[-empyre-] poets patrons and the word academic

naxsmash naxsmash at mac.com
Thu Jan 7 14:13:56 EST 2010

Hi Davin and everybody,

Luv the idea of 'bad' (or pronounced in two syllables: bay-adddd).   
Back in childhood my parochial school classmates and I (in January, in  
overheated winter classrooms, sun streaming in over the snow) were  
hammered with Lutheran notions of sins of omission and sins of  
commission--  things neglected/passed on and things done in deliberate  
malice. We nearly passed out from the hot-water radiators (clanking  
with steambursts) during religion class, a solid hour every morning.   
One was left in squirming silence to contemplate what could be the  
possible differences-- farting in class, shooting spitwads, thinking  
hot thoughts about too tight jeans a couple of rows up, elementals:  
which was which?

  Then there's the 'bad' of street talk , now (I think?) replaced by  
"sick!".    Bad has become kinda like 'wrong' of which John Haber made  
mention a while ago.

Which brings me to the inspiring Twitteresque brevity of the  
appellation "The Wrong Gallery."

The idea that such a "Wrong Gallery" could hang out like a doorstop in  
the wilds of Chelsea cheered me during the darkest days of the Bush  
era. I like the blurb that just came out today via e-flux about  
Mauricio's show at the Menil.  Quote--

> The 1997 Venice Biennale established Cattelan's significance as an  
> heir to Arte Povera. By combining the familiarity and accessibility  
> of Pop Art and the unpredictability of Dada and Surrealism with  
> iconic and controversial imagery (corrupt Popes, headless horses,  
> Nazi salutes), the disturbing aspects of Cattelan's work are  
> lightened somehow by their absurdities.
> For the last five years the artist has focused on publishing and  
> curatorial projects that have included the 2002 founding of The  
> Wrong Gallery (and its subsequent display at Tate Modern), and on  
> collaborations such as Permanent Food (an occasional journal  
> comprising a pastiche of pages torn from other magazines).
> Deeply involved in the art and politics of the country of his birth,  
> Cattelan functions in the world of global art and images. He lives  
> in New York but maintains an apartment in Milan, where he began his  
> career as artist-provocateur.
> Cattelan often first visualizes his works in two dimensions⎯seeing  
> how it will look on the printed or digital page⎯perhaps because of  
> the daunting figurative and literal weight of making sculpture. At  
> the heart of his endeavors has been the desire to create a body of  
> images that "lives in your head," in the subconscious, which  
> Cattelan maintains are triggered not so much by seeing his work in  
> the flesh but rather through reproductions in print and on a  
> computer screen.


naxsmash at mac.com

christina mcphee


On Jan 6, 2010, at 11:30 AM, davin heckman wrote:

> Sorry to take my time getting back to your question, Simon.  I am  
> still mulling over David Chirot's comment, too (although I think  
> that the question of "dangerous" poetry hiding code is an  
> interesting and rare official admission that art is precisely about  
> some of the very things we have been talking about here.  And that,  
> we should reflect on just why someone might be hasty to define a  
> certain work as "bad."
> I do think that outcomes matter.  But there are many other aspects  
> to determining whether something is "good" or "bad."  For instance,  
> I think that the level of ignorance under which a person acts could  
> be considered "bad," if the person shows no reasonable effort to  
> figure out whether or not what they are doing is in fact bad.  In  
> this sense, carelessness could be a kind of badness (I certainly  
> make many mistakes in this way).  If a person is employing a means  
> that is widely understood to be harmful, with predictably harmful  
> effects.  Using another person in any way against their will (or  
> without their knowledge), especially if it is going to determine  
> their future, is something that is potentially really bad.  Passing  
> the buck....  letting someone else make a decision which you could  
> have made yourself is also a kind of badness.  But at the end of all  
> this, I think that the key factor is the interval imposed on  
> decision-making.  If we take decisions away from the automatic,  
> impulsive, and assumed responses, and pause to reflect upon them  
> (the purpose for the action, the means of acting, the presumed  
> outcome, and the actual outcome) we move from being thoughtless to  
> being thoughtful, unreflective to reflective.
> On the other hand, we have, I think, lost our overall sense of  
> what's bad....  mainly because we cleave to imposed standards for  
> moral behavior.  We (and I am speaking especially about the sort of  
> dumbed-down moral sensibilities that I know best....  the ones that  
> operate in the US) have a tendency to reach for the sort of  
> shorthand "values" that are defined in American political life (Do  
> they prefer one set of sexual behaviors over another?  Do they  
> prefer one set of substances over another?  Do they support certain  
> types of killing and oppose others?).  You can take this shorthand  
> even further, and just boil it down to a handful of profiles (Are  
> they white/other, straight/other, christian/other, etc?) and then  
> you don't even have to worry about goodness and badness at all.  If  
> you fall in one camp, you could be helping seniors cross the street,  
> saving kittens from burning buildings, changing tires for strangers  
> stranded on the motorway... it doesn't matter... you are generally  
> going to be regarded as "bad" (or at least "fishy") according to the  
> shorthand.  Conversely, if you fall in the other camp....  you can  
> get away with a lot of badness provided you regard your privileged  
> status with some respect.  (Look at Tiger Woods....  so he's a  
> married guy who had sex outside of marriage....  that's a solid  
> month of headlines and moral outrage.  But, say, you're a good ol'  
> boy like David Vitter, and hire a prosititute dress you in diapers  
> behind your wife's back...  you will remain in the senate.)  But if  
> you put both of these things in the grand scheme of global  
> badness....  they are trivialities.  They might be hurtful for the  
> particular families involved....  but they are not harmful in the  
> same way, that say, Monsanto might be, as the fight for a monopoly  
> of the world's food supply.  What it means is that we have lost our  
> ability to even begin thinking about right and wrong.

More information about the empyre mailing list