Monday, October 28, 2013

Narcissus at Light Speed

"You're going to reap just what you sow..."
---Lou Reed, Perfect Day

New York City lost two controversial giants this past week: Lou Reed, whose song Perfect Day is perhaps the quintessential expression of what it means to cling to your basic humanity in this concrete jungle, even when you otherwise work overtime suppressing its significance in the service of your ambitions, and of course Arthur Danto, who gave hefty critical license to contemporary artists to make the art of our time look any damn way they thought it should, with an emphasis on "thought" that still chafes the necks of many to this day.

It's a sad day in New York because it's difficult to imagine their equals coming along any time soon. In the case of Mr. Danto, it's even sadder because it's becoming difficult to even imagine a platform in which his equal might be recognized moving forward.

I know it's only an entertaining and (in this era) understandable money-making feature of the otherwise rising star among arts magazines, but I wasn't the only one to notice a glaring omission in Art Review's Power 100 for 2013. Other than Liam Gillick (who's mostly there as an artist), there's not a single art critic on the list. A few years back, the list had included renown critics like Jerry Saltz and Roberta Smith, but they've been displaced by, among others, Forrest Nash, the 20-something founder of the wildly popular site Contemporary Art Daily, which as Art Review notes "posts images of, rather than text about, exhibitions" and has over one million page views a month.

It's tempting to read this as a sign of our times and possibly even an advance. What is more important: text about visual art or actual images of that visual art? There's an elegance to the notion that supplying your audience with as direct a line to the artist's intentions as possible over the Internet is indeed more respectful and efficient than the often picture-less translations traditionally found in art criticism. Let the audience decide for themselves directly, no?

Well, only if you completely disagree with Mr. Danto. Which you're free to do, of course, but I'm reminded again of the cautionary tale in Alfred Bester's short story "The Disappearing Act," in which a nation so committed to the efficient, productive purpose of each member of society, that they left no time or room for poets to dream and thereby contextualize or make sense of the world, finds itself wholly and fatally unprepared to cope with the ultimate existential crisis. 

I'm as confused by what it ultimately means that no critics made the list as the next guy. The only clarity I have on how things should move forward is to remember Mr. Reed's refrain that we're going to reap just what we sow. Personally, I'd like to reap a rich legacy, supported by a critical discourse that provides evidence that even as quickly as we were all moving these days we still valued the poet's role in reflecting and connecting. There's value to me in being narcissistic enough to slow down, look deeply at ourselves in that mirror, and record what we see. Traveling only at light speed, all we'll see (or be able to record) is a blur. And while that may accurately reflect the high we're clearing getting from our never-ending joy ride, it will leave our posterity thinking we were a bunch of flakes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Power and value are two different things. If Art Review had published the 100 most valuable people in the art world, we might see a few critics, journalists, writers, and poets.

10/28/2013 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Power...value...I'm much more interested in influence. Who are the 100 most influential people in the art world is the list I want.

10/28/2013 12:26:00 PM  
Anonymous markcreegan said...

I just know that Danto's After the End of Art was highly influential among me and other young artists when it was published. It probably helped me understand current art more than any other text, certainly Warhol, etc.. And, no I cant think of anything comparable today...

10/28/2013 12:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was around nine or ten years old when I heard walk on the wild side and every time I heard the song I would say to myself did he just say that ? But the song was so good and had such a hook It worked.

Radio was different back then the play list could be Jackson 5, Alice Cooper ,Al Green, Led Zeppelin , Lou Reed

My first real job was in a factory I worked night shift we got off early on Fridays , so I would hit the rock n roll bars before last call . I followed this one band they played everything note for note top notch.Sweet Jane was on their set list the they played the live version From Rock n Roll Animal with the super lush guitars. Reed had a Bob Dylan type delivery Maybe Bob Dylan and Lou Reed were the first Rappers.

Jerry Saltz is interesting he cares but he dosnt give a fuck either. His wiki page says he drove a truck, What
was you C.B. Handle Jerry? I gota know . Before cellphones there were Citizen band radios and the only people who had them were Burt Reynolds, Truckers , Rednecks , hill jacks and High School white punks on dope. Speaking of Burt Reynolds if you want to see a Stout Art collection check his movie Shamus from the early 1970s filmed in New York City. Dyan Cannon is his love interest she has a groovy NYC townhouse full of art and the director shows it off , I wonder who owned the townhouse.

"Doo do doo do doo do do doo..." Sax solo fades into forever......

10/29/2013 10:39:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home