This Town’s in Tatters

All this chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter, chitter-chatter ’bout
Shmatta, shmatta, shmatta — I can’t give it away on 7th Avenue
This town’s been wearing tatters (shattered, shattered)
Work and work for love and sex
Ain’t you hungry for success, success, success, success
Does it matter? (Shattered) Does it matter?
I’m shattered. Shattered.

Miami has swung ’round once again, its pure evil radiating in the South Beach heat. The so-called art press, in its relentlessly cheerleading way, has been spinning recovery in big headlines over the last couple of weeks, and the pace of “news” has accelerated in the last few days. After all, how is one to recoup the Basel overhead and New York lifestyle moola in this depressed economy without shovelling bullshit at an increased speed. Dubai aside, what’s to worry? The sad sorry truth of this Miami Basel we won’t hear about is how the government has stuffed the investment portfolios of the formerly distressed wealthy with a trillion or so in tax dollars. That’s a no lose situation for high power investors – TBTF means Tax Backing for Titanic Fuckups. First class frequent fliers and their Geitner bonus money have gotten the green light to decorate their third penthouse apartments with second rate Postmodern work. Even the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal have gotten into the act, spreading the word that just about anything can be priced for the market given the right publicity! Take, for example, this gem:

“A hefty steel chair, an award-winning design from 2008, now rusted and encrusted with barnacles and seaweed. Dixon had it thrown into the waters of Biscayne Bay right in front of Craig Robins’ house after the show last year. “The idea was to dump it in the water, thereby saving about $500 in warehousing fees, which is good during a recession,” said Dixon. “As a designer you’re just telling a story.” The chair was dredged out of the water last week but a cleaning lady mistakenly had it taken to the dump. “She was right in her analysis that it was a piece of crap,” said Dixon. The chair was recovered and now sits on a little plinth with a bright pink buoy attached. “It’s a double-dip recession so it will go back in the water after Design Miami and sit there until the recession is over,” says Dixon. “Then it will be worth a lot of money.””

How many times have we heard this same story about a contemporary work of art being carted off to the dump because some unsuspecting working class slob, just doing their job, did not recognize the Art? This chestnut has been roasted one too many times, and it’s a frickin’ bore already – even if they’ve found a “new” way to turn “crap” into “money.” Meanwhile back in NYC we are experiencing a hit parade of big sellers and blue chippers. Hockney, Guston, Richter, Benglis, Kelly, Fischl and many more are now decorating the walls of white cubes all over the city. New ideas are hard to find even in the best of times, but today, new ideas are beside the point. Money is our main concern – who’s got it, who can make it and who can sell it. Most of my friends are just trying to keep their jobs and hoping to get on with their next piece. As for me, I’ve been really gratified by the impact that our series on Color Light and Space has been generating. There’s a hunger for new ideas, new insights and new visions that extend beyond the market place and the art fair. David Shields calls it Reality Hunger, a craving for reality beyond the slick Postmodern media environments and calculated outsourced products that continue to define our lives.

I’m not interested in my own consciousness per se, my own thoughts per se. I’m interested, I hope, in what Yeats calls “mirror turn lamp”—self-investigation that goes so deep that it turns primitive, mythic, “universal,” and thus one’s own self-investigation becomes investigation of some larger cultural/human tendency, trait, characteristic.”

This is something I’ve been working at in the studio and on Henri. The idea of moving away from mediated reality to get to a more involved nature. Color, Light and Space play into these ideas, and how we approach them in our paintings determines how others experience our work. Simple right? Well, not really. Especially as we stand at a juncture – the end of the Postmodern, the end of the sliding, elliptical world of the endlessly New New. And as we break away from this POMO replication, we find our hunger demands that we make our work out of our own natural experiences in the reality we’ve inherited. We crave the thickness of things in our dematerialized world.

Stay tuned…

Addendum: I saw this piece in the NYT on William Powhida discussing Miami, and I thought it right on point – “The bubble never burst, it just got smaller…”
AND this in the Huffington Post

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