‘I Had No Intention Of Making Good Paintings’

I said it publicly a couple of times now, and I was more cynical about them then than I am now, but when I first saw Richard Prince’s Canal Zone paintings, I thought he was trying to see how bad he could paint. I half-joked that he wanted to see if his new dealer Larry Gagosian could really sell whatever shit he literally slapped together.
The higher concept way of putting that, of course, is that Prince was interested in process over product, in setting constraints and parameters on his practice, and in destabilizing himself by experimenting with techniques he knew he hadn’t mastered.
I really came to appreciate the paintings, not so much for themselves–they’re still undeniably shitty–but for their catalytic effect, the way the Cariou lawsuit compelled Prince to talk at length and under oath, about his work. His deposition is really pure art historical gold, and the way art is discussed in the legal context is disorienting and exciting to me, language-wise.
gh_banalzone.jpg
Still, as the legal case drags on, I find the paintings themselves–more precisely, the images of the paintings themselves, since almost no one’s seen the actual objects for years now–kind of tedious, beside the point. And my interest wasn’t rekindled by Banal Zone, Jomar Statkun show of Chinese Paint Mill copies of Prince’s paintings. Literally any idiot can order Chinese Paint Mill paintings. Ask me how I know! And anyway, those joints were Inkjets by NancyScans.
But I am glad that Statkun’s show serves as the catalyst for Prince to birdtalk about making the Canal Zone paintings. Because CALLED IT:

But aren’t I curious about the “Chinese” paintings my anonymous friends ask? No I’m not. From what I’ve seen they look worst than some of the paintings I’ve already painted. You have to understand that when I started out painting my Canal Zone paintings I had no intention of making good paintings. In fact most of them were never finished and the majority were an experiment with new painting techniques. (This is the first time I’ve gone on the record about this stuff). Anyway… there are a couple of Canal Zone paintings that WERE aggressive and satisfying in ways that hard to describe… they were done quickly and under the influence of certain music I was listening to at the time… and part of this “screen play” I was toying around with. They started out as storyboards for a “pitch” called Eden Rock. (You got to start somewhere). They started off innocently enough when I found this Rasta book on vacation and I simply starting to use some of the images in the book for collages. (Early on I pasted a guitar over the body of one of the Rasta’s, kind of lined it up so that the Rasta looked as if he was “wailing” away… and there you go… off to the races). I can’t say it more simply. Wild History.

Expecting Good Paintings out of Richard Prince is as crazy as expecting Good Photographs. It’s just not how he rolls.
BIRDTALK 2/12/2014 [richardprince.com]
Garis & Hahn Presents Jomar Statkun’s ‘Banal Zone’ [hyperallergic sponsor; direct to garisandhahn]

Thank You So Artist Much: Another Comment Spam Text, Annotated

OK, I really can’t do this every day, but this is the second time the text of a comment spam has caught my attention, and I have to chase down its sources. Maybe the algorithms are getting smarter:

Aaaand we’re done Thank you so artist much for joining my studio and then re-photographed these as a homage to James Van Der Zee [ and I had that camera everywhere. The screenshot below shows the progress so far. In terms of gender, pleasure and sexual politics well before the founding of the women’s art movement, he said.

I was first thinking the text sources were uncannily coherent in their arty grouping. But maybe it’s just what you’d expect for a comment spam for a Florida makeup artist left on a blog post about C-Section cakes. Anyway, see the list after the jump.

Continue reading “Thank You So Artist Much: Another Comment Spam Text, Annotated”

The First Panfish Back On The Piers In Spring

The first line of this comment spam caught my eye as I was deleting it from another blog this morning:

Let me be the first panfish back on the piers in the spring and fall, the feeding trout will be moving very high in the pool, I pull on the oars and they dive under. The loss of fishing rod gimbal her mom and her passion for the sport any other time of the year.
Preserve the LandMake sure you fishing rod gimbal know the different varieties of fish
that can be had from the general fish market in you area.

I know people have used spam for poetry and such. My first thought is to see where this text actually originated.
But Googling for highly specific phrases turns up nothing but itself; no source, just the copy. It makes me wonder if unique texts are part of a feedback loop, key performance indicators for spammer. Do the Google results for “Let me be the first panfish back on the piers” [first 81, now 147] tell spammers something useful about the success or persistence of a deployment? Does it help identify sites that remain open to comment spamming?
Just as I was creating that link, I actually searched for a shorter phrase, “first panfish back on the piers in the spring,” which turned up “Carolina saltwater anglers getting in a last blast of sea mullet fishing,” a 2011 article from the Charlotte Examiner:

If the water stays warm whiting will continue to hit longer, if it gets too cold they will shut off. But they will be the first panfish back on the piers in the spring.

So the spam text generator’s standard unit is shorter than a sentence, but longer than a phrase.
Searching for another phrase, “moving very high in the pool,” somehow only turns up six results, and two of them are for a different sentence altogether:

Regardless of your exact location andd specific charter you
select, you will be moving very high in the pool as not to spook the holding fish. Hopefully we can start oout close and not have to despair because they cannot keep their trophy.
Bruce was having a great time, even if you did call me a ruin!
I make fishing estes park standard dishes every week,
but I could see it was murkier below annd the water was heavy.
Pink salmon are easy to catch, handle, hold, and release catfish will reduce stress and fishing estes park increase survival.

Here is one from the Grey Friars Pub in Ontario, whose second and last blog post, “How To Get Perfect Grill Marks,” has accumulated over 56,000 comments in 14 months. The “high in the pool” comment spam was posted on Oct. 21, 2013. The other instance, from just a couple of weeks ago, doesn’t have the typos. Do algo-generated comment spams have copyeditors?
The full text of my comment spam first turned up a month earlier, Sept. 28, 2013, in Honig Biene’s Gästebuch, which I can’t usefully link to, so I took a screenshot:
honig_panfish.jpg
I don’t know what any of this means, if anything. Greater literary minds than I are probably putting together comment spam conferences as I type. But like the first panfish back on the piers in spring, I am gorging on the textual sand fleas of the internet, and I have been lured and caught by the text bait that has been dangled in front of me.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Café, Society

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Sometimes it takes a little while to piece things together. I just opened a book for the first time which I bought in 1997: Lavoro Localizzata/Located Work, the 2-volume publication that accompanied Joseph Kosuth’s July 1995 graduate workshop for the Fondazione Antonio Ratti. Kosuth’s project was to have students write out 1-page instructions for an artwork which would be realized by another student. The resulting show was both the instructions and their realizations, and the objectives were primarily related to upsetting ideas of process and authorship. Alas, none of the instructions in the otherwise bilingual catalogue are translated, so who knows how the images relate. What interested me were the conference essays by eminences like Iwona Blazwick, Francesco Bonami and Nicholas Bourriaud, who graciously made the trek to Lake Como. They’re almost nowhere online, only in an archive here on undo.net.
Bourriaud’s quite explicit on the exhibition, not the artwork, as the relevant unit of art production. I am a bit more sanguine about this quote now that its date is fixed to 1995, and not 1997:

While interactivity has, of course, become something of a buzzword, my concept of interactivity goes beyond gadgetry such as the internet. Interactivity begins with a handshake which is, in a way, much more interesting than all the interactive technical devices on offer. As regards my interest in interactivity, I would like to give the following definition of artistic activity: the artist invents relations between people with the aid of signs, forms, actions or gestures. My first point is that I firmly believe it is difficult, nowadays, to represent reality. In a way, I think we are through with the representation of reality. These are times when we should be producing reality.

Bourriaud’s talk feels like a time capsule, just opened to reveal the important ideas and artifacts of the day, preserved untouched by editing or the passage of time:

In my opinion, the most important process to come about since the beginning of Modern Art has been the transformation of the artwork from a monument into an event. An event is something we have to share if we are ever to understand it; nobody understands an event by himself; it calls for discussion, and an attempt to establish an exchange with the participants or other viewers. Another notion worthy of note is conviviality, particularly important over the last few years. Rirkrit Tiravanija, for instance, at ‘Aperto 93’, installed an area where the viewers could partake of instant soup and noodles. Elsewhere, Angela Bulloch has worked extensively on the idea of putting people together, as has Andrea Fraser with his [sic] lectures held in museums. Felix Gonzalez-Torres, too, has insisted on the same issue with his work regarding cafés, including a recent Grenoble outing. If we look slightly further back in time, Gordon Matta-Clark set up a restaurant in 1971, Daniel Spoerri was wont to organize meals in the 60’s, and Robert Filliou and George Brecht had a shop together near Nice in the late 60’s. The point I wish to make, however, is that while conviviality or the production of relationships between people was, for artists in the 60’s and 70’s, an objective, it is now a starting point for artists.

Art as event. The freshness of instant noodles. We now know more how these have panned out. But what is this about a Felix Gonzalez-Torres café? I was drawing a blank, even though I thought I was pretty familiar with Felix’s work–and more relevant here, perhaps, with his non-work. Maybe Bourriaud’s reference was to a project that had been edited out of Felix’s body of work.
So I looked through the documentation and publications of Felix’s work. The only exhibition in Grenoble he’s listed in was “I, Myself and Others: a place to come to” a group show curated by Thierry Ollatt, the director of Le Magasin, which ran from July – Oct. 1992. The show also included Andrea Fisher, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Sean Landers, Philippe Parreno, Philippe Perrin, and Joe Scanlan. The show seems to have been about the title, autobiography.
But the Gonzalez-Torres catalogue raisonné doesn’t list any works as having been shown in Grenoble. There are several go-go boy dance platforms from 1992 listed in the “Registered Non-Works” section, but none have any obvious connection to Grenoble. Seems like a dead end.
Then as I tried digging up installation shots, or any discussion of the show, I tried looking in the Magasin’s file directory:
magasin_myself_dir.jpg
It’s a good day for random corners on servers. Here’s magasin03.jpg, an installation shot with Scanlan’s bookcases.
magasin_myself03.jpg
And here’s magasin02.jpg, the archival image of “Untitled” (USA Today), 1990, Felix’s third corner pour, but the first shown in a museum.
magasin_myself02.jpg
Maybe it’s better to say it’s the first mature corner candy piece. “Untitled” (Fortune Cookie Corner) and “Untitled” (A Corner of Baci) both came before it, but the former is defined by the number of unwrapped [and therefore increasingly gross] cookies, and the latter is small (ideal wt: 42lbs) and pricey to replenish. So “Untitled” (USA Today), ideal wt. 300 lbs, which was shown at the New Museum at the end of 1990, has a symbolic weight and title, and has the take-one-and-replenish dynamic figured out. It also turns out that “Untitled” (USA Today) was originally exhibited with the title “Untitled” (Mirage). The work was shown in at the same time, December 1990, in Berlin, and in 1991 in Kassel, in a two-person show with Cady Noland. [Gotta look that one up next.]
I guess what interests me is not the evidence of shapeshifting and mutability in Felix’s work, which is normal for an artist as he goes along, but which is also a specific characteristic of Felix’s work in its public and posthumous incarnations. It’s how foreign Bourriaud’s brief mention felt to me, how unrecognizable, how far from the way Felix’s work–and particularly the candy pieces–has come to be perceived and discussed. I think the conviviality thing is still valid, so maybe it’s not so far, but I just can’t imagine ever describing his work in terms of a café. Rather than frag Bourriaud, though, it makes me think how prone we are to settling into our experiences with art, and how the present inevitably overwrites not the past, but our memory of it. I know people who know what was in this show, but it never occurred to me to ask, because I never realized I didn’t know.

Than Friend Brad

than_friend_brad.jpg
Than Friend Brad, 2013
via @willak comes this collaboratively written essay by Brad Troemel, Artie Vierkant, and Ben Vickers, Club Kids: The Social Life of Artists on Facebook. It is so perfectly and myopically descriptive of their situation as social network artists and curators without recognizing the situation as deeply problematic, that it’s exasperating to read. Until the very end, when they seem to conclude that yes, Facebook is not the world, or even the internet, but a “bad infinity” [pace Hegel], where the seeming endlessness of choice is a controlled, corporate deception.
And so, too, would be the very idea of an artistic practice or an artistic dialogue that centers/exists/originates on Facebook, and that is comprised of posts documenting “the artist’s online brand” and her “lifestyle,” activity driven by and judged by likes and friendings and other technosocial cues.

Why go to such great lengths to make and photograph a painting that will net 5 Likes when a photo of you and your friends eating 50 McChickens could net hundreds?

First off, don’t get me started on the “make and photograph a painting” thing; I’ve curated Contemporary Art Daily-only shows in my head the same as anyone else. So please don’t pretend that actually painting a painting–especially one that requires going to “great lengths,” whatever that may mean–doesn’t change your very being just as surely as eating 50 McChickens does.
And anyway, it seems like this essay was written well over a year ago, before Facebook’s IPO, and Troemel and friends are still ordering exclusively off Art’s Value Meal, tumblin’ rebloggable insta-art, curating themselves into IRL group shows without a critical care in the world.
In this new age of Smarm we suddenly find ourselves living in, Brad and Artie’s mapping of their platform’s spectrum of critical discourse seems very apt:

Feedback, if any, is always on a scale ranging from positive to non-existent–the Like function itself being explicitly designed as a binary function between total consensus and total lack of response. Instead of moving the artistic conversation forward, most people are literally just happy to be part of the online conversation, to be part of the club or whatever other indistinct social group they silently pledge allegiance to.

This seems like a very shitty environment in which to make art, and frankly, I’d be surprised if people who spend six figures for two years of MFA crits would put up with it. Or maybe that’s exactly what they crave after they’re out of school: affirmation, reassurance, participation, belonging, naked acknowledgement of one’s existence and activity.
But what’s the alternative?

Posting work to the internet with no social network readily in place is synonymous with the riddle ‘If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?’ For young artists on the internet the answer to the forest question is ‘no’- their work will easily go unnoticed, making their participation as a social actor an a priori necessity to contextualizing what they do as art.

Except it turns out that just because you can’t hear it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make a sound. Elephants can hear sounds below the range of human detection. 7-Eleven owners blast music at loitering teenagers at frequencies Olds cannot perceive. Don’t make art only for your friends’ affirmation, or for Hans Ulrich’s attention. There are people in the world you don’t know.
It would behoove the Facebook Artist to get off Facebook once in a while, at least, where you can find critical responses beyond “total lack of response,” and people making and engaging art that is not interchangeable with lifestyle, and who don’t give much of a damn about fave parties.
Club Kids: The Social Life of Artists on Facebook [dismagazine]
UPDATE Wow, so much quietly delivered support for this post. Intriguing! And thanks!

Hito, Alexander, October & Yves Peintures

Hang with me, there’s a lot here, and I don’t really have the bandwidth to go into it right now, so I’m just going to slap it up here for now:

Walker Art Center curator Bart Ryan recently talked with Liam Gillick and Hito Steyerl about writing as part of their/art practice.

It’s part of 9 Artists, Ryan’s show about, well, I’m sure the title says plenty. Until I read the 28,000-word catalogue essay, I’m just going with the title. Steyerl’s 2007 work Red Alert is in the show, though. It’s three redscreen monochrome monitors mounted in landscape, a gesture she describes as “the logical end of the documentary genre,”
rodchenko_pure_red_yellow_blue.jpg
Pure Red Color (Chistyi krasnyi tsvet), Pure Yellow Color (Chistyi
zheltyi tsvet), Pure Blue Color (Chistyi sinii tsvet)
, 1921, each panel 24.5 x 21 or so

in a similar way to Rodchenko declaring his 1921 three-panel monochrome, Pure Red Color, Pure Yellow Color, Pure Blue Color represented the logical end of painting.
rodchenko_red_yellow_blue_black_white.jpg
image of October reproduction of Rodchenko monochromes via e-flux
Which paintings now always remind me of a 2010 e-flux journal article about October magazine, which it turns out I’d misremembered a bit, but that’s OK. Bernard Ortiz Campo wondered about art writing and why October only printed black & white images of artworks:

In the spring of 2000 in an article on Nikolai Tarabukin, the journal reproduced three monochrome paintings by Alexander Rodchenko: Pure Red Color, Pure Yellow Color, and Pure Blue Color. These three paintings, reproduced in black and white, resulted in three rectangles showing different shades of gray. As I looked at them, I found myself asking whether it made sense to reproduce them at all. I even entertained the possibility that the reproductions weren’t images of the actual paintings, that perhaps they had been “rendered” by the journal’s photomechanical process, and that the only thing that identified them as paintings by Rodchenko were the captions. I intuited that this extreme case could offer a reason for the black-and-white reproductions–hypothetical, of course, for being the fruit of my speculation, but a reason nonetheless.

I remembered this as imagining that the Rodchenko monochromes themselves didn’t actually exist except as illustrations. And black & white ones at that.
yves_peintures_archive.jpg
Yves Peintures, 1954, image: yveskleinarchives.org
Which reminded me of one of my absolute favorite Yves Klein works, a book, or maybe it’s a portfolio? More a catalogue. Yves Peintures bears the mind-bogglingly early date of 1954. The Klein Archives lists it as “his first public artistic action.” It is a looseleaf booklet with ten color plates of monochrome paintings that don’t exist.
yves_peintures_londres.png
They are commercial samples of colored paper, tipped in and given arbitrary dimensions and locales/titles: a Londres, 1950 (195 x 97); a Tokio, 1953 (100 x 65), &c. The accompanying text, credited to Pascal Claude, is entirely strikethroughs, assuming it was ever any less fictional than the paintings. [Speaking of writing, Philippe Vergne loves Yves Peintures even more than I do; he goes nuts for it in this 2010 essay about how Klein basically started and ended everything ever.]
yves_peinture_tokio.png
I’ve never been able to figure out quite how many copies of Yves Peintures exist, much less how I will get my hands on one. The Archives illustrates five examples, each different. The Archives has also authorized a facsimile of Yves Peintures, produced by Editions Delicta, in an edition of 400. I don’t know how many variations are in that one, if any. I will guess none. The obvious solution is to make one myself, as the logical end of fictional monochrome artist book making.

OPCW Verb List

serra_verb_list.jpg
Richard Serra, Verb List, 1967-68, image: moma.org
When the US’s demand to destroy all of Syria’s chemical weapons was first being discussed in September, I heard a report on NPR about the Office for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and how they went about their mission. It struck me as an almost sculptural process, a cross between Paul Shabroom, a Matthew Barney gallery installation, and Richard Serra’s Verb List.
deller_car_new_museum.jpg
5 March 2007
Now that the OPCW is on the ground, has won the Nobel Peace Prize, and is completing their inspections and such, I thought I’d pull together some news accounts of these CW destruction techniques for reference. When I get a bit more time, I’ll try digging through the OPCW’s site for official protocols and such. At some point, like Jeremy Deller’s bombed out car from Iraq, I guess this stuff should be exhibited.
A slightly facile FAQ-style AP article, Chemical Arms Inspectors Gird For Risky, Dirty Job” [npr.org]:

THE SIMPLEST WAY TO DISABLE EQUIPMENT? SMASH IT!
Inspectors can use any means they deem necessary to render equipment inoperable, including techniques that are crude but effective. Options include: taking sledgehammers to control panels; driving tanks over empty vats or filling them with concrete; or running mixing machines without lubricant so they seize up and become inoperable.

From the Washington Post, same day Chemical weapons officials say coordination with Syrian government has been ‘efficient'”:

He said OPCW officials charged with destroying Syria’s chemical weapons production capabilities by Nov. 1 will use “expedient methods” to fulfill their task.
“It might be a case of smashing something up with a sledgehammer. It might be a case of smashing something up with some explosive. It might be a case of driving a tank over something,” he said, or filling vessels with concrete, ruining valves and running bearings without oil so that they get stuck.
That won’t take long or cost much money, he said, but disposing of the chemicals themselves “is going to cost a lot.”

From a McClatchy report on Sept. 30, “Experts optimistic Nov. 1 deadline can be met for ending Syria’s chemical threat” [miamiherald.com]:

Once combined, the chemicals result in a mixture that is unstable and dangerous to handle. But before they are mixed, the chemicals generally are far less dangerous.
The equipment needed to mix those chemicals is easily destroyed, said Ralf Trapp, a chemical threat consultant who was among the original staffers who set up the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. “You can drills holes, cut pipes and flanges, remove wiring, crush computer boards, fill tanks with concrete,” he noted.
Disposal of the separated chemicals also is relatively easy, he said. One, an alcohol, “can simply be poured out onto the desert to evaporate without any risk,” he said.

A quick search has not yet turned up any photos or documentation of these practices, b

The Next Pynchon Novel Will Be Written By A Bot

audpub_truitt_cov.jpg
I somehow missed the announcement for this when it was published in 2011, but here’s Anne Truitt Minimalism, Color Field, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Bryn Mawr College, Psychology, James Truitt, edited by Eldon A. Mainyu.
It’s a 112-page collection of Wikipedia articles for $56. And it’s one of the 6,910 titles by Mainyu for sale at Barnes & Noble. It’s the on-demand publishing equivalent of Artisoo’s Amazon Art mashup of Google Images and Chinese Paint Mill. And it, too, caught Anne Truitt in its indexical merchandise net.
Whoops, he just cranked it to 6,911. Here are the bestsellers:
audpublishing_screenshot.jpg
Which you’ll note veers to the alphabetical pretty quickly. I would guess that so far, BN has sold copies of seven Mainyu books.
Anyway, Mainyu’s not alone. He fronts Aud Publishing, which is just one of the 78 Wikipedia-centered imprints launched in 2011 by the Mauritius- and Germany-based book mill known as VDM Publishing. The division was apparently created and staffed by running the text of Foucault’s Pendulum into a Pynchon Name Generator:
Dismas Reinald Apostolis, Dic Press
Gerd Numitor, Flu Press
Agamemnon Maverick, Ord Publishing
Elwood Kuni Waldorm, PsychoPublishing
Indigo Theophanes Dax, The
The! Every one of them has several thousand titles and several hundred thousand Google results, tracing the invisible contours and channels of publishing’s automated datascape.
The crazy thing is, now I actually want to see some of these books, see how they turned out, but also see how they were spidered together. Because that Truitt title is not just an automated grab of the first ten links in the Wikipedia entry. Or at least it’s not now. Maybe it was in 2011.
permanent_food_4_adaweb.gifWhat would assembling a more complicated or randomized chain of Wikipedia links yield? Is there a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-like connectedness between any and all bits of human knowledge [on Wikipedia]? Is there poetry or literature to be found/made there? Could an algorithm surfing through Wikipedia produce meaning or newness, or something beyond the temporary frisson of WTF juxtaposition?
I think of magazine projects like Maurizio Cattelan & Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s Permanent Food, which solicited and compiled tearsheets from around the world, in hopes of creating what Maurizio called a magazine with no personality. [I forgot ada’web also did a web version, Permanent Foam. 17 years later, I guess I should be more surprised that one of the 14 links actually still works.] Then there’s the more associational daisy chain of visuals that was Ruth Root’s wondrous press release for her 2008 show at Kreps. And of course, The Arcades Project.
So it seems entirely possible to make an engrossing read, maybe even a story, out of a Wikipedia surf session. Someone has to have done this already, right? But I guess the gantlet Mainyu has thrown down is to find the genius in the automation, to see if you can write the bot that creates the iconic literature of its time.

On The Real [sic] Economic And Cultural Power Of The Art World

In this set-up for After Art, his slim tome of theory on networked images, Yale’s David Joselit argues that art’s status as a luxury commodity is not a bug, but a feature, and the art world should get with the program:

Indeed, all over the world, from Bilbao to Abu Dhabi to Beijing, new contemporary museums are being established in order to consolidate local elites, and broadcast a global image of cultural progressiveness. Commenting on the Qatar Museum Authority’s staggering budget of some $1 billion per year for art acquisitions, the New York Times recently declared, “it seems clear that, just as Qatar has used its oil riches to boost its influence in the Middle East with ventures like arming Syrian rebels, its wealth is also being deployed to help the country become a force in the world of culture.” It is rather breathtaking — and enormously revealing — that arming Syrian rebels and building a sophisticated cultural infrastructure can be so seamlessly joined in the same sentence.
Paradoxically, artists, critics and historians too often disavow the art world’s capacity as an economic engine and its political power as a marker of national development. The reasons for this are obvious: if one admits the real economic and cultural power of the art world, one must also give up on the enduring myth that works of art remain apart from that world, existing in a realm of detached criticality or extra-economic authenticity. In actuality, the art world has grown enormously in the post-World War II period and in its combination of knowledge production, public presentation, and patronage of powerful elites, it has begun to resemble institutions of higher learning on the one hand, and the entertainment industry on the other. It seems to me that art’s worldly power, which tends to be veiled (or literally obscene), can be harnessed better and to more progressive ends by artists.

I guess I’ll have to read the book, but a term like “art world” can obfuscate a whole lot of power-related detail, of who’s doing the wielding and to what end. But I suspect neither art’s power nor the enduring myth are quite as real IRL as they are in Joselit’s thought experiment. And I don’t know about revealing, but that whole Syrian thing just gets more breathtakingly timely by the week, doesn’t it?
UPDATE: Joselit’s piece ends by holding up Ai Weiwei as an example of an artist who wields this kind of art world/real world power. Which, interestingly, Jason Farago mentions Ai, too, in his BBC article on the timid Metropolitan Opera getting dragged into the controversy over Russia’s shameful discrimination of LGBT people. Farago compares the Met’s inaction to the institutional outcries and support given to Ai Weiwei during his imprisonment. [via @karenarchey]
Which might render Joselit’s notion of art world power all the more quaint, and his call for action all the more damningly empty. His book came out in 2012, but the oppression and discrimination against lesbians and gays in Russia is surely the first test of Joselit’s paradigm: a fundamental “progressive end” toward which the “art world”–not just artists and institutions, but presumably, the administrators, executives, trustees, collectors, dealers, fair organizers, magazines, philanthropists, and critics–should be harnessing “art’s worldly power.”
How’s that going? Sure, there’s tepid talk of boycotting the Moscow Biennial. But has anyone checked in with the Russian oligarchs and collectors [and the Ukranian one(s), for that matter, since Ukraine has already enacted similar discriminatory measures] who collect, show and sponsor? Who chair galas and sit on museum boards and invest in art-related Internet startups? It would make for an exciting Frieze VIP preview. But I’m not waiting up.
The Politics of Information | David Joselit [berfrois.com]

Sturtevant on ‘The Entangled Challenge of Replication’

It’s almost four years now since I read this paper by Sturtevant–the first extended thing I’d actually read by her, not about her–when Tate Papers came online, and it’s been rocking my world ever since. She’d prepared it in October 2007 for a symposium titled, Inherent Vice: The Replica and its Implications in Modern Sculpture Workshop.
Her crisp, verse-like text talks about replicas, copies, repeats, remakes, and re-dos, and where our “cyber” age has brought them. Here’s a favorite part:

This trap, our obsession
of what lies on the surface,
is prevalent everywhere.
It is not a question of getting
rid of these potent elements as
not knowing it could be there.
Its blatant absence is in high gear
in most of our current art whose
push and shove is production
as meaning and consumption
as use.
Or burden by heavy subjectivity
or
hiding behind anonymity,
or
displaying our vast barren interior
by retreating to regressive teeny-bopper imagery.
The interior of art, the understructure,
is being concisely and brutally eliminated.

Ironically [because the next section of the talk is a criticism of listening instead of seeing], I’ve recently begun running art papers through my laptop’s text-to-speech, turning them into artist talks, which I listen to while I work. For whatever reason, Sturtevant’s text yields one of the robot’s best [re-]performances.
So I just recorded a reading by Alex, the most naturalistic of OSX’s default voices, which you can play here. It’s about 7min. [mp3]
Or re-do it yourself with your favorite voice: Inherent Vice or Vice Versa | Sturtevant, from Tate Papers Issue 8 [tate.org.uk/research]

Standard Operating Procedure Is Here

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OK, It’s hard to complain about your day-to-day when you’re doing a project on people being held in indefinite detention for a decade, even after being cleared for release, and then being force fed with nasal tubes when you go on a hunger strike in a last ditch effort to get attention for your existence.
So anyway, Standard Operating Procedure is out, and it is rather amazing.

2. When the Nurse is satisfied that the detainee is secured and a safe environment exists, they shall insert the EF tube ias SOP NO:JTF-JMT #001 and secure it as dsecribed in (A).
3. The guard may then release their hold on the detainee’s head
E. If a particular detainee displays repeated attempts to bite the tube, a weighted 10f tube shall be used for all subsequent EF.
F. If the detainee is able to gain the tube between his teeth, the nurse will:
1. Simultaneously turn off feed and, immediately stabilize the distal end of the tube and pull the tube from the detainee’s nose.
2. Maintain traction on the proximal portion of the tube until the detainee releases the tube from between his teeth. This may take considerable time. [p. 281]

These documents–these words, in this order–are extraordinary. They have been written this way.
Buy Standard Operating Procedure in unsigned, unnumbered edition, 6x9x1.5, $15.99 plus shipping [createspace]
Previously: Standard Operating Procedure

Standard Operating Procedure

In Japan, I woke up a couple of nights angry from dreams about having dinner at the White House, and sitting across from Pres. Obama, and arguing with him about hunger striking prisoners at Guantanamo.
We talked–I talked at him, because, I guess my mind was incapable of imagining a viable retort, really, what could he say?–about Yasiin Bey’s video demonstrating the standard procedure the military uses to force feed hunger strikers through their noses. And I asked if the Constitution was now as quaint as the Geneva Conventions, a reference to Bush era torture theorist John Yoo’s position on following the rule of law and international treaties the US had nominally upheld for decades.
It was the kind of dream where I felt that surge of adrenaline, that this moment, this conversation, was going to be what opened the President’s eyes to the awful urgency of this situation our country is in. These people are in.
I had seen the reports by investigative journalist Jason Leopold which revealed JTF-GTMO’s recent, extraordinary revisions to the prison hospital’s forced feeding procedures. But it wasn’t until a couple of days ago that, with Jason’s assistance, I found the actual military manuals and memos themselves. They are in an archive of documents produced in response to Freedom of Information Act requests maintained byThe Department of Defense’s FOIA Service Center.
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I can’t not do something, so I have published the three sets of detainee treatment regulations, known as Standard Operating Procedures, as a book. Which, believe me, I know. I feel a bit like an outraged @Powhida jamming @BarackObama into all his tweets, until the non-effect wore him out.
It’s weird feeling compelled to do something that you recognize is irrational and irrelevant. But again, I can’t not do something, and this is one thing I do. And with all due respect to Richard Prince, this text, as it is, and as it drives the world, is the kind of thing I feel must be propagated and put examined and contextualized if appropriation, or art, or attention, really, is going to mean anything at all.
Standard Operating Procedure includes the SOP Manual for Camp Delta, the prison side of GTMO, which was implemented in 2003. It’s 240-some pages, not including the various classified appendices for detainee transport and adjudication, which have not, apparently, been released. It also contains the 2003 version of SOP for the detention hospital for “Voluntary and Non-Voluntary Total Fasting and Re-Feeding,” which has several p.ages completely redacted. And then there’s the May 2013 revision to those procedures, which are contained in an SOP for the Joint Medical Group for the “Medical Management of Detainees on Hunger Strike.” That’s the regime the detainees are currently under.
Of course, as Leopold and others continue to report, the situation of detainees is even worse than what these SOP prescribe. There are indications that regulations are extensively, if not routinely ignored by guards and prison commanders. These primary documents embody the best case scenario for people who have been cleared for release for years, but who remain in harsh, indefinite, imprisonment.
So whether you buy the book [which should be is finally available to order this weekend, I think; I’ve been experiencing some friction from the printer/publisher, which is kind of annoying, and it’s been going on all week.] or read the regulations in electronic format, read them, and know that they exist.
Buy Standard Operating Procedure, 284pp, unsigned edition, $15.99 +s/h [createspace]
UPDATE: Proof copy – Standard Operating Procedure is here

Mari X IKEA: autoprogettazione by greg.org (2010)

Three years ago, I was thinking about what to do with the posts I’d written about the project I’d begun six years ago. Which I guess means it’s time to release the results.
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So here’s Mari X IKEA, a PDF compilation I made in 2010 aboutfmy 2007-09 project to construct an Enzo Mari autoprogettazione table out of Ikea furniture components.
I was not entirely pleased with the way it read all together, and so I didn’t publish it back in the day. But I realize now that my inner archivist and inner editor will never agree on things, and I/we are becoming OK with it. So the tabloid-style publication contains all the original blog posts and images documenting the project, and that includes a fair amount of recapping and repetition. Meanwhile, my inner publicist wants to emphasize that this is not a bug, but a feature, like the catchy chorus of a song.
I’m still quite stoked about the project–and the table, for that matter, which I am using at this very moment–and it continues to influence and inform my thinking about stuff: art, design, originality, authorship, authority, appropriation, systems, craft, utility. So I’m very happy to get information on the project out there in a more easily consumable format.
I should also give a shoutout to The Newspaper Club, the amazing publishing company, then just starting out, where I had originally contemplated printing Mari X IKEA in 2010. This PDF was made using their easy publishing/layout tool. And though I ended up not pulling the trigger on this particular project, they regularly make me want to turn this blog, and many other things, into a newspaper.
Mari X IKEA: autoprogettazione by greg.org, 2010 [PDF, 2.8mb]

CZRPYR2 Is A Thing

Wow, the first shipment of Canal Zone Richard Prince YES RASTA 2: The Appeals Decision & The Appendix arrived, and they actually look very nice.
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Which is good.
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Because people are writing about it. And buying it. And it would be kind of awkward if it sucked.
Your Thievin’ Art: At play in the field of fair use [artnews]
Not yet in stores: Buy Canal Zone Richard Prince YES RASTA 2: The Appeals Decision & The Appendix direct, $12.99 [createspace]

A Guerrilla Reading, A Gallery Talk


On Friday March 22, I went to see Kenneth Goldsmith reading Richard Prince’s The Catcher In The Rye in front of a Prince rephotography piece in MoMA’s 2nd Floor galleries. I’d been bummed to have missed Goldsmith’s talk on Wednesday night [granted, I had an opening of my own, but still] so I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss this most appropriate event. When he saw my tweets about it, KG graciously offered to reserve a ticket for me, a gesture which set a certain expectation in my mind of guest lists, seats, or crowd control.
Even as I asked at the desk for the ticket, though, my sense began to change. I suspected, and was right, that this was not a ticketed gig, or even a gallery talk-style crowd with a limited number of slots which, if you didn’t get one, you could shadow and eavesdrop on anyway. The ticket was for getting into the Museum. Which, of all things and all places, I did not need a comp for MoMA.

Continue reading “A Guerrilla Reading, A Gallery Talk”