Monday, May 18, 2009

radio silence

I lost two weeks as I hunted for various things and tried to catch up with missed deadlines, as usual. Sorry to leave you hanging.

Thanks to everyone who came to my lecture at the Hirshhorn on Frank Stella! Unfortunately, it was not recorded, so if you missed it, you missed it.

The audience had plenty of questions, which was a relief. Some of our conversation had to do with the problem of late-career artists generally. Artists, of course, tend to arrive at a means of production or a set of formal devices early...and once they've gotten comfortable, keep working the same way for decades. I'm usually ambivalent about this. Artistic maturity isn't a bad thing; sometimes mining constrained territory continues to yield results. Other times, though, it just yields corporate sponsorship and big, ungainly objects that seem out of touch with the present moment.

In one way, Stella resisted that syndrome. His late work is undeniably very different from the paintings that made his reputation--the black paintings, the copper paintings, the polygons. Unfortunately, late Stella seems to be an unwitting self parody, someone who still talks about painting as a serious problem to be solved, but who busily crams his sculptural/architectural/painterly mashups with every tacky, dramatic spatial trick that comes to hand.

Still, it was good fun to stand in front of the day-glo bands and curves of Darabjerd III and think about Stella poised at the edge of a cliff, getting ready to jump--and to take his painting from pure presence to pure Disney.

Speaking of tacky things: At long last, Ian and Jan are on YouTube. See below.

This is the main video from my 2007 show with Meg Mitchell, divided into two parts, and featuring the talking heads of Sam Gilliam, Tyler Green, J.W. Mahoney, Andrea Pollan, and Josh Shannon. There are at least three additional Ian and Jan videos, featuring more preposterous lies from the mouths of usually serious people, and equally preposterous performance art. At some point, all of this will probably get trotted out.

I've always regretted that we didn't try to give this material another life after the initial exhibition. Mostly, it felt too tied to local history and to the specific occasion of the ColorField Remix. In retrospect, it was really just an inquiry into how the field of cultural production works; how there's a thin line between being a respectable arts professional and a quasi-employed flake; and how history really is a fluid, malleable thing--even though we were only pretending to change it here.

Hard to believe it's been two years since this show. Ian and Jan basically showed me the answer to what I wanted to be doing, art-wise, but it took me awhile to figure out how that could be sustained, or spun off into different ideas--particularly with the AAC gig taking so much of my time (it's been for a good cause, I like to think).

Well, I finally have a new project, and a show on the horizon--one year from now. More to announce soon, so stay tuned!


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