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This Could Be Something (if I can find it) « MAD Blog
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This Could Be Something (if I can find it)

I really hated that VICE article about how contemporary art ‘has no clothes’, how it’s all quirk-for-quirk’s-sake and there is no real substance. It’s just intramural entertainment and something for rich people to do while they titter, it’s the new croquet. Let’s all admit it and stop wasting our time.  Then we can move on to things that really move us, like stuffing our mouths full of M&Ms or enjoying the latest subway fights on WorldStarHipHop.

I mean, part of why I hated the article is because, yeah.  Anyone who’s chosen to live in the cultural blur zone is going to be familiar with those moments of discouragement, when you can’t believe how empty a given show or book or album or event is, how much ideas and identities have been underinvestigated or the opposite, fumigated by theory until they are a boring vapor and ultimately there is nothing here that is anything, that feels like anything, though there probably is an opening soiree with youngsters in expensive shoes and far-out haircuts, because that will never get old.  (I can be bitter too!  Can I have another student loan forbearance please?)  And there are moments when “the art world” feels so unfair and fueled by the same brutal greed that destroys everything else and you just want to get a mister softee and walk around listening to Rihanna rather than risk all the dismal pieces coming together in your mind.  There might be moments when you could reasonably conclude that no one has courage anymore and Art Today is just another system like any other system circling drunkly toward the apocalypse except worse, because it has that patina of nobility, a promise of redemption which never in fact delivers because it’s just another cutthroat market, and the ones with heart don’t make it.  And if you did conclude that, you’d only be robbing yourself, even worse than your student loan company.  And you’d only be in a mood.

I talked to a young poet on the phone recently who told me, in a hushed tone that you’d think she’d use to confess something much more lurid, that she really, really, really loves art.  Sometimes she feels so electric from it that her feet almost leave the ground, she almost can’t contain it.  Do I know what she means?, she asked.  Oh yeah!  I just forgot for a second.

I return to being a teenager and beholding Duchamp’s “Bicycle Wheel” at the Centre Pompidou.  Somewhere between a celebrity sighting and a religious evocation, the sculpture, which I’d seen lots of photos of, which was not beautiful nor sublime, held meaning and big promise.  The biggest piece: PEOPLE make the world, and we can turn it upside down.  The memory keeps my flame flaming.  But that was a long time ago.  What about today?

I wanted to spend my lunch hour with artist Dawn Kasper, who has installed herself, her life and body and art studio, into the 2nd Floor of the Whitney Biennial.  I failed.  There were many setbacks that I won’t detail including the phonetic proximity of “Whitney” to “West Side,” if you are that hot dog man.  But I ended up in this slice of pre-Raphaelite heaven in Central Park instead, not bad!  At one point I got so concerned and confused and hungry that I nearly succumbed to a pedi-cab.

 

But I made it the next day.  I took a cab this time.  Dawn invited me in and I felt pretty special as I shouldered past a few bewildered observers and into her private space, where we sat on her bed and ate sandwiches while Russian Animation films were projected on the wall above us.  I was careful not to ask the most typical questions, like if she sleeps there, and where she pees.  Her bed was on the floor and had soft blue sheets and was very comfortable.  It was something like being in a dream, an immediate intimacy pervaded the exchange, all normal social rules were suspended and I immediately barfed about my most sacred and damaging romantic disasters and she fielded a tense call from her dad as I lay there and listened and tried to be small.  Listen don’t listen.  Touch my belongings don’t touch my belongings.  Photos of her skin and blood and body were on the walls. In her space of fearlessly turning herself inside out, I became invisible for a moment, like being a cell inside another person.  In this space, the line between personal and professional, art world and heart world, real blood and fake blood, dithered down to nothing. There was no reliable, known way to act.  I left wanting more, feeling heartened.

I’m not saying that it’s not all worthless.  Here is where I was going to insert a quote that I thought Einstein once said in defense of scientific research without a clear practical application—somebody said, “What’s the point of that?’” And Einstein said “What’s the point of a human baby?”,  I think.  But I can’t find it and all I’m finding are links to the Baby Einstein baby product line and things about abortion.  So you will have to take my point.  Which is.  You have to do something.  And it could be something if you let it.  If you can find it.

 

 

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