I didn’t get a Harumph outta that guy…

Paul Corio takes up the conversation about the Art Press on his blog-azine No Hassle at the Castle. The Cindy Sherman exhibition at MOMA has been a real eye opener. Not necessarily because of the exhibition itself but because of the uniformity of the discussion about the exhibition. I’m not just talking about whether the show was liked or not liked by the press, but the uniformity in the REASONING behind that like or dislike. Nearly every review about the show said exactly the same things, keying on the very same issues. In all seriousness, you could cut and paste, mix and match from any of the reviews and make one of your own. No one would see any difference whatsoever. Yes, the algorithm about how one was to write about the show was firmly and openly in place. It reminded me of the way political discussion is run in this country. Usually an army of “interviewable” personalities connected to the (whatever) current administration is sent out in waves to the political talk shows loaded with specific talking points about a certain issue. The media replicates and distributes this message OVER AND OVER again in the news cycles and news discussion shows until those “talking points” become something like a truth. We begin to believe whatever the message says because it comes from many authoritative voices, all saying the very same things, broadcasted across many media outlets. It resembles confirmation – one show confirms the precepts given on another show. I guess we’ve learned the same lesson here in our little world. I kept thinking, “…couldn’t someone say something, anything different than the 5 or 6 phrases that have come to define the way we communicate about this particular show.” It’s part of the reason I placed all those quotes in the original post.

This conformity in thinking struck a nerve with Paul as well, and he gives an extremely cogent discussion about “the discussion,” how it’s rooted in the Postmodern imperatives that we’ve come to accept as wisdom. He also delineates the reasons that these particular talking points, this particular conformity, has come to define the Art Press.

“Sherman’s work illustrates a whole constellation of ideas that form much of the basis from which these critics think about, look at, and review art: gender, identity, high vs. low culture and the ensuing debate about quality and criteria, value, originality and authorship, the centrality of painting and the disruption of a specific kind of historical teleology. An enthusiastic reception to Sherman’s show would represent more to these writers than the canonization of a particular artist – it would further cement the institutional validation of a whole set of ideas which their careers, sensibilities and credibility is connected to.”

Basically it all adds up to this:

There’s a lot at stake for a lot of people. And who can argue with that…?

One of the things that I truly admire about Paul is that he has a lot of positive energy about Art, about his feelings about the power of Art. In our sometimes high-keyed discussions he will always defend the power of art and artists to make visual magic. It’s at those times that I am grateful to have Paul as a friend even if I disagree with what he is saying. Could there be a better teacher, a better example of an engaged and thoughtful artist for the next generation? I don’t think so. That kind of energy and enthusiasm even in the midst of struggle, any struggle, is hard to come by. And you can see it for yourself. His post ends thoughtfully on a high note looking forward to a change, to a new idea, a new way of visually engaging. I highly recommend you check out the link at the top of this post! And COMMENT, please, either here or on Paul’s Blog-azine! We’d like to hear your voices on this issue! What do you think of the art critics, conformity in the press, talking points, and protection of one’s phony baloney jobs?

2 thoughts on “I didn’t get a Harumph outta that guy…

  1. Great post!! I agree — you can pretty much hear echoing back and forth among all the art reviews. And isn’t there anyone else making art besides Cindy Sherman? I love the addition of the “harumph” clip; a sense of humor, and continued discussions, do seem to be the best ways out of this strange mess.

  2. Definitely, on Paul Corio. He is morphing into a positive leader, qualities that were latent are coming to the fore – and he is going to teach us all – by example….by just being more of himself – albeit a worked-on version. Working (see Facing) is a very big deal….

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