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James Franco (via Parrots and Lions Flickrstream)

“It’s one of the most significant things going on right now — not just in art but also in progressive culture — this convergence, the dissolving of boundaries between what is art, what’s music, what is performance … and it’s also the convergence between a more elevated fine art culture and popular culture. Franco is one of these people who is leading this convergence.”

— MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch, LA Times, 2012.

“I thought hurricane season was over!”

—James Franco, Pineapple Express, 2008.

James Franco as a means to understanding the world around us.
James Franco as an understanding, no matter how remote, that reality and media can not exist.
James Franco as media.
James Franco as museums as media.
James Franco as the death of our understanding of the museum.
James Franco as a clear path to the future with no messy past to consider.
James Franco as history.
James Franco as no history.
James Franco as non-history as history.
James Franco as Hollywood, and the myths it perpetuates.[1]
James Franco as the blame for your anger and frustration.[2]
James Franco as the opposite of Hollywood.
James Franco as parties in place of art.
James Franco as Rirkrit Tiravanija.
James Franco as Spencer Sweeney.
James Franco as James Franco calling bullshit without knowing it.[3]
James Franco as James Franco enabling the world to see the modern museum as its true self — a bunch of walls for containing culture funded by salesmen.
James Franco as a salesman.
James Franco as a civilized member of a greater society, having interactions with culture unmediated by outside forces like corporations or politicians or marketing.
James Franco as Mercedes, Target, or whomever’s philanthropic foundation lets you know they printed the promotional material.
James Franco as a handful of people leading institutions to their rightful home in the ruins.
James Franco as James Franco bringing in customers.[4]
James Franco as James Franco oversimplifying terms and ideas that only those inside the incestuous Art world can understand.[5]
James Franco as a Grad student.
James Franco as a professor.[6]
James Franco as another artist living in the gallery.
James Franco as a performance as a discussion of an essay called “Free Beer.”

Keith Rocka Knittel’s “James Franco / Free Beer” was distributed as a pamphlet as part of his performance “James Franco / Free Beer / Spiral Jetty (IV),” at Perform Chinatown in Los Angeles on July 21, 2012.

[1] There is no such thing as the Hollywood myth.
                           There is no problem with Hollywood.
To say so is to suggest that there is a problem with literature
and archaeology and historians.
[2] When empires crumble, when movements turn to footnotes, new foundations arise at the feet of those who trumpet the avant garde of yesterday.
[3] If you accept blurred boundaries and that everything is art, then let wealthy philanthropists host their galas and woo celebrities of stage and screen, and name buildings after themselves.  Let the museum walls be adorned by the loaned works that don’t match their Brentwood home’s decor and are too precious for storage.
[4] “Through James, we’re going to be welcoming and intriguing people who otherwise might find it difficult to access contemporary art.”
[5] It will be called a remix of art and culture, and exciting.
The art media will tell artists what people were wearing at the opening
and wish they were invited.

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Keith Rocka Knittel

Keith Rocka Knittel is a Los Angeles based artist, who holds an MFA from CalArts where he was recently interim faculty. He is the Founding Director of OCEAN, an in situ art and philosophy discussion group....

7 replies on “James Franco / Free Beer”

  1. The more attention Franco gets (let’s face it he has become the lightening rod of our ire directed at Art in LA) the more I’m convinced that as a mad scientist Dietch’s “Francostein” experiment has worked out quite nicely.

  2. Deitch should go to the opera, where art, music, and performance have converged for over four centuries, years before the concept of “fine art” was formulated in the 17th century, the ideas of “progress” and “culture” were defined in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the notion of “popular culture” was created in the 20th century. It’s Figaro, not Franco.

  3. The envy we feel at a man with apparent success in so many spheres we as artists strive to conquer and our frustration with the bullshit power system are not as connected as they feel. I bet you dont have as intimate relationship with the individual you are using to illustrate the system’s flaws as you do with the system itself. Please make art about what you know, not about an icon that you don’t.
    I suffered pretty bad Franco envy for awhile, I feel your pain but I don’t think it is very insightful!

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