Wednesday, June 28, 2006

William Wegman Early Videos

Instead of discovering new trends in performative styles on YouTube, I seem to get attracted by the old avantgarde (why does this expression sound so nice?). And so, instead of a shaky home video of a new, unknown artist, here is a shaky video for all those that, like me, enjoy the snobism of exploring once explored territory. William Wegman became really famous not because he was good, but because his dog, Man Ray, was good. And Wegman had the good idea of showing him. And giving him the concepts any good curator provides an artist with. Wegman, of course, made (and continues to do so) a significant amount of other interesting semi-conceptual work (if we can have semi-conductors, can't we have semi-conceptualists?). But a significant part of it shows he knows his A-Bs in market-related works. Publicity is one of his main focuses. Ironic, indeed - and as we know, irony acknowledges its subject's presence and importance. And isn't using trademarking a dog just a brilliant move? I mean this honestly, with just a tiny little bit of irony.
See the first of the videos: choreography, drama, manipulation, humanity, self-consciousness (or lack thereof), individuality, contact, hidden agendas, thought. All this can clearly be found in here. It could pretty much be considered a contemporary piece. Some qualities make it dated. Which is interesting - since we accept it just as well, and enjoy it, and find it quite appealing and strong. So what makes it old? What is it about 70's conceptual art that makes it at once incredibly up-to-date and plainly dated? On one hand, many conceptual works are now being brought back to the scene. On the other, this repositioning has a certain distance that gives it (?) we seem to require.

Wegman also has a (even) lighter side to him: these videos are sometimes closer to what we know as Saturday Night Live humor than to what we think of as video art. Man Ray rocks once again...


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