This artist from Greece people tell me copies my stuff finally caught up with me in an afterparty of Art LA. “YOU HAVE TO BEEEEE BETTER… “ he informs me drunkenly. He pauses and leans even closer - Is he trying to kiss me or throw up on me??- “AT PAINTING” he stammers conclusively.
I look around me. My friend’s smug smile informs me that this is indeed happening. Or not. The tragedy of our times all irony is ironically lost. Stalker boy happens to have a point, though.
“Be better” has always been what I always thought it is about. Consistently making an effort to grow, to help, entertain, educate. The combination of technique, labor, intent has been -and still is up to a point- a currency in the art world (the more time-consuming, laborious a work the higher its value), whether you chose to laboriously bank on it as an artist or laboriously ignore it and…Grexit.
The Kour Pour show at Depart Foundation seems to give an (ironical in my opinion) nod to this old fashioned notion. His works are advertised as extremely rare, as the production time takes up to a year. “They seemed to be made to be bought.” Comments a curator friend. Well, this at least is some short of intent.
Kour Pour - "Samsara" @The Depart Foundation Project Space
A couple of days later we arrive, all sunned up and relaxed at the off-fair du jour. It is taking place in a ranch outside LA we have to park on a meadow – you can’t help but get high in the old Hollywood flair of it all. Young people, beautiful light, nature, selfies, instamagic… I photograph some works to see if I will like them later. I find myself alternatively squinting in front of paintings hanging in the shadow and looking outside. The window view is better. A girl in hot pants and a cowboy hat, people in costumes, a band screaming their lungs out, a sherif for crying out loud.
Sanya Kantarovsky @Tanya Leighton "booth" at Paramount Ranch. Both Leighton and Hannah Hoffman gallery appeared in a supporting role in this fair, clutchin the rest of their sanity and maybe their teeth in their 2 adjacent, tiny, but perfectly hung and lit "booths"
This is a fun fair, a beautiful day in the country side and maybe I am being a dick here, but to be absolutely honest…(I am always honest, this is just a preface to warn you dear Angelinos to sit down; the following statement is going to be harsh)
If say we were in a movie and a North Korean bomb eliminated all art in the ranch... I don't think the level of culture, creativity, and intelligence would go down that much in the world. I can't help but wonder who these people are. How is this little amount of labor enough in their lives. Do they have a different source of income? How are they paying the gallery’s or studio’s rent? How is a level of intellecutal stimulation this low enough? Drugs? Sex? Disco? –I want to know.
At David Kordansky’s opening later that evening Betty Woodman’s art is an oasis of intent and labor. We splash around joyfully. The 84 year old artist wear flip flops which enhances this feeling. Age is the new black in art, somebody wrote on facebook and it does seem to be a different (sly & fast forward) way to implement higher prices (see above-mentioned currency). But... I am not even gonna go there... not for the next 50 years at least.
Later that night we gather at the Night Gallery, Church of Cool, for a performance/theater piece of –to be honest nobody I asked, myself included, knew who or what about. We were rewarded accordingly with something so painfully… mindblowingly…Nothing (Michael Ende Neverending story/1979). It was debilitating. We ran as quick as our Luckdragon could carry us.
Yes we are at the age of Art with the Shelf Life of a Dairy Product, no wonder these art works need to be flipped. Yes we have to cope with terms like “collectable” and “postable”, yes we have to deal with the fear and loath of insta-success and insta-ruin. I don’t really mind that. I still think “forever for now” is an interesting, liberating in many ways notion which offers a lot of opportunities for growth in both artists and viewers. (And yeah the jerks who make money out of it). There has been a lot of ink shed about it, including my own posts, I still think this article is the most informative to day.
What I disagree with are the cultural implications of this “movement” as it seems to often come to practice now. The cultural simplification. Some artists’ (and gallerists’) growing unwillingness to assume responsibility for their projects/ their program, to demonstrate intention, show their true colors, and if need be, come into a confrontation about them. We get more and more projects described as "fun" or worse "ironic", or ironic of being ironic- it is really hard to keep up. A better word to describe them, as I happen to value fun and irony above else in life- is "boring" and/or "bored"; "uninspired". Projects that maybe start out with the rebelious energy of I-peed-in-the corner-of-your-art-booth-just-because-I-can (I highly doubt it, but we will never know)… But somehow end up at the shrug off level of I-was like-lets-do-a-bubble-but-then-the-gum-fell-out-of-my-mouth-and-oh-well.
There is a very concrete difficulty talking about projects like these. So we don't. Maybe there are no words yet. Maybe there are no words, because this is just too stupid.
“Be same” seems to be the message today. “Be dump” or maybe more accurately “Be Nothing in Particular”. And this is dangerous.
PS: "I am better dude. Better than you". I whispered in his ear.
scene photos @Paramount Ranch by Stefan Simchowitz
curator Megan Steinman and musician Adam Freeman