Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I took the day off yesterday--from the job, the blog, and anything else I could think of. It felt good.

Went to a party on Friday and had a terrific conversation with Matthew Sutton, whose work I've always adored. Somehow I missed that this recent show at Meat Market was partly his baby. Makes perfect sense, of course.

Matt's approach to presenting his work seems antithetical to the conventional art school wisdom. Grad school taught me that in a critique, the artist needs to control the terms of the inquiry: You need to have the sort of conversation you intend to have about the work. Crits go badly when the faculty's attention veers unexpectedly toward issues the artist regards as peripheral. More than teaching artists how to make stuff, an academic environment persuades them that controlling the audience's perception is paramount. You must convince the viewer--or the critic--to accept a particular frame in which to understand what you do. Bad review or reception? Formal issues aside, you failed to make your argument.

Matt's less interested in his own sense of what his work is--which, as far as he's concerned, might not be the most interesting thing about it. His goal is clearing a space in his work for the active participation of the audience or other artists. Obviously a conceptual artist is more likely to think this way than, say, a painter, and this kind of open-ended, inclusive, collaboration-friendly attitude has been kicking around for a long while. But in this town, it's still refreshing to hear someone endorse it.

Elsewhere out there: Lenny gets his twitch on about Kriston's foray into curating at Project 4 (at least he also offers him a beer). And last week, there was this interesting back and forth between an artist and her ex-gallerist.

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