Thursday, September 29, 2011

A friends commentary

My friend who is working in my studio on his remarkable stuff wrote this to me this past week regarding things in general and my work. Very pertinent and would like to share.

I hate to turn this into another generational conflict, but it's true. The competition encouraged by the boomers at every level has irreparably damaged the culture. This is the outcome of the kind of single-minded individualism exemplified by an entire generation. It’s like a sick parody of the historical concept of the bourgeoisie, with property and status taking on utterly grotesque, metastatic dimensions.

This article is interesting, if flawed:

Someone at some point has to publicly address the fact that infinite growth, at least in material terms, is simply no longer possible. The planet, as an organism, cannot support it, yet the picture this guy paints of Europe as the harbinger of small, local, rational networks of popular cooperation that are still based on consumption is a fantasy. As I've said a million times, the US has guaranteed the security of the European union in one form or another since 1948. This may have dissolved around the turn of the century, but the premise that Europe pursued the peaceful implementation of a new technical infrastructure while the US ignored its own in unilateral pursuit of empire is only half true; the Bush vs Gore decision sealed the fate of shared economic progress in this country by tacitly reinstating the concept of scarcity as the basis of its ideological mindset. These people were, in one way or another, all tied to the global energy industry, and they seized the opportunity to control resources and consolidate wealth at what they saw as the strategic level at the end of the age of oil, which was the fuel of the second industrial revolution that had begun with the great war. It’s obvious, and it should be clear given these circumstances, that the events of 9/11 were not the result of planning by a simple cell of jihadis, anymore than the Second World War was caused by a regiment of 'poles' attacking a radio station on the German frontier. In each instance there are lies, provocations, and aggression engineered by elites as the means for the gain of larger common ends.

The premise that ideas could actually become currency, and in turn empower people at every level of society, was absolutely intolerable to the transnational global elites that have seized power seemingly everywhere since 2000. This is what the promise of networks actually imply, that cooperation for the good of all, valued as such, could potentially abolish the fallacies of wealth, genius, status, character, position, property, etc. This vicious retrenchment of the recent past is terrifying, but it's not without weakness; it’s a facade built on a foundation of flawed assumptions, and as such is very shaky. The rich are scared shitless. Sooner or later something is going to happen that might wake people up here in the US, but what we're actually witnessing isn't just a generational conflict. The great wheel of history is turning in a way that happens once maybe every two hundred or five hundred years. One of the reasons painting (or art) doesn't work any longer is because we've no idea who we are, either as subject or as species. The medium doesn't or can't reflect anything recognizable at the moment. Actually, that's not entirely accurate-- it reflects, or rather reiterates, only what people want to see, which is an idealization of the image of themselves. Look at the review Jerry Saltz wrote of the De Kooning survey:

This is the most sickening and disingenuous piece of writing I may have ever encountered as a description of real, honest-to-god work. It’s a gross misrepresentation of the skepticism, anxiety, and dread De Kooning's best work conveys. Painting is really incapable of this kind of expression at the current moment, since it's only ever seen as the product of one man and one age. Saltz alludes to this, but doesn't make it clear: the project of which De Kooning was emblematic has utterly failed.

I think this is the spot you find yourself in with your work. It’s not enough to make 'failed paintings'. The paintings must exemplify exactly what you feel has failed. I believe this project is bigger than any one man or woman, but since this is a significant part of the myth we've inherited, it's difficult to shake. The question of appropriation is interesting to me as it 'authorizes' in perverse ways the manipulation of cultural material beyond whatever is perceived as an original intent. The strategy has wandered into a cul-de-sac, and is probably academic at this point, at least as conceived by the first two or three generations of its best practitioners. It’s a clichĂ© that 'information wants to be free', but form (and content) should be able to communicate beyond desire of who ostensibly controls it. This is the promise of digital media, as the means of production pass from the hands of the few to the many.

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