that I most enjoy reading when everybody is squabbling in the comments. Seriously.


D Light

June 7, 2004, 6:47 PM

Regarding #3 - I read the New Times review
& I still have no interest in seeing the show...
but the only reason I read it was because you
pointed it out...and i had to find out who
this Fame Whore is....

But CSdJ take on the show leads me to think
that the work must be a conscious slap in the
face of all the BS that is out there...forcing
this discussion...and perhaps pointing
fingers at some of the people referenced in
the show....hmmm....maybe I will go....


I think

June 8, 2004, 3:36 AM

that shreve is both clever AND brilliant!

And, regarding Chad's comment "...Do we really need to SEE the sneakers to better understand this piece?" - well, some of us might actually need to go see for ourselves. Especially those of us who question (any kind of) authority.



June 8, 2004, 3:42 AM

Now if I was just "hot"...



June 9, 2004, 6:25 PM

The fame whore who you don't care about is receiving much attention here. This also seems to be the spin of CSdJ's review, that some of the work, works, despite itself.



June 10, 2004, 12:12 AM

So if everybody else (and their uncle) claims that Fame Whore is the shit, then Fame Whore definitely must be the shit, right?

(sidenote: clever + brilliant = hot)


Fame Whore

June 17, 2004, 6:40 PM

well i think my show was amazing and totally brilliant
i thoroughly enjoyed it and think that it was by far the cleverest show i've ever been to
further expanding the brilliance of my entire existence
though i am now planning to retreat to an old folks home where everyone will think that i used to be a clown and that I DON'T LIKE TO TALK ABOUT THE CIRCUS ANYMORE



June 17, 2004, 6:44 PM

it was me - the anonymous groupie - i smashed the beer bottle in that ridiculous boys face.
its so unfair that his pictures of me are now sellin g for 1,000 s of dollars in the international art market and that im now reduced to doing $20 blow jobs in toilets - and those are getting difficult because now everyone thinks my breath smells and that i'm going to smash a bottle in their face!

(but he did taste really sweet, the cutey pie)



June 17, 2004, 6:46 PM

what about the Wyndpons - a little bit of me inside everyone of you, with a photo of Fame Whore on the end - do we need top see them or know about Prince Charles to care?

videos weren't bad though
- i wanna be in the next ones please



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