10 November 2007

Old Man Finch Could Do So Much More Than Scare Kids Off His Lawn

Don't believe anything I have ever told you before. I make sculpture because I identify with crotchety old men. They're always saying what needs to be said, but usually from the lamest perspective.

As regular readers of this blog know, I have written extensively on a few versions of the Old Man Argument, which is, in a nutshell, that everything used to be so great and now everything is a shitty, hollow simulacra of that former greatness.

There are problems with the Old Man Argument that we can all easily point out. It's really easy to romanticize one's own youth, for instance. And about the only thing that's easier is to assume that what you grew up with or worked to create is "right" and that everything that comes after is therefore "wrong." The Old Man Argument is full of expectations, and when you expect anything you are cruising for a letdown.

Just about the only sane old man response to that inevitable passage from actor to spectator comes from Dave Hickey. At least he admits that he wouldn't know the next hot thing if it came and bit him on the nose.

But even with those disclaimers out for everyone to see...I kind of liked Charlie Finch's latest effort. It is classic Old Man, and therefore has this basic backward-looking dismissiveness that is not particularly helpful. And it is classic Finch, so look out for lazy rhetoric that depends on whores and namecalling to get any intellectual work done.

But his point is worth a little time. He is talking about the difference between real openness and the illusion of openness that is actually a playground for exclusivity. It is rhetorically lame that the only way he can talk about that is by talking about the past. Instead of calling the taste of Rirkrit's curries "foul," he could talk about exactly how boring and calculating the dinner-party-as-art phenomenon is, and exactly how the curry show divides up viewers into the haves who eat dinner and the have-nots, who are treated to the janitor's-eye-view.

This clubhousey art, which hopefully jumped the shark at Deitch this summer, is weak and cynical. It is merely about power. Finch misses an opportunity when he shrouds criticism of this current highschool scene in a wistful rememberance of galleries past. Not only is it possible to talk about that cynicism in the present tense, it's important to do so.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats what I like about Charlie, he seems to be the only critic out there who can see past alot of artworld rhetoric. The lame charade of Tirivanijas exclusive grungey get togethers is comical. Maybe like Nicholas Distael his name will be a semi forgotten in 20 years time. Wow so Castelli gave $500 to artists who showed him their slides. I also appreciated what he said about Winklemans gallery. Although Ed is a very nice person, I think his taste in art is in need of a bit of an edge. Safe and academic doesnt really cut it. But you got to pay the bills.

11 November, 2007 08:07  
Blogger fisher6000 said...

What he said about Ed Winkleman was just a stupid attack that depended mostly on namecalling.

Please don't get me wrong--I am not a Charlie Finch fan.

11 November, 2007 10:14  

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