But a reluctance to talk about personal struggles might explain her oeuvre’s intriguingly inscrutable character, as if the lived experience that held it all together was something that she was trying to reflect only indirectly. This note of aloofness, in fact, makes Genzken’s messy contemporary work very classical in spirit, an example of the rhetoric of art being used to elevate us above the tangle of life.
“Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences. (Roy Ascott’s phrase.) That solves a lot of problems: we don’t have to argue whether photographs are art, or whether performances are art, or whether Carl Andre’s bricks or Andrew Serranos’s piss or Little Richard’s ‘Long Tall Sally’ are art, because we say, ‘Art is something that happens, a process, not a quality, and all sorts of things can make it happen.’ … [W]hat makes a work of art ‘good’ for you is not something that is already ‘inside’ it, but something that happens inside you — so the value of the work lies in the degree to which it can help you have the kind of experience that you call art.”
Today the most fascinating place to look for transgression in painting is at the junction of the picture plane and in the space around it. Artists are working at the intersection of related action and focusing on the installation and the circulation of the experience. Not only is the physical space for display an aspect to activate, but the performative and virtual spaces in which reproductions are placed as well. The ways in which these representations are stored, endlessly reproduced, and discussed on such virtual platforms as the Internet have created infinite possibility for painting.
“I don’t necessarily feel part of a specific movement, but I do feel like there are kindred spirits out there among my peers. What’s at stake is that each generation has the opportunity to reevaluate narratives of the past in a manner that makes sense in the present. Ideas tend to recirculate, but they might mean something completely different in today’s context. It’s important to restate them in new ways in order to better communicate them, and to engage with them not always in opposition but in response.
Specifically, I consider myself to be coming out of and responding to the Robert Ryman camp of how-to-paint over the what-to-paint. The BMPT group [Daniel Buren, Olivier Mosset, Michel Parmentier, Niele Toroni] was very significant to me in grad school, as well as Supports-Surfaces. From these artists, I took away an understanding of painting as an apparatus that could be dismantled and rebuilt toward new meanings. I was also influenced by many of the artists featured in the exhibition High Times, Hard Times. Artists such as Ree Morton and Howardena Pindell were a revelation for their insistence on experimenting with materials and injecting subjectivity into the work without turning out overtly historic, expressionistic artworks. I see myself as building from all these perspectives, not just one singular history.”
Drawing from these incidents and precedents, an “ethical turn” in art criticism might mean redefining the role of a critic to function more as participant-observer, a facilitator, or even a griot, with critical duties shared or handed over to participants. Criticism might be more durational than episodic. Art magazines and newspapers are still tied to the institutional exhibition format—and advertising dollars—but the Internet offers freedom to invent new genres, from blogging and social media to ad hoc or formalized discussion groups, Tumblrs, and other forms of culture-jamming, beyond the review, feature, or the proto-canonizing “critical essay…What ethical criticism demands is that we look more closely at the “container” or context as well as the object, performance, or action; that we move beyond Eagleton’s Marxist “cultural politics” to consider our affective attachments to the current systems of art and writing; and that we take a truly radical (i.e., root) approach to changing these things.
It is scary to think about ethics, just as it is frightening to think about change. And yet, it’s really just another branch on the same Western-philosophical tree (just the one that doesn’t support capitalism). We have “mastered” aesthetic criticism. Now it’s time for an ethical one, because, as usual, artists have already gotten there first, creating work that either proposes or implements new modes of focus, value, and exchange. It’s not just a question of altering the world for the sake of it, out of boredom or caprice: change, in many other forms, has already found us.
“It might be that there won’t be a center any more,” said Sinclair, who was recently named a Guggenheim Foundation Fellow. “He’s going to be a tough act to follow. The (West Bottoms) gallery was such an amazing space — people from L.A. and New York would come in, and they couldn’t believe that in Kansas City there would be a space like that. If I think about it selfishly, it’s bittersweet. I feel lucky to have been a part of it.”…
“My hope is that it opens up room for young people to start up and get going,” Silva said about the closing. “I feel like there’s lots of talent and people who would be able to step up. It may be the end of an era, but I don’t see it as the end of the arts in Kansas City.”
“Wearing the same combination of light blue shirt and jeans as she did 18 years ago, Swinton was watched by hundreds of people while she slept in a glass box at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on Saturday.
Little has changed since the exhibit first appeared in 1995, with the notable exception of a pair of glasses next to Swinton on the mattress
Arms crossed and lying on her side with her eyes closed, Swinton did little to amuse the crowds but is due to appear again on six further occasions this year – but the public will get no warning. A MoMA statement said: “Those who find it chance upon it for themselves, live and in real – shared – time.””
A work like the “The Visitors” has all the strengths of the classical Romantic sensibility, and some of its potential weak points too. It offers a glimpse into a more ecstatic world; you really want to be these people, be invited to this party. It dwells in a kind of self-enclosed universe, spellbound by images of otherwordly artists and majestic decay. Like classic Romanticism, which arose as a kind of personalistic reaction to European industrialization, such a neo-Romantic temperament draws its power as an implicit reproach of the kind of dispirited, non-ecstatic lives we normally live. Unalloyed, of course, this sort of thing might also become a kind of cloying, self-involved theater — indeed, you might even say that Kjartansson subtly thematizes the sense of wallowing in fantasy, since being stuck in art is a theme, both in this film with its endless, trance-like choruses, and in his work more generally. It’s this minor-key background note that lets “The Visitors” resonate as both out of time and of its time at once.
“… Art is perceived through the senses first, and probably also second and third. Small details have profound sensible impacts, no matter how thoroughly an artwork is motivated by concepts or plans. And though we may not always be drawn in by quiet artworks on silent walls, we cannot have lost our human capacity to be moved. If Freud suggested a structure to consciousness, he also offered a model for its depth: much experience remains beneath our immediate awareness. The entire complex of “feeling”—materiality, sensation, affect, sensibility—is inevitably percolating in our experience (as are thoughts), so we needn’t worry, or even wonder, about whether words will win.
The question is: do we dare to acknowledge that realm beyond thought, to explore that unmoored ocean of the senses? If we focus too strongly on critical angles or sensationalism, we may miss opportunities to dive more deeply into reality.”