In the newly released edition of the Brooklyn Rail, editor John Yau takes on New York Magazine’s art critic Jerry Saltz and his characterization of America as “big, bright, shiny, colorful, crowd-pleasing, heat-seeking, impeccably produced, polished, popular, expensive, and extroverted—while also being abrasive, creepily sexualized, fussy, twisted, and, let’s face it, ditzy.” Yau asks, “Is this ‘our America?’ Or is this Jerry Saltz shilling for Jeff Koons?”
Rebooting Boston’s Art Inferiority Complex
Is it possible for an entire city to have an inferiority complex over its own art and artists? At times it certainly seems like Boston does. Between ignoring traveling retrospectives of local artists, devoting gallery space to art world circuit card-holders, and hemorrhaging curators, this city’s scene sometimes looks a lot like a branch office of New York: understaffed and passing on its best to the mothership.
In my previous article on Hyperallergic, I discussed Greg Cook’s view that Boston’s contemporary art scene lacks ambition and a drive to push itself further. I believe that what we need to overcome in this city is not just this inferiority complex but a specific Boston identity.
The Collaborative Mess: Keanu Reeves & Street Art
The concept of artistic collaboration is slippery. New York Magazine’s 31st reason to love New York City in 2009 is “Because Our Street Art is Collaborative.” Maybe they don’t really understand the notion of collaboration.
There is No Public Space
Sarah makes small matchbook sculptures that are designed to be left in public spaces. They are intimate art works that are part of the ritual of her practice. She believes in the words of Margaret Meade, who said, “When justice is lost, we have ritual. We need more ritual in our daily lives.”
Hyperdocumentation: Better Than the Real Thing?
This summer, I tried to go see a free David Byrne concert in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park but to no avail.
The next morning I looked up the concert online and immediately found masses of documentation … the concert had been reconstructed online so thoroughly that I didn’t really feel like I’d missed it.
Street Artvertisements: “Hell, No!”
Much contemporary art is disappointing–street art especially. Even if you manage to find a piece you really like–or, if you’re lucky, one that is really worth liking–it gets buffed, weathered beyond recognition, hyped beyond reason, or it simply disappears. And like all art, its digital web ghost doesn’t replace the real thing. It’s really gone forever. And that’s disappointing, even if you knew it would happen all along. Still, some deaths are better than others.
New or Same Old Museum?
New York-based art blogger James Wagner recently declared “New Museum Commits Suicide with Banality” after the institution on the Bowery announced that they will be exhibiting the collection of one of their mega-rich trustees, Dakis Joannou. To add insult to injury, the whole museum show will be curated by one of Joannou’s BFFs, Jeff Koons. While James is right, I would argue that there have been signs of the institution’s death wish for some time.
From day one, the new New Museum has been presenting odd shows with allusions to trendy topics that feel disconnected from its roots as a barometer of the city’s artistic culture. Remember “After Nature?” Well, I’m trying to forget. And how about the Michelle Obama portrait that was carted in for the Elizabeth Peyton show after Obama’s election victory? How delightfully chic!