31 October 2009

Quote of the day

Michael Jackson renewed my faith in art.

Liz Maw

29 October 2009

Life! Life is life!

22 October 2009

Some photos from Rose's radio show last night

Here's me setting up the Doctor Who visuals to accompany Rose's awesome sounds:

Here's Rose (note the Codex Borgia used as a mouse pad):

Here's Conrad looking splendid in Rose's smoking jacket:

Here's me being a drunken git (as usual):

Here's Laika, the big-nosed dog:

I've stolen these pics from Conrad.

19 October 2009

Something for the academics to ponder

In my case, every kind of reading belongs among my recreations – hence among the things that liberate me from myself, that allow me to walk about in strange sciences and souls – that I no longer take seriously. Reading is precisely my recreation from my own seriousness. During periods when I am hard at work you will not find me surrounded by books: I'd beware of letting anyone near me talk, much less think. And that is what reading would mean.

Actually, the implications of that are something for me to ponder. In the meantime, though, I'll carry on looking at Picabia pics. After all, your work is something that should never be taken seriously.

Final hand-in

I wasn't sure what to do about the final hand-in, seeing as the Adam work's been painted over and all. I was inclined to put up a note saying check out the pictures on my blog, but it was suggested to me that I stick up a selection of drawings. That seemed like a good idea, so I did. I had three selection criteria:
  1. they don't have anything to do with the Adam work
  2. they are drawings I particularly like
  3. they work together well.

And this is the result:

Behold the man

I've just started reading Nietzsche's Ecce homo, which is a kind of philosophical autobiography. The title's taken from the words Pilate spoke to Christ: 'Behold the man!' I've read extracts from it before, and even ripped them off in an artist statement, but not the whole thing.

The chapter titles are a good indication of the treat I have in store. They are 'Why I am so wise', 'Why I am so clever', 'Why I write such good books', and 'Why I am a destiny'.

Here's the first section of the preface:
Seeing that before long I must confront humanity with the most difficult demand ever made of it, it seems indispensable to me to say who I am. Really, one should know it, for I have not left myself 'without testimony'. But the disproportion between the greatness of my task and the smallness of my contemporaries has found expression in the fact that one has never heard nor even seen me. I live on my own credit; it is perhaps a mere prejudice that I live.

I only need to speak with one of the 'educated' who come to the Upper Engadine for the summer, and I am convinced that I do not live.

Under these circumstances I have a duty against which my habits, even more the pride of my instincts, revolt at bottom – namely, to say: Hear me! For I am such and such a person. Above all, do not mistake me for someone else.

The irony is that he has been constantly mistaken for someone else, from proto-fascist to proto-postmodernist. As the translator, Walter Kaufmann, says, 'we should gladly trade the whole vast literature on Nietzsche for this one small book'.

18 October 2009

17 October 2009

Jesus fucking hell

I went to an opening at 6 o'clock last night and got home at 6 o'clock this morning. In the intervening time I managed to bang up my face, not, as you might expect, by getting hit for being a mouthy cunt but because my motor skills were no longer up to standing upright and walking. Rose said, 'That's the second-most drunk I've ever seen you.'

I had planned on doing things today, but might just lie on the couch and groan a lot instead. I am such a dick.

16 October 2009

Henry Flynt

119 Bank St., La Monte Young Apt., 2 of 3 from Henry Flynt in New York on Vimeo.

As it says, this is number two of a three-part video, which itself is part of a larger series of Flynt videos. I've singled this one out here because it's got so many good lines in it, but encourage you to check the others out too.

The anti-ideology

The mention of 'articulating an ideology' in the previous post's quote reminded me of a conversation I had with one of the tutors the other day. I was asked whether I'm committed to common-sense nihilism or whether it was merely 'neo-dada posturing' (which is an extremely nice phrase). I answered yes to both and quoted myself: 'I am serious about not being serious.'

I was also asked whether I wanted converts, and the answer to that is no. Common-sense nihilism is antithetical to the idea of converts or followers. It's all about constructing your own meaning and purpose for yourself. Nietzsche put it quite nicely:
Lured by my style and tendency,
you follow and come after me?
Follow your own self faithfully–

Common-sense nihilism is mine. You cannot, by definition, convert to it. Or, rather, you would do so by coming up with your own rival philosophy. As Picabia put it, 'Who is with me is against me.'

Common-sense nihilism is not an ideology. It is an anti-ideology.

Dave Hickey on Francis Picabia

During his lifetime, living in the midst of a high modernist culture that worshipped eccentricity, visual adventure, restless innovation, and willful autonomy, Picabia and his work were routinely dismissed and distrusted for exhibiting a surfeit of just these estimable values. ...

More engaged with making works of art than with constructing an oeuvre or articulating an ideology, Picabia wore out styles like a baby wears out shoes. Impressionism, fauvism, orphism, dada, surrealism, transparent palimpsests, pop appropriations and plastic abstractions all flickered by like subway stops, and there was never a moment in his long, unquiet career during which we might have caught up with him, during which his endeavour might have consolidated itself in the view of critics or jelled in the public's mind. ...

So Picabia would understand, I think, and probably appreciate the peculiar status of his reputation in the current histories of twentieth century art, where he is regarded as more legendary then legitimate. He would certainly take some pride in the extent to which his works have resisted explanation and consequently remained afloat and alive, because in the years since his death, right or wrong, prophetic or inauthentic, Picabia has become the resonant, multi-valent wild card in the hand of painters that twentieth century modernism has dealt us. His work constitutes the secret vault to which contemporary practitioners retreat for sustenance.

14 October 2009

Changes and continuities

The academic year is rapidly drawing to a close. Several people have asked me recently whether I think my practice has changed by going to Massey. I think the short answer has to be yes.

The biggest change has been a change in focus from painting to drawing. I've abandoned colour. I've been finding drawing much more immediate than painting, much more focused. It doesn't have the distractions of paintings, such as paint treatment – the idea conveyed and the way it's conveyed are much closer together.

And then there's the Adam show. There are several aspects to that work that are a change to my practice. Scaling up is one – it's easily the biggest work I've done. Working directly on the walls is another, and related to that is having to deal explicitly with both the physical and institutional context of the work. It's opened up several avenues to work through.

Then there's the getting heavily into Nietzsche, though I suspect I would've done that anyway. The time is right.

I also think I've covered more ground than I would've otherwise. Being able to focus on making art full time has been very important. Even a part-time day job is quite an imposition.

Another benefit has been having to defend my approach against a variety of people coming at me from different angles. I haven't suddenly become a contemporary-focused socially engaged video artist or anything (perish the thought!), but I have had to question several assumptions, which is always a useful exercise, and which has quite directly led to the focus on drawing.

All in all, I reckon this going to art school lark has been a very good move. Hopefully, they'll have me back next year!

And, yes, I will let you know the results of my assessment as soon as I know.

12 October 2009

Old drunk

If I had my way, I wouldn't let anyone go to art school if they were under the age of 25, perhaps 30. Yeah, yeah, I'm sounding like an old cunty mature student, but seriously there is something in what I say. I look around my class and I am not impressed. None of them have much of a clue what they're doing. There are maybe one or two who have potential, but the rest are a waste of space. The only reason they've got so far is that the institution needs the money. Ye gods, you should see the dreadful shit they come up with, and the dreadful justifications that accompany them.

Yes, you little shits, you know what I'm talking about. Like most things, it's fucking obvious.


I got the best compliment ever last week: 'Hanging out with you is like hanging out with Doctor Who.'

10 October 2009

A possible introduction

It seems to me that the true artists of our time are philosophers. I have no time for the sterile arguments of the professional philosophers in the universities, politicians whose axes are ground very fine indeed, who only exist to serve the status quo. I speak of the philosophers of living, those who have something to say to those who would be human, truly free and independent, and reject the tyrants both without and within.

09 October 2009

Art in the media

We all know how badly art is treated by the media: all braying donkeys and piles of rubbish and my five year old could do that. However, it didn't always be that way. About a hundred years ago, the media had a lively interest in contemporary art.

During the Armory Show in 1913, Francis Picabia was the representative of the French avant-garde in New York. One art historian has counted more than a thousand references to Picabia in the local media during the Armory Show and Picabia's one-man show at the 291 Gallery, which opened two days after the Armory finished.

The Armory Show opened on 17 February 1913. The day before it opened, the New York Times devoted a page to Picabia under the headline 'PICABIA, ART REBEL, HERE TO PRESENT THE NEW MOVEMENT'.

References in the press to Picabia include, but are not limited to, 21 January, New York Herald; 22 January, City New York American; 26 January, New York American; 2 February, Minneapolis Morning Tribune; 9 February, Nebraska Journal, Minneapolis Morning Tribune, World Magazine; 16 February, New York Times; 17 February, The World State; 20 February, New York American, New York Globe; 23 February, Kansas City, Chicago Tribune, New York Press, The Sun, Philadelphia Record; 1 March, Newark News; 3 March, The Sun; 8 March, Chicago Morning Post, New York Evening World; 9 March, New York Tribune; 14 March, City Tribune; 16 March, New Orleans Times, Philadelphia Inquirer; 17 March, Chicago Examiner, Hartford Daily Courant, New Bedford Mercury, Philadelphia Press; 18 March, New York Herald, New York Times, The Sun; 19 March, Chicago Examiner; 20 March, New York Edition, New York Mail; 22 March, Brooklyn Eagle, New York Post; 23 March, The World; 24 March, New York American; 25 March, Chicago Morning America, Chicago Tribune; 26 March, Nashville Democrat; 28 March, Chicago, Chicago Examiner, New York American; 30 March Atlantic Republican; 6 April, Minneapolis Tribune; 10 April, Brooklyn Eagle; 18 April, Brooklyn New York Times.

In the feature articles, Picabia sets out clearly his philosophy of totally abstract painting: Amorphism. 'Photography has been a great help in forcing art to realise its own nature, which does not consist in becoming a mirror to the external world but in conferring plastic reality on inner states of mind.'

08 October 2009

And Nietzsche again

Let the most heroic souls question themselves about this. Every smallest step on the field of free thought and the individually formed life has always been fought for with spiritual and physical torments: not only moving forward, no, above all moving, motion, change have required innumerable martyrs, all through the long path-seeking and basic millennia of which, to be sure, people don't think when they talk, as usual, about 'world history', that ridiculously small segment of human existence. And even in this so-called world history, which is at bottom much ado about the latest news, there is no really more important theme than the primordial tragedy of the martyrs who wanted to move the swamps.

Nothing has been bought more dearly than that little bit of human reason and of a feeling of freedom that now constitutes our pride. But it is this very pride that now makes it almost impossible for us to feel with those vast swathes of time characterised by the 'morality of the mores' which antedate 'world history' as the real and decisive main history that determined the character of humanity – when suffering was a virtue, cruelty a virtue, dissimulation a virtue, revenge a virtue, the slander of reason a virtue, while well-being was a danger, the craving for knowledge a danger, peace a danger, pity a danger, being pitied ignominy, work ignominy, madness divine, change immoral and pregnant with disaster.

You think all of this has changed? You who think you know man, learn to know yourselves better!

Nietzsche against contemporaries

May the living forgive me that occasionally they appear to me as shades, so pale and sombre, so restless and, alas, so lusting for life – while those men then seem so alive to me as if now, after death, they could never again grow weary of life. But eternal aliveness is what counts: what matters ‘eternal life’ or any life!

Something in Wellington to go to

Which reminds me, if you're in Auckland, do go and see Matt Hunt at the Ivan Anthony Gallery.

06 October 2009

Where art belongs, the video

Rose and I made a short video of Where art belongs on Saturday. We did it in one take without any preparation, so you'll just have to put up with the long pauses and constant ums interspersed between me blithering about something other than what the camera is pointing at.

And that's it! The show's over, and it'll soon be painted out. That is a very pleasing thought. It did get somewhat obliterated on Saturday night during Shoji Hano's awesome performance up there. I snapped Tao Wells just after he'd covered every available surface in the green loo with big loopy scrawls, and even signed it, the narcissistic bastard. I thought that was extremely funny – and that it was a good thing we'd already shot the vid.

For Rose

Here are links to CoBrA artist Karel Appel's Musique barbare from 1963: 'Paysage electronique', 'Poeme barbare', and 'Le cavalier blanc'. Appel was also involved with the situationists.

Also check out the Continuo blog.

01 October 2009

Situationist presentation

I did a presentation on the situationist idea of the spectacle at school today. I printed out a nice situationist comic for them to look at. I wrote 'Never work' on the whiteboard in large capital letters. I faced away from them, dropped my pants, and read my presentation. I even managed to get the word 'cuntish' into it.

We had quite a good discussion afterward.
visitors since 29 March 2004.