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“ARTIFICIAL, ESPERANTO ART” AND ITS DISCONTENTS

22 Apr
20150327OUTSIDER-slide-44G0-jumbo

Costumes by Vahad Poladian. Photo by Hiroko Masuike, The New York Times

Some gems from Raw Creation: Outsider Art and Beyond by John Maizels. Regular readers of this blog will know that I like a bit of O/outsider attitude.

“What country doesn’t have its small sector of cultural art, its brigade of career intellectuals? It’s obligatory. From one capital to another they perfectly ape one another, practising an artificial, esperanto art, which is indefatigably recopied everywhere. But can we really call this art? Does it have anything to do with art?” Jean Dubuffet in L’Art brut préferé aux arts culturels, 1946.

This was in 1946 and it’s still just as true seventy years later. Very, very depressing. This tale of masterful gallery fucking-uppery is much more comforting:

“Scottie Wilson (1888-1972)… had been a junk dealer, making a living by salvaging what he could from the bits and pieces that fell into his hands. To this end he collected the old nibs from gold fountain pens. One day he found in his possession a particuarly fine pen, large and free-flowing, so good to handle that he was somehow led to use it playfully to draw outlines and forms…

Signed simply ‘Scottie’, the drawings became a source of livelihood for Wilson, who held his own exhibitions in music halls and pier booths around Britain. He was even taken up by a London gallery, Gimpel Fils, who were forced to rescind their agreement when he set up his own stall outside the gallery, selling his work for a fraction of the price of those exhibited within.”

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NASTY, BRUTISH AND SHORT

18 Apr

An artist who painted a picture of Donald Trump nude, with a very small penis, possibly even a case of bona fide medically diagnosable micropenis, has been threatened with legal action via an “anonymous filing of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice” if she sells it to anyone.

U OK, Don?

It’s currently being exhibited in London, to the general edification and amusement of all. In the USA, meanwhile, the artist received thousands of death threats and galleries chickened out of hanging it because they feared violence from Trump’s thuggish, quasi-fascist supporters. QED.

Anyway, let’s all spite those imbeciles and Streisand Effect the shit out of the deranged, shit-for-brains, racist, rabble-rousing, hypocritical, incoherent, child-handed, small-dicked, candyfloss-haired, ignoramus psychopath megalomaniac robber-capitalist they idolise by looking at Illma Gore’s painting of Donald Trump and posting about it everywhere.

Make America Great Again by Illma Gore, 2016.

Make America Great Again by Illma Gore, 2016.

Artist threatened with lawsuits if she sells nude Donald Trump painting

SPACE TIME AGENCY

10 Mar
AlistairGentry_ELGlasses

I’M FROM THE FUTURE, PROBABLY

(NB: Reposted from my main site, because I know there are lots of artists and arts people reading this blog who don’t follow that one or click through to it from here. YOU SHOULD.)

Dear friends, colleagues, and strangers,

Live art is mostly shit, isn’t it? Not that I am or should be the final arbiter of such things, but the point is there are arbiters of these things and there’s literally nothing I want to see right now or in the near future that those arbiters approve of. I know I’m not the only one. For the past two or three years I’ve been trying to get some new live projects launched but despite lots of meetings and being on various shortlists, very little has come of it. I know many other artists for whom this is true as well. So a while ago I just thought “Fine then, fuck it. I’ll do it myself.”

YES I’M BITTER, but out of that bitterness has come a beautifully sweet idea. I’m determined to find new ways of sharing live art that matter to normal people, outside of theatres, arts centres and galleries. Time to re-route around the blockages. Time for artists to support each other and seek their validation and their connections with people without the stuck-in-their-ways places and the no-sayers who work at them getting between us and the audience.

I don’t know what this thing will be, but it won’t exactly be an organisation or a commissioner. It definitely won’t be an attempt at a permanent space or venue; there are far too many of those being dragged along as dead weight in the arts funding net already. It might be a business of some sort, or a cooperative. It will certainly be shaped by the outsiders I want to find and help and show. You. I want you to tell me about your live art and why it isn’t getting the money and eyeballs it deserves. There’s a contact form you can use at the bottom of this page.

What will happen if I sign up?

This isn’t even a project yet, it’s a large but vague cloud of ideas for a project. For the time being you won’t be asked to do anything except be your very special self and not let the bastards grind you down before I can get it together. I will collate the names and contact details of all the people who get in touch with me over the next few months. I’ll keep you in the loop about any significant developments or opportunities that arise from my research and development process. The people who make themselves known to me and the things they want to do will obviously play a large part in how whatever-this-thing-is develops. There’s no money, performance opportunities or jobs going at the moment so don’t ask, but see What will happen later? below.

One favour you can do me, though, is to please share, forward and retweet links to this page as widely and as often as you can… within reason. You’re a live artist. You should be good at choosing your place and your moment.

What will happen later?

From the autumn of 2016 I will start working towards finding money, space and time for a first event or intervention or festival or mortal rupture to the British live art scene’s comfy conformity. Neither the project as a whole nor any individual event will ever go ahead unless it’s financially sustainable, a good and positive experience for everyone involved, and everybody is being paid fairly. As they should be for all performers and artists, the twin mantras for STA are:

  1. Professionally made, professionally paid. (Nod to Equity.)
  2. No day rate? No me, mate.

NB There may be more mantras later.

Who is it for? Two nos, many yeses.

Your work has to require your bodily presence in an actual place in real time; could be minutes, months, anything. You need to be permanently based in the UK because that’s where I am and I can’t take on the whole world.

YET.

NO

CatSharkRoomba

Not to downplay, dis or dismiss their craft but I’m not looking for musicians, DJs, VJs or technologists unless there’s a unique, unavoidable and holistic liveness to what they do beyond playing or mixing a track, running code or telling a machine to do its thing. There are numerous places, venues and festivals for these artists and forms already. But if your digital or technological work truly interacts with and acts upon people or places in real time and you need to be present to make it happen, get in touch. Performance lectures are my thing and I’d love to see more of them, but I’m not looking for playwrights, playwright-performers, standups, cabaret acts or conventional linear dramas that could be, would be or should be staged in a theatre.

NO

I’m not really interested in artists working through their body issues, or in basic drag acts with pretensions because

a) I’m just so incredibly bored by them all

but mainly because

b) I think this kind of live art is supported very well– if not excessively so in some cases– by the existing venues, opportunities and organisations. Both of these subgenres are MASSIVE clichés of live and performance art, i.e. once they were fresh and interesting but now nobody really even thinks them through. And I don’t believe anybody is clamouring for more of this stuff, except apparently the people who commission it all the time.

Maude

As with my previous no, there will be exceptions. If (for example) your gender-based performance transcends camp and all the isms, if your body-conscious or body horror show is genuinely like nothing else you or I have ever seen, I’d like to know about you.

YES

People from groups under represented in live arts, and all of the arts– those with disabilities or mental health problems (being an arsehole doesn’t count, there’s loads of them working in the arts already), the self-taught or retrained, people from working class or low income backgrounds, artists interested in all the subjects this planet has to offer and not just in themselves and their own angst, too young [sic], too old [sic], unfashionable, rural or suburban– are not only very, very welcome but exactly who I’m looking for. People to whom none of these things apply may also make themselves known, of course. We’re making a new thing that includes, not just yet another bloody thing that excludes. Apart from cutters and shitters. They’re not in our gang. Nobody wants to hang out with them.

Live artists who’ve lapsed or dropped out because you were demoralised or had other priorities or the money just wasn’t there should also join the list. Let’s try to get it right for you (and all of us) this time.

Work that’s funny or serious or frightening or comforting or sublimely stupid or too clever for most people or almost Lovecraftianly indescribable and no venue or commissioner will touch it? You’re the one for me, arty.

Please contact me if you’re at all interested in any of this, and share widely. That is all for now, carry on.

AWARD YOURSELF

9 Mar
Henrik Ibsen

“Everyone’s a winner, baby, that’s the truth.” (Henrik Ibsen Hot Chocolate). Henrik Ibsen painted by Henrik Olrik, 1879.

From the book Creators: From Chaucer and Dürer to Picasso and Disney, Paul Johnson on the shitty, unfair and callously underappreciated lives of the world’s most undeniably creative people, who bring pleasure, beauty and inspiration to thousands or millions of people… plus Henrik Ibsen’s splendid but bonkers riposte.

“What strikes me, surveying the history of creativity, is how little fertile and productive people often received in the way of honours, money, or anything else. Has there ever been a more accomplished painter than Vermeer – a painter closer to perfection in creating beautiful pictures? How Vermeer must have cared about what he was doing! And how hard and intensely he must have worked to do it! Yet when he died, his widow had to petition the local guild for charity – she and her children came to abject poverty. That has been the fate of many widows of fine artists… It seems to me horrifying that Johann Sebastian Bach, a hardworking man all his life, at the top of his profession as organist and composer, and a careful and abstemious man too, should have died in poverty, as did the sister of Mozart, another prodigiously industrious and successful maker of music. Both these men were creators on a colossal scale, and consistently produced works of the highest quality. But they could not achieve security for their families.”

(For the reverse of this, i.e. how “successful” artists secretly had the independent wealth to do it all along and couldn’t really fail, see also Trustafarians of the Belle Époque)

Johnson disapproves of Ibsen’s bolshy, can-do response to not getting the plaudits he knew he deserved, but I think this is brilliant:

“One of the most curious sights in Oslo in the 1890s was Henrik Ibsen, walking to a public dinner, wearing his decorations. So keen was he on medals that he actually employed a professional honours broker* to get them from every government in Europe. He wore them on his dress clothes, reaching to his waist and even below it, and he often pinned a selection to his everyday suits. Thus weighted down and clanking, he strode nightly to his favourite café, for schnapps… But his habit was unbecoming unless (and this seems unlikely) his intent was humorous.”

Unbecoming? Sod that. Walking around with a bunch of honours and medals as normal day wear is my new sartorial goal. Award yourself the prize.

*Note: These types of brokers still exist and probably explain some of the odd and random people awarded various medals, titles and honorary degrees for doing nobody-is-entirely-sure-what.

ABSTRACT PROPAGANDA

1 Mar

ArtPractice

I was recently reminded by this post at Open Culture that Abstract Expressionist painting and exponents of it such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock got a big (though covert) push from the CIA, who secretly organised a number of influential exhibitions including MoMA’s New American Painting. It was all an attempt to depict America internationally as a country with a sophisticated culture borne of a fully functioning democracy.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… oh… ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Wait, wait… ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Sorry about that. Most Americans hated Abstract Expressionism, and they still do. Not to mention the fact that US foreign and domestic policies in the 1960s moved on to brainwashing, drugging, sabotaging and sometimes just straight up murdering (or having murdered) anyone who stood in the way of their global agenda. But it’s interesting to think about this CIA plot to splatterwash the USA’s international reputation as a project halfway between the naked colonialism of international World Fairs or the Giardini in Venice and the modern era of so-called “soft power” that makes governments like the UK’s or Japan’s trumpet their national cultural industries even while they perversely take an ideological wrecking ball to the very institutions, employment and educational systems that make art and being an artist viable. What, you thought it was because they recognised the value of art and artists?

Ha ha ha ha ha ha, etc.

It’s all about the soft power.

You may also like to speculate as to other examples of otherwise inexplicably successful artists or artistic movements that seem with hindsight more likely to be psy ops or vehicles for international spookery.

NeoRealism

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