Wednesday, August 29, 2007


It would have been a masterpiece, I would have been a masterpiece, if:

1. I were Werner Herzog
2. I had filmed it the night before, during the lunar eclipse
3. I had a better lens on my camera
4. I had done the program full-time, instead of part-time
5. I were up on Adorno, Rancière, Benjamin and Lacan
6. I were more patient
7. I had more confidence
8. I were more thorough
9. I were a sculptor instead
10. Or a writer

What does it take to drop the voices and just do it.

Hey, some mega-corporation should use that as their tag line.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Market is your Mother

The Market is that invisible but overwhelming force that tells us what’s good to buy and what’s not; what we need; what we don’t; what we need to produce; what we don’t; what’s valuable and what’s not. The Market is everywhere. The Market is right. Always. The Market is your mother.

The question is, can art, exist outside the Market? And, more importantly, can an artist exist without her Mother’s recognition.

Good thing my shrink is coming back from vacation next week.

In response to my last post, Vito Polly-Vincent comments, “art arguably offers the best hope for creating a non-market based understanding of the world.”

I can barely grasp the freedom behind that possibility; the possibility of the non-market driven creation. This of course, is not a new idea. It is at the root of anything labeled alternative or independent. It is Robert Smithson. But, I’ve only just had a twinge of understanding of this freedom viscerally.

Making can be a way to exist outside the system, as romantic as that sounds. As unrealistic as that sounds. As unrealistic as that is. It is an act of protest. It's non-dictated behavior. If you can let yourself go.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The F Word

F is for Failure.

Failure with a capital F is about work, career.

In this city, I get in touch with my feelings of being a Failure. It’s in my face.

Love life, inner growth, physical well-being are trumped by Failure.

From a Buddhist perspective, faced with Failure, I have an opportunity to surrender. Give in. Give up. There is in fact no success. If I can do this, horizons open, barriers fall, and happiness is possible.

I would love to.

A start would be making art for art’s sake. But, I honestly don’t know if I can do it. I get excited. I’m ambitious. And I still believe art is a public act.

Any tips on making stuff just to make?

Monday, August 20, 2007

In and Out

I’ve spent most of July and August in Delaware County, upstate New York, where Marc and I are flipping a house.

The closest thing to an art scene involves making bears and eagles from giant tree stumps, or painting your car in preparation for the demolition derby. Other advantages include a less heightened awareness of physical appearance, a looser approach to time, and a more realistic definition of what rich and poor mean.

As soon as I crossed the George Washington Bridge last night, a different set of values seeped back into me. I almost immediately found myself concerned about how I was going to distinguish myself and what I had to see to know.

Every place is its own bubble.

Plenty of artists live or have lived outside the hubbub in order to do their work. I always think of Philip Guston, in pre-Woodstock Woodstock, in his studio night and day. But, I just don’t think I could do it. It’s like I need the pressure – or think I do – to make the struggle feel like one. But, maybe I’m doing myself a disservice.

Perhaps the ideal situation would be stints in each place. To be seen.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

When that MBA comes in handy

Vito Polly-Vincent had these wise words to say regarding how to talk about work:

How about if you break your work down into sub-groupings, kind of like conceptual portfolios, so you can say, for example, "in this body I… xyz..." "In that body of work" This way you don't pigeonhole your work and place limits on what you can do. And then for marketing purposes, you create your own concise spiel - "talking points" - the purpose of which would be to unify the varying strands of your work as a whole.

Great advice for any artist. Truly.

The problem lies in what he refers to as “talking points.”

How do these sound for my own work:
1. I make video installations
2. Draw on several visual tools, including home movies, and staged societal interactions and text.
3. Explore estrangement and intimacy on a family level, repression and emancipation on a societal level.

Back to square one. This still sounds very varied and confusing to me.

All this reminds me of two things:

1. I’m an artist not a businesswoman, and never the twain shall meet.
2. All artists need a rep.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Summing it up

At the end of my studio visit a few weeks ago, I was asked if I would describe my work as language based. I replied, that some of it was. This seemed to pose a problem. A problem of ambiguity.

Can dealers and curators digest a diverse body of work produced by a single artist? Or is it better for an artist to develop and present a series that touches on a single theme and draws on similar visual tools? Please, please, tell me.

If an artist does in fact need to be able to summarize her work (for marketing purposes, I imagine), I’m at a lost. Up until now, I’ve thought it best to either focus on the description of one project (“In my most recent video, I performed domestic tasks in blackface”), or to use very general terms that essentially don’t provide a clear picture at all (“I’m interested in presenting both estrangement and intimacy.”) But, I’m uncertain, which is best. Perhaps a combination of both.

And, today, I'm convinced that if I only new how to proceed, success would be knocking at my door.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I had this brief conversation yesterday on Ed Winkleman’s blog. I appreciate the un-flowery-ness.

I said:
We art folk do take ourselves so seriously. What makes us think we're actually so special, that what we do is so meaningful? (I am the first to be guilty of this)

He said:
Feeling special, and the gift to others that they may feel special, is special and so meaningful.

I said:
But, most of the time, isn't feeling special in fact delusion, arrogance, self-importance?

He said:
There is a difference between 'feeling special,
There is a difference between 'feeling special' and acting with arrogance or self-importance. If you are in a relationship with another person who makes you "feel special’ you feel elevated, in the euphoric sense, a feeling that your existence is important in the world. It is.
Arrogance or self-importance, act to direct ones sense of ‘feeling special’ with the intent of separating oneself from others by placing oneself above others. This behavior in essence reveals that the arrogant or self-important person does not feel they are special.
I think that in moments when we ‘feel special’ we can make others feel the same way by induction.
The activity of the artist is directed outward, we create something. This is a different activity than doing a job to someone else’s specifications.
Creation is the act of making something from nothing. The fact that there often is no creative roadmap means the artist must act with the belief and conviction that what they are trying to do will succeed. We also know that most of the time we do not, or only achieve partial success. The ability to face this uncertainty requires a degree of belief in oneself, if only for the moment we must feel we are special.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Old-School Existential Angst

(Monsieur Albert Camus)

Studio visits are so anti-climactic.

I always want jaws to drop. I want a contract to be drawn up right away. I want a commitment to a solo show. Next month.

But, really the only thing you can hope for is that they don’t yawn. I only had one woman look bored. I suppose out of the less than ten visits I’ve actually had, that’s not so bad.

In actuality, a studio visit is just the beginning of a relationship. And supposedly, these are good to have.

I’m starting to imagine that every stage of “advancement” in the art world will actually be somewhat disappointing. All this goes to prove is that, really, I’m doing this because I like making the stuff. But, while I’m taking my break, I’m having a hard time remembering that I do. Does this mean I have to face the facts that I’m not passionate enough to continue on. This is my greatest fear.

I’d like to feel excited and impatient to get back into the studio. But, so far, I haven’t felt either.

Without art, about 90% of my self-identity falls away. That’s too much for me to face.

The eternal question remains: who am I and for how long?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Discomfort Zone

Apparently, malaise, death and alienation are old-school. In his appreciation of Ingmar Bergman yesterday, Stephen Holden, writes:

“Today the religion of high art that dominated the 1950s and 60s seems increasingly quaint and provincial. The longstanding belief that humans are born with singular psyches and souls is being superseded by an emerging new ideal: the human as technologically perfectible machine. The culture of the soul – of Freud and Marx, and yes, Bergman – has been overtaken by the culture of the body. Biotechnology leads the shaky way into the future, and pseudo-immortality, through cloning, is in sight. Who needs the soul if the self is technologically mutable? For that matter, who needs art?”

Now, that’s depressing.

I hate the idea that soul-searching is a modernist endeavor, a romantic ideal. But, that’s the current consensus. Explorations of the self are usually now labeled “earnest” or “naïve.”

The closest thing I’ve seen recently that takes a stab at irresolvable-ness, is the HBO series “Six Feet Under,” which spins around the inevitability of death. But, I don’t feel particularly pushed forward watching the episodes. There’s something about, say, Monica Vitti, or abstract montages that just make me feel more “weighty” as a viewer. But, this might simply be pretentious.

I just prefer devastation to comfort in art. When I read (re: Bergman), “this world is a place where faith is tenuous; communication, elusive; and self-knowledge, illusory at best,” I just want rip open my netflix and curl up on the couch.