Monday, August 22, 2016

Art World’s WTF Week – Beecroft, Abramović, Baldwin-Boone-Bleckner, Doig

Hey everyone. Are you ready for the art season to start again?! Well I for one actually am. Strange I know, but I am looking forward to the new season and can’t wait to see the shows large and small around NYC.

Summer is over, yes we have a ~week left of August but we can all sense the avalanche that is September upon us. This past week there was a little taste of what we might expect and wow, was it full of crazy! Juicy gossip, lawsuits, veiled couture racism and much much more! If the rest of the season as going to be as bonkers as what we have already sampled this past week then let’s brace ourselves.

Below are some little nuggets that particularly entertained and repulsed me this past week.

Vanessa Beecroft’s Favela

The interview/article in NY Magazine with photographer Vanessa Beecroft is a page-turner of WTF. This once ‘art’ photographer can now be regarded as a branded entity in which her signature of models standing in a room has been transformed to just actually models standing in a room but now wearing Kanye West’s baby food colored attire.

Beecroft has transferred any previous art cred for her now commercially successful mixing of lifestyle, dashes of celebrity, commerce and cultural voyeurism. Put bluntly, I think it would be difficult to consider Beecroft as relevant to ‘art’ and I wouldn’t have paid any mind to the article but then I kept seeing in my feeds quotations in the article that made me both roll my eyes and vomit a bit in my mouth. Such things as:

I have divided my personality. There is Vanessa Beecroft as a European white female, and then there is Vanessa Beecroft as Kanye, an African-American male.”  

Say what?!

And when she likens her Hollywood Hills home to a favela. A Favela! The woman is totally out of her gourd! I am hoping that she was on some sort of drug or other mind-altering substance to explain the surreal levels of racism and white privilege but alas I don’t think I or she is that lucky.

The take away from this is revealing beyond just Beecroft self-detonating herself. It reveals how people ‘like her’ think of  ‘people like them.’ And if you don’t get what I mean by that then you too are drinking from the same demented kool-aid.

Marina Abramović’s Dinosaurs

Are we all sick of Abramović yet? (Deafening screams of Yes!) Luckily the Abramo-train has slowed down in the past few years so we don’t have to see her face literally on our morning subway commutes but she can’t stop, won’t stop. She is releasing a memoir to be entitled Walk Through Walls, (is anyone surprised) and in an “uncorrected proof” of it there is a passage from a diary entry that she wrote in 1979 about Indigenous Australians that goes like this:

Aborigines are not just the oldest race in Australia; they are the oldest race on the planet. They look like dinosaurs…

And more!

They are really strange and different, and they should be treated as living treasures. Yet they are not.

But at the same time, when you first meet them, you have to put effort into it. For one thing, to Western eyes they look terrible. Their faces are like no other faces on earth; they have big torsos (just one bad result of their encounter with Western civilisation is a high sugar diet that bloats their bodies) and sticklike legs.

She of course is PRing her flaming butt out of the situation and it will of course be stricken in the ‘corrected’ version but wow-oh-wow. Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs. Really? Dinosaurs?! Like what part of your brain, self, personality, mind, thoughts would ever make you think that way?

The colonized gaze is not some sort of youthful ignorance, it is a state of being that is fed and what it feeds is the ego. Abramović has bags and bags of that to spare so I guess it shouldn’t come as such a surprise but it is a bit thrilling to see her dagger herself with her own pen.

I hope Abramović can actually walk through walls because she is in a self-constructed prison of ignorance that we all can see. 

 Baldwin, Boone, Bleckner

The article in the New York Times that discusses an ongoing kerfuffle between Alec Baldwin (actor) and Mary Boone (dealer) over a Ross Bleckner (artist) painting had me actually loling at the screen. So apparently Baldwin really, really liked Bleckner’s Sea and Mirror, painting from 1996, he even carried an image of it in his wallet. He contacted Boone, Bleckner’s dealer, to see if he could purchase it. The owner wasn’t going to sell but then one day Boone said it was available. Baldwin pays for it and brings it back to his place but something isn’t quite right. He doesn’t think it is the piece he so admired and coveted. He gets in art experts and they say it isn’t the same work. Then a smattering of emails go back and forth between Baldwin, Boone and even Blecker. Baldwin is convinced it’s a re-do of another painting of the same time and it was sold to him with that deception. It is amazing! The real zinger is at the end of the article though:

Still, he told Ms. Boone in a recent email, he did not want to hurt Mr. Bleckner. “I’m less worried about you, Mary,” he wrote, “as you are more of an armadillo and I’m sure you have been blasting your way out of corners like this on more than one occasion.”

Ms. Boone wrote back to say that she was working to get him the work he wanted.

“I am not an Armadillo however,” she added.

Armadillo! Perfection! This whole thing is both absurd and pointless but nonetheless revealing the dirty, dirty place that is the art world can be.

Peter Doig Was/Wasn’t In Jail at 16

The Peter Doig trail is a screamer of holy crap. There is an owner of a painting that has brought to auction a ‘Peter Doig’ work but Peter Doig says it’s not his. The owner of the work says that Doig made it when he was 16/17 and in prison and that he was given the work. Doig says he wasn’t in prison then and that also why the hell would he spell his name wrong, it is spelled ‘Pete Doige’ on the canvas. This is actually on trail and it is bizarre beyond halves. There is even a very surreal Instagram account that features sunsets and line-by-line replays of the trail, which you can view here. The whole thing is a he said, they said, what the hell was said mess and it is fabulous. It really shows how bat shit insane the art world is and how the deeper in the rabbit hole you go the more hysterical it gets.

Lawsuits are cropping up more and more in the art world and I think it’s high time. Not the lawsuits where fanatics try to censor art but the lawsuits in which some light is shed on this shifty, unregulated industry which looks even more ghastly in the light of day.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Times In Between

I am on vacation. I am by a lake and I am with three friends. It is a type of vacation that is filled but also loose. There are things that punctuate the day. Eating, sightseeing, swimming, drinking, reading, eating again. After being in this type of structure for a few days one notices how time can change. Those same twenty-four hours that you had at home/regular life feel different. It feels both longer and shorter. Time feels elastic, taught at climatic memory making moments but then also thick and sluggish.

While on a trip such as this, the setting is a general stage of expectation. One is expected to have fun. One is expected to socialize. One is also expected to relax. There are requirements involved in restiveness. There is novelty all around you and hence you feel you are in that very thing, a novel, and you and your cast of characters are creating a story.

There is a familiarity to it but then there is improvisation that reminds you that it is actual life. Who you are spending this rarified time with highly determines the arc and feeling of this story. Many times I see people who are in cliques and the revelation of this has glaring clarity. You can see who is in the lead, who are the supports, and who are the flesh props. I often arrange social situations, dinners, trips to the beach, visits to a museum, to be constructed and peopled in a way to optimize the story line I want to experience. Some might call this ‘curating’ ones life but that is just too cringe. I think of it more as creating realities.

Reality is mutable. Who we are, how time, space, and mood feels is flexible and the easiest way to control/influence this is who we select to be a part of our reality. This is a gift. A privileged luxury but it is a powerful thing which, when done well, can literally change your life and who you are.

Subjectivity. The concept of the self and understanding the self is what we are built to seek and to understand. It is one of my core philosophical beliefs that it is only through others that one can understand themselves. It is only through the touch of another that one can feel their own bodies fully. It is only through exchange of thoughts and feelings with others that one can become actualized.

This simplistic necessity is why we do things like go on vacation with friends. Why we plan, organize and move our bodies to be somewhere where we can exchange and create heightened spaces and time to connect and interact.

During this vacationing I have also been struck by the times that come in between the punctuations of activity. The times in between when everyone breaks off, even if they are all in the same room, to internalize. Some isolate themselves more then others either physically or in terms of their presence but there is definitely a noticeable delineation.

It is a social time out. It is an agreement of quite, stop, rest, solitude.

I am one that needs alone time a lot and it makes me feel appreciative that those around me not only respect this but also crave it in their own way. To me this shows perhaps more about a person’s character then when they are playing and participating in the parts of the social interaction construct.

How one recedes and reenergizes makes the ‘on’ that much more sparkly and clear. This also makes all this constructing reality have some breathing room for honesty and privacy. Although one might be sharing rooms, hours, days with others what you are experiencing and what they are experiencing is completely different. This is the magic of it all. Knowing that realities are simultaneous and ever changing even when you are sitting right next to each other.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Note To Self

Just yelled out loud, “Oh Shit I have to bloggggg!” Yup, yet again I’ve been too busy to realize what day of the week it was. Fuuudddgeee. So with that in mind I will make a list of things that I should remember so that I can maybe be better at living life.

Deposit Checks – Why am I acting like I don’t need those checks in my bank account?

Eat the tomatoes – They won’t eat themselves.

Save Palm – It has this white fungus all over it and I tried apple cider vinegar but that just made it worse.

Cat Litter – Poop city.

Wash Hair – Yes that is the state of my life rn.

Deal with clothes – Just brought home bags and bags of clothes from LDN and NJ, I have entirely too many clothes.

Read books – Bought 3 books in the last week. Haven’t even opened one of them yet. #fail.

Text People Back – Ugggg.

Stop texting people – I just want to find love is that too much to ask??? (stab self in eye).

Re-Upholster Couch – Bought a new couch on craigslist for $35. Yup thirty five bucks.

Get better mirror – I have to squat to look at my outfits. #sad

Wear sunscreen – My face will melt off soon.

Email People – But it’s August yo.

Look into 401k – Yup, I’m gunna die.

Touch base with friends – Sorry I’ve been sucking at being a pal pals.

Buy blender/food processor – I wanna make pesto. Can’t make pesto.

Eat more fruit – I know its good for you but I’m actually not that into eating fruit.

Gain muscle mass – Skinny Asians told me I was too skinny. Jesus.

Find a Lover – Who I can literally just have sex with.

Stop seeing you know who – Because it will never work out.

Buy extra sheets – How do I get by in this world?!

Do studio visits – There must be good NYC artists that aren’t already showing at (names of 3 places in LES) right?

Buy gold ring – Imma treat my damn self.

Learn French – Because PhD maybe?

Enroll in Ikebana Classes – Actually going to do it.

Try Archery – Because it seems cool to do things by yourself.

Buy Fall Perfume – Chakra realignment.

Buy Hats – Want to be an asshole that wears hats.

Dress Better – Be the 80 year old I know is inside me.

Have a Baby – Yes, that’s all I actually want to do.

Cook More – Need to up my repertoire.

Go to Doctor – Blood tests and freezing eggs.

Meet New People – Circles getting thin.

Buy Rug – Because I love having more cat hair all over the place.

Get Better Curtains – Because the sun is literally trying to blind me while I sleep.

Get Speakers – My iphone is tinny as hell.

Remember what day of the week it is – So I don’t have to do stupid posts like this anymore.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Goodbye Gallery World

This past Saturday was, what I hope, is my last day of having to work at a gallery. The job I left wasn’t a bad one but I am ecstatic Ecstatic! That I don’t have to work as a gallerist anymore. Yes, some of you know that I run a gallery so in some ways I’m still involved but what I mean is that I will no longer have to work for another gallery, work another art fair, go to another dinner or reception that I don’t want to go to ever again.

I have worked in the gallery world in some form for thirteen years. 13 years! Nuts. I never wanted to be a gallerist. I just fell into it because that was the jobs that I somehow got right after college. It wasn’t all bad though, I learned so much especially from bosses and peers that mentored me and made me have abilities and levels of skill and confidence that I probably would have never reached in other fields. Through these positions I also was able to have a structure in which to create a world, and an identity, which I was able to capitalize on even when working independently. All these things really were amazing and the experiences, the cities, countries traveled, the parties, the smart people and talent that I got to immerse myself in was truly something out of a novel but alas, I am so so so so happy to be finally done with it.

As I have written many times before on this blog, I love ‘Art.’ I think about it and need it in my life because it is what I truly care about and what challenges my brain. What you also know is that I hate the art world. It is just the worst and after thirteen years I have zero patience, illusion or desire to be reliant on perpetuating this incredibly flawed system. The art world is a giant racket, mirage, and frankly the ultimate pure form of capitalism at its very worst.

The concept of lifestyle and the hierarchies of cultural capital have made ‘Art’ into a product of exchange. Value, visibility, access and success are entwined into a system that is not about the thing in of itself but the structure of the whole. The need for preserving and perpetuating these things is essential and yes, at times there is a rationality and need, but the truth is that most of the art world structure is rigged and frankly boring.

Yes, I am the equivalent of a Bernie Bro in my stance on this but I’m not saying this for some egotistical naïve rhetoric but rather because being so drenched in it for as long as I have there is nothing clearer then the truths of how things are. Most people in the art world know this. They see and feel it as clearly as I do but most won’t openly admit or discuss it because 1) it makes you look like a beta loser with a chip on your shoulder and 2) because if you do then you can no longer participate because the reality of this truth will slowly crush your soul.

Being a gallerist, working in galleries, working art fairs, selling things to clients, institutions all that jazz is the starting vector to enabling and perpetuating this structure. Not only does your job depend on it but so does your social mobility and construction of self. To be in the gallery world and the higher you get, and the better galleries you work in is a type of social climbing that is mesmerizing and desired because it equates your value and your necessity. It’s a hard thing to do, to become the king or queen of an art hill and you probably really deserve it and others will respect you for it.

This structure though is entirely stupid. As I have admitted, I like to watch period movies and shows. There is a type of show within this genre that is about the upstairs/downstairs hierarchy and its dramas and relationships. While I was watching one of these said shows, it clicked in my brain that the gallery/art world is just like these shows. The idea that there is this superior echelon (very rich people) and those that service them (gallerists). The contact with this upper crust makes everyone that has access and connection with them feel that they too are a part of this superior level of humans. The way that galleries are even architecturally structured and function is a mimicking of this idea of inclusion/exclusion. People have attendants (assistants), they have private, secret rooms that must be given protocolled entry. There is the silent air of seriousness, elegance, class and business that is enhanced by the telepathic following of orders and the one nod instruction.

If you work for a gallery you are immediately trained to be a certain way. The lower the station you hold, the more silent you are. Don’t look, don't talk, just do what you are told with grace and efficiency. Even when you are the top director or owner of the space there is a production and unspoken but writ rules of behavior. If a point is reached where one has a more casual relationship with the client then there is another type of performance. A convivial coziness but one that is nonetheless contingent on the same structure of serving/ being served. Many people I know that work in galleries literally have client’s kids birthdays, pet’s names, food allergies at the finger tip ready so that they can ensure that this casualness is facilitated. I also know so many whose jobs are essentially about going out, taking out, and smoozing with clients or rich client’s relations to see the ‘real’ whatever city they happen to be in for a night or two. Gallerists are the ultimate concierge. Many enjoy this. Many reading this would find this a fantastic thing to have to do but I for one can’t bare it.

I really hate having to interact with people that I find dull and when I have to pretend I feel like the meaning of life is pointless.

That’s just me though.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I’m against rich people. Honestly a good, smart collector is probably the most interesting person you will meet in years, but the thing I can’t stand is how the art world is built upon this structure of service and the delusions it has on what that implies. This structure also applies to the other people served via the gallery. Artists, curators, everyone that is in a higher position then you. It is systematic and you are just one domino in the line.

How, why I have worked in galleries for as long as I have, I really have no idea. I don’t think that I was ever built for it. I don’t think that I have that gene that cares about the appearance of having some sort of clichéd glamorous life. All the money, all the parties, all the VIP whatevers has zero interest to me. I know some may think I am being jaded but I promise you I’m not. I’m just done with it and relieved that I don’t have to do it again just to pay the bills.

On a for real and positive note though, the art world has given me my life, my friends, and so many good conversations and incredible times. This I value, respect and will keep nurturing and grow. What I also know for sure is that I won’t miss the gallery world and I am certain that it won’t miss me. 

Goodbye! I hope that this is the end and if not I will write all about it with my tail between my legs. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Lydia Davis, Varieties of Disturbance Stories

I was walking around Chelsea last week, letting the students run feral around this gallery district, and it was such a lovely day and there were so many hours left until I was set to meet them that I popped into a book store and perused with a commitment to find a good book to read. The last few weeks, as this blog can attest, have been a bit crazed and I was aching for something that would set my brain back into some intelligible alignment.

As my eyes hopped along the spines I stopped and plucked Lydia Davis’ Varieties of Disturbance Stories, (2007, Farrar, Straus and Giroux) and thought this is just the thing. It is a collection of short stories, aphorisms and at times just a line or so. Davis is a writer’s writer. Many regard her highly and nobly and she is a bit of hard nut to crack even with all her popularity. She is a distinguished translator, notably French authors including Proust, and she is a professor and MacArthur winner as one would expect of someone such as her. All that aside, she is a writer that everyone should read, even if they might not enjoy it all too much.

As I sat on a bench, in a park, with the sun ridiculously dappling me with sunlight I began to read and it was exactly as the bookseller remarked at checkout – the perfect day to read Lydia Davis.

Later that night I kept reading and then continued to do so for the next few days. As I kept reading I would have moments of real enjoyment but then there were times were I would roll by eyes and flip to see how many pages were left in the already very short story. Davis as I said is the most qualified type of writer. This can be to a fault though. Her exactness and complete dominance of the structure of words and sentences is at moments surgically impressive but at others it makes you feel scolded and chained to formality. I think Davis herself must feel this because so much of her writing speaks directly about the topic of writing and its forms. She also obviously wants to release the noose of it by writing such rebellious one-liners.

Another thing that was enjoyable but at times distracting was the amount of voices in these collections of stories. As one knows, when one reads a voice resounds in your head that matches with what is written. Davis employs this with great skill at times, making you transfixed on the narrator but at others it feels as if you are listening to someone mimic someone else. There is a strange performance of caricature that feels disingenuous. But that can’t be faulted too much on the author, as these stories were meant to stand-alone. Together, they have this crowded feeling, of being bumped up on top of one another, but alas, this is necessary, especially if you do not have the desire to hold single pages at a time.

I know that any criticism of this book is probably my fault. I read too fast and am a greedy reader. I swallow things in whole bites versus nibbles and that would better serve this form of writing. In the end though, I have to say I did enjoy spending the last few days reading her work and for those that haven’t this is a good collection to whet your appetite for her oeuvre.

Below are a few (very short) works that I especially liked. Summer is the time to read ravenously. Enjoy and read as much as you are in the sun.

Dog and Me

An ant can look up at you, too, and even threaten you with its arms. Of course, my dog does not know that I am human, he sees me as dog, though I do not leap up at a fence. I am a strong dog. But I do not leave my mouth hanging open when I walk along. Even on a hot day, I do not leave my tongue hanging out. But I bark at him: “No! No!”

Idea for a Short Documentary Film

Representatives of different food products manufacturers try to open their own packaging.

How It Is Done

There is a description in a child’s science book of the act of love that makes it all quite clear and helps when one begins to forget. It starts with affection between a man and a woman. The blood goes to their genitals as they kiss and caress each other, this swelling creates a desire in these parts to be touched further, the man’s penis becomes larger and quite stiff and the woman’s vagina moist and slippery. The penis can now be pushed into the woman’s vagina and the parts move “comfortably and pleasantly” together until the man and woman reach orgasm, “not necessarily at the same time.” The article ends, however, with a cautionary emendation of the opening statement about affection: nowadays many people make love, it says, who do not love each other, or even have any affection for each other, and whether or not this is a good thing we do not yet know.

Suddenly Afraid

because she couldn’t write the name of what she was: a wa wam owm owamn womn