Winter Doldrums

It is deader than dead here in NYC – as far as art goes. The biggest story this month has been that some poor woman accidently fell into an early Picasso at the MET, and now, everyone seems to have an opinion on how to fix the painting. I’ll tell you the truth it isn’t one of my favorite Picassos so I don’t really have an opinion. A linen patch on the back side and a bit of unobtrusive cosmetic work on the front (if needed) and presto! Right now there are restoration experts dropping bricks about that last bit, but really, it ain’t rocket science. As for the woman who fell into the painting, she must be mortified. I mean put yourself in her position. A day at the MET, a tour of the galleries with some docent prattling on about the works, a few pithy bits about how rough the artists were living, no lunch, nothing to drink, legs are heavy, the room starts to sway a bit, and the next thing you know, your elbow went through the Picasso. Awful! I also don’t believe for one auction house minute that a painting considered this important would suddenly lose half its value. Tear or no, the painting’s irreplaceable and as far as I know, the MET has no intention of selling the work – EVER. I guess the auction houses will just have to deal with the fact that some commissions will never come their way.

Then there’s the real estate conceptualism about to happen at the Guggy. Tino Sehgal has determined that a tabula rasa Guggy, white cube on steroids, would be a grand statement at a time when millions of Americans have left their homes empty as they lost their jobs. The idea of a major art museum cleared to the bare walls sounds like yet another sensitive project for the people. Supposedly something’s set to happen in the space – I haven’t a clue, but I loved this bit of art jargoning in the press release:

“Sehgal’s singular practice has been shaped by his formative studies in dance and economics, while using the museum and related institutions—galleries, art fairs, and private collections—as its arena.” What they don’t tell you is if his formative studies were Jazz, Tap or Classical Economics – Milton Friedman in tights. If any of you can make sense of the rest of the Press Release maybe you could enlighten us. I mean what, exactly, does this mean? “He considers visual art to be a microcosm of our economic reality, as both center on identical conditions: the production of goods and their subsequent circulation. Sehgal seeks to reconfigure these conditions by producing meaning and value through a transformation of actions rather than solid materials.” I think this means he prefers the stage to the studio. And on top of that I never considered that I was making “goods” when I finished a painting – I guess it’s all about context. As for the show, I’ll go for the Pina Bausch in Costco kinda thing. Who knows, we all might get to walk out with some circulating goods!

We are about to begin our series on Reality shortly and I’ve been looking for some interesting angles. I thought this clip was interesting simply because of the fact that “reality” is being discussed in one of the most unrealistic films I’ve ever seen. It’s almost as if the “reality” of this film bends and blends into the “reality” of the other films discussed – it’s pure Postmodern context and critique in that sense. The simulacrum is the basis for “fact,” and we are left with nothing but the idea that narrative and film are the basis for a “reality.” Add to that the tropes of photographic “reality” – the blurring of space as the lens refocuses – the TV screen fuzz that places another context on the image – the breaks in the edit that allow us to focus on the deliberate symbolic actions of the character (clipping and lighting the cigar etc.) It’s all designed to convince us that what we are seeing is “real,” that these characters are, indeed, part of our existence. Reality? – stay tuned!

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