Monday, February 25, 2013

Brooke Candy and JUNGLEPUSSY – A New Sort of Feminism?

Let’s talk a bit about feminism ya’ll.  There is a new type of girl out there.  She is crazy and she doesn’t give a fuck.  The ideal girl as it once was, a girl that is blank, polite, eager, still exists in most of America-land but in the world most of us want to live in this girl is dead.  Or at least already married, has kids, another on the way, and slowly going to transform into a version of her mother in looks and loss of will to live.  Just kidding all you happily married, procreating types but seriously, you know what I mean.  The new girl is either the girl you pretend to be in your room or the one that kicks everyone’s ass. She is not fierce (that may be the worst word ever) but she is pretty much insane and revels in this.  There are of course other types of girls out there but this new type of girl is being seen more because she is a walking spectacle with entourage in toe that demands eyeballs.  Two of these girls currently are Brooke Candy and JUNGLEPUSSY.  Both are musicians, nay rappers, and when watching their videos, Brooke Candy’s “Das Me” and JUNGLEPUSSY’s “Cream Team” one sees the package that is being presented in words, costuming and performance of self.  Some may think it a stretch but through these videos you can see a bit of a new sort of feminism, one in which being the baddest bitch in the room is exactly who you want to be. 

Brooke Candy is a white girl who is young.  She is pretty and average in body shape with some above average parts.  She as a person is not really that important though as she is an avatar which flaunts her assets and accessorizes herself to be the person she wants to be and be seen as.  In “Das Me,” and most other times, she has very long extensions, these here are pink and platinum blonde.  She wears an anime inspired outfit that is gold reflective plates of armor that make her look like a mix between an action figure and a leader of a sex cult.  The video is very basic; it is a day or two max type of shoot.  She is in what appears to be LA or some such place where warm lighting, wide streets, boutique shops, and black children on bikes can be easily sourced.  The video in itself is a series of hip-hop and urban troupes.  There is the crew in the car scene, there is the on top of the car scene, there is the hotel party scene, there is the white girls doing drugs and twerking scene.  It is fine to look at and a bit dull but a means to an end to play background to her actual song.  The song is basically saying how if you are looking for the baddest gal around, then that’s her and also that being a slut is fine and something to be proud of.  The line that is sort of pretty amazing is, “It’s time to take the word back, slut is now a compliment, a sexy ass female who’s running shit and confident.”  In addition to the actual catchiness of the song Brooke Candy can actually rap which is necessary for this whole package.  The general overall mood and tempo of the song is quick biting with uncomplicated but well produced audio tracking.  Brooke’s otherworldly aesthetic and obvious total confidence drives this video and song but again it is the lyrics that are most interesting.  Lines such as, “Next time they call you a slut, Brooke Candy tells you not to give a fuck,” are things that if any weirdo young girl out there is hearing and seeing this video might help her to get through the day, life, and misery that is attached to growing up and likewise to grown women who need an anthem.  Brooke Candy is definitely just doing her thing and being exactly how and who she wants to be but I also think that there is something bold and unique in that she is directly calling out, taking back and flipping the pejorative “slut” into a positive.

JUNGLEPUSSY is a black girl who is also young.  She is rough around the edges and it seems like she could beat the crap out of most people, maybe with her eyes only.  Her body type is skinny but she flaunts her breasts, which have staring role in her “Cream Team” video.  This video is also very simple and is riddled with hip-hop flexing as well.  Champagne, cash, cars, and crew are heavily represented.  The song is not much more then a CV for how she is hot and deserves the best and expects the best.  The song production is a bit lazy and flat which makes the general tone sluggish but that may suit the song and her style, as her rapping is not fast or tight.  What JUNGLEPUSSY lacks in lyric forte she makes up for in swagger.  She is not here to entertain.  She doesn’t seem to care if you care and she is not here to impress.  She is flaunting but seems to do it in a banal way.  Even when she is being sexy in a tub or eating a rose she seems half there.  There is something oddly interesting to this because most female rappers, singers in general, try very hard to convince you.  The lyrics in the song are not very compelling but are concise in pointing out why she and her body are the best.  The refrain of the song is, “Straight cash on this titty stash, straight cash on this titty stash.  Where my stripper bitch, where my stripper bitch.”  This and the rest of the song in general, relays this overall tone that I think is an interesting twist.  She is talking and posturing in a way that males usually do, but in this case she is the dominant and she is the object.  This has an empowering effect, and although yes, there is something of a self-inflicted degradation and learned objectification as some may see it, her bravado quickly extinguishes this.  There are things that seem misaligned and being done in a non-reflective way but throughout, JUNGLEPUSSY possesses herself and all that she wants and demands in a way that is selfish and arrogant and THAT is very powerful. 

Both Brooke Candy and JUNGLEPUSSY use their bodies and talk about their bodies as primary focus.  This is necessary and smart as the female body and sexuality is a power tool that when used correctly, can be a liberating force.  Women’s sexuality is a battle ground that has been staked and claimed by men for like almost forever and it is here that women can change things in this macho landscape.  It may also be the tool that can redefine thought and practices within feminism itself.  This is not the only way or form that women today can and are changing things but it is one that has so much potency because it is uniquely one’s own.  Both Brooke Candy and JUNGLEPUSSY are playing the game that has been played for all time by men but they are messing it up as well because while they meet expectation they are also going down their own freak path.  These types of ladies are the ones that will support the next generation of crazy girls out there and this is so necessary as most of what’s going on and who’s out there is a sea of phonies and fitters in. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

This and That During a Cleanse: David Joselit on Marcel Duchamp, Mission Chinese, Edgar Allen Poe

February derives its name from the Latin word februum which means purification and back in the Roman days this was a time for the ritual cleanse, Februa.  The happenstance of this and my own personal desire to purify has me in the midst of a cleanse and I am feeling the effects via body and mind, as in I think I may have already lost 2-5 pounds in 24 hours and my brain don’t work right via lack of nutritional synapses.  They say that after the, ‘wow my body actually has a lot of literal crap in it,’ one gets to a euphoric state.  I’m not sure I will make it there as my default during this seems to be to fall asleep in almost any position, but I will try to at least get through it another day or two.  During this time, staying home is sort of key and all the things you do with people like talking, eating, drinking, moving, keeping your head up, has to be put aside as passing out in public is not a fun look.  In this time, between naps, I have been looking at and thinking over a few things in the safety of mind and computer land. 

Below are a few of these things.  Sorry this is such a blah post but really, typing is making my arms tired.

David Joselit’s Lecture, “Beyond Repetition: Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades” – Presented at The Miami Art Museum in May 2012, Joselit’s hour or so lecture discusses the themes of repetition and the circulation of images through the lens and references of Marcel Duchamp’s work and processes.  The lecture in itself is a bit staid but Joselit is highly accessible to those who may not know much about Duchamp and some of his key pieces.  I watched this because I am working on a project that investigates ideas of repetition and also of reconstruction and archive.  Although the lecture is cursory, it was a fine way to spend a little of one’s time to continue to think about these ideas and to mull over the history of these themes within an art historic and specific context.  I wish Joselit went a bit more in depth with the big ideas of this and it’s relationship to the uses of circuitous image and art making in our current times but it was for a specific audience and a specific setting and that is understandable.  Those who don’t know much about Duchamp or want to have a little more thought on him, watch this.  On another but related note, the form of lecture and lecture as event is in itself something that seems to be having a new presence and signification as well.  In the case of Joselit this is not so distinct a situation as he is from traditional academic practice.  What is interesting is how artists and art purveyors outside of academia are now participating within this.  What that implies about authority, transmission of ideas, and who is legitimate and relevant to the dispersal of ideas and conversations is something to think about indeed.  Art as idea is getting to such a distilled point that the idea of exhibition of objects may one day get to the point of just cursory, a mild contribution to get to a point of being validated and have reason to be a participant.  This is a bothersome idea in some ways but fitting and possibly even rejuvenating.

Mission Chinese – It’s not good.  I don’t know why people think is it so good.  I went on two occasions and only at times when there was no line to wait for.  If I had to wait on line to then eat sub-par food I would have been actually pissed.  With each meal there was a selection of different plates shared and the first go at it I thought maybe it was a fluke of a day but the next affirmed all the indifference of the first.  The food was dry, the spices spicy but not complex, the rice was bad.  The rice!  How?!  Things ordered didn’t come out, the music was blasting for no good reason and things were warm but not at a temperature they should have been served.  I mean who cares if there is another not very good restaurant in this city, there are so many, but what annoys me as a bandwagon mentality.  People kept saying, “Oh you have to go there, you’ll love it.”  “Have you gone yet?  It’s really great.”  Well, someone, and that someone at this moment is me, has to let anyone who wants to know if they should go: Don’t go.  If you go hopefully you have a better experience then me but really, the food sucks.  Sorry to be cranky about it and if you liked it, good for you, just know never to ask me to dine with you there.

Edgar Allen Poe - Has a Bad Publicist – The Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl, woo-hoo, doesn’t really matter much to me, but seeing those poorly designed uniforms in black and purple with the raven emblazed made me think once again about Edgar Allen Poe.  I’ve been saying this for years but will say it to the world wide web that Poe is actually a really good writer but he has been unfortunate to have a tinge of cheesiness that has inflicted other good things turned terribly bad like Georgia O’Keefe, The Doors, the Situationists, etcetra.  This happens because things that are ‘cultural’ at first and originally inhabit a ‘sub-‘ world and then they become ‘popular’ and embraced by the public at large are considered dumb.  I know that today we are all so über cool in our tween, tumblr, consumer, capital culture, irony, post-irony, post-internet, post-life thing but this type of cultural classism is still very much happening.  Back to Poe.  As I said he is actually really good, things like this first half of his A Dream Within A Dream, 1850 is super:

Take this kiss upon the brow
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow
You are not wrong who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

So great.  Yes, 1850 is so not very 2013 and language and styles tread on but the core of Poe and the subjects, allegories and his distinct verbiage should be recognized today and for generations to come.  This I know he is, in some ways, but just because he is known, even if in name only to the en masse, doesn’t disqualify his art or his influence. 

I know the above seem like a mash of nothing but really this is how my brain is pathwaying itself in this lack of calories experience.  Till next time, I’ll be dreaming of pizza and Korean stews and sandwiches and giant bowls of pasta. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

What Is This New Aesthetic We Are Living In?

I’ve been thinking a lot about art lately, as usual, but I have been thinking about it in a big picture way.  About what is actually going on; what is the air, what is to pass and what is to come.  It seems like a fitting time to be doing this.  This time of the aughts, the new year(s), the non physically manifested doomsday and all other delineators that persist in letting us all know that things are changing.  They are and they aren’t.  I’m a believer that things are cyclic even within their contemporality.  Yes, technology, science, culture, communication, and all the vast endeavors and accomplishments of human kind have made our now different from what was in the past, but the basics of all of it, the reason and the impulses behind it, are the same and at the core we humans are the same.  As much as it feels like things are moving quickly, we are still evolving and it’s a slow process but one that is undoubtedly occurring before our eyes.  This big change/little change vibration is happening in the arts as well and lately there seems to be some distinct camps forming and it is this that I have been mulling over this past week. 

The various camps are divergent, specific in form and aesthetic expression and also have sub communities and alliances. They are also more related then one would think on surface and they are all inheritors of something/some time before.  There are not names to them, I leave this for those more qualified and desirous of this task, but they are distinct and what they are doing and forecasting for things to come is compelling. 

The first group is what I will refer to as ‘the new art brut’.  These are artists who have BFAs, and/or MFAs and they come from a learned conceptual pedagogy that art degree programs insist on nowadays.  They know of and learn about the art histories, mostly western, and they are well versed in the recent art movements and participants.  They have a core peer group in which they either went to school with or have nurtured friendships through gatherings and introductions.  Their style refers back to the stylings of outsider art and art brut whose most famous practitioner was Jean Dubuffet.  There is a predominance of painting, discreet in size that are a messy sort of abstraction but can also reference the body and objects.  There is a lot of color.  Color is vital and a major element but it is not investigated in a theoretical sense but in an emotive and at times arbitrary way, thus disenchanting the myth of ‘the painter.’  There is also a lot of sculpture.  They are usually body referential or amorphous; clumpy is a good word for it.  This too has an intimacy.  There are artists who can be maybe thought of as doing this, like Urs Fischer, but he is too slick, too pro, too many cranes involved.  This new form of sculpture has a preference for plaster, clay, and self mixed dyes.  Throughout the work there is a liveliness, a sense of humor, and a pathetic-ness that has charm.  Artists who are most successfully doing this form that come to mind are Gina Beavers, Allison Shulnik, Mark Grotjan and Mai Thu Perret.  But these artists are not in the same sphere as Outsider Art, which is near and dear to my heart and (and which is wholly underappreciated) or to Art Brut.  There is a total awareness and reflexivity to this new form and it is at a quest that is different from the previous because the ways of making and the results produced is not due to a strangling necessity, well in the way that is dramatized previously, but as a love and curiosity of process and material. Previous participants a part of this linage include artists like Rosemarie Trockel, Günther Förg, and Robert Rauschenberg.  It is different now though and it is fun to see.  Some may think it is quaint, easy somehow, but when you see some of this art being made with as much intelligence and spark as some are these days, it is unquestionable that it will be here for some time. 

Next there is the group that is inhabited by our tech wunderkinds.  The world is a digital stage and we have to have a few art stars.  The pool of these artists is actually quite small, I’d guesstimate 1,000-2,000 or so, but they are clickable, linkable, likeable and generate hits that makes it seem like they are everywhere and thus very influential.  I am not in the camp, which many oddly still are, that ignores this group thinking that it is all a phase and will go away soon.  This will not happen, nor should it.  Some of the most intellectually and aesthetically stimulating stuff is being done here.  Within this larger internet, digital cadre there are many different cliques, each investigating and making work online only or in physical form that focus on certain areas of interest. What is underlying it all though is the way it is made which is via computers and their various programs and tools.  There are a variety of focuses, two which I think are most interesting and most influential.  The first is the use of the digital to create abstraction.  Artists who pop into mind are Artie Vierkant, Juliette Bonneviot, and Travess Smalley, there are many more as well.  Artists focusing on this investigation construct and re-twerk the now familiar forms of abstraction that William DeKooning, Hans Hoffman and the likes stapled into the history books.  There is a reference but not mimicry of past investigations in abstraction and the results are very different visually.  There is a flattening and a persisting reveal of the digital birth of the work.  This to me is interesting because it is a continuation of a form that is still so rich for investigation and it is adding to a larger conversation.  The fact that they are neither beholden nor rejecting with the formalism and history of what was before is smart, especially within this new medium. 

The other digital group is those that use commercialism, capitalism, and advertising as the primary source for image production.  This is becoming more familiar now and Dis Magazine is the Oz of this.  Their original content and presented content has engendered an entire new aesthetic language that has seismic influence on clothing, music, and cultural know how.  There are others like The Jogging, which is a veracious tumblr that makes visuals and sculptural objects by combining the banal and repackaging and creating Frankenstein one-liners that critique our consumer and cultural age.  There are also many other artists that use magazine aesthetics, logos, and consumer goods in their work, as they have in the past, but this time it is different.  There is a critique going on, but it’s not a ‘fuck the system’ sort of one that is familiar and unstimulating.  There is an embrace, an almost ritualized admiration for the power and designed beauty that comes with the logo, with the faux ambience of detached surreal realness.  This is happening because objects and logos don’t mean anything anymore, well at least not in the way they once did.  Everything is accessible to everyone these days, just about, with endless credit and attainable price points for even the most high priced names.  This started in the late 80s when fashion houses saw the big buck potential of making abbreviated collections of their more high-end wares.  Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein brought their clothes to the masses, most directly to urban youths and then nothing could stop this trend.   Labels still do matter but in another way.  They don’t reflect status monetarily but act as markers of what cultural tribe you are in.  The ways in which you can use, remix, make fun of, or become a caricature by wearing, ingesting, creating art from and embracing this is a measure of your culture I.Q.  The making of art that is attesting to this is also a part of the larger art history, think Haim Steinbach, Richard Prince, Andy Warhol.  What is new is that this does not solely lie in the object and a presentation.  It is more about a lifestyle, a performative interaction with the brands and lifestyles we can pick and choose from to become the ultimate other.

Lastly, there is this thing that some may refer to as the ‘new sincerity.’  This is the newest trend I am seeing of late and it is based on artists making works that remark on and reveal the personal.  They are constructed and made with formal devices that give room for emotionality, sensitivity, and direct engagement.  There are a few that are participating in this, Jaakko Pallasvuo (who had a show by this name) whose use of video, ice cream and the body are really great.  Bunny Rogers, who as I have noted before on this blog, creates poems and seems to inhabit a general projected self as art form.  And lastly, off the tract but I still find very relevant to this trend is a rapper named Lil B and most specifically his “I Love You” video in which he sings and talks to the camera expressing his love, appreciation and well wishes to everyone.  It is the most sincere thing I have ever seen.  This newest form is very new and I think it is in response to what else is going on.  This was interestingly discussed in Christopher Glazek’s article in n+1 entitled “On Ryan Trecartin.”  This very smart and astute essay delves into Trecartin and his relevancy and themes and how this has displaced the Ryan of before, McGinley, and what it all means.  It is a must-must read.  Reading through it though, I began to think about the truth and the very real impact Trecartin has had on our aesthetics, but also thought of this other thing happening, this private counter that is personal and unfiltered.  One does not exclude the other, but it is interesting to see trends in a different direction even in the midst of the Trecatin landscape.  I’m not sure where or to what degree this ‘new sincerity’ will flourish.  It has had practitioners before, most notably Bas Jan Ader, but even with him it was quick and fleeting.  Maybe things like this can’t hold up as a larger influence but it is refreshing to see and hopefully there will be much more to come.

So, there that is, there is much more missing, many more people, trends and all else that could have been, should have been included in this micro assessment of what is going on in our aesthetic bubble but for now, it’s all I can muster.  Whatever is happening, it is undeniable that it is interesting.  Every generation, every year, every new batch of twentysomethings brings something new and it feels like it is all going to change.  It will in some ways, and it won’t.  The new, the old, it is all relevant and it will continue to feed and pull at each other to create this fantastic time that is now. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

dOCUMENTA (13). Yup, I went there.

This past summer I went to Germany on a trip to see many art sites and one of the focal destinations was dOCUMENTA (13), which is an exhibition of contemporary art set in Kassel Germany and occurs every five years (with some minor hiccups regarding years along the way) and lasts 100 days.  The first documenta was in 1955 and was founded by the curator Arnold Bode and since then, it has had a slew of notable curators.  One curator, who is beloved for captaining this boat of a show, was Harold Szeemann and it is the tales and the aura of his documenta V in which I clung too like a cherished art tale.  So with enthusiasm and with curiosity I went to Kassel with sneakers on and an appetite to be blown away. 

This unfortunately did not happen.  Not only did it not happen, it did the reverse.  It made the whole idea of the exhibition’s largess disheartening and at times infuriating.  Now, it was not all bad.  Nothing this large and dense can be lacking of a few great moments, but the overall was a dire telling of the state of what documenta has become and what it now represents. 

This year’s curator was Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, and one of the show’s themes/thesis/ was to be, “dedicated to artistic research and forms of imagination that explore commitment, matter, things, embodiment, and active living in connection with, yet not subordinated to, theory.” And are set in, “terrains where politics are inseparable from a sensual, energetic, and worldly alliance between current research in various scientific and artistic fields and other knowledges, both ancient and contemporary… driven by a holistic and non-logocentric vision that is skeptical of the persisting belief in economic growth, a vision that is shared with, and recognizes, the shapes and practices of knowing of all the animate and inanimate makers of the world, including people.”  These two adjacent sentences is a taste of the cerebral word flexing that makes my mind go to white noise but one can’t judge a show by the cover letter, the work and the experience of this work is what counts.  

There were some 200 artists included, some whose names ring bells, many others not known to me at all.  These artists are sprinkled and packed into buildings, parks, huts, theatres, caves, railroad stations, woods, and any other crevice that can be made more ‘alive’ with something in it/done to it.  The immensity of the layout is astonishing.  It does really stretch across this faded industrial city and although there is the tourist mecca-ing to this art center, one can tell the city is like a polite host, doing its duty but not that energetically. The layout and all the paraphernalia to help one comprehend and map out dOCUMENTA (13) can be found on its website, go for perusal if you are curious, I’m done remarking on the epics scale, at least in cartographic terms. 

The ‘brain’ of the show is at the Fridericianum which is grand and a great way to start.  There are installations, and displays of various artists and some within were truly great like, Ryan Gander’s I Need Some Meaning I Can Memorise (The Invisible Pull), 2012, in which there is an atrium with nothing but the building’s architecture and there are subtle gusts of cool wind that sweep through it.  Very nice indeed.  Also there was a discovery of the work of Korbinian Aigner’s, Apples, 1912-60s which were drawings of apples he made through hybriding species of other apples.  He was sent to a concentration camp and these drawings and his tale were fascinating.  

There was also an installation in the Fridericianum that was referred to as the “brain” of the show in which there was an assortment of objects and artists linked wonderfully together.  This was very well done and it held up like the serious stuff of natural history museums or archeological findings of culture.  Standouts in this were Judith Hopf whose white mask forms were wonderful and also Lee Miller’s documentary war photographs of WWII and her personal relationships and being a muse.  There was a lot in the Fridericianum and it did work quite well, but there was already at the end of viewing it, a sense of weight.  There was a forced density, a too directed way of seeing and thinking and framing that had me a bit nervous about the rest of it, but leaving it, I was still excited of what was to come.  

Next day, (documenta can not be done in a day, or even two). Was set off with vigor to see the lay of the land and to see what else was in store.  This is when things turn ugly.  In the movie theatre there was a Trisha Donnely’s, Untitled, 2012-ongoing, film piece that was pretty and quite and nice in a way but a whole theatre? Just this?  It was forced poetics that didn’t warrant the context.  Then on the side streets there were smaller buildings, some dilapidated and used for that purpose which had projects by single artists.  One that I was looking forward to experiencing was the Tino Seghal’s This Variation, 2012, which everyone was raving about.  You enter a derelict building’s small passage that opens to a not well-tended dirt, fire pit area and then to the left there is a very dark room and you can hear sounds coming from within.  You enter and your eyes have to adjust mightily and there are other people there and there are performers singing, moving, dancing, and talking.  It was interesting at first, the way that disembodied voices and shuffles make you feel more then displaced.  But then you settle in and what the performers were saying and how they were talking was inflected with the worst sort of political dialogue and obviousness.

There were many more things seen nearby but the two of note was Paul Chan’s, Volumes, 2012 installation in a small shop that had paintings of book covers then squares of color blocking out where a title or an image would be.  This installation was quite nice.  Also nearby in a small building were paintings by Francis Alÿs, Untitled, 2012, which were nice works in themselves but somehow seemed too safe, too perfected in their disjunction of installation and subject matter. 

Then off to the bomb shelter which was a hoof of a way down the hill and there was Allora & Calzadilla’s, Raptor’s Rapture, 2012 piece in which you have to first don a hard hat and then you go inside the bomb shelter, a.k.a. a cave in the side of a cliff, and there you watch a video of the first instrument known to man, (a replica of course) made from a bird’s bone.  The woman who was attempting to play it was a master musician so her inability to play anything pleasing to human ears was even more evidence of the vastness of our primordial and current selves.  This was very nice to watch but a cave? A bomb shelter? Hard hats?  Too much I say.  Walking back into the center of town you do get to see a bit more of Kassel and it has lovely foliage and grass and the flowers were at their height. 

There are other larger buildings that act as hubs and one was the Neue National Gallery, which had probably one of the best pieces in the entire show.  It was by Geoffrey Farmer, Leaves of Grass, 2012, which was a sculpture, collage, timeline sourced from Life magazine.  They were cut outs of images from 1935 to 1985 in chronological order on a very long skinny table and the images were on various sized thin wooden sticks and the effect was wonderful and walking down made you grasp all the density of humanity in a filmic/non filmic way.  Really superb.  There were other works that caught the eye but most were so heavy handed in their histrionics that it seemed like a blur.

In some of the other buildings notable works included Kadar Attia’s, The Repair of Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures, 2012 installation of archived images of African tribes and books and the history of these and the iconography of these tribes, this was very good political art.  Also the inclusion and introduction (to me) of Llyn Foulkes was worth a lot, even though he felt out of place in the general vibe of the show.  He being masterfully crude and goofy while others were most decidedly self-aware.  The last of the works that stuck to me was Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s Alter Bahnhof Video Walk, 2012, a piece at the rail station that had the viewer/participant take an iphone with video pre-uploaded and headphones and then walk around the station, that was recently videoed, and tour the space and navigate one’s self in the physicality of the space and the tales and history of the station.  It had a nasal NPR drone in some ways but it really was stunning and very well done.  This is actually the piece that I think is the most successful of the whole exhibition as it includes this self inflicted necessity of politics and history, especially of Kassel, but it does it in a way that seems invigorated by the site specificity of it. 

Oh yeah, there was a park, a giant freaking park that had a lot of great artists in it but they were in these huts and these huts were like visiting Disneyland for the culturally inured.  Why this is a formula for anything, I have no idea.  The park had a few good moments of course, but the most joy I had in it was taking pictures of all the art watchers passed out from exhaustion on the lawn and getting an ice cream and sitting on the fancy documenta emblazoned lawn chair and pretending I was a character in a novel. 

As I have remarked quickly in the above, the exhibition as a whole was indebted to a focus of the political and also a disbursement of form but their was an incessant heavy-handedness to specific politics that felt like forced tautology.  Nazis, WWII, books, globalism, texts, words, and more books, were constantly being pummeled as reference and focus into one’s eyes and brain.  This felt not like a straightforward acknowledgement of this near past but a vulgar fetishism in a way.  It was trying to purge and to tell things so forcefully honest and revealed about the politics and histories of a place that it became the legitimizing core for the work, even if the work was not compelling, visually interesting or conducive to additional thoughts upon the matter.  This to me is the grievous failure of dOCUMENTA (13).  Many works and most of the exhibition felt like assignments on a theme, a theme that was left too vague to ever be proven or disproved.  It felt like the works were like filing cards, shuffled and stacked and sometimes crumpled to make a house of cards that when complete is impressive to see standing but is really built on no foundation. 

Is this what has become of documenta?  Yes, but it is shouldn’t have been such a surprise because times are different, we are not living in the 1950s, 60s or 70s anymore.  The need for coalescence of artists, ideas, and all else no longer has the necessity and the revelation it once had.  As a historical event, it is wonderful and I never wish it to not happen but it should embrace the world, as it exists versus forcing restoration of its past glory.  I do not fault the curator, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev solely for this, five years is a long time, it is even longer in today’s pace and connectedness and the vagueness and the openness is a requisite to the function of compiling such a show but there has to be, there had to be, a better way of going about it. No?  The frustration I have with dOCUMENTA (13) is that I wanted it to be a success.  Yes, there are always bad parts in anything, nothing this monstrous can ever be perfect, but there was barely any spirit, life, representation or reference to the real world, out there, or about the role art can really have in the world.

In the end, I am glad that I went to Kassle Germany, that I went to dOCUMENTA (13).  Now I can know what they are speaking of when I read the glories of this show in the past and can also imagine the settings of the incarnations of its future.  Shows like this are relics.  They are relics but we hold on to them and want them to continue because we all want to have tradition and accumulative history and markers of greatness.  Hopefully next time, or the time after that, those in the positions of power; the investors, gainers, curators and organizers will stop fixating on it being just the next ‘documenta’ and that in itself being enough.  Hopefully someday, someone, the institutions, the art world at large will let it be a documenta that reflects art and the world as it is and how can be.