We’re not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is

October 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

we're-not-171013

In the ever-expanding search and desire for materials and forms and structures artists go in wildly different directions. Casinos, Corbis Images, Olive Garden, Target, Tumblr, Spencer’s, the Frick, Evangelical Mega-Churches, eBay, Dallas BBQ, the list continues on eternally. This is hardly news, but might worth be considering a little further. I was in the computer lab the other day going through my lists of artists compiled from Artforum back issues in 1988 to see who had work available online, how they were documenting themselves, who dropped off the face of the earth, and just where exactly everyone was (I have the archivist’s bug). My friend, Hannah Levy, sitting across the room was browsing different materials websites for potential sculptures when she stumbled upon a gem. Hannah’s material searches are wild in themselves, all of the carpeting websites, pool and bathroom support manufacturers, pleather outlets and so on. I’m sure others have similar tales. This particular website, PVCSTRIP.com, the original online strip door outlet, was infinitely more bizarre than the usual mix of late Geocities/Angelfire style design, hokey and broken down early usage of flash, and garish pop ups and splash pages. No, this was something else entirely.

I mean Jesus. The hyper corporate blues, outlining the body, that everyone has been obsessed with. The model, sitting with all of the rolls of PVC strip almost as if it were a before shot in the documentation of a performance. The rolls, themselves, recalling, even with the affordances allowed for the differences in materials, figures as diverse as Franz Erhard Walther, Kerstin Brätsch, Davis Rhodes, amongst others. The slight pose, the way she’s contorting her core, the wash of the jeans, that perm, the lighting, those boots! Hannah called me from across the room to come check this out. I wasn’t disappointed. As we dug around through all of the different products, the site just kept giving and giving.

The photoshoot section of the website reads as follows, “The images on this site were achieved after over 100 hours of professional set design, lighting, and photography…not to mention the saintly patience of Cindy, our sales associate. Why did we ask Cindy to present our products? Because without someone in the pictures, our rolls, doors and strips could appear to be any size!”

It seemed once again that commerce absolutely nailed something that artists lust after with watery eyes and hearts aflutter. The seductiveness of the corporate “we”, a “we” that is so tough to grasp at, a “we” that just calls out to be used but it is ever so slippery. What is it about that “we” that stands off on the side all coy yet boisterously in your face at the same time? Peter Schjeldahl’s excerpts on pronouns come to mind,

I suggest starting with a pronoun that I’m throwing around: ‘we’. It’s a dicey word in a democracy. It presumes an agreement where none is proven or can be proved, without taking a vote. In critical writing, it is a rhetorical stratagem, a seduction with aspects of being a fantasy and a trick. But when a writer gets away with it – that is, when readers don’t think to object – it is kind of sublime. It has interesting powers. I’m going to talk about it…When a writer folds ‘I’ into ‘you’ to make ‘we’, he or she projects a world of common values. Call it civil love. (You’ve noticed that I just used the politic ‘he or she’. Call that civil justice.) The ‘we’ is make-believe. We – if you’ll pardon the expression – do not inhabit a world of civil love. But guess what? We can pretend that we do.

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with Joshua Citarella about the varieties of gambling in Connecticut and New Jersey, and the difference between a place like Foxwoods Resort Casino with its infamous 5000 person Bingo Hall and the sheer wonder that is Atlantic City. He said, “Name me an installation that is better than the worst casino.”  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Eva Stenram

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