Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Resisting Dematerialisation with Chorizo and Arizona Ice Tea

Over the weekend I spoke with my brother about the direction that my art might partially be moving towards involving potentially performative or interactive aspects of cooking along with more typical art objects. As seen in Marina Abramovic's MOMA retrospective "The Artist is Present", performance is finally blowing up after years of occurring but never becoming mainstream (and I hate to be the one to exemplify this show along with EVERY other art blogger). Just look at the abundance of college art curricula that don't even address performance as a practice. Its specialization, tending more towards theater and dance, have left it in a limbo that many avoid grappling with, and the preponderance of bad performance art hasn't probably helped either.

Abramovic claims that performance art edges on theater, but that it is real rather than pretend. Here's a post-show interview that is kind of interesting. I'm all for it really, despite the fact that I have rarely if ever seen performance art in person. There's an excitement to it; towards it's bold and courageous display in front of audiences who may or may not even understand what is taking place. People probably have trouble with interpreting lots of art, visual, audible, or performance, but that's not the point. I'm eluding to this renewed push for relational art, where experience is the conveyance of meaning, not objectification in a white walled space. Either way is a perfectly fine way of expressing yourself, but there's a growing trend here that I feel compelled to address, and one that ties to many things going on around me.

Art and life is curiously redirecting culture towards limited edition commercial object making (much of traditional art making, ie. prints, paintings, sculptures, etc.) versus the visual and audio culture that we readily consume becoming more and more ubiquitous and available in infinite reproductions on the web. Curiously I see it tying into the financial meltdown, art pricing, and the new wave of young artists finding their way out of school into the marketplace. What I've seen in Kansas City is a young push to capitalize on commodity, to make a screen printing business in basements, or to create objects gallery ready and with that certain glossy presentation that says too clearly that they are completely comfortable with art objects as collector fodder. It seems that art and consumer culture are vying to become one, and it's apparent as well in Hirst's huge self-purposed auction or in Murakami's hand bags. Art is simply business, and ideas can sometimes be subverted in the name of the sellable.

I saw an article from The Telegraph today about an upstart book-on-vinyl production operation. It seemed like a gimmick at best, but note the printed fine art object combined with the irrelevant collector technology. How many times can one listen to an audiobook anyway? When it was done in the past, there weren't cassettes or libraries full of CD's that you can borrow once and return. This is what they claim is the purpose of this,
The Underwood discs, scheduled to appear twice a year, represents part of the growing resistance to the dematerialisation of art. By emphasising tactility, scarcity (each issue is limited to 1,000 copies) and physical beauty, it offers something that can’t be digitally replicated.
Is there truly a "resistance to the dematerialisation of art"? With all innovation there is resistance to some degree. What is the value of continuing to make art objects? Lately I was in a gallery opening and people seemed equally invested in the experience of drinking free beer as much as they were in the art-gazing. What about the value of said objects? When the economy is down, and people can't buy art, should producers of art alter their approach to fit the economic realities? This I haven't seen, and its obviously represented by the multi-thousands-of-dollars that a young person's paintings are marked at here in Kansas City. Artists were taught in recent years a pricing model that isn't relevant anymore in the wake of the financial collapse. People aren't buying art, so should we still be pursuing the showing practice of white walled high-priced art displays? I'm not saying everyone should be producing limited edition stereographs of urban eccentric naked young people (if you want to pursue that idea, you can have it!), but what are we in the art game for? There are angles to pursue to make money, and there are ideas to demonstrate through our actions as artists whatever our practice, and when we go one way in an effort to demonstrate the other, these confused efforts only result in art that doesn't say what it intends, and thus isn't as valuable as something made for more commercial reasons. Is this making any sense?

So I guess where I come to is a place where making food as art has potential to satisfy all parts of the issues that I have addressed. I can offer an experience through eating, something that to me is the most relevant and ubiquitous of all experiences besides death and sex. And if I like I can commodify this approach, but neither arm of this will interfere with the other, I hope.

As for the overpriced art being pumped out across the globe, I hope that part of the education system that guided these artists into the art world has prepared them for the reality of having to fight to survive in a system that pays less and less and supports less of the most valuable expressions being made today.

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