November 14, 2016

Art and Nature at CPI

Last night, Critical Practices Inc. hosted a lecture and discussion on the occasion of the publication of "Naturally Hypernatural", featuring a presentation by Sabine Flach on her research for this exhibition and book project , followed by presentations by artists Gary Sherman, and Jeanne Silverthorne.

As you can read in my notes above, the ideas circulated around the problem of nature as solely defined by humankind. As I listened, I thought of the philosophical thought experiment If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?. To my ear, it was clear that the participants would say unequivocally "YES!" Ideas swirled around the idea that nature could persist outside of human perception, and the anchor was the notion of the anthropocene, the epoch of human impact on the earth. The examples of art discussed were exclusively preoccupied with the de-centered author, and the various ways an artists' agenda could be dissolved into a manifold array of systems both social and environmental.

Entropic humanity, a cream stirred into the coffee of existence.

But how did the cream come into existence in the first place?

I understand and value the claim to the virtue of selflessness. The critique of the arch individualism led to the demise of a high modernism that had winked itself out in a greedy all consuming singularity. The academy's imagination has since traveled far into this direction, dreaming and longing now of what the world might look like without human presence. But who would be finally doing the looking? And what exactly is the moral character of the thought that actively and achingly desires the erasure of humanity? The Puritans thought themselves virtuous too, after all. As the presentation proceeded, listening to the repetitive claims to virtue, my thoughts wickedly drifted to the possibility of a counter theme of the order of a Les Fleurs du mal, contrary voices that might call out all that is marginalized in this chorus of what must be called righteousness.


Am I a bad man?

What is virtue?

Does kindness require theory?


Of course, I listened sympathetically as possible, given that I had questioned fundamentally the idea of the death of the author and the death of painting, centering as I have had for all my years as an artist who looked for the unlimited-in-the-limited-set of pigments and canvas. What I had learned last night was that the agenda of the academy has not changed much in character and content in the past twenty five years since I left graduate school. What could be said to be different in all that time was the intensity of filigree of it all... and filigree itself is a fascinating phenomena.

Posted by Dennis at November 14, 2016 3:27 PM

1 Comment

This art blog is very pleasing to look at i enjoy the pieces you have put up.

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