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Prior art

Post #1162 • April 22, 2008, 10:37 AM • 24 Comments

Bert Rodriguez, In the beginning..., 2008.

Inside a furnished, white-walled cube, Rodriguez has been conducting hour-long therapy appointments with "patients". (i.e. volunteers) Those are transmitted, with ample distortion, into the gallery space outside.

Josh Greene, Unlicensed Therapist, 2001.

My collaborator and I produced a website that explained how unlicensed therapy differed from licensed therapy. Our philosophy and services were also detailed on the website. In addition to the website, we created an office space in San Francisco's Mission district. We were operating with paying clients until we received a letter from the Board of Behavioral Sciences informing us that we were not allowed to practice unlicensed therapy without having a license.

I find something to like in conceptually driven art more often than one might suspect. But it stands to reason, in my mind, anyway, that a conceptual artist ought to strive towards some kind of conceptual success - richness of ideas, or a contribution to knowledge, perhaps, but something. Instead, museum-level curators will recognize conceptual trifles as works of greatness, and when executed a certain way, they make writers come barking. I doubt that Rodriguez plagiarized Greene. I think instead that at the rate the art world rewards banal commentary, an artist would repeat another artist's insipid production given enough time.

We could compare them. In relational-aesthetics, situationist pieces like these, probably audacity provides the most excitement. The Greene piece ran longer with no institutional support, and finally the government shut it down, so I see it as far preferable to the Rodriguez piece. I note that in 2001, the current WhiBi curators, Henriette Huldisch and Shamim M. Momin, were 29 and 27 years old. I have already pointed out that they sound like airheads, but I think we now have a practical argument in favor of putting a seasoned professional in charge of something like this.

Comment

1.

Mr. Nipplebocker

April 22, 2008, 11:46 AM

Originality is over rated.

Nobody ever said that you have to give birth to a wholly new idea in order to be in the Whitney.

It's is not a big deal that Bert has done something similar to Josh. I doubt Josh was the first either.

Both are silly and reckless.

Josh's version is not more valid because the government shut him down.

Bert's is not more valid because it was in the Whitney and singled out in numerous articles and reviews.

The artworld, the critics, the collectors, the curators, the artists and the public are all silly sheep.

bleat bleat

2.

opie

April 22, 2008, 12:01 PM

"...we were not allowed to practice unlicensed therapy without having a license."

How else?

3.

Eric

April 22, 2008, 12:02 PM

"The artworld, the critics, the collectors, the curators, the artists and the public are all silly sheep."

What does that make people who read ART blogs and comment on them anonymously Mr. Nipplebocker?

Sorry but I think both of the conceptual art works described above are stupid. What is their critique or commentary on pasychological practices or the patient therapist relationship? I can't make any out. Where is the art or the aesthetics if this is not supposed to be a critique of anything? Failures on both levels in my mind. The people who are not receiving therapy in the Rodriguez piece are getting nothing from what is going on behind the door. Put a door in a gallery and play some sound effects in the gallery and people will wonder what is behind the door. It doesn't matter what is really going on inside.

What is the "patient" getting out of it? What is the artist getting out of it? More importantly are the handful of people who get to have a therapy session with the resident genius the only ones who are able to fully experience this specific work of "art"? These works are little more than lazily constructed, clever scaffoldings with one goal in mind: generate attention in the art world.

4.

Franklin

April 22, 2008, 12:06 PM

bleat bleat

Speak for yourself, Mr. N. Some of us treat art as if it matters.

5.

roygbiv

April 22, 2008, 12:19 PM

I can find stuff to like here and there as well Franklin. I just keep my feelers out for density and every once in a while something gets caught in the net.

I think that issue-based or conceptual energies(there is a bit of room for distinction, but the 'issue' art label serves best here) could be redirected more emphatically into real life as a sophisticated activism. An engaged situationism with real social effect. Viva la Revolucion! We need it people.

At least get it the hell out of museums and away from notions of it being visual art, and you've got room to be creative and helpful rather than be creative and corrupt. Intent will always be paramount.

6.

Eric Nibblebocker

April 22, 2008, 1:29 PM

Mr. Green and Mr. Rodriguez are treating art "as if matters" too.

Who is to judge another's conviction. Both of these individuals seem highly invested in their practice.

And practice makes perfect.

And yes, art bloggers go bleat bleat too.

Especially art bloggers.

7.

Franklin

April 22, 2008, 1:46 PM

Mr. Green and Mr. Rodriguez are treating art "as if matters" too. Who is to judge another's conviction.

You realize these two sentences contradict each other, right?

I never said they weren't, anyway. I simply don't count myself among the silly sheep. If you count yourself among them, that's your privilege.

8.

wwc

April 22, 2008, 1:47 PM

"Mr. Green and Mr. Rodriguez are treating art "as if matters" too."

No, they're treating the art world as if it matters. Their conviction CAN be judged by the qualities of the work they show. "Invested" is a great word for you to use for them. They are investments.

9.

wwc

April 22, 2008, 1:50 PM

Also, their conviction doesn't matter anyway.

10.

Franklin

April 22, 2008, 2:11 PM

Amen to #8 and #9. Only the outcome matters.

I wonder how many people went through a museum with a school group, maybe even at the university level, and listened when someone said, "Now, what is the artist trying to say here?" Nuts to that. I didn't see the WhiBi - there was too much good art on display in NYC at the time I visited - but most of the works I've seen in reproduction look like they were executed at that level of appreciation.

11.

Jack

April 22, 2008, 2:43 PM

Studied nonchalance and trendy relativism are overrated. Not to mention predictable. Not to mention boring--albeit not quite as boring as work like that of Mr. Rodriguez. But of course I'm too judgmental and in dire need of, uh, rehabilitation. Thank goodness for the drive-by brigade, always ready to come to the rescue. Well, I suppose it's something to do on a slow day.

12.

Marc Country

April 22, 2008, 2:57 PM

"Originality is over rated."

Thus, I suppose it follows that the 'highly original' is highly over rated...

As for this pop (art) psychology, well, it's obvious that the lunatics are running the asylum.

13.

roygbiv

April 22, 2008, 3:05 PM

Marc, it's a bit like Elsinore brewery. Time for us hosers to take matters into our own hands.

14.

Marc Country

April 22, 2008, 3:14 PM

You're saying we should drug their beer with a mind-control agent? Brilliant!

If I didn't have puke breath, I'd kiss you...

15.

ahab

April 22, 2008, 3:18 PM

Socked in? Get soaked!

16.

Chris Rywalt

April 22, 2008, 3:24 PM

I always thought drowning in beer would be heaven. This isn't heaven, this sucks!

17.

Marc Country

April 22, 2008, 4:17 PM

"I doubt that Rodriguez plagiarized Greene. I think instead that at the rate the art world rewards banal commentary, an artist would repeat another artist's insipid production given enough time."

Speaking of movies, anyone seen "Mumford"?

18.

Jack

April 22, 2008, 5:15 PM

Franklin, if Huldisch & Momin (which sounds like a cheesy shyster law firm, suitably enough) were serious professionals in the way you understand that, they wouldn't have made the cut for the WhiBi. They are precisely right for such an operation. One can never have too much air in one's head for certain tasks. Gray matter is overrated. Ask the tit troll.

19.

Eric

April 22, 2008, 6:04 PM

"Ask the tit troll." Can you explain this inside joke?

20.

Jack

April 22, 2008, 7:03 PM

See #1.

21.

Eric

April 22, 2008, 7:27 PM

Would it be art or murder if an artist decided that they would pretend to be a surgeon and operate on a person? Of course they could warn the patient/art viewer that they were unqualified, once the unqualified anesthesiologist puts them under. Is the point of the works of art described in the original posting that anyone can be a psychologist or social worker? Since the artist/therapist talks about any old thing with the art fan/patient, each discussion is random, rambling, and spontaneous. The discussion can barely be made out by the art goers kept locked out of the space. I would assume there is no permanent record of the sessions, besides whatever either person involved remembers about it or takes a photograph of. If you are not the one having a faux therapy session with the artist then you are staring at a wall and locked door and listening to a garbled exchange that has no rhyme or reason to it. I really want to see some artistic merit in these actions but I just can’t.

22.

Pretty Lady

April 22, 2008, 9:02 PM

I'm still wondering why nobody seems to think Pretty Lady is a conceptual art project. Is it because she hasn't issued a literalistic manifesto full of postmodern rhetoric and tacked it to the wall of her blog? Or is it because she hasn't gotten any grants?

23.

ahab

April 22, 2008, 10:02 PM

Drop the illusion and try an illuminated manifesto, Pretty Lady; and welcome to the club.

24.

Jack

April 23, 2008, 7:00 AM

I hereby announce my upcoming novel, "The Unbearable Lightness of Cutesy-Pie Conceptual Art." The leading character is named Bert Sanchez (BS for short).

The great thing is I don't have to write a word, let alone get a publisher. After all, it's the thought that counts. Having to come up with the actual goods is for chumps.

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