Nau mai, haere mai, welcome to eyeCONTACT, a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand. I'm John Hurrell its editor, a New Zealand writer, artist and curator. While Creative New Zealand and other supporters are generously paying me and other contributors to review exhibitions over the following year, all expressed opinions are entirely our own.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Forget Art

Tao Wells: Three Ideas for the State
Gambia Castle, Auckland
25 April - 17 May, 2008

Should artists get involved with politics? Of course they should - like any other citizen who wants to be a lobbyist, if that’s their inclination. After all, art can be anything. Anything at all.

So what is Tao Wells up to here? He has three ideas that have been gnawing away at him, that he feels passionate about, that he reckons could improve our community. One of them could even improve Australia. They argue for cyclists’ rights on the road (divide each direction of the road in half, the left side prioritised for bikes /cars have to pass on the right); flags for local iwi on community flagpoles (include an online logo and url so passers by can find out more); and regional koori greetings on Australian television news (start with Melbourne).

To help get these proposals discussed, he places them in a gallery to reach an audience of Gambia Castle regulars and newcomers. Prints them in sloping pencil on A4 and pastes them to the wall. Presents them as saleable items, packages of activity that include the costs of his researching their further development, and his attempting to persuade more people to enthuse over their content.

However is being artist-initiated, here a help or a hindrance? Why not set up a website and elucidate the concepts in detail, letting people print out discussions to take home and read. The project is more likely to gain support being presented in other non-art communities. Presenting it as art undermines the ideas’ efficacy.

After all, why expect potential supporters to read wall statements carefully while standing on a hard gallery floor in a poorly lit room? In Wells' installation, you have to strain to discern the art. It tends towards invisibility. It is a little like a blend between Robert Barry (who once used released gas and radio waves as art) and Ian Wilson (his art is conversations that are never documented). You can’t take anything ‘physical’ home from Gambia Castle. What you do get you obtain from reading on the spot.

In Wells' 'post-object’ experience visitors may not be persuaded about the value of his projects because their bodies are under tension. The show is not user friendly. The work pretends to be about community interests but is half-hearted about communication. It is not really about building a better world. It is about an individualist who wants to make a statement that will impress art lovers.


Anonymous said...

I like your write up though I missed this show. I have however had the opportunity to see some of Wells' previous works. You sum it up well in your last lines... and it is really such a shame because the art world could do with more sincere community interests... but here again you make the good point that some things are better places in 'non art' contexts...

John Hurrell said...

Great to have your contribution, pareidoliac, but can you give us your name?

so you tell me said...

Pareidoliac, I encourage you to actually see the show it is still on thursday, friday, saturday, till the 17th of May.

so you tell me said...

"It is about an individualist who wants to make a statement that will impress art lovers." Hey you're right John, that's great. Except you think that sucks right?

John Hurrell said...

Er well, 'it sucks' is excessively condemnatory. I happen to like so-called 'post object art' even though I believe there is no such thing.(The term I think is damaging. It upholds a fraudulent dualism.) With your show the apparent aims are thwarted by your wanting to be an artist. It is a question of pragmatics. If you really wanted to communicate your ideas there are other more effective ways.

so you tell me said...

You pretentious Whore, i am an Artist.

so you tell me said...

alright before this gets too semantic, john is it possible you 've come to the end of your rope, I mean I saw Robert Hughes totally miss Jeff Koons, even when he was standing right in front of him, your ties to "post object' work is weak if not way off the mark.. your missing it. have you been back for a second visit, cause you've really just said all the things you came up with at my Discussion on saturday, which was about 30minutes after you first saw the work.. it's all very knee jerk reactionary stuff..

as I've said the show is on till the 17 of may.

I invite you to take another look and follow any one of your ideas out to a conclusion again.. and i 'll jump in again on this.

John Hurrell said...

1)Does raising questions about practicality and political aims make me pretentious? I am condemned for asking for consistency? Really?
2)Do you see any ads displayed on this site? Where is the money that makes me a whore? It's all for free, far.
2)Who is denying you are an artist? In this show I question your use of caps, that's all. Nothing personal.

John Hurrell said...

I did go back on Friday and take a long thorough look.

Our disagreement, though, is not about the content of the proposals is it? It is about presentation and efficacy. The best means to an end.

Unknown said...

You have a lot of questions and on top of all the hoo hay you seriously mis quote the content of the proposals.

Your one track about, is this an appropriate medium for this idea is duly noted, I just think you should consider that I considered this question about thirteen years ago.

Welcome to my world.

John Hurrell said...

There you go readers. Pop into Gambia Castle and see for yourself who is right. The redoubtable Mr. Wells or moi?

Artandmylife said...

Does one of you HAVE to be right? I would have thought art inherently allows for differing views

John Hurrell said...

Well curators and critics tend to agree with you (maybe adding that quality of argument is important). Many artists though believe that their intention determines the sole meaning of the work. Personally I think art needs to have some sort of detectable logic that is obvious before you start talking about the artist's intention. I also don't believe critics or curators should take all possible interpretations seriously. There has to be an inherent, in built logic.

Unknown said...

John, there is probably no way for you to hear this, and I mean this as a friend not as a Curator or artist dualism for the moment, that your review and these subsequent comments have an air of hysteria about them that I understand, could be attributable to the experience of minimal art. I say this simply because my own experience with a Donald Judd work was followed by a very similar reaction and line of thought, i.e what it should have done, how My intellect knew better. There is something terrifying in letting space and material do the talking for you, it is a terror of child alone in the bush. There is a totality of material domination, arrogant against our whimsical flesh. I can understand why real minimal art, not the style is a total anti- art, I think despite it having been rolled over.. the experience is still there. Now it is rude of me to expect you to rollover and ring the bell i have set out,but it is also frustrating to see you flounder. I could hold off the case of my failure until all the votes are in, but I know I've nailed it.

You could at the very least have gotten the content of the proposal right. They're in english, though that's never stopped anyone else for setting up their own agendas, the joy of translation.

John Hurrell said...

You can be as rude to me as you like, Tao. Your comments about hysteria are a complete mystery. Let's hear about this so-called 'misquotation' or 'mistaken content.' Tell us more.

Justin Jade Morgan said...

Hi John have you been here?

I think you should check this tread out could be of use to you:

The Kindness of Critics : Open Thread

Anonymous said...

mister tao wells....if you consider yourself as an should be able to let go. It's quite sad to see you go down that path.

DickWhyte said...

This is all pointless. All that happened is a critic decided that community concerns should be in art but not the way Welles did it.

Stop complaining about the people who are doing it. Welles is making a statement about art galleries and people that look at shows, and you have proved his point - people want things to get better, but they want art to function as something else. We want art to get better - it is a sickly and weak carcass.

Art is not supposed to care. All art is quite useless, indeed.

This is like saying to someone who just made a hot tea that they shouldn't have given it to you in a glass. Where's the mug??? I'll take tea over the mug any day.

The thing is - people want to have opinions, but they then present these opinions as "episteme" (as an absolute difference between two states). What we are trying to talk about it "faith," opinion (doxa) and episteme are of little concern at this point.


Unknown said...

Jump in a lake Boris.

Anonymous said...

wayfarer gallery: i can see your point of view, but the problem is that tao is trying very hard to reinvent the wheel. this discussion could have taken place in the late 60's and only because it's him doing it again, right here and right now doesn't mean that it has any relevance or challenges anything.

Unknown said...

If a person is standing with wheels all around them don't you think they know they're not reinventing the wheel?

Taso knows wheels exists. He is aware that he isn't reinventing anything. he is just doing something.

can you critique the work without misreading his intentions, without putting an idea in his head which doesn't exist??? the same goes for John - your point was, right message, wrong medium but this assumes Tao was looking to use the right medium (and I don't think he was). Hence - your critiques don't say anything - they assume and then judge (episteme). I am looking for faith... belief... pistis...

Anonymous said...

"can you critique the work without misreading his intentions, without putting an idea in his head which doesn't exist???"

thank you wayfarer. this is indeed an interesting point of view on how we approach and perceive work that is being exhibited in a gallery context. that brings me back to one of johns's statements from the "original" review:

"The project is more likely to gain support being presented in other non-art communities. Presenting it as art undermines the ideas’ efficacy."

how would you relate this to your argumentation and do you think tao then has chosen the right context (a gallery) to talk about issues that are important to him?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
so you tell me said...

That's more in the direction of where I'm coming from Boris. Where is leadership, innovation, social and civil responsibility, where does it come from now, if for example universities are soulless corporation's, where are examples of it that we can take our children to, where do you see it take chances and pay it's own way.

I felt that simply it starts from the connections I have, so I showed my work, my ideas to my community in the language that they could understand, and invited the financial aspect of this community , to think about what this may means to me, what it might mean to you? And most importantly what it might mean to others.... If these ideas were to get support, financially or socially. What kind of art is that... bloody normal

John Hurrell said...

But for your project 'normal art' is knackered, Tao. Have a think about the term 'littoral', an adjective applied to art that is between 'the artworld' and 'the lifeworld'. (It comes from the tidal strip on the beach between the high tide and the low water mark. There are some online papers written on this sort of art by Bruce Barber and also Ian Hunter.) It is used when artists abandon the artworld and devote all their energies to assisting social change, and helping certain communities. It is an extreme position I know, but a good one to know about.

so you tell me said...

Thanks John, I am familiar with these practices, my parents were Peace Core, this is not new to me.

You call it "my project', it's art to me, I don't call it a "project".
I am not an academic and this is not "research' funded.

I am unemployed, i am looking for work, sometimes I am a substitute teacher at Wellington High School.

While Gambia is a gallery to you, to me it is a collective, one that's created a bubble, a temporary monument to our collective faith in each other. That's not new but it's real, it pays bills, it get's up in the morning and goes some where. For you art is Knackered, that's fine, some days I agree, Hans Haacke, David Hammons, a few others say no, (me!) there is still work to be done, connections to be made along the strip of beach as you call it, that's where I live, experience has taught me it's a good place to check the tide.

It excited me to connect, the anti art of minimalism with the dematerialism of conceptual or political lobbying.

I think it's critics like you, historians who man the pearly gates but really being fallible personal art cannons should think about how consistently my work has created the same cry of Aghast.

There is a theme of not wanting to see my work in light of a bigger picture, an international picture, a picture that is concerned with getting on with what it IS saying and not belly aching over deciding whether it's art or not.

People like you from my perspective actually stand in the road and try to block my way. I don't get it.

I could like Boris suggested and almost all other Artists just shut up. BUT I WILL NOT

Justin Jade Morgan said...

I think, no I know that I agree with you there Tao.
Why should you shut up...

Ali Bramwell said...

That last post of your was a goodie Tao Wells.

you said:
"There is a theme of not wanting to see my work in light of a bigger picture, an international picture, a picture that is concerned with getting on with what it IS saying and not belly aching over deciding whether it's art or not."

I tend to agree with you here, but consider it's also possible that rather than not wanting to see your work in the international context your refer to, some of your commentators are actually unable to, from a basic lack of relevant contextual perspective.

There is a frustrating sense of re-litigating well established contemporary practices in much of the commentary in this thread.

Maybe you should offer a reading list in return TW? or some examples of the international work that relevant? ...if you have the energy.

John Hurrell if you've developed a recent interest the term Littoral Art a la Bruce Barber you might find Grant Kester illuminating/ of some relevance.

(If the suggestion isn't too patronising.)

John Hurrell said...

For me the issue is not about 'international picture' or otherwise, or 'art' or otherwise, but communication. Tao seems reluctant to try and reach a bigger audience. That makes me think these proposals don't really matter to him after all. I thought he was passionate about them but maybe I got it wrong.

Or is the issue really about saleable merchandise. He wants them funded by a collector before he makes a real effort.

so you tell me said...

"real effort", I'm sorry but it is kind of amusing how you continue to sting. These works are offering time as a commodity, you know. that old stand by, but here it is explicit!!! What is effort? will you do your best effort over time paid for, of in your case more publicly exposed. Do your ads on trademe feed your kids. do you know your neighbors or are you a prisoner in your own communities changing demographic, where do you go John, where do you go, to get your information, that you trust. That you can approach with a bullshit detecting barge pole and be invited to poke around under the white collar. I have been working for years on these ideas, trying to figure out how to get traction with them. How many "latest and greatest" email inboxes have you ignored lately.

Ahh it's all good, thanks for giving me a run, John, feels good to stretch the legs...

Ali Bramwell, there are two massive holes in my forward offense, I don't publish enough propaganda or "contextualising devices" Frankly because I figure it's not my job, if I'm any good, and if there's a curator or writer that's out there who gets it, then that's for real and i can work with that. None of this hey do me a favor, and drum up some bullshit would ya... though I'm not pure about this... THe other weakness ( i know!) is that I actually think this is a good idea, so what appears to be lazy or a lack of effort on my part is actually a well considered strategy on my part for the work to really get noticed, read if you will, as art should be, like it has meaning upon it self within itself, not thrust on it like a hanky wiping hot tears. "boo hoo my work is so bad i have to over compensate with this bad writing that know one reads casue tehy know is bullshit, which mean i'm full of it etc etc."

Ali Bramwell said...

I understand TW, probably. (sorry about name formality, its an online habit of mine not to presume on prior acquaintance, especially when we are using different names)

aside from the stigma of self publishing and 'drumming up your own bullshit' as you put it -as an artist there is always the hope/expectation that people will make the effort to understand the work on its own terms.
(unclouded by personal issues, outdated avant garde purism or peculiar moral judgments about what is proper behaviour for artists? vain hope)

But on the other hand, (much as it goes against natural inclination for many artists) talking about other artists can do some of the same job without the obvious smut of self-interest creating static to block the ears of the listener.

ie establishing a community of ideas and practice will help people locate your work, and give it the critical credibility that it deserves...not so very different from what you and your crew have done with Gambia Castle.

whose job is it to talk about ideas? I dont buy into the critic/ artist dualism. naked self interest is one thing, strategic muteness something else. do you enjoy playing misunderstood bad boy?

ciao (+ respect)

so you tell me said...

Maybe I just don't find art that mysterious, I read art I make connections and I assume that the art work knows what it is doing even when the artist may not.

This line about playing the bad boy, 15 years ago I got forced out of art school for standing up to questionable tutoring styles, so I decided to appeal to a higher judge and started making public work. Part of this public work is participating in it's systems and testing their vital ability to take constructive criticism, to learn, to absorb the marginal, everything an individual is expected to do. Me being bad, is just a clumsy continuation of punishing me for doing an unpopular job. I get the righteous podium and speech tacked on my back, I consider this, but lately my feeling is, who gives a fuck. This is all so small fry, and I believe that the work is better than what I may say or may not say, throw what you can on it, next.

I've sold one work over $100 in this 15 years, but got a reasonable amount of interest. Obvious problem is I'm not a volunteer and jobs that are tricky and serve others are systematically wealthless.

I mentioned my admiration for the work of Hans Haacke and David Hammons. Joseph Beuys and Robert Smithson are important to me too. Does that help? I've curated a dozen shows, I have a comprehensive artist book available at Parsons, and a thesis on Avant-garde and Education in the Library Massey, Wellington. The material is out there, just no one has seen it worth while to read.

Fair enough. I'll just have to go an make better work.

Unknown said...

Look -

Again, round and round we go. Is it appropriate or isn't it. Why are we concerned with epistemic decisions surrounding "is/is not" and "either/or" logic. Either its in the right place or its not. Either/or logic is hundreds of years old - its dead. Einstein introduced us to both/and logic and yet art, and especially avant-garde art still seems to be interested in the either/or. Why are we using Newton when so many developments have been made.

Why not critique Tao on what can be critiqued. For instance - he called it Three Ideas for the State. 1) Ideas are suspect. Modern philosophy has critiqued Platonic ideas enough to give us some good ammo against Tao's work and which allows for real criticism. The "idea" in-itself is problematic as a concept (not as content). 2) Why would you want to give ideas to the state? The state is static and cannot admit change. Why appeal to the state? Both the terms "idea" and "state" are incredibly problematic. See for instance Gilles Deleuze's critique of ontology, ideas and state philosophy (philosophy which stratifies the state, which fixes things into static).

There are a lot of problems with Tao's piece but none of them concern the gallery placement - this is arbitrary.

Why doesn't anyone critique the actual work and not where the work occurred. A scientist would never critique the cloud for appearing in the water (instead of the sky) - they would simply investigate the "function" of this new occurrence. I want art-science.

No more objectives. No more subjection.

I am talking sobjects.


John Hurrell said...

Look Wayfarer/Solar, no pseudonyms. Please provide first and last names. I happen to like binary logic - which is very much alive.

As I said, Tao is not keen that his ideas be too accessible so they can be critiqued. Nor does he want them popularised. He wants his audience to consider them only in the gallery space.

One thing is for sure, ideas are not suspect. That we are conversing is proof of that, for 'art' itself is surely an anthropological construct. It is an idea that people entertain themselves with. Like philosophy for example.

If ideas are suspect, how and why do you muster the energy to contribute to this site? Or is logic of no concern anyway?

Artandmylife said...

Does TW only wnt his ideas considered in gallery space? I came across this on flickr
and thought its basically the same kind of thing but in a different location. IF TW had posted his 'ideas' outside the gallery how would that have changed them? I'd like to hear fromt he artist if poss because to be hionest I don't 'get' the whole context issue here and am very interested in art and its context/location.

Lilith Cohen said...

Wayfarer Gallery asserts that [conceptual] art is a "sickly and weak carcass." Fair enough, but we need some closer analysis of this obituary.
My first point: this issue seems to hinge on the idea of conceptual art's ontology: that is, where exactly is it? And what makes it exist at all? My understanding is that it exists, if anywhere, in particular "conceptual art works." Hence, conceptual art works are a subset of "artworks." yet an artwork is a thing which has been fabricated with some degree of artistry. Now, by definition, a conceptual artwork is not a thing of artistry: the 'art,' if anywhere, is in the imaginative or intellectual faculty. In this sense, conceptual artworks are ontologically similar to the works of lawyers or philosophers. This suggests to me that the concept of "conceptual artwork" is an oxymoron. It only exists insofar as other people will accept the claim that the gesture (which is what it is, in the end) signifies an artwork.
My second suspicion is this: when the "but is it art?" objection is raised against the latest Turner Prize winner, the same trite explanation is repeated: "It is supposed to raise basic questions about the idea of what art is." There's the rub. We are supposed to believe that the particular conceptual work represents an interesting and intellectual rich insight. yet look at the dates, kids: Duchamp placed the urinal in an art gallery in 1917. That's nearly a century ago. Even if we grant that the whole readymade thing really is art, and not a game played with words, surely artists could come up with a new idea? Et Al, Billy Apple, Jeff Koons, Gail Haffern-- is it not to beggar belief that these people are to be bracketed in the same class as any artist at all worthy of note before 1917?

John Hurrell said...

Lilith, your notion of art seems to be 'art is what looks like art' Art however need not to be fabricated 'with artistry' or any visual quality. Check out George Dickie or Arthur Danto for their definitions of the subject. In your discussion of conceptual art you are confusing a definition of the anthropological activity with value judgements of the work's quality. There is no connection linking the two.

so you tell me said...

Hurrel, you shut down debate. Your "go read" is just insulting. This is one of the few actual leads you've ever had on this blog, people have actually got off their arses and participated in it and the best you can do is be a lazy school teacher. I'd respect you if you'd just admitt you'r out of your depth, and end the whole "discussion" bulshit angle. I like others woudl like a decent platform to air some of my views unravel some of my ideas. but instead your ego has kept the whole thing wollowing in unuseful dumb stuff. Keep all the answers to yourself OH MASTER! have you seen white fungus No.9 yet you bastard

John Hurrell said...

Tao, you are such a peach.You're dead right. I was being slack, consciously so, and I justified it to myself because Lilith was light years away from my review and your show. She has this notion that artistry is something visual. Are you going to tell all our readers you agree with her? Come on, now.

And lumping all those artists together as 'conceptual'. Half the sixties artists in Lucy Lippard's 'Dematerialisation'book would probably deny any connection as well. Nor is the notion of 'readymade' much to do with it.

So how exactly is Lilith's letter pertinent to your exhibition? It is more a response to Wayfarer is it not? Not your practice. You enlighten us.

John Hurrell said...

I would hope that with this site, Tao, debate can continue without my continual participation - that I don't have to nuture or needle my readers all the time, in order to get responses. I assume they are sufficiently resilient and opinionated that it doesn't matter if I am a bit curt or over preoccupied on a particular day. They can throw ideas around between themselves.

I don't have to be the catalyst. After all you and I, Tao, are both motivated by self interest. We like the attention. But it would be great if there was sufficient momentum that conversations could carry on without us.

so you tell me said...

What are you, COCKOO, What planet are you on that shit gets done without you doing it? Still dreaming of that interns position at Village Voice are we?

Lilith Cohen said...

Dear John.

Your comment elicits a response.
1). I cannot speak for Arthur Danto. As for George Dickie, his definition of art is that art is any instance of an ‘artwork’ that is so authorized by the art-world. This definition is intelligible only post- Duchamp; and even with Duchamp in mind, this stipulative definition is both anachronistic and tautological. More to the point: it begs the question. It presupposes that Duchamp’s urinal actually is art. Whatever the tricksy logic here, (to quote a friend) when artists have to appeal to the authority of an analytic philosopher for backup, you know they’re running out of ideas.
But enough of the tu quoques. I've been thinking about the "anachronism" argument re. art. (That is: to reject conceptual art requires an old- fashioned idea of what art is that discounts all modern art since Duchamp's urinal). You could go the way of Wittgenstein's observation that the term 'game' has no fixed meaning; a lottery is a game, and so is soccer, but they have nothing in common. The term 'game' refers to a whole family of instances, some members have no common elements. The term 'art' is similar. Duchamp's Fountain has nothing in common with Da Vinci's Mona Lisa. The real problem is that it is difficult to show how Da Vinci and other Renaissance artists, or the Impressionists, or any art before 1917 has anything to do with conceptual art: the latter seems completely adrift, conceptually speaking. That is, it seems an error to consider Da Vinci and et. al. (for example) to be in the same professional class. That's the corollary of the claim that a traditional definition of art (such as mine) is anachronistic. That is, essentially, the barrel you are looking down, as a practicing artist. If my definition of art ignores the fundamental discord between pre- and post- Duchamp art, any tacit assertion that et. al., Jeff Koons etc. are in the same profession, let alone the same league, ignores this same rift. I think the burden of proof falls on anyone who makes such an assertion.
2). You wrote: “Lilith, your notion of art seems to be 'art is what looks like art' Art however need not to be fabricated 'with artistry' or any visual quality.”
This is a straw man. I simply stated that “an artwork is a thing which has been fabricated with some degree of artistry.” I did not say that an artwork has to look like an artwork. I seriously doubt that this is a controversial claim: the etymology is clearly understood. I propose a change of tack: an artist is a person who is artistic, broadly construed. (This claim is similar to the claim that a scientist is someone who is scientific, and a musician is someone who is musical. Someone who worships sticks is not scientific; someone who has no musical skills is not a musician; someone who cannot produce art is not an artist). If a person has made no attempt to cultivate a craft, art or talent that distinguishes them from someone else (and this may include, I concede, someone who can find domestic objects and install them in an art gallery in such a way as to inspire a new way of seeing that object), I suggest that they are not an ‘artist.’
3). “In your discussion of conceptual art you are confusing a definition of the anthropological activity with value judgments of the work's quality. There is no connection linking the two.”
If an artwork is defined as whatever is deemed by the artworld public, and nothing else, you have rendered quality irrelevant. Granted. Yet consider this: every conceivable human activity that does not merely produce waste material has standards and an implied quality, insofar as the objective is implied (cooking, automotive design, playing tennis, practicing scales). Art prior to 1917 had this quality: an artist is a person who paints, sculpts, etc. One can paint well, or poorly, or (post- Bosch) can open the portals to the Unthought, or whatever. Dickie’s theory wins coherence and official approval, at the expense of actual substance. “Art,” as you seem to understand the term, is a very strange idea. I suggest that it is grounded on an empty mysticism, representing nothing.

Alexander Hoyles said...

Wherever has this conversation on "What is Art?" come from - Noone was refuting that Tao Wells exhibited proposals were Art...

Tao, its great that you are still posting here, certainly making it worth the read. If you really want to voice and discuss, (and I certainly would like to hear you dicuss and unravel some of the ideas behind the work) then you could simply ignore him, and post anyway in response to others - or simply for your own sake.

John, I agree that if Tao wants to "air some of my views unravel some of my ideas" and wishes others to discuss them then you can fully sit out. In fact I rather think you should refrain from prodding repeatedly. you got it started now I'm sure it shal continue. though i would like to hear a response to lillith's last post..

Thanks for a good read

Alexander Hoyles said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
so you tell me said...

Well first up thanks to the "undead" who keep firing in some thoughts, I feel touched that you anonymous, want to hear my thoughts, so treating this as if it is an interview on Cambell live (which he declined) I'll try to give an impression that I understand some of what 's been said. Johns fair complaint was that the gallery was not the most " " fill the blank means for getting the "real" message across. I objected to this because it undermined my authority to craft the meaning in my work that was there. I accused him of simply misrepresenting the work. Which opened the discussion on what is art, anyway. There is a lot about art that is of its age, for me. Mona Lisa is just another painting, Fountain is a urinal, but for the time in which it was a whole lot more. For me there was something to be said about the scale of the ideas I was presenting, and the logic inherent in both the language , conceptual thrust and practical application that balanced with the exhaustion and still very natural ambition I have for art. Some of my shows have demanded of me ethical duties that would make a nun blush, where I would be accused of defiling the house of , fill in blank here, and time and time again, let the record show that I did stand and educate those around me on the principles involved. I think that this is part of my charm, but ART when it come down to it might enjoy a good story that is "of its time" but it needs to be bought. If Nude descending Staircase had been ignored in the
US, maybe Duchamp would have been just another Picabia. I asked a simple question to get a big response, the idea was to put a lot
of pressure on the audience that saw the show. YES YOU LOVE, You you saw my work , YES you COULD make it happen these wonderful ideas, BUT YOU CAN"T WILL YOU< YOU WON"T, YOU WILL NOT< YOU ARE UNABLE TO < WHY ARE UN ABLE TO >> WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, WHAT IS WONG WITH THE WORLD< WHAT IS WRONG WITH ART THAT I CAN YELL AT YOU, WON"T SOMEBODY MAKE it STOP. I couldn't fuckin believe how well it worked. I 've often thought of myself or even told others that I was a "conceptual artist" or a "poor" artist after Art provera, but this work along with others I've done in similar fashion does make me yearn for another title, something more fitting. Wink, wink nudge nudge , Thanks John see you round the showers... when National hits the fan.

John Hurrell said...

Tao, artists have no authority to control the interpretation of the work they show. That's a worthless pipedream. They try to of course, but it will always be a losing battle because their irresponsible, argumentative public like to make their minds up for themselves.

Lilith, art has nothing to do with mysticism, but is a conceptual device for arguing about anything. It is a 'McGuffin', a word used by Alfred Hitchcock to describe an element in a plot that provides a context for maintaining a story's momentum, but which has little intrinsic interest. It's an excuse for the visual and verbal action, in other words.

John Hurrell said...

Thinking further about Lilith's beautifully elucidated comments, is there any point in bemoaning the changing defintion of art, especially as influenced by seventies conceptualism? It is focuusing on the social relationship more than the physical object, though the later will never disappear entirely, I think. One could attack the power of the institutions, but hey, objects in art galleries are not under threat. Are they really disappearing in museums like Te Papa? Doesn't seem to have happened so far, for Jonathan Mane-Wheoki is clearly passionate about traditional artworks. Perhaps the issue not about objects at all but about manually crafted objects? Is that your beef,Lilith? You think readymades are now taking over the artworld? There is not much evidence of that either, surely?

Lilith Cohen said...

In terms of government policy and pedagogy, I think that the prioritization of an unthinking relativism, the devaluing of craft and aesthetics and basic visual literacy, the loss of techniques such as glazing, and above all the emphasis on 'theory' over skill are causing serious problems in how art is taught in schools and academies. This is hardly an original view. And I think that framing the issue in terms of 'traditional' versus 'modern' or 'contemporary' evades the real problem. Artists are in the business of creating a marketable commodity, whether they like it or not: if you aren't selling to a gallery you're selling to Creative New Zealand. If people can't see why they should shell out; if they can't see what is so special about art, art will whither. Meanwhile, visionary NZ painters such as Andrew Jones and Rozi Demant are pretty much ignored because they are too traditional. Look at the most interesting art nowadays- it's all on the West Coast- check out Juxtapoz magazine.
It's ironic that you would mention Hitchcock: I'm fairly sure his works would qualify as art by any standard definition.

Lilith Cohen said...

I don't want to go all Oswald Spengler, but the dialectical vector of modern art seems to be going down a difficult path. The work of Dan Arps and others blur the line between life and art by shifting junk into the gallery space, and this gesture has been accepted as a legitimate form of art. Granted. But in making this conversion of junk into life, there's nowhere else for 'art' to go. It's just brand inflation (the term 'art,' that is). It's become a meaningless classification, supported by a zimmer-frame of official respectability and hysterically pompous rhetoric. The decline of late modern art is also leading to another interesting development: the discovery and celebration of outsider art, such as that of Henry Darger. I take this also to be symptomatic: total artistic naives can be more visually interesting and prized than the works of art school graduates.
I'm going to stand down now, or I'll just ending up flaming. Anyway thanks for the opportunity.

Best wishes,
L. Cohen

John Hurrell said...

Don't forget that 'junk' has been used since Kurt Schwitters and Picasso etc. However those guys aesthetically integrated it with paint. And sometimes, so does Arps.

Often though he doesn't, avoiding any tweaking or prettying up at all - implying he is trying to show that an ongoing,unfinished process is proceeding. Or that he is giving out signals for a sort of rhetoric espousing an unaesthetic, really raw, 'avant-garde' stance. Both I imagine.

I don't think he is a nihilist. I think the work is genuine explorative research, seeing 'what happens if I...etc.'

so you tell me said...

IT's you that's the problem , you audience that want some where to go, instead of something to read. Your Andrew Jones and Rozi Demant aren't noticed cause I read them in 3 seconds, we are all so fucking good at reading. I know people who have read the books and articles, know their shit, but DO NOT make any relationship with what they read to their lives or their views.

Hurrell you are an idiot if you think anyone who makes anything doesn't imagine how the audience might react. Are you an idiot. Surely you are not proposing that i think that I know what the audience will think. AR you? I just don't understand your thinking, are you trying to be petty, belittle me, are you thinking about your viewers , trying to dumb it down, frame with worn out blah.

And in terms of Arps work, what do you mean " I think.." what about what you know, do you know? When you do what will that look like, how will you tell us.

I'll wait for you two to grow up. Leave existentialism silly adolescence and get down to Mother earth!

John Hurrell said...

Tao, make up your mind. One minute you sarcasticly berate me for being like a schoolmaster, then you complain that I only give my audience something to read, that I don't take them anywhere.

Man, I don't claim to know all the answers, even many of them. Most of my writing is about elucidating my ambivalences and confusions, trying to clarify them to myself so I can make sense of the art in front of me.

My most recent comment to you was based on you saying 'I objected to this because it undermined my authority to craft the meaning in my work that was there.' I'm telling you that what happens to be in your work has nothing to do with your believed 'authority' to craft the work's meaning. That you have no power to determine that. That was my point.

As for my thoughts on Dan's work, what is your gripe there? Why shouldn't I be tentative if that is my mood? There is a season to be cocky and a time not to be, surely?

so you tell me said...

CLASSIC! I belated you for being a lazy school master AND directing viewers to go read. You've once again managed to construct an argument where none existed.

John Hurrell said...

Tao,I really hate to go on but you did say,"Keep all the answers to yourself OH MASTER!" well as the opposite ...
"Your audience want somewhere to go, instead of something to read."

Isn't providing somewhere to go being an (unlazy) teacher, or was that not the meaning you intended?

so you tell me said...

well exactly, Hurrell, thanks for asking, cool, I did mean telling someone to go read is lazy, because you are not teaching you are merely dispensing resources. A fine line I'll rant ya. teaching is a little more complicated than that, right?.It involves a world view and that between individuals is mutually hurtful through the projected mishap of mistaken predjudice, about something they both love.

Separately the quote you use: "Your audience want somewhere to go, instead of something to read." is out of context. A simple mistake john or a pretxt for planned disaster. I dig it John, I diG! I mean how can directing others to somewhere else be answers to anything. This line you cross, what about the line you know and sharing that. It exists nO? to know ones limits is to be stronget than the rest cause you don't make mistakes you create them.

Nature's not a political party it'll wipe you all out.


I have no idea if the above makes sense. Who else has a copy of "stop making sense".

so you tell me said...

FUUUUUU######*******K me

so you tell me said...

So the point is, the reason why you freaked out on what i supplied Hurrell is that I was asking you, you who had see the work to deal with the work, and cough of the dough, not someone else. I didn't use another medium or vehicle to get my "message' across because I only wanted to talk to you, the guys that came to see my work. Well you saw it and ignored it and like the little boy starving in the streets on every other street corner, on tele, it's a hell of a thing to bare, let alone expereince as "ART".

John Hurrell said...

Did I ignore the art Tao? Did I freak? That is a somewhat peculiar conclusion to get over 50 comments down the track from my initial review, which by the way, refers to Ian wilson and conceptual artists who have a practice of 'talking.'

Not that I would suggest you were one of those. You bristled early on about that, saying such sixties connections were way out of line.

Had a rethink, have we? Well I'm glad we now agree...

And if I had gone and discussed the proposals of the show in depth, scrutinizing every detail, that would stuff up the experience available for future visitors. So I guess it is damned if John does, damned if John doesn't, eh?

so you tell me said...

Damned John, surly not. What do you make of this discussion now?

Looking at what pissed me off, "Tao seems reluctant to try and reach a bigger audience... Or is the issue really about saleable merchandise. He wants them funded by a collector before he makes a real effort." I see that it was not the point but the shallowness of that point in the way you brought it up. Here I had crafted a point of contention and you dismissed it as a possible accident.

I guess that is why people have essays to accompany their shows, to lock down the tangents for discussion with extra readings. I like this format better, it's alive with neurotic quivering.. and beautifully absent are the disinterested, leaving that to be still desired.. a reading not achieved.

John Hurrell said...

Who is shallow? Well we are just going round in circles on this, aren't we?

Essays offer readings that, like an artist's statement, the viewer can accept or reject - if they are not convinced. I think the detectable internal logic of the work is far more important than anything the artist or their essayist might say. What they say has to match the evidence in the space.

Truth is artists are often deluded or inarticulate. That doesn't make them bad artists in any way, for organising visual material is a different type of skill from organising verbal or written stuff. It's just that they can't supply a functioning support for the exhibited practice. They might even accidentally undermine it.

so you tell me said...

Sorry I did not mean to imply that you were shallow, only the way in which you put across a key idea behind the work was "shallow" in that it was dismissive and did not credit me with having framed a very real if not very cool question.

I am going on about this cause the show failed (surprise)to sell and so now I am in deed exploring other ideas.

The first idea was to create Idea for the State 4 and 5, 4 being a significant amount of money to pay for a better physical location to sell three ideas for the state. And 5; The purchase of an idea with the expressed intent that the artist not pursue it's realizations in any form.

My current idea is to pitch a "Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) National Tour of Three ideas for the State" as a type of faux political party ad. cue "ARTIST ON THE DOLE HAS ANSWER TO AUSIE RACE HATE" Where I would try and show in every gallery and every community hall/ group/ center in the country that would have me on their wall/ notice boards.

Cool huh?

John Hurrell said...

I wonder if Kiwis are likely to care too much about issues pertaining to Australia.Personally I relate better to the local flagpole concept because it ties the visual and community and design education together in a really exciting way. I love the idea of travelling into different regions and finding snazzy site-specific flags fluttering on certain buildings. That would be terrific.

so you tell me said...

Well for everyone who could give two shits about trans tasman whatever, Australia and for that matter other parts of the world are quite interesting.

As for traveling the country erecting flags, Columbus style, that's not my scene, Yes I'd like to be an instigator but the idea, which actually involves flagpoles, not flags would have to be owned by iwi. But then again nothing wrong with selling a piece of a franchise is there..