13 June 2006

Hope Springs Eternal



Jerry Saltz is doing that cute little hopeful dance he does sometimes... you know, when he sees something he wants to say in something that isn't very good. The larger point he is making with Ted Riederer's review is totally worthwhile. And watching Saltz bend over backwards and put one leg inside his ear and stand on one testicle in order to do it is fun.

And he should be doing this dance. Criticism that is effective is constructive--it helps to point us where we want to go. And yes, it's completely worth it to ferret out the "aesthetic of reconstruction" and essential hopefulness that Riederer is bashing into the ground with a presentation that manages to be didactic and obtuse. Crushing. And since Saltz is being the good cop, I feel liberated.

Art's stuck in the cul-de-sac of the individual artist's experience, and the bottom line is that it is existentially impossible to share your experience with someone else...directly. Empathy is limited. All this art like Riederer's that originates from The Private Artist's Gesture is doomed to lameness, no matter how delightfully hopeful or reconstructive that gesture is, because it does not acknowledge this fact:

My job as the viewer is not to wish I was you and fling myself into you. So I am going to look at your documentation and see it as the dry, mysterious bullshit that it is.

You know how sometimes the best way to get across how something felt is to lie and embellish? Maybe one way to get to an "aesthetic of reconstruction" is to stop clinging to the veracity of our own mastubatory experiences and go dream up some shit that considers how the audience feels. Honestly, I don't need this Humpty-Dumpty tedium. Saltz's point is gorgeous and deeply true. But art isn't broken--it just needs to get out more.

EDITED TO ADD: I have been thinking about this today, and want to firmly position myself within this problem. I would not feel comfortable dealing with Riederer's work in this way if I did not have so many of my own irrelevant private experiences so thoroughly documented. Just ask any grad school colleague of mine... the hours I have spent staring at my own boring video footage of myself doing something that was great for me, not quite realizing over and over again that I have an inside and an outside... it is truly astounding.

6 Comments:

Blogger highlowbetween said...

"My job as the viewer is not to wish I was you and fling myself into you. So I am going to look at your documentation and see it as the dry, mysterious bullshit that it is" -
Great, dead on. So much of what I'm supposed to be impressed or 'educated' by feels so impoverished and grossly selfish and weak. Too much of what is passing for art in Chelsea is a cold sore of gibberish.

13 June, 2006 17:03  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

amen, brother or sister!

13 June, 2006 17:39  
Blogger highlowbetween said...

does it really matter?

13 June, 2006 18:28  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

What? My experience with this problem?

If so, yes it does matter. It matters because I empathize with that impulse to share that experience, and I see why it's relevant to the larger discussion.

Since abex (well, before), there has been this emphasis on the artist as an individual. What we are seeing is the manner of that, IMO. I feel that drive, I see the legacy and understand why it's relevant, and I don't think Riederer is doing it wrong....

...he's doing it right. It's just that art sucks when you're doing it right. Placing myself within this problem is:

1. Honest... I didn't want someone who's known me for awhile to read this and snicker because I am being a hypocrite. and
2. A call to action. It's one thing to call Riederer out on his gesture. It's another to understand that Riederer is part of a huge boat that needs to get turned around.

13 June, 2006 18:48  
Blogger highlowbetween said...

No I just meant "brother or sister".
It was a lame quip.
I completely concur with your conclusions in the post...

13 June, 2006 19:14  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

...defensive much, Deb?

haha

13 June, 2006 20:47  

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