september's panel discussion will remain up due to the editor's broken arm.

before we get started, i’d like to thank everyone participating in this discussion and yabby lounge and cafe. to set the tone, we’re sitting outside at yabby having a few drinks, relaxing a bit and about to start the discussion. the participants this month are: jeff wyckoff (artist/scientist), t. whid/MTAA (artainer), m. river/MTAA (artainer), david brown (artist/space alien), lynda abraham (artist/accountant), joel beck (artist/gallerist-roebling hall), karen heagle (artist), nicole awai (artist), and me heather stephens

o.k. here’s this months’ topic. is there a movement right now and what is it, or is it just the cult of the art star right now and who’s collection you’re in? how do you feel this is shaping your art and the art world right now?

joel: i think that there are art stars because the media needs them. i don’t think that it’s the art world that needs them but the media that needs them.

heather: media needs them but why do you think that there isn’t that much discourse going on between artists. what about…

dave: because capitalism squashes discussion.

tim: i would say it’s much more market driven than in the past

heather: how do you think that affects everybody now? do you think it’s hindering development?

mike: no i disagree with you totally.

heather: ok, then why?

mike: i think it’s the way you set up the question, that if we all get together and do the same thing i’d be really bored. i like plurality. i like people who do different things. i don’t want to make dave’s work, i don’t want dave to make my work. i talk to dave occasionally. we’re coming from very different worlds seeing that he’s a space alien.

tim: are you saying you miss the salons that used to go on

heather: no not just that

like all the discussion that would happen about culture

heather: yeah, there’s not a lot of that going on, but i’m just referring to when there was a collective unit. like a collective thought about politics and people getting together to talk about that in the art movements such as the surrealists…

karen: there was recently an article in the ny times that said the trend in art was to show untrendy art.

heather: so there’s a whole movement of untrendy artists then…


what i’m saying is everybody is becoming so separate it seems they’re becoming almost like these super models. it’s not like a group anymore.

i agree that that’s a media portrayal.

tim: i don’t agree at all. i think it’s the gallerists that do it to make more money. i think you can make a lot more money off one star than 20 run of the mill artists or whatever you want to call them.

joel: i think that you have to respond when every artist wants you to promote them as much as possible so i think that the gallerists are doing what the artists want also. i think the pressure comes just as much as from the gallery. it’s pretty hard to get your voice out there. you’re competing with multibillion dollar corporations who are essentially the checkbook of joe q. public you know… and disney, time warner and aol they have quite a leg up.

tim: yeah, i wouldn’t disagree with that. i just think it’s in the market’s interest to have art stars.

jeff: it’s also in the interest of the artist. the grants are missing now. it’s not as easy for a singular artist to get a grant. the only way for an artist to make money is to get into a good gallery that sells work. so the systems created the atmosphere that art stars are the only way to do it. i think that’s where the individuality happens.

lynda: i know friends who specifically think it’s such a cheesy thing to become like a magazine article. they also think that it’s not a good move that can ruin their reputation.

heather: it is true that sometimes when you become really big you might not keep of the quality of work.

joel: part of it is the media is the message. art stars are nothing compared to real stars so it’s not even a question. no one outside the art world can probably name 10 artists in the 20th century. i think if you get one or 2 steps off route from the art world and most people could not name 10 artists from the 20th century forget…

tim: picasso and rembrandt and they all lived together with van gogh


lynda: didn’t they? they were roommates.

joel: i think the term art star is a little of a misnomer anyway.

karen: but museum attendance is up. people actually go to see work even if they can’t name 10.

joel: but the museums are also parading block buster exhibits. so they’re using the same strategy.

dave: they’re trying to compete with disney. and they should, they should become like a complete play land

heather: do you not notice there is a lot less discussion going on between artists? once you leave college that forced discussion is gone unless you’re in a program.

lynda: unless you make it a conscious effort to bring people together.

heather: have you noticed that the world has gotten further apart.

dave: it’s also as you get older

mike: we live in a neighborhood where every 3rd person does work. you go to college and you meet people and you know them the rest of our life. you went to the studio program in harlem and you talk to other people…

nicki: i don’t know, i hope so. i think a lot of what heather is saying is true to a certain degree. we don’t want to see it that way, but we don’t have movements like we had where people had alliances and solidarity and they were part of this movement and historically they are marked and listed in these movements.

karen: did they think they were in a movement when they were ...

joel: and were the movements just as commercial as the art star system…

nicki: i don’t think they knew they were necessarily in a movement

joel: because the movements were just vehicles for making stars also.

nicki: i think now historically in that context they have been put into this movement. but if you look at the people especially in the 20th century, they all hung together, they made work together, they smoke drank, etc. together.

lynda: they also made work so much alike that it took away from them being individuals also.

nicki: i mean in the group there’d always be 1 or 2 or 3 that would shine but they all seemed to have this energy and feed off of each other and they forced each other further and they made each other do better work. it just had to be better and better. because they had each other kicking each other in the butt all the time. in ways i wish i had more of that now. i’m trying to muster…out of everybody …i’ve only been in new york three years yet and i’m trying to muster and maintain groups like that and yes you do these residencies and i did aim and skohegan and i do have friends from those places and we have good intentions of keeping the studio visits going and it seems like when we get together it’s only in a social context because the artist is individual now and you just go off and make your work

mike: tim and i are really in a different situation. we make internet art and we’re with a group of people that actually started it. we’re sort of behind them, but i talk to these people everyday online. i know it’s a small sub category of a subcategory, but we know them all and it doesn’t make us do better work it’s just kinda interesting that when you know all these people

heather: that doesn’t motivate you in the least?

well there’s always the one-up-manship but

jeff: i think internet art is a movement if you’re going to classify anything, it is.

nicki and heather: yeah that’s probably true

jeff: it has it’s own historical context though it’s a type of art that fits a movement

heather: do you see it as a movement, tim?

the whole idea as a movement seems so anachronistic to me, totally meaningless. in relation to creating art it’s been gone for a long time.

heather: this is just a question that’s been posed to me by people that have emailed. that’s why i’m posing this. people wonder , "why there isn’t a movement going on or is there, what’s happening in ny"

i was in europe a year and a half ago and i was in an art gallery in germany and the only thing they wanted to know was what is the movement coming out of new york. they wanted to know what was the next big thing. not the next big artist but the next big thing.

because they still see it as movements

they still see… you almost got this impression in europe that they expected movements

dave: they expect it here too. It’s right now more than ever

heather: so what are we right now?

a lot of different things

joel: well the movements go so fast that there’s a movement for a week. it’s like watching the stock market move. they go through all the sort of fluctuations and interests..

lynda: so it’s less like a movement and more like a fad

joel: i just think there’s a lot of curating, a lot of critics, a lot of collectors…all these thing have to decide to make a movement

heather: what about an alliance?

i don’t think that people are really interested in it. i think that you’re right that there’s not much interest in making a movement.

tim: but there was, it’s just how you define it. when video became like a category was it a movement? i don’t know? now when you have a show of video art you know who’s going to be in it. viola and whoever. and net art it’s a medium with no specific agenda

can any of us even decide what was the most recent movement?

the return to pretty

tim: (laugh) right

jeff: 70s photo realism

what about neo expressionism

joel: neo expressionism, the neo geo …

karen: the east village

joel: the east village spawned 2 entirely different things you can’t get much different from jeff koons and julian schnabel. schnabel never showed in the east village but was sort of associated with it.

jeff: which brings up the point though is a movement just a post definition of what was going on

or is it an alliance?

tim: in modernism there were precise movements that you had to sign on and if you stepped out of line then you’re out.

heather: exactly, i’m curious to see what people think about this

you have to have a manifesto. you have to have one control freak. oh yeah, lars van trier has a manifesto and the surrealists had one and a real dictator to enforce it.

do you think that maybe there’s like an urgency to put a movement on because there’s the turn of the millennia and history is on our minds and we want to like… because i think it has to do with coming after the fact.

tim: do the y.b.a.’s count as a movement?

jeff: it’s already over

karen: but the y.b.a.'s are all about a particular collector aren’t they

jeff: exactly it’s a movement by a collector

mike: i’ll play the devil’s advocate. there was an aesthetic that was involved in his collection and what it has to do with is do it yourself visceral sloppy work. if that helps people to enter into the work by knowing that’s what these people were interested in. perhaps movements are a context you just plop over a bunch of artists. you can probably ask someone what is happening in the neighborhood and they’d say people in williamsburg are interested in some of this stuff…is that really what people sit down and talk about? no, but does it help someone outside get a read on what’s going on.

why don’t we sit down and talk and have things to get excited about

karen: no gets really excited anymore either. there used to be fights and stuff that broke out.

joel: people are looking at art as being more of a discursive medium of communication now. so i think a lot of the really interesting work is about reflecting back to the audience to be involved in the discourse to the same degree as the artists are. it sort of fights that in a sense. the work that i’m interested in sort of talks to people doing their own work in a way that’s sort of the duchamp stream which is to find art everywhere and disseminate right to the population as opposed as looking for the genius. i think the notion of the big genius is not that interesting to the people

mike: awareness of the audience. and you’re not on an isolated hill top …

joel: i think there is interest in rapid transmittal of ideas among a much greater population and it really just is a good media because it’s not so controlled. as much as there are art stars you know the internet is a not terribly controlled situation yet.

it reaches a lot of people

joel: people can sort of find their own way. the groupings are spontaneous and that’s relatively casual

from my experience, i think that whether net art is a movement or not, it doesn’t matter. there are certain communities of discussion that go but it’s through email. it’s not through sitting in a salon sipping brandy and we get together once a month and we look at each others work and we talk about it both technically and aesthetically and it’s great and i feel like a part of a group. people in this group some of them are the main ones in this field right now. there’s a lot of symposiums and panels and

nicki: well, then that’s a movement

heather: so does anyone else see that happening in fields other than net art?

i know there are a lot of artists getting together sort of like a support group but maybe it’s not necessarily a movement.

most art doesn’t have a political agenda these days

it makes it more commercially viable.

dave: we’re living in this country where we’re so intensely oppressed that no one can even break through the barriers to be able to see what the fuck is going on. so if everyone has tunnel visions of what’s going on it’s hard to unify. in the 60s and 70s it seemed like it was more apparent. there were more apparent objectors. i think that the objectives of what art should be and what artists should be doing and how we should be working together are completely lost

nicki: is that not important anymore

dave: the question i ask myself a lot is what is the function in this day and age

jeff: i think of it in terms of a country that’s not at war. everybody says our country is the most prosperous it’s been but it’s got a lack of identity and no direction and art is kind of the same way. if you look at the way modernists were used during the 30s and 40s (1st there was depression and 2nd there was ww2) they were used for a political agenda. artists themselves existed for a political agenda. same could be said for vietnam and the same for the changes in the 70s. since the 80s there has not been a political agenda

karen: well no in the 90s there was a lot of act and artists that came out of act up

jeff: and it was a good movement. art about aids

but there was a lot of strangeness in that too because it became hip and cool to do that work and that became a good venue to be commercially successful there’s like a weird undercurrent to that too because that’s a trend. it’s an easy tag to throw on.

karen: i knew a lot of these people in act up who went to all the marches and they were the ones making the work so it wasn’t like that they were coming from a trendy position because they were actually participating in

i understand but then if it becomes a movement

other people don’t really have the

then it becomes easy and a lot of political art doesn’t hold up after a while

barbara krueger’s show at the whitney right now. it’s real interesting to see that work and to me it seems very dated. because you’re thinking about what was going on at the time it was made but when you look at it now it seems really trendy. when you see her style of writing on a billboard it’s referring to this political thing she was doing.

dave: there’s no stealth to it whatsoever

mike: felix torres kind of got out of that. he started out with making material which was part of a political group and then he went on to make public political art but it was so genius and...

joel: ...and so poetic

mike: ...that it kind of like when he got out of that group he began with and it became something else which you’ve got to respect

nicki: but isn’t political a bad word now? i have to be honest when people refer to my work as political i get uncomfortable with it and think i shy away from that because i think that people categorize me and want to see me in one way and i find myself….

mike: how do you see yourself

nicki: good question, if i’m looking at political what the history of political art is. i don’t think this is political art. but at the same time i still think it is political enough but i do think i shy away from that because i think that people want to use it to fix me in one category and look at me in that certain one way and i think that a lot of artists are afraid of that now. that political tag puts you in a box in a corner.

that’s true. in this country when things look political they are quickly dismissed both in art and society as well.

joel: well everything is mainstream. so politics are mainstream. it you’re going to be in the green party or something else they immediately want to make you into a freak.

mike: another thing that a lot of movements seem to be against is history. being reactionary to history is kind of a sad stance now. you will sooner or later be incorporated

they pretty much deconstructed those academic high positions that were reigning in 19th century till now there is no strong academy

mike: the academy of success is what it is

nicki: media success?

artisitc success as well too. everybody coming out of school now and more than ever now they just want to be successful. they just want to do whatever they have to do to get it

what is success?

i think he means market viability

but that’s the point, one of my friends was here from trinidad last weekend we were talking about this and i said if i stopped at this point i would still see what i have done as successful. i went into this knowing that this would never be a money making business for me. i still think at this point that i’m successful i don’t know if i will ever have that market or media success but i think it’s successful anyway. i think that’s a question for everybody. what is the definition of that success now.

after a short break

joel: i think when people don’t have something really brilliant to say but want to appear more brilliant they use a lot of smoke, mystification, obfuscation and all these things to appear as if the outsiders don’t know what they’re talking about but what they are really doing is just sort of veiling the fact that they don’t have very much of true interest to offer. i think it is really important to the art world more than ever to get more in synch with the general population and not lose it and not just be marginalized

tim: yeah, but don’t you think that artists like lisa yuskavitch and currin don’t you think that the normal guy off the street that might not know a lot about art might really like that work and that’s kind of like a trend. more or less traditional form of painting, very attractive like inka essenhigh and

mike: bob ross

heather: bob ross and inka on the same page?

mike: bob ross is one of my favorite painters of all time

tim: does anyone else think that?

joel: i don’t know if in general but i would doubt actually if middle america would care about john currin’s paintings or lisa yuskavage. both of them have to be very talented painters or else it would not be very interesting. but it’s a pretty perverse in joke.

tim: yeah, but even if you don’t know the in joke you can ….i think that someone that goes to see a monet show could go see currin and still like it.

well lisa yuskavage …people in the midwest wouldn’t go for the distorted bodies and the breasts and stuff like that. it would be too shocking.

that’s funny because it looks very illustrative to me

the technique is illustrative but they would be put off by that.

mike: looks good in vogue


joel: john currin’s photo of himself is probably published more than his work. i’ve seen a lot of pictures of john

mike: shirt, no shirt

i saw the cell last weekend and it was funny to see contemporary art being incorporated in pop culture. they had a scene that was exactly like damien hearst cow sculpture and they had some scenes that were a lot like matthew barney.

joel: i think matthew barney saw 2001 too many times and clockwork orange. i think matthew barney is just a subset of stanley kuberick.

mike: as far as a spokesman for my generation i would rather have barney . he really controls his output and is able to do a lot of things. i have respect for him and i’ll take him over schnabel.

in coagula they asked is matthew barney the best artist in the world or the worst filmmaker in the world?

, tim and jeff: both


you know, the art world used to be so much smaller.

i think we are flooded now.

dave: yeah, so what do you do? ultimately most people give up. typically people move to new york and give it 3 years and if they don’t make it they leave. most people leave and they have like a $20-30,000 debt and they move to new jersey or somewhere.

joel: i think i read somewhere that the attrition rate of art school graduates is 50% after 2 years, 70% after 5years, 90% after 10 years and then it’s 95% after 15v years. basically if you last 15 or 20 years, you’re like the last one standing. i think most people who do stick it out that long do finally get somewhere.

nicki: i think the people who stuck it out were the people that went into it knowing that this whole art star notion was false and not what it was about. it’s about making the work. when i was in grad school and teaching i told people if you’re not sure about art go secure another occupation. if you want to be an artist it will always be there for you.

mike: this is why i think the d.i.y. (do it yourself) make your own context has become so fulfilling for a lot of people. it’s like coming out of school and seeing the gallery model system in the 80s fell apart and that’s over with so what am i going to do? well i’ll have a gallery in my living room

joel: well i think that the 80s stars were d.i.y. too. it just keeps getting replenished.

tim: i’ve always felt in that new york i was in a community of people making work. everyone i knew was doing something. no one was like i’m going to be a businessman. everyone was making work. there was no market at the time and no one was made any money we just spent money.

dave: i count my stars i lived like that. i was like fuck galleries. who would want to show your work there. we did it for ourselves and that was a great foundation. the things that scares me are students coming right out of school and headed right into the galleries and they’re like 21. it’s like oh man there’s so much you should be doing besides like worrying about fitting in.

jeff: going back to your b.y.a.’s. that’s what they did. they did free shows until they caught on. i was in LOTS that was in lynda’s space and that was really successful. it was a great party if nothing else. so many people made contacts through that show.

joel: that’s how our gallery got started. then it started to take on it’s own life. i encourage everyone to do the same. don’t come to me because i can do something for you. if i can i will, but do it for yourself in the same way we did. 2 years later you will be in an excellent position and someone will pay attention if it’s good.

heather: thanks again to everyone and if anyone would like to make comments or suggest future topics please email us at: