Monday, May 18, 2009

Beamer me up, Scottie



This post was going to be about how I wasn’t too surprised about BMW ripping off the work of Aaron Young. Because surely I’m not so naïve as to think that this kind of thing doesn’t happen. Plus, because I’m so smart, I can tell the difference.

Young is best known for riding motorcycles on gallery floors leaving a trace of the movement. So it’s a tough(er) boy approach to action painting (Pollock, that gang). I like the looks of the raw version, but I’m not so keen on the glitzier one he organized for the Whitney Biennial in 2007 (image of both below).

But then I did some research on the campaign and now I feel a bit like throwing up and a bit like laughing. It started with the tag line, “Not all artists are depressed.” No, true. But I bet a lot of Beamer drivers these days are.

Then we learn that BMW has commissioned this artist from South Africa to drive paint-covered tires on paper (looks like Photoshop to me). Plus, the artist self-describes as a “revolutionary contemporary artist.” Why doesn’t he just call himself “fantastic person?” Did they just make this guy up for the campaign?

Gross-hilarious factor aside, I’m having a hard time really digesting that “success” and “recognition” entails a certain shallowness, a certain in-authenticity – and if it doesn’t, you’re still vulnerable to exploitation. What has me swallow is the realization that I’ve been wanting “success.” I (re)wonder.

4 comments:

Lady Xoc said...

Good Golly Miss Molly:

"I’m having a hard time really digesting that “success” and “recognition” entails a certain shallowness, a certain in-authenticity – and if it doesn’t, you’re still vulnerable to exploitation. What has me swallow is the realization that I’ve been wanting “success.”"

You're pretty tough on yourself. I have no answers for you because I face the same dilemma. At least you're asking the hard questions. That counts for a lot, but don't let it get in between you and your art. (OK, I'll shut up now)

Molly Stevens said...

No need to shut up, Lady Xoc! Thanks for writing.

So, sounds like you're in the same boat. I'm not going to stop making the stuff and neither are you. But, what do you want to do with it and why?

It is a tough question. A bit heavy. Usually, I just drop the quest for an answer and literally go back to the drawing board.

You?

Lady Xoc said...

"Usually, I just drop the quest for an answer and literally go back to the drawing board. "

That usually solves it for me. I know it's a bit glib, but after all these years it's the way it goes for me. I get really f---ed up if the money/success thing intrudes too much into my explorations. And despite serious puritanical overtones, I'm just a pleasure-mad creature who has to paint.

I've done the day job for years; I'm in starving artist mode right now, and I foresee more day job before long. If everything I've done ends up in the dumpster so be it (try me another day and see how much gloom I can spread around).

When you make art, you are making your own universe manifest. Now is that a saleable commodity? Is it a decoration? If you want to sell it, then you, or somebody else, most likely a supportive and sensitive dealer is going to have to spin some mythology and create a brand so that others can get into it enough to want to have a piece. I've always been ambivalent about this. But art is my language and so I keep doing it.

I admire your gutsiness and your vision; I'm not sure I get your art, but it doesn't matter, because nobody gets mine.

Molly Stevens said...

thanks again for writing. nice to hear voices out there...