Art speaks

Revenge of the Cretins.

My friend Richard emailed me this Newsweek article this morning and it set my blood a boiling. You'll need to read Peter Plagens cretinous musings and come back to me but if you should feel unwilling to budge from this august blogging, I shall furnish you with an excerpt, which more or less sums it: "Yet wandering the galleries of these two shows, you can't help but wonder if the entire medium hasn't fractured itself beyond all recognition. Sculpture did the same thing a while back, so that now "sculpture" can indicate a hole in the ground as readily as a bronze statue. Digitalization has made much of art photography's vast variety possible. But it's also a major reason that, 25 years after the technology exploded what photography could do and be, the medium seems to have lost its soul. Film photography's artistic cachet was always that no matter how much darkroom fiddling someone added to a photograph, the picture was, at its core, a record of something real that occurred in front of the camera. A digital photograph, on the other hand, can be a Photoshop fairy tale, containing only a tiny trace of a small fragment of reality. By now, we've witnessed all the magical morphing and seen all the clever tricks that have turned so many photographers—formerly bearers of truth—into conjurers of fiction. It's hard to say "gee whiz" anymore. Art and truth used to be fast friends. Until the beginning of modernism, the most admired quality in Western art was mimesis—objects in painting and sculpture closely resembling things in real life."

WTF, what's wrong with this Newsweek? Hasn't he finally understood that any form of visual art will inexorably migrate from the descriptive to the imaginary, and sometimes all at once. As a new visual medium is created, most creative artists will explore its ability to record reality. It stands to reason, obviously, but shortly thereafter the artist will explore his or her inner thing thingies. That's just the way it goes.

What happened with photography is that very quickly, in the 19th and early 20th century, photographers both documented, copied other visual arts like painting but also started to explore the medium's possibilities as just another tool for self-expression. It's the critiques and some photographers who are guilty of narrowing the medium by straight jacketing what photography should and should not do, or be.

It also happened that the 20th century was so incredibly violent and momentous that documenting these epics started to overtake the more imaginative aspects of photography. I mean really, would a self respecting talent continue exploring the joys of one's imaginations when genocide and bombs are ripping the very fabric of the society he or she lived in. Probably not. Conflicts put documentarists on top of the "Photographic food chain", and from which they comfortably dictated what it was to be a photographer, what photography ought to achieve and to what aims it should point its machines.

What is happening right now is that photographers and artists from around the world are rediscovering the medium thru technology, just like the camera, itself a breakthrough technology at the time allowed artists the freedom to go nuts with possibilities. Nevertheless, art tends to migrate from the pictorial to the conceptual or the imaginary, as a matter of maturity, and by that I do not mean that it get better or worst by aging. It is just a natural peregrination from the real to the dream, much as we ourselves live as we pass from day into night, the conscious to the subconscious. None of this is new, artists generally do not make the kind's of discoveries which truly shape our societies, they generally respond to them and express them visually or conceptually, wether they know it or are unconsciously doing it. Darwin devalued the divine and Freud elaborated on the ego and the Id, Einstein equated the space time but Duchamps and Warhol only followed their lead, by sensing those earth shaking ideas and expressing them in cave paintings.

So when you try to figure out what is art or what photography is, don't bother with the minutia, just remember that there's good art and bad art only. It's hard enough to divine those two out, as it already is. Never mind if photography ought to be representative, manipulative or imaginary. Is it good or is it bad, and good luck and good night..... bitch....!

" Aie Caramba! -- Art world erupts as Iceland bedlam bitch slaps Jeff Wall".

Olafur Oliasson Yesterday, I made my way to the San Francisco MOMA to see the Jeff Wall's retrospectiva. Despite there being beautiful sunshine, I chose to go downtown and see what all the fuss-zzz-is about. I tend to go and see art when the sun’s a shina; it’s makes for better vibes when stepping back out if there ain’t none shining on the insides.

I had earlier panned him but I am always ready and willing to change my mind, especially when I have based my opinion on less than adequate internet digitals or the artist’s monograph (there’s a fucking ridiculous name for what most of us call ” a book ” ! Who comes up with this shit anyhow, Lexus of America ???. Is everybody still gunning for petit bourgeois, didn’t they read Zola? ).

As an aside and for future reference, just think of me as Tourrette’s blogging equivalent to rye, spouting expletives, unable to control my grinds. For the record, I have always been quite fond of that syndrome, even-thought I presume those afflicted with this terrible affliction would beg to differ and do so without actually sounding inappropriately and shockingly crass, for once……As for myself, I’m still looking for a therapist saddled with this less then pleasurable condition: Childhood introspection, bitch, ass ?

As was saying, I made my way downtown and checked out Jeff Wall’s oversized trans-whatever whats? and to my surprise, I still did not like his art. I can’t really put/point my finger on it but I just can’t trust him as far as I can throw it, and considering how big the fucking things are, that wouldn’t be too far. As for the curatorial blurbs introducing his craft, I wasn’t sure how to react, which depending on my mood, makes me want to streak through the galleries dousing museum guards and screaming: ” You ain’t no Condoleezza Rice “…. or, hang my head and cry.

So much for Jeff Wall and onward to Olafur “Son of Elias”. I had a few more minutes to devote to art before rejoining the sunshine outside so I decided to check out what was going on upstairs; there seems to be a generally giddy hum coming from the fifth floor veranda, which as we all know, isn’t exactly the sort of thing museums sound like; unless of course you happen across the after hour Cisco System team building drinking contest, corporate bedlam, run to the W and shit where you eat, sort of flap !

I decided that investigation would the best exploration to these inner introspections and off I went, three by three steps until there he was: ” Olaf-ur Elias-son”, Iceland’s answer to conceptual art. Dem is great art and to put on my best critical thong, I shall broadcast: “That was fucking awesome….“.

If you are in San Francisco or plan on visiting go to the SFMOMA and check it out. The only thing I will add to my less than researched and well thought out curatorial blurb-out is that the difference in mood between the “appreciation of art crowd” haunting Jeff Wall’s great halls of Canada and Olafur Eliasson’s second and fifth floor extravaganza was…….. Here is a metaphor to exemplify: “Jeff Wall’s galleries was to zombiarts what Olafur Eliasson was to a pole dancing Cinderella “, which would you rather watch?

In other news: I also saw Alec Soth’s fashion Magazine in da " Olde Museum gift shoppe". Nicely done but I just can’t help myself, I keep seeing Joel Sternfeld’s American prospects when I flip through this latest (Brent, how you like me now?).

"On a bag of frozen peas".

unknown.jpg I had originally posted this poem last June about my friend Steve, who I assure you, is nothing but an entirely fictionally character and in no way bares any resemblance to himself or anyone else. I had appropriate his name and relative likeness to allow me to post the original poem below, which had been crafted to reflect my uninformed and entirely fictional views and opinions of the Art World; of which I am not a bona fide, plenipotentiary and recognizably known member. Nevertheless, since it was one of my best poems "ever", it really needed to be re-posted in its original form, devoid of potentially and offensively injurious references meant to humiliate, denigrate or disparage Steve's character, honor or person.

I shall post it first, before the perniciously ironic rant directly following this short, yet lyrical narrative epic sonnet(!). Furthermore, should you decamp and choose to browse greener, less obscure pastures, I shan't blame it entirely on you, but rather on the interminably long vituperations which follows this decidedly and purposely rank poetic odyssey. It is, I admit, long and tortuous even to those of you who might have by now become better accustomed to my professional and personal sense for self-ridicule. Those of you who may not have taken the time to ease into these mindful peregrinations might find it pretentious, offensive and bitterly pompous :

The Poem:

The Art World ; it’s like….

It’s like snatch; but sweeter It’s got swatch; but sooner It’s got stash; but bigger

It’s like smack but stronger It’s like you; but better It’s like Yak; but butter

It’s like; nice but later…. It’s got racks; like “Hooters” It’s got back; like looters

It’s like grass and fiddlers… It’s like ass, and fingers It’s like mass but longer….


I decide to remove the second part of this entry and will probably not be reposting it. I am a big fan of my own ramblings but finally decided against it.

"Post-Jungian empirical naming conventions and cultural appropriations in French Canadian contemporary Photography".

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I am currently in the process of writing and editing a white paper for submission in the "Dawson City, Boeuf/Meyer/Ju'dGazon, Neo-pictorialist Ontological Filipo-Acadist journal and foundation"; an on-line, bilingual, Canadian bimonthly publication and society, dedicated to the advancement and promotion of contemporary post-Jungian cross-gender boundaries in French Canadian neo-pictorialists. Here are a few excerpts in lieu of a preview.....

In other notes, I originally delivered a 'pre-print' version of this paper, in lecture form, to the Supreme First-Nation Tribal Gerontology Leadership Council for the Preservation and Advancement of Pre-Columbian Lingual Atrabilism and Gender Representation in Sub-Arctic Agrarian Atavistic societies.*1


"Post-Jungian empirical naming conventions and cultural appropriations in French Canadian contemporary Photography". Authorship by Olivier Laude, 'Proboscis Annum' Post Doctoral recipient of the Judith Butler Gender Prognosis Honorary academic medal, awarded yearly to an outstanding post-doctoral candidate involved in the promotion and dissemination of academic excellence in the fields of Lingual Atrabilism and Pre-Columbian gender representation in sub-arctic neo-agrarian consanguineous societies.

Begin excerpt*2:

Post-Jungian literary critics have only recently started dissecting the contemporary ontology of sub-arctic still-pictorialists and are presently adopting interdisciplinary gender-branding polities to deconstruct social and cultural post-reconstructivist cross-gender appropriation theories in urban and pre-urban socio-representative agrarian societies. Once the exclusive neo-conformist stomping grounds of post-modern gender theorists these institutionalized social constructions, or "artifacts", have recently been adopted by Acadians, who, ten to twelve years ago started using the pictorial representation of their "non de plume" as boundary cannons; itself a revolutionary and transformative ontological construct designed to outline the regenerative nature of perceived cultural exploitations at the hand of filipo-lingual deconstructivists..............Unwittingly, subsequent generations of Acadian pictorialists quantified these empirical and cultural appropriative naming conventions within the same socialized interpretative and anti-deterministic "artifacts" as their filipo-lingual theoritical nemesis..........More recently, an ethno-political fracas over the abuse and overt use of Antonio Gramsci's theory of hegemony has both prefigured and enriched the current social and resulting filipo-Acadian discourse by injecting much needed Durkeimian dialectics between Filipo-lingual pictorialists and Filipo-Acadists........... Might we be living in a time when these feuding and long standing epistemological rifts between Filipo-pictorialists and Filipo-Acadists are to be resolved once and for all ? We shall see......

In the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing you all next spring at the 53rd annual convention of the "Dawson City, Boeuf/Meyer/Ju'dGazon, Neo-pictorialist Ontological Filipo-Acadist foundation", in Dawson City.

*1-I understand this method is unorthodox but 'in the text' annotations were deemed necessary to these pre-journaled intrusions . *2-Courtesy of the "Dawson City, Boeuf/Meyer/Ju'dGazon, Neo-pictorialist Ontological Filipo-Acadist foundation".


Here are a few more "Art Speaks" I am now bound and determined to collect feverishly. May be someday, they’ll be worth something. I will start a new category called “art speaks”. Every week or when I fancy it, I will collect these priceless gems from one web site, which shall remain nameless, and post them with or without wisecracks. Site one:

This one does not have the prerequisite glibberishness but I like it. It sounds so, how to say? Like a very small marketing niche. Definitely not selling out.

“artist name withheld’” exquisite photographic prints focus on the offbeat subject matter of piles of yard waste in suburban California towns, with an emphasis on the regions surrounding San Jose”.

Run of the mill literary work, a good primer and a collector’s must.

“San Francisco-based ………. continues the multi-volume cross-genre narrative work begun in his Micro-climates. Hopping from fragmented shards of poetry to cerebral prose to an odd and funny one-act play, …………sardonically explores the follies and momentary pleasures of existing in a jarring landscape saturated by media, detritus (real and imaginary), and other humans, a place where we occupiers find ourselves continually re-occupied by malevolent…well…unknowns.”

Bust the move…… gently.

“A formalist with a brimming, elegiac soul, D….. will gently rock your attitude toward cinematic landscape.”

Bravo...? It takes guts to use a word like that.

“After about three minutes I began to be aware of the subtlety of rhythm, within each shot and shot-to-shot, which carried each cut, causing each new image to sit in-the-light of those several previous…a little short of a miracle. Bravo!”

I am not sure if I am supposed to be offended or run to Yoga class.

“From P…… the particles are still there and the light is still there, but now there is the distinct impression of watching air blowing sand, yet the air is as transparent as the viewer’s mind.”

Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Way way back when, so far back in time that I can't remember exactly when, someone mentioned in passing, that if you were going to be a poet that you should never use abstract words or concepts to express yourself. May be they/he/she said something else but overtime this is what I remember hearing somewheres in my head...So remember, if you are an artist, an amateur artist, a curator, a critic, an amateur critic or a gallerist please keep big words far from your nimble and feverish mind and snuggly tucked somewheres in inaccessable body parts. Otherwise, you'll sound like a tool and will only impress those of you who are dumber than you; the rest of us will be forced to ignore you.

Steer clear of Art speaks like these: Narrative(!), resonant(!), dissonant(!) meditative(!), discourse(!); cathartic(!), organic(!), dialectic(!); mediate(!); appropriate(!), gender-based(!), textured(!), imbued(!), fractured(!), manufactured(!); pioneering(!); fractious(!), contentious(!), heterogeneous(!)....

They may not have the heart to tell you but when you write like this, you sound like a fucking prick. Construct(!) phrases others might like to read, instead of making the rest of us skip your entreaties(!)groaningly.


Take Hiroshi Sugimoto for example, whose show I just saw at the De Young, in San Francisco. Try him on for size and see if this is a paragraph you might be able to craft. Lo and behold, it's actually interesting and informative(!)....After reading what he has to say I find myself liking him and his work even more. Go to his site for more.

Portraits: "In the sixteenth century, Flemish court painter to the British Crown Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543) gave us the imposingly regal portrait of Henry VIII now kept in London's Royal Portrait Gallery. Based on this Holbein portrait, the wax figure artisans of Madame Tussaud's in their consummate skill recreated an absolutely faithful likeness of the king. Which allowed me—based on my own studies into the Renaissance lighting Holbein might have painted by—to re-do the Royal Portrait, substituting photography for painting, the sole recording medium available at the time. If this photograph now appears lifelike to you, you had better reconsider what it means to be alive here and now." (see portraits above). You see it's not that hard, just come out with it and stop giving the Arts and your fellow artists or critics a bad name.

So, yesterday I went to the De Young in San Francisco's Golden Gate and saw Hiroshi Sugimoto's. I have always liked his work. Let me re-phrase that, I have always really liked half his work. I like his Portraits, his Dioramas, his blur-chitecture, theaters and Chambers of horrors. The rest of it, the conceptual forms, Joe and in Praise of Shadows are less interesting to me personaly. I may not appreciate his more "cerebral"(!) works, but at least when he writes about it, I respect it and understand it. I am interested in what he has to say, and do not, as I often do, find myself wishing I could strangle him, or you, with a shoe lace. Check it.

Photography is a beautiful lady.

For the past fifteen years, I have had the pleasure of seeing the photography industry transformed into more of the same. One thing by now is certain, it's that, if anything, necessity is the mother of invention and invention is the bastard chump of imitation. Consequently, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery it might just so happen that flattery is to photography what imitation is to its means of production.Categorizing is by no means one of my strongest points. Generally, any attempts at organizing my thoughts rapidly lead to roam. So, if you, out of boredom, have decided to read on, you will surely come across my inner curmudgeons. No need to point them out, they are already known. I was born with an extra helping of curmudgeon; making any agreement to provisionally suspend judgement, in exchange for the promise of entertainment; a cantankerous proposition . So here it is, Photography as I see it, it's all the buzz, and yet, I can barely hear it:

1- Nombrilism (fancy for navel gazing):

Historically speaking, these folks would have done well in the British Navy, given their love of uniforms, square meals and the sea's deep blue immensity. Practitioners of this dark and thoughtful art are beloved, the world over, by sadists, MTV and non-profits. Naturally, they generally remain unseen when your cabin needs a good sweeping.

2- Fetishism:

Itself a great sin, Fetishism is undergoing a revival of sorts as an offshoot of afore mentioned category. Modern Fetishism is a daftly concocted reduction designed to cleverly shift attention from the navel gazer and his/her reflection to the relationship between them and their material possessions. This is the cult of the "Casual observation". It is devised to bring attention to the everyday travails of inanimate objects.

Casuallity, as it is also known, is defined as the relationship between one object (the casual) and another object (the casualette); itself the consequence of the first object casually informing, suffice it to say, the narrative* tension of their respective and repetitive daily usage. In other words, if said "Casual" cannot be easily defined by its relationship with its afore mention "Casualette", an observation may become delightfully and casually complex. Nevertheless, should such an unfortunate object occur, quickly turn lone object North North West and chant: " I don't know you that way".

To be continued....maybe...! * I'll get to that later.

Steve is so much more than behind the counter...

I wrote a dirty little ditty for my friend Steve Reczkowsky. I had originally written this poem for the Art World but soon came to realize that it could be used quite liberally. All I had to do was replace the “it’s” with a “he’s” and there it be. Steve, here it is, and thanks for all those wonderful years tending Robyn's counter. " Steve; he's like.... "

He's like snatch; but sweeter He's got swatch; but sooner He's got stash; but bigger

He's like smack but stronger He's like you; but better He's like Yak; but butter

He's like; nice but later.... He's got racks; like "Hooters" He's got back; like looters

He's like grass and fiddlers... He's like ass, and fingers He's like mass but longer....