Monday, May 10, 2010

CAC Recycling Program

When the CAC recently unveiled their upcoming season, I noticed a re-running of a couple of this season's themes. In particular, "Where Do We Go From Here?" (hey, the CAC practically gift-wrapped this pun-fun title for me) and Keith Haring, 1978-1982. Both of these exhibitions are curated by Raphaela Platow and both address Pop Art, text in art, and art in urban landscapes. The CAC has spent the last year parading these same ideas in their run-up and still showing (probably at a gallery near you, too), Shepard Fairey: Supply and Demand.

Is it not enough that the CAC has been forced to extend their shows much longer than average runs? But now it looks like Platow is busy threading the calendar with recycled material.

I do like Keith Haring and I devoted my academic career to Contemporary Latino Art, but I'm having nightmares (honestly) of a year of "art is everywhere" splash mob salsa dancing and murals done throughout the city on chalkboard paint.



Anonymous said...

Have you anything positive to say at all?

Of course, I mean about anything but your ridiculously priced tours that depend upon the very individuals and organizations that you constantly criticize - criticize while doing nothing but profiting on them.

You should stop complaining and try to make some of the change that you seem to desire so badly. I think you'll find it's not an easy mantle to take up.

Me said...

Did you not read my recent post on the new Cleveland Museum of Art website?

Keith Banner said...

Here's a question maybe: what kind of a scintillating season do you as the Cincinnati Art Snob envision for the CAC? Keith Haring sounds cool to me, just for kicks and 80s nostalgia. I know your criticism seems to be focused on Platow and her recycling of ideas, but you know what? Most contemporary art can be interpreted just as that: the same ideas turned into trends and then back again. What did Duchamp say? "Art is either plagiarism or revolution." I haven't seen anything revolutionary here or in any other place in a long long time. But that's just me.

Me said...

First, I reject the popular notion that all contemporary art is the same and there is nothing new to say or do.

I will agree that all contemporary art CAN be interpreted the same way over and over again...but that's for party planners. (i.e. Keith Haring for kicks) This is the problem I have with the CAC's recycling of themes.

Their upcoming calendar further downgrades the CAC from a contemporary art center to a party center. Yeah...street art is a great party theme. While the CAC continues to throw parties for Fairey, they've not hosted any panel discussions about street art or in any way engaged the issues about graffiti, copyright, branding, a whole host of topics that have yet to be discussed and sponsored by the CAC. Of course the Fairey show is running until September, so I suppose there is still time.

But until the CAC offers something new to the discussion about art, or at the very least presents itself as a venue for such a discussion, instead of simply throwing parties to up attendance numbers, I'm gong to question their qualifications for arts funding.

Keith Banner said...

I guess my next question is do we really need any more panel discussions about street art and grafitti art? Is the serious connection with contemporary art only measured by professionals discussing "importance" on a panel? Isn't that the same thing as the parties you seem to disdain, only with credentials? The same kind of circle jerk? We can keep recycling the same art with the same discussions, and possibly even create a whole plethora of new ideas to institutionalize. Great. Go for it. But why? What if a contemporary arts center was NOT about Banksey or what trendy things are happening on the totally phony "streets'? When I visited the Fairey exhibit back when it first opened I was kind of shocked by the odd sad nothingness of it. Like a headshop in Berkley, a collection of "heroic" moments and portraits that deified themselves into decoration. Then I went downstairs and saw the Minter exhibit. Loved it much more, but still it was just the cultural make-up melting off Andy Warhol's face, the candy he spat out so he would not gain weight. Maybe the discussion isn't about what's inside but what isn't? Which brings us back to: what would a really revolutionary season at the CAC be like? Not a trendy, up-to-the-moment, panel-discussion season -- but a really mind-boggling, gorgeous, freaky, intelligent series of engaging exhibits? Beats me, but it's something to think about. The last great show of contemporary art I saw was back in 2000 or so at the New Museum in NYC, a beautiful retrospective of David Wojnarowicz's work... Plus Henry Darger at the American Folk Art Museum. I'm done. Thanks for letting me think outloud. Really do appreciate your blog...

Anonymous said...

I saw the Where Do We Go From Here? show when it opened at Art Basel Miami and it's nothing like what you describe. Have you seen it? Have you seen the list of artists? I am very confused by your criticism--it's as if you have mistaken it for some other show. Is this possible? I wonder what you have learned about the show, or artists in the show, that makes you consider it in this fashion. None of the articles or reviews even hint at your issue/s, and I certainly didn't take any of what you describe away from the show I saw. But I might be missing something. I like contemporary art, read up on the happenings, and get to shows here and there--but I am not an expert. I am no art snob, so I might not be getting it.

Me said...

kbb, a museum generally does both: hosts openings, parties as well as hold panel discussions on the topics the artists present. The belief here is that the artists have something to say and we respond. Art is not a party favor.

Admittedly, I've not seen Where Do We Go From Here. My critique comes from the CAC description of the show. I am familiar with a few of the artists and do understand the show is about text and deals with issues of Appropriation. Both of these issues are right in line with the Fairey show.

If you didn't "get it" then it may be because the CAC has not yet provided this dialogue....the point of my critique.

Keith Banner said...

"Party Favor" would be a great title for a show.

Steve Kemple said...

These are ideas. Like all ideas, they are free for anyone who wants to have them.

-Conversation is free.
-Anyone can have one with anyone else.
-Conversation can happen anywhere.
-Conversation can happen any time.
-Conversation needs interceding medium (air for sound waves, text, objects, technology, etc.).
-Any object can be treated as interceding media.
-For any given conversation, some media may be more or less suitable than others.
-The decision between conversants to employ a particular thing as an interceding means for their conversation is necessarily transformative of that thing. There is no way around this.
-The nature of the conversation also changes the thing.

Let's think small: a party is less desirable than a panel discussion (at least to me, I hate parties!). With two or more willing conversants and enough "force" (lack of better term), a party can be made into something more like a panel discussion.

Effort doesn't guarantee success. But it does guarantee change. Change isn't limited to the grandiose or even to the apparent. You can't fill the Grand Canyon with a shovel, but you can modify it's topography!

Let's go to the CAC with eyes, words, and trowels. The CAC is mutable. Just because the building gives the illusion of permanance it doesn't mean it is. By having a conversation through the CAC, its topography is modified, in valuable ways.

Sound pushes air around.

Bad art can be made into good conversation, just like good art can be made into bad conversation.

Let's make the world better and trust that it is better, even though we can't tell a difference.

-Steve Kemple