Monday, June 18, 2018

Why Does MoMA PS1 Feel Like Geopolitical Haunted House?


Zhang Huan, To Add One Meter to an Anonymous Mountain, 1995 (P.S. Instagram removed this image from my 'stories' because they said didn't meet community guidelines. W.T.F.?)

Some gal pals and I wanted to have a nice outing together so we went to MoMA PS1 yesterday to beat the scorching heat with art viewing and conviviality. It started out nicely, it was hot and we wanted to have cold drinks of lemonade and ice water while waiting for the final member of our party. We ordered some delish fried rice to share from M. Wells (one of the few ‘museum’ eateries I don’t mind shilling out money for) and refreshed ourselves for art viewing.

We gathered, ate, chatted and then headed in.

We were not prepared.

First we saw the Reza Abdoh show. It focuses on the life/works of the Iranian/American playwright and it was a bit cacophonous. In his will, the artist requested that his works never be re-performed so following those wishes, it was mostly an archive show. The curators split up the rooms in a strange, maze like manner. The walls followed a timeline that was a bit chaotic to read and focus on but you could snip in here and there to get a sense of Abdoh’s life, art and influences without too much strain. There were videos too, some small on boxy TVs, others were re-showing stage productions on giant projection screens. There was a type of erraticism and violence to Abdoh’s work and the time of their making, late 80s, early 90s, was one ravaged with the AIDS crisis, (Abdoh died of AIDS himself in 1995). In his works, the body was site and articulation of trauma, mythology, and exegesis. It was not my type of thing but I could understand its importance in the history of avant-garde theatre and the reflection of its time and the biography of Abdoh. Nonetheless leaving the winding, saturated space and installation design left me, and the group, feeling a bit rattled, perhaps in a good way but it was one of those shows that felt unrelenting and a bit demanding.

We crossed over to see the works by Julia Phillips whose minimal install and surgical, crisp sculptures registered as more serene at first glance. But wait…as you look at the works a creeping horror settles in. The works are made of ceramics, metals and touches here and there of color. They show the body, or the absence of the body, and entrapments of restraint. Bondage fetishism meets a Sade poem was the vibe. They are light, quiet but there is a sense of screaming trauma that seeped a residue throughout the objects. It was a contained type of horror but there were just enough clues and negative spaces to leave your imagination to conjure dark, sadistic storylines. It left me feeling unsettled and wriggling physically. It was a clean razorblade compared to Abdoh’s fleshy excrement but still, it was a double whammy of unease that we all weren’t prepared for.

We braced ourselves for more.

Next was a bunch of rooms that seemed sporadic and uneventful but what made me a bit annoyed about it all was that it felt like a checklist of artists from ‘other’ places to somehow fill and meet some ‘otherness’ quota. Iran, Mexico, India, Korea, represented in slight and uninteresting ways that felt not only insincere but also token in the worst way.

This trend was continued but with more success with the installation of Fernando Palma Rodriguez. A Mexican artist, his work had a bit of an exoticised gaze but they were lighter in that there was humor and fun along with all the concept heavy references. His use of kinetics and robotics, especially at the time of the works making, was especially nice to see. But even here the heavy hand of geo-political spectre loomed and while that fits and is necessary for his work, the surrounding environment of the other shows almost diminished these works necessity. He should have been given more space and room to unravel and get messy but in his terms not that of the institutions.

This was even further compounded by Sue Coe’s show. For those who know her work, you can only expect a type of discomfiting reflecting back of the terror that is capitalism and while it is so-so-so important to have work by someone like Coe continually represented, it was the last thing one wanted to see after work after work, room after room that felt like art slaughter houses in themselves.

The reason why we went to PS1 in the first place was to see Seth Price’s installation, Danny, Mila, Hannah, Ariana, Bob, Brad. He is a charismatic and levitation-pulling artist and his installation of heroic abstractions of skin scans as light boxes was perhaps the easiest to digest at the museum but it was still heavy. Five very big vertical scans that uses surgical microscopes, satellite technologies and beauty level editing creates works that are nervy and sort of squeamish. The scale and the composition reminded me of people like Barnett Newman and Gerhard Richter. Newman’s zips and Richter’s grandiose trauma. The texturing and the crazy surface detail made me think tree, sequoia, and morgue. It was poetic enough to feel serious but it felt like a singular gesture, one idea, one piece, which is fine but we were left thirsty for more.

Lastly we saw the installation of Zhang Huan and Li Binyuan, Chinese artists from two generations who work with the body and performance. The works of Huan, mostly done in the 90s, is really great. There is a wonderful poetry and connection to the land, history and politics that is subtle but direct. One work, To Add One Meter to an Anonymous Mountain, 1995, in which artists strip naked on a mountain, get weighed and then pile on top of each other to make another human flesh mountain was beautiful while also feeling triggering in it’s visual comparatives. Binyuan is a younger artist working today who uses his own body to speak about land, history and politics as well, but his feels too clever, too overwrought, too ‘Intro To Performance Class,’ as one of within my group described. Why there needed to be such a pairing, I’m not sure. Huan’s work would have sufficed and should have been given room to retain a poetics versus being forced into a storyline of Chinese ‘performance art history’ and ‘nowness.’

After leaving the museum, we sat outside in the heat and tried to re-balance ourselves. We all felt wrung out from all the dark art and heavy-handed spacing of it all. It is so important to show difficult work and to show artists that are not white, male, and from the USA, but there was an almost insecure overdoing it here and that makes one suspect.

Why is PS1 trying so hard to represent? Is it guilt? Is it a form of checking off to balance the rest of the year that passed or is to come? Is it following the now favorite trend of accelerating POC representation to appear like they ‘get it?’ Whatever it is, it didn’t work and it wasn’t done with a level of integrity and thoroughness that is required to enable dialogue and discovery. Curation! It’s not just an isolated room, and especially for a space like PS1 there is a sense of exhibitions being housed in a shared space together. There needs to be more care so that difficult art can have room to be absorbed versus feeling like a bludgeon to the head, over and over again.

I’m really glad that institutions are trying to rectify the disparities in the art world but please, please, please don’t patronize. Don’t just slot in. It’s bad for the organization, the artist, art in general and all the conversations and difficult topics that need/must be discussed.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Toxic Men and Their Guise of Empathy

 
Is there something in the water that is making men such jerks lately? No. It’s not the water. It is the way things are, have been, and seems to be forever stuck in. The phrase ‘toxic masculinity’ has been being bandied about, and it’s a good thing that it is, but there are levels here to explore. It’s not just the sexually harassing, machismo bro culture of over there that needs to be stripped bare but the more passive, yet still as pervasive, toxicity that is in the ‘arty’ guy, the ‘empathic’ guy, the ‘woke’ (gag word) guy.

Who, what, do I mean? No one in particular, well actually an accumulation of particulars that are a big globby mass, but what I’m thinking about regarding men, and frankly angered by, is due a lot of my female friends and the horrible things they are having to endure by partners, ex-partners, soon to be ex-partners, and generally the men in their lives be it family, work, or sphere of friends.

I am in the art world, they are in the art world, and many of the males involved in these conflicts are in it too, or at least adjacent to it, and they are generally liberal, open minded, conscientious, all that crap. To be a member of these types of communities there is a sense of standard of politics when it comes to civil liberties, racism, things like that, but wow is it far from what it should be for sexism and power and control structures between hetero-normative male/female relationships.

So many men who are in these communities are seen as ‘sweet,’ getting ‘it,’ and ‘allies’ (as they like to say these days), but in fact there is so much hypocrisy in what they preach/align themselves with and how they actually live/treat women.

Example: How can you call yourself an ally when you gaslight your partner and use the rhetoric of oppression to make yourself the victim yet having ultimate control of not only the communication channels and emotional tone but also physical space and objects?

Example: How can you call yourself an ally when you require a certain type of interaction, mostly based on ‘fun,’ ‘supporting you’ and ‘making things easy’ while you push away any requirement of deep conversation and dialogue on topics that might not pertain to you directly or may be difficult subjects?

Example: How can you call yourself an ally when you don’t recognize that being –blank-blank-blank- puts you in a position of power and privilege and that while no, you don't have to apologize for that, you should understand that as a fact and to be aware of how it may be different for those that are not?

These are all very basic examples. And to any women reading this, I think we have all experienced this by a male. We of course experience it in the world at large but we also experience it in the clusters of safe spaces, networks and peers we thought was ‘on our side.’ When this happens it is infuriating and also scary.  Who can we trust? Are we a part of allowing these things to keep occurring? How do we get out of this?

The masked empathy man is sinister because they use the language and the community of peers to perform a type of masculinity that feels evolved, safer. Then it happens—when they get slighted, offended, hurt, or rejectedthen you are facing a stranger but one who has intimate access to your safe zones and your mental/emotional landscape.

The sense of fear towards this type of man is one that has been relayed to me by many female friends of late and that makes my heartbreak. But I get it. I too, and probably every women reading this, has had an experience(s) in which they have to go into triage mode of escape, protect, and get reinforcements of support against the aggrieved male.

What is also infuriating is that the ‘community’ in which you are supposed to feel a part of and safe within many times lets you down. Male on male indiscretion/calling out is a socialized no-no and it really messes it up for the rest of us. That’s why many times women have to reach out and stick with other women on an island of self-preservation when the aggrieved male lashes out.

Other Men: Help us, do something about it. Believe us, and again, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

We all need to support each other. We all need to feel like we do have life rafts in the drama, craze of life. We all need to feel safe, valued, and cared for.

This isn’t an, ‘I hate men,’ post. Yes, I’m really angry because I just can’t stand how often and how much this is happening to those I care for, but it’s also about taking responsibility. Having those hard conversations with others and ourselves about how things truly are and how we can change them.

I’m sick of it and I want all those men with empathy masks out there to know that it’s not enough to just act the act. We will see through it, it will crack. Hopefully one day all that anger, toxicity and everything else that makes you so violent towards women can be appeased, lessened and hopefully you can find a form of peace. Until then, we are pissed, we are ready for you and even if it’s only women supporting other women at the moment, it will change. We will make it change.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Talent



I’ve been thinking about the idea of talent lately. Being friends with ‘creatives’ inevitably makes you surrounded by them. Of course people in the art world are supposed to be talented in some way. Making things, thinking things, all that, but the talent I’m talking about is the private, underused type.

People who play instruments, people who make clothes, people who make things for their apartment or friends. There skills are personal  and private for  oneself or a small circle of people.

It’s astonishing how talented people are sometimes. It’s like a type of magic that they possess and one that I crave and want to witness. It is at times exchangeable but mostly it is discreet. Sometimes people capitalize on it and sometimes that works but most times it doesn’t but I guess it’s all okay regardless.

I’ve been thinking about why I don’t feel talented. I mean, I know I am not a total slouch but I can’t play instruments, sing songs, speak in multiple languages etc... I basically suck up and observe the talent around me. I surround myself with talented people like an obese salon owner of Parisian lore.

But there is no glamour in the role of the observer. There is only the idea of audience. I love watching, experiencing and if possible, supporting those with talent. It makes me feel of some use but it’s really not enough is it?

I’m not sure why I don’t want to be ‘producer’ or ‘learner’ in that way. I could do it if I wanted to, but I don’t. I guess it goes back to my mix of apathy and desire to not add more noise and material presence in the world.

Shrinking. I feel like that’s the anti talent. To make one minute, invisible, transparent. There is a beauty to that but perhaps more spiteful and insecure than anything else.

There is something heartbreaking when you see someone do something that is with great talent and sincerity. When it is being done for reasons unknown and unspecified. It’s a type of sharing that makes the system of things feel lighter and less contrived.

But then there are the show offs, the one’s who try too hard and it’s all okay really but ya, it’s tiresome in its own right.

What am I babbling about? I’m not sure. All I know is that I feel like I am bursting with creativity with no avenue, that I’m surrounded by so many talented people that it feels something must be done about it.They must be recognized, seen.

This see-saw of lack/abundance has me a bit flummoxed. I’m happy to bare witness to it and to possibly be motivated. We shall see.

To all those who have hidden or underused talents, go forth and do it! Share it! And if you don’t want to, that’s fine. But we need it. We all do in order to feel like things are possible and beautiful.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Burn It All Down: Yukio Mishima



I didn’t blog yesterday. I don’t want to blog today. Below is something on Yukio Mishima. If you don’t know/have read his work before, you should.


Yukio Mishima: Saints and seppuku
By Damian Flanagan


In March 1937, an official in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Azusa Hiraoka, traveled to Europe on government business and acquired some guides to Italian museums.

Prudishly fearing, however, that his 12-year-old son might be exposed to the depictions of female nudes contained within, he hid the books in a closet in the family home in Tokyo. One day, his son Kimitake — a bright, fragile boy — was off school sick and discovered the books.

A decade later, Kimitake — following in his father’s footsteps — was himself working as a bureaucrat. Since the age of 16 he had also been prolifically publishing stories and novels, but at the age of 23 decided to risk everything by resigning from his job and penning a single autobiographical novel.

It was the moment at the beginning of that novel when Kimitake described his childish self leafing through the pages of those art books that would create an electrifying, unforgettable scene of Japanese literature.

For it was not the female nudes but a painting by Guido Reni from the Palazzo Rosso in Genoa of the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian — an almost naked man, tied to a tree, his flesh impaled with arrows from the soldiers executing him — that had an overwhelming impact.

Kimitake — writing “Confessions of a Mask” under his pseudonym Yukio Mishima — described the painting as stirring his deepest sexual imagination. Shaped by years of near imprisonment as a young child in his grandmother’s room — Mishima had until the age of 12 lived with his controlling grandmother and only just returned to his parents’ home — and already stimulated by sado-masochistic images of seppuku and death, he described how this image caused him to suddenly masturbate and experience his first “ejaculatio.”

Mishima’s account of his explosive seminal interaction with Western painting stood as an embodiment of the stimulation received from the visual arts on modern Japanese literature, tout court. But there was something quintessentially Mishima-esque about the nature of this encounter. This was literature not as with Soseki, Kawabata and others — as explained in the previous parts of this series — in quest of objective reflections of an external reality to provide new ways of seeing, but as a volcanic descent into deep-seated, taboo desire.

The execution of Saint Sebastian became a defining image that would haunt and inspire Mishima’s imagination, but it was not the only one. In early adolescence Mishima had also discovered Aubrey Beardsley’s illustrations of Oscar Wilde’s play “Salome,” showing erotic, stylized images of Salome holding the severed head of John the Baptist.
For the rest of his life, Mishima constantly returned to these two visual images. When in late 1951 Mishima departed on his first round-the-world trip, he made it his business to see both a performance of Richard Strauss’ “Salome” in New York and to view paintings by Guido Reni of Saint Sebastian in the Capitoline Museum in Rome.

In 1960, in what he declared was the culmination of a lifetime ambition, he managed to put a production of “Salome” on the Tokyo stage and in 1965-66 he spent an entire year taking French lessons so he could read and help translate Gabriele D’Annunzio’s play “The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian” into Japanese.

In 1968, he even famously posed — showing off his bulked-up bodybuilder’s physique — as Saint Sebastian in a loincloth, impaled with arrows in a series of photographs by Kishin Shinoyama.

In 1956, Mishima published his famous novel “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion,” based on a real-life event, in which he depicted a Buddhist acolyte so obsessed with the powerful visual image formed in his imagination of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto that he eventually sets it on fire to liberate himself. Yet the visual images that haunted Mishima’s imagination were not that of the Golden Pavilion, but of Saint Sebastian, seppuku and Salome.

Crucially, Saint Sebastian was a powerful fable of eternal life. Mishima relates how Sebastian was a beautiful youth who mysteriously appeared from the sea, became captain of the Praetorian Guard, was persecuted for his religious beliefs, but when seemingly killed by his executioners, had been brought back to life. To observe Mishima in the final years of his life is to witness him transforming himself into a Saint Sebastian figure: He formed his own private army and made himself captain of it and spouted political beliefs that aroused huge hostility from mainstream commentators. He devoted himself to the composition of his “life work,” “The Sea of Fertility” — a four-volume novel describing the apparent repeated reincarnation of its young protagonist, which opens the final volume with an extraordinary, lengthy description of human-less seascapes.

The day in 1970 Mishima chose for his death — Nov. 25 — was the same date that he commenced writing “Confessions of a Mask.” On that morning, Mishima left behind on his desk a final note: “Human life is short, but I wish to live forever.” After he and four of his army cadets took a general hostage at an army base in Ichigaya, Mishima strutted out onto a balcony to address the 1,000 men of the base. The bored, bewildered servicemen hailed Mishima with a barrage of abuse, calling him an idiot and worse. This was Mishima’s true Saint Sebastian moment: standing in his captain’s uniform, bombarded with arrows of abuse. Then Mishima returned inside and commenced his seppuku, before being beheaded by one of his attendants. The morning finished, Salome-like, with Mishima’s severed head on the carpet.

Most commentaries on Mishima only see the Japanese side of his spectacular death. But the seppuku was also the segue between the realization of the two visual arts images that had dominated Mishima’s imagination all his life.

The power of the visual arts on the Japanese literary imagination — one of the most important but largely unknown stories in modern literature — had produced its own spectacular visual event, the defining counter-cultural image of postwar Japanese history.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Let’s Talk About Community



Community. It is a word that is weighted by its speaker and the context in which it is being deployed/employed. It can be a sickly word with its feel good, buzz kill, self-righteousness or it can be irony clad or proof with a hairline ability to tip one way or the other. It is a word and an idea that I have been noticing, thinking about, and at times participating in and it has me wondering things.

In the art world, the idea of community is its own breed. It’s a boring idea to me in most aspects, we all know the tropes and the coding that goes along with it, but recently I felt it wiggle a bit. I was working with/around an artist collective and it was interesting to see their need, desire, and sometimes surrender to this idea of community. The process of wanting to collaborate but for the sake of equilibrium or perhaps erasure of the ego/self.

Hard to do, fraught perhaps, but there was a sweetness to the intention. Of even the desire to try to put into some legible practice all those theories of Marxism et al. that inspire and prescript a form of ‘change’ yet have little proof or even attempt.

These efforts made me think about the general art landscape and the ‘communities’ that exist and if those are shifting. When thinking about the how, why, and if about this question, I return to the idea of money (it’s always related to money).

The structure of money and the idea of a career have shifted a lot in the past 10 years or so. The ‘gig’ economy, the digital nomadic freelancer, the idea of home being more about the flexibility of the body versus specificity of a geo-location, has upended the bounding boxes of interaction and place.

This elasticity makes us more able to merge and dissipate with casual or focused ease but it also perhaps alienates, thus making us want to stick together even if sometimes that is only through the digital thread of social media intimacies.

Earlier today I was reading an article in The New Yorker about the video game Fortnite. There too you are windowed into a world, mostly inhabited by young people, in which the idea of community is also expressed. It’s a different kind, one that feels perhaps alien to those too old to wrap our minds around the nourishment of this type of connection, but it is here and it will only become the norm and the foundational experience points of this idea of community.

As a species we can only truly be healthy if we are socialized and around others. Isolation is the greatest killer. But how can we/do we function in a healthy way (or what are even the healthy ways?) in which to do this in this art world, in this city, in this time, in this whole system of things? Is there a way in which you can be a part of a community when the foundations are ever shifting, ever expanding, and ever engulfing oneself to become a singular mass?

The visualization and the texture of ‘flattening out’ has been the pervading image in my mind for sometime when thinking about the state of things. Everything doesn’t feel accelerated, it feels hyper extended and thin. Like some sort of membrane that never snaps. In this state, the desire and I think actual need, to create or feel a part of a community, in whatever form, is so important. It’s like a little cluster sack in this larger ever expanding mesh of ‘the way things are’ that makes us remember we are organic.

Maybe the biggest shift I’ve been seeing/feeling is that some of the hard edged cynicism and irony that has been the vogue for so long is less utilized. The meme is like news, the news are like memes, the revelation of the deep/hidden meaning of things is all right at the surface so there isn’t the need for social/cultural arbiters to translate anymore. The defensiveness towards sincerity is lessened. Perhaps many times this takes on the form of apathy or ennui but I think it at least gives some potential for shifts and pivots to occur in the way we approach all of this living thing.

Community. I’m not a joiner; I’m not too sure about it all. I’m not into collectives, I’m not into cliques, but there is something in the air that feels both desperate and necessary and to understand a thing, you have to well, at least be open and possibly even participate.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Look At This Image. Read This Story

Protesters along Israel’s border with Gaza, left. Also on Monday, President Trump’s daughter Ivanka, pictured with the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, attended the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem. CreditMahmud Hams, Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


I was going to write some thoughts on performance/performativity based off the experience of watching a play this past weekend but earlier today I was gripped by the above image and I can’t seem to think about much else.

The pictures are from this morning. One is showing the Palestinian protests and the air bombing that Israel is showering over them. The other is Ivanka Trump and Steven Mnuchin, celebrating the opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

They are connected of course, the protests are in some part due to this exacerbating relocation, but the timing of this is also in conjunction with larger protests, Nekba, when Palestinians were displaced 70 years ago. Prior to today, protests have already been going on for a week or so for this anniversary and 19 were already killed. As of the writing of this post, 50 plus Palestinians have been reported to be killed.

Timing is everything. The juxtaposition of these images is so stark and so dissolving that it almost feels blank. Like we have become so attuned to the absurdity of the spectacle and the transparent accessibilities to violence and oppression that the sub-narratives feel too revealed. Everything is laid too bare and thus we find no relish in the exposure of false or contradictory narratives.

But this is real. As much as we think the mediation of the image, of events, of histories being malleable, each archive is a part of the truth even if the whole can never been understood, seen or remembered.

Looking at this image made my stomach hurt, a gut punch of inevitably. A surrender to the absurdity and the travesty of all of it.

The history of the Middle East and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict runs deep, hard, and still is bleeding and I’m not siding but I implore you to look at this image. Understand the truths and the realities we have laid out before us and then try to understand or at least try to find compassion.

This image made me think about this short story I read the other month with my Reading Group.

It’s a hard/sad story that might mess you up a little after reading so reader be warned.


Ursula Le Guin
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

With a clamor of bells that set the swallows soaring, the Festival of Summer came to the city Omelas, bright-towered by the sea. The rigging of the boats in harbor sparkled with flags. In the streets between houses with red roofs and painted walls, between old moss-grown gardens and under avenues of trees, past great parks and public buildings, processions moved. Some were decorous: old people in long stiff robes of mauve and grey, grave master workmen, quiet, merry women carrying their babies and chatting as they walked. In other streets the music beat faster, a shimmering of gong and tambourine, and the people went dancing, the procession was a dance. Children dodged in and out, their high calls rising like the swallows' crossing flights over the music and the singing. All the processions wound towards the north side of the city, where on the great water-meadow called the Green Fields boys and girls, naked in the bright air, with mud-stained feet and ankles and long, lithe arms, exercised their restive horses before the race. The horses wore no gear at all but a halter without bit. Their manes were braided with streamers of silver, gold, and green. They flared their nostrils and pranced and boasted to one another; they were vastly excited, the horse being the only animal who has adopted our ceremonies as his own. Far off to the north and west the mountains stood up half encircling Omelas on her bay. The air of morning was so clear that the snow still crowning the Eighteen Peaks burned with white-gold fire across the miles of sunlit air, under the dark blue of the sky. There was just enough wind to make the banners that marked the racecourse snap and flutter now and then. In the silence of the broad green meadows one could hear the music winding through the city streets, farther and nearer and ever approaching, a cheerful faint sweetness of the air that from time to time trembled and gathered together and broke out into the great joyous clanging of the bells.

Joyous! How is one to tell about joy? How describe the citizens of Omelas?

They were not simple folk, you see, though they were happy. But we do not say the words of cheer much any more. All smiles have become archaic. Given a description such as this one tends to make certain assumptions. Given a description such as this one tends to look next for the King, mounted on a splendid stallion and surrounded by his noble knights, or perhaps in a golden litter borne by great-muscled slaves. But there was no king. They did not use swords, or keep slaves. They were not barbarians. I do not know the rules and laws of their society, but I suspect that they were singularly few. As they did without monarchy and slavery, so they also got on without the stock exchange, the advertisement, the secret police, and the bomb. Yet I repeat that these were not simple folk, not dulcet shepherds, noble savages, bland utopians. They were not less complex than us. The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can't lick 'em, join 'em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe a happy man, nor make any celebration of joy. How can I tell you about the people of Omelas? They were not naive and happy children- though their children were, in fact, happy. They were mature, intelligent, passionate adults whose lives were not wretched. O miracle! but I wish I could describe it better. I wish I could convince you. Omelas sounds in my words like a city in a fairy tale, long ago and far away, once upon a time. Perhaps it would be best if you imagined it as your own fancy bids, assuming it will rise to the occasion, for certainly I cannot suit you all. For instance, how about technology? I think that there would be no cars or helicopters in and above the streets; this follows from the fact that the people of Omelas are happy people. Happiness is based on a just discrimination of what is necessary, what is neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive. In the middle category, however- that of the unnecessary but undestructive, that of comfort, luxury, exuberance, etc.--they could perfectly well have central heating, subway trains, washing machines, and all kinds of marvelous devices not yet invented here, floating light-sources, fuelless power, a cure for the common cold. Or they could have none of that; it doesn't matter. As you like it. I incline to think that people from towns up and down the coast have been coming in to Omelas during the last days before the Festival on very fast little trains and double-decked trams, and that the train station of Omelas is actually the handsomest building in town, though plainer than the magnificent Farmers' Market. But even granted trains, I fear that Omelas so far strikes some of you as goody-goody. Smiles, bells, parades, horses, bleh. If so, please add an orgy. If an orgy would help, don't hesitate. Let us not, however, have temples from which issue beautiful nude priests and priestesses already half in ecstasy and ready to copulate with any man or woman, lover or stranger, who desires union with the deep godhead of the blood, although that was my first idea. But really it would be better not to have any temples in Omelas- at least, not manned temples. Religion yes, clergy no. Surely the beautiful nudes can just wander about, offering themselves like divine soufflés to the hunger of the needy and the rapture of the flesh. Let them join the processions. Let tambourines be struck above the copulations, and the glory of desire be proclaimed upon the gongs, and (a not unimportant point) let the offspring of these delightful rituals be beloved and looked after by all. One thing I know there is none of in Omelas is guilt. But what else should there be? I thought at first there were not drugs, but that is puritanical. For those who like it, the faint insistent sweetness of drooz may perfume the ways of the city, drooz which first brings a great lightness and brilliance to the mind and limbs, and then after some hours a dreamy languor, and wonderful visions at last of the very arcana and inmost secrets of the Universe, as well as exciting the pleasure of sex beyond belief; and it is not habit-forming. For more modest tastes I think there ought to be beer. What else, what else belongs in the joyous city? The sense of victory, surely, the celebration of courage. But as we did without clergy, let us do without soldiers. The joy built upon successful slaughter is not the right kind of joy; it will not do; it is fearful and it is trivial. A boundless and generous contentment, a magnanimous triumph felt not against some outer enemy but in communion with the finest and fairest in the souls of all men everywhere and the splendor of the world's summer: this is what swells the hearts of the people of Omelas, and the victory they celebrate is that of life. I really don't think many of them need to take drooz.

Most of the procession have reached the Green Fields by now. A marvelous smell of cooking goes forth from the red and blue tents of the provisioners. The faces of small children are amiably sticky; in the benign grey beard of a man a couple of crumbs of rich pastry are entangled. The youths and girls have mounted their horses and are beginning to group around the starting line of the course. An old women, small, fat, and laughing, is passing out flowers from a basket, and tall young men where her flowers in their shining hair. A child of nine or ten sits at the edge of the crowd, alone, playing on a wooden flute. People pause to listen, and they smile, but they do not speak to him, for he never ceases playing and never sees them, his dark eyes wholly rapt in the sweet, thin magic of the tune.

He finishes, and slowly lowers his hands holding the wooden flute.

As if that little private silence were the signal, all at once a trumpet sounds from the pavilion near the starting line: imperious, melancholy, piercing. The horses rear on their slender legs, and some of them neigh in answer. Sober-faced, the young riders stroke the horses' necks and soothe them, whispering, "Quiet, quiet, there my beauty, my hope...." They begin to form in rank along the starting line. The crowds along the racecourse are like a field of grass and flowers in the wind. The Festival of Summer has begun. Do you believe?

Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy? No? Then let me describe one more thing.

In a basement under one of the beautiful public buildings of Omelas, or perhaps in the cellar of one of its spacious private homes, there is a room. It has one locked door, and no window. A little light seeps in dustily between cracks in the boards, secondhand from a cobwebbed window somewhere across the cellar. In one corner of the little room a couple of mops, with stiff, clotted, foul-smelling heads stand near a rusty bucket. The floor is dirt, a little damp to the touch, as cellar dirt usually is. The room is about three paces long and two wide: a mere broom closet or disused tool room. In the room a child is sitting. It could be a boy or a girl. It looks about six, but actually is nearly ten. It is feeble-minded. Perhaps it was born defective, or perhaps it has become imbecile through fear, malnutrition, and neglect. It picks its nose and occasionally fumbles vaguely with its toes or genitals, as it sits hunched in the corner farthest from the bucket and the two mops. It is afraid of the mops. It finds them horrible. It shuts its eyes, but it knows the mops are still standing there; and the door is locked; and nobody will come. The door is always locked; and nobody ever comes, except that sometimes- the child has no understanding of time or interval- sometimes the door rattles terribly and opens, and a person, or several people, are there. One of them may come in and kick the child to make it stand up. The others never come close, but peer in at it with frightened, disgusted eyes. The food bowl and the water jug are hastily filled, the door is locked, the eyes disappear. The people at the door never say anything, but the child, who has not always lived in the tool room, and can remember sunlight and its mother's voice, sometimes speaks. "I will be good," it says. "Please let me out. I will be good!" They never answer. The child used to scream for help at night, and cry a good deal, but now it only makes a kind of whining, "eh-haa, eh-haa," and it speaks less and less often. It is so thin there are no calves to its legs; its belly protrudes; it lives on a half-bowl of corn meal and grease a day. It is naked. Its buttocks and thighs are a mass of festered sores, as it sits in its own excrement continually.

They all know it is there, all the people of Omelas. Some of them have come to see it, others are content merely to know it is there. They all know that it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child's abominable misery.

This is usually explained to children when they are between eight and twelve, whenever they seem capable of understanding; and most of those who come to see the child are young people, though often enough an adult comes, or comes back, to see the child. No matter how well the matter has been explained to them, these young spectators are always shocked and sickened at the sight. They feel disgust, which they had thought themselves superior to. They feel anger, outrage, impotence, despite all the explanations. They would like to do something for the child. But there is nothing they can do. If the child were brought up into the sunlight out of that vile place, if it were cleaned and fed and comforted, that would be a good thing indeed; but if it were done, in that day and hour all the prosperity and beauty and delight of Omelas would wither and be destroyed. Those are the terms. To exchange all the goodness and grace of every life in Omelas for that single, small improvement: to throw away the happiness of thousands for the chance of the happiness of one: that would be to let guilt within the walls indeed.

The terms are strict and absolute; there may not even be a kind word spoken to the child.

Often the young people go home in tears, or in a tearless rage, when they have seen the child and faced this terrible paradox. They may brood over it for weeks or years. But as time goes on they begin to realize that even if the child could be released, it would not get much good of its freedom: a little vague pleasure of warmth and food, no doubt, but little more. It is too degraded and imbecile to know any real joy. It has been afraid too long ever to be free of fear. Its habits are too uncouth for it to respond to humane treatment. Indeed, after so long it would probably be wretched without walls about it to protect it, and darkness for its eyes, and its own excrement to sit in. Their tears at the bitter injustice dry when they begin to perceive the terrible justice of reality, and to accept it. Yet it is their tears and anger, the trying of their generosity and the acceptance of their helplessness, which are perhaps the true source of the splendor of their lives. Theirs is no vapid, irresponsible happiness. They know that they, like the child, are not free. They know compassion. It is the existence of the child, and their knowledge of its existence, that makes possible the nobility of their architecture, the poignancy of their music, the profundity of their science. It is because of the child that they are so gentle with children. They know that if the wretched one were not there sniveling in the dark, the other one, the flute-player, could make no joyful music as the young riders line up in their beauty for the race in the sunlight of the first morning of summer.

Now do you believe in them? Are they not more credible? But there is one more thing to tell, and this is quite incredible.

At times one of the adolescent girls or boys who go to see the child does not go home to weep or rage, does not, in fact, go home at all. Sometimes also a man or woman much older falls silent for a day or two, and then leaves home. These people go out into the street, and walk down the street alone. They keep walking, and walk straight out of the city of Omelas, through the beautiful gates. They keep walking across the farmlands of Omelas. Each one goes alone, youth or girl, man or woman. Night falls; the traveler must pass down village streets, between the houses with yellow-lit windows, and on out into the darkness of the fields. Each alone, they go west or north, towards the mountains. They go on. They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas.

Monday, May 7, 2018

One Sentence Thoughts


David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night opens July 13 at the Whitney

I’m freaky busy. Blah blah, same same. You get one of these bloop posts cause my eyes are dripping out of my head.


Frieze NY – Too big, too boring, too familiar.

Childish Gambino’s New Song – Damnnnnnnnnn, shots fired, feel like there should be an entire collage course on unpacking the video.

Weddings – Feel like everyone is going to them but me, is it me or is it the demographics of my peer group?

Gardens – They seem cool because they have no rules and a lot of dirt.

Art Fairs – Really tried to not be such a grump about them but, yup, I still hate ‘em.

Jeffrey Deitch – What is he up to showing up at all the young kid things?

Gavin Brown Enterprises – Love Arthur Jafa and other artists they show but for the love of god, chill outtttt!

Artists in their mid 30s – Seems like the best look for this moment in time, to be honest.

People in NYC for Art Fairs from Europe – We get it; you went to the Lower East Side and Chinatown.

Working a Job – Seems weird that people are bad at it.

Cooking for 14 people – I must have some sort of issue with wanting to be loved.

Cat Ownership – They are expensive when they have health issues but they deserve it because they are the best creature friends.

Dog Ownership – Their loyalty is a bit unsettling.

Art Students – After you graduate get ready to eat a bunch of shit sandwiches, aka reality that there are thousands of you, but it’s cool, head up.

Still House – Someone mentioned this and then I saw a pottery store with the same name and I smirked cause I’m an asshole.

Butts – Still don’t have one, still wish I did, still don’t care enough to go to the gym.

The Female Orgasm – Been hearing from my lady friends they don’t have these ever or often, wow, my fellow women, hit me up and I will show you the better path.

Babies – They are cute and I want one but they are also the biggest carbon footprint you will ever produce.

Motivational Speeches – If you see me starting one of these, you have the approval to punch me in thigh (the only place a punch won’t kill me).

Hidden Talents – It’s really special when you see a hidden talent by someone you care about.

Overcharging Friends – I will never forget and yes, we are sort of enemies now.

Not Paying The Bill - $400, really everyone?

Caring About Money – I don’t really so the above two are sort of void.

Climbing the Art Ladder – Stop using other people’s connections to get you ahead if you are not cool/down with that person anymore.

Spring Time in NYC – Everyone should make out and have sex.

Ex’s – They should be forced to leave the city and/or turn to a puff of smoke within a 1-mile radius of your current location.

Ring Leader – Someone needs to stop me before I ruin everything around me.

Cleopatra’s Last Show – The best bunch of badass girls.

Real Fine Arts Closing – Sad to infinity and back, thanks guys!

David Wojnarowicz’s Whitney Show – Can’t wait for this show, will be heartbreaking and beautiful!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Michelle Wolf’s Correspondent’s Dinner Transcript



Michelle Wolf blazed the shit out of nearly everyone at the Correspondence Dinner and it was glorious, hysterical and intense. People are freaking out and being way too uptight about it all but yeah, it was bound to happen.

Humor is necessary. Humor is what reveals the truths of things when other methods fail. Watch it if you haven’t already and read the below if you want to absorb it all in at a slower pace.

Zing, ding, ding, Michelle for the win.


All right, this is long, this has been long… yeah. Good evening, good evening, here we are at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Like a porn star says when she’s about to have sex with the Trump, let’s get this over with.

Yep, this is who you’re getting tonight, I’m gonna skip it a lot of the normal pleasantries. We’re at a Hilton: it’s not nice. This is on C-Span, no one watches that. Trump is president, it’s not ideal. The White House Correspondents’ Association, thank you for having me. The monkfish was fine.

Hey, just a reminder to everyone: I’m here to make jokes. I have no agenda. I’m not trying to get anything accomplished, so everyone that’s here from Congress, you should feel right at home.

Now before we get too far, a little bit about me. A lot of you might not know who I am. I’m 32 years old, which is a weird age — 10 years too young to host this event, and 20 years too old for Roy Moore. I know, he almost got elected, yeah. It was fun, it was fun. Honestly I never really thought I’d be a comedian, but I did take an aptitude test in seventh grade —and this is a hundred percent true—I took an aptitude test in seventh grade and it said my best profession was a clown or a mine. Well, at first it said clown, and then it heard my voice and then was like, “Or maybe mine. Think about mime”. And I know as much as some of you might want me to, it’s 2018 and I’m a woman, so you cannot shut me up, unless you have Michael Cohen wire me $130,000. Michael, you can find me on Venmo under my porn star name, Reince Priebus. Reince just gave a thumbs up. Okay.

Now, people are saying America is more divided than ever, but I think no matter what you support politically, we can all agree that this is a great time for craft stores, because of all the protests, poster board has been flying off the shelves faster than Robert Mueller can say “You’ve been subpoenaed.”

Thanks to Trump, pink yarn sales are through the roof. After Trump got elected women started knitting those pussy hats. When I first saw them I was like “That’s a pussy?” I guess mine just has more yarn on it.

Yeah, shoulda done more research before you got me to do this.

Now, there is a lot to cover tonight, there’s a lot to go over. I can’t get to everything. I know there’s a lot of people that want me to talk about Russia and Putin and collusion but I’m not gonna do that because there’s also a lot of liberal media here and I’ve never really wanted to know what any of you look like when you orgasm. Except for maybe you, Jake Tapper. I bet it’s something like this, “Okay, that’s all the time we have” [Applause]

It is kind of crazy the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia when the Hillary campaign wasn’t even in contact with Michigan.

Of course, Trump isn’t here, if you haven’t noticed. He’s not here. And I know, I know, I would drag him here myself, but it turns out the President of the United States is the one pussy you’re not allowed to grab [Applause].

Now, I know people really want me to go after Trump tonight, but I think we should give the president credit when he deserves it. Like, he pulled out of the Paris agreement and I think he should get credit for that cuz he said he was gonna pull out and then he did. And that’s a refreshing quality in a man. Most men are like “I forgot. I’ll get you next time.” Oh, there’s gonna be a next time? When people say romance is dead…
People call Trump names all the time and look, I could call Trump a racist or a misogynist or xenophobic or unstable or incompetent or impotent but he’s heard all of those and he doesn’t care, so tonight I’m gonna try to make fun of the president in a new way, in a way that I think will really get him

Mr. President, I don’t think you’re very rich. Like, I mean, you might be rich in Idaho but in New York you’re doing fine. Trump is the only person that still watches Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and thinks: “Me.” Although I’m not sure he’d get very far. He’d get to, like, the third question and be, like, “I have to phone a ‘Fox and Friend.’ “
We’re gonna try a fun new thing, okay? I’m gonna say “Trump is so broke” and you guys go, “How broke is he?” All right?

Trump is so broke.
[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]
He has to fly failed business class.

Trump is so broke.
[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]
He looked for foreign oil in Don Jr.’s hair.

Trump is so broke.
[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]
He — Southwest used him as one of their engines.
I know, it’s so soon. It’s so soon for that joke. Why did she tell it? It’s so soon.

Trump is so broke.
[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]
He had to borrow money from the Russians, and now he’s compromised and not susceptible to blackmail and possibly responsible for the collapse of the republic.

Yay. It’s a fun game.

Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a ‘white nationalist’ is like calling a pedophile a ‘kid friend,’ or Harvey Weinstein a ‘ladies man,’ which isn’t really fair—he’ll also likes plants.

Trump’s also an idea guy. He’s got loads of ideas, you gotta love him for that. He wants to give teachers guns, and I support that because then they can sell them for things they need, like supplies.

A lot of people want Trump to be impeached. I do not, because just when you think Trump is awful, you remember Mike Pence. Mike Pence is what happens when Anderson Cooper isn’t gay. Mike is the kind of guy that brushes his teeth and then drinks orange juice and thinks “Mmm”. Mike Pence is also very anti-choice. He thinks abortion is murder, which, first of all, don’t knock it till you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you gotta get that baby out of it. And yeah, sure, you can groan all you want, I know a lot of you are very anti-abortion, you know, unless it’s the one you got for your secret mistress. It’s fun how values can waiver. But good for you. Mike Pence is a weirdo though. He’s a weird little guy. He won’t meet with other women without his wife present. When people first heard this, they were like, “That’s crazy.” But now, in this current climate, they’re like, “That’s a good witness”.

Which of course brings me to the #MeToo Movement. It’s probably the reason I’m here. They were like ‘A woman’s probably not gonna jerk off in front of anyone, right?’ And to that I say: Don’t count your chickens. We go on a party.

Now, I’ve worked in a lot of male-dominated fields before comedy. I worked at a tech company and before that I worked on Wall Street and honestly I’ve never really been sexually harassed. That being said, I did work at Bear Stearns in 2008 so, although I haven’t been sexually harassed, I’ve definitely been fucked. Yeah, that whole company went down on me without my consent and no man got in trouble for that one either. No things are changing, men are being held accountable, you know.

Al Franken was ousted. That one really hurt liberals. But I believe it was the great Ted Kennedy who said, ‘Wow! That’s crazy! I murdered a woman!’ Chappaquiddick – in theaters now.

I did have a lot of jokes. I had a lot of jokes about cabinet members but I had to scrap all of those because everyone has been fired. You guys have gone through cabinet members quicker than Starbucks throws out black people. Don’t worry they’re having an afternoon. That’ll solve it. We just needed an afternoon.

Mitch McConnell isn’t here tonight, he had a prior engagement. He’s finally getting his neck circumcised. Mazel.

Paul Ryan also couldn’t make it. Of course he’s already been circumcised, unfortunately why they were down there they also took his balls. Yeah, by fault great acting though in that video.

Republicans aren’t easy to make fun of you know it’s like shooting fish in a Chris Christie. But I also want to make fun of Democrats. Democrats are harder to make fun of because you guys don’t do anything. People think you might flip the House and Senate this November, but you guys always find a way to mess it up. You’re somehow going to lose by 12 points to a guy named Jeff Pedophile Nazi Doctor. Oh he’s a doctor.
We should definitely talk about the women in the Trump administration.

There’s Kellyanne Conway. Man, she has the perfect last name for what she does: Conway. It’s like if my name was Michele jokes frizzy hair small tits. You guys got to stop putting Kellyanne on your shows. All she does is lie. If you don’t give her a platform she has nowhere to lie. It’s like that old saying, if a tree falls in the woods how do we get Kellyanne under that tree? I’m not suggesting she gets hurt just stuck under a tree incidentally a tree falls in the woods and Scott Pruitt’s definition of porn. Yeah, we all have our kinks.

There’s also, of course, Ivanka. She was supposed to be an advocate for women, but it turns out she’s about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons. She’s done nothing to satisfy women. So I guess like father like daughter. Oh you don’t think he’s good in bed, come on! She does clean up nice though. Ivanka cleans up nice. She’s the diaper genie of the administration. On the outside she looks sleek, but the inside, it’s still full of shit.

And of course we have Sarah Huckabee Sanders. We are graced with Sarah’s presence tonight. I have to say, I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia on The Handmaid’s Tale. Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it. Every time Sara steps up to the podium I get excited because I’m not really sure what we’re gonna get you know a press briefing a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams it shirts and skins and this time don’t be such a little bitch Jim Acosta. I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. Like she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like, maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies. And I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders. You know, is it Sarah Sanders? Is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Oh, I know, Aunt Coulter.

We’ve got our friends at CNN here. Welcome guys, it’s great to have you. You guys love breaking news, and you did it, you broke it! Good work! The most useful information on CNN is when Anthony Bourdain tells me where to eat noodles. [Laughter]

Fox News is here, so you know what that means, ladies: cover your drinks. Seriously, people want me to make fun of Sean Hannity, tonight. But I cannot do that. This dinner is for journalists. We’ve got MSNBC here. MSNBC’s new slogan is “This Is Who We Are.” Guys, this is not a good slogan. This is here’s what your mom thinks the new sad show on NBC is called. Did you watch this is who we are this week someone left on a crock-pot and everyone died.

I watch Morning Joe every morning. We now know that Mika and Joe are engaged. Congratulations! You guys. It’s like when a #Me-Too works out.

We are the Rachel Maddow we cannot forget about Rachel Maddow. She’s the Peter Pan of MSNBC. But instead of never growing up, she never gets to the point. Watching Rachel Maddow is like going to Target. You went in from milk but you left with shampoo, candles, and the entire history of the Byzantine Empire.

And of course Megyn Kelly. What would I do without Megyn Kelly? You know, probably be more proud of women. Megyn Kelly got paid $23 million by NBC and than NBC didn’t let Megyn go to the Winter Olympics. Why not? She’s so white, cold, and expensive, she might as well BE the Winter Olympics. And, by the way, Megyn, Santa is black. That weird old guy going down your chimney was Bill O’Reilly. You might want to put a flu on it or something.

There’s a lot of print media here. There’s a ton of you guys but I’m not gonna go after print media tonight because it’s illegal to attack an endangered species. Buy newspapers.
There’s a ton of news right now; a lot is going on, and we have all these 24-hour news networks, and we could be covering everything. But, instead, we’re covering like three topics. Every hour, it’s Trump, Russia, Hillary and a panel of four people that remind you why you don’t go home for Thanksgiving.

“Milk comes from nuts now, all because of the gays.” You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you use to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks, or vodka, or water, or college, or ties, or Eric. But he has helped you. He’s helped you sell your papers, and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster and now you’re profiting off of him. And if you’re gonna profit off Trump you should at least give him some money, because he doesn’t have any. Trump is so broke.
[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]
He grabs pussies because he thinks there might be loose change in them.

All right, like an immigrant who was brought here by his parents and didn’t do anything wrong, I gotta get the fuck out of here. Good night.
Flint still doesn’t have clean water!
[Applause]