I’m the King of Jubilee Jumbles

artist Nayland Blake natters on about art and other things

Archive for November 2003

Five more questions – courtesy of Thor

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What, if anything, have you learned from your students, and/or the process of teaching?

Teaching continually confronts me with the dilemmas in my own process. When I talk to my students about their difficulties, their stopping places and moments of fear, I am able to see the similarities in my own situation. So from listening to the ways my students talk about what they do I have become a better reader of work. I’ve also learned not to spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not they like me. When I first started teaching I wanted to be every student’s best pal. That’s as bad as your parents trying to hang around with you all the time. Now I have better boundries around it all and it makes it easier for ervery one to relax.

What don’t you like about the art world? Are there frauds? Name names.

1. I don’t like the generalization “art world” as it lumps together many people who don’t neccisarily belong together : artists, certain writers, dealers, collectors, museum people, some notion of a public. We don’t talk about the “baseball world”. That being said, for purposes of answering the question I’ll talk about the group of people around the New York art market.
2. I don’t like assumed concensus, people who come to opinions without thinking about them. One of the galling things about being in the market is the unspoken assumption that everyone is on the same side.
3. I don’t like openings, which are really about people demonstrating to you that they showed up rather than anyone looking at the work in any real way. I go to very few, and when I have them I try to find some way to subvert them by doing a performance or something similar.
4. I don’t like the proliferation of prizes, art fairs and Biennials, for the same reason I dislike circuit parties.
5. I dislike the cult of youth that pervades the art world these days. It messes up my students, and it’s fair to say that art making is one of the things that you get better at the longer you do it. Do we want every field to have the emotional pitch of women’s gymnastics?

As for frauds; first let me say that I think it’s heartening that folks still worry about this. It means that on a deep level people want something important from art, given the way we have come to accept fraud in so many other fields as a matter of course. But in this case I think it’s hard to define fraud. On the part of artists I would say that there are failures, failures of nerve, imagination, growth, feeling. When someone tries to present these as not being faliures then I suppose you have a situation of fraud. For example, I think that for many years now David Salle has been treading water. His most recent show at Gagosian in New York was accompanied by an article in the New York Times that was full of praise for the development of the work. This I suppose was fradulent, in that it was intellectually dishonest. But when you try to talk about this as legal fraud you run up against a problem: who has been injured? The people who bought the pictures? The people who came to look at them? Also let me say that even if we could talk about fraud here the biggest art fraud in history could have gotten away with less in a life time than a VP at Enron could make off with in a week.
Here’s a clearer case: Thomas Kinkaide – the self proclaimed painter of light. Here is someone who has set up a huge business that traffics in asserted, simplified emotionality. It seems to me to be at its heart cynical and manipulitive of its audience on a level that Jeff Koons could only pretend to.

“me and my work”
“the types of work I enjoy”
“in terms of work”
“making work and seeing others make work”
Why not:
“me and my art”
“the types of art I enjoy”
“in terms of art”
“making art and seeing others make art”
Why this choice of words? Is this simply the vernacular from the “art world” that you’ve absorbed? What would Freud have to say about this? Discuss.

Two reasons: when I use “art” people tend to think only of my visual stuff, whereas I think of everything I do; sculpting, writing, teaching, lecturing, DJing, publishing, etc. as all being part of the same thing :”making work”. Secondly, “my art” just sounds too naff. I make things that make sense to me and then hopefully they will be useful for other folks as well. To the extent that they are then they become art.

Name some things that you personally “find really useful in a cultural sense.”
The plays of Richard Foreman – the books of Kathy Acker, Djuna Barnes, Samuel Delaney and Charles Dickens – the films of John Waters, Jack Smith and Terry Gilliam – the Music of Sun Ra, Patty Smith and the Velvet Underground – notebooks of Hokousai – the tattoos of Don Ed Hardy – the sock money – as a sculptor I wish I had invented it, and I still aspire to come up with something like it: a sculpture that just about anyone can make, that is ubiquitous and anonymous.

Who put the ram in the ramalamadingdong?

You know you did, dude.

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Written by naylandblake

November 30, 2003 at 10:18 am

Weekend

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It is oh so difficult to not turn on the TV right now. Sunday morning, sunlight streaming in and I’m in bed, chilled. Winter has arrived. Actually went through my voice mail just now and listened to my messages and returned calls. Some were 27 days old, unreturned. I think I read some where that a hallmark of the addict was that feeling of extraordinary accomplishment for doing the simplest, most routine things. Spent a while going through my files yesterday. They sit in about ten boxes in my living room., with various other papers and odds and ends strewn around the floor. Any horizontal surface is pretty much obscured. While going through them, I find myself facing previous incarnations: there have been times when I hired assistants and all they were doing was watching after the filing. Other times I’ve been a careless demented pack rat. I have old pay stubs, copies of essays I was assigned in grad school twenty years ago, scripts from performances, designs for neon sculptures that were never executed and manuscripts from when I was the porn reviewer for the Bay Area Reporter. Most difficult are the folders marked “needs attention”. Here’s a lesson I should take from all of this: I will never attend to something I put in such a folder.
Also problematic are other artists’ slides and videos. One way or another I’ve ended up with quite a few of these. Sometimes I’ve asked for them for a curatorial project, other times people have sent them unsolicited. I can’t bear to throw them out, but in many cases a lot of time has passed, and they are not doing anyone any good in a box in my living room. Again , this is stuff that seems to bring with it the weight of obligation. I suppose the graceful solution would be to start a repatriation program, contact the most recent address I have for the person and work on sending everything back.
If only one aspect of my environment was like this it would be ok, but every room has its version of this. How did things get to this state? I feel in service to my stuff, rather than the other way around.
I’m grateful that I’ve had three relatively clear days together, as that seems to be the only way I can make any headway with this process.

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November 30, 2003 at 10:18 am

Protected: LJ interview

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November 25, 2003 at 9:21 pm

There is something wrong…

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…. with being too sick to get out of bed all day Sunday, and then being well enough to come back into work on Monday. What kind of sap am I? If I had any kind of chops as a goldbricker I would have just called in sick and taken care of all the household stuff I missed yesterday beacuse of the fever/coughing crappiness, plus the headaches (I couldn’t tell if they were due to illness or caffeine withdrawal).

So house remains a shambles, calls didn’t get returned and worst, I missed out on poker with http://www.livejournal.com/users/thornyc/ .

Latest crush: The garbage man at the Times Square Q stop. Usually around 10 am he’s working emptying the front bins: mid thirties I’d say, around six feet full, and sort of scruffy chesnut beard, glasses, nice and pudgy. He dresses in such funky MTA work gear that I’ve wondered if he wasn’t a scavenger who just latched on to the uniform, but he’s got a broom and dustpan so I guess he’s legit.

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November 24, 2003 at 10:45 am

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Apres…

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…therapy, and before tonight’s “Slidefest” an event which I had to curate this week because I had kept putting it off. Thank goodness I know some very patient artists who consented to come and present work tonight. Otherwise things would be looking pretty pathetic. In the 45 minutes of downtime, I’ve knocked out a drawing of a sinister stuffed rabbit for a benefit action that someone approached me about yesterday. They’re supposed to come pick it up any minute. I truly have to stop saying yes to everything because I can feel myself becoming more and more stressed out. The back twinges, acid reflux, and little bouts of binge spending like the one I just went on at the Strand and where I purchased:

A Taschen Book on Velasquez
Another Taschen book (icons series) on Indian Street Graphics
Waiting for Food #3, an R.Crumb placemat drawing collection
Drawing in England from Hilliard to Hogarth
The Acme Novelty Date Book, a collection of Chris Ware’s notebook sketches
America’s First Dynasty – The Adamses 1735-1918

Then I went by Barnes and Noble on Union Square, because I had a real hankering for The Education of Henry Adams, and also my friend Carl Frano might be working there. He was, and on the way out I saw that Amphigorey Also had been marked down to $10 so of course I had to pick that up too.

Meanwhile I sit at home and come to tears over the boxes of books in my apartment and how I can’t get way from them.

Well I have a long history of self medicating through shopping, and the ostensible justification for this particular binge was that I had just deposited a wholly unexpected check from my NY gallery. All of these images feed the work in some way, or would if I gave myself the time to do it. Sitting with the pencils in hand to make this benefit drawing felt very, very good. and it’s always reassuring to see that “I’ve still got it” hand/eye wise. But sometimes it’s thin broth.

Much of therapy was spent talking about the trip to SF and I found myself trying to articulate what I’m feeling about LJ right now, its odd mixes of intimacy and self presentation, especially when the mix includes real world contact.

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November 21, 2003 at 4:59 pm

What was that other thing you said?

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Work work work. A week of best laid plans collapsing, unraveling, going belly-up and kaput. This is the part of the job I like least – the management part. However I have to ask if this chaos is my way of making myself pay for being cosseted, stuffed plump and made happy last week. I seem to suffer from a previously unknown malady: episcopal guilt.

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November 20, 2003 at 10:54 am

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Flying Back…

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No real time to post any of this during the trip. The panel went fine, with me being much less negative than I thought I was going to be. I did end up using SFMOMA as a negative example a bit much more than I thought I would I was feeling very skeptical about the center, but as my fellow panelists spoke I found myself remembering what was exciting to me about being on the board there in the first place. And then seated in the midst of architects, aoard members and mysterious art fans were a group of youth arts outreach high school students. I watched them hang in through some not very exciting speaking and when my turn came, I felt that I couldn’t just be crabby. It struck me the extent to which things like the center are about the people who are coming after me, that the art world now is segregated, and compromised, but if those students are going to make it any different it will be through instruments like the center. So I tried encouraging them to take it over to make it their own. Ten years is way to short a time to assess any sort of legacy for the center.

The Trip…
Drew was an incredible host, and the panel in a real way was an excuse to come out to San Francisco and meet some new people, namely the folks I’ve come to meet through LJ. Last night was spent drinking, smoking and discoursing with Anthony Berno, and on Saturday morning I ran into Chris Komater and Chris Vandemore. This brought up the odd fact that for the whole trip I kept running into people who had seem my pieces at YB and as such recognized me as the shirtless bearded guy with the rabbit puppet on his hand. That morning I reunited with my friend Brian, and it was as if we hadn’t just gone for 11 months without talking to each other. I began to feel that there could be a future life for me in San Francsico that isn’t purely based on my past life there
Drew and his roomates kept me feeling VERY welcome and VERY full for the entire time.

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November 16, 2003 at 3:37 pm