Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rant of the Month: Bad Art as the Beginning of Genocide

posted by Free Press Houston @ 5:18 PM

This is incoherent and thoughtful at the same time
By Martin Boober

“Hi Liz. Miffy here. How are you? How are things in Iowa? As you know, I just moved here to Houston, and it is SO non-cornfield here in this bustling, dynamic, romantic city. I live in the COOLEST AREA called MONTROSE, but the cool people call it “THE TROSE”! So many cool places and funky old houses, (but I hope they get rid of a lot of them. They are musty and scary and, well, old. Besides, everyone who is on the go in this town wants new, new, NEW and those that don’t can just go die.) There are cool, cool, cool restaurants and bistros here, (a bistro is a cool way of saying restaurant) and things to do. Like last weekend, I went to this art show at this cool place called the Contemporary Arts Museum, but everyone in the know calls it the CAM. There was lots of stuff there and gobs of interesting people, I had to text and sext a lot, so I wasn’t sure what was going on but they were cool things, I know. Some cheesy guy sang a song about a house, and then this guy with a HOT BOD carried a big piece of wood around wearing only a g-string, (watching him made me wet, OMG). I wore a knee length gingham print dress, my yellow Donald Duck hair berets, and looked cute in my clunky black leather service station worker shoes that I got half price. Pretty edgy, huh? Oh, and I met this McDreamy guy there named Harmon. Harmon is tall and designs modern urban dwellings (they used to be called apartments, but that is SO yesterday). Harmon is very intellectual, and says he doesn’t even think about sex at all. Isn’t that wonderful? I’m a lucky girl. He is picking me up tomorrow night in his black Honda Element, and we are going for pasta at this cool place called Café Nexpresso or something like that. Well, I hope you move down here, Liz. I have my double chocolate honey-lime latte and am ensconced in my reading nook, with the latest issue of “Jealousy” magazine. A girl has to keep abreast of what is happening, you know? Please write soon. Love, Miffy!”
Genocide does not begin with a tortuous train ride to a hinterland shooting pit. Genocide begins with ignorance, denial, a notion, an inconvenience, an intolerant whim, an annoying unconformity, a perception, a projected shame, a disconnect from feeling and common human experience, a dulling of awareness, an absent point of reference. Art is to be experienced, not understood. Once art is said to be “understood”, it is killed. A Chagall, “understood” by a magnate, is, conversely loved warmly by an unsophisticated wage slave, who enters the museum for both shelter from the cold, and for spiritual rejuvenation. He is not a master of the universe. A Friedrich can melt a cold heart and gladden a sad one, but it is not understood. Five shots from a revolver, fired into a large, blank canvas may strongly reflect to the audience the fact that people without a sense of irony are terribly dangerous, but it is not fully understood. Much has been written about the artist’s responsibility, but the trauma of recent years renders those of WWI, and its child Dada, to the foggy, overlooked memories of yellowed silent newsreels and print in heavy, unread books.
Everything is Dada now, it is said. Vive irrelevancy, vive expediency, vive fame and flippancy. It makes what is really going on more palatable. “It is not that we have outlawed Shakespeare! We have merely created a society that renders Shakespeare irrelevant!” Laziness, fear, lack of thought and inspiration replacing artistic courage. A splash of paint here-and-there kind of guy can be profound, or a plagiarist of the other splash of paint here-and-there guy whose works are hot sellers at the moment. Bad art for its own sake. Active nihilism, and a still naked emperor. King Canute, wrapped in a clean white sheet. Presto. So cool. What indeed can move one if one has no point of reference? Point of reference—diluted, obfuscated, minimized, dumbed down.
What is viewed then may appear to be a refined joke, but it might be a naked emperor. What such art really is, is a little murder. It is a murder of aesthetic, of integrity, (as are all lies big and small. More and more, we are seduced into lying, to support larger lies). Little murders. Little art murders, a murder of sensitivity, (sensitivity—that curse of efficiency and groupthink), and awareness, of intelligence, of critical thought process. The ethic that began as a joke between a small group of obscure academics known as “postmodern deconstruciton” has become what it was never intended to be, a movement. Even more than a movement, an attitude, a TREND. Well, we all know that, when boiling a frog, one never throws the frog into a pot of already boiling water. One places the frog in a pot of cool water, and imperceptibly, slowly increases the heat. In this manner, once the frog realizes it is being cooked, it is too late. The recent “No Zoning” exhibit at the CAM was the “Sunset Boulevard” for many early, non-corporate, alternative Houston artists. (“I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. Demille.”) It was a congenial, back-slapping celebration, joking and hobnobbing, not even realizing that they were experiencing a collective throat-slitting and expulsion into oblivion. This is the NEW Houston after all, and where, indeed, will it end? The new new NEW Houston—gleaming, shining, awash in foreign cash and shady mega-deals, swarming with smarmy developers spewing sloppy solipsisms, forcing the public into reail-line friendly, overpriced, poorly-built shoeboxes constructed with planned-obsolescence integrity, (ever try suing a builder lately? Good luck). Pressboard shells built on shifting mud faults, and Miffy is perplexed as to why her print doesn’t hang straight on the wall. Many dwellers just forego having anything on their walls. After all, their surroundings must be as empty as their souls, and art, after all, might make them THINK and FEEL, and that is simply not politically correct. CAM is the riverboat pilot over the River Styxx for artists, local and otherwise. Once you’ve made it, you’ve had it. Several artists and movements from the period who could have been featured in this exhibit are far less annoyed at being excluded than one might assume.
Everything becomes illusion, for illusion is far more comfortable, entertaining, and downright easier. Illusion is easy to manufacture. Illusions of love, of fame, of quality, of beauty, of hope, of change, of prosperity, of freedom, of aesthetic. Bad art is the beginning, subtly, of genocide.


At November 22, 2009 at 8:07 PM , Blogger Yerba said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At November 22, 2009 at 8:09 PM , Blogger Yerba said...

Everybody knows that frogs (like everything else) taste better fried than boiled. What are you, English or something? I heard they boil everything in England, even pizza, and serve it with boiled french fries, which they call chips. Except for the Indian food. That's not boiled it's curried, like favor, except with flavor.

Bad art is the beginning, subtly, of good art. A beginning which begs of genocide, yes, but a beginning nonetheless. Roaches suck. They can be found in old homes and new. Mosquitoes also suck, but on more levels than roaches.


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