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May 2003, 69 posts, 2206 lines

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Okay, this group has officially gone dead silent again. Not surprisingly everyone gave up on Dave Stull including Dave Stull himself. Mike Wolf posted a very long and thoughtful post about funding which deserves a lot of long and thoughtful responses but looks like it will get none. So what are we left with?

Well, in the name of trying to be a little constructive (and potentially making an ass out of myself as usual), the least I can do is bring a critically important cultural event to your attention. I will even go so far as to say that this is, without question the most important cultural event in Chicago in the entire month of May in any area of the arts - visual art, theater, film, music, etc.

Since it would be too easy, and not fun to just come out with it, let's first do a little process of elimination.

Is it the long-awaited return of the Canadian Sci-Fi thrash metal band Voivod with original singer Snake on May 5th at the House of Blues? No, but I will be there.

Is it 2 nights of Motorhead in a row at the House of Blues? No - but if you've never seen them you should go.

Is is the Stray Show or Art Chicago? next question...

Is it the Art Institute MFA show? Hahhahhahhahaha

Is it two nights of members of Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. being in town at the Empty Bottle and Schubas? I plan on going both nights but No.

Is it the "Cheap" show at Gallery 312 No.

John Currin at the MCA? I'll see it and probably like some of it but No.

Give up yet?

Drop every fucking thing you have on your calendar and go see all 9 of the Frederick Wiseman films that will be shown in his retrospective at the Siskel Film Center which starts in May and ends in June. That is an order. Don't be stupid. You can't see these things on video - none of them are available. You can wait your whole life and hope some of them get shown on PBS again (good luck). You can rent them from Wiseman himself for a couple hundred dollars a pop (cool of you to give him the money but...). You can search on eBay and still not even find bootlegs of more than a couple of his films. Or you can just go to the Film Center and see 9 films by the greatest living American film-maker bar none - it doesn't matter that they are documentaries - they transcend that. Particularly highly recommended are "Titicut Follies" (one of the greatest films of all time) and "Welfare." "High School" is great and fun but not as profound. "The Store" is amazing. "Public Housing" is very rich and rewarding (but slower and a little more difficult). "Hospital" is good but not long enough, and I haven't seen the others. I know they are also showing "Zoo", "Model", and "Basic Training" - all of which I need to see. Any of these films are essential. Do whatever you want this month but if you don't see even one of these films it's your own fucking loss and don't come crying to me.

Marc

P.S. I'm up for a more thoughtful and protracted discussion of Wiseman's work any day of the week and if anyone has copies of any of this films, contact me off list and perhaps we can arrange screenings or such.

Readers note: this email was written under the influence of too much Miller High Life but I will defend every word of it anyway.

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At the risk of hubris, I think there may be something to reccommend DeCorps's Buresque Tartare at The Hideout tonight (Saturday). I'm uncomfortably proud of my Patriot Act act, and the rest is at least entertaining. And live and local. And partially naked.

In June the Lumpen-sponsored Freedom Fest will be as important or entertaining as we make it. Ask me for what I know or go to the source : ed at lumpen.com

bulka

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Marc Fischer wrote:

I guess they couldn't argue with reason.

You should drink less, maybe you'd be less snotty.

I agree with you about Mike's post. I have been thinking about it as well, and I don't know what to say. Artists are in a very tough spot in such a commercial culture. They either have to become teachers, entertainers, or starve, it seems. Yet art is art and teaching and entertaining is teaching and entertainment. Art can teach and entertain but that's not it's primary function, and it's not most artist's primary intent. So what is one to do?

I don't know. I do know that a lot of great artwork isn't going to get made in this culture because those who could make it are busy trying to survive economically instead. So maybe the question is: why doesn't our culture appreciate art for it's own sake (except for a few individuals, of course)? Does any culture ever really appreciate art for it's own sake? Should they? Is there anything we can do about it? I think these questions lead us down a useless road: the road of the "should be's" and "wish it were's". The road of the cause mongers.

But I can't think of a good alternative. If I could solve this dilemma perhaps I'd make art again, myself. As it is it just exacts too great a toll.

Dave S.

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A different perspective to Mike and Dave's post.

I'm not an artist and at the risk of appearing an interloper, that's defeatist. Let's everybody quit and go work in a car wash. Yes, we live in a capitalist system. On the one hand that means the state isn't going to be throwing money at artists to make art. On the other hand, that means that people outside of the art-making community have the funds to purchase art and are in many instances willing to pay far more than construction costs for it.

I was listening to Dewoud Bey at a round table recently and an artist asked him how he got where he is now. I don't remember the exact quote but the gist of it was that while he focused on making his art great he tried to put an equal amount of attention into his career. Rather than complaining and hiding, he worked it to his advantage.

People who make art don't generally have marketing or PR agencies or working for them. But these functions still need to be done - if having work seen is a goal. These things are not hard or unpleasant (to most people) and they do not require a compromising of work. Often it's as simple as going to openings where people in the wider community are likely to be. Meeting, talking, and being nice. Certainly a lot of people on this listserv do a great job of this.

However, promotion invites criticism. That can be tough for some people especially those used to the head-nodding reinforcement of this insular circle. However criticism generally leads to better work. Even the wrong audience can have valuable things to say as they bring a different and unexpected perspective.

I'm simplifying, I recognize, but it's a shot across the bow. I'd like to see some dialogue on promotion here - and my comments are as open to criticism as any. I think it'd be helpful to many.

Curt

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...We'd all be running alternative spaces.

I will second marc's statement that everyone should get off their tuckus (as my grandmother would say) and go see the Wiseman films. Really, if you care about anything, they are the movies you need.

Anyway, yes it has been silent in response to Mr. Wolf, and maybe this is because his question can only be answered by a 300page book researched for at least 2 years. There are no real generalities in the funding world, except that its tiring and gives you headaches.

Warning, because this isn't the aforementioned 300 page book, there are some generalities that might be misleading as a general rule of thumb.

What do the Art Institute, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Gallery 312, old organizations like NAME and Randolph Street, and my organization, WhiteWalls have in common?

We are(were) desperate for funds.

What else do we have in common?

That we, like all art institutions, sometimes have(had) problems with a few too many white males on display.

What else do we have in common?

Next to nothing. We haven't closed, fired good employees, reached millions of visitors, or lost our shirt in bad investment schemes.

Something like WhiteWalls, with no real staff to speak of, can go into hibernation when the funding gets scarce, or shrink our print run, or look for a cheaper printer, or look to print a sure seller. Those other entities, with rents, phone bills, payroll and on and on have no choice but to apply leaches to "remove" the illness (layoffs by any other name), or scramble for ways to shrink the debt (layoffs by any other name, canceling exhibits), or close up and die under a bedrock of bills.

So we have a certain flexibility that as kept us alive. Of course because most funding is allocated by percentage of expenditures, it also means our budget is doomed to remain tiny and vulnerable unless a big push is undertaken to go full-fledged. At which time we would attain the kind of hard economic vulnerability that Name and others lost their bets on.

Would I rather be vulnerable in my ability to undertake what WhiteWalls would like to produce? Or would I rather be vulnerable with a bigger flashier budget?

That's like asking is you'd rather die by a stroke or by a heart attack. Neither is really appealing.

But all the same I can't complain too much, because WhiteWalls still exists, and still gets things done, even if at a snail pace at times. The percentage of our budget that comes from private donations through our auction and other activities is pretty impressive.

about what else we are doing, how else we are conceiving our economy. And I

know that we have here, before, so lets do it some more."

This is the problem. What is your economy? This is as important for individuals as institutions.

Are you capitalist? Or are you socialist? Or... Perhaps it is hard to remember, but many artists of the conceptual art generation actively sought out careers in academia. It was seen a shining light allowing people like Chris Burden to do performances and other types of projects without having to really worry about profit motive. The luster has certainly tarnished on that idea of the glamorous freedom of a teaching position.

Also, ground breaking shows like Software, that resulted in some pretty critical and biting projects by Haacke, Huebler, Barry, Giorno, Acconci, et al, existed because a corporation turned over massive amounts of money, and computer and technological expertise to allow the artists to create the pieces in the show. So we can remember those early seventies as this great land of alternatives, but still corporate funding was there to scoot it along.

Now, artists' spaces and the mid-eighties, when the current funding models were being put in place.

gallery, those like N.A.M.E. (gone) or Gallery 312 (not gone) is not the

most viable model in today's climate. This has to do, I suppose, with a

shortage of public, er gov'ment funding for this type of work. Many of

these places receive corporate funding don't they? That seems like it's

probably not dependable or otherwise problematic. For one thing there are

the potential conflicts of interest in political agendas. But I don't know

much about what actually happens when a space like this goes out looking

for money, and what kind of review process there is."

Why did so many alternative not-for-profits expand in scale only to be cut down? Because of the funders. Funding seemed like a way to not have to worry about ticket sales and those evil corporate barons in their ivory cowboy boots. So places that had set themselves up as true economic alternatives, with usually a lack of any business or corporate structure, began applying to foundations and government agencies for money. Not surprisingly, many organizations mismanaged their money. Badly, sometimes illegally.

Not surprisingly many funders began demanding oversight. Usually involving requiring boards of directors, audited financial papers, and all that other business stuff. This isn't bad. I mean if someone gives you 20000 dollars they have the right to expect you to not fund your friend's, or your own, living spaces for a year, or to see to it that you try to find the most economical way of getting the job done.

That said, what happened is, the money became attractive, and funding usually is geared toward specific programs (education, residency, etc.) so programs were created in the spaces to attract these funds. It should also be said, that for some odd reason stable(?) growth is usually more attractive to funders than static stability.

So now spaces like randolph street and NAME, and thousands others nationally, became in effect miniature art institute's and mca's. For a decade or so this allowed them to create some amazing programing. Only problem is they weren't built on those models, most people running these spaces didn't have those aspirations in mind, and didn't have the corporate business experience to mange the crises. So in retrospect it seems inevitable that this paradox was gonna kill them eventually. Either that or they would have to be radically reimagined. Some nationally survived this experiment.

In general, not-for-profits in the us that get public funds, do have the catch 22 of trying to operate in a noncapitalist manner according to capitalist methods, in a system that is by and large capitalist in structure.

Money isn't the enemy, nor the rich, nor corporations. Lots of amazing things are created with private foundation money. In a weird way, some of the foundations are much better to approach than public funds. Because all it takes is winning over a couple rich altruistic, or just publicity seeking, folks to your side, not a long belabored bureaucratic system. And this can lead to surefire money for life. It is also a lot more stable in that it will be really hard for anyone, politically, to make a foundation change its ways of funding, unlike what happened with the NEA.

Of course, if the estate tax is revoked, so will be the reason why so many rich families create, or give substantially to, foundations (as tax shelters/breaks).

Also there is no easy answer because, often board members of institutions are successful business men and women. But mostly men. So they do have at times smart advice for the not-for-profit they are on the board of. And many things would never change in the not-for-profit world without the demand of a funder.

After all, who can argue with the demand for educational outreach at museums? Most these programs only exist because a funder demanded the institution reach out to different communities.

I have also unfortunately, witnessed recommendations made by successful business individuals that were sure fire ways to tank the institution they thought they were going to help. Sometimes, models that do work in the for-profit world are certain to be inappropriate for a, supposedly, public institution, with a certain degree of public trust. Sometimes people can't see the differences in mechanical engineering, or real estate, and art presentation or publishing. But then we are all shortsighted in something.

Why do so many small alternative practice spaces or groups have a (sometimes very obscured or hidden) super rich person behind them? Because, private money, in a very perverse manner, is the most free. Jonas mekas and Anthology Film Archives? Only exists, really, because of the generosity of one very wealthy friend of mekas.

Why did so many places, including Anthology Film Archives, exist in Soho? Because aside from his artistic genius, george maciunas was brilliant at real estate speculation and owned probably half the buildings in soho, which he at times either sold for profit or handed over to artists for living/work/exhibition spaces at rockbottom prices.

Small independent presses, poetry (and political by the way) publishers and journals or magazines? Almost all the most successful ones exist because no more than a handful of individuals fork over all the dough to make the ends meet. In the US, money creates the ability to be free and say what you want, for both the left and the right. Good or bad? That is a longer more difficult conversation.

economic systems in the ways that modernists were doing work with form,

color, technique and all that. Which isn't to say that I ignore, or don't

enjoy color and stuff, or that it's not important to use these things when

working with economic and social terms. "

Actually, just a quick aside to strongly disagree with this statement. It is important to work with color and stuff when dealing with social and economic terms. This misperception is why there is lots o bad political art, and why advertising works. Maybe also see Curt's comments about promotion.

that I think that what a lot of people want is to find something better

than the out-of-pocket/anti-profit model, but also more interesting than

the commercial gallery model, and something less dependent on public and

corporate money than the non-profit gallery. "

Again its the problem of alternatives. What are you altering? Most the alternative spaces in Chicago seem to only be alternative in that they don't make money, or aren't run by someone who is rich enough not to care. A lot of the alternatives around this town are showing work that is extremely salable, and sometimes even have price lists at the door, just in case. Not too many stand behind performance, or more ephemeral public practice, or gigantic expensive installations, or screenings of film, or radio broadcasts. As I mentioned last year, most the art on display is at the cash and carry scale.

So one has to decide how are you interested in being an alternative, before you can have a cohesive economic model. Which is necessary if you are to propose an alternative, instead of just being a bad small business.

Maybe this is the one manner in which government arts funding in Europe is better than here. The governments seem, quite often, to fund anything. Individuals, studio rents, publications, travel... I've even been to "artists' bars" funded by the Swiss government, because of the belief that artists need a place to meet each other (?!)

it does seem much easier to get any activity funded, to anything being given a chance, and to recognize the different levels and structures required of a vibrant creative scene.

Of course, the current recession in the world is also threatening large portions of this funding in several countries. So who knows?

I dunno, but its probably not MC Greenspan.

a

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Dave said: "They either have to become teachers, entertainers, or starve, it seems. Yet art is art and teaching and entertaining is teaching and entertainment. Art can teach and entertain but that's not it's primary function, and it's not most artist's primary intent. So what is one to do?"

Well we could try to talk about artists' intentions, it matters, the Pond recently had a pretty nice little show about it. What's easier and I think more urgent is to talk about is the other thing you bring up, the function of the art, what art does, and how it does it. And when you look at it that way, or maybe anyway you look at it, art is entertainment and artists are teachers, whether or not they underpaid adjunct professors. To back up these statements I site the maybe hyperbolic example of movies, one of the more dominant art forms of our time. Entertaining? Yes. Do they educate? Hell yes, one of the most effective educational tools available today, second only to television (though it will be interesting to see how the massive popularity of video games plays, once we start paying attention to it). To look at education and entertainment as separate things seems like a pretty big mistake to me. Maybe that overburdens what we think of as leisure time, but I've never really experienced leisure anyway, maybe boredom (not lately), hibernation, reclusion, escapism, or even relaxation, but not leisure. So I've used this extreme example of the movies in saying that art is both entertainment and educational. But in all fairness we are talking about a certain kind of art, a small sector of cultural production that is suffering horrendous traumas (that will in all likelihood, make the movie industry more profitable. The movie industry, I'm told, was one of the remaining profitable ventures during the Depression). Yeah, so we're talking about the artworld. And is this educational and entertaining in the same way that movies are? Well formally it is certainly a much broader medium, but for better or worse--and I want someone to jump in on this if they have other ideas--I can't get away from the idea of "cultural production" and that an artist, like a filmmaker or, hell, a college professor are working to produce the culture that they want to see. They are articulating the world as dictated by their desires....as dictated by the world. (Oh, reductionism, it's a good thing there are other people on this other group)

Um, what is one to do to survive as an artist, as a cultural producer? Well, clearly many people are a part of cultural production and surviving, and even become very rich, movie makers, sitcom writers, artsuperstars, advertisers, and all that stuff which I am fortunate enough not to have to do. I mean I'm already involved with cultural production, I work at a friggin' art museum. But despite my efforts here, I believe that "the art institute is not my project." The question for me continues to be how can artists maintain some autonomy their production? Because all the autonomy I've got at this job is stolen (feels stolen), and maintaining the space-time in my life for art, under the models I was given, wears down so many other aspects of life that seem important for survival. You know what I mean, I don't need to give examples.

What is one to do? Better question, what are we going to do? I mean, you might think that Bush is would like to have produced a culture of mass murder all on his own, but actually a lot of people have been working on that for a long time. We are here using this culture and working with it. Whether we are still making art or not, I mean you still have something invested (speaking of economics) in art, Dave. What? I'm not exactly sure, but you at least still take some pleasure in railing on us snotty children about it. But you must have a tissue to offer...

Mike

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Anthony E. said: "yes it has been silent in response to Mr. Wolf, and maybe this is because his question can only be answered by a 300page book researched for at least 2 years."

Yeah, I'm patient. I figured we could just start compiling the bibliography here and get some of our terms out on the table.

A.E.: "Something like WhiteWalls, with no real staff to speak of, can go into hibernation when the funding gets scarce, or shrink our print run, or look for a cheaper printer, or look to print a sure seller...So we have a certain flexibility that as kept us alive."

Where Whitewalls uses flexibility to simply stay afloat and corporate giants use it enlarge profits. I like Whitewalls much more.

A.E.: "Of course, if the estate tax is revoked, so will be the reason why so many rich families create, or give substantially to, foundations (as tax shelters/breaks)."

Eeeeek!

A.E.: "Why do so many small alternative practice spaces or groups have a (sometimes very obscured or hidden) super rich person behind them? Because, private money, in a very perverse manner, is the most free. Jonas mekas and Anthology Film Archives? Only exists, really, because of the generosity of one very wealthy friend of mekas."

I'm a fan of William Upski Wimsatt, writer of "No More Prisons." Who advocates for more openness and transparency about money by the wealthy, to build a more open culture of philanthropy and "to break the isolation of wealth." If you are rich or have rich friends get this book, Quimby's or softkull.com. All though there is plenty of great stuff in this book for people who aren't rich too. This openness would begin to show many understandably embittered people that maybe, indeed, "Money isn't the enemy, nor the rich, nor corporations." The tendency of corporate culture, though with its madness for cancerous profits and control over the world's human and natural resources makes it very difficult not to blame corporations. Giant corporations have co-opted any and all language to dissimulate (er like, mask) their violent and destructive practices of control, you know, and whether people can really articulate it or not they understand that. That understanding is part of people's aesthetic. Even coming from the relatively privileged background that I do, I worry about the implications of using the language of corporations and capitalism. It's a hang up that I'm working on. It's to my disadvantage in many ways, I mean depend on these terms on a day to day basis, how can I not? Of course it is more complex than corporate vs. non-corporate. It's a matter of distinguishing between destructive and violent practices and more sustainable practices, I guess. I want to talk about how to use that language to our advantage, how to talk about profit with out suffering the same imperialist madness of giant corporations, how to produce things of value and work with valuable things in the spirit of generosity and altruism. Which is why I am interested in the Spareroom's economic design and the work being done by AIDS activists in Africa.

A.E.: "It is important to work with color and stuff when dealing with social and economic terms. This misperception is why there is lots o bad political art, and why advertising works."

Okay, fine. I mean, yeah, it's totally important to study advertising, that gets around to using the language of capitalism and corporations, an aspect of it. I guess I just think that the analogy of working in economic and social terms in the way modernists worked with color and form is a useful. I suppose that this might be what some conceptual artists were doing in the 60s and 70s. Also though, I think I like this bad political art of which you speak, and am sure I have made some of it.

Thanks for the killer insights Anthony.

Later, Mike

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Curt writes:

I remember seeing a biographical movie some years ago about Frank Sinatra. It was enlightening to me, because although I like some of his music, and I think he was always an interesting addition to the films he was in, I never saw why people made such a big deal about him. Why was he considered such a great singer, when he wasn't all that great a singer. Why was he able to make so many movies when he wasn't such a great actor, or even a trained actor?

But after seeing this biography, I understood it better. Sinatra had more drive and focus then almost anyone. He had made up his mind when he was very young (in his teens) that he wanted to be the greatest male popular singer of his time. And he NEVER veered from that course. He wanted it more, I'm betting, then any other young man like him at that time, and he was willing to do whatever it took to get there. He would kiss the right ass when it had to be done, and he would knock the competition's teeth in if that's what it took, too, and he did eventually become the first string singer for the top big band of his day. And once he was up there, he used that position to get everything he could get, including movie roles or mob friends or women or whatever. When he sang about doing things "My Way" he meant it. And he stayed "on top" for many years by the same force of will, focus, and effort.

This sort of ambition is rewarded in our culture. Maybe in every culture, I don't know. The thing is, though, that for all his ambition, Sinatra still wasn't that great a singer. There were lots of guys who were better singers; better voices, better trained, greater range, more precise timing, etc., but who just weren't willing or able to do what it takes to make it to the top of a competitively based endeavor, and stay there. Some of them survived, and made a good living singing, but only Sinatra got to be top dog.

I think this is also true for a lot of other kinds of artists. People with extraordinary talent at doing their art are often not equally gifted when it comes to ambition, or self-confidence and promotion, or social interaction, etc., and we lose them in an art system and culture that is based on such intense competition. And not only do we lose them, but the artists we get are of a certain character that CAN struggle their way to the lime light even though they may not have nearly as much to offer once they get there.

I understand that this is just how it is. To presume that this will somehow change by admonishing people to "just get of their butts and shmooze" is rather silly. You can shmooze till the cows come home, but if the top of the pile is still only big enough for a few, then only the most aggressive are going to get there. Not to mention that the more time you spend shmoozing, the less time you will have to actually produce something to make all the shmoozing worth the effort. Competition just isn't a very good system when it comes to supporting or promoting art. Yet I really can't see any way around it in a culture that is so rooted in commerce.

Dave S.

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Mike wrote:

I don't agree with you that the function of art is to entertain, and to educate. One can be entertained by most anything, and one can learn from most anything, but that doesn't mean most everything is entertainment and/or educational. My car, for example, IS shiny and red, but that's not it's essential function. In fact it's difficult to express the function of art precisely, and I'm sure to do so will bring on a debate, but I believe that what art is really about is allowing one person to "see inside" another. I'm not going to get into some metaphysical dissertation here, but to keep it simple, art is a "round trip ticket through another human being" (as a professor I once had used to say). Art is as close as we can get to a kind of spiritual telepathy.

I realize that often artists are not aware that this is the essential function of what they are doing. And it's not necessary that they be so aware. Once they express their own unique selves through their artwork, for whatever reason they choose to do it, the viewer is then able to read back through that artwork and to some extent, back into the mind and spirit of it's maker. The result of such an experience is several fold, as it overcomes that existential aloneness that is an inevitable aspect of the human condition. And because we humans share so many of the same ideas and feelings, we can witness and resonate with the expression of these ideas and feelings by others, who are more articulate and versatile in their ability to express them. And then as our awareness and appreciation of this phenomena dawns, we can even "discover" something of ourselves in our resonance with the artist's self. All of these can be very entertaining, and very educational, but I don't believe that the human endeavor we call "art" is founded on these characteristics distinctly.

There is a good reason that some films would be called art, while others would be called entertainment. The reason is that some are the result of an artistic endeavor, while others are the result of an endeavor to entertain. One is not better or worse than another, but they are different endeavors. Same goes for craftsmanship, or scholarship, or novelty, or sensationalism, or political activism, or whatever. The characteristics of any or all of these other endeavors may be employed by an artist, but the art endeavor itself is different. If you don't believe my clumsy explanation of the artistic endeavor, you must at least acknowledge that if the art endeavor was foremost about entertainment, it would BE entertainment. Or if it were about craft, it would BE crafts. Or if it were about politics, it would BE politics. Art is by definition at least, not any of those other things. The confusion, though, comes from the fact that the art endeavor, whatever we think it is, can employ the methods of all these others, and so is often mistaken for being them. Just as a particularly "good" example of one of these other endeavors is often mistakenly called "art".

You (Mike) posted more than this, but this is all I can bite off for the moment. *smile*

Dave S.

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fwd from Koenen ()

The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs invites you to the next Artist at Work Forum, "What is Public Art?"

Noted Chicago artists Bernard Williams, Juan Angel Chavez, and Frances Whitehead, and Michael Lash, Director of Public Art for the City of Chicago, will join Edward Lifson, Editor for Arts, Architecture and Culture at Chicago Public Radio - WBEZ (91.5 FM), to discuss different types of public art and potential audiences.

Hope you can attend.

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I've been quiet lately, partially because I'm having communication problems
- I'm reduced to this horrible borrowed aol account (email only) and it's to much trouble for anything other than short notes. (Even this is a cut-and-paste job).

So, do you have any reccomendations for my new access provider?

There are only two catches, but they seem to be very limiting: 1)For several reasons, I don't want to use a credit card or give the company access to a bank acount, and 2) companies that have their own special fancy software (like Ameritech, which otherwise, politics aside, seems like a good deal) don't like my old machines - Mac OS 8.0, 8.1 and 8.5. (What's with this, anyway? Part of the conspiracy to make us keep buying new stuff? I was online ten years ago with an LC and System 6 or something. Worked fine. Machine still does, but chokes on bells and whistles. Jeez.)

Some of you have odd domain names - are there still small, local folks with a big stack of electronics in a loft somewhere, or have they all been assimilated by RCN or somebody?

Thanks for whatever you know. You don't have to bother the whole group - mikebulka at aol.com .Sorry for the off topic and my rudimentary nerd-speak. I'm looking forward to joining the pile of people with no relevant education and little experience trying to untangle politics and economics. Oh, and art.

bulka

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On Tue, 6 May 2003 Mikebulka at aol.com wrote:

mc.net -- I dont think they provide _anything_ except a local ph number or two, one jump off the inet. I get amazingly fast service. Just a ppp connection and a dsn server which is all you need to browse, ftp, telnet, irc, etc -- email too if you have a MTA on yr puter and yr email is not refused because you are on a open block. And if you set yr browser to default to a local file, you will never need to look at stupid ISP webpages either.

I have never "logged on" to them, dont even know if I can. Never received any email from them; dont know anything about what email services they might provide -- I use a drop box at blight.com. I also dont pay the bills, so I have no further details. "mc.com" used to be a McHenry porn site, maybe they still are... I'll check... OK: here you go: $4.95 per month starting. Don't know what happened to the porn.

As far as web gizmos, a somewhat later Browser might help. You can still get free browsers from Explorer, Netscape, Opera, and Lynx, and a much better free email MUA from Eudora or Pine. (well, some may not be ported to Mac, people dont seem to have too much interest in doing that for the lower-lower quartile of computer users)

It is, at any rate, not gonna be the speed of yr machinery and programs that determine your connection and the ability to handle bells and wistles, but the modem and the time of day. Given enough RAM, OS-8.0 should be able to run just about anything available (but who knows, it is a Mac-o-Market). You could upgrade the OS-8.0, but for the same price you can get a Intel box, complete with kb, mouse, monitor, printer, speakers. HTH /jno

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I use corecomm which is pretty reliable, (go to www.core.com) has great tech support, and they have a free spamcatcher service which is amazing. I just started using that and it has caught nothing that isn't actually spam, and only misses about one real spam message every other day. If you think about how much time you spend sifting through spam it's a pretty worthwhile bonus. As for the other stuff you need, I'm not sure. The price seems competitive - I pay for the whole year at a time which saves a little.

hope that helps, Marc

Mikebulka at aol.com wrote:

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I appreciate Dave's response but it's more of the same.

Frank Sinatra was a great schmoozer and his fame arguably exceeded his talent, but that doesn't imply that every person who makes sure their work reaches a greater audience has diminished their productivity, talent, or relevance. The Beatles were huge, and they deserved it. More on point, Luc Tuymans, Tom Friedman, Rodney Graham, and just about every other well known artist you can name did not get where they are by making art for their own closet.

If one believes that any actively sought dialog (whether its called schmoozing or any of the less inflammatory words that exist) about ones work is beneath an artist, then he is done before he starts.

This string started with the issue that it was impossible to be an artist without being an entertainer or an educator and the question was "what is one to do?" Whether anyone likes it or not, there is an alternative to those two paths and it involves making sure the private people who can fund the work know about it.

Collectors, curators, and benefactors are not stupid about art. They may have differing tastes but in general they know what's good and want to support it. Ultimately someone has to bring it to their attention. And that means it has to start with the artist. Some artists like this task and some don't, but its part of the job.

of course there is the Henry Darger model...

Curt

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First - thanks to all the folks who reccommened ISP solutions.

But on the point of marketing being "part of the job":

On one model, the artist's gallery would act as an agent - to get sales, commissions, museum placement, etc., and the artist would just make the art. This makes perfect sense to me.

But we have another layer - trying to get to the gallery in the first place. And there are galleries who don't want to develop stables, who think they've done their job by giving an artist they like an opportunity to show.

This is our culture's "savage capitalism" that requires everyone's first job to be self-promotion.

A thorny problem, but one that I've resolved, for myself, by admitting defeat, at least in the terms of that system.

I don't expect $ return for my creative work and I don't like to spend $ to consume others'. There is an "underground economy" of ideas that is not dependent on fame, or on corporate, state or consumer support.

Of course that means that I have to have a job (but I do something that I can justify as socially useful), and miss out on some cultural experiences, but it works for me.

bulka

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Curt writes:

I didn't think nor imply that "shmoozing" was a bad thing. I don't know why you assumed this unless perhaps YOU feel that it's somehow a lower road. All I was pointing out was that the ability to self promote is not connected to the ability to make high quality works of art, and so an art system based on the requirement of self promotion will not be a system that achieves the best in art. And likewise, in such a system, those who can self promote their way to the top will not necessarily be the better artists.

And keep in mind that it's not just the requirement for self promotion that distracts the american art "market" from achieving it's own best results, it's also a consumer culture's incessant need for novelty and other technical gimmicks as sales enhancements. And because this all does cheapen and distract everyone from the real function and quality of art, it creates general distrust between the veiwers/buyers and the makers/sellers that then needs some sort of ligitimizing" to overcome.

So now the artist not only has to self promote, he also has to have a "hook", some novelty or gimmick that sets his "product" apart from the others, and on top of that, he also has to get his "bona fides" established by the critics (who shouldn't have that power) and by previous sales (sales being the ultimate sign of "acceptance" in a commercial culture). When you add all these market driven obligations together, you have a gauntlet that will eliminate a lot of perfectly good artists, and that will let through only artists and works of art of a very narrow type.

You say that you think the recent "art stars" you named are the best out there and deserve their place at the top. But we never got to see the art that COULD have been done had the system not been so rooted in these market requirements. I am not saying that these artists you mention didn't deserve their opportunities. I am saying that it stands to reason that there were many others who were even better but that got no opportunities at all, and so are now invisible.

Artists don't make art "for the closet" because they're too lazy to show it to the public. They get relegated to the "closet" by an art culture that's completely governed by the rules of the commercial market.

Dave S.

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Dave wrote:

That's a tough one. It's an argument that you hear often, but what always troubles me is that couldn't it be argued that if you don't buy into the criteria or structure of the museum/gallery system to at least some extent than why do wish to be included. Not to say that you have to agree with the "system" to benefit from it or that you can't change it from within, but if you want to be a part of it then aren't you buying into it. There are other avenues to exhibit work. There are some brilliant examples of exhibiting outside the system by artists who participate in othergroup.

Also, I don't know if buy the victimized artist forced in the closet angle. I think there are plenty of artists out there who are too lazy or not intelligent enough about their work to get it seen and I would question if there isn't a corelation between the quality of that work and their ability to get it out in the public. I think a certain number of obstacles before the work is brought to my attention is a good thing. I'm not saying the current obstacles are necessarily the best, but there's a lot of really crappy work out there that I'm happy to avoid, that I'm happy to not even know existed. This is a shitty thing to say, but maybe I want you to earn my time. And if that means having enough confidence in your work to promote it...

jeff

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dear othergroup,

I apologize that this is off-topic, but I'm going a little crazy with my email and I have to put this out there.

I've been getting flooded with group email announcements about lectures, screenings, artchicago related events and just openings in general.

To whom it may concern, PLEASE USE chicagoart.net for your announcements!

Unless you are doing a project that's not affiliated with any kind of space, group or institution, there's no reason not to use chicagoartnet. if your space, group or institution is not already signed up - sign up or get them to sign up. it's easy to use, and nearly everyone in the chicago art world is subscribed.

And once you use chicagoart.net, there's no need to ALSO send a group email announcement. I promise- we already got your first announcement, and read it!

why should you use chicagoart.net?

1. by using chicagoart.net people's email addresses don't get spread to people they don't know, increasing the amount of junk and announcements they receive.

2. people have control over who they want to hear from, which respects their time and email space.

3. people don't get duplicate announcements for the same event.

4. your friends and acquaintances will love you for it! and you will be rewarded with a peaceful and prosperous life, surrounded by many admirers.

thanks for listening. I know most of you probably use chicagoart.net already, so I apologize for preaching to some already converted.

happy crazy art weekend to everyone!

cindy

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Again, thanks for the response.

The issue is "is there an alternative to being an educator, entertainer, or car washer attendant" (I threw in that last one). And the answer is "Yes" but it requires self promotion. And self promotion is not enough on its own. The work still has to be good.

This phenomena is not unique to the world of visual art. It's the same in any (non union regulated) career choice whether its dance, writing, music, education, owning a boutique, working for a corporation, whatever. Productivity is important but being recognized for it is a requirement for success - whatever one does.

Nor is this a unique characteristic of the US art market. Art has a bigger place outside of metropolitan areas in Europe than it does here. So the game might be a little easier, but the rules are exactly the same.

Its fun to imagine a world where everyone who wanted to be an artist could just make it all day long without worrying about finances. But just *think* about how much crap art there'd be without some mechanism to regulate it!

My point is this: We have a system. It is possible to build a successful career within that system but each individual artist has to take responsibility for his or her own success. I recognize that this list is a good communal place to grouse, and that's healthy, as long as everyone has a proper perspective.

Curt

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"There are some brilliant examples of exhibiting outside the system by artists who participate in othergroup."

Yes, but aartist can only get so much by showing to his friends. In order to get real criticism you have to go to a broader audience.

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Exhibiting outside the system does not mean communicating exclusively to friends.

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On Fri, 9 May 2003, Gabriel Fowler wrote:

And then again - at times I only make things for the fine appreciation of friends, and maybe my mother. But that is problematic. /jno

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I hope your not saying that the fucking art market is there to protect us from bad art, because, for one thing, it absolutely does not! You're reading too much Dave Hickey. The art market is there to make money and luckilly for some artists it also happens to help proliferate their ideas. What the art market and the artstar system that your talking about actually protects us from figuring out ways to make art that is less dependent a very conservative and repressive economic situation that reinforces one of the most ugly and false aspects of our culture: that malevolent old story that we are all in it alone and that we must out compete everyone else to come out on top. This system is stifling your imagination Curt! Color is important, form is important, making the work well is important, but I am arguing that it is also important to have an economic imagination and a political and social imagination. These are the most urgent things to work on, this is the rhetoric we need to be throwing around, the stuff we need to get informed about, and the knowledge we need to construct.

Sure a couple of people out of thousands who are working in that market/star system can get rich off their art. But that is only one system (if not very malevolent it is at least very boring) of many possible systems used to make and distribute art in this world. I thank you for your permission to "grouse," but actually what I want to do is continue the conversation of how to devise other systems, that might actually use some terms and aspects of the market system, and I want to hear more about what other artists are doing in that vane. I want to hear about tactics and strategies for maintaining energy and sustaining production of work that allows for a broader use of the economic, social, and political imaginations. And I want to talk about ways of doing it well, talk about ways of doing iot with other people both for my friends and for a much broader audience.

Also don't assume we always have to talk about individual artists. To see art now you need to be able to talk about how we work together and how we work with an audience. Working with different people and acknowledging how they affect our work is part of developing the imagination in these broader senses. If you're interested in the finer points of self promotion, stardom, careerism, and market pandering go have a conversation with your favorite sitcom. That knowlede is already far too common, it doesn't need us to work on it. What is this about having a "proper perspective?" Art now is about having many perspectives, allowing many narratives, many systems to function simultaneously.

Air Kisses, Mike Wolf

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Even within the system, it's a pretty closed system - the same regulars show up at openings, there is a short list of critics/collectors/important people we hope may show up during the run. Yet artists and galleries think they have to be in the right, accessible location; spend money on cards or other advertising; make a public announcement so that any bored yahoo can show up and be served some refreshments.

Sometimes I think it would be more efficient to just have private soires - invite the twenty or fifty or hundred people you care about and screw the hoi polloi.

The only advantage of the prevalent public showing system is that this is how we meet the twenty people in the first place. Galleries entertain a thousand leeches and tourists in the hopes of meeting one interesting co-conspirator. It is social outreach and public eduction and neccessary and good.

Still, I'm with Dave. A system based on marketing will benefit marketers over artists. It may be that this is the way the world is, but that doesn't make it right and doesn't mean that we should not resist it and try to find a better way.

See you tonight at Stray.

bulka

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Gabe said: "Exhibiting outside the system does not mean communicating exclusively to friends."

Some people actually do work for a very specific small audience of friends and it is some of the best cultural work that can be done.

Allow me again to invoke the ideas of Gregg Bordowits again because I think his notion of three tiered audience is valuable for people who want to think about these things in a little broader way (I hope I don't get it wrong). He rejects the notion that the audience is always a group of people who are totally alienated from the production of the work, as the corporate media and modern gallery system would have us believe. The first audience for the work are those people who contributed to its production. This is why it is very important to understand all of the different ways that many, many different people do work to produce any piece of art, even a painting or sculpture. This is also why it is important to involve many people in our work, so we have an audience. The second audience are the friends of all the people that helped make the work and the third audience is anybody who wants to come along for the ride.

We're not talking about making work for a museum or for the archives here. We're talking about work that urgently needs to be made to articulate the needs and desires of a group of people and the people around those people. Do that work and you're doing good art.

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I organized a small exhibition last year specifically to show up outside the institutional/gallery system - but was surprised to be told that in order to announce it through Chicagoart.net I would have to get a traditional gallery to "sponsor it". I found this a bit odd but contacted a gallery that I have an affiliation with (in that my work has been shown there) and they kindly obliged. I suppose what I'm pointing to is that conventionality is thick - but it is possible to create venues outside the system that bring art to a more diverse audience than the system itself offers.

-jb

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Jeff writes:

If someone has been raised a Christian from birth, they will likely just continue to believe the Christian paradigm into adulthood and even all their lives, unless a specific effort is made to re-examine it. I don't think it's so much that artists "buy into" the commercial art system that now exists as much as that they have simply been born into it. It takes a lot of energy and effort to invent and implement another system. Some folks have that energy and some don't. But this has little to do with their ability to make art.

I greatly applaud those attempts, yet I don't know of any that have really managed to "take hold". But then there is much I don't know about.

Curt writes:

John Kennedy Toole wrote one book ("A Confederacy of Dunces"), and then killed himself. His mother took this book around to unappreciative publishers for ten years before one finally agreed to publish it. It won a Pulitzer Prize, and has since been re-issued several times. It's a magnificent book, and neither "productivity", nor the recognition of productivity, has anything to do with it. The world would be a darker place if this book were not in it.

A great work of art doesn't need to be promoted like a tube of toothpaste, or justified by college educated blowhards in art magazines to be a great work of art. But a great work of art does need to be SEEN. All this commercial foolishness and Protestant work ethic stuff just muddies up the art endeavor and gets in the way. I think it's about exploitation far more than it was ever about the promotion of art.

Curt adds:

And who's perspective would that be, I wonder? *wink*

Dave S.

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Gabe writes

Exhibiting outside the system does not mean communicating exclusively to friends.

um, correct. Did you mean to be so obvious?

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Sorry for crossposting, this is important..

Subject: [Chicago Artists Waging Peace] POLICE SHUT DOWN HOTHOUSE

HotHouse, the non-profit club well-known not only for its vibrant, multicultural entertainment, but its enthusiastic support for other progressive community projects, was raided by the Chicago Police Department on Friday night. Put in the context of growing Chicago police harassment of other left-of-center organizing projects since the March 20th Lake Shore Drive protest, this is an attack that we ignore at our peril.

A rep from the Emergency Response Cmte of the Chicago Coalition Against War & Racism (CCAWR) spoke with a HotHouse rep earlier today about what they wanted people to do in support of them. At this point HotHouse is still deciding their next steps, and is asking people to assist them by helping publicize the news about the attack on them. There is a May 30th court date regarding the raid, but HotHouse is still deciding how they would like the community to show its support on that date. Please stay tuned for details. HotHouse's message about the raid follows below.
--CCAWR

HOTHOUSE SHUT DOWN IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO SOLD-OUT PERFORMANCE OF LEGENDARY CUBAN BAND ORQUESTA ARAGON

At 8:45 p.m. tonight, Friday May 9, ten undercover officers of the Chicago Police Department ordered HotHouse, 31 E. Balbo, and its management to cease and desist all operations, claiming the non-profit performing arts venue was operating with improper Public Place of Amusement licenses.

At the time of the citation, HotHouse was transitioning from a 7 p.m. performance to a sold-out 10 p.m. show of the legendary Cuban charanga band Orquesta Aragon. A crowd of ticketholders to the 10 p.m. performance had formed an orderly line outside the venue in anticipation of the concert.

HotHouse management asserts that all licenses for the venue are in good standing and proper order. Management believes that the raid, which will cause untold financial losses to the venerable non-profit cultural center, was politically motivated.

The crowd of ticketholders, many of whom had come from as far away as Nebraska to see the rare performance of the Cuban orchestra, left the premises in an orderly manner. The patrons of HotHouse, along with its management and supporters, are looking to the City of Chicago and its agencies for answers.

A non-profit performing arts center, HotHouse is dedicated to exposing audiences to a wide range of cultural expression, encouraging respect for our ethnic diversity, and promoting a greater understanding of differing traditions and perspectives.

HotHouse, the Center for International Performance and Exhibition 31 E. Balbo Chicago, IL 60605 312-362-9707; 312-362-9708 fax Visit our web site: www.hothouse.net

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mwolf at artic.edu writes:

Art now is about having many perspectives, allowing many narratives, manysystems to function simultaneously.

I have to admit, that I do not agree with this pluralist agenda. Just because something is your own personal and unique perspective, does not make it interesting, viable, or valuable. Most likely, it means I don’t want to see or hear about it. Why? Because it is naive to think that the personal is important. Making art is already personal enough, it doesn’t need to be more so by also being about you.

Mwolf: We're not talking about making work for a museum or for the archives here.

No?

Mwolf: We're talking about work that urgently needs to be made to articulate the needs and desires of a group of people and the people around those people. Do that work and you're doing good art.

I do not know what this even means. Could you please clarify?

Art is a specific cultural production. It has a history and it has a system in which to disseminate meaning. Some artists interact with it in an intelligent, interesting and meaningful way, others do not. We are judged by our colleagues and peers, some maintain, develop and establish themselves as relevant to and within this system, and can establish a place from which to communicate to an audience. This, by definition, is good art. Art is history upon which artists project meaning in order to communicate to an audience. My only agenda is to construct meaning within a meaning construct. Is this the need and desire you speak of? Or do you have an alterior motivation? If so, this is perfectly well, but then your goal is to change the definition of art, which you will only do from within its system if it is to be recognized as a possible mode of artistic production. This I respect, so long as it is intentional on your part as a means to communicate something interesting concerning this cultural practice.

I suspect that this is the proper perspective that Curt was referring to. That we, as artists, can not subscribe to idealizations of what we might want the art world to be, but that we interact with the artworld as it exists. This is the only productive way to induce change if this is your goal anyway. Otherwise, you would be interacting with one world as if it were another, making it impossible for the other to understand what you are trying to say.

Make your work. Put it out there. Know that there is a history to this process that you will inevitably be interacting with. Use it to make informed decisions, so that you can make your work as intentional as possible and communicate clearly.

Also,

The objects and images that Darger created are not art. It is the self induced cathartic therapy of a troubled individual that art institutions have put on display AS ART. The artist, or, the individual who is constructing meaning around these objects/ images, are the ones who chose to put it on display for a public to see. However, they are not intending to do this as art, this process/ perspective is not received as artistic production, therefore it fails in both categories. This is a perfect example of the dangers of frivolous art making. We have people who are acting as artists and not being recognized as so, and we have a person with no intention of making art, becoming an artist. And the entire phenomena goes virtually unnoticed. Until now I suppose. The only redemption for this chaos is our interception of its meaning and eventual reacclamation of its form and content into our process. However, this is not validation for this type of behaviour. I consistently maintain that IT DOES MATTER HOW IT GOT THERE. Just because artists can learn from Feng Meng Bo exhibitions, does not mean that it is OK for Feng Meng Bo to exhibit. As artists, it is our job to make sure that things like this do not persist. There simply is no room to tolerate this type of behaviour.

Ben Foch

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Ben writes: The objects and images that Darger created are not art.

That's absurd. There are countless artists that were not recognized until after they died. Henry Darger may not have sought exhibition, but was that because he didn't want it, was too shy, thought his drawings and paintings were not art? No one can say. The objects meet every definition of art. The fact that we lack information about the motivation does not change that.

Now Feng Meng Bo on the other hand....

Curt

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Ben, Once upon a time your formalist granddaddy Clement Greenberg tried this kind of oppressively controlling approach and even had quite a lot of success with it - even getting MoMA to present a nice neat formalist linear history of art that they maintained for years. Well what happened? Eventually they woke up and tried embracing pluralism. Why? Because the Greenbergian approach was flat out STUPID! It was a MISTAKE! After a while it became painfully obvious that his approach writes a zillion incredible people out of this nice neat history and that this approach is asinine and abusive in it's absurd authoritarianism (although it sure makes for a nice neat slide lecture in an Art History 101 class).

Distinctions between what is and isn't art are silly and are used mainly by domineering critics like Greenberg, and by the art market, and as a means of excluding those whose cultural production the more conservative arms of the museum and cultural world doesn't want to be bothered with. It has nothing to do with a lack of intentions or clarity of purpose. It really doesn't matter much whether people know they are making art or not. Vital creativity with a clear sense of purpose trascends these categorizations. Looking at a lot of this creativity is just like looking at art even if it wasn't made by that name. Ultimately the distinctions between what is and isn't art really don't matter much - except to gallerists and to people who make art about art and need to be able to defend their work based on it's relation to what has been done in the past. If an artist can _only_ defend their work by defending the way it navigates past art history and how successfully it plays the game, then there's a good chance they are defending something that is of little social consequence once you remove it from this elite and exclusionary context.

The reason why museums have gradually been waking up and including work by people like Henry Darger, whether they announced themselves to the world as artists or not, is because there is an undeniable and prodigious creativity and an extraordinary level of formal invention in that work - and I think plenty of intentionality too. After all, the guy was methodically illustrating his own 15,000 page book. And the work obviously speaks to people - in part because it seems clear that it was trying to. How much more intentional can you get? Who cares if he doesn't have an M.F.A and never sipped wine with Ed Paschke and Ruth Horwich at the Arts Club? Who cares if his ideas are weird? Barnett Newman's ideas are weird. By your definition: "It is the self induced cathartic therapy of a troubled individual that art institutions have put on display AS ART" would you also write off the work of Frida Kahlo, or is her stuff okay because she participated in a more 'official' version of culture and hung out with the right people?

If you go to the Kunstmuseum in Bern Switzerland, you can find the foundations of Paul Klee, Johann Itten, and Adolf Wolfli all under the same roof. Why? Because following the most basic common sense, it was understood that all three of these people from Bern have produced extraordinary contributions to culture that seriously merit being preserved for future contemplation and study. That Wolfli made his art while institutionalized would never be enough to dismiss it - except by people with ideologies that make it impossible for all forms of creativity and expression to co-exist and be presented alongside each other.

We have always had a pluralistic situation. That is nothing new. It is not an agenda. The agenda has been to exclude people based their unpopular aesthetics, race, gender, sexual orientation, or marginalized position in the world. Pluralism is not the PC agenda it was made out to be by some in the 1980's. And even people like Robert Hughes who ranted against multi-culturalism have made space for people like Darger and Wolfli. Pluralism is a blatantly obvious fact that has been going on forever and continues to occur. Anytime you have something that is getting lots of attention, you have other very different things that, rightly or wrongly, are getting less or no attention. What gets included and excluded also varies immensely from place to place. There is a bullshit canon that has been accepted more broadly in some places than others, but that can be upset fairly easily. All it takes is for a couple people to die or resign from their jobs or for a really interesting artist who has been excluded from that canon to die and leave his/her work to a museum that will now incorporate it into their version of history or what is important. MoMA no longer buys into the Greenberg approach - at least, they had deviated from it completely in their Modern Starts series a few years ago (I think that was what it was called)

As long as we have museums for decoys in the Wisconsin Dells, The Kunstmuseum in Bern, the Art Institute of Chicago (which you may be horrified to know is beginning a serious collection of comic book art) we can have plenty of diversity within what museums preserve and between what types of objects can be placed in proximity to one another or interact with each other.

Ben writes: "As artists, it is our job to make sure that things like this do not persist. There simply is no room to tolerate this type of behaviour."

Isn't that straight out of "Mein Kampf"?!?! Keep out the inferior art and prevent mixed breeding or else you'll have some kind of fucked up mixed-race art with impure blood that weakens the template for future generations?!

Marc

BenFoch at aol.com wrote: I have to admit, that I do not agree with this pluralist agenda. Just because something is your own personal and unique perspective, does not make it interesting, viable, or valuable. Most likely, it means I don’t want to see or hear about it. Why? Because it is naive to think that the personal is important. Making art is already personal enough, it doesn’t need to be more so by also being about you.

Art is a specific cultural production. It has a history and it has a system in which to disseminate meaning. Some artists interact with it in an intelligent, interesting and meaningful way, others do not. We are judged by our colleagues and peers, some maintain, develop and establish themselves as relevant to and within this system, and can establish a place from which to communicate to an audience. This, by definition, is good art. Art is history upon which artists project meaning in order to communicate to an audience. My only agenda is to construct meaning within a meaning construct. Is this the need and desire you speak of? Or do you have an alterior motivation? If so, this is perfectly well, but then your goal is to change the definition of art, which you will only do from within its system if it is to be recognized as a possible mode of artistic production. This I respect, so long as it is intentional on your part as a means to communicate something interesting c! oncerning this cultural practice.

I suspect that this is the proper perspective that Curt was referring to. That we, as artists, can not subscribe to idealizations of what we might want the art world to be, but that we interact with the artworld as it exists. This is the only productive way to induce change if this is your goal anyway. Otherwise, you would be interacting with one world as if it were another, making it impossible for the other to understand what you are trying to say.

The objects and images that Darger created are not art. It is the self induced cathartic therapy of a troubled individual that art institutions have put on display AS ART. The artist, or, the individual who is constructing meaning around these objects/ images, are the ones who chose to put it on display for a public to see. However, they are not intending to do this as art, this process/ perspective is not received as artistic production, therefore it fails in both categories. This is a perfect example of the dangers of frivolous art making. We have people who are acting as artists and not being recognized as so, and we have a person with no intention of making art, becoming an artist. And the entire phenomena goes virtually unnoticed. Until now I suppose. The only redemption for this chaos is our interception of its meaning and eventual reacclamation of its form and content into our process. However, this is not validation for this type of behaviour. I consistently ! maintain that IT DOES MATTER HOW IT GOT THERE. Just because artists can learn from Feng Meng Bo exhibitions, does not mean that it is OK for Feng Meng Bo to exhibit. As artists, it is our job to make sure that things like this do not persist. There simply is no room to tolerate this type of behaviour.

Ben Foch

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I am having a problem mainly with the part about learning from exhibitions that Ben put forth. I did not even see the Feng Meng Bo exhibition, but your assertion that " Just because artists can learn from Feng Meng Bo exhibitions, does not mean that it is OK for Feng Meng Bo to exhibit." -- it's confusing, especially on the point you raised of placing oneself in an art historical context. Wouldn't that kind of show be valuable for someone that wanted to place themselves in relation to others out there making video work?If you cannot learn from a show (whether you're an artist or not) , what good is it? I'm not saying I want a bunch of shows with nothing but text panels and laser pointers, but I go see other people's work so that I can hone my own decision-making and problem solving approaches to production. Maybe this is part of learning, unless I'm being too reflective.

And also: 'OK' for him to exhibit ?....... Perhaps you had in your mind something less foggy than that. I'm not exactly sure what the criteria is for it to be 'OK' to show, other than the decisions of the curators / organizers; but maybe I'm taking that part of it too seriously. I am fairly sure that the folks at the Renn had very straightforward ideas about why he should exhibit there, maybe because (or maybe in spite of the fact that) someone could learn something from him. Now I'm really sorry I missed it.

Brian

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"Mwolf: We're talking about work that urgently needs to be made to articulate the needs and desires of a group of people and the people around those people. Do that work and you're doing good art.

Bfoch: "I do not know what this even means. Could you please clarify?"

I guess I'm talking about the way in which artwork is valuable, and for whom it is valuable. In the commercial gallery/artstar system an artist's work becomes valuable as a luxurious commodity, and it seems to me that any interesting formal, social, or political work that the artist does is simply incidental to the commodity value of the work. What's more, the formal, social, and political value of the work is controlled by the privileged people who can afford to situate themselves among that work and the workers. (I'm trying to trace out a very general system here.) But the artists and the people working with the artists to share the work can choose to make their work valuable in another way by, for example, performing a social service or performing a political act in a space where not only people of reletive privilege can reap the benefits. If it is done well then it becomes valuable for people and not simply as a luxurious commodity. For example an artist who makes films is associated with a group of people who have a set of specific concerns...uh...S/he lives in a neighborhood where a condominium is being built that is covering up a mural on the side of a building. Many neighbors are upset by this, the artist can use h/er skills as a filmmaker to work with the neighbors to make a video about the mural and their concerns about the mural being covered up. Distribute the video to city officials, other neighbors and other neighborhoods who might be in a similar situation, and what the hell, since it's a good video, somewhere way down the line they might as well show it in a gallery or at a film festival. No one can say that this work was not valuable, if nothing else it serves as a document attesting to the importance of a mural that everyone used to enjoy, but it might have put a halt to the building of the condo and saved the mural.

Of course there is the problem of how this gets paid for, since this hypothetical artist in not depending on the commercial system to get this thing produced. But as I've said, only a few very lucky artists ever make money in the gallery system, so we've all found ways of finding money for our work, but more importantly we have ways of producing work that depends on non-monetary resources, such as found and re-used materials and the generosity of our friends and community, to name a couple of key elements.

Another example of valuable, non-commodity art work that we can do is working on the culture of the workplace. The workplace is always a place where people have countless grievances and problems that an artist can address. I believe in the importance of doing cultural work on an institutional level. I know from trying to do work both in the context of my workplace and my neighborhood that it can be difficult demanding work. But artists and people helping to present the work always have to be deciding how to deal with and negotiate those demands, but I don't believe they need be any more difficult to negotiate than the demands of the artstar system. It's that I strongly believe a lot more people can afford to work on since the commercial system can't support all of the people who are making art.

Agenda and ulterior motivation? Good question. Always ask this question! The artworld is a forest of ulterior motivations. But let me bust open the ulteriority of my motivation here on the othergroup. I'm here to add to my knowledge about making art and perhaps give some ideas to other people working on and around art. Political and social ideologies and beliefs are of course always being informed by what I read hear and informing what I say here. I tend to be leftist and concerned with social and economic justice. Part of my naivete was that I presumed so many people in the artworld and on the other group had these similar tendencies. That was quickly shattered. Thank you. If what I say is naive or misguided I appreciate being told how it is so. I'm not interested in being belittled or belittling anybody for the sake of gratifying the ego. It is important to contend with the ego, we are trained coddle it and defend it with all of our might. But I don't think that makes for good discussion. I don't buy into geniusness and mastery, but I know there are some really smart well informed folks in this group and that everyone has knowledge to share. I admire anybody who speaks up and shares, because it often requires one to come out of the closet, so to speak, with her opinions ideas and it can be very hard work to do this. For me it has been worth the effort. I pity the person who thinks s/he's got it all worked out and has nothing to learn from the people around h/er. Though I don't think I've really met anybody like that, not even here on the othergroup.

Thanks, Mike

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BTaylor: I don't know if it is in the archives of this site still, butI recall that a pretty lengthy discussion occured in this group at the time of the Feng meng Bo show. It might be worth looking up.

MWolf: "I pity the person who thinks s/he's got it all worked out."

DBobby: Actually I had it all worked out until I reached puberty. Then everything just went horribly horribly wrong.

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so, if somone who calls himself an artist does community work, does that make the youth-group or garden or mural preservation art?

if a skate-board ramp or video game or dance party is shown or held in a respected gallery or museum, do they become art?

if a found object, or an example of fuctional industrial design, or the scribblings of a mental patient, or the work of that guy who teaches painting on public tv, or a religeous artifact from some exotic culture, or the angry/clever gesture of adolescent self-affirmation by a student at an expensive school is seen in the same context as acknowledged masters of the Western Tradition, does that make them all art and all on the same level?

How is a person who rigorously, monasticly, persues an established tradition of art or craft, or introspective exploration and expression, to be compared to someone who, just as rigorously, chases the latest developments in philosophy, art theory, communication, pop-culure or technology, and calls his investigation art?

Is whatever sells the best the best art?

None of this matters. Arguing about what is or is not art often comes down to "What I like is better than what you like." Personally, most of the above examples don't make sense to me as art (though they may be good or interesting or beautiful or important or useful), but I know that they are central to others' definintions. Functionally, art is whatever is featured in a discussion that uses "art" as an excuse to discuss it. There are lots of discussions, some overlapping, some mutually irrelevant. There are lots of arguments, some better than others (more logical or more inventive or more entertaining, convincing or provacative).

But, like any other kind of game, the rules may be arbitrary, but they have to be agreed on, or the game can't be played. Then, you prefer to play Doom or chess or Ultimate Frisbee or Strip Yahtzee, or maybe all of them on different days. "Art" is too big and vague to have one set of rules.

bulka

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"DBobby: Actually I had it all worked out until I reached puberty. Then everything just went horribly horribly wrong."

Oh please Diego! Everyone knows you haven't gone through puberty yet.

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Feng Mengbo starts in Jan 02 at, [http://othergroup/db/January2002.htm#1475] and continues into February [http://othergroup/db/February2002.htm]

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jno, this link isn't working on my computer. Claire

-- Claire Wolf Krantz 903 West Roscoe Chicago, IL 60657 e-mail: cwkrantz at rcn.com www.clairewolfkrantz.org

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where can i get a good cheezburger?

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On Fri, 16 May 2003, Claire Wolf Krantz wrote:

Oops, forgot the zone. New: Feng Mengbo starts in Jan 02 at, [http://othergroup.net/db/January2002.htm#1475] and continues into February [http://othergroup.net/db/February2002.htm]

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Polvo: where can i get a good cheezburger?

Dbobby: I'm actually partial to Ricobenes. They don't have that processed frozen preformed thing going on. Also no ketchup, just mayo and mustard in the right doses. As an added bonus fresh cut skin on french fries. The best since the Wicker Dog closed.

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Marc writes:

Once upon a time (y)our formalist granddaddy tried this kind of oppressively controlling approach.

First, he is not in MY history, he is in OUR history. His existence and influence is fact, not a mistake. Yet, as a pluralist, I do not find it surprising that you can allow this type of editing in your thinking. And, all tautologies aside, Greenberg’s approach was not stupid, it was merely indicative of a certain time and place. It correlated with the social/political atmosphere and in retrospect was necessary in the development of the ever expanding defintion of art. In order for anything to be art, art had to first become self reflexive and not simply mimeticaly referential. Before it could ever become pluralist, it had to become modern.

I find many of your word choices interesting and curious. That VITAL CREATIVITY with a clear sense of purpose TRANSCENDS... These words conjure up sentiments of spirituality, which seems very modern and Greenbergian to me, so far as formalist work is about the individual and their process of creation.

Who is not making art about art? Making any art carries with it at least the implied beliefs of what the maker believes art to be. Endgame rhetoric has come and gone and come and gone again, I agree. However, I disagree that it has little social consequence. Drudging up old hats and making them new, again and again, ad infinitum, seems very reflective of the status of contemporary society. You did add: outside of its elite and exclusionary context. So, yes, Allan McCullum, Peter Halley, and Jeff Koons are dependent on the context in which their work exists. But elite and exclusionary? I’m not sure these are the correct words. They are participating in an obscure sector of society, but an area that is available to anyone willing to engage it. I personally find the challenge welcoming. I think its important that artisitc propositions be complex and difficult. Its not supposed to be entertainment after all. They do not have to be obnoxiously so, of course. It can all be very simple and accessible, like, for example, On Kawara. Any one can quickly investigate and understand what he is up to, but the process of sublimating this body of work into our minds and accept it as his practice is, to say the least, difficult. In this sense, it is rich and complex, adapting itself to its environment by remaining the same. It is art about art, yet I believe, relevant in any context. Not surprisingly, his most recent project has been to display his paintings in elementary school classrooms around the globe.

Marc writes: We have always had a pluralistic situation…It is not an agenda

Unless we have an excessive degree of difference in definition, this is simply not true. I hesitate to use the word TRUE here, I understand the desire to believe that truth is subjective, but that’s all over now. This is a by-product of the pluralist agenda. On a more practical and concrete level, politically and then trickling down to the social, pluralism seeks to unify, not diversify. It homogenizes opinion by making all opinions valid and equal. It turns up the volume so as to drown out relevance. Think of this in terms of economics. What happens when everything exists in context to currency? When everything is translatable in dollars and cents? It strips independent objects of their intrinsic value and attributes them with a new value, calculatable and ultimately quantifiable. This same process is happening in the arts, but it is no longer merely in form, as was the problem with high/late modernism, it is happening in content. It is not simply the objects that are being commodified, it is the meaning.

Pluralism is peace at all costs. But as any good economist will tell you, costs most not out weigh the benefits. If the cost of peace is meaningless art, I say, lets have a little war. If a call for artists to be more rigorous in their critical analysis is fascist or totalitarian, so be it. But how is my request for good art different than say mwolfs call for good art? If you truly embrace all perspectives, why not embrace mine as well?

Marc says: distinctions between what is and isn’t art are silly

I say, isn’t this what makes art interesting?

Brian writes: 'OK' for him to exhibit ?....... Perhaps you had in your mind something less foggy than that. I'm not exactly sure what the criteria is for it to be 'OK' to show, other than the decisions of the curators / organizers; but maybe I'm taking that part of it too seriously. I am fairly sure that the folks at the Renn had very straightforward ideas about why he should exhibit there, maybe because (or maybe in spite of the fact that) someone could learn something from him.

I am sure that the a Ren. did. And I see that show more as their proposition than Feng Meng Bo's. (similar to the Darger phenomena) As Feng Meng Bo's it was a waste of time and space. And I agree that there is something to be learned and thought about here, that, as is the mission of the Renassaince, it proposes questions not answers. But I do not feel that this is a strong enough justification for it to consume the attention of an audience.(I hope this helps Brian)

Now, if this waste of resources happened occasionally, I would not be so bold. However, when it happens virtually consistently, I take offense. I want to pin-point the problem and expose it so we can move on. There appears to be a deeply ingrained ideology that directly conflicts with my own. In this sense, it is a war, where intentions are competing for recognition. Distinction in what is and is not art is not silly to me.

In reading Mwolfs further clarification I suspect our desires are not so opposing. It is a contrast of methodology. He is concerned with the homogenization of meaning in context to the art market/ gallery structure. And so am I. However, I am interested in seeing work within this context that interacts with and reflects this force in a thoughtful way. Mwolf appears to want to by-pass the system all together. Fight or flight?

I see nothing wrong with editing out asinine propositions so we can get busy stimulating meaningful dialogue. Personally, I am tired of seeing work that is about how this or that individual felt at the moment and ignores the context of its exhibition. Plainly put, it is unthoughtful. There is nothing genuine about this sentiment. It is merely a simulation of what an individual characterizes as real experience. I do not want to give a lecture on the death of subjectivity and the individual. I assume that this moment in our history is accepted a priori, along with the entire social and political rubicon we presently find ourselves. Which brings me to my main point of frustration, that people behave as if the world was something other, instilling false hope for future generations to come. It perpetuates and solidifies the acceptance of the absence of meaning.

If, as an artist, you hold an ideological standpoint of holding and maintaining the status quo, and that by maintaining a complacent hopeful audience you can reap the benefits of exploitation to locate yourself in a position of power and dominance, hey, I’m all for it. At least it would be intentional, conniving, and meaningful in its parallel to the mechanism at large. It would contain a corruption and deviousness I find relevant. But to do this and not even know your doing this, and believe truly that you are doing GOOD (as if it existed in these terms, I’m really growing tired of this sophomoric level of moral distinction) I not only find boring and unthoughtful, but dangerous and the fundamental core of the vacuum we are being forced to inhabit.

As for Marc’s comment and suggestion that my ideas are in the same vein of the neo-social Darwinistic Mein Kampf, I assume your implication is that I am a Hitler. I find this to be very telling. I am in no way proposing this type of logic, nor condone the behaviour of this political leader. However, I do find it dangerous to demonize him. He was a leader of a nation state who acted in the believed best interest of this state. He was a political tool, not a demon. Demonization of individuals is another product of the irresponsible nature of idealism. It is lazy thinking. If you want to talk about classification and subjugation I would think that THIS would be it.

Marcf would say: Hitler is not part of MY world, he is a demon and inhuman. He is not a product of MY humanity, he is other. I can sympathise with the urge to repress the reality of a character such as Hitler, and the rhetoric contained in Mein Kempf. But to isolate the underbelly of humanity and separate it from our perception of it in order to feel safe does everybody a dis-service.

As you will deduce upon inspection, it contains in it the same ill logic that allowed for an individual like Hitler to manifest. It carries with it implicitly the same elementary moral distinction of right and wrong that allowed Hitler (and all of Germany) to BELIEVE in what he/they were doing. Its idealism through and through. Which, lets face it, is delusion. I mean why choose Hitler? Why not Stalin? Or any of the other political leaders that faithfully promote genocide? I sense the stench of influence and manipulation in your implication. You may as well swap Elvis and Hitler in your diction, they function and signify the same meanings. (sorry, that is a bit off topic) If idealism and its contemporary mutation pluralism, are not agendas, what else could ever be. It is THE agenda, and has been demagogically for some time. I suspect since civilization invented the science of agriculture. But that is again another topic.

Ben Foch

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In a message dated 5/17/2003 8:01:33 AM Eastern Standard Time, polvoarte at yahoo.com writes:

StreetSide at Kedzie and Armitage Ben

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Ben, First I feel I should apologize for my unusual aggressiveness last time around. It probably seemed like it was sort of a personal attack at times and that's not my intention. I sometimes just feel up for a feisty argument but I think the tone was a little needlessly coarse in places. We can't all be as consistently genial as Mike Wolf - though I do love him for his unusual even-temperedness.

Ben writes "First, he is not in MY history, he is in OUR history. His existence and influence is fact, not a mistake."

Well, I'd have to contend that Clement Greenberg's influence is a fact AND a mistake. I guess I can't really say that his existence was a mistake (unless perhaps the condom broke or something).

Ben writes: "I find many of your word choices interesting and curious. That VITAL CREATIVITY with a clear sense of purpose TRANSCENDS... These words conjure up sentiments of spirituality, which seems very modern and Greenbergian to me, so far as formalist work is about the individual and their process of creation."

I did not use the word 'transcend' to speak of transcendent spirituality (although a work of art will do that for me about once every 4 years or so). I think in 2003 we can safely say a creative work has vitality without implying that it also shares a theoretical link to abstract expressionist painting. After all, I could just as easily apply the term to a burrito from Iratzu. Let's remember that any of these qualities existed in objects long before Greenberg told us art should have them and come out looking a certain way too. The popularity of words comes and goes and part of the irritation with Greenberg and his influence is that if you use any of the words he used so forcefully, people might think you are defending his approach or the narrow range of art he defended. But enough on Greenberg for me. I'm not in art school anymore and I perhaps made it seem like I still care about this guy even a little and think about him every so often. I don't. He was a good writer but at this point in my life I can live without him and lots of the art he championed too (Kenneth Noland circle paintings anyone?). The exciting art he supported, for me, outlives anything he could say on behalf of those artists who couldn't always speak so well for themselves. If the role he played for a number of artists while they were alive isn't extinct, it probably should be.

Re: pluralism. Let's keep it simple because I think it is. I do not think pluralism is peace at all costs. I think it is the simple reality that not everyone wants to make the same kind of art or live by the same rules. It is perhaps peace at all costs in academia, but that's not the insular world I live in. And debate for me is not about trying to narrow the range of artistic possibilities and approaches. You are never going to convince me that it is healthier to have a more narrow and limited range of artistic practice (because of where a few people feel that others are supposed to be at within the history of each medium) than to have an extreme diversity of approaches happening simultaneously. I also have to admit that while I think it is extremely important to try to have an awareness and understanding of the history of ideas within your field - particularly as they relate to the work you are doing - I also make work that at times lives in publicly trafficked spaces where these histories are unknown and therefore irrelevant to 99.9% of all viewers. When I do work that goes in some other kind of more art-world grounded exhibition space, I generally try to work as though these histories are still unknown and irrelevant to the people that will be viewing my work (because they still often are). Usually at this point I make a free booklet to accompany my work that puts the project on view in a context that I want to be considered - usually it is a non-art historical context. If the people who see my project at the Hyde Park Art Center have heard of Cline Duval or Hans-Peter Feldmann or whoever else, terrific we can talk about that. But if not, I don't think they will miss much. I want to initiate dialogues that can circumnavigate art history and theoretical debates so that we can have a dialogue about something else - hopefully things that have a greater presence and importance and interest in people's lives than theoretical and academic battles in art history usually do. (Not to deny that those debates aren't totally life affirming for lots of academics all over the place and especially at that school that is also in Hyde Park).

One can maintain a strong critical perspective within one's work without reminding the world that you know all about art history and are doing a good job of playing that game. That game is really fucking tiresome to me. That's partly why I stopped painting, which is a medium where that game is particularly evident at all times and hard to throw to the side; it leads you to an exhibit like the John Currin show at the MCA. I like some of those paintings very much but after a while all you can see is how the guy is trapped trying to compete with history. He does a better job of it than most but it still feels, to me, like he's running on a hamster wheel. I'd prefer to work in a way where I do not feel like I constantly have to compete with or openly acknowledge the past with a knowing wink at every turn. It's tiresome. And I also don't want to be a reactionary that ignores history and does whatever s/he wants while pretending that repeating the same efforts won't yield something that is just like everything we already know. Part of my wanting to get rid of the distinctions between what is and isn't art is about attempting to generate interest and dialogue and an incorporation of my aesthetic practice in my life wherever my interests exist and overlap. I don't want to have to keep turning art and art history on and off in my life I don't want people to have to do that when they approach my work either. Still I can understand why people like playing the game and why they enjoy the obscure knowledge that a lot of art demands one to know in order to comprehend it. I like a lot of obscure work myself - it's just not the kind of stuff I want to be making - or told I have to make in order to participate in exhibitions at contemporary art venues.

Ben writes: "As for Marc's comment and suggestion that my ideas are in the same vein of the neo-social Darwinistic Mein Kampf, I assume your implication is that I am a Hitler."

No of course you are not a Hitler, (maybe a Goebels? hehe) but it's not every day that I hear someone, in talking about the art of others, say: "Just because artists can learn from Feng Meng Bo exhibitions, does not mean that it is OK for Feng Meng Bo to exhibit. As artists, it is our job to make sure that things like this do not persist. There simply is no room to tolerate this type of behaviour." What can I say? This sure sounded like fascist rhetoric to me. Maybe there could be a new version of the Degenerate Art show with Feng Meng Bo's work in it? That's what comments like that evoke for me and we live in a political climate that would probably go for such a thing. Joe Lieberman would probably go for it! Is Feng Meng Bo's video game violent?

Ben writes: "Marcf would say: Hitler is not part of MY world, he is a demon and inhuman. He is not a product of MY humanity, he is other. I can sympathise with the urge to repress the reality of a character such as Hitler, and the rhetoric contained in Mein Kempf. But to isolate the underbelly of humanity and separate it from our perception of it in order to feel safe does everybody a dis-service."

Pu-lease! No I would not say this. Man, you are making some serious leaps here. Jeezus.

Ben writes "I mean why choose Hitler? Why not Stalin? Or any of the other political leaders that faithfully promote genocide?"

For as long as I continue to work in a Jewish museum, I will probably continue to choose Hitler first. Because he is the only leader who promoted genocide? No, because I hear about him 5 days a week.

Okay that's enough for me. Art is important, but so is Rock and Roll, and I'm going to see The Immortal Lee County Killers - whose art may just be a reactionary throwback, but hey, it also kicks ass, and there is something to be said for that too. And besides, I need to have my ass kicked for going to the Stray Show.

Marc

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Mike writes:

I agree that the endeavor we call "art" can't be defined by a set of rules. For one, part of the art endeavor seems to clearly involve exploring the very rules that would be used to define it. So those rules will keep being stretched and twisted by the very art they try to contain. This characteristic is in fact part of the set of characteristics that define the art endeavor, and separate it from other human endeavors.

The key I believe is to understand that "art" is an endeavor. It's not a "game", or a career, or an ideology. It's a certain type of human endeavor, and though the characteristics of this endeavor are dynamic, and are different in different times and places, there are some universal characteristics that can be identified, and if nothing else, it can at least be defined somewhat by the many other human endeavors that art is not.

When one endeavors to entertain for example, through whatever means, the product of that endeavor is not art, but is by definition of the maker's intent "entertainment". If the product of that endeavor fails to entertain, then it's simply a bad example of entertainment. If it succeeds beyond even the entertainer's wildest dreams, it's still just good entertainment, it's not somehow elevated (an elitist term) to the status of "art". One can produce bad art by accident, or even great art by accident, but I do not believe that one can produce art itself by accident.

Before we can argue about exactly what characteristics we want to say are universal to the artistic endeavor, we should at least acknowledge that it IS an endeavor, and therefor must include conscious intent. If we don't do this, then "art" will end up being defined by it's product, rather than by intent, and at that point all definitions will become hopelessly subjective. This is in fact what is happening more and more these days. And the term "art" is becoming more and more confusing and meaningless as a result.

Dave S.

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Dave writes: I do not believe that one can produce art itself by accident.

Before we can argue about exactly what characteristics we want to say are universal to the artistic endeavor, we should at least acknowledge that it IS an endeavor, and therefor must include conscious intent. If we don't do this, then "art" will end up being defined by it's product, rather than by intent, and at that point all definitions will become hopelessly subjective. (well said)

Dave continues: This is in fact what is happening more and more these days. And the term "art" is becoming more and more confusing and meaningless as a result.

Thanks for the breathe of fresh air Dave

Ben Foch

P.S. No offense taken at all Marc, but thanks for the disclaimer I'm relieved to hear you do not not demonize Hitler. And I should probobly stop reading so much GlobalPoliticalEconomy,it makes me very word sensitive/specific. You'll be pleased to know that I am currently indulging in fiction, Don DeLillos White Noise. Perhaps that might also explain my Hitler/Elvis absurdities.

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BenFoch at aol.com wrote: "No offense taken at all Marc, but thanks for the disclaimer I'm relieved to hear you do not not demonize Hitler."

I'm relieved that you used a double negative, which however awkwardly, suggests that I still do think Hitler is evil or demonic (For the record, I would generally use the more secular term of "Scum" in place of "Demonic" for I don't really invest much in the supernatural).

Marc

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Go to Notices section at Othergroup. [http://www.othergroup.net/notices.php]

Next show at Butchershop Saturday May 31st. Curated by Polvo Art Studio.

//ali//

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This has been sitting around for a week, while you-all got ever more verbose. OK, into the Out-box.

As an artist, I feel doing the laundry or the dishes is art, because art is whatever an artist does. It is a working definition which gets me through the dishes and the laundry.

I think most people have a "definition" for art, but keep it close to their chest, and only infrequently expose their thoughts and feelings, and then as negations. The definitions are probably as varied as Michael's list. Definitions which could be exposed as misreadings of maxims learned in gradeschool, perspectives from the 19th century, anachronisms, fantasies, and self-serving delusions. I could add my own (aside from 'art is what an artist does'), but no-one would listen unless it touched on their own private definition.

Let me ask, since it is such driven and peculiar activity (except maybe for laundry and dish-washing art), exactly what priviledges do you have as an artist?
-/jno

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There is a May-Stray review (considering we dont have Pedro to complain for us anymore) at

[http://panel-house.com/archives/00000011.htm]

It is the 11th review at Panel House, and it looks like they are expecting to do one short of 100,000,000 if I count my zeros right. Like a warp of Gravy, FGA, and Hot Commodities.

-fyi/j

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jno wrote:

The difficulty with this definition is that in itself it doesn't define anything. If anything an artist does is art, then art is anything an artist does. It's a circular reference that refers to nothing in particular. How is an artist's dish washing any different than a priest's dish washing? It's not. So priests are doing art when they wash dishes, too, which then makes them artists as well as priests because anyone who makes art is an artist, and anything an artist does is art. Or I suppose we could close the circle by declaration: only those who say they are an artist can be an artist, and so only when they wash dishes is the dish washing art. But in the end all this will mean is that art is whatever I say it is when I say it is and it's whatever you say it is when you say it is. Art is then anything, anytime, anywhere, simply by declaration. The only constant, then, is the declaration. And the problem with that is that the declaration becomes meaningless when it's attached to anything and everything by whim. To say art is anything is equal in meaning to saying art is nothing. Anything is anything. What's the point?

Yet experience clearly denies this assertion that art is whatever an artist says it is. If I stand on the corner and claim my car is art because I, an artist, bought it, very few people would agree with me. If I stood on the corner and claimed my car was a tree because I declare it to be so, likewise, very few people will agree with me. Such self-centered declarations are mostly meaningless to anyone but the self. We could declare most anything we like, but the declaration alone won't have any meaning on it's own. We need reality to agree or ratify the assertion, to give the assertion meaning.

Dave S.

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Jno, thanks for posting the link to panel-house. The site seems a little awkward in design, the "about" page is not very forth-coming. But I like that anyone can post comments after the review. From what I read the writing is absolutely worthy of Pedro's legacy. I mean I couldn't agree more with your Gravy, FGA, Hot Commodities comparison.

What ever happened to "The Organization," (I think that's what it was called). My understanding was that The Organization was to be a site where every show in Chicago would get reviewed? That was gonna be fun. A while back I was posting essays on a site, cheathouse.com, where kids who don't feel like writing their papers can shop for essays. This site uses a point system to earn you access to more and more essays, the more essays that you post and the more comments that you make on other people's essays the more essays you are allowed access to. I found it very amusing to accumulate points and read these essays, it was like playing a very slow video game, maybe like the way some people play e-bay. Anyway, it's funny to entertain the idea of doing an art review site that would some how operate on a point system. Funny...

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On Wed, 21 May 2003, Dave Stull wrote:

jno wrote:

On Wed, 21 May 2003, Dave Stull wrote:

No, priests would be doing something priesterly.

It's a joke. But e-mail is easily misread. But I would probably agree with "Art is then anything, anytime, anywhere, simply by declaration." That is what we are seeing anyway. I dont think your further analogy of "a car is a tree" holds, because you are making a comparison between two objects. I never said "dishes are trees".

So, what is the priveledge of an artist? To engage in hair-splitting definitions? (further joke) (but answer that)
-/jno

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On Wed, 21 May 2003, Michael Wolf wrote:

Wasnt that started by Keri? Let me search back e-mails..

Cant find a thing. Keri?
-/jno

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[http://www.thechicago.org/]

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I think it was going to be run by Lorelei Stewart and Sarah Conaway. I think Lorelei was a little overextended, which is why it never got off the ground.

cindy

on 5/21/03 1:05 PM, jno at jno at blight.com wrote:

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On Wed, 21 May 2003, "enteract Migrated User" wrote:

[http://www.thechicago.org/]

I'll add thechicago to the links db at ORG (The "real" org, chicagoart.ORG). That is your new alias, "enteract Migrated User"?
-/jno

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On Wed, 21 May 2003, cindy wrote:

It's blank except for a usemap and a mailto link.
-/jno

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the plane that is the organization is still fueling on the ground getting ready to take off. it may be a while longer. however, in the fall keep your eyes out for it and a companion print publication.

sorrry for the long delay and dashed expectations.

Lorelei Stewart of The Organization

Lorelei Stewart

Director, Gallery 400, UIC 1240 West Harrison Street (MC 034) Chicago, IL 60607

312 996 6114 T 312 355 3444 F [http://gallery400.aa.uic.edu]

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On Wed, 21 May 2003, Lorelei Stewart wrote:

We will meanwhike entertain ourselves by sending nastu letters to the editors, editors at theChicago.org
-/jno

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jno wrote:

Ah, ... never mind.

Free will, I suppose. Same as anyone else. We can decide to engage in the artistic endeavor or we can choose not to. But I don't think we get to choose what the artistic endeavor is by our selves. That's decided by cultural experience, history, social needs, and personal and community opinion; the same way we would define any other human endeavor (philosophy, spirituality, science, politics, etc.).

Dave S.

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praise for the promise of our future endeavors!

sincerely cindy

-- contribute to: the love letter collection [http://www.collectiveexperience.org]

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On Wed, 21 May 2003, Dave Stull wrote:

But that is true of any occupation. Although mostly you do _not_ have that choice if you want to continue to receive a paycheck. And there are quite a few things you cannot do: Like tell your boss to go jump in the lake. Or show up late for work every day.

So _what_ can you do as an artist which would make art making it so attractive?
-/jno

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jno writes:

Good question. I guess some folks are just compelled to explore the nature of their own perceptions, and to share what they find with other people.

Dave S.

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Jno asks: "exactly what privileges do you have as an artist?"

Since any ideas of my own are hard to come by I will quote a passage from something Claire Pentecost wrote, "What Did You Eat and When Did You Eat It?" (Art Journal, Fall 2002). I thought of this when the question of artists' privileges came up. It took a spell to locate the article in my piles, but now I will type some of it in here.

(I had to look it up Pusillanimous. I found, "timid, cowardly, or irresolute; fainthearted")

Do the artworld's permissive tendencies, as she is talking about them here, constitute a kind of privilege? I think so, privilege being something that is always in flux, dependent on the values of a given time and place.

Later she explains that she was a part of a conference on poverty and obesity.

Here she mentions both permissiveness and excess.

The excess she is talking about is that of U.S. consumer culture, earlier she writes "An American's life is awash in surplus, and the cheapest, most reliable experience of plenty is eating." Is this excess one of the privileges of living in the U.S.? I'm afraid it is.

She takes that excessiveness and transforms it for her art into excess research, excess self-education, not to become another expert in the sociology or science of food, but to become an interdisciplinary artist working with these ideas and looking at ways of affecting that knowledge. Here the artist's privilege is that of self-education. But then again one doesn't need to be an artist to be an autodidact (I don't think would say so either).

Well, I hope haven't made something that is very simple into something that is too complicated. I think the question of artists' privilege is very important and this a specific example that seems to address the question. Does this jive with anybody else's concerns about privilege? Does anybody else have any concerns about privilege?

Later, Mike

P.S. here's a fun joke for ya:

Q: How many autodidacts does it take to change a light bulb?

A: .flesruoy tuo ti erugif ,wonk t'nod I

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From Mr. Wolf

Q: How many autodidacts does it take to change a Light Bulb?

A: .flesruoy tuo ti erugif ,wonk t'nod I

From Mr. Bobby

.ot ti egnahc ot tnaw uoy od tahW :Q

?boj eht rof elbigele era stcadidotua hcihw sediced ohW :Q

?deriuqer reddal a sI :Q

?deriuqer stcadidotua fo rebmun etamitlu eht ni detneserper ylriaf nemow dna seitironim erA :Q

?blubthgil eht egnahc ot dediced ohW :Q

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On Fri, 30 May 2003, diego bobby wrote:

From Mr. Wolf Q: How many autodidacts does it take to change a Light Bulb? A: .flesruoy tuo ti erugif ,wonk t'nod I From Mr. Bobby .ot ti egnahc ot tnaw uoy od tahW :Q ?boj eht rof elbigele era stcadidotua hcihw sediced ohW :Q ?deriuqer reddal a sI :Q ?deriuqer stcadidotua fo rebmun etamitlu eht ni detneserper ylriaf nemow dna seitironim erA :Q ?blubthgil eht egnahc ot dediced ohW :Q

wha ?

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On Fri, 23 May 2003, Michael Wolf wrote: quoting from an article:

My body chemistry has other ideas about that :) especially when it comes to sausages, etc.

And:

I dont know if the last sentence was _your_ opinion, or part of the quoted text. But.. I'd agree with that definition, and have seen a lot of self-study inspired work, although not always to complete success.. That is, sometimes you see an artist expounding on some topic visually (and frequently suplemented verbally when the visual doesnt quite work), and you get it, but it is of no interest to you. Or you know more about it and realize that the 'study' is limited in scope, guided by accepted textbook information, or derivative of popular notions.

If it is an 'important' topic its likely to be a topical political or social issue, which often goes away or soon falls out of favor. What is especially frustrating is to see really topical issues brought forward which are already currently highlighted by the media, and you wonder why another badly informed voice needs to be heard from the bandwagon. It is like listen to TV interviews of opinions from the street (which I frankly do not want to hear), or an explication enlightened by an analogy which falls flat in its effect (I always skip over texts which start, "it's is as if.." "it can be likened to ..").

OK, after that rant, I _do_ appreciate knowledgable visual work where the visuals carry (by metaphorical implication -- but not analogically) much more information that a verbal argument. I dont see that often. When you do it's by somebody totally immersed in some topic of study -- like Paha's jungle installations (of some years ago).

Then I suppose (since you mention that _anyone_ could study _anything_ at _any_ time) it might not be the artist's specific privilege "to study" (since any-one can study), but it might be the fact that he is allowed to express his opinions (and don't try _that_ while working for the man).

nuf /jno