July 2002, 8 posts, 1158 lines
This is more or less the argument that if you make the most wonderful object in the world and do a great job in the studio, the art can do no wrong once it leaves the studio and goes into a museum, gallery, not-for-profit, apartment show etc. Do you mean to say that you experience art the same way no matter where it is shown, and that since "It's all good", the distinctions between these spaces and how they function are irrelevant? I don't think anyone has been pitting these things against each other, as much as we have been trying to articulate a variety of problems attached to how they function and the reasons for why we would or wouldn't employ them in our practice. This points back to what I feel is a general crisis in Chicago (and probably everywhere) which is that many artists spend all the time in the world in their studio, but when the time comes to put their work out into the world, they'll take the first thing they can get or they'll settle for an exhibition opportunity that they feel queasy about, but feel is too 'important' to pass up. I don't believe anything is too 'important' to pass up if it makes you feel seriously compromised. I believe in exercising as much care and thought in how the work goes out into the world as is put into making the thing. In my experience when you put less thought into how your work is presented or where your work goes, you tend to wind up with extremely disappointing experiences.
My opinion is that you have to try to be rigorously thoughtful about every aspect of your practice. Sometimes it simply takes a few shitty experiences to realize how important this is. Excellent art does not excel in a shitty enviroment and of course what's a great space for some people is the last place on earth that others would want to show in.
Barring noise complaints for loud music (rock on), the studio is where everything is safe. Things only begin to matter or cause problems when they enter the outside world where that work can be received by others and have social implications. The importance of sharing your ideas with the outside world is what gets us into all of this debate as one tries to find ways of operating that they can live with and that serve their ideas in a satisfying way. Maybe for me a great artist not only has interesting ideas and makes interesting things, but thinks carefully about their way of being in the world and how they try to circulate those ideas and things they make.
Is it getting too hot outside to think properly?
Yes, definitely, particularly for those of us who have not made that socioeconomic jump that would allow us to install air conditioning. Meaning instead that we shuffle from museum to museum, commercial gallery to commercial gallery, compromising our politics in search of 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
I'm still on the verge of picking up the phone. Would that be the Batphone?
I'm also of course interested in artists whose success and careers are founded on ethical notions that they deviate from wildly when an opportunity appears that is too good to pass up. I have only spent so much time with him but it seems Beuys would be an interesting person to look at from this angle. he would, if my general distaste for his persona didn't disgust me a touch.
On that point I side with G. Richter. (he purports that in dusseldorf he would walk across a room just to avoid speaking with beuys, or perhaps even photographed in the same photo)
Well it's hard cause formalists are usually the killers. I'll have to come back to this one - maybe after a few drinks. Boeing is sponsoring Richter. They've helped a little killing happen in their day. If they didn't get that military contract that Lockheed recently got they'd be doin' plenty a killin' right about now. I bet they love those fighter plane paintings in the third gallery for lots of creepy reasons that I really don't want to think about. Yeah those formalists slay me too. (A touching aside, anyone read Richard serra's response to the NYtimes about appearing in Documenta? He mentions how devistated he was that his work had killed someone, he was considering what to do, how he could go on, and Harold Szeeman's invitation to make a work gave him a reason, and confidence to not throw in the towel. That it was an invitation that came to him as much more than just an invitation to make a work at that time in his career.)
Anyway, to be a devils advocate. I would say most people become an artist, as opposed to an accountant, because unlike numbers where 2 + 2 always equals 4 (exempting of course if you work for certain companies being mentioned in the news these days), in art there are no set meanings. And misreading images can be a positive force. Donald Judd's theories (and art) are based on either misreadings of newman and other american painters, or arguments he thought were in the works, but that none of the new york school certainly ever articulated. So we have some kick-butt, and some boring, minimalist masterpieces that are all based on a misappropriation of a prior style.
(Course newman, rothko, still and reinhardt would probably strike me dead if they new I was referring to them as a style. I'm guessing pollock would be too drunk to notice.) And this is hardly the first or last instance of an advancement in art based on perverting prior arts function. (greenberg anyone?) (Another aside, my computer spell-check always wants to change Judd into Judas. gotta like that.)
So yes these artworks are fragile wallflowers, and occasionally at the big dance one of the school bullies drags them along to make himself feel good. But that's whets good about the whole maker/audience affair. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. And right now there are still intellectual property rights which would allow you, or your heirs to sue, if some drunken bully got out of hand while dancing with your wallflower. The families of the three stooges just sued to stop someone from printing anti-gop shirts with the three stooges on them. If I remember correctly they argued the three stooges would not have involved themselves in politics. I guess because the Stooges were already mimicking its mechanizations.
Which also leads me to your (marc's) personal work. You wildly misappropriate images for your work. True you're not as menacing as boeing, at times, can be. (of course boeing also is generally responsible for me regularly being in other parts of the country that I rather enjoy thanks to its handy product the airplane.) But boeing has the right to reread and contextualize visual works as much as you do. That is why these things go out into the air. (on the chance that you have not read it, the opening chapter of Underworld by don delillo has an amazing art moment. Basically last couple minutes of the last game of the world series in 1951 delillo discovered that jackie Gleason, frank Sinatra and J. Edgar Hoover were at the game, and that at the same time Russia tested its first atomic bomb. So of course delillo rewrites it so the three attend the game together, and while gleason is barfing on sinatras shoes because he has had to much to drink, hoover learns about the russian test, and the game is won by a famous home run that because I'm not into baseball I don't remember who was responsible for. Well, fans go crazy, rip up magazines for confetti and in the celebration Hoover catches a reproduction of bruegel's triumph of death, which you can only imagine how that rouses Hoover.) There is no question that it would be nice to have a bigger budget for many things so that the results could look a little nicer. I think I have a slightly higher tolerance for rough edges than you do so Yes I'll admit that.
Whitewalls, in my view, works very very slowly. Not just in your view my friend, try seeing it through my eyes. The fun of getting to juggle many things at once. It would be faster if I was better at finding money under rocks.
But when the final result appears, no matter what my view of the content, it does look nice and "professional." No doubt about that. But the point should also be made, that often our stuff is printed for the cheapest price found. Cheap does not equal shoddy. You can be cheap and professional. But printing is wildly expensive. Particularly when you are trying to not make an artist compromise on what they desire. And if I can make a personal plug, I am holding a whitewalls meeting in mid july to try and rework whitewalls to be more responsive and productive with the money we have on hand, instead of having to wait for the big lump sum needed for a book or issue. Hopefully it will work. Keep your eyes peeled.
So this creates a dilemma. If you have a lot of ideas and if you have a lot of invitations to present your work or a lot of things you want to initiate, do you spend huge amounts of time writing grants and saving money and doing benefits or things like that, or do you figure out how to just do the fucking thing so you can move on to the next project? I always prefer to keep working and if the project looks a little cheaper as a result, I can usually live with that. It is a dilemma, which was my point about the importance of larger "nicer" commercial galleries, and larger
The problem is that if we worked like most non-for-profits we'd only be able to do about one third the number of projects we do in a year. We'd lose huge chunks of time writing grants and working on funding and organizing benefits and I don't want to do that. One of these days we'd love to have an arts admin student intern who can practice their grant writing skills on our behalf. But for most those grants you'd have to be a not-for-profit. Which means you'd have to incorporate, and file the legal papers, and create a board. It's not only time.
So the advantage of our way of working is that we can work very fast - as fast as four people (or fewer depending on who is working on what) can do something. yeah it is an advantage, and I'm not saying you are a lesser person, but we need more people with energy to build the "institutions" that have a chance of outliving the founders. More people who are willing to believe patience is a virtue. We have too many people who are not interested in slowing down for the benefit of all.
DIY culture is something I'm interested in. Well, me too, but sometimes I like the kind of funding that allows the Mothership to come out of the sky billowing dry-ice fog. Or Blue Oyster Cult to drop their instruments, pick up laser guns and fight godzilla as he(she?) terrorizes the stage. I know you hate arturo hererra's work But stay with me a moment. One thing now missing in Chicago's environment by the lack of not-for-profits (big ones) is a certain expanding location. There hererra was making his cutouts, his collages, photos, etc., but invitations from places like randolph street gave him money to expand a notch and do things like wall-paintings that greatly expanded his project at a level not necessarily affordable by him on his own. And the project being sponsored by randolph street signaled a belief in his project by someone outside his gallery, who's trying to "move product," his friend who is trying to say don't I know a talented person, and himself paying for his own storefront and saying "look how great I am." It functions as a quote-unquote disinterested supporter (yes I know there are back level friendships and all, but still relatively disinterested). I have no doubt part of the reason he is where he is today as a result of that support, both in his project, but also in the form of financial support to engage a larger project. Even if a commercial gallery believe in an artist, if the work isn't selling well, how are they going to react when the artist says, "Listen I know it would be a great work, I only need $6000 from you to make it." Many artists in that situation would walk away with either bottled water, wine from a plastic cup, or latte on their face.
Yes people make mistakes and I can cut plenty of slack. Where I become irritable is when the notion is put forward that if something goes away all of us will lose something incredible in its absence. Well its true, whether it is spoken by the people involved, or by outsiders. You just stated you aren't willing to do what it would take to put that kind of a structure together. Someone many years ago already did the hard part, why let that slide?
Most of the culture I like best takes some looking to find; it requires a bigger effort. I don't like a lot of mainstream culture. I can find the Arts Club very easily but it doesn't provide an interactive community I want to be a part of. Certainly if there are interesting spaces and they are highly visible, that makes it easier. It's nice to wander into a strange city and be able to locate lots of interesting things in ground level store fronts.
Exactly, and non-mainstream culture is hard to find. Curators don't do studio visits in my hometown of marshall, MI why? Well, for one reason from the outside you'd be hard pressed to find any culture besides Turkeyville (yes it is a real place) and the guy that carves bears out of logs with a chainsaw (unless he's finally lost an appendage doing this highly dangerous activity). Perhaps it is hard to remember the time when you did look to mainstream mags to find places. That's how I learned most things in the beginning. Or maybe its because you actually come from a locale with an art culture, and parents who at least recognize most art, unlike my youth and family. The internet is still a highly troubling source of info. I'm not a luddite, nor the unabomber, but I can't have that enthusiasm for cyberspace many have. In order to find most things you still need to know how to look. And walther konigs bookstore was on-line for quite a while before it turned up in any search databases, some sites I visit (no not porn) still don't turn up in search engines, so when I lose that scrap of paper with the address, I have to do somersaults to locate it. And lets not get into class and availability, and understanding, of technology.
So these visible markers, like big name galleries and not-for-profits still serve a vital function for those who will be nonmainstream presenters 10 years down the road.
They exist for me in the form of places like Quimby's, Reckless Records, The Empty Bottle, or maybe sometimes the Fireside Bowl. For some people (not really me) the Autonomous Zone serves that purpose. Other scenes have it. The art scene doesn't. That is another batch of apples/oranges. For one comparison a gallery, or even an alternative presenter like temp. serv. what you probably max out at about 30 things a year? The Empty Bottle alone has an average of two bands a night, 355 days a year (counting for their closings due to holidays, private parties, etc.) There is a lot more wiggle room for hitting it good once in a while at the Empty Bottle. And people who say chicago's art scene sucks, well NY is the empty bottle of the artworld. Its easy to forget, for the ten good shows there every two months, you would have to wade through a tsunami of mediocrity while avoiding a mighty powerful undertow. And sure that tsunami can at times be more thrilling than our wadding pool, it can also be tiring.
By the way, when is Whitewalls going to get a website and start archiving some stuff that way? Any desire? When they pry that paper from my cold dead hands! No really that has been in the discussion. Hopefully soon. Trouble has been time for maintenance, you can't post stuff without artist approval, etc.
But I refuse to believe that you can't exist in a less bureaucratic way and endure just as long. People are doing it both ways and surviving over time or not surviving. ARC and Artemesia are not-for-profits that have been around since the beginning of time, but how do ya like most of the art they show? Ever go there any more? Look at some of the art they show in their rental spaces to pay for the structure they've settled on. Some people on the board must be biting their lips really really hard sometimes. I do believe I prefaced my comment by saying, it's not that you are worse. Or that this is the only way to do things. Yes, obviously there are independent, dedicated, and stubborn folks who tough it out through thick and thin. The ex are a great model but galleries and institutions aren't like bands, they are like record labels, and independent self-run record labels fold much more frequently than larger ones for very petty reasons.
But from the outside. temp serv., your structure does not really communicate any lasting commitment, and hell you and brett could move to kentucky tomorrow and contribute nothing else to chicago for the rest of your lives. Randolph Street couldn't move out of town, and everyone who saw the space knew it. They had an illinois and chicago certificate of not-for-profit status. They were here, good times and bad times. And randolph street went through five years of death spasms because those involved had no choice but to try and find a way out. The institution was bigger than their desires. Any independent person, or apartment show organizer would have given up long before the five figure red numbers started showing up and the legal proceedings started revving up. And at any point the board could fire the director of those not-for-profits if they really hated how it was going (happens all the time). Then new people would be hired, and the focus would change. The institution is larger, and more of an entity than anything on its walls, which could do a 180 degree turn at any moment. I don't like arc or artemesia but you know what? Someone does. A lot of someones. And to me the more bureaucratic the institution, the more likely its tastes will vary a touch. I like that whitewalls is larger than my personal taste, and I (on one level) like that I dislike many things I print. This is my philosophy. Monochromes only make sense next to art about gardens, narrative works only make sense to textual nonsense, all these activities lead you to a way to read across content and recognize different forms and ways to engage works of art. And how can you find it compromising the close knit group of writing in the nae, and not (even a little) compromising showing your own stuff in temp serv over and over again?
I was only arguing, as I think you are now too, that people don't need to have a chronological understanding of art history to be engaged or to 'get' a lot of what the artist was thinking. Right, and I think that is just as true of "art about art." That is all I was arguing.
If I ever had to pay an admission fee to go to a commercial gallery I'd probably not see very much art there (to return to something Tom brought up before Anthony and I went berserk) I berserkly agree to that.
I don't dispute that galleries help lots of people to achieve their goals. I'm only saying that I haven't embraced a commercial gallery myself because I don't feel my own goals require their help. Wait wait, that's not all you said (and sorry to tom to making his quote a whipping post, I did agree with your other points, which is why I didn't comment on them) you agreed with
I'm trying to work around that system and so far I really like the way things are going. I like to represent myself in the situations where the gallery often does this for an artist. Doing this has thus far not hindered my practice in any way that I can see. Agreed on all levels. (and yes, for the record, I hate the Beatles and like the Rolling Stones up until about 1978 at the very latest). What? how can you hate Harlem Shuffle? (just kidding)
All of this is good but ultimately the reason the Unabomber did not become the Unafellow was probably because he could never feel comfortable within that system so the only way he could imagine existing in the world was in this incredibly extremist and isolated way. Right, but the point was, that is not the only way to oppose a system. You can work with that system to make it more expansive ignoring a structure is only one response, and does not mean that working in that system is "accepting the gallery system is tacit acknowledgment that art is produced as prestige capital for consumption by an elite whose position is guaranteed by military might. therefore anything that is produced for that system ultimately is advanced by their morals/ethics and serves as representations of it. "
Maybe what he should have done was checked out the internet a little so that he could find some other extremist people that shared his lifestyle so his world would be a little less lonely. I think that might have gone against his anti-technological advancement/tools beliefs. But I'm not 100 percent sure.
Prisoner: "Really?! That's really cool. Something good's gonna happen to you! You're gonna win the lottery or something." Well, don't leave us hanging, did you win the lottery?
One thing about the Unabomber can't be denied though and you have to give him credit for this: he has great hair. I don't know, I like the hood, and that he kept in his hut his diploma from the Univ. of Mi. he was sentimental after all. Oh, and that found in his hut was an object the FBI could only categorize as "what appears to be some form of calendar."
Right, but the poor buy art from the places that they are comfortable in just like the rich do. It is a fact that many poor people feel, and are often made to feel, extremely uncomfortable in commercial galleries. Perhaps, but there are exceptions. The post man who's name I forget that was never rich, but amassed an amazing collection of mid-sixties and up american art by saving his bucks and buying what he could. And I don't always feel comfortable in galleries, or the bank, or the dmv, but I've decided any discomfort is balanced by the good to be had by patronizing to these places.
Commercial galleries, because they are in the art selling business more than they are in the education business, don't have to be so accommodating and they often aren't. I think it is a truly unfortunate thing that the favorite architectural model for most successful commercial galleries is this inhumanly scaled clinical monstrosity vision you see in Chelsea agreed but outreach is hard, there are only so many hours in the day. Some galleries could be more inviting, I do wish frosted glass with no name on the window had not become to model to work with. But I do not think, as you earlier stated that these places are actively trying to keep out the real world so that they are not accountable. Which does not mean that there is a lack of contemptible gallerists, and gallerinas. I also think a lot of this has more to do with our lack of arts education in schools, than with actions taken by the artworld. The last time I needed to buy a car the salesman scared me more than any gallery owner ever has.
Pepon Osorio does some interesting work but his show I saw at the museum in Puerto Rico did get slightly undermined for me when you need to see it with the logo bearing Gillette's sponsorship right above the title card of his piece. I was amused to see that another Puerto Rican artist taped over their logo so it just said "Let." If Osorio can live with that, that's his choice. I find it distracting. But once again, I believe in the ole biting the hand that feeds you. And if osorio decides that gillette (who's razors I use) sponsoring a project is good because it frees him to rent a storefront for another project, which he does all the time, I don't think that means he has temporarily dropped his politics. Ethics usually do not have an on/off switch.
Galleries do some good stuff like help to make sure an artist's ideas live on after they die and I don't think this is always just to protect their investment in the artists' estate (though that is certainly part of it). They can help museums understand how to properly display or conserve a work when the artist is no longer around to do that. they also keep the air conditioning on.
I like having that control. Control freak. (kidding)
When you sell through a gallery you sacrifice a lot of that control and your art can go lots of places you didn't wish to put it. Who knows, it might even become a tool that gets used by THE MAN. that's when you enlist lawyers for the arts to make THE MAN pay. (anyone see undercover brother? Apparently there IS one white man who comes up with all the systems of the world.) and to add other's comments:
I think the problem lies not in the "space" but in our expectations of being entertained and dazzled by new and innovative works. If we are only seeing a trickle of great art in Chicago it is because not allot of great art is being made, not because some non-profit is doing a crappy job. Right to a degree. But artists and spaces need each other. Some of my favs., hanne darboven, fischli & weiss, l. weiner, robert barry, and on and on are great (to me at least) not only because they had a great idea or two, but because there were a large number of different types, sizes, and financially well-off spaces that asked them to do their projects, so they could work out the good ideas, the bad ideas, and the bad ideas that later became good ideas. Talent only counts for part of it, there is a basic level needed by an artist to warm up to become a certain level of "talent." So a lack of all these different scales of spaces in Chicago distinctly puts artists here at a disadvantage. And lest Mr. Ravitz think I have good taste, I do own Alice Cooper records, electronic music that is nothing but static, listen to that classical music that sends people running for the door, and listen to the type of jazz, where blast, those fellas just can't keep a beat, all they're doin' is honking. And lest Marc Think I have good taste, I think marvin gaye, curtis mayfield and al green each have more talent, even when chocking on an ice cube, than otis redding.
please keep the conversation on Othergroup (not the phone) - although it's somewhat long-winded, I'm enjoying reading it. I have a few small comments..
I'm also of course interested in artists whose success and careers are founded on ethical notions that they deviate from wildly when an opportunity appears that is too good to pass up.
what about Jean Tinguely, who was so anti-conservation, who's work was all about destruction and chaos. now there's a museum dedicated to him. was this museum created against his wishes? and, I've heard Andreas Gursky won't even mention any social and/or economic commentary in his work - and the mca's web site says it's all about the process. maybe he feels that this commentary is so apparent that it would be tiresome or heavy-handed to discuss it. also - while one artist might find it unethical or immoral to be in an exhibit that is sponsored by a cigarette company - many would have no problem with that. not because they are compromising anything either.
I think it was already stated - not everyone has the same standards of ethics and morals.
It is a fact that many poor people feel, and are often made to feel, extremely uncomfortable in commercial galleries. I often feel uncomfortable in galleries - especially when I'm the only one there and the attendant is staring at me. I also feel uncomfortable in shoe stores, but I still love them (almost a sickness). AND, I also feel uncomfortable at a political protest - all that marching and chanting in unison. eerie. must go, I have a big bandaid on my finger and can't really type...
Okay, so Anthony and I are still waiting for some more sensitive readers to pry us from our dialogical bear hug. We've had about 5 takers so far and about 62 left to go. In the meantime, we hold on tight to each other across the telecommunication wires of our modems while we sweat like pigs without physically touching each other. Does that sound disgusting? It really is, isn't it?
we shuffle from museum to museum, commercial gallery to commercial gallery, compromising our politics in search of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Right. Or seeing some shitty movie. For the record, I do NOT recommend John Woo's new movie "Windtalkers" but I do highly recommend basking in 134 minutes of primo air conditioning. Also the City North theater has the loudest fucking sound system this side of Motorhead. My god is that a loud movie.
I have only spent so much time with him but it seems Beuys would be an interesting person to look at from this angle. he would, if my general distaste for his persona didn't disgust me a touch. Right. He's probably the perfect person to look at for all the seemingly positive social innovations that came with the caveats of some of the most lame and transparent marketing and cult of personality bullshit around. I mean how many more things could the guy have stamped with a red cross and signed his name to in order 'advance' his social ideas? Some of the multiples that guy sold are really among the worst things that ever got multiplied.
Anyway, to be a devils advocate. I would say most people become an artist, as opposed to an accountant, because unlike numbers where 2 + 2 always equals 4 (exempting of course if you work for certain companies being mentioned in the news these days), in art there are no set meanings. And misreading images can be a positive force. Well, I lean toward the approach where you can do the weirdest kind of research and experimenting on earth and still wind up with a result that is quite logical and reveals a fairly clear sense of thinking on the part of the maker. There are no set meanings but there are intentions and there is the possibility of having enough critical distance from your work to be pretty sure that you are communicating at least some of what you thinking. I mean, not everyone probably shares David Shrigley's sense of humor but if no one thought the guy was funny then he'd be failing pretty badly. His drawing abilities certainly wouldn't save him. The good thing about his work is that most people seem to understand his humor which suggests that his work is not being misread. I view that as its strength. Fuck knows how he arrives at those drawings but the end result usually communicates as I would guess it is intended too. And I would say that deliberately misreading images is probably one of my favorite pastimes. And I do enjoy people like Thomas Hirschhorn whose work can be such a mess.
And right now there are still intellectual property rights which would allow you, or your heirs to sue, if some drunken bully got out of hand while dancing with your wallflower. The families of the three stooges just sued to stop someone from printing anti-gop shirts with the three stooges on them. If I remember correctly they argued the three stooges would not have involved themselves in politics. I guess because the Stooges were already mimicking its mechanizations. See these people are just so fucking lame. They are mad that they never did anything as good as their grandparents in the Three Stooges and jealous that they aren't as clever as the anti-GOP people. And by the way, I hate the Three Stooges and don't think they were very good, so this just makes these people even more lame.
Which also leads me to your (marc's) personal work. You wildly misappropriate images for your work. True you're not as menacing as boeing, at times, can be. (of course boeing also is generally responsible for me regularly being in other parts of the country that I rather enjoy thanks to its handy product the airplane.) But boeing has the right to reread and contextualize visual works as much as you do. That is why these things go out into the air. Ultimately I tend to think everything should be up for grabs in the world of images. I'm probably the last person who would sue to control how something I made was used (after all, I'd be suing someone who was probably using someone else's images!!). One reason that I have to be thoughtful about how I put my work out is that it would not be wise to start making large sums of money from recontextualizing other people's photos. Selling some of my work is a lawsuit waiting to happen. I'm in favor of sampling without licensing clearance and all that good stuff. I think you should be able to make new art out of other people's contributions to culture. I don't think Boeing did much to recontextualize Richter's work; they just funded his exhibit. We all did our Hans Haacke homework though so we know why corporations who sometimes do naughty things like to give money to museums. I'm sure having just moved to Chicago, Boeing wants everyone to know that their new neighbors are nice people who like art and care about culture. Just like Philip Morris and their friend Jesse Helms.
(on the chance that you have not read it, the opening chapter of Underworld by don delillo has an amazing art moment. Sounds nice. I haven't read it. I'll have to check it out sometime.
Maybe there is a copy waiting at my air conditioned local library.
But the point should also be made, that often our stuff is printed for the cheapest price found. Cheap does not equal shoddy. You can be cheap and professional. But printing is wildly expensive. Particularly when you are trying to not make an artist compromise on what they desire. And if I can make a personal plug, I am holding a whitewalls meeting in mid july to try and rework whitewalls to be more responsive and productive with the money we have on hand, instead of having to wait for the big lump sum needed for a book or issue. Hopefully it will work. Keep your eyes peeled.
Right, I know you are frugal in the smart good way. Believe me, I know every fuckin' photocopier in this town and I know who skimps on the toner and who doesn't. And since I already got a preview in a conversation about your reworking hopes, I hope it works too because I think your ideas are right on. All you other people: Watch out!: Whitewalls are about to become the publishing speed demons of Chicago! (well.... uh... they might become a little faster than the people at Encyclopedia Brittanica).
But for most those grants you'd have to be a not-for-profit. Which means you'd have to incorporate, and file the legal papers, and create a board. It's not only time. All I know is we have a book filled with a bunch of things we are eligible to apply for that someone made for us, but we have no time to work with it right now. I know there are lots of things we can't get. That's fine. We'll live. we need more people with energy to build the
Okay look, we are relatively young guys. You are what 32? I'm 31. Are you already concerned that you are gonna die without meeting a cool person who can become Whitewalls' next managing editor?! I'm joking around of course but I still think you can address these things without having the usual institutional structure.
I'm not of the belief that an organization can't continue and do great work without any of its original members. People leave and die but the best aspects of the initial ideas can remain. You can find new blood and take the time to acquaint those people with the history of the organization for a long time before you die or leave so that the fundamental ideas carry on. Shakespeare is dead but we still have his plays and they still get performed (even if some of the performances upset Harold Bloom). If you never meet that person or group of people who can carry on - if there aren't people who can replace the people that initiated the thing in terms of their best ideas, then maybe the thing just has to die. Some people are less expendable than others. I know you might be getting tired of some of these music analogies but The Rolling Stones did great without Brian Jones. James Brown even survived after Bootsy Collins left. The Who however sucked without Keith Moon, and alas, can you believe those motherfuckers ALREADY replaced Jon Entwistle?!
Out of all of this my strongest concern is that we have too many people who are not interested in doing anything that is of much benefit to anyone but themselves. But that is a human problem, not just an art world problem. If you leave behind great ideas people can use those ideas to build new projects and if they don't call it by your name who cares as long as they are doing good work. What benefits us all are interesting models for working and great ideas that we can use to extend our own ideas. What's more valuable - leaving behind a name that gets associated with years of shit work because of it's fucked structure, or great ideas that other people can emulate with or without the organization? I missed the best years of Randolph Street because I wasn't in Chicago yet. The good thing is you can do some research and dig up info about the things that happened there. I want access to their archives. I know there must be amazing ideas and strategies that are worth reworking.
Well, me too, but sometimes I like the kind of funding that allows the Mothership to come out of the sky billowing dry-ice fog. Or Blue Oyster Cult to drop their instruments, pick up laser guns and fight godzilla as he(she?) terrorizes the stage.
Well we have Zena Sakowski and Rob Kelly to build both of these things. The only problem is that they surely won't survive for the entire tour. The other problem is that the kind of people who start not-for-profits usually aren't the kind who are gonna perpetuate your love of BOC. You can dream though.
Well its true, whether it is spoken by the people involved, or by outsiders. You just stated you aren't willing to do what it would take to put that kind of a structure together. Someone many years ago already did the hard part, why let that slide?
Well we are never gonna resolve this one my friend. Given that we have arts admin programs in Chicago, there, in theory, should be people who really do want to work this way. I can admire people who are willing to board a sinking ship and try to fix it up and make it sail better than ever against all odds. For better or worse, while those people are helping the sinker, I'll probably be riding the train going in some other direction (hopefully not Amtrack). If I can do a little to help the sinking ship because I think it is worth saving I will. Certainly I often donate things to benefit auctions when asked to help - regardless of the fact that the people who are asking subscribe to a different model than I do (or aren't trying to do anything even very similar). I also think that some things that were started to fill one need a long time ago can eventually outlive their original purpose. But again, we just are never gonna agree on this because while I generally like those places, I do not enjoy working within that kind organizational structure. We should probably retire this one soon out of respect to our mute audience which won't tell us to shut up. and the guy that carves bears out of logs with a chainsaw (unless he's finally lost an appendage doing this highly dangerous activity).
That guy actually contacted Temporary Services! Well, maybe it wasn't THAT guy (I realize this is a genre unto itself) but it was quite an exchange. Needless to say we did not hit it off very well. That is another batch of apples/oranges. For one comparison a gallery, or even an alternative presenter like temp. serv. what you probably max out at about 30 things a year? The Empty Bottle alone has an average of two bands a night, 355 days a year (counting for their closings due to holidays, private parties, etc.) There is a lot more wiggle room for hitting it good once in a while at the Empty Bottle. And people who say chicago's art scene sucks, well NY is the empty bottle of the artworld. Its easy to forget, for the ten good shows there every two months, you would have to wade through a tsunami of mediocrity while avoiding a mighty powerful undertow. And sure that tsunami can at times be more thrilling than our wadding pool, it can also be tiring.
Right, well no Randolph Street in the world can match the energy of places like the Empty Bottle or the Fireside for vigorous programming. I wish these places were more of an inspiration to the art scene and less of an inspiration to the music scene. Of course they mostly have a formula so that helps them make it easier on themselves. They provide a more particular service. I agree with the New York comment based on my all too infrequent visits.
By the way, when is Whitewalls going to get a website and start archiving some stuff that way? Any desire? When they pry that paper from my cold dead hands! No really that has been in the discussion. Hopefully soon. Trouble has been time for maintenance, you can't post stuff without artist approval, etc. Cool. I think that's great. For the one issue I'm in - hey, you have my approval.
Of course you could post stuff without artist approval. Kenny G from www.ubu.com does it all the time and he never gets a complaint and in fact has people contact him to tell him how happy they are to find themselves included. But I know you wouldn't take that approach... except for with the dead people who can't complain (kidding).
But from the outside. temp serv., your structure does not really communicate any lasting commitment, and hell you and brett could move to kentucky tomorrow and contribute nothing else to chicago for the rest of your lives. Randolph Street couldn't move out of town, and everyone who saw the space knew it. They had an illinois and chicago certificate of not-for-profit status. They were here, good times and bad times. And randolph street went through five years of death spasms because those involved had no choice but to try and find a way out. The institution was bigger than their desires.
Any independent person, or apartment show organizer would have given up long before the five figure red numbers started showing up and the legal proceedings started revving up. Don't forget Salem and Lora. I'm sorry to say it but for me at least, lifelong devotion to the Chicago scene is not my priority. I will always do things here as long as I live here and will always work with local people but I have no quota of how many things I do in a year that must be in Chicago. The good thing about doing stuff elsewhere (even in Kentucky if you really have to) is that you meet new people whose work you can try to bring back to your home city so that you can enliven your "scene" (man, that word annoys me). You can also share info about the good work that is happening in this city which I always do. I also try to use travel as a way to create new opportunities for people here. I'm interested more in the international situation of people who share my/our approach but since I live here, of course I also wanna like what's going on locally
Can we try to kind of wrap up this part of this debate by saying that we both think not for profits like RSG are great and we wish there were more of them in Chicago with a great bold presence and we wish tons of smart, cool, generous, rigorously-thinking, aesthetically adventurous people were all volunteering and keeping them afloat and they did kick ass work for all the world to see and for the most diverse possible audiences? Can we imagine that this could happen given the cultural climate in Chicago right now? Sadly, I can't. What should the name of this new space be? It would have to be called "Death Spasms."
And to me the more bureaucratic the institution, the more likely its tastes will vary a touch. I like that whitewalls is larger than my personal taste, and I (on one level) like that I dislike many things I print. This is my philosophy. Monochromes only make sense next to art about gardens, narrative works only make sense to textual nonsense, all these activities lead you to a way to read across content and recognize different forms and ways to engage works of art.
Again, though it may often be the case, I don't buy into the idea that beaurocracy is necessarily the best or only way to breed variety. Whitewalls is varied. No doubt. I think if you look over the list of 100 or so people that have participated in Temp Serv projects you'll find an outrageously diverse list of people, many of whom surely hate each others' aesthetics. I don't like absolutely everything with us either but there are people who I'm happy to give opportunities to because I think what they do is valuable even if it's not always my taste. There are more important things than what a few people like.
We probably agree here but the way we arrive at that is different from Whitewalls because we do things more by consensus rather than letting each board member vote in someone whose work they like. A voting process would never work for us.
And how can you find it compromising the close knit group of writing in the nae, and not (even a little) compromising showing your own stuff in temp serv over and over again?
I don't think I said it was compromising; I think I said they are dishonest or at least not open about it. I believe they conceal or at least would be unwilling to announce what looked to many people like an exchange of favors and a slack editorial policy - not what you expect in a news magazine. Temp Serv is not just a platform for other people. It is a venue for our collaborative work and sometimes it is a venue for our own individual work (which is only presented within group projects anyway). But "over and over again" is a big overstatement.
I have also taken my name off plenty of things where I didn't think credit or authorship was important. There are projects we initiate where we are putting forward a model of working or presenting work that rarely if ever gets used. We develop these ideas not just because we want to see them implemented by other people, but because we are anxious to implement them ourselves. The reason we include other people is because we are not interested in defending a single approach for ourselves. We are not guarding a style or approach or anything like that. I hate that shit. If we know the project will be more interesting if it is extended to include other people who find the approach interesting too, then we always do that.
So what should we do? Go find some other venue for our own individual project within a given format (like a sandwich board sign) and then create a separate project so 12 other people, but not ourselves, can use that same format? That just makes no sense. The reason for including myself or ourselves on occasion is because we had always wanted to use those structures ourselves. Why should we do that separately? We are not dishonest about our participation in the projects. It's all out in the open. Why can't NAE be open also and say: "Here is an article by Joe Blow on this event that was organized by Sally Ann's Gallery. And on page 32, please note that Joe Blow's exhibit _AT_ Sally Ann's Gallery has been reviewed by John Doe, who is Joe Blow's collaborator on the following project." I'm not giving out the names but this is just one of several examples of something that happened in the same issue. The difference is that I'm being open about how we work and why, and we do that in the essays too (it is explained similar to the above in the Mobile Sign Systems booklet). Matti Allison and I wanted to make sandwich boards to extend one of our projects. I thought it would be a good form for other people to use for their projects (including you). It got turned into a group project but we still did our own work with that form. Why shouldn't we?
I don't dispute that galleries help lots of people to achieve their goals. I'm only saying that I haven't embraced a commercial gallery myself because I don't feel my own goals require their help. Wait wait, that's not all you said (and sorry to tom to making his quote a whipping post, I did agree with your other points, which is why I didn't comment on them) you agreed with
is an extreme moral judgment happening there. Okay, let me give an example
of how bad things could be - something short of Gagosian selling a work of
art I made to George Bush who hangs it above his desk in the White House
to show that he supports experimental critical non-commercial art practice
in America (which AIN'T gonna happen of course). This is something I heard
and I can't quite confirm it so I won't name names and I don't have the
evidence needed to support it but I suspect it is true. Here goes... When
MTV was in town, they went shopping for some art in the West Loop Gate and
bought some art by a person roughly my age and with roughly my exhibition
experience. And they bought the work from the kind of low level commercial
gallery that someone like me could perhaps show at. And what I heard was
that this person's work was displayed in the Real World house. Now I
wasn't active in the Real World protests but I did have a couple friends
who were arrested for such horrible behavior as drawing in chalk on the
sidewalk in front of that house. So if that work hanging in the Real World
House was mine, I would have been livid that I had helped to somehow
- if only by providing some background decorations - a corporate entity that thinks it's cool to use the police to violently (in some cases) prevent people from peacefully challenging their activities. So in that case, yes, the police were used to defend an elite because our Mayor seems to love having people film in Chicago more than he cares about the consequences of film productions on the people that live here. And the MTV lawyers did take the protesters to court (I think all the cases got dismissed). Anyone who has ever had their lives disrupted for stuff like TV filming may not be so up in arms that they'll protest, but they also probably aren't going to bake cookies for the gaffers and grips and directors or the cops who are protecting the set. If you sell in a gallery, chances are the gallery is not going to turn down someone's money and may in fact be really delighted to sell your work so it can get shown on TV and perhaps, in turn, advertise them. Do artists have clauses that allow them to veto a sale if they don't like the buyer?
Probably not. I don't know. I doubt this artist did. Maybe you could take legal action against the gallery, but what a fuckin' mess that could wind up being.
Well, don't leave us hanging, did you win the lottery? Of course not, but I also never got "shanked with a spoon...and he was supposed to get out soon." Sorry, when it's this hot out, my thoughts wander to the lyrics of Ice Cube and that amazing song "The Product" on the "Kill at Will" EP.
I don't know, I like the hood,
Since I've don't have the hair, for me the hood is the only option. But so far the Unabomber model isn't the one I'm going with.
And I don't always feel comfortable in galleries, or the bank, or the dmv, but I've decided any discomfort is balanced by the good to be had by patronizing to these places. C'mon you don't like the DMV?! I hear they might have air conditioning. Maybe we can wait in those long lines and then when we finally get to the front 3 hours later we can just say "Oh! What was I thinking? I've already got a driver's license!"
agreed but outreach is hard, there are only so many hours in the day. Some galleries could be more inviting, I do wish frosted glass with no name on the window had not become to model to work with. But I do not think, as you earlier stated that these places are actively trying to keep out the real world so that they are not accountable. Which does not mean that there is a lack of contemptible gallerists, and gallerinas.
Well I did read something once about how many galleries in Soho were happy to move to Chelsea because they got tired of tourists and shoppers wandering into their spaces all day because they never bought anything. To go back to that cocoon analogy (AGAIN!), if you get bored of seeing only the same people looking at your stuff over again (which I do) then outreach of some kind becomes necessary. That said, I don't think most galleries actively try to keep people out, but I also don't think all of them realize which aspects of their behavior or architectural design do keep people out. I had a conversation about this with one of the guys (can't remember his name) from the new space The Pond on Milwaukee Ave. They have canvas up over the windows which makes it impossible to see into the space. I found this totally bizarre. I said "You've got a storefront in a really interesting area [they are right next to Planned Parenthood] why don't you want people to be able to look in?!" The response was that they had two video monitors and they were afraid that if people could see them, they might try to break in and steal them. So in order to protect two monitors, which they could take home at the end of the day or at least hide from view when the gallery is closed, they make it impossible to see in and make the place quite unwelcome. The guy from The Pond was a nice guy and I'm not trying to completely attack him, but this does show how unaware some art people are about how their actions affect peoples' ability to take in their work. I guess this long example pretty much is summed up by the frosted glass example that you gave. But here I don't think it was a deliberate attempt to keep people out. Rather I think it was a lack of consideration about what might make the space inviting if it was intended for anyone other than the usual art crowd (which thus far, I think, may be the only intended audience. It was their first show though so I'm certainly willing to give them a chance).
I also think a lot of this has more to do with our lack of arts education in schools, than with actions taken by the artworld. Lack of arts education is a huge problem too and definitely a factor in all of this. Maybe we can make posters with pictures of people who all wear that one style of glasses that all the artsy people wear and the slogan "Don't be afraid of this art wussy! Check out his gallery!"
But once again, I believe in the ole biting the hand that feeds you. And if osorio decides that gillette (who's razors I use) sponsoring a project is good because it frees him to rent a storefront for another project, which he does all the time, I don't think that means he has temporarily dropped his politics. Ethics usually do not have an on/off switch. Right, ethics don't. There is a lot of room to move around in. I find this kind of advertising (which is what it is) inside museums very annoying (even if I use a sponsor's products I still find this practice really annoying). I find it especially annoying when it invades the exhibition spaces. That museum in Puerto Rico is one of the worst places I've seen for that. It was really brazen everywhere - particularly when they had a performance there as part of an evening of events where the outdoor performance area was flanked by two shiny new Lexuses on either side as well as big Lexus banners. You couldn't see the performance space without seeing the cars. It was really gross and while I was very interested in the work of the artist who was performing, I finally decided to leave because I had no desire to see his work under those circumstances. I understand biting the hand that feeds you but it's not my preferred model. I think it's better to discuss exactly why things bother you and try to resolve these problems with the institution. If you bite the hand that feeds you without trying to resolve the problem, you don't leave any room for this to change for future artists and you add fuel to the belief that artists can't be trusted. If you can't resolve an issue then you can make a choice whether to do the project or not. So I like honesty, dialogue, and resolutions that are agreeable to both parties better. Chances are Osorio had no idea that logo was gonna be there and it was probably too late to contest it by the time he saw it (assuming he cared).
However if he was able to visit that museum before the show and saw all the logos all over the place, then he could have brought it up and tried to debate this. This is something artists can do, though they don't always care and don't always get their way.
Control freak. (kidding) I knew that was coming (if not from you then from someone).
When you sell through a gallery you sacrifice a lot of that control and your art can go lots of places you didn't wish to put it. Who knows, it might even become a tool that gets used by THE MAN. that's when you enlist lawyers for the arts to make THE MAN pay. For me if someone is going to own something I damn near fried my brains making (and I'm not entirely averse to letting someone possess things I make) I'd kind of like to know that person and hopefully I'd like that person and feel really good about the fact that they maintain some kind of control over what I have done. For small things it's no big deal as I make plenty of stuff that winds up all over the place because it is meant to do that. But if you sell through a gallery you just can't meet every person that wants to buy your stuff and then tell your gallerist "Nope, that guy's a sexist bastard who just pinched your assistant's ass. Don't sell him my art." If you are that difficult to deal with I'm sure no gallery will want to deal with you. Nearly everyone is easier to deal with when they don't have to sell your stuff. Most of the not-for-profit/university gallery people I've worked with have been really wonderful to deal with. One was an asshole and one was so unbearable I just canceled the entire exhibit, but most of them have been absolutely amazing. And I like their spaces better than most commercial gallery spaces. And Keri said: what about Jean Tinguely, who was so anti-conservation, who's work was all about destruction and chaos. now there's a museum dedicated to him. was this museum created against his wishes?
And I say: I have been to that museum. Not sure how that place is maintained exactly or by who. I imagine his wife who survives him Niki St. Phalle (sp?) must have a hand in it. But I think that place keeps some aspects of his work (as I understand it) alive in exciting ways. You can hit buttons to operate the machines and see how they work, they get fixed when they break, and you can climb on the ones you are supposed to be allowed to climb on. It seems like they are honoring his ideas in a good way but I don't know enough about Tinguely's ideas to be sure. Any experts out there?
And lest Marc Think I have good taste, I think marvin gaye, curtis mayfield and al green each have more talent, even when chocking on an ice cube, than otis redding. They may have more talent (particularly Mayfield because of the complexity of his arrangements) but for some reason Redding's voice moves me much more emotionally and I prefer his more raw production values (of course). I'm not sure I can exactly say why I find his voice so much more moving. These things can't be explained. He died incredibly young so who knows what he might have accomplished. "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" was the last thing he did and he was already starting to make some kind of departure from his earlier stuff. The arrangements were more sophisticated. Who knows, he could have even joined Parliament eight years later for all we know?! The bad thing about Redding, which I know you will agree with me on, is that he had a profound influence on Rod Stewart who truly sucks ass. If you wanna hear it I have the 4 disk Redding box set. I can lend it to you. Tons of great stuff. Hell, he even covers a Beatles song and makes it good.
I have just rubbed my crystal ball and it predicts that if anyone responds to any part of this email, it will be this last paragraph about Rod Stewart sucking ass. So okay othergroupers, I've called your bluff. Take on some of the hard stuff. Keri I'm sorry to hear about your finger. Next time please be careful having barbecues where you serve tequila. And to Anthony, this is a pretty damn good debate. I'd like, however, to start moving away from this 'Temp Serv is or Temp Serv isn't' dialogue as the others are not part of othergroup and I am not the sole spokesperson for the group.
Brett, Salem, and Lora would surely respond very very differently to many of these things. That's important to point out. If you wanna abandon explaining Whitewalls in the absense of the rest of the people involved who also don't participate in othergroup I can understand that too. I feel I've at times been a little too candid in a dialogue that makes it sound like I am speaking on behalf of 4 people when I'm only giving my own interpretation.
Re: apartments, storefronts, commercial galleries, museums, good art, bad art, blah, blah, blah: Merleau-Ponty: "our body is in the world as the heart is in the organism ... it breathes life into it and sustains it ... and with it forms a system." James Meyer interpreting Robert Morris: "meaning is the production of a syntactical encounter of the viewer with the work and the gallery space."
Re musical taste: Sorry Anthony Elms: Yours still sounds good, but Charles Wright said it the very best when he wrote "Express Yourself." It is all good. The very best song of all time, though: Al Green's "Jesus is Waiting."
Re: the discussion. Keep it up.
I just keep reading this stuff, and I find it really interesting. On the other hand, I can almost never get through an article in Artforum or Parkett. What does that mean? Also, you must be getting tired, because as the debate continues you become kinder and kinder, more and more reasonable. I'm sorry.
I agree....... but,(heh) I don't think that this is a naive point of view. My goal is to make work that functions well in multiple environments, and under varied conditions. It is important to be able to present work the best way possible.... I have had work end up on well lighted rich peoples walls, nice gallery walls as well as found my work in dumpsters in small towns..... horrible craft fairs (yuck), libraries, girlfriends bedrooms walls. To me, this is interesting..... I don't want my art to be sheltered.....
Of course work looks differently in different environments, it can be dull one place and pretty in another or beautiful or trashy. I think it is healthy to find out how art works. When I go out I don't just go to the places that make me look good, I go out looking good to all kinds of different places so that I can learn and see new things. Currently I am a grad student and mostly what I see is empty, quiet studios.
You may see artists who spend too much time in there studios, I would like to meet them, I see allot of artists out of there studios playing the
P.S. The studio is safe? I beg to differ.
The very best song of all time, though: Al Green's "Jesus is Waiting." Goddamnit YES!!! (sorry I had to take that approach because while Jesus might me waiting for me, my obnoxious atheist ass is not waiting for Jesus).
That song is incredible and totally underplayed just because it's probably a little too long for stupid commercial radio. On that song Al Green actually makes me feel like a spiritual person. Is it the very best song of all time? I don't know. It is definitely up there with "TV Eye" by the Stooges,