Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Post-traumatic art?

Here's the story: an artist is fascinated by falling. He takes pictures of himself falling off different things: ladders, trees, buildings. He fakes it (just as Yves Klein did), using ropes, harnasses and other security measures. Then he retouches the pictures for a strong a effect. He moves to bigger objects, until he gets to a really big one: a museum. And jumps off it (pretends to). And refers to September 11th, and the tragedy of the people, and the crisis [though from what I had read later on it seems the photo-performances were far from pointing to that reference as the only one]. And all press hell breaks loose, and he is considered the worst of the worst: a horrible, cowardly, stupid and insensible performance artist:
That's why performance art is invariably so lousy - it spits in the face of honest human reaction, all those trust fund frauds locking themselves in a bathroom and claiming it is in solidarity with actual prisoners who don't have Guggenheim fellowships.
The artist, obviously, defends himself as best he can. It simply isn't enough.
I believe this particular artist to be of fairly poor artistic merit. He seems unconscious of the history of jumps in performance art, as well as unconscious of how delicate a matter he is entering by referring to 9/11. What's more, he acts with very little sensibility to the issues he's addressing: and when you're an artist, that's a cardinal sin.
On the other hand, it shows how fragile the U.S. still appears, how traumatized, to the extent of censoring anything that comes close to Ground Zero.


Theodore Diran Lyons III said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Theodore Diran Lyons III said...

I don't necessarily disagree with what you wrote here, but if only to play the devil's advocate for a moment: do we write off anything that has allusions to artists' investigations of the past? IE, since Klein jumped, no one jumps again? Not even if to recontextualize the act of jumping for a specific end? This seems out of step with the PM predilection toward quotation.

Further, since it might offend people taking his work from its personal historical progression and context, he should completely halt years of jumping, jumping strategies that preceded the US tragedy? Why MUST we view this work as offensive rather than, as Skarbakka said, a metaphor that serves the purpose of, if for not much else, remembering the event and those who passed away? Would we deal with a painter in the same way who paints airplanes or skyscrapers?

I am not sure your critique or that of the press has adequately dealt with the man's efforts. Again, I'm not sure how far I agree with Skarbakka, but I do feel people have in a certain sense beat up on a straw man.

vvoi said...

Very interesting comment.We do need to take the time to listen to the artist, to see what he wants, where he aims to go and where he is coming from. I hoped to have hinted at the witch hunt in my last sentence, but upon rereading it, I see it's all too vague and diplomatic, while the critique of Skarbakka I made was quite open. That's why I'm very glad to read such a "devil's advocate". (Although I still think the purpose of "remembering those who perished" was misserved here)


Related Posts with Thumbnails