Wednesday, March 09, 2011

So....What'd I Miss?

I'm still catching up on my sleep, so I'm not sure this makes much sense, but...

It's hard to pinpoint exactly why...maybe it's a projection thing (i.e., I feel I "lived" through the experience, which was much more daunting than anything we're seeing for real by far)...but having read Neuromancer, multiple times, has given me a calmer perspective on how frantic, disjointed, and seemingly out of control the world seems these days than many of my friends who never read it. I look as the Middle East spirals into chaos, widespread hunger and poverty creep back out from under the rock they seemed to have retreated under for a while there, the US empire is crumbling all around us, and pockets of radicalized nutjobs stockpile weapons and chemicals and seek to get worse, and all I can think is...eh, it's still not as bad as when The Panther Moderns make everyone at Sense/Net Corporation think they introduced the highly dangerous human growth hormone Blue Nine into their ventilation system, causing a kind of existential panic we've only seen in horror films (and, granted, cyberpunk novels).

I suspect that's the appeal of disastabatory stories...they psychically prepare us for the time-proven accuracy of the notion that things can always be worse.

It really does feel to me like the opening of A Tale of Two Cities lately. Torn between the reality I saw as I wandered around a few of the art fairs last week and the reality I read from faraway friends and family posting their hardships on Facebook. There seem to be two realities in our country.

Someone on Twitter or somewhere commented on the dearth of artwork at Independent or Moving Image that reflected the hardship in the heartland. I actually don't tend to like work that responds to current events, especially before a germination period, and I do think some of the work at Moving Image dealt with hardship (the opening installation by Kasmalieva and Djumaliev, for example, takes on as subject matter the heartache and hardship of women plunged into poverty doing the best they can to support their families). But I do feel it's hard when we're all dolled up, raising glasses of moderately priced cocktails, and presenting luxury objects in a luxurious setting to always see the connection between the sincere work artists are doing to reflect the reality around them and the marketplace.

What I know, though, is that it takes a lot of hard work to present that luxurious setting, and it takes a lot of hard work for most of the people who spend their extra income on art to make it in the first place, so I don't think it's as unconnected as it may seem to the person who wanders in off the street. In fact, I see all that as proof positive that in the midst of crumbling empires and precarious uprisings, it's human nature to still strive for an ideal...to work to keep the best of what we can produce as alive as we can. We could all burn down the museums as symbols of oppression, I suppose, but that would only be to cut off our noses to spite our faces.

Bambino and I watched "Der Tunnel" the other day. It's a true story about an Berlin athlete who teams up with a ragtag group of freedom fighters to dig a tunnel under the Berlin wall. They manage to help a dozen or more people escape before the East German officials flood the tunnel, but along the way the film shows several instances where people were killed or killed themselves because of this ridiculous political situation that would eventually fall away. At the end of the film, where they quickly update you on the fate of all the characters, all you can feel is what a freaking stupid thing to kill people over or die for all that was. In a few decades, the wall would fall, East and West Berlin would be reunited, and the same people who were shooting at each other would be neighbors again. Moronic.

And I guess it's that sense that what seems really important to us today may seem incomprehensibly silly tomorrow that keeps me so committed to promoting art. It's the through-line...the thing that seems to remain (or at least keep me) sane when all around us is chaos.

Now, I realize that what I'm sensing as "chaos" may be nothing more than the stack of things that piled up while we were focused on the fairs, and folks out there may be thinking "what's Ed smoking?" In which case, I'll simply say...it's nice to be back.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that moving-image fair was a triumph -- several of the other so-called innovative fairs did not actually deliver, but m-i definitely did. good on ye.

3/09/2011 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Aequitas said...

"it's that sense that what seems really important to us today may seem incomprehensibly silly tomorrow"

Key statement for me, thank you. Your perception of the insanity around us coupled with your nagging suspicions of the silliness of it all has you at a jumping off point. Congratulations, you have arrived. That loud popping sound you hear is your head as it bursts free from its confines up your assuming you are on the same track you will always have doubts but never be quite as blind as a lot of our brothers are.

It doesn't really matter what you are doing it does matter the frame of mind you are doing it with. A sincere attempt to empathize or at least see through the eyes of another contributes a positive energy that a simple outlining of faults tends to detract from. Your contribution as a promoter of viewpoints can be used for good or evil. Its up to you.

As an artist I can illustrate perceived faults or allow the light to shine despite my thoughts and fears. It's not an easy task and its never simple and straightforward never mind popular. My frame of mind, my positive and negative energy is shifted by my choice of perceptions. I can spend hours illustrating chaos or seeking a common ground, looking for the peace thats often buried beneath fear.

As imperfect and competitive as the art world can seem it is a bleak world where it doesn't exist or is even regulated. Thank you for doing your job and for being brave enough to keep your eyes open as you do it.

3/10/2011 09:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Laura said...

I do admit that I had similar feelings while I was walking through last week's art fairs. However, I did not come to your same conclusions to overcome a sort of discomfort I felt. I am still quite uneasy to justify the disconnection I saw between our contemporary art world and what you define the "luxurious" settings.

3/10/2011 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read that interview you did with Brian Sherwin. So it is ok to write gallery owners? I thought you said before that it is not a good move. Maybe I'm missing the context.

3/16/2011 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

What I said in that interview is that I wouldn't dissuade anyone from doing what they feel they must (with what I hoped would be the implication that it's not likely to work). Yes, in the rare instance it might, but as I noted in two other places you should network to the gallery.

If you want odds to help you decide, let me say you're 98% more likely to have success with the networking approach.

All I'm trying to say is that for each example you'll find (and you will find some) of someone whose cold call submission actually worked, you'll find 98 other attempts that failed.

The person whose a good manager of their time would network.

3/17/2011 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

the person "who is" a good manager...

even

3/17/2011 09:06:00 AM  

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