What Is The Question?

kw_schema_aquafresh_2003.jpg
Kelley Walker, Schema Aquafresh plus Crest with tartar control, 2003, digital file, image: camstl.org

I am not at all ready to address the discussion and protests surrounding the exhibition of Kelley Walker's work at CAM St Louis, but the statement by Paula Cooper caught me up. "The role of the artist, it has been said, is to ask questions, not answer them." Chekhov said that, and he's not wrong, but not right enough, either.

And KareemEstefan responded, in a tweet exchange with Pedro Velez, "True--but does Walker know what Qs his art is asking?"

That reminded me of the paragraph I'd cut from the top of Mirta D'Argenzio's Rauschenberg essay I quoted yesterday. I am pretty sure this is the artist speaking:

"Gertrude Stein said on her death bed when they asked her what the answer was and she said, 'What is the question?' So I have to keep the question changing. The only way to do that is with an open mind." It's rather like the riddle of the sphinx. Rauschenberg, the insatiable, suggests that the riddle be left unsolved, and indicates that the very purpose of art is to keep changing its questions.
The very purpose of art is to keep changing its questions.

It seems to me that this is what is happening to Walker and his work in the 13 years since he made it. Not only have the questions changed, the audience has, too. And sounds like neither the artist, the curator, nor the institution understood that.

The sharpest thinking I've seen on Walker's work is still Glenn Ligon's essay in Parkett from 2010 [pdf]. Ligon finds the utter insufficiency of thought or discussion around Walker's use of black imagery to be significant in itself, both a "dilemma" and a source of "enormous vitality." He correctly identified "Kelley Walker's Negro Problem" as the art world's problem, too. And America's. He's still right.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

post info

first published: September 23, 2016.

next older post:
'A True Short Circuit'

next newer post:
More Aaron Kuriloff, Please

recent projects, &c.


pm_social_medium_recent_proj_160x124.jpg
Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

madf_twitter_avatar.jpg
Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

chop_shop_at_springbreak
Chop Shop
at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

do_not_bid_or_buy_iris_sidebar.jpg
eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

shanzhai_gursky_mb_thumb.jpg
It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

therealhennessy_tweet_sidebar.jpg
TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

sop_red_gregorg.jpg
Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

weeksville_echo_sidebar.jpg
"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


drp_04_gregorg_sidebar.jpg
Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

czrpyr_blogads.jpg
Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

archives