Ah, the e-flux email list, ever full of surprises. One day it might elicit a cri de couer of indignation (“really?”), and the next day just a dramatic eye-roll. Sure it’s a very useful tool, but it’s also chock-full of self-important curatorial jargon, exaggerated claims, and overblown PR-ese. One has to try hard these days to catch the attention of the art world, especially when they’re receiving thrice-daily email blasts (and when you’re paying $1,200 to buy yourself into the privileged coterie of e-flux approved participants, you’d better get more than a glance).
Which brings us to Hyperallergic’s new semi-regular feature: Worst. Press. Release. Ever.
Sent out on November 1 and forwarded to me by a friend in Austin, Texas, who added his own unbiased editorial notation to the top: “Seriously. Shoot them all,” this e-flux blast, titled “Emergency Room Hanoi at Vietnam University of Fine Arts” is one of the most mind-boggling examples of misguided curatorial pomp I’ve ever seen. To wit:
Artists are thermometers that can measure and perceive dysfunctions in our society. Artists are experts of all perceptions. What they know or feel must reach the public opinion immediately:
– before it is too late.
These pronouncements raise interesting questions: Are artists more sensitive than say, swimmers or sociologists? Are they really experts of all perceptions? Do they know what I’m thinking right now? Are the rest of us just stumbling along blindly to the dysfunctions of our society? And is this why I’m JUST SO HAPPY every day?
The social utility of art remains a murky realm, and that’s fine (we’ve seen what happens when it serves ideology). While plenty of arguments have been made for art’s ability to enhance, complicate, transgress, upend, beautify, or mystify life, it’s not usually called upon in moments of emergency — unless you agree with Paul Villinski’s “Emergency Response Studio” (2008) I guess. Yet, the press release continues:
Through Emergency Room, artists can react to reality every day. In Emergency Room the public can have access to the artist’s premonitions, suspicions, visions and collected evidences before it is too late. In Emergency Room artists evolve and develop new unexpected methods and forms.
Artists, burning to express themselves about the emergencies of today, join each other daily to display their work in the circular Emergency Room. Punctuality and deadlines are fundamental when yesterday’s artworks daily at 12.15 pm is removed from the Emergency Room to give space to the artworks of today. This ritual of changing the exhibition is called: ‘The Passage’. The artworks from yesterday and previous days are then exhibited in the ‘Delay Museum’ beside the Emergency Room.
Artists, are you burning to express yourselves about the emergencies of today, but only until 12:15 tomorrow? If so, you are in luck, because guess who’s coming?
The Queen, Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark will attend the Passage on November 3rd and engage in the following discussion with the artists.
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