Thursday, May 16, 2013

More writing soon, but I wanted to share James MacAnally's recent piece in the Temporary Art Review, as I think it is incredibly interesting (with more practical analysis about the station of the artist as a profession; my writings have focused primarily on my own, and in some ways singular, experience).  It is really an interesting article, as is everything I've read in the last few weeks from the Temporary Art Review:

Art Plus Time

and a recent studio manifestation, effigy in threes.  It has been in the works for some time now:

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

palinode and paradox

I think technically a palinode is a retracted sentiment, or sentiment that is retracted by the palinode-- I don't want to portray that I am retracting or apologizing for anything in the last post; but, as always and as true as anything gets in the world of thinking, I have continued working with the ideas of permanence, folk life (thug life reference intended, of course), and how we can exist in a culture that takes creative production and turns it into something that is collected, sold, and has monetary and market-based value.  I'm not sure how much I can add to the discussion or how much of this will change what I've already said, but I do think I've come to realize that there is, at one level, a paradox involved in all of this; and on another level, justification for the noncommodification of artwork.

The paradox I discovered is well known, and I think it is extremely obvious; with this idea of folk art I am trying to get to a form of the expression of creativity through making something that is pre-commodification, or at the very least does not rely on commodification for its existence and for the maker to continue making things.  I have thought before that this expression is irrevocably linked to the society and culture that the maker works within (in the sense that anyone living is implicated in society and culture, whether we like it or not).  The paradox, then, becomes what Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons promote as their sole reason for making; the art world is a reflection of Western society inasmuch that it is only fulfilling the commodification of everything else around us.  If folk art is to represent the creative expression and cultural production of an individual irrevocably linked to society, then that individual would live the life of a commodificationist.

Though I do think this paradox exists (and is evident in things like the 80's obsession with graffiti in the gallery, skate board artists, etc) but I think it is too simplistic and assumes that everyone in society believes in commodification.  Though it is omnipresent, even the most average people get pissed in Chicago when someone calls the Sears tower (commodification of architecture and urban space) the Willis tower (a different company commodifying the same architecture and space).  Century Link Field used to be called Qwest Field(2004-2011) and before that was Seahawks Stadium(2002-2004); people are conscious of the stadium being subsidized by a company though they connect it with the football team that plays there.  Wrigley Field, on the other hand, has been named after the chewing gum guru in 1926.  I could go on and on--but this is an obvious link and easy to recognize to most everyone as ways that companies are working their ways into our lives through sponsorship, cost, and value.

What I am attempting to illustrate is that though it is the predominant mode of existence in the United States, it is far from the only way of life, and even the most capitalistic of us still have reservations about things being commodified.  This changes the paradox into a art historical notation, in my mind.  There are artists who work with the idea of commodification as a representation of the whole of society, or at least of the United States.  There are also artists, though, that choose not to participate in this as a representation of society.

Another false assumption of this paradox is that Western society is the only society concerned with cultural production, which we all know is false.  Western society might be heavily involved in the commodification of art making (reeling in artists from China, the Middle East, and other world regions now) but artwork is produced and is a phenomenon of human existence.  

Perhaps I see it not as a representation of the United States but as a result of the way that society conducts itself.  I choose not to conduct myself that way; I choose to be as self-sufficient as possible, choose to rationally decide the difference between a need and a want, and to exist within my community (both geographically and professionally).  What, then, becomes the representation of society?  This will undoubtedly continue; I think I'm on a thread that is worthwhile and worth continuing in pursuit by thinking (and, of course, working in the studio).  Thanks for the positive feedback, too, on this line of thought, it is great to hear that there are people that are interested in these ideas as well.

Addendum:  there is a great, relevant article by Evan Kindley in n+1:
Chiquita Banana Jingle