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.