Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The New York Media and the NYPD

Having been involved with several of the Occupy Wall Street protests I found that in today's New York Times, an article about the NYPD's over the top tactics in the afternoon, only to find the story when I got home had disappeared from the local New York Region page, you now have to find it buried within the City Room Blog and if you missed it, well tough luck because the NY Times doesn't deem it news worthy that the Police Department is a roque element denying the most basic and fundamental rights of assembly.

However the Guardian UK, finds it of merit and has put it on the front page.

Having been a resident of New York City for over 20 years as an adult and having grown up here as a child I have found the police department to be dangerous and not to be trusted.   What does it say about our society and our political system that allows such wanton disregard for basic civil rights?  

And if you aren't from New York or live here, check out the outstandingly racist profiling which occurs in the  Stop and Frisk program.    The country is lost as long as people stay silent, more importantly, our individual freedom, myth that it is, is being buried by an increasing totalitarian state of spying on our phone and internet communications all for the sake of protecting the few who have so much.   Too much in my opinion.

We are heading into a very dangerous time.   And now back to our regularly scheduled arts programming.

See you at the barricades.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Observations- art, culture? Society

An article in the NYTimes, once the paper of record, has an interesting article today about noise in bars and restaurants here in NYC, “Working or Playing Indoors, New Yorkers Face an Unabated Roar.”  To summarize, the article shows how music is manipulated via volume and beats per minute to control clientele and access the money within their wallets, more importantly though are the responses about the dislocation that some people feel in those settings, the loss of focus due to the noise levels, etc.  

What I find is that our television media works with the same kind of manipulation.  As someone who has given up a TV subscription but ends up seeing TV on rare occasions I am highly aware of how most Americans are frogs in a cooking pot of ever increasing temperature, the volume levels of commercials with the fast flashing of imagery and massive hype creates a subtle sense of anxiety.   Even commercials for shows that are reputedly dramas do this and beyond the commercials the flashing of quick cuts and scenes with fast graphics and special effects manifest a physiological and psychological drain.  If you don’t believe me, turn off your set for a week or two and then watch it.   Maybe it’s just my fifty years showing.   Research in how television works though has shown such, you can google it for yourself or read this article, “Why We Worry- The Psychological Effects of TV News.”    To me this part of the reason our culture has unraveled is that we live in the zombie apocalypse already, too many people are checked out and need the tv-meth to get by and I don’t believe in an over arching conspiracy as it seems to be a feed back loop that one has to make a conscious decision to kick the addiction.

What the result of this barrage is an uninformed and disinterested electorate that doesn’t have the physical or psychic energy to deal or face with ‘reality’ of the system or their manipulations.  More they have been sucked into a concept of America as land of the “I’ve got mine, good luck getting yours” as this anxiety makes it nearly impossible for people to actually communicate about things since they are in the dark, as it were.

This manipulation feeds into the art world at large also.    Is anyone really shocked that Jeffrey Deitch has made the moves he has made at MoCA with the firing of Paul Schimmel?   Deitch has always been about art as entertainment in the most banal and cynical of means.  All flash.  

Locally one cannot but express extreme disappointment of the lack of critical support by our own Brooklyn Museum.  Brooklyn most likely has more artists living and working in it than any other locale in the world and the Brooklyn Museum has such weak concepts as “GO”.    I know financing curatorial muscle is difficult but where there is a will there is a way and the Brooklyn Museum always manages to underwhelm.   Art to these organizations is a second thought.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In Response RETRO from Henrimag

- Full disclosure- Henrimag and its author provocateur is a friend of mine and he has written many nice things about my work and I have written for his blog on occasion too.

Our ancestors in part came to this land looking to start life anew and create a society that didn’t suffer the ills of old Europe, mine date in part to the earliest settlers in New York, Massachusetts and Virginia in the late 17th Century. How that actually played out was a different story as it always is with too much puritanical fever and the old testament in hand and practice.

I once was walking around dumbo over twenty years ago with an English friend who asked why we Americans destroyed our best architecture, my reply was that we were the stock of peasants who in their desire to create a new world jettisoned the past and did not want to look back and had even forgotten how to look back. The American mythos of this self made man with the chance to make a new fortune lost in translation the previous shared social values and structures that class distinctions forced upon him, the end result being to some extent our current predicament of rapacious greed in the face of societal decay.

Post war America or the United States to be less chauvinistic, came to bask in its glory as the promise of democracy with all the values we were taught in school, of course without being taught about the large bag of dirty laundry that helped create our empire. Finally we began to believe our own hype and press without being critical, less you be considered an enemy of the state for disagreeing, you’re either with us or against us. And like Narcissus we became overly enamored of our own reflection.

Nostalgia is a cultural condition of this lack of proper reflection and criticality, it is a reflection and desire to enter arcadia and our arcadia appears to be the modernist era and musically the 60’s, Amy Winehouse comes to mind. Visual nostalgia takes as its locus the modern era and bad post-modern theorists use criticality in the same pastiche in which they misinterpret or appropriate the image and function of such.

What marks Miró as a great painter is not only was he visually adept at orchestrating works that act like small chamber ensembles but that he was pushing the boundaries of what painting could be and achieve, he had in short, faith in the visual experience as a visceral tangible thing. He was willing to take risks, make bad works and explore his own personal thoughts and expressions. This also takes place within the time of Surrealism, which gave license (as if it were needed) to explore the sub and un conscious inner worlds of our being. This theory provided a framework for the subject matter to be addressed.

As Gerhard Richter has said and I’ve said it before, it isn’t how to paint it is what to paint. An artist has to perform an intricate dance between subject matter or content and then the visual aspects of creating a space that isn’t about the subject but is the embodiment of this.

Our current theory du jour is the leftover grab bag of post modern theory, which originally was not about cynicism but saw the philosophic cul de sac ahead as the previous mythos and theory was imploding in the immediate post war era and came to fore in the sixties. The so called work based on this misreading and misinterpretation of Lyotard et al is in itself a pastiche of the very theory it uses as its armature.

The real irony is that we are surrounded by too much work that is tedious in its cynicism and is based in part on too much reading of words, it accepts without understanding the complexities of what the death of the author means and substitutes ironic distance, it makes obvious pastiche of other forms without understanding the true meaning. It is a knowledge that has been taught but not understood and just a bad form of the very thing it tries to be. In short, it is about but not is. It is the current academy of thought. It is a bunch of illiterates who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk and I’m sure we’ve all had the unfortunate experience of someone incredibly well read but incredibly daft as to what is really going on around them.

Any good painting, maybe great painting is a paradox. I’ve always thought that Picasso’s run in with Velazquez’s Las Meninas were post modern of sorts or De Kooning too for that matter. Picasso does make a pastiche but it is done with, I will say it, a love of what he is seeking to own, destroy, to make new, to possess and to offer anew. What makes a distinction between a great painter and an also-ran is that the great painter loves what he is trying to destroy or possess, the under riding mythos of Picasso as Minotaur was his own and not some schooled lesson. It appears in all of his work from Les Demoiselles d'Avignon onwards. More importantly great art comes from artists who wrestle with themselves and their ambitions, demons, desires and inherent failures, paradoxes, contradictions and the like.

What marks this post modern art, the current art du jour is the fact that the true feelings that the artists have are missing (if they have any to begin with) and are all wrapped up in signs of the signifiers without being significant in and of themselves. This signification is what marks this work as academic and no different that the salon works of the French academy in the 19th century.

In the end when I go to my studio and wrestle with my own ideas and feelings the art du jour doesn’t even come to mind. It is creating the same experience that the greats have done before, that gets me excited, that makes me want to engage in such a futile exercise and finally to find my own inherent contradictions and complexities and to share them because art is a form of communication about everything and nothing.