Re: [-empyre-] on meaningful articulations : strategies
greetings from an empyre lurker.
I'm mainly writing to say how pleased I am about the
material in this discussion, and to welcome the guests
from the journal of aesthetics & protest. Hooray!
And I did, as Robby suggested, read Yael Grauer's
letter to Kalle Lasn in the journal. She makes some
perfectly apposite points about the strangely hermetic
world of culturejammingTM, but they also seem,
perhaps, to be in defence of retreating from activism
in a cultural arena altogether. (her bio suggests that
she has given up 'activism' per se in favour of...
And I thought about the limitations of artwork about
outside-of-art things in galleries, vis Sekula's work.
(side query: is he really called the 'last Marxist
standing'? What is Martha Rosler?) I do struggle -all
the time- with wondering how artwork about, say,
fishing practice, WORKS when confined to a gallery,
but I absolutely resist dismissing it.
I (rhetorically) ask myself, do I wish all
gallery-based art really did just provide lounge
decorations for the powerful? and do I think the
audience for the gallery-based work is without value?
I guess those are my bottom lines in building habits
of embracing resistances where they may be found.
This is not to suggest abandoning criticality, nor to
blindness to 'political' work in bad faith.
But I am keen on solidarity.
And, I am especially keen on artists' struggles- not
separate from those of broader social movements- to
'have an effect'.
I'm sorry if this is incoherent- all these questions
totally preoccupy me and inform my practice as an
artist- so much that it's making my hands shake as I
try to type this, deleting more than I leave be.
I'll finish by saying - here's the art project I'm
working on right now, with very non-art folk,
documented and extended here:
kind regards, and apologies for rambling,
> Christina (and all ye empiricists)
> Most "contemporary" art tries to communicate a
> position to current
> contexts, their "real". There is nothing particular
> new about this. Pointing to Sekula's "Fish Story" as
> an exemplary project
> of "recovering" the real hits home to me in a
> personal manner. While Fish Story is a solid and
> even innovative practice
> of documentary photography- it, like
> Sekula's practice- becomes a stand in for the real
> in the capitalist art
> marketplace, as he is bandied about as the last
> standing Marxist in contemporary art (an enviable
> position for him- a poor
> position for those bored by zoo animals).
> This is a basic problem of art that we are all aware
> of- the fetish object
> "representing the real", substituting seawater
> for photo-developer, and the back room dealings of
> the global fish trade
> for Sekula's assurance that HE alone is
> aware of what's going on. A well done PBS, NPR, or
> Pacifica documentary has
> the same power of representation- and
> greater distribution. Within the artworld(s) we tend
> to ignore that fact.
> As far as politically locating art in the nexus of
> power to "challenge"
> government purveyors of reality... I am very
> skeptical that Art, and artists when articulated as
> practitioners, abstracted from a political, social,
> cultural base, can have an actual effect here. While
> Trevor?s and Ryan?s
> work is good and are sited in a spacial
> context to insist on a truth, without a larger and
> broader context - they
> can only function as a kind of personal
> "commentary" on reality. When seen in community of
> other similarly
> inspired, affiliated, related, or sympathetic
> practices, than this artwork really begins to
> "resonate" (borrowing a term
> of Trevor, Aaron Gach and Nato). Here I am
> drawn to Nato's practice as a curator (with Mass
> MOCA and DSLR) that
> constructs entire encompassing rubrics of
> reality. Realities that can incorporate families of
> artists, families of
> specializations and families of life.
> As to the desire to make a claim for the specialness
> of these practices as
> uniquely suited to reclaim the real- I insist
> on a socio/political reading of political history as
> opposed to art theory.
> Despite a strong desire to find a place for
> writers such as Foster (when I first came upon this
> title back in college I
> was very excited, I thought I was going to be
> in for some solid social and political analysis) I
> tend to be skeptical of
> much of art theories approach. It tends to
> have a strong "abstracting" mechanism. Placing
> art/media theory at the
> center of discourse as opposed to the
> periphery where, despite our deepest wishes, it
> truly lies in corporate
> America is foolhardy.
> The perceived retreat from "reality" in art can be
> mirrored by the rise of
> identity politics in the seventies and early
> eightees (I think artist from groups such as Gran
> fury, Guerrilla Girls,
> Kristoff Wdyzko, the entire Culture Workers
> Movement, Lucy Lippard etc... would disagree with
> the idea that artists of
> those decades were not insistent on
> challenging reality and contextually sighting their
> work. During the 80's
> Bell Hooks wrote passionate essays decrying
> the artworld?s embrace of the aesthetics of
> relativism at the expense of
> more sited works.). With the perceived
> "failure' of unifying modernism (with it's
> generalized consensus truths)
> the subsequent post-modern politics
> enforced subjective notions of power and truth- this
> is a positive. Through
> the 90's radical grassroots activists thus
> had to struggle with questions of ways to overcome
> the isolation of
> identity politics. The fruit of this can be seen in
> 1999's WTO protests and the subsequent globalization
> movement that is noted
> for the collaged and often thought of
> disparate pairing of identity groups and interests
> (equally relevant is
> Zapatismo). Here the reality factor can be
> defined as "affinities", a loosely agreed upon set
> of values. Today you can
> see the Republicans use of "values" (of
> capitalism and Christian) to solidify ideology to
> effectively (ok- and
> affectively) wage representational warfare- while
> the Democrats stumble unable to articulate their own
> unique truths. To me
> the only reason that I find an artist or
> media relevant is if I can identify a willingness to
> locate and share an
> affinity on my or their part. It is not in ideology,
> it is not in use of media, it is not even in
> practice, and it is not in
> language. I am not in the business of doing quality
> control in art- I am more interested in exploring
> these affinities to
> express various shared declensions from the
> status reality of corporate capitalism.
> Here I am borrowing directly from the forty plus
> year old theory of
> Marcuse, as earlier I was borrowing from the 50
> year plus situationist theory. None of this is new.
> Politically however the
> desire to challenge a rising fascism through
> collective response has taken up more folk?s time.
> Doing so without the
> undemocratic crutch of (centralizing)
> modernist notions of truths and hierarchies
> ("artworld" or otherwise) is
> our unique experiment.
> mail2web - Check your email from the web at
> http://mail2web.com/ .
> empyre forum
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