Monday, December 17, 2012

What A Week – Reflections on the Apocalypse, Love, Gagosian, Art Galleries, and Youth

The Apocalypse is (Maybe) Coming; Do You Have Someone to Love?

If the conspiracies are true, this may be the last post I make for if on Friday, December 21st this planet gets shebanged in one way or another then bye-bye ya’ll. Fingers crossed it doesn’t but even with the probability that it won’t, this Apocalypse thing and it’s doom wave are influencing this time and this crazy ass week we have just experienced, and it seems to be ushering in a shifting time.  There isn’t a clear way to express it but doesn’t it feel like things are really f-ed up at the moment?  There is a flux occurring that seems both personal and collective and it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon (that is if we survive Friday).  What I have been noticing a lot in this backdrop is the idea of ‘love.’  What does that mean?  I don’t really know fully but ‘love’ seems to be the big buzz and it is not the cliché, love-y-dove-kumbaya sort of love, but a sincere sort.  Maybe it’s the nervous rush to the end days that makes it seem more qualified but it is happening nonetheless and with the unfathomable events like the Sandy Hook, Newton CT mass shooting of twenty six people, twenty of them being children aged 6-7, it seems like things like love and god are being gripped onto even more fiercely and understandably so.  Maybe this is all coming to a head because I have been thinking a lot about love and art and the impossible questions like “what is the meaning of all this?”  I once thought that art was the only pure pursuit to achieving self, to being complete, but now, I think it is love, in its various incarnations, that is the most vital to the actualization to self.  So whether you are wanting, or ignoring the big day on Friday the 21st, may you be close to someone you love, romantically or otherwise, because hey you never know.

Gagosian Gallery Exodus and The New Gallery Model

Another sign of the end times?  Not really but it is a gossipy note to remark on.  Damien Hirst, yes, that guy, and Yayoi Kusama are leaving Go-Go and though it really doesn’t make much difference, it is a little something, a seed perhaps of the changing tides in Gagosian’s Evil Empire standings.  I don’t think Gagosian is evil, he is the thing that we all wanted, asked for, you can’t create the monster and then call it an abomination if it grows too big to handle. It is interesting though, the shifts in the gallery world.  Both Holland Cotter and Roberta Smith have astutely remarked upon this in their recent yearly roundups for The New York Times.  They reflect on how things have gotten stale, and how art fairs and necessity to survive through these has in some ways diluted the gallery experience and how museums have been acting more like the movies, bring in the crowds with blockbusters which lead little in the conversations about art.  There is most certainly a new normal in the art world, in New York specifically, and that is, it is too normal.  It is all so obvious that it is bland.  Is this a symptom of too much of everything?  Too many galleries, too many artists, too many curators, too many pundits, too much money.  Too much art and no play makes us all a very dull boy/girl.  There has to be a change, there has to be a new model no?  Well there is and it is best practiced by the Reena Spaulings Fine Art and Alex Zachary/Peter Currie types.  There is anonymity yet precision, there is intimacy versus ass kissing, there is connoisseurship versus exclusiveness, there is allusiveness versus social media overload.  I’m not sure how exciting or impactful it all is but this model is the one that will clip away some of the latchers-on as this is where the money will go. 

Black Youth and Culture Will Save Us All

Now this is a sticky topic to say the least.  There is no denying in American culture, and thus worldwide as our influence is still number one in that department, that African Americans are highly influential in our culture, if not the most dominant one.  There is a long and complex history of this and at many points it has changed the social fabric in politics, economies, and race relations.  This will continue because a few decades does not amend the historical arc of anything.  What has caught my eye, even within the past few days, is the new pedagogy of the black youth to white artists.  It is done in a way that is different then one would think.  It still stings back to the ideas of race, otherness, voyeurism and all else but it also possesses another quality, something that seems sincere, possibly.  One instance is the video for the musician Adam Bainbridge aka Kindness and his video “House,” that has him talking about music and the access to this on the internet and the excitement which that brings.  The video has him talking with a young black boy named Ramon about music and then proceeds to teach Ramon how to use a beat generator and eventually plays a clip of “House” with Ramon’s participation.  It is cute and sends warning waves of racial tropes but in the end there is a warmth that cannot be denied.  The second instance is a video by D’Ette Nogel, who currently has a show at Clifton Benevento, which I have not yet seen but a friend highly recommends, entitled “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (Teach Me How to Dougie)” in which she is learning how to do the Dougie, a dance, by her students (she is also a teacher).  Her students are teenage black youths that are taller then she is and the contrast between her earnest ‘white girl’ style untrained limbs to their assured mastered moves is goofy in a good way.  There is a sense of joy in trying to learn this and it does starkly contrast the cultural worlds she and her students live in, but it seems to be a gesture of participation versus impersonation. Youth, black or otherwise, are the standard-bearers of our culture.  The kids will be the one to determine the new tides, trends and ways of being.  Once you pass a certain point in your life, you become not irrelevant but you are not the same factor, and that’s okay.  Being curious, always, is key to understanding and enjoying what is new, what is happening, because although it is both obvious and strange all at once, life and art keeps moving and changing with or without you.