Thursday, January 27, 2011

If you pay me, I'll ignore your ideology

When I had arrived at YJ's snack bar last night I met Carmen Moreno and Lee Piechocki. We were there to talk about art, but before the discussion began we checked my blood sugar, and the good news is...I'm not a diabetic! A random and welcome discovery (not that I was really worried). They are currently meeting with potential contributors about a grant funded publication they are curating called ASP/SPA/PAS. If you want to check out what it's all about, check out their blog.

I've been thinking about my idea for a few weeks now, mulling it over while driving cross country recently. My idea began as thoughts on art and systems of power (if you know my work you're not surprised by this). I'm talking about the art market, commerce, but also sustainability; the ethics of how an artist is sustainable, and how economic conditions today effect the creative class. Especially interesting is the intricate web of relationships that we artists have to navigate through. These could be the chats with potential buyers, ranting with other like-minded broke creatives over rum drinks, or relationships that we forge with non-profits and granting organizations. These potential financial systems may only meet us through the written paragraphs we submit in applications. They know our work by a series of 20 digital representations with accompanying image information such as size and descriptive terms. If we are lucky, not to say it isn't often deserved, the deciding committee will deem our ideas worthy to receive money, and that we are recognized for our hard work with sustenance to continue making and doing things for a short time.

The discussion with Lee and Carmen began to weave its way towards a form of this investigation that might deal more directly with Kansas City. I love the idea of reigning in my interest in this subject to reflect directly on the grant that is making this publication possible, ie. a Rocket Grant partially funded by the Charlotte Street Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation. Local relevance will help me understand the dynamics of the scene I'm not rooted in, the players, and where the money trail leads. I can't say how the final form will reflect my findings, but it could be a flow chart, a website, interviews, and a huge paper trail. How on earth do journalists do this type of investigation? I'm sure that not all the findings will be pretty, that politics will be revealed beneath the positive philanthropy taking place in KC, but I'm thrilled to have found a project that aligns with my ideals, and something that will take new form and relevance in future work I'll do while living here. I'll be posting more of my research here and if anyone has suggestions on artists or writers to look at for this work (Haacke, social practice artists, or thinkers in any field) do let me know.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Transfer iPhone voice memos to computer

So as I've been travelling, I have found voice recording to be a super useful tool in recording my thoughts while driving or it can also serve to create bootlegs of insane underground experimental jazz metal. I'll post those soon after giving them a quick edit. So as it happens, iTunes won't allow for me to transfer these audio files and since they are sticks in the mud in allowing people to use the device as they wish I had to search for a workaround to retrieve my files off of my iPhone. I found this program for my computer called iPhone Explorer and it seems like the way to go. FInally a way to search files and transfer things to and from the phone. Why Apple chooses to not allow us to access our device as a portable drive in any normal way I will never know but I'm happy that there are people out there designing ways to use our phones as we see fit. If you dig the program, throw a little money to the dev team as it helps keep people doing things like this.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What the hell do comedians know about art anyway?

WTF, the podcast, features Mark Maron's comedic talents. I'm familiar with Maron from over the years seeing his work on TV and apparently his career has found new life online with this great podcast where he interviews comedians of all types from Bob Odenkirk to Robin Williams and everyone in between. Williams, as I found out, was a pretty crazy guy back in the day and he swears like he's from my home town which is refreshing.

Maron begins his podcast by unloading his quick-witted mind on air, talking about Ikea, art, coffee, rodents, whatever really. His thoughts on art were interesting and honest, and when first hearing them during my drive towards Boston last week, I was interested in what he was saying. Over time however, my motivation to respond has waned and now I'm unsure if my initial reactions were that compelling after all. Still, he hits on subjects that at times can be relevant to anyone, and for someone just looking for interesting/hilarious off the cuff conversations, WTF is worth a look. It's ranked #1 on iTunes and it's free!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The market rate for political expression

Naughton, Nicholas "One day in the rose garden", collage, 2010.

I met an artist named Rollin Bemish yesterday. This post isn't about him, but he did lay the tracks for what I'm thinking about now, and with thoughts plunging ahead, I thought I would jot down some ideas and links for y'all to check out. He is in Kansas City for his show at La Esquina called "a glimpse within". It's a group show, with some interesting work I have to say. It's a group show curated by Caleb Taylor that includes painting, collage, illustration, video, and the sculpture is quite nice. Undulating waves of reeds swaying from side to side over and over. Just the mechanical structure is something to see.

Anyway, Rollin approached my work with a different style than I've had in recent studio visits. It's nice to have a more academic studio visit from time to time. I felt a bit self conscious about calling my work political, especially socialist (the bomb that he dropped on me), but I was happy that he reminded me of the current call for artists for the 2011 Berlin Biennale. As I've been reading, the curator Artur Zmijewski is known for his theory of politics and art, something I love to mull over, especially his idea about 'duty and rebellion'. I've had quite a few conversations with people this week about selling art, about taking a commercial approach in art practice, and the various pros or cons relating to that choice. I'm also constantly considering my socially motivated art objects in the context of a market. Of course, the predominant direction of a lot of contemporary artists is towards the new media, towards experienced based art, or towards collectiveness and sustainability. All of these modes of working subvert the capitalist art model, or simply do not adhere to a structure that allows for the work to be easily confined within the commodity distinction. Challenging the system for the sake of doing so isn't that interesting, but work that's honest that does that can be astoundingly good, and much of it is completely ephemeral. It's not that artists are always searching to defy commercialism, we contribute to the larger conversation and over time this evolves beyond our current systemic boundaries, though it has been proven over time that collectors and institutions will find a way to monetize just about any object or experience. A great example is the collection of performance art, or the acquisition of the '@' symbol at MOMA. Pretty soon the smell of a fart will be bought and sold, or a twitter account will be collected and stored for posterity. Piero Manzoni already sold a can of his shit, so anything is possible.

The curator Zmijewski says this of Duty and Rebellion...
...Grzegorz Kowalski and Maryla Sitkowska mounted [an exhibition title] on the centenary of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw: Duty and Rebellion. Even though the exhibition concerned the academy as an institution, its title was indicative of a split present within art. A split that allows art to „work for” the state and the national economy, to serve society as a shaper of environments, producer of visual information systems, designer of interiors and industrial goods, in short – to do its duty. On the other hand, art is kept from lapsing into dependence on the authorities by its rebelliousness, because it insistently challenges the taboo, nurtures dreams, proliferates freedom, and produces social knowledge, (art can be said to be an open university of knowledge). Art constantly offers and denies its services to the powers that be. In doing its duty it usually does not cross a certain line marked out by shame.
It really falls in line with many of my conversations; the perceived back and forth seesawing of our activities as artists. On one hand, I have to eat and if I have an inkling of what might sell, or my work is received well in a certain gallery or market-driven space, than I should probably pursue it to continue making and doing what I love. On the other hand, I want to make challenging expressions that are not bound to the restrictions of the white cube. Ideas that ride on the fringe of art and its overlaps with other fields like science, music, and philosophy. Maybe collaboration or collective expression is a goal of this direction, but the main issue is that making work about experience alone is something that isn't going to pay my bills or allow for me to continue making things. I have to then spend more time hustling at a job to support this need to create outside of a commercial art system. With less energy, output is down, thus the quantities of ideas will be less explored, or the monumental scales that I crave to achieve will not be brought to fruition.

I've realized that over time, it's not pertinent to continue on in this direction unless one has a job that can truly support the luxury of non-commercial creation. I see it as a task of making what one wants to make, sellable or not, and being organized in finding the way to doing it sustainably. Art is a business after all.