Monday, May 24, 2010


They're very smart. They had one of the only good pieces in the Biennial and almost the only good one in PS 1. The video above reminded me of Jeff Wall's observation that it makes no sense to try to transcend a bourgeois -independent- art.
Violence is only a theme in this kind of art [Delacroix]; the art itself isn't violent. That makes it very different from, even opposed to, the art of the avant-garde, which expresses aggression against the idea of art itself. This aggression is no longer very viable. I don't think it's necessary or possible to go beyond the idea of bourgeois art- that is of autonomous art- towards a fusion of art and its context. Or if it's possible, it isn't very desirable. We have learned how the aggression against autonomous art was consistent with aspects of totalitarianism, from the Stalinist period for example, and how state violence could benefit from that kind of esthetic. The concept of art as autonomous, and therefore less amenable to this kind of instrumentalism, is a central idea of the modern and I'm most sympathetic to that idea.
Essays and Interviews [p.246]
The Bruces relate their education inside the contemporary art ghetto to what they know outside it, describing the world in the language they've been taught. But in doing so they're working their way out of a trap, and producing a representational (descriptive) rather than a formalist art. They're on a first name basis with everyone on the Whitney's board, and were before the Biennial took place -a friend says they remind him of the Strokes- but whether they're from money or are just comfortable around it they show independence, though the independence required to describe the world honestly as you perceive it is less threatening to the powerful than to their servants. And one way or another the Bruces seem to have bypassed them.

But in their admitted conservatism they've bypassed most academics and technocrats as well, who still use terms such as objectivity and truth, without irony, as if the focus on terms didn't help to blind them (and that's what they wanted) to the facts of Israeli action and justificatory rhetoric, which after all haven't changed much in 40 years, or 60.

We operate from perspectives on the world of experience. When we identify those perspectives with the world, collapsing them into imagined unity, we begin to operate in terms that risk being "consistent with aspects of totalitarianism." Reason will always devolve into the reasonable, either as twisted into what we want to believe, or simply -and logically- as technocracy requires by "marking to the mean."

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