Thursday, July 12, 2007

Mixed Bag Thursday

It might be the late night we had, or it might be just that it's summer, but I'm taking a break from the longer style post today. I'll offer these tidbits.

1) Without comment:

2) This is all you need to know to figure out what's wrong with our country today:

[via Sullivan]
A reader writes:

Yeah, I am not going to argue against anybody calling Michael Moore arrogant, or accusing him of being an asshole. Maybe yes, maybe no. I only know that I don't hang with him. On the other hand, if the media went on the same, blistering, fact-checking campaign effort concerning Iraq in 2002 that they are using to go after "Sicko" (rather than deal with the larger issue of health care), we might all be in a much better place today.
Consider this an open thread.

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15 Comments:

Anonymous ho with hair of many textures said...

I don't get the signifiance of the first picture. With no commentary I'm not sure what you're getting at.

7/12/2007 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Sorry Ho...here's the link

And here's the gist:

Xu Zhen’s monumental untitled sculpture, a send-up of Damien Hirst’s "Natural History" series. It consists of what seems to be a bisected brontosaurus displayed behind smudgy glass in a water-filled case. Visitors can walk between the two sections of the 30-foot-long dinosaur and view its realistic resin innards.

Xu’s work has been dubbed a tribute, a commentary or an obvious jibe (Conceptual Art as dinosaur?), but no explanation accounts for its striking presence. Like Hirst’s work, Xu’s must be experienced to be appreciated -- and despite the obviously long-deceased subject matter, the brontosaurus feels very much alive, a damp, green, menacing presence. Because of its size, the installation was set outside of the main gallery in the courtyard, and in the oppressive summer humidity (Beijing is farther north and usually cooler than Shanghai, but this summer, it has been just as bad), the damp green glass and looming monster have a dark, jungle feeling very much at odds with more aseptic conversations about authenticity and redundancy.

7/12/2007 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Oly said...

The dino-Hirst reminds me-- Did anyone see the pics of the naturally fully-preserved baby mammoth?

That's on my mind today.

It must have been totally adorable when it was roaming the earth.

7/12/2007 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Sunil said...

Ed,
The animal in formaldehyde theme has been pickled to death. I consider this a rather banal copy of a tried out idea. Of course if Mr. Xu is telling us that Conceptual art belongs to the Cretaceous that is a different matter and is a matter for debate.

7/12/2007 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

I Disagree.

Xu Zhen’s piece is monumental and as conceptually complex as the Hirst shark. "Send up' seemed like a tame description, the gamers would say Hirst has been pwnd.

The Chinese have a leg up on spectacles, they could easily doiminate this sector of the art market.

7/12/2007 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Cibele said...

Invite for a great show:
2007 National Photography Compettion Winners @ Soho Photo Gallery

www.sohophoto.com

7/12/2007 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Sunil said...

George,
While I generally do not comment too much if I have not seen a work, this case sure looks like a pure ‘variations on a theme’ type game – of course, I could be completely off base here as I did not look at and inspect the work.
If another Chinese artist decides to take on a wooly mammoth's skull, inlay the whole thing with diamonds including the Kohinoor and stick a price tag of 1000 million dollars, would you call that monumental? Isn’t this an idea that has been milked already (at least in its most direct manifestation)?

7/12/2007 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger Oly said...

Screw the mammoth skull!
I want a diamond-encrusted wooly mammoth PELVIC BONE with Swarovski Chastity Belt!!!!

7/12/2007 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger Hans said...

Hu, Hu, Hu, Hu, Oly ole !!

7/12/2007 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

I'll comment on the Michael Moore comment...

We have lost our ability to argue in a coherent and meaningful way, IMO. We all seem to be looking at the wrong things to argue about.

We have become too meta for our own good. Instead of looking at the issues in and of themselves (Is invading Iraq a good idea? How does the healthcare system work?)...

...instead we seem only capable of arguing *because* something has become polarizing. And the point seems to be to stop dissent, not figure out what is right and what is wrong.

And because liberals (ie MM) tend to want to preserve concepts like "making rational decisions based upon empirical evidence" they get waaay overscruitinized and pinned with this "extremist" label...

...when in fact it's much more "extremist" to follow the neoconservative strategy, which seems to be:

1. Pay quick lip service to "both sides of the issue"
2. Make a completely magical-thinking based decision that has nothing to do with empirical evidence.
3. State again that you are fair and rational.

This creates a no-win struggle, in which liberals are arguing with people who are not using the same rules as they are, but who use the liberals' rules to damn them for arguing at all.

It's like living with a bunch of crazy people, and I've had it. I promise never to argue with someone in this context again, and will instead figure out some kind indirect strategy for doing what I want to get done.

If I ran the circus, I would strongly urge everyone, including Michael Moore, to stop arguing with these people. Even though he's basically right. Even though arguing should be allowed in a free society. Even thought it looks like not arguing lets them win.

And then I would urge everyone to take all that energy that we were using to argue and let's all go save ourselves, the middle east, our democracy and our relationship to the planet with that energy. A worker's revolution, not a revolution of ideas. Try arguing with that~!

7/13/2007 07:26:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

I don't think of Michael Moore's films as documentaries so much as political theater, in the tradition of Abbie Hoffman. While he may stage certain parts of his films and present selective views of things, his genius is in exposing the absurd wrongs that are present in parts of our society, and doing so in an entertaining way.

Our health care system is completely broken. The only thing it is doing successfully is enriching insurance and drug companies, who are cheating the public thay are supposed to serve with their products.

I have many perfectly healthy self-employed friends who are uninsurable because of the "pre-existing condition" scam that's been imposed on the American public. And if someone actually has health problems, then forget it. They are SOL, unless they or a spouse has insurance through an employer.

Things need to change. If Sicko get's enough people pissed off about the health care situation to make it a viable political issue, then Michael Moore has done us all a great service.

7/13/2007 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

I'm certainly not saying that MM is wrong.

I'm saying that his approach is problematic if he actually wants to solve the health care crisis. And I don't think this is his fault--he's employing a reasonable tactic: the dialectic.

What I am saying is that the dialectic is not working right now.

7/13/2007 09:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Sunny Lake aka Bob said...

I think the mammoth is an amazing find. I wonder if there are any dinosaurs in the permafrost too.

7/14/2007 02:35:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

I would urge everyone to take all that energy that we were using to argue and let's all go save ourselves... A worker's revolution, not a revolution of ideas...I'm certainly not saying that MM is wrong...What I am saying is that the dialectic is not working right now.

f6000, what do you suggest? If someone wanted to use their energy to fix the healthcare system in this country, what actual things should they do?

I don't see MM as only employing dialectic. What I also see him doing is getting a lot of people (maybe even voters!) enraged about a really big problem that affects all of us. Should he be using his energy in a different way?

7/15/2007 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Playing devils advocate: Or, the more I think about this the more irritated I get...

Over the long term, art-historical value is determined by consensus among all four art-world pillars.[AN]

I’d agree but add that over the long term auction prices will do the same thing.

Over the shorter term, the ‘pillar’ consensus can be wrong. Over the short term auction prices will reflect the short term art historical value, this is primarily a measure of current interest more than anything else.

Put bluntly, the danger of a collector-driven art world is that money will trump knowledge.

I would not assume that all ‘money’ is the same, there is ‘smart money’ and ‘dumb money’. I suspect what separates the dumb money and the smart money IS knowledge. David Geffen sold roughly a half-billion dollars worth of paintings this year. Rumor had it, he wanted to buy the LA Times and was raising cash, not that he thought prices were near a peak, which would have probably lowered his return. On the other hand, not to many years ago, he paid a ‘high’ price for some of the same paintings he sold this year. Smart money, dumb money, and art historical value, they seem to get sorted out over time

In an overheated environment, the art-historical establishment often finds itself chasing rather than guiding the market.

As a generalization, this is always true, the market has been ‘guided’ by individuals of vision, not institutions. I think the ‘art-historical establishment’ has been confused for several years now. The academics succumbed to intellectual fashion in a way which was more disconnected from reality than the other participants in the art world. In my opinion they abdicated their responsibilities by failing to question what they were promoting. Worse, they did it in lockstep.

In my opinion, the dealers (galleries and auction houses) are doing what they are mandated to do, sell stuff for what they can get. The artists are doing what they are supposed to do, which is make art. And fortunately, at least for the moment, the collectors are doing what they are supposed to do, which is spend their money on art.

The ‘art historical establishment’, the critics, academics, and curators, are the problem.

7/16/2007 05:00:00 PM  

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