september's panel discussion will remain up due to the editor's broken arm.
before we get started, id
like to thank everyone participating in this discussion and yabby lounge
and cafe. to set the tone, were 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
joel: i dont think that people are really interested in it. i think that youre right that theres not much interest in making a movement.
tim: but there was, its just how you define it. when video became like a category was it a movement? i dont know? now when you have a show of video art you know whos going to be in it. viola and whoever. and net art its a medium with no specific agenda
joel: can any of us even decide what was the most recent movement?
mike: the return to pretty
tim: (laugh) right
jeff: 70s photo realism
karen: what about neo expressionism
joel: neo expressionism, the neo geo
karen: the east village
joel: the east village spawned 2 entirely different things you cant 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
heather: 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 youre out.
heather: exactly, im curious to see what people think about this
joel: 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.
karen: do you think that maybe theres like an urgency to put a movement on because theres 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: its already over
karen: but the y.b.a.'s are all about a particular collector arent they
jeff: exactly its a movement by a collector
mike: ill play the devils 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 thats 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 theyd 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 whats going on.
nicki: why dont 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 im interested in sort of talks to people doing their own work in a way thats 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 youre 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 its not so controlled. as much as there are art stars you know the internet is a not terribly controlled situation yet.
karen: it reaches a lot of people
joel: people can sort of find their own way. the groupings are spontaneous and thats relatively casual
tim: from my experience, i think that whether net art is a movement or not, it doesnt matter. there are certain communities of discussion that go but its through email. its 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 its 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. theres a lot of symposiums and panels and
nicki: well, then thats a movement
heather: so does anyone else see that happening in fields other than net art?
karen: i know there are a lot of artists getting together sort of like a support group but maybe its not necessarily a movement.
mike: most art doesnt have a political agenda these days
joel: it makes it more commercially viable.
dave: were living in this country where were 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 whats going on its 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 thats not at war. everybody says our country is the most prosperous its been but its 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
joel: 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 theres like a weird undercurrent to that too because thats a trend. its 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 wasnt like that they were coming from a trendy position because they were actually participating in
joel: i understand but then if it becomes a movement
karen: other people dont really have the
joel: then it becomes easy and a lot of political art doesnt hold up after a while
karen: barbara kruegers show at the whitney right now. its real interesting to see that work and to me it seems very dated. because youre 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 its referring to this political thing she was doing.
dave: theres 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 youve got to respect
nicki: but isnt 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 im looking at political what the history of political art is. i dont 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.
mike: thats 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 youre 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
joel: 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?
mike: 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
nicki: what is success?
tim: i think he means market viability
nicki: but thats 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 im successful i dont know if i will ever have that market or media success but i think its successful anyway. i think thats a question for everybody. what is the definition of that success now.
after a short break
joel: i think when people dont 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 dont know what theyre talking about but what they are really doing is just sort of veiling the fact that they dont 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 dont you think that artists like lisa yuskavitch and currin dont you think that the normal guy off the street that might not know a lot about art might really like that work and thats 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 dont know if in general but i would doubt actually if middle america would care about john currins paintings or lisa yuskavage. both of them have to be very talented painters or else it would not be very interesting. but its a pretty perverse in joke.
tim: yeah, but even if you dont 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.
karen: well lisa yuskavage people in the midwest wouldnt go for the distorted bodies and the breasts and stuff like that. it would be too shocking.
tim: thats funny because it looks very illustrative to me
karen: the technique is illustrative but they would be put off by that.
mike: looks good in vogue
joel: john currins photo of himself is probably published more than his work. ive seen a lot of pictures of john
mike: shirt, no shirt
tim: 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 ill take him over schnabel.
joel: in coagula they asked is matthew barney the best artist in the world or the worst filmmaker in the world?
lynda, tim and jeff: both
dave: you know, the art world used to be so much smaller.
karen: 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 dont 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 its 95% after 15v years. basically if you last 15 or 20 years, youre 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. its about making the work. when i was in grad school and teaching i told people if youre 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. its like coming out of school and seeing the gallery model system in the 80s fell apart and thats over with so what am i going to do? well ill 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: ive 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 im 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 theyre like 21. its like oh man theres so much you should be doing besides like worrying about fitting in.
jeff: going back to your b.y.a.s. thats what they did. they did free shows until they caught on. i was in LOTS that was in lyndas space and that was really successful. it was a great party if nothing else. so many people made contacts through that show.
joel: thats how our gallery got started. then it started to take on its own life. i encourage everyone to do the same. dont 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 its good.
heather: thanks again to everyone and if anyone would like to make comments or suggest future topics please email us at: email@example.com