Re: Just watch this.

1

Wow. Gummo vibe indeed.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:40 AM
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Yet I think they might also be geniuses. I'm completely smitten.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:42 AM
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Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..........


Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:44 AM
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No one should miss the other video, "Enter the Ninja", on the Videogum page. It's... special.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:46 AM
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Yeah, from now on when I watch single-camera interviews with white SAs I will expect them to start morphing into aliens.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:47 AM
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I love that he has a neck tattoo that says "Pretty Wise". How do you decide to do that? I love that she seems like a deranged twelve year old. I love that he spends most of his life in Pink Floyd boxers, according to the photos on their website, and that loony scene in the posted video where he's just shaking his junk around in his boxers and she's just watching.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:51 AM
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I endorse comment 4.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:55 AM
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Also his "evil boy" tattoo of a baby with an enormous cock.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:55 AM
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"So my main inspiration is the taxis."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:57 AM
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I don't understand why they haven't been attacked and killed. I thought SA wasn't exactly a nurturing environment, and they seem none too bright such that they might wander off unattended.

He looks fortyish?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:07 AM
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There's definitely a Gummo aspect, but there's something particularly Dada about it all too.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:09 AM
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More video.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:10 AM
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9: So in the Vice comments people are already wondering if it's all a put-on. Could be. If so, I would be even more impressed.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:15 AM
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13: I've only watched the posted video, but they feel pretty real to me. I went to high school with some folks almost exactly like them.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:17 AM
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I like the fact that MC Ninja repeatedly uses the term "interwebs" without a hint of irony.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:19 AM
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Also, is Oom Drik in the brown work shirt there drinking a bottle of Black Label? Or just some SA beer with similar packaging?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:25 AM
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I like in "Enter the Ninja" at 4:04 where he stops and says, "Fuck. This is, like, the coolest song I ever heard in my whole life."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:33 AM
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I don't understand why they haven't been attacked and killed. I thought SA wasn't exactly a nurturing environment

Until I looked at the video, I thought "SA" was short for "Something Awful."


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:34 AM
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I'm thinking about borrowing that. Chapter 5 of my dissertation will start, "Fuck. This is, like, the best book I ever read in my whole life."


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:35 AM
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17: He is Jez on Peep Show!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:35 AM
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17: Shortly after that, he says, "Fuck all of you who said I wouldn't make it... who said I wasn't no one... who said I was a fucking psycho," and man, do I believe him.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:41 AM
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20: Even if he looks a bit more like Super Hans.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:43 AM
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Look like they should be offical house band of the Tea Party movement. Bring 'em to Memphis, nashville or wherever it is that the baggers are meeting and try to give that SA gummo beat a bit more of a country feel. Solid platinum in a week!


Posted by: Middle Aged Man | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:22 AM
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Somehow, I feel like this link belongs on this thread.

Who would hire the first legal male hooker in the country? A desperate spinster? A lonely divorcee? A New York Post reporter on undercover assignment?

Answer: All of the above. This month, as Nevada anointed the country's first-ever legal male prostitute -- in the form of "Markus," a 25-year-old beefy ex-Marine -- it became incredibly clear that one thing had to happen immediately. The Post had to have a go at this gigolo.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:30 AM
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Fan-tastic.
Meanwhile, a "smooth shout-out" to Ben W*lfs*n tha Illimitable.
[That *is* all.]
Sociologica.


Posted by: Jeffrey Daniel Rubard | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:45 AM
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This was pretty interesting:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/01/31/easy__true?mode=PF


Posted by: Lemmy Caution | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:53 AM
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Any behavior which is not preferred will be judged by the subject as difficult or imperfect behavior. But what is it that confers their preference on preferred modes of behavior? How does it happen that htey are treated as "the simplest" and "the most natural", that they give a feeling of balance and facility? Is the orientation toward these preferred modes of behavior comparable to the formation of a spherical soap bubble? In the latter case, the external forces exerted on the surface of the bubble tend to compress it into a point; the pressure of the enclosed air on the other hand demands as large a volume as possible. The spherical structure which is realized represents the only possible solution to this problem of minimum and maximum. Can it be said in the same way that the preferred modes of behavior of an organism are those which, in the de facto conditions in which it finds itself, objectively offer the greatest simplicity, the greatest unity? But most of the time they do not have any privilege of simplicity or of unity in themselves. …

It is not because behavior is simple that it is preferred; on the contrary it is because it is preferred that we find it simpler. (The Structure of Behavior, pp 158f)

Which is to say, I'm suspicious of the claim that there is an objective "measure of how easy it is to think about something".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:36 AM
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It is not because behavior is simple that it is preferred; on the contrary it is because it is preferred that we find it simpler.

Yes, let us replace one oversimplified account with its converse!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:39 AM
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Actually, the converse does make significantly more sense.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:41 AM
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"This month, as Nevada anointed the country's first-ever legal male prostitute"

Seriously? Was the law lopsided before (and if so, why?) or did nobody avail themselves of it?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 12:00 PM
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Nevada anointed the country's first-ever legal male prostitute

Anointed with Astral-Glide, presumably.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 12:02 PM
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Previously prostitutes had to submit regular cervical specimens, which is very difficult to do if you don't have a cervix.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 12:12 PM
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32: Because men don't have necks?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 12:15 PM
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Is Astral-Glide the lube they use in heaven?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 12:16 PM
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Previously prostitutes had to submit regular cervical specimens, which is very difficult to do if you don't have a cervix.

Nobody said it had to be their cervix.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 12:42 PM
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10, 13: It's a project of performance artists Waddy Jones (Ninja/Max Normal) and Yo-landi Visser. So the trashness/daftness is an act, but yeah, it's pretty great.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 12:51 PM
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There's a wiki re a previous project here.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 12:56 PM
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38

That's an awesome performance. I could almost smell the meth coming off those vids.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 12:56 PM
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Wow, that stuff is amazing. They are definitely smarter than they are pretending to be. There's definitely some art school in the weird "secret chamber" on their website and with the monster make up on the DJ.

None of this is really SFW. Also, can't play it when the kids are awake.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 1:04 PM
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with the monster make up on the DJ.

If you're talking about what I think you're talking about, that's no makeup, that's a guy with progeria named Leon Botha, or so the interweb tells me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 1:09 PM
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40: So it is. Damn. I apologize for the insensitivity to people with this rare disease.

On the other hand, the link has now turned me on to both a new band and a new visual artist.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 1:13 PM
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42

That video makes me feel very old.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 1:24 PM
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42: The wrinkles and gray hair didn't tip you off?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 1:33 PM
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43: Well, now they do! [Sobs, runs away.]


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 1:38 PM
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I thought it was pretty obviously by hipsters. Just look at her, at the photos, everything.


Posted by: David | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 1:43 PM
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46

Just look at her

"I-I-I I am your butterfly. I need your protection. Be my samurai."

That could be hipster irony. Or it could just be someone honestly doing what they think sexy, girly women are supposed to do.

The fact that she sings this while undressing only magnifies the problem.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 1:52 PM
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Those lyrics are from a Dance Dance Revolution song. I'm fairly certain it's a step beyond hipster irony, into Gaga/Borat performance art/ comedy territory.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 2:03 PM
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I'm having one of those Infinite Jest moments where it seems impossible to be either sincere or ironic. I will soon collapse to the ground and make noises only marginally mammalian.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 2:13 PM
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49

We are post-IJ now. There is no sincerity, but there's no irony, either! You are free.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 2:14 PM
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49: Nothing left to lose.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 2:17 PM
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There is no sincerity, but there's no irony, either!

And now, what will become of us, without sincerity or irony? They were, those poses, a kind of solution.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 2:38 PM
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52

We'll manage. I won't mourn.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 2:40 PM
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53

And now, what will become of us, without sincerity or irony?

I presume that earnestness will still exist.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 2:42 PM
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54

We can't go on. We'll go on.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 2:44 PM
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Following the link from jms they seem to be both performance artists and trying to make music that isn't solely parodic. In the way that someone like, say, Peaches does/did.

re: 46

Robyn?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdTucUya9YE



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 2:45 PM
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56

Can we still be guileless?


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:00 PM
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As soon as I saw the encapsulation "There is no sincerity, but there's no irony, either!" I thought of Peaches too!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:01 PM
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56: I don't know. Can you?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:02 PM
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If you're giving thought to the question of whether you can be guileless, you aren't.

Just like when somebody tells you that they are an outsider artist, you know that they are lying.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:08 PM
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I didn't realize anyone had told anyone else that they were an outsider artist since about 1986 or so.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:09 PM
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Behold a bridgeplate indeed...


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:10 PM
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When I finish my underground novel, the self-appointed cultural elitists are going to unappreciate the hell out of it.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:12 PM
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63

Who beholds me? To whom am I beholden?


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:12 PM
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60: It happens all the time even today. At least that's what this gallery owner tells me.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:13 PM
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One of my roommates is a kind of weird guy who does crazy embroidery art. He was working for a woman who's organizing some kind of outsider art fair here, and she promised she'd get one of his pieces into the show.

Embroidery roommate (with heavy Venezuelan accent): She said she'd say I was autistic.
Other roommate: Well, it's your art. You are artistic.
[Five minutes of confusion ensue before I decide to jump in and clear things up. Then:]
Me: But do you want to be known as an autistic artist when you're not?
Embroidery roommate: I don't care, man, as long as my piece gets in the show.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:14 PM
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64: Well, I was writing somewhat in jest. I knew a fellow down in Omaha who curated outsider & folk art, and he certainly bandied the term about with alacrity. Too, I think I read an artist's statement by one of my uncles that used the term deprecatingly in the early 1990s.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:16 PM
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Bemused, I believe I beheld Belial Beelzebub Beazley, besuited by bespoke and beleaguered.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:16 PM
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65: I love your roommates.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:17 PM
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Welcome, all those googling for Venezuelan autistic embroidery art.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:17 PM
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65: That's sort of the catch-22 of outsider art, isn't it? If you're doing whatever it takes to get your piece in a show, precisely what are you outside of? (Besides that gallery.)


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:17 PM
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Be not beholden, be Holden Caulfield, fielding calls.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:18 PM
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66: Omaha is legendary for its art scene. I often find myself looking for excuses to go to Omaha so I can get some art-viewing done.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:19 PM
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J.P. Donleavy's The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B. is a guilty pleasure.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:20 PM
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If you're doing whatever it takes to get your piece in a show, precisely what are you outside of?

The community of people who don't have to accept being called autistic to get into the show?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:22 PM
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74: Does "outsider" imply that other artists share a community with curators, gallerists and critics?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:26 PM
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75: they do.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:27 PM
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Wow, the lyrics to that song are pretty involved.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:29 PM
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"Outsider" implies "Not good enough to be an insider."
"Insider" implies "Considered good only because you are one of 'them'."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:29 PM
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65: That's sort of the catch-22 of outsider art, isn't it? If you're doing whatever it takes to get your piece in a show, precisely what are you outside of? (Besides that gallery.)

Reminds me that I have been interested for a while in finding a copy of "Folklorists and Us: An Account of Our Curious and Changing Relationship." by Mac Benford from Old-Time Herald 1:7 (February-April, 1989).

If anyone happens to have easy access to a copy, please let me know. Otherwise, this is just a placeholder to remind me to post some excerpts if I/when I do find it.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:31 PM
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If you're doing whatever it takes to get your piece in a show, precisely what are you outside of?

On the moon, Natilo, we have advanced beyond rules. And manners.


Posted by: Ignignot | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:32 PM
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75, 78: "Community" is a chimera, but I wonder whether putative insiders are inside anything but the category of "those who are not outside."* I suppose there's a whole library to criticism of the very concept, starting from the question of whether the works of traditional societies, if they were imported to New York or London, would be "outsider" art or something like "native handicrafts." It can't all be Henry Darger.

* And, of course, things that from a long way off appear to be outside.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:35 PM
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An artist friend of mine, who pays a mortgage in Brooklyn without a day job, insists that there's such a thing as the art world.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:45 PM
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...there's such a thing as the art world.

I don't watch Doctor Who.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:48 PM
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I wonder whether putative insiders are inside anything but the category of "those who are not outside."

This is all community ever means - people who are inside of the outside. But roughly drawn, the community is some hazy conglomeration of people who have at least a couple of the following attributes: graduated from a MFA program; live and/or are represented by a gallery in New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Mexico City, Paris or a couple other places; hang out primarily with artists/critics/gallerists/curators/editors/art writers/collectors; are alumni of Skowhegan or the Whitney or some such.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:48 PM
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This video is pretty cute, and ends with good rules for good living.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:52 PM
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84: People give moral, and in this area aesthetic, content to "community" all the time, and tend to resist your "[t]his is all community ever means" analysis (which is not to say that I disagree).


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:53 PM
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Community is too strong a word here. It's a bunch of people who are commercially connected through their concerns with a particular kind of stuff, visual art. Like spice traders, growers, shippers, buyers, occasional purchasers back in the day.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 3:58 PM
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82, 84: Okay, but by that standard, 99% of the people who produce works of art are "outsiders" in that they are outside the art world described in 84. You know, go into any coffeeshop and you'll see original oil paintings by people with some degree of skill, who are selling their work, at least occasionally, for more than the cost of their time & materials, who are "outsiders", but they would hardly consider themselves such.

Interestingly, I think it would be hard to make similar claims about insider-vs-outsider w/r/t to the theater scene. Partly, since theater is virtually always a collaborative process, you've got the whole six-degrees-of-kevin-bacon thing going on, often literally. I know (relatively obscure) people through theater who have fairly low Bacon scores. I'm not sure how you'd even calculate a Six-Degrees-Of-Francis-Bacon score -- paintings appeared together in a show? same representation? -- so "outsider" does seem to lend itself to visual art more than anything.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:03 PM
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Those people are, for the most part, outsiders to the art world. The problem is that there's another sense of "outsider art" where it seems to mean "loner weirdo art".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:06 PM
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It isn't really outsider art if insiders aren't interested in it, is it?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:16 PM
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Add scare quotes to 90 to taste.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:16 PM
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Alls I'm sayin is that there isn't some bright line between "your art's on the wall of a coffee shop in Olympia" and "it's Sandra, about the Biennale". Whereas there is one between "your art's on the wall of a coffee shop in Olympia" and "your bewildered distant relatives excavate your Unabomber-style cabin to find hundreds of unusual paintings".


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:23 PM
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People give moral, and in this area aesthetic, content to "community" all the time

Yes, except I'm not sure that "aesthetic" is the right word here -- it's more a question of genre. The reason community has relevance is that art is largely referential/critical/reactive to other art. If you're not part of the community, you're not part of the conversation. So yeah, 99% of the work that's sold off of coffee shop walls, while they may be beautiful and skilled paintings or what have you, are "outside." They may be really really nice, but they're a different genre, kind of.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:25 PM
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89: Plenty of the people showing in coffee shops have at least 2 or 3 of the characteristics listed in 84. And in fact they probably belong to the art world. Just not the artworld.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:27 PM
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"Art brut" is a much better term than "outsider art", I think. More evocative of the specific sort of thing that gets categorized this way.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:28 PM
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A friend and neighbor is clearly outside the art world* by any reasonable standard (no training, I doubt he knows any self-identified artists unless they happen to use our dog park, he doesn't self-identify as an artist, his art is non-mainstream), yet he's had a gallery show or two in addition to coffeehouse installations, and has probably made a couple-few thousand dollars selling stuff that's essentially a hobby to him. I don't think it's needlessly exclusionary to note that there's a gulf between him and my good friend from CMU who majored in art and has had numerous gallery showings (including a couple high profile ones) and knows, and is known by, lots of people who are part of the arts scene.

Art isn't the sort of thing that benefits from accreditation (the degree is fundamentally technical in nature), but that doesn't mean that everyone who's ever opened a tube of phthalein purple's in the same category.

* I can't speak to whether the term "outsider artist" is really bandied about - it does seem a bit musty for contemporary use, like referring to a current band as a "pop combo"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:30 PM
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Whereas there is one between "your art's on the wall of a coffee shop in Olympia" and "your bewildered distant relatives excavate your Unabomber-style cabin to find hundreds of unusual paintings".

Not so sure about this, actually.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:32 PM
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Too many discussions about bright lines, lately. Even if it's a faded, barely visible dashed line, it can still be pretty good at keeping people in the correct lane.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:34 PM
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Art isn't the sort of thing that benefits from accreditation

Right -- the MFA in visual arts is largely (mostly?) useful as a way of getting in from the outside. MFA programs at Columbia or RISD or CalArts don't, for the most part, teach you which paints to use to color in a nice sunset -- they get you studio visits (and therefore contacts) with critics and curators, and they force you to get to know a handful of other students who have been chosen for their potential to be the next big thing, and who will at the end of two years know you and your work intimately. And they get you your MFA from Important School title.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:41 PM
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99: so, what, you learn no technical skills at RISD?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:45 PM
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Reading this thread has made me add "the art world" to my mental list of people we shoot after the Revolution.

The confusion over how to characterize the music in the OP is caused by the tyranny that duality holds over our minds, in this case the duality between serious and ironic. The video falls in the large third category of "Wouldn't it be awesome if we did some weird shit?"


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:49 PM
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Don't be so trigger-happy, Walt. Lots of attractive people in the art world.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:55 PM
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Reading this thread has made me add "the art world" to my mental list of people we shoot after the Revolution.

The art world will fight back.

Give all the cretins a boot to the head if they don't extol convincingly Tempered Elan-era Kandinsky!


Posted by: that one Of Montreal song | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:56 PM
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I have friends who do art along the lines of "Wouldn't it be awesome if we did some weird shit?" and let me just say, erm, um, it's apparently a lot harder than it looks.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 4:59 PM
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I suppose there's a whole library to criticism of the very concept, starting from the question of whether the works of traditional societies, if they were imported to New York or London, would be "outsider" art or something like "native handicrafts."

"If"?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 5:12 PM
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J. J. Brody wrote a very interesting article, unfortunately in an edited volume that's probably pretty hard to find, about changing attitudes toward Hopi kachina dolls within the fine-art world, specifically focusing on museums. It touches on a lot of these issues.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 5:17 PM
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My small town has an art scene. The first Friday of every month, the galleries are open late, serve wine and cookies, and hordes of people walk from one to another. Talking to artists, gallery owners, buyers. The gallery on my floor sells a couple paintings or more more often than not, I think.

Small artworld: The other day, I was goofing around on Facebook, and found that one of my wife's housemates from when she was at Cal 30 years ago was a member of the group advocating the return of Amtrak's North Coast Hiawatha. Come to find that she's been living here for a number of years, got an MFA here, working as an artist, and has been featured in the local paper for her vision. For reasons I'm not sure I can even imagine, she's spending the winter in Davis CA, but will be back in May.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 5:22 PM
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104: A lot harder to do well, anyway (though god knows who's to judge which attempt at doing weird shit is done well, and which isn't).

Or is that what you meant? The term "awesome" is confusing me here.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 5:25 PM
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105: Well, you know, "and when."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 5:27 PM
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It's a lot harder to do at all. "Here is some weird shit, in idea form—let's do that!" Well, can you? Often it is not easy.

It is often not easy to think up weird shit to do in the first place, for that matter.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 5:30 PM
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I find the kind of small town art scene described in 107.1 incredibly charming. I once spent a snowy evening somewhere near the mid-Atlantic coast strolling about amongst the rest of the scarf-clad horde also fondling its cup of wine as we all ducked into and out of little galleries. It was like Christmas, such gaiety and murmuring and goodwill! People were burning candles left and right in the little shops!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 5:32 PM
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110: Exactly. You might think you're doing something crazy and weird, but actually you just forgot you were watching some German expressionist movies last weekend. My big problem back when I was writing experimental prose fiction (please go back and dust those last three words with glitter, if you have it handy) was that I'd read it a year later and sigh over how obvious it was that I had been reading Barthelme at the time. It's just sad.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 5:37 PM
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Don't sell yourself short, nosflow. I find every post you do here weird.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 5:40 PM
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"Here is some weird shit, in idea form--let's do that!" Well, can you? Often it is not easy.

All I can think of at this point is a guy who once conceived the idea to put a white plastic fork in every piece of dog shit he found on or near the sidewalk in a given neighborhood one evening. He did it.

Not that hard to do. Harder to conceive, maybe. Well-done weird shit?

But I know; there's a lot of weird-shit performance art out there that's a lot harder to execute. Mostly if it's to be done in an actual performance space.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:05 PM
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The art world, as the term is used by its participants, is a fairly coherent group of people and institutions. Of course there are plenty of people on its margins, but that doesn't make the term meaningless. And yes, there's all kinds of power moves inherent in the classification: Art of the type that the art world is concerned with is a subset of all the art being made; it's like "literary fiction" in that it's a pretty identifiable, commercial genre or tradition. Once you know what it looks like, you can walk into any gallery anywhere in the world and see within five minutes whether they're engaged in "art world" art or not. Getting shown in more than one international art fair is probably as good a marker of this kind of art as any.

Art produced and traded outside the art world isn't usually outsider art; it's regional art, genre art, or what have you. "Outsider art" is a polite term for art made by damaged or crazy people (who haven't found a place on the inside; some have, of course). My roommate is an art-world outsider trying to break in, but unless he gets a fair bit crazier he'll never be an outsider artist.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:06 PM
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99: so, what, you learn no technical skills at RISD?

Yeah, not so. RISD takes instruction on the technical/craft side very seriously.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:11 PM
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My big problem back when I was writing experimental prose fiction (please go back and dust those last three words with glitter, if you have it handy) was that I'd read it a year later and sigh over how obvious it was that I had been reading Barthelme at the time. It's just sad.

My sister.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:12 PM
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"Outsider art" is a polite term for art made by damaged or crazy people (who haven't found a place on the inside; some have, of course). My roommate is an art-world outsider trying to break in, but unless he gets a fair bit crazier he'll never be an outsider artist.

"Outerside art" also suggests primitive, untrained work, as mentioned upthread.

Your roommate might have a harder time breaking into the art world, understood as you describe it, in New York than he might elsewhere. My sense has always been that in the big-league markets, all you can do is try to suss out and catch the wave, or its next iteration, while in a smaller environment, you might actually have a shot at influencing that wave.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:21 PM
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Harder to conceive, maybe. Well-done weird shit?

I remember when the campaign to "Arm the Homeless" turned out to be the work of people claiming to be "artists." It was pretty funny that they fooled a fair portion of the local media, but I would have been more impressed if they'd have called it something besides "art." Maybe "Semi-professional Ass-holism" or "Non-traditional public service announcements."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:23 PM
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"Outsider art" is a polite term for art made by damaged or crazy people (who haven't found a place on the inside; some have, of course).

Though it encompasses this, doesn't it also just include people who were making stuff on their own that is weirdly outside of any easily placed historical periodization? Like, in music, Harry Partch and Moondog (admittedly, the latter is crazy, but that doesn't seem to be what makes his music outsider art).


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:29 PM
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116: Yeah, actually I don't really know very much about RISD, only what painters have told me.

"Semi-professional Ass-holism"

I feel like a lot of contemporary art falls into this category, San/ ti/ ago x Si /erra and Van/ essa x Bee/ croft springing most instantly to mind.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:33 PM
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I would have been more impressed if they'd have called it something besides "art."

Oh, you want to get into that, do you?

I'm not familiar with the campaign to Arm the Homeless.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:35 PM
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Oh, you want to get into that, do you?

What people who want to get into that don't realize is that art is whatever artists do, and "artist" is an ontological category. Some people just are artists and what they do just is art.

At least, that has come to seem to me to be the most parsimonious explanation.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:39 PM
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122.1: Not that I think of it, I don't want to either. Sticking plastic forks in dog shit got me on a tangent.

122.last: See here for a summary.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:39 PM
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"Not" s/b "Now"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:40 PM
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The Arm the Homeless thing doesn't seem to me to involve art. The plastic forks thing, on the other hand, has a viable claim to it. I think the term the lawyers use is "colorable."

nosflow I hope feels that his 123.1 is hogwash. Sometimes I think it would help to separate 'performance' from 'art' and allow that one might have the former at hand while not needing to entertain the question whether the latter also obtains. Call that a dodge if you must.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:54 PM
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The Arm the Homeless thing doesn't seem to me to involve art.

Oh, you want to get into that, do you? Remember! A group of artists did it and said it was art! I bet it also showed something.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:55 PM
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Wow. There are no words.


Posted by: Sophomore | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:56 PM
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128: No, there are at least hundreds of words.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 6:58 PM
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$ wc -l /usr/share/dict/words
234936 /usr/share/dict/words

Knowing is half the battle, kids.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 7:02 PM
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127-130: I declare myself frustrated.

I fail to understand. I actually do think there was a certain grace to the forks-in-dogshit thing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 7:15 PM
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I've been googling because I remember the 'art' angle to the "Arm the Homeless" campaign, but it wasn't in the link I provided. The Dispatch articles only mention that two of them were grad students in the College of Arts. Unfortunately, I can't find on-line cites to the free-weekly articles that I would have read at the time. Interestingly, one guy apparently went into game design and calls it a prank.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 7:21 PM
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I would be charmed to encounter forks in all the dogshit, but I think 128 was to the original post.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 7:21 PM
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Thanks. I was becoming bewildered. The Arm the Homeless thing sounded like a prank, yes -- and I suppose you could call the forks-in-dogshit thing a prank, but not exactly.

Thanks. I declare the blog dead.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 7:27 PM
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For reasons I'm not sure I can even imagine, she's spending the winter in Davis CA

Meth habit.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 7:30 PM
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134.last: I suppose after irony went, it had to happen sooner or later.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 7:32 PM
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I didn't mean it, folks.

On sincerity and irony I find myself equally confounded. I thought there was some suggestion upthread (somewhere in the vicinity of comment 51) that they were opposites, which struck me as odd, but I cannot find that comment now.

I feel I should not say more. Having not even viewed the video(s) linked via the OP.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 7:57 PM
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Art world is also a pretty specific term of art philosophically.

It is part of how you define `art' in certain theories closely related to Nosflow's 123.1.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:04 PM
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Having not even viewed the video(s) linked via the OP.

You should view them. They are really quite extraordinary. Also, the cab one that essear linked to in 12.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:05 PM
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Moondog (admittedly, the latter is crazy, but that doesn't seem to be what makes his music outsider art)

Fun fact: Moondog collaborated on a children's album with Julie Andrews. It's pretty great, as you can imagine.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:11 PM
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139: Alright. The first or second one linked in the OP? Or the cab one? It's going to take a while.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:12 PM
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The most popular definition of art in academic philosophy of art is the institutional theory which declares at something is a work of art if it is connected in the right way to the "art world."

So, at least in philosophy, people think the "art world" is well defined enough to found a theory on.

Professional aestheticians have declared me a romantic throwback for advocating the expression theory of art.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:16 PM
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Parsi: Start with the first one in the OP


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:17 PM
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Too late: I'm going for the second one, Enter the Ninja, based on comments upthread.

I have some soup and sourdough bread to eat in the meantime.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:21 PM
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Frankly, I find the institutional theory to be a load of crap (as philosophy) that makes far more sense as (probably not very good) sociology, but only if you limit the scope of investigation to the last hundred or so years.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:35 PM
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The problem is that no one* has any idea what art is or is supposed to be anymore. The institutional theory isn't a theory, it's a stopgap. That said, you can't really stick with the expressive theory anymore, either.

*in charge


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:37 PM
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Really? I think the institutional theory is about the only plausible one, with the rest tending to be too specific to be correct, or too vague to be useful.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:37 PM
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145 to everything ever. Good night.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:43 PM
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Certainly I much prefer it to whatever crap D/e/n/i/s D/u/t/t/o/n's pushing now.

(The prominent academic who cited Ste/ven Sa/iler; evolutionary psychology as racist nonsense? Never!)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:43 PM
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It cleverly avoids being too specific to be correct by being, basically, vacuous. You want to, say, test it on object x. Well, if it's going to be a test, whether x is a work of art obviously can't be too contentious, because then people will just disagree about the result of the test. So you need something that's fairly noncontentiously "art" or "non-art". And obviously you don't mean noncontentiously with reference to some yahoo who thinks that, say, no nonrepresentational painting is art. No: you mean with reference to, basically, the sort of people the institutional theory talks about.

So …


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:47 PM
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I think the institutional theory is about the only plausible one

Apart from the theory which holds that defining art is a fool's errand.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:47 PM
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So, basically


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:49 PM
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Jesus is probably referring to William Kennick, "Does Traditional Aesthetics Rest on a Mistake?" Mind 1958 with volume, number, and page numbers I can no longer decipher in this bibliography, or maybe Morris Weitz, "The Role of Theory in Aesthetics", The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 1956, vnpp likewise.

He's probably right, too.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:52 PM
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I was referring to neither, though the Kennick essay sounds familiar. I just feel it in my bones, man.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:56 PM
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Pwned by Jesus before I write, but:

Why do aestheticians need a theory of art?

(That question is intended to echo a paper I remember as 'why do epistemologists need a theory of knowledge', which I just tried to google in order to double check it, but yo, I'm also trying to download some person providing some music-like thing)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:59 PM
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(There is a temporal problem for the institutional theory, which is that it depends on the existence of art-world institutions in more or less like the form we've got them now.[1] But we don't hesitate to look on cultural artifacts from long-past cultures as artworks, even if they didn't have a concept analogous to ours of "art" or, if they did, didn't apply it to such productions. Byzantine icons might be an example of this, or for all I know those dolls teo referred to up-thread. Were they, back then, wrong? That would be strange—these are artifacts from their own culture, after all. If not, when did these things become artworks? It seems strange that the change should take place so long after their creation, as if ancient Egyptians might posthumously be saved by sedulous Mormons.

And if you think that there's really nothing it is to be art than to bear the right relations to something like the current artworld, which may well be the self-understanding of the current artworld, what about the art communities of the past?

[1] it is very possible that this traduces the subtleties of the institutional theory. It's been a long time since I looked at any of this stuff and since my advisor as an undergrad was hostile to it I never really looked into it all that deeply; I was writing about Danto anyway, who gave us the term "artworld" but not the institutional theory.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:59 PM
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I feel it in my fingers
I feel it in my bones
Art is all around me
Untheorized by nosflow


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 8:59 PM
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154: I didn't really think you were referring to either.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:00 PM
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"Does X Rest on a Mistake?"

Some possible values for X according to google:

(1) Ontology
(2) Moral Philosophy
(3) Twin Earth
(4) Christology
(5) Modal Logic
(6) Political Liberalism
(7) Epistemology
(8) Non-Cognitivism
(9) Philosophy of Induction
(10) Capitalism


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:02 PM
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Why is it confusing to say, "The Byzantines created this icon as an object to be used in religious ceremonies and devotions, but we now see it as art"?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:02 PM
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158: I didn't really think you really thought I was referring to either, but I went with it anyway.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:04 PM
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Do I rest on a mistake, or do I keep moving, looking for more comfortable errors?


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:04 PM
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Danto is right to the extent that he's right, but I'd like to smack him upside the head otherwise.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:05 PM
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"The Byzantines created this icon as an object to be used in religious ceremonies and devotions, but we now see it as art"?

I ask not about what it is created for or how we see it, but about what it is.


Posted by: Opionated Metaphysician of Art | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:05 PM
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I don't know much about the philosophy of art, but I know what I like to think about art.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:08 PM
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It's a Byzantine icon.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:08 PM
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But a theory of art is, I think, necessary, and most people who say they don't have one merely have a particularly weak one. I think defining art is important though that should not be read as defining what is art. (So if there were a theory of art that didn't tell us if any given object was art or not I shouldn't be upset, were it also the case that the theory told us interesting things about the body of art or whatever.)

It seems strange to me to say that something changes when something is recognised as `art'. I am thinking of accidents and Schoolmen, and it may be a bad thing if one's theory of art looks suspiciously theological.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:10 PM
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Do I rest on a mistake

I do. The chair I'm sitting on has a broken spring, which I believe was the result of either poor manufacturing or poor design.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:10 PM
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168: Or kids jumping on the thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:16 PM
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It seems strange to me to say that something changes when something is recognised as `art'.

Of course nothing has changed about the object; that's the problem.

There was a dilemma, if you recall: formerly it wasn't recognized as art. Did they fail in not recognizing it as art, because it actually was art? If not, what accounts for its now being correct to recognize it as art? I correctly recognize it as art out of deference to a bunch of experts' recognition of it as art; what about them? Suppose it's just dug up and treated as an artwork like any other, and by the time its historical purpose is discovered it's entrenched. Were we wrong? Of course now it's been recognized as an artwork by our artworld.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:23 PM
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Anyway, I don't see how the institutional theory doesn't just state what things are art.

I also persist it suspects in having trouble accounting even for the art-related discourses of previous eras.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:24 PM
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(Nor am I sure why one needs a theory of art, anyway. Though I would like to read Dewey's.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:25 PM
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170: the history of art is defined by failure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:28 PM
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I too would quite like to read Dewey's; I have even go so far as to get the book out the library, sit down, and read the words. Unfortunately, I never quite manage to get from reading the words to reading the theory.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:28 PM
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I'm not sure if you're slagging Dewey or yourself in 174.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:29 PM
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According to Dewey art is greater than 700, less than 800 and often comingled with recreation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:32 PM
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I think defining art is important though that should not be read as defining what is art.

I agree to the point that the idea of defining it is fascinating, as per neb's 170, but it's a dynamic concept, so actually attempting to define it is always a wrong path. Everything is everything, be here now, &c.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:37 PM
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it's a dynamic concept, so actually attempting to define it is always a wrong path. failure, and thus potentially art.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:38 PM
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I'm glad neb is with me on the institutional theory.

My big complaint is that it renders the category "art" so very uninteresting. I want to rewrite Tolstoy's *What is Art?* as "What is Art, that I Should Give a Shit about It?"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:51 PM
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Did they fail in not recognizing it as art, because it actually was art?

No, of course not. Imagine a man: he buys a loaf of bread. It isn't the Body of God. Then he realises he is a Presbyterian and he has to celebrate the Lord's Supper that evening: there's nothing else for it but to use the bread. After the rite it is the Body of God. But at no point was he in error according to his beliefs, no?

The difficulty is now that art is merely a function of states of minds, and a particularly rarefied function at that, which is not entirely what one wants to do, but I think it is quite free of dilemmas.

The category `art' is boring and meaningless; art is good not because it is art, or even because it is good art, but because it is good.

I like to think my 174 is wryly self-deprecating while also getting in a good dig at Dewey; in fact I am disappointed in my ability to read dense prose. It is a bit odd, because one would rather expect that having read certain of my esteemed co-respondent's writings I should be rather better at it by now than I am.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 9:53 PM
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I don't know what to make of 167.

It seems strange to me to say that something changes when something is recognised as `art'.

I'm not sure what work "recognising" is doing here. As long as you're not suggesting that something is, say, discovered to be art which was heretofore unrecognized to be such, I'll take it that you mean 'recognition' in just the sense of institutional endorsement.

In that case,

a theory of art is, I think, necessary, and most people who say they don't have one merely have a particularly weak one

just means that a theory of art is a theory of its institutional endorsement, or recognition, or flagging.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:02 PM
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Presbyterians believe in transubstantiation?

The difficulty is now that art is merely a function of states of minds, and a particularly rarefied function at that, which is not entirely what one wants to do, but I think it is quite free of dilemmas.

I don't think it's as easy as that. There's a long history to art and to discourse surrounding art that simply won't let itself be uprooted and set at the mercy of whoever the current poobahs are. For one thing, the term "art" is an honorific term as it's actually used. I think this is pretty unfortunate in a lot of cases actually and think it would be better if this weren't the case, but there you go—but on the other hand I think an awful lot of conceptual art isn't worthy of the name "art", so I'm obviously conflicted here. But I think it's a (here come the magic words) open question for any item admitted by the poobahs' diktats (I think that should be what the institutional theory is called: the poobah diktat theory) whether it is art. I mean, I think these people can get it wrong, sometimes. I don't think I'm incorrect about that by definition.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:02 PM
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How about "War and Peace and the double-parked fucker blocking my way home?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:03 PM
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I don't know what to make of 167.

Lemonade.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:03 PM
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183 to 179.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:03 PM
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"War and Peace and the double-parked fucker blocking my way home?"

As attempts to get in on the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies trend go, I think it needs work.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:04 PM
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Never mind 181 in light of 180. I don't know what to make of 180 either, but never mind.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:05 PM
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So about art, or not so much: where did I get the impression that (500) Days of Summer was worth seeing? Must have somehow encountered a review from someone whose opinion I value. Or maybe it was just a review from Ebert or something. And yet, it's Yet Another Manic Pixie Dream Girl Movie, and one where the female lead (Zooey Deschanel's character) is a complete cipher, with no visible personality or motivations. Blech.

</mcmanus>


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:10 PM
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If the female lead has visible motivations, then you can't get a PG-13 rating and the profit could suffer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:12 PM
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`Spiritual presence' is I think the form of words used, so yes and no.

I don't think that `art' should be an honorific term; I think that the reason it is treated as such is basically snobbery, and I should rather like to uproot the centuries of aforesaid snobbery.

I also think there's a boring `but is it art' thing, where the quality of an object is made dependent on it's art-ness; I think that's wrong, which is why I am quite eager to make art-ness utterly extrinsic to the object.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:13 PM
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I mean, I think these people can get it wrong, sometimes. I don't think I'm incorrect about that by definition.

Well said.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:14 PM
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`Spiritual presence' is I think the form of words used, so yes and no.

And you can use leavened bread?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:14 PM
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with no visible personality or motivations

She's just too complex and inscrutable for you to understand her motivations, you non-sensitive guy you.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:17 PM
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I don't think that my objection to certain conceptual works' status as art is rooted in endorsement of its honorific use, so I'll just agree with 190.2 outright. (What rankles is seeing such things accorded the benefits that go with being (high) art; one thinks, the only reason this is happening is that this person has connections.)

There are some things even on the institutional theory, I think, where you have to say the quality is dependent on the thing's being an artwork. Fountain is just a scribbled-on urinal. It's only interesting if it's also an artwork. (Or actually I should probably not say that. Fountain isn't interesting; what was interesting was what Duchamp did. Certainly there's no reason to look at the urinal itself, unless you want to see something that Duchamp manipulated, or that Eno pissed in (if we are correctly told that he did that).)

188: too right. In fact it's a really overt instance of that, where the male lead's subjectivity is so much to the forefront that the fucking bluebird of happiness visits him—and the girl he meets next has the appropriate next-seasonal name. I mean come on.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:20 PM
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Yeah. Some churches are very keen on the bread-as-bread-that-you-might-actually-buy-and-eat thing, and others aren't, but I am pretty sure if needs must almost any bread would do.

194.3 is a bit of poser. I think you could escape by saying that the quality is dependent on artiness in the same way that other art works have quality dependent on anatomy, & that it is safely containable that way.

But I am going to track down those papers you mentioned and actually read them.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:25 PM
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...or that Eno pissed in (if we are correctly told that he did that).)

I recall a similar story involving a preschooler and a display-model toilet at Home Depot.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:26 PM
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195: Kind of takes away from the whole "this started at a Passover feast" part.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:28 PM
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Has anyone gone to a museum and started labeling all the non-art (furniture for sitting and viewing paintings, doors, fixtures in the restrooms, etc.) the way the art is labeled? I've always thought that would be funny, but it seems like it requires work and effort and therefore is not worth it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:28 PM
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194.last: Indeed.

The Guardian review got it right. Almost none of the others did. 87% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Film critics are morons.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:29 PM
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But I am going to track down those papers you mentioned and actually read them.

I read them as a philosophical naïf in late 2003; my mentioning them here is solely a function of my remembering their very general conclusion, and shouldn't be construed as an endorsement. (Nor should this remark be construed as an anti-endorsement—I really just don't know if they're any good and wouldn't trust my memory of my assessments even if I had any.)

I think there was a paper several/many years ago in the British Journal of Aesthetics about nonsensory qualities of artworks, e.g. their daring or cleverness or whatnot, which would also depend on their actually being artworks. In fact I know there was a paper vaguely like this, though the details escape me. Man, it's been a long time since I've talked about this stuff, let alone read anything.

Now that I think of it, Danto's indiscernible identicals work similarly to the Byzantine example: Giorgione's canvas grounded with red lead, a canvas not grounded but by chance covered with red lead, the punning painting Red Square. We could find an all-red canvas and, used to Malevich, and monochromatic paintings generally, exhibit it as well—we might then be embarrassed to discover our error. (We might still consider it to have lots of great aesthetic qualities, of course.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:36 PM
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Along the lines of neb's questions on antiquities, I think an interesting study could be made of something like Indiana Amish Quilts (they have some of the most abstract Amish quilt patterns). Quilts with those patterns and colors have been made and "appreciated" continuously since the late 1800s but with interesting changes in the attitude(?) (not even sure what word to use) of different communities of both makers and appreciators to the objects produced.

Or see kilims versus middle-eastern pile rugs.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:38 PM
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198: that would indeed be funny, especially given the occasional mixups that museums that exhibit very modern stuff occasionally experience. It would take a lot of effort to do right, though.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:38 PM
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The picture at the guardian review reminds me—how many sweater-vests did that guy own?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:40 PM
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It's only interesting if it's also an artwork.

I decided to repeat that.

Y'know, these considerations apply not just to the visual arts, but also to written works, and to music. I somewhat wish Populuxe were around; he's had interesting things to say about the curatorial business, about presentation and about provenance as these pertain to perception of value.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:41 PM
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202: And I'm guessing that you would have a very unpleasant time if they caught you in a museum with any adhesive that might stick the sign to the wall in a manner that might look professional to close inspection.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:41 PM
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On the other hand!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:45 PM
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205: So start with the restrooms.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:45 PM
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198: that would indeed be funny, especially given the occasional mixups that museums that exhibit very modern stuff occasionally experience.

I was once really confused about whether a pile of dust on the floor that museum guards were warning people away from was supposed to be art, or was leftover from a janitor who forgot to dispose of what they had swept up.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:46 PM
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207: Why not? Most museums have cleaner ones than the Starbucks down the street.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:50 PM
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208: Had a similar experience outside the art museum at my school in the '70s. Not too far from Oldenburg's plug, a short pipe appeared in the middle of an area of disturbed ground. The pipe was picturesquely "topped" by a workman's glove for a few weeks. I actually think it was some repair work being done on the antiquated steam-heating system but then again, maybe not.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:53 PM
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It was a comment on the artworld's increasing alienation from the lifeworld.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:55 PM
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Intention, intention is everything, mumble mumble.

Damn, I watched one of the videos linked in the OP, and I gotta say: well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 10:58 PM
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Intention is in the eye of the beholder.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:00 PM
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There are nearly 400 Google hits for "unintentional art".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:02 PM
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400!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:05 PM
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Having 400 Google hits is not at all trivial. For instance, there isn't even one Google hit for "cheeseburger malfunction".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:10 PM
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Until now, I suppose.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:10 PM
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21,200 for "accidental art".


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:13 PM
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Also no results for "jasmine malarkey", "unhelpful astringent", or "sizable homunculus"!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:13 PM
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"unhelpful astringent" was actually kind of surprising.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:13 PM
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"Mighty homunculus", on the other hand, gets multiple hits.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:18 PM
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And I'm guessing that you would have a very unpleasant time if they caught you in a museum with any adhesive that might stick the sign to the wall in a manner that might look professional to close inspection.

Dude, they use blue-tack sometimes. Wall text isn't something people spend too much time on.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:19 PM
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I'm sure people just google for "bad astringent." You really have to get inside people's heads in order to get this stuff.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:22 PM
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It's only interesting if it's also an artwork.

But there is art which is only interesting if it is, say, anatomically correct. That doesn't contaminate all art with anatomy tho'.

The case of art which is interesting if art is interesting because of self-referentiality, but it isn't globally important.

(The thing about non-physical qualities of art is also interesting. I'll try and find that paper.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:23 PM
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These phrases would make great song titles along these lines.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:25 PM
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It is interesting to consider the fields of endeavor in which the "but is it ... ?" question get raised. They include art generally and poetry, but not, say, prose fiction (and even poetry has its step-sibling verse). Music too. Things that are, or were, supposed to have real significance, almost, or in some cases not even almost, metaphysical import.

(I'm sure that there are examples of novel-length prose fiction which are denied to be novels for some reason or other, but I doubt in the same tenor as is used to deny that something is art or poetry.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:29 PM
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It is interesting to consider the fields of endeavor in which the "but is it ... ?" question get raised.

When someone asks "is string theory physics?", I sort of want to scream.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:32 PM
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Nonphysical qualities that depend for their presence on the item said to possess them's membership in a specific class are common. You have it for instance in food; I have occasionally used as an example (used it to D/u/t/t/o/n, in fact) of a dish I once had with my sister at some restaurant in downtown nyc, which was a moderately clever take on shrimp cocktail, something I didn't realize at the time—she had to point it out to me. In this case its cleverness depended on its being a dish of food, which it obviously was anyway.

Basically anything in which there is a tradition and whose practitioners are aware of the tradition can support productions bearing qualities of this sort.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:33 PM
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I sort of want to scream.

But is it a real desire?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:33 PM
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A man asks his editor, are comic-strip writers newspapermen? His boss says, Barnacles! Uhhh, barnacles! Barnacles to you, Jack, Barnacles!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:35 PM
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The linked thing in 225 is awesome. I didn't listen to sound samples; is the music good?

I'm not sure what you meant about music in 226.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:44 PM
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The better version of 227 is the "but is it science?" question, where almost everyone clings to the notion that Popper gave the one and only possible way to resolve this question, even if they are scientists who are not, at the moment, in the business of trying to falsify one or another hypothesis. Maddening.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:47 PM
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I'm not sure what you meant about music in 226.

Ucch, it's just noise.

Vril is indeed good. Kinda bent surf-rockish stuff on their first album (I haven't heard the second), like a more concise Forever Einstein.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:53 PM
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Also maddening is to be in a field where people say "it is science" when it's clearly not. And others in the field who may or may not think it's a science* go in this direction. Fortunately, I'm not really in the "field" - just a student passing through to working in the field (in the career sense of the word).

*They seem to like certain types of "science studies", mainly the hardcore social construction ones, but it's not clear when they try to apply it their field if they're treating they're field as, technically, a science.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:57 PM
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||
So, on the topic of wacked-out videos, did anyone post this here yet?
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:57 PM
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their/they're mistake


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 3-10 11:58 PM
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235: don't think so. I just saw it on mefi but I've been afraid to actually watch it.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:00 AM
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There are actually a couple of funny youtube comments. I have not watched the video yet.

I will probably be in California this summer, so I guess I'll have plenty of time to watch my state's fucked up politics up close again.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:02 AM
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Oh man, you guys gotta watch it. Words cannot describe its awesomeness.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:05 AM
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Apparently proposing taxes to pay for things is fiscally irresponsible.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:05 AM
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239 speaks the truth.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:06 AM
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I like how the beginning of the video implies that we want politicians to be pure and pious sheep.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:07 AM
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Not just pure and pious sheep, pure and pious sheep on a column.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:08 AM
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So great; it jumps the track almost immediately but keeps hurtling into absurdity. The sheep-costume bit was truly art. Another few seconds and they'd have achieved pure Dada.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:12 AM
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All Democrats should leave California. There's no feasible fix without a (state) constitutional amendment, right?

Calling all California Democrats: Move to the Dakotas; to Idaho, to Montana, and some purple states. We'll all donate to your well being and put you up. Leave California chock full of Republicans. This is gonna be hilarious.

I'd donate money for that movement. Except that it would still suck and they'd still end up bailed out.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:15 AM
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245: me. woops.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:15 AM
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I like how the video tries to gesture towards diversity, but they just can't do it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:19 AM
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Also, wouldn't Campbell's positions put him near the leftmost part of the Republican party in Congress now?

I really really hope that Boxer, at least, is still safe.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:20 AM
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me. woops.

YOU MEAN "WOPS"


Posted by: OPINIONATED OLDER PERSON | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:09 AM
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On the OP: I became a fan of Die Antwoord on facebook, but I can't tell if their status updates are in Afrikaans or English.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:10 AM
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245: What happens when you've got nothing but Republicans left? You get the government you deserve.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:20 AM
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Might there be a better choice? … Perhaps a proven fiscal conservative who has accomplished enormous things in life?

I guess running HP into the ground was pretty enormous. How did that come about, though? There's nothing in the video to suggest she's prone to errors of judgment.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:01 AM
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Don't vote for Campbell. He may claim to share your values, but he's a SYVGINO: a Shares-Your-Values Guy in Name Only.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:04 AM
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Unfortunately y'all finally got to ground that I felt like commenting on just after I left, ca. 200. To wit:

I think that "art"-as-honorific shouldn't be construed narrowly. It's simply not the case that poobahs dictate what is art, and hoi polloi follow. In fact, a major issue with art for the last 100 years or so is the tension between what the public recognizes as art and what poobahs and artists recognize, and it's not the case that either side has always been on the side of the angels. I think if you look at, say, Picasso, Rockwell, Pollock, Warhol, Kincade, and Arm the Homeless*, you see both sides getting it wrong, quite possibly due to flawed theories of art, possibly due to simple prejudice.

* not an ideal example; consider it a stand-in for thoroughly bogus Conceptual Art


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:05 AM
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Arm the Homeless was less than ideal because, unless you are talking about Arizona or something, guns kept by the homeless will require constant oiling to avoid rust.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:07 AM
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Also, despite being regular exposed to his work, I don't get Warhol. I don't complain because he played an important role in launching Fran Lebowitz's career.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:17 AM
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198: The performance troop Improv Everywhere did a stunt where they labeled objects in a NYC subway station as works of art and then held a gallery opening, with a bar and everything.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:19 AM
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In my History of 20th Century Art class, we had a project to create a work in the style of one of the artists we studied. I chose Duchamp and created a ready-made out of one of the desks in our classroom. The professor hated it.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:26 AM
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You know what this discussion attempting to define art reminds me of?

. . .
'You are sad,' the Knight said in an anxious tone: 'let me sing you a song to comfort you.'
'Is it very long?' Alice asked, for she had heard a good deal of poetry that day.
'It's long,' said the Knight, 'but very, VERY beautiful. Everybody that hears me sing it--either it brings the TEARS into their eyes, or else--'
'Or else what?' said Alice, for the Knight had made a sudden pause.
'Or else it doesn't, you know. The name of the song is called "HADDOCKS' EYES."'
'Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?' Alice said, trying to feel interested.
'No, you don't understand,' the Knight said, looking a little vexed. 'That's what the name is CALLED. The name really IS "THE AGED AGED MAN."'
'Then I ought to have said "That's what the SONG is called"?' Alice corrected herself.
'No, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! The SONG is called "WAYS AND MEANS": but that's only what it's CALLED, you know!'
'Well, what IS the song, then?' said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.
'I was coming to that,' the Knight said. 'The song really IS "A-SITTING ON A GATE": and the tune's my own invention.'
. . .


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:42 AM
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Uh, I don't do much really, I just read, and work here, and, uh, sleep and eat, and, uh, watch movies.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:03 AM
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Am I the only one who thinks "Arm the Homeless" is genius? It's like Levitt's "abortion prevents crime," as performance art, rather than as empirical research completely refuted by later researchers.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:07 AM
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251
What happens when you've got nothing but Republicans left? You get the government you deserve.

That's interesting. My first reaction was "great, maybe the assholes will learn something." Unwatered parks, reduced tourism promotion, fewer street lights and bumpier roads seem like the ideal ways to drive home to idiots that stuff costs money, even if you don't happen to like the fact that that money generally comes from things called taxes. These cutbacks are inconvenient and maybe a little painful, but the effect (at least, depending on implementation, of course) is minor, across the board and highly visible.

But then it gets into details about how the community center budget means lots of daycare, which is not minor and not across the board. And some of the other cutbacks look the same - important but low-profile stuff. Really, I shouldn't assume that cutbacks would be implemented intelligently.

But on yet another hand, there's this:

Hansen, the criminal-justice student, grows especially exasperated when recalling a scary incident a few years ago as she waited for a bus. She said a carload of drunken men approached her until the police helicopter that had been trailing them turned a spotlight on the men and chased them off. Now the helicopter is gone, and the streetlight she was waiting under is threatened as well.

Admittedly, it's only anecdata, but there's no way that a helicopter is the best way to handle problems like that. A beat cop could have accomplished the same thing at a tenth the annual cost. So maybe some of the cutbacks actually are things that should be cut.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:07 AM
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261: I agree. I had never heard of it before this thread, but it looks pretty clever.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:09 AM
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261, 263: There must be some reason why I can remember it over 15 years later. But several of those years were spent doing research on people with schizophrenia, so it doesn't seem as funny as it used to.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:21 AM
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261: You speak for me, Walt, both here and in 101.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:24 AM
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I've never had people on my side before. Fuck it, let's start the revolution now. Can I borrow a gun?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:26 AM
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266: First move out of your home.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:27 AM
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What people who want to get into that don't realize is that art is whatever artists do, and "artist" is an ontological category. Some people just are artists and what they do just is art.

And how do we know who fits into the ontological category of "artist"?

Anyone who professes to be an artist, is.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:28 AM
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I've never had people on my side before.

No doubt with good reason. But I read the whole thread with increasing frustration because nobody, including me, could articulate my opinion on the OP until 101.2. Nicely done.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:30 AM
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And how do we know who fits into the ontological category of "artist"?

Anyone who professes to be an artist, is.

Well, this discussion all began about outsider artists.
These are people whose work is exhibited and sold as art, but often don't consider themselves artists.



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:38 AM
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A beat cop could have accomplished the same thing at a tenth the annual cost.

A beat cop, granddad?

101.2 is spot on. Delightful as the videos are, I think we can assume that die Antwoord have all got honours degrees from UCT and are waiting to go large in New York.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:41 AM
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270: Good point. How about this:

Anyone who claims to be, or is claimed to be, an artist, is.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:42 AM
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272: Plus anybody who installs or maintains urinals.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:46 AM
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235: The wolf-man in sheep's clothing, with the glowing red eyes!


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:48 AM
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272.2: Plus Those Included in the Present Classification.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:51 AM
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The cuts to the sheep chewing menacingly are deeply moving.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:53 AM
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Anyone who claims to be, or is claimed to be, an artist, is.

Plus anybody who installs or maintains urinals.

We've figured it out!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:59 AM
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The Tino Sehgal exhibit seems relevant to this discussion -- has anybody here gone to it? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/01/arts/design/01tino.html?ref=design


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:06 AM
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especially given the occasional mixups that museums that exhibit very modern stuff occasionally experience

That's why you need explanatory signage like this.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:12 AM
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279 also relevant to AWB's 49.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:14 AM
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When I was a teenager, I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where they have Duchamp's Bicycle Wheel. Without really thinking, I touched it to see if the wheel spins. (It does.) The security guard on duty said to me, "Don't touch that. It's art." In his honor, I've adopted the Security Guard Theory of Art: art is that which security guards on duty tell you is art.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:23 AM
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The Tino Sehgal exhibit seems relevant to this discussion

There's the part of me that think it sounds interesting, and the part of the me that thinks being forced to attempt meaningful discussion with strangers at an art museum is terrifying.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:26 AM
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art is that which security guards on duty tell you is art.

This is a useful contribution to the field, but it will only work in the context of a museum.



Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:27 AM
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The security guard on duty said to me, "Don't touch that. It's art."

If security telling you not to touch something defines art, my penis a work of art.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:29 AM
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Walt tried to touch your penis in a museum?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:30 AM
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If security telling you not to touch something defines art, my penis a work of art.

From what I hear, Moby, it is the greatest work of art of all.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:31 AM
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However, the security guard's penis apparently *stops* being art as soon as they get you into the back room.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:31 AM
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It was part of the new art installation at the Guggenheim.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:32 AM
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Locally, some of the security guards have tried extreme art criticism.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:36 AM
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And 286 is true.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:41 AM
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Semi-||

Curious synchronicity - from S/acktivist, yesterday:

On not complaining about free things - what about Chick Tracts? Those are generally given away for free.

I would love to procure one. I believe the proper term for them is outsider art. We're talking waaaaaaaay outside...
Yes, indeed.

|>


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:50 AM
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Art is that which security guards on duty tell you is art

Alas, the janitor's verdict is not considered dispositive.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:55 AM
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278: Wouldn't it be more honest and effective to protest commodification in the art world by simply not participating in it at all?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:13 AM
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293: By creating a non-commodity based version of art, Seghal is making commodity-based artists look wasteful and old-fashioned. So maybe this is more effective than simply not participating.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:24 AM
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294: It certainly affords more opportunity to be smug than not participating.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:26 AM
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271
A beat cop, granddad?

I was all set to apologize in shame for antiquated terminology, but you know, the phrase does appear in the article. Was I misusing it?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:49 AM
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I admit I skimmed the article but I didn't know there were beat cops left anywhere in the world since 1970, if not earlier.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:55 AM
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294: But he is still selling art as a commodity

He sells the pieces, for prices that reach into six figures, as editions; the sales agreements are oral; only the cash paid in is tangible. He stipulates that he or someone associated with him must oversee the execution of a sold piece.

If unauthorized changes are made, the result will be considered inauthentic, a fake. The edition of "Kiss" at the Guggenheim belongs to the Museum of Modern Art, which means MoMA alone has the right to execute or loan it. The Guggenheim, which has borrowed it, does not yet own a Sehgal.

His art is an immaterial commodity, like complex mortgaged back securities. He's not undermining anything at all, just giving the appearance of it.
Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:01 AM
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101.2: I have a friend who only does 3rd category projects. Most of them are totally brilliant, some of them are not so great, but what's really amazing is his process. He gets a idea for some crazy shit, and then just goes around getting people excited about it until it happens. (Usually spending the final 48 hours before the day of in a manic frenzy of cleaning up little details that he didn't plan out very well.) He's like everybody in the RE/Search Pranks books rolled into one. And he has a very problematized relationship with the term "artist". Can't really say much more without breaching anonymity, but he's so fucking cool.

297: Really? We've got beat cops. Mostly just downtown. And on bikes. But they definitely fulfill every aspect of the traditional beat cop concept.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:07 AM
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297: I wouldn't know. Now, my interaction with police is just of the not getting in their way variety. When I was a reporter, it was in a rural enough area that they didn't specialize. There were chiefs and, as far as I needed to know, everyone else. So I'd find it plausible either way.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:09 AM
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Beat cops were a thing of the past that is now trendy again. I think the resurgence started in NYC with Rudy's guy what's his name.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:13 AM
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We've got beat cops. Mostly just downtown. And on bikes.

Same here. On bikes and on horses.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:16 AM
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He's not undermining anything at all, just giving the appearance of it.

I think this is true, and I don't necessarily object to that. "Giving the appearance" of things is, after all, what artists do.

Of course, one type of artist is the con artist. Here's the NYT reviewer:

This is standard Sehgal practice. But unless you know why, the prohibition comes across as calculatedly tantalizing.

And even after I know why, the prohibition seems calclulatedly tantalizing - and calculatedly full of shit, too. If the artist wasn't interested in creating a commodity, he'd encourage recordings.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:31 AM
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If the artist weren't ... Sorry, neb.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:32 AM
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298: I carelessly accepted your terminology. Sehgal (by his own account) has no problem with the market/commodity aspect of art, his problem is with the materiality which he believes to be unsustainable. Hence his attempts to avoid any tangible residues -- no contracts, programs, recordings, etc.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:41 AM
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If unauthorized changes are made, the result will be considered inauthentic, a fake.

I love how apparently one can just do this. There's a thing on eBay which the creator characterizes as a work of art; the deal is, you're required to give it an internet connection and it continually lists itself on eBay. You have to sign a contract (which doesn't seem very well written) when you buy it. If you break one of the provisions … it's no longer a work of art! Uh, says who?

(My reaction of course is, breaking one of the provisions is its own work of art!.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:41 AM
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I question why anyone would be interested in "owning" or acquiring the rights to stage a "a Sehgal" for other than Girardian reasons.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:45 AM
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306: Actually, that sounds pretty cool. It's like he's trying to create life. This thing which sells itself on eBay continually, moving around the world physically, but always in the same place on the Internet.

Where does the money go? If to the creator, then this sounds like a scam, albeit an audacious one. If to the current host, or to the thing itself somehow, then damn, I would indeed call this art.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:51 AM
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Where does the money go? If to the creator, then this sounds like a scam, albeit an audacious one. If to the current host, or to the thing itself somehow, then damn, I would indeed call this art.

The current "host" (heh) has to pay the creator 15% of any profit made, according to the contract. However, the contract does not state that the current host needs an eBay account. (It could be canceled after making the purchase.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:55 AM
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I wonder how much intervention by the host is needed. "Lists itself on eBay" implies that it can use the host's eBay account -- do you have to give it your password? Come to think of it, is it a giant touring stockpile of eBay account passwords?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:05 PM
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307: What are "Girardian reasons"?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:06 PM
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I would also find the thing that sells itself on eBay more entertaining if it did so out of pique. Say, it made some kind of demands on its current host, and if not sufficiently catered to, then it would sell itself.

Probably that wouldn't be art, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:08 PM
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312: No, it would just be "lets do some weird shit."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:10 PM
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312: You just don't seem to have the self-confidence to declare yourself an artist, LB.

Maybe you will turn out to be an outsider artist.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:15 PM
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Honestly, Sehgal's work just strikes me as a part of the ongoing effort of the art world to find new and unusual ways of generating scarcity value.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:17 PM
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315: Maybe, but there was more dignity in overwhelming genius leading to willful self-destruction.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:19 PM
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It's true they have beat cops in Lisbon. On Segways. But only in the touristy bits. I'm actually a bit pleased to hear they're coming back in America. Maybe we'll get them again one day.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:36 PM
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317: You can (but I can't because of the chance of being seen by someone I know) take Segway tours of downtown Pittsburgh. If you have a slightly greater, but still deficient, sense of dignity*, you can take a tour on a WW II-era amphibious truck.

*It's called "Ducky Tours" and they try to get you to 'quack' at pedestrians.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:40 PM
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There are beat cops on horses? I thought they just used those to intimidate potential rioteers.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:40 PM
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Ned, did you go see the G-20 close-up?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:43 PM
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Yes, that's my point. That and other potential riots are the only time I've ever seen cops on horses.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:46 PM
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Sehgal's work just strikes me as a part of the ongoing effort of the art world to find new and unusual ways of generating scarcity value.

It's difficult to cordon off that response, if indeed one should even try. A lot of performance art/installation art has to (try to) get the audience to suspend just that kind of disbelief -- the 'you have got to be kidding me' response. I haven't put that well.

What's odd is that I've seen at least one thing almost exactly like the Sehgal described, here at a show at MICA a number of years ago. There are a boatload of people in this area doing things like what Natilo describes in 299.1.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:46 PM
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321: I've only seen them in parades and in some big park in the middle of a heavily touristed island off the coast of New Jersey.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:51 PM
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A lot of performance art/installation art has to (try to) get the audience to suspend just that kind of disbelief -- the 'you have got to be kidding me' response. I haven't put that well.

Actually, I think you got it exactly right.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 12:57 PM
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his problem is with the materiality which he believes to be unsustainable. Hence his attempts to avoid any tangible residues -- no contracts, programs, recordings, etc.

The thing that fascinates me about art criticism is how it so often strings words together in ways that have no meaning that I can tease out of them. This is often the result of my lack of discernment, but sometimes it's just because there's no there there.

What's wrong with the unsustainability of material things? And if there were something wrong with it, how does the artist resolve it by substituting one set of material things for others?

Here's the NYT reviewer:

Things are a problem for Mr. Sehgal, who lives in Berlin and studied political economy before he studied dance. He thinks the world has too many of them, that production is ceaseless and technology destructive. His art is a response to these perceived realities as they play out microcosmically in the context of the art industry. His goal is to create a counter-model: to make something (a situation) from virtually nothing (actions, words) and then let that something disappear, leaving no potentially marketable physical trace.

If the reviewer is to be believed, commodification is central to Seghal's concerns. But whether the issue is commodification or sustainability, the guy is displying his art in the fucking Guggenheim, for Chrissakes, not in some pasture. How can people say things like this with a straight face?

The red state critique of blue state elites is overblown and often misguided, but it isn't without basis.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:03 PM
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I knew a guy who was a genius at doing really weird shit. He did it for comedic effect, but it was completely devoid of any irony -- it was more "what happens if I do this really odd thing?" For example, one time he rented a panda costume and just started wearing around a mall. (I was along for the ride.) In one chain store, when they asked him what he was doing there, he said that he was from the chain store's front office, and he was there to monitor quality control. As soon as he said that, they completely forgot he was wearing a panda costume, and turned obsequious. (He also tried going to a bank, which was less than a good idea.)


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:06 PM
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Say, it made some kind of demands on its current host, and if not sufficiently catered to,

Tamagotchi, cca 1994. Arguably, all of the online games where following pointless time-consuming rules allows people to pretend to be succesful or liked are progeny. In any case, training for the post-industrial economy.

Andy Kaufman was a great artist.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:09 PM
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It's difficult to cordon off that response, if indeed one should even try. A lot of performance art/installation art has to (try to) get the audience to suspend just that kind of disbelief -- the 'you have got to be kidding me' response. I haven't put that well.

I'm with peep on this - I think you got it right. I just can't grasp why anyone would want to suspend disbelief in a case like this.

I mean, I suppose Seghal is better than Bernie Madoff. But if I'm going to start willy-nilly suspending disbelief just because someone asks me to, I'm at least going to find Jesus or get my cancer* cured or something.

*I don't have cancer.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:14 PM
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How can people say things like this with a straight face?

How can the reviewer say it, or how can Seghal say it? They have said it, after all. What would a straight-faced response to it look like?

People make out in pastures and in similar places all the time, and we know this. Hopefully we've done it ourselves, but it was probably without an audience. The audience is, in this case, presumably meant to be a significant factor in the construction of meaning (blah blah). The fact that the performers are presumably not really feeling their amorous embraces is another factor.

It's not hard to get from there to the feeling that one, as audience member, is being mocked. Is that the problem?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:14 PM
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What are "Girardian reasons"?

Reason having to do with decolletage-revealing celebrity chefs and/or intestinal parasites.

There are beat cops on horses? I thought they just used those to intimidate potential rioteers.

It's a small unit, and it's likely soon to be eliminated as a cost-cutting measure. Mounted patrol cops say that horses give them a good vantage point, but they tend not to talk up the intimidation factor.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:17 PM
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People make out in pastures and in similar places all the time, and we know this.

Cow flops, ants, and sharp grass stems. Not worth it. You want something with lawn-type grass.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:18 PM
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329.last: Yes, I'd assume that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:19 PM
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329.last certainly isn't my problem. In fact, it's possible that my problem with Seghal is that his audience is insufficiently mocked. I'm trying to redress that imbalance.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:22 PM
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Also: I don't object to Seghal's art per se, or its format. I object to the rationale for that format. The rationale is utter bullshit, without the redeeming social value that the exhibit itself might have.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:24 PM
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It doubles back upon itself! Whoa.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:32 PM
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re: 317

Oxford has them. A mixture of actual cops -- walking or, often these days, on bikes -- and noddy-cops (i.e. PCSOs). If you head up Cowley Road at almost any time of the day you'll usually spot a couple of cops wandering up and down, talking to people, or cycling on their bikes. I see some quite a lot round the train-station area, too [not the station proper, but around the shops etc across the road].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:36 PM
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307: What are "Girardian reasons"?

See "triangular desire". I desire x because I know, or think, that you desire x—you then observe my desiring and desire x as well, even if you didn't in the first place.

Basically, speculative reasons: it seems as if this guy might be going somewhere (i.e., that other people will start desiring him), so I desire him.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:45 PM
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337: Thank, nosflow! I thought I was going to have to find SB's elusive blog to get an answer.

Also, I agree with you about the motivation for purchasing Seghal's work.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 1:48 PM
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On beat cops: How it works in Mpls is that there's a precinct right downtown, the first precinct, that has on-foot beat cops out and about pretty much all the time. Then, in the Uptown area, there are some neighborhood bike cops who basically just work that district like a pedestrian beat cop would. Then, the Park Police (separate entity from the MPD) has bike cops for the park system (at least the interconnected 'Grand Rounds' part). Then, there are mounted patrols that have a standing assignment to hang out downtown during the big bar hours, especially in the Warehouse District, where most of the trouble is concentrated. Also, the state kicks in some State Troopers for similar downtown evening foot patrols. Finally, just last year, we got something akin to a PCSO force, the Downtown Improvement District Ambassadors, who are sort of combination public security guards/janitors/tourist information agents. The rank-and-file don't actually have much in the way of a direct security function (e.g. arresting people), but they're coordinated such that their agency works closely with the real police for information gathering and crime reporting/deterring functions. They wear a fairly ridiculous hi-vis get-up.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:01 PM
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...the 'you have got to be kidding me' response.

I think that's a response that ought to be listened to. As an outsider a lot of what goes on in the art world (the poobahs mentioned upthread) seems like a huge circle jerk by self absorbed pretentious twats wandering ever further from relevance to real people's lives. The dynamic of 337.last seems in part to be implicated (fawn over SAPT X early before everyone else does! Establish your cred as edgy and provocative!). Of course there's the whole fetishization of "edgy" and "provocative" that helps drive things towards ever more absurd extremes, too.

And of course, having posted this flamebait, I must leave my computer for an extended period. Take my Philistinism as granted.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:03 PM
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326: Well, if he ever wants to come to Mpls and meet a kindred spirit, let me know.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:03 PM
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If you want to know more about Girard, I can certify that reading this book on the subway in Berlin will get you interesting looks.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:04 PM
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I think that's a response that ought to be listened to.

It's a response that has to be listened to, in an area that's as self-conscious as art necessarily is.

We're all performing something or other, in any case; the attempt to behave in an unselfconscious manner is fraught.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:10 PM
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It's a response that has to be listened to, in an area that's as self-conscious as art necessarily is.

No, it isn't.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:11 PM
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I disagree.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:12 PM
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342: I'll keep that in mind for the next time I visit Berlin.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:13 PM
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344: It isn't a response that has to be listened to or art isn't necessarily self-conscious?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:14 PM
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347: my statement was unambiguous.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:16 PM
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342: You sure it wasn't that your fly was open?


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:33 PM
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348: So I can do art without being self-conscious?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:44 PM
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What's wrong with the unsustainability of material things?

It's funny because he is using important environmental buzzwords, but has removed real meaning from them.

Environmentalist: I'm concerned about materialism and consumer culture. I think it supports practices that are unsustainable, like the fossil fuel economy.

Artist: I'm concerned with the the unsustainability of material things


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:46 PM
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350: I don't know if you can, but it is possible.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:48 PM
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351: Dood. That's how you write an artist's statement. Didn't you know? Also, you're supposed to ignore them.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:50 PM
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353: But with Sehgal what else is there?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:52 PM
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I'm with politicalfootball here. The problem isn't with the art, but with the justification (i.e., the artists statement.)

Also, I thought conceptual art was the moment when the artist statement swallowed and digested the art itself, and that Seghal was trying to take this tradition further.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:54 PM
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352: The house is full of crayons, construction paper, and self-sticking googley-eyes. I should be able to hit on something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:54 PM
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355: Yeah, actually it sounds like people enjoy the "progress" work in the Guggenheim. It sounds kind of fun and interesting.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 2:59 PM
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"Progress" sounds like an artfully arranged philosophy class. I like it a lot, and wonder how I can steal from it in my own teaching.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 3:02 PM
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356: unselfconscious art. Sounds like you have a lot going on in your home, too.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 3:04 PM
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Also, I thought conceptual art was the moment when the artist statement swallowed and digested the art itself

Yes, too often, unfortunately. Which is why I mostly can't stand that style of it: look, if you [artist] need to provide a shitload of words to explain to me what the hell is going on, you really should have just written an essay. Really, I mean it.

The critics are pretty much the only ones who pay attention to artists' statements. Well, and those putting together shows (they need to have some text to provide as rationale for the pieces).

Seghal's stuff, as described in the NYT piece, could do without the artist's statement. It's also a bit more than conceptual art, unless you're using that term very broadly. The "This Progress" piece is flat out performance, and fairly well done, from the sound of it. It doesn't need the artist's statement.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 3:06 PM
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358: Make a big show of stealing it to see if Sehgal will sue you.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 3:06 PM
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the moment when the artist statement swallowed and digested the art itself

Paul McCarthy's Hot Dog, then?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 3:07 PM
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359: High quality competition! Maybe I'll go have a concept instead.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 3:07 PM
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Oh, wait. My brain removed the word "statement" until I re-pasted it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 3:08 PM
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360: The critics are pretty much the only ones who pay attention to artists' statements

Which is irritating because (a) the critics don't usually incorporate much of that information into their commentary (at least IMX). And furthermore because there's usually very little in the way of context in those statements. At least not the context that would allow most people to better understand the process and the outcome, which I had always assumed was the point of writing that stuff in the first place.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 3:14 PM
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365: And because (b) artists often trail off without finishing their thoughts.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 3:23 PM
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366: Which drives me bananas sometimes. I understand, it's a difference between the verbal and the ... plastic, or performative, or whatever ... brain. But sometimes I really wonder at my housemate, who can make fantastic, fully completed, art works but not infrequently can't seem to finish a thought.

Yes, I have written some of his artist's statements for him, and I'm sure they sound like total garbage. Translation problems.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 3:33 PM
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Smart people whose minds really don't work verbally are fascinating. Probably the smartest person I've ever met (in some sense at least) was a fellow freshman at MIT who hardly communicated verbally at all -- not that in the sense that he was socially dysfunctional, he just didn't construct a lot of utterances over three or four words long. I was in all the same classes he was, and it was maddening -- everything was clear as glass to him, he was friendly and wanted to be helpful, and it was no use at all asking him to explain anything: he simply couldn't turn math into meaningful words at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 3:38 PM
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I desire x because I know, or think, that you desire x--you then observe my desiring and desire x as well, even if you didn't in the first place. Basically, speculative reasons: it seems as if this guy might be going somewhere (i.e., that other people will start desiring him), so I desire him.

Hmm. I begin to suspect that I have a job for Girardian reasons.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 3:39 PM
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But why should you-the-educated-layman expect to understand all art? I mean, it is taken as absolutely granted that layfolk don't understand all of the law, even though living lawfully is really quite important to most people.

Certainly, if the entire field were to become utterly odd, that would be a problem, but the assumption that everyone ought be able to understand all art always* is, I think, wrong.

Artists statements are famously bad; this has nothing to do with anything but the fact that artists aren't selected for writing ability. They have been bad for centuries now.

* everyone is also often glossed to mean `all educated people', which is a bit of a problem. That is, nobody complains about the difficulty and meaninglessness of history paintings, despite the fact that you need to know about Antiquity (specifically Plutarch) and the Academy system for most of them to start to make sense.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 4:52 PM
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They have been bad for centuries now.

Is that how long the artist's statement has been a genre?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 4:55 PM
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Depending what you mean by `artist's statement', I think so. Certainly there have been writings by artists since the late eighteenth century, many of them about the paintings on display. David put out a pamphlet to explain the Sabine Women, which was I think unusual but not totally unheard of, and the first Impressionist show was praised for not having huge amounts of verbiage attached.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 5:01 PM
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why should you-the-educated-layman expect to understand all art?

No one said we expected to be able to understand all art. And certainly no one has been arguing that all art should be accessible to everyone.

I think people are just perturbed by the fact that some works of art only have value because a group of people think they have value, and the individual members of that group are mostly valuing that work of art because they think the other members of the group will value the work of art.

Personally, I find the strong resemblance between the this system of Girardian reasons and the mortgage backed securities market to be incredibly damning.

The fact that you can insert something that purports to be a critique of the system into the system and still have the system value it might have been entertaining briefly after WWI, but not it is simply another way to play the system.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 5:04 PM
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We were at the Tate Britain exhibition of Turner and the Masters last week, and a fair number of Turner's paintings had some prolix descriptive titles.

"Being a depiction of the mine-shaft; slightly before midnight; dark and windy outside, warm and leathery inside, after a work by Mr Tom, late of Finland" etc


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 5:06 PM
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Ah, but a description like that isn't the sort of thing that is understood by "artist's statement" these days.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 5:16 PM
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the assumption that everyone ought be able to understand all art always

Who is making this assumption? Honestly, Keir, it's hard to tell what you're talking about: since when is art something one understands, rather than something one engages or experiences?

Are you just being defensive about the statement upthread that artists' statements are frequently bad? But that wasn't exactly a criticism -- just an observation or statement of fact.

The truth is that artists' statements are trying to do something that's undefined in the first place: what is it? Is it to tell you the material process the artist went through in conceiving and executing the piece? The details of that process are actually going to be boring to most people. Is it to provide an art-historical perspective on the influences and allusions in play? Is it to spoon-feed you an interpretation of the piece (god forbid)?

I've ground utterly to a halt in this, actually. I don't know what Keir is talking about.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 5:21 PM
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But why should you-the-educated-layman expect to understand all art? I mean, it is taken as absolutely granted that layfolk don't understand all of the law, even though living lawfully is really quite important to most people.

This is stretching the parallel a bit far, I think. For law, as with most fields, I may be ignorant, but I know that with some reading I can remedy that ignorance. It's not clear that art is analogous -- if I don't understand what an artist is up to, and I don't see any aesthetic value in the work, it's not clear that any amount of further study is going to remedy that. (Artist's statements certainly won't, barring an unusually articulate artist.) With such things one occasionally begins to suspect that they are, at root, no more than bullshit.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 5:24 PM
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Who cares if they listen, indeed.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 5:25 PM
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Personally, I find the strong resemblance between the this system of Girardian reasons and the mortgage backed securities market to be incredibly damning.

But this is taking a true, minor, and eternal fact about art: it has herd-like qualities; and blowing it up into a great new fault. It isn't like the securities market because even if Damien Hirst, whoever the current `too conceptual*' artist is, and all their mates were suddenly revealed as charlatans, that wouldn't suddenly destroy everything. You are overestimating the importance of this stuff; yes in a century people will look back and say `wtf' about some stuff, but that's to be expected. It has always happened and will always happen.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 5:28 PM
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"An Oak Tree": art, bullshit, both or neither?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 5:41 PM
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"An Oak Tree" is very clever, but it's still a variation on the jokes upthread about the janitors accidentally throwing out museum pieces or the people labeling stuff in a subway. They're all basically just repeating this one funny joke that Duchamp started.


Posted by: briefly visible | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 5:56 PM
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It was once barred by Australian officials from entering the country as "vegetation". Craig-Martin was forced to inform them that it was really a glass of water.

Well which is it?!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 5:57 PM
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I'm sort of inclined to go with "art and bullshit" on this one. There's something kind of awesome about a glass of water on display labeled "An Oak Tree", but as briefly visible said, it's a joke. Duchamp, maybe plus a bit of Monty Python. The transubstantiation reference is pretty great. But then we find phrases in the Wikipedia page like "questioning the nature of reality", and my bullshit meter hits 11.

I feel this way about a fair amount of conceptual art. It's fun to run into in a museum, but god forbid I have to listen to the prattling of someone who thinks it's telling us something deep and important about reality or humanity or something.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:01 PM
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381 is true, but then again nudes are all variations on something some clever Greeks did.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:03 PM
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380: According to the Wikipedia article, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has spoken. Don't be daft.

Uh, is it fair to say that if an artist's intention is enough to make a glass of water into a work of art, then anything is a work of art, and so ...

Fuck. Never mind. Obviously nobody should expect to understand every work of art.

Fucking Duchamp. And Warhol. I've been feeling that I should read Benjamin.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:05 PM
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nudes much of Western Civilization are variations on something some clever Greeks did.


Posted by: breifly visible | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:08 PM
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What I don't understand about things like An Oak Tree is why it still gets displayed, or, for that matter, has ever been displayed. Isn't it enough for you to know that it was displayed elsewhere, or even was thought of? The guy's persnicketiness regarding the level of water in the cup, e.g., seems calculated to make one think that there's any significance to it, such that viewing the cup with just that much water might be something over and above being aware that, somewhere, someone once did put such a cup, with such wall text, on display, but everything else about it conspires to force the conclusion that, no, it's just arbitrariness for the sake of merely apparent significance. I mean: this isn't an aesthetic object—and that, I think, is why its character as being just a repetition of a joke seems more significant than one nude's being like another in, what, being nude?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:08 PM
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(Unless it's displayed so that skeptical museumgoers can see that, yes, this really happened, someone actually did this, I saw it with my own eyes.)


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:09 PM
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Isn't it enough for you to know that it was displayed elsewhere, or even was thought of?

It seems enough. In fact numerous types of these things are displayed all over the place.

The art world seems at times to be chasing its own tail.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:15 PM
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Apologies for going back to Sehgal, but I'm sort of curious as to why performance art isn't understood as a subset of Theater. Actually, I'm pretty sure that it's just a matter of re-marketing a theatrical performance as an object, in order to make more money. Which is why Sehgal comes off to me as a bullshitter, at least in his "anti-object" stance.

On the other hand, I'm sympathetic to the idea that most art-making involves sublimated erotic desire (I mean, come on, nudes) and Sehgal could just say he's cutting out the middleman and presenting the thing itself.


Posted by: briefly visible | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:24 PM
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You know, I find the idea that performance art makes more money than theatre slightly absurd; I really really doubt that financial considerations are the best explanation.

I think Nosflow's wrong that An Oak Tree isn't an aesthetic object; it has very specific formal qualities, which are important to the work.

(Suppose it weren't a glass, but a chalice, say. Or the shelf was lower down. It would be different.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:31 PM
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Performance art should be understood as a subset of Theater. I'm stubborn about this. The rest of 390.1 is also true.

How does Sehgal's work cut out the middleman?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:33 PM
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Suppose it weren't a glass, but a chalice, say.

Then it would be a tulip poplar.

Or the shelf was lower down.

Tamarack larch.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:34 PM
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But those are the easy ones. What if, instead of water, the glass was filled with ground beef?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:36 PM
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(Suppose it weren't a glass, but a chalice, say. Or the shelf was lower down. It would be different.)

Yes, if the shelf was lower down, it would be different in that the shelf was lower down. That doesn't make it an aesthetic object (except insofar as everything is (and insofar as everything has very specific formal qualities, to wit, whatever qualities it actually has)—I mean it doesn't make An Oak Tree an aesthetic object). What is the importance of the height of the shelf to the work? If it were an inch lower, what would the significance of that be? Or if an inch's difference would be insignificant, what would a significant difference be?

Urinals have very specific formal qualities, and might even be appreciated aesthetically, were we not to think about them as piss receptacles. The nice white ceramic, the pleasing curves! There are people who think that this is what Fountain was about—ripping this actually attractive object from its normal context so that it could be appreciated aesthetically. I think those people have partaken too heartily of crack.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:37 PM
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What if, instead of water, the glass was filled with ground beef?

Bristlecone pine.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:38 PM
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391: I guess I misread, but I thought there was discussion of the museum buying Sehgal's work for a large sum, while I always thought theater was notorious for not making money. But I don't know all that much about either.

392: I meant by cutting out the object; the painting/photograph/sculpture/film.


Posted by: briefly visible | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:39 PM
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But you have to look up at it at the set height; suppose you looked down at it. It wouldn't have the connotations of authority. It would be submissive. --- and the height could be seen as mimicking the fact that trees are tall; and maybe there's something about distance in there.

Height-in-relation to a human is one of the fundamental formal issues of minimalism; An Oak Tree clearly knows about minimalism, therefore it should be expected that scale is a formal element.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:41 PM
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The nice white ceramic, the pleasing curves!

They're practically garden fountains.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:41 PM
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391: I guess I misread, but I thought there was discussion of the museum buying Sehgal's work for a large sum, while I always thought theater was notorious for not making money. But I don't know all that much about either.

But that is the archetypal biased sample. I am sure it is possible to make money in performance art, but you would be a bit daft to go into it to make money.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:42 PM
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I am sure it is possible to make money in performance art

One could argue that's what David Blaine is doing.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:46 PM
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400: Conceded. I don't mean to dismiss all performance art, just pointing out what bothered me about Sehgal.


Posted by: briefly visible | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:48 PM
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398: A large part of the piece's formal properties is a function of the space in which it's shown. That is, it requires a relatively empty white space.

Which is to say that the gallery setting is part of the piece; the piece doesn't stand on its own. That's a curious matter, then.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 6:58 PM
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398: That's interesting. But I'm doubtful that the element of scale is what makes the piece. The glass of water is far enough removed from an oak that no matter how it's positioned relative to the viewer, you still need the artist's statement to understand that's what it represents. Which is the whole point. I'd even say that the manipulation of scale (or making it a chalice, if he'd done that) just distracts from that point. Of course, you could always say I couldn't know for sure since I haven't seen the piece in person.


Posted by: briefly visible | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:01 PM
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a function of the space in which it's shown

Not unlike the Eucharist.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:07 PM
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(Unless it's displayed so that skeptical museumgoers can see that, yes, this really happened, someone actually did this, I saw it with my own eyes.)

Being displayed in a museum or gallery--where it might be offset by more conventional works--is arguably important to a full appreciation of it (i.e., part of its shtick is its contrastive effect).


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:07 PM
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I agree that the element of scale isn't what makes the piece, but I think that it does help the work.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:07 PM
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You could also say that having the glass up high evokes Tantalus, especially if the museumgoer is thirsty.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:08 PM
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I agree that the element of scale isn't what makes the piece, but I think that it does help the work.

It's undeniable that it would significantly detract from the work were it to be displayed on a kitchen counter crowded with dirty dishes and a shopping list.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:18 PM
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What I don't understand about things like An Oak Tree is why it still gets displayed, or, for that matter, has ever been displayed. Isn't it enough for you to know that it was displayed elsewhere, or even was thought of?

Were I feeling less lazy, I would try to dig up something neb has played on his radio show about which I could say "Isn't it enough to know that it was once played on a radio station, or that someone once thought of playing it on the radio?"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:23 PM
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I can't believe you're all still talking about art.

Anyway, labeling stuff in a subway is nice, but labeling "non-art" objects in a museum is its own specific thing. I'm kind of surprised no one has done that.

Also, as I've said before under my old name, urinals, like religious art, is often best seen in situ at places of worship, so to speak.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:24 PM
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is s/b are


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:25 PM
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All this talk about art is making me want to finally get around to going to the Whitney. But there's going to be all this snow for the next couple of days.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:26 PM
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I meant to go to the art gallery here while they were running an exhibit I really want to see, but now the exhibit has closed.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:32 PM
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want s/b wanted

Maybe I should just post an errata comment when this thread is over.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:33 PM
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urinals, like religious art, is often best seen in situ


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:35 PM
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Well, anyway, a lot has been written about the changing modes of museum and gallery display and curatorship, which have made possible the presentation of things as art which would not previously have been possible.

Ever since what Danto dubs the 'end of art' -- and he was right about that, though he puts it with Warhol rather than Duchamp, a complicated argument -- the field is wide open, and more power to it, though I suppose nobody knows what to do, or what to say about it, any more.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 7:46 PM
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Performance art should be understood as a subset of Theater. I'm stubborn about this.

But if performance art arose from different environments and different impulses than theater, it's weird to call it a 'subset'. One might claim that contemporary theater* is influenced by performance art, but not the other way around. Both theater and performance art have to do with performance, but that's not to say that one is a subset of the other.

*A new classic in the field.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:51 PM
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Oops. In case you couldn't tell, that was me and not ST.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 8:52 PM
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In the spirit of the OP, is this art? (vid, Totally unsafe for kids or work)


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:08 PM
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419: We could tell. It wasn't insulting anybody.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:16 PM
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I was joking about Michel Foucault earlier today, but then on my walk home I started really thinking about that name. From 'Michel Fuckall" to "Meshell Fookoe" to "Me shelf ookoe" and how the key is the "oo" in "Oolong" and the "-koe" in "Pekoe", so it all really comes down to the tea.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:18 PM
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This thread, and my boredom sitting here at home doing nothing, led me to read about Sehgal. The progress thing sounds like something I'd turn around and leave, but I wouldn't go to it anyway. But it seems well-designed and I can see why it's interesting to people who find it interesting.

The stuff about not leaving traces is pretty much, whatever. Some stuff is kept in memory, then recorded as memory only, or lost, some stuff remains as material evidence. That's just how it is and has been. Art's no different than non-art in this area, in the long run.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 9:26 PM
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Off-topic: invitations I don't know what to do with.

First: a themed dinner party. Cryptic. Are they wanting, like, costumes? Because I am far too lazy for that sort of shit. Sounds entirely too m-fun, or something.

Second: a talk two weeks from now on the opposite coast. If they had asked me more than two weeks in advance, I would probably have said yes. But now I'm balking. I think maybe I'm being unreasonable.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:25 PM
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Talk, yes. Theme, no.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:30 PM
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My usual self-imposed rule is that I don't go to the west coast or cross the Atlantic if I can't stay for at least a week. And in this case the trip would be two or three days at most. Also, I didn't apply for a job at this place this year because I thought my time was better spent this semester writing papers instead of interviewing, so if I give a talk there anyway, I'll just feel stupid for not having applied for the job.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:35 PM
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Obviously, you can manage your invitations more effectively by combining them. Deliver the talk in a mysterious costume, either at the dinner party or on the opposite coast.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:35 PM
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Give the talk, then show up at the party with a bag over your head to hide your feelings of stupidity.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:37 PM
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Deliver the talk in a mysterious costume, either at the dinner party or on the opposite coast.

Oh, that's brilliant, given the party theme and the talk location: wear a Symb/ionese Lib/eration Ar/my costume while giving a seminar at Berk/eley.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:39 PM
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Now to work in the wedding invitation from a friend I haven't seen in four years.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:43 PM
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Most likely I'll go nowhere, but wear a bag over my head anyway.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:49 PM
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Words to live by.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 10:56 PM
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I recently decided not to apply to something in central New Jersey. The deadlines didn't match other things I was considering and it's very selective so the odds of getting nothing I wanted for the summer if I didn't get that were too high to be worth it. But it would have paid fairly well for the kind of thing it is. On the other hand, I'll be doing things that should make it easier to graduate when I want to graduate, which is as soon as I can.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:00 PM
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Central New Jersey is not the most exciting place in the world.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:11 PM
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Central NJ has good Indian, Korean, and Chinese food. Unfortunately the restaurants are all lined up along a congested strip-mall raceway.


Posted by: cantatrice | Link to this comment | 02- 4-10 11:43 PM
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re: 374

Yeah, but it was clear that the purpose of the title was to reassure the viewer. "This is a painting, of stuff, it's representational, even if it is mostly wild swhirls of paint".

In much the same way that the statement works in modern art. "This is art, there's a concept behind it, and a purpose to its execution; aesthetic thought went into this, even if it is mostly a pile of crap, on a table".


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 5-10 12:31 AM
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A rule of thumb that I've developed over the last five years or so is: "When the insight or statement provided by the work would have been more appropriately expressed as a comment on Unfogged or Unqualified Offerings, then it may be art, but it's not good art." This accounts for much of the late, unlamented "Britart" for a start.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02- 5-10 3:24 AM
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I think I speak for all of us, OFE, when I say... uh, thanks?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02- 5-10 12:56 PM
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