February 25, 2022



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February 24, 2022


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February 13, 2022

Gathering Thoughts

I'm gathering scattered thoughts.

Yes, I've let this weblog go to seed lately. Sputtering, then silence. When in the presence of chaos, I tend to slow down, go quiet, I watch the environment carefully. Find the signal in the noise. We all know that life has been chaotic in the past few years. Pandemics. Corrupt politics. Social discord everywhere. War is on the horizon, yet again. I've been trying to get a handle on what's happening. We drink from firehoses of information/disinformation. In my home, we've cut the cable service, mainstream news is a complete failure. Investigative news had been abandoned by the corporate giants, so independent journalism is the only recourse, oftentimes they're amateurs.

Feral, I drift among news aggregators and drill down when time+interest allow. Social media is a minefield, catnip traps for narcissism. An old chestnut of mine is to say that temerity is an occupational hazard for artists. We artists should be swinging for the fences, another way to say doing our best to make the best art works. Along that way lie hazards of narcissistic delusion. The story of what is going on dwarfs all conventional forms of narrative. For the moment, podcasts and audiobooks are effective, even though to be so, they often involve hundreds and hundreds of hours of listening. Even though YouTube has been compromised, there are still valuable creators there. Alternatives for independent video streaming platforms exist, but they're scruffy and not as smooth in operation. Yet even so, there's value there.

Will I now cut to the chase and tip you off on what I'm finding? No. The best I can report is that you have to do your own research, and stay away from the mainstream.

On my own home front, my side project of creating an artist residency program in Tossa de Mar is in tumult. Last summer was a fine ride (a successful introduction of artists to Catalan Spain), but along the way, the wheels came off the car. Cutting to the chase, there was discord among my partners that I couldn't resolve. This trouble had a ripple effect in our contacts in Tossa's government and I have yet to discover the depth of the damage. Add to this, the completely normal reaction to the summer exhibition in the museum can be characterized by "A Shock of the New". The museum had heroically sheltered its legacy collection of visiting international artists since the 40's. The fast forward 80 years with a panorama of contemporary art caught many (but not all, I should add) there by surprise. I will have time next summer to talk with them face to face, but a nine month interregnum is a burden. The lighthouse of this project is the proposition that by bringing contemporary art to Tossa de Mar, we can simultaneously satisfy two constituents at once: we can renew the internal narrative of Tossa as the "Babel of the Arts" (that art can find a refuge in that seaside town) and that the contemporary art world could have a place to conduct a dialog (in depth for four weeks) about where we are and where we might or should be going. The latter objective does not exist in the current form of our art world at the moment. This paragraph is already too long, but sufficient to say that it took me a lot of time to wrap my head around that whole situation.

Then, there is the issue of making art after a catastrophe of world historic proportions. Yes, Picasso painted Guernica, but that was his only statement on the matter. By and large, his output followed its own tune. An artist's project should be so important, so rich in internal logic and inspiration that even a WWII is small in comparison. By Pablo's standard, art is long and life is short. But... there were the Dadaists, whose work can only make sense via nonsense after the nightmarish misery of the trenches of WWI. Now, there might be some of you, my dear readers, who are asking if this pandemic is equivalent to a WWI. Sweet summer child! This pandemic is like the fall of the World Trade Center, a pretext for authoritarian control via the close coordination of multinational corporate giants and governments, coordinated world wide. The bright shining promise of the Information Age, throttled in its cradle. History has accelerated again as it did in 1914, but a Dada of today won't be like the Dada of yesterday. But all this is too much for now.

Do your own research.

Art is driven by feeling. Who can deny we have had an avalanche of feeling in the past two years? Can an artist whistle in the dark, cranking out production oblivious to the existential catastrophe just outside his front door? But then... elsewhere in this blog, I've written with force and... feeling, that art is a separate and sovereign domain from politics, that most political art is mere illustration and exceptions to this rule can be sussed out by the intrinsic aesthetic qualities they field. This circle is only one of the others that begs eyes wet on its knees to be squared.

So. The jpeg heading this post is a screen shot of an app called TheBrain that I've downloaded recently. I'm using it to gather scattered thoughts, trying to make sense of the senseless. Pertaining to my dream of bringing talented, informed and intelligent artists to a retreat for a sustained amount of time to think together about the state of the contemporary art world and where we are going, I hope that an app like this can assist me in creating a ops room, a map of the most important ideas that what few art thought leaders we have at the moment. I've just started, can you suggest any others?

PS: Added Phong Bui and Christina Rees

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February 12, 2022

I Like Raking Light


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