Useless shower of gits…

Last night a few friends and I hung out and talked about painting, subject matter, objects, the art world, finance, beauty, the ephemeral lives of friends and artists, a couple of shows in Chelsea, Bruno Latour, the inconsequence of painting in our contemporary world, nostalgic revery, the unending money torrents flowing through the art world, the coming boondoggle awaiting the insurance industry, what we will be doing over the holiday, the two Marcels of the European avant garde, the bitter failure of Occupy Wall Street and Suzanne Pleshette – among other things. That’s right, we were ruling the world over beer and hamburgers. Needless to say, nothing got solved, but we had a bit of silly fun.

How ineffective, how insubstantial, how absolutely ridiculous we painters all seem. The recent debate over Wade Guyton’s professionally made banal abstractions puts it all into perspective, really. These are handsome paintings, but not at all visually exciting or ground breaking. The controversy that followed the show was over the fact that he had used a printer and a program to make the work. Seriously, this tempest in a teapot reminds me of the same retro-tinged arguments about Joe Bradley’s paintings a few years ago. Do we really have so little forethought and so little understanding of our own recent history that this kind of argument is still being waged? What a freakin’ shame! Guyton’s show is an app, a retro tinged, thickly Postmodern romp through the past. It is tasteful to the extreme, effective like a pair of Converse sneakers, a successful re-boot like the new Star Trek movies or the recent Batman series. Highly familiar, pleasing to look at, easily digested and immanently sellable.

All around us the world is collapsing further and further into abstraction. Human flesh, once the focus of commodity culture, is now superfluous to that culture and that program. And by “program” I mean our way of existence; economic, political and artistic. We live, more and more, in a closed system, ever advancing abstractions of abstractions. Most of us are merely statistics within that program, future liabilities that must be minimized, programs that no longer upgrade to work within the system itself. The “real” world, the hyper-real world, exists without us. Every part of culture is untethering itself from actual things, from beings, from flesh. Soon this will become really apparent in the US when Obamacare kicks in during 2014. The good thing, the thing we all focused on, is the fact that human beings, our citizens will for the first time in our history have access to health care. The thing we overlooked is the fact that we privatized the thing from the start in order to make it palatable to “business” and the power business wields in our everyday existences. In other words, the Insurance Industry will become an economic power like we have never seen in this country, both with money and access. Immediately billions of dollars will begin pumping into the balance sheets of the Insurance Companies. They will wield immense power over a number of other industries that support health care infrastructures. Quite soon after they will beef up their already sizable lobbying presence in Washington, and begin to really change the laws in their favor. Among the first things they’ll do is attack the antitrust laws and regulations to make it possible for them to merge with other Financial Institutions. Soon we’ll realize that not only will these Corporations have access to our pocketbooks, but also deep information on our most intimate existences. Your credit rating, your ability to obtain services, your employment among a lot of other things will all be micro managed by a health/investment program. Eventually, this will create a caste system in this country of which only the Corporate classes could have dreamed as they drowned the government in the bathtub. The devil is always in the details…

Ok, my dystopian rant is done for now, but what painters that we see in the galleries, fairs or museums are discussing things like this in their work? What painters are willing to advance the implications of abstractions of abstractions? The truth is you won’t see it. Maybe we don’t have the visual language yet, or maybe it’s there and we don’t “speak” it yet. In either case printing out retro-abstract paintings will not address these issues, nor will it illuminate our lives for future generations. Abstraction appeared just as the world fell into war, classes struggled to get more money and power, and our societies began to dematerialize into the electric. It is that point in our history that we need to revisit and learn, to be able to rethink the questions that face us now, and to make and create other alternative ideas about the path of Modernism and our future as painters in the 21st Century. Postmodern thought and practice doesn’t address the now, it revives and lives in the past. Our current arguments about painting, living and existence should pose different questions in order to understand that what’s on offer is not there for our benefit. It is unconscionable that we remain comfortable with being a Useless Shower of  Gits.

We’ll have more to say soon…

7 thoughts on “Useless shower of gits…

  1. welcome back sir

    and seasons greetings from the dark city

    this is a most effective description of events at the turn to the new year

    best wishes


  2. Congress is nowhere to be seen as the economy must now crash to fulfill its market destiny, sometime around February or March.

    Happy fucking New Year America.

  3. this is where it ultimately leads:

    Honduras sets stage for 3 privately run cities

    Sep 5, 10:36 PM EDT

    Associated Press

    TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Investors can begin construction in six months on three privately run cities in Honduras that will have their own police, laws, government and tax systems now that the government has signed a memorandum of agreement approving the project.

    An international group of investors and government representatives signed the memorandum Tuesday for the project that some say will bring badly needed economic growth to this small Central American country and that at least one detractor describes as “a catastrophe.”

    The project’s aim is to strengthen Honduras’ weak government and failing infrastructure, overwhelmed by corruption, drug-related crime and lingering political instability after a 2009 coup.

    The project “has the potential to turn Honduras into an engine of wealth,” said Carlos Pineda, president of the Commission for the Promotion of Public-Private Partnerships. It can be “a development instrument typical of first world countries.”

    The “model cities” will have their own judiciary, laws, governments and police forces. They also will be empowered to sign international agreements on trade and investment and set their own immigration policy.

    Congress president Juan Hernandez said the investment group MGK will invest $15 million to begin building basic infrastructure for the first model city near Puerto Castilla on the Caribbean coast. That first city would create 5,000 jobs over the next six months and up to 200,000 jobs in the future, Hernandez said. South Korea has given Honduras $4 million to conduct a feasibility study, he said.

    “The future will remember this day as that day that Honduras began developing,” said Michael Strong, CEO of the MKG Group. “We believe this will be one of the most important transformations in the world, through which Honduras will end poverty by creating thousands of jobs.”

    Hernandez said another city will be built in the Sula Valley, in northern Honduras, and a third in southern Honduras. He gave no other details.

    The project is opposed by civic groups as well as the indigenous Garifuna people, who say they don’t want their land near Puerto Castilla on the Caribbean coast to be used for the project. Living along Central America’s Caribbean coast, the Garifuna are descendants of the Amazon’s Arawak Indians, the Caribbean’s Caribes and escaped West African slaves.

    “These territories are the Garifuna people’s and can’t be handed over to foreign capital in an action that is pure colonialism like that lived in Honduras during the time that our land became a banana enclave,” said Miriam Miranda, president of the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras.

    Oscar Cruz, a former constitutional prosecutor, filed a motion with the Supreme Court last year characterizing the project as unconstitutional and “a catastrophe for Honduras.”

    “The cities involve the creation of a state within the state, a commercial entity with state powers outside the jurisdiction of the government,” Cruz said.

    The Supreme Court has not taken up his complaint.

    In an interview Wednesday, Strong said that as soon as the Honduras government gives final approval to the boundaries of the sites, the developers will begin building infrastructure on the first half square mile of the first city, where they hope to have two or three businesses as tenants within 18 months.

    He said the $15 million investment was contingent on Honduran government approval. He added that no tenants have made commitments to locating to the future private city yet, but the investors envision textile manufacturing, small-product assembly and outsourced businesses like call centers or data processing as possibilities.

    “People are not going to put up big money for something that could fall through,” Strong said. He did not name any of the investors in the project.

    He said workers will be able to live in the cities, and the Honduran laws setting up the private areas guarantees that any citizen of the country can also live there.

    “It can be a full-scale city,” Strong said. “Once we have jobs then we will need affordable housing, schools, clinics, churches, stores, restaurants, all the businesses that create a real community.”

    The president of Honduras will appoint “globally respected international figures” without financial interests in the projects to nine-member independent boards that will oversee the running of the cities, whose daily operations will be administered by a board-appointed governor. Future appointments to the board will be decided by votes by standing board members, Strong said.

    The governors will establish the rules by which the cities are initially run in conjunction with the developers, Strong said, but those rules can be changed in the future by popular votes among all residents of the cities.

    Strong said Honduran law would not apply in the cities but they would have to adhere to international conventions on human rights and other basic principles.

    He called the cities based on the best practices of free-trade zones around the world, like in Dubai, and he expected that they would successfully create jobs and help the development of Honduras.

    “In general, free zones have been a spectacular success in terms of economic development,” he said. “I’m very optimistic.”

    . . .

    read ’em and weep

  4. Reminds me of a certain Dutch colony called New Amsterdam, which wasn’t under Dutch law since it was a private venture supported by the Dutch West India Company.

    Great book on it somewhere on my shelves here at home.

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