02 November 2007

Amen, Brother Hickey!

Dave Hickey is offering the simplest gospel. All he is saying is that judgement is power.

To have a reasoned and insightful judgement that another person can actually hang their hat on is to create real value. In fact, right now, it is to create more than value. It is to create a unique opportunity for another person to watch you and not someone else. To quote:

“If you want to be an icon of virtue, this is the moment because you’ll stand out”

This is not "Deathwatch Cheerleading." This is straightforward positivism. He is talking about the power of individual action and individual virtue when the zeitgeist screams You, individual human, are powerless! You can do nothing! This is about vast sums of money and power that you don't possess!

I know that the last line of this article is about thousands of Icari plummeting or plunging into the surf or whatever, but I think Edward is taking it too literally. Hickey is talking about gathering power in the face of a market that has the potential to render dealers (as well as critics, curators and artists) powerless. Gathering that power is fundamentally about cultivating judgement. It's not about believing in your artists, as Winkleman argues already happens. It's about "not being wrong" in Leo Castelli terms, or to cultivate and offer one's judgement. To offer that kind of rigor or structure, Hickey is offering, is to promote change.

Let me put it this way. You can take a crap on a gallery floor and plant an American Flag on it and call it art. You can go buy a bag of Doritos and put them on a pedestal or tack them to the wall and if you have called them art, art they will be.

Gallerists, therefore, do not legitimize art. But when they cultivate and offer sound judgement about artists that others can use, they cut through the bullshit that is inherent to art, and to do that is to cultivate power. Gallerists, as well as curators, critics and other artists, generally sidestep this power for two reasons. First, they learned in college that it is better to deconstruct other people's power than it is to have your own. And besides, they don't want to be seen as bumpkins who don't understand the basic premise above--that everything is art. And what Hickey is saying is that this act of stepping aside, of simply saying that art is good, or that my artists are good, represents a missed opportunity.

This is why the Top Ten List delights Tyler Green, and more and more I agree, even though it's a suspiciously easy idea. This is why I write criticism, and it's why I keep a blog. I don't have time to spend answering all the Plagens questions via Grammer.Police, but if I did, every answer to every question would invoke this idea, that judgement is power.

3 Comments:

Blogger Concrete Phone said...

And not to forget the central point Hickey is making is that right comes out of divergent concepts of what right is. He leaves it wisely ambiguous how much money plays in this, but spells out vested interest, without this deep sense of conviction is something that whatever the soul is its window to the vista has the habit of shutting fast with an unexpected turn, or brink [the delicate flower erasure analogy remembered]... I think the point of the whole thing was... It was a very very interesting keynote, loved it as mp3. It was not preaching, though enlightened. I think, though, he was interested if anyone was listening!

02 November, 2007 09:33  
Blogger prettylady said...

Amen, sistah. Too bad that the Dave Hickey link itself appears to have expired.

I have been thinking of writing a draconian post on What A Good Painting Is, with plentiful and acerbic commentary on What A BAD Painting Is, plus examples, but I have been too busy hanging the Blogger show to do so. Next week, perhaps.

03 November, 2007 16:24  
Anonymous J@simpleposie said...

I'm answering the qs on Monday.gjgtuus

03 November, 2007 18:36  

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