Friday, March 22, 2013

Connecting the art market to Fish Story, to the Rockaways, to Memphis in May

Recently, I collaborated with the ecoart collective to send a video proposal to MoMA, on the occasion of their call to "rebuild" the Rockaways waterfront since Hurricane Sandy. I believe the same issues facing the Rockaways are facing the fish in Memphis or the art market in NYC. They are all fulcrums. 

The basic response from the ecoart collective was that the very idea of rebuilding the Rockaways waterfront in the anthropocene is an oxymoron. Rather, as the artists Newton and  Helen Harrison have suggested, we need to "withdraw gracefully." The solution I see, isn't always withdrawal. The variations depend on thinking bioregionally and then looking for "trigger points," to effect environmental justice. It always starts, not with the people, but the animals. That is why I keep coming back to fish for Memphis (Fish Story).

On Jerry Saltz's FB page yesterday, Mia Pearlman posted a link to Ed Winckleman's blog decrying the state of the art market today. My response, which I've posted below, was that the art market only reflects the global crisis. To my way of thinking, the ecoart collective's video was a response to that insanity, and for that reason, I would be very pleasantly but nonetheless surprised if MoMA likes it (my implication being that MoMA is the belly of the art market beast). That said, I think the "answer" to the art market/ fish/the anthropocene will be collective. The panel I suggest at the end of this post is specific to the art world but the premises could easily be expanded in the right venue:

Here's the link to Ed's page — with Edward Winklemanand here is my long-winded response:

I really appreciated this post & thread. I was so dismayed by my art fair experience last weekend that after just one 2 hr stint, I went home & took a long nap. The most interesting work I saw were the women who could walk on ultra-high heels. 

Exhibit A of the NY Art World Fairs

The recommendations (in Ed Winckelman's blog) are great but what I think is happening to the art world precisely mirrors what is happening environmentally and economically: as species (and classes and roles) get hollowed out, connections break and the entire system gets pushed past a threshold point of collapse where it will self-organize.

As an ecological artist, on the one hand, I think it is possible to predict what will precipitate the "last straw" that will create that self-organization. I have been saying for a while, that the best hope is in understanding physics. There is a point (that I call a trigger point when it is deliberately calculated) where Maxwells' "demon information" can displace the old system. I can calculate that environmentally, but the art market in some ways is still less over-simplified than what we see in ecosystems in the anthropocene. The problem I see that needs to be examined, is what are the factors that go into modeling predictively?
I presume, based on thinking about the natural environment, that the greatest factors are neither obvious nor easy to move, such as capitalism run amuck. On the other hand, if my reference to physics is correct, it may just take the right small trigger to effect change.
I can only go back to what I work on in my own practice as a model. 

Right now, I'm experimenting with trying to recapitulate the pressure, multi-tasking and preparation work that will go into solving climate change in a project I'm preparing for May in Memphis (Fish Story). I see that as an endurance performance. The personal trick for me, is how to do that without burning out & crashing before I get there, let alone afterwards.
The relevance of my practice model to the art market is that if the artist is the "trigger point" in the critical shift we all need, the question is how individual artists are going to survive the present? The short answer is not easily and not alone. Artists have been competitively divided from dealers and each other. But no matter how powerful insanity may be in the art world right now, like fracking, there are many more of "us" losing from what is happening than there are of "them" gaining big time at everyone else's expense.  

When Rob Storr recently addressed the College Art Association (CAA) with a litany of what the schools & academia are doing wrong, instead of complaining about how he was a "downer," I think he should have been heard as a clarion call from Cassandra. His talk and some others last month at CAA, this blog and the responses, Jerry's FB page are parts of what keeps me going so I don't crash in isolation as an artist. I believe we can be the 99% if we make ourselves heard. 

The simplest answer to what can be done is to say it more and say it loudly. This is a collective endurance event.

As I was typing this, I got a call from the artist Carolee Schneemann and we talked about where values and discernment had gone these days (out the window). Values & discernment will go the way, I think of this entire world unless those of us who care passionately about a different set of values find our collective voice. That process of finding a collective voice, is, I think the "demon information" that could trigger a change.
Will it bring back a past we loved or at least sentimentally enjoyed in our lifetimes? Not for many polar bears or elephants, not for the people who now have polluted water and not for many of us in one aspect or another of the art world in our lifetimes. But something & some of us will survive with integrity.

My suggestion: put together a panel some place very visible, inc Ed, Jerry, Rob, Carolee, Alain & whomever else has a clear voice (more articulate women) and drag people to it with a media campaign that connects these issues to all the others we are facing globally.
Add Mira Schor and Mierle Ukeles to that panel.

No comments:

Post a Comment