Post #550 • June 2, 2005, 3:01 PM • 54 Comments
Let me preface the following by saying that I occasionally write for the Miami New Times, in case you don't know. Furthermore, I do so at the pleasure of Alfredo Triff, who almost certainly had something to do with the fact that Artblog.net got selected as Best Local Website this year by the New Times.
Triff wrote a double review this week. The first part praised Julie Kahn's Swamp Cabbage to the skies, and rightly so. Kahn deserves a huge amount of respect for the effort she put into this project and the success with which she pulled it off.
The second part covered At This Time chez Rubell. Now, Triff has a PhD in philosophy from New York University, and tends to like work that excites him philosophically. I'm not going to begrudge him that preference, nor any other. If he thinks of Cooper's rambling assemblage as "angst-ridden," if he characterizes Bert Rodriguez as "truly a Miami Duchamp" (like we need one, but no matter, I don't buy it), and finds Naomi Fisher's asscrack ikebana "visually enticing," well, whatev. I feel entitled to wonder whether he's shooting up a cocktail of PCP, oxycontin, and Viagra, but again, whatev.
However, this just won't do:
Miami and its art scene are relatively young, and with an eye on the future, one easily understands why shows like this are needed: They bring to light historic points of reference for tomorrow's artists and historians.
Christ on a bike - historic? The in-house curator puts together a show of local artists pulled from the in-house collection, sixty percent of whom hail from a single gallery, and the result provides a framework with which future artists and historians will ponder our era? This is almost as bad as the press release.
Its current exhibit suggests, beyond its themes, that Miami artists are internationally respected.
Evidence. I need evidence. I need a big, steaming pile of evidence, because the local collector's fondness for certain local artists, as far as I can figure it out, indicates local respect and nothing more. It may be true (cough), but I don't follow the path by which we arrive at international respect.
I mean, come on. I don't dispute the Rubells' importance, by which I mean brute-force financial clout, and they can spend their money on pork futures for all I care. But this show reflects their tastes. That's all. They like things that make them uncomfortable - Don Rubell said as much to the New York Times. To extrapolate out anything more - like the importance of this exhibition to posterity - is overblown.
The passive voice used in why shows like this are needed bothers me. Who needs this show? If an artist wants to tailor his work to match the tastes of the collectors, this show will serve as an excellent reference. Otherwise, I plan to continue to rely on more solid sources than the whims of these collectors, as entitled as they are to them. If anyone asked, I would recommend that he do the same.