Monday, November 3, 2014

No Man is a Curatorial Island

There’s been a lot of confounding diatribes in the news these days and I wouldn’t touch them for fear of being labeled an Islamophobe by Hollywood persons. A safer controversy is to do with a new book on how real art curators have been neutered by our curatorial culture. What occurs to me (within my limited purview in discussing our culture, national and world) is that this may be an illusion blown out of proportion. What gives me this privilege? I have an MFA. So there! If artist, Barbara Kruger can go on intelligent, BBC talk shows and discuss art –– I can too. Well, she didn’t really talk about art so much as where the art world is now as opposed to her heyday in the Eighties and Nineties. She did mention her favorite typeface, Futura Condensed Italic. Her encapsulization of the new-money enriched art world, she didn’t want to talk about. Don’t bite the hand that feeds? Isn’t that one of her text pieces? What felt odd about her performance (aside avoiding a gritty discussion of her work) was that she admitted casually that all art is now outside consideration by anyone but elites. How can this be? I thought she was of the school that skewered the “genius” and “patriarchal” myths. She admitted that her cultural surveys are mostly pop cultural. So why are her comments any better than mine or yours? Is it because we are trained in deconstruction and (though we aren’t allowed to admit it) we see the world more clearly than CNN and butch guys in baseball caps driving Dodge Rams.
We should treasure the outdated focus of art and criticism (where oranges are in another basket than lemons) because without the scrutiny every ninny with a smart phone is a so-called encyclopedia and curator. That isn’t much of a claim I know, but still any overview about art (with a big-A) is important, especially at dinner parties. Perhaps, there is a sleight of hand in the way our technology gives us the belief that we are all current, up to date and full of progressive ideas and understanding. Of course, I disagree. We are college educated, middle class people who have no status anymore – I can hear the echoes of Islamophobism heading my way – and this troubles me. This distinguishes us from others who work for a living instead of scribbling flippant, on-line essays! Yet, artists aren’t the only ones who imagine being “un-plugged” or “off the grid.” There are loads of philosophical crazies planning to survive after the balloon goes up, whatever that balloon may be. There are lots of TV shows about it. It makes people nervous but I am not bothered. No one can track me down except the NSA and they couldn’t care less.

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