the monkey agendas
Post #392 • October 21, 2004, 7:09 AM • 7 Comments
I'm willing to chalk it up to post-exhibition depression (how common is it for artists to get depressed after a show?) but the following (or something like it) came out of my yapper over sushi with fellow artists this evening (as I write at 9:30 pm on this rainy Wednesday night; caffeine, green tea included, loosens my tongue and typing fingers as much as alcohol. Damn, I had a Materva today too. There goes bedtime):
"I'm not doing the retreat this December because it's the same weekend as Art Basel and I'm hoping to get some writing work out of it. But you know? I shouldn't be writing about Art Basel. I should be in Art Basel, or trying to get my work in there. Writing about art is ridiculous. It's like there's a monkey chattering away in a tree, and I'm sitting under the tree with a notepad writing, 'You'll never guess what silly thing the monkey just said!' I mean, who gives a shit? It's a monkey!"
And I'll add that it's wall-to-wall monkeys out there in the art world. Screwball daytime soap opera at the Getty, impossibly biased competition at the American Academy in Rome (this year's fellows include Lucky DeBellevue, whose project description, entitled "Friends, Romans & Countrymen," declares that "I am interested in exploring empirically the relationship between my work and medieval sculpture, painting, and interiors. Utilitarian contemporary Italian design also interests me as a resource and visual index for future projects." Empirically? Visual index? Monkey chatter! I shall not lend you my ears! But there he is, going off to Rome with his pipe cleaners), art magazines that think only New York exists...
Back here at home, I've gotten to the point that I perceive something as pretty good simply because it doesn't totally suck. Write about the art shows? Why? Ivan Toth Depena has a show up at Ingalls of his photos of trees and parking lots at night; I find them inferior to his video at the Miami Art Museum and to the urban night scenes of local photographers William Maguire and Joe Tamargo. In the other room at Lemon Sky there was a nice photograph by Anthony Pearson in an otherwise uninspired show curated by Amir Zaki. I can sneeze these sentences into existence. They are unnecessary stains on silence and nothingness, as Beckett put it. Why write them? And not to insult you or anything, but why the hell are you reading them?
I take back what I said about Art Basel. Monkeys with credit cards are still monkeys. And if Art Basel has any function besides the encouragement of the use of credit cards, I cannot identify it at the moment, and doubt I will be able to even when I am no longer depressed nor jacked up on caffeine.
Today I found out about the Raphael exhibit in London and fantasized what it would take to get it down to Miami. Go on, laugh. You're right - nothing would. Museum Park in all its glory is not arrayed to handle this type of exhibition as part of its mandate, assuming it doesn't change from its current one. And don't get all over my ass with that "aw, you only like old art and don't like any new art" bullshit. I got good tickets for Laurie Anderson this weekend. It's just the unacknowledged nature of art that compared to Raphael, even compared to Laurie Anderson, most art just chews rocks.
This contemporary art world mess has been plaguing my mind lately, hence posts about trying to generate alternatives to openings (didn't work) and oddballs who stiff-armed the mainstream. After mulling over it for about a year, I was recently, finally, able to articulate to myself what I want to do with the social entrepreneurship effort I'd been thinking about off and on. Because, let's face it, the crap won't disappear no matter how hard I rail at it. But I can generate something different, something that operates by its own rules, something that asserts an agenda instead of responding to agendas already operating. You know - the monkey agendas.
Quickly - how do you know that the beauty at the above Raphael link is Catherine? From the wheel. Heathens tried to spin her to death. When it miraculously didn't work, they cut her head off with a sword. Such was the power of her faith. Here's to faith.