"Tasteful In A Lily Tomlin Sense"? Also, John Cage

In its first iteration in 1984-5, The Territory of Art I was described as "a sixteen part series of half-hour radio programs that explored issues of contemporary art and design through commentary, interviews, original drama, and new music from more than 140 artists, designers, performers, composers, and critical thinkers." It was produced by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and curator Julie Lazar was the managing editor.

The first two episodes were hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. The third, titled "The Collectors," contained an interview with Benjamin Buchloh, alas, not by Whoopi Goldberg. Also, Gene Schwartz, Leo Castelli, Count Panza, John Weber, Barbara Rose, some corporate art consultant I don't remember, and David Salle, who didn't say much. Someone, I think it was Weber, contrasted art that collectors buy to challenge themselves with people who just want something "tasteful in the Lily Tomlin sense." Except for that lost-on-me reference--and the implausibility of the idea that anyone might actually want a Schnabel--the discussion could have taken place last year.

Several episodes, including No. 3, are available as mp3 files.

By 1994, when she was on a Pew Fellowships in the Arts panel, Lazar's bio was calling The Territory of Art, by then in its fourth and final iteration, "an ongoing program of commissioned works for radio."

I'm inclined to accept this transformation from program to work, and not just because Lazar curated what is I still consider one of the best museum exhibitions I've ever seen or heard of with the greatest exhibition catalogue I've ever seen, John Cage's "Rolywholyover."

The fifth program of Territory of Art IV was "just to rolywholyover: John Cage in memoriam," written by Klaus Schöning. Though it's nominally an interview with Cage, the program is also a remarkable and entrancing work of art. I bought the CD ten or more years ago, but just unwrapped it this morning to rip into my new iPod. Fortunately for everyone who is not me--which is most of you--MOCA offers the mp3.

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.

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first published: April 24, 2009.

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